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.
By Lynette Aslanian and Nolan Sheow
Since AP European History is one of the only AP classes available for upcoming sophomores to take, the class catches the eyes of eager freshmen wanting to challenge themselves.
Most students are inclined to take AP Euro because it is one of the most challenging classes available, but students don’t realize how difficult the course truly is. Even though AP Euro has its perks, the class is very tough and time consuming, with the copious readings and extensive curriculum. The amount of information that has to be learned can put a dent in your schedule. In addition, the readings are tedious and tend to be confusing, which is why students often stop reading the book after the first month of school.
The notorious 20 question study guides aren’t as difficult as they are time consuming. In order to be successful on study guides, you must go over notes and read through the book in order to gain answers. Study guides are supposed to be done gradually throughout the unit, but students often procrastinate until the night before the due date.
AP Euro covers everything that happened in Europe from 1450 to present day. Whether it was religious, social, economic, or political, every aspect of European history is accounted for. Falling behind is not an option. If you slack off, it’s very strenuous and difficult to get back on track.
This is why falling behind can be so detrimental. The AP Exam covers all the material during the school year, with one Free Response essay, one Document-Based essay, a short answer portion, and a multiple choice portion. It is critical to do well on the exam because some universities, such as USC, give students college credit for the class if they earn a 4 or 5. If you already have credit for the class in high school, you don’t have to waste money or time on taking a similar class in college.
Despite all the difficulties, AP Euro is a class worth taking if you are willing to work hard enough. Being the first AP class that sophomores are allowed to take, the quick pace will take some time to get used to. It may seem stressful at first, with daily quizzes and long readings at night, but it gets easier as the year goes on, simply because students get used to them.
The skills you learn in AP Euro, like writing a DBQ, document-based essay, and FRQ, free response essay, will come in handy if you are thinking of taking an AP history course in the future. Most of these classes will expect you to have a basic understanding of how to write a document based essay or a free response essay.
Some of the content covered in AP Euro will also align with content covered in other classes, like Honors English. Sophomores learn about World War I right around the same time they read 1984, allowing students to make connections between history and Orwell’s writing. Having background knowledge while reading 1984 gives students the opportunity to analyze the book more in depth.
As Mr. Lively framed it, “I would tell the freshmen that AP Euro is not necessarily so important to a college transcript, but it is a class that is extremely rewarding if you love history and it could be extremely rewarding for those who want to intellectually develop the necessary skills that will allow them to succeed junior year in three to four AP classes.”
By Bryan Guan
I have never considered myself to be a kind or a humanitarian person. To be honest, when I started volunteering at Joy Center every Saturday, it wasn’t to “challenge myself” or to “help out those less fortunate than me.” Sure, I had some “pity” for those in need, but my thoughts were still centered on myself. I did not intend for volunteering to be anything more than words on a lifeless college application. However, even though I planned for it to be an artificial cherry on top for my college apps, it ended up marking an important milestone in my life.
Joy Center is a church-sponsored organization in which volunteers help people with disabilities, especially those who are mentally challenged. In truth, this was untrained special education. At first, I was taken by surprise. The students who came in were not the children I expected, but instead fully grown adults. It was easy to see that they all had differing levels of disability, and it was a bit stunning at first. It was a strange feeling for me. I was saddened by their disabilities, and simultaneously glad that, well, I wasn’t. I reflected on my own life: how privileged I am just to be able to think and live a normal life, how privileged I am just to have my brain develop correctly, how privileged I am to not be “disabled.”
If I were to describe all the students with one single word, that word would be “dignified.” They are worthy of our full honor and respect. They dress elegantly, either with nice polos and khaki pants, or pretty dresses. They make sure every room they exit is spotless. However, they are not individuals incapable of individual thought who simply blindly follow orders. They are unique and passionate individuals. Rob loves elegant hats (particularly fedoras). Phil loves taking out the trash. Jing loves books, though he struggles to read them. Izzy loves basketball, and is still a die-hard Laker fan. When I juxtapose myself with them, I end up being the one who is a drone of habit and repetition, consumed so much by my school life that I lose the valuable time to appreciate and explore.
From working with these students, I have become more self-aware. In reality, the disabled are not the way our sometimes ignorant society portrays them. In truth, we are more privileged than they are. We have the ability to achieve some things that they cannot. However, we sometimes sink into the hole we believe was meant for them. We are the ones who become the dirty, the narcissistic, and the lesser. We do not care about respecting others, or more importantly: respecting ourselves. Why go the extra step to pick up what I dropped? We fail to realize that by not picking up what we left behind (figuratively and literally), we also shed a tiny yet important piece of our dignity. Sometimes, we get so caught in other people's disabilities, we become blind to our own. Don’t be so focused on punctuating our differences that you become ignorant of our similarities. The students are truly special in their own way. We should be, too.
By Nolan Sheow
The United States government has demanded that Apple develop a new “backdoor” into the encrypted system installed into iPhones, a demand that potentially puts every iPhone user’s privacy in jeopardy.
The iPhone 5c belonging to the terrorist responsible for the San Bernardino attacks, Syed Farook, is currently in possession of the federal government. Investigators have a warrant to search the phone, but do not have the technology to open it, as Farook’s iPhone is equipped with software that will delete all of the phone’s data after 10 failed passcodes.
FBI agents have claimed that Apple must open the phone for them, because in their eyes, national security is more important than privacy. Apple has denied, saying that the security system of Apple iPhones can not be cracked even by their own engineers, who designed the system to keep their customers’ personal information even out of Apple’s reach.
The FBI demanded Apple to develop a backdoor to the iPhone system, saying that this loophole will be used for this case only. Apple again denied and has every right to do so.
The technology that the FBI wants Apple to create will allow investigators to remove security features and allow computers to break down the passcode on all iPhones. This essentially forces Apple engineers to betray their own customers by weakening the security features on the phone that they have worked tirelessly for decades to create.
The power that would be handed to the government with the creation of such tools would potentially give the government complete access to all information on all Apple devices. This includes health records, financial data, photos, music, texts, emails, and notes. The government will also have access to the camera and microphone, allowing them to watch and listen in whenever they want.
Of course, the government says this is a “one time” thing, but all it takes is another terrorist attack for the government to extend this rule to “whenever we deem necessary.”
The newly weakened iPhone could be easily hacked by a criminal; your financial information could be available to anyone. This loophole that the FBI is asking Apple to create can be the chink in the armor that opportunistic hackers have been waiting for. These hackers could have access to all of your information. There could potentially be another person on the other side of the Macbook on your desk, watching and listening, and you would have no idea.
Critics seem to oversimplify the weight of the issue. Many say that the government should have access to all iPhones to prevent hackers, criminals, and terrorists from attacking its citizens. This is hypocritical, as the whole point of encryption is to protect innocent civilians from these dangerous people, who may gain access to information about their private lives.
The FBI mandating Apple to install these loopholes into all of their phones casts a dark shadow upon the future of technology and security. Giving the government the ability to conduct the unprecedented review of our private communications undermines the very freedom that we expect our government to protect. We pride ourselves on living in a “free” country, but giving the government the power to spy on us and watch over our private lives is as far from free as you can get.
We speak our mind in the Opinion Section, publishing our take on current events, school controversies, and anything else we think might pique your interest.