So, I know what you’re thinking, here we go some privileged American white kid is gonna complain about the small inconveniences he experiences in his country. But no, that’s not what this is. I’m talking about the real problems. The massive amount of poverty and homelessness, gun violence, crime rates, education, healthcare, all that bad stuff. So many people in this country think its the best country in the world, but in reality we are not in even in the top ten in education, over 40 million Americans are living in poverty, and recently more and more books on historical tragedies are being banned every year. Our healthcare system is probably the most corrupt industry in our country. The first thing you do when going to the hospital is fill out some personal information and then show them your insurance card, that insurance decides what level of care you get. You have a sprained knee? If your insurance is good you’ll get an x-ray, maybe even an MRI (which really isn’t necessary they just want the money). If your insurance is bad, you get ice, Advil, and an ace bandage. This disparity in levels of care goes all the way up, if you’re rich with cancer you have a much higher chance of surviving, if you’re poor, you might not even know you have cancer till you’re already dead. People get turned away at hospitals for not having health insurance or means to pay a hospital bill. Then there’s our actual government system, and the corruption within it. All senators are paid a maximum of $174,000 yet the average net worth of a senator is $14,000,000. Nothing goes through without the support of corporations. This government is supposed to be by the people, for the people, and of the people, but it has become a massive oligarchy in which the poor get poorer while the rich get richer. Corporations have blocked laws to make the government essentially calculate your taxes for you, from there they send a check or a bill to your house, but companies like TurboTax have paid senators off to keep it from passing, allowing them to keep their profits. “Healthcare” companies have paid senators and house members to keep universal healthcare bills from going through, as well as running smear campaigns calling universal healthcare socialism and saying this like the government would have access to your medical records. This is just straight-up false. This country is probably among the most corrupt in the world, and we are doing nothing to stop it. The media has turned us against each other so we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. The worst part is nothing will ever change, people are far too greedy to allow anything to change. For now, we’re just gonna have to deal.
The rays of sun beamed down from the sky laying a thick layer of warmness on the Earth’s surface. The dark yellow school bus happily chugged along the valley’s floor and up the hill to drop off the captives for their usual morning classes. Steeping briskly, as I do, I made my way to room two where I took a seat on the chilled plastic chair that I was expected to stick to like glue. My heavy books were plopped on the table as a sigh of reality takes hold of my lungs. The confining walls lined with large glass sheets let my eyes wander the landscape. The mountains breathe deep breaths of fresh air, I see their lungs fill nature and freshness. The trees sway as the mountains exhale long and slow. The room that I sit in is atop a tall hill that oversees a field. I look down upon the land that lays many feet below, just observing. Until suddenly a small scrub jay painted in blue and black leaps off of the chipped greed roof. My first thought was that his small wings and small body would plummet down to the field below. Instead, he gracefully soared through the open air. He seemed weightless and unbelievably free. I wish with all of my mind and body that I could be that scrub jay. I wish that I could weightlessly jump off of buildings and without a care float through the sky. Instead, I sit heavy and flightless.
In North Dakota, a voter ID law was passed that states: in order to vote one must have a street address. If the mail man does not deliver to your home, it is not considered an address. No street address=no vote.
In North Dakota, thirty-five percent of the population does not have an “acceptable” address. A large part of this thirty-five percent are the Native Americans who can trace their lineage to North Dakota dating back to the 1830’s.
Over sixty percent of the Native Americans live on reservations and use P.O. boxes to receive their mail.
Over sixty percent of the Native Americans in North Dakota are refused a right that they were born with: the right to be a part this so-called “democracy.”
In Florida, many polling places in the towns of minorities were locked and closed, despite the fact that they were supposed to be opened on voting days.
Piles of ballots were also left uncounted. In the 2000 presidential election, 179,855 ballots were “invalidated” and uncounted. 53% percent of these ballots came from black or Democratic voters.
In Alabama, a law was passed that, in order to vote, one must have a photo ID taken at the D.M.V. Alabama has closed 31 of 67 D.M.V. locations. Almost all of these of these 31 closings are in counties that are home to poor and black people.
There are 250,000 registered voters who are now unable to vote due to the ID law. The majority of these 250,000 are impoverished, African-Americans, or both.
Selma took place over fifty years ago, but it seems like some things in Alabama will never change.
These are few of the many injustices taking place in our country today. The list of minorities being targeted and denied the right to vote goes on and on…
Ask yourself: Is this democracy?
Don’t believe me or want to read more? Check the cold, hard facts:
There once was a thing named freedom. The gods created it for everyone to hold on to from birth and throughout their life, for all of us to rely on. It was a given right and we thought it was safe to stay.
It was a world of peace, as it was supposed to be. A world where we would talk and learn and see the places we wanted to see and know the things we wanted to know; it was a free world.
There was also a thing named envy. The gods didn’t create it, people did. Why? No one knows. Because the people were bored? Because they were intimidated and jealous? Who knows? But, what can we do? Envy is the flawed human trait, one of them at least.
When envy spread across our peaceful world and the people first tasted its sour acid rain, freedom started to fade. First, the people claimed the world and its land. Then, they saw the beauty of nature and took it. They saw the beauty of the birds and took it, locked them in and traded their freedom for amusement. They kept taking, claiming, and destroying. One day, the greediest of people, saw another person and took them.
