The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Kyle Larry

Surviving March Madness

If you were to go around and ask a dozen of random Bates student what is the hardest month in the school year, I guarantee you that most of them would say March. Between the weather rapidly changing from a snowy nightmare to a sunny paradise, and professors handing out assignments with a very short timelines for completion, many students find themselves exhausted by the end of the month. I can speak from personal experience. As a sophomore and a double major in psychology and politics, I’m currently enrolled in courses required for my majors. However, each course requires a large amount of time and energy, and I have been stretching myself pretty thin. When you add how the courses never stop presenting new material nor give you the chance to digest old material because there is no break to indicate a time for professors to review, it can be overwhelming. Not to mention how half of the time it’s always raining or snowing, which can invite negative thoughts or emotions into a person’s consciousness. Overall, for me, March can make me question if college is really worth it. Is it worth my sanity? But that’s the thing! You have to stop yourself from reaching this point and bring yourself out of this self-loafing state. One of the things I do to remind myself about why I chose to go to college is going to the gym and working out. Now, I know many might say that they don’t have time to go to the gym. But hear me out. You can always find time to do something you love, or carve out time if it means you’re straightening out your mind. The gym is a great way to blow off all of that pent up anger one might have, or it could distract you from work by forcing you to focus on a different aspect of your life: your health. You can finally work on that summer body you’ve been talking about all winter. What if the gym isn’t your thing though? How about television? Television is another way to escape reality and fantasizes about the beauty in life. And depending on the show, you start to appreciate coming to Bates College more. If you ever need some motivation, “Beyond Scared Straight” helps me remember why I read books and focus on school. It reminds me that I have a purpose and that I do matter to my friends and family. It reminds me that my successes also belong to the people that care about me. All in all, you could take my tips as tools for self-care or possibly come up with your own strategies. The point is that you have to take care of yourself during rough times like this, otherwise you’re going to exhaust yourself. The health of your mind, body, and soul is just as important, if not more important, than your GPA when trying to achieve success.

The Politics of Arrogance: A psychological take on STEM majors

As a politics and psychology double major, I at times receive scrutiny from STEM majors about how I’m “wasting my money” and how I’m unemployable because, apparently, the only thing people in the arts and humanities do is “sit around a classroom and theorize about books.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, but trying to explain the importance of the arts and humanities to a STEM major is often fruitless. Unless your degree qualifies you to work as an engineer or accountant, or allows you to work in a hospital, your degree is virtually useless in their eyes. But why? Why do STEM majors believe that they are superior based solely off of what they are studying in college? Before we can answer that question, we have to conceptualize what it means to be conceited in the first place. We need to shed light on why people, in general, get fixated on this idea that they must constantly prove that they are better than others. Well, it should be no surprise that our capitalistic society- a society that prides itself on the “only the strongest shall survive” mentality- values arrogance. To most people, this attribute is equated with dominance, power, affluence, and prestige. People want complete dominion so they can do whatever they please. People also want money so they won’t be constricted by finances, therefore granting them the opportunity to explore the world and all it has to offer- not even mention how people want to have influence over others so that their legacy can be remembered and make their lives purposeful. So, let’s face it: anyone would act in a pretentious manner if they knew that in the end, they would amass fame and fortune. STEM majors constantly challenge themselves and brag to liberal arts majors about how hard they’re pushing themselves. STEM majors are going to school to be doctors, engineers, and physicists- people who are making a lasting impact on society. So, isn’t it a good thing to be arrogant? Or is that what society wants us to believe? Is there a way to be successful without belittling others for the field of study they chose? Of course there is! Arts and humanities do more than just theorize about life. They have to go into every discussion and provide representation for those who are disfranchised. This is not to say that STEM doesn’t consider marginalized individuals, but it is undeniable that people of color and women don’t have the same representation as cis-gendered heterosexual white men in STEM fields. Arts and humanities give a platform to people to express their individuality and allow people to think outside of the box, unlike STEM majors who use formulas to get a solution. Both types of students, those in liberal arts and those in STEM, have difficulties within their respective fields. Furthermore, saying one is better than the other would simply be illogical. Everyone can shine and be successful in their own areas of study because everyone is doing something different than the next person. We, as a society, need to dismantle this idea of tearing down others in order to get success. Instead, we need to teach people to help each other and recognize the potential in every field of study, because every field is very much needed. No matter what field of study you go into, you can make a lasting impact on society.

