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Why We Should Care About Robin Williams

image This week has been painful in the news in terms of violent deaths. It is downright saddening to see the news coverage of both young teens whom we've never met, as well as celebrity icons who have held a special place in our hearts for years. However, in the midst of the sadness comes controversy over whose death we should be mourning more. It has become almost a bidding war for the hearts of the American public that has been filling up social media feeds as to why we should choose one cause over another.

An issue that is of extreme concern for many of my minority peers is the senseless violence in the black community. This past week we have watched as people began to riot and protest over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri. The details of his death are still up for debate, as police try and justify their reasoning for killing him and residents try and unveil the pattern of racial unrest in that area. The result has been anger, fear, and dozens of photos showing the police in what looks like a state of war.

Just as disturbing has been the murder of 16 year old Alexandra Cherry who was allegedly raped and killed by her mother's boyfriend. The mainstream media covered the story in the first couple of days, but Alexandra's story has since been replaced by the news of the suicide of Actor Robin Williams. The 63 year old was known for bringing us years of laughter with movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Good Morning Vietnam. Williams' suicide sparked controversy with some religious groups across the country because suicide is viewed as a sin. It is considered selfish, altruistic, and demonic. So that sparks the question of, Should we feel sorry for someone who committed such a sin, and in turn hurt his family to the core? Why should we care about him taking his own life when there are young people dying all across the country? I'll tell you why we should care.

Williams' suicide comes after years of struggling with depression and substance abuse to attempt to hide from depression. Williams is a classic example of what happens when mental illness is left untreated. People lead these very public lives filled with an immense amount of pressure that only pushes them deeper into confusion, anger, resentment, and chaotic feelings of despair. If you combine the male ego with these already unstable feelings, it is a recipe for disaster. Men are "not supposed to show weakness". Men have to remain strong no matter what. So asking for help is a no-no.

Remember Chris Lighty, the music producer who surprisingly committed suicide a couple of years ago? Hearing that someone like Robin Williams committed suicide is not a complete surprise because of his past trials with depression and substance abuse, but Chris Lighty's suicide came as a shock to most who knew him. They insisted that Lighty never displayed any signs of depression, anxiety, or uncertainty. As a male who worked in an uber macho environment, Lighty was unlikely to show what he was indeed feeling deep down under the surface. To this day, many who know him say that they don't believe his death was indeed a suicide because he "wasn't the type". But what is that "type"?

Our young males are faced with the battle of trying to maintain these images that were super imposed upon them by society. They are left with feelings of despair that lead to either suicide or violence. While you may not feel sympathetic to criminals and their destructive activity, bear in mind that many of these young men are committing crimes because their mental illnesses were left untreated. The young California college student who went on a killing spree that targeted women (with whom he felt rejected him as a whole) did so because he was mentally ill.The man who allegedly raped and killed his stepdaughter is obviously harboring some sort of mental instability; just as countless others who rape, torture, and kill innocent victims are obviously mean, evil, and mentally ill. The countless number of ANGRY police officers who shoot to kill instead of using bargaining tactics may have unsettled emotions and a history of mental illness. And the Chris Lighty's and Robin Williams' of the world were definitely hiding some sort of mental illness. It is a real problem in our community regardless of skin color. It is an illness that results in having to look at an innocent young girl's face that her mother will never see again. It an illness that is taking people away from us way too soon. The end result to not helping these people is that they either kill someone or kill themselves. But either way, there is a family that suffers in the end.

Girl Scout Barbie Stirs Controversy

The new Girl Scout Barbie

Once again, the pint sized blonde they call Barbie is ruffling feathers and making headlines. Mattel, the makers of Barbie recently teamed up with Girl Scouts of America to create a new Girl Scout Barbie. But the release of the new doll has people speaking out against the Girl Scouts, claiming that is does not portray a positive image for young girls. Critics of the new doll claim that Barbie is considered "too sexy", and that her unrealistic hourglass figure could make young girls feel insecure. This comes after a widely publicized campaign this past February where Barbie premiered as the cover model for Sports Illustrated, and showed off her traditional black and white bathing suit that she donned in the early 1950's. sports illustrated barbie The magazine portrayed as the ultimate woman and celebrated her symbol as an American icon. Now, another American brand, the Girl Scouts has decided to celebrate her historical mark on society by creating a doll with the Girl Scout brand. Unfortunately, the decision has not been as well received as the company hoped, and critics worldwide are lined up in droves ready to tear the doll to shreds.
 
The doll comes complete with the traditional Girl Scout sash, hat, uniform patch and a tote with the words "Goal Setting, Decision Making, Money Management, People Skills, Business Ethics"; seemingly good motivational accessories for young kids. The doll represents the thousands of young girls who go out and sell cookies across the country every year and bring in millions of dollars for their organization. Because the Barbie brand has enjoyed such popularity for so many years, it seemed like a no -brainer for a company that sells to young girls to create something related to a movement that is so closely associated with their daily lives. The addition of the tote with inspirational phrases falls in line with the Girl Scout theme of encouraging young girls to remain positive and work towards achieving success and independent living.
 
girl scout barbie tote bag
 
Critics of the new doll cite research that claims that Barbie creates a false sense of reality and results in a negative body image or self esteem issues. Their criticism stems from the bevy of Barbies who don bikinis and outfits that accentuate her breasts and hips. The fact that the Girl Scout Barbie is wearing high heel booties adds to the argument that the doll is too sexy for young girls, and would promote an increase in their desire to be sexy. "Barbie is basically a terrible role model for girls, and she's not about what the Girl Scouts' principles are, which have to do with leadership and courage," said Susan Linn, a psychologist and director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Linn says that the doll "sexualizes young girls", and undermines the Girl Scouts' mission of building up girls' confidence, courage,and character. The Girl Scouts however, feel as though the doll stands out as a trailblazer and combines fun with opportunities for advancement and courageous lifestyles. Although there is controversy about the symbolism of Barbie's sexiness, Mattel has backed their brand by reminding the public that there have been tons of different Barbie dolls made that represent all different types of women. Over the years, Barbie has been an astronaut, a banker, a supermodel, a rock star, a baker, and an educator. Her track record shows that you can have big blonde hair, an hourglass figure, a hot boyfriend, and still have your dream job. Barbie essentially has a more perfect life than Kelly Ripa, and the masses do not appreciate her flaunting her fabulous lifestyle.
 
Is Barbie too perfect? Maybe so. But she is, afterall make believe. Can we really blame a doll for the destruction of our girls' self esteem? Or should focus more on images set forth by women like Nicki Minaj and Beyonce who ooze sex appeal and have little girls flocking to their concerts singing raunchy, over sexualized song lyrics? Just who do we blame for this overarching issue? Is the Girl Scouts' organization to blame for feeding into the stereotype...