As the year closes, there a number of different topics that I find bubbling up in my mind. But what I find that happens all too often, are the issues that are most important, where the passion overflows are closer to “first-world problems” than pressing matters. You know the problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders roll their eyes. These really trivial problems are often seen on Facebook or Twitter, and can be viewed on this website Here, and the posts kind of look like this, “I have too much cash in my wallet and it hurts my butt when I sit. #FML #FWP”.
So what topics am I talking about? For one, feminism infiltrates my mind on an everyday basis ( and I write about it too) as I am slowly trying to find a way to conquer the world. More specifically, as a 28 year old, with many friends getting married, having babies, and a divorce here and there, it is difficult not to talk about the social constructs that try to govern my life, and every other female’s every move. These social constructs cause a room full of professional women in their late 20’s and early 30’s to have intense conversations about marriage, to have or not to have kids, and how it affects our work/home lives. At times, depending on your profession and your regional location, there are certain expectations placed on you either explicitly or implicitly. I find it frustrating as I maneuver through my professional career, and want to decipher and analyze…and there is a but…
When I sit down to write about this, i feel conflicted, as there are so many problems elsewhere, such as #blacklivesmatter, airplanes disappearing, Boko Haram, and Ebola is not quite gone yet, and not to mention there are people fighting for their basic freedoms (click here). Not to mention I had a recent conversation about how Americans’ views on feminism can also be considered a first-world problem.
Yep, that’s what was said. But as the conversation continued, I slightly understood the point; reaching perfect equality between the sexes is the goal but perfection is unobtainable. Therefore, if we never made another advancement for ourselves, and women were only capable of reaching the heights that have currently been made, there are some pretty awesome people running companies, industries and governments and compared to many other countries that would love to have some our successes and freedoms. However, it is not enough for us (i.e. maternity leave – click here), and it shouldn’t be, but we can’t become too consumed with these type of problems that we don’t take the time out to look at other problems surrounding us. That is why the critique of the people involved in the protests surrounding the #blacklivesmatter still bothers me to this day. People complain that millennials are not involved and when they are, they criticize their actions. (Of course, there are always bad apples in a bag). If we, Millennials, have the capacity to have an opinion and to take a position, we should stand for what want… but there are so many critics ABOUT everything from every side, criticism is the true cash cow in the country these days.
Let’s review a couple of stories from this week, where a number of people were in arms about something: “‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts Banned From High School Basketball Tournament” (source) , “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Stands His Ground After Offending Christians On Twitter” (source), and “Hundreds Turn Their Back on de Blasio at NYPD Officer’s Funeral” (source) . Now I am sure, at least ONE of those stories offended almost every one of my readers, but honestly, I am offended that in each situation there was so much push back. In each situation, there is a group of people who feels disrespected, and I completely understand that, but what happened to the first amendment. No seriously, what happened to the First Amendment? I get that critics have the right to speak back, as much as the people who take the original actions, but at times its as if the reaction gets more play than the original action.
In the story of the high schoolers, a girls and boys basketball team wanted to wear the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, and were not allowed to participate in a tournament unless they agreed to not wear the shirts. All the boy players agreed to not wear the shirts, except one who stood his ground, and the girls squad were not able to field a team, because most of them refused to be told not to wear the shirt! This is exactly what we should be fostering, is young people speaking out. The fact they wanted to shut out these kids voices is a problem. It may be a first-world problem, but the struggles within their communities are definitely not first-world problems, racial inequality should be less amongst an educated nation. But the reality, America with all of it’s first world problems, really does have a few third-world problems in certain areas that need to not go unnoticed: gun violence, wealth inequality… and of course, criminal justice.
“We all know the U.S. criminal justice system is flawed, but few are likely aware of just how bad it is compared to the rest of the world. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That’s significantly worse than Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000 citizens), China (121) and Iran (284). The only country that incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than we do is North Korea. The U.S. is also the only developed country that executes prisoners – and our death penalty has a serious race problem: 42 percent of those on death row are black, compared to less than 15 percent of the overall population.” (source)
We definitely have a lot of first world problems that seem trivial, and unimportant in the scheme of things, but we have some major problems that are pretty Third-World in THIS country, let’s not shut out our millennial voices, OR for the simple fact our right to free speech and expression shouldn’t be a problem.