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Why you should learn a second language

I am White and not Latina or Spanish. My native language is English, but I am also fluent in Spanish.

I learned Spanish in school starting when I was about 7 years old, and decided to stick with it, mainly per my parent’s request. But, Spanish classes are not the central contributor to what really made me fluent; my own teaching, interest and love of the language is what really made me a true Spanish speaker.

In order to effectively learn and master a language, you have to love it. If you want to learn a second language just to seem “smarter” or more interesting on your resume, that’s not going to work. You have to really enjoy it.

For example, outside of Spanish classes, I consistently listened to Spanish music and watched Spanish film and TV. None of these activities were assigned as homework; I genuinely loved hearing Spanish and listening to the language. I wanted to learn.

Today, at 23 years old, native Spanish speakers tell me my accent is perfect and that I sound like a native speaker. They ask me where I’m from and say my accent sounds Colombian or sometimes Spanish. This makes sense, of course, because the telenovelas I watch are primarily Colombian and much of the music I listen to is Spanish.

Why do I recommend that everybody learn a second language? Because it expands your social world. If you speak English, wonderful – that’s the most popular language in the world. But, what about some of the lovely people who are in Italy, France, China, India or Greece that you could possibly meet one day? Even if you can’t travel, there are plenty of people in the U.S. who speak languages from all over the world.

If you only speak one language, that limits your opportunities to get to know thousands of people and cultures from around the world.

Another reason I am glad I know Spanish is because of the entertainment aspect. I can watch all of the Spanish film I want to, without subtitles. Most of my favorite musical artists are from Latin America or Spain; I hardly listen to English music anymore.

If you speak more than one language, more film and music are at your disposal. Imagine all of the new genres of music you can learn about. All of the wonderful musical artists. You would have an endless abyss of film and music ready for your consumption.

Although the above reasons are my primary incentives for why someone should learn a second language, here are more reasons to further convince you:

  • easier when traveling to countries that speak the language
  • advancing your career
  • freedom of communicating with more people
  • surprising people when they realize you speak the language
  • increased attention span
  • expanding your vocabulary of your first language
  • deeper connection to other cultures
  • able to read and write in another language
  • talk sh*t about people without them knowing

Gracias y buena suerte!

Seasonal depression is a real thing, it’s not just an expression

I knew I had an intense dislike of winter weather and grey skies when in college I seemed to lose every ounce of energy when the sun hid behind the clouds. Nothing but bright, white skies and not a sliver of the warm, yellow sunlight in sight seemed to bring me into an unfamiliar depressive state. Even if something amazing happened to me that day, if the sun was away and clouds were all I saw, I couldn’t figure out why I felt nothing but melancholy and emptiness.

A sunny day would randomly arise during the winter months and I would notice myself relishing in the warm feeling of the sun on my face. The first thing I would do upon waking was check the weather and look outside the window, hurrying myself to get ready so I could run outside and feel the sun. Even on my worst days, the sun seemed to have an intense, uplifting impact on my emotions and energy. And upon these realizations, I began to research why I was like this as my friends didn’t seem to understand and did not mind the gloomy, silver skies.

I stumbled upon seasonal affective disorder (ironically forming the acronym SAD), otherwise known as seasonal depression: a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. Reading the unsettling word “disorder” made me immediately think that was not something I could have, because I knew for sure I did not have a “disorder”. Yet, studying more into the topic, and realizing how common it truly is, felt comforting. Disorder is a strong word, but S.A.D. is an even stronger, sometimes debilitating matter that affects a large group of people.

What has upset me most in my struggle with S.A.D. is that many people do not understand it. Somebody with S.A.D. does not simply just dislike cold weather or hot weather, it affects us deeper and changes our serotonin levels, just like regular depression does to others. It is not an aversion to cold and a preference of warmth; it is feeling depressed versus feeling normal because of something we as humans cannot change: the weather.

So next time a friend of yours says they have seasonal depression, maybe don’t say, “Ugh, me too”, unless you actually do, because that only minimizes the struggles we deal with on the inside that may only surface to others as irritability, tiredness, depression, anger, or indifference.

Those who struggle with seasonal depression can have Spring and Summer depression, or, like me, Fall and Winter depression. The causes of seasonal depression are typically due to ones circadian rhythm affected by the reduction or increase of sunlight, drops in serotonin, or the change in ones melatonin levels during the change in season.

