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July 11, 2019 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily

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Thursday, July 11, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com OPINION



appy July, everyone.
Hot take: the Fourth
of July sucks. Before
the comments section swells
chastise me, I am a patriot. I
love pigging out on burgers
and lathering on suntan lotion
to celebrate the soldiers that
fought in the dead cold with
little to no food for our free-
dom. Sorry, I gave no warning
— that was sarcasm. And burg-
ers and suntan lotion might
not be dangerously ironic, but
this is: Our national holiday of
independence centers around
stress disorder trigger imagin-
able — fireworks — in the same
month that we are supposedly
health awareness and veter-
ans, a group of people highly
susceptible to developing post
traumatic stress disorder. Yes,
July is Minority Mental Health
Awareness Month. Surprise!
The final twist of the ironic
blade — admittedly, a per-
sonal one — is that as a fourth
grader, on Independence Day,
a classmate of mine named
Billy Brown told me I was
not an American because I’m
brown. I said, “You’re Brown,
too,” though I didn’t realize
last names wasn’t what he was
talking about. Now I know,
screw Billy Brown. But as a
fourth grader, that realization
sent me spiraling and shaped
how I view myself today. And
today I’m validated by what?
A July dedicated to awareness
about the mental health issues
of someone like me — issues
that, personally, arose in July
on a day that is supposed to cel-
ebrate all Americans, but left
me feeling as un-American as
ever? No, I’m validated by the
fact that Billy Brown went to
jail on cocaine possession nine
years later. Catharsis never felt
so good.
Let’s talk about more facts.
The Fourth of July used to be
a holiday celebrating American
diversity, not American patrio-
tism or freedom or whatever we
claim it celebrates now. Post-
Civil War freed slaves claimed
the holiday in 1865, at the end
of the Civil War. And so, for a
few years, the Fourth of July
was a Black holiday, celebrat-
ing emancipation and equality.

But sadly, during the post-war
period in which Black Ameri-
cans were grappling for a sense
of unity, community and equal-
ity, segregationists began to
reclaim the holiday, barring
public celebrations in predomi-
nantly African American com-
munities. By 1902, the spectacle
that took place on the Fourth in
Atlanta was filled with white
floats and white speakers to
place an emphasis on what
kind of American the Fourth
was celebrating — an ideal that
doesn’t exactly describe those
that look like me.

Back to Minority Mental
Health Month. The necessity
of formalizing a month to focus
on issues of mental health in
minority communities cannot
be overstated, so I’m stating
it. I’ll offer a trigger warning
before my quick digression,
as much of this stuff needs to
be said but doesn’t necessarily
need to be heard: LGTBQ+ per-
sons are 2.5 times more likely
to experience depression, anxi-
ety or a mental disorder than
heterosexual persons. One in
six gay men attempt suicide at
least once in their lifetime. 30.8
percent of transgender-identi-
fying persons have considered
suicide. Non-whites actually
report lower levels of depres-
sion than their white coun-
terparts, but that’s a fact that
can easily be misconstrued. A
staggering 48 percent of white
people, compared to 31 per-
cent of African Americans and
Hispanics, and 22 percent of
Asians, receive mental health
care. And to be diagnosed with
a mental disorder, one has to
receive care first, so MMHAM
is clearly a necessity that must
be promoted further — espe-
cially because the self-care and
ments that have swept through
this country in the past 10 years

seem to be disproportionately
And finally, why July? The
Fourth of July is a day marred
by a history of discriminatory
tension and violence, so why,
four days into the awareness
month, do we want to under-
mine minority sense of self-
belonging with a holiday that
everyone’s values? Because the
Fourth of July doesn’t seem like
a holiday particularly inclined
to date-related changes, then
perhaps we should think about
moving MMHAM. Or at least
think about providing and,
more importantly, advertising
adequate and affordable sup-
port systems for those on the
Fourth of July who may feel
outcast, misrepresented or sub-
jugated. In order to keep up
with the equality and health
ideals we’re supposed to be
able to uphold for at least one
month. Maybe all the other
so MMHAM took the only
remaining cell in the govern-
ment’s “What can this month
be for?” Excel spreadsheet. But
adequate resources and aware-
ness campaigns can’t afford to
be hindered by bureaucratic
bottlenecks like the slightly
more arbitrary designation of
which month we should “be
aware” in.
So if MMHAM is going to
stay July, we need to put more
effort into actually making peo-
ple aware of the resources that
are available to them, because
I’ve had this metallic umami
of “another thing done just to
placate the electorate” settling
onto my taste buds since this
month started. This is in addi-
tion to the sharp sour of “little
Billy Brown is trying to take
my crown” that starts to wax
nostalgic around the Fourth of
July. Huh, ironic. Tastes like
Final note on Billy Brown:
He’s fine. He’s a white male
from a suburb of Milwaukee.
Nothing was ever going to hap-
pen to him. He got a day in
“jail,” then was released. It’s
not even on the books. He did
a month of community service.
He is currently going to UCSB.
But I’m over it.

