yes because americans are the only ones who want to better themselves

How to Become an ALT in Japan

Basic Requirements

1. A university bachelors degree
-Any degree is ok, Latin American Studies, German, Linguistics, Astro-Physics, Sociology, doesn’t matter as long as it’s at least a bachelors 

 2. A clean criminal background check
-Have you been convicted of a murder? Are you a pedo? Do you have outstanding warrants in 3 states? Did you go to jail for a hit and run? Japan doesn’t want you. 

 3. Appropriately healthy and able bodied
-If you have a something that will prevent you from doing your job well, you will most likely not be hired. For example; you can’t use stairs, you can’t stand for 45 minutes at a time, you have a severe speech impediment (I know people here with lisps), things like this prevent you from teaching at full capacity and most places don’t have the time or resources to make special accommodations for you. 

What other skills might recruiters be looking for?

1. Japanese language ability
-NOT required for most positions, but helpful for communication both in and out of the workplace. Unless you live in a metropolitan area, the average Japanese person’s English is VERY limited. I know many people who came here with zero Japanese, but nowadays there are many with at least rudimentary Japanese. People rarely come here fluent, but many people study Japanese while living here to take the JLPT and their level improves by leaps and bounds. I am not one of those people, so don’t ask me for more details lol

 2. TESL/TEFL certification
-NOT required for most positions, but some private companies are starting to lean more towards certified individuals. And honestly, those give you a lot of skills you will absolutely need when teaching English. 

3. Teaching degree
 -NOPE, not required in 99.9% of the cases. I know a few people with them who are ALTs, I’ve heard mixed opinions on how well it helps them as an ALT. Some find it demeaning to work subordinate and be given limited control/responsibilities, other find it freeing because they can spend more time teaching and less time with test related paper pushing and discipline management.

4. Good attitude, flexibility, people skills
-You need to be able to present yourself as someone trustworthy and amiable to recruiters. The environments ALTs work in are often high-paced, prone to sudden last second changes, and being able to make friends in the office and keep a happy face with students is incredibly important. 

5. Prior experience
-Have you worked in a daycare before? Have you volunteered in tutoring centers? Have you led discussion groups as a major requirement?  Have you ever studied abroad? Have you ever volunteered in foreign classrooms? Have you taken charge of a club and organized events? Did you dorm with international students in university? Have you worked for an international program before? Have you given private language lessons before? These are the kinds of things that show you have experience in things that ALTs frequently encounter.

Can I mention my love of [INSERT JAPANESE CULTURE HERE]?

Yes, but keep is professional, relevant, and brief. 

“I became interested in Japan after watching Spirited Away, the cultural aspects of the movie fascinated me and made me want to learn more about Japan.” OK
“I have a collection of anime pillow cases, my favorite is Miku Hatsune in this pose.” NO 

“I started listening to Japanese music in high school. I eventually started learning Japanese to better understand the lyrics.” OK
 "When Pierrot broke up, I was shattered that the fanfic community would move on to other ships.“ NO 

“My school offered a short course on Japanese tea ceremony, and I thought the way that it formed historically was extremely interesting.” OK
“I want to learn the way of the samurai.” NO 

“I’m very interested in Japanese video game production companies. I went to college and majored in game design and I want to further study it by living in Japan and experiencing the community in person.” OK
“I want to play Resident Evil on fiber optic LAN with Japanese players so I can pwn more n00bs when I get back to America.” NO

What kind of ALT positions are available?

First and foremost: READ AND RESEARCH

If you do not do your own intensive research, you can get taken advantage of. You hear horror stories from people here all the time, and those mostly come from people didn’t research what they were getting themselves into. I cannot make a comprehensive guide to the THOUSANDS OF KINDS OF ALT positions across the country, this is only an overview. Look at that link, and always do extensive research of the companies/programs you’re interested in working for.

1. Government
 AKA JET Program
-The JET Program is the only government ALT program. It makes the Japanese government the middleman in your arrangements, which takes less money from your paycheck and gives you a more trustworthy means of income. It’s very competitive and the application process takes about 6 months. They only hire once a year. It’s arguably the best program, as it pays well, you have a lot of guaranteed vacation time, and they pay for your flights to and from the country. On the downside, you don’t really have a lot of say in where you are placed. Also, you cannot get a transfer unless VERY specific requirements are met. Also some prefectures/localities are nicer to their ALTs than others, but if they try to fuck you over you know you have the Japanese government backing you and they will keep you from being taken advantage of.

 2. Private Dispatch
examples: Interac, AEON, Borderlink, JIEC and MANY others
 -These are private companies that workplaces hire to provide them with ALTs. Workplaces do this because some of the intricacies in hiring an ALT and getting them a VISA and housing are really complicated, and they’d rather pay a middleman than deal with it. Upsides, you get a little more wiggle-room with being transferred. Downside by far is the pay. It depends on the company, but that middleman definitely takes a big chunk of your pay. If you work for a place like this, you need to VERY carefully read your contract. Research dispatch companies carefully, check their ratings online, see what former employees have to say about them. 

 3. Private Hire
 AKA working directly under the local government office, a private company, or even one-on-one’s in wealthy households
-These are places that will directly hire you without a middleman. Obviously, you need to look carefully at the details of your contract before working privately. Most local government places won’t hire you without prior ALT experience in Japan. Private English Conversation Schools (Eikaiwa) have non-9 to 5 working hours to provide for business workers and students. They sometimes require you to already have a VISA prior to being hired. Private Hire really is outside of my experience, but from what I understand they can pay as well as JET, but don’t usually have as many perks.

Where do I look for open positions?

GaijinPot is the website I’ve heard of the most. Check there and research research research. There are scammers, be careful. 

JET hires once a year starting around September or October. It’s available online on their official webpage.

There are a bajillion different dispatch companies. I couldn’t possibly name them all, I don’t really have a lot of experience with them, and don’t know which are particularly good or not. Check Google-sensei for their applications, websites, and reputations.

Other than that, please be wary of Craigslist. Although legit job openings do show up, there are scammers. If it’s someone looking for a “private female in-home English tutor from ages 19~25” or something like that, don’t be dumb. Many will require you to have a VISA with a minimum of 1 year on it already. Many will require you to already live in the area of the position. Research everything carefully.

Words of warning

If you think mental health issues are stigmatized in your home country, oh honey you ain’t seen nothin` yet.

If you have mental health issues, Japan may not be the place for you. You may think going to Japan, being surrounded by your hobbies and interests, and just “getting away” will make things better… IT WON’T.

Please be aware that you most likely will not be able to get your meds over the counter in Japan. And it’s not uncommon for your meds to be banned entirely even with a prescription. Bi-polar, anxiety, OCD, depression? Your meds might not be available here. Oh and having people send them over from home by mail can get you detained and deported if you’re caught.

You’ll also be leaving the support of friends and family by coming to Japan. The ALT community is pretty cool, but people come and go so quickly, it’s hard to find groups of people that will stick together through really tough spots.

Supervisors and coworkers aren’t much help either. In Japan, people don’t talk about mental health issues at all. If you take meds for anything other than a physical illness, you do it in private where people can’t see you. If you see a psychiatrist, you do it in a different prefecture, where no one can see you. It’s not uncommon for Japanese people to be asked to leave their jobs because their boss or coworkers have suspicions.

If you self medicate with something like marijuana, be aware that recreational drug use here is VERY VERY VERY illegal. Marijuana use is treated with the same seriousness as crack cocaine. You WILL be caught, you WILL be detained, you WILL be tried without a lawyer present, you WILL be held in solitary, you WILL be convicted of drug possession, and you WILL be deported.

Some ALTs will replace their marijuana use with alcohol. That goes about as well as it sounds :|

For LGBT, if you’re used to a very supportive queer community, it’s not the same here. Japanese people are extremely closeted and unless you live near a large metropolitan area, getting into the gay scene is nearly impossible. I’m fine because I was never in the gay scene back home, but for some people it’s very hard.

If you’re trans and want to come here to transition, please reconsider. I would suggest not coming to Japan as an ALT if you intend to transition in the immediate future. If your gender dysphoria is pretty bad, you’re gonna have a bad time. Gender segregation and enforcement of gender roles will probably seriously affect your mental health. The paperwork for transitioning is even harder from overseas and lot of things need to be done in person so you’ll have to fly back and forth from your home country a lot (which is damn expensive and needs vacation leave). Even if you do get everything done, there’s no telling how your work will respond. They won’t outright say they’re firing you for your gender identity, that’s illegal, they’ll come up with some other reason.

People who come here with a goal like paying off college loans or wanting to experience another culture usually have a better time that people who come here because OMG I JUST LOVE JAPAN. Please keep that in mind.

Star (Poly!Hamilsquad x Reader)

Words: 4000+

Warnings: Cursing, mentions of sex, ?

A/N: an anon requested a poly!hamilsquad x reader soulmate au and i had no idea how to do it so it’s been in my inbox for like a month. im so sorry i took so long ;-; i never posted this late (or early before so enjoy!)

“Y/N, for crying out loud, aren’t you the tiniest bit curious as to who it might be? I mean, come on, you have an incomplete triangle on your wrist!” Angelica said, trying to pull up your sleeve. You swatted her hand away, pushing it back down. She always pestered you about the mark on your wrist. Since she does not have one of her own, she tells you that she lives vicariously through you.

There were only a handful of people in the world that had markings on their skin. It was what scientists called soulmate links, people you were meant to be with. Unfortunately for you, and this was your opinion, you hated being one of the few to have it. You didn’t believe in people “meant to be together”, and would rather just find someone that you loved for who they are, not what your skin says.

And the mark on your wrist was so small, it could just be a birthmark.

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Yes, Your Bucky

Summary: This is a sequel to My James, Your Bucky. The reader and her plum dumpling come to terms with what happened to James.

Word count: 2.5k

Warnings: Angst central, people. You’ve been warned.

A/N: The response to My James, Your Bucky has been so awesome. I did say that if I write the next part it will be painful. You still wanted more. I hope you like it.

I went through all comments and asks to tag people so I hope I haven’t missed anyone out?

Originally posted by dailybuckybarnes

It’s been good few hours since you discovered your flat in a complete mess. You’ve been practically dragged out of there by a man with the bow. Hawkeye, you think was his name. Frankly, quite a few people introduced themselves to you outside, but you couldn’t care less for who they were. Why would you? They all just barged into your life expecting you to be calm and understanding. Calm and understanding?!

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anonymous asked:

Could you not say qu**r so often, please? Or at least tag it? Alternatives could be SGA or trans (depending on which part you're referring to) or LGBT? It's uncomfortable to quite a lot of people if it's used as an umbrella term too. Thank you

While I’m not interested in delving into that discourse on this blog…well, I guess it was gonna happen sooner or later. 

So just to be clear, before I say anything else, let me preface this post by saying that I’m going to state my position on this, but I will not admit any further discussion on the subject on this blog. You’re free to talk to me @talysalankil​ if you feel like having further discussion, but this blog isn’t the right place to do so. Also I’m going to use links from my personal blog because it’s just easier. But frankly if you want better sources on the subject, they’re out there.

Warning for massive wall of text. I tried to structure it, but there you go.

“Queer” has been reclaimed for decades. Many people who are much more knowledgeable than myself have pointed out that it’s been used at least as long as LGBT as an umbrella term (and that it was reclaimed before SGA was even invented), and it has the benefit of being inclusionary. The fact that is a historical slur cannot and should not be ignored, but the thing is, there is literally not a single word in use to refer to people who aren’t cis and straight that hasn’t been used as a slur at one point or another. Fuck’s sake, people still use “gay” today as a derogatory term, even when discussing things that have nothing to do with sexuality.

Meanwhile, SGA is an acronym that takes its root from conversion therapy (yes, really; SGA discoursers have claimed otherwise but survivors of conversion therapy attest to it), so I’m pretty sure it is equally trigger or even more triggering that queer to people.

SGL (same-gender loving) is a less historically charged acronym that I feel less strongly about for that reason, but it also comes from AAVE and I feel like there’s an element of cultural appropriation for me to use it as a white person, just like I wouldn’t use two-spirits because it’s a native american term. 

