THE MET GALA
Each year hundreds of celebrities and public figures receive invitations to a prestigious event known as the Met Gala. They spend weeks upon months planning an outfit that is on theme in the most eccentric way. And from suits with converse to horse dresses the outfits of the night are always under extreme scrutiny from the public. However, most of the general public will never receive an invite to the gala. We will never get to watch the fabulous performances and taste the delicious food they serve. The people in attendance exist in a world far different from the one most people experience. Perhaps the best example of this would perhaps be what was happening just outside of the Met Gala’s doors.
As the Met Gala was commencing, an abolitionist group, dubbed Fire Them All protesters by Twitter, staged a protest on Fifth Avenue. These activists share the belief that police cause more pain and harm than good. They argue that the police force is not deserving of its 11 billion a year budget while black and brown communities are not receiving the financial support they require. Just like many BLM protests, it started off peaceful. Protesters spent their time chanting Black Lives Matter and the name Mike Rosado, who was a victim of police brutality. It was full of driven individuals who all came together to express their disdain for the handling of the NYC budget. However, like many other BLM protests, it took a dangerous turn when police started using extreme force on protesters.
An estimated number of two dozen police officers disrupted the protest by forcibly pushing protesters to the ground, using zip ties to subdue them and arresting around 9 protestors. This upset demonstrators as their right to freedom of peaceful assembly was being unjustly stripped from them. As these protesters were being violated and mistreated, only a few feet away were celebrities partying, dining, and mingling in order to raise money for an already wealthy organization.
The protester’s point of how black and brown communities are underfunded was only further proven by the celebrity event which costs $30,000 a ticket. The ability for celebrities to blow large sums of money on a one-night gala while protesters fighting for equality are being assaulted shows the stark contrast between the two worlds.
The events that took place at the protest stirred deep feelings of anger on social media and real life. After seeing pictures of the events that took place, people were left wondering how someone could enjoy their night while people were being physically attacked just right outside. Many of the celebrities attending the gala had been preaching their support of the Black Lives Matter movement just months earlier, however, when it came down to it none of them showed their support. The wealthy elite get to leave the hardships of the world behind, they only have to think about it when it is convenient for them. But for everyone else there is no escape, they must live the hardships of the world so that the rich can stay rich.
GLORIFIED JAPAN AND ITS FLAWS
Rise of interest in Japanese Culture:
Japan is an island off the coast of East China, home to around 125.8 million people, and with a recent increase in popularity. With an increase in Japanese animated films, the media's portrayal of Japan, and previously existing knowledge of Japan, there has also been an increase in interest in Japan. Looking at the anime ‘aesthetic’; the drawing style, the appealing furniture, charming people, and pleasing... everything really. You could see why people become obsessed with it, how could you not like something so lovely? Plus, there is a wide audience that enjoys these films and literature (manga), and it is easily accessible with the help of the internet. Not only that, but there is also appeal in traditional Japanese culture, the focus on nature (related to its main religion, Shinto), the rituals, the traditional attire (kimonos), the samurai, and even the language can sound nice on the ears at times. If people like Japan for its modern appeal, you could look at the technology, the wide variety of both useful and cute stationery, plus the prominent “loli” fashion.
Japan also has its stereotypes of the people there; that they’re: polite to everyone, kind, empathetic people, that they are people with: the smallest of frames, and a great fashion sense. Of course one can always make the argument that all countries have their stereotypes of what the people are like (just look at the Florida memes). However, anime has greatly impacted how people viewed the country and its people like no other. One simple example is the stereotypical Japanese school girl: running late with only a piece of toast in their mouth for breakfast, the sailor uniform with the short skirt and thigh highs, the hair so beautifully running loose in the wind, because, although they just woke up and only had time to throw on some clothes, they of course still look amazing. This is an impossible standard for anyone, no matter where you are from, how you live, etc., but it’s something that a lot of people think about when they think of the population in Japan. This is mainly due to the spread of not only anime but trends to try and be like that (Japanese school girl) on TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, etc. If you scroll through any of these websites for long enough, you’ll be sure to find at least one post related to this. On youtube, my recommendations are filled with Japanese “aesthetic” room tours, a stationery set, pc setup, foods, and so much more. With all of this, you can see how one believes that Japan is this amazing place, where everyone is a Japanese schoolgirl with no worries in life, and always looking great. This is not the case, but many young impressionable minds fail to realize this (even not so young minds do so as well).
Positives (I guess):
However, there are some good things to come out of this sudden surge in popularity, like people becoming more interested in different cultures. Japan opened the gateway to other Asian cultures that Japan enthusiasts are beginning to explore. For example, Korea, with K-pop (similar to J-pop), Taiwan, with the popular drink seen in many animes, boba (also known as bubble tea), and many others. Plus, a lot of anime enjoyers who watched before it was even popular, are now seeing how people don’t get bullied for something they like since it’s more popular. Not only that but, cultural diffusion is always good (future history textbooks will probably have to write about this, your welcome future AP World students), the spread of ideas and material things has been happening since people figured out they could interact peacefully with others.
Although there are these positive things because of the spread of Japanese culture, and the romanticization of it, there are some pretty big problems with it. First off, Japanese history is dirty, it’s not all samurai and kimonos, it’s also feudalism, sexism, and the genocide of the Chinese. Feudalism (if you aren’t already sick of hearing this government with zero social mobility, thanks to AP World), is a type of government “in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord's land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection” (Google Dictionary/Oxford Languages ). There was zero social mobility in this type of government, meaning that if you were born as a peasant, there was almost no chance of you ever being more than a peasant, but if you got lucky and were born a noble, or better yet, a government official with high standing, well then, you’d have to mess up to “end your career”. This was the type of government, ancient Japan was rolling with. Not very pretty when you consider the fact that the lords could control every aspect of the peasant's life (the ones that lived on their property), for example, if you wanted to marry (as a woman), but the Lord said no, well then, guess you’re not getting married. There’s nothing else to do about it, they could even marry you if they wanted to. And this is just ancient Japan’s government, wait till we get to the mass killing of the Chinese, oh boy.
It is estimated that they killed about 3.9 million (almost all civilians) as a direct result of Japanese interaction during the Second Sino-Japanese and Pacific wars (China's Bloody History). How is that for your shy, reserved view of the Japanese? Pretty different than you would think. Think that your aesthetics match up with this genocide?
As if this wasn’t enough, there are some major problems with not only Japan’s beauty standards but a lot of Asian beauty standards. According to the “The JBeauty Collection” (and a lot of the mangas/anime I’ve read and watched), the Japanese beauty standards are usually described as being, “a light, flawless skin, a slim, petite figure, long legs” which is quite discriminatory towards people with darker skin tones such as myself. This is not what everyone in Japan thinks, but in general, what is promoted and seen as ‘beautiful’ is this. It is to the point that there are whitening skin tone products, and videos of people with a darker complexion putting on a thick layer of makeup that is not close to their skin tone at all to try and have a lighter skin tone. I’ve seen these videos being advertised as satisfying, but imagine being a child with a darker complexion, and thinking that your skin color is ugly, it’s not a nice thought. Plus the obsession with thinness is maybe not as bad for Japanese people as some do have a smaller frame, but of course, not everyone has a small frame that can be under 110 pounds at all times. There are already a lot of pressures put on teenagers, and being skinny is a major one, that can lead to (worst case scenario) a deadly eating disorder, or simply not being confident in themselves. This relates to the Japanese schoolgirl stereotype, following the beauty standards to at, or maybe even excelling in them, and doing so naturally, which is physically impossible. People think that when they go to Japan, this is what they will see of people, and incredibly unrealistic few, muddled by too much anime, and too little actual research.
You thought we were done? Boy, do I have another surprise for you! Racism! Against foreigners in general, people like you and me. Anyone not from Japan, wait for a second, where have I heard this before? Oh right, the US, you see how Japan isn’t the aesthetic wallpaper you downloaded by searching up “aesthetic anime wallpaper” on google, how it does have its ugly side, just like every other country. Here in Japan, the racism towards foreigners is pretty bad, they get denied jobs, access to stores, and even just hatred by the people in general, name-calling and the such.
Another huge problem in Japan is the suicide rate, although it has been decreasing in recent years, it is still pretty high and one of the major causes of death for not only teenagers but, Japanese people in general. You can see this problem being addressed in a lot of Japanese media such as anime, music, literature, and people talking about it in general. You can hear it in a lot of Vocaloid songs (songs made using a voice synthesizer, in other words, the voice singing the lyrics is a robot), like Lost one's Weeping by Neru, and Goodbye by CircusP. Not only that but you also see it popular in Japanese animated films like “A Silent Voice” and “Violet Evergarden”.
In general, a lot of people idealize Japan as this incredible country with zero to little problems, where the girls are constantly in their school uniforms running late to school with no worries except how the next student council event is going to turn out or maybe if a certain person likes them or not. They see it as a country where ‘aesthetic’ stationary lines the walls along their pretty rooms and clothing to match. However the truth is much more uglier and complex than that, Japan, just like other countries, has its own set of problems. Just like the US has its dirty history, Japan does too, the beauty standards are just as messed up, racism is a major issue, along with the high suicide rates. However, with the media, we can’t help but romanticize it, make it a whole other universe separate from our own, one where we can escape our problems and become other people, better people, something like what the media shows us. As said in “On August Eighteenth At Ten Thirty PM, Annie Otsuka Watched Her First Japanese Animated Film” (long title I know), “Maybe, I thought, if I just closed my eyes and squeezed hard enough, I would level up and enter another dimension. I could float in a bowl of udon with shrimp tempura and a soft-boiled egg. Walk in the rain without getting wet. Discover love in a matcha latte. Die inside a cottage in a meadow in a country where the sun never said goodnight”, (Elaine Hsieh Chou).
THE SUPER MARIO EFFECT
I’m probably one of the worst gamers you would ever meet however, during quarantine, my younger brother got me into playing Super Mario. The objective of this game is to save Princess Peach, but there are multiple obstacles that a player encounters before going past each level and eventually winning the game. These obstacles include the evil mushrooms, aka Goombas, Bowser and his minions, pipes, the Piranha Plants, and more.
Keep in mind, I’m no gamer. You can already see where this is going to go. After learning how to play and going into the first few levels, I was hit by Goombas and the pipes. When initially losing a level, did I want to throw the console on the other side of the room? Sure, I got frustrated at times, but I didn’t give up and stop playing. Instead, I was prepared to retry the level and I knew the reason(s) I lost, so I would dodge the obstacles when trying again. It could have either been a Goomba popping up out of nowhere and hitting my character in the head or a Koopaling having successfully destroyed me. Remembering this, when I reached a point in the level where I faced those obstacles, I simply avoided them and progressed to finish the level and moved on to the next. Having explained the game, how does playing this game have to do with proving a psychological phenomenon?
In April 2018, a man named Mark Rober gave a Ted-Talk about a theory he called “The Super Mario Effect.” In the video, Rober explains how when we play the game Super Mario, we’re focused on reaching the objective of the game, and while the obstacles I mentioned may hinder us from successfully beating each level, as gamers, we are determined to try again and again till we make it to the end of each level and eventually, defeat the game. When failing a level, one doesn’t think about it as if they are a total failure, but instead, they keep trying their best, and improve in order to reach the end of the level and achieve the ultimate goal of the game. By continuing to play, Rober states we are “taking failure off of the table.” Having this positive mindset of “not seeing failure as failure” and instead it becoming a part of the learning process is what Rober calls the invoking of Super Mario Effect: we focus on saving Princess Peach without letting the Goombas and Koopalings get in our way and learn more as we stick to a task.
We can use the video game to help ourselves and progress in our day-to-day lives. In the Ted-Talk, Rober discusses the principle of “life gamification,” and this essentially means to “reframe” one’s brain after one overcomes the challenges they face. This process of learning is demonstrated through the experiment Rober conducts. Keeping this and the Super Mario phenomenon in mind, shows how the idea of failure becomes nonexistent and we are rather reshaping our learning process by persisting and ultimately, overcoming the blocks of failure. With the Super Mario Effect and how you can “trick” your brain to be consistently motivated, this concept can similarly be applied to education and learning and doing better in school. In school, we all want the best grades and good test scores on standardized tests. However, oftentimes, not everything works the way we’d want it to work. Rest assured, the Super Mario effect can change your way of learning! Hypothetically, if one scores low on a practice test for a major exam, they won’t see themselves as a total failure; they can encourage themselves to do better by learning from the mistakes they made and working to not repeat them again, just like in the video game where a player wouldn't repeat the same mistake that caused them to lose a level!
As the summer approaches and you may want to get a head start on studying and or preparing for the following school year, keep in mind this concept and how you shouldn’t view failure as something so negative but a step in your learning process and improving! Setting short-term goals for yourself and working towards pursuing solely that through tricking your brain and being motivated with the use of the Super Mario Effect will ensure you success.
MY VACCINE STORY
As more and more of my family got vaccinated, I eagerly awaited my chance to do the same. I had been following the development of the vaccines for months now, and finally the age requirement had been lowered to 16+. I was only anxious about one thing: side effects. Would I sprout an extra arm? Would I get a nosebleed? Would I get migraines that lasted days? I wasn’t sure about what I should expect. Finally, I got an appointment for the Pfizer vaccine and anticipated my pain and suffering.
I got my first dose and felt...nothing. My arm didn’t even swell like when I got a flu shot. When I sat down in a gymnasium waiting for my chance to schedule my second vaccine, I thought about what would happen to me later. Because of what my family members had told me, I was semi-expecting to feel nauseous and dizzy, and yet hours later into the day, I felt absolutely nothing. I ended up not receiving any symptoms,which I suppose marks me as being lucky because numerous classmates have reported swelling and headaches. That made me wonder what causes the severity of side effects, and if I should be expecting a much worse reaction to my upcoming second dose.
My second dose came and went. This time, I felt a slight ache in my arm, but nothing uncomfortable. I was anticipating pain, but I was pleasantly surprised. The feeling I had afterward was a feeling of relief, knowing that I had a reduced chance of getting a severe case of COVID. I became less worried about possibly catching COVID while grocery shopping with my mom, and I began to think about possible outings in which I would be in close contact with other people: something I haven’t thought about for about two years. This new outlook motivated me to attempt to socialize more and create more bonding opportunities with my sisters and other family members.
Overall, I felt good that I got vaccinated. In a way, I felt as though I had done my part to combat COVID: the vaccine would keep me safe as well as other vaccinated people. It was interesting to see how the vaccine was rolled out in NYC, and how varying access to the vaccine would affect vaccination rates as well as overall COVID rates. Being in quarantine gave me time to think about disparities in medical access and medicine in general. I hope that government officials and experts in the medical field learned things from this worldwide outbreak; there are plenty of things that can be kept in mind if we ever face a virus of this scale ever again.
CANCEL CULTURE AND ITS EFFECTS
Cancel culture. A widely known phenomenon defined as “a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles” (Wikipedia). You’ve probably seen at least a few of the many content creators and famous people getting cancelled. Some examples include Lana Del Ray, Shane Dawson, J.K. Rowling, Ellen DeGeneres and many, many others. Although cancel culture is not a new thing, it has been recently brought to light how it can be more of a negative thing. Recently, people have been quitting Twitter because of how much toxicity they felt was there, some due to cancel culture, and some due to simply toxic people in general. Now don’t get me wrong, Twitter isn’t the only place to cancel culture, however Twitter is where a lot of the ‘cancelling’ happens. In general, as we go over all the defenses and rebuttals that people use when talking about cancel culture, you will see how it is having a negative effect.
