Current Events

Hate Crimes Against The Asian Community.

 

May 31, 2021 / Nayla Turpin

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For the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, the past two years have been a time of alienation and fear, as there has been a staggering increase in violent crimes and hateful rhetoric. 

 

Several high-profile crimes started in Oakland, California around the time of

the lunar new year, which is an important holiday for the Asian community. It is a time meant for family and unity; very similar to the Christmas and New Year celebrations; only now these communities are worried about their safety.  

 

Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thailand native was brutally slammed to

the ground and murdered by Antoine Watson (19) on January 31, 2021, in San Francisco. He was going on his daily morning walk after finally receiving his COVID vaccine when he was attacked. This attack was completely unprovoked and on his first court appearance on February 4th, 2021, Watson pleaded not guilty. When his daughter, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, learned of the attack she said to the police “He never wake up again...I never see him again”. 

 

61-year-old Noel Quintana, a Filipino man, was slashed in the face with a

box cutter on an NYC subway while on the way to work on February 8, 2021. It happened at 8 am as he was on the way to Harlem where he works as an administrative assistant at a non-profit that works with people with mental health problems. “I put my hand on my face and when I saw my hand it was full of blood,” said Quintana “I asked for help, but nobody helped. Nobody moved.” NYPD is still looking for the suspect. 

 

On March 16th, a gunman went on a racist rampage and killed 8 people; 6

of which were Asian women. The first shooting occurred at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia where 4 people were killed. About an hour later, Atlanta police responded to another shooting at Gold Spa where they found 3 women shot and later found one more body. When they arrested the gunman a few hours later, he blamed the shooting on his “sex addiction”. The Cherokee County Sheriff made the situation escalate even more by saying that the gunman was “having a bad day”. We all have bad days, but we do not all go on racist killing sprees. 

Artwork by Nayla Turpin, '22

Son Heung-min, a South Korean soccer player, was racially abused under both Tottenham’s and his own Instagram after an incident that saw a goal from Edinson Cavani ruled out during a soccer game. People posted comments such as “go back to Korea” “Dog-eating, cheating b------” and more. 

 

On April 16th, a gunman entered into a FedEx and opened fire in Indianapolis killing at least 8 people, 4 of which were of the Sikh community. The authorities say that it is too early to know if the shooting was racially motivated and have not taken any further action to determine if it is. The FedEx employees are about 90% people of the Sikh community.  

 

Many officials believe the rise in these attacks is due to the American response to COVID-19  with terms such as the “Kung-flu” and “China virus” being used. “Stop AAPI Hate,” an Asian-American activist group, recently released a report stating that 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents have been recorded from March 2020 to February 2021; 68% for those being Asian women. According to the NYPD, since the beginning of 2020, the number of hate crimes against the Asian community has increased by 1,900%--a heartbreaking statistic.

 

Somehow many of these attacks during the pandemic have not been publicized as Asian hate crimes.

 

It's crucial that our community work to stop these xenophobic attacks and

hold those responsible accountable. Here's a place where you can donate and help these communities: https://stopaapihate.org/actnow/ 

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the polarization of American politics:2020

 

May 31, 2021 / Lucia Fogler

With the founding and establishment of the American democracy, George Washington and other Founding Fathers often warned of the chaos that would result from the formation of inevitable political factions. Their hope was expressed for a country not defined by the opposition of its citizens but instead defined by its unification of them. This dream of Washington’s has instead been replaced by the formative history that political party divides have had on American society. 

In every aspect of society today, from social media to work to family to school, the divides between red and blue and Republicans and Democrats have crafted a heated political and cultural scene, plaguing America’s ability to collaborate across party lines. The growing ideological divide between Americans before the pandemic was on an increasing trajectory, creating extreme polarization within the American public. Instead of trying to attract the average voter, a trend has formed of less moderate Republican and Democrat officials being appointed, as each political party’s core platform now aims to attract their loyal base and not the average moderate American . Leading up to 2020, the general media also played an important role in creating polarization as their coverage of events often supported one party more heavily than the other, narrowing viewers' exposure to differing opinions.  Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of social media has expedited this extreme polarization, causing it to have reached a critical point. Unless younger generations work together to reverse the growing loyalty to political ideologies by  instead promoting the ideas of civility, unity, and working together for the common good of the United States, the country will rapidly continue on its destructive course. 

