Dear Chronicle,

Wow. It’s over. Two years of paper cycles, interviews, deadlines and distributions is done. Nothing about graduation and leaving has quite hit me yet, and neither has the end of my adventures in room C103. I have changed so much as a student, writer, leader and person over the past two years and I cannot imagine my high school career without the Chronicle in it.

When I joined staff last year (I barely made it, DC put me in the “no” pile) I had no idea what I was in for. The story idea sessions, pitching, interviewing, roasting and “work” atmosphere was fairly new to me. I was thrown into the “world’s worst internship” (as Jess and I like to call it) and had no idea what I would get out of it. Little did I know that the Chronicle would give me so much.

Year one I gained my confidence. I began to get to know other students on staff I had never interacted with before and never would have had we not been placed together. I made friends, learned the importance of good communication, became more professional and found my voice in my writing. I had never looked to writing as an outlet before, but I began to see my style and quickly found my love for it growing. I have always loved being a part of a team, and “chronding” became something I looked forward to and enjoyed. As my confidence grew, I started to pursue bigger stories and decided to pursue an editorial position.

Year two I grew into my own skin. I have always been a mature, nurturing (aka “motherly”) person, but during my first year on staff I tried to please everyone and not bother anyone more than I had to. Boy did that change.

Becoming an editor forced me to toughen up and learn how to manage people (I’m not the Managing Editor for no reason). I managed everything. Laying out pages. Done. Editing stories. Done. Listening to pitches. Done. Sending out passive aggressive (or sometimes just aggressive) emails. Done. Hosting “Hell Weekend” layout sessions and food at my house. Done. Stopping to breath and roast staff members with Jess. Yep, I did that too.

While being an editor was extremely stressful at times, I would do it over and over again if I could. It taught me valuable life lessons that I will always have with me moving forward. It also helped bring me out of my shell. I became more vocal, even more confident, more decisive, more comfortable being myself. I found topics that I am truly passionate about through my writing. I became the punchline of many jokes and the object of many roast sessions (Charlie and Eric Miller I’m rolling my eyes at you through the screen), and I was ok with it. I made life-long friends that I hope will come visit me in North Carolina next year.

To Mr Conner: Thank you. You have no idea how much your friendship, mentorship and support means to me. I feel truly blessed to have someone like you in my corner, and I have enjoyed changing from a newbie who was scared of you to someone who can work beside you. I promise to keep you updated from Elon, but I won’t come visit until the end of the year (I don’t want to become one of those people). You gave me one of the most meaningful and unexpected compliments the other day when you told Gina that out of everyone you have had on staff I am the one who reminds you most of you. I am honored. Keep sticking it out in your little corner of the room next year.

To Jess: You rock. I could not have asked for a better partner-in-crime. I have never once complained about you (and you know I like to complain about people) because in every decision we have made you have been thoughtful, fair and right. You helped balance me out this year in ways I really can’t describe. I never worried about getting everything done because I knew we would do it together and you would magically make whatever we were working on ten times better. Thank you for trusting me with pages and people I probably shouldn’t have been trusted with, thank you for always letting me in on the decision and asking for my opinion, thank you for letting me roast people and joining in on the fun, thank you for letting me grow into this position and thank you for being a wonderful friend. You have a way with words and I can’t wait to see where it takes you in Charlottesville. They are so lucky to have you, and don’t worry I will definitely come and visit. Love you.

To Disch: You are the reason I applied to be on staff. Sophomore year, during sixth bell Honors English Two, you would come in with your unfinished lunch and talk about the Chronicle almost everyday. You even told me to apply. I will be forever grateful. You are my go-to person. Everything you do, you do it with ease, precision and quality. Nothing slips by you. I wish we had twenty of you on staff. You truly lead by example and every returning member should aspire to work a little more like you. You are the glue that keeps us all together, planning events, making powerpoints, befriending everyone, no matter their experience or grade level. I am so lucky to be friends with you and I can’t wait to see what you do at OSU!

To Eric Miller (honorary senior): Sometimes I actually hate you. Like when you make fun of the Cardinals even though you don’t care about baseball. Or when you make fun of soccer, my food, William and Mary, my opinions about football, etc. Most of the time I love you though. Thank you for including me in sports discussions even though I’m not a sports writer. Thank you for being the third little brother I never wanted. Thank you for making me look short. I don’t really know how to describe our relationship but I appreciate you and I can’t wait to see you lead an amazing sports staff next year. Advice: please make sure you are on top of Bryan and Joey, they will need to help the newbies a ton and sometimes they’re just not productive (love you guys). I can’t wait to see what amazing school you will play football at at I’m hoping it’s one close to me.

