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Word of the Day: Consequential

I voted today.

You should too.

You should vote because democracies live or die by the participatory actions or inactions of the citizens that live in those societies. While it is true that inaction is a fundamental right in democracies, it is an ill-advised course. Consequences rain down from the sky, and it is not a matter of doing or not doing; consequences will always show up.

I’m reminded of a student in one of my classes who once said that Jesse Jackson was “basic.” It was such an appalling thing to say because, as a Black American male youth, Jesse Jackson took a lot of physical and psychological abuse just for that Black American male youth to be able to sit in that college classroom or even walk across that college campus.

We need to understand that what we have today, especially as Black Americans, did not come without great sacrifice. Even before Black Americans were able to get a drink of water at a public fountain, someone had to get beaten and arrested for the privilege.

In order to maintain the progress we have made, we need to vote. Voting in America is a constitutional right, but that does not mean it is a given. It can be taken away, especially if we don’t use it and especially when we are not looking. Purging people from voter registration is just one way to go about it.

I’ve heard some say that the two-party system is one-and-the-same, that neoliberalism has corrupted the very foundation of democracy. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one reason that neoliberalism has gained such a foothold is that people don’t vote; they don’t participate in their own experience.”

Some people would say that gerrymandering and voter suppression keeps people from voting. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one of the reasons politicians have been able to create these circumstances is because people decided not to vote.”

During the last midterm election, we had the worst voter turnout in 70 years. If you are angry with how things are today, think back to your voter participation in 2014. Actions or inactions always have consequences.

During the recent presidential election, 46% of the eligible voting public did not vote. Actions or inactions always have consequences.

Democracies are synonymous with life. Say that you dream of being a doctor. You can dream of living the life of a doctor all day long, but if you are dreaming from your couch, that dream will never manifest. You actually have to get up and put in the work. In the glorious words of Outkast, “get up, get out, and get something.”

We cannot hashtag our way to equity, equality, freedom, and liberty. We cannot boycott our way to safe schools, churches, and synagogues. We cannot protest our way to coverage of pre-existing conditions. We actually have to exercise the mightiest power that any citizen of a democracy has; the power of the vote.

Inaction is what the status quo needs to remain in place. Further, and this is so important, so read this carefully, if you don’t like the shape of your experience in this country, then vote out the people who have created and maintained that shape.

If you do not participate in your own experience then you are directly contributing to your own degradation, ya’ll, go vote.

Participating is always a consequential action.

Go vote.

-K

blog, Uncategorized

Language Files: Japanese

Like most kids who grew up in the 1980s, Looney Toons—Bugs, Daffy, Tom and Jerry, Tweety, and Yosemite Sam—were all I needed. Cartoons were, well, cartoons and serious movies were, you know, serious movies. Then one day that changed for me.

My brother’s best friend, a Korean kid named Alfred, introduced my brother to anime, and one day, Alfred came over to our home with a new cartoon. My brother promptly kicked me out of the living room while they watched.

Thankfully, I was always a patient child, so I waited until they grabbed their skateboards and headed outside; then, I rewound the tape (this was in the era of VCR’s) and watched. The first thing I saw was a Rocky/Bruce Lee hybrid look-a-like repeatedly punching what was obviously a delinquent thug.

The thug laughed, leading me to believe that the punches were useless; then, the Rocky/Bruce Lee-lite character said, “you’re already dead.” Then the thug’s head began to pulse, bubble and finally explode, blood shooting into the air. That was my introduction to anime: The Fist of the North Star.

This was most certainly not Tom and Jerry. But I was hooked, and I have been an anime fan ever since. I’m not sure if that says something about my disposition or psychology, but I accept myself, I love myself, etc…

It was maybe a decade ago that I begin to appreciate subtitled anime rather than dubbed. No offense to the great voice actors out there, but there is something really special and powerful about listening to something conveyed in its native tongue.

I then begin to watch Japanese movies and listen to Japanese music. I love languages, and I tend to cycle through different language obsessions at various points in my life. I know a little bit of a few languages—French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Swedish, and even Irish Gaelic and Swahili—so this is, perhaps, the way I am wired.

Japanese has circled back around to be my current language obsession except now, I want to make it a bit more formal. I want to read Japanese. I have watched so much anime that I rarely need subtitles anymore, but Japanese demands much more formal learning. I began with Living Language, which is a great program that teaches you quite a bit. I definitely recommend it for anyone learning any language.

Duolingo’s Japanese tree is, well, difficult. It goes from hiragana straight into katakana and kanji without any explanation. If I were not already familiar with the language, I would be in trouble. I would not recommend it to an absolute beginner.

I also have Rosetta Stone which, I must confess, I am kind of lazy about. I have also accumulated a lot of textbooks that teach readers how to read Japanese. So far, I can read hiragana fairly well; the sounds are pretty straightforward. I don’t actually understand what I am reading, but hey, we have to start somewhere.

In any case, the best way to learn a language is to thoroughly engage with it, and it is best if you approach the process in a way that you enjoy. The most important thing, though, is to have fun.

Happy learning!

-K

blog, Writing

Word of the Day: What

You ever noticed that when dictionary-type sites do the word-of-the-day, it’s always a really interesting, uncommonly used word? Why not use common words, words that are a part of our everyday?

I was thinking of a word-of-the-day when I decided to read a few news articles to try and get some inspiration, and the only word that came to mind was, “what.” I kept saying it after each article: “what?”

Sometimes I said, “what the hell?”

Other times I  said, “what the [insert word here]?”

It’s such a useful word that allowed me to express my full range of emotions from confusion to incredulity, from cynicism to excitement.

It is a pronoun (What we need is love.), a determiner (He lost what little common sense he had left.), or an adverb (What does it matter if you had one pumpkin muffin already; eat another!).

Further, when successfully deployed, it is one of the few words that lends itself to non-verbal communication; facial expressions can do an excellent job at conveying the “what-ness” of a situation.

For example, you remember that time your co-worker said something so stupid that words simply failed? Or what about that time a loved one said they had a surprise for you, and you were left speechless? Both scenarios can be addressed with a well-placed verbal or non-verbal “what.”

In either case, let’s give it up for the common words too. I mean, really, every day can’t be an ‘anfractuous’ kind of day. Sometimes you just need to say, “what,” and let it go.

-K