Inkwell ANNIE WRIGHT UPPER SCHOOL
Social Justice Issue
Letter from the editors As we planned for this year’s theme last June, the killing of George Floyd sparked protests across the nation. The protests inspired us to think more about social justice. Here we are, almost a year later, and the issue is ready. This same week, Derek Chauvin, the man charged with murder for kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, was found guilty on all three charges of murder and manslaughter. But this verdict is just the beginning of our community's fight for social justice. This issue serves to inform and educate the community on all forms of activism and social justice, from LGBTQ+ rights to Black Lives Matter protests. In this issue, you can find articles on problematic representation and appropriation in films such as The Prom and Music, the impact of raising the minimum wage, and turning gentrification into centrification in the Hilltop neighborhood. This issue not only aims to highlight the activists in our community and the people working endlessly for change, but to also shine a light on the performative activism and the lack of action from much of Hollywood. We hope you are able to learn a little something more about your own community and the social justice movements within. On a separate note, as we depart from Annie Wright this year, we’d like to add what a pleasure it’s been serving as the editors of this publication. Here’s to new adventures and welcome to Sofia Guerra, the newest print editor! Julia Henning Editor-in-Chief Gabrielle Krieger Print Editor
Cover photo by Lauren Cook
ANNIE WRIGHT UPPER SCHOOL
Inkwell APRIL 2021
827 North Tacoma Avenue Tacoma, WA 98403 firstname.lastname@example.org | 253-272-2216 Issue 3 | Volume 64 EDITOR IN CHIEF Julia Henning PRINT EDITOR Gabrielle Krieger ONLINE EDITOR Parker Briggs SOCIAL & MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Sebastian Bush NEWS EDITOR Sofia Guerra STUDENT LIFE & SPORTS EDITOR Lauren Cook STAFF WRITERS Olivia Near Clara Wessells Inkwell aims to provide the Annie Wright community with dependable and engaging coverage of school, community and global topics. Inkwell publishes articles of all genres weekly at anniewrightinkwell.org as well as themed magazines during the course of the school year. Submissions of articles and photographs, correction requests and signed letters to the editor are most welcome. Please email the editors at email@example.com. All published submissions will receive credits and bylines.
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Contents Responses to rise in AAPI hate crimes Glossary of LGBTQIA+ labels A look at labels History and celebration of pride Activism in entertainment Alicia Mathurin spotlight Wilson high school cuts ties with namesake Turning gentrification into centrification Nasty news and fake facts Impact of a minimum wage hike Problematic representation & appropriation Protests and riots
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Community response to rise in AAPI hate crimes by Sofia Guerra
Rise in Asian American Government a public statement, Washington Pacific Islander (AAPI) InState Governor Jay Inslee stated that Washington is a “welcoming state” and hate crimes Since the emergence of the COVID-19 virus in the Wuhan Province in the People’s Republic of China, there has been a significant increase in discrimination against the AAPI community in the United States. Harmful narratives pushed by government figures who call COVID-19 names like the “China virus” or the “Kung flu” have fueled the sentiment that the COVID-19 pandemic is to be blamed on individuals of AAPI descent.
In the early days of the pandemic, numerous outlets reported a rise in AAPI hate crimes across the country. Of late, there has been another surge of violence against this community. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization dedicated to fighting AAPI discrimination, reports almost 3,800 instances of bigotry against this community from March 2020 to February 2021. There has been a 149% increase in cases since 2019. One example of a recent crime in Washington State is the vandalism of a church in Seattle. Offenders painted aggressive messages onto the walls of the church, spurring rallies against AAPI hate. King County reports the prosecution of 59 AAPI hate crimes since the beginning of 2020.
Action from Washington State 2
that he has a “zero-tolerance policy for hate and racism.”
Inslee further stated, “Victims deserve support and justice. There are systems in place to ensure offenders face consequences for their unconscionable actions. I encourage victims to come forward and report their experience to local law enforcement.” “I stand in solidarity with members of the Asian community who continue to experience fear and intimidation. They deserve better, and we must do everything in our power to make their safety and security a priority and to eliminate racism in Washington,” Inslee said. Media management for Inslee could not be reached for additional information on the matter.
Action from local organizations
Numerous local institutions dedicated to supporting AAPI and other minority groups have spoken out against the antiAAPI hate crimes in the past year. Korean Women’s Association (KWA) is a Western Washington organization established in 1972 with the mission to “Provide multicultural, multi-lingual human services, regardless of race or ethnic background, to diverse communities through
education, socialization, advocacy and support.” In a recent press release, the KWA offered support and a haven to communities and individuals impacted by the increase in anti-AAPI discrimination: “Extending a culturally-aware, helping hand is at the core of the KWA mission and we will not stand by as expressions of hate are perpetrated against our Asian American Pacific Islander brothers and sisters.” The KWA further posited, “Did you know that scientists have confirmed that COVID-19 does not respect borders and is not caused by ethnicity, and we caution against using geographic descriptors because they can fuel ethnic discrimination?”
Action from Annie Wright Schools
As a multinational and communityminded school, Annie Wright Schools wants to support its student body and actively respond to its needs during this time. “We consider Monday’s community meeting a start point, we appreciate that students shared resources and concerns, we’re going to keep bringing up this conversation and acting on them,” said Eireann Corrigan, the director of the Upper School for Girls (USG). Additionally, the school has established Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) groups working towards the Strategic Plan for Diversity. According to the school website:
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“The Strategic Plan for Diversity, adopted in early 2019, outlines a vision for supporting all members of the Annie Wright Schools community and for developing robust Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming. There are four general areas of attention, each with specific initiatives, components, and performance measures.” These DEI groups are working to find ways to educate and inform the community about various diversityrelated topics. Corrigan gave one pertinent example: “There’s a DEI section in the Friday Flash [a division-wide newsletter] and they are working on a paragraph to explain microaggressions and give people some insights on how to intercede[d] and help if they witness [this]. That advice is geared towards parents as well.” Additionally, Corrigan reported, “We have a DEI working group on campus made of faculty and staff across all divisions. they have met with the Affinity Group team yesterday to put into place and launch Affinity Groups in both the middle school and high school.”
