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THE COMMUNICATOR MAGAZINE VOL. 46 EDITION 3, FEBRUARY 2020

The Identity Edition


About the Cover COVER BY ISAAC MCKENNA

Our front cover is a collage of people featured in this edition. We printed out the pictures and physically ripped them up to create a mix of facial features and other elements from the original photos. The identities of people in our school are complex and multi-faceted, and we wanted to represent the ways that different identities intersect within individuals. The torn edges are left rough to show that identity isn’t always clean-cut, and that the world can shape the way our identities are expressed. Nonetheless, the different identities in our community are beautiful. The most powerful art, education and change come from the mindful mixing of people with diverse experiences and backgrounds.


THE COMMUNICATOR MAGAZINE Volume 46, Edition 3 | February 2020

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Poetic Parallels

Poet Donté Clark visited CHS to talk about his version of "Romeo and Juliet" in his hometown. By JAIDA BEYER

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A Precious Space

As beloved teacher Cindy HaiduBanks retires, she reflects on the relationships she made at CHS. By GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

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What If You Don't Know?

Two CHS seniors weigh in on their plans for the future, still unsure of their identities. By LOEY JONES-PERPICH

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Not Your Model Minority

Asian teens in Ann Arbor are often stereotyped under the term model minority, impacting their experiences in school. By MORI ONO

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Closet Door of Glass

Tommy Simon had tried to come out to his parents many times before, but he finally found the right time.

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By ELLA ROSEWARNE

Opinion 76 Acceptance

After a long struggle, Arlo Durgy shares his experiences with mental health. By ARLO DURGY

82 My Own Skin

When traveling down south, Leah Dewey realized that her identity is perceived differently by others. By LEAH DEWEY

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Constants Fashion - 83 | Reviews - 90 | Humans of Community - 92 In My Room - 94 | Crave - 95 | Our Turn - 96 |

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Letter from the Editors Dear Readers, A lot has changed since we last talked. We entered a new decade, our president got impeached, we took a trip to Washington D.C. and won The Pacemaker award! We also took a much needed break after Second Edition to regroup, redesign and create the most beautiful magazine we could. So, here it is! We took all we learned at the National Scholastic Press Association conference and the extended time to go in depth into harder topics and these 92 pages were the result of our tireless work and four batches of Tracy’s chocolate chip cookies. At the beginning of the year when we sat together to talk about themes for the upcoming year, we knew we wanted to do something special and important for this midway edition. We decided that the topic of identity was one we wanted to devote an entire issue to. In working with our entire editorial board, we nearly managed to pull this off. The entire staff took this extended “break” and did anything but rest: They researched, interviewed, wrote and designed. We wanted to push our imagination outside our typical page design in this edition and hope to continue this trend in every edition to follow. Almost every photo in this edition was taken or directed by Ebba Gurney, our senior Design Editor. We hope you love and appreciate the new look as much as we do. And finally to the heart of the issue, identity. We talk again about what identity means to us and how we decided to section off the identity themed section on page 12, but before we go on further, we would like to say our piece. We understand that identity looks different to everyone. This is what truly makes it special. The topics we cover and the way we talk about identity in this edition is in no way the bounds of what identity is. There is no way that in 92 pages we could cover all of identity in ourselves, our school and the greater Ann Arbor community. We, in no way, want the end of this edition to be the end of the conversation about identity — we want it to be the beginning of it. Finally, we ask you to open your mind as you open this edition. We talk of identity in its traditional forms — race, gender and sexuality — but also in unconventional forms — climate change, STIs and sports. We ask you to see how these aspects belong in a conversation surrounding identity and hope you it can expand your own definition of identity. Whether you feel secure in or unsure of your identity, we hope this edition, in one way or another, can be beneficial to you. Your Editors,

Atticus Dewey

Isaac McKenna

Camryn Tirico

Taisiya Tworek

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PRINT EDITORS-IN-CHIEF ATTICUS DEWEY ISAAC MCKENNA CAMMI TIRICO TAI TWOREK

POLITICAL EDITOR ROXIE RICHNER

WEB EDITORS-IN-CHIEF PAIGE DUFF DAN GUTENBERG LOEY JONES-PERPICH GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

STAFF JACK BAZZANI NOAH BERNSTEIN JAIDA BEYER JOSH BOLAND JOSH CALDWELL BENJAMIN COOPER LACEY COOPER SAM DANNUG SYLVA DAS LEAH DEWEY ARLO DURGY SOPHIE FETTER ETHAN GIBB-RANDALL MIA GOLDSTEIN LINNEA VERHEY HENKE AMBER HING ANJA JACOBSON JENNA JARJOURA CARMEN JOHNSON OWEN KELLEY AVA KOSINSKI DJIMO KOUYATE LEO KUPPERMAN SCARLETT LONDON BEN MARTINS-CAULFIELD LILY MCCREADY ELEANOR NIMAN SOPHIA NUNEZ SHEA O’BRIEN NANO PEROFF ELLA ROSEWARNE SOPHIA SCARNECCHIA ZACK SCHUELER MIRA SCHWARZ LILY SICKMAN-GARNER JOSEPH SIMON JULIA SONEN NADIA TUZINSKY CY VEILLEUX CATE WEISER NJI ZAMA

MANAGING EDITORS LEAH DAME JORDAN DE PADOVA MAZEY PERRY RUBY TAYLOR DESIGN EDITOR EBBA GURNEY COPY EDITORS LACEY COOPER MORI ONO LILY SICKMAN-GARNER SOCIAL MEDIA EDITORS LUCY TOBIER MORRAINA TUZINSKY FEATURE EDITORS MORI ONO CHARLES SOLOMON OPINION EDITORS ZOE BUHALIS ELIZABETH SHAIEB NEWS EDITORS CHAVA MAKMAN-LEVINSON LUCY TOBIER ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR BRENAN DIONNE SPORTS EDITORS EVAN ASH HANNAH BERNSTEIN BEN COOPER MULTIMEDIA EDITOR ETHAN GIBB-RANDALL

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR AMBER HING

ADVISER TRACY ANDERSON

Mission Statement: The Communicator is a student-run publication and an open forum established in 1974 and created by students at Community High School. The staff of The Communicator seeks to recognize individuals, events, and ideas that are relevant to the community. The Communicator journalists are committed to working in a manner that is professional, unbiased, and thorough in order to effectively serve our readers. We strive to report accurately and will correct any significant error. If you believe such an error has been made, please contact us. Letters of any length should be submitted via e-mail or mail. They become the sole property of The Communicator and can be edited for length, clarity, or accuracy. Letters cannot be returned and will be published at The Communicator’s discretion. The Communicator also reserves the right to reject advertising due to space limitations or decision of the Editorial Board that content of the advertisement conflicts with the mission of the publication. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the journalism staff and not of Community High School or the Ann Arbor Public Schools.


Photography By Ella Rosewarne

chscommunicator.com Updated News Coverage | Humans of Community | Song of the Week | Sports & Event Coverage Fashion | Podcasts | Artist Profiles | & More


Community News

Soul Food Wednesday: a Celebration of Culture BY CHAVA MAKMAN LEVINSON AND CATE WEISER

On Dec. 11, 2019, CHS’ Black Student Union (BSU) hosted their first Soul Food Wednesday of the year. A long line wrapped around the third floor hallways as students excitedly awaited a home-cooked meal of fried chicken, mac and cheese, greens and pie. It was a perfect mix of soul food, which originated in the South. BSU advisers Janelle Johnson and Kevin Davis helped members coordinate food preparation. Some made food from old family recipes and others purchased goods. Senior Simone Mahler made banana pudding, a famous dish amongst BSU members. Mahler was asked to pass the recipe down after her graduation so BSU members can continue making the pudding for years to come. This event occurred for the first time nine years ago. It has been a beloved tradition for CHS students and staff ever since, as well as an important fundraiser for BSU. The celebration has occurred one to two times each year. In the past, funds accumulated by Soul Food Wednesday have gone towards speakers for MLK Day and allowed for the group to go on field trips. They have visited the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit and even gone on a trip to the Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. According to Johnson, the group wants to save up to take a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a part of the Smithsonian. “[Soul Food Wednesday] is important because it’s a way to tell 6

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people about black culture,” Mahler said. “If we were to do a big presentation on black culture, most people wouldn’t pay attention — this is a way to get people interested.” Johnson, who teaches social justice at CHS on top of serving as a BSU advisor, is grateful for what the club has provided for its members. “We have a very diverse BSU — it’s a safe space for anybody who is black or brown or wants to learn about and embrace different cultures, and anybody who is not afraid to have hard conversations that they might be unable to have in school,” Johnson said. “I want BSU to be a place [members] can come to celebrate their identities.” For senior Octavia Anderson, BSU has served as a safe space. “[Soul Food Wednesday] gives us a chance to be like ‘Hey, we’re here, this school is not just a white school,” Anderson said. “You can be you in there, and not feel judged.” The Soul Food Wednesday tradition serves not only as a way to feed hungry high schoolers a delicious lunch, but as a celebration of Black culture. “Soul Food Wednesday is an event for us to come together, to be successful by bringing a piece of our family and home to CHS — it’s a space of camaraderie,” Johnson said. C Photography By Atticus Dewey | Students waited in a long line wrapping around the third floor for food. "It's my first time at Soul Food Wednesday," said customer Morgan Fitzgerald. "I'm impressed with how crowded it is."


Ever Heard of University of Farmington? BY CHAVA MAKMAN-LEVINSON AND JENNA JARJOURA

“We are very excited about welcoming you to the UF community and helping you achieve your academic goals. You’ll find UF to be a vibrant and growing institution where students, faculty and staff enjoy a challenging and collaborative environment.” Above is a statement from the website of the University of Farmington (UF) which has since been taken down. Off of Northwestern Highway in Southeast Michigan, just south of 13 Mile Road, you will find the University of Farmington. Complete with buildings functioning as a campus and a promise of a “unique educational experience,” the institution sounds like an ideal place to receive an education. UF reached out to foreign-born citizens, most of whom were from India, and told them that they would be given an advanced education without the need to have proper visas. Upon arrival, 600 foreign citizens were surprised to find a lack of educators. Instead of education, they were met with a campus staffed by Homeland Security Officers.

The officers created a false pretense for these illegal citizens to remain in the United States by actively recruiting them to enroll as part of a “pay to stay” scheme. Instead of using tax dollars to go toward health care funds or financial aid for legitimate colleges, the federal government spent the money on a building and undercover officers aiming to lure foreign citizens into arrest. Over the course of two years, from February 2017 to January 2019, the defendants schemed to plan this under-cover operation. 250 students have been arrested since January on immigration violations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 80% of whom have been forcibly removed from the country. The officers have also collected fees up to $12,000 for “tuition” per student. Almost every recruiter who organized the scheme has been criminally charged and will serve jail time. They are being accused of helping enroll these students in exchange for cash, kickbacks and tuition credit. C

Zebrotics Wins WAPUR Competition

by kicking the ball across to the other side. “This competition is just for training and practice,” said Christia West, the lead mentor and CHS Science teacher. “It's like when boxers prepare for a competition; they have a sparring partner. We are doing all the things we would do during the season but scaled down.” In West’s opinion, the design philosophy the team followed during WAPUR will serve the team well in the upcoming season, Zebrotics will participate in two competitions at Belleville and Livonia on Mar. 13-14 and 27-28 respectively. “Simple always wins,” West said. “We came up with a really simple design, we executed it and it's really robust.” C

BY MORI ONO

Two robots were locked in a fight at the centerline barrier to push a massive exercise ball. Finally, one robot — that of Community’s 5708 Zebrotics team — slammed the ball off the field. The other side’s robots moved to push the ball back, but the siren for the end of the match sounded. When the score for the final round of the playoffs came in, Zebrotics was cheering for a victory. On Dec. 8, Zebrotics competed in the Washtenaw Area Pickup Robotics (WAPUR) competition with other FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams at the University of Michigan Sports Coliseum. Essentially a match of beach volleyball with an exercise ball and two robots on each side, teams got more points the less the ball was on their side, and

Photography By Mori Ono | Gaelen Vanderelzen discusses the robot with CAD lead Lucas Reading Suñol. The robot competed without failure; a contrast to the previous competitive season, when frequent failures either disabled Zebrotics’ robot or limited its capabilities.