To Ashton: Thank you for sharing my no-nonsense attitude. I love sassy Ashton. You rule with an iron fist and I am truly grateful that I never had to worry about money, business or ads. That’s your area and I knew to stay away. Your ability to pick what interests you and throw yourself into it is incredible. I have no idea how you tackle some of the stories you have tackled but they are always amazing and truthful. I truly admire you for your persistence with administration and central office. I know they can be frustrating and it brings me great joy to think about how much they fear a visit from you. I am so happy to have a friend like you and I cannot wait to read your work from OU next year.

To Arnav: Thank you for being diligent, empathetic and loyal to this staff. You are more patient then I will ever be and I am jealous of that. We always joked that you were “Human Resources,” but it’s true. Everyone feels comfortable talking with you and they know you are listening. My favorite Arnav quote is: “Rhode Island is not a state. It’s too small.” I will never let that go. I know this year was rough at times but I’m happy we all made it through with our sanity and friendship. Good luck at Miami, I can’t wait to hear all about it!

To Charlie: You annoy me. Like every day. On purpose. Which is even more annoying. But I love you anyway. Thank you for being the one sports writer we never, ever worried about this year. You always get it done, no matter what the circumstance. I am so thankful for our friendship and your ability to be funny, caring, and mean all at once. Just like my relationship with Eric, I don’t really know how else to put ours into words, so just know that I am extremely grateful. I can’t wait to hear all about UC next year. Also, soccer is much harder than tennis.

To Duncan: You also annoy me. But you’re the better twin so it never really upsets me that much. You sit quietly in your corner of the room and insert a roast, story idea or lead at the perfect time. I don’t know how you do it. Your ability to be thorough, detailed and precise all at the same time is incredible. I love editing you because there usually isn’t much to edit. You are an extremely talented writer and I hope you continue writing in some way, shape, or form next year at OSU. I am more grateful for your friendship than I am for Charlie’s because I like you more (totally kidding). I can’t wait to “see” you as Brutus and here all about your adventures.

To Eric Michael: You annoy me too! Wow, there’s a pattern here. You cannot be trusted with almost anything, you are very spastic, and you say the most ridiculous things. Despite all of this I feel so blessed to have a friend like you. You are caring, funny, and positive when it matters most. I could not have asked for a better Prom Fashion Show partner (because we killed it). You are creative, hardworking when you want to be, and you have the ability to have a conversation with anyone. I know you are going to do amazing things at UC and I cannot wait to see a picture of you at a concert or sports event (maybe hockey?) making a fool of yourself in the best way possible.

To Meg P: Go Pats! Thank you for always rolling your eyes with me at the ignorant insults of others. Thank you for being someone I can always rely on to get it done and to do it right. You are such a people person and your ability to fit in with all kinds of groups and write stories about everyone is awesome. I have never heard you sing so I’m a little annoyed by that. You are a kind, nurturing person who makes sure everyone is included. You may not be to loudest person of staff, but your presence as a writer and friend is always felt. Good luck in San Diego next year and never forget about the brutal Boston winters. I know you are going to do amazing things!

To Jonathan: Thank you for being the only guy in that back corner that doesn’t annoy me on a daily basis. Thank you for having long political discussions with me and writing with the knowledge of an expert. You found your niche so early on, and I hope you stick with it next year (business is dumb, do something more interesting). I am so happy we have become friends over the past two years and I cannot imagine our staff without you. Your sassy political commentary, bromance with Ryan and outbursts with Freddie make class so much more interesting. You are such a talented photographer and I’m counting on you to somehow get a picture of Duncan in the Brutus costume (even though it’s supposed to be a secret). I can’t wait to hear all about The Ohio State University (I hate that so so much, I just cringed typing it) and to see your name associated with a political campaign in the nearby future.

To returning staff members for the 2017-18 school year: You guys can do it. You are all extremely talented and diverse and I can’t wait to read and hear about your success in the coming years. Please follow the deadlines, think everything through, actually pitch a story, not just an idea, stop using stupid excuses, and start covering more CSPN events. Don’t annoy DC too much. Just a little here and there. Please be nice to Asia and Delaney and Luke. They are going to do a great job, but just like me and Jess they will not be perfect and they will make mistakes. I hope you all enjoyed this year on staff and I will miss you all next year. Please come to Elon so I can give you a tour!