But that’s not my only issue with either acronym. See, the issue I have with SGA/SGL are multiple, and I’m going to put a cut here because this is getting out of hand:

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Lesbian Master List

Lipstick Lesbian: An extremely glamorous, very feminine, lesbian. Not a doc marten or flannel in sight, just dresses and heels and everything in between. Perfume, flowers, pink, and women. Often portrayed as submissive in a lesbian relationship, but that isn’t always the case. Lipstick lesbians can kick some ass. Have you seen the sharpness of those heels? They are all the glitz and glam of a lesbian. Portia De Rossi and Sarah Paulson are just a few examples.

Femme: A feminine lesbian, simply put. Not as glamorous as a lipstick lesbian, but still extremely feminine. Makeup, jeans, maybe the occasional pair of chucks in baby pink. Also often viewed as the submissive one in a lesbian relationship, but that’s not always the case. Leisha Hailey is a great example of a femme lesbian.

Stem: An African American femme. The same exact definition of a femme, but this definition is reserved just for woc, which is much deserved. Wanda Sykes or Robin Roberts are wonderful examples of stem lesbians.

Sporty Dyke: Still a femme, but so athletic that it would make you think otherwise. Running shoes and sweats are very familiar with sporty dykes, and they probably always have their hair up in an under armour headband at all times. Have you ever seen their hair down? Probably not. She won’t put on a dress until her sports banquet, and her whole team will gasp in shock. Sporty dykes have the best body of any lesbian though… You need muscle to play softball as good as they do. Jillian Michaels is a great example of a sporty dyke.

Blue Jeans Femme: Have you ever seen The Kids Aren’t Alright? Then you know what I’m talking about. Blue jean femmes love their Mossimo dark wash jeans just as much as they love their vegan leather Birkenstocks and their farmers market veggies. Reads a lot of self-enlightenment books and probably has a colorful afghan. Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco probably run through their blood stream. They love thrift shopping and green juice after meditation, and god dammit they love their girlfriend.

Chapstick Lesbian: A relatively feminine lesbian, but still has a fair share of masculine or tomboyish characteristics. Chucks, doc martens, band tees and flannels are no new thing to chapstick lesbians. But dammit do they love their mascara and their pretty pink curtains. They can kill a spider with only a little scream, and can probably put an IKEA dresser together with the help of her girlfriend. Sarah Gilbert is a great example of a chapstick.

Beibian: The stage most baby dykes go through… The 2009 Justin Bieber hair phase. *gasp* Yes, they actually have Justin Bieber type hair. Yes, they probably just came out and are trying to find themselves in the world of lesbian. Beibians are freshly “came out” lesbians with skinny jeans and target plaid button-ups and the rainbow hottopic bracelet and “pride” pins all over their black jansport. Probably wears vans. Probably spends 30 minutes to an hour straightening their freshly cut coming out hair-do and will probably take a flash mirror selfie to post on tumblr. Justin Bieber is a great example of a Beibian.

Futch: Not a femme, not a butch. Content with being both and neither. Maybe you have a pixie cut, maybe you have long hair. Maybe you wear pretty flowy blouses, maybe you wear button ups. Maybe you wear makeup one day and not the next. You’ll wear a pretty dress to your cousin’s wedding and a pantsuit to your sister’s birthday. You are so confident with feeling one way one day, and another the next, and you love to play with masculinity and femininity, and you do it well. But you’re indecisive, so your girlfriend always picks the restaurant. A great example of futch is Ellen Page.

Soft Butch: Mostly masculine, but they have something soft about them. Flannels and button ups are the typical attire, hats are always a must. Even though they love to be chivalrous and kill spiders and act tough, they secretly love buying candles and going clothes shopping with their girlfriend. They can cry to a romcom and cheer to a basketball game. They are everything great about being a butch, but they’re just soft about it. Get yourself a soft butch, she’ll fix your toilet and gossip about OITNB. She’ll be the big spoon, most of the time. A wonderful example of soft butch is our president, Ellen DeGeneres.
Stud: The same as soft butch, but this definition is reserved for black women! An example of a stud is Samira Wiley. *Enter a Poussey joke please. My heart still hurts too bad to do so.*

Butch: The cream of the lesbian crop. Butch. When you see a butch, the first thing you think is, “lesbian.” Which is accurate. Because, well, she’s a lesbian. Butches are characteristically confident and sure about their identity, so much so that they are willing to go outside gender norms and wear not what’s typical, but what feels good. Most every butch has short hair, it’s kinda the butch thing. (Unless you’re a LHB, or a long haired butch, who are equally butchy and attractive.) A butch is a masculine woman simply put. 100% men’s clothes down to the knickers. She’s chivalrous, and can take apart an IKEA desk and can put it back together in a blink of an eye, and can probably kill a spider without so much as a bat of an eyelash. Watches a lot of sports but will watch Project Runway if her girlfriend forces her, (she secretly likes it.) She’s just cool. Everyone wants to have the swagger of the butch. A couple perfect examples of a butch would be K.D. Lang, Rachel Maddow, and Sarah Bettens. They are hotter than any dude could ever be.

Stone Butch: Take the definition of butch and times it by 100. They are the butches of the butch. Intense and intimidating, with womanly swagger, all in one. By law, every stone butch has to own a leather jacket. It’s just the law. She probably has carpenter jeans and really intense steel toed combat boots. Every stone butch has at least 14 tattoos. At least. She probably has a group of super scary butch friends, and will pick you up on your first date on her motorcycle. She may be a stone butch, but her heart is as warm as it comes. She loves taking her gf out for joyrides and pushing chairs out for her. So don’t ever be intimidated by the stone butch, they are the friendliest of all. It is typical for stone butches to be particularly “dominant” in any relationship, and they maybe classified especially by not not liking to be intimately touched in any situation. Overall, the stone butch is the even better butch! An example of stone butch would be Lea DeLaria.

*If you think of anymore, feel free to add on or ask us to add onto it!*

Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation Between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde

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JB: One of the dangers of being a Black American is being schizophrenic, and I mean ‘schizophrenic’ in the most literal sense. To be a Black American is in some ways to be born with the desire to be white. It’s a part of the price you pay for being born here, and it affects every Black person. We can go back to Vietnam, we can go back to Korea. We can go back for that matter to the First World War. We can go back to W.E.B. Du Bois – an honorable and beautiful man – who campaigned to persuade Black people to fight in the First World War, saying that if we fight in this war to save this country, our right to citizenship can never, never again be questioned – and who can blame him? He really meant it, and if I’d been there at that moment I would have said so too perhaps. Du Bois believed in the American dream. So did Martin. So did Malcolm. So do I. So do you. That’s why we’re sitting here.

AL: I don’t, honey. I’m sorry, I just can’t let that go past. Deep, deep, deep down I know that dream was never mine. And I wept and I cried and I fought and I stormed, but I just knew it. I was Black. I was female. And I was out – out – by any construct wherever the power lay. So if I had to claw myself insane, if I lived I was going to have to do it alone. Nobody was dreaming about me. Nobody was even studying me except as something to wipe out.

JB: You are saying you do not exist in the American dream except as a nightmare.

AL: That’s right. And I knew it every time I opened Jet, too. I knew that every time I opened a Kotex box. I knew that every time I went to school. I knew that every time I opened a prayer book. I knew it, I just knew it.

JB: It is difficult to be born in a place where you are despised and also promised that with endeavor – with this, with that, you know – you can accomplish the impossible. You’re trying to deal with the man, the woman, the child – the child of whichever sex – and he or she and your man or your woman has got to deal with the 24-hour-a-day facts of life in this country. We’re not going to fly off someplace else, you know, we’d better get through whatever that day is and still have each other and still raise children – somehow manage all of that. And this is 24 hours of every day, and you’re surrounded by all of the paraphernalia of safety: If you can strike this bargain here. If you can make sure your armpits are odorless. Curl your hair. Be impeccable. Be all the things that the American public says you should do, right? And you do all those things – and nothing happens really. And what is much worse than that, nothing happens to your child either.

AL: Even worse than the nightmare is the blank. And Black women are the blank. I don’t want to break all this down, then have to stop at the wall of male/female division. When we admit and deal with difference; when we deal with the deep bitterness; when we deal with the horror of even our different nightmares; when we turn them and look at them, it’s like looking at death: hard but possible. If you look at it directly without embracing it, then there is much less that you can ever be made to fear.

JB: I agree.

AL: Well, in the same way when we look at our differences and not allow ourselves to be divided, when we own them and are not divided by them, that is when we will be able to move on. But we haven’t reached square one yet.

JB: I’m not sure of that. I think the Black sense of male and female is much more sophisticated than the western idea. I think that Black men and women are much less easily thrown by the question of gender or sexual preference – all that jazz. At least that is true of my experience.

AL: Yea, but let’s remove ourselves from merely a reactive position – i.e., Black men and women reacting to what’s out there. While we are reacting to what’s out there, we’re also dealing between ourselves – and between ourselves there are power differences that come down…

JB: Oh, yes…

AL: Truly dealing with how we live, recognizing each other’s differences, is something that hasn’t happened…

JB: Differences and samenesses.

AL: Differences and samenesses. But in a crunch, when all our asses are in the sling, it looks like it is easier to deal with the samenesses. When we deal with sameness only, we develop weapons that we use against each other when the differences become apparent. And we wipe each other out – Black men and women can wipe each other out – far more effectively than outsiders do.

JB: That’s true enough.

AL: And our blood is high, our furies are up. I mean, it’s what Black women do to each other, Black men do to each other, and Black people do to each other. We are in the business of wiping each other out in one way or the other – and essentially doing our enemy’s work.

JB: That’s quite true.

AL: We need to acknowledge those power differences between us and see where they lead us. An enormous amount of energy is being taken up with either denying the power differences between Black men and women or fighting over power differences between Black men and women or killing each other off behind them. I’m talking about Black women’s blood flowing in the streets – and how do we get a 14-year-old boy to know I am not the legitimate target of his fury? The boot is on both of our necks. Let’s talk about getting it off. My blood will not wash out your horror. That’s what I’m interested in getting across to adolescent Black boys.

There are little Black girl children having babies. But this is not an immaculate conception, so we’ve got little Black boys who are making babies, too. We have little Black children making little Black children. I want to deal with that so our kids will not have to repeat that waste of themselves.

JB: I hear you – but let me backtrack, for better or worse. You know, for whatever reason and whether it’s wrong or right, for generations men have come into the world, either instinctively knowing or believing or being taught that since they were men they in one way or another had to be responsible for the women and children, which means the universe.

AL: Mm-hm.

JB: I don’t think there’s any way around that.

AL: Any way around that now?

JB: I don’t think there’s any way around that fact.

AL: If we can put people on the moon and we can blow this whole planet up, if we can consider digging 18 inches of radioactive dirt off of the Bikini atolls and somehow finding something to do with it – if we can do that, we as Black cultural workers can somehow begin to turn that stuff around – because there’s nobody anymore buying ‘cave politics’ – ‘Kill the mammoth or else the species is extinct.’ We have moved beyond that. Those little scrubby-ass kids in the sixth grade – I want those Black kids to know that brute force is not a legitimate way of dealing across sex difference. I want to set up some different paradigms.

JB: Yea, but there’s a real difference between the way a man looks at the world…

AL: Yes, yes…

JB: And the way a woman looks at the world. A woman does know much more than a man.

AL: And why? For the same reason Black people know what white people are thinking: because we had to do it for our survival…

JB: All right, all right…

AL: We’re finished being bridges. Don’t you see? It’s not Black women who are shedding Black men’s blood on the street – yet. We’re not cleaving your head open with axes. We’re not shooting you down. We’re saying, “Listen, what’s going on between us is related to what’s going on between us and other people,” but we have to solve our own shit at the same time as we’re protecting our Black asses, because if we don’t, we are wasting energy that we need for joint survival.

JB: I’m not even disagreeing – but if you put the argument in that way, you see, a man has a certain story to tell, too, just because he is a man…

AL: Yes, yes, and it’s vital that I be alive and able to listen to it.

JB: Yes. Because we are the only hope we have. A family quarrel is one thing; a public quarrel is another. And you and I, you know – in the kitchen, with the kids, with each other or in bed – we have a lot to deal with, with each other, but we’ve got to know what we’re dealing with. And there is no way around it. There is no way around it. I’m a man. I am not a woman.

AL: That’s right, that’s right.

