Christmas should be cheerful, not dreadful

     I saw an article online the other day from one of my local news sources and found myself irritated by the content. The author uses their editorial forum for influential purposes, but instead of influencing productive and positive feelings, they chose to provoke readers into feeling negativity.

     The subject of the matter was Christmas music causing undue stress if played too early. A countless number of people followed suit with their pitiful stories about how they “just can’t take all the Christmas cheer” or how “Christmas is celebrated too early.” At the greatest time of need in the year for the impoverished, news outlets choose to write about something as insignificant as Christmas music being a nuisance.

     This is a prime example of a First World problem. How dare they play Christmas music while you are waiting for your manicure, dining out or as you shop tirelessly for items to show off to everyone you know.

     I cannot imagine having a forum of influence just to waste it on a ‘good read.’ Our community deserves more than that. This is a time to inspire people to ask themselves what they can do to make someone else’s life better or how they can help change the world for the better.

     There are children in the country who will not have toys or a hot meal to look forward to on Christmas Day. There are also many who do not have a roof over their head or a warm bed to sleep in. We should all be more focused on what we can give and not on what we receive.

     What have you done this year to make the world a better place, even if it was just for one person? How have you given back to your community? Caring for your community is something we should do year-round without being against our will.

     I challenge everyone reading this article to volunteer one hour to a local soup kitchen to serve a warm meal for a local family in need or sponsor a child in the community for Christmas gifts. Gather your friends and make it a group effort. Let’s show Tifton and surrounding towns that ABAC students are not only thankful, but we are thoughtful.


Music teachers rock the stage at ABAC

The First Tuesday Performance Series is in its seventeenth season, and it features a variety of musicians in performances every first Tuesday of each month. “Music Teachers Rock” premiered on Nov. 6 and was one of the many installments of the First Tuesday concerts. The performance included a multitude of music educators from several nearby counties. The counties in which these educators teach include Tift, Ben Hill, Colquitt, Worth, and Irwin. These educators teach a wide range of students in grades Kindergarten through twelfth, and some even teach at a college level. Some of these educators formerly taught and are now in retirement, some currently teach, and a few are future music educators who major in the subject at ABAC.

A wide variety of musical pieces were performed at the concert. The show began with “The Mannheim Musicians’” performance of “Alleluia”. The group was comprised of educators Sheri Wyles and Lesli Holton on flute, Jonni Snyder on violin, Betsy Jones on cello, and former ABAC applied voice instructor Zoe Hobby as an accompanist. The group then performed “Gabriel’s Oboe” featuring the talented oboist Charlotte Cook of Colquitt County.

Following this piece, vocalist Jake Alley of Tift County performed “Les Poissons” as Chef Louis from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” His performance consisted of props to represent the actual scene from the movie. Stan Smith, also from Tift County, then took the stage and floored the audience with his own arrangement of Psalm 23 with his baritone vocals and piano accompaniment.

Vocalists and husband and wife duo, Daniel and Katelyn Gibson of Tift county kept the audience engaged with their duet performance of “Fine” and “Written in the Stars” from the musicals Ordinary Days from Aida. Jake Alley returned to the stage with his astounding tenor vocals and performed” ‘Til I Hear You Sing” from the musical Love Never Dies. Dr. Jennifer Huang of ABAC accompanied the Gibson couple and Alley on piano during their performances.

After these individual performances, all former, current, and future instrumental educators in attendance from the surrounding counties joined together in the performance of “Ballad for a Rainy Day” and “On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss.” Each educator performed with the instrument they specialize in. These two songs concluded the concert, and the audience was left impressed and in awe by the talent of these instructors.

The purpose of this concert was to disprove the idea of music educators choosing to teach music only because they are unable to perform. “Music Teachers Rock” executed that purpose and left disbelievers to shame by showing off the talent of these schools’ educators.

The next installment of the First Tuesday Series will be “A Christmas to Treasure” on Dec. 4, and it will take place at the Tift Theatre in downtown Tifton. Tickets are $10 each and all proceeds will go to the music scholarships at ABAC.


Blood is not thicker than water

  Blood relation is the deepest connection possible in humanity, but the most important relationships to you and your mental health should instill happiness. If a family bond is toxic to your own health, then you need to drop it and surround yourself with others, even if they are not blood relatives. The infamous phrase, “Blood is thicker than water,” stated by family members cause a feeling of guilt and an obligation to feed into it.

