Anime for Beginners

So, you’re interested in anime. Great! While anime gets a faux bad rep, especially when you’re in middle or high school, there are some truly great shows out there that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you’re ready to jump all in or you’re still testing the waters, here are some great beginner anime shows you should try. 


Classics

Naruto / Naruto Shippuden

TW: Graphic violence, intense action scenes, death

Based off of the popular manga, Naruto is the 4th highest selling manga series in history. Both series follow Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be Hokage of his village. This show balances action, drama and comedy through hundreds of episodes. If you’re looking for something to binge in a weekend, this show is definitely not for you at a total of 500 episodes. But if you want to watch a few episodes at a time and really experience the story, then check it out! 

Differences between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden – Naruto is the very beginning of the storyline, while Naruto Shippuden takes place around 2.5 years after the original. The characters are seemingly more mature making the show a little more palatable to older audiences.


Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra

TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Formerly a Nickelodeon show in the early 2000’s, A:TLA and LoK have seen a resurgence in popularity since landing on streaming giant, Netflix. Each show is broken up into four books – or chapters – while the avatar navigates through their objectives. A:TLA follows Aang, the first avatar in 100 years as he battles the Fire Nation, while LoK follows Korra, the next Avatar, nearly 70 years after A:TLA as she modernizes a nation.

While connected, these are two separate shows and each deserve a watch – with A:TLA at 61 episodes and LoK at 51, it’s fairly easy to binge through. Personally, I feel like LoK is a little easier to watch since it follows a more mature character Korra (aged 17) compared to Aang (technically aged 112 – but 100 of those years, he was frozen). 


*Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

TW: Graphic violence, gore, intense action scenes, death, alchemy/magic, war, genocide

This is, and has always been, one of my favorite shows. I originally watched FMA on AdultSwim, eventually rewatching FMA:B when it was released on Netflix. FMA follows the Elric brothers, Alphonse and Edward, as they learn alchemy and try to become State Alchemists. FMA is a steampunk, post-European industrial revolution dream – full of common themes like the seven deadly sins, social discrimination and ultimately, family and brotherhood. Spurring the storylines along is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange – to create, something of equal value must be lost.

Differences between FMA and FMA:B – They are the same storyline, however FMA diverges from the original manga storyline while FMA:B follows it completely. The animation in FMA:B is also better since it was created five years after the original. 


Action

One-Punch Man
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

As the name depicts, One-Punch Man follows the story of superhero Saitama, who grows bored of his ridiculous strength, striving to find a worthy opponent. Set in a super-Earth, overrun by heroes and villains, Saitama has his work cut out for him. Popularized thanks to fun animation and emotive styles of the protagonist, OPM is a fun action packed anime series that functions as a parody to traditional superhero lore; specifically Superman.  


Soul Eater
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Soul Eater follows a team at the Death Weapon Meister Academy as they try to become a death scythe to be used by the ruler of the school, Shinigami a.k.a. Death. Primary characters, Maka and humanoid-weapon, Soul, battle other meisters as well as the organization Arachnophobia to save themselves and the DWMA. While this is an action heavy show, there is a heavy dose of comedy, often brought by secondary character Death the Kid and his pistol partners, Liz and Patty Thompson.


Fairy Tail
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Another popular anime, Fairy Tail, follows Natsu Dragneel and other members from the Fairy Tail guild as they embark on adventures and missions throughout Earth-land. This comedic fantasy show spans over 300 episodes, running for nearly a decade. Although the storyline can be a little light in comparison to other shows, Fairy Tail has been a fan favorite across all age groups for the last few years.


Horror 

Parasyte: The Maxim

TW: Graphic violence, body gore, intense action scenes, death

High schooler, Shinichi Izumi, is inhabited by an alien parasite named Migi whose goal was to enter the human’s brain to control the body – however, the plan didn’t work out fully. This horror anime has elements of dark comedy, which make it a little easier to suffer through. The alien race that Migi is a part of is trying to colonize the Earth, by assuming and devouring their hosts bodies. At 24 episodes, this anime is fairly quick to binge, but it can be a little heavy and dark. 


Elfen Lied

TW: Graphic violence, abuse, psychological torture, genocide, nudity    

An absolute favorite of mine, Elfen Lied was also the inspiration behind Eleven/El from Stranger Things. This gripping 13-episode, horror anime explores the idea of social isolation and division and treatment amongst humans.