And with that, I am officially done with the Chronicle.

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STAFF EDITORIAL 12/17 NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE STILL TAKES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AS A JOKE

Here we go again. How many times does it have to happen before it becomes unacceptable? How many chances does a person get before they become a lost cause? How much longer are we willing to sit and listen to the same storyline over and over again?

Football player. Accused of domestic violence. Accused of sexual assault. Caught on video slamming their fist through a woman’s face. Part of a police report that includes visible cuts and bruises on his partner and an account of the beating.

Charges dropped? Settlement reached? No problem. Welcome to the National Football League (NFL).

The 2017 NFL Draft saw at least half a dozen players with assault charges drafted by one of its 32 teams. In the post-Ray-Rice era, one would think the NFL would be overly careful and cautious when it comes to domestic violence. But based on this year’s draft, they either do not care about public perception, or they are not quite smart enough to figure it out. Let’s break it down.

Davon Godchaux. Domestic Battery. Child Endangerment. False Imprisonment. Charges dropped. Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round.   

Dede Westbrook. Two domestic violence charges against the mother of his children. Charges dropped. Drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round.

Caleb Brantley. Seen on video striking a 5’6”, 120 pound woman in a bar. He is 6’3” and 300 pounds. Woman is knocked unconscious. He claims self-defense. Police determine the force he used was unreasonable and unnecessary. Case is still playing out. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round.

Jourdan Lewis. Domestic violence. Allegedly pushed his girlfriend before dragging her across the ground and choking her. Waiting to go to trial. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round.

Joe Mixon. Caught on tape slinging his fist into Amelia Molitor’s face. She broke her jaw and her cheekbone. He just reached a settlement with her in April of this year. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round.

The Bengals are well-known for being a safe haven for players with a questionable past. Owner Mike Brown has conceded that he is “overly tolerant” at times. He is also known as “The Great Redeemer,” a name that can become a double-edged sword. While there have been success stories and players who have turned their life around, there have also been the Adam “Pacman” Joneses who cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Just look at this offseason. Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis deserve credit for the work they have done to shape lives for the better. That does not mean they need to take every troubled young man that is thrown onto the table. At some point it needs to stop.

We are not trying to say these men do not deserve second chances. Second chances are wonderful for those who use them correctly. Some of these men have never been proven guilty, and some have repented for their mistakes. We are not trying to demonize them more than they have already demonized themselves.

But the NFL needs to wake up. It has always had a problem with abuse within its ranks, mainly because it just does not care enough to change. But when men like the ones listed above continue to be drafted, and drafted with no shame, the message becomes even more clear. “Women do not matter. Winning does.” These men should not be able to skate by because they work in an industry that cares more about money and winning than it does about common human decency.

Almost worse than drafting these players is the statements general managers (GM), coaches and owners have made to defend them. In response to drafting Westbrook, Jaguars GM David Caldwell said: “I think we’ve all been accused of things, not all of us, but many of us have been accused of things.” Many of us probably have been accused of things. But many of us have not been accused of beating a woman multiple times.

Caldwell’s statement, as ridiculous and ignorant as it is, is one of the least offensive defenses of the players named above. And that is the scary part. The NFL is contributing to an age-old societal attitude that domestic abuse and rape are not important. That victims do not matter. That men get away with it because they can. That athletes get preferential treatment and face very few consequences. They can flaunt their new policies and abuse prevention promotions as much as they want, but until they let their actions follow their words, no change will come.

Do you want to win so badly you will support a team who supports a predator? Most people will say yes. That’s just the world we live in. But what does that say about us as viewers? It says that we are no better than the GM who made the congratulatory call. We are no better than the coach who stands proudly behind his little perpetrator during the introductory press conference.

It’s okay to cheer for the Bengals in the coming season. It’s okay to be willing to give Mixon and all of the other players above a second chance. But they are forcing us to ask ourselves ugly, uncomfortable questions. How far are we willing to go? How did we get to a point where we, as a city, became okay with Joe Mixon walking down our streets? Who’s to blame if something else happens? Who will carry the guilt for the next woman who goes down? Perhaps, however subconsciously, however unintentionally, we all will.

OPINION: OUTING OF “SURVIVOR” CONTESTANT DRAWS ATTENTION TO NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. But do not out someone on national television.

