Mr. Fox is in the Building

“Mr. Fox is in the building…” It’s a code one of my previous schools used for lockdowns. Looking back, it wasn’t the most discrete code, but all of the students knew what it meant. We had a real lockdown at one of my schools and I don’t really remember it being scary. There had been a situation blocks away with someone in a hotel. They’d kept us afterschool though, and I remember parents everyone, showing up and wondering where the heck their kids were.

It’s really different to be a staff member during lockdowns now, rather than a student. I’m the one making sure the door is locked and the blinds closed. I’m the last one to the designated spot.

A week ago today was the Parkland shooting in Florida. It was the biggest school shooting since Sandy Hook. Since then, the media has predictably and figuratively exploded. Everyone is talking about it. There’s at least one conversation about it each day at work, and more at home. Since yesterday alone, there have been 2 districts within 100 miles that have reported threats. At least 1 additional district had a lockdown today that was reportedly not a drill. Police presence on campuses has increased. More doors have been locked. Name tags are required of staff. Students are watching their words and asking what they should do if they see a threat on social media. Class debates on gun control are a daily staple. Classes are never left unsupervised. And some students are certainly being handled as fragile. Less conversations happen around them and everyone is more wary.

Blame is thrown every which way. Of course, with my background in Sociology and having taken criminology, terrorism, and specifically studied school shootings, a lot of staff and students come to ask me questions. “What’s different with this one?” “Do they know the motive?” “Where?” “How old was the shooter?” Having kept up on the news articles and other reports, I’m usually able to give answers to a lot of these questions, particularly what’s different. I’ve spent the time analyzing statistics on the topic. I’ve ran the tests myself to look for significance and understand what the common shooter, and the shooting “looks like.”

What I struggle with is the speculation and redundancy of “solutions” and blame. I wish I had a word analysis of frequent use in articles, media, speech and news following instances such as this. If we did, I think a lot of the common words (besides the obvious shooting, shooter, school, etc.) would include: Gun control, violence, video games, motive, here, my kid(s), they should be in trouble too, why didn’t they…, what if, why, liberals, conservatives, republicans, Columbine and (insert whomever is currently President or FBI director here).

A lot of times, I keep my mouth shut tight while these conversations go on. I know that if I get involved, I will get frustrated and have difficulty explaining in simple Facebook-layman’s terms the statistics and other things I have studied. I also like to take the time for the event to cool down so that I can formulate my thoughts, hence the reason this post hasn’t come out sooner, even with a previous shooting. Additionally, I always find it incredibly useful for controversial situations to focus on supporting the argument opposite my opinion. This allows me to see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and gain understanding of where everyone else is coming from. Altogether, I feel I’m able to come up with some decent arguments for either side that I like to use to counter conversations with. Let it be known that each of the articles I will cite in this post will be scholarly peer-reviewed articles with actual studies unless otherwise stated.

For the argument of “video games cause/bring/encourage violence” (one of my favorites to counter) I’d like to bring to the table the article, Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents by Christopher J. Ferguson (2011) which findings conclude that both violent video games and television are insignificant in comparison with crime (not just shootings, but all violent crime among teens). The sample size for this article was 300 youth. Not enough for you? Here’s another: Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review. by Craig A. Anderson (et. al). This study additionally found very limited correlation. The samples that did have a correspondence were few and far between. There was no differentiation between males and females, which I would say is another big part of this argument, that males are more subject to video games to lead to violence than females. This study says differently. There are countless other articles studying the same thing with different samples and different focuses that have resulted in very similar findings. So tell me again how video games and/or television is the cause of violence? And why is your personal experience better than a study of hundreds of randomly selected teens? Oh, I didn’t realize it was you yourself that feels more violent when you play video games…carry on then….

