The media hasn't covered Parkland's black students. This press conference changed that.

The well-known Parkland activists have done remarkable work, but there is another group of students who aren’t being as heard.

On March 28, 2018, black students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School held a press conference to discuss their frustration with being left out of the conversations about gun violence and school safety.

Making up 11% of the school's population, black students are in a tough spot. Having gone through the same traumatic experience as the other students at the school, black students should also be at the forefront of these conversations around gun violence in America. Instead, they’ve largely been invisible on a national scale, and their white peers have noticed.


When asked what the biggest mistake in media coverage of Parkland has been, David Hogg, one of the more visible activists, told media outlet Axios, "Not giving black students a voice," noting that a significant portion of his school comprises black students. "But the way we’re covered doesn’t reflect that. It's disgusting," he added.

At the press conference, only about 10 media outlets covered the students conference, most of which were local.

In addition to asking for more inclusive media coverage, many students brought up a pressing concern at the high school that's arisen since the mass shooting. Black students take issue with the increase of law enforcement at the school — and they have good reason to.    

Black students across the nation are disproportionately affected by over-policing in schools.

Recently, many districts across the nation have made large strides to reduce the police presence. With a larger in-school police force, black students are worried about being racially profiled and unnecessarily disciplined.    

"It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks," 17-year-old Parkland student Kai Koerber said. "Should we also return with our hands up?"

Increasing police staffing could be damning for an already vulnerable population. As student Tyah Amoy discussed, law enforcement hasn't been kind to black students or communities. As outrage continues to mount after the brutal shooting of Stephon Clark by police officers in California, black students are adamant that police violence and brutality be protested and addressed in the same way as other forms of gun violence.

"Black and brown men and women are disproportionately killed and targeted by law enforcement," Amoy said. "These are not facts I can live with comfortably."

The Parkland students are doing incredible work in the face of constant social media attacks, slandering from the NRA, and attacks from adults who are seemingly hell-bent on arguing with children.

But, the students must remember that activism needs to include the voices of everyone involved. When making calls for anti-violence policies, it’s imperative to make sure those policies will actually reduce violence for everyone.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Advocating for the safety of all children can be complicated, but there are plenty of resources to make it easier.

Numerous black organizations have laid the groundwork to create policies that benefit children from different schools, backgrounds, and communities. Organizations like Campaign Zero, The Movement for Black Lives, and the Black Youth Project offer ideas and ideas for anti-violence policies.  

The Parkland students are truly showing us just how much power youth voices can have in our government and society. We do ourselves a greater justice when we make sure all youth voices are apart of those conversations.

Caleb Anders / Anderson family photo

I am not sure what you were up to at 12 years old, but I can tell you what I wasn't doing: going to college. The same cannot be said for Caleb Anderson, who recently started his sophomore year at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, GA.

It is no surprise that Caleb is on such a fast track. Before he could even speak he had learned sign language, according to First Coast News. At two years old, he was not only reading, but at a rather high level. As his family recalls, "By nine months old, he was able to sign over 250 words, and by 11 months old, he was speaking and reading."


Keep Reading Show less
Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
True

Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

Keep Reading Show less

Here in the U.S. many of us had our eyes glued to the news yesterday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a constitutionally-mandated session of Congress and sending lawmakers into hiding. We watched insurrectionists raise a Trump flag on the outside of the building, flinched at the Confederate flag being marched through its hallowed halls, and witnessed the desecration of our democracy in real-time.

It was a huge and horrifying day in our history. Our own citizens attacking our own government, all because the president refuses to accept that he lost an election. In their minds, they are patriots defending democracy from an illegitimate election. In reality, they are terrorists destroying the foundations of what makes America great.

The disconnect between what these people believe and actual reality could not be starker. Years of misinformation and disinformation, bald-faced lie upon bald-faced lie, and conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory have led to this place. It was predictable. It should have been preventable. But it was still stunning to witness.

As an American, it's a little hard to digest in its entirety. We've been in this weird space of "alternative facts" for years, and have grown accustomed to hearing blatant lies pushed as truth. We've gotten used to being gaslit daily, from the highest office in the land. That constant deluge of falsehood has an effect on our psyches, whether we fall on the side of eating it up like candy or spitting it out like the poison it is.

So seeing what happened at the Capitol through the eyes of another country's media is really something.

Keep Reading Show less
Annie Reneau

I've never been a gardener. I love the idea, but my history of killing plants isn't terribly inspiring. However, this year is different. I am doggedly determined to grow all the things because I will not allow 2020 to defeat me.

Is there a better symbol of hope than a garden? Planting a seed means you believe the future is imminent. Watching a sprout emerge from the soil and grow into a flourishing plant means life goes on. In addition, reaping the fruits and veggies of your efforts and giving thanks for the bounty that nature provides is perhaps the most basic, fundamental human act I can think of.

Keep Reading Show less