No Comment.

No Comment.

“No comment.” That has often been my answer when I’m asked about my political views, especially when it’s in front of people I’m not close to, let alone people I have never met in my entire life.

But I broke that trend at The National Press Club, when I came face to face with the CEO of CSPAN, and he asked me the hard questions about my beliefs regarding politics, social issues, etc. And well, when Brian Lamb is staring you down, you answer. This was terrifying for me, to stand up and just share my very personal political beliefs, but I knew that it was an important thing to do and I knew that I needed to push myself to break out of my comfort zone, as that’s what WJMC is about.

And, as it turns out, I actually became pretty comfortable talking about my views and was able to engage in not only the discussion with Brian Lamb, but also with my group mates, roommates, and others around me. It feels great to be able to voice my opinion, which is ironic because voicing my opinion is why I love journalism and editorial writing, even though I struggle to voice my opinion regarding things such as politics.

I think that that’s the biggest thing that WJMC has taught me. I have a voice, and a right to be heard. Not only as a journalist, but also as a student, citizen, and human being. We all have a right to speak our mind, make an impact, and use our voice to its full extent. This has only confirmed my desire to pursue journalism, and has motivated me to take extra steps towards accomplishing that dream.

I’ve learned that whenever my opinion is asked, I should never answer with “no comment,” but instead should voice my opinion while I can, and use that power to the best of my ability. I’m going to be a journalist, and I’m going to use my voice. It’s my right.

A Story of an Extraordinary Teenage Girl, Appealing to an Ordinary Teenage Girl

While I enjoy comic books such as Batman and Captain America, I was particularly taken with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by North Henderson.

Squirrel Girl is easy to relate to in so many ways. She’s sarcastic and says things that I certainly would say if I were in her situation. Her awkwardness and blatant normality even as she is a superhero, makes her a “person of the people” and therefore makes you want to cheer for her even more.

sg-i-dont-go-here

I also found her more and more lovable as I got to know her and her personal life outside of being a superhero. She’s a college student, and going through the same struggles as everyone else. She even makes subtle points about body positive thinking, especially with her butt, which was not only hilarious, but something so normal that it made me want her to kick butt even more!

the-unbeatable-squirrel-girl-1-tail-tuck

These quirks of hers not only add to her likeability, but also add humor to the story, which made it even more engaging. You’ve got an awesome, real life girl turned superhero, who is also hilarious. What’s not to like? She’s an extraordinary girl that I, as a very ordinary girl, can relate to.

If you’re looking for a funny, quirky story of a superhero with real life struggles, Squirrel Girl is an excellent choice that will leave you with laughs and warm fuzzy feelings.

This Must Be What It’s Like To Be High:A Review of Paper Girls

This Must Be What It’s Like To Be High:A Review of Paper Girls

Let me start by giving this disclaimer: I’m definitely not the type of person to get into drugs and smoke, or anything like that. That being said, it’s pretty common for my other, equally as clueless, friends and I to jokingly say “oh, this is what it must be like to be high” or something along those lines if we’re watching a trippy movie or feeling a euphoria-like sensation of any kind.

However, I must say that my initial impression of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan takes the cake for what I think people must be like when they’re high. With the series’ vivid color scheme, continually changing plot line, and downright weird story ideas, it has all the workings to either put you in a trippy trance, or give you a headache.

Personally, I found myself experiencing the latter, as I found the book overwhelming. You’re barely introduced to the first character before you meet the next characters, and then information begins being force fed to you, not only about the characters, but also about the world, which is apparently ending. Except then it’s not. Except then it is. Wait-are we still on earth? I sure as hell don’t know.

While to some, this constant jerking around may be interesting and engaging, it turned me off from enjoying the story. I found myself frustrated, and due to the vibrant coloring and detailed artwork, I was unable to focus on one element of the comic book, which made it even more difficult to figure out what the hell is going on.

However, I must give credit to the illustrators, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson, for their amazing artwork. While I don’t agree with the color scheme (that’s a tame way to say that I detest it), I was incredibly impressed by the detail oriented pictures, as well as the sheer imagination that must have been involved in coming up with how certain aliens (whoops-spoiler alert!) would look, how they would look similar and different from humans, etc.

paper-girls-bedroom-156790

 

screen-shot-2016-01-06-at-10-41-56-pm

I’m certainly no artist, but I can appreciate the detail they go into, although I didn’t post the best pictures in an attempt not to spoil anything more than I already have!

All that being said, while I appreciate the intricate artwork and overall story idea, not to mention the humor, I just was not a fan of this comic book. I found it to have certain qualities that became excessive, like the “plot twists” that JUST KEPT COMING, and not in a way I found tasteful.