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Poetic Parallels Donté Clark brings his take on Romeo and Juliet to the Craft Theatre.

BY JOSEPH SIMON AND CARMEN JOHNSON

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One night, one show, one day. The thought of performing his take on Romeo and Juliet in front of a real audience frightened Donté Clark. A story involving real people and actual hardships discouraged him from performing that show he had spent the last six months working on. On Dec. 2, 2019 Clark came to CHS and shared his story. “I appreciate the opportunity to be in front of y’all, to speak to y’all,” Clark said, addressing the audience. “Most importantly to learn from y’all so if y’all have any questions or comments from watching the film.” Clark wasn’t an actor, director or playwright, but he committed to the play because he felt that the story was important to tell, trying to create peace throughout his town. Clark’s hometown of Richmond, California is a city split between two main neighborhoods: North Richmond and Central Richmond. Clark was into prose from a young age and used poetry and spoken word to express the hardships he faced living in North Richmond. He said he was forced to read "Romeo and Juliet" in high school, but he hated it. He felt the language and setting were outdated and therefore unrelatable. It was only until after he thought about his own life that he began to wonder if a retelling would be the best way to share his story. He realized the parallels between the novel and his own life: the divide between two families, the divide between the two neighborhoods, the bloodshed rolling over from previous generations of bloodshed, the history of revenge for revenge. This realization prompted him to decide to write his play under the lens of Shakespeare’s great work, and his play later became his masterpiece documentary "Romeo Is Bleeding." Molly Raynor, Clark’s high school English teacher, founded a youth arts program called RAW Talent with Clark in 2008. After putting on his first performance with Raw Talent called “From Pen to Paper This is My Redemption,” he realized how much poetry and performing go hand in

hand. Clark was then approached by his adviser and high school math teacher to perform "Romeo and Juliet," which he thought was “wack, corny and didn’t fit [his] environment.” Clark later re-wrote and directed his own new version of "Romeo and Juliet" that reflected Richmond, California, and how the split between two main neighborhoods hurt a lot of people. Raynor had connections, and her cousin came to Los Angeles to film the documentary, “Romeo is Bleeding,” and since then, the film has been shown in many different English classes across the world. Though Clark feared backlash from people in Richmond, there was none. “I don’t think I got too much backlash on anything,” said Clark, who talked with some people who are on the other side, in Central Richmond. “Me and the people in my circle, we love the film, the only thing that we felt was wrong with it, you didn’t have any of our homies in it,” Clark said referring to a Central Richmond resident. After answering questions from audience members, Clark was asked to show one of his biggest talents. “Peace of mind, Peace in mind,” Clark said, keeping his eyes closed while he freestyled in front of 150 CHS students in the Craft Theater, moving his hands around candidly. The crowd erupted in applause when he finished, astounded at how the words flowed out of his mouth. Performing took him back to hula hoops and jump ropes; back to classmates that choose to spend their coveted 15 minutes of recess listening to fifth-grade Clark rapping. He’d jump into his lyrics, and it was as simple as that. “That moment did it for me,” Clark said. “I liked how that felt.” While that moment wasn’t the start of a rap career, it paved the path for Clark’s big future project: the wildly successful adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” highlighting the hostile division in his hometown. C

Photography by Jaida Beyer | Donté Clark performs a freestyle rap for the audience. “When I close my eyes, it’s like no one is here, so it’s almost trippy when I open them and see a lot of people staring at me.”

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A Precious Space BY GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

As the 20 years Cindy Haidu-Banks has spent teaching draw to a close first semester, she often sits in her classroom, kicking back in her chair, legs up on the old wooden desk, taking it all in. She feels the warmth of the sunlight and the yellow tiles, admires the brilliant colors from the kites and fireworks that have been painted on her windows from various multi-cultural celebrations, and looks at all the posters she’s hung up... 10

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Sometimes, she hangs her head out of one of her third-story windows to look at the garden on the ground below. “I’ll really just take it in,” Cindy said. “I embrace that this is where I’ve been living and I’m saying goodbye to it and thanking the space. This is a precious space.” Cindy is part Native American and the importance of Native history was the catalyst for her to get her teaching certificate. At the time, her oldest son was just starting kindergarten. She worried about him; he was of mixed race, and she wasn’t sure he was going to get an accurate education about Native American history. To quell her fears, she convinced her son’s teacher to allow her to come in for three-days with a curriculum about Native history. The teacher, Jean Kluge, was welcoming to Cindy and had her return annually. In fact, it was Kluge who inspired Cindy to get her degree in education. As Cindy was working toward earning her certificate, she became a student teacher under the only mentor who accepted her application: Marcia Schaefer, a teacher at CHS. After working with Schaefer, Cindy knew she wanted to work at CHS. After she graduated with her teaching certificate in 1997, Cindy got her wish: a long term substituting position opened at CHS. Teacher Claudia Keen had just given birth and decided to stay at home with her newborn child. “So I thought that the baby and the mother and me all got the best of the decision,” Cindy said. “Mama and Baby got to stay home, and I got the job.” When Cindy first taught U.S. History, a class she still teaches now, she started using the first few weeks of class to summarize important points in Native American history. That first time, however, a student went down to the office to complain to the Dean — “This new teacher isn’t teaching U.S. history,” they said. Later, the Dean, Judy Conger, approached Cindy. “I am teaching Native history, but it is U.S. history,” Cindy said. “I just wanted you to know,” Conger said. “I have no problem with that.” That course of events would set the tone for the rest of Cindy’s career at Community. She continued to teach Native history in her U.S. history class and even started a class focused on the history of Native Americans. For 18 years, Cindy has run a little buddy program with Ann Arbor

Open teacher, Denise, where students in her sixth block history class send letters back and forth with Denise’s 3rd and 4th graders. “It has more rewards than Denise and I would ever imagine,” Cindy said. “Sometimes I would see a high school student who I felt might be chronically depressed or — they never smile — and then I’d see them with their 3rd or 4th grade student and they would laugh and smile. A whole side of them would come out that I never got to see.” Cindy also got a unique experience in her relationship with other teachers. In other schools where she’d worked previously, staff would often be disrespectful towards each other, yelling and screaming at staff meetings. That’s why, at her first staff meeting at CHS, Cindy couldn’t believe her eyes: the faculty members were so kind to each other. She could have sworn someone broke out a guitar and started singing. Now, they have counsleor Amy McLoughlin as DJ, who plays them walk-up songs. “I love my colleagues,” Cindy said. “At Community, the collegial atmosphere is incredible: we have fun together, we laugh together, we joke. We are like a family. We’re still doing all the hard work of reporting and all the tough stuff we have to do, but we still laugh and share food and know how to be human with each other.” One of the most important things for Cindy has been the close bond she formed with Janelle Johnson when they taught Social Justice. Together, they’ve inspired students to have “courageous conversations,” she said. Most of all, Cindy cherishes the chance to develop relationships with students, especially the unique experience of forum, as she was able to share with those students her love of nature. “I converted a lot of students who were afraid of camping — who didn’t think they would ever camp — to camping,” Cindy said. “I feel like that’s important: for young people to be in nature and out of doors and appreciating the natural world.” Her forum was the first class Cindy told about her retirement, and it will be difficult for her to leave them. Photos from her forum from the past few years have been tacked on pinkish purple paper that has been on her wall since her first forum pictures. Despite her reluctance to leave CHS,

Cindy feels that the “stars have aligned” for her retirement. She thinks the Social Studies department is strong. For about five years, Cindy and Chloe Root have co-headed the department; in fact, Root was a student in Cindy’s first forum, then shared Cindy’s room when she first took a job at CHS. The teacher taking over her forum, Sarah Hechler, used to be Cindy’s student teacher. Cindy trusts Sarah to keep the traditions she’s built alive: cooking good food with students, camping and spending time in nature, maybe even the little buddy program. At the end of each semester, Cindy does a “number dance” to pass out students’ registration numbers; during her last dance in December 2019, Hechler video-taped parts to serve as inspiration for spring registration. During late 2018 and early 2019, Cindy lost a lot of people she was close to, including former CHS art teacher Elena Flores. This made her think about what she wanted out of the rest of her life. “In the process of being close to Elena and watching her fight and embrace her life, I took note of the importance of embracing life,” Cindy said. “It put the brakes on and made me just look at everything. I have things I want to do: I want to camp more, I want to travel more, I want to spend time with my granddaughters Adriana and Maya.” Cindy has spent the last few months taking her room apart. Hechler doesn’t want to keep the big wooden bookshelf she has in the corner, so she’s been packing up all of the books: giving some to forum students and Hechler and boxing up others to bring home. The home for the large poster of a Native American grandmother is still up for debate: Cindy and Hechler are trying to decide whether to leave it in the room or to move it to the library for more students to see. During a forum meeting about the room, students made it clear that they wanted to leave the pictures up. “I’ve never regretted getting my teaching certificate and having this career for 20 years,” Cindy said. “It’s been a high point in my life. Our school is unique. At Community, you can develop relationships — real relationships — with students. That’s why I was able to grow so much. That’s why teachers do it: they love their subject, and they love teaching. But, they love people.” C

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Going for

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the Rings Instead of finishing out senior year at CHS, Zoe White is taking chances in South Carolina with her horse.

