BLACK WOMEN ARE BEING KILLED

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

– Malcolm X


Na’kia Crawford

While stopped at a red light on June 14 following runnings errands with her grandmother in Akron, Ohio, Na’kia Crawford was shot and killed. She had just graduated high school and was set to attend Central State University in the fall. She was found by police around 1:25pm, in broad daylight, with multiple gunshot wounds. Crawford died later in the hospital. Her grandmother was not injured.

In the words of Akron mayor, Dan Horrigan, “The future she dreamed of was stolen from her.”

https://www.gofundme.com/f/nakia-memorial-fund

https://www.change.org/p/akron-city-council-justice-for-na-kia-crawford


Breonna Taylor

In the early hours of March 13, Louisville police used a battering ram to break into the apartment of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, executing a search warrant. After “a brief confrontation” with Taylor’s boyfriend in which the police claim he fired on them first, they fired and struck Breonna at least eight times. The police were investigating two men suspected of selling drugs outside of Taylor’s apartment with a “no-knock” warrant. The single officer injured is expected to make a full recovery.

Taylor was an EMT. Her mother, Tamika Palmer says her daughter “Had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family.”

Louisville has banned “no-knock” warrants following Taylor’s murder, which means they can no longer enter a home unannounced. “Breonna’s Law” also requires police and corrections officers to wear body cameras while serving warrants. Taylor was murdered on March 13, 2020, and her killers have still not been arrested.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/9v4q2-justice-for-breonna-taylor

https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor


Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells

The body of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27-year-old transgender black woman, was found on June 8 in Philadelphia alongside the Schuylkill River. She had suffered stab wounds and trauma to the head and face, and both her legs were severed. It is reported by friends that she was with a man not long before her murder. An arrest warrant for Fells’ killer has been issued after much out-cry.

Fell’s friends say she “Lived her truth so loud that you could hear her a mile away.” She had plans to return to school and dreams of being a fashion designer.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/dominiquefells

https://www.change.org/p/philadelphia-police-department-justice-for-dominique-fells


Riah Milton

One day after Fells’ body was found, 25-year-old Riah Milton was shot and killed during a robbery that took place in Liberty Township, Ohio. She was a transgender woman who worked as a health aide and was a student at the University of Cincinnati. Milton was misgendered in many press releases which also used her deadname– the name she was given at birth, not the name she had chosen for herself.

https://www.change.org/p/liberty-townships-board-of-trustees-justice-for-riah-milton-womanmurdered-in-liberty-township-ohio

The GoFundMe that was created for Riah’s memorial has been closed.


There are more black women who have been killed in the past weeks, and many more throughout all time as a direct result of systemic racism, sexism, and transphobia. I’m thankful there appears to be change happening in our world regarding these issues, but there is also a lot of hate. Don’t stop fighting for equality. This movement is not a fad. Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter today and always!!!

ANOTHER IMPORTANT TOPIC is the fact that in the past two weeks, six black men were found hanged by a tree in a public space. Authorities named all six of these as suicides, but some are being investigated.


Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau

19-year-old Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau was found dead on Saturday, a week after she went missing from Florida. Tallahassee police found her body along with 75-year-old Victoria “Vicki” Sims’. Salau tweeted about having been sexually assaulted by a man who offered to give her a ride while looking for a place to stay after a protest in Florida. She tweeted about escaping the man’s house and calling the police, then gave a description of the man.

There are countless videos of her speaking on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement, as she was a leading voice in the area. She was an activist, a friend, and a daughter. According to a friend of Salau, she had taught herself how to sew, paint, and design her own clothes.

There is not a GoFundMe for Toyin’s family directly– they’ve been said to be abusive and untrustworthy. Instead, here is the Oluwatoyin Salau Freedom Fighters Fund that is through Justice for Black Girls: https://www.justiceforblackgirls.com/oluwatoyin-freedom-fighters-fund

https://www.change.org/p/tallahassee-police-to-bring-her-justice

UPDATE: Aaron Glee has confessed to kidnapping and killing Oluwatoyin Salau and Victoria Sims.


Check out this Twitter thread by @therealjrm with over 20 ways on how to protect black woman.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Racism is not an uncomfortable topic if you’re not racist.

I’m not black, so I will never understand the fear and oppression black people have faced and experienced and continue to experience. To the black community: I hear you and I mourn with you. I’m so angry and I’m so frustrated, but I will do what I can to fight for you. Sharing aesthetic Instagram stories about Black Lives Matter means nothing if these words don’t match your actions. We need to continually check our behavior and that of others.

