By: Ira Sharma
George Washington said in his farewell address, “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” In simpler words, he was warning America not to divide itself along partisan lines. A simple idea guided him: that if a partisan majority took control of the government, it would use its power to oppress the minority. James Madison, known as the father of the constitution, supported a strong central government, known as an “extended republic” for this very reason. He reasoned that in a large republic, there would be more "fit characters" to choose from for each delegate. Essentially, with a large number of representatives, it would be virtually impossible to have a permanent majority and a permanent minority, therefore keeping the power of the people intact. This large republic with the separation of powers would, in their eyes, prevent partisanship.
However, political parties started almost immediately.
For many years, political parties varied across the country. For example, a New York Democrat and an Arkansas Democrat could have very different opinions. The Democratic and Republican parties were both divided, both having a liberal and conservative side. However, with the civil rights movement, parties realigned, and political parties started to be part of the culture and everyone’s identity. Cities became widely Democratic, while suburbs and rural areas became Republican. Congressional districts started being very partisan, and since 1992, America has hopped back and forth from a Republican-controlled government to a Democratic-controlled government. Today, both parties are staunchly divided on every issue. States are known as either red or blue, and each party is distinctly known for its values. Neither party has a majority, but neither is willing to give up on it.
Sadly, this system has broken the hopes of what the Founders envisioned. Under the separation of powers, Congress (regardless of party) has an incentive to make sure the president is responsible. Nowadays, the opposite party of the President is the only party that seems to care about the President being conscientious. This, along with social media, has created a whirlpool of false information, hyper-partisanship, and hate in our country.
What YOU can do
In this era of hyper partisanship, it’s important to remember that party doesn’t define a person. To make sure you aren’t trapped in an echo chamber with your own opinions, subscribe to The Flip Side and The Factual. These two daily newsletters use analysis tools and research to rate news sources on credibility and partisanship. Reading their email not only allows you to burst your bubble of party. It also allows you to see just how credible each story or source is. Finally, take some time daily to remind yourself that people of the opposite party are people two and that judging someone by party is the worst mistake you could make.
By: Layla Hussein | Editor's Choice
After spending almost half of 2020 with uncertainty, trepidation, and boredom, all while in quarantine, the world is still expected to carry on with our lives, with one of the first priorities being education. Schools in many states have finalized their decision on remote and in-person learning, as most of them already have class in session. But with NYC—the nation that owns the largest school system with some of the highest rates of minorities enrolled—the notion of school is still up in the air.
While there was no set date to reopen school, the NYC DOE planned that September 10th was the “goal” to start the 2020—2021 school year. As safety is the utmost concern, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, and Governor Andrew Cuomo have worked diligently to establish plans during the limited time span of the summer. During the last few weeks of August, a ventilation plan was announced to assure the safety of NYC school buildings. The team consisted of ventilation experts and licensed engineers who oversaw fans, supply, windows, and the overall quality of a single room. Rooms that did not have adequate ventilation nor passed inspection will not be used for the school year.
During these inspections, videos of their specific equipment have surfaced, instilling dismay among NYC educators. With a budget of $80 billion, New York City is using toilet paper to weigh the welfare of 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers, as seen in a video obtained by PIX11 News. A toilet paper and a yardstick were used to measure air flow. A school worker released the video to express their sheer concern over the ventilation testing that is deemed as credible due to the DOE’s “licensed professionals''. However, the Mayor asserted that this method was in fact recommended by the CDC itself.
Additionally, the DOE introduced an outdoor learning plan for schools to utilize the school’s nearby parks, streets, and yards. Neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, as well as schools that do not have outdoor space, will be prioritized by de Blasio to provide the best learning environment for NYC residents of all economic backgrounds.
"It’s great to be outdoors in general, but we also know that the disease does not spread the same outdoors. We’ve seen that over and over. So, we want to give schools the option to do as much outdoors as they can," the Mayor said.
While this unique plan may bring benefits, school principals have expressed their concerns, not only due to the announcement of a late plan with school starting in a few weeks, but also with how quick principals have to submit an outdoor learning plan.
“Once again, the city and DOE have made decisions, rolled out guidance and announced a deadline far too late and haphazardly for school leaders to develop and implement a thoughtful and well-constructed plan,” Council of School Supervisors and Administrators president Mark Cannizzaro said in a statement Monday.
Queens Councilman Costa Constantinides also expressed his concerns towards the outdoor learning plan.
“For weeks we have begged the City to consider outdoor learning as a crucial tool for keeping students who must learn in-person safe, only to be rebuffed,” he said. “While I’m glad we have finally seen some movement for open classrooms, it comes less than three weeks before in-person learning will begin.”
As every week in the summer brought a new unexpected announcement from the DOE, it was recently announced that the expected date to return to school is delayed due to concerns from labor unions like the UFT and CSA, who expressed that teachers and principals did not have enough time to prepare for the health, safety and instructional challenges for the unprecedented school year. September 21st is now deemed to be the first day to reopen NYC schools, adding 10 extra days from what was supposed to be September 10th.
