"Kid Cudi @ Good Vibrations 22/02/10" by Laurence Barnes via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Recently, rapper Scott Mescudi, also known by his alter-ego Kid Cudi, checked into a rehabilitation clinic. Upon entering rehabilitation services, Mescudi published a Facebook post detailing the internal struggle he has been going through after delaying the release of his anticipated album Passion, Pain, and Slayin’ Demons. Mescudi’s brave and open look into his personal life has facilitated many conversations surrounding the feminization of mental health and its correlation with race. His openness has allowed us to ask key questions on how we should talk about mental illnesses and how our daily actions can have detrimental effects on the ones around us.

Mescudi is not the first person from a hypermasculine and racialized culture to speak about his mental problems, but he has enabled individuals to talk about how racial discrimination and racial attitudes contributes to breakdowns in mental health among minority communities. In a 2000 study, David Williams and Ruth Williams-Morris highlighted some key aspects of how racial attitudes can have unequal effects on the mental health of minority individuals. Racial discrimination has adversely lopsided effects on minority communities as individuals in the out-group are subjected to face the negative stereotypes that psychologically attack their self-worth. Negative reflections of blacks and other minorities in American culture creates categorical beliefs and results in higher levels of discrimination and oppression in these subjected communities. This can attack the self-worth of members of those communities. Paired with significant economic marginalization, racial attitudes contribute to increased instances of mental illness in minority communities.

It is important to note that the effects of feminizing and designing a sexist discourse surrounding mental health creates two problems. First, overtly feminizing the issue of mental health comes at the cost of suppressing men to be open about their internal struggles in the face of a hypermasculine culture. The fear of being feminized for suffering from depression, anxiety, or a host of other issues, can create a deprivation in self-worth. For a person already suffering from a breakdown in how they perceive themselves, challenging their masculinity on the basis of inherent, internal problems can come at serious costs. After years of depression, Capital Steez’s death serves as an example on how far suppressing mental issues can challenge someone. Mescudi is only the most recent person in the explicitly masculinized culture of rap to come out about his issues, but ground has been made for individuals to discuss their problems before him. Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, DMX, and Joe Budden have been inspirations among minority communities to address mental health.

But, on the other side, designating a sexualized discourse on people who report their mental health issues creates another problem. This can be seen in the responses over social media to both Mescudi and R&B singer Khelani after coming out about their mental battles. Khelani was hospitalized from a suicide attempt after an intense amount of public shaming. Her suicide attempt followed rumors surrounding her relationship with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and possible reports of infidelity. Khelani was open about her hospitalization and the reasoning for her suicide attempt, similar to Mescudi. Unfortunately, she was highly criticized, and still is, for her hospitalization, which has turned into a recurring joke surrounding the discussion of mental health treatment. This has highlighted the inequality in our culture’s responses to mental health because in implicit beliefs about sex and mental illnesses.

To really address the complexities behind mental health and the factors that contribute to its prevalence in modern society, key points need to be addressed in our rhetoric surrounding these issues. Following a larger discussion on race, we must look into an array of socioeconomic aspects and examine how systemic racism can impact the mental health of our communities in order to open up this conversation. Unequal treatment of individuals directly affects one’s ability to properly provide self-care and to apply a level of self-worth for themselves. Feminizing the issue of mental health paired with a hyper masculine culture can lead to men suppressing their internal struggles until the effects of their mental states are too deep and developed to overturn. The rhetoric used in discussions surrounding individuals and communities who experience mental illnesses needs to be examined and changed to create an equal, non-gendered, and open discourse on how mental issues affect everyone in some form. As a society, we need to seriously examine our beliefs surrounding mental health and educate ourselves about the signs and symptoms associated with these illnesses to properly address this aggressive problem.

The Super Bowl happened last month, but the media still has not quieted down over Beyoncé’s half time performance, particularly the debut of her new song, “Formation.” For those who haven’t seen the music video or her Super Bowl performance, it is unlike anything the singer has done to date. It was culturally provocative, emotional, highly stimulating and an reminder of where Beyoncé came from. From Beyonce on top of a sinking police car in what seems to be New Orleans to her riding around in an old convertable with her hair in braids, the images leave little doubt in the viewers mind that Beyonce is black.

In the music video, released a day before her Super Bowl performance, Beyonce takes on all African-American stereotypes and does so in her own way. Beyoncé and Jay- Z, her husband, have been publicly quiet on the racial conflicts of the past few years, including the Black Lives Matter movement. But the couple has taken a more public role in racial dialogues. Beyonce’s “Formation” in combination with Jay-Z’s business Tidal donating $1.5 million to the Black Lives Matter program makes their position on these issues fairly clear.

by -
"Best Actress Academy Awards" by Cliff is licensed under Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Oscar nominations have been announced, and for the second year year in a row, all the acting nominees are white. This has raised controversy, especially in the wake of the much-protested “Selma” snub last year. People have taken to Twitter to express their views with the hashtag #Oscarssowhite.

"Nativity scene Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs Cambridge" by Thorvalddson is liscensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A Cincinnati, Ohio suburb is fighting over a zombie themed nativity scene at a private residence. Jasen Dixon and his family operate a haunted house for Halloween, and used some of their zombie decorations to create a unique nativity scene in their front yard for the second year in a row.