JB: No one will turn me into a woman. You’re a woman and you’re not a man. No one will turn you into a man. And we are indispensable for each other, and the children depend on us both.

AL: It’s vital for me to be able to listen to you, to hear what is it that defines you and for you to listen to me, to hear what is it that defines me – because so long as we are operating in that old pattern, it doesn’t serve anybody, and it certainly hasn’t served us.

JB: I know that. What I really think is that neither of us has anything to prove, at least not in the same way, if we weren’t in the North American wilderness. And the inevitable dissension between brother and sister, between man and woman – let’s face it, all those relations which are rooted in love also are involved in this quarrel. Because our real responsibility is to endlessly redefine each other. I cannot live without you, and you cannot live without me – and the children can’t live without us.

AL: But we have to define ourselves for each other. We have to redefine ourselves for each other because no matter what the underpinnings of the distortion are, the fact remains that we have absorbed it. We have all absorbed this sickness and ideas in the same way we absorbed racism. It’s vital that we deal constantly with racism, and with white racism among Black people – that we recognize this as a legitimate area of inquiry. We must also examine the ways that we have absorbed sexism and heterosexism. These are the norms in this dragon we have been born into – and we need to examine these distortions with the same kind of openness and dedication that we examine racism…

JB: You use the word ‘racism’…

AL: The hatred of Black, or color…

JB: - but beneath the word ‘racism’ sleeps the word ‘safety.’ Why is it important to be white or Black?

AL: Why is it important to be a man rather than a woman?

JB: In both cases, it is assumed that it is safer to be white than to be Black. And it’s assumed that it is safer to be a man than to be a woman. These are both masculine assumptions. But those are the assumptions that we’re trying to overcome or to confront…

AL: To confront, yeah. The vulnerability that lies behind those masculine assumptions is different for me and you, and we must begin to look at that…

JB: Yes, yes…

AL: And the fury that is engendered in the denial of that vulnerability – we have to break through it because there are children growing up believe that it is legitimate to shed female blood, right? I have to break through it because those boys really think that the sign of their masculinity is impregnating a sixth grader. I have to break through it because of that little sixth-grade girl who believes that the only thing in life she has is what lies between her legs…

JB: Yeah, but we’re not talking now about men and women. We’re talking about a particular society. We’re talking about a particular time and place. You were talking about the shedding of Black blood in the streets, but I don’t understand –

AL: Okay, the cops are killing the men and the men are killing the women. I’m talking about rape. I’m talking about murder.

JB: I’m not disagreeing with you, but I do think you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m not trying to get the Black man off the hook – or Black women, for that matter – but I am talking about the kingdom in which we live.

AL: Yes, I absolutely agree; the kingdom in which these distortions occur has to be changed.

JB: Something happens to the man who beats up a lady. Something happens to the man who beats up his grandmother. Something happens to the junkie. I know that very well. I walked the streets of Harlem; I grew up there, right? Now you know it is not the Black cat’s fault who sees me and tries to mug me. I got to know that. It’s his responsibility but it’s not his fault. That’s a nuance. UI got to know that it’s not him who is my enemy even when he beats up his grandmother. His grandmother has got to know. I’m trying to say one’s got to see what drove both of us into those streets. We be both from the same track. Do you see what I mean? I’ve come home myself, you know, wanting to beat up anything in sight- but Audre, Audre…

AL: I’m here, I’m here…

JB: I agree with you. I see exactly what you mean and it hurts me at least as much as it hurts you. But how to maneuver oneself past this point – how not to lose him or her who may be in what is in effect occupied territory. That is really what the Black situation is in this country. For the ghetto, all that is lacking is barbed wire, and when you pen people up like animals, the intention is to debase them and you have debased them.

AL: Jimmy, we don’t have an argument

JB: I know we don’t.

AL: But what we do have is a real disagreement about your responsibility not just to me but to my son and to our boys. Your responsibility to him is to get across to him in a way that I never will be able to because he did not come out of my body and has another relationship to me. Your relationship to him as his farther is to tell him I’m not a fit target for his fury.

JB: Okay, okay…

AL: It’s so entrenched in him that it’s part of him as much as his Blackness is.

JB: All right, all right…

AL: I can’t do it. You have to.

JB: All right, I accept – the challenge is there in any case. It never occurred to me that it would be otherwise. That’s absolutely true. I simply want to locate where the danger is…

AL: Yeah, we’re at war…

JB: We are behind the gates of a kingdom which is determined to destroy us.

AL: Yes, exactly so. And I’m interested in seeing that we do not accept terms that will help us destroy each other. And I think one of the ways in which we destroy each other is by being programmed to knee-jerk on our differences. Knee-jerk on sex. Knee-jerk on sexuality…

JB: I don’t quite know what to do about it, but I agree with you. And I understand exactly what you mean. You’re quite right. We get confused with genders – you know, what the western notion of woman is, which is not necessarily what a woman is at all. It’s certainly not the African notion of what a woman is. Or even the European notion of what a woman is. And there’s certainly not standard of masculinity in this country which anybody can respect. Part of the horror of being a Black American is being trapped into being an imitation of an imitation.

AL: I can’t tell you what I wished you would be doing. I can’t redefine masculinity. I can’t redefine Black masculinity certainly. I am in the business of redefining Black womanness. You are in the business of redefining Black masculinity. And I’m saying, ‘Hey, please go on doing it,’ because I don’t know how much longer I can hold this fort, and I really feel that Black women are holding it and we’re beginning to hold it in ways that are making this dialogue less possible.

JB: Really? Why do you say that? I don’t feel that at all. It seems to me you’re blaming the Black man for the trap he’s in.

AL: I’m not blaming the Black man; I’m saying don’t shed my blood. I’m not blaming the Black man. I’m saying if my blood is being shed, at some point I’m gonna have a legitimate reason to take up a knife and cut your damn head off, and I’m not trying to do it.

JB: If you drive a man mad, you’ll turn him into a beast – it has nothing to do with his color.

AL: If you drive a woman insane, she will react like a beast too. There is a larger structure, a society with which we are in total and absolute war. We live in the mouth of a dragon, and we must be able to use each other’s forces to fight it together, because we need each other. I am saying that in our joint battle we have also developed some very real weapons, and when we turn them against each other they are even more bloody, because we know each other in a particular way. When we turn those weapons against each other, the bloodshed is terrible. Even worse, we are doing this in a structure where we are already embattled. I am not denying that. It is a family discussion I’m having now. I’m not laying blame. I do not blame Black men for what they are. I’m asking them to move beyond. I do not blame Black men; what I’m saying is, we have to take a new look at the ways in which we fight our joint oppression because if we don’t, we’re gonna be blowing each other up. We have to begin to redefine the terms of what woman is, what man is, how we relate to each other.

JB: But that demands redefining the terms of the western world…

AL: And both of us have to do it; both of us have to do it…

JB: But you don’t realize that in this republic the only real crime is to be a Black man?

AL: No, I don’t realize that. I realize the only crime is to be Black. I realize the only crime is to be Black, and that includes me too.

JB: A Black man has a prick, they hack it off. A Black man is a ****** when he tries to be a model for his children and he tries to protect his women. That is a principal crime in this republic. And every Black man knows it. And every Black woman pays for it. And every Black child. How can you be so sentimental as to blame the Black man for a situation which has nothing to do with him?

AL: You still haven’t come past blame. I’m not interested in blame, I’m interested in changing…

JB: May I tell you something? May I tell you something? I might be wrong or right.

AL: I don’t know – tell me.

JB: Do you know what happens to a man-?

AL: How can I know what happens to a man?

JB: Do you know what happens to a man when he’s ashamed of himself when he can’t find a job? When his socks stink? When he can’t protect anybody? When he can’t do anything? Do you know what happens to a man when he can’t face his children because he’s ashamed of himself? It’s not like being a woman…

AL: No, that’s right. Do you know what happens to a woman who gives birth, who puts that child out there and has to go out and hook to feed it? Do you know what happens to a woman who goes crazy and beats her kids across the room because she’s so full of frustration and anger? Do you know what that is? Do you know what happens to a lesbian who sees her woman and her child beaten on the street while six other guys are holding her? Do you know what that feels like?

JB: Mm-hm.

AL: Well then, in the same way you know how a woman feels, I know how a man feels, because it comes down to human beings being frustrated and distorted because we can’t protect the people we love. So now let’s start –

JB: All right, okay…

AL: - let’s start with that and deal.

Essence Magazine, 1984

Girl Meets Season 4 - Episode 1

Girl Meets Season 4 - The Continuing Saga of Riley and her friends as they tackle their Sophomore year in High School. The ups, the downs, and everything in between. What will their sophomore year be like? Read and find out.

A/N: I’m writing this fic for 2 reason, well these are the main reasons, the first is that Disney cancelled the show and didn’t give it a real chance, the second is that I want them to keep growing. All of the chapters are titled as episodes, as the fic goes along there will be some serious topics, as well as my ships because I love them and I won’t let them go.

Keep reading

'Survivor' Contestant Opens Up About Being Outed as Transgender (Guest Column)

In the seventh episode of CBS’ Survivor: Game Changers, castaway Zeke Smith - returning for his second appearance in two seasons - was outed by a fellow contestant as transgender. In the following exclusive column for The Hollywood Reporter, Zeke   - one of very few players in show history to compete on back-to-back seasons - shares his side of the journey, his experience as a trans man, the reasons why he pursued Survivor, the thrill of that adventure, and what it was like on the night he was outed on national television - and how he powered through it.

I’m not wild about you knowing that I’m trans. An odd sentiment, I realize, for someone who signed up for two seasons of the CBS reality giant, Survivor. See, when I got on a plane to Fiji last March, I expected to get voted out third. I’d return home, laugh at my misadventure, and go about my life, casually trans in the same way that Zac Efron is casually Jewish.

Read more: Missed Opportunity for ‘Survivor: Game Changers’ as Transgender Castaway Is Outed at Tribal Council

But that’s not what happened. I ended up being pretty good at Survivor. I was invited back immediately for an all-star season, during the course of which I was maliciously outed by a former local network news anchor. What a summer!

After 34 seasons, Survivor is far from the cute little social experiment it began as in the summer of 2000. Yes, castaways still sleep in the dirt and eat only what can be scrounged around the island, primarily coconut. Coconut, by the way, is a natural laxative. Deep into the 39-day adventure, players reach a crossroads where they must decide between starving or eating a handful of coconut and enduring severe gastrointestinal distress. There’s no bathroom. There’s no toilet paper. If anything needs cleaning, it gets cleaned with sand and saltwater.

But, the harsh elements merely play backdrop to a complex game of social politics dominated by secret alliances, hidden advantages and each cutthroat player’s ability to befriend and betray any who stand in their way.

The world possesses no greater test of wit and grit than Survivor … at least that’s what I believe, but I’m a pretty ridiculous individual, which is why, when seeking to radically change my life and test the depths of my manhood, I picked a reality show instead of something actually noble, like joining the Peace Corps. And it is in that same spirit of ridiculousness that I honestly tell you I would not change a single element of the story I’m about to relay, for I loved my adventure and cannot wait to embark upon the next.

Growing up, I set big lofty goals - Broadway, a high school debate championships, Harvard - and pursued them doggedly. While my peers in Oklahoma were content to follow the path set for them, I forged my own, leaping from boulder to boulder with no regard for what was expected of me. I leapt fueled solely by my belief in myself, because, well, nobody liked me very much. I leapt fearlessly, until … I crashed.

The double whammy of major depression and transitioning blasted away my confidence. The failure I experienced made me doubt everything I once believed to be true about myself. I stopped dreaming. I stopped leaping. I found it difficult enough to simply put one foot in front of the other.

This happened to be the moment in my life when I began watching Survivor.

So significant was the experience that I remember where I watched Episode 1 of Survivor: Cook Islands; I remember the date, May 2, 2010; I remember distinctly Jeff Probst’s opening line, “You are watching 20 Americans begin an adventure that will forever change their lives.” I was hooked.

Courtesy of CBS

Transitioning created the opportunity to remake myself - to really consider and construct the man I wanted to be. Whether I was conscious of it or not, “Survivor player” became part of the remodel blue prints. Suddenly, I found myself drawn to engage in challenging social situations, run obstacle races, and backpack the Grand Canyon. None of which were ventures I’d have chosen earlier in my life. But there was this pesky little voice in the back of my mind persistently whispering, “Survivor,” so I created these challenges - quizzes, I suppose, to acquire the fortitude necessary to play the game.