To many, this is a step towards a right direction. A step to fulfill the safety requirements of NYC schools and guarantee that NYC school buildings will be at its best state for students, educators, and staff workers.
But how have NYC students felt throughout this whole process?
Students typically spend the summer preparing for the upcoming school year, but due to the fact that we have no clue on what to expect, we are anxious. The editors of YCteen Magazine, a magazine written by NYC teens, interviewed 8 NYC teenagers on their thoughts for returning back to school. While they all have unique challenges in regards to personal health conditions and even learning preferences, a common theme throughout all answers was a shared emotion of anxiety.
15-year-old Santhana Pierre misses attending school to see her friends, but with her having anemia, as well as her family members having underlying sickness, school would put her and her family at a higher risk for COVID-19. “For me, returning in person represents crowded hallways, interaction, and ignorant kids who will take off their masks.”
“While I wish I could go back to school to see my friends, classmates, and teachers, I don’t think going back to school in September is a good idea,” says Meagan Zullo, a 16-year-old attending a high school in Brooklyn. “I suffer from asthma, which makes me high-risk.”
While NYC was the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak to now having some of the lowest cases nationwide, 16-year-old Helen Chen still does not feel ready to return to in-person learning. “With cases still rising across the country, the problem is not over yet.”
In some high schools like Townsend Harris High School, the DOE budget cuts are even affecting the number of electives students can take. Students from the school actively encourage others to choose remote learning if they have the resources because not only is it the safest option, but it is the best learning option.
Whether you are doing blended or remote learning, school is going to happen nonetheless, whether we like it or not. Here is a quick of synopsis of important information to know before the school year starts:
● If positive COVID-19 tests in NYC are equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average, NYC schools will switch to 100% remote learning. Even if cases were to remain low, recurrent uncontrolled outbreaks in schools would cause NYC school buildings to close.
● The DOE released the 2020-2021 school calendar, noting that September 16th is the first day of remote learning for all students regardless of your selected learning preference, with September 21st acting as the first day of instruction for in-person learning.
● New York City public school teachers, students, and staff will be subject to random coronavirus testing throughout the school year, beginning October 1st. The self-swab test, not the long Q-tip according to de Blasio, will be free of charge with results available within 48 hours. Parental consent is required if a student is under 18, and if no consent is given, the student is required to do remote learning instruction.
You can go here to learn more about what to expect for the 2020-2021 upcoming school year.
By: Kyra Variyava
For over two centuries, India was turned into a breeding ground for imperialist countries to establish their superiority in terms of social and political power which stripped the country and its countrymen off of the feeling of belonging. And it was only 73 years ago that India finally prevailed in her long standing battle against these colonial forces, when she was finally able to reclaim her land, culture, rule, home and identity. The day India got her freedom became a moment in time and history that marked its importance in the hearts of every Indian and will continue to do so in the generations to come. But while India may have gained her freedom, the girls and women of India would beg to differ. Their country may have emerged victorious from the struggle against colonisation but the women in India still go to war every single day be it against ideologies, mindsets or even for their fundamental rights as humans. Just like the Battle of Troy, there is nothing subtle about the struggles our women face- it happens right in front of us- we see it in the news, on tv screens, on the roads or in our very homes. Yet we treat it just the way the Trojans treated the Trojan horse- we don’t see it as an eminent threat and carry on with our lives as if nothing is going to happen. Except in this case, we know how serious the problem is yet the act of complacency over the issue is more sought out than the act of change.
However, on the 15th of August this year in an interesting turn of events, the government of India attempted to tackle one of these issues- one that is rarely spoken about due to the stigma, shame and fear that is attached to it- the issue of menstruation. This heavy taboo isn’t just limited to the quick 5 minute awkward lesson in biology class but becomes a practice in which menstruating women are actively discriminated against in religious proceedings, entering certain temples or even into their own kitchens (once again the paradoxical nature of Indian society shines through- we are willing to shame women for being on their periods but are not willing to accept that it is the very same process that allows these women to bring ‘prestigious’ sons into this world) And so in fear of being discriminated or shunned away in society, most women refuse to even start a conversation about it, especially to their younger daughters or sisters as a result of which nearly 71% of adolescent girls in India are not even aware of the process of menstruation until they experience it. Thus, due to the lack of conversation, there is a lack of understanding, especially in male dominated families where most women do not have financial control. Consequently, most women do not even have access to sanitary napkins and according to a BBC article only 36% of menstruating women in a population of 355 million women have access to basic pads. Most women make do with rags or pieces of cloth which are not only unsanitary, but also lead to many urinary tract infections. In response to the alarming concern for the need of these basic amenities, during the Independence day speech, Prime Minister Modi declared that under the Jan Aushadhi scheme (an initiative that aims to provide basic medicines and fundamental necessities at an affordable price to financially struggling classes) pads will be priced at just 1 rupee. This initiative has helped over 50 million women during the pandemic and will continue to reach out to those in assistance. Although in the grand scheme of things, this may be a small step towards mitigating the taboo, it is commendable that despite the stigma surrounding menstruation, the Indian government sparked the conversation on such a public platform as the Independence day speech.