Student experiences and insights Annie Wright Schools has been in a unique situation since the beginning of the pandemic because of its predominantly Asian boarding community. One boarding student, Amber Fang (USG ‘23), describes her experience:
“After the pandemic started, I have been online on my social media account, from which it’s obvious that I am Asian. And people were kind of attacking me in the comments section. They first recognized me as a Chinese person, and then they were talking about how it was my fault that there is [COVID-19] in the United States.” Fang, like many others, is frustrated with the discrimination she faces on a regular basis. She resents the fact that many ignorant people blame Asian individuals and Asia as a whole for the pandemic. “Of course I fought back ... And to begin with, I’m Taiwanese, not Chinese, and we’re also all victims of
the fact that the virus is spreading. It’s not just somebody’s fault, [there’s] not just one to blame. It’s our fault, it’s your government’s fault. Of course they can say, “but you [failed to] keep it in your own country,” but once it’s spread it’s more on you, on whether or not your country [can] handle it. Because look at New Zealand, look at Taiwan, you know, they have [returned] to normal lives. But look at the United States, it’s different.” Fang also expressed how the rise in AAPI discrimination and hate has affected her. As an Asian high school student residing on her own in the United States, Fang lives uneasily. “I’ve never been this terrified to go to this boarding school in the United States ever before. I just feel like that at this point, I wouldn’t even feel safe if I were to sign out of the dorms alone, by myself, without walking with other people or going in a group with the dorms. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me if I’m outside, alone, by myself. It’s just really scary,” Fang said.
Affinity groups are cross-division organizations that provide a community space for groups of people with similar cultural backgrounds to come together. “We also recently established an Affinity Group for students who identify as Asian or Asian American and we hope that these will provide a safe space,” said Corrigan. Annie Wright Schools hopes to establish Affinity Groups for student parents as well, and “recognize that constituents across the board are concerned about [the rise in anti-AAPI hate] and we want to ensure feelings of safety and belonging.”
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The AAPI community and its allies share powerful messages and tags across social media and during protests and speaking events. Photo by Sofia Guerra.
Glossary of LGBTQIA+ labels LGBTQIA+
Labels are terms people use to identify and express their sexuality and gender identity. For example, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for the following labels:
Lesbian is the term used to refer to a woman who is attracted to other women.
Gay is an overarching term for attraction to the same gender. Note that the term gay can also be used by people who identify as gender non-binary.
Asexuality refers to the complete absence of sexual attraction to other people. Below are some labels used by interviewees in this article, in order of mention.
People who are grayromantic fall somewhere on the spectrum between aromantic (feeling no romantic attraction) and alloromantic (feeling consistent and clear romantic attraction). They may feel romantic attraction sometimes, but not as frequently or obviously as someone who is alloromantic.
Bisexuality is the attraction to more than one gender. Despite the prefix of “bi,” it is important to note the term means the attraction to two or more genders.
Someone who is transgender identifies as a different gender than their sex assigned at birth.
Queer is an umbrella terms that encapsulates all expressions and identities that are not heterosexual (straight, attracted to the opposite gender) or not cisgender (one who identifies with their assigned sex).
Questioning is a term used for someone who is exploring and questioning their sexuality or gender identity.
Intersex people are born with biological and anatomical sex characteristics that do not match defined female and male anatomy.
An ally is someone who does not identify as LGBTQIA+ but who supports and sides with the community.
Demiromantic is the term used to describe people who only feel romantic attraction to people they are already close to and have already formed emotional bonds with.
Pansexuality is the attraction to all and any gender. It is similar to bisexuality in the aspect of the attraction to more than one gender, but pansexuality is by definition the attraction to all genders and also encompasses the attraction to others regardless of gender.
A demigirl is a person who does not fully identify as a woman, both socially and mentally.
The label non-binary refers to someone who does not identify with either gender binary (male or female).
Transmasculine is an umbrella label that describes someone who is assigned the female sex at birth but indentifies and expresses with masculinity. For a more complete glossary of labels, visit the Human Rights Campaign's website. Compiled by Sofia Guerra.
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Labels can be used to express one’s identity and also tie them to the communities they are a part of. Graphic by Sofia Guerra.
A look at labels by Sofia Guerra
For some people, labels are a useful tool in understanding and expressing their identity. In a supportive, educated and understanding community, labels can be helpful for those who like to use them. One positive of the use of various labels is finding a community that has gone through similar struggles and has dealt with the same insecurities. A Upper School for Girls (USG) student who asks to remain anonymous, and will be referred to as “Lydia” stated, “As someone who identifies as asexual, I find labels to be very helpful. In my experience, the asexual community gets a lot of “you’re broken” and “you’re too young to know yet.” These comments are certainly common in other LGBTQIA+ communities as well, but we have to deal with it a significant amount–because ‘how would [someone young] know what sexual attraction is yet? Maybe you’re just a late bloomer.’ That concept in particular really stuck in my head for a while. After I learned what being asexual is and heard about other people’s experiences with it, so much about the way I saw the world made sense.” Jay Keltner, a high school student, described their experience: “When it comes to connecting with other people, labels are helpful for me because it’s something I can have in common with them. They help me feel like part of a community, and remind me that I’m not alone.” Labels can be helpful as someone tries to navigate their identity. Lucien Amundson, a high school student at Todd Beamer, said, “[Labels] have allowed me to explore myself and my identity and find what feels right for me. Overall, I think labels are very helpful when you’re trying to figure yourself out and getting to know yourself better.” Additionally, labels are flexible. People are allowed to be questioning, to tentatively identify one way. Labels can change.
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“At first, I was still hesitant to actually accept I could be asexual because maybe my attraction just hadn’t kicked in yet. It wasn’t until I realized labels don’t have to be permanent that I started saying I was asexual. Because labels are broad terms that vary for everyone, and it’s rare that someone finds one label and sticks with it for the rest of their life. Sometimes you have to switch things up, and that’s okay, because for me it’s
all a part of figuring myself out. This wasn’t a really big change, but as an example, I used to identify with the term demiromantic, but now I feel more comfortable with the term grayromantic,” said Lydia. Labels do not have to be used to permanently categorize oneself. Labels are meant to help express one’s identity, and if someone’s identity can change then labels too can be variable.
"The bottom line, in my opinion, is that labels help you understand yourself" Lydia explained, “The bottom line, in my opinion, is that labels help you understand yourself better. Finding out that there are other people like me that have gone through the same experiences, realizing I’m not alone or broken or weird or wrong, makes me feel much more confident in my identity.”