However, if you’re for something trippy, Paper Girls just might be a great choice for you.

Is robot love real love: An Introduction to Comic Books

When I, like many others I presume, think of comic books, I think of Marvel or DC comics, particularly the ones seen on The Big Bang Theory and the ones my sister used to stock up on in high school (which my other siblings then teased her for having).

That being said, I was little taken aback to find that my options for comic books included superheroes (including a gay batman!!!) but also had a wide range of completely unrelated to super powers of any sort genre.

My first comic was Giant Days, by John Allison, a comic series about a group of three friends who meet in college and navigate classes, love lives, and usual drama like catching the flu together. The characters are each lovable in their own way, and the plot is both hilarious and heartwarming. Not to mention completely and totally realistic. It was so relatable that I felt as if I, too, were in the friend group. I could relate to the characters or relate them to my friends easily. Not in a “if he didn’t have x ray vision and the ability to fly, he would TOTALLY be a badass version of Mark” type way. But in a “That’s almost verbatim what Kim said when she was trying to act like she didn’t like Jack back even though we ALL know she did!” Type way. Spoiler alert: I’m referring to Susan and her “hatred” (that, like in many romantic comedies, equates to hidden love) for McGraw. But since we all know how much I love love stories and could talk for hours about them, I’ll get back to how real this comic was. I related strongly to it.

Which, to be honest, I hadn’t expected. Aren’t comics supposed to be out of this world and have at least one villain who has some crazy super power that turned them evil? No, apparently not.

This point was re-proven upon reading my second comic book, Alex and Ada, by  John Luna and Allison Vaughn, the story of Alex, a lonely guy in the future, who receives a robot girlfriend from his grandma, who is happily dating her own robot significant other. Which, by the way, makes her the poster child-er, old lady-for a spoiling grandmother.

This comic brought up a new comic book stereotype and then shattered it. Aren’t comic books shallow stories meant for brief entertainment? Well, with maybe a small side cliche life lesson? Again, no.
robot loveThis comic brought up complex ideas regarding how robots compare to humans and what love is. Is robot love real love? If a robot is programmed to love you, is that real? My heading was spinning after this comic! It’s fascinating how a single volume of a comic book got me thinking as much as a 400 page book regarding issues such as racism and sexism.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with how just an introduction of reading two comic books completely changed my outlook and ideas regarding comic books.

I have already begun looking for the next volumes of these titles, and I recommend them to anyone, comic lover or not, who enjoys either a relatable and amusing story, or who wants a fascinating and thought provoking story that questions the core of human nature.

Racists Love Love Stories

As I’ve been admitting this entire time, I love love stories just as much as any other cliche teenage girl. That being said, I was incredibly pleased with the ending to Americanah because the separated lovers reunite, the spark is still there, and the love lives on.

But does this ending, though pleasing and satisfying to the reader, hurt the book more than it helps?

Yes, it nicely tied up all the loose ends and left us readers with a warm, fuzzy, good feeling. But that wasn’t the point of the book. Americanah is not a shallow love story for all ages. It’s a mature, thought provoking, and it really forces the reader to check their own privilege and racism. That’s not really a warm fuzzy type of book. Though, racism and privilege isn’t really a warm fuzzy subject… But that’s what makes it impactful!

Ifemelu emerges the reader in a world that few of us privileged white people have experienced. Racism, poverty, and doing whatever it takes to survive are just a few of the themes touched on by Ifemelu’s time in America. That doesn’t even include what she goes through while growing up in Nigeria and during her return home.

We are shown Ifemelu’s struggles, pain, and overall we are shown how the world, and more specifically America, work from a different point of view. Overall, a very jarring topic that was more cringe worthy than anything else.

Her struggles were illuminated by she and Obinze’s relationship, which made them so much more real. Additionally, it made mushy love lovers such as myself even more invested. They were separated because of differences in privilege. She broke off communication because of what she had to do to pay the bills (her relations with the tennis coach) and because of a new found struggle with depression (a cultural difference between Nigeria and America). Obinze was forced to move on and marry a beautiful woman he did not love (as it is done in Nigeria), and when she returned and they began their affair, Obinze was told to continue seeing Ifemelu but not leave his wife for her because marrying for love was “a white thought” and not socially acceptable, again showing the stark difference between Nigerian and American cultures.

All this being said, while it’s fantastic and adorable that the two overcame these struggles, did it really accomplish the book’s purpose of showing the struggle? That feel good ending alleviated a lot of the tension caused by reading about Ifemelu’s struggles.