Although the main issue with menstruation is ‘period poverty’ which is a term used for the problem of many women being financially restrained from gaining access to menstrual products, the root cause of the problem goes back to the lack of conversation. Although the problem is more rampant in rural areas, the stigma pervades through each and every section of society. This includes girls, like me, who although are privileged enough to attend the finest schools, cannot escape the stigma. Many of us still dread wearing our white uniforms in fear of the embarrassment of staining and still carry around fancy bags while going to the bathroom to cover up the fact that we’re holding a pad. Ironically, our country’s leading feminine hygiene brand is named “Whisper”; a fact that exemplifies the prevalence of regressive mindsets in Indian society and the taboo associated with menstruation even today.
In fact, every time you buy a packet of pads or tampons in a shop or pharmacy, they will still wrap it up in newspaper and put it in a bag. It is these practices and beliefs that should make us really question, how free are women since 1947? Has there really been a liberating change? Because as a country, there is A LOT more we should be ashamed of than women on their periods. Why aren’t we ashamed of the men who belittle women? Why aren’t we ashamed of sexist politicians who believe that women should be subservient to men? Just like it’s ‘that time of the month’ it is also high time we dropped the archaic misconception and stigma surrounding menstruation. It’s time we have that conversation, as awkward as it may be, not only to our daughters but even to our sons to normalize this process. A conversation is all it takes to stop encouraging an attitude of discretion and shame and once and for all end this disempowering cycle. Period.
By: Kirti Moteka
For the past six months, our lives have been turned upside down. We’re worried about jobs, the economy, politics, government policies, ourselves, our families, and our safety. But one thing that ties us in common - planet earth - should be a bigger cause of concern. After all, we’re in a pandemic, and more united by a disease than ever before.
At the beginning of lockdowns in most countries, the pandemic seemed to be “healing” earth. Carbon emissions plummeted, pollution decreased, and rivers cleared up. According to Foreign Policy, countries with extreme pollution such as China and India had nitrogen dioxide pollution levels fall by 48% and 50% respectively. Viral images were shared across the internet of the beautiful landscapes that re-emerged during the first half of global lockdown.
However, a lot of “harming” to the planet occurred as well. Non-recyclable waste dramatically increased, which may cause an increase in methane emissions (a greenhouse gas). Stores started handing out plastic bags instead of reusable ones and implemented more single-use packaging, in efforts to stay safe. Organic waste has substantially risen due to cuts on export quantities. As ecotourism halted, many environment protection workers were unable to monitor wildlife areas - which has led to an increase in illegal hunting and fishing.
And most importantly, the number of dead bodies due to COVID-19 has had a severe toll on the planet. Cemeteries and morgues are running out of space, and questions have risen about whether it is safe to bury a dead body that may still have a living virus. The killing of many animals have also occurred, as COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus and some fear that animals or pets may have the ability to transfer it to humans.
It seems that we had focused on the good environmental impact - pollution decreasing, air quality improving - but now that might be at risk as well. With lockdown restrictions easing in many parts of the world, traffic pollution is increasing again. Furthermore, more people are taking their own transportation instead of public transportation, as buses and metros pose a fear of contracting the virus.
So what do we do about it? Where do we stand? The answer is like pollution - hazy. Some scientists believe that COVID-19 is fueled by other factors, and is part of the larger demise of our planet. Illegal wildlife trade, climate change, and fossil fuels are all part of this argument, as experts say that lockdowns are not enough to turn the tide of pollution; we must switch to renewable resources and decrease consumption of fossil fuels. The virus has also spurred a movement to “build it better” than before, one that politicians can use to reconstruct a greener country.
Whether our planet is healing or hurting is still unclear, but we must work together to build a more sustainable, healthier world. We’ve been so worried about our own health that we often forget to check up on our home - planet earth.
By: Amanda Sherman
With September rapidly flying by and schools reopening for the semester, children are once again stepping back into mainstream institutions of learning. Classrooms are filled with six-foot social distanced children, mask wearing has become the norm, and entire sections of schools have been blocked off to accommodate the new normal. Yet, how much have circumstances really changed ever since March, when the pandemic spread across the entire world?
In many ways, things are the same. High schoolers are once again settling into the familiar routine of studying for AP courses, while online planning software such as Notion has become commonplace among today’s circles as youth attempt to balance their academic responsibilities with extracurriculars. After they sit through five hours of Zoom classes, they FaceTime their friends to get assignments done and chat about the day. In areas with lower rates of COVID cases, sports have even made a comeback. It all seems much more routine than during the past six months - and thankfully so!