A Psychological Critique of Disney Romance

Princesses, hands-down, have to be some of the most iconic additions to the Disney franchise. We remember them for their long, luscious hair, their hourglass figures, and their gorgeous smiles. We also remember how these lovely women ended up with the men of their dreams and lived out their happily ever afters. This prompted us to believe that we have to emulate a Disney princess in order to find true love. Consequently, this “knight in shining armor” complex has clouded our judgement about how individuals should act in a relationship. It allows a slew of bad behavior to go unacknowledged. 

But, at the same time, there is no denying that Disney princesses can still offer hope and illustrate a solid foundation when it comes to building a romantic relationship.  Both the negative and the positive traits of a Disney relationship can be categorized in three different ways: intimacy, which refers to developing a close bond to a person; passion, which can be summarized as the physical attraction one has for the other person; and commitment, as in the decisions that are made that affect both parties in the relationship. These three aspects make up the Triangular Theory of Love created by psychologist Robert Sternberg.

When it comes to intimacy, Disney princesses are known to fall head-over-heels for their “knight in shining armor” rather quickly. In Sleeping Beauty Aurora fell in love with teh Prince after a two minute dance sequence.This is very unrealistic considering individuals have to get to know each other first in order to see if they’re a good match. Imagine finding a “love at first sight” only to later discover that you all have nothing in common. But on the bright side, Princess Aurora does teach individuals to give others a chance and break down walls that keep others from getting to know them. Princess Aurora and the Prince trusted that they wouldn’t hurt each other and were able to create an accepting environment for one another. 

For passion, Disney princesses are the definition of being sought after for beauty. When you look at Snow White, her whole gimmick was that she was the fairest in the land because of her silky dark hair, rosy lips, and snow-colored skin. Her looks made her a target for the Prince, not her brain or her ambitions. This sends a horrible message to impressionable young people because it is saying that the only thing that matters in life is your looks. Instead, Disney princesses should make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin and teach society that every skin and body type is perfect in its own way.

Disney princesses are pretty committed in that they usually give up their old lives to be with their prince. Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” decided that she would give up seeing her family to be with a man. Now this may sound romantic, but in hindsight it’s pretty toxic. She had to abandon everything to be with someone and has, therefore, become dependent on the prince.

Both parties should benefit from whatever decision is made. A relationship is about both individuals wanting to help each other to reach each other’s full potential. But, then again, commitment is also about sacrificing to be with that person. You are dedicating your time, energy, and money to a person for whom you care deeply about. To be fair to the Prince, he was ready to sacrifice his life to save Ariel from Ursula.

 Disney makes us tolerant of toxic relationships. But as long as we’re aware of solutions, we can take the healthy parts and use them in our own relationships.

MLK Day 2019: A Quick Review

Just last week, Bates College celebrated the legacy of one of history’s most iconic freedom fighters, Martin Luther King Jr., by giving students a platform to discuss issues involving race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and so much more. For three days I, along with most of the campus community, participated in events that not only reflected on issues marginalized groups dealt with in the past, but also examined how those systems were transformed into laws that restrict and take away people’s rights. More importantly, we also discussed solutions to dismantle these systems of oppression.


One workshop in particular had students imagine a society without prison systems. This workshop emphasized how the original idea for prisons was to protect citizens from “dangerous people.” However, due to American culture being white-washed, we have a very narrow lens for who we see as “dangerous.” Since Black people in the U.S. have been branded with negative stereotypes such as being inhumane or “ghetto” through media and laws, the automatic assumption is that there is always some criminal activity going on in the Black community. Thus, no one questions the mass incarceration of Black people. Not to mention how, because disability is seen as taboo in American culture, people with mental illnesses are thrown into jail instead of receiving the help that they deserve because no one wants to assist them. In short, the workshop highlighted how the prison system is a place to put people who aren’t deemed as socially acceptable. Instead of protecting citizens, we as a society are using prisons to take away the rights of so many innocent individuals. Students then found several alternatives that focused more on rehabilitating those who need it and not just because they don’t fit the status quo.