As the polarization of politics continued to grow with the countdown to the November 3 election, the United States and the rest of the world had the opportunity to unify together to fight a common enemy, the Coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, many statistics regarding Republican and Democratic beliefs on how to respond to the coronavirus were closely related and often within 10 percentage points of one another on closing schools, limiting international travel, and limiting social gatherings (1). After April, as coronavirus deaths kept increasing, political leaders began expressing discontentment for the actions of the federal government as well as state and local governments’ responses to the pandemic. Led by national leaders on both sides, partisan divides began to intensify among the American public in terms of their opinions of what actions should be taken. A drastic 65 point difference between Republican and Democratic approval on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus formed (1). The partisan divide intensified as Government leaders on both sides of the political aisle began expressing their differing opinions on mask mandates and lockdowns. Everyday Americans seeing these strong opinions of their party leaders, took their respective sides on these issues. Research found that only 24% of Republicans wore a mask at all times compared to 61% of Democrats, and that states controlled by Republican leaders often put into place mandatory mask orders around a month later than Democratic held states (2, 3). The two distinct core ideologies surrounding the coronavirus that developed, divided the country and affected the communication and civility of government leaders. In Congress, Coronavirus relief for business stalled multiple times as the differing and extreme ideologies split the government on helping citizens economically. The ideological divide in Congress set the example for the American public on the ability to civilly communicate over issues surrounding the pandemic. Based on many of the beliefs of core Democrats and Conservatives, everyday Americans also began to follow the ideological stances of their respective parties, which further split the American public and limited the ability for civil communication. Instead of a middle ground between the two mainstream views about the coronavirus, communication came more commonly in the form of personal attacks on the character of individuals based on how their opinions of how the pandemic should be handled. 

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Not only did this governmental split of opinions on how the COVID-19 pandemic should have been handled lead to the partisan divide and polarization of the American public today, but so did the role of social media and the overall media in disseminating information and increasing polarization. Social media has become an easily accessible resource which has enabled  Americans to have civil discussion surrounding national politics. Unfortunately, surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic it did the exact opposite. Misinformation about the coronavirus spread rapidly, allowing for the creation of internet bubbles that catered to individual users' political preferences rather than exposing them to differing viewpoints. The mainstream media before the pandemic was guiding political polarization to new extremes in America as most of the information posted by government officials was not catering to the average moderate, but instead to the core loyalist minority of parties (4). The catering to more extreme individuals within the party as well as individuals creating bubbles of similar politically like minded individuals, has caused many to intentionally or unintentionally create a social media feed of similar ideas expressed over and over again, causing the ingraining of one belief into consumers. This repeated consumption  of the same political beliefs over and over again causes consumers to become highly offended by or closed off to opposing views, leading to tenser civil discourse and the dying ability to communicate and understand other’s support of differing viewpoints (5). While social media has steeped the divide between political parties, it has also allowed information to quickly reach consumers of all ages and beliefs, as seen in its role in spreading information and allowing the organization of social unrest. Although social media has been used as a catalyst for change within society and has allowed people ignorant to issues plaguing American society to become more informed on issues; the polarization of social media and its ability to mobilize around one opinion has also helped to exacerbate the altercations during the social unrest between opposing political groups. 