White privilege exists as a result of historic and enduring racism. It doesn’t mean my life or the life of any other white person hasn’t been hard, but that the color of my skin isn’t one of the things making my life or any white person’s life any harder. I have never in my 20 years of life feared for something because of the color of my skin. I’ve benefited from it.

Do not dare say “all lives matter.” Black Lives Matter is about black people and all the struggles and obstacles they’ve gone through as a direct result of their skin color. There was no “all lives matter” before BLM because people seek to invalidate BLM by saying “all lives matter.” They want to take attention away from it, and for what? Are you so offended black people are finally receiving support and you’re not the center of attention? If that’s the case, kindly shut the f*ck up. No one is saying black lives matter more than others. The injustice and racial oppression against all black lives is the focal point of the movement.

Here are anti-racism resources with information on how to educate yourself as a white person. It has books, films, podcasts, and more. It’s our responsibility to create change. Waiting and watching won’t change anything. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/mobilebasic

A Twitter thread offering advice for protestors on how to stay safe and what to do in violent or dangerous circumstances: https://twitter.com/rsqchae/status/1266921042259447813

HOW TO HELP

Donate to Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Donate to the George Floyd Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

Donate to a bail fund to assist protestors: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GsfJnX62CLaYtZ3Ewd0VVgh7J-W6vIdUBC0x4qsvA8c/mobilebasic

Donate to any of the links on this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/rosiegguks/status/1266302612250324993

Text “FLOYD” to 55156 to call for action against the police officer who murdered of George Floyd

Text “ENOUGH” to 55156 to call for action against the police officers who murdered of Breonna Taylor

Sign the Justice for George Floyd petition: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-jacob-frey-justice-for-george-floyd

Sign the Justice for Breonna Taylor petition: https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor

SAY THEIR NAMES
USE YOUR PRIVILEGE TO HELP

VEGETARIANISM/VEGANISM

The meat industry largely contributes to climate change. It affects air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas emissions. Beef production, specifically, creates “28, 11, 5, and 6 times more land, irrigation water, greenhouse gases, and nitrogen, respectively, than the average of the other livestock categories” according to PNAS. Not only does the meat industry have a well established carbon footprint, it uses a catastrophic amount of water. More than 2,4000 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of meat. For perspective, only 25 gallons are needed to produce a pound of wheat. According to PETA (calm down anti-vegetarian people, it’s just an organization), you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all planes, cars, ships, and trains combined. A report from Our World by the United Nations University states that twice as many people believe transportation to be the bigger contributor to global warming, though we see that’s not true. The report’s lead author believes “tackling meat and dairy consumption” is dependent on preventing catastrophic warming.

The argument of animal abuse as support for vegetarianism/veganism doesn’t reach many people, but it reaches me, and is something I feel absolutely necessary to include. “Factory farming” is a term used to describe intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production. The goal of factory farms is to maximize production and minimize cost, at the expense of the livestock. They’re squeezed into cages and boxes so small they can’t move, are fed antibiotics to make them grow faster and be kept alive in unsanitary conditions, and usually face a cruel death while completely conscious. In the dairy industry, female cows are artificially inseminated and separated from their calves at birth. The second they stop producing milk, they’re inseminated again. It’s a vicious cycle.

If you don’t care about the environment and our only planet, or animal rights, then hopefully you care about yourself. A plant based diet, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center, has consistently proven over two decades that it reduces your risk for cancer. It’s important to note a “plant-based diet” doesn’t remove meat completely, but is focused around vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. This type of diet also supports your immune system, reduces inflammation, and can help you maintain a healthy weight. So, for anyone who is hesitant to completely cut out meat, this diet is still helpful to the environment because it calls for less meat consumption, but it’s also helping you.

As for dairy, it’s one of the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. An analysis published by the British Medical Journal found that most studies do not show any relationship between dairy intake and broken bones or fractures. Dairy consumption is also linked to lung, breast, and ovarian cancers.

I could speak a lot more on this topic, but I want to keep it short because I’m sure I got a lot of eyerolls. Moral of the story: the meat, livestock, and dairy industries are contributing to killing our planet. Meat is not necessary for a healthy human diet– there is protein in foods like quinoa, tofu, beans and legumes, vegetable, nuts, and so much more; and you definitely don’t need need to be drinking another animal’s milk.