Now, you can’t talk about MLK Day without talking about Sankofa. Sankofa has always been an amazing addition to MLK Day because it highlights the talent in the people of color community, as well as the companionship they can find in one another. You get to see different styles of dance and hear people singing their hearts out to their favorite celebrities. I think that in a world that is serious most of the time, it’s nice to take a step back and realize the beauty in life. People of color are so much more than their skin tone, or gender, or sexuality. They are also dancers, singers, artists, poets, and orators. They have the ability to reach their goals just like their white counterparts, which is what MLK really wanted to make people see. MLK not only spoke about equity when it came to resources, but also about people bonding over common passions and loving one another for the talent they had to offer.

Overall, MLK Day gave me and many others the opportunity to sit back and realize that we as a society still need to grow. We have overcome so much, but it’s still not enough because people are still being oppressed. But we have the power to change that

R Kelly and a Reckoning with Men

In the age of #MeToo, we as a society are starting to reevaluate how we view rape by holding accountable the people who have committed or who continue to commit the criminal act. One person in particular that has recently been exposed is R&b singer R-Kelly and his numerous accusations of rape and pedophilia. Although R-Kelly has contributed immensely to the R&b genre and the music industry, in general, for over twenty years (known as the unofficial “king of R&b”), he has ruined the lives of numerous under-aged girls using his star power as a scapegoat. After releasing smash hits like “Bump N Grind” and “I Believe I Can Fly”, R-Kelly was at the peak of his career, and many families saw this. Many families believed that R-Kelly could help their children reach the fame that he was able to achieve. However, they were gravely mistaken. Although R-Kelly promised that he would produce people’s daughters and make them famous, they only thing he did was rob those children of their innocence. The television network Lifetime recently delved deep into the dark, twisted story of R-Kelly’s life in a six-part documentary series. It highlighted how R-Kelly both verbally and physically abused the under-aged women by starving them, attacking them, raping them, etc. The documentary series was made to give a voice to a group of women who were promised fame and fortune, but ended up getting years worth of abuse and people telling them that they’re lying or that their story doesn’t matter. Now you would think that this documentary series would change the public opinion on rape culture. But this documentary series did the exact opposite. There are still so many people who support R-Kelly. So, I guess the question is “why?” “Why do people still stand by a man who has destroyed the lives of dozens of women, and how can people blame the victims for a situation like this?” It is because so many of us grew up in a household that preached the rhetoric “boys will be boys,” which allows boys to make mistakes and be forgiven, despite the effects it has on others. Boys are taught that in order to know right, they must experience wrong, while, in comparison, girls are taught that they must be perfect at all cost. Boys grow up believing that if they make a mistake then it will be fine because people will forgive them and accept that they will learn eventually, while girls must learn to walk on eggshells at an early age in their lives. This idea evolves when these boys become men and they are allowed to, theoretically, do whatever they want because it’s a “learning experience.” Meanwhile, women are taught that their purpose is to support the man if he’s wrong because he has a lot of pressure on him. By teaching women that they are nothing more than a support system for men and teaching men that their job is to make mistakes in order to get better, we as a society allow men to not think about how their actions affect others. This was seen through R-Kelly and how he used under-age girls for his own personal pleasure. He saw nothing wrong because he thought he deserved those girls and society made it acceptable for him to go after anything he felt he deserved. People are defending him because they were taught that men should be able to seek out anything that they want. If we want people to see the error in their ways, we as a society have to teach men that their actions have consequences. If we as a society stopped excusing men’s irrational behaviors and actions, then they would respect other people’s lives more and think twice about their actions. If people realized that a woman’s life is just as important as a man’s life then more people could see how R-Kelly dehumanized these young ladies and took away their lives.

Your Black Isn’t My Black

Although the U.S. is recognized as a melting pot country, the Black community, specifically, is associated with a narrative that everyone who identifies as Black shares the same culture. In the context of the U.S., we tend to look at Blackness as a single story instead of multiple stories with each one having a unique perspective. Due to this illusion that all Black people are the same, we use the terms “Black people” and “African-Americans” interchangeably. But “Black people” is a broad term used to acknowledge all people with a dark skin pigmentation and ancestry that comes from Africa, while “African-American” is only supposed to refer to people with a dark skin pigmentation who have lived in the U.S. for generations.

One of the major problems with associating all Black People with the term “African-American” is that it erases the experiences that Black people from other regions of the world have. When it comes to Afro-Latinx and Afro-Caribbean people, they were colonized by different European peoples than African-Americans, which played a pivotal role in the development of their language and culture. When it comes to people from countries in Africa, they are still more connected to their original culture and language, unlike African-Americans. Due to slavery, African-Americans lost all ties to their original culture and language, but sprouted a new culture in the process. Consequently, with that culture comes systematic oppression that Black people from other regions cannot fully understand, which is not to take away their Blackness, but instead to highlight the difference. For example, when it comes to the word “nigga,” African-Americans were dehumanized with this word, so naturally they would hold some hostility towards it. People from African countries, on the other hand, did not face this type of hatred and therefore are not as affected by the word.

