Hopelessness

For pretty much the entirety of my life I’ve been extremely aware of the problems that plague my nation (try growing up as a queer lower-middle-class Asian woman in a society that believes wealthy white cis-hetero males are superior to everyone else). I’ve often felt hopeless in the face of all of these problems, all of these ways in which this society oppresses myself and others who are considered minorities. But I’ve kept picking myself back up, because I know what is right, and I know that’s what I want to keep fighting for.

In recent weeks, my feeling of hopelessness has increased exponentially. The US government’s extremely inept responses to a devastating earthquake, multiple category 4 and 5 hurricanes, and a mass shooting were extremely disheartening. Here are all of these wealthy white men wielding their unearned power to perpetuate ignorance and add to the destruction. Here is a media that perpetuates the status quo by continuing to blame my generation for everything from the increased use of a certain color of pink to our current economic crisis, dismissing us as “millennials,” ignoring our cries for change, and doing very little to advocate for actual solutions to the problems they report on. Here is a society where those with exorbitant privilege and wealth feel okay just sitting idly by, unwilling to fight for what’s right because that would mean giving up one of their many, many comforts. I feel overwhelmed by the injustices of our world.

But I won’t allow myself to be apathetic toward these problems and lose interest. I can’t allow myself to think of this as the new normal. Because these issues affect us all, whether we want to admit it. Although by no means am I in the highest echelons of society (not that I’d ever be allowed there anyway), I certainly have enough power and resources to do something. So I have to do something. I have a duty to my community, a community called humanity. I think we all have this duty, and those who can most afford to act on that duty should.

My heart goes out to all of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. I will keep advocating for gun control, because no one should have to go through what you went through. When it is easier to buy a gun than it is to buy contraception in some states, there is something gravely wrong with our country.

And my heart goes out to all of the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and to the victims of the earthquake in Mexico. I’ll keep fighting to curb climate change, because I know that the poorest and most disenfranchised people of color are those who will be impacted first. I’ll keep advocating for a government that cares about all of its citizens, because Puerto Rico is a part of our country and Puerto Ricans deserve the same rights and care as those of us on the mainland.

I’m going to take action by upping my donations to organizations advocating for gun control and to organizations fighting climate change. I’m going to continue reducing my carbon footprint. I’m going to work with progressive activist organizations to elect candidates who actually care. And I’m going to pay  more attention to my representatives and hold them accountable. Even if my representatives are progressive and are already fighting for my values, they can always do more.

If you’re feeling hopeless too, I’d advise coming up with a game plan. Donate your time and/or money to help the victims of these climate change disasters. The Hispanic Federation is a great place to start, as they will distribute your donations to areas in need, like Mexico and Puerto Rico. Another good charity is Earthjustice, which uses the legal system to fight against climate change. If you would like to vet a charity before you donate to it, organizations like Charity Navigator provide comprehensive rundowns of various nonprofits’ efficiency and transparency. Call your senators and urge them to fight for gun control and fight for reducing carbon emissions. If they say they’re already working on that, urge them to work harder. And don’t stop thinking about these issues. Don’t let this wash over you and become just another blip in the timeline.

Listening to this podcast also helped me snap out of my feeling of hopelessness. The hosts have a really nuanced, caring, and important discussion about the current events of the past week, specifically the shooting in Las Vegas. They reminded me that, as overwhelming as all of this is, we can’t just stop in our tracks. We’ve got to keep talking about all of these issues. We’ve got to keep acting. Apathy is part of what got us further into this mess.

This blog will return to its usual programming of discussing sustainability and ethical fashion in the next post, but I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge current events here. I know I do a post like this every couple of months, but with all that is going on, I’m surprised I don’t decide to do this every day. (Admittedly, that’d be exhausting for both you and me.)

Stay safe, keep resisting, and don’t give up. Movements are built through the power of many individuals working together toward justice.

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Human beings are not burdens.

On Wednesday, a hateful, pitiful, corrupt shell of a man proclaimed that transgender people are a burden. He proclaimed, in the most flippant form possible, that to allow transgender people into the military would create financial strain on the US government. Once again, this man failed to see the humanity in other people. He failed to consider the burden of his own callous, disgusting words and actions.

As if effectively banning transgender people from the US military won’t create an undue mental and emotional burden for those citizens who are affected. As if that mental and emotional burden won’t end up hurting the country more than an inclusive policy would. As if this statement won’t add to the waves of depression that have been hitting those who are the most disenfranchised. Being transgender should not mean that one’s rights as a citizen are revoked. Being transgender should not mean one’s rights as a human being are revoked.