Last year, the family was in hot water with township officials for not having the proper permits for the large manger. This year, the Dixon’s applied for a permit, but their appeal was rejected and they have incurred fines from the township as a result. The Dixon’s realized that by deconstructing the roof of the manger, the scene would no longer qualify as a building and they avoid further fines. Although the fines have stopped, the criticism has not.

Religious groups have left numerous notes at the scene, saying that the zombie depiction is disrespectful to God. One note claims “God frowns upon the manger scene”. However, the Dixon’s send their son to Catholic school and defend against claims that they are anti-Christian.

Jasen Dixon sees the display as harmless, saying We use this for our family craft time”. The Dixon’s created a Facebook page for their scene and has gained many fans. The page has received many messages of support from fans in the Cincinnati area and worldwide. One commenter states, “I don’t personally like it but it’s a free country and for that, I support this family’s expression of freedom!” and many other posts mirror this sentiment. Some humorously share references to The Walking Dead and others say the display would be more appropriate at Halloween, or even Easter (when Jesus rose from the dead). The Dixon’s are also collecting donations for various causes including offsetting the fines that they incurred, building a bigger and better scene next year, and sending money to local charities.

"Protest against Washington football team name" by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Halloween has just passed, and it is clear that public discourse on culturally sensitive and appropriate costumes continues to increase. These discussions about cultural appropriation are particularly prominent amongst America’s educated youth, who are on their way to becoming the next generation of leaders and advocates against racial discrimination. This heightened awareness is now slowly but surely making its way towards the world of sports.

"Forever 21" by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

The past thirty years have seen a rise in “fast fashion” – a system of mass production that “refers to cheap, trendy, and popular clothing chains which rapidly change their inventory and styles.” This system is what allows us to walk into Forever 21 or H&M and purchase a whole outfit for less than $50. But you do get what you pay for – these clothing articles often have loose seams are made with cheap fabrics. As many customers of these stores can attest, laundry day becomes a chore thanks to excess shrinkage, unraveling, and rapid degradation of the quality of the sweater, shirt, or dress. However, many consumers are undisturbed by this disposable clothing trend because in the fashion world, trends are ever-changing and often fleeting. It doesn’t matter that the trendy sweater you bought two weeks ago is becoming a tad threadbare, because it’s already out of style. These clothes are now so cheap that upon the emergence of a new trend, it is affordable to go out and newly stock your closet.

An indisputable attribute to this industry is that money and status are no longer barriers. A new video by AJ+ explains we are only spending about 3% of our income on clothing, explaining that in a time of vast socioeconomic inequality, almost everyone is able to participate in the “fashion for all” culture. But what is the real cost?

According to the aforementioned AJ+ video “Why H&M Costs More Than You Think” referenced by The Huffington Post, 85% of the used clothes that we throw away goes into landfills, while only around 15% is recycled or reused. “Textile dyes make up 1/5th of industrial water pollution, and it’s estimated that the apparel industry makes up 10% of the global carbon footprint.” If this doesn’t persuade you, the cheap textiles we buy are full of contaminants such as lead and carcinogens. Teenage girls are most often the group targeted by these clothing chains and are thus exposed to these contaminants whilst still in developing stages.

The consequences don’t end there – the practice of mass production perpetuates the exploitation of cheap labor. As most of you probably know, many workers, who are often children, in countries such as China and Bangladesh are working from dawn to dusk in dangerous conditions for less than a dollar. How have we been justifying the fashion industry’s malpractices for so long?

There are some social benefits to buying into the disposable clothing culture. Rates of clothing donation to organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army has drastically increased. Many millennials who are laden with debt and struggling to enter the workforce are able to inexpensively stock their wardrobe with clothes that make them look presentable. However, is fast fashion justifiable when posited next to the dangerous working conditions and minuscule wages that make this practice possible? What about costs to the environment and the burden it places on future generations? It’s time we start asking what the real cost is of purchasing our wardrobes from these chains and questioning the implications of our whimsical consumerism and disposal tendencies.

"Caitlyn Jenner, Formerly Bruce" by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Spirit Halloween released a costume for Halloween 2015 in the likeness of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair magazine cover. The immediate reaction of many was one of disgust, feeling that the costume was mocking the former Olympian and her recent transition. Others were concerned that the costume perpetuates a transphobic view.   Vincent Villano, from the National Center for Transgender Equality,  sums up these views by saying  “There’s no tasteful way to ‘celebrate’ Caitlyn Jenner or respect transgender people this way on the one night of the year when people use their most twisted imaginations to pretend to be villains and monsters.”

Teen Titans Go! by Thibault (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For many people, animated cartoons form a central pillar of childhood. Whether they are classics like Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry or newer shows like Spongebob Squarepants and The Adventures of Gumball, cartoons have been a primary source of entertainment for generations of children. Besides the occasional fart joke, such cartoons seem fairly harmless. In their representation of women, though, such shows can act as anything but.

Eastern State Penitentiary by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The world of prisons has gone mainstream. In some ways, at least. With shows like Orange is the New Black (OITNB) and books like The New Jim Crow shaping public discourse, prison narratives have firmly wedged themselves into the American consciousness. And, for some, with exposure to these narratives comes the need to experience something similar for themselves.