A lot of the time, when defending cancel culture, people say that it helps hold people accountable. With the constant fear of being cancelled, people decide what to post on the internet more carefully. They make sure to be respectful and not offend anyone so that they won’t be scrutinized by Twitter’s judges. However, others argue that instead of holding people accountable, it leads to people bullying the person and other acts of violence. A lot of the time we do see this, even when the person being cancelled apologizes and tries to make the people forgive them, some are persistent and continue with the harassment. They also Bring up unrelated matters, shaming them, and sometimes just plain old insulting them, and using the cancellation as an excuse, having the opposite effect. This usually just brings more negativity, leading to less of the positive effects that cancel culture is supposed to bring. Another point that people defending cancel culture use is that it gives a voice to those that usually don’t. You could say that whenever someone points out the wrongdoings of another person it gives the person pointing it out a voice. However, what if the person misinterpreted it, what if the person twisted their words? Then the voice that you are supposed to be giving to the person is useless because it’s not actually helping. Also, most of the time these things don’t gain much traction until someone with a bigger platform shares it. Another of the more popular points people make is that, at its root, cancel culture is simply another form of boycotting. After all, all you’re doing when cancelling someone is boycotting their content and anything produced by them, right? Wrong. Referring back to the definition of cancel culture by Wikipedia, cancel culture is like boycotting a person or company, while shaming them for what they did. That’s what it’s supposed to be, but that's usually not what ends up happening, they end up shaming the person, to the point where it doesn’t have the effect it’s intended to have. If you were ever shamed for doing something, you probably didn’t just feel regretful or sorry, you felt angry at the people shaming you. Sometimes to the point where you didn’t learn your lesson, you simply felt hatred and never changed. It’s the same thing with cancel culture, a lot of the times people not only get ostracised, they get shamed, bullied, and other forms of negativity, to the point where all they feel is anger. No remorse, they simply feel angry that they don’t even get a chance to redeem themselves, they simply get mocked, shamed, and insulted. This is also incredibly hypocritical since the purpose of cancel culture is to hold accountability, when it ends up being the people doing the cancelling that don’t hold others accountable for crossing the line. They encourage bullying, hatred, and all the negative actions towards the person. Even though that’s not accountability, that’s simply shaming them.
When talking about cancel culture, we also have to talk about it’s mindset and why people even do this in the first place. A lot of the time when people think about cancel culture, they think of it from either an outsider's point of view or the person getting cancelled. But what about the people actually doing the cancelling? Most people just like feeling right, like they did something worthwhile for society. They feel like they pointed out the wrongdoings of someone and now that they've put attention to it, that the problem will be solved. However that is not usually how it works, a lot of the time even if you point it out, that's all you did, now what? What are you going to do about it, simply yell and say “Hey, this person did something wrong!” and then continue to do so but not actually do anything about it?
In conclusion, cancel culture is doing more bad than good in our society, shaming others for making mistakes. Plus all the ‘holding accountability’ only seems to only work when it’s in the people doing the cancelling’ favors. A more positive way of making others recognize their mistakes is by not only pointing it out, but also taking action, and seeing how you can resolve this issue. Not shaming them, for a mistake, instead you will be encouraging them to grow, and this can not only encourage them, but others to grow as well.
THE IMPACT OF ONLINE EDUCATION ON HIGH SCHOOLERS
Attending the first or last year of high school completely online was the reality for many students across the world. Whether it is not seeing close friends and teachers for the final moments of high school or missing out on the opportunity to socialize and interact with your new community, this year has undoubtedly been a difficult time for most students. I sent out surveys to fellow MHSHS seniors and freshmen to hear their views and experiences regarding our current situation.
Firstly, I asked if students have felt like they missed out on things or rather gained time during this year. Some upsides of attending school remotely that were mentioned are having the time to engage in hobbies and activities that were genuinely enjoyed. A senior mentioned how she got to reconnect with nature through going on walks, hiking and biking. This as a result, was very relaxing and centering during stressful times. Another response was having to not wake up early and deal with the anxiety of public transportation. Some downsides that were brought up were missing the opportunity to socialize face to face. For example a student says “We have all missed out on creating some amazing memories.” Lastly, this student also introduced the negative experience of zoom fatigue and dealing with headaches and dry eyes. She mentioned that having to attend online class after online class and spending hours on homework had caused her exhaustion.
When asked how do you spend time during quarantine, most students answered with a variety of topics. A student said, after she is done with her school work she finds it crucial and connecting to talk with her friends and family and catch up on recent shows. Furthermore, a freshmen shared how she is able to improve her drawing skills and can continuously research and discover new things on the internet with all of the free time she has. Meanwhile, another student mentioned that, outside of her school work and studying, she likes to workout and exercise to be healthy in these times. This student also values playing guitar, exploring recording/editing music, and baking which are things that she creatively enjoys.
Thirdly, I asked students what challenges they faced this year regarding the pandemic. Majority of the responses revolved around social interaction and time management. Many students miss their friends and find it difficult to arrange a time to see each other. A student also reminisced about seeing friends every day at school and how easy and casual socializing was, pre-covid. Another challenge that was mentioned was knowing how to schedule time. With the internet at our fingertips, it is so easy to procrastinate and fall into the hole of wasting time. However, this student mentions she is getting better at balancing school versus free time. Lastly, a student mentions her unique escape, board games! She mentions these strategic games, such as solitaire and checkers distract her from boredom and make her think.
To conclude, there are many pros and cons to online education and how it impacts high schoolers. As seniors are getting into a new environment and freshmen are trying to get adjusted to a non-traditional way of high school, both classes are doing their best to modify to new circumstances and atmospheres.
At this point in time, our present is often referred to as the "Digital age" because our everyday activities revolve around all sorts of technology, and our entire lives are essentially within a glowing rectangular box no larger than the average human hand. As a result of this, the media is having an increasing impact on today’s society. And it's not a very positive one, either.
Whether it is television, social media posts, or the film industry, media is very influential as it has shaped everything from politics to children’s brains. The outcome of this, though, has been so negative and harmful because harsh stereotypes held against women are continuously reinforced through society and mainstream culture. The most prominent of these are self-objectification, feminism, gender discrimination, etc. It’s imperative to challenge these ideas that are deeply embedded into society, and this can be feasible by educating oneself and others through media literacy.
What is media literacy?
Media literacy is pretty self-explanatory: it’s to understand the various types of media and understand its purpose as well as looking at the media critically. Gender disparity is fueled by early-onset cultural biases and prejudices, found in classrooms, the media, and a woman’s individual home environments. The media’s constant portrayal of women as either super “hyper-sexualized and girly” or “shallow” and phenomenons that men are “superior and more suitable” whereas women are “incompetent” are all evident, and this undoubtedly conforms to peoples’– particularly mens’– ideals. It’s vital to make progress and this correct gender discrimination, along with the other obstacles women encounter, and a start to this is learning and becoming aware. Education is vital in achieving media literacy, and this can help dismantle the harmful norms perpetuated by society.
Why is it important?
Recently, I’ve watched a documentary called Miss Representation, and this film explores how the media has had an impact on how society perceives women and their capabilities. Women are objectified by their physical appearances and for their bodies. Not having the “ideal” body type or facial features results in an increased lack of confidence, depression, and anorexia among young girls. But why is this so? The answer is simple: media. Influencers and celebrities are all across media, and often the social media feeds of incredibly famous women, like the Kardashians, are them with their super lean yet curvy “hourglass” body shapes and flawless faces. Influencers and their unattainable images as they are depicted as “goddess-like” or “statuesque” are only possible with the use of Photoshop and airbrushing. Still, many young females compare themselves to these influencers that set unrealistic expectations for beauty and bodies, and this results in a poor self image and many insecurities. But, it’s important to realize that the way the media portrays women with ideal bodies and faces fails to represent how the overwhelming majority of women and girls actually look.
No one person is perfect: nobody has a perfect and completely smooth face, free of blemishes and pimples, or an amazing body. Media literacy can aid to resolve this increasing problem as this can be achieved through identifying Photoshop in images and holding people who advertise women like so. Comparing oneself to flawless celebrities who set unrealistic standards or objectifying and devaluing a female’s worth to just looks will not get society anywhere. Neither will scrutinizing oneself or others with this destructive behavior because at the end of the day, looking good is not everything. Instead, to promote societal advancement and work our way around this issue, it’s important to work to tear down these stereotypes, and this can be done through being aware of who depicts females and how those females in the media are depicted. Moreover, “stick-skinny” girls are not the only girls in the world, and diversifying the types of women portrayed in the media is vital to spread positivity and be fulfilled and real role models. However, while women face the effects of the media and gender stereotypes, men are also responsible to uphold societal standards.
Along with women, men are also unconsciously exposed to sexist stigmas that continue to perpetuate them on a day-to-day basis. This is evident through the pre-existing phenomenon that men are more dominant and capable, and that they must be hypermasculine creatures. Men are often taught these behaviors from a young age, and it’s so difficult to resolve this issue because this is something drilled into the minds of men. The media plays a significant role in conforming to the ideals and perceptions men have surrounding women as a result of the influence of mainstream culture. Men have to prove that they are misogynistic and they condescendingly exert their manliness, capability, and intelligence. Additionally, in order to emphasize a man's "superiority," women are often belittled and devalued in the process. Media literacy can help to eliminate harmful behaviors and stereotypes in society.
In contemporary society, mainstream media proves time and time again to be the catalyst and birthplace of the formation of ideas surrounding women. For so long, women have been tied down to their stereotypical roles and deeply rooted biases held against them, and it’s long been time to address the issues women face on multiple levels. To rectify this issue, it’s first necessary to challenge these mentalities and stereotypes as early as possible in an individual’s life. For instance, in classrooms, young girls should be exposed to their interests instead of being discouraged or restricted from things that “only boys do” or what “boys are good at.” Working out ways to eliminate these norms is really a step in the right direction because due to this being ingrained into the foundations of culture, this problem is not something that can not be resolved in a matter of days. Though it sounds super cliche, society can eventually work its way to close the gap between males and females and women through educating themselves because learning and spreading awareness to others can go a long way. This translates to addressing other disparities between the genders, and ultimately, women can then be raised to the same level as their male counterparts.
ASIAN AMERICAN HATE CRIMES
Over the past few months, there’s been a skyrocketing number of incidents and hate crimes committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the nation. Many of the victims of these hate crimes are innocent members of our society, yet time and time again, these blameless people are being attacked and even murdered for anti-Asian beliefs others have. Personally speaking, as an Asian American myself, hearing about the spark in crimes and seeing it rise at such a high rate is purely shocking and outraging, but what’s most horrifying is that one, the main people targeted in the AAPI community are the elderly - the most vulnerable, and two, not much is being done to stop these incidents and the hate Asians are facing every day. Knowing that others have also heard about this and that it’s a topic that’s discussed during school, I created a Google Forms where I asked students (both a part or not a part of the AAPI community) questions in regards to this rise in hate crimes against AAPI peoples. Overall, I received many interesting responses from them all. I’ll go in-depth with the questions and responses I asked below.
Knowledge of What’s Going on:
The first questions in my form asked about how well (on a scale of 1-10) people were aware of the recent rise in hate crimes against the Asian community, (1 being they have no idea at all and 10 being they’re fully aware and up to date on what’s going on) and if they’ve discussed it at all. The overwhelming majority ranked themselves between and including a 7 and 10. But only a couple of respondents ranked their knowledge of what’s going on at a 5, and just two ranked at a number below 5. Now, for the second question, most responses said that students have discussed it with their friends, some with family, and a lot of people discussed this in school with their teachers and classmates. For the other responses, answers were as simple as “No” and or a “Not really.” Unsurprisingly, these responses came from the students who had minimal knowledge on this subject and were the ones that ranked themselves below a 5 in the previous question.
Initial Response and How to Handle This Situation at Hand:
The next couple of questions I asked students were “What was your initial response to this surge in hate crimes?” and “As the next generation, what ideas did they have to take on this issue and resolve it?” as well as “Is what’s being done good enough?” For the initial response question, almost all answers revolved around feeling heartbroken, shocked, disgusted, outraged, disappointed yet unsurprised, and devastated. As stated earlier, this form was available for any student to answer, no matter the race. But despite the ethnic differences, the majority of the people shared the same emotions about what’s going on right now. A lot of these responses were very personal because people became afraid that it’ll happen to them or their family members. They also say that they’re “used to it” because hate crimes against AAPIs have been happening long before now, but right now, it’s just happening at a much higher rate, so more people are aware. Some students’ responses caught my attention because they said that COVID-19 has allowed people to develop racist views against the Asian community partially because of our last president and the remarks he made against the virus by blaming it completely on the Chinese, calling it the “Kung-Flu virus” for instance, as well as “nonsensical stereotypes” that have existed from before or have newly developed over the last year. Also, some responses stated that students were disappointed but unsurprised because though the vulnerable are being attacked and people are making hateful comments to innocent people, it’s just another race targeted and nothing is being done. People were more outraged with the fact that these hate crimes aren’t covered in the media at all.
To segway into the next question, for the ideas people had to resolve this issue, ideas ranged from making sure that the hate crimes are covered more on the news and other media platforms much more, to become more educated on this subject and spread awareness to those who are unaware, and to sign petitions. Respondents argued that what’s being done is not necessarily enough and that their actions will only do so much to combat this issue. Some responses referred to the BLM movement and how that is still going strong and people are aware due to news coverage, influencers sharing it on their social media platforms, and more. If that can be done for the hate crimes Asians face, it’ll be more helpful as it’ll spread awareness. Others say that just talking to someone and informing them of what’s currently happening can go a long way because slowly, more people will become more knowledgeable. As the next generation, a lot of responses also revolve around supporting one another and advocating as that would gradually make a difference. One response says that when hearing about racism, what typically comes to mind is discrimination against African Americans but not Asian Americans because they aren’t traditionally victims of racism. This brings up the concern about the lack of knowledge some people have about this subject, but to talk about this more will help others become educated. Lastly, many say to label these hate crimes and incidents as hate crimes and nothing else as well as to identify those who are attacking the Asian Americans and punish them instead of letting them go.
To conclude, writing this article serves to inform others and shed light on a topic that isn’t discussed much when it should be because if this were happening to another race or group of people, the response would undoubtedly be different. Jokes or remarks can be led by false stereotypes about groups of people, and this is the catalyst for why people are attacking blameless individuals of other racial communities. This is seen time and time again in the AAPI community. Systematic racism remains a major issue in our world today. Society is insistent on not learning its lesson, which leaves us at a standstill because we are not taking on important matters. To end off, as one student puts it, “Racism is and always has been a prominent issue in our country, and this surge in hate crimes is the exact thing we do NOT need while in the midst of a pandemic.”
THE TRUE POWER OF “SOFT POWER”
The word “Power” often connotes ideas about strength, resolve, and sometimes violent control over others. But what if people used a version of power that didn’t necessarily mean harsh subjugation, wars, and conflicts?
What is “Soft Power”?
Soft power is defined as being “the use of a country's cultural and economic influence to persuade other countries to do something, rather than the use of military power.” It relies on winning over the affections of other nations, not aggressive forms of politics like wars and military conflicts. In short, it's a Cultural Victory in Civilization 6.
Addressing the elephant in the room
A tweet recently went viral asking people what country they believed successfully hid their historical atrocities and people came up with a variety of answers (I’ll admit that that tweet was the inspiration for this article).
Japan: known for Anime, Manga, Japanese cuisine, and intellectual properties like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario.
Belgium: known for waffles and expensive chocolates
France: known for its cuisine and cultural landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe
All three of these countries are harmless in the eyes of the average American, whose only exposure to these countries usually amounts to the cultural exports stated above, but to those interested in history or those who were directly affected by the policies administered by these countries in the past, those exports serve to erase and sanitize a dark and tragic past. When we remove the generalizations and replace them with their respective misdeeds, a more sinister picture of these nations is painted.
Japan: was a part of the Axis Power of WWII along with Nazi Germany and Italy. They also forced Korean women into sex slavery and forced them to service Japanese soldiers during this time.
Belgium: colonized Africa and subjected people to brutalizations like cutting off hands. Deaths ranged from 1-15 million in number.
France: also took part in colonizing Africa (Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Mali) as well as the Caribbean (Haiti, French Guiana, Martinique).
Soft Power as a tool
Soft power has been used by nations like Japan as a convenient and casualty free way of entering alliances with other countries. It frames a country as an innocent, unassuming force void of things that dominate American society like racism, sexism, and class divides. Not only does soft power benefit a country politically it also helps bolster the economy. Having notable cultural institutions encourages tourism and the buying of products like video games and movies. This helps portray a country in a positive light towards outsiders, who may not know much about world history outside of major events like WWII. As a whole, soft power can be considered to be a nefarious form of self-preservation on the behalf of a country or nation; one that aims to make people forget the past and accept a future that ignores the evil-doing found in history and politics.
SHOULD STANDARDIZED TESTING BE ABOLISHED?
Everyone knows about standardized testing, whether you love it or hate it, it is an important part of New York’s education system. Since third grade you take the New York State Test for both english and mathematics. In fourth grade you take not only the math and english state tests but the science one. You then continue on taking the State Test for both english and math(and sometimes science) until highschool. In highschool we then replace those tests with regents, SAT’s, ACT’s, and other standardized tests.