The true burden on this country is the lack of diversity within the highest echelons of government and leadership. Diversity needs to be celebrated. It needs to be cherished. It needs to be seen as important. Being around a diverse group of people fosters tolerance. Being around a diverse group of people opens up important opportunities: opportunities for new experiences, for new understandings of oneself and of others, and for new relationships. Opportunities for growth. Transgender lives matter. Transgender people are PEOPLE. A government that denies anyone’s humanity, that denies that equality that should exist for ALL human beings, is a government that needs to be kicked out.

Lady in Red

After the US election results were announced, I decided to become a part-time vegetarian* (in other words, I’m committed to being meat-free for two-thirds of my meals every week!). It’s clear that the current US president and his administration don’t care about curbing climate change, even though the Earth and humanity are at an important turning point. Part-time vegetarianism seemed like a simple way for me to fight back against the wasteful and delusional tendencies of the current government: research shows that eating less meat can help curb catastrophic climate change! How? Wastes from the meat industry pollute waterways and release a lot of methane into the atmosphere; methane is a greenhouse gas, so the more methane that is released into the atmosphere, the more heat is trapped on the Earth’s surface. Additionally, livestock require a lot of grain and water for sustenance, so the more livestock there are, the less water there is to quench the thirst of human and irrigate gas-trapping plants. If each one of us reduces our individual levels of meat consumption, there will be less demand for meat, which means less raising of livestock, which means less methane-producing fecal matter from livestock, less global warming, and more available water.

M. has embraced the part-time vegetarianism diet too. So, recently, M. and I went to the Chicago Diner for a lunch date. The Chicago Diner is a highly praised vegan and vegetarianism restaurant in Chicago, and we wanted to see if the hype was well-founded.

I was in the mood for something fried (because I lack self-control) so I ordered a crispy spicy chicken sandwich:

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It was delicious! The “chicken” patty was crisp and flavorful, with a breading that was much spicier than I had expected. I love spicy food, and whenever I order a spicy sandwich, I’m usually disappointed by how little heat there is. Chicago Diner got it right. I really wanted to try Chicago Diner’s vegan shakes too, but by the time M. and I were done with our entrees, we didn’t have room for dessert.

To go with my environmentally friendly meal, I wore an environmentally and ethically conscientious outfit:

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The choker and mock neck top were made in the United States in sweatshop-free conditions. The sleeveless blazer is an oversized, unlined blazer that I bought from the thrift store and then altered by lopping the sleeves off, binding the cut edges with bias tape, and shifting the button a few inches to the left so it would create a slimmer line when buttoned.

And here’s a goofy selfie for ya (oh yeah, I was wearing lipstick at some point that day…):

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The lipstick is Metallurgy, from Portland Black Lipstick Company. If you haven’t noticed, I love their lipsticks so much! This one is a shiny olive green color over a black base. I only bought a sample size but now I’m debating getting the full tube…

If you’re wondering why I’m so underdressed, considering it’s only March and Chicago is a cooold city, M. and I had our lunch date on a weekend of freakishly warm weather. I think it was in the low seventies (Fahrenheit)! As much as I enjoyed walking around outside without a coat on, those temperatures are a reminder that climate change is real and should not be taken lightly…. More reasons to stick with these new lifestyle choices of mine!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

* I know I could do even more by adopting a 100% vegetarian diet. But I don’t want to give up meat entirely because there’s as much of a cultural component in my meat-eating as there is a taste factor. (For example, a lot of dishes that my Mom would make during my childhood involved animal products. I really want to preserve the food of my cultural heritage, and that would be extremely difficult to do if I become 100% vegetarian. Malaysian food is very seafood based and Cantonese food involves a lot of chicken and pork.) I think part-time vegetarianism is a good compromise, and also a more realistic goal. Most of the human population would probably refuse to give up meat entirely, but not as many would refuse to lessen their meat consumption.

Love, Hope, and Strength

 

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I went to the Women’s March in Chicago on Saturday. It was inspiring. Women’s rights are being threatened by the current US President and his administration (and when I say women, I include trans women and women of color, because I have not forgotten your existences and you are my fellow women too), and I was glad to know that there are so many people out there who are willing to make it clear that the current administration’s policies are wrong. I was excited by all of the people and messages that I saw. And I have at least two friends who, after witnessing the march, are inspired to start taking more political actions after having been politically inactive for years.

I’m not going to stop fighting to protect my body and my rights as a human being. And I’ll keep fighting for your body and your rights as a human being, whether or not we agree on all issues.

I hope all of you out there stay safe and continue to practice love and compassion, both for yourself and for others.

❤ S. (aka AMisplacedPen)

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