However, there is a certain tradeoff of freedom that our society has bartered in favor of blending elements of the pre-COVID and the post-COVID societies. Although quarantine was undoubtedly mentally strenuous and mind numbing, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore personal interests without being burdened by time. Students have reported being able to discover the joys of oil painting, pottery, and poetry - activities that are all undervalued in an education system that places heavy emphasis on “profitable” subjects. Studies show that individuals who engage heavily in the arts show higher rates of happiness than those who don’t. This may pose an enormous benefit in the long run to youth who have grown up in an image based culture, with flashing images of perfection constantly surrounding them.
Is it time to once again bring back that sense of liberty, so that our youth will be able to dedicate more care to their mental health instead of breaking their backs taking college level classes? Is knowing how to formulate complex derivatives necessary to living a “successful” life? And what is with our culture’s unending obsession with success itself?
The future all depends on which direction our generation will take education. In fact, there already is a heavy shift towards flexible education, which covers all of the essential tenets of core subjects while allowing students to mix up their schedules with different activities at all times of the day. Seen in the rise of learning pods and homeschooling rates, parents are clearly looking outside of the longtime accepted standard. Through fostering rigor in their own sense, they are enabling their children to intimately develop their identities while giving them the gift of unstructured time. Increasingly, they are happy with the results.
For decades, experts have argued that the material instilled in students’ heads from the modern education system is barely relevant to students’ own lives. COVID-19 flipped every assumption about standards set in stone upside down when it swept across the world. It proved clearly that with the changing times, the system itself will change as well.
By: Kanika Malhotra
On November 20 2019, Union home minister Amit Shah said in Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act would be prepared for every state in the country. The act has already been amended in 2003 by the government. CAA and NRC have also been implemented in Assam in 2013-2014. In 2019 there has been amends made in the law which has led to nationwide protests. Students, Activists, Actors, Politicians were out on roads protesting against it. It received criticism from media, public figures and from international authorities.
CAA and NRC have received this amount of objection because of its discriminatory nature. CAA says that refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh from religions Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians all religions’ except Muslims and atheists will be given Indian citizenship if they live in India for continuous six years. The act is arbitrary, discriminatory and Islamophobic. When confronted about how the act is dependent on religion, Amit Shah gave a reason saying that Hindus who are minorities in our neighbouring countries are massacred, he also stated that India cannot welcome Muslims from all over the world, but for a matter of fact Atheists in Bangladesh are burnt alive, Shia Muslims in Pakistan are murdered, minorities in Sri Lanka don’t have equal rights. A refugee is a refugee because of facing persecution, not because they belong to a specific caste, creed, religion or any other sect. No secular, democratic country would ever initiate an act which discriminates against people on the basis of their religion. The introduction of religious identity as the only measure for citizenship is ambiguous. Secularism is the basic fundamental of India.
“If India is not secular, then India is not India at all,” said Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The law violates Article 14, Article 15 and Article 21 of the constitution. Article 14 guarantees that " The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India '' Article 15 prohibits the state from discriminating "against any citizen of ground only of religion, race, caste…". It also infringes Article 21 of the constitution which guarantees the right to life and liberty.
India is not able to meet basic amenities of its own citizens; and thus would not be able to provide basic care for the refugees. Therefore increasing the population won’t be of any help.CAA furthermore is a danger to the national security as spoken of by RAW because now it will be much easier to get citizenship. In 2014 the time period for getting citizenship was 11 years which has now been reduced to half. CAA is a hindrance to the growth of the country, a threat to national security and it violates the very notion of the nation, secularism.
CAA doesn't affect an Indian Citizen directly but NRC does. The government has told that NRC doesn't affect an Indian Citizen but through NRC an Indian Citizen needs to prove their citizenship. They have to provide documents of their ancestors and if they fail to do that they will be declared as an illegal immigrant. Now, through CAA if they are a non-Muslim they need to claim they are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. They will be given citizenship but this will result in them being an illegal immigrant and hence will lose their property, job, education and everything that they owned will now be proclaimed illegal. If they are a Muslim or an Atheist and they are not able to provide their documents and will be sent to detention centres . Nativity certificates issued by the government, land records, voter identity card, birth certificates of oneself and patents, Panchayat certificate verifying residency and ration card are some of the documents that are needed to prove one’s citizenship. The entire process of the legacy of documents is problematic for homeless people, people from lgbtqia+ community who have been abandoned by their family, or those people who have misplaced their old documents because of a natural calamity or any other reason are seriously vulnerable in this act. Even a spelling error in the documents can ruin a family in the citizenship test. The NPR (National Population Register) is a register of residents of India where the enumerator collects demographic and biometric data of individuals living at the place of enumeration for six months or more. It was originally slated to be prepared between April 2020 and September 2020, and be ready ahead of the Census 2021. The acts are a blatant use of power and mistreatment of minorities. The government has not given a draft regarding NRC. Mr. Amit Shah has claimed that no matter how many protests happen he will implement NRC before 2024. He has even said that NRC and CAA are interlinked. Supporters of Bhartiya Janta Party have been saying that CAA and NRC are not interlinked. Union Minister Ravi Shankar said that there is no question linking NRC and CAA together. However, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has said that there will be no discussion on CAA-NRC before 2024. Members of Bhartiya Janta Party have different statements and keep on changing their words about the act.