As the country continues to become more polarized and the ability for civil discourse continues to decline (even around topics focused on unity around helping common Americans), Americans need to address the polarity of politics from where they stem and are often fueled from before polarization causes massive and permanent divides within society. Starting with the highest level of politicians, more opportunities such as equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats in subcommittees needs to be created to further communication, interaction, and respect between opposing parties and differing opinions. Another option that could decrease polarization would be political parties to minimize their catering to the extreme views of each party. This minimization could allow for the much-needed recalibration and recreation of a political center that caters to the Americans who don’t agree fully with all the ideologies of one party. This creation of a political center would decrease the power that has been given to the two party system and hopefully create new power for more third party options that would help to diffuse the political climate of the two major political parties that exist today and equalize power among different parties. 

If political parties cater more to the common American, and citizens try to expand  their internet bubbles, then social media could help to reduce its effect on the polarization. Social media instead, could promote unity through fair fact checking initiatives on both sides of the aisle, as well as changing the one party algorithm. Yet, in the age of social media, the biggest agents that could help change the polarization of politics and create a unified trajectory for the country are the younger generations of Americans, even those unable to vote. Through initiatives on social media and beyond, younger generations can be educated on the polarization of American politics, social media’s role, as well as creating forums and situations to promote civil discourse. Through online initiatives as well as in-person education, involvement, and promotion of civic engagement in youth, overtime the influence of younger generations will hold the biggest impact on decreasing the polarization of America. If the current younger generation is shown an America that listens to and accepts differing political viewpoints and civil discourse is able to be created throughout the country, then the power and the influence that the younger generation will hold in American politics later will be enough to diffuse today’s existing polarity and remind the country not of its differences, but of its unity and common goals as fellow American citizens.

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Photo by Caroline Ray, '21

Why Vote?

February 12, 2021 / Anya Bhargava, Co-Editor In Chief

 

After waiting in a never ending line, I was finally in the voting booth. Since 2016, I had been waiting for the day I could vote and make my voice count. Luckily, I turned 18 a few short weeks before the 2020 presidential election and so, knew that I could cast my ballot in one of the most important elections so far. Little did I know how much would be at stake this election cycle: ending the pandemic, the senate, climate change policy, abortion rights, and so much more. 

 

No matter which party or candidate you support, access to voting is a crucial part of the democratic process. People who live in the most remote areas, those who have served jail sentences, and those who cannot speak English should all be given an equal chance to make their voices count alongside those who are able to vote more easily.

 

The Indian government takes that to a whole new level. Government officials are required to make sure that every Indian citizen is given access to a voting booth. In Gujarat, there was one man who actually lived in the middle of a deep forest, so four government officials trekked for three days in order to give that man the opportunity to cast his ballot. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is! 

 

I’m not sure if a situation like that has occurred in the U.S., but the same rights apply: every eligible citizen has the right to vote, which is why presidential elections are crucial in determining people’s views on current issues.

 

The night of the 2016 election, I vividly remember sitting on the couch, watching the results trickle in. At the time, I had only known that this was an unusual election and that a TV personality usually does not win the nomination of a party. All the polls, news networks, everyone I knew, were saying that Hilary Clinton was definitely going to win. Then, all of a sudden, everything switched. Donald Trump was quickly gaining a substantial lead. Everyone was shocked. Everyone was talking about it at school. And everyone blurted out who their parents voted for. Looking back, it was a really strange time, but things were about to get stranger.

 

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The 2020 election couldn’t have been any more different. For one, we were in the midst of a pandemic. I always thought that pandemics were a thing of the past. Technology was too advanced for a disease to ravage the planet, shut down the economy, and lead to millions losing their jobs. Nope. This pandemic resulted in the unemployment rate skyrocketing and a terrible situation for President Trump. Not only was there a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement came into the spotlight, leading to protests over the unjust deaths of black men all over the country. 