A graphic depiction of an attempted hostile takeover, Elfen Lied also has a warmth and love imbued into the storyline as well. Following Lucy/Nyu, a member of the newly mutated Diclonius species, Elfen Lied explores the effects of imprisonment, abuse and the darkness within human nature. Hands down, this is equally one of the most beautiful yet disturbing animes I’ve seen. 


Attack on Titan

TW: Gore, graphic violence, cannibalism

After colossal humanoids, called Titans, breach the walls of town, Eren Yeager and friends decide to protect humanity from these monstrosities by becoming a part of the Scout Regiment. This action heavy, dark fantasy anime has a little bit of something for everyone. While there is surely a high amount of death and destruction (and cannibalism thanks to the Titans), this is a very interesting watch. With 59 episodes and 8 additional releases, AoT will take some time to work through. 


Whether you catch episodes late night on AdultSwim, Toonami or CrunchyRoll there is an anime for everyone.

Shows to Watch When You’re Feeling Blue

Sometimes it’s hard to get invested into a tv show and sometimes you just need some background noise that occasionally makes you laugh. As chaotic as this year has been, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to watch a show that is loaded with emotionally heavy turmoil and drama, like Game of Thrones. While The Office, Friends and Parks and Recreation are the classic favorites, here’s a list of easy to watch shows that you may not know on streaming services that can keep your spirits lifted while filling the void.


Letterkenny (Hulu)

Letterkenny is hands down one of my favorite tv shows – ever – and that’s saying a lot. It is intensely creative, witty and sometimes the humor is so subtle that you’ll absolutely miss it. This Canadian sitcom was the brainchild of Jared Keeso, first launching ‘Letterkenny Problems’ on YouTube in 2013 before it was picked up by Crave in 2015. Centered around the small town of Letterkenny in rural Canada, the show follows the life and shenanigans of Wayne, Katie, Daryl and Squirrely Dan.


Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

Another Canadian contender, Schitt’s Creek, was recommended by coworkers and I finally caved. The first two seasons are painful to get through – but once it gets going, boy it’s amazing. Synopsis: rich family loses all money aside from a shitty (pun intended) town bought as a joke and now resides there with local, small town folks. Chaos ensues. An easy watch for someone not looking to get attached to characters, also full of subtle humor.


Future Man (Hulu)

This one is completely out of left field. This show features Josh Hutcherson (of the Hunger Games) as a lonely, video game nerd in 2017 who ends up being the savior of humanity – in 2162. With fun time travel mishaps, a crazy crew, endless laughs and an easy to follow storyline, Future Man is a perfect show to just toss on when you don’t know what else to watch. I’m also happy that Hutcherson found something else to do besides Hunger Games!


Great British Bake-Off/
The Great British Baking Show (Netflix)

Let’s be honest, this is the most wholesome, satisfying competition show to watch. If watching Chopped or Iron Chef gives you anxiety, try out Great British Bake-Off. Hosted by comedians, there’s a lighthearted air to the competition. Plus, the bakers are always so nice to each other which is exactly what we need more of this year. There are over 10 years worth of this show, plus spin offs so you’ll be able to rely on this cute show for awhile.


Man Down (Netflix)

Greg Davies, a 6’8” British comedian, plays a primary school drama teacher in Man Down. Loosely based off of his own experience as a teacher in his younger years, this show is created for quick laughs. At only 24 minutes long, these episodes are easy to turn on as background noise while occasionally paying attention to the plot line. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Greg Davies and everything that he does – but this show doesn’t require constant attention.


The Good Place (Netflix)

A more popular show, The Good Place, seems to be whimsical and fun on the surface but actually includes an accurate portrayal of philosophical questions. With a fun cast, easy to follow plot and a few twists along the way, The Good Place is a feel good show. Kristen Bell is amazing as showrunner, but let’s face it: Janet is the best character. If you can’t get into it, please just watch season 3, episode 9: Janet(s). Her acting range is stupid.

You Should Watch Orphan Black and Here’s Why

Cult-hit from BBC America, Orphan Black, is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, hands down (& I watch a dumb amount of tv). I purchased the first two seasons on a whim at Target one day and binged them the very same weekend. Most importantly, after a five season run, the show ended in a good way, which is a lot to say since most long-running shows usually end in a dumpster fire that pisses off fans and critics alike. I continually return to this show, year after year, to rewatch and fall in love with the characters all over again. It also the first show I recommend and loan to friends looking for something new. Here’s why you should give this sci-fi series a chance (explained without spoilers).