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BY HANNAH BERNSTEIN

oe White, a CHS senior, finished her first semester and has taken off to tackle dreams and goals she set for herself at age 12. White has been determined to succeed throughout her journey and is taking significant steps to achieve her goals. She is packing up and moving out with her riding friend, whom she will live alone with, and her horse. White got into horseback riding because she loved animals. She always wanted more and more pets, but her parents would not buy any for her. She convinced them that horseback riding was what she should do as her next sport because they would not have to buy a horse. But now, five years later, White has her very own horse that she takes care of and competes with. On her 12th birthday, she had her first lesson. She was proud when she learned how to put on the saddle, walk and trot around courses and occasionally jump poles. It only took her a year to find her specialty: eventing. Eventing is how White competes. It is a three-stage competition comprised of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The first stage is dressage. During this stage, the rider and the horse display the partnership and connection they have. The partners go through a pattern and are judged on how well the horse responds to the rider’s cues. The movements should be elegant and natural for the duo. The second phase is cross-country; the pair takes on a four-mile course, which is known to be the foundation of eventing. They face obstacles such as fences, ditches, water and banks. White is tested on bravery with her horse in this course, having to achieve exact speeds to pass the barrier. This is where the physical conditioning of both the horse and the rider is assessed. Many people may say horseback is not a sport, but it is very physical. White rides a 1,200-pound horse that she does a great job maintaining. “It is actually a lot of work, you come try.” White said. The finishing stage is show jumping, which displays how the horse has recovered from their long cross-country run. The course is lined with lightweight poles that are very delicate and require precision to jump. The courses are timed and judged throughout the competition. They are scored, and to win the blue ribbon competitors want

the lowest score. White studies courses at every competition she goes to. She watches other rides take them on. The horse is not allowed to see the course or ride on it before the competition, so White has to know exactly what she needs to do to guide her and her horse to be successful. White has been training in eventing since she was 13 years old and now is traveling all around the country to compete. “Riding horses has helped become more organized,” White said. “I have gained the skills to juggle many aspects of my life. I have also learned how to take ownership of life if things don’t go as planned. I know I have to keep working hard to achieve my goals so I can set new goals as well.” Not everything has been perfected throughout White’s experience. Training a horse has been rough at moments. Getting nipped and kicked, but especially being bucked off. White has suffered a few concussions and other injuries from falling off. She is not afraid to get back to riding after being injured; she can barely wait, if anything. “I think my favorite part might be the bond you build with your horse,” White said. “You are trusting them not throw you off and they are trusting you enough to gallop them at a three-foot solid object and telling them to jump.” Her love for animals is what has made her love the sport so much. She spends endless hours in the barn as she works, learns, rides and teaches younger kids how to ride. But taking care of horses is a team effort. White needs help from her friends and staff to maintain her horse when she cannot be there. White wants even more time to train, and that is why she is moving to South Carolina. She had the opportunity to work over the summer out of state learning from a professional rider, which she plans to train with again. In South Carolina, White will be finishing her high school credits, working to make money to afford living and most importantly, she will be training. White plans to attend college next year and will be bringing her horse with her. White dreams and hopes to have her final destination be the Olympics. C

“My favorite part might be the bond you build with your horse.”

Photo Courtesy of Zoe White | Zoe White is competing in phase two cross country. She is entering the last jump of the course to finish the event. “I think my favorite part might be the bond you build with your horse,” White said. “You are trusting them not throw you off and they are trusting you enough to gallop them at a three-foot solid object and telling them to jump.”

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ity

The theme of this edition is identity. Unlike our last two editions, we decided to focus the bulk of this magazine on the different ways that identity manifests in the spaces we interact with, with the people we do and don’t love and with the activities we participate in. In this special, extended edition, we explore traditionally recognized facets of identity including race, gender and sexual orientation. We also push the boundaries of identity’s definition with articles about school shootings, the cliquey identity of forums and more. Identity is sometimes invisible, and so our edition explores the expression of identity and self through fashion, art, speech and writing. It’s important to remember while reading that one person’s story or expression does not neccessarily apply to all people who share their identities. We hope you take the articles that follow as an opportunity to be thoughtful and open-minded, and to think about how identities shape all of our lives. |

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IDENTITY

Two seniors. Two lives. One question:

What if You Don’t Know? BY LOEY JONES-PERPICH

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Sam Major was sitting in the sound booth, her fingers on the board riddled with tiny buttons that could transform a performance, when she realized that she was good at technical theatre. The booth, a hole in the wall with its door disguised by a blue and green mural, sometimes felt big with only two people inside, and sometimes felt claustrophobic with eight or nine people squeezed inside. And though Sam, then a sophomore, hadn’t spent much time in the booth, in that moment she had the most power in the theatre — she was the stage manager of Community Ensemble Theatre's (CET) fall production of “Into The Woods.” She sat wearing all black, headset on, calling lighting and sound cues through her walkie-talkie. With the fate of what was then CET’s most technically advanced production at her fingertips, she had no room for failure: One misspoken cue, one slipped finger and the show could fall apart. So with a deep breath, she threw herself into the show, and when opening night was over, she breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “I was sitting up in the booth, just looking at everything, and I was like, ‘Wow, I really enjoy what I do and people say that I’m really good at what I do,’” Sam said. “[I thought], ‘I could do this for a career.’” But when she climbed the ladder and stepped into the hallway, the real world came flooding back.

Outside of the utopia of the booth, Sam was beginning to be faced with the decision that would continue to confuse her for two years: technical theatre or biology? Sam had fallen in love with biology when she took her first high school level science class in eighth grade. Her class, taught by one of her favorite teachers, looked at the complexities of cancer, and she came to be fascinated by all of the different problems that researchers had to solve. In high school, she took as many science classes as she could and continued to TA lower-level classes. Her plan for years was to go to medical school and work in pediatrics, but now, a rising senior in the midst of applying to college and faced with the decision to leave biology or technical theatre as a hobby, she’s not so sure. “I feel like every day I change my mind,” Sam said. “I wake up and I want to go into biology and then by the end of the day I want to study technical theatre. It’s just a lot knowing that my decision has a lot of weight, and I’m so young and unsure of life at this point, but I’m making such a big decision. I don’t really know who I am because of it.” Sam debates her choice between technical theatre and biology every day. On one hand, biology will provide a stable career path and satisfy her family; on the other, technical theatre will allow her to access her creativity that nothing else will.

Photography By Loey JonesPerpich | Sam Major sits in the sound booth, surrounded by dust, spike tape and graffiti. She looks fondly out of the small window, staring down at the Craft Theater. She's savoring the view; after this year, she may never see it again.

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Yet, despite all of her confusion about the two possible career paths, Sam knows that just in going to college, she’s already exceeded most expectations set for her. “I have a lot of big plans for my life, despite the fact that looking at my past life experiences, I probably shouldn’t be where I am today,” Sam said. “Looking at where I come from, a lot of people don’t go to college, or they just work in a factory or have seven kids. I am not going down that path.” No matter what major and career Sam chooses, she knows that she’ll channel the strength it took her to rise above her familial expectations and use it to conquer the expectations set for her as she enters either one of these male-dominated fields. And though she feels like a different person when she’s doing one as opposed to the other, she knows she has the strength and creativity to do either. “I think either way, I’m going to end up doing a little bit of both,” Sam said. “It’s just a matter of which one is my career and which one is my hobby. These are two completely different things, and I feel like a completely different person. So I really don’t know who I am. I know that I’m some blend of both, but [I have to] figure out exactly what that is.” C

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“I’m so young and unsure of life at this point, but I’m making such a big decision. I don’t really know who I am because of it.”

Bao Polkowski has opened two cast lists so far this year — one in September for CET’s fall musical, “School of Rock,” and one in January, for CET’s winter play, “The Tempest.” In September, he clicked on the PDF file to find that he had been cast as Billy, a squirrely, fashion-obsessed child. In January, he read that he would be playing Trinculo, a drunk jester. Both times, he read that he was the comedic relief, and both times, he felt conflicted. Comedy has always come easy to Bao. He did his first play in middle school, and found that the goofy side of his personality was able to shine onstage. Directors

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saw that he wasn’t afraid to be silly, and they showed their appreciation the only way they could: they cast him in comedic roles. But as comfortable as he was being silly onstage, he never felt like he was acting. “I don’t like to call myself an actor,” Bao said. “I don’t do that much acting really. I feel like once I get paid to do it maybe then I can call myself an actor, but right now, I act, but I don’t think I’m an actor. I think it’s because I make the characters into myself. Billy is the gay child in the Broadway version, but I just made him loud and angry all the time, because I feel like that’s


what I am — or what I can be.” Bao learned to love being onstage — he was exhilarated by the unpredictability of live theatre. Now a senior, he’s being forced to make a decision: does he pursue theatre or does he leave it behind? Having applied to a mix of local colleges and some of the best acting programs in the country, he is faced with two very different futures: if he goes to a local or state school, he’ll most likely have to leave acting as a hobby, but if he goes to a specialized program, he’ll spend all day, every day immersed in theatre. “I feel like if I go to a program, I’m going to have to analyze and dig deep within myself, as opposed to what I do now, which is just say things loud and try to be funny,” Bao said. “Maybe it’ll make me more confident. I don’t know [how to make this decision].” Either way, he’ll have to decide whether or not he wants to truly be an actor. If he does, he’ll have to push his boundaries, looking past comedy and into deep, serious human connection. But when he compares himself to the other performers he knows, he’s not so sure he can.

“Some of the people that I know from CET, from Community, or even just my friends, I see some of these people and they’re so talented,” Bao explained. “They have some sort of human element where they can just connect with an audience, and it’s super cool to watch. I always do funny stuff; I’ve never had a super serious part. I want to be interesting and funny, but I also want to be a person and not just a weird sitcom character or something. I’m not asking for people to cry. That’s not what I’m striving for. Laughter is just as important, but I’d like to feel the other side.” Just weeks away from making the decision, Bao is forced to decide: does he take a chance by going to theatre school and risking failure, or does he stick with the familiarity of comedy, but always wonder what could’ve been? “My end goal is just to, even if it’s not acting, to find something that I like doing,” Bao said. “I just know that I like doing things that people can have an emotional response or some sort of reaction to. I like when I hear people laugh.” C

“I want to be interesting and funny, but I also want to be a person and not just a weird sitcom character or something.”

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At Her Core After travelling to South Asia, Elena Axinn reflects on who she feels she is and where she hopes to end up. BY EBBA GURNEY

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he stood in the Nepalese classroom, encompassed by the pink, peeling wallpaper and purple trim, drowning in contemplation. How could all of these children manage to fulfill their dreams in such a disproportionate environment? Why were the girls given lower standards than the boys? And why were their textbooks all in English? Axinn was on a two-week trip to Nepal with her dad while he was working. When he presented the idea to her months before, she couldn’t pass it up. Her interest in the educational gender divide began in her third grade math class, where she often taught the class their daily lessons while her teacher graded papers. Her passion for math and science had grown even more by the time she reached high school, only to find herself as one of four girls in her higher level classes. “Being a woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is a big part of who I am because I feel like I have to be a lot more confident in everything that I do,” Axinn said. “It just feels

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like I’m always under a close eye.” Axinn’s confidence has always played a significant role in her life. In fifth grade she created a biology club that met during lunch, consisting of her and one other person, giving her the realization that she wasn’t quite the same as her peers. “That was when I really noticed that I was different, but I still like to think that the first thing people notice about me is confidence,” Axinn said. “I do a ton of weird stuff, and I’m okay with that. Sometimes I dress weirdly, and I’m okay with that. And I’m okay with saying weird things and getting into serious arguments in class.” While Axinn has dealt with identity conflicts, her self-professed weirdness never felt like an issue to her. It was never something she struggled with. “You just don’t do that with certain parts of your identity, at least not like I did with my sexuality,” Axinn said. Axinn grew up in an educated household, with two sociologist parents who were very familiar with the concept of

heteronormativity and strived to raise her in an accepting, loving household. Axinn constantly raised questions about being gay and felt the need to educate herself, as well. It did not, however, keep her from feeling like her sexuality was never something she wanted to share out. But for Axinn, she grew out of this mindset by third grade, when she came out to her parents as gay. “It was the first part of my identity that I discovered, and it’s one of the biggest because it sets me apart from a lot of the people in my life,” Axinn said. Axinn places this difference right up there with her interest in academics and curiosity about Nepal. But when Axinn travelled to India on a volunteer trip soon after her travels to Nepal, she was surrounded by people incredibly similar to her, after all. Many of her fellow volunteers aligned strongly with her feminist views and coincidentally, were gay. “They were all super unique and awesome,” Axinn said. “We were all volunteering ourselves to teach health in a rural


Photography By Ebba Gurney | Axinn stands full of confidence in her sexuality and in her desire to educate herself and others.

village, so it makes sense that we were so similar.” She quickly developed a deep respect for the girls she was living, learning and growing with. “It was inspiring because it reminded me that the way I’m living now is not the way I will live forever,” Axinn said. “I wanted to take pieces of the people around me for the first time and be a better person.” Being in India brought Axinn right back to how she felt while she was in Nepal, watching the educational system fail the young girls in those chaotic classrooms. In the very little English they spoke, Axinn found the students they were teaching everyday to be profoundly interesting. It was a sharp contrast to the people she surrounds herself with in Ann Arbor, people who have travelled every year since they were seven years old and spend summers at their house on Lake Michigan. When Axinn asked the students about where they were from and the coolest place they had seen, the answers were the same: “here.”

