An Open Letter To The World: Please Forgive America’s Temporary Insanity


Dear World,

Another week another heart wrenching headline that makes Americans look as unwoke as humanly possible. Mr. Trump, as he is so lovingly referred to by The New York Times and other outlets that use the non-Presidential moniker to voice their own quiet rebellion, has done it again. In defiance of hundreds of years of global solidarity and scientific research, Trump has taken our country one giant step back, siding with only two other nations-Syria and Nicaragua-who reject the Paris Climate Agreement, meant to unite the world against the devastating effects of climate change. His reasoning is, as usual, muddled. It involves something about Pittsburgh? Or was it Something about Germany being “very bad”?

Around the world, the headlines were brutal. One German newspaper's cover showed a giant Trump head lunging towards the earth with an open salivating mouth. The title was just as ominous: "America First, Earth Last." We get it, we look crazy, but before you cast us aside, please give us a minute to analyze what is going on in Bizarro World USA.

Did Trump pull out of the Paris Agreement, which was carefully negotiated by representatives of 195 countries in 2015, because he truly believes it is the right move for our country or is he simply enjoying his role of political rule breaker? It seems “look at what I’ll do next!,” is our current President’s mantra. Trump is a man who is used to seeing his name in lights and this presidency thus far has been a reflection of that. From physically (and symbolically) pushing aside political leaders to sending messages of “covfefe,” (which as of press time is still unrecognized by spell check), it’s hard to know where the reality show begins or ends. And thus, we can’t help but wonder if Mr. Trump is chasing the spotlight rather than thinking of the best for Americans, present and future. Even former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke out against Donald with a now viral video in which he reminds the Commander-in-Chief whose best interest he’s supposed to be looking out for.

“My message to you, Mr Trump is that as a public servant, especially as a President, your first and most important responsibility is to protect the people,” said the terminator. “Two hundred thousand people die every year in the U.S. from air pollution, and half of our rivers and streams are too polluted for our health. We can’t sit back and just do nothing while people get sick and dying, especially when you know there’s another way.”

What is even more concerning is the fact that the world is beginning to pull away from the United States due to a President who most of us did not vote for. While we can’t say we don’t understand why there are so many who would rather not work directly with Trump, we ask world leaders to remember that America is more than Donald Trump. There are millions of us positively in a frenzy due to the ill-advised decisions and scattered leadership of this administration. We, the sane, the science-minded and, ahem, the majority of Americans, are in a downright panic about what is happening in our country. We are rising up, we are fighting back, we are trying our hardest to remind the world that the United States is a country that embraces diversity, science, information sharing and working with our allies to preserve our planet.

We cannot destroy the decades and centuries of camaraderie, intercontinental support and unity, because of one divisive President. It must be reminded that many powerful modern countries of today have had questionable and downright horrible leaders throughout history. Having the foresight to remember we must always come back to the table after the dust settles is imperative to navigating these next three years, seven months, 18 days, and 1 hour of this presidency.

Our Fragile President

The fragility of the male ego is an oft overlooked reality, and one that has come to define many of the world’s most tragic turning points in history. On one hand Trump is a fearless bossman who can fire people and reject policies with ease, but on the other he is a sensitive soul who needs to prove he is popular and well liked. Quick to hate-tweet his “enemies” and overinflate anything remotely positive, we want the world to know we see the smoke in mirrors and we are far from entertained by it. Deciphering the truth has never been harder, at least in my young adult life.

Often history’s most notorious personalities were also emotionally fragile, strange folks who could not handle criticism or questioning, yet were bold in their decision making. The fact that Donald has surrounded himself by only like-minded “yes” people including his daughter and son-in-law, make for a soft sounding board when it comes to rendering heavy verdicts. It is rumored that even Ivanka was against this move, although we can never be exactly sure just what is going on in that family.

Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of a country that is the biggest culprit of carbon dioxide emissions in the populated universe, sickens the vast majority of us who feel a responsibility to the rest of the world to be leaders in the race against climate change. The dangerous and irresponsible move threatens our planet, our relationships with our allies, and our national security.

The future that Trump is preparing for is one that considers Trump, and Trump interests above all. By isolating us from the rest of the world (which incidentally is the way predators go about catching and killing their prey) creates a future for him that is unburdened by due process or global reprisal. Unlike other leaders (Washington, Eisenhower, and Obama are considered to be top in the bipartisan game) who sought the opinions of experts and lawmakers before making his decisions, Trump believes he knows best. And if history tells us anything, having that kind of ego means he does not.

“But this much is clear now: Mr. Trump’s policies — the latest of which was his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change — have dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness as well as job growth in crucial industries and squandered what was left of America’s claim to leadership on an issue of global importance,” wrote The editorial board of The New York Times, which also reveals that in the last few months Trump has ordered rollbacks of every one of the policies on which President Barack Obama pledged to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions. “In huge neon letters, it sends a clear message that this president knows nothing or cares little about the science underlying the stark warnings of environmental disruption. Perhaps most astonishing of all, a chief executive who touts himself as a shrewd businessman, and who ran on a promise of jobs for the middle class and making America great again, seems blind to the damage this will do to America’s own economic interests. The world’s gradual transition from fossil fuels has opened up a huge global market, estimated to be $6 trillion by 2030, for renewable fuels like wind and solar, for electric cars, for advanced batteries and other technologies.”

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) was held in Paris from 30 November to 12 December. EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON NYTCREDIT: Christophe Petit Tesson/European Pressphoto Agency

World, please do not for one second believe this country condones the actions of our rebellious president. We promise you will see us continue to fight back and mobilize, thinking of what is best for our future and for that of the world. We promise we are not robots and we will not ever become consumed by the lies we are being fed. We see what's going on and we don't accept it.

World, please realize that insanity is, in fact, not contagious. Please realize that Americans are mostly hard-working immigrants and children of immigrants who are just as dismayed as the rest of you with what is unfolding in our nation. All we can hope is we continue to uphold the values we stand for, both as individual states (New York, California and Washington have already pledged their allegiance to the endeavours of the Paris Agreement, and even petitioned to be recognized globally as doing so), as well as individuals. World, please bear with us through these next few years while we endure this roller coaster ride in the White House. We promise he will soon be gone and we can only hope our country does not make this same mistake twice.

Fool us once, shame on us, fool us twice - one-way ticket to bon Paris; That is, if you’ll still have us.


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.