1. Tatiana Maslany is the HBIC

Orphan Black’s lead actress Tatiana Maslany plays a whooping 14 different characters throughout the show, oftentimes appearing in the same scene with multiple versions of herself. Not only that, but the characters will pretend to be other characters in the show which is a major mindf*ck. For example: Sarah will pretend to be Rachel and it’s obvious that it’s Sarah’s character. Thanks to a great continuity coach that assists on every episode to make sure that the movements, speech patterns and overall character vibe is correct, this show is mind blowing. When watching the show, you forget that it’s just one actress playing all of the parts because Tatiana is so unbelievably talented. From accents to voice pitch to style and characteristics, she is hands down one of the best actresses of this century.

MIC DROP.

2. Endless Twists and Turns

This show, while an emotionally heavy investment, has an endless amount of twists and turns. The first episode starts with a bang and that momentum carries all the way through five seasons. Orphan Black is hard to describe because it deals with almost every theme including: cults, religion, science experiments, cloning, infertility, LGBTQ+, familial bonds, body modification, nature vs. nurture, military, drugs, body autonomy and most importantly the idea of a family, created by choice. OB does not shy away from hard topics like rape, abuse, self-harm, substance abuse or miscarriages – which controversially or not – can make this show emotionally hard to watch at times.

3. #Feminism

While there are male characters in the show (S/O Felix, Art and Paul), the show is heavily female led. The protagonist is Sarah Manning with the story following her life as she tries to make amends for her dark past. The main villains also are primarily female, which is an interesting dynamic to see. Sometimes the female villain trope is too played out; too emotional, too vengeful, too easy to understand and defeat. Each of the female characters in the show are unique, strong, defiant and not bound by cursory design.

4. Realistic Characters with Realistic Reactions

So often nowadays, everyone has a super power or extra something to help them through hard situations. This show only has one character that is a little unordinary – Sarah Manning’s daughter Kira. Everyone else for the most part is utterly normal. Allison lives a suburban soccer mom life. Cosima is a scientist attending university. Rachel is a career woman. Sarah is a single mom trying to win back her daughter. Beth was a police officer. Normal people in the face of something absolutely horrendous and abnormal – yet they surpass the circumstances regardless. The character arcs in the show are a sight to see. Paul, a character you love to hate from the beginning, has one of the best character arcs of the entire show and it is heartbreaking. Over the course of five seasons, each character grows in their own way.

5. Cinematic Techniques

One of the most incredible things that Orphan Black does is stitch together scenes involving two characters played by Tatiana Maslany. And I’m not talking just having two of them in a room together utilizing jump cuts like The Parent Trap (1998). These scenes have the characters fighting each other, dancing together, comforting each other and singing together; which again, as one woman playing all of the characters – that’s a feat. Tatiana did have a stunt double to work with in the scenes, who she often referred to as the unsung hero of the show – Kathryn Alexandre. Cinematically, this show would have been so much different without the use of the Technodolly. Technodolly’s memorize a scene and its own movements so that a scene can be shot multiple times then stitched together. OB’s use of the technodolly paved the way for other sci-fi shows like What Happened To Monday (2017).

6. Found Families

One of the biggest takeaways from Orphan Black is the sense of family. Sarah starts out as a misguided single mom, formerly an orphan, who is just trying to run her next scam. She falls into a wild crazy situation which she has absolutely no reason to get involved in – but does anyways. A once lonely-forgotten shit of a person becomes a sister, a mother, a lover and friend. Perfect strangers come together under circumstance to create a true family – something that they never had before. I am a firm believer in found families – families that you create based on your own needs and a shared sense of community which this show emulates perfectly.


Orphan Black can be emotionally heavy and may not be a good fit for everyone, so please watch at your own speed / emotional ability. All seasons can be streamed for free on Amazon Prime Video or you can rent them if you do not have an Amazon membership. It could also be streamed on Netflix EU, as of fall 2019.

The Haunting: Hill House vs. Bly Manor

Netflix original The Haunting of Hill House (2018), directed by Mike Flanagan, took the streaming world by storm when it was released. Ten episodes of creepy dark and deeply detailed storylines created a haunting experience for the audience, even days after finishing the series. But how does its successor, The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020) hold up to the hype?