For the argument of “it’s this idiot generation that spends their time eating tide pods. It was different in my day.” With this idea, I’m not going to go out and say that kids are smart, however I am going to say that you probably weren’t much smarter in your day. One thing I will agree is different: stress and the way mental health is handled. I’m not going to focus on that a ton right now, but I personally believe that stress levels have changed. Students, particularly teens have an immense amount of school work and pressure placed upon them. It’s often said that Generation Z (current elementary-high school students) are the ribbon generation, where everyone gets something for their participation. That had to come to be somehow, and who is it that is giving those ribbons? Who is pushing their children to win and putting that pressure on? Blue participant ribbons aren’t enough for many people, and we push student to do more. They are drowning in life and in school work and in the mere controversy on every topic surrounding them every day. This is not to say that this all hasn’t existed previously, however it is amplified by ever present social media and communication. With this argument, I hear a lot of “kids brought guns to school when I was a kid and no one did anything then.” My article to help with this point is not a scholarly approved, however I believe the purpose will be served the same with a mere Wikipedia article, focusing in on the dates of school shootings. The first one listed is in the year 1764. Take a moment to think about that. The United States was founded in 1776. Over a decade earlier IN WHAT BECAME THE UNITED STATES, there was a school shooting. 10 people died (more than just guns were used). Jumping ahead past several instances, into 1900-1910 there are 17 schools shootings. In a single decade. This continues on. There are 479 reported shootings listed on this page. There were shootings when you were in school, no matter your age. You may not have heard of them, but during this time, news was very local or very world based. It was not until the 1980’s into the 1990’s where broadcasting became more available and constant. 1980 was the year of the first 24 hour news broadcast and at that point, it was boring. This is why media began spinning stories. They were bored. Their viewers were bored. They wanted money. Now we have constant news from hundreds of sources. You are certain to know within hours, if not minutes of an event’s happening. This has it’s pros and cons, but again, that’s another post.

Moving onto our beloved topic of gun control. It is really difficult to take something away from people that already have it, particularly when that something is a given freedom. But let’s play with that idea. Take away guns. What happens next? Suddenly there is no way to hurt people? I always like to tie this idea into motive. Motive is never a clear idea because there are so many factors that influence everything we do. However one thing is common, and that is that events like this take place to create chaos, pain and confusion. Attacks work because they do that. The media, again, helps in this by spinning stories and spouting off even more things. If you take away guns, violence and attacks do not go away. In an article by James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur in 2013 titled Mass Shootings in America, analysis found that enforcing more gun control would have limited results in prevention of mass murder. There have been a number of situations, including terrorism situations in recent years where guns were not needed to create chaos. Other weapons like knives, can create this same chaos. Sure, there aren’t as many deaths, but this still induces fear. Another common one is driving vehicles into things. For this reason, most government buildings have really large flower pots outside them, and it’s not for decoration. Those are blockades to protect. This problem will not go away with guns being taken away. If this situation were to play out and cause guns to become illegal, the underground sales would initially skyrocket and likely level off later on. In addition to that, grandparent laws would prevent current gun owners from losing their guns. That’s the same thing that keeps people in prison even if a law is altered in a way that would have made their crime legal or less of a punishment. So then we decide not to take away guns. Then what happens? Nothing really changes….unless, there is another solution. But what is it?

This brings me to motive, my least favorite question to be asked when incidents occur. Every single time though, someone inquires, “Do they know/have the motive?” No is the answer. It’s always the answer. Even if there was a note from the attacker, deliberately laying out the motive, there will still be questions. You are asking to know the cause of the effect when it is much more complicated. Why do you do anything that you do? It’s a complicated collaboration of influences from a variety of sources, values, beliefs, peers, learned and observed behavior, and so, so much more. No one and nothing is without influence, both conscious and subconscious. You may not even know what is motivating you to do whatever it is you do. This is where I like to turn my attention away from the media and away from the attacker. I like to look at those in the community/area/school. A student may commit an act of violence like this, but why, did the other kids in their class not act in the same way. Sometimes in order to best understand why a behavior happens in some, you have to look at why it doesn’t happen in others. What is causing these other kids to not act out violently? Is it their beliefs? Their friends? Love? Family? Goals? What is it? I don’t think that there is a clear answer to this question either. There is no one answer and as far as I know, it hasn’t been studied in depth (likely due to sensitivity around students within the premise of what the study would include). What is it that motivates people to act in accordance with the boundaries of comfortable society and maybe more importantly, should they?

