I find difficulty in avoiding “uncomfortable” topics and the discussion of social issues in any setting. I think that these values are central to the pleasures that we all enjoy, and I would rather cease to exist than live in ignorance. I have been made to feel small when I mention something serious while everyone else is having fun, but I simply cannot unsee the things that I know to be true.

This world depends on the ignorance of its inhabitants. People in power, within these systems of power, do not want us to know the truth. We become comfortable with this because the truth is hard to stomach, but I urge all of us to value our integrity more than having fun as a product of someone else’s suffering. We cannot depend on the history lessons taught in schools to inform our perceptions of right and wrong. We must question, read, and research as much as possible outside of this. I’ve learned more about human rights atrocities and systemic issues from my own reading and (well-resourced) social media consumption than I have inside the classroom. We made cornucopias and hand turkeys instead of acknowledging Thanksgiving for what it really is: genocide. We were pushed to assume that slavery ended with Lincoln’s presidency and the year 1865 when the suffering and trauma is still seen within the Black community today. We were taught about the world from an Americanized, westernized viewpoint as though “winning” wars makes the killing of Black and brown people valid.

We blame each other instead of blaming agents of the state. We gaslight ourselves into believing that our opinions are “extreme” and “radical” and “too woke” because the white man laughed away our concerns. Having basic human rights is too large of an ask. It inconveniences those in power, and everyone who isn’t in power did not work hard enough to get there.

I recognize the frustration in constantly having to think about hard things. We cannot avoid every problematic brand or be 100% progressive in our language, but acknowledging the history and the current actions of ourselves and those around us is an important step. Avoiding Amazon purchases as much as possible or boycotting an abuser’s music may seem minuscule, but human apathy perpetuates violence. For every problematic artist, plenty of unproblematic ones exist who are just as talented, if not more. I recognize that one may not want to discuss systemic issues at the pregame or while watching a television show, but I refuse to laugh away my thoughts. I refuse to give into exactly what this world wants. I have the privileges of having fun with my friends and taking time away from my stressors, so it is my responsibility to do my part in moving us toward a world in which everyone can have these privileges.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the state of the world does not rest on any one person’s shoulders, and we all deserve to have fun and smile and love as much as we can. I do think that this idea can coexist with being as cognizant and critical as possible of the systems in which we participate.

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