I lost many from my life when I transitioned. Most were supportive in theory, but distanced themselves, unsure and a little weirded out by the process. On the whole, the world doesn’t treat trans people with much kindness. Even those who aren’t outwardly hateful crinkle their noses at you. When enough people crinkle their noses at you, you begin to think you stink.

I began connecting with others in a meaningful way around the same time that my being trans stopped being a readily known fact about me. After graduating and moving to New York, no one knew me or saw me as anything other than Zeke, which was tremendously liberating - my whole life, I desired my manhood to be known without question or qualification.

Many gay people consider coming out a moment of liberation, because sharing their sexual orientation with the world causes them to be seen more authentically. Often, the opposite is true for trans people. When we share our gender history, many see us less authentically - doubting, probing or denying our identities.

As someone who is not readily perceived to be trans, I possess a great deal of privilege, both because I can control - well, used to control - who knows my gender history, and also because I don’t experience the same type of discrimination, or even violence, that more visible trans people face - especially trans women of color.  

Read more: Record Highs for Black, Transgender Characters on TV, GLAAD Report Finds

A person’s gender history is private information and it is up to them, and only them, when, how, and to whom they choose to disclose that information. Keeping your gender history private is not the same as a gay person being “in the closet.” The only people who need to know are medical professionals and naked fun time friends.

There’s no playbook for being trans. You make it up as you go along, and I struggled with finding the right time to disclose my gender history to those close to me. What was appropriate? A week? A month? My gut would tell me to fill someone in, but then panic would wash over me. What if that person told other people?

My biggest concern was that if people knew, their opinion of me would change. I feared if I let anyone too close, they’d smell my stench and not want to be my friend anymore. Better to have acquaintances than no one at all. So I held them at arm’s length.

Honestly, I held the world at arm’s length. I came to fear discomfort and risk taking on the off chance that I might fail again. I never resumed leaping. I followed the path of least resistance, telling myself I would amount to something someday, just not today. Until one day I realized that if the somedays didn’t start becoming todays, I’d run out of days.

If the first chapter of the Zeke book of my life is about rebuilding from failure, I was well rebuilt. However, the structure’s sturdiness needed to be tested, because until it was, I would never definitively know if I was the man I believed myself to be. On a hot night in the summer of 2015, I pondered what this test might be. The answer appeared instantly, for it had been the constant in this chapter: Survivor.

I applied. I didn’t discuss my trans status in my initial video because I wanted the show to desire me as a game player and an eccentric storyteller, not as “The First Trans Survivor Player.” They did. Casting called back two hours later, and I began to panic.

Courtesy of CBS

I’d chosen to test myself in a tremendously public way. The results of the test wouldn’t be discreetly mailed back to me, they’d be broadcast to the entire world. I threw myself into preparation. There was no room for failure.

I lifted weights in the morning, swam at night, and in between acclimated to the heat in the sauna while reading books on mental toughness techniques utilized by endurance athletes. I ordered a bundle of bamboo poles and practiced making fire on the roof of my apartment building. I gave up caffeine and booze. I solved puzzles and tied and untied knots. I listened to Hamilton. A lot. I was not throwing away my shot.

The reality of playing Survivor terrified me, but I resolved that nothing would stand between me and the island. So I woke up every morning and told myself I would win. I faked confidence, hoping that when the day finally came to be dropped on a beach and meet the dashingly dimpled host and executive producer, Jeff Probst, I’d finally believe it.

The moment I put that buff, the official Survivor player uniform, on my head, my confidence became real. I knew I’d conquer whatever the game might throw at me. I was free. Now I could just play.  

My rookie season, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, instantly proved challenging. No one on my tribe of freewheeling Millennials had any idea how - or willingness to - build a shelter. The first night we huddled together in the mud as the Fijian skies dumped buckets of rain upon us. But I went to be challenged. I loved it. Not even Beyoncé herself could’ve tempted me out of the rain and mud and back into my soft Brooklyn bed.

Read more: 'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’ Emotions Build and Moves Are Made in 'About to Have a Rumble’

All my preparation paid off: I made fire with bamboo - I made a fire by rubbing two damn sticks together. I excelled in challenges, proving myself adept in the water and a master at puzzles.

Strategically, I initially found myself the low man on the totem pole. I very easily could’ve been voted out third, but I managed to form strong relationships, maneuver other players to my will, and climbed my way to the top of the pack.

I impressed the hell out of myself. I couldn’t believe how well I was doing. Put under Survivor’s high stakes, I got out of my own way and allowed myself to be the man I always hoped I would be.

Playing Survivor well means knowing when to play fast and when to play slow, but deep into the game I was having so much fun playing fast that I laid on the gas. My prowess became undeniable and, as is the fate of most who are considered the leading threat to win, I was voted out.

Jeff Probst looked me square in the eyes and snuffed my torch, extinguishing my life in the game. Twenty minutes later, before I could scarf a cheeseburger or peel off my rotting boxers, Probst asked if I was up for doing it all over again … in two weeks … alongside some of the game’s best players. “I’m your guy,” I told Probst.

I was initially drawn to play in order to prove myself a cunning strategist worthy of a rare and highly coveted chance to one day return to the game. I’d made such a believer out of Probst that my second shot came immediately, which meant that I was every bit the player I’d dreamed I’d be. I cannot think of a time in my life when I was happier, more fulfilled, and more at peace with myself. I was living, finally. Why stop now?

Courtesy of CBS

Playing with rookies was one thing, but playing alongside my Survivor heroes in a season called Survivor: Game Changers was quite another. It was like waking up in Westeros, Lord Zeke of the Mustache Lands, fighting to claim the Iron Throne. But instead of flying dragons with Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, I trailed Ozzy, Master of Spear Fishing, out to the reef, dove down and watched him catch fish. Tai, the Chicken Whisperer, and I killed three chickens together. Debbie, the Woman with an Infinite Number of Jobs, told me about all of her jobs.

I’d been charmed by my cast mates’ quirks and touched by their stories. There’s no one whose journey resonated with me more than former local network news anchor Jeff Varner. Walking into the season, his story was that he’d played twice and never made the jury, the Survivor equivalent of making the playoffs. This was Varner’s third shot and likely his last. If he didn’t make the jury, he’d forever be remembered as the only three-time player to never do so.

To his credit, Varner received some bad breaks during his first two seasons, and in Game Changers, bad luck befell him once again. The numbers were not in his favor, but they were in mine, and I was excited to be on a tribe with him. I wanted the jury for him. I wanted to be the guy who made it happen.

Varner and I connected quickly. Events in his life back home drew him to seek an understanding of gay people’s place in Christianity. I studied religion in college, focusing specifically on LGBTQ people and the Bible. Though I’m not particularly religious, I feel passionately that people of faith should not be denied religious ritual or spiritual community because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and shared what I’d learned with Varner over long conversations on the beach.

I saw a pain, a brokenness in his eyes that felt all too familiar - a longing for the spotlight, but a desire to remain unseen. Though Varner has been openly gay for many years, he chose not to discuss his sexual orientation during his first two stints on the show. Beyond his charm and charisma, I thought I recognized a deep-seated insecurity and self-loathing, a glimpse at who I could become were I not careful.

All Varner had to do was make it until tomorrow and he’d get his jury seat. But he wasn’t going to. Our tribe proved unable to unscramble a word, metamorphosis, losing the Immunity Challenge and sending us to Tribal Council. Everyone’s best move was unquestionably to get rid of Varner.

My heart broke for him. I mulled over all the scenarios to save him, but each required me to significantly jeopardize my position. As much as I felt for the man, I wasn’t giving up my dream for his.

Read more: 'Survivor’ Hits 500: Jeff Probst Reflects on the Journey Toward 'Game Changers’

You never want a player to know they’re going home, because they might get desperate and go nuclear, douse the fire or pour out the rice. But my heart overrode my head when I sat down with him that afternoon. I told him he was going home. I thought he deserved to know it would be his last day on the beach.

Tribal Council throws the question of life and death into stark relief. One member of the tribe must be sacrificed each visit. Players ask each other: which one of us do we kill tonight? Fire, the flame of your torch, represents your life. When Probst snuffs that flame, your life is over. You exit to the left, into the darkness, what I called The Abyss. The rest of the tribe exits to the right, back to camp with a renewed lease on life.

Clearly, the stakes are not actually life and death. We’re a group of adults playing a very expensive game of make believe. But, despite all its deprivations, your Survivor life can be superior to your regular life. 

I remember walking into Tribal Council that night. I remember the smell of the kerosene in our torches. I remember the smug smirk on his face and the gleam in his eye when he turned to me and snarled, “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”

The lights magnified in brightness. The cameras, though 30 feet away, suddenly felt inches from my face. All sound faded. Something primal deep inside me screamed: run. I lost control of my body, my legs bounced up and down uncontrollably, willing me to flee, but the rest of me sat dead as stone. To my left was The Abyss. I could’ve made a clean break for it, but I knew there was no running from what had happened. Cameras would follow me, if not that night, then eventually. Running was not an option. So I sat blank, almost in a trance, unaware of what happened around me, trying to form a plan.

Survivor had spun out of control. That’s the risk you take when you dance in the ethical borderlands, where you’ll betray a friend, swear on your mother, and lie to a priest all before you eat whatever meager crumbs count as breakfast. In Survivor, much is permissible which is typically objectionable, but there are limits, as there should be on a family-friendly reality show on network television.

It’s one thing to lie about someone sneaking off at night to search for hidden advantages. It is quite another to incense bigotry toward a marginalized minority.

Courtesy of CBS

Responsibility fell upon my shoulders to right the ship that had blown perilously far off course. I could let this be one of the worst moments of my life or one of the greatest. If I set the tone, everyone would follow. The power was in my hands.

I told myself, “Dude, you resolved to never stop playing. Buck up and make this OK.”

I am forever grateful that Probst gave me time to collect myself. Were I in the hands of a lesser leader, I’m sure questions would’ve been peppered my way before I was ready to receive them. I could not have responded in the manner in which I did had he not held the wheel while I got my bearings.

I tuned back in to the conversation and found chaos - tears, yelling, anger, but mostly confusion. I needed to calm everyone down. My chance to re-enter appeared - an opportunity to provide clarification. I spoke as calmly as I possibly could. Each word came slowly. Typically, my brain races far ahead of my ability to form words, but then it trudged, carefully selecting its path. My right leg settled down, but my left still jittered.

I took solace in my tribemates. They defended me passionately. Even Probst, the most neutral of arbiters, had my back. My left leg settled, and with it the group. Tears dried, voices lowered, and the attention turned to me to make sense of what happened. I didn’t know what to say.

Months before I plotted how I’d respond in case of such a disaster scenario, but those words were written a lifetime ago and nowhere in mind. I groped for direction, talking to kill time. Then, a single word appeared, the word I couldn’t find earlier in the day, the word that encapsulated my 50-plus days on the island: metamorphosis. Everything clicked. I sat up straight. My mind revved back up to full speed. As I spoke, l locked eyes with Probst, and he nodded along with me, as if to say, “Yes, yes, you’ve got it.” The ship was out of rough waters and back into placid seas.

I knew that Varner’s actions, though targeted at me, had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him. His terrible utterances were not an effect of my actions, but a reflection of his own personal maladies.

But in calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used as an excuse for violence and even murder. In proclaiming “Zeke is not the guy you think he is” and that “there is deception on levels y'all don’t understand,” Varner is saying that I’m not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick. In reality, by being Zeke the dude, I am being my most honest self - as is every other transgender person going about their daily lives.

I don’t believe Varner hates trans people, just as I don’t believe conservative politicians who attack trans people actually care where we use the bathroom. For both, trans people make easy targets for those looking to invoke prejudice in order to win votes. Thankfully, my tribemates rebuffed his hateful tactics. After 18 days starving and competing with me, they knew exactly the man I am, and after that Tribal Council, we all knew exactly the man Varner is.

Read more: 'Survivor’ Exec Producer Breaks Down 'Game Changers’ Cast

I looked to Varner, now the one hunched and quivering, and contemplated the backlash he would face. When he said what he said, he changed both of our lives forever. When he pulled me in for a hug, I felt compelled to reciprocate, both as a sign that I was willing to forgive him and that the shots he had fired missed.