**DISCLAIMER: There will be spoilers for both series in this review, so if you haven’t watched them yet, hold off on reading further! Both series were adapted from works of literature: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898) and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959).


So where to begin? I have a standard rubric that I like to use for rating films (#throwback to podcast film review days). The following categories will be rated on a score of 1-5 with 5 being the highest: Strength of Theme, Continuity, Pace, Character Arc and Ending. I usually include Realism and Special Effects, but since both series are created by the same director, those categories would be like splitting hairs. Let’s get started!

Strength of Theme

Hill House 5/5 – Throughout Hill House, the storyline and theme stay strong: it’s about family. The Crains, purchase Hill House intending on renovating it, experience ghostly encounters almost constantly throughout the show. Bouncing between childhood and adulthood, the family remains mostly intact, recalling their memories of the last fateful night at Hill House.

Bly Manor 3/5 – Bly Manor’s theme was a little harder to understand as the ‘family’ is not blood related or altogether very close. Two children, orphaned, are looked after by an au pair, gardener and chef while their paternal uncle stays at arms length. Throughout the story, the children are close and bonded, while not always responding warmly to the others in the pseudo-family.

Continuity

Hill House 5/5 – The continuity in Hill House is *chefs kiss* perfection. One of the reasons I loved Hill House so immensely was the dedication to detail throughout the series. Not to mention, the reveal of the Bent-Neck Lady was one of the best things I’ve seen in years. Even while bouncing between the past and present, everything was cohesive and made sense.

Bly Manor 3/5 – I was left a little confused with the set up of the show until episode 5. This made it hard to determine the continuity throughout the show because it felt very muddled in the timeline. With characters being possessed by other characters, it was a little hard to keep continuity together: who were they really, themselves or the ghost?

Pace

Hill House 4/5 – Hill House keeps a steady pace throughout the episodes, obviously ramping up for the final two. There was never a moment where I was checking my phone or felt bored with the story. With so many family members experiencing their own traumas, there were plenty of interest points to focus on.

Bly Manor 3/5 – Maybe it’s because of the expectation to recreate Hill House, maybe it’s because of the source material, but Bly Manor was painful to get into. With Hill House, I was locked in almost immediately whereas Bly Manor didn’t catch my full attention until the third or fourth episode. This caused the pace to feel slow in the beginning, then full speed at the halfway point, only to slow down again towards the end.

Character Arc

Hill House 4/5 – The character arcs in Hill House weren’t necessarily good character arcs. It was more an ‘arc of understanding’. Each character came to terms with what happened at Hill House in their childhoods by the end of the series. While some characters, like Steve, had a mild tale of redemption, so much of Hill House was based on understanding and accepting their shared trauma. Luke is probably the only character that had a visible arc – from junkie to sober – but it was still slight and a secondary feature in the total story.

Bly Manor 4/5 – The most poignant character arcs were with the au pairs and the paternal uncle – Rebecca Jessel, Dani Clayton and Henry Wingrave. The au pairs journeys were similar in structure: losing a loved one, accepting the loss and ultimately sacrificing yourself for loved ones no matter the cost. Henry’s journey was a little more subdued. He went from being a standoffish, ostentatious jerk to a loving father-figure to Miles and Flora through the acceptance of his paternity and fighting his inner demons.

Ending

Hill House 5/5 – At the end of Hill House, the story felt complete and without leaving the audience wondering, ‘what if?’. Each of the Crain children were able to close the Hill House chapter on their lives and move forward. I am very judgmental of the way a show or movies end and this ended in the best way. You get to see the family two years after Nell’s death, seeing how they’ve all adjusted and grown.

Bly Manor 3/5 – The ending to Bly Manor felt rushed. The main negative spirit, Viola Willoughby a.k.a. the Lady in the Lake, wasn’t revealed until episode 8. First appearing at length in episode 5 with Peter, you were left wondering who she was and why she was there. The Bent-Neck Lady twist was fully revealed in episode 5, allowing for more time in the story to deal with the revelation in comparison to The Lady in the Lake. Additionally, the ending was prolonged by following the relationship between Jamie and Dani for over 15 years, (don’t get me wrong, I stan them fully), but it felt disconnected from a lot of what happened.