On the April 12 episode of “Survivor,” a contestant was publicly outed as transgender. He did not choose to reveal this information himself, but was instead outed by his tribe mate in one of the most brutal moments I have ever had to watch.

For those of you who do not watch “Survivor,” here’s a quick run-down. There are usually two or three tribes that face off against each other in challenges. The tribes consist of “castaways” who live on uninhabited islands and try to survive for 39 days to win one million dollars. When a tribe loses a challenge they go to tribal council, where one member of their group is voted off of the show.

During this particular tribal council, Jeff Varner knew he was going to go home. The rest of his alliance had been voted off and his tribe mates did not need him around anymore. Because of this, Varner became desperate. In an attempt to save himself, he turned to Zeke Smith, his one friend on the tribe, and asked: “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”

The reaction was instantaneous. Zeke stared blankly ahead, momentarily powerless. His other teammates gasped, shook their heads and openly cried. Varner tried to defend himself by saying his goal was to “show the deception” Zeke is capable of in the game.

Let’s try to follow Varner’s logic. A transgender person is deceptive because they do not reveal their private gender history that is nobody else’s business. Okay, so I am deceptive when I do not reveal all of my secrets to you, and you are deceptive if you do not tell me all of your secrets. Frankly, my secrets are not your problem, and yours are not mine. Normal people do not use that trail of logic. No one should think like that.

Zeke had not told anyone else. And Varner used that trust to out him, not only to the other six members of the tribe, but to millions of people who tune into “Survivor” each week. The tribe’s reaction mimicked the vast majority of the country’s feelings on the episode. No matter what you believe, agree with or disagree with, no one should do what Varner did to Zeke. It crossed a line that cannot be erased. It was despicable.

It was also powerful. Immediately Zeke’s other tribe mates rallied behind him, railing Varner for bringing real life into the game. Most of them had not known Zeke for more than two weeks, and none of them knew about his past, but they stood up for the person they had come to love.

The word of the episode was ‘metamorphosis’ and it could not have been more appropriate. People go onto “Survivor” to challenge themselves and win one million dollars. They come from very different walks of life and we get to see them change and grow into new friendships, new confidence and new people as the show goes on. Zeke may have had a metamorphosis we did not know about, but we have also seen his “Survivor” metamorphosis as he changed from “Survivor” nerd to one of the fiercest strategic players on the show. In the process we have fallen in love with him as “Zeke the Survivor player” not “the trans Survivor player.”

Zeke Smith is who we should all strive to be. He does not think he should be a role model just because he is transgender and I agree. He should be a role model because he radiates love and acceptance. While the episode made us witness to humankind in its worst form, as the selfish perpetrator, it also started an important dialogue about the perception of the transgender community and the basic way we should treat one another.

Zeke put it best: “We cannot control the hazards we face, we can only control how we respond. Love each other.”

ikirssin.chronicle@gmail.com

OPINION: GO BE A KID

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

Welcome to the jungle.

That’s always my first thought as I enter the St. Louis City Museum. Metal climbing monstrosities crowd the outside of the old downtown building. An old school bus hangs off the top and right next to it is a ferris wheel. On the roof. Inside, tunnels and slides hang out over the huge staircase, connecting each floor. A “forest” fills the foyer and inside each tree are a countless number of tunnels that lead to indoor caves, secret passageways and a 10 story slide. This “museum” is every kid’s dream.

It should also be every 18-year-old’s.

At a time when colleges are pushing for leaders, money is short and scholarships are sitting on a list that has yet to be checked off, reverting back to childhood seems to always provide and sure-fire stress relief.

I realized this when a friend and I visited the City Museum on break. After showing our IDs to prove we were 18 and could be responsible for ourselves, we spent the afternoon climbing in and out of spaces that were not built for us, fighting claustrophobia, and trying to keep up with the kids. Ironic, right? We were even scolded by a six year old who was tired of waiting behind us while we tried to squeeze through a “dead end.” It was not a dead end, and he was more than happy to point out that we were wrong in every way. Kids.

I walked away from the building content, tired, and relaxed. I may have looked ridiculous and lost my little brother in the tunnels more than once, but I was happy. I know it sounds silly but taking even the smallest amount of time out of your day to pause and reflect can make a world of difference. Participating in childhood activites remind us of a simpler time, a time were we worried about very little.

