After the Bell Rings

By Kaleb Condez “After the Bell Rings” addresses various problems that teenagers face, including hunger and abuse. In addition, this original poem reminds readers to always be kind, because you never know what someone might be going through. It’s 3 o’clock, school is out Middle school is difficult, without a doubt Now back home withContinue reading “After the Bell Rings”

Is Equality what we should strive for?

In a controversial ruling by the Supreme Court on June 29th, 2023, the Court struck down Affirmative Action (AA), stating that the admissions programs used by the University of North Carolina and Harvard College violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment; The equal protection clause states “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Executive Order 10625, signed by President Kennedy, was the beginning of AA. The Executive Order stated that the government should take action “to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color or national origin.” Affirmative Action does this by requiring institutions to meet hiring quotas and provide scholarships and grants to minorities. Institutes that fail to follow AA can lose funding or contracts. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, commented on the diversity quotas of UNC and Harvard’s freshman class, saying “Those policies fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our Nation’s equality ideal. In short, they are plainly — and boldly — unconstitutional.” He thinks Affirmative action favors certain groups based on their race which abridges the privileges of citizens of the United States. In my opinion, the strongest argument against AA is, strictly speaking, AA does violate the equal protection clause. However, that doesn’t mean AA shouldn’t be in place. In Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent, she wrote “Deeming race irrelevant in law doesn’t make it so in life.” Even though the Constitution strives to provide equality for everyone, it doesn’t consider that everyone benefits differently from the same support. I think the most important reason to keep affirmative action is diversity. Affirmative action prioritizes diversity in the workplace and education. A study by the Department of Internal Medicine found that empathy levels were increased in people who listened to people from different walks of life and their experiences of hardships, experiences, and triumphs. That is precisely what diversity brings to an organization. Diversity brings in people from all walks of life to improve the community. California, where AA has been banned for almost 30 years has seen a decline in diversity enrolment at their top schools. According to a study done in 2020 by Zachary Bleemer, an economist at Princeton, Black, and Latino enrollment fell by 40% at UCLA and UC Berkeley for the class of 98’. Racial diversity has fallen Without Affirmative action, limiting community empathy. I believe understanding other people’s perspectives is critical to undoing the systemic barriers in this country. By having empathy in leadership, the decisions made for the government can consider Americans’ diverse experiences. Although not perfect, policies like AA can work towards justice so we can live in a country that doesn’t provide everyone with the same support but gives everyone the same amount of our unalienable rights: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. -Ethan Su

Truly Free?

“Come on, Meimei,” my mom said in Mandarin, “we’re going to Trader Joe’s.” We were walking through the plaza parking lot when a white woman loudly shouted, “speak English!” at us. Sadly, this wasn’t the first or last time we—my family and the AANHPI community—have faced this and other forms of discrimination. Many do not recognize the prevalence of xenophobia and racism toward the AANHPI community until they witness it firsthand, like how I did. As a Taiwanese American girl with immigrant parents, I grew up with one foot rooted in my heritage and the other in my American upbringing. I would speak Chinese with my parents at home but strictly spoke English outside of the house. As a young child, I learned that speaking Mandarin was discouraged in public. Until I understood the context of our political climate, I accepted this as a societal norm without question. My family had a French acquaintance who was proud of speaking her native language loudly in public claiming, “Americans found it hot,” yet when my mother exchanged a few Mandarin words in public, we were met with a hateful insult, which begs the question: how can two equally “foreign” languages in a predominantly English-speaking country be view upon so differently? Clearly, the answer lies in bias toward the languages’ country of origin; French is seen as an elegant and educated language from Europe, while Chinese and other Asian languages are viewed as alien, strange, and even ugly. Chinese, like many other East Asian languages, have elegant pictographic characters—every written word is a piece of art. For example, 加油, jiāyóu, is made of simple shapes that form a complex message that cannot be easily translated into English. It is an exclamation showing one’s support for the person they are cheering for. My knowledge of Chinese words provides multiple facets of expression and communication. By maintaining our native tongues, we celebrate our culture and keep a part of our identities that can be lost in American life. Culture organizes our experiences, as it can bring a sense of community through shared history and traditions. Asian Americans like me are granted the gift of bilingualism, allowing me to see the world through more than one lens; my bilingualism should be celebrated, not looked down upon. America’s values are built on freedom and equality, but many people are unaccepting of our country’s growing diversity. In this “free” country, people lost their freedom to speak their native tongues without being discriminated against, insulted, or even beaten. We are not free to celebrate our heritage, free to be Asian American, free to express our identities. Instead, we are oppressed for using non-“American” languages, spat at for our proud Asian descent, losing a part of ourselves and our community for conformity. What kind of “free” country do we live in if we are not truly free to be ourselves?