Because, oh look! She’s happy, Obinze’s happy, all the racism they had to suffer through doesn’t REALLY matter because they’re happy in the end! Right?

Wrong.

Her happy ending does not take away the suffering she endured in both Nigeria and America. It does not make what happened with the tennis coach okay. It does not mean that she’s going to be happy forever in the future. While her love for Obinze helped, it did not erase what happened and won’t prevent future issues.

The importance of the book revolves around not the love story, but the obstacles they had to overcome in their own lives to survive and to find their way back to each other.

Just because they overcame racial and cultural barrier, it doesn’t mean that those barriers do not still exist. Reading Americanah and feeling happy for Ifemelu and Obinze does not mean that racism doesn’t exist, and certainly doesn’t mean that you aren’t racist and can be cleansed of all guilt.

After all, racists, love a good love story, too.

 

My Best Friend & I Are Bitches To Each Other

Let me start off by saying that my best friend and I love each other very much, and we are not those friends that secretly talk crap about the other and are constantly undermining each other. Nope, we’re the type of friends that have zero boundaries, have seen each other at our best and our worst, and have no problem sharing a spoon as we down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s together. So why would I talk about how bitchy we are to each other?

It is not uncommon today to see close friends being playfully mean to each other. Sitting in any class, the lunchroom, or after school activities at school, you don’t have to try hard to hear a girl teasing her friend for her ex who didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand the importance of hygiene. Or a guy commenting that his friend is being a softie in his relationship. Even someone making a rude comment about someone’s weight or outfit, and then laughing as if it was playful.

My best friend and I also partake in this strange and somewhat concerning social standard. We make jokes about our embarrassing exes, our major fails, and the humiliating moments that you only tell your best friend. We make quips like this to each other because we’re comfortable together. I know everything about her, and tell her everything. Since we are so comfortable with each other and know that we have nothing but love for each other, we know that the comments aren’t actually meant to harm the other. In short, we both have snarky senses of humor and we trust the other enough to be sassy bitches towards them. However, these types of personal attacks and subtle jabs are mutual, and are okay because of the established trust between us.

We joke with each other about our flaws, but in reality would never be harsh about the other’s flaws, or harshly criticize them, and certainly never in public.

In today’s society, it’s become acceptable to put down the ones you love and publicly embarrass them, then say that it’s acceptable to do so because you love them.

Here is where we see the connection to Adichie’s Americanah, as the people Ifemelu surrounds herself with in America often harshly criticize her, which is deemed somewhat acceptable, although it just highlights how good Obinze is to and for Ifemelu, as he respects her much more than others have.

The prime example of this criticism and lack of respect is Blaine, and his circle of friends. They constantly undermined her and tried to change her to fit their mold. When she was attacked by others, Blaine rarely made a move to defend her.

Blaine critiqued Ifemelu and her blog constantly, saying that she should make it more academic and intelligent sounding, even though that would ruin the blog. He thought his input was more important than Ifemelu’s, the actual author.

When his friends would put down Ifemelu or tell her she was wrong, Blaine rarely tried to defend her, but instead allowed them to talk down to her. For example, Blaine’s sister frequently looked for ways to critique Ifemelu, her blog, and her ideas about America and people. Blaine did nothing.

Ifemelu was already in a difficult place, being in a country that, despite living there for awhile, she was not completely accustomed to. She was then with people who prided themselves on navigating America and its ways, people who were less than welcoming to ideas not identical to their own. These were not her close friends, people she had known a long time and trusted. Yet they still believed they were in the right to criticize her and put her down. And they certainly weren’t just being playful. They were being self righteous and condescending.

Aunty Uju also fell into the category of harsh criticism many times, as she told Ifemelu to get over things or detailed exactly what Ifemelu was doing wrong on multiple occasions. She often wanted Ifemelu to put aside her feelings and/or better judgement in order to gain something or for the sake of living comfortably in America.

While she certainly did this because she cared about Ifemelu and wanted her to have the best lifestyle possible in America (and possibly hoped to benefit from it herself) this hurt Ifemelu more than it helped. Aunty Uju’s advice only added to Ifemelu’s confusion and made it far more difficult for Ifemelu to discern between right and wrong, which already seemed incredibly blurred in America.

Curt also chastised Ifemelu on multiple occasions, again being someone who wanted her to fit his mold. For example, he scolded her for allowing a woman to touch her hair, saying that she was being pet like an animal, even though that is not how Ifemelu viewed it. He would get upset about little things and then, often rudely, point it out to Ifemelu and chide her. These critiques were not out of love or jest, but because he wanted her a certain way.