While there are various ways to treat S.A.D., such as light therapy, Vitamin D supplements, or anti-depressants, I treat mine in a milder way. I make sure to have a good amount of windows open around me, letting all the bright, natural light in – whether or not it is cloudy or sunny. I also make sure to be outside as much as I can, and I even went so far as to purchase sunglasses with a slight yellow, warm tint that can make a cloudy day look almost sunny. However, my S.A.D. still impacts me greatly, as I unfortunately practice the art of checking the weather everyday and counting down the days until Spring. On the bright side (pun intended), that gives me something to look forward to, no matter how far away.

White feminism: Explained

There are many women who consider themselves “feminists”. But feminism and sexism affect different types of women in all different ways. For example, women of color and White women experience sexism way differently.

“White feminism” refers to when feminism is seen and projected through the eyes and experiences of White women, and describes White women who claim to be feminists but don’t acknowledge sexism from the lens of women of color. These “White feminists” approach feminism from a White woman’s point of view, and fail to acknowledge how other women experience sexism and other types of discrimination.

The bottom line is: if you are going to call yourself a feminist, you need to address the forms of discrimination that affect women of color, and stand up for ALL women, not just White women.

Many White women who engage in White feminism also enjoy playing the victim and do not recognize their White privilege. They act as if they are so powerless and discriminated against by men in society because they are a women. While that may be true when looking at the White ethnicity in particular, there are other women who experience many more forms of discrimination, and when you look at feminism through an intersectional lens (see below), you can see that White women receive much less discrimination when compared to women of color.

Intersectional feminism, a term coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, describes a more inclusive experience of feminism, discussing the ways that sexism affects women of color, along with the added systemic racism that affects people of color as well.

We should all aim to be intersectional feminists because White feminism is toxic and regressive to human rights causes as a whole. Black women who are LGBTQ experience discrimination differently than White LGBTQ women because they also face racism.

It is essential to pay attention and acknowledge the levels of discrimination that ALL women face in society because sexism is not the only form of discrimination. Unfortunately, there are many more. The more we fail to recognize and call attention to them, the longer these forms of discrimination will exist.

Your silence makes you a direct participant in racism

“All social change begins with a conversation”

– Margaret J. Wheatley

Think about the above quote for a moment.

Simply with a conversation, we can provoke change in others. Sometimes, that is all it takes. All you need to do is spark an idea in someone’s mind. 

But when you stay silent, you miss that opportunity.

There are people who stay silent because of fear of judgement, rejection and for the pure sake of avoiding an argument. But, there are also those who stay silent because they simply don’t feel like “wasting” their time. Many of the latter also claim to support the many oppressed communities, yet they do not stand up for them when the time comes.

The bottom line is: 

If you say that you are for human rights, women, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and a number of other oppressed communities, then why aren’t you standing up for those communities when your friends speak ill of them? 

Actions speak louder than words.

You cannot claim to support those communities when you associate yourself with people who make it clear that they do not, especially when you do nothing about it. 

All it takes is a sentence. Even just the word “no”. Let your friends know that their discriminatory behavior is not acceptable. Tell them it’s cruel. Tell them the truth. 

When you stay silent, you are giving them permission.

You are feeding them the idea that what they are saying is okay; that it’s normal. You are normalizing their hatred of other people.

Risk those arguments, risk those fights between you and your friends. If you care about your friends who are minorities, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, then let your friends who are ignorant know that they are wrong. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Stop letting your fear of being judged get in the way of doing what’s right.

Why hypocritical Christians have pushed me from religion

Although I wasn’t an avid church-goer as I grew up, I was raised a Christian. I went to a private Episcopal school for first through eighth grade and prayed often.

I was taught to love others and to “treat others how you wish to be treated”. I was taught that God loves everybody equally and unconditionally. Yet, as I grew older, I realized that many of his followers don’t practice what they preach.

We all know about the hateful Christians and Baptists who show up at gay pride parades with horrible signs, but there are many religious people who practice hate even without signs.

I first started to doubt my Christian religion when I learned that many believe Jesus was actually Middle-eastern. In the predominately White churches that I grew up in, sculptures and paintings of a pale White Jesus scattered the Church walls. It seemed to me that White people were attempting to claim and mold a religion to benefit themselves and their race. They wanted their God to be White, not Middle-eastern. It was from this moment that I started to doubt the integrity and inclusion of this so-called religion.