They had never left their tiny neighborhood. While the Nepalese children Axinn had met not long before may have lived different lives, neither group had much experience away from home, or enough of an education to grow up and out of their villages.

“The way I’m living now is not the way I will live forever.” This was the hard truth Elena battled within Nepal, where the educational divide between boys and girls was painfully obvious. Boys would shout their responses to questions as they were asked, excited to participate, and nobody seemed to care that the girls did not. Not to mention their

textbooks being written in English, a clear disadvantage as their English capabilities were lacking. And then she asked about their dreams for the future. “I was curious because their society doesn’t provide a lot of career options for them,” Axinn said. “But they all said they wanted to work for NASA. It was heartbreaking because they were so enthusiastic and they probably won’t get that chance.” Axinn has managed to incorporate the most prominent aspects of her identity and who she is at her core into her own plans for the future. Her goal is to develop curriculum for a nonprofit that sponsors teenage girls and STEM education in South Asia, uniting her passions for math, science and feminist activism. She plans to travel back to Nepal for a month this summer before she leaves for college in the fall and ultimately return as someone ready to help. C

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BEING THE ODD ONE OUT BY MIA GOLDSTEIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY EBBA GURNEY

CHS athletes balance their school identity with their allegiance to their sports teams.

Senna Neubauer, Pioneer hockey player, watches from the bench as her team took on Skyron at the Vets ice rink. She observed the game closely, never failing to cheer her teammates on.

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“W

e’re not expected to be the best . . . but everyday we’re proving that we are just as good,” said Shea O’Brien, captain of the Skyline hockey team and CHS senior. O’Brien sat on the windowsill of the second floor looking out onto the courtyard, consumed by the question. When athletes elect to enroll at CHS, they are embracing an inescapable obstacle. The commitment to their sport is confronted as they face challenges like the daily commute across town and the occasional uneasy treatment from teammates. Athletes are found sprinting down E. Washington Street to the transit center, desperate to catch a 3:50 p.m. bus to make a four o’clock practice. CHS is unlike most high schools, and the lack of sports teams subjects students further to an alternative, quirky reputation. The quirkiness isn’t always welcomed, either. Not everyone can appreciate the block schedule, open campus, and overall unconventional style. “When you choose to go to CHS you might have to give up things like sports,” said Stella Valentino, a CHS sophomore who plays softball for Pioneer High School. “That’s what makes Community amazing. It has a lot of people that do different things and it can incorporate all of it.” The lack of sports, however, does come at a price. The showing out to football games, hype of the student section and repping your school colors on game day is just not there. CHS athletes are torn at the seams of our school unity to be sprinkled around Ann Arbor, all to play sports, cheer or otherwise represent another school. Some students are initially conflicted with giving up such a traditional aspect of the high school experience, but eventually come to accept and appreciate these sacrifices to go to such a unique school. In eighth grade, O’Brien sat in the Forsythe Middle School auditorium listening curiously as CHS students gave their school spiel. At that point, O’Brien wasn’t sure he was willing to give up going to a big school with big sports teams. He obviously overcame his feelings of ambiguity and now couldn’t be more proud to represent the Rainbow Zebra. There are still some hints of bittersweet feelings towards it all. “I have a lot of pride in going to Community, and some kids get to express their pride for a school through playing sports, but I don’t get to do that as much,” O’Brien said. Some claim that CHS’s absence of sports teams is

part of the magic; there is something special in belonging to one school while simultaneously identifying with another. The sense of community at CHS is truly enhanced when students reunite as a school after hours spent on school grounds that is not our own. Athletes learn to appreciate the time away from CHS in order to really recognize how remarkable of a school we have. “It’s something about how we all spread out and then come back together,” said senior Lucy Scott, captain of the Pioneer hockey and softball teams. The more we’re apart, the stronger we get. Many athletes enjoy playfully bad-mouthing their opponents on game day; the thrill and tension in the air on those days is something they wouldn’t trade. “We can talk to our teammates or opponents the day of the game, which is really fun,” said Covey Hurd, Pioneer hockey player. “It will be gameday, and we will be talking in engineering class, and then two hours later we’re facing off on the ice.” Hurd said, eyes lighting up as he recalled the moment. Allegiance is certainly put into question as students determine where they stand in terms with other schools. It’s not easy finding a complementary balance of allegiance to allot between schools, and students' opinions vary. “I can talk about Community for days and I could talk about Pioneer track for days. It’s not that deep,” said Jayla Johnson, Pioneer track athlete. Johnson is equally invested in Pioneer and CHS and feels a connection to both schools whether it be through theater or track. “Honestly, I don’t go to sports games other than my own. I’m proud to be a Pioneer player, but I don’t actively support the other teams,” Hurd said, not feeling too devoted to the whole school spirit aspect. Jada Hikary, a lacrosse player for Pioneer, feels differently. “I definitely do have a strong allegiance with Pioneer. I’m always going to love Pioneer and love playing there because that’s my team.” How much athletes associate themselves with the school of their sports teams generally seems to depend on personal experience and other external factors.

“I’ll prove that I’m better. . . the next drill, the next rep, the next game, I try my best to show them that I’m just as good.”

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But what does it mean to be a CHS athlete? The term is often thought of as inferior to the mighty Pioneer, Skyline or Huron athlete for reasons CHS athletes are trying to redefine. “It’s always been a little bit different coming from Community to play a sport at Pioneer. We’re generally looked down upon by athletes from other schools,” Hurd said. Scott echoes Hurd’s opinion. “They seem to expect that I’m going to be lesser.” She understands where this stereotype comes from, though. “It’s complicated; on the one hand, yes, because there has been some self-selection in people choosing to attend Community,” Scott said. Some athletes choose not to attend CHS because they are aware of the difficulties it entails. “But on the other hand,” Scott continued, “there are a lot of great athletes that go here and it isn’t something that gets acknowledged enough. When we’re out playing our sport, we aren’t seen as a Community student. When I’m out on the field, I’m seen as a Pioneer student.” Senna Neubauer, a CHS sophomore that plays Pioneer soccer, considers where you attend school and your athleticism as unrelated. She shared a valid point: “There are a lot of athletes that go to Community. It’s a choice of education rather than how athletic you are. You can participate in sports outside of school and it does not play a factor in what sports you play. It’s a personal choice.” Being teased is a recurring experience for most CHS athletes on top of everything. “I’m always getting teased for going to Community but you can’t fight every battle,” O’Brien said. Like many others, O’Brien chooses to put his head down and trudge through the unwanted comments. In the locker room post-practice, his teammates poke and prod, trying to provoke a reaction, but O’Brien brushes them off unfazed. Students find their own ways to combat these interactions with vigor, unyielding to the stereotypes. “Honestly, I try to let it go. If you don’t think I’m as good as you, I’ll prove that I’m better. I’ll go out and the next drill, the next rep, the next game, I try my best to show them that I’m just as good as them,” Hurd says. He is determined to prove CHS is an equal. “I definitely take a lot of sh*t from the boys for being the kid on the team who goes to Community. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it and I’d do anything to go to school here,” O’Brien said. Despite these drawbacks, CHS athletes have been able to manage in positive ways. Being a leader and captain, Scott makes sure her CHS teammates they have the transportation they need to get to and from the school they play sports for. At one point, she was there too — cutting out of class early to catch the city bus and having trouble finding places to stash her violin and sports equipment while in an unfamiliar school. CHS underclassmen begin their high school athletic career already at a disadvantage, and easing the transition between schools is something older students are working towards. “That’s one thing I’m really hoping I was able to do with field hockey, and I’m able to do with softball, is make transportation easier and more normalized for younger students, especially Community students,” Scott said. O’Brien has formed the Rainbow Zebra Athletic Association in response to these shared struggles, especially among CHS underclassmen. O’Brien hopes to connect CHS athletes with one another and create an environment where students feel encouraged to play sports. “I think it shows that you’re really passionate about your sport because it is extra work to have to go to another school just to play the sport that you love,” Hikary said. It is a strong representation of character to take on the responsibility of going elsewhere to play a sport. “We are putting representation and variation into Pioneer sports,” Neubauer said. Being a Community athlete is undoubtedly difficult, but the passion these athletes have make the sacrifices worth it. C

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“When we’re out playing our sport, we aren’t seen as Community students.” Shea O’Brien and Jack Bazzani, players on the Skyline hockey team, sit on the bench watching their teammates take on Pioneer in the Arctic Coliseum. O’Brien had been looking forward to this game for weeks and was anxious for the win.

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NOT YOUR MODEL MINORITY BY MORI ONO

During his final exams at Tappan Middle School, it seemed to freshman Sam Cao that everyone assumed he was good at math simply for being Asian. Former CHS student and current University of Michigan freshman Gina Liu remembers answering a question right in a math class. “She only got it right because she’s Asian,” a girl said. When Liu was introduced to the term “model minority,” it was when she saw a T-shirt that stated, “Not Your Model Minority.” At the time, she did not think much of the term or the shirt’s message. Asian Americans are seen as a model minority: a group perceived as having high rates of education, income and low levels of crime. Yet the group had a completely different reputation in the past. A century ago, the common perception of Asians in the U.S. was as exotic, uneducated laborers, and by 1924, immigration from Asia was banned. After WWII, Chinese Americans promoted their children as obedient, and Japanese Americans seemingly moved on from the internment camps without protest. In a few decades, Asian Americans would go on to have the highest percentage of college degrees and levels of household income. They were seen as quiet, nonthreatening, successful and self-reliant, and in 1966, William Petersen coined the term model minority in an article titled, “Success Story, Japanese-American Style.” When Liu first came to CHS, she thought she had 26

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distanced herself from the myth by going to a school that she viewed as having less academic pressure. But when she came here, she realized the myth still manifested itself, just in a new form. At CHS, Asians have never made up more than 5.6% of the student body during her time there — a number that declined to 2.8% by her senior year. “I was one of the few that were indirectly chosen to represent our race at the school,” Liu said. “There’s always that expectation of, ‘I am hardworking, smart, I gotta put my best face forward and I also have to be chill.’ There was a pressure to be white.” Liu contrasts her experience at CHS with her time split-enrolling at Pioneer High School (PHS), where she felt that the pressure to succeed academically was the dominant aspect of the myth. “There’s always the expectation to be challenging yourself, and that results from the model minority myth,” Liu said. “I feel like it makes you feel cool, and so it makes you feel like you’re better. Unfortunately, [the model minority myth] has worked so effectively, Asian Americans feel they need to continue perpetuating these stereotypes and they believe it.” Failing to meet this expectation has consequences. In a study by Sapna Cheryan and Galen Bodenhausen at Northwestern University, Asian students who performed poorly on math tests received much fewer points than similarly performing white students. Additionally, the pressure to do well is worsened for fear of letting the whole group down. Moreover, the presence of the “positive” stereotype also leads to higher


levels of psychological distress and worsened Asian students’ attitudes toward seeking help, according to an article from the Asian American Journal of Psychology. Another paper by Guofang Li of SUNY Buffalo notes that because the hard work is seen as a driving factor in Asian success, those who underperform are blamed for their own failure. “There’s the stereotype that all Asian students participate in the music department [and] they’re super passionate about [band or orchestra],” said Earl Bae, a senior at PHS. “Some Asian people do get uncomfortable about that, because some people aren’t as passionate about it and people just assume, ‘Oh, you’re in band.’” Despite the competition at PHS, Liu feels that it was