All these characters and their harsh critiques of Ifemelu only illuminated just how perfect she and Obinze are for each other, as shown by how he exclaimed that Ifemelu hadn’t changed at all and was still sassy and honest, which made him happy.

Obinze did not want to Ifemelu to change, and was happy to have the real her back when she returned to Nigeria. He fell in love with the real her, and did not want anything else (insert awwwwwwwh cue).

Obinze properly displays what true love is-where you accept your partner, and love them so strongly that you accept all of them and their flaws, and love them anyway.

Was that cliche enough? Well, I’ll end with this…

#TEAMOBINZE

-Jibbly Jibbins

Green Means Don’t Go

Green Means Don’t Go

In my opinion, there are few industries as beneficial to work in as the food service industry. Working in a restaurant gives you exposure to customer service, workplace cleanliness, etc. It also gives you the opportunity to work with some of the most… interesting people you could possibly meet.

In the year and a half that I’ve worked for a restaurant that shall remain anonymous, I have experienced things that I know for a fact most teenagers-especially the ones in my friend groups-haven’t. Being offered alcohol on the job (especially to someone like ME who’s basically the most innocent and naive person there) or having a forty something kitchen worker ask if you want him to be your “sugar daddy” just don’t strike me as normal happenings for most of my peers. Luckily for them, most of my peers haven’t experienced a customer cursing them out and calling them incompetent because the customer didn’t make a reservation on the busiest day of the year and was shocked that it would be a forty minute wait for twelve people. SHOCKER, AM I RIGHT?!

Sugar daddy wannabes and  crazy customers aside, my experiences at Outback have had some other outcomes. This was the first time I was immersed in such intense racism, as well as the first time I had first hand experience with immigration issues.

WARNING: What you are about to read is probably not what my employer wants me to write. However, it’s the truth.

Let’s go back to my first day at the restaurant. I was really quiet at first, just trying to take everything in. And one thing that I unfortunately took in way too much? Racist actions towards the 100% Latin American kitchen staff. I was shocked by how the servers would treat them behind their back and to their face. Racial slurs were occasionally thrown their way, but most servers stuck to calling the staff stupid or speaking slowly and dumbing down their wording, as if the kitchen staff couldn’t understand ever word they said. The most ironic incident was when Jessica, a thirty something year old woman who was serving and seemingly enjoyed sounding uneducated (even though she frequently boasted about her parents paying for her nice education) spoke down to a certain newly hired cook, dumbing down her language (shocking that it could get even more dumbed down), when he  turned to me and said IN PERFECT ENGLISH “Does she not think I can speak English properly? I’m educated, and definitely not stupid enough to warrant being talked to like that.”

Of course I’d heard the racist jokes and stereotypes about Mexicans, but this was the first time that I had first hand experience with such intense racism. This was the first, but certainly not the last time an incident like that occurred. As I’ve mentioned previously, I grew up pretty sheltered and had never really experienced such cruel mistreatment of others like that. Witnessing the verbal abuse these employees had to endure simply because of their skin color astounded me. I was shocked that someone could be so hateful.

Additionally, this job presented me with my first exposure to immigration (and therefore illegal immigration). A couple months ago when I came into work, I was immediately told that the kitchen was way behind and that I should be prepared for a crazy night. Apparently, our managers had done a papers check and had found that multiple kitchen cooks, including the kitchen manager, were here illegally and were immediately terminated. The ironic part? It was all the incredibly kind, incredibly hard workers that had been fired. Needless to say, a lot of us employees were shocked and disappointed.

An even more ironic twist then presented itself. A server, whom I had grown quite close with, was visibly upset in the following weeks, and when I asked her about it, she said she was scared. According to her, she too didn’t have the proper papers to be here, but since her mother was completely Caucasian and her father was lighter skinned, she didn’t have the darker skin that she believed prompted the managers to check papers. If that is in fact true, that means that the managers were racist in the action of only checking the papers of the kitchen staff instead of all their employees. This too astounding to me.

It was this revelation that brought me to the conclusion that racism isn’t just in words or outright actions. It’s in the small things, like who you’re suspicious of. Additionally, I realized that green cards don’t mean crap. In America, green means don’t go. (Unless it’s in terms of money, because America as a whole is ridiculously greedy) It doesn’t matter how hardworking, dedicated, or talented you are. It doesn’t matter if you deserve to be here most or are here for a better reason than someone else. If you don’t have that stupid piece of paper, then you have to go.

I understand that there are reasons for these protocols and measures, but still… How much merit is it actually based on? And to that point-no. I won’t start.

Signing off before I get much deeper,

Jibbly Jibbins