Tag Archives: opinion

Should we put Woke to sleep?

The past tense of awake is woke, obviously. “I woke up,” is what someone could utter any given morning. The word has also been adopted as a slang word with a meaning that is ever expanding, but generally entails being in the know when it comes to social and political enlightenment. A word with such subjectivity allows people to feel a sense of “wokeness” when it comes to just about anything.

Has anyone ever told you to #staywoke? The term has existed for a while, and now got a brand-new make over with its existence on social media. Its social media presence is what caused many to refine or narrow down its meaning.

Many people have various interpretations of the word.

San Francisco State University biology student, Rosa Gutierrez, thinks “…it is when someone is enlightened, or trying to learn about something that is going on around them, and not ignoring the issues that are going on around them.”

American-Indian studies major, Shawnee Sample, believes that, “It’s about seeing different perspectives and different sides to everything, just being able to recognize what’s going down whether it’s political, educational, etc.”

“I think it means being aware of situations and problems that people aren’t aware of,” shares computer science major, David Harvey. “I feel like it’s being overused for now, but with time it will be used less.”

The great thing about social media is that it can get information to circulate on a broader scale. People all over the world can get a laugh from the same memes at the same time! And while that is amazing it’s important to realize that not just memes are being rapidly spread, so are these trends of activism.

We live in a time where big social movements involving hashtags can catapult through the likes of social media. Take #BlackLivesMatter for example, the entirety of that movement started on social media and without social media it would not have spread as widely as it did.

With that being said, even though a social movement as such holds much more value than a trend, it is treated the same when it comes to having a shelf life, which brings me to the topic of being or staying “Woke.”

Even though it has taken off on social media, the term has been around for decades in the Black community. Although not the most reputable source, The Urban Dictionary satirically describes it as “a state of perceived intellectual superiority one gains by reading The Huffington Post.”

A lot of people think that because they were there first they get to delegate what the meaning is and how others should be regarded within that term,” says Ghila Andemeskel, former executive coordinator for the Black Student Union. “In general it does open doors for discussion.”

At the peak of its existence in the world of social media, “woke” seemed to bring a lot of awareness to issues. It also became something that people were striving to be a part of because it was highly looked down upon to be considered not “woke.”

With that popularity arose various problems. On one hand people were beginning to just start calling themselves “woke,” unjustly throwing around the word like Northern Californians throw around the word “hella.” On the other hand, people began to develop this unwarranted sense of intellectual superiority, and additionally it led to a lot of talk of issues, but no action.

“Media is a tool that can be used positively and negatively,” explains Hanna Wodaje, an Africana studies Alumna who currently works at the Black Unity Center. “The word can be like a double-edged sword obviously if it’s used inefficiently.”

The overuse and misuse of the word by people wanting fit in led to a lot of folks misconstruing the meaning. While it is great to care for these issues and give them more attention, the only thing this superiority does is create a divide between people, as opposed to spreading awareness which was the goal from the beginning, which in my opinion is the cause of this dwindling trend.

Often people think that a simple double tap on someone’s “woke” post or a simple retweet is enough and that is as far as their wokeness goes.

“Social media things like hashtags have been an amazing way for people of color and marginalized groups to reclaim their spaces and their platforms,” Wodaje points out.

Even singer and Bay Area native, Kehlani, sported the word as a tattoo in giant letters gracing the back of her hand, which she had covered up at the beginning of this year.

“When I got the ‘Woke’ tattoo at twenty-years-old I thought I was the smartest cookie in the jar,” shared the now twenty-two-year-old in an Instagram post. “I was so ready to declare my intelligence to the world.”

Someone who is truly about that life, lives it everyday. It shows in the company they keep, in them standing up for themselves and others, and it shows in their active activism—not including “Twitter activism”, which is not necessarily bad, but it is not enough to make an actual impact in the community and the lives of others.
We should stop looking at it like it is a finite state of being. There is no end to learning, growing, and becoming better versions of ourselves.

It is wonderful to spread awareness about social issues, the feeling that comes from doing such feels amazing, but anger or bashing should not stem from a difference in thoughts of opinions regarding various topics. I couldn’t decide whether something like this needed a different title like ‘socially conscious’ or maybe we should eradicate titles all together and let our actions speak louder than or words.

Let’s put the focus we have on the term to sleep and wake up our potential to be the catalyst for positive change in our communities. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about.