 

The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout seen in over a century, most likely because this was such an unprecedented year. Being the first election in which there was such a massive use of mail-in-ballots, more than 60% of eligible voters cast their ballots, a percentage not seen since the early 1900s. That doesn’t seem like a lot, at least it didn’t to me, but a lot of people choose not to vote because they dislike both candidates and feel as though there’s no point in voting for a third party candidate. I mean, can you blame them? It can be hard to vote for a candidate you don’t truly support. But, wouldn’t it be great if we had a multiparty system like New Zealand or Iceland, so that voters would be able to elect a candidate that more accurately represented their views? Unfortunately, third party candidates don’t really stand a chance in the U.S. currently, but no candidate is perfect, so voting for the one you like more than the other is a perfectly valid and common reason to vote, a mindset that many had this election cycle.

 

This year, the majority of voters decided that they wanted to elect Joe Biden, rather than incumbent, Donald Trump. The combination of the BLM protests, the negative effects of COVID, and an urgency regarding climate policy most likely led to President elect Joe Biden winning the election. It’s crazy how the most unexpected events can drastically change the results of an election. 

 

Regardless of the winner, voting is an incredibly important right as a citizen and it’s wonderful that so many more people realized this election cycle that their vote matters.      

remember.

 

Nov. 16th, 2018 / Courtlyn Dranoff

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a mass shooting happened in Pittsburg at the Tree of Life synagogue.  The horrific event showed the world that it is incredibly important that we educate people about it, so that anti-semitic acts of violence will never happen again. The people that walked in the synagogue that day did not know what was to come. Eleven people were killed and seven people were injured. The shooter was charged and arrested with 29 federal crimes and 36 state crimes.

Unfortunately, anti semitism has grown immensely over the past few years. The Holocaust was a mass example of the heartbreaking and tortuous effect that anti semitism had on the world, a hateful idea that escalated to the genocide of millions.  We will remember the names of those who have been killed forever and always.

 

We will always be stronger than hate.

Joyce Fienberg, 75

Richard Gottfried, 65

Rose Mallinger, 97

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Cecil Rosenthal, 59

David Rosenthal, 54

Bernice Simon, 84

Sylvan Simon, 86

Daniel Stein, 71

Melvin Wax, 88

Irving Younger, 69

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Student advocacy in rva.

 

April 27th, 2018 / Hannah Frank

March and April were busy times for youth activists in Richmond and around the country.  On March 23rd, 2018, students all across the country participated in the “March for Our Lives,” a political rally mainly centralized in Washington D.C., protesting gun laws in honor of those killed at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The main segment of the march began at noon with participants gathering at Pennsylvania Avenue and then marching to the capitol. The march is being led by survivors of the shooting in Parkland, such as Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez.  Student activists all around the country were invited to participate, and if students couldn’t make the trip to D.C., many large cities around the country had sister marches. There were over 800 sister marches taking place in cities around the country and around the world, such as Tokyo, London, Madrid, and Seoul. The march in D.C. was funded by donations from celebrities, such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, and Steven Spielberg. Three million dollars was raised through a GoFundMe campaign.

 

Ethan Williams, a senior at the Steward School, attended the march in Richmond.  He said, “It was quieter than I expected. Last year, the Richmond Women’s March was this loud and empowering march, but this one had far more power in the silence which followed it as we all crossed the bridge. I think the silence of the crowd hit harder than any chant could.” Along with the march, students were invited to participate in a student walkout on April 20th, in honor of the Columbine shooting in Colorado in 1999. Fifteen students were shot and killed on that fateful day, with 24 injured. Students in Richmond left school at 10:00 am and gathered at Brown’s Island. At 1:00 pm, participants marched from Brown’s Island to the Virginia State Capitol. At 2:00 pm, the official rally began on the steps of the capitol.  Corinne Brager, a junior at the Steward School, attended the rally. “I think it was a really good experience,” she said, “The elected officials that showed up were very responsive and nice. I went because I believe in stronger gun reforms.”

https://marchforourlives.com/

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SPACE RACE 2.0

 

