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Revisiting Zootopia For An Important Conversation Starter

Zootopia is a film to revisit with one’s children. The film can assist in having a meaningful conversation about mindsets we must overcome. In today’s society, we must learn that we can be each other’s ally instead of each other’s enemy.  We also must learn that not to believe all stereotypes ingrained in our minds from a young age. We have to practice growing together, and that means having these conversations with our children in a manner they will understand. Zootopia is a great conversation starter for parents today because it’s more than just a mere animated film. It’s a film with a message worth listening to and worth sharing.

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Posted by Michelle Patterson

Michelle Patterson prides herself on her random pop culture knowledge. She finds great joy in all things horror related and tries to enjoy movies on a weekly basis. If she's not at the theater, she can be found at a convention or a concert. She is passionate about helping people around her that taking care of their mental health is as important as their physical health as well as today's current political climate. To connect with her more, check out her Instagram, her Twitter, her Facebook page, or her website.
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Meet your Sharer Denise Doe

Dear Reader: I am extremely passionate about: family and the importance of letting family members know that they are loved, cherished, and can achieve whatever they dream regardless of their gender; ecological and sustainable, community-based rough diamond mining and gold mining in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa; health and wellness as it relates to strengthening the immunity and helping women and men cope with the swings in weight gain and weight loss due to flawed diet systems; and helping people work from anywhere in 100% legitimate online work-from-home opportunities within the ever-growing gig economy.   Let's start with what may be a screaming question in the minds of some of my readers: How did I get into mining? The short answer is, by default. You see, my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all rough diamond miners in the same region and town I seasonally mine in today in Liberia. Sounds glamorous, but you would not believe the heartache and struggle these women endured!   I started my work life when I was a 12-year-old in Liberia. My jobs were doing the filing and office work for my dad part-time and working the cash register in the small cosmetics department of my aunt's supermarket the rest of the time during summer holidays.   There were no child labor laws in Liberia at the time. Even though they exist on paper today, Liberia, much like many Third World countries, does painfully little to enforce the rights of children, women, land occupiers and owners, the underserved, and the socially abandoned. No one can draw attention to and right these wrongs but us!   For example, when I was a 5 or 6-year-old, I told my dad that I wanted to be an "international business woman." Yes, it was quite an announcement! I remember thinking obsessively about it before I finally plucked up the courage to make my very important announcement.   The reason for even thinking about international business at that tender age was because my dad sold hard woods from the forests of Liberia to buyers in far regions of the globe. I must admit, I had a privileged and idyllic childhood.   In my young, newly-formed mind, it seemed perfectly natural to want to be just like my father. However, I soon learned that I was a girl and then I learned what it meant to be a girl. This cruel new revelation absolutely crushed my dreams. When I was told that because I was a girl, I was not allowed to travel with my dad up-country to his logging site, I felt like some mysterious  villain had just let the air out of my beloved balloon before my very eyes.   I wish it ended there! It didn't. Next, I was told that only my (obviously disinterested) older brother was allowed to go with my dad to the bush. Make no mistake, it took a little time for me to suck in some air after this sudden shock. Amazingly, I never let this nor many other ensuing injustices keep me down for long. By eight, I had a t-shirt to prove it that said, "I can beat any boy on the block!"   For various and similar reasons, working in corporate America reminded me of being a "girl" in Liberia. Except this time, I was a "black woman." I'll elaborate more in a later blog. For now, let's just say that I didn't get to fast-track my way through college in Ohio like my parents and some teachers planned.   Once again, fate had other plans for yours truly. As a 20-year-old first semester senior, the bloodiest civil war in the history of Liberia was well under way. What's more, the repercussions of the war would not end for me for another 22 years, as this was when I finally got to go back to my beloved Liberia.   During the gruesome war, my father was put under house arrest and his business was destroyed, albeit no less than the entire nation. To my naïve surprise, my college tuition was back-burnered indefinitely. Warring Liberia did not care that I had a 3.67 GPA; proofread college papers for many of my friends (who did end up graduating); and was on track to graduate that year with double Bachelors of Arts in English and Fine Arts.   Undaunted in 2011, after years of working in corporate America, I finally walked the stage with a Bachelor of Science in Business. A few years later in 2013 and after years of insisting that I come back to Liberia by my mother, I went back to Liberia for a second time.   The bloody coup and later civil war (a timeframe from 1980 to 1997 with a few breaks in between) were finally over. Mom wanted help mining and needed my continuing financial support, which began in 1995 when she was in exile as a refugee in the Ivory Coast. Tragically, cancer claimed her life just six months later on June 21, 2014 at 5:55 PM.   Crucially, my mother was always encouraging me to follow my dreams. She was not rich in finances, but she was a billionaire in support and belief in me. Her blinding light of absolute love for my brother and I has never been absent in our entire lives.   A few months later, the 2014 Ebola crisis began waging its own war on the lives of Liberians. I remained in Liberia throughout the crisis and volunteered my time to help create awareness about the virus. I actively participated in the effort of government leaders and officials to craft many simple direct messaging public awareness campaigns. The diverse and underserved populations received these messages by radio, billboards, television, and word-of-mouth. The messages were in their various dialects, so they could quickly understand Ebola and how they could implement measures to save their lives.   Locally, in our mining community, I held meetings with local leaders and influencers to make sure that every man, woman, and child understood how the virus was transmitted. I used the network of the government's regional and local mining agents to spread the message to the underserved local migrant and permanent mine workers about: hand sanitation and hygiene; vigilance about strangers entering towns and villages who also had to wash their hands and receive temperature checks for signs of fever; social distancing; and how to recognize Ebola virus symptoms.   My efforts in the interior occurred over a month before the national government could send tracers and trainers out to villages. As a U.S. citizen and active member of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/step.html), I received Ebola alerts over a month before any word got out to the cities and the bush.   As a result of this and the efforts of many brave and persistent Liberians throughout the nation--some of whom lost their lives to the virus--our local mining community and the county as a whole recorded zero cases from the transmission of the Ebola virus during the crisis. The few "suspect cases" were caught at checkpoints and reported to the heathcare tracers as infected people migrating to less populated areas from the capital of Monrovia or elsewhere within nation.   Fast-forward to today and the #SARSCoV2 global landscape that's forever changing our world and planet in ways we cannot yet comprehend fully. Immunity, community, support, work-from-home jobs, trust, and caring are the urgent themes in our new normal. I want to make a lasting difference that I can be proud of and can share with everyone who wants to listen.   Let's make a lasting difference together by supporting the abused, the poor, the homeless, the essential, and non-essential workers with everything we have to offer.   Thank you for reading my bio, #staysafe and #stayathome.   Sincerely, Denise Doe

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