But, if we’re being perfectly honest with one another, I’ve struggled with that forgiveness in the months following. I can’t foresee us sipping martinis together in Fire Island. While I can reconcile the personal slight of him outing me, I continue to be troubled by his willingness to deploy such a dangerous stereotype on a global platform.

But forgiveness does not require friendship. Forgiveness does not require forgetting or excusing his actions. Forgiveness requires hope. Hope that he understands the injury he caused and does not inflict it upon others. Hope that whatever torments his soul will plague him no more. I have hope for Jeff Varner. I just choose to hope from afar, thank you very much.

To adventure is to invite hazard into your life. The thrill of adventure comes from accepting this risk, and the reward from confronting whatever might be thrown at you. But you cannot control the hazards you face, be they repeated misfortune or the harmful actions of others. You can only control how you respond. It’s up to you to decide whether the hazard will define you or you will define the hazard.

At the conclusion of Tribal, Jeff Varner’s torch was snuffed. He walked into the darkness, and the rest of us headed back to camp.

There’s no special dispensation for a traumatic Tribal. No chocolate chip cookies. No phone call home. Just the dirt and the hunger and the honor of another day playing the world’s greatest game.  

Courtesy of CBS

Follow for more coverage from the season, and let us know what you think of Zeke’s story in the comments below.

anonymous asked:

Wait, American here. What's happened? Why are we fighting with the Australians. Everyone knows not to fight with the Australians, they're our allies ffs. Oh god, he's going to start WW3.

G’DAY MATE LEMME SORT THAT OUT FOR YA. Scroll to the bottom for a TL;DR.

*Clears throat* #auspol, please correct me if I’m wrong on this, I’m just repeating what my mother told me and I’ve read absolutely nowhere about the Central American refugees thing, so let me know if I’ve totally cocked this one up.

Right. Before we get started, lemme tell you about Australia’s version of the Mexican Wall (detention centres! Human rights violations for everybody!), and how this relates to Trump throwing a tantrum on twitter and Malcolm Turnbull either being the most unimpressed politician ever or the biggest doormat ever, depending on who you ask.

See, the big issue in Australian politics (when it’s not the annual Leadership Spill) is the People On Boats.

Because of that whole “island nation” thing, we don’t have people fucking over here over the border because our border’s the fucking ocean, so they have to get on a goddamn boat to do it. To get on the boats, they pay people smugglers, go across a few countries, then get on more boats (possibly not in that order, I don’t know, I don’t have a bachelor’s degree in this), and then wind up here.

There’s a couple of problems with this, “AAAAAH BROWN PEOPLE!!!” from the racists in the peanut gallery notwithstanding:

Problem #1 – People smugglers know that those boats are one-way-trip only, so they give refugees the shittiest possible boats they can. Every now and then, one springs a leak earlier than intended. (Yes, “earlier than intended”, more on that in a tick.) So every now and then we’ll see on the news that the navy found an empty boat or one full of corpses or answered a distress call only to find no boat at all. Either way, refugees can and have died to get here – either as an accident, or as a tragic consequence of – 

Problem #2 – I don’t know the specifics, but the Australian navy, when it intercepts boats, is… I don’t know if they’re supposed to somehow turn the boats back, all I know is that they can’t let the refugees on board.

Unless the boat is in distress.

The solution to that? Blow a hole in the boat.

IDK if this still happens, or if this is just my Liberal mother filtering it, but what I’ve heard is that the only way the refugees can get rescued by the navy is if they’re in danger. So the refugees sabotage their own boat, and the navy has to rescue them.

As you can imagine, sometimes this doesn’t go as intended. Sometimes the navy’s too late, or someone slips – there’s families on board those shitty boats. People’s children have died.

Anyway, because of problem #1 and #2, there’s a real risk of people dying. Now, look, a lot of people who don’t want refugees here are just plain racist and could actually hardly care less about drowning refugees, and all of this could be solved by the navy just rescuing them anyway before the refugees are desperate enough to kick a hole in the hull, but fact of the matter is, there’s people profiting off the life savings of vulnerable people, greasing the wheels of corruption and putting people in danger, all the while promising that they’ll get settled in Australia if they remember to blow a hole in their own ship.

and then we stick them in a detention centre for years or more anyway.

So basically, all Australian politics ever talks about is Stopping the Boats (or not stopping the boats).

So somebody – IDK if this was the Lizard King or Turnbull’s idea, or even Obama’s. But at some point, Aussie politicians made a deal with Obama.

And, again, correct me if I’m wrong because the only source for this is my Liberal (as in, right-wing Liberal) mother, and I’m too lazy to google, and have heard nothing about this anywhere else, but – 

The idea is that we’d swap refugees. America gets our refugees, and we get Central American refugees. Two thousand, I think. I expect that’s just to start off with because I would’ve heard about it earlier if this was a thing that had been going on for a while. Either we end up with a few hundred extra refugees or it’s one for one, I don’t know, all I know is that it was two thousand on each side or less.

Anyway, this is win-win! 

  1. People smugglers (hopefully) get less business because it’s kind of bad for business if you tell your clients they’ll go to Straya and they wind up drawing a short straw and winding up in Murica instead. (Word gets around, refugees find this stuff out so the people smugglers could only bluff for so long.)
  2. People who are genuinely concerned about refugees not drowning are soothed because hopefully less refugees coming = less drownings.
  3. Closet racists have to deal with brown people anyway and have no choice but to shut the fuck up or out themselves as actual racists.
  4. People who are all for accepting refugees will be satisfied as the refugees get to go to a better life than the one they left behind anyway.
  5. Basically the Australian government probably thinks it’ll get some peace and fucking quiet from all sides, when in reality we’ll just move on to marriage equality.

Now, again, I don’t know if this is actually what it is or not. I live in a Liberal (ie Republican, not left wing like it means in the States) household. I’ve never even seen left wingers here talk about people smugglers so I don’t even know how much of that is or isn’t true.

Whatever it is, we were supposed to ship a bunch of refugees over to the States and then the Carrot’s ass got elected, started going on about banning muslims etc and Washington DC Canberra went, “Oh, fuck.”

So! Turnbull, our PM, called Trump or vice versa to chat about it.

Then Turnbull told Straya that the deal was going ahead and that he Stood Up For Australia during this phone call. 

Australia went, “umm…. sounds fake but ok” because we’re Australian, not stupid, we got more coverage about the last US election than we do about all our elections ever combined. We know perfectly damn well that you either stand up to Trump or you get your own way, not both.

Then the Washington Post leaked what actually happened on that phone call a few days ago and now the Australian media is losing its shit.

What happened?

Apparently Trump went on about his penis size inauguration crowds, pitched a fit about the deal and how he “intended” (note the wiggle room that word gives you) to follow through on the deal, called that phone call with Turnbull “the worst” phone call he’d had that day (yes, to Turnbull’s “face”), and then hung up on him 25 minutes in out of the hour that call was supposed to take.

The Washington Post leaked it a few days later, and the Australian media lost its shit.

And after the Washington Post leaked it, Trump (ETA: oops, fixed that error, it was definitely Trump!) complained publicly on twitter that the whole deal was “dumb” and implied he was gonna try get out of it.

Australian media lost its shit again.

Now, regardless of your opinions of Turnbull – I think the guy actually did stand up to Trump. (I shouldn’t have said that out loud on tumblr, that’s like the Australian equivalent of saying “well I heard Trump petted a dog once?”) He can be a bit of a people pleaser and seems to be pretty laid back rather than go-for-the-throat. Or so I’m guessing because political news has been a lot quieter since the Lizard King was deposed.

But look, first off, we’re fucking Australians. We despise rank, it’s in our blood, our ancestors were convicts who wanted (and frequently tried) to shank their British overlords. Ranks are formalities on paper that should stay on paper. You wouldn’t even dream of the President of the US making chitchat with, say, a garbage disposal man, but in Australia if we found out our PM didn’t treat one as his equal we’d lose our fucking minds at the politician’s arrogance. Unless the garbage person was brown, because at the end of the day, Australia is p damn racist. Even the biggest doormat of a PM would have their inner Australian chomping at the bit the second Trump so much as insinuated he was more important than them. 

And come on, even people who live under rocks just know how big Trump’s ego is and how long Trump can be expected to go before he insinuates someone is beneath him even a little bit.

Secondly, the American pro-Trump media is implying that Turnbull pissed Trump off because they spun it as “well, Trump’s other phone calls went fine!”

And thirdly, I really don’t think a manchild like Trump would hang up the phone on someone unless that person was acting with a sliver of self-respect. Like hell, Turnbull could breathe too loudly and Trump’d be offended.

But then, Turnbull might’ve stood up to him and still been a doormat by our standards, because he is not telling the media his side of the story. At all. Probably because he doesn’t want to piss off Pence whoever winds up in charge after Trump goes, because at the end of the day, sucking up to the States is a sport that’s even more popular than our annual leadership spills.

Also, Australians hate politicians in general, so we’d probably call Turnbull a doormat if he bought a plane ticket and pissed on Trump’s hair personally, so.

TL;DR – Washington Post leaked that Trump humiliated our PM over the phone and now Australia’s going “Oooooh, shots fired!”

Shut Up: The Power of Understanding what Introversion Actually is in a World of People Who Won’t Stop Using it as an Excuse

Since I’ve started tagging some posts as “shitty introverts” I decided to make this post to serve as a reference without being quite as sarcastic and salty as I have been, though I’m pretty sure I’ve already failed with that title. Will I change any minds? It’s doubtful, but if you ever want to know why I’m tearing into that introvertunites/introvert, dear post, you can look at this.

First, a brief definition of introversion in two different systems.

In MBTI: Introverts are people who have a dominant introverted function. Extroverts are people who have a dominant extroverted function. Ambiversion does not exist in the MBTI system - more on that later.

Outside of MBTI: Introverts are people who are energized more by time alone than by time spent with others. Extroverts are people who are energized more by time spent with other people than by time spent alone. Ambiverts are people who fall close to the middle.

In reality, everyone is somewhere along a spectrum (ie, we all need some alone time and some time with people), so arguably we’re all ambiverts, but it’s commonly used for people who find themselves needing a pretty even balance of the two. 

Now, ambiversion still doesn’t exist within the MBTI system. If you want to call yourself an ANFP* or whatever, then you are making things up and that is not an MBTI type - it is a personal adaptation that uses some concepts from MBTI. Does this mean that MBTI doesn’t acknowledge that some people are non-MBTI ambiverts? No! It just means that MBTI theory uses the introvert and extrovert terms in a particular way, and doesn’t fully explain what social situations energize you, just like it doesn’t explain fully your favorite ice cream flavor or whether you like sports. It’s perfectly fine to say “I’m an ENFP, and I’m pretty ambiverted.”

Okay now that that’s out of the way, what does introversion, outside of MBTI, not mean?

It does not necessarily mean shyness, awkwardness, or lack of social skills. There’s probably a correlation, because people who prefer to spend most of their time alone have less of a vested interest in getting over shyness, awkwardness, or developing social skills, but there are awkward extroverts and socially adept introverts everywhere.

It does not mean misanthropy/hating people in general. I personally think hating people is not a particularly great way to be, as it means you’re closing yourself off to a whole lot of great experiences, and it definitely is going to be more common in introverts as it makes extroversion really hard, but if that’s your deal, fine. Just know that it’s not at all synonymous with introversion. Introversion means needing a good deal of alone time. It doesn’t mean that you hate the time spent with others, just that it’s going to require more energy.

It does not automatically make you smarter, kinder, more creative, or ‘deeper.’ Whatever psych studies may say, they’re going to be based on a subset, so even if introverts are, on average, smarter, it doesn’t mean you, arbitrary introvert, are smarter than an individual arbitrary extrovert. Another way to put it: more Americans have Olympic gold medals than Jamaicans, but I don’t have more gold medals than Usain Bolt. Use your alleged intelligence to learn and understand basic statistics.

Introversion, or for that matter shyness, awkwardness, or whatever do not excuse rudeness or flakiness, and nothing excuses expecting people to understand you without any explanation.

