It’s 2014, and you should be offended.

The Comfort Color Chronicles

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This picture should offend you, and I’ll tell you exactly why.

You should be offended that these people sought membership in organizations that have bred some of society’s greatest leaders and figures. Martin Luther King, Michael Jordan, Wilma Rudolph, Maya Angelou…

Why would they want to be like any of those people?

You should be offended that these people joined your organizations and learned the values that your founders established. How DARE they see that your fraternity or sorority’s core values line up with their personal beliefs, and they therefore decided to make it their way of life?

In fact, you should be most offended by the good things and the high potential that saw when they pledged themselves to your bonds. It wasn’t about the countless community services hours Greeks commit to annually, or the commitment to membership long after college, or even the potential to step out of…

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I cried at Miss USA 2014, and I wasn’t even competing

I interviewed with Visit Baton Rouge the day after Donald Trump announced Baton Rouge, La. would host the Miss USA 2014 pageant. My interviewer and I talked about the opportunity that presented itself to our city, and how I could help Visit Baton Rouge, if hired. She asked me what set me apart from other candidates. Being born and raised in East Baton Rouge Parish, I told her that I am passionate about Louisiana and about Baton Rouge. I know what this great city has to offer, and I can bring that to the table.

And here I am, the morning after one of the most spectacular nights in Baton Rouge history, cheeks hurting from smiling for three hours last night during Miss USA. I was hired as the communications intern at Visit Baton Rouge, and I’ve had the most amazing first weeks on the job, helping the contestants feel at home here. I’ve been to tours and photo shoots and meet and greets, and it all culminated last night when Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez was crowned Miss USA 2014.

The six Miss USA 2014 finalists

The six Miss USA 2014 finalists

The River Center transformed into a glitzy and glamourous worldwide live telecast, and all eyes were on Louisiana. The opening montage was quite the hat tip to the Capitol City. The video showed 51 beautiful and confident women posing in front of Baton Rouge landmarks – the State Capitol, the Old State Capitol, the Old Governor’s Mansion – all places I first visited on elementary school field trips, and have visited again many times since. I could not contain my excitement when the video showed the Mississippi River, and Baton Rouge’s ever-changing skyline. It might sound silly, but tears welled in my eyes. I was incredibly proud of Louisiana, and specifically Baton Rouge. The world was seeing what I’ve known my whole life: my home is beautiful.

I’ve met my fair share of know-it-alls from other areas of the country, or even the state, who constantly put down Baton Rouge for reasons I cannot understand. They say we don’t have culture. They say we don’t have anything to be proud of. I really don’t understand why they think that way, unless they are the type to judge before exploring. Our backyard is bursting with music and art and food and architecture and yes, culture! Our people are hospitable and warm and welcoming. I really wasn’t all that surprised when Mr. Trump announced he’d take the Miss USA contest here.

We are, after all, the one and only Red Stick.

Sorority women targeted at UCSB shooting

“If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you. You denied me a happy life, and in turn, I will deny all you life. It’s only fair.”

Those are the chilling words of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who shot and killed six victims near University of California, Santa Barbara.

Rodger goes on to say in a final YouTube video that it is an “injustice” that he is a virgin – that women never returned his advances. In other words, it is his right to have sex with a woman, and if she is not willing, it is his right to kill her.

Because of men like Rodger, college women do not feel safe on their own campuses. We travel in packs for safety. We’re taught to go on first dates in very public areas before men gain our trust. We automatically distance ourselves from men if we happen to be alone, our eyes shifting for a safer place. These men could be perfect gentlemen, but unfortunately we must assume they are potential attackers for our safety.

Rodger stated in his video that he would specifically target “the hottest sorority on campus” because they represent all the no’s and I-don’t-want-to’s and leave-me-alone’s he’s heard.

