By Allison Kirste
As Americans, we pride ourselves on justice and fair treatment. When someone is in the wrong, we like to think that they’re punished for their actions. However, this could not be farther from the truth, and today’s pop culture is proof.
Celebrities are often exempt from blame because of their excessive fame and wealth. Those with hateful rhetoric and violent tendencies are often frowned upon, but still relatively successful (see Chris Brown). However, with rape and sexual assault, one of the most egregious faults of them all, celebrity perpetrators often get by unscathed.
Casey Affleck’s nomination for Best Actor came as a shock to everyone, his win an even bigger one. Furthermore, it was hard to ignore the sad irony in Brie Larson, who played a sexual assault victim in “Room”, awarding the Oscar to somebody who was the defendant in a sexual harassment suit in 2010. Should we separate his talent from his past actions? Why are we letting him move on from this? We love to pretend that he didn’t harass the cinematographers that he was working with, because to do so would be to acknowledge that we support someone who was in the wrong. Casey Affleck’s win at the Oscars is a reminder that rape culture is alive and well, and that, despite what any judge says, no amount of accusations or charges will affect a man with power.
Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman in 2003, though the charges were eventually dropped 15 months later. Are we to assume that Bryant didn’t pressure the victim with money and threats to drop the charges? This is a prime example of a victim blaming mentality, one that cares more about the future of the offender than that of the victim. Even today, fans like to forget about Bryant’s past of sexual assault, and when they’re reminded, they often say that it’s “okay,” because of his talent and contributions to the league.
However, we cannot excuse anyone’s actions because of their talent or fame, and we certainly should not forget about said offenses. What kind of example do we set for young people when we do that? That their actions are excusable if they’re famous? That they’re exempt from punishment and scrutiny if they provide entertainment to the public? By providing a platform on which these accused sex offenders can speak, we are partially at fault. We have overlooked their actions and offenses for our own selfish purposes, and if we are not standing up to them or standing behind their victims, we are no better.
By Kaylin Pak
There comes a time in a person’s life when he or she is torn between heeding the wishes of their family and pursuing the career path they want. For a long time, this conflict prevented me from taking pride in who I am and what I have artistically accomplished. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that as much anymore.
As a child, my dad often drilled the notion that “artists starve” and lectured me about pursuing a high-paying or high-demand job instead, which inevitably affected the way I envisioned a successful, fulfilling life. As such, even though I continued my passion in the arts, I was forced to take classes that I had little to no interest in, such as computer science.
While I do agree that mastery of those subjects is very important to the majority of today’s high-paying jobs, they just weren’t to me. I couldn’t see myself as a doctor or a software programmer in the future because I lack the passion for those jobs and the school subjects required to be successful in them.
I didn’t want to veer off from the career path I initially wanted, but the fear of disappointing my family and the fear of financial failure overshadowed my regard for what I wanted to do with my life.
Because of this, I found myself torn between seeking a job that would make me financially well-off at the cost of my happiness or finding a job that would guarantee happiness at the cost of my family’s criticism and disapproval.
It was during my sophomore year when my parents began to embrace the idea of art as a career. Ultimately--and I think this goes for most parents as well--what my parents really wanted was for me to do what made me happy and to enjoy living life.
I then realized that, even if I do “starve,” I’d still be doing something that makes me happy. Of course, it’s better to avoid that situation in the first place, but because I now personally view a successful life as one filled with happiness and the passion for the things you love, I’m willing to take that risk.
Just know that those around you might try to deter you from the path you want, but that’s only because they’re concerned about your future. What matters the most is that if you are really passionate about a certain subject or hobby, then you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace it.
By Daniel Oh
Senioritis is a hit-or-miss. Either wave of laziness hits you like a freight train or you stay unaffected and study away your last semester like any other. I’m pretty sure I fall into the latter category. I’m still pretty good about turning in my homework and not slacking. However, many seniors would argue that the second you submit your college apps, it’s like you’re a different person: a version of you that just wants to sleep through the rest of the school year.
Many seniors would say that there was a fundamental change right after pressing “submit” on their college applications. Their brains are rewired, their blood flows in the opposite direction, and something about them just changes drastically. The important part is that now everything is different: you don’t have to care about homework or grades as much anymore. You’re done, and that’s it.
On the other hand, as one of the unaffected, I would characterize senioritis as merely an excuse to get out of homework. It’s the same feeling of idleness as the ones you felt the past three years. Sure, you miss assignments, just like how you missed assignments in freshman year; you’re just paying more attention to them because you’re a senior.
Seniors still have to work hard because most aren’t even accepted yet, and for the ones that have been accepted, they have to work hard to avoid their admission being rescinded. There are no excuses or breaks for high school students, and saying that you feel more lazy than usual is not a valid reason to avoid school work.
By Josh Rhee
Since the 1970s, there has been criticism of the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, from movies to popular television shows. The problem lies in minority actors not being given a chance to play major roles. Because these minority actors aren’t being cast in major roles, viewers who don’t happen to be of white, European descent rarely get to see anyone who looks like them represented on the screen.
In the most extreme cases, actors who don’t fit the descriptions of specific characters have been considered and chosen for major roles. In the 1961 comedy A Majority of One, Sir Alec Guinness, an English actor, played a Japanese business man. The movie talked about the difficulties of an interracial marriage during a time of prejudice. This movie took place shortly after the second World War and depicted the blatant racism people had against Japanese people. The major characters were only played by white actors, again excluding minority actors and actresses from the realm of acting.
A more recent example is the live-action movie of Mulan, which many people were excited about. Mulan, a Disney animation, is about a Chinese girl exhibiting courage by fighting on the front lines against a major Hun invasion. The public’s excitement quickly changed to confusion when Scarlett Johansson was being considered to play the main character. Many protested this decision and decided to voice their opinion through a petition which reached 100,000 signatures.
The underrepresented demographic is primarily made up of the African American, Native American, and Asian American communities. 30 Days of Night is a prime example of this. This 2007 horror film takes place in Alaska and revolves around the main character, Sheriff Eben Olemaun, who is played by a white actor, Josh Hartnett. However, in the comic book miniseries from which the movie was adapted, Eben Olemaun is a descendent of the Inuit tribe, a group of indigenous people who had once inhabited Alaska.
Another movie, the 2006 film titled World Trade Center, starred white actor, William Mapother, who plays Marine Sergeant Jason Thomas, who was at the scene during the September 11 attack. Again, a white actor took on the role of a character who was a person of color - Jason Thomas is an African American male who risked his life to save lives after the World Trade Center was attacked. It truly shouldn’t be that hard to cast an actor to play a part that actually matches the ethnicity of the character. Moreover, real life people like Jason Thomas should be given the respect they deserve and should be represented correctly at the very least.
Although gradual, progress is surely taking place. For example, a major television series, The Walking Dead, starred Korean actor Steven Yeun, who plays a Korean character, finally getting it right this time. The character was loved by all and soon grew a large fanbase, quickly becoming the show’s most beloved and charming character. Like Steven Yeun, there are several other minority actors such as Lupita Nyong’o whose first feature film was 12 Years a Slave where she won an academy award for Best Supporting Actress.
The times have changed and people’s expectations are getting higher, demanding that producers and directors cast minority actors. With the rise of live action movies and television series, there are several more opportunities for minority actors to join the limelight.
We live in a country that claims to have secured equality for all of its citizens. We stand up to salute our flag every morning, finishing our mantra with “ with liberty and justice for all.” We placed a statue by Ellis Island and named her “Lady Liberty,” establishing her as a symbol of equality and new opportunity. But for a country that takes so much pride in liberty and justice for all, we don’t do enough to ensure that it really is for all.
Among those who have suffered the most injustice in this country are black Americans. For far too long, black Americans have fallen victim to systems put in place by the American government, the first being slavery. Even when slavery ended, loopholes were found in “progressive” laws to ensure that the South did not collapse entirely with the loss of this free labor system. When slavery ended, mass incarceration began. Laws were put in place to target black Americans and to keep prisons full.
The adoption of these discriminating laws has fostered the growth of bigotry, much of which can still be seen today. Offensive slurs are used frequently and casually, and countless stereotypes persist. Black Americans are still victims of racial profiling and discrimination, a fact that used to (and should still) shock us. But we’ve become uncomfortably numb to police-involved shootings; while we don’t like that they’re happening, ignoring them is so much easier than recognizing that something is wrong.
Black Lives Matter is a movement for today’s black Americans. It’s a constant reminder that racism is still alive and well, no matter how much some want to deny it. It’s a collective mourning of the black lives lost to injustices, such as police-involved shootings, wrongful incarcerations, or the subtle bigotry deeply rooted in our everyday lives. Black Americans live in a country whose system has been rigged against them since its foundation, and this movement is representative of their refusal to succumb to the status quo. It’s indicative of their unflinching determination to achieve equality. It’s not anti-white. It’s not anti-police (though “blue lives matter” supporters will try to convince you otherwise). Black Lives Matter is a call for change, a call for equality and equal treatment.
The “All Lives Matter” movement, despite its name, does not care about all lives. It’s a reaction to Black Lives Matter, by the white majority, for the white majority. It’s a desperate attempt to be included in something that really doesn’t concern them. However well intentioned it may be, it deters from the fact that Black Lives Matter is for black Americans; they are the victims of racial oppression. We need Black Lives Matter because, time and again, black lives are the ones that are lost to the system. We need Black Lives Matter, because to say anything else would take away from the entirety of the movement. It’s between black Americans and the police, and while white Americans can support the movement, they cannot take it and turn it into something for themselves. It’s not about white Americans; it never was.
By Saira Singh
Although it is important to prevent voter fraud, the inevitable effect of mandating citizens to provide a photo I.D. is that a disproportionate amount of low-income minorities will no longer be able to vote.
Obtaining a picture I.D. requires money and time some people cannot afford to spend. Even if a state issues picture I.D.s for free, the necessary documents needed to obtain one still cost money; for example, in California it costs a shocking $28.00 just to get a copy of your birth certificate. Voting is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen over the age of 18 in the United States. People shouldn’t have to pay for it.
In particular, low income groups are much more affected by these laws than other Americans. Financially struggling citizens are less likely to vote should they be required to provide an I.D., putting them at a disadvantage to everyone else. How is it fair that their financial position limits the opportunity to have their opinions represented by the government?
Furthermore, voter identification laws are discriminatory. According to the American Citizens Liberty Union, “As many as 25% of African American citizens of voting age do not have a government-issued photo I.D., compared to only 8% of their white counterparts.” These laws will affect African Americans, Latino Americans, and other ethnic groups who have higher poverty rates than their white counterparts. Enacting these laws would be a complete violation of the equal rights and representation guaranteed to every American citizen.
Lastly, voter I.D. laws are ineffective. According to a study conducted by Arizona State University, the primary form of voter fraud is mailed absentee ballots, making up 14% of the 31 cases of voter fraud identified since 2000.
Voter impersonation, which involves showing up to the election booth and voting as someone else, is the kind of fraud voter I.D. laws may be able to prevent, but these make up a mere 3.6%. Mandating a voter I.D. at government elections would barely reduce voter fraud.
Reducing voter fraud is simply not worth violating the rights of American citizens, as voter I.D. laws deny some citizens their fundamental right to vote, put minorities at a further disadvantage to their white counterparts, and barely solve the problem they were created to resolve.
By Bryan Guan
152,763 illnesses. 9,028 deaths. These troubling statistics, gathered from 2007-2015 by the Anti Vaccine Body Count (AVC), are the direct result of a multitude of diseases - all of which could have been prevented by a vaccine. The failure to vaccinate children not only endangers the children’s lives but also the lives of those around them. Unfortunately, the number of unvaccinated children continues to grow.
Why? Some parents, misled by false information in the press and on the Internet, refuse to vaccinate their children, or even worse, advocate for the removal of vaccines everywhere. There are two main reasons why these parents, notoriously known as “anti-vaxxers,” are against vaccination. First, these parents don’t believe that their children are at risk of certain vaccine-preventable diseases, or they claim that the diseases that vaccines prevent aren’t particularly serious. Second, and perhaps the most prominent, is that parents believe that vaccines are dangerous to our health because they believe that vaccines cause autism.
Careful investigation backed by science ultimately refutes all these points. First off, many vaccine-preventable diseases are still incredibly prevalent, especially due to the reluctance to vaccinate children. Diseases such as whooping cough, chickenpox, measles, and pneumonia all fall into this category. According to the Scientific American, unvaccinated children are 23 times more likely to contract whooping cough, 9 times more likely to contract chickenpox, and 6.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with pneumonia. Although typically curable, these diseases still prove to have devastating, sometimes even fatal, consequences. If not treated properly, chickenpox may cause skin infections, swelling of the brain, and even pneumonia, which then may lead to convulsion and mental retardation. These are only a few of the many examples of the deleterious effects these diseases can cause.
Regarding the safety of vaccines, none of the opposing arguments are backed by conclusive empirical evidence - despite minor and temporary allergic reactions, vaccines themselves have yet to be conclusively linked to detrimental symptoms.On the other hand, vaccines are scientifically proven to be effective. They are put through rigorous testing processes mandated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), so the vaccines that reach the hands of medical professionals are proven to be both safe and effective. True danger arises only when you fail to vaccinate and allow these deadly diseases to continually spread.
The key points are that vaccines prevent dangerous and potentially fatal diseases, they are safe and effective, and they are constantly evaluated by a federal branch to ensure their safety and efficacy. By failing to vaccinate, you aren’t only putting your children and yourself at risk but also those around you. Too many people are finding themselves in emergency rooms, or even perhaps at the graves of their loved ones due to the refusal to vaccinate.
By Joohan Kim
What does it mean to be bilingual? It means growing up speaking two languages and being able to switch effortlessly between the two. More than half of the world’s population grows up speaking more than one language, and I am one of them. To be honest, I cannot say that I am fluent in both Korean and English because I am still making progress with the latter.
In a world of great linguistic diversity, speaking two languages rather than just one is power of a very special kind. Bilingualism has been shown to have many social and lifestyle advantages; I can connect to a larger community that has experienced similar hardships. Furthermore, it is said that speaking more than one language is beneficial for the brain. For example, new studies have shown that a multilingual brain is quicker and better able to deal with ambiguities. It can even delay Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia for a longer time.
If you only speak one language, you are in the minority. However, this isn’t the case in the United States, where only about 1 in 4 Americans speak a second language well enough to hold a conversation. In the United States, most people seem to believe learning a second language is valuable though not necessarily essential.
For me, being bilingual has made me more conscious of myself and my surroundings. I have the capacity to interpret my world through greater tolerance, open-mindedness, and appreciation. However, one who hopes to become bilingual will soon find out that it is hardly a simple task for most. The process of becoming bilingual is hard. There was no exception for me. Coming to the United States from South Korea, I was labeled as a “FOB” (a term with a negative connotation for recent immigrants who have low English skills). It was the rude introduction that described me in this so-called land of opportunity. I used to try to reject my status as a “FOB” by studying more English, but I became so tired of trying that I have had no choice but to accept my status. I went through some tough times, and I was certain that this difficulty would augment until I reached fluency. Nevertheless, I could not stop pursuing my desire to master two languages because it has been worth it. Bilingualism has helped me to socialize with diverse people for various purposes and understand their cultures with perspective that monolingual people may not possess.
So now, I believe, it is time for the nation to step up and truly realize the amazing benefits of being bilingual. Because the United States is made up of so many different cultures and ethnicities, learning another language besides one’s native one is essential to be successful in this constantly changing state, country, and world.