Standardized tests are said to create a standard for every child, making it more of an even playing field when it comes to admissions and expectations. Everyone takes the same test, and has the same opportunity when it comes to taking the test, or so you would expect. When it comes to preparation for the test everyone has a different view on this. Some people are fortunate and wealthy enough to afford high quality SAT prep along with prep for other standardized tests. On the other hand, there are some who must work part time jobs to help their parents financially, some whose parents can barely afford to put food on the table, and wouldn’t be able to afford that high quality SAT prep. Some who simply don’t have the time to go to programs that help them prepare for these standardized tests, because they have siblings or children of their own to take care of, part-time jobs, not to mention the homework they already receive from regular school. You could say that standardized tests show analytical progress, showing you how you have improved throughout the years in graphs. Yes, this is true, but are standardized tests really needed just to show progress? We already have regular tests from which we can see our own progress, so why do we need another test? Another reason that people say to prove that standardized tests are needed, is that standardized tests make for accountability. They help show the government in which areas are schools lacking. However these tests aren’t necessary for that either! I mean, what are surveys for then? They can tell the government all they need to know, and with less stress from students. One of the last reasons I’ve found for saying that these standardized tests are needed, is that they provide structure for both the lessons and the children. It helps them have a regular schedule on how to study for these tests, and how school works. Plus this helps reduce the stress and anxiety, because there is structure. However, this just makes it seem like the teachers aren’t teaching the subject, they’re teaching the test. I don’t want our future generation to be ready to take a test! I want them to be ready to learn more, create more, break boundaries, and break past limits past generations couldn’t. I don’t want my generation to tell me what the main idea of article #2 on page 56 is! I want them to tell me what their view on classical literature is, I want them to write novels that set high standards for literature, even higher than before.
Now, we can’t just decide to abolish standardized testing because of these pros and cons, we need to hear from the people at hand. One student says,“standardized tests suck :(” which honestly, summarizes the rest of these answers into a simplistic yet completely relatable quote. Another scholar supports the previous students opinion, “I sincerely like to say with a passion and from heart to mouth that I do not have any enjoyment and thus feel that the standardization of testing is overdone and is therefore not a significant way to test scholars”. Yet another person stated “standardized tests, are tests that you constantly work yourself up for and can put immense amounts of pressure on yourself and that could be damaging not to mention after finishing the test your probably nervous on what grade you might receive or you can just not care after taking the test which makes studying for it countless hours of your time wasted".
You might say that kids are obviously going to hate tests, so they're completely biased, but how about teachers? What do they feel about the tests? One teacher says, "Although tests are sometimes a good way to measure how much they've (students) learnt, I've seen many kids get stressed over these tests, and feel like they compare the grade they get on the test to their worth/intelligence".
In summary, standardized tests create too much pressure on the students to learn the test instead of enjoying learning the subject. A lot of teachers and students are in agreement with this. Standardized tests are said to be for an even playing field but truly they are more like a tilted field, inclined towards those with time and money able to be spent on prep. Students feel an abundance of pressure to do good in said tests instead of enjoying their high school experience and learning their favorite subjects. Although tests can be a good measure of who has learnt the subject, they aren't the most accurate when it comes to all of the students as a whole. Teachers sympathize with the students and know the stress they go through for a simple test. And in all sincerity, there isn't much of a reason to keep these tests other than that we have nothing to replace them with.
DESSERT PERSON: GROWN-UP VERSIONS OF CLASSIC RECIPES
Chef and self-proclaimed “Dessert Person,” Claire Saffitz’s cookbook is perfect for bakers of all levels, from new cooks looking for solid base recipes to more experienced bakers wanting to be challenged with elevated versions of classic recipes. Saffitz’s book is organized in a thoughtful way that allows ease when searching for the perfect pastry or cake to back for your special occasions. This book has everything that you could need, from foundation recipes to lavish, special occasion cakes, to techniques and recommendations on what equipment or tools to have, making it the perfect cookbook for any baker.
The cookbook is categorized based on a few key elements. The chapters of the book are based on the type of baked goods (cakes, cookies, pastries, etc) culminating with a section of foundation recipes in the final chapter. These base recipes are one of the key elements that put this book over many others - the ease of having all the necessary elements to learn about baking in one place means that new bakers can own one book instead of multiple and still get all of the benefits that they are looking for. The recipes all have a description of the level of difficulty and the time that it will take to make. It is included at the top of the page for ease of finding when flipping through the book.
At the start of the book is the collective “Recipe Matrix,” which is one of my personal favorite features of this particular cookbook. Gone are the days of starting to cook a recipe only to realize that it is way more difficult than you expected or is going to need to cool overnight when you need a delicious baked treat for a birthday party this afternoon. The Recipe Matrix places all the recipes in the book into a simple graph, ranking them based on difficulty and total recipe time. This simple addition allows the baker to easily find a recipe that fits the available resources they have with their time limit and skill level, without needing to take the time to read through each individual recipe.
Yet another element of this book that makes it perfect for the novice baker are the countless images and visual aids that break down more complicated techniques. For recipes that utilize different variations of doughs that may require a complicated folding method or cutting method, there is a step-by-step guide to how to perform these folds on the accompanying page. And, for the more visual learner, Saffitz has a companion YouTube channel where she posts weekly videos of herself making different recipes from the book. These videos are extremely helpful as not only does it allow you to see the process of making the recipes, Saffitz discusses the various alterations that could be made to the recipe to either introduce a new flavor profile or substitute missing ingredients.
This book is filled with beautiful, albeit homemade-looking desserts that taste equally as scrumptious. If you are looking for excessively sweet and sugary recipes, then this book is not for you. Many of these recipes taste like the grown-up versions of classic recipes, with such things as a funfetti cake with cream cheese frosting, to an oat pecan toffee cookie. Having had this cookbook for about 6 months, I can attest to its excellence. Whether you are looking for a new interesting take on a tried and true recipe or looking for a jumping-off point for getting your baking journey started, this book is for you.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO GEN-Z
As many of you know, the US national anthem is the Star Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 after he witnessed the bombardment of the Maryland Fort during the War of 1812. Generally speaking, the Star Spangled Banner is very patriotic, it covers what the American flag meant during that war and was created to memorialize all of the free and brave people fighting. Now, over 200 years later, does the national anthem still mean the same thing to Gen-Z? Have modern events (like the BLM movement) changed their views on the Star Spangled Banner? Is it still the patriotic anthem it once was or a meaningless song, simply to be remembered for baseball games?
What does it represent for them?
I created a Google Forms in which I asked Gen-Z students questions regarding the national anthem and the results are not that surprising, having been a Gen-Z myself. Most of the respondents first heard the national anthem in school. Despite having all attended American public schools, only some of the students attested to learning the Star Spangled Banner. In fact, a lot of them learned it only because they were in their school’s chorus and had to perform it. When asked “How much importance do you place onto the national anthem?” there was a wide variety of answers. None of them said 100% importance, however, there was one person that said that the national anthem held no value to them. Two people said that they knew most of the national anthem, however, they both didn’t really place importance on it in everyday life. Two other people said that they understood the importance of the National Anthem but didn’t care for it that much. Most respondents referred to the national anthem as just some song with historical value. Only two people thought that it was something to be respected and that it truly represented America. In an interview, a student said, “Reminds us of our roots, right? Whether they are good or bad it’s like that’s where we- that’s how this nation became the nation it is, and I think if we change that, is when we kinda start shifting away from reality.”
What would be a fitting national anthem for the US in your opinion?
When asked what they thought would be a better fit for a national anthem, most responses were very vague and some plainly stated that they “wouldn’t care.” Only one person was very adamant about the fact that the national anthem should include more about the rest of the people that actually made America what it is now. They said “I would change it to something that included more history of the US because there are so many backgrounds and things that happened that make the US what it is today. Instead of a song about the white mans' victory over another white man's country, why not include other histories of people of different races? Black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, etc also helped shape this country fundamentally. Why not include their hardships in an anthem about the US knowing how diverse it is?”
Conclusion: Is the US National Anthem important to Gen-Z?
From what I’ve gathered, most Gen-Z place at least some historical value on the national anthem, but don’t really consider it to be important to them. Maybe that’s just because we grew up in an era where a lot of people started criticizing the US. Maybe it’s because there haven’t been any major events where the national anthem has brought us together. Even throughout this pandemic, we didn’t really band together, did we? We instead divided, even more, establishing a clear line along with political parties. Although some people see the importance of recognizing our roots, others want to leave them behind, others want to look forward to future possibilities and changes. The national anthem may maintain its importance under certain circumstances, however, it doesn’t have that same importance in a lot of Gen-Z’s hearts.
LIFE POST-COVID: WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
With the US surpassing over 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths, it’s hard to imagine the world we once called normal and think about what life would look like in the coming months. How much longer will we have to wear face coverings? When will large gatherings take place without raising any safety concerns? When will remote learning end? These questions, and so many more, are often things we end up asking ourselves because we all yearn for this pandemic to end. In this article, I intend on informing you about topics such as mask-wearing, gatherings, and how COVID has affected our work lives as well as what these certain things will look like in the near future.
Over the last three months, the number of average cases around the country has been dropping at steep rates. This is most certainly great news, but does this mean that leaders should be lenient with their mandates all of a sudden? Over 30 million people are fully vaccinated for COVID, and in total, over 100 million doses have been given. This is only a sliver of our country’s population, yet states like Texas and Mississippi have lifted mask mandates, adding to Iowa and Montana, states that did so in February. Other states, such as South Carolina, are more ahead of the game as gatherings above 250 people are now allowed. These states support their decision(s) by citing lower numbers of daily positive cases, deaths, and declining hospitalization rates. Despite this, health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci for instance, and even our nation’s President Biden slammed these states and the others that have either lifted mask mandates or never even required a mandate in the first place. They believe that these states are rushing to return to normal by relaxing the rules, but how much is too much before things take a turn for the worse? This can have devastating effects in the event that another resurgence of this virus may occur. As previously mentioned, not much of the country’s population received both doses of the vaccine, but for those that have, the CDC very recently announced that those fully vaccinated people can gather - without masks, for that matter!
So now, the question is: do we ditch the masks? The answer: no! A study from Harvard University suggests that we can expect to wear face coverings up to 2022 for everyone’s safeties. Additionally, only some states have left wearing masks up to the public, but most still have a mask mandate in effect, so it’s much wiser to keep wearing a facial covering of some sort to protect not only yourself, but those around you. And in terms of gatherings, larger ones are allowed in only a few states so far. Many states still have rules about business and restaurant capacities, so it’s important to be mindful of that too. If you are planning to gather, make sure to take precautions (like wearing masks) and follow guidelines. Though we all wish we can get back to doing what we did pre-pandemic, we should be making responsible decisions until things are over.
It’s been over a year now since life’s been put to a halt, and though we’ve all adapted to remote learning and working from home more or less, how difficult would it be to transition back to in-person school and pre-COVID working life? For some, moving back to in-person learning is more a relief because remote learning was just not it for them. COVID has definitely affected children’s academics as learning on a virtual platform is tough for numerous students. This can be because of the lack of technology and internet in some households or just the all-online shift making it very difficult to learn. It’s also been very long since people have seen their friends and teachers in person, and so the idea of being home for this long is very tiring. However, for all others, to reenter a school setting for those students seems like a more daunting task because we’ve grown so accustomed to waking up an hour later, plopping onto the nearest chair, and doing classes on Zoom for about 6 hours. To be honest, Zoom has become the new normal for us, and to think about taking exams on paper rather than on Google Forms just seems strange!
To conclude, COVID has affected us all, some more than others, but this is a time we can only hope that things continue to get better. Remain optimistic, everyone! As the warmer months near, we must continue to do our part and stay safe so we can get back on with our lives sooner or later.
STRUGGLING MOTHERS IN THE PANDEMIC
The pandemic led schools and other buildings to be closed and a shortage of necessary items such as food and hygienic products to spur. Almost a year later and the world still faces so much uncertainty regarding the virus. It is no secret that due to the pandemic many have lost their jobs or seen their pay and hours reduced. These changes in lifestyle and work have disproportionately impacted women’s careers. Since public/private institutions such as daycare centers have closed, many mothers had to either quit their jobs or balance their intense responsibilities with providing for their family.
Sectors dominated by women have been hit the hardest, such as service and hospitality. Due to the personal lives of mothers and the obstacles they face during the pandemic, shifting into traditional roles is a scary thought. The image of gender and pay gaps increasing in the future due to the pandemic and individuals losing their jobs is a daunting view. Women are most likely to lose or quit their jobs due to lower pay rates and responsibilities outside their work fields. Research shows when women step out of the job market, it is often tough to step back in. The Center for American Progress states, “Overall, women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the pandemic-induced recession compared with 4.4 million lost by men. This equates to women only recovering 55 percent of the 12.1 million jobs they lost at the beginning of the pandemic”. The outcomes of these actions could last a lifetime, resulting in a decrease in women's earning potential and work opportunities.
As a result, this extremely frustrating situation has deteriorated many mother’s mental and emotional health, leading to burnout, lack of motivation, and having to choose between paying rent, putting food on the table, keeping warm, or taking care of the household and children. Dr. Renee Wellenstein, who has been working with women for more than 20 years as a physician and wellness coach, suggests finding ways to be resilient and evolve to a higher level of tolerance during the pandemic, all while recognizing that de-stressing is easier said than done. Additionally, Dr. Claire Nicogossian who is a clinical psychologist gives tips such as, looking after your mental health and carving out at least 10 minutes a day to do something for yourself. This can include, meditating, going for walks, and simply enjoying a book or film.
According to economists, women of color and women from minority and immigrant backgrounds are predominantly on the front lines and struggling the most. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women overall account for more than half of job losses between February and August of 2020. Of course, not all women are affected the same, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that black and Hispanic women faced 9% unemployment compared to 5.5% unemployment of white women. Which in this case is extremely unfortunate since statistically Black and Hispanic women are more likely to be the primary or sole breadwinners and providers for their families compared to white mothers, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. While thousands of mothers in the US have been forced to quit their jobs and to take care of their household and kids, for some this is not even an option. As a way to help and support overlooked mothers in the pandemic, the NYT has recently been writing in-depth articles about mothers who had to leave the workforce as a result of the pandemic and many institutions closing. They even created a primal scream line, a phone number for anyone to call and vent in any way, the Hotline is 212-556-3800. Overall, it is extremely important to shine a light on the challenges many resilient mothers face and to give hope for their mental health and financial stability during these tough times.
A LOOK INTO COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PART 1: AN INTERVIEW WITH SENIORS
In this interview, I asked seniors Dorothea W. and Minal A. about the college admissions process and their own experiences with navigating this rite of passage during one of the most unique times in Modern America: Quarantine.
How did you begin the college search process?
M: I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But as high school went on, I started immersing myself in different programs, and from that, I decided that I wanted to do something in technology. So, I feel like establishing what you want to do is super important. In terms of actually starting the college admissions process, I started the summer before senior year because there wasn’t much to do because of quarantine. I looked over things like the Common App and FAFSA and did research on colleges that are in-state, like CUNYs and SUNYs.
D: When I started I had no idea of what I wanted to study. I started in the 10th grade school year and really started to look into schools. I looked into programs and campus size because I wanted to go to a medium-sized school with research opportunities. So knowing those things will really help you narrow things down. It’s all about knowing what you want.
How many colleges did each of you apply to?
M: I applied to 11 schools. One of them is out of state, but I only applied to that school for fun and I don’t expect to get in. I applied to four CUNYs, two of them through Macaulay (Honors College). The rest of them are private schools.
D: I applied to nine schools, two of them through Macaulay Honors College. All the rest of mine are out of state and one of them is in Canada.
Did you apply to any schools Early Action or Early Decision and why?
M: I didn’t apply to any schools ED. Personally, I feel like it’s a trap. If you’re going to schools for sports or something and you want to secure that spot then go ahead. I did do EA because I wanted to get the stress out of the way and a lot of the schools I applied to didn’t have supplements, so I was able to submit applications as-is, which was really nice.
Was applying to CUNY schools an easy process? How did it compare to applying to school outside of the CUNY/SUNY system?
M: With private schools, you apply through the Common App, and for CUNYs, you apply through a separate application. The difference between applying to a private school and applying to a CUNY is the Common App website is way more bug-free than the CUNY website, which is very old. Make sure not to submit your application on the last day because it will crash on you.
D: I agree that the CUNY website is not the best. I was able to use my personal statement for my Macaulay application. For me, it was about managing my November 1st deadlines done and getting my Macaulay application done a month later.
What advice can you give to Juniors that are starting their college admissions journey this year?
M: Start early! When summer vacation comes, you’d better start. You have to understand what the process is itself. Create a Common App account. Create a CUNYFirst account if you can. Look at financial aid requirements and the FAFSA. Look at the deadlines for the next school year. Look at what you want to do and start researching colleges in and out of New York, even if you want to stay in the state.