Chris Hemsworth: Is he really the world’s sexiest man?


Chris Hemsworth is not the sexiest man alive. Photo by Tami Benedict and Olympia Zampathas.
Chris Hemsworth is not the sexiest man alive. (Tami Benedict and Olympia Zampathas/ Xpress Magazine)

People has released their annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, naming actor Chris Hemsworth, as 2014’s sexiest man, beating out Chris Pratt and Idris Elba. The announcement came Tuesday night after Hemsworth appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, with his face and voice masked. Hemsworth was asked a series of questions before revealing himself.

Hemsworth is best known for his role as “Thor” in the Marvel films Thor and The Avengers. He is married to Spanish actress and model Elsa Pataky, with whom he has three children with.

My question is, who chooses these guys? I can think of a number of people, including Justin Timberlake and Chris Pratt, that are a lot sexier than Hemsworth. Pratt, who is most known for his role in Parks and Rec, lost a significant amount weight for his part as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. He was even named GQ’s Man of the Year last year. There are a lot of questions as to why Hemsworth beat out Pratt.

I did my research and I never got a clear answer as you how People decides who the sexiest man is. Here is what I think: they sit and decide and whose image would sell the most magazines, and they look at who is currently trending. My only guess is that they believe Hemsworth is a hotter topic since the new Avengers movie is on its way.

According to The Wrap, Hemsworth was only chosen after Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake turned the honor down. People are denying these rumors, saying that Hemsworth was always their number one choice, but it does make one wonder.

I am not saying that Hemsworth is not gorgeous, he has a nice body and it is adorable how much of a family man he really is. But I still believe that the title should have gone to Pratt. I mean, did you see that interview with Pratt when he returned from filming Guardians of the Galaxy and the moment he had with his son? It was beautiful, amazing, and it makes me want to marry him, so move over Anna Faris.

Why I Hate Haight Street

Last Friday, after ripping a hole in the last pair of pants I owned that was not already riddled with them, I decided to go to American Apparel to buy new ones. There are only three American Apparels in San Francisco, and two are in my least favorite places to be: downtown and the Marina. With my dislike of those neighborhoods providing me no other choice, I embarked on a trip to the American Apparel in the one part of the city I thought did not hate, Haight Street.
 My trip concluded within an hour, but as I got back on the 33-Stanyan to head home, too-expensive jeans in hand, I was in the foulest of moods. Not because I had just dropped serious coin on a garment I will be replacing in about four months, and not because I was offended by the smell of the bus, which I can only describe as a mix of bacon and urine.

Then it dawned upon me: I hate Haight Street. Not Haight as a whole, the street is too long and the bars and eateries in lower Haight too awesome, but the neighborhood often referred to as Haight-Ashbury or upper Haight sucks.
The street where I held the first of many jobs in San Francisco, the street where I bought my first bong, the street where I went to that really fun party that one time. I fucking hate that street. And if you do not already, maybe you will too after reading this.

Tourists. Everywhere.

I do not even understand why Haight Street is so big with tourists. There has not been anything special about Haight Ashbury for about 50 years now, yet every time I go there the streets are clogged with huge double-decker tour buses and slow moving tourists impeding the mobility of people that have somewhere to be. Unless you are into taking photos of the homeless youth that congregate in front of the Whole Foods on Stanyan, photo opportunities are virtually non-existent. Hell, the iconic Haight-Ashbury street signs are too high up to even really be visible. Thankfully the Ben and Jerry’s that sits on the corner of Haight and Ashbury has their own goofy looking, oversized street signs in the doorway so you can take pictures in front of those while their ice cream scoopers photobomb your vacation photos.

Overpriced everything.

Upper Haight is the land of overpriced wares. Looking for cheap clothes? Good luck. I saw a pair of overalls at one store being sold for $98. There is a Goodwill in the neighborhood, but I challenge you to find any other store in which the clothes are both reasonably priced and in the realm of fashionable.

If you are hungry and do not want to spend your life’s savings trying to eat, you pretty much only have the option of going to the McDonalds on Haight and Stanyan; that is if you can make it past the panhandlers and their pack of unleashed dogs, dealers offering you pretty much any drug you could ever think of, and wanna-be rappers trying to get you to purchase their mix tapes that have all claimed the steps to the McDonalds as their own. I was really excited when Burger Urge opened on the corner of Haight and Clayton because I thought it would be a cheap alternative to McDonalds, but I was so, so wrong. My excitement quickly faded when I found out that a cheeseburger, fries and a drink at Burger Urge will cost you a smooth $15.00. 