Look. I get that if you’re depressed, or have social anxiety**, you may say yes to a party invite only to find that when the party actually comes, you can’t bring yourself to make it or even to call. That’s okay. But it’s also okay for the host to be upset that you didn’t show up or let them know that you couldn’t come, and it falls to you, when you are up to the task, to explain why.

Is that hard as fuck to do? Yes. Is expecting other people to read your mind and know all the details of your life and mental health and accept all of your actions completely unfair to them? Also yes. Because here’s the thing: you can’t control other people’s reactions, and it’s ridiculous  to think you can.

Which brings us to the shitty introvert. The shitty introvert does the following:

Assumes they are in some way better than extroverts - smarter, more creative, better listeners - and may believe that because they let so few people into their lives, including someone is an honor in itself.

Assumes that having emotional responses is unique to them - that no one else dislikes public humiliation or unpleasant surprises.

Either complains that they’re getting dragged to parties, or complains that they’re no longer getting invitations to the parties that they repeatedly turned down, as if the host has nothing better to do than send you an invite they know you’ll refuse***.

Is rude to others and blames it on being introverted instead of considering that other people also have feelings and either putting in enough effort to maintain civility, or apologizing and taking full responsibility of their actions.

Expects to be understood and accommodated automatically without any explanation, and generally does not put in effort to understand or accommodate others.

Sees introversion as an excuse to never try to improve or challenge themselves. If something is hard for them, they will just give up or avoid it.

In summary, they insist they are more considerate, feeling, and creative while being rude, selfish, and stagnant.

Don’t be a shitty introvert.

*For some reason the example fake MBTI type with Ambiverted is always ANFP. I suspect it’s because Ne both is associated with being towards the middle of the itnrovert/extrovert spectrum and with being like “what if we didn’t follow the rules,” and Fi is associated with “your labels cannot contain me” but that is another post for another day.

**Social anxiety and depression are mental illnesses, and I’m not going to go into them or other mental health issues in this post in more depth, but please note that they are not tied to introversion. Will they often make people withdraw from social situations? Yes. That is a symptom of the illness, not an indicator of extroversion or introversion.

***”I want to be invited, I just don’t want to go!” shitty introverts cry, as if the hosts of the parties are not also human beings with needs and emotions. “Oh, yeah, sorry” the hosts are apparently supposed to tell the person they actually want to invite who would show up and bring a decent bottle of wine, “I’d love to invite you but I have a tiny apartment, so I can’t invite any more than 15 people, and I need to reserve a spot for my friend who not RSVP, ignore my calls, and will most likely either text me with some lame excuse an hour after the party started, or just completely flake. But you see their desires are more important than yours or mine.” Honestly what the host should do is just queue up a few automated invites to nonexistent parties, and on the off chance the shitty introvert does indeed show up without RSVP-ing to one of them, the host should just be like “Oh sorry, I know I said I’d have a party but I’m just not feeling it tonight.” GOLDEN RULE IN ACTION MOTHERFUCKERS.

A Reminder about Tattoos:

You fucking permanently ink that shit into your skin. Tattoo removal costs thousands and is fucking painful. When they say a “tattoo is for life”, they mean it. Now.

Ships: #1 Meaning for a ship according to a survey is “Home”. Funny. I feel like I know someone who has a tattoo with the word “home” in it, and it’s not the one with the actual goddamn ship tattoo. Quote: “Some men and women believe that the ship tattoo symbolizes that in life, we go through troubled waters. Somehow and someway, we make it out to calm waters. Maybe trouble and turmoil has been a part of your life lately and you want to embark on a new journey. The ship tattoo can symbolize this. Some people believe that the ship tattoo represents our journey through life. You can add any maritime symbol to your ship tattoo. Some common ones include the compass, anchor, nautical star, and swallow. Another interesting design for ship tattoos portrays the ship in a framed picture. An anchor can symbolize home or stability, while a star or compass symbolizes direction and faith. You may want to choose a famous quote or saying for your ship tattoo, such as “ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG” or “FOREVER IN MY HEART."”

Compasses: This maritime symbol was popular among early sailors and it was believed that getting a compass tattoo would protect you on rough waters and ensure that you would return home safely. One of the main reasons sailors opted for this tattoo was that of protection. As a token of good luck, images of compasses were painted on the ships as well. The seas were rough and unforgiving and often times ships and the men onboard would disappear without a trace so these images served as a beacon of hope that they would be guided out of the treacherous waters alive. The star compass is the most popular of the aforementioned designs and is said to represent the North Star. Before maps and technology existed, humans used the North Star to guide them in the right direction. Because of this, this style of tattoo stands for guidance, direction and finding a way home. (Louis seems to have a modified star compass design. It’s almost a star within a lodestone within a prismatic compass, but I’m adding the star in). Compass tattoos have also represented the ideal of following one’s dreams. It is symbolic of staying your course in life and to not give up no matter how rough things may seem. The compass will guide you where you need to be.

Anatomical Hearts: The heart keeps your blood flowing through your whole body, irrigating brain and other organs, and thus allowing you to be alive and in good health. It is the main element of your biological life. But it is also the symbol of another kind of life, a more interior one, with feelings and beliefs. That’s why anatomical hearts stand for bravery, sorrow, love and faith. The Ancient Egyptians believed that sins and virtues of a human were inside his heart and weighed it to decide of his fate. It is the place of the soul, also in modern religions. Hold in a hand, it is a symbol of charity and dedication to God or your family and friends. Locked, it means you are waiting for another eelationship to open it again. Of course, it is also a symbol of hope, freedom, and energy.

Arrow Tattoos: The arrow was a weapon in Native American culture, it was used to hunt and provide for their families as well as offer protection, and because of this it was a tool for sustaining life.One of the biggest factors in altering the meaning, is the way the arrow is depicted or placed in the tattoo design. For example:A solitary arrow represents defense and protection from harm. It can also be used as a symbol of movement or direction. For anyone searching to depict a positive outlook on life, an arrow tattoo can be a great place to start. An arrow being pulled back on the bow can depict life dragging someone down, whereas the arrow being released propels them straight ahead into something new and positive. With that being said, an arrow can only shoot forward by being pulled back, so only by going through dark times can you push yourself to better ones.The arrow is also thought to stand for; love- as with Cupid’s bow and arrow, hunting, swiftness, power, flight, penetration and direction. It can also be seen as a phallic symbol of masculinity.  An arrow shown with a bow can also symbolize the zodiac sign Sagittarius. (I know Louis’ doesn’t have a bow and he’s a Capricorn, but he’s actually a Sag/Cap cusp so I found this interesting.)

Anchor Tattoos: (For the anchor -and rope- tattoos, I think it’s essential to remember that Harry’s anchor covers up the words “I Can’t Change”, tattooed on the very same wrist on which he wore his Leeds bracelet, and Louis has quote marks on the inside of his opposite wrist that remain there to this day.) In the past it is believed that the anchor design was used to camouflage and shelter the symbol of the holy Cross. This was done as a means to avoid being targeted but at the same time to have a symbol of their faith to be displayed in some form. They used this clever ruse to keep their faith but not have it on full display. Since an anchor is what puts down roots deep into the sea to hold a ship in place, it has been associated with strength and stability. By this association the anchor can be seen symbolically as something that holds you in place and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things what. Many people pick an anchor tattoo design to remind themselves that no matter how stormy and rough things get out there and how much the factors around you try to uproot you, you need to hold on and keep doing what you are supposed to. Some anchor tattoos are dedicated to the near and dear one who played this role in your life. That has provided you the strength and wherewithal to hold on no matter what comes your way by being there through it all. Symbolizing a faith that would not give up in the face of abuse and persecution has to be one of the most spiritual and profound significances of the anchor tattoo. We can be sure that the sea evokes some kind of strong emotion in all of us. Some of us love the sea and some of do not like it all , whereas there are some of us who fear it. But one thing we cannot feel towards the sea is complete and absolute indifference.

Infinity Rope Tattoos: (This tattoo is truly unique. It’s very difficult to find other people who have a rope tattoo with no anchor. Think on that.) Infinity tattoo designs are especially popular among couples and you will often see hearts tattooed next to infinity tattoos or intertwined with them. Couples that get this tattoo to symbolize their never ending, limitless love will usually get this tattoo in the same part of their bodies to further add meaning to this embellishment. If you and your love want to show commitment to each other in the form of a tattoo, the infinity tattoo is an excellent choice. In nautical themes, a rope tattooed around the wrist signifies a deckhand. In addition to helping with the day-to-day operation of the vessel, deckhands may also be responsible for safety and security.The jobs a deckhand performs vary greatly, depending upon the ship, and the experience level of the individual. Those just starting out on a ship may be mainly responsible for looking after lines used to moor the ship to the dock. The image of an anchor wrapped with a rope or chain is generally called a ‘fouled anchor’. When at sea, having a fouled anchor is bad, since it becomes highly instable and extremely insecure. (If you’re asking, yes, this is why they separated them in my opinion.)

Rose Tattoos: In mythology, Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) was often depicted with roses adorning her head, feet, and neck. This can be interpreted many ways, but the association comes from a rose bush that grew within a pool of blood spilled by her slain lover (Adonis), and so a common interpretation is that the rose symbolizes an immortal love that withstands time and even death. In tarot, the rose is considered a symbol of balance. The beauty of this flower expresses promise, hope, and new beginnings. As a depiction of love it can be a symbol of being in love particularly when the rose is without thorns, or with as a reminder that love does not come without certain sacrifices when the thorns are present. So even the thorns have their meaning, some say that when thorns are present on the tattoo it means the person does not place a great deal of emphasis on outer beauty, whilst for others the tattoo refers to endless beauty with the thorn meaning you can look but you can’t touch. Sailors chose the rose tattoo for an honorary purpose, as its willowy build being linked to femininity, to represent their girlfriend or their wife. Life was rough on the seas for these brave men and their rose tattoo could bring peace to them in a symbolic way. In addition to being a symbol of love, the rose is also symbolic carrier of secretsor tacit understanding.  The term “sub rosa” means under the rose and comes from the practice of Romans hanging roses above meeting tables.  Here it was understood that anything said at this table, beneath the hanging roses, was forbidden to be repeated elsewhere.

Dagger Tattoos: In pre-dynastic Egypt, elaborate daggers with golden hilts were worn by royalty as ceremonial or decorative objects: In Tutankhamun’s tomb they found two daggers. In WWI, soldiers at the front used daggers in trench warfare; after the war, those daggers were displayed with pride as a sign of having served on the front line. During the Vietnam War, many US soldiers and marines carried daggers. "Cloak and dagger” is a phrase that describes things that involve mystery, intrigue, or espionage. Because they are so easily concealed, daggers may be associated with deception, stealth, and treachery. Thus, the dagger makes an ideal weapon for a sneak attack and many assassinations have been done with daggers, including that of Julius Caesar. Alternatively, in some cultures, the dagger symbolizes bravery. Daggers are often seen in the insignias of elite military units or special forces, depicting extraordinary courage. According to Arthurian legend, King Arthur himself wore a dagger named Carnwennan (or Little White-Hilt) which was said to have the magical ability to hide its user in shadow. And in Tolkein’s stories, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins carried a long Elvish dagger he named Sting. The dagger-and-rose tattoo can be portrayed with a rose in front of or pierced by the dagger. The dagger can also have a rose painted on it. This design symbolizes the harsh reality of life. It is linked to the phrase “life is no bed of roses” and represents the strength needed to endure. It can be a reminder to stay strong or keep at it. The dagger-and-swallow variation was and still is popular among sailors. The swallow represents good luck, wealth, and a safe passage. This design might express a hope for a safe trip home.

Did he stutter?

In Which Mr. Krupp’s Secret Superpowers Aren’t Quite So Secret

( @guiltyhipster and @thatanimationgirl because we’re writing and tagging friends!!) hey y’all remember when I said I wrote CU fanfiction like five months ago. uh. here it is!! I mostly wrote it as a self-indulgent thing because I had no clue there would actually like…be a fandom!! So it’s not my best work lol I just wanted to get my ideas out on paper. 