There are too many Christians who believe they are doing “the Lord’s work”, when in reality they are spreading hate on those who do not fit into their God’s “perfect picture”. They are deliberately fear-mongering those who are not religious.

Many Trump supporters use religion and God to support their political beliefs and reasons for supporting the president. Even Trump himself has used God and religion to support his actions and political agenda. Yet, isn’t America supposed to support freedom of religion? Should there be religion in presidential discourse?

Religion is supposed to be a personal choice; it shouldn’t influence who you vote for nor should a president use it to attract voters and pressure an entire nation.

usatoday.com

Conservative Christians use religion to control those around them. They are not only spreading the word of God; they are spreading their moral and political beliefs and expecting you to live up to their standards.

For example, many Christians implicitly suggest when they disapprove of how women dress, speak or act. For example, if a women is showing cleavage in Church, or anywhere for that matter, many Christian men and women would most likely stare with “expressions of disapproval”. If a women cusses, Christians would certainly express disapproval whereas if a man cusses, the reaction would most likely be different. The bottom line is, if God loves everyone unconditionally and made everyone equal, why are there so many insinuations and judgements from Christians when someone is straying from the political conservative side? Clearly many Christians are involving their political values and beliefs into their religion.

When you vote for Donald Trumpyou are supporting institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and ageism, because he himself is sexist, racist, homophobic and ageist. Do you really think your God, who is supposed to be light and love, would approve?

I don’t want to believe in the same God you believe in. So I chose to believe in my own type of God. One that is loving, accepting and open-minded. One that doesn’t give rules as to who someone can love and who they can’t; one that doesn’t dictate that men are more powerful than women. My God is full of love and does not wield an ounce of hate. She is unconditionally loving, judging nobody no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or age. My god is love. What is yours?

The REAL reasons immigrants are coming to the U.S. from Mexico

President Trump constantly claims that Mexicans are coming to the U.S. bringing drugs and crime, when that is simply not the case.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Donald Trump, presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015

Immediately from the start of his campaigning, Trump made statements claiming that Mexican immigrants are bringing drugs and crime. Many of his supporters didn’t even question him. But, there are no facts to support these statements, and the data that exists on crime when compared with illegal immigration actually make his statements look beyond incorrect.

The trend has been: as immigration increases, crime decreases. Below, the two charts show the increase in immigration as well as the simultaneous decrease in violent crime spanning from 1990 to 2012/13.

As you can see, as the rate of immigration increased, violent crime decreased.

“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

Donald Trump, statement about his June 16 comments, July 6, 2015

Based on the above quote, Trump states: “in many cases”. In many cases? That is clearly an assumption that can only possibly stem from his xenophobic beliefs and discrimination towards Latinx communities.

He has no proof, no facts, therefore his statements are opinion oriented. Plus, all of the research that you will find online will show you that there is absolutely no correlation between the rising number of illegal immigrants and crime.

In fact, data shows that native-born Americans actually have a higher incarceration rate. In the chart below, the U.S. incarceration rates are compared between Native-born, Mexican, and Salvadoran/Guatemalan men aged 18 through 39 without a high school diploma in the years 2000 and 2010.

The percentages shown in the chart above clearly show that the incarceration rate of Native-born men are substantially higher than that of Mexican men. Trump is wrong, and unfortunately because of his public platform, many people have heard his lies, and many believe them. He has twisted the perception of the Latinx community into something that is false.

So, you may ask: if Mexican immigrants aren’t bringing drugs and crime, then why are they coming to the U.S.?

They come to the U.S. in search of a better life. They are displeased with the crime, drugs and political corruption in their home country and want a better life for them and their families. They are coming here to work, and most of them are very hard-working… even more so than many native-born Americans.

Many of them also work very hard for less-than-average wages. As America, the “land of the free”, we need to be focusing on how to give the Latinx community better opportunities, not spreading lies about the intentions of Mexican immigrants.

They aren’t bringing drugs, and they aren’t the violent criminals that the President wants them to be seen as. They are simply human beings in search of a better life and situation for their families.

Men have absolutely no right to an opinion on abortion

With the many new abortion laws set to take effect in 2020, the opinions surrounding abortion have grown substantially.