February 8th, 2018 / Matthew Cantor

61 years ago, the Space Race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union started, effectively ending in a US victory when they landed on the moon. Fast forward to modern day, and two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, are locked in the same battle. Boeing has long worked with NASA to make rockets, like the Saturn V and now the SLS (Space Launch System), and SpaceX is known for Falcon 9 and recently from their launch of the Falcon Heavy in which they launched a mannequin and a Tesla into space. These two companies have potential contracts with NASA to be the first private company to transport humans to the ISS and low earth orbit. Under the CCP (commercial crew program), NASA has signed a contract with Boeing for $4.2 billion and $2.6 billion for SpaceX, with the contract starting after the first successful launch. With these contracts, the company that does it first gets to fly a minimum of 2 missions, with a maximum of 6. They also have a better position to help in future NASA projects. Until recently, SpaceX has had a comfortable lead for their first test flight, but they had to readjust their timeline, which puts their manned launch in December after Boeing’s planned manned launch in November. These companies are also in a separate race to Mars with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg tweeting that they are going to beat SpaceX to Mars and elon Musk responding with “Do it.” Who do you think will win the 21st century space race?

Pictured: (left) SpaceX’s Dragon capsule

(right) Boeing’s Starliner capsule.

SpaceX's Dragon Capsule
Boeing's Starliner capsule
 

THE RISE OF WHITE NATIONALISM IN POLAND.

 

February 9th, 2018 / Aayush Lalwaney

America has had many conflicts with white nationalism over this past year, but not many were aware of the recent dispute that occured in Poland on November 11, 2017. To many Europeans, November 11 is Armistice Day, but in Poland, this day is remembered and celebrated as Poland’s Independence from German, Austrian, and Russian powers in World War I.

This past independence day contained 60,000 nationalists marching in a parade through the streets of Warsaw, chanting, protesting, and throwing red-smoke bombs. Others carried banners, or flags with the portrayal of a falanga, marked as the far-right symbol dated back to the 1930’s. Tens of thousands of people gathered in order to represent their vision of a, “Pure Poland, a White Poland,” while they pushed for refugees, Muslims, and Jews to leave the nation. Though many pushed for white power in Poland, the invitation extended outside of Poland as American Neo-nazis were welcomed to the parade.  Some participants marched under the slogan “We Want God!”, words from an old Polish religious song.  This event was recorded as one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists in Europe.

After the rally dispersed, there was a plethora of mixed responses, not a unilateral answer. “If there was one lesson that every European – and not just Jewish ones – had learned from the first half of the 20th century, it was “never again”. Never has that slogan sounded more hollow than on Saturday, when the white nationalist parade [occured], (Taylor).” Many connected the rally to the lesson of the World Wars, and were shocked by the numbers that contributed to the parade, but others also commemorated the march. “ It was a beautiful sight,’ the interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, said. ‘We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday,’(Taylor).” Błaszczak was one of many that named the rally, “a great march of patriots,” and continued to call these marchers regular citizens of Poland expressing their love towards Poland, disagreeing to the term, extremist.

Rise of White Nationalism in Poland

Me TOO.

 

January 18th, 2018 / Courtlyn Dranoff

 

Did you know over 17,700,000 women have reported sexual assault since 1998?  In 2006, Tarana Burke founded the Me Too movement.  The movement’s aim is to help survivors of sexual violence, but is also targeted at young women from low income communities.  This movement is a way for young women to find a “pathway for healing.”  They use the idea of “empowerment through empathy.” The Me Too movement was created to show survivors of sexual assault that they are not alone. Burke says, “By bringing vital conversations about sexual violence into the mainstream, we're helping to de-stigmatize survivors by highlighting the breadth and impact sexual violence has on thousands of women, and we’re helping those who need it to find entry points to healing. We’re aiding the fight to end sexual violence.” The movement has connected women all over the globe from all different paths and walks of life. The movement’s slogan, “You Are Not Alone,” helps women remember that someone has experienced the same things as them. Some famous women that support the Me Too movement are Gwyneth Paltrow, Cara Delevingne, Taylor Swift, Sarah Hyland, and many more.  Everyone is taking a stand to show support and spread the message that the survivors of sexual assault are not alone.

Me Too Movement