The Michael Sam Story

Michael Sam is a young man from Galveston Texas, and can be described using one word: brave. Michael has played football his whole life. He was a well-developed player in high school, which led many colleges to offer him scholarships to come play for their respective teams. In 2009 Michael accepted a scholarship to go to The University of Missouri. While at the University of Missouri, Michael played four years of football. In his senior year, Michael was an All-American Defensive lineman and he was named the defensive player of the year in 2013. When it comes to football Michael does not mess around. He is there to get the job done. There is just one thing about Michael that many people do not know. In 2013 after graduating, Michael came out as being gay. By doing this Michael may have possibly opened the door for gay athletes and gay’s in general everywhere.

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#itgetsbetter

Everyone has gone through a rough time in his or her life. During that time one might have heard the phrase “it gets better.” For the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community the phrase “it gets better” is something these people can rally around. The “It Gets Better Project” was created to inspire and change the way people think and make them realize that life will get better for them. No matter what hardships they are currently facing, life will get better. Growing up is a challenge for everyone but imagine life for a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender kid or teen. Kids are growing up in a world where society tells them the purpose of a man is to love a woman and the purpose of a woman is to love a man. Not only that, but LGBT adolescents are tormented for expressing their beliefs.

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Real Beauty Sketches

           Have you ever thought about getting a message out to the public?  How would you do it?  The most popular answer would most likely be internet related.  The internet is at the fingertips of every individual whether they want it to be or not.  Dove Beauty Corporation took advantage of this idea and created the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  The campaign follows a digital activism approach that uses digital artivism to further support its progress as an activist movement within it’s viral video called Real Beauty Sketches.  Digital artivism is a combination of art and activism often found on a technological device such as the internet whereas digital activism is art being used for a political act or movement. This is clearly seen when analyzing the work of Judy Baca within the works of Chela Sandoval and Guisela Latorre titled Chicana/o Artivism: Judy Baca’s Digital Work with Youth of Color.

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Support Michael and the Acceptance of Speech

“When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay. Because I could draw and my uncle was. I told my mom with teacher streaming down my face, shes like, ” Ben, you’ve liked girls since before pre-k.” Yeah, I guess she was a point, just a bunch of stereotypes all in my head–I remember doing math like, ” Yeah, I’m good at little league.” It’s all just a preconceived idea of what it all meant for those who like the same sex.”

These lyrics come from Macklemore’s song “Same Love.” During the 2014 Nebraska School Activities Association State Speech Tournament, Michael Barth, a student from Gordon-Rushville High School, recited the lyrics above in a number of his poems about gender identity and acceptance. He made a name for himself when he won the Class C1 poetry division and became the State Champion. After his astonishing win, he was selected to perform in a prestigious “Best of the Best” showcase on the Nebraska Educational Television PBS and NRP station. Prior to recording, NSAA director Rhonda Blandford-Green requested that Barth change his award winning program. According to Buzzfeed.com, her reasoning was, “We don’t want to use a showcase for the best of the best to promote personal agendas.”

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The Role of Twitter in Spreading Messages of Empowerment and Awareness about TWLOHA

An international non-profit organization just entering its 8th year, To Write Love on Her Arms strives to promote hope, help, and healing for individuals struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide while placing an emphasis directly onto treatment and recovery.  This is an inclusive movement that welcomes all regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, ability, nationality, and so forth.  According to To Write Love On Her Arms Online,  In March of 2006, Jamie Tworkowski began taking the initiative of creating a personalized rehabilitation program from scratch through a support system based on love in order to help a friend heal when denied acceptance from a treatment center.

TWLOHA

Therefore, there is a heavy emphasis on healing through the simply beautiful connection between people and the effect love can have on the mind.  It is remarkable what this organization shows us we can do to change the world by showing individuals that they are important, that they are loved, and that they are not alone in their battle which allows us to come together as a  whole.  Simply being able to read the words of another person’s story going through a similar struggle allows society to open up and build acceptance— we can beat this mental health stigma when we begin sharing our stories which provides others with the freedom to share their own.  This allows us to realize that it’s okay not to be okay and that it is okay to ask for help.

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Comparing Facebook and Twitter through Activism

No matter where you go, you will hear people say, “That’s retarded” or “ That guy is a retard.”  This fact is the exact reason Spread the Word to End the Word campaign was launched. The R-word is hurtful and dehumanizing to people with special needs. Spread the Word to End the Word (STWTETW) is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics and Best Buddies.  Both campaigns support to stop the use of the R-word and to enlighten society on its effects. The founders of the organization were 2 college kids, Soeren Palumbo and Tim Shriver. They founded the organization in 2009 and Special Olympics athletes now run it along with Best Buddies leaders. The first Wednesday in March marks Spread the Word to End the Words global day of awareness. On this day, rallies and assemblies are held nationwide to show, especially the youth, the damage this word can cause and to try and get them to see people with disabilities as just another average human being.

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End the Word Once and For All

Think about it. If you, one of your friends, or a family member had a disability, how would you feel when others use the word “retard(ed)” as a synonym for “stupid”? It may be hard to imagine how that would feel, but there are many wonderful people who do know what it is like. The r-word is offensive because it is exclusive and derogatory. The word “retard(ed)” hurts millions of people and their families. The “n-word” is not socially acceptable in society today; the r-word should not be either. These are both considered hate speech in the eyes of ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities.

Advocates believe individuals with cognitive disabilities and other developmental disabilities are capable of enjoying life’s experiences and that casual references to the words retard or retarded makes a person with intellectual disabilities feel “less than human.” Campaigns such as Spread the Word to End the Word utilize social media activism to promote their worthy movements. We have found that incorporating social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, add a personal touch to the argument and further advocate for the cause. Take the pledge to spread the word to end the word, and help promote the new r-word: respect.

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