While labels are favorable for some people, they can be counterproductive and stressful for others. When societal pressure invalidates people for not knowing or presenting the right things about their identities, labels can be seen as another means of forcing people into boxes. Katherine Maas (USG ‘23) stated, “I think that society's obsession with labels is really absurd, especially when it comes to labels for things like sexuality and gender identity. For one, identity is constantly fluctuating. One of the whole points of being human is the fact that we change. We go through phases, and that's not a bad thing. Sure, last year I was obsessed with this show, but it's been a whole year — I'm allowed to have new interests. As such, people shouldn't be pressured to label themselves if they aren't sure how
they feel or if they don’t fully agree with that label.” Maas emphasized that labels are not necessarily a negative thing in itself, but it is rather the pressures surrounding choosing a label that are responsible for these cons. “As much as society wants to entirely enrapt your full identity in just a few labels, there's no reason to listen to this societal urge. At the same time, especially because labels can change frequently, if you want to label yourself, don't worry about the permanence.” Additionally, when it comes to sharing one’s labels, an obstacle many people have to overcome is when others take those labels as a permanent identity. Because of this, even if someone is comfortable personally changing their labels, those around them may not accept the new way the person identifies. “When I was younger, I really felt the urge to label myself. I wanted to be able to say ‘I'm pansexual!’ as soon as people asked how I identified; labels for me were originally a source of pride, a way of wrapping up the important parts of me in one word. As I got older though, I realized that pansexual wasn't inherently the best label for me. I questioned whether I truly was attracted to all genders, or if only being attracted to feminine people would still fall under the umbrella of pansexual. Soon, that label didn't feel like a source of pride anymore, but something that people knew me as, and how could I change that?” said Maas. People also may not always be able to identify with given labels. Someone may not know the specifics of their identity, only that they are different from the norm society imposes upon them. Additionally, labels can be too specific; they can include some aspects of one’s identity but exclude others. Keltner stated, “For me, labels are really
fickle. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to figure out I wasn’t cishet [cisgender, heterosexual], but I don’t always connect with them. They’re useful for first impressions, but it’s easy to find a label and not feel secure when you start using it.” “I use she/they pronouns, but I don’t really consider myself a demigirl, and I like men, women and everything in between, but I don’t resonate with pansexual. I remember when I was younger, those are the labels I used but as I’ve grown older it kind of feels like I’ve grown out of them.” Labels can also be restrictive, especially when others have an unbending standard in their minds. This leaves little room for individuals to personally interpret the labels they explore. Amundson said, “When I first was exploring my identity, I labeled myself as nonbinary, but as time went on I felt as if it didn’t fit quite right since everyone was saying you had to be neither female or male to truly be nonbinary, which is why I started identifying as a trans man. However, that didn’t feel right either as many people think that if you’re a trans guy you need to be masculine and all that jazz. Eventually I was able to figure myself out, which is that I’m just a transmasc nonbinary person, but it took a while and it was largely because there’s still ideas of what’s right and wrong in certain labels, when really it should just be what feels right to you and not what society says should be right, you know?” Maas stated, “Eventually, I got tired of this never-ending question of whether pansexual was good personal label, and now I just identify as queer. Is that very vague? Yes. But why do people need to automatically know what exactly my attraction is when I originally introduce myself? It may not be the most descriptive word, but it's the one that I'm most comfortable with right now, and as such the one that I'm going to use.” 1
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The history and celebration of pride by Julia Henning
Emily Muehlenkamp attended Portland Pride on a float with her family in 2019. Photo courtesy of Emily Muehlenkamp.
LGBTQIA+ Pride, celebrated in the U.S. during the month of June, is an expression of equality, commemoration and the increased visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community. The celebrations typically take place in the form of a festival, parade, march or protest. Pride originated from the Stonewall Riots and today memorializes the Stonewall age as a turning point in LGBTQIA+ history. Stonewall is named after the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, which opened in New York City in 1966. It was one of few locations for free expression of homosexuality in the nation at the time. Because of this, police raids happened on occasion due to discriminiation and homophobia in the U.S. Bars would typically be given tip-offs by police and raids typically would not last long. Some bars would even resume serving afterwards. On the morning of June 28, 1969, however, a raid by four police officers escalated when the officers took too long with arrests and people from the bar blocked the police cars and fought back against the officers. The clash took
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three hours to de-escalate, but it forever left a legacy of resilience and stamina for the LGBTQIA+ community, leading to the first Pride event in the form of a march in 1970 from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Today, Pride events take place in cities across the U.S. every June and in different months internationally. The NYC Pride event brought over four million people together in 2019. Tacoma Pride is a festival downtown near Firefighter’s Park with an array of stands and tents run by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Students Demand Action and the Rainbow Center. Logan Hancock (USB ‘22) attended the festival for the first time in June 2019. “It was a bit of a step for me because it was the first time I had done something like that,” said Hancock. “Getting dressed beforehand, I was like, ‘this was something I’ve never worn before and this is very different for me to go to something like this’. I had just been coming out right before that myself, so
coming into that space made me realize how many people are in this big group. ” Emily Muehlenkamp (USG ‘21) attended Portland Pride in 2019. The Portland, Oregon event is a parade with floats and an almost four-hour long route ending at the Columbia River. “During sophomore year, towards the latter part of the year, I had come out as bisexual and I was open to my parents about it, I was open to everyone about it, but I hadn’t actually really realized that about myself until sophomore year. It was a fun, new, exciting thing. Because I have two moms and it’s such a big event in Portland, even allies and people who just want to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, they just go to it and it’s such a big event. We actually went with Portland community college because they both worked there at the time. I was able to see it from not an external point of view but an internal point of view because we had a parade float and we were in the parade,” said Muehlenkamp. While Pride is a joyful expression of the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community,
there is still demonstration and vocalization from people who do not see sexuality as fluid or do not believe that homosexuality, same-sex relationships and transgender transitioning should be allowed in the U.S. Muehlenkamp spoke of her experience seeing an anti-LGBTQIA+ group stationed on a corner of the parade route. “It was funny how much louder and how much more joyful everyone was right on
the corner. Like ‘we’re just having fun’ and ‘we’re just being who we want to be.' It was them being aggressive from that side but then everyone who partaking in the event was really loud and happy and dancing extra right there,” said Muehlenkamp. Similar to Muehlenkamp, Tacoma Pride also allowed Hancock to find the unity in this community that was newer to him.
community, but not in the way that other communities are one community, this is multiple groups that have been forced together in order to get something done and in order to progress forward. What I really noticed was everyone [at Pride] was from different parts of the LGBT community and they’re all very different in their own culture and themselves, so what united people there was kinda what they weren’t rather than what they were,” said Hancock.
“It made me realize that this is one
Activism in entertainment by Sofia Guerra One of the best platforms to tackle social issues and spread awareness is entertainment media. Of late, it is much more mainstream for books, shows and movies to have central storylines following activism. This development is a step in the right direction; with such a large platform, these medias are inherently responsible for informing their audiences. “We live in the age of online [entertainment] and streaming services. We consume media more in our lives than we do food or drink. That’s why I do think it’s important that popular media addresses activism, rather than shy away from it, especially stemming from a year our lives have been directly affected by activism,” said Martin Pugeda, an executive assistant at Avenida Productions. This year brought about many entertainment works that do an excellent job of explaining the functions and importance of activism.