 Street Punx
 Being a “traveler” living on Haight Street seems like it would be really fun, aside from the whole not having a roof over your head thing. You get to hang out with your friends all day, harass passersby for money and cigarette butts, drink, and participate in general merrymaking. This is not a blanket request for the travelers on Haight Street to get a job or anything, if you do not want one or do not need one that is your thing. Just leave me alone and do not ask me for my hard earned pennies (which are not plentiful) or if I want to enjoy a “warm beer and a cold sleeping bag,” with you. Because I do not.

Its conflicting identities

So, am I supposed to regard upper Haight as a last bastion of the famous Summer of Love or a hip retail district? Because I cannot tell. In-between the expensive boutiques and street-wear stores, murals to people like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and shops that literally sell nothing besides tie-dye t-shirts, it is easy for the theme of Haight Street to get confusing.
 But maybe that is the point, in 2014 we are all about being nostalgic, and maybe there is a niche market for people who want to buy a tie-dye shirt, pay homage to Jerry Garcia by eating an ice cream flavor named after him, buy weed off of a stranger, then sit down and enjoy a $15.00 hamburger. I am just not that person. And I guess I will be going to the Marina to buy pants from now on.

Kim Kardashian and the photo that broke the haters

Kim Kardashian's Paper Magazine cover shot by  Jean-Paul Goude
Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine cover shot by Jean-Paul Goude cut short

Kim Kardashian’s November Paper cover is getting a lot of attention—and not all of it is positive.

The photos of a nude, oiled Kardashian are being referred to as “the photos that broke the Internet” by fans and news outlets alike, but not everyone is in awe of her behind. With reactions ranging from the heart-eyed emoji, to sexist slurs and comments, the Internet is a firestorm of drama, and both sides are doing their best to prove their points.

They are also keeping this Kardashian relevant. In case you have been living under a rock, Kim’s fame comes at the hands of an oft-mocked sex video with Ray J, followed by a reality TV show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Said TV show threw her violently into the spotlight, but at a cost: the lost of respect or anything that remotely resembles mental capability, at least in the public’s mind.

Since then, Kim had kept herself in the news with a short-lived wedding to a basketball player, made equally famous by the expensive wedding and rapid divorce which followed just seventy-nine days after the fact. Then her relationship with fellow self-absorbed celebrity, Kanye West, culminated in an engagement, pregnancy, child and wedding, in that order.

So, she has the odds stacked against her as far as the public eye is concerned. West is known for his ego, arrogance, and spouting off from time to time. That being said, why do so many people care if they hate her? Scrolling through Facebook is a battlefield of Kim fans and haters alike—but the fact of the matter is that both factions are keeping her relevant, the anti-fans more so than her supporters.

You may not love her – you might despise her – but Google those photos, keep reading the articles, and leaving those bitter comments – this does nothing but create more clicks and keeps these sites in business, and Kim’s well-oiled body relevant. Is her ass fake, or her waist Photoshopped? Maybe. But, for someone who does not care, a lot of emotional energy surely goes into making sure the Internet knows just how ugly and how much of a slut one might think she is.

It is 2014, and honestly, the reaction to these photos is both over-the-top and disgusting. When society is shaming one woman for choosing to show her body in a full-color spread, but applauding Keira Knightley for posting her own un-Photoshopped nudes or Alyssa Milano’s breastfeeding selfie in protest and response to these much-hyped, there is a severe problem that needs to be addressed. Comments shaming her for posting these photos “as a mother” are not only harmful, but distasteful as they insinuate that once giving birth, mothers are not allowed to be sexual beings.

There is an undertone of jealousy present in criticism to anything done by the Kardashians, namely in correlation to the Kardashian girls, all being in the limelight. Call them stupid whores, refer to Kris Jenner as their overbearing pimp mother, but keep one thing in mind: this family is capitalizing on the attention showered upon them by the media-consuming public, and profiting from it more than the average person does with whatever supposedly marketable skills they have to offer. 

These “stupid whores” are making more in a month or two than you probably will in five or six years of working forty-hour work weeks, and are generally unaware of your existence, nor of your bitterness and petty comments.