In 2016 BJP during the assembly election campaign promised to "free" Assam from illegal Bangladeshi migrants by deporting them. It also promised to give Indian citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus. The promise has been fulfilled by CAA making the ruling party's religious difference agenda more clear. In Assam NRC and CAA has been implemented, detention camps have already been set up and are now active. As of August 2019 19 lakh, people were illegal immigrants. There has been a total of 28 deaths in detention camps and total of 100 deaths some due to shock or suicide. Illegal immigrants included people who have served in the Indian Army or the Border Security force for decades. There was also an unexpectedly large number of Hindus who were excluded. In some cases, members of the same family were found to be illegal immigrants but not the others. NRC was a failure in Assam. The experiment of NRC in Assam shows how scrupulously flawed the system of determining citizenship is. The UN high commissioner Michelle Bachelet elicited that the exclusion of more than 1.9 million people is a cause of "great uncertainty and anxiety." She also further stated that "I appeal to the government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention and ensure people are protected from statelessness."
The protests that have followed after the passing of the act have resulted in extreme police Brutality and nationwide arrests. On 5th January 2020 more than 50 masked people armed with rods, sticks and acid attacked the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi and injured more than 39 students and teachers. Many students suffered serious injuries. Eyewitnesses, including students who were injured, accused the members of Bhartiya Janta Party, the current ruling party (BJP) and Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad(ABVP), a Hindu nationalist organization. The attacks on JNU students were because of the peaceful protests against fee hike and raising their voice against the Citizenship Amendment Act. There has not been a single arrest or inquiry after 6 months of the attack ever after CCTV footage was leaked.
The Guardian has said law to be dangerous for all, "Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist project is not a containable anomaly, but an enterprise that threatens the nation’s very foundations of pluralism and secularism.” Financial Times has expressed concerns saying that India might slip into a second emergency after CAA. BBC, The New York Times, TIME, SCMP are some of the International Media which have criticized the law and talked about its inhumane nature.
The current state of India is that unemployment rates are an all-time high, poverty rates are high, the economy is crashing down, GDP is at its lowest. The BJP has made its bigotry, fascism, Hindu nationalism and lack of internal democracy in the party clear to the country. In Nazi Germany there were laws made to segregate Jews from "Aryan" society, then Nuremberg law was introduced, then they were no more given basic human rights, then eventually concentration camps. There is an uncanny similarity between BJP's Hindutva policies and Nazi Germany. CAA-NRC is not about politics. It is about basic human rights. Mr. Narendra Modi gave a xenophobic statement in a rally saying "Protestors can be identified by their clothes." Remaining silence is a political act, an act of letting people suffer an act of allowing the oppressor to enjoy the power.
By: Sophia Deen
Recently, on the 4th of June this year, the Belgian Constitutional Court authorized the ban of the hijab; the Islamic headscarf, channeling the flame of a current rise in protests consisting of many college students against the ban. This ban has also included that all other visible religious, political and philosophical signs are not to be worn- but this is why hijab women across Belgium, and the rest of the world, are outraged.
This ban has been placed upon muslim women as a direct violation of human rights, enforcing rules to control their expression, appreciation and beliefs for the religion. For years and years, muslim women have been falsely accused of being oppressed by the hijab many times, yet what many people don’t see is that for most hijab women, wearing the hijab is a choice which is not forced upon them- and by taking away their basic right to be able to dress the way they wish to seems like it could be classified as oppression itself.
prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.
The Islamaphobia tied to the justification of the ban has been relentlessly present, the exaggerated hostility against Muslims and the religion of Islam has been dragged across by the negative stereotypes presented upon them. Many countries in Europe have taken their religious freedom away, and the 4th of June has not been the first incident of this happening. Since 2004, public servants in France were not allowed to wear the hijab and in 2011, France passed the ban on the burqa/niqab (the full-face veil) and in 2016, France introduced a ban on women’s full bodied swimsuits directed to muslim women who prefer to dress modestly, yet could be worn by anyone, commonly known as the ‘Burkini’. North America have also contributed to the discrimination against muslim women with their notice in which women in the public servant sector are prohibited from wearing the hijab in Quebec, introduced in 2019. The ban on hijabs will not and never be justified by Belgium’s secular values.
Banning the hijab in schooling facilities deliberately prevents muslim hijab women's access to a proper education. there has been a rise in comments regarding the comeback of the “headscarf” as a fashion statement, yet many muslims have stated that when muslim women wear the hijab it is considered “oppression” yet when it is in the name of fashion, it’s considered “exotic” and “trendy”. Prohibiting a woman from dressing modestly has the same connotations of asking another woman to cover up, yet the removal of a woman’s hijab- an article of clothing- is still not considering a hate crime.