Pugeda cited The Trial of the Chicago Seven, a Best Picture nominee, as a poignant and encompassing portrayal of social activism: “The Trial of the Chicago Seven follows the story of seven activists who were arrested at a demonstration protesting the Vietnam war. In many of the scenes where protestors clashed with police, the film purposely parallels it to the Black Lives Matter movement, where unarmed protestors deal with police brutality, bringing this issue close to home and shows just how long people have been fighting for justice.” Pugeda also discussed that music, as well as visual media, plays its own role in empowering and spreading awareness of the movement. “Music has been a heavy proponent of activism. Many of this year’s Grammy winners were protest songs inspired by or in solidarity with the BLM movement. Listening to Anderson .Paak lyrics of marching for George Floyd in downtown LA from 'Lockdown' was very
reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s iconic protest anthem, 'What’s Going On.'” However, not every portrayal of activism is complete or accurate. Some entertainment may purposefully cut context in order to further an agenda. Pugeda stated, “ It’s impossible to be completely unbiased, but I do think it’s important to include both sides of the issue when it comes to media portrayals of activism. Context is everything. People need to understand cause and effect.” More often, the stories seen in shows and movies fall short not because of an obvious bias, but because of poor or limited delivery. Student activist Erin Picken brought up the example of the 2021 Netflix film, Moxie. Moxie follows the protagonist Vivian who creates an anonymous zine in an attempt to address misogyny and sexism at her high school after being inspired by a new student named Lucy. Picken noted, “I just thought it was odd that they chose the main character that they did, instead
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of [Lucy]... that they showed [Vivian] becoming an activist, instead of focusing on [Lucy] who was already involved in the movement and more [had a] intersectional experience as a woman of color.” “I think that a lot of media surrounding activism is about someone who has just one, maybe two marginalized identities, like a gay white man or straight white cis woman and I think that can be frustrating for people who watch it wanting to be represented,” said Picken. While having a diverse cast of secondary characters, Moxie’s main character is still white, cisgender, straight and financially well-off. Picken stated, “I wished they had looked deeper into [the experiences of] trans
women, Black women, Latina women, Asian women, because I think those are really underrepresented groups in feminism. So it was a little disappointing to me that they were making a film about feminism, and yes, they included side characters of those identities, but they were just that–side characters. Instead of
being fully represented in their identities, they overall don’t see themselves as a priority in the message of the film.”
"Yes, they included side characters of those identities, but they were just that– side characters."
Pugeda explained, “[Keep in mind] media is designed to draw an emotion out of its viewers. Empathy. Anger. Sadness. Joy. I believe the most responsible way to consume media dealing with activism is to inform yourself on the issues at hand. And not only with [your] side, it’s important to educate yourself on the perspectives of [marginalized] groups you don’t [belong to], and the opposition as well.”
Significant gaps like these make it important for viewers to also be able to distinguish between good and poor portrayals of activism.
While some media is simply for entertainment, shows, books, songs and movies also have the power to educate and inspire. Illustration by Lauren Cook.
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Alicia Mathurin spotlight
Tacoma activist and award recipient by Olivia Near Alicia Mathurin, director of community engagement at Annie Wright Schools has independently participated in many protests and organized protests for Black Lives Matter over the summer. For her recent activism and involvement, she was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the city of Tacoma in January 2021. Mathurin works with many different organizations throughout Tacoma, such as the Hilltop Action Coalition, that builds community through socially just housing. She spent time establishing connections with various activists within the city and also worked with Indigenous communities. Mathurin drew inspiration from protests in Seattle, and became a founding member of a Tacoma protest. When asked about why she originally wanted to organize protests within Tacoma, Mathurin brought up sending a wider message. “We wanted to show the world, Tacoma really is about love, [that] we invite this sort of voice.” Mathurin believes in the young population’s effort for change, and that love is the most effective method. To younger students looking to get involved, she recommends looking
Alicia Mathurin joined the Annie Wright community in 2015 as the Middle School Office Coordinator. Photo by Oona Copperhill.
into organizations in their local area and starting early. She worries that the Black Lives Matter movement may be slowing down from earlier this year, and says that this is the most important time to act, as activism is beginning to become less of a media focus. Mathurin encourages involvement in smaller, local protests.
"I allow and empower, and want everyone to be their whole selves, and I think the way I do that is being my whole self." "I feel like a lot of places had protests in well known downtown areas … and me being from Tacoma, and knowing the communities that are heavily impacted by a lot of this stuff, that’s where we should be doing it,” said Mathurin. Mathurin tries to be a strong role-model
within the Annie Wright community. Authentic relationships throughout the school are important to her, and giving students a positive environment is a priority. She spoke about the problems and challenges of code-switching, a term that means switching between two or more languages, and more recently, switching between two or more ways of presenting yourself to suit your environment. “I allow and empower, and want everyone to be their whole selves, and I think the way I do that is being my whole self,” said Mathurin. “I even joke, ‘I don’t know how to code switch.’ To me, to expect me to code-switch to fit into an environment is offensive. I think me being my whole self invites others to be their whole selves. Because I do it, bravely and boldly, even when I don’t think it’s invited.” Currently, Mathurin is looking for a voice in government, and she recently applied to be a part of the Human Rights Commission in Tacoma. “I’m seeking opportunities to be in those rooms where they are making decisions, and [I am] using my influence and reputation to get in,” said Mathurin.
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Tacoma’s Wilson High School to cut ties with racist namesake by Lauren Cook Tacoma’s Woodrow Wilson High School will be undergoing a name change on July 1, 2021 to honor 94-year-old Tacoma trailblazer Dr. Dolores Silas. Dr. Silas was the first Black woman to serve as a Tacoma Public Schools administrator when she became principal of DeLong Elementary in the 1970s. She led the Tacoma NAACP, was the first Black woman to serve on the Tacoma City Council and earned a Lifetime Service Award from the city in 2019.
“[Silas] deserves to have a school named after her for the work and the progress she made within the city” Despite much praise for his efforts for peace in the first World War, 28th president Woodrow Wilson was a known advocate for segregation and the Ku Klux Klan. As knowledge of his racist beliefs resurfaces, many community members are raising the question of whether he is the best namesake for a diverse and modern public high school.
reflected this opinion. “A lot of students were apathetic… they were less focused on learning more about the issue.” He added that many students and alumni felt that simply removing Woodrow from the name would be fine by itself, since the school is already widely known as Wilson. Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools Carla Santorno disagreed: “keeping the Wilson name would not have made enough of an important statement–with all that’s going on in our country–about the importance of divorcing ourselves from Woodrow Wilson’s racist advocacy,” she said. Essman explained that, while Wilson students were initially given opportunities to weigh in on the potential name change, faculty and alumni played more of a role in the decision. Many alumni were concerned with the change “wiping out the school’s history,” but Essman doubts this will happen. “The people in the district made a change to actively become anti-racist, and as a school, [the name change] is a good
example to set,” he said. In an interview with King 5 News, Wilson principal Bernadette Ray said there would be a minimum cost of $400,000 for the name change to cover new uniforms and signage, among other things. Despite this large number, Essman believes that “the change is worth that amount” in order to continue setting a strong example for anti-racist education in the future. “[Silas] deserves to have a school named after her for the work and the progress she made within the city,” Essman said. “I think that if people don’t know about her accomplishments, naming the school after her will further highlight them.” The next potential name change in the Tacoma Public Schools is Jason Lee Middle School. Students and faculty at the middle school have already proposed several new name ideas, including some that would honor the indigenous tribes whose ancestral land the building resides on.