I highly recommend documentary What the Health on Netflix. It digs into the relationship between diet and health and could be the inspiration you need to begin a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet. Try cutting out an animal product one at a time or eat less of it– it all helps. And lastly, don’t hate on other people for their diet, whether it includes animal products or not. You’re only responsible for your actions, and I can guarantee unsolicited advice isn’t helpful. Love our planet!

I like this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxvQPzrg2Wg&t=185s

GOING OUT OUTFITS (BASICS)

“Going out” isn’t something we’ll be able to do for a while, but that means there’s ample time to do some online shopping until then so that you’ll have fire fits when the time comes. I think all cities have the same going out vibe for the most part, but I’ve chosen pieces that I think can work for multiple situations.

A lot of online stores have a section labeled “going out tops” or something similar which is super helpful and has good options.

I’ve chosen to do basics for this post because in all seriousness basics is what your closet needs, way more than statement pieces. Statement pieces are great and fun, but they’re hard to rewear and don’t always get their money’s worth.

Basic Tops
Free People Fair and Square Neck Duo Bodysuit

I actually own this exact Free People bodysuit and it’s my most solid basic. It goes with everything, it’s flattering, and stylish. I love square necklines. If this style is too boring for you, look for something with puffy sleeves, ties, or ruching.

UO One-Shoulder Tie Tank Top

The one-shoulder style is an easy way to spice up a basic top, and this knot adds more. Urban Outfitters has this top in some statement piece colors like a dark pink and red that are cute! If you don’t care for the knot, UO has a one-shoulder ripped tank. I have it in forest green and it’s a go-to of mine.

Forever 21 Puff-Sleeve Crop Top

I’ve been on the puffy sleeves wave for a while and I’m so glad it’s finally having its moment. However, I only like a slight puff, like this Forever 21 top because I think too much looks silly. The ties, ruching, and buttons are so cute, but not too much; I think they compliment each other perfectly to make this top a good basic.

Jackets
Princess Polly Western Cord Jacket Black

I have this jacket in beige and it’s my favorite jacket I own. I always get compliments when I wear it, and it’s great because rather than buying a bunch of new cooler weather tops, I can throw it on with a tank or short sleeve underneath.

Princess Polly Puffer Jacket Beige

Puffer jackets are so cute in my opinion and perfect for a casual going out outfit. The length on this is perfect because it looks good paired with a cropped shirt or bodysuit and jeans/pants whereas a longer length wouldn’t be as trendy.

Basic Bottoms

I have some beef with shorts because beside denim shorts (which aren’t usually nice enough to go out in), there are very minimal options. This means you have to wear jeans or pants, which is totally fine, but not always convenient like when it’s hot outside. I like Levi’s 501 Original Shorts for denim shorts. Levi’s just has the best denim!

Levi’s 501 Original Fit Women’s Jeans

I’ve said it before– every girl and gay needs a pair of 501s. I’m very over skinny jeans, though they’ll probably never go completely out of style. I wear the 501 Skinny style because I have thin legs so this style fits me like the one above should. Levi’s also has a skinny jean style for those of you looking for one.

Zara Pleated Skort

This pleated style is super cute and a way to get by wearing shorts while looking like you’re wearing a skirt. I think the pleats are more in style than ruffle flounce shorts, too.

Princess Polly Lola Mini Skirt

I have this exact skirt and it’s a good staple. I definitely have more statement tops than I do bottoms, so whenever I want to wear a certain top I can count on this to go with it. Princess Polly also has it in black which is an equally wearable basic.

Shoes
Doc Martens 1460 Bex Smooth Leather Platform Boots

I absolutely love my Doc Martens. I have them in white and black and they’re my most worn shoe for going out. They’re comfortable (although that first wear will give you blisters) and a stylish, timeless look. I always get compliments when I wear mine and I promise they’re not as hard to pull off as you may think. Doc Marten also sells vegan leather styles!

Nike Air Force 1 ’07

Yes, everyone and their mother owns a pair of Air Forces. I’m embarrassed by how many of these shoes I’ve owned throughout the years, but it’s because I can wear them with a big tee and shorts or jeans and a cute top– they’re versatile. Plus there’s a thousand colors in this style of shoe so you’re bound to find one you like. And if you’d rather support an ethical brand, New Balance and Veja have super cute sneakers.