Photography By Ebba Gurney | Cao, who is half-Filipino and half-Vietnamese, originally lived in a small town in Wisconsin where he was the only Asian student at his school. In comparison, Ann Arbor has allowed him to connect with students of Asian backgrounds.

harder to escape the challenges of the myth at CHS. “It’s easier to escape feeling like you didn’t succeed academically,” Liu said. “But it was harder to escape the pressure of feeling like you need to represent your race as chill or cool.” Academic pressures also play a part in CHS’ low level of Asian enrollment. A friend of Cao’s was not allowed to apply for CHS, because his parents wanted him to take AP classes, which CHS does not offer. This plays into the view that CHS is not particularly focused on academics, which Bae sees as a factor in Feature

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not applying for the schools’ lottery. “I feel like Asian families and Asians in general, they’re very accustomed to the competitive environment,” Bae said. “Like working super hard for school and stuff, and the parents have the same exact idea. So all Asians expect, ‘Oh, like coming out of middle school, I’m going to go to Skyline, Huron [or] Pioneer to focus on my academics.'” The model minority myth does not only deepen academic pressure for Asian Americans, it ignores the major disparities within their community. According to the Pew Research Center, the top 10% of Asian earners make 10.7 times more than the bottom 10%, the highest gap of any race. Additionally, the lumping together of all Asian groups overlooks serious gaps between ethnicities; Indian Americans have a median household income of $88,000, but Hmong Americans have a median income of $42,689, compared to the national median of $51,000. One of the most destructive effects of the model minority myth is the rift it creates between Asian Americans and other minorities, as well as the false equivalency drawn between their experiences that implies they had the same opportunities. “It’s hard for a lot of people to have empathy for people who they feel have had the same opportunities as them and have screwed it up,” Liu said. In fact, in the very article that coined the term “model minority,” Petersen praises the apparent self-improvement of Asian American communities as an argument against proposed government funding for other minorities to uplift them. In the ‘60s, conservatives and liberals alike held Asian Americans as a template for other minorities to follow. While Asians have faced serious discrimination, commentators overlook the centuries of slavery and institutionalized racism faced by African Americans, decreasing discrimination against Asians over the mid-20th Century and revised immigration laws in

“The model minority myth creates [the view that] since we’re ‘law abiding citizens,’ we’re apolitical — we have nothing to complain about.” 28

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Photography by Mira Simonton-Chao | Liu attended a summer camp at Brown University, where she learned about structural racism towards Black communities. Through that experience, she had the opportunity to learn about racial issues from different perspectives.

1965 prioritizing immigration for highly skilled workers from Asia. By the time Liu’s own parents immigrated from China, both of them already received the equivalent of a medical degree. Liu feels the two communities are separated; the only time she sees African Americans and Asian Americans together is in political organizing, an activity that the model minority stereotype goes against. “A lot of times the people fighting for political issues are the ones affected by the issues all the time,” Liu said. “When you’re a model minority, it’s like, ‘The system has worked out in my favor, I have nothing to protest against. These people are like silly for protesting against it because I succeeded.’” While Liu does not think she has any solution to the model minority myth or its effects, she does think that being exposed to the experiences of others can improve perspective. Additionally, Liu believes that the position wealthier Asian Americans are in gives them a chance to expand the discussion around the model minority myth. “Because we’re on a pedestal, it’s our job to say, ‘This is who it really affects,’” Liu said. Looking back at the T-shirt with the words, “Not Your Model Minority,” Liu realizes the shirt only focuses on how it affects the person wearing it, without taking into consideration how it has affected others. “Are people supposed to look at it and be like, ‘Oh, she’s like rebelling against this stereotype?’” Liu said. “It’s not at all getting to the root of why it’s such a damaging myth. It takes work to contextualize and understand the experiences that are not your own. Not everything has to be about your history.” C


Looking Inward

A Palestinian woman’s never-ending journey to look under the surface. BY JENNA JARJOURA

Vibrant colors of the Pennsylvanian trees filled her senses, making her rethink all of her past beliefs. Wadad Abed stood, observing the tree, confused about how something so beautiful was rooted in American soil. “I had to have a real honest conversation with myself,” Abed said. “I remember telling myself, 'If you cannot see beauty because you put limits on it, then you’re heading into real trouble.'" Abed realized that she was afraid of losing her purity — her identity that she owned for years.

Her purity came from being Palestinian. She came to America when she was nineteen with her whole family — five sisters, two brothers, her mother and father. As a child, her parents told her and her siblings that after school they were going to travel to America for college and job opportunities. Enjoying a different place other than Palestine was different and scary, but from that point on, Abed decided it was time to 'integrate.' “I came up with this word, but I had no idea what it entailed,” Abed said. “It just sounded good.” She embarked on the long

journey of life, to discover who she actually was. The years leading up to this moment were lonesome for Abed; she tried to isolate herself and make the world around her seem smaller than it actually was. She didn’t want to lose her Palestinian roots and who she used to be. But, from this point on, she decided it was time to assimilate. Abed started by looking inward. She learned more about what worked for her and what she believed. “What did I allow myself to be? What are my values? What values should I let go of? What is my fear? Feature

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Why am I resisting something? Why am I not open? How much do I want to open my heart to?” She found it to be a relentlessly painful process. It’s a continuous back and forth with asking the questions that matter and digging deeper to find that explanation that will leave her satisfied. Abed created a thought process that worked for her. Some find it helpful to have a friend to talk to about their problems and discoveries. Others go to therapy sessions to dig deeper. Some go through journal after journal writing down every little thing they have to say without the fear of judgment. Instead, Abed listened. Listened to her environment, listened to people. She taught herself to trust her subconscious through this journey. “My subconscious is smarter than my conscious,” Abed said. “The conscious thoughts rationalize the things in your mind and give excuses, the subconscious is honest.” Abed classifies herself as a very sociable introvert. Abed processes her feelings and opinions privately and deeply rather than burying her irrational thoughts. Instead, she hits all of her thoughts head-on, ignoring the fear that comes with it. “Fear comes with limitations.” This process of listening to her subconscious is allowing her to be comfortable holding two strange ideas together, as

long as they’re honest, truthful and authentic to her. More specifically, this has helped her deal with the issues concerning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead of being stubborn and only believing that she was wronged as a Palestinian, she opened her heart to the humanity. She faced the idea that she doesn’t really believe that there is hate in this world.

that she voluntarily chosen. Through her belief that love is the second anchor of emotions, she learned to withhold judgment before she knows the full story. Whether it is the first time she is meeting someone, or watching something on the news. “I need to love, even if you’re my enemy,” Abed said. “I need to figure out a way to love the divine in you because that’s me. And that’s all of us because we’re all connected in that sense.” Growing up, Abed was raised practicing Christianity. But as she learned more about the religion as an adult, she began to question her values and beliefs. “I don’t believe in organized religion,” Abed said. “I think organized religion puts limitations. ‘Here is the book and here’s the truth’.” Over the decades, she came to the conclusion that her beliefs didn’t root from religion, but spirituality. Her 40s were when her spiritual awakening began. “My spirituality is the fact that you and I are connected in a real sense because if I take anything from my practice of Christianity, I believe there is a God,” Abed said. “But if there is a God, I don’t see him as a person, I don’t see God as sitting up there, but as being here. If there is a man, whatever that God is, it is here with us.” Abed learns about her spiritual beliefs through readings and the study of philosophy. During her undergraduate

“The conscious thoughts rationalize the things in your mind and give excuses, the subconscious is honest.”

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Abed believes that there are too many emotions in this world, but everything is anchored by love and fear. “That has been my guidance,” Abed said. “And it started out with a stupid little tree when I couldn’t see it’s beauty.” Through her own experiences, Abed discovered the complexity of fear. Zionism is one of her fears because it’s a physical threat to her and her people. The fear that she has of the fascism of Trumpism is another one because it’s destroying the life


studies in her 20s at the Academy of the New Church outside of Philadelphia, she majored in elementary education and minored in philosophy. Although she was interested in philosophy, it didn’t take effect until she was in her 30s, a decade later. Today, she still enjoys reading philosophical pieces. “The spiritual reading that I do is more like poetry,” Abed said. “A lot of times you read a poem, and you don’t get the impact of the poem, maybe not the first time.” Most people take a book and understand every word that they’re reading. Abed believes that philosophical pieces are extremely complex and there’s no way to understand everything. But, she does believe that within time, the readings and the meaning behind what she reads, will impact her subconscious. “Some days I say something that I never thought I would hear myself say,” Abed said. “But it’s a truth.” A book that influenced her tremendously was “I and Thou” by Martin Buber. It was required reading in college that Abed resisted at first because she knew Buber was Jewish and mentioned Zionism in his philosophy. The idea that Buber presents is that most of the relationships one makes in the world are centered around the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship. Abed’s interpretation of the book was that people connect at a deeper level to specific people. “I may never see you again, we may never have a relationship, again,” Abed said.

“But at that moment, something was so connected that it affected our lives.” It makes her more aware of the choices she makes when meeting new people. If she decides to prejudge a peer or put them on a pedestal for being charming. When she thinks about the relationships she has or want to create, she thinks about “I and Thou”. Abed reflected on her past in Palestine

as she related it back to “I and Thou”. “If I had stayed in Palestine I probably would have been married with many kids,” Abed said. “I probably would have not been very happy because I would not have embarked on this journey that made me who I am.” “If Palestine was free, I’d probably be less attached to Palestine,” Abed said.

“Yeah it’s my roots, but the world would be more open to me.” She enjoys the Palestinian culture and is committed to the cause, but she also acknowledges that in America she has freedom to be her true self and be the strong, outspoken woman she is. The best decision Abed and her family made in America was to actually integrate. They moved from a homogeneous environment to a heterogeneous one and learned different ways of life through their new experiences and surroundings. “We all have to feel the same way about Palestine, we all have to feel about America the same way, we all have to feel about Jews the same, but I don’t,” Abed said. “I don’t like anti-semitism; I don’t like the comments about Jews; I don’t like the comments about blacks as blacks.” Abed believes that if she decided to live in a community where she was surrounded by other Arabs, she wouldn’t have changed. She feels that there is an obligation to feel the same way about everything as every other Arab in America that has a similar story. C Photo courtesy of Abed Wadad | ABOVE: Abed came to America on Oct. 5, 1968. They landed in the Port of New York when she was 19-years-old with her five sisters, two brothers, mother and father. She moved to Pennsylvania and didn't come to Ann Arbor until April of 1987. Photo by Jenna Jarjoura | LEFT: Abed loves to read books. The difference between her and others is that she doesn't make sure she understands everything that she is reading. She reads for the rhythm and believes that within time, her subconscious will take what she read and help alter her opinions on certain issues.

Photos Courtesy of Wadad Abed | LEFT: Wadad Abed classifies herself as a sociable introvert. She spends a lot of time with her family and friends and also takes the time to process her experiences in a private setting. RIGHT: Abed has changed many things about her life. But, within the process of finding herself, she has been able to stay optimistic.

