Author Alice Faye Duncan Reflects on Activist Opal Lee, Meaning of Juneteenth

By Sophie Oswald

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the South, but the decree wasn’t fully enacted until two years later on June 19, 1865, when news reached enslaved people in Texas that they were free. 

Since, June 19, or Juneteenth, has marked celebrations of the end of slavery, but it wasn’t until last year that Juneteenth became a federal holiday through a bill signed by President Joe Biden. One of the people in the room that day was Opal Lee, the focus of Alice Faye Duncan’s newest children’s book, Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free. 

Opal Lee, also known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth,” played a key role in making Juneteenth a federally-recognized holiday.

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Here’s the Deal with Mansplaining and Why it Needs to Stop

By Sophie Oswald
Illustrations by Matthew Vargas

“Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t,” Rebecca Solnit remarked in her essay Men Explain Things to Me. While Solnit didn’t specifically use the word “mansplain” in her popular essay, she was one of the first to discuss this phenomenon. Conversations surrounding her essay shortly resulted in the term appearing in a comment section online.

Most women, maybe even all women, have been there. Men have been explaining things in patronizing ways for centuries. 

Generally, mansplaining involves a conversation between a man and a woman, but sometimes it can happen between two men or with a man and a non-binary person.

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Here’s the Truth About Being a Drag Queen in the Midwest

By Sophie Oswald

With our society telling everyone how to look, it’s always great to see people go against the grain. You should feel free to explore all aspects of your being without having to fit the mold that was created to make us all… let’s be real here… boring af! Those who flash a middle finger at set expectations deserve a round of applause. Here’s the thing; you’re allowed to stand out. And drag is one sure way to do that. 

Drag is a style of entertainment where performers dress up in flashy clothing and exaggerated makeup as a way of self-expression and an art. Drag doesn’t revolve around the gender or sexuality of the performer, but rather gives them a space to explore different roles.

Folks of any gender can be drag queens, but typical performers are men who get dolled up in a way that overemphasizes the feminine form. Women who perform drag are often referred to as drag kings because they’re dressing up in a way that overemphasizes masculinity. 

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Teaching During the Pandemic is Rife with Struggles—for Teachers and Students Alike.

By Erin Gabriel
Illustrations by Kelcie McKenney

CW: Trauma and abuse

“A good teacher is like a candle, that consumes itself to light the way for others.” 

– Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

This quote is often haphazardly thrown around in the teaching profession by well-intentioned people trying to highlight how essential the role of a teacher is. However, I cannot think of any other profession, other than healthcare workers—who are paid significantly better than teachers—where you are expected to “consume” yourself to be considered great or even just good at your job. 

This is my fourth year teaching, and I am just about to turn 26. As someone young and still relatively new to the profession, I’m not surprised I ended up here. I always had a firm idea that I’d be in a helping field—plus it didn’t hurt that all the personality and career tests I took listed teaching as a top profession for me. I excelled in school (besides math which literally made me puke), and enjoyed the organization of it all, the comfort of routine, and the opportunity education afforded me. Plus, I’ve always been an avid reader, so I felt that made me uniquely suited to teach English. Overall, most teachers get into teaching for one of two reasons: They love the idea of teaching the content or they love the idea of building relationships with students. I fit into the latter category. 

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Women Are Burnt Out—What Can We Do About It?

By Nicole Mitchell

I’m tired. In fact, I’ve been tired for years, and I’m not alone. When I ask my friends how they’re doing, most of them say they’re exhausted. How could we not be? We’re 20-somethings who work multiple jobs, lack a set sleep schedule, are in school, and more.

While fatigue can be a sign of physical illnesses, including thyroid issues or anemia, it could also be a sign of burnout. According to CNBC, 53% of women in the U.S. are burnt out and experiencing fatigue, brain fog, and chronic stress, since the pandemic hit.

One of the root causes of burnout is lack of fairness—something women are far too familiar with. Mothers typically take over most of the childcare and housework, working women have to work harder for their voices to be heard in the workplace, and high school girls are being discriminated against by their school’s handbook policies, to name a few. Being a woman is unfair in itself.

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