What’s sad is that sororities historically stand against the exact misogynistic and patriarchal ideas Rodger believes in. Teenaged girls, mostly denied access to higher education, formed together in their schools to advance higher ideals, like loyalty, wisdom and love. In a time when women couldn’t even cast votes, girls formed secret societies where they could elect their own leaders. The founders wrote rituals in which every member has promised to help and support her sisters.

Being a sorority woman means being the biggest cheerleader for strong women.

Yet, as I sat outside my sorority house a year ago, a truck with young men hanging out the windows revved by. The men yelled at me. Harrassed me. Put me down with their words. All because I sat by myself, and I was a woman.

Yet, my sorority’s executive council decided to forgo a usual chapter meeting and instead have a rape defense class. All because some men want us, and we are women.

Yet, a psychopath named Elliot Rodger targeted the UCSB Alpha Phi sorority house during his shooting rampage. All because other women told him no, and sororities are built by women.

It is not confirmed yet how many sorority women were in those six killed. My heart goes out to all the victims.

Dear sisters, do not ever let fear and sick people like Rodger tell you that it is not your right to say “no.” You are a woman, and you get to make your own decisions.

UPDATE: All six victims were UCSB students, two of which were sorority women. Three of the victims were stabbed, not shot, at Rodger’s apartment. They are Cheng Yuan Hong, George Chen and Weihan Wang. Christopher Martinez was shot at a deli. Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss were shot outside the Alpha Phi house.

Rodger tried to enter the Alpha Phi house, but the door was locked. The members inside did not let Rodger in. He then attacked Cooper and Weiss, both sisters of Delta Delta Delta, who happened to be outside the Alpha Phi house. Tri Delta’s national president made a statement here.

For more information on the recent tragedy visit these articles:
Rampage Victims Include Law School Hopeful, Women Outside Sorority
Sorority targeted by Isla Vista shooting suspect urges privacy
Six Killed in Mass Shooting, Shooter Had Promised to “Punish Girls” Who Weren’t Attracted to Him

It’s Louisiana’s birthday, and here’s why you should be proud

Today Louisiana celebrates her 202nd birthday.

I have found that I am one of the few students at LSU who is proud to be from Louisiana, and wishes to remain here. My classmates bash her all the time:

We’re fat, uneducated, ignorant, and close-minded. We have awful roads and mediocre schools. Our politicians are corrupt. Our crime is staggering and our health is shocking.

My classmates dream of living in glamourous places like Los Angeles, or New York, or London. It is there, they say, where opportunities of success thrive.

“Why would you ever stay in a failing state with more problems than you can list?” they ask me.

Here’s my reply.

Louisiana is home. This place is filled with good, decent people who care about the well-being of their neighbors. This place is filled with warm, welcoming people who know how to have fun. This place is filled with caring, loving people who protect their communities.

I care about these people. I don’t want to see them living in poverty and living with diseases. Louisiana deserves better. We’re not perfect. But I want to stay here to fix the problems of those good, decent, warm, welcoming, caring and loving people. My fellow Louisianans need help. We need money and resources. We need leaders who are driven by passion instead of power. We need bright ideas.

I believe in these people. And I believe that I can help them. And I believe that they can help themselves if they are given the right opportunities and resources. But how will they ever get the opportunity if the best and brightest young people lend their valuable talent and skills to states already overflowing with entrepreneurs and engineers and thinkers and leaders?

I challenge my classmates to stay! Love your home! Fix it, better it, be the change! Stop complaining about our issues and use the blessings God gave you to show the world that Louisiana is not a place to be ashamed of, but a place to be proud of.

Happy birthday, Louisiana. I wish you 202 years different than the ones we are leaving behind. I wish you a future where your homegrown people cling to you and help you and build you up to your fullest potential. You are beautiful and wonderful and mysterious and fun and eccentric and hospitable, and I don’t ever want you to lose those traits. I wish for you that your sons and daughters use those characteristics for the good of your being. Here’s to you, Louisiana. Grow and flourish.

To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

Sunshine & Daisies

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.
You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy…

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