But hey, go ahead and fill your Facebook with vitriol if that makes you feel any better about the life you lead.

*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication.

Lena Dunham is not that kind of girl

Lena Dunham at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Photo under  Creative Commons by David Shankbone
Lena Dunham at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo under Creative Commons by David Shankbone

In case you have not heard what everyone is raving about, news is that writer-actress Lena Dunham may be a sexual predator. The Girls actress is being criticized for an excerpt she made in her new memoir, Not That Kind of Girl.

Here are the recounts from her memoir, “As [Grace] grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a ‘motorcycle chick.’ Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just ‘relax on me.’ Basically, anything a sexual predator might to do woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” “One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.

My mother came running. ‘Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!’

My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.”

Now an array of publications like the National Review, Daily Caller, and Truth Revolt are lashing out on Dunham with headlines like “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister” and “Pathetic Privilege.”

So the question remains, is Lena Dunham a sexual predator? Or, more accurately fitting to some of these right-wing publications’ accusations, a child predator to her sister?

The answer is no, she is no sexual predator or child molester. While Dunham’s story clearly proposes a question of “normal” child behavior, especially when it comes to sexual curiosity, whether or not this is abusive behavior drives me to take a look at all the facts.

First being, Lena Dunham’s age. As a seven-year-old female, being sexually curious is actually not uncommon, despite what many of the conservatives who wrote about Dunham would like to think about children.

Amy Lang, a parenting and sexual health expert, responded to the backlashes on Lena in an article on Salon.com, “First of all, it’s totally normal for kids to be curious about each other’s private parts and the fact that she checked out her sister’s vulva — not vagina, that’s inside and hard to see — is completely typical behavior,” says Lang. She then goes on to say that in response to Dunham bribing her sister for her attention, no – bribing is never okay, especially for sexual behavior. She adds, “Any kind of kid sexual behavior can move from mere curiosity and play to becoming more concerning and more adult-like and sexualized. It seems from her story, it didn’t move much beyond practicing kissing — a totally typical seven-year-old girl behavior — and bribing. Siblings bribe each other to do all kinds of things, good, bad or ugly.”

It does not seem like a fair argument to accuse a seven year old child of being a sexual abuser, nor is a single episode of sexual curiosity enough to claim someone a “predator.”

But that does not stop the right-wing circles from writing a headline as bold as they did.

“The right wing news story that I molested my little sister isn’t just LOL—it’s really f–king upsetting and disgusting,” Dunham wrote on her Twitter page Saturday.

Samantha Rodman responded on SheKnows.com from a psychologist point of view. “As a clinical psychologist and a mom of three, I feel it is so important to understand what constitutes sexual abuse and what is normal childhood behavior.” Rodman then reiterates that, although her choice of words was unfortunate, “it does not indicate that her behavior was abusive.”

While Dunham’s child molester analogy was not a fortunate one, she did release an apology to Time for the insensitivity of her word choice.

“I am dismayed over the recent interpretation of events described in my book Not That Kind of Girl. First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances. Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term ‘sexual predator’ was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well. As for my sibling, Grace, she is my best friend, and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.”

That brings light to the so-called “victim” of these sexual abuse accusations, Grace Dunham. What exactly does she have to say?

On Monday, Grace wrote on her Twitter page, “Heteronormativity deems certain behaviours harmful, and others ‘normal’; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that. As a queer person: i’m committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful. And, 2day, like every other day, is a good day to think about how we police the sexualities of young women, queer, and trans people.”

These are the facts. A woman is recalling her own experiences through personal narrative. She is describing a curiosity that is not uncommon in the range of sexual exploration, and the overreaction to Dunham’s experiences only shows the sexual shame our culture holds in regards to early sexual development, or any sexual conversation at all really.

“I told a story about being a weird seven year old. I bet you have some too, old men, that I’d rather not hear. And yes, this is a rage spiral,” says Dunham on her Twitter page.

Instead of accusing Lena Dunham of being a sexual predator, maybe a more relevant message is to be gained. As a society, we should stop categorizing sex as taboo conversation for children, and thinking that a child is not going to have sexual urgencies is just ignorant. Giving a child the proper resources and conversation can help avoid this behavior that may bite them in the ass twenty-one years later.

So, while there is a certain wrong behavior found in Dunham’s memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, it does not mean that her behavior makes her a sexual abuser.

*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication.