By: Hana Mariappa
Every four years, typically, three presidential and one vice-presidential debates are held with the democratic and republican candidates. On October 7, the Vice Presidential debate was held in Kingsbury Hall, Utah. Senator Kamala Harris and vice president Mike Pence debated for the spot in the upcoming 2020 election. Susan Page of USA Today was the moderator of the debate.
Overview of Participants
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is the first African-American, first woman, and first Asian-American woman to run on a major political party's presidential ticket. She is currently the senator of California. The Republican vice presidential nominee is Mike Pence. Currently, he is the vice president of the United States. Formally, he has served in the house of representatives for the 6th district of Indiana. Susan Page is the current Washington chief bureau for USA Today. Typically, USA Today has been known to report slightly left news; however, Susan Page came into some heat when she was announced as a moderator. Earlier in September, Page hosted a party to celebrate Seema Verma’s nomination by President Trump. Many believed this would influence her moderation during the debate.
The debate started with the topic of COVID-19. Much of the debate surrounded the topic of COVID-19 as last week it was announced that President Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Harris got the first question regarding how the Trump administration had handled COVID-19. She repeatedly referenced back to the news, which came out earlier this week, that the Trump administration knew about the COVID-19 in January and downplayed the severity of the virus. In regards to COVID-19, Pence pointed out how the administration put the travel ban early on. He then stated that President Trump had banned all travel to and from China. However, this is incorrect. Trump did not suspend all travel from China. He barred non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China, but there were 11 exceptions, and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan were not included. U.S. citizens and permanent residents could still travel from China but were subject to screening and possible 14-day quarantine. Pence continued by saying that the Biden-Harris administration’s plan is very similar to the steps that the Trump administration had taken already. Susan Page then asked how the citizens were expected to follow COVID-19 guidelines when the White House could not even follow them (Referencing the Rose Garden Party that spiked the number of COVID cases within the Republican leaders). Pence dodged the question. Pence instead brought up how when Joe Biden was vice president, his team handled the swine flu poorly and that it could have easily escalated as much as the coronavirus. (The swine flu was not as lethal as COVID-19 with 12,500 deaths in the US). Pence still blames China for the coronavirus in the US while Harris blames the Trump administration management for the coronavirus in the US.
On the topic of healthcare, Pence criticized Biden’s performance with the Obamacare act. Harris decided to express her disapproval on the decision of the Trump administration to remove the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administrations’ decisions would also mean that people with preexisting conditions would not receive treatment under their healthcare plan.
Pence repeatedly stated and emphasized during the debate, “If you vote for Biden, your taxes will be raised.” However, this is untrue as Biden has clarified multiple times on his website and his campaign that he will only raise taxes on people making over $400,000.
Many Republican politicians are very passionate about the topic of fracking. Pence falsely claimed that if Biden became elected, he would ban fracking. He noted that millions of jobs would be lost from the abolishment of fracking. However, the Biden administration has said that they would not ban fracking; Joe Biden would prohibit new permits on fracking on land however, let the previous operations continue.
The Justice System
The story of Breonna Taylor was shed light on during the debate. Harris clearly stated that justice had not been done regarding her case. She also described that she was attending the peaceful protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. Pence offered sympathies to her family but stated that justice had been done. He then went on to criticize the protests for the Black Lives Matter movement stating that the riots caused many fires and destruction that cities are still facing the repercussions.
Kamala Harris refused to answer the question concerning packing the courts when elected. However, she deferred the question by raising the fact that the Trump administration is hypocritical as they have already packed the courts. (Over 50 of the judges’ appointed by President Trump for a lifetime are white)
With Amy Barrett’s nomination for the supreme court, the topic of women’s rights was also brought up during the debate. Pence stated that the democrats were too concerned with Barrett’s faith and that it will not have an effect on her judgment. However, many are concerned that her Chrisitan beliefs would interfere with abortion laws in the country. Harris stated that it is a women’s choice on what she wants to do with her body. Pence hopped around the topic of abortion but ended his argument with “I am pro-life.”
Pence brought up the trade war with China during the debate several times stating that the US won and glorified the trade war. However, Harris was not afraid to point out how the US economy would now suffer due to the defeat in the trade war. During the debate, Pence interrupted Harris 10 times. While Harris interrupted Pence 5 times. It is also noted that Pence spread false information about a multitude of topics but not limited to: his response to COVID-19, false claims against the Biden administration (their approach on climate change, taxes, and healthcare plans).
By: Bonne Leung
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during the Cinema Café at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Filmmaker Lodge on Jan. 21 in Park City, Utah. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images.
Waking up to a world changed, as it would turn out, is a shockingly mundane experience. On the 19th of September, I woke up to the sound of my iPhone’s alarm going off, the dreaded ‘radar’ noise pulling me away from that senseless void and back into the four walls of my bedroom, cast with a blue-grey shadow from the heavy clouds drooping from unfallen rain. I went about my morning rituals, getting out of bed and scrolling through my Instagram notifications, checking what people have sent me on Snapchat, and put it away to go get ready for school. Again, stupefyingly mundane.
I sat down for breakfast with my Mum, the smell of her morning coffee, and the itching of my school sweatshirt before I correctly adjusted it comfortingly familiar. The condiments clinked together as they stirred from their sleep, light flooding the refrigerator as I reached for the tub of yogurt. Returning with my breakfast, as one might read the morning paper, I continued to scroll through my Instagram feed. Colourful artworks streamed past, white hearts appearing beneath my thumb, reading poems and writings as they came up. Then, a black and white picture, stark against the myriads of colours on my screen. It was of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rectangular glasses perched upon her nose, dressed in her usual attire of a judge’s robes and a lace collar. I smiled. A powerful woman first thing at 7:43 AM is always a welcoming sight. But reading the caption, I froze.
I can’t recall what was written exactly, the post lost in the endless currents of memes, but I do remember the white heart and the dove. The world stopped around me, my spoon of yogurt halfway through its journey to my lips, my mother’s question about my plans after school was forgotten. I frantically opened Safari, fingers shaking with each key I pressed, the dreaded question unfurling: ‘Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead?’ Deceased. The emboldened word read, harsh on the white screen. March 15, 1933 - September 18, 2020. It had been announced while I was lost in darkness’ embrace, and emerging from it, I had awoken to a world changed. You would think that waking up to such a doleful declaration would garner some feeling of dread or premonition of something being off even before you find out what exactly happened. Yet, the aftermath of the death of a woman I had looked up to felt just as ordinary as any other day.
World leaders, celebrities, people from all around the world mourned the loss of a revolutionary, and as we approach the third week of a world without her, let us remember her for who she was, and all that she has done for us.
Who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933, to a low-income family in Brooklyn, the New Yorker’s infamy would grow and lead her to become a pop culture icon, referred to as ‘a titan of justice’. She attended Cornell University in 1950, finishing first in her class, and going on to marry Martin Ginsburg (who had also attended Cornell) in the same year. She went on to study at Harvard Law School in 1956, shortly after the birth of her daughter. Entering the law school with her husband, she was confronted by a hostile male-dominated environment, with only eight other female students in her class of 500. To illustrate the prejudice that Ginsburg had to face, she and the other women enrolled in the law school were invited to a dinner with the dean, where they were lambasted for daring to take up places of ‘more qualified males’. However, she would become the first woman to ever make the Harvard Law Review, a prestigious law journal, and when she transferred to Columbia Law School, she was also elected for the Columbia Law Review too, becoming the first person to have ever been elected for two distinguished law journals.
If you’re still not yet convinced that she was a woman with serious zeal, it’s worth mentioning that she had accomplished these feats while bringing up a young daughter, taking care of her husband who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, taking notes for him in class, and all the while being a woman during the 1950s. She graduated from Columbia in 1959, but despite finishing at the top of her class (again), she continued to encounter gender discrimination. No law firm was willing to interview her, much less hire her. She was eventually hired and started to clerk for District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri. After her clerkship, she went on to teach at Rutgers University Law School in 1963, and then became the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law School in 1972. During this time, she was also the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, for which she argued six landmark cases of gender discrimination before the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg had been a strong believer in ‘gender-blind law’ and that all groups deserved equal rights. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the second-ever female justice. There, in the high court where she served for twenty-seven years, she would continue to advocate for gender equality. Ginsburg would become a pop-culture icon in 2013 when a New York University student created a Tumblr account with the name ‘Notorious RBG’ as a play on Biggie Smalls’ ‘Notorious B.I.G’ nickname, despite her small build.
Even in death, she is making history, becoming the first-ever woman to lie in state in the U.S. capital. The honour of such a feat had only ever been reserved for men, with only presidents, vice-presidents, and members of congress making up the some three-dozen recorded lay-ins.
What did Ruth Bader Ginsburg do for us?
It’s hard to imagine a woman with Ginsburg’s stature—standing at a mere 5 feet—to cut such an imposing figure in the courtroom, but imposing she was as she uttered her most famous phrase in the face of inequality: “I dissent.”
Here are five things that RBG has done not only for women but for all of us.
1. Advocated for women’s education.
Up until 1996, state-funded schools, which are institutions subsidized by tax-payer dollars, could bar women from enrolling. Ginsburg argued in the United States v. Virginia case that it was unconstitutional to bar women from educational institutes funded by taxpayer money. “There is no reason to believe that the admission of women capable of all the activities required of (Virginia Military Institute) cadets would destroy the institute rather than enhance its capacity to serve the ‘more perfect union,’’’ she wrote for the majority opinion. The case had a 7-to-1 decision, the majority agreeing that the male-only admissions at the Virginia Military Institute were unconstitutional as it offered its male cadets more opportunities than the female cadets from the associated Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership.
2. Preserved women’s right to choose.
In the Struck v. Secretary of Defence case, an Air Force Captain who was given an ultimatum when she became pregnant: get an abortion or be discharged from the military. Captain Susan Struck, who was Roman-Catholic, did not want to get the procedure, and instead arranged for the child to be adopted and use her leave for pregnancy. Despite this, she was dismissed, and so the legal battle began.
Ginsburg, who had been working for the ACLU at the time, would represent the captain, proving that she had been an advocate for women’s rights long before she presided on the high court. She prepared for the case to be heard before the Supreme Court, but it was dismissed before it could. Struck’s discharge was waived and the Air Force policy was changed. However, in the Roe v. Wade case, Jane Roe (a fictional name used to protect the identity of the plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade and challenged the Texas law that made abortion illegal except in the case of a doctor’s orders to save a woman’s life. She alleged that the laws were unconstitutional and abridged her rights of personal privacy. Ginsburg believed that restricting access to abortion impeded gender equality, and by winning the case, it essentially legalized the procedure across the states.
3. Legalised same-sex marriages.
Had the Obergefell v. Hodges case in 2015 ended any other way, same-sex couples may not have the rights to marriage that they have now. The case came to a 5-4 decision, so without Ginsburg, the outcome might have been very different. The case recognized the bans on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional, subsequently striking down bans in every state and legalizing the practice throughout the country.
4. Fought for equality, regardless of gender.
In the Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue case, Ginsburg represented a man named Charles Mortiz, who was the sole caretaker of his elderly mother but was denied caregiver tax deduction because he was an unmarried man. She fought for the notion that law should not be decided based on sex. Winning the case for Ginsburg meant finding her ‘foundational argument’ against gender-based discrimination.
5. Paved the way towards equal pay.
The Ledbetter v. Goodyear case was an integral step towards equal pay. Lily Ledbetter had worked at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Plant in Alabama for more than two decades, endured sexual harassment, and stated that she was paid less than her similarly titled male colleagues because of her sex. The 5-4 decision ruled that Ledbetter’s complaint didn’t comply with the statute of limitations period as she didn’t file for discrimination when her first paycheck was disbursed. However, less than two years later, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law, which made discriminatory pay to be able to be filed without such strict time restrictions.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pictured here celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, passed away on Friday at the age of 87. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images) THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES
How should we remember her?
As I am writing this on the 1st of October, the world has been nearly two weeks without one of the loudest voices that advocated for gender equality. Her casket was buried beside her beloved husband on the 29th, finally put to rest after tirelessly striving to change the world. But, now what? How should we remember her? How will we remember her?
For me, I’ll always remember her as the person that sparked my interest in law—in what I could accomplish if I worked hard enough. I’ll always remember her as the woman who was adamant in her decision to feminise a traditionally man’s garments, donning her lace collars not as accessories but as armour. As for the Notorious RBG herself, she said simply this when asked how she wanted to be remembered: “Just as someone who did whatever she could—with whatever limited talent she had—to move society along in the direction I would like it to be for my children and grandchildren.”
It should also be noted that one of her last wishes was to be replaced after the Presidential Election was over, saying on Twitter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” However, rumours of conservative Amy Coney Barrett to be appointed for her replacement surfaced a mere four days after the former Justice’s death. This replacement could skew the court’s ideological balance, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority. The nominated judge was humbled by the nomination, saying, “I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court… Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me,″ Barrett said. “She not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them—and, for that, she has won the admiration of women across the country.” This not only goes against Ginsburg’s final wishes but could endanger the future of women’s rights in the U.S.
Ginsburg’s legacy should be remembered as unwaveringly righteous in her pursuit of equality for all, regardless of gender, age, sex, race, or sexuality. Amy Coney Barrett could pose a threat to what she strove to do, threatening health care and reproductive rights for all. To learn more about President Trump’s nominee, visit https://demandjustice.org/stop-amy-coney-barrett/ and if you wish, sign the petition. If you’re in the United States, you can email your senators and representatives to demand no confirmation until the inauguration. Resources all in the link provided.
By: Layla Hussein | Opinion
The cultural influences of the African American community have not only shaped American culture, but rather the entire world, with influences ranging from fashion, the arts, to even agriculture, yet African Americans rarely receive recognition for their contributions that are all stored in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In what is known to be a ‘universal language’ that unites individuals of all demographics, music has historically been a symbol of hope and integrity for African Americans. From what began as a way to bond with fellow slaves while easing the drudgery of their lives, music has flourished into a pivotal component of America’s overall cultural heritage. Their dance tunes, religious music, and hip hop influences makes it nearly impossible to envision America without the African American influence.
Where it all began
The earliest forms of African American musical traditions derived from western and central Africa before arriving to the United States through the Middle Passage, where Africans were packed onto ships and transported across the Atlantic to the West Indies. During slavery, music was essential to teach lessons, pass African history and traditions, relay secret messages, and alleviate their agony. Although treated as animals, music allowed the chance for slaves to discover each other’s life stories. Slaves brought their knowledge of West African musical instruments, such as drums, zithers, xylophones, and the banjo; in fact, the banjo was the first African derived instrument to be built and played in the United States, exemplifying how Africans blended African and European musical traditions. Eventually, banjo makers gradually adapted their instruments to conform to European tuning systems, resulting in a truly American instrument that incorporated Western music theory even as its design recalled its African models.
After slave masters learned that these instruments were largely used as an obscure gateway of communication among several African communities, they banned the use of drums. However, this did not stop the cadence of the African community as they naturally resorted to another form of communication: rhythmic singing and dancing. Hand clapping and feet tapping instead of using drums, with dances like breakdowns, shuffles, jigs, and the strut became a significant constituent of the New World culture. West African tribal dances transformed into “step” dances, and tribal melodies became song styles like the “shout” and “echo”.
Two of some of the most prominent musical influences from enslaved Africans during this time are spirituals and the blues. Africans in America combined traditional European hymns with African elements to create spirituals, later blooming into gospel music. These spirituals described the hardships of slavery while enabling slaves to envision a world with freedom. At first, christianity was forced upon slaves, but after the slave population became fascinated by Biblical stories, spirituals served as a way to express African American’s newly found faith, all containing sorrow, hopeful, and protest songs. Instead of singing America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, many African Americans sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in lieu of it. As many African American children were taught this song at church, school, or with their families, this song was known to be a popular way for African Americans to express their faith, solidarity, and optimism, making it adopted as the “Negro National Anthem” by the NAACP in 1919.
After the end of the Civil War prompted the abolition of slavery, the struggles of African Americans did not end, but another musical genre from them swept the country: the blues. Although free, most of the South remained poor, and music was the solution to express their sheer disappointment. Artists like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were not only one of the earliest professional blues singers, but the most popular among them all, storing their cultural heritage that progressively became mainstream.
The Birth of Jazz: “America’s Classic Music”
Between the late 19th century and early 20th century, a new sound from African American musicians rose to fame after World War I: Jazz. Due to the technological innovations at the time, like radios and phonograph records, this contributed to the worldwide popularity of jazz and other genres, such as swing, blues, and ragtime. Originating straight from the African American communities of New Orleans, the smooth harmonies of jazz reflected the diversity of cultural influences from West Africa to the West Indies, blending various styles of traditional African music to become a unique, international genre. Jazz was played from coast-to-coast, and as its popularity continuously expanded, the 1920s became known as the Jazz Age while also being linked with the Roaring Twenties, a time of prosperous economic growth in America.
Many jazz soloists soon made their first appearances in areas like Kansas City, Chicago, and New York, with notable figures being Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Louis Armstrong. Famous entertainment venues like the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club came to epitomize the Jazz Age. Soon enough, jazz became tremendously popular that it expanded to America’s white middle class.
Throughout the 1920s, jazz boosted America’s cultural status as it impacted almost every aspect of life, from fashion trends and dancing to even moral standards and race relations. It had a profound effect on the literary world, where poetry and music soon began to merge. Jazz even gave motivation for women to defeat the standards that society has in store for them, furthering the Women’s Liberation Movement. They felt encouraged to rebel against the traditional sex role designated for them and wanted to be seen as more than a house mom. As jazz opened copious job opportunities for women in the music industry, it managed to address the gender issue of having popular music predominantly performed by male. For the first time in American history, the culture of the minority became a desire of the majority.
Impact of R&B and Rock And Roll
Additionally, Rock And Roll, R&B, doo wop, and soul developed in the mid 20th century and swiftly rose to fame in white audiences, influencing other genres like surf.
When many African Americans migrated to northern cities during the Great Migration, they symbolically carried their culture too, and were able to make transitions into urban environments and the marketplace. Beginning in Detroit, a new, fresh sound with a faster beat, more bass, and fewer instruments came into the music world as “Rhythm and Blues” (R&B).
Rock and roll took inspiration from R&B, as well as gospel, jazz, and jump buggies. Though no one can claim inventing rock and roll, influential figures like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe often shed light on the Black influence of rock and roll.
In an interview with Time in 2001, Little Richard noted how rock and roll started out as rhythm and blues. "There wasn't nobody playing it at the time but black people—myself, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry. White kids started paying more attention to this music, white girls were going over to this music, they needed somebody to come in there—like Elvis."
Yet despite the lack of credit given to the Black community with rock and roll, this musical genre acted as an instance of “cultural collision” throughout history that united both Black and White people simply because they enjoyed the music, such as through the Civil Rights Movement.
The Role of Music in the Civil Rights Movement
As an era dedicated to fighting for the end of institutionalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation through civil resistance, music played a crucial role to lift the spirits of African Americans. Not only did it encourage activists, but it was activism itself. It motivated people through long marches and supplied psychological strength to victims of harassment due to the color of their skin. Music cleansed the soul of Black people and allowed them to express their vulnerability to the world, as it was also essential to raise money for civil rights organizations.
As a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s Freedom Singers, Bernice Johnson Reagon described how music brought people of all backgrounds together when marching for the same cause. “For many people like me, the highest point of our lives was when we gathered in those mass meetings, and when we marched... we were bonded to each other, not because we went to school together, or were in the same social club. Not because we worked on the same job, but because we had decided that we would put everything on the line to fight racism in our community.”
Meet the Bronx, the Birthplace of Hip Hop
Hip hop is more than just an art form, but a way of connecting people of different backgrounds while speaking out on social issues. It impacts the lives of old and new generations, all emerging from The Bronx during the early 1970s. At the time, the city’s deteriorating economy due to the decline of the manufacturing industry and construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway brought heavy social challenges that affected living conditions. As white middle class families moved to suburban communities to escape the economic burdens of The Bronx, poverty and violence escalated in neighborhoods populated by African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Carribean immigrants.
As many economic opportunities and entertainment sources dwindled, the youth turned to the Bronx streets as their form of expression. Music soon became a creative outlet for people to deal with violence, hardship, and anger, all while confronting racial barriers.
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica up until the age of 10, Clive Campbell—commonly referred to as DJ Kool Herc—is credited for creating hip hop from a birthday party in a Bronx apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. DJ Kool Herc span records at parties and talked over records he spun, but instead of being known for rapping, his observance over a crowd’s reaction to different parts of a song made him entirely unique, soon spurring a global hip hop movement with a rise in breakdancing and rapping.
Other notable figures from New York City, like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, were essential to making hip hop thrive. Around the mid 1980s and early 1990s, hip hop officially became a force to be reckoned with through its movement spanning across the country. Record labels were invested in this musical genre as it soon became mainstream.
Through the passage of time, the lyricism in hip hop raps developed, reflecting a range of subjects in society where artists like Melle Mel, Rakim, and Warp 9 redefined the art of rapping to another level. Additional new school rappers helped center more attention around hip hop, like RUN DMC, L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, and so much more. What propelled hip hop even further is its own fashion identity, with several clothes, shoes, and accessories becoming the genre’s form of expression. Even slang became mainstream, with words being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Needless to say, the music industry and America overall would not be the same without hip hop.
Impact of Black Culture in the Music Industry
The Black community has clearly impacted almost every music genre, with its historical contributions tracing back to their darkest moments in American history.
Today, and even in the past, it is apparent that many non-Black artists take inspiration from African American culture, to which many of them recognize that their song/fashion is influenced from Black culture. K-Pop, for example, is indubitably one of the fastest-growing music genres, with artists like BTS making history at American award ceremonies and with their record-breaking albums. Many K-Pop artists adopt hip-hop beats and flows, street fashion, dance traditions and R&B vocal runs, and while some artists are open about these influences, many others, however, are not. But with the recent events over the death of George Floyd and the murder of Breonna Taylor, K-Pop artists are taking into accountability of how their music industry profits off of Black culture. K-Pop artist and drag princess Soju tagged Korean music companies in a meaningful note on Twitter: “It breaks my heart that the K-pop industry I love and cherish profits so much from the Black community, but still refuses to stand up for them. What do the agencies have to lose by voicing their support?”
What’s more, many of the most iconic singers in modern day history are black artists: Tupac, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys, Jay Z, and the list goes on. These artists have set the bar not just for music, but in society, with many non-Black artists like Adele, Billie Eilish, and Eminem openly stating the impact that Black music had on their life and career paths.
Has it Reached a Point of Appropriating Black Culture?
Black culture beyond its music influences has become so mainstream to the point where people are often unaware of the meaning behind their music and fashion choices. As white artists become the faces of almost every music genre, there is a lack of credit given to the historical influences of the Black community.
White rappers like Post Malone and Iggy Azalea are highly accused of appropriating African American music. The “White Iverson” and “Rockstar” artist Post Malone embraces his hop hop and rap music while not being aware of the culture behind it. Malone told an interviewer in Poland, “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop.” He continued to say, “Whenever I want to sit down and have a nice cry, I’ll listen to some Bob Dylan. But whenever I’m trying to have a good time and stay in a positive mood, I listen to hip-hop because it’s fun. I think hip-hop is important because it brings people together in a beautiful, happy way. Everybody’s happy.”
This infuriated the Black community knowing that hip-hop discusses almost all themes of life, and if you can’t find hip-hop that makes you want to cry or think about life, you’re either not looking very hard or you’re listening in a way that precludes you from hearing any emotion you can relate to. Iggy Azalea has also dealt with controversy of being a white Australian rapper that escalated to hip-hop stardom. Many critics took offense to her accent with her sounds and syntax closely matching “African American English” by linguists in a July paper.
Black Artists YOU Need to Support
At a time of a modern-day Civil Rights Movement where African Americans are still fighting tirelessly for racial equity amid a global pandemic and a deteriorating economy, now more than ever is the time to support Black artists. Their culture shapes America, so let’s continue to support Black artists and acknowledge their history before shamelessly mimicking it. There are several resources online for you to learn about undiscovered Black musicians who are greatly contributing to the music industry. A simple choice of changing who you listen to has larger effects for being an ally in the Black Lives Matter Movement. It takes small steps from our own music taste and lifestyle habits to fully become aware of the institutionalized racism in artists you once may have supported unknowingly.
By: Kiana Maria
On August 28th, the world lost a king. Chadwick Boseman, a beloved actor, died due to his long fight with Colon Cancer. From Hollywood to a sixteen-year-old girl poet in New Jersey, the world felt the pain of losing him. Whether you saw him first in Black Panther, or you knew of him when he played Jackie Robinson in 42, Chadwick was a man of many talents. His acting told stories that needed to be shared with the world. Even though he is gone, his presence will always remain in our hearts.
Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born in 1976 in South Carolina. He soon attended Howard University and the British American Drama Academy. In the 2000’s he made a name for himself on television shows such as CSI: NY and All My Children. He soon received a recurring role on ABC’s Lincoln Heights. Later on, he even starred in hit blockbusters such as 42, Black Panther, 21 Bridges, and Get on Up. He even played the Black Panther in many other Marvel films besides his own. His work and dedication to the arts will remain in both American and Hollywood history.
Even though he was a huge movie star, he still took the time to give back to the community. His fight with Colon Cancer was private with the world for four years. During that time he shot movies, attended big events, but managed to make time to visit children with cancer in hospitals. He went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee two years ago. He not only brought toys but even his smile to make the children feel better. Chadwick met with them right before the arrival of Black Panther, Marvel’s first African American superhero debut film. He explained on a SiriusXM Interview an encounter with two boys from the hospital who anticipated the film. He stated, “Just to experience those two little boys' anticipation of this movie,” ... “Yeah. It means a lot." (Acevedo) It was soon revealed that the boys he spoke about died from Cancer before the movie was released. He inspired so many young children, and he became the first superhero that many children can identify with who hadn’t before.
As mentioned before, one of his most talked-about films is Black Panther. There is no doubt that his co-stars were hit in hard ways when they heard the loss of their friend and colleague. Michael B. Jordan, who played his long lost cousin in Black Panther stated in an Instagram post, “One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked, and now the truth of that means more to me than ever. Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create a legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning, and constantly motivated by your greatness.” … “I wish we had more time.” He left a huge impact on everyone in this world, and it will be hard to not be able to see him in more films.
Chadwick Aaron Boseman was a man who changed the story in Hollywood history. Between taking on huge pop culture characters such as Jackie Robinson and James Brown to being Marvel’s first African American superhero, he will be unforgettable. Chadwick, you gave little girls and boys a superhero that looks like them, and that has been a debt owed by Hollywood for too long. May a man of his stature rest in peace and power.
Acevedo, Nicole. “Chadwick Boseman Visited Children with Cancer While Waging Private Battle with the Disease.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 29 Aug. 2020,
“Chadwick Boseman.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 31 Aug. 2020, www.biography.com/actor/chadwick-boseman.
Written by: Luca Iposi
Colleferro, Rome- September 6th, 2020. It is around 2.30am when Willy Monteiro Duarte, a 21-year-old teenager born from his Cape Verdean parents in Italy, was hanging out with some friends when he notices an ongoing fight.
Four men- Gabriele and his brother Marco Bianchi, Francesco Belleggia and Mario Pincarelli, all between the ages of 22 and 26 had started a fight with one of Willy’s classmates, Zurma. Willy decides to go over and try to break the fight but gets caught in the middle of it, while Zurma manages to run away the four men keep beating him up while his friends watch helpless. The two Bianchi brothers are experts in martial arts, so Willy has no chance to defend himself and the last few hits come while he screams, “Stop, stop, stop! I can’t breathe anymore,” until he was not able to get up anymore. The four men leave him on the ground, incapable of breathing, and at 5am Willy’s death is ruled by local authorities.
During the investigation, some racist comments left online by the Bianchi brothers resurface, including many with the use of the n-word and the police adds racism as one of the motives for Willy’s homicide, but it is most likely to be excluded since Willy wasn’t the four men’s target.
Three of the four men are not imprisoned and in isolation while the fourth is in house arrest.
Whether the reason behind the beating and homicide is racist or not this case has brought up the racist face of Italy.
One of the guilty men’s parents came out to his son’s defence saying they hadn’t done anything wrong, they’d “[…] just killed an immigrant”, as well as a 23-year-old student from Treviso who referred to the killers as “heroes” for “killing a chimpanzee”.
These are just a few examples of racist tweets that have appeared online following Willy’s tragic death where people clearly expressed that, since Willy was black and his parents were immigrants, his life did not matter that much.