I don’t have all the answers; I don’t even have most of them. I can’t say what the solution is to stop things like this. Perhaps there’s an underlying problem/theme altogether that we are missing; something that is broken and has to be fixed. I can say that I don’t think situations like this will decrease. With each one, it triggers another set of discussions and situations. Sometimes the tipping point for one person is for another to act. I don’t enjoy watching all of this unfold in the world, but it is our reality and we have to learn to either accept or change that.

Be sweet, parakeet.

❤ Annee


If it Makes You Uncomfortable…

If this post makes you uncomfortable, literally in your own skin, and makes you think a little harder about the world around you, I will have succeeded in purpose. You guessed it, it’s time for Sociology again. The other day in class I was shown a video a faced with a question that I had never before considered: Does White Privilege exist?

I want you to take a moment to think about this, and if you find yourself question what White Privilege actually is and itching to Google it, hold off for a minute. You’re not alone in that lack of knowledge and I’m going to help you understand better what it is.

While you’re thinking about that, pause for a few minutes and take one of these quizzes for me. You don’t have to share your results although I would be curious to hear what they were, rather I ask you to keep your results in mind as you read the rest of this post.

After my class the other day and being faced with this question, I was curious about what others had to say, so I turned to Facebook.  I asked a few questions:

1. Does white privilege exist and if it does, why does it exist?
2. How has white privilege affected you?
3. Does reverse racism exist and is it the same thing as white privilege?

With the responses I got, a few things were obviously apparent:

  • People don’t know what White Privilege really means
  • They also don’t know what Reverse Racism means
  • People are very adamant about their beliefs
  • Most of their beliefs on this topics are based on a few experiences and not educational experiences on the actual subjects (to be expected)
  • I was surprised by the people that responded

That all being said, I got a large variety of answers all of which were really interesting for me to read and I want to discuss some of them but first, some definitions.

White privilege has many different definitions as it is a socially constructed concept, but in my own words, “White Privilege is the tendency for Whites to be treated with unearned benefits due to their skin color (whether consciously or subconsciously) by the majority of society.” Please take note now that my own interpretation and definition may not be the same as yours. Also, this is a MACRO idea. This means that this idea applies to society and institutions on a large scale, not individuals personally. That means that you may say, “Well I don’t treat people differently based on their skin color!” And while that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter because this idea doesn’t apply to you. Rather it applies to large groups, such as an organization, city, state, etc.

That all being said, also take notice that White Privilege is not how you treat others, but rather how whites are treated and “privileged” in society. Here’s some examples of how that could happen. While going through this list, I ask you, no matter your skin color to see how many of those things actually apply in your opinion and tally them up and then tell me. I’ll tell you how many I can apply to my own life: 48/50. I can also tell you that when I first read over this list, I was really surprised by a lot of things on there. My thought was, “People really have to worry about this? I thought everyone had this benefit.” But because that list was even written, I know that someone of a different skin color than mine has felt the opposite of every single thing on that list. That right there is evidence to me of the existence of White Privilege.

So now take a moment to look over that list one more time. This time think about someone of a different skin color than you. How would they agree/disagree with those statements? Does it surprise you? Every time I look through that list I find another thing I’m surprised by. No one should have to go shopping alone with fear that they will be followed or harassed. I don’t face that, I’ve never have and I likely never will. But someone does and it’s because of their skin color. I have a privilege that they don’t. That is White Privilege. Now before you get all upset, I’m not condoning this or bragging on my skin color, I’m just trying to help you understand what White Privilege is.

White Privilege is the stories that plague the media these days about whites committing crimes and getting let off easy. It’s this. And this. This. This. And this. And this. It’s why I can wear any one of these and people will tell me it’s cool. It’s why people think this movie is funny. Open your eyes. Look here. Or here.

Go ahead and tell me it’s not real, I will listen but you better have some good arguments to make your case.

That being said, some of the arguments against it are interesting to me (borrowing from things I’ve heard and from responses to my Facebook post).