Opinion | By: Kiana Maria
"And you're watching... Disney Channel!"
Most of Gen Z’s childhood memories consist of watching the Disney Channel with a lineup of actors tracing Mickey ears and saying that iconic phrase. As nostalgic as that is, Disney as a whole has needed a reboot when it came to more representation in both their TV shows and film. Between past mistakes with films containing racist comments and microaggressions and a lack of representation, Disney needs a new edge. In recent years, the company has added more representation in their theme parks, however, it isn’t enough for the people who can’t identify themselves with beloved Disney characters.
When talking about Disney, many children think of animated movies first. Children deserve to find themselves in stories that are close to home and really represent them to the world. Being a Disney fan isn’t easy when you can’t identify with those on the big screen, myself included. There has yet to be a Hispanic Disney Princess. Many young girls know of Belle and Cinderella. They have great stories to tell and show girls to be brave and follow your heart, however out of the twelve Disney Princesses, only five are not from European descent. These five are Moana, Mulan, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Tiana. Each of the five mentioned are all from different countries. This would mean that seven out of twelve are of European Descent. (The seven isn’t even including Elsa and Anna who aren’t technically a part of the official line up.) Young girls need to have a chance to view heroines and queens who look like them. It gives them self-confidence in thinking “if she can do it, so can I.”
Disney isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to its past. The riskiest and racist film that Disney has made is considered to be The Song of The South. This is the film that gave the inspiration to be the classic ride at Disney World called Splash Mountain. The movie is said to portray African Americans in a very racist and offensive way. The movie is even banned from being on Disney+. With everything going on, between the social injustice, and the protests, it seems as though Disney wanted to reveal some news they’d been holding on to for a while. Earlier this year, Disney decided to announce their plans to change the interior of Splash Mountain to feature the 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog. This is a huge step for the theme park because The Princess and the Frog are about Disney’s first official African American Disney Princess. This is a giant moment for more representation, however there is way more that needs to be done.
Even though Disney brought us Mulan, a woman from China who takes her father’s place in the war due to him being too fragile to fight, Disney has faced backlash for the way they showcase Asian characters. Two instances where Disney seemed to poke fun at Asian people are in Lady and The Tramp, and The Aristocats. In Lady and The Tramp, the audience is introduced to a pair of Siamese cats who have a mockingly Asian accent. In the movie, the cats sing a song that has been deemed to be racist. In The Aristocats, there is a scene where a cat plays the piano mimicking a Chinese accent and hitting the keys with chopsticks. The lack of Asian representation is still an issue today. The fact that so far there has only been about five movies from Disney that showcases an Asian main character is absurd, and it’s time that changes.
On Disney+, Pixar has debuted some short films under the series called Sparkshorts. Two notable short films from the series that support the representation of the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities are Out, and Loop. In Out, a young man goes through the struggle of admitting to his family that he is gay. He undergoes the odd process of switching bodies with his dog and soon finds that there was nothing to worry about in telling his parents. In Loop, a young boy and girl go on a field trip. The young boy gets to understand the perspective of the young girl who is a non-verbal autistic child. She channels her emotions through music and colors. The young boy gets the chance to realize that even if she can’t respond, they can still communicate through the power of color and music. The representation of the two communities is greatly underrepresented and the world needs more of these types of stories, especially of people with disabilities! Luckily, Pixar announced that in 2022, one of two featured films will include the main character who has a disability.
Children look up to Disney stories, and it is a shame that many children don’t see themselves in these films. Between the past mistakes and the new stories that will hopefully arrive, Disney has a lot of work headed its way. Hopefully, Disney takes the opportunity to share stories and create heroes for all walks of life.
News | By: Hannah Graham
On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police officers. While this case is still being investigated, there are some things we do know. The police were called from a woman saying Blake was on the premises and was not supposed to be. He had taken the complainants keys and refused to give them back. A neighbor was quoted to say that Blake had been around for his son's birthday party. Blakes three sons were in the car when the police showed up. The police unsuccessfully tried to taser him but he continued to walk to the other side of his car. When Blake leaned in, Officer Rusten Shesky shot him in the back 7 times. It was admitted that Blake did have a knife in the car. He was not reaching for it and he had not hurt or fought with any of the police officers, he was just trying to leave.
A popular rumor began to spread that Blake had sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl. While he had been charged in a domestic abuse case and had an active arrest warrant out for disorderly conduct and trespassing, there was nothing to do with assault on a minor.
Blake was sent to the hospital and is still alive but he is paralyzed. It was revealed by his father that he had been shackled to the hospital bed until the 28th and his lawyer says he can barely move without excruciating pain. He had suffered injuries to his abdominal, arm, and spine. Two bullets made contact with his spine which created nerve related injuries. All three officers present during the shooting have been placed on leave but have yet to be fully fired or charged.