D: I would say start early. Start now. Even if it’s going online and looking at colleges. You can use things like Tallo to look at admissions requirements, gender breakdowns, and racial breakdowns. I recommend starting to brainstorm for your personal statement. It was helpful for me to decide what I wanted to write.
M: Look at the college websites because they can give you a lot of information. Also, sign up for virtual tours if you weren’t able to visit colleges in person.
MENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC
As the citizens of the world are waiting for the safe distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, it is a constant thought of what long term mental health impacts the pandemic is going to leave on society. Those who are on the frontline of COVID-19’s effects - emotionally and physically - such as health care workers and adults who are financially struggling, are more likely to suffer from depression and PTSD in the future. However, this does not decrease the value of others' emotions; students, children and teenagers who have suffered internally with the pandemic and the changes it brought to their lives. Going to school and socializing with others is a big part of children’s social development and interaction skills. What matters most to everybody’s mental health is to get through this historical event with a sound state of mind and a healthy state of well being.
Having strong emotional health is about being in balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. Managing your consumption of global news is crucial for our health. Although being informed about the world is important, giving yourself a break from the internet and global news is important for self-care, reflection and the stability of the mind. Self-care can be as simple as taking a walk, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, and eating well. Living in a pandemic is overwhelming for almost everyone and relying on activities and hobbies specific to you that make you feel content is extremely helpful. For example, writing down your thoughts and journaling can be a simple way to express yourself and relax. The combination of physical/social isolation and worry can take a negative toll on preexisting mental health conditions. It can lead to refraining from virtual social interactions with your loved ones, loneliness, and psychological distress. As a result, this can not only increase depression and anxiety but can also lead to a decrease in the function of our immune systems. Therefore, it is important to remember to virtually check-in and stay up to date with your friends and family.
Consistently staying connected will help combat loneliness and intense boredom. Feelings of emotional isolation are normal during these tough times, however taking advantage of technology, connecting with your loved ones, and learning how to re-engage in a new way can combat this. In addition, staying home for an extended time could increase toxicity and problems within family and friend relationships. Dr. Ramani Durvasula (Ph.D.) suggests setting realistic expectations and limiting interactions with potentially narcissistic or abusive family members. Distancing yourself from toxic individuals in such a minimized space can be extremely difficult. Thus, it is important to stay in contact with and lean on individual support systems and distractions to help cope with stress.
Uncertain, interrupted, and changed daily routines can bring about stress and panic to a person. Many people are stressed due to the status of their job and the health of others around them. As a result, too much anxiety can be detrimental to your health. To cope with the anxiety, establishing a new and constant routine that can be followed at home is significant to your well being. Adjusting to a consistent routine will help individuals feel in control and grounded with their lives and schedules. By focusing on the things we can control, we can refuel ourselves and become more grounded and accept the things we can’t control.
With the pandemic, it is much more difficult and stressful to manage everything in our lives. Approaching stress with a calm and practical perspective can help to have a more transparent lens on the scenario and can help relieve the stress. The CDC web page includes a section on managing and coping with stress (link is at the bottom of the article). It’s important to remember that this situation is temporary and using the resources around you can be very beneficial during this time! Although it is considerate to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of others, worrying about them too much can increase the stress hormone in your body and decrease the effectiveness of your immune system. Lastly do not forget that you are not alone in having feelings of uncertainty and doubt.
The link for CDC’s section on managing and coping with stress:
HOW THE RICH GET RICHER
Many in America haven’t experienced the benefit of being in the “1%”. The 1% are described as Americans who are very wealthy and rich, exceeding those who are working a regular job with a “regular life.” Many have characterized the 1% as being exclusive to only entrepreneurs, CEOs, business owners, and “trust-fund kids.” While this seems to be a general definition among the American public, it actually means something greater.
The New York Times article, “Even in a Pandemic, the Billionaires Are Winning”, states how, “On March 18… America’s 614 billionaires were worth a combined $2.95 trillion. When the markets closed on Tuesday, there were 650 billionaires and their combined wealth was now close to $4 trillion.” Billionaires have made more money than they expected when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. However, with all this money comes a lot of risk. As their wealth continues to grow, their workers are still underpaid and overworked.
CEOs are exploiting their workers in order to profit from their struggles. The Guardian’s article, “I’m Not A Robot”, displays how unsafe the working conditions at the Amazon factory is as they interview an individual named Rina Cummings, who worked 12 hour shifts at Amazon. She says that working conditions are almost “unbearable” as she packs endless packages of orders from online buyers. The way that these businesses are designed is so that rich CEOs can benefit from other people’s laziness with the touch of their phone. However, these consumers are not realizing that they are indirectly contributing to poor working conditions in these factories as well as injuries, stress, and much more horrible working conditions.
My family, who is part of the 99% percent, knows what it’s like to be used for other people’s profit. I feel that these rich CEOs aren’t being held accountable for their actions because they aren’t aware of what happens in their facilities. Instead, they are benefitting from other people’s suffering and also encouraging others to follow in the same steps as they try to follow in their footsteps. For example, I have seen online programs to “get rich fast” but the whole motive of the program is to get you to waste your money to learn insufficient information so they themselves can get more money. Even though having money is great, it definitely is not worth risking others for your own profit.
SCHOOLS REOPENING AND CLOSING
Due to this pandemic, it was unsafe for students to return to school, however, some students needed to be at school. Many students have parents who are essential workers so they can’t stay at home alone. Schools were originally supposed to open on September 10, 2020, but the plan was delayed to make sure the schools were safe one last time. In addition, 73 percent of the students in America and 26 percent of students in New York City chose remote learning. Some schools were not safe for students so they went to a different school building. Remote learning officially started on September 16, 2020 and blended learning started on September 21, 2020. Schools made sure that everyone was wearing their masks and they tried to keep students and staff as socially distanced as possible. However, that wasn’t working as COVID cases kept rising everyday.
When students first started physically going to school, on September 21, 2020 there were 575 confirmed cases in the United States. As the next month came along, on October 15, 2020 there were 1,464 confirmed cases in the United States. On November 11, 2020 there were 4,821 confirmed cases on COVID-19 in the United States. Many argue that schools should’ve been closed and everyone should be taking remote classes. However, not everybody agreed. Some parents argue that remote learning was exhausting for them. Parents claim that their work schedule has been messed up when school started. Even though some parents are struggling, the safety of these students is very important. Having full remote learning prevents students from contracting the virus. If they get the virus they won’t be able to spread the virus to other students.
In my opinion, opening schools was a mistake. Class of 2020 last had classes on March 13, 2020. There were 7,721 cases of covid on March 30, 2020. On April 9, 2020 there were 10,765 confirmed cases. On June 18, 2020 there were 626 confirmed cases. On July 20, 2020 there were 519 confirmed cases. This shows how the amount of daily confirmed cases decreased after schools were closed. It is very important to stay home and take proper precautions in order to stay healthy and COVID-free. As soon as schools opened in September 2020, daily confirmed cases had a huge spike increase. Daily confirmed cases were reaching the thousands. By the end of October 2020, New York reached 2,000 confirmed cases daily. By November 2020 there were 3,000 confirmed cases on the daily. Not to mention, December. In December of 2020, New York has reached 10,000 confirmed cases daily. It is absolutely ridiculous for students to go to school when so many lives are in danger.
For a short period of time schools were shut, however, governmental officials decided to reopen elementary and middle schools, which led the covid cases to spiking back to the 10,000s. Anyone who is still in blended classes are in risk of not only their life but also their families’. If one student gets the virus, they spread it to their classmates and families at home. Rather than staying in fear of the virus, it is safer to stay home. In addition to this, many people do not wear masks, so it is on us to do our part and wear masks. Many students have to use public transportation to get to school and home. It is not safe to be outside, you do not know who has the virus. Stay inside and if it's an emergency, wear a mask when you leave your house and make sure to distance yourself from others.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS EFFECT
Love it or hate it, social media and the use of technology has impacted almost everyone in the last 20 years. Whether the impact is positive or negative, social media influences our lives. Everything from political beliefs to fashion styles is influenced by social media and the advertisements that are presented to us. Although some might argue that this quick access to knowledge about essentially anything enables more to be educated on the state of the world, I believe that it is necessary to not feed off of one biased source for knowledge, and rather expand horizons by including diverse sources of information to broaden perspectives.
The main and initial purpose of social media is to connect with others. Social media enables people to have their voices heard and share things with the rest of the world. However, with that come privacy concerns and the ability to make false claims and promises to anyone at any time. In addition to this, the emotional impact that is placed on social media users is immense. For example, some might get substantially depressed or anxious due to too much exposure to news, whether global or local news. It is estimated that people spend 4.7 hours a day looking at their phones, which may have changed with the increased usage of screen time since the pandemic started.
I suspect that the reason behind addiction to social media is due to how hard it is to put down a phone or computer. Every time a social media app is opened, our brain receives little bursts of dopamine. Receiving this dopamine can be easy as obtaining new information, whether that is getting a like on a post or completing a candy crush level. What can lead to an addiction to social media is getting in something called a “compulsion loop,” in which a person has a habit of continuously picking up their phone due to the dopamine received after obtaining new content and notifications. Changes in brain patterns and sleep schedules can also occur with the rise of social media consumption. Alpha waves that are transmitted in our brains are significantly boosted when we are on a phone call for example, so phones change the way our minds function. As for sleep, it is no lie that exposure to blue light can decrease the amount of melatonin in our bodies, leaving us wondering why we are awake at 2 in the morning.
Meanwhile, the terms “mass media” and “fake news” are thrown around interchangeably. Mass media platforms are constantly evolving and changing such as new trends that come and go. As a result, mass media platforms shape and mold humans who are already so adaptable to new tools and technologies. Some social media applications like Instagram persuade and take advantage of the flexibility of humans to personify themselves according to their specific algorithm. This can lead to building a fake reality for a person which opens both the viewer and the uploader to criticism and takes a toll on their mental health. After people post on social media for self-validation they are vulnerable for approval. Therefore, younger generations have tendencies to not being able to deal with stress due to lacking real coping mechanisms. Receiving dopamine from social media apps is not a real coping mechanism nor relaxing for the human mind. However, sharing on social media can go another way if the uploader is optimistic and open-minded, it can inform the perception of ourselves and our understanding of the world around us. Even though social media helps us interact with people and ideas all across the globe, it is important to keep in mind to surround ourselves with various types of people and information to venture out of our own thought bubbles. Overall, similarly to everything else, using social media safely and in moderation is crucial for our health and the quality of our lives.
THE FLAWS OF AMERICAN EDUCATION
Students will become the “future of our nation” as they begin to set the foundation of what the world will become. This makes education vital if we are to be more advanced. The American Education system is seen as outdated with old methods and practices since the world is evolving. Utilities like the internet make it incredibly easy to research any topic in what seems to be an infinite database. However, as technology and ideologies are evolving, American education hasn’t evolved with it.
In 1990, Business Insider ranked American Education as 6th in the world, but in the present day, it is now ranked 27th. America couldn’t keep up with the changing climate that the world is evolving into. Many classrooms don’t even have updated technology to keep classes efficient and reasonable. Students have to go home with piles of homework, added to the several hours of school they follow every day. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students learning at home still adhere to the same school schedule and still receive the same amount of homework for many schools. This is not ideal as circumstances change drastically when a student is learning from home compared to a school building.
This form of education is not efficient, as many parents have started to notice what toll this amount of work is taking on their child’s mental health. An article titled “The Impact of Stress on Students in Secondary School and Higher Education” displays how there is a correlation between higher stress levels and students in school. As a result, they develop symptoms like depression, anxiety, emotional breakdowns, etc. This type of stress on a young teenage child is not ideal at all. Students start to burn out from school since they cannot perform optimally.
I believe that there has to be an approach to work smarter, and not harder. The current system that American Education is following is outdated and needs to be updated to make lessons and experiences for students better. Considering how these students are the future of America, it is especially important that this takes place so that our country can thrive more effectively.
AMERICAN NEEDS PROGRESSIVES
America needs progressive voices. You may not hear this on the news, and you definitely won’t hear this from Corporate backed Democratic politicians, but it’s true.
In the recent election, Joe Biden won the popular vote by a margin of 6 million over incumbent Donald Trump, who reversed numerous government policies that would’ve alleviated the worst of what Coronavirus has brought us. But while Biden himself won, Democrats, running for re-election across the country failed, except for the progressive ones like “The Squad” which includes Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.
Why is this? Well, some people have theories about how exactly Democrats reach out to voters. In the Progressive/more left-leaning wing of the party, one idea is that these Democrats have weak social media presences in comparison to progressive candidates, but another belief is that Establishment Democrats are unpopular because they are openly against Progressive mainstays like Medicare for All, which a majority of Americans support along with other Progressive initiatives that are routinely portrayed as being divisive, unreasonable, and unpopular. Democrats are seemingly sabotaging their own successes in elections by fighting progressives within the party harder than any Republican actively trying to take away Abortion Rights or change established precedents to appoint Supreme Court justices, possibly because of various initiatives to reach across the aisle to Republicans who will never intend to reciprocate.
The refusal to adopt a more progressive platform has left Democrats with nothing to offer the American people except “normalcy” in the era of Trump. This then causes many people to sit out of elections as they rightfully believe that Democrats won’t fight for them. The “normalcy” promised to voters is also the “normalcy” that promises to keep many people without health insurance and helpful stipends during one of the most trying times in Modern American history, while our contemporaries are doing much more to help their citizens during this time. Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, that America becomes more progressive than it thinks it is.
CRITICISM OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
The Electoral College is an institution that provokes confusion, controversy, and conflict. Many people know that the Electoral College is part of the Presidential election process but may be unsure about its importance and how it works. In the early days of our country’s formation, deciding on the process for electing a U.S. President was a controversial topic. Some suggested that Congress should choose the President, while others argued that it should be a democratic vote by the people. The compromise was the Electoral College, which has been in effect ever since.
The Electoral College is composed of electors who each cast one electoral vote following the voting that takes place in the general election. Each state gets a certain number of electors based on its total number of representatives in Congress, which reflects population numbers for that state, plus two electors reflecting each state’s allotted senate seats. There are a total of 538 electoral votes and the candidate must win the majority of the electoral votes to win the election. Therefore, the candidate who gets more than half (270 electoral votes) wins the Presidential election. Based on the Electoral College, presidential campaigns prioritize victories in states that will total more than 270 electoral votes, rather than trying to win the most actual direct votes nationwide. The key reason for this strategy is that in every state, except Nebraska and Maine, the candidate who wins the most votes in a state also wins all the electors from that state, regardless of the margin of victory. This winner-take-all electoral system makes it possible for one candidate to get more votes nationwide, but a different candidate to win in the Electoral College and ultimately, win the Presidency.
A lot of people believe that the origins of the Electoral College are more complex. One theory is that its roots are in slavery. If there had been no Electoral College, the South would have lost every Presidential election because a large percentage of the Southern population were enslaved people who could not vote. Instead, eight of the first nine Presidential races were won by a Virginian based on electoral votes. The justification for the Electoral College is that it prevented Presidential candidates from ignoring the smaller, less populated states while running for election. If the outcome was just based on the popular vote, candidates could focus primarily on high-population states and urban centers. They mostly ignore smaller states and more rural areas of the country. There have been five times in U.S. history when the candidate who won the Electoral College (and ultimately won the election) did not get the most popular votes. It happened in 1824, 1876, 1888 and in the last two out of five Presidential elections (in 2000 won by George W. Bush and in 2016 won by Donald Trump).
Individual states have the responsibility of overseeing federal elections and making decisions about their state’s election, voting laws, and policies. Each state has the power to adopt and implement critical policies that expand or restrict voting. These policies include voter accessibility laws like early voting, mail-in voting, same-day registration voting, and voter ID laws. This means that the state you live in plays an important role in determining your ability to vote and how much your vote matters. In a 2020 Pew Research study, more than half of U.S. adults (58%) expressed the opinion that the Constitution should be amended so that the Presidential candidate who wins the popular vote (i.e., receives the most votes nationwide) should win the election. Women and young adults are more likely to support amending the Constitution to end the Electoral College. There are also differences in political affiliation among the people who support or want to eliminate the Electoral College. In 2011, about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (51%) said the Constitution should be amended to eliminate the Electoral College. In 2020, nearly two-thirds of Republicans reported wanting to keep the current system. Critics argue that the Electoral College system is less democratic than a direct popular vote and that the College violates the democratic principle of "one person, one vote." Thus, a president may be elected who did not win the national popular vote.