    It is expected that you serve your family regardless of your own emotions and mental health, and I have had my fill on it. I am finished with the family who cannot recognize my value, especially since I have finally found my self-worth. I refuse to strain myself because of high expectations, and I refuse to obey and succumb to every little thing asked of me and undergo manipulation. Justifying immoral behavior only because we are blood is no longer an acceptable excuse.

    When chosen for mutual gain, friendships are even more supportive and healthy than kinship. Certain toxic family members choose to chastise another member for their differing religious, political or romantic beliefs. The pressure to be the greatest in athletics, academics or social popularity also affects those with negative family ties. Personally, I faced pressure in the academic region.

    A significant blood relative of mine caused me to believe that I needed to be my graduating class’ Valedictorian, or the lesser recognized Salutatorian, so he could afford the beach house he desired. If I earned a spot as one of the top two academically outstanding students in my graduating high school class, I would receive enough scholarships and grants to pay for my own college tuition.

    He brought a child into this world and consented to the inevitable financial hit, yet he chose to push me to the edge of the academic cliff to avoid spending money on me for his own benefit.

   At the time, I did not consider this behavior as toxic and brushed it off my shoulders. I worked my hardest and eventually earned the spot for Salutatorian, yet I still felt empty and unaccomplished. I realized that I never truly needed the title and that I did not work towards it for my own benefit.      

The only thing I ever wanted was the approval and affection from my father, but I never received that. In turn, I gained a way of cutting the financial ties to him.

The gateway to splitting the toxic emotional barrier stood in front of me, and I took advantage of it. I made an extremely difficult choice and ceased all contact with him. I stopped answering his phone calls, I started ignoring his texts, and I blocked his number.

    It may have been a rash decision, and most people may think I handled the situation in the wrong way, but I no longer care about what others think. I know the best choices for me, and my sensitive personality could no longer take the stress he brought upon me. I never felt good enough for him or anyone else, and it affected all relationships I partook in.

    Cutting my father out of my life has been the best choice for me, and those who struggle with similar situations must know that you do not stand alone in this fight.

Dropping toxic people, especially family, helps you in an immense way. There are people in this world who care for you, and those individuals wait eagerly for you to join their loving community.


Childish Gambino’s ‘Summer Pack’

      On July 11, award-winning artist and actor Donald Glover, also known by his pseudonym Childish Gambino, released his newest EP as a surprise to his fans. The summer-themed EP consists of two songs and lasts for a total of eight and a half minutes. Titled “Summer Pack”, the duo captures the season’s upbeat feeling it brings upon people. The pair contrasts significantly from Gambino’s most recent single “This is America.” The light and airy sensation of the “Summer Pack” tracks differ greatly from heavy-beat trap vibe of “This is America.”

      “Summertime Magic” and “Feels like Summer” make up the two songs in “Summer Pack.” “Summertime Magic” fills the spot of the first track, and it is notably the catchier and more upbeat sibling of the two. With kettle drums and Gambino’s soothing voice speaking of love and positive summer vibes, this song is one meant to play at a pool party in the middle of July. Representing the bitter-sweet track in the duo, “Feels like Summer” tackles the controversy surrounding climate change and its effect on the summer season. The vocals, keyboard, and guitar in the track still maintain the catchiness of the “Summer Pack”, however, the lyrics capture the overbearing heat during the season. Verse two of “Feels like Summer” contains the lyric, “Every day gets hotter than the one before,” representing the increase in temperature. Verse two also mentions, “Air that kills the bees that we depend upon/ Birds were made for singing/ Waking up to no sound,” which refers to the environment affecting the two species’ populations. Gambino uses his music to spread and influence his political views among the listeners. The hit single “This is America” from the artist also uses politically charged lyrics along with a controversial music video to translate his emotions and beliefs, so this use of politics in his music occurs often.

       Remarkably, the songs in “Summer Pack” contrast each other beautifully. “Summertime Magic” targets a certain love-interest of Gambino’s in a romantic way. “You’ll be my valentine in the summer,” he sings, proclaiming his affection for his love. This lyric shows he prefers celebrating Valentine’s Day in the warmer season. “Feels like Summer” somberly describes the global warming crisis in hopes to keep others aware of the drastically changing environment.