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IDENTITY

Like a Girl Gender stereotypes and unequal opportunities can put girls and women at a disadvantage. BY LILY SICKMAN-GARNER

W

hen Avani Hoeffner-Shah was in elementary school, she didn’t play soccer at recess. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, or that she wasn’t a good athlete. She had played outside of school for years, but the soccer field at school, tucked behind the building, was never a place she felt welcome. “There were never any girls playing,” Hoeffner-Shah said. “It always felt exclusive, so I would want to play with them, but it felt kind of awkward.” Senior Chloe Kurihara didn’t have access to a girls’ or co-ed soccer team when she wanted to play in kindergarten. Instead, she signed up for the boys’ team as “Chole” so that she would be allowed to play. “There wasn’t a girls’ soccer team,” Kurihara said. “I was about five, so I didn’t really feel anything at the time, but looking back it was pretty messed up.” The gap in resources and participation in girls versus boys sports is prevalent in high schools as well. According to the National Women’s Law Center, in the 2009 and 2010 school year, 3.2 million high school girls in the United States were involved in sports, compared to 4.5 million boys. In addition, girls’ teams are frequently given fewer resources and opportunities than boys’. In 1998, parents of female athletes sued the Michigan High School Athletic Association for a number of Title IX violations, including shorter seasons for girls’ teams, requirements that differed from the NCAA standard for girls but not for boys and inferior equip-

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ment and facilities for girls’ teams. However, athletics are not the only field in which women and girls sometimes feel out of place or unwelcome. STEM subjects, such as math and science, are often very male dominated. But even as female participation grows in these fields, girls can feel increased pressure to excel. “If it’s a math class or a science class, sometimes it’s hard for me to ask for help, just because there’s such a history of women not being very prominent in the fields of math and science,” Kurihara said. “I feel like by asking for help in those classes, I’m kind of letting down my gender.” According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up roughly 50% of the college educated workforce, but only 28% of the STEM workforce. Lucy Cassell-Kelley, a freshman at CHS, felt pressure similar to that which Kurihara described in middle school. “Sometimes in math class, I would feel like I didn’t understand, especially in seventh grade. Instead of speaking up, I would just not understand it and fail the test,” she said. “I was in a class with pre-


dominantly boys, and my teacher would always bring the girls out into the hall and say ‘We need more leaders in math, female leaders in math, and I think it’s awesome that you guys are in this class.’” Cassell-Kelley remembers feeling scared to disappoint her teacher, wanting her to be impressed with her understanding. “It was an advanced class, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. It just had more boys in it,” she said. When Cassell-Kelley was in sixth grade, she took the lead on a class project. Her partners were all male, and all older than her. She was in sixth grade while all three of them were in seventh or eighth. “I wanted to do the presentation, and they were like, ‘Lucy’s so bossy, she wants to control everyone. She’s so stubborn,’” Cassell-Kelley said. “And my teacher wrote in the notes ‘Lucy needs to take a step back and allow other people to do things, she seems to be very bossy and that causes a lot of issues.’ But he also wrote about how this eighth grader taking charge was an amazing thing, and how he could see he was becoming a leader and how he was very proud of him for doing the same thing I was doing.” At the time, Cassell-Kelley was not offended by this double standard. This was one of her favorite teachers, and she took his criticism to be constructive and tried to follow his advice.

“I just thought I needed to do better,” she said. “I talked to my mom about it she said, ‘I don’t like this.’ She talked to me about it and how she thought it was sexist, [but] I thought I could just learn from the experience.” Now, Cassell-Kelley is more aware of how words can be used to manipulate people’s perceptions and create stigma. However, she still sometimes feels pressure to conform to society’s standards of what a girl should be. “Sometimes I just stay quiet,” Cassell-Kelley said. “[But] I’m not emotional for expressing what I’m feeling. I have emotions. I should be able to express them without being disregarded for it.” Like Cassell-Kelley, Anastasia Morgan has felt dismissed by some of her male peers, especially in school. In the past, this has hurt her confidence, causing her to doubt her own intelligence and treat herself poorly. “It just didn’t make me feel good, like I wasn’t qualified to be there, like I wasn’t smart enough or good enough,” Morgan said. “As I’ve grown up, it has become less of a problem, which is really fortunate, but it definitely negatively impacted me when I was younger.” Last year, Morgan took a CR on drag performance and history, with a specific focus on exploring whether or not a white teenage female like herself could or should dress in drag. She spent the semester researching, and eventually found that according to many, the answer was yes. Although many mainstream drag shows still refuse to host female performers, Morgan felt empowered by her findings. “My final project was to perform in drag,” Morgan said. “[I] just put on all this crazy makeup and hair and costumes. It was kind of insane, but it was so much fun and I just felt so awesome afterwards. Don’t let norms define you, because you define you.” C Feature

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IDENTITY

I’M STILL

In November 2019, there was a school shooting in Santa Clarita, California. Now, a student speaks out about how the experience has changed her community forever.

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Baltimo rk, Crosby, Texas, Brooklyn, New Yo as City, Kansas, ns Ka , ado lor Co husetts, Denver, mont, Texas, Lake, Illinois, Beau Wisconsin, Round ington sh Wa a, ns, Louisian Indiana, New Orlea xico, ChicaMe w Ne , ue erq qu bu ue, New Mexico, Al lina, Rocky sboro, North Caro go, Illinois, Green and Baltimore, ryl Ma re, mo lti Ba Mobile, Alabama rolina Los Columbia, South Ca uri Houston, Texas ginia Vir st We ster, nche14, OnMaNov. 2019, Emma up the hillside — a flashlight in the dark. mery, Alabama New icago, a stuas ChBrown,* Tex , ton us Ho ia gin i- Clar, Ill ornia Richmond, Vir dent at Saugus High School in Santa Emma bit her lip and her eyes started wago ica Ch pi sip sis enada, Mis in mphis, Tennessee Gr ls, Wi ita, Calif., got up early to sco getnsready for tering. The support didn’t stop there. a Fal ew ipp Ch io Oh , us roke g, Texas Columb school. The Ca Pemb liforniagot into her dad’s “At the end of the street is a church with s Angeles, freshman orgia North Carolina Lo Ge ta, an Atl a ian uis Lo , ns car, and they pulled out of the driveway, a brick wall in front,” Brown said. “It has lea Or w nio, Texas Ne New Mexico San ue,their erq buqu Al is ready to start day. An incoming call a bunch of posters saying things like ‘We ino Ill , go nia ica or Ch Angeles, Calif , Illinois Los a sudden bundle of texts in love you Saugus’ and ‘Saugus strong.’” e, ug achusetts Chicagoon her phone, Ro ton Ba rk y Shore, New Yo a ioL ia Dallas, Texas Ba , Oh all capital letters and her life was changed A few days later, the school held a canmbus lu Co a lin ro Ca South fornia Abbeville, forever. wark, New dlelight vigil to commemorate the victims n, Pennsylvania Ne gia Illinois Allentow She gasped. Geor nah, van Sa a As her hand clamped over and voice support for the students and lin ro Ca wa Charlotte, North Chicago, ginia Virtold ,she uth mo her mouth, her dad to stop the car. teachers. The community had been very rts Po nia or Rosa, Calif , California La ton D.C. Stockton called me,” Brown said. supportive of the school — over 10,000 d, an New Jersey Washing“My best friend rtl oma Po , Ohio Tulsa, Oklah was an active shooter on people attended the vigil, which was held St. uisiana Columbus “She said there a ian uis Lo se, d, Ohio St. Ro rthcome to lifornia Clevelancampus, and that Ilor should not in Central Park three days after the shootado No Co h, nc Ra ds an hl napolis, Indiana Hig rth No e, ott school.” ing. arl Ch chusetts ia exas Boston, Massa nnsylvan Pehome, ia, ph del As soon as they got they turned “The vigil was nice,” Brown said. “But it ila Ph a om fornia Hugo, Oklah Illinois ondale,Texts Carbwaited. rida and Flonews on the came in by was so beyond sad.” mi, Mia nia or lif ejo, Ca Chicago, Illinois , Delaware and sheMa soon learned of the There were many religious leaders that d rolina Wilmingtonthe dozens,lti an ryl Ba more, rolina one, y, other victims: a boy in her class; led prayers, and there were speeches from rvethe arleston, South Ca soula, Montana Ha Mis ma aba Al e, bil , wn Jersey Mo hto her first friend at school. Her heart was the principal as well as family and friends bet iza gham, Alabama El d, California Birmin ksonJac is ino shattered. of the victims. Ill ra, ro sippi Au Texas ana Clinton, Missis uston,fast,” nia Hotravels or lif Ca “News at our school Brown “There were a lot of memories shared,” , go Die n Sa hicago, Illinois aMiami, Flor, Florid bring Se gia said. “So I quickly found out who the vicBrown said. “Stories, photos and videos. or Ge rt, ma ock aniaR sas Phoenix, Little Rock, Arkan Everyone was crying.” mdale, California tims were.”Montana, Columbus, t Falls, rest of the day, Brown k texted Because of guns, Brown said, none of the hassee, FloridaGreaFor theery , Alabama, Comstoc ntgom Mo ii, wa Ha , or ort,The np tto l Harb Co , friends and stared at the TV anxiously. students will ever feel completely comfortnia or lif s Angeles, Ca io, d, Oh nsville, Florida, Lo Clevelan , anger, stress and sadness inside her made able at school ever again. nia or lif Ca o, esn rk, New Jersey, Fr gia, Houston, Texas, Geor ers, on the day drag forever. The school gave students the rest of the ny Co , an hig Mic a, Detroit, Michigan, Detroit, Maryland,shock,” BrownTex said. “It was so month off, and school resumed on Dec. mi, Mia as, fornia, Baltimore, “I was invan ia, El Paso, Pennsyl because you read about it all 2, 2019. Brown was very nervous to go , Texas, Duquesne,unexpected ica go, Illinois, EastCh d, an ryl Ma , going to you never think it’s back. The day before, she tried to calm xas, Baltimore, the time, but ton a, Law Evansville, Indian go, Kansas City, Kansas, ica Ch happen to you.” her friend’s nerves as he cried about how io, Oh , an am Texas, Se is, Los ino Illinois, Beaumont,She was D.C go, Ill icashe Ch ., safe, but had no way of scared he was. Brown told him to try not ton ing sh eans, Louisiana, Wa exandria, Al inois, go, Ill icahow knowing safe her friends who were to be afraid, but she admitted that she herCh o, xic Me w Ne , querque t, North Carolina, Mounwere. cky a, Roat already school She decided toes, text self was terrified. Pin ke boro, North Carolin ro mb ryland Pe Baltimore, Ma of call. “I think it will be very scary,” Brown said. timore, Maryland them instead Angeles, California s Lo a lin ro Ca syl nn Pe “I texted because I wasn’t sure if they “It won’t feel like a safe place.” lumbia, South ia, ph del West Virginia Phila ton, New ingsomewhere New Manchester, were hiding Irv is in a classroom The school is structured so that each ino Ill , go ica Texas Ch is Virginia Houston, and didn’t go, Illino Chicaphone istheir ino want buzzing,” class is in a different building, much like Ill , go ica Ch pi renada, Mississip y, California ro in Gil nswas sco“It Brown said. so scary.” a college campus, so students walk outside ls, Wi Fal a ew ipp Ch io a us, Oh Park, Florid mbroke Pe nia or lif Ca Emma’s friends could be hiding behind to get from class to class. es, na Los Angel Atlanta, Georgia uisianatrying Lo , ns lea n desks, not to breathe too loudly, tex“People said the gunshots sounded like a Or Sa w o Ne xic s , New Me inois Albuquerque nia or lif Ca ansas Chicago, Illting friends and family sending love, genubinder dropping,” Brown said. “Every time es, gel An s icago, Illinois Lo e, ugsee Roto Massachusetts Chinely not knowing Batonlive rkwould Yo if they there is a loud noise, or sirens go by, it’s w Ne e, or Sh y as Ba , OhioLa ifornia Dallas, Tex Carolina Columbus another day. still horrifying.” uth So e, ill bev Ab California Newark, New sylvan Penn Then,news was hardiato process: two stuBecause of guns, students are angry. tow cago, Illinois Allen nah, Georgia van Sa a lin ro Ca rth No e, ott dents — her friends — were dead. Brown had been a part of a club at Sauarl Ch , es, Iowa , Virginia Chicago nia Portsmouth La nia guns, students are traumagus called Students Demand Action. Beor lif anta Rosa, Califor Because of Ca , on shington D.C. Stockt rtland, Po ton, New Jersey Wa a tized. fore the shooting, they advocated for gun om lah Ok , lsa us, Ohio Tu a St.High a, Louisiana ColumbIn the wake se, Louisian of the Saugus safety regulations and put up fliers around Roshooting, St. io Oh d, lan to, California Cleve lorado North so CoThanksgiving, nch, School closed early for the school about safety within the school ands Ra hl Hig a ian Ind , lis ndianapo e, North arl s Chto usett Emma didn’t have goott back for a while. building. There are many of these clubs all Massach las, Texas Boston, ia, Pennsylvania ph del ila Ph a om Oklah during the break, sheino drove over the country. After the shooting, their is e, Ill California Hugo, Two days later Florida Carbondal Miami, is to pick up herare sister. It was the first time club had a new purpose. ino Vallejo, California Ill , go Chica ton, Delaw andshootth Carolina Wilming Marylthe she had passed the school since “Right now, we are trying to just focus on re, mo lti Ba a lin uth Caro Harvey, th Charleston, Soing. When she ntana Mowas la,she saw it, speechless. everybody,” Brown said. “We are trying to sou Mis ma aba Al e, htown, , New Jersey Mobil “In frontam izabet El ma aba Al , of the school was a giant, ‘Sauget everyone at the school to come togethgh Birmin kland, California Illinois JacksonAurora, pi sip sis gus Strong’ sign,” Brown said. “It was lit up er.” Mis , on , Texas ouisiana Clint California Houston is San Diego,colors, with aaM giant heart The club has done many things to try to rFlo iami,red na Chicago, Illinoin our school rid Flo , ing br Se gia ormiddle.” ix, inGe the accomplish this goal. oen Ph nsylvaniaRockmart, sas kan Ar nia Little Rock, , lit mbus a Palmdale, CaliforThe huge sign had twinkle lights that “It’s a lot of fundraising,” Brown said. na, Colu nta Mo ls, Fal t aGrea tock allahassee, Florid ery, Alabama, Coms om ntg Mo ii, wa Ha , t, Pearl Harbor lifornia, Cottonpor a, Los Angeles, Ca Brownsville, Florid , Cleveland, Ohio, nia or lif Ca , Fresno, Newark, New Jersey gia, Houston, Texas, or Ge higan, Conyers, eorgia, Detroit, Mic troit, Michigan, more, Maryland, De mi, , California, Balti El Paso, Texas, Mia ia, van esne, Pennsyl rthur, Texas, Duqu , Illinois, East-