This happens in the same Italy where right-wing politicians blame African immigrants for the increasing numbers of Covid-19 and say the government is moving them from one refugee camp to the other to spread the virus throughout all of the country.
In the same Italy where Lega (one of the main parties in Italy) asks the local administration of Bergamo, Northern Italy, to forbid immigrants from using busses during certain times of the day to leave more room on said busses for students.
The same Italy where people think a black person’s life has so little value that they would rather them drown in the Mediterranean Sea than must welcome them in their country.
Willy was murdered in a horrible way and had no faults in what happened other than wanting to help a friend and some people were only able to say was attack the victim for the colour of his skin.
The racism in Italy has become impossible to hide and deny and that’s why we need the Black Lives Matter movement to be relevant now more than ever.
Written by: Dachel Fohne
Hot Topics/ Activism
In a report released by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention on September 9, 2020, the use of electronic cigarettes in high schoolers has decreased 7.9% (1.09 million teenagers) as compared to 2019. The new statistics prove an accomplishment for a culture heavily reliant on substances. Though, whether or not these numbers will last is a tale only time will tell.
Popular media and music consistently seem to glorify the use of drugs, especially with upcoming genres such as emo rap that suggest self medicating through intoxication and musicians dying from overdoses. Pop culture has nearly desensitized society to a life revolving around the normalization of drugs. It is understandable as to why teenagers would think it would be a good idea to explore what drugs could possibly do to ease their problems. The CDC found that the main reason (55.3%) why middle and high school students tried vaping was due to being curious about it.
Along with the influences to do drugs, there are also constantly new reasons for teenagers to feel the need to use illegal substances. For many people, substance use is seen as a way to escape reality. As we all know, 2020 has been a chaotic year with political crossfire, social reform, Covid-19 itself, and laws changing daily on how to handle living amidst the pandemic. So much change will inevitably cause unique turmoil for each generation.
A May 2020 study done by National 4–H Council and The Harris Poll of 1,516 13-19 year olds showed that 81% believed mental health is a crisis in the United States and 70% had personally faced mental health challenges. Major stressors in their current life included school work (71%), future uncertainty (65%), and newfound loneliness (61%). Naturally, we humans try to find ways to cope with our problems. However, when we feel unable to express the way we feel about our problems to others we try to help ourselves. The Harris Poll even reported 67% of teens feeling pressured to keep their feelings to themselves, and another 67% feeling the need to act happy for others not to worry about them.
Coincidentally, 37% of teens surveyed felt the need to worry about their friends trying smoking/vaping, while 15% admitted to using an increase of drugs to cope with their stress.
Why did the CDC’s number of teenage vapers decrease in times of such influence and stress? A possible factor includes the lack of access to e-cigarettes, considering the main source of access to these devices often come from friends or sellers. Ever since quarantine orders and online learning, social interaction has been significantly reduced. Technically for the time being there are less teenagers resorting to trying vaporized nicotine.
On the other hand, for teenagers who continue to have access to e-cigarettes, the burden of all these new stressors have already proved costly. 61.4% of the high schoolers who vape that were surveyed by the CDC in 2020 have either reported 20+/30 days of use or daily use of an e-cigarette. This number of addicts have foreshadowed a potential downfall in the future of stressed teenagers. When life returns to normal where teens can go back to school and parents allow their children to hangout with others, the numbers of those who vape will most likely spike again.
The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey calculated 72.6% of middle and high schoolers obtained their e-cigarette through another peer, while 26.3% said they had bought their e-cigarette from a vape shop or convenience store. During the coronavirus pandemic, it may be difficult to have physical contact with peers, but the occurrence of underage controlled substance sales have recently been on a rise. Teenagers have been taking advantage of mandatory mask orders, and some have even gone viral for doing so. The 2018 study had also found that only 25% of teens who tried to buy from a shop or store were declined. In times of economic hardship, it is predictable that businesses will allow more underage tobacco sales to keep their business from closing.
Despite the uplifting news that vaping has become less of an outlet for teenagers, the decline in mental health due to the current state of the world could very likely mean an uptick in teenage vapers next year.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health, please reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Hotline (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-4357.
Dachel Fohne, Author