Doc Martens Blaire Hydro Leather Gladiator Sandal

I could probably count the number of times I’ve made eye contact with a pair of sandals and thought to myself “Those are cute.” I personally don’t care for sandals in general and have a difficult time finding a pair that work for me because of my narrow feet. I tried these on because I genuinely think they’re cute, but the straps were too big for my feet *cry*. However, if you don’t have this issue, these are amaze.

Target Women’s Kerrigan Slide Sandals – Universal Thread

I got these sandals as a last minute resort because I’m over my Steve Madden platforms and didn’t own any other “nice” sandals for an upcoming beach trip. They’re not the most interesting pair of shoes, but for $15 I can’t complain. They did their job and are cute enough in my opinion; another good basic to own.

Accessories

I think it’s important to have a good belt or two and basic, everyday jewelry. I don’t think outfits look completed without jewelry, but if you don’t want to spend a lot on your jewelry pieces, look for something in sterling silver (which takes longer to tarnish and can be polished) or gold filled (which lasts longer than gold plated).

Grommet Leather Belt from Amazon

I really like this belt style because it’s kind of grunge, but could be paired with any vibe of outfit. Plus it’d look super cute with a pair of Doc Martens.

Karen Lazar

I’ve been seeing Karen Lazar’s bracelets everywhere, and most commonly I see them stacked. This style is very in right now and I think a lot of products from this company make great everyday accessories. Her bracelets and rings come in yellow gold, rose gold, and sterling silver. Not to mention her bracelets also come in mixed metals! Going to plug my mixed metals post here.

MY FAVORITE PODCASTS

I’m a big podcast person. I listen to them when I’m driving, laying out in the sun, walking on campus to my classes, and more. Most of the podcasts I listen to are crime related, so that’s mainly what I have to recommend, but below are my all-time favorites!

Crime Junkie

This is my favorite crime podcast because every episode covers a different case. Whether it’s a missing person, a murder, or a serial killer it tells a whole story in a single episode. I’m super picky about the narration of podcasts because I don’t want the narrator to go on and on about tangents or play a five minute 911 call that only has ten seconds of anything relevant, but the hosts, Ashley Flowers and Britt are really good at their jobs and I get so excited whenever a new episode is released because they’re always amazing.

Serial

Serial was the first podcast I listened to and still recommend it to everyone. I’ve only listened to the first season, which is about a high school senior, Hae Min Lee, who went missing in 1999 Baltimore. Six weeks later her boyfriend was arrested, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The second season doesn’t have the best reviews, but it seems the third is much better. Plus the host, Sarah Koenig, is great.

Cold

This story is absolutely insane. There are so many surprising and freaky things, but that’s what makes it such an interesting story. It focuses on the Powell family and specifically the disappearance of Susan Powell, wife and mother. The narrator even reads from Susan and her husband’s personal journals that give listeners an intimate look into the family’s twisted dynamic. And the father-in-law… it makes my skin crawl just thinking about him.

Someone Knows Something

I listened to season five of Something Knows Something super randomly and loved it so much that I’m about halfway through the first season right now. The fifth season is about Kerrie Brown, a 15 year old girl from Thompson, Manitoba in Canada who went missing from a house party and was found dead two days later. Over 30 years later the Brown family still doesn’t have answers, but host David Rogen forms a relationship with them and interviews the people involved. Season one is good so far!

Doctor Death

Wondery has a lot of good podcasts, and this is one of them. Doctor Death is about Dallas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch whose patients would experience complications not long after their procedure because Duntsch was intentionally harming his patients. Listeners hear from victims and their families, and it discusses the blind faith we put in doctors that ended up changing his patients’ lives forever.

Your Own Backyard

For some reason this podcast hit me really hard, and I think it was because the victim, Kristin Smart is close to my age. Kristin mysteriously disappeared from Cal Poly her freshman year of college in 1996 after being escorted to her on-campus dorm following a party. It’s so heartbreaking, like all these cases, and especially upsetting because it really sounds like they have the culprit from the research discussed by narrator Chris Lambert, but there are tons of roadblocks stopping a conviction.

Call Her Daddy

Call her Daddy is hilarious, but definitely PG-13. It’s hosted by 20-somethings Sofia Franklyn and Alex Cooper who discuss sex, dating, and the trials and tribulations that come with those. In addition to this they offer advice like the acclaimed Gluck Gluck 9000, what to do when you’re feeling suspicious of your partner, and more. These girls are loud and vulgar, but in the best way that makes my core ache from laughing. (Side note: they make some points that I don’t agree with, but like all things, listen and form your own opinion. They’re still hilarious, and now it’s just Alex! I think the show is about to get 100x better).