Final Scores: Hill House – 23/25 | Bly Manor – 16/25


At the end of the day, I mistakenly went into Bly Manor expecting the same level of creepy, scary and jumpy storylines as Hill House and was overall underwhelmed by the experience. Let’s break that down a little more.

Did I hate it? No; there were some amazingly emotional and deep moments, interesting styles of showcasing memories and great acting.

Will I watch it again? Absolutely. Hill House required two full watches before I was able to confidently say that I caught all of the small details and background ghosts. Would I watch it more than a second time? Probably not.

Would I recommend Bly Manor? Yes, but I would caution the viewer to not hope for the same level of satisfaction as experienced watching Hill House.

Underrated Shows on Netflix

In society today, we are inhaling mass quantities of media every hour, be it from social media, news outlets, streaming services, etc. But how do you sift through the mountain of data to find something truly innovative, original and noteworthy? Well internet friends, that’s where I come in. During an especially heinous bout of depression last year (or was it the year before? 2020 makes everything feel like a time loop), I consumed an almost concerning amount of media from streaming services – anything to keep the beasts at bay, am I right? I would devour a series of television like candy.

Here’s my list of hidden or underrated gems on currently streaming on Netflix.


250px-Mr._Sunshine_(2018_TV_series)
Netflix (2018)

Mr. Sunshine (2018) – I’ll be honest, this was one of my first experiences with anything in the ‘k-realm’. For those who are not familiar, the k-realm is what I call anything produced from Korea; k-pop, k-dramas, etc. All things in the k-realm are created and pushed to a new level of production value, with no expense spared. This period drama, set at the fall of the Joseon empire and before the creation of modern-day Korea, kept me on edge and engaged throughout all 24 episodes. While it does take a little while to get into and get used to the k-drama styling of shots, it’s well worth it as long as you’re cool with subtitles.

THEMES: forbidden love, honor, loyalty, tradition, war, friendship, alliances, family


Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 11.33.21 AM
Netflix (2017)

The End of the F***ing World (2017) – This show is hands down one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. I’m am intensely critical of any movie/show if it doesn’t have a good ending. A bad ending will ruin an entire series for me (S/O Game of Thrones). This coming-of-age dark British comedy is something I ask everyone to watch. With short episodes and a killer storyline, it’s easy to binge this two-season show. Based off of a graphic novel by the same name by Charles Forsman, this darkly humorous show finds a way to connect with you – even if you don’t consider yourself to be a psychopath.

THEMES: self-discovery, teen angst, domestic violence, love, adventure, family


Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 11.35.29 AM
Netflix (2018)

Derry Girls (2018) – Teenagers in Ireland during the Troubles in the 1990’s. Need I say more? This quirky series follows the lives of teen girls trying to live their best lives while attending catholic school. Political pressures of the Troubles continually add interest points throughout much of the story. This is an easy to watch, binge friendly show that will leave you smiling. Intensely witty and believable, this is an underrated classic that almost anyone could relate to.

THEMES: love, teen years, high school, drinking, troubles, friendship


Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 11.36.27 AM
Netflix (2019)

Russian Doll (2019) – I won’t lie, I’d watch almost anything if Natasha Lyonne was in it. Lyonne said during an interview that she’d been writing this story for nearly a decade before it came to fruition. With Amy Poehler writing by her side, there was no way this show could be anything less than magical. The amount of dedication that came into creating this show is reason enough to watch it. Another dark comedy with a surprisingly uplifting ending; depending how you take it. *Watch during a good headspace day.

THEMES: life, love, self-discovery, drug usage, drinking, sex, video games


Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 11.37.21 AM
Netflix (2019)

Maniac (2019) – I try to avoid A-list celebrity movies, but this one piqued my interest as soon as I watched the first trailer. I tend to gravitate towards ‘weird’ shows and films and this one is at the top of the list. It felt familiar in the sense that it was reminiscent of a first love of mine: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Following two main characters through a Matrix-like drug experiment, you will be transported into numerous worlds of make believe. This hard-to-describe limited series will leave you feeling a little weird and self-reflective. *Watch during a good headspace day.

THEMES: life, death, drug trials, self-discovery, love, medical study, desire

A Call with Nana: Know Justice, Know Peace

Being a white female from a middle class demographic that grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, it’s always been easy to turn a blind eye to modern day systemic racism – if I’m being honest, it wasn’t so much as turning a blind eye, but more so being ignorant to how deeply rooted racism is in everyday American life.