Mini Pill, Macro Problem

I had my first period when I was in 4th grade at only 10 years old. It was incredibly painful. Almost all the women in my family have had hysterectomies before menopause due to Uterine Fibroids, which are essentially dormant tumors that form in your uterus causing pressure, pain, bloating and other issues. In addition to this, almost all the women on both sides of my family have endometriosis, which makes periods much more painful. I lived with those symptoms for 6 days a month until 7th grade, when I was 13. My periods started to last for months at a time without stopping. My iron levels started to dip, and I was losing weight because I was constantly nauseous from the pain. So I went to the doctor, to see what could be done. They gave me prescription ibuprofen and left it at that. I went to another doctor, and they said this was normal. I went to another and they agreed with the prior doctor. Another one said there was nothing to do since I was so young. One more had the audacity and disrespect to say I was faking it to get birth control so I could be sexually active. I lost 15 lbs, fainted twice, and missed a week of school before one doctor finally gave me a prescription for progestin based birth control pills, called mini pills, that would help to regulate my period. It worked. Finally. My past situation demonstrates how incredibly difficult it is to obtain preventative birth control. The need for a prescription in so many places to obtain birth control, especially for minors, is a huge roadblock. Some people can’t afford doctors, others can go because of parents. Some people don’t have the time to go to the doctor, others have language barriers that make it difficult, and even more are just afraid of being judged or written off like I was. We need change in the medical field. Women and girls need more respect and trust when they seek treatment, and anything else in dangerous neglect.

Model Minorities on Asian Americans

Sarah was in school when her teacher was passing out their test scores from last week’s math test. One of her friends told her that there was nothing for her to worry about because they automatically assumed she’ll pass the test with no barriers. When the teacher came to Sarah’s desk, she scored an average of 65/100, indicating the grade of a C. Sarah’s friend shouted, “I thought all Asians were good at math.” That’s when Sarah realized that Asian Americans are still depicted as a model minority.

Spartan strong, student strong

My story today isn’t AAPI oriented, but youth oriented. For context, I live in south west Michigan. Last night, the night of 2/13/23, I got a text from one of my friends saying ‘i love you so take care no matter what okay.’ This friend is a student at Michigan State University, (where there was a deadly shooting killing 3 people, not including the gunman, and injuring 5 others *as of 2/14/23) and texted me because they heard gunshots and wanted to say goodbye ‘just in case.’ Another friend messaged to tell me he was across the street from the active shooting, on an upper floor, and that he could see the police cars and hear the sirens and he wished he went to community college instead. Told me he wished he was at home, or anywhere else, and that he was terrified. 4 more of my friends who attend MSU messaged/called me that night either checking in or seeking comfort. This all happened the night before the 5 year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting. This happened about 2 years after the Oxford high school shooting. There were students at MSU last night who were at Oxford high school on November 30, 2021. There are US students less than 21 years old who have lived through more than 1 school shooting. 15-year-olds should not be able to access firearms. Individuals previously convicted on gun related crimes should not have access to firearms. Civilians should not have access to military grade automatic weapons. Students shouldn’t have to worry about dying at school. 18-year-olds shouldn’t have to text their friends ‘goodbye’ just in case. Yet all of these things keep happening, and America needs to do better.

Breaking Stereotypes: “38 At The Garden”

“38 At The Garden” is a 2022 HBO documentary short that discusses the 2011-12 NBA season and its star, Jeremy Lin. Lin is an Asian American basketball player who formerly played for the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is now a player for the Chinese Basketball Association. The documentary includes testimonies from several Asian…