Again, this is not to take away the experience of Black people from other regions in the world, considering they also faced colonization and imperialism, but it is rather to show that Blackness comes with a multitude of experiences. Please also note that the reason I said “people from countries in Africa” instead of “Africans” is because we tend to group them all together as if Africa is a country. Hardly. Africa is composed of dozens of countries with hundreds of different languages and cultures. And since the purpose of this article is to represent the different forms of Blackness, it would be wrong to introduce a continent with such diversity as homogenous.

Some might argue that it doesn’t matter because we are all Black and we all experience oppression, but it does matter when we oppress each other. Too often do we see African-Americans try and determine if a person is “Black enough” because they are mixed race or Afro-Latinx, or if they are coming from other countries and “stealing our jobs,” as many African-Americans accuse people from African countries of doing. We have to show where we differ because only then we can acknowledge the unique oppressions that Black people from other regions face, which recently includes immigration policies as the Trump administration has more than doubled the deportation of people from African countries last year alone. We could also talk about how Black people from other regions may come to the U.S. for a better education, asylum seeking, etc., but are not only pushed down by white people but also African-Americans. We have put our oppression on a pedestal and refuse to see any other form of oppression as our equal. If we were truly all the same, then we would give every Black experience a platform and not just the African-American rhetoric that is constantly shown throughout media.

In order to understand each other, we need representation from Black people from other regions of the world through politics, media, music, etc. We need to understand, respect, and accept that every experience is valid and there shouldn’t be one that reigns supreme over the others. Blackness encompasses many stories, and it’s our job to recognize each story and make sure it is appreciated.

 

The Power of Religion in American Government

Even though American politics has separated the state from the church, it would be naive to think that religion isn’t still embedded in American politics. Considering the overwhelming number of people that simultaneously identify with a political party and a religious practice, as well as the issues being discussed in the political sphere that stem from religious beliefs, it is difficult to avoid a debate about the role religion plays in society.

However, I don’t think the problem is religion itself; I think the problem is which religions have been traditionally misconstrued to attack disenfranchised groups, and that those are the religions getting publicity.

Well, we should first review which religions are predominantly associated with which political party, and how important these religions are to these groups. The Pew Research Center surveyed Republicans and Democrats and showed that seventy percent of Mormons and fifty-six percent of Evangelical Protestants are Republican (the two largest percentages of Republicans in any religion). Meanwhile, eighty percent of Historically Black Protestants and sixty-nine percent of Buddhists are represented by Democrats (the two largest percentages of Democrats). The Pew Research Center also did a survey that determined how important religion was to each political party, and showed that sixty-one percent of Republicans believe religion is important and only forty-seven percent of Democrats believe in the same thing.

Now, the problem lies in the Republican Party because Evangelical Protestants are notorious for oppressing people due to differences in race, gender, sexuality, etc. Often times, they have used the Bible to justify their hatred of people who fall outside of their category as normal. Religion offers people a way to put their trust on an all-powerful, all-knowing Being that no one has concrete evidence on. People can believe in this Being so much so that they can be persuaded into believing that this Being wants them to discriminate against other people for not being “normal.” Many people who are stuck in this brainwashed mentality are Evangelical Protestants, or Republicans. Republicans incarcerate black people at a massive rate, take away women’s right to choose, neglect young people’s right to be educated about contraceptive and safe sex, and blame survivors of rape for being violated. Why? Because their interpretation of religion alludes to the idea that this is right. Even though they are oppressing people and making their lives more difficult than it already should be, they truly believe what they think is right because their faith is so strong. Republicans, essentially, are being manipulated to carry out an agenda that is set on empowering the people who preach this hateful language. The Republican Party is built on this lie that religion makes everything they stand for legitimate, when in actuality, religion is a cover up for Republicans to move forward with their hateful agenda. As the elections come up, I implore everyone to truly dissect political parties’ views on certain issues and why they have these views. Because for the Republicans, it seems to be the case that they have tried hold onto self-righteous views only to hide their evil intentions.

 

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