Wilson High School
Nathan Essman, a senior at Wilson and first opened its doors student representative on the Tacoma in 1958, and many alumni believe the School Board, believes that the name name change will change is necessary “to ensure everyone take away from the feels welcome and appreciated.” school’s history. Though Essman feels strongly about the name change, not all Wilson students
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Photo by Lauren Cook.
1937 map of redlined Tacoma from the Mapping Inequality online archive. Following the New Deal, banks created these maps of cities to outline the risk involved in providing loans to each neighborhood. This was explicitly determined by the racial demographic of those living there. Neighborhoods with high amounts of people of color were labeled with red for high risk. This meant that those living there could not access loans to purchase their homes or businesses. Hilltop has historically been one of those neighborhoods.
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The Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington began experiencing the full effects of gentrification in the 2000s, resulting in the continued displacement of local residents and businesses. According to Roberta Schur, the community development manager in the real estate department at the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA), an organization working to provide affordable housing in Tacoma, there were multiple forces behind this gentrification. Mainly, “People were getting priced out of Seattle, so they started moving to South King County. As prices continued to escalate throughout the county, they then got pushed down into Pierce County,” she said. Since Hilltop was an affordable neighborhood, many of the people from Seattle who migrated to Tacoma chose to move there. The increase in higher income families from Seattle then raised the neighborhood’s median income and consequently the price of housing. Gentrification occurred as a result of the Tacoma Link Light Rail as well. “As soon as it was announced that the light rail was going to go through the Hilltop, speculation started to happen. People started selling and buying property up thinking they were going to be able to make a lot of money off of it,” Schur said. This led to increased attention from private investors, who purchased properties in Hilltop. Instead of developing these properties immediately, many of these investors decided to wait until the light rail is finished so they can maximize their profits. Given Hilltop’s history as a primarily Black community, local residents and businesses have been particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of gentrification. “Because of redlining and other institutionalized racism, a lot of BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of color] people have not been able to purchase their homes or hold onto that generational wealth that a lot of other families can,” Schur said. Since many residents and businesses have been denied the opportunity to own their space, as rent prices rise, they have no choice but to pay more or be priced out. However, there is still hope that longtime Hilltop residents and businesses will be able to preserve their community. According to Brendan Nelson, the President of The Hilltop Action Coalition, a grassroots organization that advocates to improve the quality of life for Hilltop residents, “We know that gentrification is here, and we know that there’s nothing we can do about that, but what we can change is the displacement.”
Turning gentrification into centrification: a vision for the future of Hilltop by Gabrielle Krieger
For development to occur in a way that benefits the current community instead of harming or displacing it, development must focus on centrification instead of gentrification. “When we think about centrification, we’re really thinking about: how are people that are currently in the community being a part of this [development] and not being displaced,” Nelson said.
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An example of centrification in action is the Tacoma Housing Authority’s (THA) development project in Hilltop. THA is currently working on developing four parcels of land in Hilltop and plans to create buildings in these parcels that will provide residential spaces for affordable housing and commercial spaces for use by local businesses. To include residents in this process, and ensure that the project amplifies the community voice instead of stifling or changing it, THA facilitated multiple community engagement programs to hear from the Hilltop community before they began the actual development of these properties. These programs involved long term outreach with Hilltop residents and businesses in order to hear their concerns about and hopes for the development project. In the latest community engagement program, THA collaborated with Mithun, a Seattle based design firm, and Fab-5, a Tacoma based arts organization, to put together the 2019 #DesignTheHill Community Development Plan. This involved the several month long facilitation of multiple design and planning workshops, where organizations and residents in the community came together to help plan what THA’s development will look like. Schur said that a major goal in putting together these groups was learning, “how do we teach a community to design itself and how do we design these buildings in a way that really captures the history and the culture of the Hilltop and speaks to peoples’ dreams for the future?” Throughout these processes, THA focused on ensuring that everyone in the community had a voice. “We didn’t want to run a community engagement process, your typical thing, where you get about 20 people in a room, the same squeaky wheels that always complain about everything and perhaps didn’t have longterm ties to the Hilltop. So the outreach
was really intentional to make sure that we reached out to African American folks and people who had long ties to the Hilltop,” Schur said. By getting the community to participate in development planning, THA was able to incorporate the needs of residents throughout the project’s design. For instance, Schur said, “One of the things we learned is that people don’t like walking down M.L.K. [Jr. Way] because it’s noisy and dirty, and so people would actually prefer walking down the alleys if they were a safe place to be,” and as a result, “One of our initiatives is to do alley activation in the Hilltop so that they become fun inviting places to be.”
“When we think about centrification, we’re really thinking about: how are people that are currently in the community being a part of this [development] and not being displaced” In terms of who will benefit from the affordable housing THA is building, during the community engagement process, THA received feedback that, “This needs to be affordable to people who live here today and it needs to include those people that got displaced from Hilltop,” Schur said. While THA normally allocates housing to people based on a preexisting waitlist, the organization decided to change the lease-up process to accommodate this need. In addition to planning development
around the needs of long-time residents, an important aspect of achieving centrification is empowering and preserving the small, often BIPOC owned, businesses that have historically called Hilltop home. This doesn’t mean that buildings containing businesses cannot be redeveloped. Instead, developers should work with small business owners to support them through the transition and ensure that they can afford to keep their space when development is over. In THA’s development project, one of the parcels is home to two historic Hilltop businesses: Mr. Mac Ltd., a men’s clothing store, and Terry’s Barbershop. Throughout the process, according to Alyssa Torrez, a program specialist for the real estate department at THA, “We [THA] are working with them to give them a temporary relocation, and then once the construction is done, they’ll come back into that space.” When filling the commercial space in each parcel, Torrez said that THA is additionally, “working with smaller businesses that are black owned or BIPOC owned to bring them into the community,” in order to, “add to the culture and the feel of the community and also give opportunities to people that haven’t had them before.” While it is important to provide Hilltop residents and businesses with resources, it is just as necessary to provide “equitable access to those resources and support to navigate and complete whatever is available … because if those things are not in place, the displacement will continue to happen,” Nelson said. Finally, when working towards centrification, to ensure that development does not change the fabric of Hilltop, art and design must be used to uplift the community voice. This includes everything from larger scale projects, like designing buildings, to creating smaller scale public art installations. Nelson said,
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“It’s not just about art, it’s also about maintaining and capturing the history and culture of the community, which has been stripped away in so many ways.” According to Nelson, who was also involved in the 2019 #DesignTheHill, one way that art will be used to represent Hilltop’s history is through murals. “As you see the light rails come through, you’re going to see more depictions of leaders from the community from over the years,” he said. In developing their parcels, THA is “working with local artists to, yes, put in art installations, but also to help in the design process of designing what the actual buildings look like in a way that is inviting to current residents, that
maintains the feel of the neighborhood and the community and that reflects the historical culture of the community.” This includes “picking the color palettes for the building[s] and incorporating architectural pieces that are more reflective of the population that lives there,” Torrez said. For instance, to help design the building on the parcel containing Mr. Mack Ltd. and Terry’s Barbershop, which the Horizon Housing Alliance, a non profit organization that provides housing to those in need, and THA are collaborating on the development of, the Horizon Housing Alliance hired local artist Tiffany Hammonds. “She worked with the architect to design the exterior facade. It’s done in traditional African colors and
Nasty news and fake facts
it’s something that your typical architect would never have come up with on their own,” Schur said. THA is also working to collaborate with the other developers designing the buildings near the organization’s parcels in order to maintain the community’s artistic vision. Torrez said, “All the buildings will work together too. I think that’s kind of the idea behind having these artists, is they’re going to work together, so it’s not like one building and then a different one and they’re disjointed. It’s this idea of having kind of a shared vision.” “A quilt,” Schur added.
Does your news make you mad? If it appeals to your emotions, it may be a source of bias. Photo by Parker Briggs.
by Parker Briggs Everyone has their comfort zone. When it comes to media preferences, this is particularly evident. It’s up for debate who’s news is the ‘mainstream’, but there’s no doubt that between media outlets one can detect a spectrum of ideologies. The cause of this lies at the root of journalism. As professional and objective as reporters pride themselves to be, their basic trade is storytelling. And there are always as many takes on a story as there are people to tell it. In presenting their perspective of a story, it’s inevitable that journalists’ beliefs and biases are also conveyed. Upper School for Girls English teacher Laura Barber leads a specially-developed unit on bias in media, and is expert in the
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art of identifying bias. “The first thing I look out for is emotionally-loaded language,” Barber said. “News with bias tends to be effective because it has lots of emotion behind it. If you notice you’re having a strong emotional response to the language, that’s a sign that it's probably biased.” “Emotions are what make it appealing. It’s more entertaining. Even if what you’re feeling is outrage, it still has a certain appeal,” she said. Media that exaggerates or misconstrues facts for dramatic effect can produce an even stronger emotional reaction. People are drawn to what excites them, and this often means a specific ideology. “Even if people aren’t strongly aware of
what a source’s bias may be,” said Barber, “they realize that some sources are more appealing to them and gravitate towards the ones that share their biases.” Currently, the two most popular news shows on cable are "Hannity" and "Tucker Carlson Tonight," both airing on Fox News. Fox, the most-viewed network in America, has shows that are both reliable and unreliable, neutral and patently conservative. But the two most biased shows on the network? "Hannity" and "Tucker Carlson Tonight." “I feel like that’s very telling,” said Barber. She theorizes that conservatives are willing to accept higher unreliability from Fox News because it is the only source from which conservative media is available.
“There truly are so many more outlets that are liberal than conservative,” she said. Media consumers who are too cozy in their comfort zone can get stuck in a vicious cycle, Barber warns. “The more times you see something the more it begins to feel true, even if your mind knows it’s not. If you see something false enough [times], anyone can fall for it.” “When we see something different from our bias, we notice it very quickly. We think ‘that’s biased language!’ or ‘they left this out!’ But when we see something that agrees with our bias, we just think that it was good information.” Social media can be an especially perilous source of biased information. Posts that have a strong emotional appeal may lead users to like or share on an impulse.
Barber encourages her students to make the distinction between bias and reliability. Reliability depends on whether the facts are accurate—statistics, names and dates. Bias is usually political, either liberal or conservative, and leans in one direction or the other. Bias in media is not exclusively liberal or conservative. Barber, much of whose class is Chinese, examines in her unit anti-Chinese bias in mainstream US media. She then compares it to the attitudes planted in China Daily, an English-language publication dispensed by the Chinese government, which is similarly biased against the US. When especially subtle, bias tends not to affect the reliability of a news story. This effect is different from that of the entirely unreliable, fake news which has proliferated over the previous five to six years. However, any degree of bias in media can
reinforce the biases of a consumer. Barber traces this effect to the present political polarization in America. “If you take in news that’s always slanted in your direction, often unfairly, against the other side, you’ll begin to dismiss the other side as unreasonable or evil, when they are actually more reasonable if you look at things from their perspective, because there may be information that is left out or emphasized that would really change your thinking.” According to a survey taken in the Annie Wright Upper Schools, the most popular media outlet among Annie Wright students is the New York Times, rated center-left by Ad Fontes Media, an organization that tracks media bias. Students sharing the most confidence in the ‘mainstream media’ tended also to prefer more neutral publications, such as the Wall Street Journal. Students preferring Fox News had the least trust in media, reporting 26% below the mean.
Impact of a minimum wage hike by Parker Briggs
Under the leadership of a new Democratic administration, progressives in the US senate are building momentum for a federal minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. The last such increase occurred in 2009, raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25. “Because of inflation though, the prices of everyday things have increased since the last time minimum wage was changed,” said Simren Khan (USG ‘22). “I think that the minimum wage should account for that.” Accounting for inflation, Americans earned a higher minimum wage in 1961 than today. Patrick Graham, who teaches economics at Annie Wright Schools, explained the reasons for and against such an increase. “The debate about raising the minimum
wage is that small businesses will have to pay more to workers, and then have less leeway for other expenses,” he said. In some cases, paying more to employees may move employees to a higher income bracket, requiring businesses to provide them medical care. Graham summarized the bottom line effect on businesses: “Your profit margin just slips down significantly.” To make up for this loss in profits, businesses may increase the cost of goods. If this occurs, then despite the increase in income, workers may not be able to purchase as much with it. The most significant impact would be on jobs. “I worry about what an increase would do for job growth and creation. Businesses will have to get more strict
with hiring and think, ‘Is this guy worth paying $15 an hour for?’” At some McDonald’s restaurants in California, workers at the register have already been replaced with computer screens. These screens take an order and payment just like a human cashier. “There’s fear that if you make having workers more expensive, those jobs will become automated,” said Graham. This, of course, is an extreme example. But the principle behind it remains true: businesses will look for ways to cut costs— and often employees— to increase their profit margin. “The idea behind raising the minimum wage is to give the individual American
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more purchasing power with what they are making,” Graham said. “But you won’t have that purchasing power if you lose your job.” The principal argument for a minimum wage increase is humanitarian: that in doing so the government would help the needy. “But what happens if those people don’t have jobs?” asked Graham, “How does that help a community?” When a business is paring down its workforce, young and inexperienced workers, such as teenagers, are often the first to go. This limits employment opportunities for teenagers working minimum wage jobs not simply for the money, but to gain an introduction to work experience. Maya Garcia (USG ‘21) earned minimum wage as a pool lifeguard. “I was 15, and saving money wasn’t a priority. I was more just looking for the experience.” For Maya, the most valuable reward was not financial—“things like having a manager and being able to communicate at work. For me, it was the experience that mattered.” Among other factors, increases in state and local minimum wage have seen teenage engagement in the national labor force decline by 17% since 2000. Today, fewer than one in three teenagers gain any work experience before turning 18. A national minimum wage increase could reduce employment even more.