“We’re trying to get through to some companies and bring everyone together.” Brown has always been passionate about this issue. She never liked the idea of widespread gun ownership and has long advocated for increased gun regulations. “I have always been one not to like guns and to want good control,” Brown said. “Now, more than ever.” After the shooting, Brown became even more passionate about this issue. “I have a story to tell,” Brown said. “My friends were killed, and I’m still here.” This shooting poured gas onto a flame inside of her that now is burning even brighter. She wants to make a change because she has seen what happens when nothing changes. “This is a really big issue,” Brown said. “But we are beyond ready to tackle it.” Because of guns, students are not able to focus on their education. On Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, Brown completed her first week back at school. “The first day was awful,” Brown said. “I felt sick to my stomach all day.” Her club and the staff had developed many support systems for students, which included therapy dogs, blankets and more. All work was optional, and the students had frozen grades until the end of the semester. Many of the students went to the wellness center instead of their classes. “I barely did any work this week,” Brown said. “This whole situation is just really awful, and it’s hard to focus on school work.” Brown was not at Saugus during the shooting. She was not hiding in a classroom or texting her parents that she loved them. She is not a “school shooting survivor.” She wasn’t shot or killed. She was not traumatized from hearing gunshots whizzing by her head. But her life, and the lives of her fellow students, will never be the same. Nor that of the principal. Or the bus driver. Or the cashier at the grocery store across from the school. Or the person across the country who met one of the victims at summer camp. That feeling of danger will continue to permeate throughout the school and community. It will change its climate for years to come. The frequency of these shootings changes the way students view school. Students who have been through this have exit plans and strategies in the back of their mind. These Names have changed to shootings have been changed this generation’s protecttoanonymity identity make us more terrified. C * name changed to protect anonymity |

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“I think in a lot of situations, you can’t really tell change until it’s over.” Kacy DuMouchel fights through tokenization at Community. BY ISAAC MCKENNA

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Kacy DuMouchel wears eyeliner every day, almost without exception. The sharp black wings above her dark brown eyes are the only makeup she’s ever worn. They give her the protection, power, conviction and confidence she has struggled her whole life to find. In them, she sees her icons, the beauty in others that she works to find in herself. She wears them like a shield. As a senior, DuMouchel has recognized that CHS is a place full of subtle and sometimes open racism, of being the token black girl, of prompted self-doubt. But after her number was called from the waiting list, two weeks before the start of her freshman year, there was only the excitement of her new environment, the new friend group she found and the few friends who looked like her. “When I first came, I had a group of predominantly white friends and then I was friends with one person [of color],” DuMouchel said. “It's weird because we didn't become friends on purpose. In Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS), there's just not enough black people in general to have differences.” Nonetheless, friendships are friendships — DuMouchel loved her group of seven, and so she loved Community, for a while. You can't really tell change until it's over. According to the U.S. Department of Education, CHS’ student body is about 75 percent white. The school always presents itself as a welcoming environment for diverse students, but the statistics show that it remains one of the whitest schools in AAPS. As DuMouchel grew up at CHS, she changed. She began to recognize the effects that 75 percent can have on a school, on people who look like her. Microaggressions from ignorant white peers have been a constant, as has been the struggle with how to respond. “A lot of my life is controlled by my lack of confidence, up to the way that I walk and talk and wear,” DuMouchel said. So when a class conversation about race and straightening hair took an offensive turn, her anger initially manifested her typical response: “I’m not going to say anything.” But then, DuMouchel took a stand. “I was so sure of what I was saying, because this was a lecture that I’d given before,” she said. “I can never be white, and I know that because I wish I could. In the moment, I

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felt so on it. I was definitely wearing eyeliner.” And the response was good, with peers validating her point. However, there are so many instances of microaggressions at CHS that DuMouchel doesn’t often find the energy to call them out. “The problem with a lot of Ann Arbor, but it’s so central at Community, is that there is this idea that if a person is not actively racist, they are never insensitive or are always doing the right thing. And that's just not true.” And, in her experience, this ignorance can extend to some of the adults at school. At almost any CHS assembly, DuMouchel is at the front, her voice ringing through St. Andrew’s Church with confidence. She is a talented public speaker, and she has been involved with planning the opening day and Blue Ribbon celebration. But it wasn’t originally her choice to be a part of these events. “It is [tokenizing],” she said. “I am kind of helpful, because you put a gay, black woman up there and you’re like, ‘we hit everything.’” She believes that the lack of genuine diversity in the student body leads event organizers to present “pseudo-diversity” at events. In fact, she’s worked out what she believes is the “algorithm for putting a diverse group on stage.” To make a group of nine presenters diverse, at least three will be black, five will be female, and one will be a different racial minority, according to DuMouchel. Responsibility for working towards diversity is hard to place, and DuMouchel acknowledges this. “I don’t think anyone that I interact with can be blamed for this,” she said. Rather, it is a system of ignorant action that shapes those within it. An environment of discomfort around the topic of race might also be to blame. “I feel like part of the reason that it's just never going to be done correctly, at this rate, is because people don’t want people to be upset,” DuMouchel said. The general reaction to conversations about race, she says, is one of defensiveness and dismissiveness. You can’t really tell change until it’s over. DuMouchel’s dad, J Rizor, also attended CHS, though he didn’t graduate. His mother was one of the parents that protested against the exclusionary lottery process that required parents to stand in line during work hours to submit their children. All of the students who got in due to these protests were placed in a new forum, and all of them were racial minorities.


“I don't know if we were viewed as invaders [because] we had gotten in on the loophole but people who didn’t get in were like ‘They had to go complain and play the race card,’” Rizor said. Although the barrier to his admission was removed, he still sees other ways that Community is discriminatory, especially in the context of the Ann Arbor “bubble.” “They talk about an inclusive community, but it’s really not,” Rizor said. Ann Arbor often shares the defensive, self-congratulatory environment that many minorities at CHS face, making the pressure nearly impossible to escape. What’s striking about DuMouchel, though, is how she carries herself through the pressure of her city and school. On stage, in front of hundreds of students and staff, she always seems cool and collected, cracking jokes and speaking with confidence. She may not have volunteered to do it, but she excels at public speaking and leadership; the pressure to do well is increased by the feeling that she represents all black students when chosen for such a role. You can’t really tell change until it’s over. Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor’s teen center, is like a second home for so many high-school-aged youth around Washtenaw County. DuMouchel is one of them. She’s become a leader in the music programs there, helping to found a group called Women in Music Production and recording original songs in the center’s Orpheum Studio. DuMouchel says the dialogue around race at Neutral Zone is very different from at CHS. “It's so difficult when you have classroom discussions about racism,” she said. “All of the adults [at Neutral Zone] are friends with you. It's easier when you feel like you're talking to your friends and your friend is like ‘hey, when you said that, you really hurt

“There is this idea that if a person is not actively racist, they are never insensitive. And that’s just not true.”

some people’s feelings.’” Neutral Zone draws a far more diverse population of youth, with white teens making up only 45%, according to the annual program report. Inclusion and the centering of marginalized communities are major goals there, and those things have made DuMouchel feel welcomed. She thinks that some of the structures that make Neutral Zone a truly inclusive space could be applicable to CHS, especially an increased value on youth voice. At Neutral Zone, there is a shared learning experience between adults and teens. If schools gave students a greater say in choosing the books they read, the way that schedules are structured and the flow of classes, there might be better results, DuMouchel says. And she also hopes teachers can find a way to make focused efforts to center marginalized communities within the learning sphere. Still, she finds it hard to come up with an answer to the lack of diversity and inclusivity she’s felt at CHS. “It’s an attitude difference, and I think it’s going to come over many years,” DuMouchel said. Although CHS has come a long way from the exclusionary policies that ended the year of Rizor’s admission, DuMouchel thinks the school still needs to do better promoting diversity. You can’t really tell change until it’s over. So DuMouchel hopes that things are slowly, almost invisibly changing, that when elementary-aged kids get to CHS, it will be a different environment. She doesn’t have all the answers, and she recognizes that her story and her feelings aren’t representative of everyone with her identities. But she knows that the push for a better, more inclusive community will continue. And, when she’s part of it, you can bet that she’ll be wearing eyeliner. C

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CONFIDENCE IN CHANGE BY LUCY TOBIER AND LILY MCCREADY

Photography by Ebba Gurney | Junior Sage Iwashyna is an activist and student at CHS. Because of current events and supportive environments, Iwashyna has been able to evolve into the person he is today and continues to grow. “There were a lot of factors, like the environment and what was happening politically, especially with the 2016 election, and how that shaped my sense of self,” Iwashyna said.