In this, our favorite terrible principal comes down with a cold, and it turns out that Captain Underpants’ powers begin to leak through while he’s in this miserable state…I am a sad writer’s soul and I would totally love comments if you wanted to give them but totally don’t feel obligated yo!! (ALSO I wrote this when I knew that Miss Anthrope would be Mr. Krupp’s love interest, but I DIDN’T know that she was the lunch lady now so like…she’s the secretary in this lmao)

George and Harold were terribly bright children who just happened to also be terribly, terribly naughty. They never caused any harm, of course, unless one would think that placing ketchup packets beneath toilet seats, replacing the American flag in their classroom with a pair of XXL underwear, and rearranging the letters on the lunchroom bulletin board so it would read “FRIDAY’S LUNCH WILL BE: SWEATY BRAS”, was harmful.

And Principal Krupp definitely considered all those things harmful….

Keep reading

W is for Witch!

   It’s common knowledge among most Witches and Neo-Pagans that when it comes to recording data for spells, tools, and craft work, it’s usually hidden in a code or language that only that practitioner or it’s Coven/group can read.

   However, is there a language out there that exists now for all Witches to use, to write in code and communicate with if they so desired? Throughout morbid times of Witch-hunts towards the Pagan following over the centuries, was there a universal language left for all Witches alike to communicate in their attempts of survival?

   Let us dive head first into only one of the Hell’s of cultural enlightenment!

   Well, to answer the first question: Yes! There is currently a universal writing that Witches can use to communicate to each other or use in their practices if they so desired. Thanks to social media and the lack of Witch hunts/raised acceptance of diversity in religious practices, we have the Theban Alphabet, also known as the Witches Alphabet!
(As shown Below:)

   There is actually a large amount of codes, runes, writings, and languages that can-be/is used to log practices or is exclusive to certain practitioners of Magick within their groups or work.
   This one however is a very common one used among Witches today from all corners of philosophy and practice, yet isn’t very known about. Let’s find out why!
   I say currently because it was only very recently in the last two centuries that this language had anything to do with Witchcraft or Pagan practices. You see, this language doesn’t have much of its history known nor does it have any accuracy to its origin that is published. It has no associated language that follows it as well and is a one-to-one translation to the old Latin alphabet(ex: A=1, B=2, c=3, etc.).
   It emerged in the Medieval period when Alchemy, Demonology, and Occultism studies were prominent in the practices of European magicians. There is no published record of the origins of the Theban Alphabet though some writers and philosophers merely mention that it was Honorius of Thebes who had created it. There is no proof or references at all in any of the books published in regards to the writing in earlier times that support this statement.
    English writers in the 19th century then reproduced the alphabet in publications of mysticism. This gave attention to occult organizations like the Golden Order of the 19th century to use this language for their practices of mysticism. Other covens and practitioners of Wicca and certain followers of Witchcraft have stated that the language has deep connections and history for their faith, but then we go back to the facts that show absolutely no proof of this at all, as well.
   The entire purpose of the script when published was to be used to be abstract from anyone’s native language, making it unfamiliar to anyone who wasn’t involved in any of the practices it was used by. So respectfully, it was more used as a code for practitioners for their craft than to use as a form of communication ‘underground’.
      The Theban Alphabet is an interesting coding that has a beauty of its own that is now commonly used among witches of all kinds in their craft, such as writings in their Grimoires , Books of Shadows, and spell work. Because the alphabet wasn’t constructed like most languages with single or minimal stroked writing, it’s not commonly used for basic communication. Some characters within it can’t be written easily with single strokes, which causes anyone writing it to concentrate primarily on the inscription and the task it’s used for in practice.

For the Second Question:

   Contrary to popular belief, the answer is actually… NO!

    Ancient practitioners followed their mysticism through their culture’s faith in their pantheon of Gods. These were times where people were still barbaric. Pillaging through cities, having wars back and fourth, and trying to take over everyone’s land. The mystic practitioners of these tribes didn’t stand back during these times. They stood with them following their warriors with approval of their Gods! Though different countries and cultures could act civilly with one another, it didn’t mean that they felt belief systems were respected equally. In modern society, there are still conflicts through the Abrahamic beliefs of who has the better god, when they’re all believing in the same toothfairy in the sky.
If modern society can’t respect the same gods they follow now, then it’s safe to say that the different followers of different Pantheons didn’t sit down and say, “Well maybe your God is better than mine.” So most of these different cultures that accepted their mysticism among their societies would usually use their native language for their work.
   Witchcraft now-a-days is such an umbrella term. We have the tools to communicate and differentiate the variety of ways people practice making it easier to come together. Back then, it didn’t happen. At all. Do you think the Norse Vikings had a code to use with the Native American shamans to communicate? Uh, no. That’s not realistic, and even if that was the case, I doubt they were spending time putting away their weapons for pillaging and sitting down for maze.
    So to answer the question briefly again, No. There wasn’t a common code for all witches to use to identify with each other of who they were. It was a personal responsibility left to those trying to survive through times of conversion and execution.

   On a more personal note in regards to to this, is that I’m always asked questions like this last question. Some genuinely want to know but in most cases, they’re from people who find a way to place themselves on a pedestal to stand out from others, or feel others are doing so to them. People are wondering if there’s a universal language that Witches HAVE to already know to be considered a witch. if there’s a SIGN that is given to show they must practice Witchcraft or have a higher purpose. Or that they’re telekinetic/have some sort of supernatural ability, no one else is like them at all(and no one else can be), and that they’re a true witch looking to find their place. These are the only questions, that I can honestly tell my followers, that are complete bullshit(mostly directed to the last example provided).
    You don’t have to do anything for anyone or anything to consider yourself a witch. If you’re practicing a form of Witchcraft and you feel comfortable identifying as a Witch or anything that has anything to with your craft, you go right ahead! Other people are not practicing your craft. You are!
As for those that come to me that they have these “extraordinary abilities”: I don’t know if you’re bored or looking to find a creative outlet of expression, but I don’t typically find much respect or belief for these questions.
   It’s cute and imaginative, but until I have proof, or tangible evidence that these events are happening, I can’t answer your questions or give the respected amount of attention to what you’re asking when I have people who are seriously interested in information for guidance from this blog.
   Please, write it down, draw it out, make a movie, design a character, etc. of these supernatural topics. It’s interesting and would make a good movie or TV show, but I will respectfully ask that you please do not waste my follower’s time and question space with these highly exaggerated hallucinations of questions.
   When it comes to the practices of Witchcraft, I don’t believe any individual is stronger than the other based on a level of “witch-yness” nor do I believe specific individuals have been discriminated by “fate” or cherry picked at birth to receive supernatural anything. I do see people who are more determined or put more time and effort into their craft lifestyle but that doesn’t make them better than those who don’t, can’t, or aren’t even Witches. So if you come to me telling me you’re the Vampire Queen of the Damned and the only real Witch in the world, I won’t answer your comments or questions. I will just leave you with my realistic followers so they can deal with you any way they desire, for wasting their time.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the weird, wicked, and witchy, feel free to slap me on my Ask. As usual,

Stay Wicked
-Bohemian Witchery

dating nct doyoung!1!!2!1!

• he sometimes just loses himself and just stares at you and admires your beauty
• but when you look at him and you’re like “hm? something wrong?”
• he’s like “hA. nO. u KLUTZ. A PIECE OF UR HAIR ISN’T TIED UP IN UR PONYTAIL. here let me help u. ha. haa.”
• you guys take really awkward selfies it’s just, so cute. it’s the cutest. everyone loves them.
• “IF YOU GUYS DON’T FUCKING STOP RIGHT NOW- i wont babysit your child when y'all get married and have kids, so, keep being cute. ill be the best goddamn uncle ever. your kids are gonna be super cute with huge ass eyes” - taeyong…and probably yuta.
• kissing doyoung is always so quick and rushed bc doyoung gets flustered easily
• but when it isn’t rushed and when he’s got the whole “what do i have to lose?” or the “i love this girl so much” attitude, he’s super passionate and tender and sweet and gentle and ugh it makes you melt
• he once made you cry, like, a lot, once.
• not gonna go into extreme details but it involved him being stubborn and being too stubborn to apologize to you.
• that is until he found you in the practice room crying your poor little heart out.
• he gave you a super sweet hug and hugged you really tight and when you calmed down, he cupped your cheeks and kissed you super softly and said small “sorry"s in between kisses and you forgave him bc, how can you not.
• “let’s never fight again”
• “yeah. agreed.”
• but the next week y'all fought over green m&m’s so it’s like ???? but y'all still cute.
• “are u cold?”
• “no, well, maybe, im kinda numb”
• it was snowing and y'all started dating a few months ago but training and everything got in the way so y'all just got some time alone and decided to sit out on a bench, in the snow, in below freezing temperature, very smart.
• doyoung wanted to be cool and give you his coat or something but HE WAS COLD TOO. LIKE. SO COLD.
• so he just, used the next best thing
• he kissed you really awkwardly, like, he didnt even, move his body he just turned his head, but his lips were super soft but FREEZING COLD and you went all red and started burning up and freaking out, so in the moment, you forgot that in order to kiss someone, you gotta kiss them back.
• so doyoung really quickly disconnected from your lips and was like “IM- SO SORRY”
• and you were like “OH MY GOD NO I LIKED IT”
• and he was like “wait you did?”
• and you nodded
• and doyoung started smiling and laughing a lot and was like “then, uh, can i try again?”
• and you were like “OF COURSE”
• “are u gonna kiss back this time or-”
• he talks too much, so you just kissed him first and cut him off and his hands naturally wrapped around your waist and it was a really ejdjfjfk experience.
• his lock screen was a picture of himself. bc he didn’t want anyone to tease him for having you as his lock screen.
• SOOOO, you were his home screen :“)
• but johnny was like "dude you can’t do that you gotta embrace your bae”
• so his lock screen changed to a really awkward pic you two took together, but you looked good in it so he didn’t care or notice how awkward he looked.
• ohhhh but the other members did and they wouldn’t let the boy live his life in peace after that.
• but he was happy that you were now on both his lock screen and home screen.
• “who’s ur favorite nct member”
• “isn’t it obvious- it’s jaehyun”
• you tease doyoung a lot like
• he’d do something stupid like, put popsicles in the microwave instead of the fridge bc he was zoning out and you’d be like
• “this is why 부릉부릉 (booroong booroong?? idk the american name lol) was a failure.”
• you ask him to sing for you a lot and he’s always singing so he’s like “k.”
• his voice is so soothing that it helps you go to sleep.
• anOther. cuTE. stoRY.
• one time you woke up from this really scary nightmare and you were sweating and panting and you were about to cry
• doyoung woke up like “hoLY- WHAT HAPPENED ARE YOU OK”
• and you just hugged him super tight and asked him to sing for you
• and that’s exactly what he did, he hugged you back, layed back in bed, and sang for you.
• walks in the park
• it took him literally the longest time for him to get comfortable holding your hand
• it took donghyuck/haechan dressing up as a girl and pretending to be you
• donghyuck dressing up as a girl, pretending to be you, pressuring him to hold his hand, and all the members pressuring him, has traumatized him greatly.
• but now he loves holding your hand but, he doesn’t do it often, bc he’s still kind of shy
• kissing in public? lol who dis
• doyoung may not kiss you in the general public, but he does kiss you in front of the members, but they’re not, hardcore make out sessions, just cute, soft ones that are longer than 3 seconds.
• the members find it disgusting bc no one is a fan of pda that’s not coming from themselves and their s/o so they’re always like “GET A ROOM PLEASE Y'ALL GROSS”
• doyoung gets jealous but he doesn’t get too possessive or protective. he doesn’t become a mom, or make you feel uncomfortable.
• he very often feels insecure about you finding someone better and someone who’ll love you more than him, and when he feels like that, he becomes a little more affectionate.
• he’d all of the sudden start kissing your neck and you’d be like “why are you suddenly so affectionate?”
• “because i love you, um, duh?”
• doyoung tells you everything
• like, everything like
• “i’m so sorry but i drank your sprite.”
• he gives you all the details about everything when you ask him
• he loves talking and you love listening to him
• you guys have the funniest/deepest convos after 12 am
• sometimes you guys are so tired that you’re talking about why mice are attracted to the scent cheese
• and sometimes you guys get so deep that you feel like you guys figured out the secrets of the illuminati.
• you video chat doyoung a lot and he doesn’t want to be disturbed so he always goes into a quiet room, and if there isn’t a quiet room, he goes into the closet, or the bathroom
• doyoung sends the longest text messages, or the most confusing text messages, there’s no in between.
• it’s either “yes, i know but what if it’s not like that and it’s like this, like i said a thousand times before? ok look-” and continuing, or “mhm, yup.”
• you send him pictures of him that you find online, with heart emojis and he gets super flustered and gets into a good mood for the whole day
• one time you said, as a joke, that you liked rappers more than vocals.
• he stayed up all night learning how to rap.
• he got a kiss from you when he told you what he did and you were like “aw sweet baby u really care about me ily”
• it’s kind of like, when you’re both super happy, when one of you are super happy, when you’re both super in love, when one of you are super in love w the other, or the morning when y'all get up after sexy time ;“)))
• sexy time w doyoung is super loud
• and he wraps his hands around your wrist or, anywhere and everywhere.
• he loves it when you take over and you’re dominant. you guys take turns but he likes it more when you’re in control.
• you hang out w jaemin, jisung, and jeno bc THEY CUTE.
• doyoungs like "no don’t do that they’re all rude children, except jisung and jeno.”
• yuta is very supportive of you two, but he’s always like “SAFE SEX. DON’T GET PREGGOS. HAHAHAHA”
• “yuta stop” -hansol
• you wear doyoungs sweaters a lot and they’re all soft and big
• doyoung likes to hug you/cuddle when you’re wearing his sweaters bc you look so cute
• “doyoung ur skin is so ni c e”
• you touch his skin a lot like, his hands, his cheeks, they’re so soft and nice and smooth and, how.
• you guys laugh a lot at really stupid things that only the two of you would find entertaining
• “YOU REALLY DO LOOK LIKE A BUNNY” is the first actual thing you said to doyoung besides simple “hello"s and "how are you?"s before the two of you started dating.
• he fell in love with your laugh and your sarcasm and your kind little heart, and your confidence to yell at him saying that he really looks like a bunny before you two became close.
• oh yeah you’re both really sarcastic towards other people but really genuine towards each other.

