Culture Feature

The Gravel Institute Is the Left's (Perfect) Response to PragerU

It's the highest-stakes battle between two old white men since every war ever.

This is a story of two old white men who became online symbols of political movements — in one case intentionally, in the other...less so.

On the one hand we have Dennis Prager, a talk-radio host in his early 70s who promotes a far-Right political ideology. A Jewish man from Brooklyn, Prager has long aligned himself with America's Christian-Right, going so far as to say — in response to then newly-elected Muslim congressman Keith Ellison swearing in on the Quran — that "America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

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8:46—Dave Chappelle's newest special, surprise dropped on Youtube in the wee hours of the morning—isn't comedy.

The official caption below the video reads: "From Dave: Normally I wouldn't show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand," followed by a link to the Equal Justice Initiative.

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Candace Owens Refuses to Socially Isolate

COVID-19 should not be a partisan issue.

Candace Owens, a right wing activist well-known for speaking out against anything any democrat does, took to Twitter today to share that she is actively spreading COVID-19.

Owens' tirade was triggered by an experience in Whole Foods in which her and her husband were asked to put on medical masks or otherwise cover their mouths. Apparently, Owens was unaware of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's April 8 mandate requiring customers to "wear a mask or mouth covering" when shopping. According to Owens, this polite request to do her part in stopping the spread of a deadly virus is an indication that the country is "spiraling into tyranny."

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Unpacking Mario Lopez's Transphobic Propaganda

Mario Lopez has some bad takes on transgender identity.

Apparently, Saved by the Bell's Mario Lopez has some opinions on parents who support their transgender kids. He should probably keep them to himself, though.

"...If you're 3 years old and you're saying you're feeling a certain way or you think you're a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it's dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, well, OK, then you're going to a boy or a girl..." Lopez said on Candace Owen's conservative talk show. This talking point—along with many other common transphobic arguments—is disinformation at best and propaganda at worst.

mario lopez donald trump

The notion of transgender identity is incredibly contentious for many people. They don't understand the psychology behind transgender identity or the fact that transitioning (accompanied with proper medical/psychiatric oversight) is oftentimes the only "cure" for gender dysphoria. These same people probably wouldn't have a problem with someone taking medication to combat depression, so perhaps their pushback against proper medical solutions to gender dysphoria simply stems from ignorance.

First of all, no child, not a single one, is transitioning without intense medical scrutiny. When a transgender youth transitions, they do so under the supervision of and in conjunction with doctors and psychiatric professionals who have confirmed their gender dysphoria and deemed transitioning the best course of action for their future best interest. The decision comes down to the child's own wishes and the advice of multiple experts, not the parent's "determination."

There is no such thing as a parent pushing transgender identity on a child. When a child says they are a different gender than the one they were biologically assigned, a parent either accepts it or they do not. If the parent does not accept their child's identity, the child grows up with a higher risk of depression, suicide, and myriad other issues.

In contrast, accepting a child's gender identity allows them to grow up in a safe environment with a proper support network and ultimately find the best path for their happiest future. If it really is "just a phase" (and it's probably not), they'll realize that on their own terms, whether they're supported or not. In other words, parents supporting their child's gender identity can only help.

transgender symbol

Moreover, by the earliest age a child can legally start to medically transition (14), their gender identity is already clearly established. Their being a "child" does not mean they don't understand their own gender identity, and transitioning is much easier before puberty than afterwards. That's what puberty blockers are for, and there is a big difference between taking puberty blockers and taking hormones to actually begin transitioning.

As their name suggests, puberty blockers stave off puberty. This allows transgender children around two extra years to solidify their own identity and, if they so choose, ultimately have an easier time transitioning. The effects of puberty blockers are reversible at any time. As soon as the child stops taking them, puberty will start back up––just a little bit later than their peers. And while potential negative side-effects are still being studied, most medical experts agree that puberty blockers are safe.

If a child begins to medically transition at age 14, they have likely already been on puberty blockers for two years. That's two full years to actively solidify their decision under the watchful eye of medical professionals. To suggest that "children shouldn't be transitioning" is to reject science, psychology, and fact––it is an assertion that you know more than experts, and it is based entirely on ignorance, "feelings," or worse.

A lot of people who vocally push against pro-transgender causes are not coming from a place of good intent. They don't actually care what is or is not in transgender people's best interests. They don't try to understand the science (if they did, they'd understand that parental support of transgender youth is overwhelmingly supported by the medical community). Some of them don't even recognize transgender identity as "real."

What Mario Lopez said on Candace Owen's hate-mongering show isn't just a bad take; it's a dangerous one. Parents supporting the gender identity of their children is the single-best support network for transgender kids. As one mother of a transgender daughter told NBC, "I would rather have a trans daughter than a dead son."