This instance created another shoot up of protests. One in particular happened in Kenosha, where Blake had been shot. A crowd was gathered near a car dealership when they came face to face with Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who had come all the way from Illinois armed with an AR-15 style rifle. After a protester threw a plastic bag at him, Rittenhouse began to open fire. Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, tried to approach Rittenhouse but he shot four times and Rosenbaum fell. He tried to grab the gun away but Rittenhouse fired again and Rosenbaum was killed. Anthony Huber, armed with only a skateboard, approached Rittenhouse to try and get the gun away from him so he wouldn’t cause harm. When he reached for the gun, Rittenhouse raised it and shot him. Huber was killed too. A man named Gaige Grosskreutz sustained injuries but is still alive. Rittenhouse fled the scene and made it back to Illinois before he was detained there.
It is a wonder how Rittenhouse was seen carrying a gun throughout the crowd, and was not stopped by police. Many have compared it to Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police at 12 years old because he had a toy gun. Rittenhouse had a real gun that he used to commit murder and was not stopped by police, but Rice was deprived of his life for playing with a toy one. Many police have been noticed to abuse their power, and this is just one of the instances where it has gone to the greatest extent. If you take the badge off, they are just people, and people should get the same repercussions no matter what title they have.
News | By: Layla Hussein
Every four years, the United States Democratic Party hosts the Democratic National Convention to not only confirm a candidate for president and vice president, but invite distinguished Democratic officials to unify the party and adopt a comprehensive party platform. In 2016, history was made when Hillary Clinton was the first female nominee of a major political party, and in socially-distanced 2020, Kamala Harris made history as the first Black and South Asian-American woman to be included on a presidential ticket for a major political party. While 2020’s DNC transpired in the midst of a modern-day Civil Rights movement and a global pandemic, that did not stop the Democratic Party from voicing their objectives and making bold statements—despite having limited time frames to speak—in what may be one of the most important nights in 2020.
Here are the main highlights that you may have missed from the keynote speakers throughout August 17 to August 20, 2020 in the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Andrew Cuomo Targeted Federal Approach Towards COVID-19
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo was one of the keynote speakers on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Within the span of four minutes, Cuomo managed to deliver a powerful speech that addressed the misfortunes of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation, especially as he dealt with NY having the highest infection rates to now having one of the lowest nationwide.
While President Trump acts in a dismissive manner when inquired about the nation’s approach with alleviating the pandemic, Governor Cuomo was unafraid to admit to America’s poor system when battling COVID-19, as he accentuates the relationship between an incompetent government and the loss of American lives. The government determines whether we thrive and grow or whether we live or die, and to fulfill the prospect of a thriving America, Cuomo ends his speech with a potential solution; a solution where a leader can guide America through its hardships, and in Cuomo’s eyes, that leader is Joe Biden.
Bernie Sanders Highlighted Democratic Socialism
United States Senator Bernard Sanders delivered an 8-minute speech that directly delved into the socio-economic issues of America. He began his speech with a simple, warm welcome straight into a reality check: “Our great nation is now living in an unprecedented moment.”
A myriad of various issues erupting from the pandemic has transformed into our new “normal”. Before Sanders outlined his vision for a Democratic America, he warned people that this way of life is unacceptable. Sanders revealed Trump’s negligence in not only protecting the lives of minorities and sustaining a stable economy, but also how his recent responses of preventing people from voting and threatening to delay the election have shifted into an authoritarian approach. The manipulative behavior of Trump in an attempt to achieve what he desires is not the America that Sanders envisions.
Along with revealing Trump’s sheer authoritarianism, Sanders mentioned the point that after six months when America faced the pandemic, we’re still unprepared. Sanders added that Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic, while refusing to take strong action to produce the masks, gowns, and gloves our healthcare workers desperately need.
Sanders continued to note Trump’s failure in adhering to his promises during the 2016 election. His assurance of protecting working families, Social Security, and Medicare all evidently seemed to not happen four years later at the end of his presidency. But, throughout his defense for democracy and spotlighting the economic crisis at stake, Sanders closed his speech with an important reminder of his faith towards Joe Biden and what he stands by. Biden supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, will make it easier for workers to join unions, make child care affordable for millions of families, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and combat climate change, and many more. “My friends,” Sanders said, “the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”
‘Donald Trump is the Wrong President for our Country’
“He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” In the course of 18 minutes, former first lady Michelle Obama directly stated what’s best for our nation, and that’s having President Trump out of the office. Michelle reminded America how robust empathy is when dealing with unfamiliarities, as the nation can treat each other’s differences with respect rather than disdain.
AOC Underlined the Need for Systemic Change in 96 Seconds
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recognized the movements that confront the detrimental issues America is facing today, including social, economic, and human rights like assured health care, labor rights, and living wages to “the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia”.