This was just my most recent reminder to occasionally let my inner eight-year-old out, and the surprising amount of adults at the museum who crawled and weaved through tunnels with or without their children helped solidify the craving we all have to let loose and be a kid again, if even for a short period of time.

So, when you’re lost and alone (or just plain stressed), find a playground, watch Hannah Montana, color, play kick-the-can, or do something from your childhood that helps you get nervous energy out. Sometimes our eight-year-old selves need to be heard.

OPINION: AMERICA’S GREATEST PROBLEM IS OURSELVES

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

What is the biggest problem facing America?

It’s a loaded question, right? The answers and opinions associated with this question are the source of some of the most vicious contempt in our country today. Everyone answers it a little bit differently, and not one person will answer it in the exact same way.

I was asked this question at a recent college interview and, quite honestly, I had to really think about what I wanted my answer to be. The answer needed to be specific and pinpoint a reason, but also broad enough to explain a multitude of problems. It also had to be reliable and play to my strengths. No matter how many opinions I have on the Republican plan for healthcare or on ObamaCare, I cannot talk about those because healthcare is a topic in which I am not extremely knowledgeable. So I talked about the media.

Specifically, I talked about the relationship between the media, the White House, and the people, because it’s changing quickly and it’s hard to keep up. With the terms “fake news” and “liberal media” becoming a part of everyday vocabulary, many Americans, including Donald Trump, have come to understand and accept that a rocky, untrustworthy relationship with the media is the “new normal.”

Many Americans trust Trump more than credible news outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. They are, in the words of our president, “The FAKE NEWS… the enemy of the American People!” Facts supported by evidence are no longer viewed as the truth and correct grammar is not a top priority. SAD!

When I chose to talk about this on-again, off-again relationship, it was not to rag on Trump or to put the news on a pedestal it does not deserve. It was to address the uncertainty and mistrust felt within our country and countries around the world who are not sure what to make of Trump, or this “new” America yet. Bridging the gap between the White House, the media and the people is not going to fix the serious flaws our government has. It is not going to change if a person likes or dislikes Trump’s policies. But I truly believe it can help ease the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown. It can help Americans feel more secure. It can help the Trump administration project a more cohesive image to the public. And, as common sense tells us, good public image can go a long way.

I also talked about how this is not a one-sided problem. Most mainstream news sources have been very critical of Trump. They have bitten into the stories Trump has baited them to. They have taken small, stupid, insignificant events and blown them out of proportion. As a journalist, this has been frustrating and hard to watch. But they are not an enemy of the American people. In some cases, the press is the only reason we have any idea what is going on in the White House or have any hope at understanding the truth.

On the other side, Trump and top Republicans use conservative news sites, like Breitbart, that are the holy grail of fake news. Then they cite or tweet stories from these sites with absolutely no evidence to back them up, perpetuating the spread of fake news themselves. But what’s a government without hypocrisy? Trump has also blatantly disrespected reporters, complained about “hard questions” that anyone with any knowledge about public relations and government could give a competent answer to, and made a mockery of the White House press corps.

This is the greatest problem facing America today. It is not only setting a dangerous precedent and example for future press, public, politician relationships, but it is setting us down and slippery slope that must be corrected before we slide too far. Both sides need to reflect, calm down and ask themselves if they are doing their jobs and interacting with each other in the professional way they should be. This will never happen but one can hope.

OPINION: RENAMING BUILDINGS CAN’T DELETE HISTORY

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

What’s in a name?

This age old question has become a hot button issue on many college campuses across the country as students and faculty push to change the names of buildings commemorating US leaders who supported slavery and pushed systemic racism forward.

Last week, Yale announced it would rename Calhoun College because John C Calhoun’s view of slavery as a “positive good” doesn’t reflect the values of the school. The college will now be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral.

As schools wrestle with how to incorporate monuments of the past into the modern world and rising racial tensions of today, the “renaming revolution” has swept through the South, where universities have a variety of Confederate symbols across campus.

In August of 2015, The College of William and Mary (W&M) decided to remove a plaque honoring students and faculty who fought for the Confederacy from its main building (the Wren Building) and move it to the library as part of a living history exhibit.

When I visited Williamsburg, Virginia that October, I happened to be walking through the Wren Building when an elderly gentleman asked a student helping to direct people where the plaque was. The student explained that it had been taken down to be moved to another location. He also added that the school was changing the plaque to honor those who fought on both sides of the war.