On the other hand, if wages are raised, then workers may spend more money. It is possible that this, in turn, could increase businesses’ revenue and spur job creation, mitigating the loss of jobs.
“I don’t think anyone can create a life for themselves or flourish making only $7.25 an hour.” For many, a minimum wage increase is the maintenance of an acceptable standard of living. “If you’re a single mother, I think you should be able to buy your kid a winter coat if they need one,” said Simren Khan (USG '22). “$7.25 is really not enough anywhere. I don’t think anyone can create a life for themselves or flourish making only $7.25 an hour.” Graham explained one difficulty of raising wages that would affect above-minimum wage earners. “What about the workers who are already earning $17 per hour? Currently, they are earning twice the minimum wage, but if it’s raised to $15 an hour, that will be only $2 more than minimum. Will their salaries be increased to stay at twice the minimum? On the other hand, if all salaries are increased, minimum wage earners will still be at the
low-ball end of the spectrum, so what’s the point?” Were a universal increase to not occur, then this could diminish the incentive to pursue education and career development. To raise citizens’ purchasing power, a single nationwide minimum may not be the answer. “The cost of living in the greater Seattle area is way more than what you’d need in, say, Oklahoma City. The pricing of housing and general goods vary. In New York City, even $15 may not be enough to get by on.” San Francisco has one of the highest costs of living in the nation, but Graham attests one can live much more cheaply just a two hour drive away. An increase in minimum wage means there is more taxable income available to the government. This can be used for infrastructure investments that may improve citizens’ quality of life. All individuals Inkwell spoke with supported an increase in the national minimum wage. However, Graham shared concern regarding the manner in which this is achieved. “A drastic increase to $15 all at once may cause an economic shock that creates bigger issues. I think we should stagger the increase over a few years and gradually bring it up to $15. That way we can see how the economy responds before making that big change.”
The US national minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, has not been increased since 2009. Graphic by Parker Briggs
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Problematic representation & appropriation
Many 2020 and 2021 film releases were met with backlash due to inapproriate casting and portrayals. Graphic by Sofia Guerra.
by Sebastian Bush
The film and television industry is far from lacking iconic performances. Recently however, more and more acting roles have come over scrutiny by fans wondering if the role’s casting and portrayal was problematic. Two recent examples come from Sia’s Music and The Prom. Both include controversial characters based—as fans pointed out—largely on stereotypes, portrayed by actors who do not identify with the roles they are playing.
Music, created by multi-millionaire singer-songwriter Sia, has attracted substantial negative attention over its portrayal of a young woman with autism named Music. Starring Maddie Ziegler as Music and Leslie Odom Jr. as the charming neighbor, Ebo, the film came off to a rocky start, earning only $450,000 on its first full week released in Australia. This poor box office showing comes in response to a hefty $16 million dollar budget. Annie Wright students reflected on the film’s problematic nature, specifically Ziegler’s performance as Music, a character with autism: Erin Picken (USG ‘23) says, “I’ve seen the whole thing and I believe that the issue is not only the fact that Maddie Ziegler isn’t autistic but the fact that Sia has disrespected autistic people by ignoring their critiques of the movie and working with Autism Speaks. The movie perpetuates both racist and ableist stereotypes and is a horrible attempt at wokeness by Sia.” As Picken points out, the film received backlash not only for casting a neurotypical actress (neurotypical referring to someone who is not autistic and does not display atypical patterns of thought or behavior) to play a neurodivergent character (someone who is autistic or does display these patterns), but the movie also worked closely with Autism Speaks, a foundation based on the principle that autism is a disease that must be fixed. In fact, up until 2016, the word 'cure'
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was still in their mission statement. Additionally, many critics pointed out that Leslie Odom Jr.’s character, Ebo, is portrayed as a “saintly immigrant” who serves the single purpose of helping the white main characters succeed in life. As Clem Bastow's article for The Guardian explains, “Odom Jr. has a sad look in his eyes that suggests he’s making a mental note to enter a witness protection program every time his character has to utter the words, ‘In Africa …’ or, ‘Back in my village …’ He exists only to impart his wisdom so that Zu can better herself.” This, in addition to a scene where Ziegler seemingly wears makeup much darker than her skin tone, further adds to the list of problematic moments in the movie. Julia Henning (USG ‘21) agreed, “I think the part that was most wrong out of the whole situation of a neurotypical actor portraying a neurodivergent character was not the actress’ fault but the fact that Sia didn’t apologize or make any attempt to listen to the autistic community and rather just defended herself and her actions.”
“[It was] inappropriate to cast Maddie [Ziegler as Music] and Sia is to blame.” As Henning mentions, Sia was quick to dismiss critique of her film. Soon after the film’s trailer was released, a large amount of backlash surfaced on the social media platform Twitter. In response, Sia ignored comments, and continuously defended her choices. In one response to a tweet, she mentioned she had “tried working with a beautiful young girl non verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful.” While the tone
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may seem kind and caring, it simply accentuates the damaging behavior by Sia in this situation: as many soon pointed out, instead of attempting to accommodate the young actress, Sia instead fired her and immediately cast Ziegler, Sia’s goddaughter. Music was a film riddled with misguided intentions and ideas, and ultimately, as Terah Gruber (USG ‘21) says, “[It was] inappropriate to cast Maddie [Ziegler] and Sia is to blame.” In fact, after the film’s release, Ziegler expressed regret for acting in the movie.
Just as Music starred a neurotypical actress in a stereotypically neurodivergent role, The Prom featured a straight man playing a flamboyant and stereotypical gay man. In The Prom, James Corden, popular comedian and host of The Late Late Show, was cast to portray a gay man, although Corden is straight. This choice of casting was criticized by many, including some AWS students. Henning said, “I believe it was wrong for the casting directors to hire someone who they knew was not of the same sexual orientation and origin of the character. It is such an important and raw story and he just made the character this stereotypical flamboyant gay character.” As Henning mentioned, The Prom is a raw story. Based on a Broadway musical, the movie follows a small town girl who is banned from attending prom after she asks if she can bring her girlfriend. The conflict catches the attention of a group of washed up actors who decide to help out the young girl, and of course, shenanigans ensue. Although the movie is lighthearted and fun, it doesn’t shy away from showing blatant homophobia and the continued fight for LGBTQIA+ rights. So, to watch Corden play a flamboyant gay character with a stereotypical accent felt frustrating to many.