Yet, if abortion truly affects nobody but women, why are there constantly so many comments and complaints from men?

After all, men cannot get pregnant, therefore the issue of abortion really has nothing to do with them. What it has to do with is their desire to control women. These men who are against abortion want to keep the patriarchy alive by telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

What these men who are “anti-abortion” need to understand is that women are not walking wombs, and we deserve sexual freedom just like our male counterparts.

Besides the fact that a man’s opinion on women’s reproductive rights should not be valued, it is hypocritical at best to think women should suffer with the burden of a child she does not wish to have, when men themselves are half of the reason for the pregnancy. In fact, studies recorded by the CDC show that only about 1/3 of men worldwide wear condoms while about 60% of women of reproductive age currently use contraceptive methods. Based on this, the ones who are generally the most negligent when it comes to preventing pregnancy are men. So, if they are the ones who are being so careless when it comes to unprotected sex, why are women the ones who need to be punished and deal with the “consequences” of unprotected sex? Why do women have to suffer for the careless actions of men?

Let’s not forget that there are often very serious reasons why a woman would not want to have a child. These include rape, health reasons, financial reasons, age, and a number of other personal reasons that are nobody’s damn business.

Making abortion more difficult does not mean that it will not happen; it means that it will happen, but in alternative and dangerous ways. We will be back to the time in history when women used clothes hangers. Yea, it’s as unsettling as it sounds.

If abortion is not a widely available, safe and legal process, abortion-related deaths and injuries will surely ensue.

The bottom line is: Reproductive freedom is a basic human right. If a woman does not wish to carry a baby to term, she should not be forced to.

Men, stop offering women help when they didn’t ask for it

I can name plenty of times when men have come up to me asking if I need help, when I didn’t even ask for it, nor did I actually need it. Whether it’s while I am parallel parking, walking to my car with groceries, or simply working out at the gym, it seems that some men never stop feeling entitled to offer their assistance.

Although these men may think they are only being helpful and chivalrous, to me and many other women alike, it seems as if you are being condescending, or presumptuously assuming that I cannot handle what I am doing on my own.

I have been driving for around 8 years now and have a spotless driving record. I drive cautiously and efficiently, and do an excellent job parking. Yet, it seems as though people, specifically men, love to offer help when I am taking my own sweet time to fit into a tight parallel parking spot. It’s pretty hard to focus on my parking while a strange man is waving their arms and hands in front of my car as if they are directing traffic.

If I roll down my window and ask you strangers lurking outside my car how much space I have behind me, then your help is welcome. Otherwise, please stop acting like a traffic director because you look ridiculous and are being all too distracting.

I have also dealt with unsolicited help from men while carrying groceries to my car. Yes, I am 5’3, 115 lbs and don’t appear the strongest physically, but I can manage my own groceries and in fact, I choose to because I can. If I was obviously struggling and dropping my groceries, then I would thank you for your help. But, if I seem like I am managing perfectly fine on my own, your lack of engagement is much more appreciated than your unsolicited “chivalry”.

Another inconvenient time when I am offered male help is at the gym, specifically when I am lifting heavy weights or trying out new equipment. Maybe it’s because a guy thinks I am attractive, or maybe it’s because he assumes because I am a petite, blonde woman that I just need the help. If it is because he is attempting to flirt, then his chosen approach is most definitely a turn off. To randomly ask if I need help figuring out how to use an exercise machine is condescending in itself. It’s just in bad taste. If I need help, I will ask an employee. Find a new way to charm me that doesn’t seem to doubt my intelligence and astuteness at the gym.

On the other hand, I will not deny that there are also plenty of women who do appreciate the extra, unsolicited help, even when they do not need it, but simply because they like being helped. That type of woman just isn’t relatable to who I am, and for many other independent women like me.

We are not all in dire desire of a man’s help.

All in all, be cautious when offering help to a stranger. Because, one – you are a stranger, and two – they may not need your help, and your “help” may seem patronizing. In my case, I don’t need your extra arms when I grocery shop, your mansplaining while I parallel park, nor your unsought instruction on gym equipment.

So, for future reference, unless a woman specifically asks for your help or gives obvious, unmistakeable signs that she needs help, maybe think twice before you so kindly offer help.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Stop mooching off your friends

Have you ever gone out to eat, shopping or to a bar with friends and had to lend a friend some money to pay for themselves? Do you find yourself always paying for the Ubers and Lyfts because your friend never offers? Have you ever wondered why your one friend never buys her/himself drinks, yet always asks for sips of yours?