The elderly man, not thrilled by this answer, raised his voice, stood his ground, and lectured the student, myself and my friend about the history and culture of the South and how disrespectful it is to act like the war and our history never happened. At first, I was appalled by the speech. Partially because of the outburst and partially because of the viewpoint. I judged this man. I wrote him off as a racist, stuck in his ways with nothing better to do.

As I have read about more and more college’s changing the layout and culture of their campus by simply changing a name, I have been brought back to this man’s argument time and time again.

The argument on either side walks a fine line. There is no place in our country for the celebration of racism, intolerance or white supremacy. Many believe that keeping the name Calhoun College, or Tillman Hall (at Clemson), celebrates these things. But celebration and remembrance are two totally different things. Remembering a person or an event doesn’t mean you are celebrating it.

And, as the elderly gentleman pointed out, we can’t erase our past. The “out of sight, out of mind” approach will only make us feel better. But it doesn’t mean we have changed as individuals or as a country.

We also need to consider our historical figures in the right context. While their opinions are deplorable from a 21st century point of view, when they were alive their thoughts and actions were valid. In some cases, their beliefs represented an entire half of our country. They may not be looked upon favorably now, but they obviously did something to contribute to our society and to be immortalized in textbooks and buildings.

If we continue to have the “you’re on the wrong side of history, so you’re out” mentality, we will lose all accountability of our past and for our future. Walking past buildings engraved with the names of Confederate leaders and slave owners may hurt, but it should be a reminder that this is where we came from, and we can not go back.

This being said, there needs to be a balance. I’m not advocating naming every new college building after someone of the past we disagree with. Pick newer, more inclusive leaders to carry the battalion forward. Just don’t force the past out.

David Wilkins, Clemson’s faculty board chairman, said the following when announcing that Clemson would not be changing any of its historical building’s names: “Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone, they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so.”

OPINION: UNITED-ISH

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

I have been a fan of the ABC show “Blackish” since it began two years ago, watching it for its humor, its all-star cast, and its ability to discuss national issues in its own wonderful way.

The show follows the lives of the Johnson family, an African-American family living in upper-middle class America. Dre is the hotshot ad firm patriarch, Rainbow is a doctor and supermom, and Zoe, Junior, Jack and Diane are their four kids. The show also includes Dre’s parents Pops and Ruby.

Since “Blackish” aired in 2014, it has tackled racism, police brutality, gun control, the N-word, and, most recently, Trump. While many have criticized the show and its creators for being too assertive too controversial, I have thoroughly enjoyed every “controversial” episode more than the last.

The show waited until January 11 to air its post-election episode, titled “Lemons,” in a genius move that allowed the immediate animosity of November 8 to simmer. It also made way for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in its narrative, weaving in a story of hardship and love, while also reminding us of our mistakes of the past.

The episode dissects how the election has changed attitudes around the (pro-Clinton) Johnson household, the kid’s school, and Dre’s advertising firm. It also includes Junior and Pops talking about Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and what happens when our eyes are opened to the true messages of the past.

It also asks the question: What happens when the winners and the losers are supposed to be on the same team?

In its main plot point, “Blackish” brings us a discussion for the ages, carried out at Dre’s firm between four black Hillary voters, one white woman who voted for Trump after voting for Obama both times, and a white man who usually votes Republican but couldn’t get on board the Trump train. Many different groups and viewpoints were represented in the tense argument, but Dre remained silent throughout, until his boss asked him why he doesn’t care about our country.

“What did you just ask me?” Dre said, before starting a heartfelt, painfully truthful monologue with, “I love this country, even though at times it doesn’t love me back.” This left me thinking about our humanity long after I had shut the TV off.

This is why the show has had so much success. I have never felt pressured into thinking a certain way, or terrible about my beliefs because of it. It has always presented and respected both sides, even when things are dicey. Every controversial topic is inclusive to all opinions and ideas, as each Johnson generation shares views based on the world they know, creating a relatable viewpoint for anyone watching from their living room, debating how they can relay these topics within their own families.

Between its powerful, realistic topic, timing, and representation, I would dare to say “Lemons” is an instant classic. I wish more shows would try to tackle issues the American people need to be talking about, but I’m not sure any would be able to do it as well as “Blackish” just did.

Here’s my take away from “Lemons” and an important message to keep in mind as we move forward: we may be divided on our new president, but we can not let that be an excuse for us to resort to hate. Hate helps no one. Let’s begin to build the bridges we’ve burned and continue on with life.