The Tiny Meat Gang Podcast

Cody Ko and Noel Miller are kings, and you’ve probably heard of or seen their YouTube videos (the Love Island ones are my personal favorite). Every podcast has a different topic, but they’re usually about pop culture, celebrities, and completely random things like types of bottle openers. Cody and Noel are both comedians so every episode is full of humor, and they even have a few songs under their duo-group Tiny Meat Gang.

STOP USING THE R-WORD

It is very easy to eliminate a word, or words, from your vocabulary–even easier when you understand the harm it causes to an entire group of people. The word “retard” is harmful, and it doesn’t matter how you use it in a sentence. For a long time I did not have an understanding of the baggage this word carries and I assume many people don’t considering how often I hear it being used. So, if you need to be informed why this word is offensive and why you should stop saying it, please keep reading.

The R-word was originally used to refer to people with disabilities because it means “to make slow; delay the development or progress of,” which was how people with disabilities have been perceived– slower in development than people without disabilities. The R-word has been used in an insulting context, but as we know, the true definition of this word was not meant to cause harm. Nevertheless it became an insult over time.

This word has evolved into being used to refer to something moronic or unintelligent, which is not what people with disabilities are. I remember kids being called “gay” and “retarded” when I was growing up because people wanted to hurt their feelings and offend them, not necessarily because they were either of those things. When you repeatedly use a word in a context it’s not meant for, its true and original meaning is still a part of it, but dilutes, which is what’s happened here. The R-word became an adjective to describe unintelligent things, people, etc. while remaining associated with people with disabilities.

This word is a slur, pejorative like any racial slur. It is used to offend and cause harm to people. Read that sentence again, and understand the baggage the R-word retains. An article by Spread the Word has a quote from Special Olympics athlete Joseph Franklin Stephens about the R-word being used to refer to people with disabilities, which includes himself. He says, “It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be.” The R-word is still damaging when used to refer to someone with a disability.

As seen above, the R-words is not only disrespectful and abhorrent, but exclusive, too. People with disabilities should not be viewed as a separate group from people without disabilities. We are all people, and people with disabilities are not just that– “with disabilities.” They have complex lives like everyone else, hobbies, interests, careers, and more and should never be made to feel different.

In conclusion, no one should be using the R-word. It makes me sad how often I hear it to this day, and I try my best to educate someone when they use it. Please, please stop using this word (and all slurs). It takes very little self-control to remove a singular (1) word, and even a few words from your vocabulary; and if you’re unable to do so, maybe reconsider your priorities and improve your capacity for fortitude.

I didn’t know how to include this in the post, but I want it here LOL so check out this iconic advertisement by Hilary Duff about using “gay” as an insult: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_MIb3mYznE

MIXING METALS IN JEWELRY

I have been plagued by preferring gold jewelry over silver. I use this word due to the fact that the majority of my gold pieces are gold plated, not real gold, and eventually tarnish. I also have silver pieces which don’t tarnish and have to be replaced like gold plated. Because of this I’ve been introduced to “mixing metals.” When I received my first piece of nice, silver jewelry after only wearing gold, I immediately asked my mom if it was okay to wear with my gold jewelry since people usually stick with one color. She said yes and is definitely right.

I love how my gold and silver rings that I always wear look paired together. I also love individual jewelry pieces that have mixed metals, like this RegalRose necklace from ASOS and Honey Bee Ring from Etsy. The mixed metals of these items look so good and intentional– they blend well.

RegalRose Exclusive Hand of Glory Necklace
Honey Bee Ring

I think it’s important when mixing metals, and frankly with jewelry in general, to make sure they’re all the same vibe. Your look should be cohesive. Below are some chain bracelets from Free People. While they’re each a different style of chain and metal, they’re still chains, so there’s the cohesion. Any of these paired together would look super cute.

Free People Delicate Chain Bracelet

If you’re a little nervous to mix metals, it’s more lowkey to mix metals of the same style. Below are a set of five stacking rings by Madewell as well as Set & Stones rings both from Nordstrom. The concept of mixed metal stacked rings is way more common than wearing a gold necklace and a silver bracelet, for instance, so if you choose this route I promise no one will lose sleep over it.