  1. It’s a made up term: Yes, thanks for noticing, it definitely is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or isn’t real. Race is a socially constructed concept as well and you don’t argue very often that that isn’t real (a post for another day). Nearly everything in our society is socially constructed. Why does money have value? Because we say it does. What the heck is a selfie? You can answer this, because the term was made up and became popular.
  2. It doesn’t exist because I’m white and I’ve never been given anything just for that: See the list I linked to above. Maybe you have and you just haven’t realized it. Also remember again that this is a Macro idea and doesn’t necessarily apply to you alone.
  3. No, because sometimes I’m favored in society and sometimes people with different colored skin than mine are more favored than I am: While this may be true, remember again that this is not a Micro idea and doesn’t apply to just you. There are more factors, including class, gender, age, sexual orientation and religiosity but based on our social stratification, we can attribute much of privilege to skin color.
  4. Everyone has equal opportunity: Tell that to the family living on the corner, see how they like your comment, and surely don’t give them anything to help them out because they of course have the same opportunities you do.
  5. What about whites having less opportunities because of minorities taking them? (I.e. Jobs, Scholarships): Look up the statistics and then come back to me with this same argument. I dare you.

So basically in my opinion, White Privilege is very real and apparent in our society. Racism is very real and apparent. The facts are sad. I’ve nearly cried writing this post while looking at a few things and I’m still not finished. We still have more to talk about. Ready?

Reverse Racism, I’ve realized, is a very misunderstood topic and term. My definition of Reverse Racism would be something along the lines of, “A form of racism that occurs as a response to or result of past or ongoing occurrences against group A, where group B was the group originally wronged.” That being said, I’m just going to tell you now that I think this is real too. It happens back and forth and it’s similar to White Privilege in that that may be one of the responses or causes of White Privilege.

This term is also socially constructed and you could argue that it’s simply racism. I would argue back that it is only a form of racism. I’m going to be blunt and point out simply that racism and arguments between people of different skin colors seem to always be “whites” against “insert skin color, ethnicity or ‘race’ here.” Am I wrong? Maybe in some instances but in my experience and education it’s always been just that. Sometimes it’s even whites against whites, but still.

For example, Reverse Racism is what I would call it when Whites complain about scholarships that are directed towards and exclusively for people of a specific “race.” These whites feel as though they are being discriminated against. Racism generally occurs from a majority population to a minority population. Reverse Racism is the opposite, when a minority is discriminate against the majority. Doesn’t happen? Look here.

I’m not going to point of the disputes of Reverse Racism because the responses I got basically consist of disputing the term—which is a concept whether you like it or not—or misunderstanding the topic. If you do have an argument though, I will happily discuss.

Anyways moving on, to sum up here’s a few more interesting thoughts and things to think about:

  • On the conversation of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter,” Why do people say “All Lives Matter?” Ex. Is it just a way to distract/detract from the meaning of Black Lives Matter and put them “back to where they belong in social stratification”?
  • How would you say the Social Stratification in our country is organized? I.e. Who has the power in society?
  • Are the Young or the Old more empowered in society and why do you think this?
  • Is one group or section of society more ignorant to these concepts (everything discussed) and why do you think this? Statistics to show for it?
  • What should be done about inequality?

Thank you for reading and I hope this was enlightening. Comments are more than welcome and I’d love to hear more opinions (So go poll your friends and come back with more data for me 😉 )

So long, King Kong!

❤ Annee

It’s Not a Game

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

My last post was all serious and this one is going to be as well. For years, basically since the 2008 election, I’ve looked forward to the time I could vote. When John McCain and Barack Obama went head to head in the election, my school did well to keep us informed. Then again, with Romney and Obama in 2012, I was informed by my seminary teacher and history teacher. We threw our planned lessons to the dogs and had discussions on the current events, making our opinions known. When it comes to opinions, I have a lot of them. But because I don’t like contention, I’m more likely to stay quiet when the people I’m with bring them up. In my school classes though, my words come out and I defend my position. This is what happened during both of those elections and happens in a lot of my sociology and history classes. The world I live in is important to me, even if I don’t voice my opinion all the time.

Now that I’m old enough to vote, I’ve been paying attention to the world of politics again so that I can figure out who I’m going to vote for. Back at the beginning of the year, I had a roommate who was very vocal and pushy about her political opinions and kept me well informed about what was happening. I talked to my parents about who they would vote for and why and was surprised to find that I disagreed with them. I found myself leaning in favor towards O’Malley.

