Category Archives: English

It shouldn’t take Eminem’s anti-Trump rap to prove that hip-hop is meaningful

Hip-hop music has been political since its inception, but Eminem’s live performance against Donald Trump has struck a chord with scores of people. Racking up millions of views since its debut, the song features a considerable amount of lyrical depth for a freestyle. The ability of a rapper to craft a song about politics and gain so much mainstream exposure speaks volumes about hip-hop music’s popularity in contemporary U.S. culture. But despite hip-hop music’s widespread appeal, conservative critics such as Mike Huckabee and Bill O’Reilly continue to make tired arguments against it. Hip-hop should not be beyond good faith critique, but its cultural significance should be widely recognized–and dishonest conservative attacks should be called out as such. Continue reading

It’s past time to give a damn about U.S. territories. Here’s a primer

The year of 2017 has featured more news about U.S. territories than any other year in my memory. Last month, North Korea responded to Donald Trump’s provocations by threatening to attack Guam. This month, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were both tragically affected by Hurricane Irma. Despite U.S. territories being in the headlines, many people in the U.S. are unaware of what the term “U.S. territories” entails, or why it matters. Continue reading

GOP 2017: The doctor, not the monster, was named Frankenstein

One could point to many times at which Trump’s political career should have been dead in the water.

When Trump compared all Muslims to terrorists by labeling the fight against ISIS a “clash of civilizations,” cooler heads should have prevailed. When Trump referred to Spanish as the “language of living in the ghetto,” Republican voters should have rejected such racism. What about when Trump sang a song about bombing Iran? When he called himself “David Duke without the baggage”? Or when he proposed a law requiring pregnant teenagers be publicly shamed in newspapers before receiving public assistance? It should be surprising to everyone that Trump has been able to succeed electorally despite these offensive sentiments.  Continue reading

More than Usher: stigmatizing STDs is bad for everyone

Three weeks ago, celebrity gossip headlines were filled with one topic: R&B singer Usher tested positive for genital herpes. A woman, whom Usher is accused of giving herpes to, has brought suit against the singer, suing him for $20 million. The details are perfect for a media frenzy: a popular celebrity, sex, drama, lots of money, and a lawsuit. What has not been conveyed effectively are the medical realities of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), and the ensuing socio-political realities. Continue reading

Chester Bennington, John McCain, and the specter of death

At the end of last year, many internet users noted 2016 as an all-around awful year. The year of 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history. There was the passage of Brexit. The election of Donald Trump. But, perhaps what cemented this negative reputation for 2016 was the deaths of seemingly dozens of noted celebrities, such as Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, and Gene Wilder to name a few. For many, the feeling of dread that seemingly started in 2016 has carried over to 2017. With no end in sight, I want to consider how death and tragedy is framed. Continue reading

Some ideas need more than 140 characters: why I started blogging

Earlier in the year, an iMessage conversation with a high school classmate gave me pause.

“Wait, can I ask you something?” she ominously inquired. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you used to be so vocal about U.S. politics on Facebook. And now you’ve been pretty quiet about it lately. Is there any reason for that?”

She posed a valid question, and she’s not wrong: a few years ago, I would post constantly on social media about the goings-on in the United States and international political scenes. That changed somewhat recently, due not only to major changes in how social networking sites present content, but also a desire to write more long-form, thoroughly sourced pieces. Here’s why. Continue reading

Voter fraud is fake, but ‘Voter ID’ is popular. Here’s my proposal for Democrats

While Donald Trump’s assertion that “millions” of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 presidential election is ludicrous, the baseless fear of voter fraud has profound policy implications in the United States. To be clear, the United States does not have a voter fraud issue: one study found that between 2000 and 2014 there were only 31 credible allegations (not even necessarily acts) of voter fraud out of 1 billion votes cast. (Yes, that is billion with a “b”.)  Continue reading

Everyone has a gender identity, but some aren’t male or female. And that’s okay

Last week, I was surprised when relics of my childhood were exploited by alt-right internet memes to insult transgender people. Given Monday’s passage of an anti-transgender law in Texas’ House of Representatives, it seems that the feelings behind these discriminatory memes represent more than just a few internet trolls. Continue reading

I live in South Korea. Panicking about North Korea is unwarranted

Shortly after I returned to South Korea in 2014, I was met with a litany of concerned friends and family members in the United States asking if I was okay, in light of a building collapse that injured 100 people and killed 10. The only problem was that the building collapsed in Gyeongju, which is nearly 400 kilometers away from where I was living in Seoul at the time. Even if the building had collapsed within the Seoul capital area, the chance that out of 25,500,000 people I would have been injured is statistically insignificant.

I have been reminded of this anecdote recently, as many of the same concerned friends and family have been checking in with me about the recent news surrounding North Korea. I genuinely am thankful that I know so many loving people, but they are mistaken: South Korea is an incredibly safe place to visit and to live, and war with North Korea is very unlikely. Continue reading

Undocumented facts undermine immigration debate

As I finish this article on St. Patrick’s Day–a tradition spurred by Irish immigrants in the United States that became so popular that Ireland itself had to catch up– the dust is still settling on news of anti-immigration right-wing presidential candidate Geert Wilders’ loss in the Netherlands. Many in the United States would have been unaware of who Wilders was, if not for a controversial endorsement tweet sent from Rep. Steve King in which he wrote, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Continue reading