Lopez has apologized for his comments, so let's hope he and others can take this as an opportunity to educate themselves before speaking about something they don't understand.


No More Politics for Kanye

His "eyes are now wide open" and he's staying out of politics…at least until his next tweet.

Kanye West has decided it's time to hang up his "Make America Great Again" cap.

He has declared he's "distancing" himself from (most) things politics and getting back to being creative. Trump must be miffed since mid-terms are right around the corner.

Taking to Twitter (where else?), West went on a bit of a tirade as he came to the conclusion that he has "been used to spread messages" he doesn't believe in. Used by whom? That's up for debate.

But what about West's ideas about changing up the constitution by "abolishing the 13th amendment? He came back to claim he meant to suggest amending it, but perhaps West's confusion and lack of political perspective are the reasons he decided politics are not his strong suit.

Naturally, Trump thought he hit the jackpot when he found a staunch supporter in West. Standing up for the president's platform, laughing and lunching in the White House, and orating in the Oval Office was just what Trump needed from a guy as popular as West. In Trump's (and West's) world, any publicity is considered a plus, so the Trump-West bromance was a match made in 'how-did-we-get-here?' heaven.

Now that West has stirred up social media with his promise/threat to cease chiming in on politics, what happens to his role in the Blexit movement? The clothing he created for the campaign is already out there, but we probably won't be seeing it on runways next Fashion Week. He tweeted:

So, West has seen the light. "West for President" won't be in the cards but maybe a new album will come out of this. He thanked his loved ones for supporting him and gave a shoutout to those who serve and protect the U.S.A. But does he still support Trump? For West's sake, he'd better stay on the tweeter-in-chief's good side, otherwise we know a public put-down will be posted at 2 AM.

Good luck Kanye. Politics isn't for everyone.

Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G,, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.

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Kanye Designs Clothes for Conservatives in "Blexit" Campaign

Kanye West and Candace Owens join forces to attack the Democratic Party in the name of...themselves.


Once again, Kanye West's clothing designs come with a complimentary political tirade.

To be fair, it's more than a tirade this time; West has contributed his credit as a fashion mogul to an entire conservative movement to persuade black voters to leave the Democratic Party. The campaign for "Blexit" comes from the mind of right-wing YouTube personality Candace Owens, who's been officially Twitter-praised by Trump as a part of an "ever expanding group of very smart 'thinkers.'"

West has seemingly been among these "thinkers" since his proud "re-design" and donning of Trump's MAGA hat in 2016. Recently, he's doubled-down on his endorsement of the president with SNL and Twitter tirades ,defending Trump's discriminatory politics and calling for the abolition of the constitutional amendment that ended slavery. Now the 41-year-old rapper has created his own line of apparel to clothe conservatives who are looking for normcore-style, pastel t-shirts and denim baseball caps printed with "WE FREE" in neon green text.

Sky News

West's contributions to the Blexit movement were unveiled at the Young Black Leadership Summit, hosted by the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA. Owens is the director of communications for the non-profit organization, which aims to "identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government." It's most noted for its Professor Watchlist, naming and keeping tabs on college educators who "discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom."

Accordingly, Owens praised West's involvement in the campaign to rally black voters to "release themselves from the political orthodoxy," according to the official website of the movement. "Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West," she said. "[West] has taken one of the boldest steps in America to open a conversation we have needed to have."

San Antonio Express News

Oddly, West recently donated over $73,000 to Chicago Democrat Amara Enyia's mayoral campaign. The politician publicly thanked the rapper for his contribution but clarified she doesn't share the rapper's pro-Trump sentiments. Earlier in October, West visited the White House to embrace President Trump in a sudden, aggressive hug and speak to cameras for a 10-minute monologue about his "misdiagnosis" of bipolar disorder, not being around enough "male energy" as a child, and how bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans was "like a gang."

West has also publicly voiced his support of Owens in the past, Tweeting in April, "I love the way Candace Owens thinks." However, despite being "fellow superhero[es]," West inevitably draws a larger spotlight than the former YouTube talking head. Regarding West's involvement, Owens posted on Twitter both a clarification and a claim of Blexit as her brainchild and hers alone, stating, "BLEXIT is a project that is mine entirely."

Over the weekend, Owens detailed Blexit's vision to Fox News, "It's the black exit from permanent victimhood, the black exit from the false idea that we are somehow separate from the rest of America." The means to accomplish this, supporters of Blexit purport, is not to endorse candidates fighting against racial inequality, or promote diverse representation in media and government, or protest acts of police brutality against black youths. Rather, "The Blexit movement will spend 2019 holding rallies in every major city in America that the Democrats have destroyed."

Kanye West didn't attend the summit over the weekend. But, if Blexit gains the traction Candace Owens desires, 2019 may find him sporting his special MAGA hat among a crowd wearing his hopeful neon letters,"WE FREE."

Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher, and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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