The electoral college causes problems for presidential elections and the popular vote is the best alternative to the electoral college. The U.S. federal government must pass an amendment to reform the electoral college. In the future, depending on which political party you vote for and which state you live in, your vote may count only with the popular vote. The electoral college is a system that causes lots of debate and confusion amongst each other.
THE RISE OF ONLINE SECOND HAND SHOPPING
Right from the start of mainstream internet and technology use, there have been applications and websites founded to connect both manufacturers and consumers around the world. Until recently, there has been a spike in the usage of second-hand online shops. These shops bring a new approach to thrifting or buying from stores providing used items. Also, these stores allow for growth in creativity, providing countless opportunities for people to not only venture new styles they’re unfamiliar with but for sellers to have access to display their work to different markets and audiences. While expanding sustainability and allocating worldwide convenience, online second-hand stores and similar markets give rise to a revolutionary way of shopping.
Online second-hand shopping in many ways contributes to personal and industrial growth. Apps where people resell or promote their clothing (such as Depop or Poshmark), contribute to the spread of a multitude of fashion trends, which is extremely beneficial to the function of the fashion industry. Not only do these apps accelerate growth within the production but they allow for an individual’s growth in style. Clothing and accessories showcased, expose consumers to several styles and fashions that they may not have known about. This enables personal identification with something different. These apps, most times, market to worldwide audiences and henceforth expands their clientele, warranting more selling and consuming.
Not only is online second-hand shopping a large component of a businesses’ growth, but it promotes and contributes to environmental and economic sustainability. Applications, where people can buy and sell used items, promote second-hand shopping, and expose people to a newer trendier way of getting clothes. This, in a number of ways, positively impacts environmental sustainability and heavily factors into the carbon footprints of many people. By introducing this way of shopping, people may be less drawn towards fast fashion and buying from unethical companies. Technically, there would just be a mass recycling of clothing amongst many people, henceforth, limiting clothing production, and contributing to the already high greenhouse gas emissions. Second-hand shopping, in turn, prevents people from spending more money on clothes. Used clothes and accessories can be priced significantly lower than new clothes, in the case that online second-hand apps become more widespread and gain a larger client base, theoretically, that clientele would predominantly shop from these apps and buy from independent sellers on the apps, in total reducing the normal cost they would spend on their clothing. Also, less clothes produced = less money spent on producing clothes.
Online second-hand shopping is extremely convenient and caters to many people. Global audiences obviously mean more users and buyers. This means that a larger number of people are able to get clothes they may not have in their country or region, having an app that allows people to purchase items from around the world and at a lower cost, is most definitely convenient. In fact, online second-hand shopping has been extremely convenient and safe especially due to the pandemic and restrictions on outside shopping. People were/are still able to get the things that they desire without putting themselves and others in a great deal of danger. As most technological developments and applications, online second-hand apps provide a ton of benefits to the consumers and users.
Although online second-hand shopping has many upsides, there are a few factors that may be potentially dangerous and can put users in harm. There may be scammers on apps that prey on regular shopping clients and interact with fraudulent behavior. This may result in a loss of someone’s money or someone’s product. Also, with any online business/application, developers run the risk of hackers which could do a number of terrible things to people who use the app. However, it is the responsibility of the app developers to prevent such things from occurring. Codes are programmed and other limitations are installed to restrict harmful online interactions and are majority of the time successful in their functions.
In summation, online-second hand shopping is a great new way for people to obtain clothing and accessories. These apps expose people to different styles and promote companies' or organizations' products, therefore, growing their business. These apps are extremely environmentally friendly and contribute to economic sustainability. Lastly, they are extremely convenient and cater to people and their needs. Most known apps and websites where people buy second-hand clothing are Depop, Poshmark, eBay, Mercari, ThredUP, Unif, etc. Online second-hand shopping has a great number of benefits, buy something used from one of these apps, and see how efficient they are.
CONSOLE WARS 2020: XBOX VS PLAYSTATION
With Microsoft releasing the Xbox Series X and Sony releasing the PlayStation 5, things are heating up in the gaming community. While the term, “PC Master Race,” is still popular, many gamers have decided to stick with these consoles in order to play with their friends at a reasonable cost. Many casual gamers are also not willing to switch to keyboard & mouse because they will be playing against others who are significantly better than them on PC. Therefore, sticking with a console seems to be their best bet.
So what’s so special about this year's lineup of consoles? Well, there are major upgrades from the previous versions, but they also provide more leeway into competing with a moderately high budget PC in terms of specs. The specs for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X majorly outweigh that of their predecessors: the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively. Both consoles finally include an SSD instead of a hard drive, which fixes the issues of “long loading times” for games such as GTA 5, Destiny 2, Fortnite, and Minecraft. The Xbox Series X, on the other hand, is vastly more powerful than the PlayStation 5 as it contains 12 teraflops of power compared to 10.3 in the GPU with a more powerful CPU as well.
Many are switching to Xbox from PlayStation just because of this slight advantage, but many from Xbox are also complaining that Microsoft’s console is leaning towards PC Gaming as a norm on their platform and deviating from the console scene. For example, Xbox Game Pass recently was included for Windows 10, making Xbox gamers lose the sense of exclusivity that they so enjoy. They feel that Series X is not a console, but a gaming PC. This is making many casual gamers switch to PlayStation because of its exclusivity to its own platform, without dipping into the PC scene.
Personally, I do prefer PlayStation over Xbox since I’ve gotten all versions of them, but this year I might get the Xbox Series X to see what it’s all about. I think that people place too much emphasis on these wars without enjoying the actual console. Both are great consoles and I am looking forward to playing on both of them. This year seems to be promising for the gaming world, and more is definitely going to come in the future.
WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH BIG PHARMA
The NIH (National Institutes of Health) was made by the government to help fund critical research in the race for vaccines and cures. Originally, the U.S. tried to include some sort of tax return policy to the taxpayers where the price of drugs is reduced in proportion to the research funded by taxpayer money. But in the past, the policy that would reduce the prices of drugs as a form of repayment for the millions of dollars of taxpayer funded support warded away pharmaceutical companies that were not interested in receiving money from agencies with government ties. Seeing that the NIH was unsuccessful, Director of the NIH and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Harold Varmus acknowledged and removed the tax return policy.
Now critics claim that by reinstating the policy the NIH will no longer be attractive to these companies. This will lead to a reduction in research and successful drug developments. They also tout the fact that these industries take an enormous risk when only 5% of these programs take off with a new drug.
But what critics fail to tell you is that while they claim that they are the ones taking enormous “risk,” more and more pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the “free” taxpayer money and investing more and more in quick returns in the stock market that only benefit their stockholders. So while the taxpayers support the large majority of funding for research and development, they are removing their funding from their R&D departments to make billions in the stock market. Look at it this way, these companies are taking the “risk” but so are we. We also fund a large portion of the risky programs, and where does this money go? Down the drain.
Now we’re hearing cases where drugs, which are the same drugs that we funded, are charged to us at much higher rates than production costs. One of the most outrageous cases of this is with the drug called TRUVADA, also known as the only HIV prevention pill. It was initially supported with U.S. taxpayer money from the NIH, and it was patented by the U.S, which is now being sold by the company Gilead, who is charging U.S. citizens at a rate of $1,780. Other countries, like Australia, sell it for only $8. No wonder why the HIV epidemic is still raging in the U.S.
Let’s be fair, people are dying from not being able to pay for the drugs that save lives, which are also the drugs that we helped develop. We only want equal exchange in the form of drug price reduction in proportion to what we spent or new government policies that will set a model for pharmaceutical companies that will prevent a large leaning in investments in proportion to the actual development of the drug, or stronger policies that require government oversight to enact price increases.
Big Pharma should not be able to take advantage of the working people’s money to develop a drug that only becomes privatized and sold at exorbitant prices which exploit the everyday working people that need them. One way that you can contribute to the issue of big pharma is to push for legislation in our state that set’s a cap on the amount of money that the average citizen oats out of pocket and other legislation that would improve the transparency of the pharmaceutical industry to include more government regulation.
WHAT IS AMONG US?
Rise to Popularity:
If you keep up with what is popular or have been on YouTube anytime during this month then you have seen this game being played a lot. Some of you may have even seen a screenshot from Among Us gameplay on a meme and not even realized it. Surprisingly, Among Us is not new, it has been around since June 15th, 2018. It was only recently made popular through Reddit memes, making its way to the Pewdiepie Submissions subreddit. After that Pewdiepie became interested in playing it and invited other twitch streamers and youtubers to play with him. This led to an uptick in other popular Youtubers playing Among us, only adding more to its popularity.
Among Us is a social deduction game with a Sci-fi theme that you can play online with strangers or with people in the same room as you. There is a maximum of 10 players and you either play as a crewmate or impostor. The crewmate's job is to do simple tasks around the map (currently there are 3 maps: The Skeld, Mira HQ, and Polus) and find out who the impostor is, while the impostor’s job is to kill other players and sabotage the electricity, oxygen, seismic reactors, and communications. The crewmates can find clues about who the impostor is by deducing who was in the area surrounding the dead body, seeing someone go into the vents (which only impostors can do), and other suspicious things. You can prove to be innocent to others by doing visual tasks that the impostor can not fake. The game can be downloaded for free on any type of mobile that has a Google Play Store or Apple Store, however, it costs 4.99 on PC.
Among Us Community:
The community of Among Us already has its own jargon, which may be a bit confusing for newcomers. Currently, I have seen ‘sus’ which means suspicious, ‘imp’ short for impostor, ‘visual task(s)’ which is referring to tasks that an impostor can’t fake because you can see something happening (like a scan or throwing out the trash), and ‘confirm ejects’ is referring to when the host of the game allows the game to tell you whether you were right when you vote someone out. Stacking is another popular trend in Among Us which is when multiple people make their characters stack on other people’s characters so that you can’t tell that there is more than one person there. By doing so, you can trick the impostor into killing someone in the stack, while there are other people there to report the body and sell out the impostor. It is a dirty trick, but a good one. In the Among Us community, there are a few stereotypes about the color you choose for your character. For example, Red is always suspicious, no matter what, and Black is usually the best detective. There are also several memes based on Among Us, one of them is the mini crewmate meme. There is a pet that follows you around and is the mini version of your character. People have created several parodies of this and even made animations.
Recently there has been a person, Eris Loris, that is hacking all public servers for publicity and subscribers. The developers of Among Us, of which there are only three since this is an indie game, are working hard to put more security measures into this game. Thankfully due to Discord you can make a private game and then simply ask people to join. Something I’m doing is setting up a Among Us server on discord to play with friends. Eric Loris has been doxxed multiple times, although it is unclear what his response to this is.
9/30/2020 Update on the Hacking:
I have joined many public servers myself and have not been hacked. One of the developers has tweeted “Alright, wave 2 of anti-hacks are going out: Wave 1 did fix impersonation, this is why the prominent hack now is just chat spam and mass despawn (black room). Wave 2 should fix both of these. We'll see where we need to go from there.” There are still some bugs as this is such a popular game and there are a lot of people on it, however most of them are being dealt with almost immediately.
Well, that being said I strongly urge you to play Among Us, support the developers since they are only a team of three people. I shall leave you only one more piece of advice: “Don’t be sus and play Among Us”.
GRETA GERWIG AND LADY BIRD
When you grab your remote control and browse through TV streaming sites, do you ever wonder what makes movies iconic and memorable? The movie Lady Bird, set in modern day Sacramento and directed by the talented Greta Gerwig, came out in 2017. This movie is about Christine McPherson who prefers to be called “Lady Bird.” As she goes through the highs and lows of her senior year and college applications as a 17-year-old, we see her character expressed and transformed beautifully through the directory of Greta Gerwig which is able to highlight the pure emotions characters feel in certain scenes.
Now, you might be thinking, “Another coming of age movie, come one it’s getting old!” But I would suggest you look again. A New York Times article on Lady Bird states, “Lady Bird is the farthest thing from a melodrama of youth gone wild — but because she insists on asserting her own individuality, even when she’s not quite sure what that means.” What makes Christine a unique character is because she is not a classic troublesome teen. Rather, she acts on her impulses for the sole purpose of trying to figure out her own path in life. This character trope that is developed in Lady Bird captures the universality of teenage years and growing up.
As for the filmography that brings the movie to life, Lady Bird was shot on a digital camera, thus the multitude of aesthetically pleasing scenes throughout the movie give the watchers a tender feeling of a memory. Meanwhile, the oriented scenes consist of earthy tones and blue hues, which make scenes appear glamorous to the eye. A myriad of scenes contain symmetry and colors that complement each other, leaving a feeling of joy and satisfaction amongst the viewers. Lady Bird being Greta Gerwig's first solo debut, hit big in theaters getting impressive reviews all due to the technique and format of scenes that were constructed by Gerwig herself.
What made this movie feel really raw and honest to me were scenes starting mid-conversation and the honest connections of distinct characters. For example, the first scene starts out with Lady Bird and her mom crying together to the ending of “Grapes of Wrath.” Minutes later they are found having an argument in the car which ends with Lady Bird jumping out of the car while her mom screams frantically. Scenes like this are able to capture attention and keep viewers waiting for what is next. In addition to this, similar special scenes also reveal the breadth of varying and divergent lives each individual has. Lady Bird and her mom are both powerful and different characters with contrasting strong opinions. Although they are so different, this mother and daughter relationship could not be more fitting into the story. In fact, each character in the movie feels natural and very vital in the film. Majority of the scenes are made of embarrassment and realism, which tend to be in the best coming of age movies. The dynamic of comedy and drama between the characters that are shown throughout the scenes are balanced flawlessly and effortlessly all thanks to the incredible actors and scriptwriting of Gerwig. The naturalism in this movie enhances the reader to become wrapped up in the character’s lives, as if the viewer is a part of the movie. The movie ends with anticipation and a sort of bittersweet feeling. To the viewer, it might feel like the movie could go on a lot longer revealing more about the characters. To sum it all up, if you are looking for a film to enjoy, Lady Bird is not only entertaining but artistically reflects on the distinct journeys of teenagers.
THE DOE HAS NO IDEA WHAT THEY'RE DOING
It has been more than 7 months since the quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic started. Schools had to revamp their learning models to adjust to this unprecedented time. The class of 2020 had to graduate via Zoom and were disappointed that they couldn’t be like “normal seniors.”
Before the recent start of the academic year of 2020-2021, the DOE proposed two options. The first is that kids would do “blended learning” which is a mix of in-person and remote learning, while the second is for 100% remote learning. If kids didn’t choose an option for their learning preference survey, then it would be defaulted to blended.
Parents felt as if the blended model that the DOE proposed was not beneficial for the safety and health of the kids. They were worried that the cases would jump right back up and risk the lives of many young children. This model is very unrealistic and impractical for many schools to follow. Schools like NYU and Baruch have been among the ones with the most COVID-19 cases.
With MHSHS being among the schools going forward with blended, their model is rather poorly designed. In addition to the MLK Campus flunking the ventilation test, the DOE decided that MHSHS students should go to BMCC (Borough Manhattan Community College) to adhere to this model. However, this source of learning involves commuting to the school to watch a teacher on a laptop give a lesson at home. To me, it makes no sense but yet, MHSHS is going through with this.
It is a relief to know that the majority of the kids are choosing remote over this poorly suggested model. My problem is that blended learning shouldn’t have been an option in the first place. It should be very clear that kids aren’t ready to go back with the virus existing as it would contribute to the number of cases. The argument that kids need “socialization” and “a designated place to learn” is a very weak one. This shouldn’t be an indication that kids should go back to school because safety matters first, and children are at risk of getting the virus if they go in person. If children go back, not only are they going to get the virus but they will be transmitting it to their families who may be disposed to health conditions.
The blended learning model has a lot of problems and it shouldn’t have been considered as it is inconsistent and also unrealistic. By having blended learning as an option, the DOE is contributing to the rise of COVID-19 cases for children. Therefore, blended learning should not be an option that should be considered this early as the virus is still massively prevalent and can affect people drastically.
HOW EXTRACURRICULARS WILL WORK THIS YEAR
Manhattan/Hunter Science High School is proposing a blended learning model that is offering online classes in different locations in New York. Because of this there is without a doubt that in person meetings for clubs will remain very unlikely through this fall with how the COVID-19 pandemic is looking. The current news this year is that we don’t have access to our MLK campus due to ventilation issues and therefore clubs that require hands on participation like robotics, botany, and sports will be postponed until we have access to our school building and a vaccine is found. Although, the good news is that while clubs will not be able to meet in person, they are redoubling their efforts so students can participate in virtual clubs.