Freedom has been on the brink since then. Our world has never been the same since we started taking other people’s freedom for our own comfort. Some of us want it to be the way it used to be, some want this to be a free world again. But, some of us are not enough of us.
As each day gets closer and closer to June 1, and the months pass, my heart yearns for summer to finally happen.
Today was the first sunny day in California for weeks, and as I lied by the pool with the sun beaming in the sky and minimal clouds in the distance, I imagined myself at the beach in front of my house, with my sunglasses on and the crashing waves against the sandy shores.
Now, as I accept the fact that I will keep having to imagine my summer days until they actually happen, I will live these daydreams through the stories I write and the dreams that come to me in my sleep.
I can’t write about every single thing I’m excited for about summer 2018, but here are a few:
The concerts. I’m always excited about concerts, but I feel like the shows I go to this year will be exceptionally memorable. I will see G-Eazy for a second time. The show will be in an outside amphitheater, and I will be at the barricade with the hundreds of people who showed up. The stars will be bright, but the streams of neon light beaming from the stage will be even brighter. Then there will be the Warped Tour dates. The days I wake up early and return home late, my body covered head to toe in sweat and dust, my voice will ache along with my legs. Yet as I fall asleep, replaying the memory of All Time Low singing on main stage with the sunset across the horizon peeking over the back of the stage, my mind will fill with memories and my heart full of happiness.
The beach. Considering I have family both in Santa Barbara and Laguna Beach, I don’t actually spend time on the beach nearly enough. However, this time I hope that changes. I can’t wait to walk down the steps from my house to the beach, lie down my beach blanket and read my favorite book in the sun all day every day. Maybe I’ll go into the water if the waves aren’t harsh, or maybe I’ll get an acai bowl. At the end of the day, I’d head back up to my house with sun kissed skin and beach blonde waves. I’ll wash the sea salt water off my sandy skin, and I’ll curl up under the covers with popcorn, a scary movie, and my dog beside the bed, and I’ll know in that moment that life couldn’t get any better than that.
Lastly, I can’t wait for the freedom. I can’t wait to not have to follow a strict schedule from school, or have my adventures be limited to a mountain in the middle of Ojai. I’ll be free to wake up however early or however late I want. I can watch the sunrise from my balcony, and the sunset from a hammock. I can go take the trolley down to Banzai Bowls and get my favorite acai bowl. I can go to Disneyland or go to the gym. I can take trains up to LA to visit my friends, or travel to different beaches to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The possibilities are overwhelmingly endless.
June is a long time away. I should be focusing on APs and English essays, but summer please come sooner. I’m waiting for you.
we let people change us. from the moment we are born, our lives have a certain path dictated by others, whether you’re premature and in need of immediate surgery or cozily wrapped in a pink or blue blanket. after you go home from the cold hospital, you were placed in a crib and kissed on the head. the people
who brought you home soon tell you what to wear and how to act. this is only reinforced when your teacher tells you to raise your hand and to ask politely to use the restroom. after you outgrow the brightly colored chairs at kindergarten table to a desk at a high school, you start letting your peers decide certain parts of you. they decide where you sit at lunch and who your biology partner is.
and after that you start letting one person decide. this person is commonly known as a spouse, partner, or significant other. you share deep night conversations filled with painful memories or happy ones. what they do with this information is up to them, and you’re allowing them to decide that for themselves. so, what if they pull the trigger, let go of your darkness over dinner cocktails or lunch sandwiches. so what if your leg got bruised when i pushed you around, sweetie? don’t worry, i’m sure a haircut will cover up that broken jaw or that black eye. when you go home, make sure to wear a little more makeup there so your mom won’t notice. you listen to them, curl your hair that way or stop hanging out with that friend.
no wonder 25% of women and one in seven men will be victims of domestic abuse. if you’re shocked, don’t be. we train people from birth how to change for others, but some don’t learn to change for themselves.
I’ve never really been one of those people who has an emotional connection to music. I’ve played so many instruments that I could be a one woman band, but never did I actually feel a strong connection to playing.
I started out with the piano, “the base of all music” said my parents. I played and performed in recitals for years, hating every single moment of it. I remember the lessons seemed to drag on forever and ever, making a one hour lesson seem like a decade. My piano teacher, an older lady with no sense of humor or compassion for children, was also conveniently my next door neighbor; making it impossible to miss a lessons. Finally after a few years of sitting through endless lessons and playing out of key notes, I was allowed to stop play.
That freedom only lasted for a little bit. The next year I was forced to pick another instrument. This time not forced by my parents, but by my school.Every fifth grader in the public school system had to pick and instrument and either join the orchestra or the band. Of course I chose one of the largest/most awkward/ hardest to transport instruments. I chose the cello.
I played the cello for four years. I took private lessons, played in the school orchestra and played in 2 other out side orchestras. You could say I was a band nerd. I am one of the many that can actually say, ” that one summer at band camp…”.
Its been four years since I’ve played, and for some odd and unexplainable reason, I kind of miss it. I’m not really sure why because used to fight my mom every single day about practicing and I used to dread going to rehearsals or lessons.
I think I miss it because it resembles my childhood. A time where things were so much simpler, a time where the only thing I had to worry about was making sure that my Halloween costume was cool enough, a time where I wasn’t being forced to make decisions that were going to impact my future.