By Rachel Lee
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s really no wonder that online shops and retail stores alike are brimming with colorful costumes for potential partygoers and trick-or-treaters. Take the Disney Store, for example; the chain’s sparkly website is saturated with a plethora of outfits for little princesses, heroes, and Stormtroopers. Disney often utilizes this merchandise to advertise any upcoming movies released near Christmas; this year, “Moana” costumes have sprung up in the company’s stores. One particular garb allowed children to become the character Maui by donning a leafy skirt, black wig, and muscular brown “skin” covered in Polynesian tattoos. Needless to say, production of the costume halted in the following weeks.
It’s disturbing to see large, family-friendly corporations like the Walt Disney Company use supposedly innocent Halloween costumes to perpetuate cultural appropriation - the practice of “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else's culture without permission” (definition taken from Susan Scafidi’s book, “Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law”). For this spooky holiday, it almost always comes down to privileged whites parodying people of color. Stealing traditional attire and reducing them to a price tag on a website ultimately belittles the rich history behind these outfits and enforces harmful stereotypes of oppressed minorities. Racists have ignorant one-night flings with these whitewashed caricatures while people of color are trivialized for wearing the authentic outfits. This handpicking of the “pretty” aspects of culture while pointedly ignoring the struggles minorities have been experiencing sends a very condescending message: People of color are aesthetic mines, not actual human beings.
To wear a culture’s traditional garb for the holiday, caricatured or not, is to figuratively spit on someone’s birthright before ripping the very skin off of their body and parading around while the skinned, bleeding victim lays gasping on the cold floor. Sounds horrible, right? Yet this inhumane practice always spirals into unending chaos every Halloween.
If this blatant racism angers you, do something about it. Retailers continue to make such costumes only because there are consumers willing to buy them. There are millions of other classier outfits that you can choose to wear for this day, ones that garner laughter or awe instead of hurt and controversy. On the holiday night, if you see people marching around in kimonos or sombreros, call them out. Halloween only comes once a year, and everyone deserves to go home with a sugary smile.
By Erica Lee
The new district school attendance policy has faced mixed reviews by La Cañada students. Over nine absences per class for each semester can negatively affect one’s citizenship grades and bring consequences such as being marked by the state as a “chronic absentee.” College acceptance rates may also possibly be lowered because attendance rates affect school rankings. When colleges evaluate between two students who have identical GPA and test scores, they may choose the student from a school of a higher ranking because of its better academic performance. So then, what good can come from stricter attendance policies?
Although the harsher attendance policies may fail to bring up attendance rates and lower school rankings, they may be beneficial for solving critical problems with attendance rates in the long run. Students would be discouraged from absences, tardies, and truancies, hopefully spending more time learning in school. The state would also be able to clearly identify which communities are having problems with educating their students. For example, a community with low-income rates may have low attendance rates because of problems with parents being unable to give rides or to afford public transportation. The state, aware of such problems thanks to the attendance and socioeconomic trend reports per region, can intervene in school districts and attempt to implement solutions, such as providing school buses to those districts.
Students from less privileged communities may also be unable to attend school because of external dangers, including local criminals and gang threats. Having a stricter attendance policy would help the school, local government, and state government be more aware of the frequency of absences and their causes. Ideally, the authorities would be informed of possible threats to students’ safety and education and provide legal aid if needed.
If students are missing school because of a lack of interest, the stricter attendance policy would likely raise attendance rates due to harsher consequences. Education of future citizens of the country is essential, regardless of how much higher education students will pursue - any citizen can vote, after all. Ignorance and intolerance can be decreased by stronger, quality education. The attendance policy is one way to help accomplish this goal.
Increased attendance from harsher attendance policies can also directly benefit students, as the school receives funding from the state based on average daily attendance of students. If attendance rates increased, the school would potentially be able to have a wider and improved selection of classes, teachers, events, facilities, and so forth. So, even if the attendance policies may have been made to help solve problems in underprivileged communities, La Cañada students can still keep their school’s rank and contribute to its resources by showing up to school every day.
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