This includes the newly minted Diversity Advocacy Coalition (DAC), a club that includes a variety of affinity groups meant to celebrate and represent the sheer diversity of enthic backgrounds in the Hunter community. Currently, the affinity groups are comprised of the Latinx Student Union (LSU), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Gender and Sexualities Alliance (GSA), Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E), Black Student Union (BSU), Asian Affinity Association (AAA), and the Jewish Student Union (JSU) but there could be more created in the future. I, for one am looking forward to the day someone creates a women’s advocacy group.
Other clubs like the Mental Health Awareness Club, Hunter Outreach, Medical Club, and Senior Buddies are designed to help students cope in the new and alien virtual environment, and to help students navigate their way to programs, volunteer work, and internships that interest them. There’s also a new club opening called the Medical Club where students with interests in medicine can come together and learn about human anatomy and medical issues through the reading of medical journals and guest speakers who are professionals in their field.
Therefore, while we might have to say farewell to beloved clubs such as Botany Club, Robotics Club, and sports there are still a plethora of clubs opening and redoubling their efforts to reach out to students during this time.
Author’s note: Hey it’s Fratchelya! If you are a founder of a club, know of a club I missed, or would like to make edits to the contact information email me at email@example.com
Gay Straight Alliance:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ECONOMY AND THE STOCK MARKET
There are many misconceptions that have been circulating lately which have shed light on the correlation between the economy and the stock market. However, this is not the ideal approach. The best way to tackle this mind-boggling question is simple: Are they correlated in any way? The simple answer is no, and here’s why.
Though the economy is indeed plunging into a recession, there is no correlation between that and the stock market which in fact, is at an all-time high! The divergence that ultimately sets them apart is their concept of “tomorrow”. Stock investors are looking beyond present conditions and propel their view of the future to the next year-2021. On the other hand, the economy is looking at the present conditions. The economic news is considered old and predictable, on the other hand, market investors are looking at the rest of 2020 to see if their stocks would be doing better. Another factor that investors are tracking carefully is the stimulus checks. The reason for this is that if the government fails to enact another stimulus check or if it’s delayed, consumer spending will likely decrease and consumers would have less money to inject into the economy.
Some economic/stock market vocabs!
-FISCAL POLICY: means by which a government adjusts its spending levels and tax rates to monitor and influence a nation's economy
-MONETARY POLICY: Monetary policy is the macroeconomic policy laid down by the central bank. It involves the management of money supply and interest rate and is the demand side economic policy used by the government of a country to achieve macroeconomic objectives like inflation, consumption, growth, and liquidity.
Question: which policy do you think is enacted for COVID? Why? Do you think one is better than the other?
-VOLUME: number of shares (investments) traded during a given period of time
-BULLISH: the belief that stocks are going up
-BEARISH: the belief that stocks will go down; underperform
TIP! Create a memorization tool to remember these vocabs!
~If you’re interested in economics, finance, business, marketing, entrepreneurship sign up to be a part of international economics program~
GIVE THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN SOME CREDIT FOR 2016
Let’s just get something straight right here: I do not like Donald Trump. I think that he has egregiously mishandled the situations befalling our country right now. I think that he promotes harmful and hateful rhetoric and policies, and I hope that he loses “bigly” in 2020. All this has made me consider how on earth he became our President. You might say that it was because of the Russians, because of racism, because of people living in the middle of nowhere, or because of sexism against Hillary Clinton. I believe all of those to be true to an extent, and they were expertly used. That being said, there is another factor here that was the final nail in the coffin, and it’s one that dwarfs the previous four reasons. Ignoring this (as Clinton did) would all but guarantee another Trump victory in 2020. It involves a term you may have heard of before, especially in the last four years: The Rust Belt. It’s a term whose background must be understood in order to fully flesh out the keys to the 2016 and 2020 elections.
The Rust Belt consists of much of the Midwest along with Maryland and parts of Central and Western New York. It contains many of the so-called “swing states”, like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (64 electoral votes). They got that name because of how their votes have historically “swung” from one party to another over the years, and this was a defining part of the 2016 election. For Michigan and Pennsylvania it had been the first time a Republican won there since 1988, for Wisconsin since 1984, and for Ohio more recently since 2004. These states, along with others, are called the “Rust Belt” as a reference to their declining status as the industrial heartland of America (symbolized by the rusting energy and manufacturing plants scattered across the region). These states had been a center of automobile and steel production as well as a center of energy jobs in coal and fracking up until the late 1970s-1980s when they were hit hard by the economically liberal policies of the then-dominant Republican Party (support for things like free trade and economic deregulation), a trend which has mostly been followed by both parties since then. This led to successive decades of decline in population, production, and most importantly: jobs. The decline of such a large industrial area and the big effect it had on so many people has since been a subject of endless fascination for politicians at all levels of government and a situation that they have used to get critical votes in elections. This is where Donald Trump and the 2016 election come in.
2016 was a bitterly fought election that was ultimately decided by just a few states, most of which were in that “Rust Belt.” In my opinion, the reason that Trump was able to flip these states was because he got one crucial message across in a very clear manner: He would recreate those lost jobs. Reverse green policies? It’ll get back jobs. Building a wall? Nobody can take American jobs. Isolationist trade and foreign policies? Again, nobody will take your jobs then. Deregulation? That’ll create jobs too. He was the pro-jobs candidate. No matter the intense negative aspects of his ideas, he hammered home the idea that it would create jobs and took peoples’ minds off that negativity. Hillary, on the other hand, was not as clear in her message. Her more liberal and green message left the impression that she would leave traditional manufacturing and energy jobs and prospects for regeneration by the wayside. She didn’t really improve her standing on this either, showing little interest in the Rust Belt, not visiting states in the area or otherwise connecting with voters, and not stressing or sending a clear message about new potential green jobs. This weakness was shrewdly exploited by Trump and his message: He was pro-jobs so Hillary was thus anti-jobs, and he rode that to victory in the Rust Belt securing the electoral votes necessary to win the election. This mistake is something the Democrats must acknowledge and something we must give the Trump campaign credit for exploiting in 2016. It’s also something to build on in 2020.
SCHOOL DIVERSITY: MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATION
In light of recent events, the MHSHS Community has begun to develop programs and groups dedicated to promoting and celebrating the school’s diversity. Here is a bonus interview with the creators of the newest of these organizations - the Muslim Student Association.
Muslim Student Association:
Creators: Minal, Sid, and Maryiam
1. What motivated you to start a Muslim Student Union at MHSHS?
Minal: We would like to clear this up by stating that we aren’t much of a union, we would prefer the term association. This was Sidrat’s original plan, and she proceeded to ask me and Maryiam for assistance in making the idea stronger. We have a large population of Muslims and non-Muslims wanting to learn more in our school, and there are many misconceptions about us as believers. We wanted to start an MSA as a place for both Muslim and non-Muslim students to learn and engage with each other on the authentic lives of following Islam.
2. What is the mission of the Muslim Student Association?
Minal: The mission of our MSA is to create a structured experience for our non-Muslim students to communicate and collaborate with the Muslim students on the different sections of Islam and how it’s implemented in our world today. With lectures created by us three leaders, we strive to endorse a positive outlook on our religion and eliminate negative assumptions and create a space where we can advocate for Islamic respect in our school gatherings.
3. How can having a Muslim Student Association improve inclusivity in our school community?
Minal: Having an MSA increases inclusivity in our school community because we are learning about the perspectives of a group of people that aren’t really looked at during history classes. We are able to zoom out of our own lenses and understand people who don’t necessarily believe in the same things as others. It also improves inclusivity because not all Muslims come from one country!!! There are Muslims with all different skin tones, and so we are trying to build a space where we can allow people to easily mingle through the goal of learning more about each other.
4. How can students get involved in the Muslim Student Association?
Students can get involved in the Muslim Student Union by signing the interest sheet that Mr. Ost has shared with the school. They can also text one of us (Sid, Minal, or Maryiam) with any questions.
5. What would you like to say to any students that are out protesting the murder of George Floyd and fighting for Black rights?
First off, please stay safe, take water and snacks with you to protests. Don't take pictures of people without their consent. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times or take a buddy with you. Also, have the right intentions. Don’t be a supporter of the BLM solely because it's trending right now. This is an ongoing issue. We have to be actively anti-racist every day and in multiple ways. Start with looking at yourself and getting rid of any biases, misconceptions, and prejudices you have. Educate yourself and those around you.
6. Do you have any resources for people looking to donate to or educate themselves on diversity initiatives and organizations?
7. What else would you like to say to the student community?
Keep an open mind and heart. Listen to those around you and leave space for others to speak. There are a lot of kids in our school with wonderful ideas but they are shy and need some support to speak. Leaving room for others is an important part of discussions and dialogue.
SCHOOL DIVERSITY: LATINX STUDENT UNION
In light of recent events, the MHSHS Community has begun to develop programs and groups dedicated to promoting and celebrating the school’s diversity. So far, three student unions have been created (Black SU, LatinX SU, and Asian SU) to provide safe spaces and communities of similar experiences for the MHSHS Students. The following is the third of a 3 part interview series with the creators of these Student Unions.
LatinX Student Union:
Creators: Sheila, Amy, Ana and Aisha
1. What motivated you to start a LatinX Student Union at MHSHS?
We were motivated to start a LatinX Student Union at MHSHS after realizing the lack of representation we felt while walking around the hallways. A lot of students are Latinx and it is a huge part of our identity. To not see our culture around us and have a safe space to talk about the challenges faced in the Latinx community is only harmful to us. We need to start talking and making our cultures be a form of connection, not division. It is during these times that we need to be more vocal about where we come from. It is now more important than ever to be aware of our roots and become proud of our cultures. We shouldn’t feel ashamed or feel like whenever we walk into our school building we are only supposed to be learning what the teachers are teaching us. We should also be learning from each other and our cultures. The LatinX Student Union at MHSHS will make all Latinx students feel welcomed at our school. It angers us to know that some people continue to be openly racist and feel no shame. We want to empower Latinxs to make them feel prideful of their own cultures and educate ourselves about the racism in our own community. There are a lot of issues that affect the Latinx community but we don’t come together to discuss these topics. This leads to nothing being done, and thus no change can occur. This LatinX Student Union at MHSHS will create a safe environment for all Latinx students who feel that the challenges they face as a Latinx are disregarded and we will hear each and every one of our individual stories.
2. What is the mission of the LatinX Student Union?
The LatinX Student Union’s mission is to provide a safe space for Latinx students to express their culture, which is an important part of our identity. We want to open discussions about topics that are important in the Latinx community (topics that we may not fully cover in our regular classes). We are open to hearing each of our stories and learn to come together in order to express what it means to be a Latinx student in New York City. We know that “Latinx” surrounds ethnicity and that members of the Latinx community may be of any race as long as they are of Latinx origin/descent. This makes us aware of the fact that there are many Latinx student stories to listen to and acknowledge.
3. How can having a LatinX Student Union improve inclusivity in our school community?
Manhattan Hunter Science HS is a school with people of many different ethnic backgrounds and what makes this group come together is the fact that we are all Latinx students striving for a better future. Most of us however tend to stick with a small group of friends and not talk to others in the school. That is why this union is a perfect opportunity to make new connections because the sole idea of being Latinx unites us. Our old school community of only talking to a few people in the school will be a thing of the past with this union as we strive to connect Latinx students with those who understand where they are coming from and not just who they are as a student.
4. How can students get involved in the LatinX Student Union?
We are currently planning to hold weekly meetings to discuss important topics in the Latinx community, topics that may be uncomfortable but necessary to discuss. Students should have signed their names on a sign-up sheet sent out through email and Jupiter to demonstrate their interests. Although we are still in the process of planning, all students who identify as Latinx are welcomed to share their opinions or ideas on what they would like to see happen in this union (just shoot us an email). We would all vote together to decide if an idea is truly representative of the Latinx culture. If the school approves, we would all come up with a plan and we would all play an active role to make the idea come to life.
5. What would you like to say to any students that are out protesting the murder of George Floyd and fighting for Black rights?
We would tell them to keep protesting even when they face opposition. Most of the time, this opposition comes from racists or inhumane people who want everything to go back to “normal” and people who have failed to educate themselves on the matter of police brutality and racism. By this point, it would be disrespectful and ignorant to not have tried to learn about racism in America on your own time. We would tell student protestors to keep protesting because there is a long road ahead of us if we truly want to achieve justice for George Floyd and many other Black people who face racism in this country on a daily basis. Protestors should not feel discouraged because change does happen. We acknowledge that racism is present within the Latinx community and want to take this opportunity to combat it and learn about it through discussion and education. Anyone in the Latinx Student community must stand for Black power, Black rights, and justice at all times, and our union is against systemic/institutionalized racism and police brutality against Black people. No racism is welcomed in our community.
6. Do you have any resources for people looking to donate to or educate themselves on diversity initiatives and organizations?
One of the best waves to support BLM and Black Power would be by supporting local Black-owned businesses. There are a lot of Google Folders out there that have done the work for you. The creators of these folders have compiled various articles, pdfs, and podcasts for anyone who truly wants to educate themselves on BLM, racism, the prison industrial complex, how to be an ally, donations, etc. The following is a link to one of the folders (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bUJrgX8vspyy7YttiEC2vD0DawrpPYiZs94V0ov7qZQ/edit#gid=0), but take in mind that there are countless other resources. We encourage you to read from Black authors themselves. Always double check when making donations, those who are not part of this movement will try to take advantage of this to scam you.
7. What else would you like to say to the student community?
Our school shouldn’t be a place that we only go to get academically educated. This school should feel like an environment where we feel comfortable with our culture like we normally do at home. We spend about 6 hours in our school each day making it our second home, so it’s time to consider whether we want to see this as a negative experience or as an opportunity to create a second family that we feel comfortable with expressing our own culture.
SCHOOL DIVERSITY: ASIAN AFFINITY ASSOCIATION
In light of recent events, the MHSHS Community has begun to develop programs and groups dedicated to promoting and celebrating the school’s diversity. So far, three student unions have been created (Black SU, LatinX SU, and Asian SU) to provide safe spaces and communities of similar experiences for the MHSHS Students. The following is the second of a 3 part interview series with the creators of these Student Unions.
Asian Affinity Group:
Creator: Fahima and Adiba
Additional Information: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10CuxJJLqDLs4u7f-uWiP1usbQCjm_jzLhjoYA_1OmQs/edit
1. What motivated you to start an Asian Affinity Group at MHSHS?
We preach about diversity, and we definitely have a diverse student body, but we don't have enough representation. Students feel as though we are not celebrated or talked about in our school community. Coming up with the CORE/affinity groups is the first step. With such committees, we are able to talk about our own unique backgrounds, important topics, and discussions.
2. What is the mission of the Asian Affinity Group?
The overall message is we are trying to give space to students from Asian background space to openly talk about our cultures, the issues we face, etc. It’s a space for the conversations we've been having, but now more openly and coordinated for students with Asian heritage. We also want our school to openly celebrate the different cultures we have within our student body, so we hope to get more events coordinated to such backgrounds.
3. How can having an Asian Affinity Group improve inclusivity in our school community?
With an Asian Affinity, students can find comfort with students of the same background and be more open to discuss the issues we face and just have more through conversations. We are a minority group and change comes through beginning conversations and addressing elephants in the room. Having a space to do includes these students and letting them only discuss their thoughts and feelings and feel as though they are acknowledged. And the hope is it creates a small family for students, knowing there is a group of students they can fall back on and be open to.
4. How can students get involved in the Asian Affinity Group?
If students are of Asian background, all they have to do is let me know and they will be part of the group. Other than having to be Asian, there are no restrictions.
5. What would you like to say to any students that are out protesting the murder of George Floyd and fighting for Black rights?
First off, I want you guys to be safe and be careful out there as things can escalate. But, I fully support the protest and I salute those who are protesting and taking initiative. As far as the students go, we are the generation that has a lot to consider and change, and this is a great way to start. We can’t live in the same systems over and over again, so we need to continue the protests and the call to action. Don’t let it just be a trend, but a bigger mission to bring change in the systematic society we will live in.
6. What else would you like to say to the student community?
I think what we are doing is amazing, we took our conversions and made it into action. I applaud everyone who brought out the issues in our school and started creating groups and changes immediately. And all of this is pretty much student-led, the staff is just there for support, so that is amazing that students are doing the work and getting things done. I hope that the work we are doing is going to change the school community or the better and implement good changes for the long run.