Now, I know everybody wants to enjoy life and get out of the house sometimes. We all want to go out to eat or grab some drinks with our friends every now and then. But, there’s a certain group of people who seem to always want to enjoy these super fun group outings — yet never seem opportune to fund their taking part in them.

The bottom line is: if you don’t have money to go out and pay for yourself, don’t go out.

Just don’t go. It’s not fair to your friends who are ready to spend money on a fun time when you don’t want to spend any on yourself. Who wants to go out and be the only one eating a big meal or drinking a fun drink while you sit there and watch them?

These moochers also have a tendency to play the victim. Have you gotten tired of them saying, “I’m trying to save money” or “I haven’t gotten paid yet, can you spot me”?

Attention moochers: you need to stop guilt tripping your friends into paying for you just because you don’t want to spend the money. It’s your fault that you decided to go out when you don’t have the allocated funds or the desire to spend some. What you need to do is stay home, save up and pay for yourself next time. If not, people will probably stop inviting you out.

Your hatred comes from fear

You are afraid. Of many things. You may also be confused on why I am saying this. And you don’t want to hear it; you don’t want to keep reading. You are uncomfortable, maybe even a little angry and bothered. But, for the sake of your own self-revelation, I suggest you keep reading.

Have you ever wondered why you have so much hate, indifference, disgust, disapproval, or disassociation with other people who are different than you? And maybe you don’t know why? Or if you do, do other people think your reasons are ignorant, or maybe crazy?

In this article, I am going to specify the type of hatred, as unfortunately there are many people who harbor hatred towards many different things (age, gender, language, disability…etc). We are going to talk about the hatred people like you hold towards people of other ethnicities. Yes, I am talking about racism.

Maybe you rolled your eyes, maybe you didn’t. Either way, if somebody sent you this article — it most likely applies to you. If you did roll your eyes, well, then it definitely applies to you.

I want you to know that your hatred does not make you look strong, better, or simply someone who is just “proud” of their heritage. It makes you look weak, afraid, sensitive and angry. You are so angry, scared and full of hate inside that you don’t know how to handle it. And why?

Because you can’t handle that you are wrong. That you are a hateful and ignorant person. That you are not in the 1800s and your race is soon to be overpowered by people of other races. You are angry that people call you racist, when deep down you know that you are. Or, maybe you say you are racist loud and proud.

You so badly want to be in control, to be powerful, to be accepted and in turn you don’t accept people of other races; you use your words and actions to minimize and bully others for simply being different because secretly you hate yourself. You hate that you are so insecure that you use your physical complexion to esteem your power. You hate your hate, and you love it for making you feel and look powerful. But guess what? It doesn’t.

It. makes. you. look. weak.

Your love for power, for White supremacy, and for being superior has made you the monster that you are, whether people see you for that or not.

Maybe these views were instilled on you since you were younger, through generations upon generations of racist ancestors. Given the USA’s history, that is a highly plausible situation. Yet, you seem to not have made any effort to stray away from your families lineage of hate and racist ideology. You are a follower, and that makes you feel comfortable.

My advice to you is, get uncomfortable.

We are not in the 19th century anymore, not even the 20th. There are a huge number of us who love diversity and people of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, genders and everything in-between.

We will not stop loving people who are different, so if you are to be a part of this world, I can promise you this — your hate will be outnumbered. People like you will be outnumbered.

Your race is not the “supreme race”, and you are upset that people know that now.

You see, people like you are unhappy at core. Hateful people aren’t happy, and happy people aren’t hateful.

So, you should try looking in the mirror. What do you see? Are you truly happy with your hate? Do you like what you see? Who are the people in your life around you? Do they all look like you? Do you have any friends who are different?

If not, that must make for a boring, culturally limited life. I personally pride myself on the amount of diversity I have in my life. I have gotten to know and understand the world so much better just by being around different cultures. In fact, none of my friends even remotely look like me. I am the only White woman in my friend group.

What about you?

Start questioning yourself, start loving yourself, start working on uncovering why you have so much hate inside of you for other people. Because at the end of the day, we are all just souls and our physical traits are nothing but furniture.