I’m struggling with July

Akaash Tumuluri can be reached at



n his time as president, Donald
Trump has continually used
inflammatory rhetoric to stake
out his political positions, from calling
climate change a hoax to labeling news
coverage he doesn’t like as “fake news.”
However, Trump’s most aggressive
outbursts are consistently focused on
immigration. This makes sense: Since
the very beginning of his campaign,
Trump has made restricting Latin
American immigration at any cost his
number one priority. Interestingly,
despite Trump’s xenophobic rants
and inhumane policies, immigration
levels have soared since he took office.
Though this may seem contradictory,
it serves to highlight how Trump and
the Republican Party fundamentally
do not understand immigration in the
modern world.
While Trump has aggressively
pushed to strengthen the border and
deter immigrants from coming into the
U.S., immigration policy extends far
beyond the border itself. What Trump
fails to understand is that immigration
is not a standalone issue that is dealt
with exclusively at the border. In real-
ity, immigration is deeply intertwined
with America’s geopolitical relation-
ships, foreign aid decisions and climate
policy. Reforming immigration policy
in any meaningful way requires work-
ing with those issues as well.
Before diving into other issues, it is
important to point out that Trump’s
aggressive immigration policies —
aimed at deterring migrants from
attempting the journey to the United
States — are likely not particularly
effective. As a study published in the
Stanford Law Review Journal ear-
lier this year, that specifically looked
at immigration, explains; “criminal
deterrence literature suggests that
people generally do not know the law,
are bad at rational decision-making,
and even if they can make rational
decisions, will choose to commit the
crime because the perceived benefits
often outweigh the perceived costs.”
This analysis points out several key
holes in Trump’s deterrence-centric
immigration policies, mainly that
immigrants often don’t know how
Trump’s actual immigration policies
legally differ from past plans. How-
ever, the most important part of the
quote is the concluding section, a line
that hints at the fundamental flaw of
handling immigration as an isolated
issue: Oftentimes, the situations immi-
grants are leaving behind supercede
worries about American immigration
Global conditions have a major
impact on immigration flow, which
ties a whole host of American policies

directly to the issue. Today, one of the
most important factors driving migra-
tion is climate change. Many Central
American countries, including Hondu-
ras and Guatemala, have large farming
populations which suffer greatly as
climate change destabilizes weather,
limiting growing seasons and cutting
into profits. Across the region, farmers
are being forced to grow less lucrative
crops, change their farming practices
or simply not make money. With their
economic prospects hobbled, many
farmers are forced to migrate north
to America and look for better-paying
The United States’s huge carbon out-
put, the highest per capita in the world,
has helped create this predicament.
Though American climate change
policy (to the extent it exists) largely
focuses on problems facing the United
States, American emissions have a
global impact, as exemplified by this
situation. The logical response to this
crisis would be to pass common-sense
climate protection laws. In the past,
the United States even sent American
farming experts to Central America to
help farmers mitigate the effects of cli-
mate change on their crops.
However, in addition to railing
against immigrants, President Trump
has simultaneously worked to sys-
tematically destroy and undermine
American climate protection efforts,
subsequently displacing the same Cen-
tral American migrants he talks down
upon. America, with Trump at the
helm, has failed to take responsibility
for the role its irresponsible climate
policies have played in creating this
wave of migration.
Another key issue which impacts
migration flows is relations between
the United States and Central America
— particularly with respect to foreign
aid. Many Central American countries
struggle with gang violence, corrup-
tion and poverty, all of which are major
factors pushing immigrants towards
the United States. Ideally, the U.S.
would combat this by providing aid to
assist with these predicaments, help-
ing ensure that Central American citi-
zens feel safe in their home countries.
Instead, Trump has taken the opposite
route: Earlier this year, he drastically
cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and
Honduras. This was a dangerous move
which will only worsen the conditions
in Central America, driving more and
more citizens to try and flee.

Immigration is not a standalone issue


Zack Blumberg can be reached at


Read more at michigandaily.com

The Fourth of July
is a day marred
by a history of
tension and violence

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