As Emily Muehlenkamp (USG ‘21) wondered, “Why in the world did he feel like he needed to do an accent?” While many were quick to criticize, others were unsure: “I’m conflicted about is because, on the one hand, straight men shouldn’t shy away from playing gay characters to help dispel the image of gay being a bad thing. However, at this point in time, we also want to shed light on LGBTQ+ actors, which is more important than big names. As for his performance, it was pretty stereotypical, but I’m assuming it was based on the original musical character, so I’m not too worried about it,” said Madeline Strate (USG ‘23).
“...It doesn’t matter who’s playing the characters, it’s how they tell the story.” So, who can portray what?
Despite this criticism about problematic representation, does it matter who plays who in theatre? Sofia La Rosa (USG ‘23) says, “I don’t think it’s a problem, theatre is all about playing different roles. Women play men and men play women. The job of the actor is to represent a story through characters. I think what’s important to remember [is] that when it comes to theatre it doesn’t matter who’s playing the characters, it’s how they tell the story.” From one perspective, the portrayal of a character—and the way that character is acted—is more important than the casting itself. However, the flip side of the argument states that the actor chosen is just as, if not more, important than the portrayal.
Black Lives Matter protests on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, June 9th, 2020. Photo by Stan Wiechers, cropped for sizing and redistributed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.
Protests and riots: why the distinction is so important by Sebastian Bush 20
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Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other black lives that were lost to racially motivated police brutality, people came out in droves to protest last year. While some sources such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace suggest only one million people attended these protests, other outlets claimed otherwise. According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26 million people may have participated, with other polls suggesting equally high numbers such as 23, 18 and 15 million people. However, one misconception lies in the distinction between protests and riots. Tucker Carlson, a well known and increasingly popular conservative talking head has repeatedly described Black Lives Matter protests as “BLM riots.” But are they really riots? The dictionary definition of riot comes from Merriam-Webster, who define it as “a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent; public violence, tumult or disorder.” Annie Wright Schools’ Alicia Mathurin classifies a riot as a “violent way of delivering a message that you disagree with or oppose something.” Mathurin organized a protest in the summer of 2020 against racial injustices and systemic racism. (To learn more about the work Mathurin has done, check out Alicia Mathurin Spotlight on page 10) Mathurin stresses that protests are important because they “represent a community of people with similar values coming together using their voices, resources and presence to advocate for someone or something. To make change for their community or the community they are advocating for…. That is powerful and moving to witness.” Mathurin also believes riots can be im-
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portant, but in different ways. “It’s hard to say this because I am a believer of a reality where harmony and peace can be experienced by all of us, but unfortunately that is not our current truth. Riots are valuable when they are used to combat oppressive and violent forces. There are places and times in our history and current day, where there are systems designed to harm and sometimes murder a community of people. In those situations, riots can be necessary to bring awareness and change.”
“I am growing sick and tired of hearing about my black people being murdered by police" Mathurin says last summer’s protest was organized due to her frustration with targeted police brutality against black people. “I am growing sick and tired of hearing about my black people being murdered by police officers. No one deserves to be murdered, especially unarmed and by people that swore to protect us. That is a crime and when the world watches these murderers go unpunished, it confirms and empowers the evil racist system we are still living in. I have to say something...Our march started on the Eastside at the Portland Avenue Community Center. My Indigenous family from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Tribal Council blessed the land and community with songs, dances and prayers. They stand in solidarity with us and we wanted our city to see that. Donors brought masks, waters and bundles of sage to burn along the march. We gathered and marched, escorted by the police, to 56th and back while singing songs and screaming “Stop killing us!” We said the names of the victims we know of and honored the ones we have forgotten. It was beautiful. It was sad, but it was beautiful.” Another facet of the discussion surrounding protests and riots Mathurin pointed
out was the racial double standard. “I believe that when protests are organized [by] and for BIPOC communities they are labeled as riots and when white people gather they are seen as peaceful protests.” So, were the BLM demonstrations protests or riots? According to a study published by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 93% of BLM protests were peaceful. The report classifies violent demonstrations as “events in which the demonstrators themselves engage in violently disruptive and/or destructive acts targeting other individuals, property, businesses, other rioting groups, or armed actors.” Such demonstrations can involve “fighting back against police,” “vandalism,” “looting” and more. These definitions seem to match the ones previously mentioned, so, according to the data, these largely weren’t riots, they were protests. Conversely, Carlson was quick to dismiss the capitol riot of Jan. 6 as a “political protest [that] got out of hand after the president recklessly encouraged it.” The riot Carlson is describing took place due to months of right-wing fake news claiming that the election was stolen from President Trump. During the riot, looting and vandalism both took place. The proTrump mob broke windows and shattered glass, as well as blatant theft. Not only that, but the riot caused great tumult and disorder. In addition, upwards of 65 people have been arrested by the FBI for assaulting police officers. The capitol riot checks every box to be considered a riot. And yet Tucker Carlson insists on calling it a political protest. The distinction between protests and riots may seem nearly inconsequential, but it is profoundly important to our current political discourse, and how news outlets, politicians and even common people refer to these demonstrations.
Be a better ally: strategies for speaking up against COVID-19 racism in your everyday life by Gabrielle Krieger In the age of COVID-19, harmful sentiments blaming Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals for the virus, and anti-AAPI hate crimes as a consequence, are on the rise. Remember that you have the power to change the anti-AAPI narrative in your everyday conversations. Here are four ways to do so. The four following strategies were sourced from the organization Learning For Justice.
Interrupt If you hear someone make a racist comment about the virus, pause the conversation. Instead of moving on, make sure they are aware that what they said has an impact, whether or not they intended for it to. Let them know that even if they were “joking,” they are perpetuating a narrative that has real consequences on the lives of other people. If you say nothing, you are essentially validating their comment. To start the conversation, try saying something along the lines of:
Question Perhaps someone does not realize how hurtful their comments are. One way to effectively start a productive conversation about someone's comment is to ask them a question about why they made it. It is a less confrontational way to make them truly consider their actions. To start the conversation, try saying something along the lines of: “Why did you say that?” “Do you really believe that?”
“Hold on. Before we continue, let’s unpack what you said about the virus.”
The goal is not just to shut people down. They need to understand why what they said is hurtful and wrong. If they make a comment blaming AAPI individuals for COVID-19, explain why what they said is inaccurate. If they act like their comment does not matter, educate them on how associating the virus with a certain racial group is harmful. Educate them on how comments like their’s encourage stereotyping and discrimination.
It takes courage to stand up against racism. If you hear someone else speak up against a racist comment, echo them. Let everyone know that you are also not okay with the racist comment. Emphasize what the person who spoke up said so they know they are not alone. This will encourage others to continue speaking up and will let the person who made the racist comment know that what they said is truly unacceptable.
To start the conversation, try saying something along the lines of:
To start the conversation, try saying something along the lines of:
“I know you think that was just a joke, but what you said is more impactful than you think.” “That’s not true. The virus is not specific to any race.”
“Thank you for bringing that up. I agree.”