It’s also been easier to awkwardly laugh off more obvious racist slights.

Because it didn’t affect me.

But on May 25, 2020 George Floyd’s tragic murder shook the world to its core.

It shook me to the core.

I started listening, and truly hearing what the black people of America have been screaming their entire lives, for generations upon generations. The Civil Rights Act signed in 1954 may have taken down segregation, but it didn’t eliminate white privilege and the American system that caters to white people. Black people in America are still very much ‘separate but equal‘.

The first week of June, I made it my mission to get educated and understand – because to take down the system it’s necessary to understand the system. The podcast by NPR’s Code Switch: Can We Talk About Whiteness and Netflix Documentary: 13th kicked off my flight to understanding. Like many others, I began getting aggressive on social media, sharing resources after resource, partially to ensure funny memes wouldn’t continue to take back the newsfeed, but also so my friends, family, and followers can get educated and understand. I needed these people, my people, to understand.

What I didn’t expect from all of the posting, was an angry phone call from a family member that lacked any kind of understanding. Not one blip of it – just unbridled, condescending ignorance screamed into my ear for 45 minutes.

And that, quite frankly, broke my heart.

In addition to shattering any hope I had for their understanding, the call inspired me to talk to my nana. I knew speaking with her would lift my defeatist mentality after that emotionally taxing argument. While talking with her, I began to take note of our conversation – what she was saying was important and moving – I felt other people who may not feel inclined to listen to me, may listen to her.

My 71 year old, very white and very woke nana needs to be heard by more people. So, readers, meet my nana – Rosalinda ‘Rosie’ Piatkiewicz.

Growing up, she would often pick my sister and I up from school, watching us until our mom got off work. And like most sisters, we’d be able to tolerate each other for a total of….3 seconds before incessant bickering would ensue. I’m not sure how your family handles fighting siblings, but my nana’s go to was “There are children around the world who have to worry about not having food to eat or a bomb getting dropped on their house! There are children in war zones – WAR ZONES!” and she would continue to rant at us endlessly about the tragedies of the world.

Effectively shutting us up and ending the argument over who got the last Cheet-o.

And now, ladies and gentleman, below – a conversation between a granddaughter and her grandmother.

A Call with Nana

E: What do you think of what’s going on right now? The protests, the looting, the riots. There’s a lot of people across the board who lump these three together, but more often than not, they’re not the same groups of people doing everything. There’s footage of protesters stopping looters. 

N: To quote a friend, “Hmm sort of reminds me of Jesus turning over the tables in the temple.” In situations like these, there’s always going to be looters, people who take advantage of a situation.

What’s most troubling with this whole situation is Trumps declaration, “Bring in the troops!” THE TROOPS?! The cities need more men that can contain, sure, but you’re talking military – which is there to protect our country against foreign enemies, not against our own citizens doing what is constitutionally allowed: raise your voice, protest in the things we see as wrong. It’s our country, not Trump’s country – we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing and what we have the right to do! Not to mention, how would you feel as military getting called into “tame” your own city, being put in a position to oppose your own family and friends. The military is meant to protect from foreign enemies – not to be used against your own people. That is called a Civil War.

E: What are your thoughts on the police force? There is a call for defunding, reform, change. All of which I honestly am still trying to wrap my head around on what should be done, what must be done.

N: Cops are trained militarily – how to shoot, how to restrain. They are not trained enough on how to deescalate, negotiate, step back, and keep hold of a temper. Police training has been cut down over the years, there used to be an extensive academy consisting of 16 week long training, and currently its lowered to only 6-10 weeks of training to become a policeman.

There is also no official licensing to become a cop, it’s training and certification exam, which leads to situations where if a cop gets fired for unnecessary force or other instances, he can go to another part of the country and get hired on elsewhere, remaining a cop. He has the training, he doesn’t disclose the bad info, cities in need of a cop tend to not dig as deep into an individual, and since there’s no license to be stripped to declare the individual unqualified – he’s still able to be a cop. This isn’t monitored.

Look at nurses for example – All nurses, from RNs to CNAs, have to be licensed so that they can be tracked because there are good people and bad people in every occupation. 

E: It’s clear that the term white privilege is misunderstood by many, I can’t even seem to accurately explain to the confused, because if they are reading the same documents that explicitly lay it all out and still don’t get it – I don’t know what else I can even say. Often it seems “white privilege” and “being privileged” are synonymous, when they aren’t at all.