Madewell Filament Set of 5 Stacking Rings
Set & Stones Nolan Ring

I hope to see more mixed metal in the future because it really is nonsensical to stick to one jewelry material forever. Whoever gave us the idea you had to was wrong, just like the person who told us you can’t wear white after Labor Day. Fashion has no rules. YOLO.

I DID THE REVERSE TIE DYE TREND

I love sweatpants, I do. And since being home during quarantine, I’ve seen multiple TikToks of people DIYing the reverse tie dye trend with sweatpants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and more. Considering I have an abundance of free time, I decided to take a shot at it and really like how they turned out. Not to mention I’ve seen brands sell reverse tie dye sweatpants for $50, but this cost me under $20 so boom.

Step 1

I got my sweatpants from Amazon and the bathroom bleach + cleaner from Target, but any brand works. First, I got the pants wet in the shower and squeezed the water out. After this, with the help of my loving mother, folded the pants (accordion fold) all the way up, as shown in the gif. My mom and I (moreso my mom) are perfectionists so this step took us longer than it should’ve. I don’t think it’s necessary for the folds to be identical on each pant leg, but we tried to make it as even as possible.

Step 2

Next, I rubber banded the pants and sprayed them with the bathroom cleaner + bleach. I sprayed each “section” created by the rubber bands a few times to make sure it was covered with the bleach, then got the back side and gave the sides a few sprays.

When I got to this part I did accordion folds the whole upper width of the pant, since it’s not separate for each leg.
Step 3

After applying the bleach to the pants I let them sit in the shower for 25 min. Once my timer went off I removed the rubber bands and threw them in the washing machine with detergent for a normal wash. The last step is to put your pants through the dryer and you’re done!

Here are some photos of how mine turned out:

VOLUNTOURISM: WHY MISSION TRIPS DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD

This post is not about faith and that isn’t a topic I want to discuss on here, but being that Christian-led mission trips are the subject of voluntourism, it will come into the picture. I am a Christian and was raised in the Catholic community. I even have a small memory of going on a church-led mission trip to an orphanage in Mexico when I was a child. I respect all beliefs and don’t think who you pray to, or don’t pray to, is any of my business nor does it matter. The reason I begrudgingly say this is so it’s clear this is not sh*t post against Christians; I am one, and religion has nothing to do with the following message.

Voluntourism is a term used to describe when people travel overseas to volunteer. For example, mission trips. People pay thousands of dollars to travel and lodge at overseas country, stay for a week or two to complete a “project,” like build a church and complete evangelistic work, and then leave. It’s a billion dollar industry. I have questioned the intentions of people on these trips, but I can’t give you an answer. I assume and like to think the majority of these missionaries have good, pure intentions, but the concept of it all begs the question of how much good is really being done.

One of the most common mission trip “projects” is construction. The part about this that’s wrong to me is there are local people and professionals who are willing and able to do the job. Jobs could have been created for the community by the construction of a “project.” But alas, missionaries fly thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to do a job that could’ve been completed without their presence. Not to mention, constructing a classroom isn’t a job that requires people from another country to fly in, it’s fairly simple. This takes opportunities away from local construction workers and masons who could have benefitted from a few week’s paycheck. Even more twisted is one of the reasons people go overseas to do their “project” is because they believe the country doesn’t have the financial means for it. Missionaries think so much of the peoples’ poverty, yet candidly take jobs away from them.

What would be many times more beneficial is donating money directly to the community. This way they can put the money to use how they please and towards long-term things. After a mission trip group builds that classroom they’re gone. They don’t stay to train teachers or support them with a wage. It is much more beneficial to improve education, which simply building a classroom doesn’t do. The citizens know what their community needs, not a group of people from across the globe who are eager to share this experience to social media.

An amazing article written by Mariette Williams for ZORA details her personal experience with voluntourism as a volunteer and later as a group leader and why she’ll never go on a mission trip again. Williams says, “Mission trips are often well intended, but poverty is a complex political and economic problem that won’t be solved with a weeklong trip.” That right there, is exactly what I’ve been trying to say this whole time. There is nothing a mission trip can do to solve a country’s poverty, and especially not by borderline modern-day colonialism.