SCHOOL DIVERSITY: BLACK STUDENT UNION
In light of recent events, the MHSHS Community has begun to develop programs and groups dedicated to promoting and celebrating the school’s diversity. So far, three student unions have been created (Black SU, LatinX SU, and Asian SU) to provide safe spaces and communities of similar experiences for the MHSHS Students. The following is the first of a 3 part interview series with the creators of these Student Unions.
Black Student Union
Creators: Osa, Med, and Marcel
Sign Up: forms.gle/6HW7bM8VWXgPsvp16
1. What motivated you to start a BSU at MSHS?
Marcel: What really motivated me to start the Black Student Union was frankly my own silence. Coming from a school where my peers were similar to me both ethnically and in complexion, it was very jarring to transition to a space where those traits I had grown comfortable with were no longer the case. Our school community, as much as we preach the value of diversity and inclusion, fails to actually showcase this. There are so many injustices and prejudices that the students and teachers all harbor that makes black kids like me hesitant to stand out or be proud of ourselves. In addition, with the killing of George Floyd and the revitalization of the BLM movement, it was honestly refreshing to see black youth taking back their culture and using it to make them stand out and include themselves in the conversation. I simply wanted to be one of those youths because it’s small things like this that can go the distance for some people.
2. What is the Mission of the BSU?
Med: The overall mission of the BSU is to be a support system for black students where we can truly express ourselves and grow mentally as a team. This is not a club, this is an organization where we don’t want people to feel obligated to join, but we want people to willingly want to take part in interesting discussions, plan parties, plan banquets, decorate, and just show the school what black culture truly looks like.
3. How can having a BSU improve inclusivity in our school community?
Osa: The BSU will improve inclusivity because there has often been a large gap between people of color in our community. Because the school does not act on embracing who we are holistically it is disregarded. The BSU is a place for students who share similar experiences and skin color to have a safe space.
4. How can students get involved in the BSU?
Med: Students can get involved in the BSU by signing up (link in our insta bio) to join if they are black or if they are in another union, we are planning to collaborate and do events together. The most important factor that we need from students is their participation.
Marcel: I just want to stress two things to any and all students out protesting for George Floyd and against racism and police brutality: be cautious and know your reason. If you feel obligated to go to a protest in order to save face or appear charitable, stay home. BLM is not a charity case, we are a movement fighting for something that should have been established hundreds of years ago. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others are not hashtags, they are martyrs for the cause. Please do not fight for them without knowing their story and the implications it has on the black people that you may know. However, if you do protest, stay safe. Wear a mask and be as non-identifiable as possible. Remember that we are peaceful and try to stay true to the movement. We do not need any more martyrs.
6. Do you have any resources for people looking to donate to or educate themselves on diversity initiatives and organizations?
Marcel: Yes, we have resources on our Instagram page via our LinkTree link. The students of MHSHS have also been particularly vocal about BLM such as Faaizah, Sheila, and Lauren, and have posted numerous resources and petitions for anyone who wants to help.
7. What else would you like to say to the student community?
Osa: To the student community I urge everyone to try to create a united effort to organize our community and groups. As we are already doing with the bud of numerous cultural and ally groups. We need to remember to stand in solidarity.
J.K. ROWLING: IS SHE A TERF?
This past weekend, author of the Harry Potter book series J.K. Rowling, released a series of tweets that received a multitude of backlash from feminists and trans rights activists. Rowling has been known to support individuals and groups that align themselves with TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) ideologies, though she has previously denounced any relation to them. These latest tweets provided a more clear presentation of Rowling’s personal views, proving her views align with many TERF ideas and ways of thinking.
Rowling’s History of Supporting TERFs
Rowling’s support of TERF ideologies was first brought to light in December 2019. Maya Forstater was a researcher at a non-profit that focuses on issues of economic inequality in the UK, who’s work contract was not renewed following discriminatory comments made in regards to transgender coworkers. Forstater brought her case before an employment tribunal and argued that the reason her contract was not renewed was because of some tweets she put out where she said that sex was real. In her place of work, Forstater had refused to acknowledge a co-worker by her legal gender and claimed that even if a trans person had a gender recognition certificate, they would never be able to truly be the gender they identify as. The court ruled against Forstater and stated that she was not entitled to make these comments in her work as they were discriminatory and hateful. Forstater argued that this ruling was indirectly sexist, as it took away her right as a woman, to speak freely and be discriminated against for her views.
Following this court case, J.K. Rowling released a tweet that read, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.” This tweet received a large amount of backlash from Rowling’s followers and trans rights activists. By supporting Forstater, Rowling was essentially expressing her support and alignment with the belief that allowing transgender people equal protection under the law takes away from the rights of cisgender women.
Rowling’s Recent Tweets
This past Tuesday, Rowling released a series of tweets that reaffirmed her beliefs on the validity of trans women. In one tweet Rowling stated, “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.” By saying this, Rowling is claiming that because trans women were not born female, they have no valid right to be included in women’s spaces. Similar to many TERFs, Rowling believes that trans women are not actually women and do not have the grounds to be included in women’s rights issues. Many TERFs argue that trans women are predatory men who want to infiltrate women’s spaces, making these spaces unsafe for young girls and other women.
In another tweet that was responding to an article that addressed menstruation issues in a post-COVID-19 world, Rowling stated, “People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” In this tweet, Rowling uses a patronizing tone to attempt to criticize the inclusive term “people who menstruate” by using various terms suggesting that the world had forgotten the term “woman.” Through this, Rowling is undermining the reality that the people who do menstruate are not all women. Some trans men menstruate, some non-binary people menstruate. By using the word “people” rather than women, this article was remaining more neutral in order to include the variety of people who menstruate, instead of limiting it to just women. TERFs often discount the inclusion of trans women in women’s spaces, claiming that they do not have the lived experience of being female and thus should be excluded.
In a final tweet, release the same day, Rowling stated, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” This final tweet most directly proved Rowling’s TERF views. By stating that sex is the only basis for attraction, Rowling negates the validity of trans people’s identities, as well as the identities of the partners of trans people. If sex were the only basis for determining sexuality, a relationship between a trans man and a cis woman would be categorized as a lesbian relationship, which is what many TERFs believe should be the case. TERF ideology believes that trans women are invalid based on their lack of “lived experience” as a female. They attempt to undermine trans people’s true identities by basing their identities solely on their sex, rather than their gender identity.
So, Is J.K. Rowling a TERF?
Though Rowling has claimed her support for trans people and stated that she is not a TERF, it can be discerned from her actions that her beliefs align with TERF beliefs. Her views on the validity of trans women are extremely close-minded and attempt to exclude trans women from women’s spaces by suggesting that trans women are just male predators. As Rowling stated, she believes that sex is the only basis for determining attraction and that the increased advocacy for trans rights will eliminate women’s rights. Her support of TERF figures and groups on social media has also proven her alignment with their beliefs. Though Rowling is created an influential series of books that inspired many young people and has become a staple in our society, her actions can not go without criticism, and her discriminatory tweets against the trans community are unacceptable and extremely hurtful.
JUST THE FACTS: ICE AND THE BORDER
Here is a collection of facts and resources on everything regarding ICE and the border control that is happening as of late.
From NBC News, June 2020: ICE, CBP Agents ‘demobilize’ from Floyd protests in Washington DC, at DOJ’s direction
In response to the BLM protests across the nation, immigration agents were sent to break up crowds. This move was heavily criticized, as this is not the purpose of these organizations, and the agents have been removed from this task.
From The Daily Beast, June 2020: ICE, Border Patrol Say Some ‘Secret’ Police Leaving DC
As a response to the BLM protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, the Trump administration mobilized a large military force to serve as a support to the police force in controlling the large crowds of protestors. Included in this force, were immigration agents, often unidentifiable, aimed at inciting fear and taking advantage of the protestors.
An ICE detention center in Adelanto, California has received a multitude of complaints claiming that they are spraying harsh chemicals in their facilities, often in unventilated areas, causing detainees burns and bleeding. These chemicals are being misused under the guise of disinfecting the facility from coronavirus, however they are effectively turning these areas into gas chambers.
*Opinion Piece* From The New York Times, May 2020: Trump Is Using the Pandemic to Flout Immigration Laws
The Trump administration has been exploiting the outdated quarantine law to mass deport asylum seekers who are coming across the southern United States border. This policy has particularly affected children, as all legal proceedings in regards to protection and rights to a trial are being ignored. These new regulations and interpretations of previous material reflect the growing panic that surrounds the coronavirus pandemic.
From The ACLU, May 2020: ICE and Border Patrol Abuses
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), works to protect the American people and defend them from abuses of power within the government. Here, they detail specific measures that are being taken by immigration police and border control teams and outline the rights that people have against being taken advantage of.
From Human Rights Watch, April 2020: US: Suspend Deportations During Pandemic
As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration began the mass deportation of migrants and refugees, effectively ignoring all legal proceedings regarding immigration. Here are outlined more equitable and safer practices that should be taken in order to protect refugees and prevent the worldwide spread of the virus.
From The New York Times, February 2020: Border Patrol Will Deploy Elite Tactical Agents to Sanctuary Cities
The Trump administration is attempting to undermine the sanctuary cities within America by deploying large forces of ICE workers to crack down on sanctuary cities and deport illegal immigrants. Trump campaigned heavily on harsher immigration regulations and border control and this is one of the many ways he is attempting to assert this. These agents that are being deployed are mainly from BORTAC, a sort of SWAT team focused on border patrol.
WHAT TO BRING WHEN PROTESTING
Archi Das Gupta
In America, protests are the only way to bring attention to a cause and in recent news, Black Lives Matter protests are going on to bring light to how the black lives easily are a target to the police due to their skin color. Everyone who is able, should attend protests and discern how oppressed black people were for years. If you are planning to attend a protest, you should be aware of what to bring to protests for your safety.
Clothed masks are a necessity because as much as Americans want to pretend the coronavirus’s rampage is gone, in actuality it isn't. Even if you can’t stay 6 feet from everyone during protests, at least wear clothed masks and wear plastic gloves for minimal protection.
Bring a hands-free bag because if you are planning on bringing signs then the less you have on your hands the better, even go for a fanny-pack which is safer.
In your bag, you should pack essentials such as many water bottles, a bottle of milk (if you are teargassed), a reasonable amount of money, a form of personal identification, notecard with emergency contacts and a notecard that states all of your rights if you are apprehended by the police.
Make sure to bring sunglasses or glasses in general because they protect you from teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets. Pack fresh clothing in case you are pepper-sprayed, and if chemicals are thrown at you.
Cover up as much as possible. That means dressing in long pants because throughout the protest you may end up tripping or again the police spray something onto you and it irritates your skin. Also, wear black clothing if you can and wear running shoes.
Some extra things you should bring that will not only benefit you but will benefit others surrounding you: mini first aid kit, sanitizer, snacks, phone charger, pain relievers, washrags, and a bottle filled with baking soda.
Please be safe during protests and make sure to bring these things because these items are extremely important if anything does happen to you during the protests.
THE VOICES OF GENZ
Arifa Begum, Samiha Sharif and Dorothea West
The following is an interview with the creators of the website GenZ Revolution. These two students, Juniors Arifa Begum and Samiha Sharif created this website to inform the MHSHS student community on what they can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement is critically important at the current time and your support and input are important to the righting of wrongs in our society.
What motivated you to start this movement?
Our motivation to begin this movement began with our realization that many people were not educated about the situation right now. We want to be able to share crucial facts and knowledge about the black lives movement with the youth so they are informed about the tragedies that happen to innocent people on a day to day basis. We want to be a source and outlet for people to stay updated on this matter and communicate with us about any information they want us to share. We built this to make a community for people to unite and fight for change.
What does the name GenZ Revolution signify? Why did you choose this name?
We chose the name GenZ Revolution for two specific reasons. First, our community of students and part of the youth all fall under the term “Generation Z”. We are a cohort that is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation. We named this a revolution because our generation has the greatest potential to make a change. With all the events going on currently with protests and riots breaking out, there is a lot of anger and outrage built up in many of us. We are fed up with the constant injustices we have to see by the corrupt system and government that we live under. It’s time to be the one on top. That’s why we say a revolution because we can no longer allow our communities to be oppressed. We need black lives to be voiced and heard. We must protect them and let them serve the way everyone in this world has the right to live and breathe. We can no longer be silenced. We are approaching a new and just society. To get there, we need a revolution.
What is the significance of your three “Campaigns” (Outreach, Partnership, and advocacy)?
The significance of our three campaigns is that it informs everyone what foundation our website is built upon. We believe in “advocacy” because we believe that it is important for our generation to voice our opinions since we are the next leaders. It is our responsibility to improve our society and push for change. We believe in “partnership” because we believe the only way to implement change in our society is through a team’s effort. We believe in “outreach” because we believe that despite this website being ours, our peers are allowed to suggest ways to improve the website.
Do you believe that it is up to the young people of the country to become activists and change the world?
We believe it is extremely important for young people of this world to use the voices we have to make a change because we are the next leaders for our generation. We have every single right to speak out against the injustices that play out in our society on a day to day basis. When we face the facts about the harsh reality we live in while young, we have more potential to be educated and fight for change and justice starting now. We need to be activists to make a difference in this world for the greater good. We set the example for the ones who came before and will come after us. The more we speak out, the more it influences everyone around us to make a change in our unjust society. So, we must use the power we have for the greater good.
What do you believe to be the most important method of resistance?
Resistance can be a very difficult stance to take when one has long been oppressed and silenced. The method of resistance that we believe in is getting together to stand peacefully against the oppressors. However, this is not easy considering the corruption of the system that often breaks down peaceful protests and uses violence against those protesting. In the unjust society that we live in, resistance can only be taken to a certain extent. When violence outbursts upon people peacefully voicing for change, then the revolution must begin. When there’s no justice, there’s no peace.
What do you think is the most important element to becoming an activist?
We strongly believe that the most significant thing to becoming an activist is passion and sympathy. Being an activist is simply a means of expressing how one feels towards their community. Although we will never face the harsh discrimination and oppression black individuals face on a daily basis, our passion enables us to stand with them and fight during this journey of obtaining their rights. It is our passion that makes us a part of this fight and makes it our responsibility as well. Being an activist means to persuade others to obtain this passion and fight for a society that strays far from being bigoted. The passion to have our voices heard and allow others to voice their opinions is the most important thing to being an activist.
How can we resist injustices during this time of the global pandemic?
Having a global pandemic along with continuous injustices being practiced forces our youth into an overwhelming state of mind. However, we believe that it is possible to attempt to resist these injustices despite a deadly virus roaming around. We believe people should continue to protest while keeping distance from one another. We also advise our peers to fight for justice through their phones through acts such as signing numerous petitions, donating to families who have lost loved ones to racism, and continuously posting the subject on social media to educate others. We believe a global pandemic should not stand as an excuse for others to refrain from joining this fight for Black lives to matter. At a time period where the internet is used by everybody, we suggest everyone in their power, to place pressure onto the government and police departments to improve their corrupt system that had racism instituted for more than 300 years.
What else would you like to say to the student community?
We would like to let the student community know that our website is open to anyone’s input. We would like our peers to let us know what other information they feel we should include on our website. Through our website, we also aim to go a step further in making a change and potentially utilize it to plan a protest in participation with our school’s community. We want this website to act as a means to represent our school and demonstrate our dedication to this movement. We will continue to revolt, for there is a desperate need to make a difference in this bigoted society.
OUR AMERICAN "DREAM"
The discrimination and racial attitudes toward minority communities have always been normalized within American culture. However, it seems as every other week, we are faced with a scene of police brutality and direct injustice toward the black community. On May 25th, 2020 George Floyd was murdered in cold blood by Derek Chauvin. Officer Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This was not an act of security or public safety as Chauvin was fully aware of his actions as Floyd begged for his life repeating the phrase “I cannot breathe.” This abuse of power is not new to us as we are seeing this become a trend, yet the names of the victims get drowned out and lost. However, the peaceful protest in the name of George Floyd turned into a “riot” when protestors were met with rubber bullets and tear-gas, in contrast to those that protested the stay-at-home orders as they were applauded by our President. The blatant discrimination and racial profiling of Black people in America is the backbone of our criminal system and those who refuse to believe it are blinded by their own ignorance and attributing to the bigotry that rots America. For those who are being emotionally affected during these times, your anger is valid. We have been quiet for too long and the peaceful protesting has pushed little to no difference in society. “We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.”- Malcom X. I promise you that fighting for what you believe in doesn't make you a “thug ". After years of violent backlash from authorities, the people of Minnesota have refused to stay silent any longer. And neither should we. For those benefiting from black culture through saying the N-word and acting black because “they grew up in the ghetto”. That is not an excuse. Change begins within your own communities, I urge you all to educate your friends and families to not be bystanders or supporters of racism and microaggressions. I praise the Black community for standing strong in the face of injustice; your fear and anger toward the authorities is justified; you are all warriors in this fight and it will not be a fight taken alone. I am not a Black individual in America but, as a person of color and an ally: I see you, I hear you and I support you.