i’ve been going back and forth in my mind about whether or not i should post about this out of fear of getting hate, but i’ve decided to take the risk. i absolutely agree with all of the posts i have been seeing about trans women needing to be included in cis women’s feminism. it’s so important, and i stand with trans women everywhere.

there is, however, a disturbing rhetoric going around that in order to support trans women, we have to exclude cis women. those posts i have been seeing telling cis women to shut up about their “pussies” upsets me a great deal. there is a reason so much of feminism is focused on cis women’s body parts; because it’s those parts of our bodies that are sexualized, demonized and assaulted. it’s those parts of our bodies that donald trump and his followers joke about “grabbing”. using those words to fight back against him is extremely powerful, and it’s not okay of those of you to try and take that away from us.

if your feminism is only about that, then yes, it’s a problem. tell cis women to include trans women in their feminist rhetoric, but don’t tell them they have to exclude themselves and their own struggles to do so. you don’t have to tear down one group of women in order to build up another. we are all still learning and growing and figuring out what intersectional feminism really is. but yelling at cis women for being “bad feminists” when they make signs about their vaginas is not okay, especially to those cis women who genuinely do make a conscious effort to include trans women in their feminism. cis women: please continue to talk about your vaginas and boobs in your feminism if that’s what is empowering to you, but don’t make it the only thing you talk about. all women are real women, whether they have a vaginia or not.

we can and should support trans women and include them in our feminism, but it’s important that we do so without disregarding the struggles of cis women or implying that those struggles aren’t valid or important. every single women is important. whether you’re cis, white, trans, black, muslim, lgbt+, disabled, latina, jewish, native american or an immigrant - if you are a woman you are important. i will not stand by and be told i am not allowed to talk about my own body parts. i will not sit here and let myself be beaten into believing that my sexual assault isn’t important.

educating cis women on the struggles of minority women is extremely important, but we can do that without tearing them down. we can support trans women and cis women at the same time. when we don’t, all we are doing is pushing each other further away when we should be coming together. we all have to do better. we have to stop pitting women against each other.

i want to see all of the white women who were at the women’s march at the next black lives matter rally. i want to see all cis women supporting their trans sisters and including them in their feminism. i want all women to be empowered and feel like they have a voice. please, let’s just support women. all women.

Aozora Clubbing Heart part 1

Plot: Mari and Kanan invite everyone to go out clubbing, which hasn’t happened since Kanan and Mari got them all kicked out of and banned from a club for drunk and disorderly conduct. It’s going to be a very wild night.

Pairings: KananMari, RubyMaru, ChikaRiko, YouYoshiko (Sorry Dia)

SFW with strong language, adult content [alcohol, sexual innuendos, hot kisses, and a lot of touching]

Summary: Everyone is thirsty and not just for alcohol

5k words

A/N: This fic is spliced between EVERYONE’S POV’s. Everybody is aged up and you can technically consider this a College AU. I try not to favor anyone, but some segments are longer than others due to content and me having a good time writing it hahaha.

Ruby isn’t sure why Dia insists on tagging along. These kinds of events are usually beneath her, and she’s already promised not to drink. As the youngest, she’s used to being the DD and Ruby doesn’t particularly care for drinking anyways.

“It’s not fair for you to have to babysit seven unruly drunks,” Dia affirms, but Ruby knows her sister well enough to pick up on when she secretly wants to do something. Dia visibly shudders. “And besides, the last time we were all together you saw things you should never have to see.” This was also true.

“Mari and Kanan apologized already. They even promised that the club we’re going to doesn’t allow table-dancing.”

Keep reading

hello -

if you decide to read on you’ll encounter racism, sexism, misogyny, poverty, and injustice. if you do not decided to read on, i will never judge you or hate you for it. we each have to decide how much we can bear.

there are sure to be a lot of triggering things in here, but i don’t know how best to tag them. if anyone has any suggestions, i’d welcome them.

thank you!

Keep reading

6. Haunted House

The loading bar moved almost too slow for Raven’s patience. She sat quietly sipping on apple spice tea, and munching a pumpkin bread. “Come on.” She order at the T.V. As of recent the dark one had a bit of secret, that she happened upon when Netflix was left on one night. The title and icon picture of the show is what sparked her curiosity. American Horror Story. Letting her interest peak she looked over her shoulder as she gently pressed play episode one, and that’s how it all began. She instantly found herself glued the screen. She was only on the fifth episode because she was worried that the others would make fun of her for actually watching and enjoying a television program.

The red loading bar finally reached 100% and her show began to play softly in the back ground. A smirk formed on her lips as she felt strangely satisfied. There she was finally able to take sometime for herself with out, Stars constant need to ‘talk the boys’, Cyborg’s sudden need for girl advice, Robin’s always need for a training partner, and of course Beast Boy. Currently she had no idea where the green one was but she was glad that the others were “in town” for the night. Resting on the side of the couch she pulled her knees up in order to get comfortable. Oh yes she deserved a little down time.

The common door made it squeaky noise as it opened, causing Raven to jump into panic mode. She scrambled for the remote, unfortunately she was only able to hit the stop button before a pair for green eyes spied her.  

With a bright toothy grin he looked at her then back and giant screen. “HA! I knew it!” He exclaimed pointing straight at her. She felt utterly embarrassed and her cheeks were bound to show it.

“It’s not-” She stuttered

“Stop.” He ordered holding his right hand up. “I know Netflix like that back of my hand, I even have the comedy list memorized. Don’t you think I would have seen that someone was watching AHS?” He asked Raven narrowed her eyes at his punctuation of her show.  "Come on Rae, it shows a recently watched list!“ He moved across the room and then dropped down next to her. She avoided his stare and clambbed her mouth shut. They stay like this for a moment before Beast Boy spoke up again.

"Well what are you waiting for?”

Her gaze moved up as she stared at him in confused like state. What did he mean? HE didn’t expect her to actually continue watching now that he was sitting there, rather too close to her matter a fact. Casting her eyes down she shook her head. “I should go mediate.”

“What? Why? Don’t leave just because I’m here.” He gave her his reassuring smile. Trying to convince her that it was more than normal to watch something with a green person in the room with her.

Once again she shook her head. “No it’s fine, you don’t even know what going on.” She raised her brow looking at the character on the screen.

“So tell me.” He suggested leaning back and resting his hands behind his head. She sat quietly thinking about how she had promised Robin that she would be better at being Beast Boy’s friend. It was no surprised that the two didn’t really see eye to eye. 'Maybe this could be our thing?’ A pink emotion sounded off in her head. She frowned as was quiet shocked that her emotion-clone had suggested something useful. She did have something with each member of her team, everyone except him. 'American Horror Story it is then.’ She decided. She picked up her tea and nursed it before returning on the table.

“Well, this is episode six, so to go back…” She mused surprising the Changeling by actually choosing his idea. “The story is about a family that moves into a new house to escape their trouble past. Of course the beautiful antique home, turns out to be haunted. The characters so far is Ben the father he’s a therapist, his wife Vivian, and their daughter Violet. Tate is the guy who seems to attach himself to Violet. Constance is the crazy neighbor who keeps telling stories that suggest that the house is haunted.” The plum haired girl explained. Beast Boy remained quiet the whole time listening to every detail she gave. After a few minutes of recapping episodes she finished and drained the rest of her tea. “If you have any questions we can pause it, and discuss.” She added. Picking up the remote.

“Perfect. I’m excited.” He grinned folding his arms, making sure to get comfy. Raven gave him a lingering look before sighing, pressing the play button. The show fired up and the pair found themselves engulfed in the slightly disturbing show. After hours of binge watching episode after episode Raven looked at the clock on the wall and decided it was time to call it a night. Robin always made sure they were up bright and early no matter how late they stayed up the previous night.

“Well we should go to bed.” Raven announced powering off the T.V. Beast Boy nodded and smiled brightly up her.

“Thanks for staying and letting me watch your show with you.” He responded standing up. He looked down and offered a green hand to her to help her up. She queerly looked at his hand for a moment before she took it. It one quick motion he pulled her up with such force it sent her right into his chest. Chuckling he wrapped his arms around her back steadying himself, then he pulled away. Her cheeks blushed as she stared down at the floor. “Sorry I under estimate my own strength. You’re so light.” He remarked before poke her in the stomach.

Giving him a soft glare, she moved passed him and pick up her empty tea cup. She didn’t say anything as she rinsed it out before putting into the sink. “You know Rae, I really can see why Tate, likes Violet so much.” He spoke carefully almost as if he was trying approach the subject carefully.

Catching her attention she twisted her head back over her shoulder, “because she’s pretty?” Her voice quiet but actually full of interest.

“Well, there that, but she quiet reserved, but she not afraid of standing up for herself. She smart and funny when she wants to be.” He explained smiling. Then his expression change as he began pondering something. Raven continued to watch him, wondering what he possibly could be thinking about. His hand rose to his neck as he rubbed it like it was sore or something.  It was his nervous tick that she had come to recognize over the years.

“So you like Violet then?” She asked breaking the awkward ice.

“Well, yeah but if I’m being honest I think I like her so much because she reminds me of you.” He muttered his face flushing. Raven felt her power zap a dish in causing it to shatter into pieces. For the first time Raven was completely hushed not having even an inkling as to what to say. Her cheeks flushed for the third time that night and she bit her cheek. She wasn’t quiet sure how to take his complement. Finally he broke the quite spell, “Well, I can’t wait for the next episode, good night Raven.”

“Good night Beast Boy.” She responded in an almost whisper. She pulled up her hood so she could hide the small smirk that was on her mouth.

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged,
and come together to demand it.

After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.

So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.

But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future.

Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.

Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.

That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.

And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.

So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.

Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?

How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.

It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.

But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.

When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.

Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again.
I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.

You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.

To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.

And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.

That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic –
I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every

American whose story is not yet written:

Yes We Can.

Yes We Did.

Yes We Can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

—  President Barack Obama, Farewell Address, January 10, 2017

I’m taking this back to the beginning…. X-Factor….. Audition stages…………

There are over 350 million people in America, and I bet half of us think we sound great singing in the shower. So naturally, when a talent show puts out an open call for participants, we remember our shower vocals and think, why not.

These big televised talent shows, like X-Factor and American Idol, make it seem like thousands of hopefuls, just show up with dream in hand, at an audition site, and get told yes or no. That’s not how these things work.

People who want to participate, first have to submit a video, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, of themselves singing, telling a bit about themselves, and why they are passionate about being on the show. They submit the video to an allotted website or E-mail address.

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