      Gambino began his final tour ever on Sept. 6 in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, and the tour will end on Oct. 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. The tour features Rae Sremmurd and Vince Staples, but a conflict already occurred on a set recently. On Sept. 24, Gambino performed in Dallas, Texas but had to end the concert abruptly due to an injury. During the set, Gambino reportedly broke his foot and left the stage without performing his more popular songs which left fans confused and upset. Gambino still performed both “Summertime Magic” and “Feels like Summer” in the setlist, but left out hit songs “Redbone”, “Sober”, and “3005”.

      “Summer Pack” epitomizes the summer season in a wonderfully unique two-song anthem. After listening to it a few times, you can reminisce on the past few months of summer vacation and begin to prepare for autumn.


‘Crazy Rich Asians’ fights the pressure of cultural traditions

     Summer box-office success “Crazy Rich Asians” released in United States theaters on August 15th, 2018. Grossing $164 million worldwide with a budget of only $30 million, it is safe to say that the movie was highly anticipated by those who read the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film’s plot depicts Rachel Chu, a talented economics professor at NYU in New York City, accompanying her boyfriend of one-year on a trip to Singapore for his close friend’s wedding. However, what Rachel does not know about her boyfriend, Nick Young, is that he comes from one of the wealthiest and most famous families in Singapore. She makes this discovery once they arrive at the airport to leave for the Asian country.

     Rachel originally thought that she and Nick would be traveling in the economy class, but he arranged to fly first class. He revealed that his family lives “comfortably,” which Rachel points out that only rich people would make this statement. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by Nick’s best friend Colin and his fiancée Araminta, and the group spends the night out on the town eating all sorts of traditional Singaporean street foods. The next day, Rachel takes time for herself to reunite with her past roommate, Peik Lin, who resides in Singapore. Peik and her family’s eclectic personalities add to the movie’s comedic effect, and their screen presence keeps you drawn into the film. Once Rachel reveals Nick’s last name to Peik and her family, they all react dumbfounded and quite surprised that Rachel is dating one of the wealthiest men in the country. They immediately trash Rachel’s clothing choice for Nick’s family’s party and are quick on their feet to help her readjust her style.

     Peik and Rachel arrive at the party, and Rachel is nervous yet confident in meeting Nick’s family. Even though she made a good impression with his grandmother, she realizes that his mother, Eleanor, is not too fond of her due to the fact that she is Chinese-American and was raised untraditionally by a single mother in the United States. The next day, Rachel attends Araminta’s bachelorette party which included shopping sprees and a spa. Nick’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda, also attended the bachelorette party and befriends Rachel in an attempt of underlying intimidation. Rachel is furthermore antagonized at the party by receiving a dead fish on her bed with an accusation of her “gold-digging” written on the walls. Nick’s cousin, Astrid, comforts her to make her feel less targeted. Rachel continues on with her head held high regardless of the attacks on her.

     Nick later apologizes for being so secretive about his true wealth, and he takes her to make dumplings with his family. Eleanor continues to successfully undermine Rachel, and she is quickly losing her confidence. Peik saves the day by encouraging Rachel to strut into the wedding proudly and looking more beautiful than ever to prove herself to his mother. After undergoing a second makeover with Peik and another relative of Nick’s, she attends the wedding and leaves the other attendees jaw-dropped from her beauty.

     During the reception, Eleanor reveals Rachel’s true backstory to her and Nick. I do not plan on spoiling the entire backstory of Rachel, but I will say that Rachel’s mother lied to her about her true father. Eleanor states how detrimental Rachel’s family issues are to the family name and how the press would have a field day with the story. In hysterics, Rachel leaves the wedding and ceases all contact with Nick. Even though it seems the movie ends horribly, Nick chooses to leave family traditions and pursues Rachel with a proposal despite the family differences.

     The plot of this movie was very similar to the novel, but some of the subplots in the film differed from the novel which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. I was afraid this movie would feature undesired racial stereotypes that tend to be used in some films, but I was definitely proved wrong once I watched it in the theater. “Crazy Rich Asians” represented the pressure of family traditions and social classes very well, and this made it easy to relate to without bringing up any offense. With a perfect balance of comedy, drama, and a happy ending, I could not recommend this movie enough to any skeptics.