With the election growing closer and the news stations blaring in the background, I know that I need to start making decisions about who I will vote for. About who I support. Because even the electoral college is the one making the decision in the end, I need to be able to defend my beliefs. So tonight I decided to research the candidates. I didn’t read every single thing on every one of their pages, but at surface level it was easy to see that I don’t agree with any of them. There’s very few that I find things that I do agree with. I-side-with tells me who I supposedly agree with, but even then it’s one or two questions. There’s gotta be something better. I want something better for my world and for my children. If anything, I want people to know what I believe even though the world doesn’t agree. It’s important for people to know that I stand for something different. So here’s what I believe based on the questions and topics given by I-Side-With. (Note: I am skipping some questions but ask me if you have a specific one for me to answer).

Social Issues: This is really important to me. I’m going into Sociology after all. Let’s start with the beginning. Pro-life. There’s so many parents that ache to have children and are unable to. I know many of them. They would love to have children. So give them one or don’t get pregnant in the first place. Same-sex marriage. I don’t support it. I’ve been taught and wholeheartedly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe in that 1950’s American dream. Leave it up to the state or whatever, but don’t shove it in my face. The Bishops in my church are able to wed people in matrimony and currently can be fined if they refuse someone (even same sex) that service. I don’t agree with that and think that that should ever happen. I want same-sex marriage left out of my church. Death penalty is a hard one for me, so I’m going to take a raincheck and explain that on another day. Assisted Suicide however, I do support. I don’t think that someone should have to suffer through different medications and trying to survive a term of suffering longer since they will likely die anyways. As far as gender equality, I agree that women should have the same opportunities and consequences as men, end of story.

Environmental Issues: This area is less important to me. Not because I don’t care about the environment, but rather I feel like there shouldn’t be questions about it. I feel like everyone in the world should simply be doing their best to take care of the environment. Climate change is going to happen. I don’t believe that we can truly prevent it. We need to do our best to use renewable energy sources.

Economic Issues: Minimum wage should be decided by state—a higher national minimum wage will cause inflation. I had been thinking that welfare recipients should be tested for drugs but I’ve changed my mind and don’t think that anymore. National debt needs to be reduced—partially through military spending—but we also really just need to cut back on spending. [interuption because in the room I’m sitting in, someone is currently on speakerphone discussing politics (YELLING) and I can’t handle this. On one line, the man is for Trump and his argument for Trump is to degrade Clinton. I will not support someone degrading another human]. I don’t know about taxes but I think that it should be up to each state.

Domestic Policy: Yay! I find this area of importance and interest to me. Restriction on purchasing a gun: yes. Training and/or proof of training about guns should be required to purchase a gun. Be safe ❤ Yes! Legalize drugs! Why? Look at prohibition for example. Prohibition of alcohol caused so much fighting and underground problems. All of the problems that occurred with prohibition are the same that occurred with the legalization of alcohol, except that it was illegal then and there was more violence. Now though, drugs is the problem. If we legalize them, I truly believe that we can cease the war on drugs and decrease the everlasting violence on the US/Mexico border and underground in the US.

Healthcare: I really don’t know what to say about this category. I agree with medical marijuana. I think everyone needs health insurance, but I don’t think it should be free for everyone.

Education issues: What we have isn’t working. I’ve talked about that in many of my other posts and I stand by it. For sho’ no free college tuition. That stuff needs to be earned. Common core is currently crap. It’s a good idea in theory but needs to be changed.

Foreign Policy: Accept the refugees, don’t put up borders and don’t get super involved in other peoples business. No war on ISIS and no citizenship for illegal immigrants. However, for their children they can recieve citizenship IF they were born in the US and apply for citizenship. Really though, basis is we need to stay out of other country’s crap. We have so much debt of our own, we need to take care of ourselves. Put on our own life vest before helping others.

Criminal Issues: Body cameras aren’t a bad idea for police officers, particularly if issues continue to arise. I approve of solitary confinement.

So I guess that’s about it unless someone has questions. Some of these other questions and things I have more opinions on but they aren’t as important to me as the things I talked about. I’m just so sad about what our country and world are coming to and I wish it could change for the better. For now though, I’ll just sit here and root for the second coming to happen 😉 Kidding. It matters. This election is not a game. This election is not a race. It’s not all fun and games. This is a matter of life and death for our country.