N: White privilege isn’t “life would be better if I came from a better background because life would’ve been easier” it’s not economic. It’s the fact that the day you’re born and you’re that white baby in the nursery, you’re going to be treated better than the black baby. Your life is going to be easier than theirs.

When I think white privilege, I always reflect on a night where I was working with another nurse who happened to be black. Her son was sick with a fever so she combined her breaks to run home and check on him. She only lived a few blocks from the hospital, so no one had any issues at all with her running home. This nurse took over an hour, and everyone began getting worried about the kid thinking something went wrong. She finally makes it back and lets us know that it took so long because she got stopped by a police officer, she didn’t run a stop sign, wasn’t speeding. The police officer pulled her over and said, What were you doing in the neighborhood driving around. She informed him about her sick son, and he let her go after a while. But we knew what happened, she got stopped for driving black.  

There’s another striking thought that comes to mind, I’ve never gone to work and been told that a patient doesn’t want me taking care of them because of the color of my skin. When this situation comes up, and believe me it does, the more empathetic way I’ve seen it handled is by saying to the nurse, “He’s not going to be your patient tonight because he’s a racist and I don’t want to put you through that.”

E: Why do you think so many people are bothered by the BLM movement? When Black Lives Matter is mentioned, it’s not uncommon for people to shout in response “All Lives Matter!” But what’s weird is that no one said all lives didn’t matter. There is still a massive civil rights injustice happening in the country, there is still racial inequalities happening.

N: I can only think they feel against the movement because they know in their hearts that it’s true, that they don’t look at black people as people – they look at them as black.

Growing up in Kane, Pennsylvania, I never saw more than one black family. It wasn’t until I married and we moved to Virginia that I began to see. Virginia is where I saw “whites only” signs everywhere.  There was one night when your papa and I went for a walk down by the river, and there was a KKK meeting featuring a cross burning and I was shocked, upset. It was earth shattering.

A clear reason for the split on Black Lives Matter, is that Trump is making it a point to try to divide the country – he’s not even trying to hide this (aka setting the military against the very people they’re meant to protect and serve.)

I am patriotic, I love my country – and it is because of this that I want America to be the best it can be, and to be that it needs to change.

Look at our young country and what we’ve done in just a few hundred years: annihilated Native Americans and took their land – we could’ve instead respected their culture, made friends, coexisted with them, but no – we wanted their land and resources. We just completely shit on them. Then we went to another part of the world and captured people only to breed them like animals and make them do our work.

We have a lot to atone for, but knowing that this is your country’s history – how could you not want to atone for this?

E: How do you handle it when friends and family deny white privilege and racism? How do you handle the continued support of Trump?

N: There are times where I purposely watch Fox news to get a different perspective, see what makes them think this way. But when I think about it too much I just want to cry because it hurts me so badly that they feel the way they do.

At the end of the day, I can’t emphasize enough that my point of view is not a Republican vs. Democrat thing. Trump is dividing our country. There are good Republicans speaking out against him that I respect – because while my philosophy is different than a Republican’s, I see it’s possible that we can still get together and change things. The problem is the man. He is not for us, he is for himself.

A leader unites. 

Because of the division created in the country, it’s hard to have conducive dialogues with certain people because they echo the Trump Mentality of “its my way or the highway.” Just look, the most powerful man is surrounded by other powerful and highly educated people that are trying to educate him on how to be presidential and make good decisions – yet he remains firm in his egocentric stances.

A way to maintain relationships is to ask, “You may not agree on this, but what DO we agree on?”

*end call*

While the world is pushing for uncomfortable conversations, no one is saying to stop having comfortable ones.

Have both.

Keep balance.

And by keep balance, I don’t mean if you have 3 comfy convos, to then have 3 aggressive ones. No, keep YOUR balance – keep your mental and emotional health in check.

Unplug from social media if you need to, ignore phone calls if you need to, hit that “Do Not Disturb” like it’s nobody’s business.

Take. Your. Pauses.

On Netflix watch 13th, When They See Us, and Teach Us All – but also watch The Big Flower Fight, Sweet Magnolias, Community, and The Wrong Missy.

Keep. Your. Balance.

Don’t let the haters get you down, continue getting educated and fighting for what’s right.

Know justice. Know peace.