She closed her brief, albeit powerful speech to second the nomination of Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont for president of the United States of America
Bill Clinton Laid the Sheer Differences between Trump and Biden
Former President Bill Clinton summarized Trump’s approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic in merely three words: blame, bully, and belittle. Similarly to Governor Cuomo’s speech, Clinton uncovered Trump’s failed optimism that made him ignore the severity of the pandemic earlier in 2020. The government, in what should be a Command Center according to Clinton, is now a storm center. Trump has ignored the advice from experts and the signals from reporters to acknowledge the damage he has done for America.
“Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”
Clinton continued to note the heroic efforts of Joe Biden when America dealt with heavy socio-economic problems from the past. During the 2009 recession, a period with the worst economy since the Great Depression, Joe Biden and Barack Obama managed to deliver more than six straight years of job growth. Their work surrounding the Recovery Act revived the economy by creating a plethora of jobs and starting new companies in communities across America. Clinton further outlined Biden’s plan to build America up again, and closed his speech with a powerful remark of the fate of America.
Hillary Clinton Reminded Us the Importance of Voting
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reminded us that you can win the popular vote yet still lose the election, as she recounted on her loss of the 2016 election due to the Electoral College. As people frequently tell Clinton their regrets of not voting, in which Clinton stated in her speech as “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, she emphasized why people must vote now more than ever. “We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can't sneak or steal his way to victory.”
Hillary Clinton implored the American public to vote for parents struggling to balance their child’s education and safety, health care workers fighting COVID-19 with no support from the White House, paid family leave and health care for all, law enforcements that serve and respect communities of color, and more.
Kamala Harris Accepts Her Nomination as Vice President
The Democratic vice presidential nominee delivered a heartfelt speech that began with the lessons her and her sister, Maya Harris, learned from their trailblazing mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris. Shyamala raised her two children alone after her divorce with Donald Harris when Kamala was five. Kamala recollected on the various lessons from her mother in the beginning of her speech: to be proud of their Black and Indian identity, to put family first, to see a world beyond themselves, to be conscious and compassionate towards the struggles of all people, and to believe public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is a shared responsibility.
Kamala implements the values her mother taught her in her day to day life. As the world grieves the loss of life, normalcy, and certainty, Kamala recognized how these struggles are exacerbated in marginalized communities, where the effects of structural racism produces inequities in education and technology, health care and housing, job security and transportation. “And let's be clear—there is no vaccine for racism. We've gotta do the work.”
“It’s not about Joe or me. It’s about you.” Kamala shifted the perspective to focus on the tremendous work Americans have done, and encouraged her audience to fight with her and Biden.
Brayden Harrington Shared how Joe Biden Helped Him with Stutter
13-year-old Brayden Harrington from New Hampshire delivered a short, yet empowering speech to discuss how Joe Biden, who also grew up with a stutter, helped him cope. “It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became Vice President,” said Harrington after his first experience with meeting Biden. “I'm just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time Joe Biden made me more confident about something that's bothered me my whole life. Joe Biden cared.”
Tribute to Beau Biden
Beyond politics, America had the chance to see Joe Biden as a human being. A special tribute dedicated to Beau Biden was presented on the final night at the DNC. Beau was an American politician, attorney, and officer in the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps from Wilmington, Delaware. But in closed doors, Beau was a husband, father, brother, and son, who unfortunately passed away on March 30, 2015, due to brain cancer. The indescribable feeling of loss Joe dealt with allowed the American audience to understand Joe’s compassion and empathy.
Joe Biden Accepts Nomination for President of the USA
The Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered his 25-minute speech that managed to captivate his audience as he addressed the need of character, compassion, and decency. He detailed the overwhelming statistics that has become a reality for America: 5 million Americans infected with COVID-19, more than 170,000 Americans have died, more than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year, more than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year, and nearly one in 6 small businesses have closed this year. If Trump is reelected, Biden warned, then these statistics will simply escalate.
His progressive ideas follow a clear plan that Biden introduced in his speech; his first step as president is to get control of the virus that ruined our nation. Biden acknowledged that life will never return to normal if we do not deal with the root of the problem, as we lead the world in confirmed cases and deaths for COVID-19. “In short,” Biden said, “I will do what we should have done from the very beginning.”
Furthermore, Biden informed America with his familiar feeling of grief after dealing with the loss of his mother, father, wife, daughter, and son. His coping mechanisms to find purpose in times of sorrow galvanized him to seek purpose in our nation.
Biden plans to rebuild our economy with modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports and airports, as well as pipes that transport clean water to every community, 5 million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America, a health care system that lowers premiums, deductibles, and drug prices, an education system that trains our people for the best jobs of the 21st century, and so much more. He will deal with climate change and protect Social Security and Medicare as president.
Biden delineated one of his most important conversations during his campaign—six-year-old Gianna Floyd, daughter of George Floyd. “When I leaned down to speak with her,” said Biden, “she looked into my eyes and said ‘Daddy changed the world.' Her words burrowed deep into my heart.”
He closed his speech by citing words from the Irish poet Seamus Heaney in his attempt to make hope and history rhyme for his election.