Thank you, Sheila Camacho
SOCIAL MEDIA IS BS
Yes, you read it right. Social media is complete bs. In my opinion, social media causes problems both on the internet, and in the outside world, gives power to those who use it for bad and is a huge time waster. Now look, don't get me wrong I do have Snapchat and Instagram. I do use social media. It's not entirely expelled from my life. However, I avoid social media as much as possible. Take Tik Tok, an extremely popular app to date. Not long ago I was an avid Tik Tok user. Whenever I would come home from practice I would sit on my bed and tell myself that I could relax for a couple of minutes and watch some Tik Tocks. I look at the time and it's 7:00 pm. I'm thinking, okay 10 minutes and I'll be off. Nothing crazy. I'm scrolling, I'm scrolling and then look at the time and it's 9:00 pm! 9:00 pm!! That's insane. I didn't realize that so much time had passed by because the videos are each up to 10 seconds long so you feel like time isn't even passing. Little did I know that I had probably gone through so many videos and wasted so much time. That's how every social media app is. You go on believing you are only going to spend a limited time on it but then the ads, the posts, and the text messages say otherwise. The time you just wasted could have been doing something that would benefit your future.
Along with the time-consuming aspect, social media also creates problems. The problem I'm referring to is the idea that nowadays people have a tendency to be confident and say certain things online but they can't say those things to someone in person. This ranges from fights over what was said over social media to the idea of relationships being built over text and not being able to reciprocate that relationship in person. Nowadays it matters if they left you on read, open, or delivered. Whether they are not putting in any effort or if they are putting too much emotion into their texts. Whether the person is coming off as desperate or the guy is being referred to as a "simp". Whether they initiate the conversation or you have to. What seems to not matter anymore is whether you can have a good conversation with the person or if they make you happier than you've been in a while. The only conversations that seem to matter anymore are the ones online. It's easy to say how you feel over text and make empty promises to the person you are talking to. However, in-person people fail to turn their feelings into actions which causes confusion amongst the two people and makes both of them frustrated. This all could be avoided if relationships were built in person and spent quality time with one another. Everything can be misinterpreted over text. A simple "okay" can be taken in many different ways. Social media is the basis of this inability to communicate your feelings in person. If people were to interact more in person than they would learn how to interact with different types of people and how to cooperate with them. Furthermore, they would be able to better their skills in public speaking and be able to communicate their needs and feelings. I believe now more than ever teenagers have fallen into the safety net of social media and the ability to release your emotions over a text versus in person. I'm not saying social media has to be abolished in any sense. I definitely do think it has some bright side to it. However, if people were to use social media less than there would be less conflict and disputes amongst groups of people. For as "The New Influencers" once said, "Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media".
HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS
Stress is something that will always be a part of our lives. However, we can control how to deal with stress and overcome our problems. We can either choose to deal with it correctly or let it engulf us.
Where it comes from:
You can say that most of us would feel stressed when we know something big is coming up and we don’t think our performance will be good enough. In the case of students, stress usually comes from studying for a big test that maybe we didn’t study enough for, or a performance/presentation. These are just a few examples, but there are obviously many more things that can trigger stress in people’s day to day lives.
Being unhappy in your job
Having a heavy workload or too much responsibility
Working long hours on something
Having poor management, unclear expectations of your (school) work, or no say in the decision-making process
Being insecure about yourself and improving on something
Having to give speeches in front of other people
Facing discrimination or harassment at school/work
Life Stresses includes:
The death of a loved one
Parents going through a divorce
Getting a significant other
Moving to a new home
Chronic illness or injury
Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
A traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one
You can also stress yourself out by worrying about things in your life, so some other factors can include:
Fear and uncertainty. When news breaks out about certain events going on, such as global warming, WW3, or a new disease epidemic our first instinct would be to worry about what will happen to us and our loved ones in the near future. We would feel stressed about these topics because we know that we have no control over these events.
Attitude and point of view. How you perceive the world or a certain situation can have an effect on your stress levels. If something that is detrimental came up in your life, you have two ways of dealing with it. You can either choose to ignore it and not let the given problem affect you or you can let it affect your mood and perception on the world in a negative way causing you to stress.
Having unrealistic expectations. A lot of you have probably heard the phrase “you are not perfect”. This is true, no one is perfect and you trying to do everything right will cause you more stress and overthinking. Don’t try to do everything successfully or push yourself to the breaking point. It is okay to fail, failure helps us learn and grow.
Change. We all have to deal with some sort of changes in our lives someday. They’ll either be good or bad or even both which can cause us stress.
Positives about stress:
Stress is a normal part of our lives and it can also have a positive effect on people. It can motivate us to actually work hard and get what we want. If it weren’t for stress most of us wouldn’t be worried about our future or lives, so we wouldn’t be able to grow and improve ourselves in certain areas.
However, if you’re not able to deal with stress and worry in a correct manner it will interfere with our life, family, and/or health. If you feel like the stress in your life is severe and negatively impacting your life, then you should seek help from therapists and etc.
BLACKROCK: A WEEKEND UNPLUGGED
This past weekend was the annual MHSHS Blackrock trip. I had gone on this trip last year and was looking forward to getting out of the city and being in nature, hiking through the beautiful mountains that populate the forest where the trip is held. I love hiking and being in the woods, and always appreciate a break from the fast-paced lifestyle of New York City. I was looking forward to taking this trip as an opportunity to destress and relax; a bit of a vacation from school, life, and responsibility. In order to fully accomplish this goal, I realized that in order to truly detach from my city life, I should leave my phone behind. That’s right, I made the choice to go away for the weekend, three whole days, without my phone. In today’s day and age, people rely on their phones for everything: directions, food recommendations, and a way to stay in contact with their friends and family. These devices, however, are also very addicting and are used as a way to distract people during the moments of boredom in their lives. I realized that, though I don’t have social media and generally try to limit my use of my phone and other technology, I had fallen into the habit of being constantly plugged in. I wanted to challenge myself to take a step back and see how I felt when I unplugged for a few days.
What I noticed:
For myself, I found it relatively easy to be detached from my phone. The weekend was packed with fun activities, meaning that there was little time to be bored. I had also brought a few books with me, as well as a notebook, so I was able to entertain myself through other methods. The hardest part was when I was with other people who were all on their phones, and there was no one to talk to or play a game with. In these moments I found myself longing for some distraction to take my mind off the boredom that I felt. This is the main reason that I chose to leave my phone at home, and not just leave it off in my room - I knew that if I brought it, I would end up caving and pulling it out at some point throughout the trip. It was hard in these moments, but I found ways of getting through the boring moments. I read a lot of my books and even tried journaling.
The most interesting part of this experiment was the extent to which I noticed how often other people were on their phones and devices. I noticed all the times that a group of friends were all in the same room, yet none of them were talking to each other. All distracted and in their own worlds, each person stared at the screen in front of them, mindlessly scrolling through social media or texting another friend. Now that I’m back I notice it as I go about my daily life - but now I’m noticing it about myself. I notice when I’m sitting on the train on my way to school and I pull out my phone, even though I have no need to check it. I notice the people around me doing the same, except that I am aware of this and they are not.
This experience was extremely interesting and it showed me a lot about how often we distract ourselves from boredom. I would challenge everyone reading this to limit your own personal technology use and see what you notice. Start small - ride the subway to school or work and keep your phone turned off and in your bag. Slowly increase the time that you spend away from your phone - take a walk on the weekend instead of scrolling through Instagram. Eventually, work up to a full day or even full weekend where you lock up your phone and don’t look at it. This may sound hard, but make it an event; invite some friends to do this challenge with you and do this “weekend unplugged” together, or go out of town to make it a fun vacation. Pay attention to yourself, and pay attention to the other people around you. Embrace boredom and talk to your friends. Notice the world, and take the opportunity to see what the world looks like outside your phone screen.
If you take this challenge up feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me about your experience!
HOW TO HANDLE PARENTAL PRESSURE
Quick note: Physical and emotional abuse by parents is a very important matter and should be addressed for your safety and is not the topic of this article
Parents. To some, they are our best friends and to others, they are the people we wish understood us better. It's no surprise that as you get older, your relationship with your parent(s) changes. You either feel like you can tell them everything or you feel they are too strict on you. To speak for myself, at a point in my life I once felt that my mother's pressure on doing good in school was the main driving force for participating in certain classes and/or activities. This idea of her coming to America in order to give herself and her child a better future makes me want to do whatever she asked me to regardless of my opinion on it. Also, because she was a single parent, working very hard for us enabled me to feel like the least I could do was excel in school and go forth in the future that she wanted me to be in. (Of course, I'm not blaming my mother, her intentions aren't to pressure me, but I wanted to make her feel proud which caused me to feel pressured. I always thought I was the only one who felt this way. After having many talks with my close friends, I realized I wasn't the only one. Many of my other friends said that their parents were the only reason they applied for a certain medical program and were taking this certain class in order to please them. This feeling of pressure/expectation breaks the relationship between teenagers and parents because teenagers don't tell their parents their true feelings on this subject so as not to disappoint them.
In my opinion, having this relationship with your parents is emotionally upsetting and draining. This relationship probably upsets your parents more than you not following their idea of a good future. I didn't believe that either. I always thought my mom didn't understand me when I would mention our distant relationship. I believed she thought I was just being overdramatic and playing the role of an emotional teenage girl. Little did I know, she had the same concerns as me and had spoken about them with her friends. Ever since then, I can't even describe how big of a weight I felt had lifted off my shoulders. The point I'm trying to make through sharing my personal experience with parental pressure is that your parents do worry. They do care even if it doesn't seem that way. Trust me. You might feel like you aren't making them proud enough by not obtaining the highest grades and then resort to taking classes and going into a career you think they would want for you. However, they would just want to see you happy. Sometimes parents get too caught up in their stress and worries as a parent that the way they tend to show their wants is not the best way possible. They want you to be successful but they would much rather you be happy and thriving in a way you would want to thrive. They would feel accomplished as a parent more if they saw their child smiling every day and living a joyful life doing what they love. If you have immigrant parents like me, they came here to obtain a better and happier life for their family and themselves. Being happy is also part of the equation. Trust me. They want what's best for you in every way possible. So please remember that when you are going through a tough time with your parents or just had an argument. Thank you so much for reading and if anyone would like to talk further on this, feel free to reach out to me during school.
INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE AND ITS EVOLUTION
We’ve all heard, whether through discussion or social media, what a “mix” is. Tiktok and Instagram are filled with internet and overnight celebrities who are “mixed,” meaning those who come from interracial backgrounds. As Eli Balidemaj and Crystal Mapoy kindly responded, those who come from two ethnicities get the “best of both worlds.” This opinion is reflective of the popular idea that people who are from mixed backgrounds are extraordinarily unique (which they are). They represent a changing society, whose laws changed 53 years ago when the ban on intermarriage between races was lifted, as a result of the Loving v. Virginia case. But what is it really like being a wasian (white and asian), blasian (black and asian), hisasian (hispanic and asian), of black and white, hispanic and white, and etc backgrounds?
From the previous statement made by two juniors, the answer seems obvious, teenagers who come from multiracial backgrounds are held with open interest and in some cases admiration. However, there are still beliefs that negatively impact multiracial families. Kids who come from white and black parents are often faced with subtle racism, that can be seen with comments that favor one ethnicity more than the other, namely the more “white characteristics.” Comments that highlight lighter skin tone, straight hair, or different color eyes might be taken as a preference to one culture compared to another. Therefore, in a society that upholds an image of beauty, of a woman or man with a perpetual smile, perfect hair and teeth, interracial families face the issue of balancing the appreciation of both cultures.
ARE WE TOUCHING ANYTHING?
You arrive in physics class and all you ever hear are lies that have been told to you. But, the truth eventually shows. Well, back to reality here, we’re not touching anything. Color isn’t “real”. No, popping your knuckles aren’t necessarily bad for you. It doesn’t lead to arthritis or whatever your friend has been warning you about. But seriously, we’re NOT touching anything, like anything! This is actually proven! The sensation of touch is merely illusionary. It is created by the brain’s way of interpreting interactions between electrons and the electromagnetic field. Electrons can attach to protons but two electrons can never touch. To go further in-depth, electrons know where EVERY OTHER ELECTRON is and therefore try to avoid them as much as possible. Electrons just hover above each other. That is similar to when we say we are sitting, we actually just hover above our chairs. Or remember that time when your teachers said that you only have 5 senses and your friends drilled that “fact” into your head. Well, jokes on you, there are at least 4 more senses that are just rarely talked about: proprioception—sensing one's orientation in space; thermoception—the sense of temperature; equilibrioception—the sense of balance; and interoception—the sense of one's physiological condition
Our whole life is a lie, literally.
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
In light of new medicinal and technological advancements, researchers and scientists have begun making use of stem cells for different therapeutic purposes. Stem cells are unique human cells in that they have the ability to be used as different kinds of cells. Stem cells are found in a number of places in the human body. Some areas in which they’re found are newborn’s umbilical cords, adult’s spinal cords, and many other organs and tissues. Most cells in humans have a designated function in certain organs and other parts of the body, for example, liver cells work in the liver and white blood cells work in the blood, however, stem cells don't have a specific specialty and can be used for a number of restorative purposes. This brings up another one of stem cells’ individualities from other cells. Stem cells are known for their ability to regenerate muscle tissue and replace specialized cells, due to the fact that they can multiply infinitely.
However, stem cells and their use is a very controversial topic. Some believe that it is unethical to take stem cells because during that process and developing a human embryo is destroyed. When harvesting a stem cell, the scientist must remove the entire cell mass of the embryonic cell, therefore, leaving the cell completely ruined. People are also against the idea of the collection of stem cells from menstrual blood. On the other hand, supporters of stem cells believe that the research is ethical because it would potentially improve the quality of life in many people. The stem cells that are gathered can be put into cancer patients who endure high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, macular degeneration, spinal cord injury, strokes, burns, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
HOW TO FIND YOUR "WHY"
Ever have that person in your class that knows what they are going to be when they are older. Like Becky in your 5th grade knows she is going to be a marine biologist and save wildlife. On the low you sort of resent them for it. Like, good for you Becky but I can't even choose between plain macaroni and macaroni and cheese. For anyone that may not know me, I am a sophomore at our high school. I think many of my fellow sophomores can agree that the year is flying by so fast. After regents week comes a straight month or so of school and before you know it, boom, we are juniors. Our adult life is drawing near. Just thinking about it makes me anxious and nervous. How do we know what we are going to do? What if the field you enjoy takes too long or doesn’t make enough money? What if you simply just don’t know what you like or what you see yourself doing? I decided one night to some research on the topic. I’ve searched up Q&A’s between life counselors and coaches. In my midst of searching, I stumbled upon a podcast made by Nike. It featured an influencer named Simon Sinek that talked about the purpose of the “Why.” The podcast talks about athletic training and coaches and how they motivate their athletes. Simon talked about how sometimes his athletes lose sight of what they are doing. Even though it is their life’s dream, after a loss or not reaching their goal, they question why they are even trying. That’s when Simon introduces the idea of the “Why.’’ He tells his athletes to ask his close friends why they are friends with the athlete. At first, the friends start smiling and don't know what to say. They get flustered and ask why you would even ask that. Then they begin to ramble that you are nice or smart or some other trait that can describe anyone else. He instructs the listener to ask them to really tell you why they are still friends with you. What specifically makes them want to stay and be with you. They will probably still do some rambling and then begin to narrow it down. They’ll start to tell you that you make them happy and make them feel like they can be yourself. Then suddenly they will just take a deep breath and say something like, “You know when I’m in a room with you, even if we were silent, you inspire mr. Simon then says to ask others and if this is truly your purpose in life, then everyone will say something similar to one another. You will then come to a consensus that this is what people see in you. This is what you bring to the room and why people look forward to being in your presence. Believe it or not, this is your purpose. This is what you do best and you didn't even realize it. This is, your "why" in life. If you are ever feeling like you don't know why you are doing an abundance of homework and working hard, find your "why" and it will center you. It will allow you to keep going and not cave in and give up. It will change your advisory check in from "I don't care anymore" to "I have a lot to do but it's alright because it's worth it. If you have any questions or might still be confused about this you can listen to Nike Training Podcast named, "Simon Sinek [Finding your Why].