The most upsetting aspect of voluntourism is the exploitation of children. An article by the Huffington Post talks about Haitian parents who were told and paid to send their children to orphanages where they could receive education and health care. The parents sent their children to the orphanages, manipulated into thinking it would lead to better opportunities, but their children were exploited. Images of them were posted to social media soliciting for funds. When the children returned they said they were constantly hungry in the orphanage, made to do heavy labor, beaten by the “director,” and never went to school. Plus, many of the children were sick from drinking polluted water and malnutrition. It’s also important to address the evangelistic work of mission trips. We’ll use Haiti as an example. According to a 2018 religious demography report of Haiti, 55% of the population is Catholic, 29% Protestant, 15% Baptist, and there are other present denominations of Christianity. These people know Jesus and I’m sure they have the tools to explore Christianity if not.

In conclusion, I do not support mission trips like the ones I’ve discussed. I like to think there are other kinds that have long-term goals for the visiting area, but I believe a lot of people (clearly not everyone, don’t come for me) use mission trips to convince themselves they’re good Christians and living like Jesus did when they’re actually being self-serving and ignorant. If you truly wish to help, donate to humanitarian organizations. Here are some places you can do that: Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World Food Program USA (WFP).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION BRANDS

I have a post from a while back about fast fashion– explaining what it is, its impact, the whole shabang. I listed a few popular retailers that fall under the wing of fast fashion, but wanted to save a separate blog post for their foil: sustainable brands. These brands work to create quality clothing pieces that will last and are working to make a difference. Unfortunately, no clothing is “good” for the environment– it all has some negative impact, but sustainable companies have a smaller negative impact. Key word: smaller. Below you can see sustainable brands I have or would shop at. There are obviously lots of other options, but these are my favorite style-wise. Let’s love our planet better.

Levi’s

You have no idea how happy I was to learn this company is sustainable. Levi 501s are a staple and I highly encourage every girl and gay to own a pair of these. BTdubs if you have thinner legs like I do, the 501 Skinny style fits like a regular 501 should. It takes over 2,000 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans, but Levi’s removes water wherever it is possible. Considering this brand is known for their denim and has been for decades, what they’re doing makes a huge impact.

H&M Conscious

Every product from the H&M Conscious line has something about it that lessens its environmental impact. Plus, styles start at $10 which is great for people who struggle with big price tags. This line includes a large range of products with loungewear, intimates, jeans, tees, and nice dresses and tops.

Reformation

This brand is sooooo cute. They have trendy and simple pieces, tons of jean styles, and even wedding outfits like bridal dresses and bridesmaids dresses. As most sustainable brands, they’re really passionate about the topic and have a whole About page on it. This brand is dope and does a great job of being trendy and sustainable.

For Love & Lemons

This is another brand I’m absolutely obsessed with. For Love & Lemons’ clothes are trendy and feminine, but also unique. If I had to pick one store to shop at for the rest of my life, this would be it. It is a little pricier like Reformation, but their clothes will last you longer than a fast fashion brand, which is the whole point here! Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular.

New Balance

In addition to the environment experiencing the impacts of fast fashion are the people who make the clothes in very poor conditions and for a low, unfair wage. New Balance seeks to ensure their employees are treated with respect and given a fair wage. They own footwear manufacturers in the UK and US, which is significant because companies will outsource laborers and underpay them. Side note: I’ve been loving the 990 style recently. It definitely had a frat boy moment circa 2015, but I think we need to reclaim it. Love a good chunky sneaker.

Rent the Runway

I’m very much on the wave that is renting clothes, especially formal dresses. Do you know how hard it is to rewear a formal dress? Answer: it’s very hard. Because you look poppin’ in a formal dress you’ll take lots of pictures, share them to social media, and you don’t want to rewear it for second cousin twice removed Tammy’s wedding the next week! And formal dresses are good at breaking the bank. Rent the Runway has super cute formal dresses, but also regular pieces like tops and bottoms. Plus, you can get an extra try-on size for free which is clutch.

Patagonia

My Patagonia fleece jacket and is a go-to in the winter because it does the best at keeping me warm. In addition to creating sustainable, quality products, Patagonia is involved in climate change activism. The brand has a bunch of awesome stories on their Activism page that show the work they’re doing to make a difference and help the earth.

Athleta

Don’t worry, I would never leave you athleisure girls hanging. Athleta claims 60% of its products are made with sustainable fibers and 4% made with water-saving techniques. The brand is also an advocate for feminism and according to their website, 3,212 and counting women have been empowered through P.A.C.E. and Fair Trade. P.A.C.E. stands for Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement, a program that works to empower the women who make their product. And their stuff is cute!