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Leave Raven Alone

At the risk of sounding too much like one of the most annoying people to ever exist on YouTube, I have to stand on my soapbox and rant about something: leave Raven alone.

As many of you know, Raven-Symone is my spirit animal. She is the inspiration for my blog and the way I live my life, with no fucks given and a little bit of pizzazz in my day-to-day. Ever since she’s been on The View, she’s been on the out-of-control side, but I firmly believe that she still has her head on straight. She speaks her mind, hasn’t gotten involved in drugs, alcohol, or disobeying the law, and she’s just electric.

Recently, this viral video of a police officer, or “school resources officer” manhandled a young girl who was repeatedly told to put away her cell phone, literally flipping her upside down, tossing her across the room and cuffing her. On the view, Raven-Symone had this response:

And the Internet exploded, mostly with hate.

Frankly, I think that everyone just needs to calm the eff down. In the above video, Raven says two very true things. First, “there’s no rhyme or reason for him to be doing this type of harm, that’s ridiculous,” and then, “you gotta follow the rules in school.” And for some reason, everyone immediately jumped to the conclusion that Raven was defending the officer for what he did.

But that’s not at all what I heard Raven say.

I heard Raven tell me that two wrongs don’t make a right, which is very true. Everything she said is true, and I think that she has the story completely right: one, excessive force is bad, and two, children and teenagers need to obey the rules of their schools. Having been a teacher and a student, I’ve been on both sides of this debate over cell phone usage in school. I didn’t get a cell phone until seventh grade, and it was one of those old-style Nokia phones which maybe had Znake on it, and during class, I had no reason to use it. Even still, as a college student, I don’t use my phone in class. When I do absentmindedly have it on my desk and it vibrates, I turn fifty shades of embarrassment, even though nobody really cares because it’s college and it’s 2015 and these kinds of things happen. But in high school, what could be that urgent that you need your phone in class, and on top of that, you choose to flout the teacher when they instruct you to put it away? This type of behavior in schools is symptomatic of the “student is always right and can do whatever he/she wants” mentality that our society is doing nothing to control or combat. Above all, high schoolers are by and large minors, and as such, have to listen to the teachers.

As a teacher, I generally do not allow cell phone use in my class. The only time I do is when I have a video clip to show; since my room does not have a projector, I email the link to my students who then watch in on their phones, with me, in class (which is actually kind of fun). When I was an undergrad TA at UMass, one of my students was actually having a conversation on her phone during class, and had to be told several times by us to stop. And it was annoying. Not worth being tackled, but extremely annoying and disrespectful to the rest of the students and the learning environment.

Then, there’s the issue of surveillance. Something tells me that there is much more to the story than we (Raven included) are being fed. For one thing, it is clearly being recorded from multiple angles, meaning other students had their phones out too. That strikes me as having an element of provocation, and a bit of voyeurism on the part of the students. Documentation of these incidents is important, but there is clearly something else going on in the background. As with many stories, there is more to it.

But I’ve gone on long enough. The issue notwithstanding, I firmly believe that what Raven-Symone said was completely appropriate and true. She was commenting on two different issues at the same time, a concept around which many people on the Internet can’t manage to wrap their minds, instead opting to yell at her, demean her, and call her a crazy lady. I wish I could reach through my computer and give Raven a hug, because she speaks the truth, no matter how anyone chooses to interpret it.

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Road Trip 3: The Carolinas, 2002

I can’t think of anything really interesting to post about today – it was a pretty low key day, all things considered, and nothing really leaped out at me that PO’ed me or made me really happy. Ran for the first time in several days, which was nice. Even if the treadmill was conspiring to kill me with its rattling…

So here’s Road Trip 3: North and South Carolina, 2002.

A prologue to this trip: we had discovered geocaching a year before, so we were all set to do that. Also, my dad had decided that he was tired of the long drives, and since I was nowhere near being able to drive, we did a hub-and-spoke fly/drive trip, with Charlotte, NC as our “home base.”

Day 1 (August 8, 2002): We flew from Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina. We got there early enough in the day that we could dip down into South Carolina to get the first two stamps of the trip, Kings Mountain NHP and Cowpens NB. We did a fun virtual cache at Kings Mountain that led us around the park.

Day 2: We spent the day geocaching around Charlotte, and found five geocaches (which was mind-blowingly amazing – and remember, this is papered caching as well), and probably did something else semi-interesting.

Day 3: Shabbat. This was (admittedly) a mistake. We had only incorporated Shabbat into our plans once before, and that was all the way back in 1999, when we spent it in New York City with family. This time around, we were a) in a hotel, b) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC, and c) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. We couldn’t even walk around outside the hotel grounds because we were surrounded by highways. So, naturally, it was boring and sort of wasted.

Day 4: Back in the saddle. This day, we went to Columbia, South Carolina to get the Congaree Swamp NM stamp and do some geocaches around town. Congaree Swamp was exciting for me because it was the first real “natural” park we’d ever seen on our trips and it was nice to visit somewhere and not be inundated with history and exhibits. We walked on an elevated walkway through the forest and saw a bunch of lizards, big and small. We also saw the SC state capitol, complete with a statue of (then-living) Strom Thurmond. We capped off the day with geocaches in Sesquicentennial Park, including one that was a complex multi.

Day 5: The direction of the day was west. In the morning, we hit up Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, North Carolina – a town that is actually much prettier than it sounds. I remember meeting a fellow Passport stamp collector in the gift shop and reveling in the fact that I had way more than him. It was still early afternoon, and we didn’t have anything else to do, so my dad asked if there were any other nearby stamps. Great Smoky Mountains National Park seemed a little far, but off we went anyway, and got there relatively quickly. The scenery was gorgeous and I fell in love with the mountains. It was strange, however, entering the town of Cherokee. Cherokee is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and is not only pretty but pretty poor. It seemed like everyone was depressed, selling stuff, or both. Some of the signs were in Cherokee rather than English which was interesting. Once we made it to the visitor center, however, we were both so hot and it was so crowded that we just wanted to leave. I got my stamp, but unfortunately we skipped most of the exhibits because it was too hot. We poked around the reservation a little bit and bought some souvenirs, and I thought it was cool to tell people that I visited an Indian reservation over the summer. Fortunately, we saw plenty of the Smokies from the car, and that was satisfactory enough.

Day 6: We stopped in the morning at a history museum, but it was super boring since nothing ever happened in Charlotte. Then we flew home.

Ranking this trip, it probably fell somewhere between New England and Ohio. Seeing Carl Sandburg’s home and the Great Smoky Mountains made up for the boringness of Charlotte.

Our next trip was on the New England level of fun: Chicago, 2003, followed by our last official trip – Kansas City, 2004 – before I graduated high school, went off to college, and the tradition died off.