“I think that experiences should change a person and that high school is the time to change.” 40

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unior Sage Iwashyna has gone through many changes in the past five years. In 2015, when Iwashyna was in 7th grade, he started to question his sexuality and gender. Since then, Iwashyna has changed his pronouns twice, from she/ her to they/them during freshman year, and then to he/his sophomore year. Although it was a year of positive change, Iwashyna does not look fondly on his freshman year. “I was so annoying,” Iwashyna said. “I was so obnoxious. People are like, ‘Oh my god I hate freshman me,’ but freshman me was an actual disaster.” Big personality changes did not come without hardship. He was dropped by three separate friend groups in 8th grade but came into freshman year with “a solid group of friends,” Almost none of whom are current friends today. However, Iwashyna only has respect and love for all his old friends. “Friends come and go, but I’m glad to have met a lot of the people that were in my life,” Iwashyna said. Iwashyna entered CHS distrustful of authority figures, but he was surprised by the warmth of CHS teachers. Iwashyna has developed relationships with Quinn Strassel, Marcy McCormick and most of all, Courtney Kiley. Kiley is Iwashyna’s forum leader as well as favorite teacher and has been a sympathetic listener to Iwashyna’s ramblings. Special relationships with teachers at CHS have helped Iwashyna get through tougher years. “When I was in middle school, I was reading teen novels and they [the character] would have that teacher that they have this really special relationship with, and I was like, 'oh I’m never gonna have that,' and now some of my teachers are my mentors and are just extremely valuable people in my life,” Iwashyna said. Iwashyna joined CHS’ Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) freshman year, and he is now the president. The club helped teach Iwashyna how to be a queer activist. Although hard, Iwashyna views his periods of change as extremely positive in the end. “I like myself a lot more,” Iwashyna said. “Freshman year, I didn’t really like who I was, but now I can pretty confidently say that I do like who I am as a person. And I think part of that is just the growth and the experiences that I’ve had over the past couple years and just kind of figuring out who I am as a person.” Iwashyna tells students scared of both personal and social change to stick with it and know everything will work out. He says everyone will eventually find their people. “I think that experiences should change a person and that high school is the time to change and figure out how to be the best version of yourself,” Iwashyna said. C


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uring senior Molly Maloy’s time at CHS, she has expanded her interests while also growing as a person. In Maloy’s freshman year, she joined the Pioneer crew team. “My mom was always trying to convince me to join lacrosse,” Maloy said. “And so she said, ‘Molly, I found the perfect sport for you.’ And I said, ‘Mom, for the last time, I’m not joining the lacrosse team’. And she said, ‘No, no, it’s crew. It’s a different sport.” She is now a team captain and has grown to become one of the best rowers on the team. Becoming the best rower someone can be requires a tremendous time commitment and commitment to the team. One particularly significant memory in her rowing career was winter of her freshman year. “I just remember during finals week, one day there were only three people there,” Maloy said. “That’s the time I started to get a lot better. When I started rowing, I was not great. I was not in the A boat [the top boat on a team in a category]. I think those experiences where you pick up more skills, like on a day when there’s only three people there, you’re able to have more coaching, and I think that really helps.” Rowing and being part of a team has given her everyday skills, such as working hard to get to her goals. “I think that putting yourself out there for experiences that you’re unsure about [is important],” Maloy said. Encouraged by this, Maloy went to her first Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) club meeting her junior year. At first she was unsure about joining because she didn’t know anyone in the club, but decided to stick with it. Now Maloy is a leader of the club and runs the SEDS Instagram page. Maloy went to Slauson Middle School; when she was about 12 years old, the school required her to do some volunteer service hours. She went to a Youth Volunteer Corps camp to fulfill those hours and ended up falling in love with it. Sophomore year, Maloy applied to the Youth Advisory Council and is still on the council as a senior. “We bring together a really diverse group of youth from all over Washtenaw County,” Maloy said. Currently she is working with Chinese high school students in Ann Arbor to host a lantern festival. “My favorite thing about it is making connections in the community that there’s no way I would have otherwise made,” Maloy said. Throughout her years at CHS, Maloy’s experiences have challenged her to become the confident person and shape who she is today. “I was really shy when I came to Community and I didn’t have any friends who came here. But I have gained a lot of confidence and I am a lot more sure about myself and what I want to do in the world than I thought I would be when I was a freshman,” Maloy said. C

“I think that putting yourself out there for experiences that you’re unsure about [is important].”

Photography by Ebba Gurney | Maloy continues to become more confident everyday by putting herself out there. She has joined the Pioneer crew team, SEDS and the Youth Advisory Council in the last four years. “There’s a lot of connections I made that there is no way I would have met these people otherwise,” Maloy said.

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The Fresh Ink Of Community High BY SOPHIA SCARNECCHIA AND SOPHIE FETTER Photography By Ebba Gurney

Grace Bates Grace Bates always knew she would get a tattoo. After watching her mother finish a sleeve of tattoos at seven-years-old, Bates was astonished by the intricate designs. Today, as an 18-year-old, a portrait of a Bengal tiger with ornamental detailing is permanently inked into the skin of her upper left shoulder. Before deciding on the tattoo, Bates found inspiration and help from local artists on Instagram, where she discovered the inspiration for the style and design of her tattoo. The wild cat was one of three choices Bates had originally pitched to her tattoo artist, the others being the forest spirit Princess Mononoke and a Lion Turtle from the show "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Stepping into her consultation knowing she wanted something that would serve as a tribute to the beauty of nature and animals, the tiger stood out as the best choice. “Bengal tigers are crazy intelligent—a lot of cats are—and they have profound emotional relationships with people,” Bates said. “I’ve always had a huge connection to cats specifically, and I wanted a symbol of that, forever and ever. I think a lot of people have this perception that cats, in general, are mean or associated with bad things. The funny thing is, once they decide to love you, they will go to the end of the world for you. It’s just a really profound, fearless love. I think humans often function with a fear of fully expressing their emotions, and I love that cats just don’t.” Bates plans to get more tattoos as she ages. Each one will symbolize personal growth or an aspiration for the future. “Having tattoos definitely helps me have a stronger self-image,” Bates said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say a better self-image, but like it helps me be more aware that I am me. It’s almost grounding.” When it comes to the stigma surrounding permanent body modifications, she is unbothered by the negativity. “I saw tattoos being done growing up, and I saw my mom’s pretty chill attitude about it and that really impacted the way I view them,” Bates said. “Nothing is truly permanent [either]. We all die. Nothing is actually wholly, wholly permanent.” C Feature

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Jayden Wright After his mother had just passed away, Jayden Wright knew he wanted to have a reminder of her. At the age of 15-yearsold during freshman year, he got a tattoo of a dagger piercing through coiling roses on his forearm in her honor. Wright had been inspired by tattoos as a child, having many family members with tattoos themselves. However, it was his mother’s tattoos that truly motivated him one of his own. His mother was decorated with a tattoo of two colorful hummingbirds. Prior to his permanent ink, Wright had invested himself in studying tattoo care, healing and various tattoo artists. He later settled on a family friend to give it to him. Wright was surprised at how little the process hurt too. “I was expecting it to hurt really bad [getting the tattoo] but it just felt like a bunch of small pinches, not like a needle was going

into my arm over and over,” Wright said. I was mostly thinking about what my next tattoos would be [while getting the tattoo]. I didn’t really have any anxiety during it either. It all kinda hit at once sitting down in the chair when the outlining was placed on my arm.” Two years later, Wright has expanded his tattoo collection. He now has a tattoo with the year “1988” and a staircase made of a galaxy. “I really think tattoos are a good form of showing your [enjoyment] of art or expressing yourself,” Wright said. “[However, you should] definitely take time and think about the tattoos you want and where you want them, because after the artist starts, there’s no going back.” C Feature

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Black Youth Experience Three black teens weigh in on their experiences in predominantly white Ann Arbor classrooms. BY TAI TWOREK

Ashanti Campbell

Photo By Ebba Gurney | CHS sophomore Chelsea Clemetson is one of the only black people in her friend group. She is constantly in predominantly white settings, a relative culture shock from the diverse neighborhood she was a part of in Washington D.C. “The longer I went to Community, the longer I realized being a part of the friend group that I’m a part of sort of has an impact on how I see myself versus how I see everyone,” Clemetson said.

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6:05 a.m. Ashanti Campbell would catch the public bus in Ypsilanti to make it before the 7:45 bell rang at his Ann Arbor high school. The mornings that he was not sleeping during the ride, he would be catching up on schoolwork or talking to other Ypsilanti kids commuting to Ann Arbor. Crossing the city boundaries, Campbell could see the visual differences: the cracked sidewalks, the businesses and the university buildings. 7:20 a.m. Campbell would usually arrive at Pioneer High School, preparing for his first hour class and completing left-over homework assignments. Some of his teachers didn’t understand the lengthy and unpredictable commute, and reprimanded him by lowering his grade when e came late. Campbell embarked on his extensive commute each morning because of the reputation of the Ann Arbor Public School system. Originally living in Detroit during his early elementary school days, his dad found a job in the Ann Arbor area and enrolled Campbell at Dicken Elementary School – commuting each day since he was in seventh grade when they moved to Ypsilanti. Pioneer High School’s population is about 53% white according to an MI Data Report. Campbell has had to navigate predominantly white spaces. Around his white friends, he introduces a different vernacular consisting of “totally” and “oh my God.” The unconscious code switching not only allows Campbell to show every side of himself, but it allows him to appear more approachable to his white friends. “Socially, being the only black person in your friend group, you have to pass off jokes and that’s like your character trait, it is the black guy,” Campbell said. “But then again, I went to Dicken [Elementary School] so I’ve been here most of my life, so I got used to it.” Campbell has never experienced blatant racism during his time at Pioneer, and before graduating in 2019, he surrounded himself by people who wanted him around. Yet during his time at school, there were things beyond code switching that Campbell had to keep in mind – like always feeling out of


place among his peers and looking different than all of them. The generational wealth his peers obtained also set them apart: they had parents who graduated from the University of Michigan and came from wealthy backgrounds. Campbell’s dad was from the Southwest side of Detroit and worked in construction. As African Americans make up about 15% of Pioneer’s student body, Campbell has noticed that sometimes his black peers can be divided. By the people that they choose to surround themselves with, students can sometimes separate themselves. But it is hard to be completely surrounded by other black people in a predominantly white community. “I think the black community in Ann Arbor is strong, but also segregated in a sense,” Campbell said. “It’s like as a people, we often like to make groups. Lot pack mentality. And we gravitate toward people that we can relate to. I think also about just relating to the people around me and what I see in the class. So the black community in Ann Arbor as a whole, we do see each other and acknowledge each other, and we do love each other to a certain extent. But when you talk about if we’re as connected as I feel other communities are, like the other races like the Asian community, or white community, or Arab community, I think we can work on that in a general sense. I think we segregate ourselves in our own communities.” Poetry has become Campbell’s therapy, allowing him to put into words what he may be embarrassed to say. It has also become the basis for his activism, pumping change, notification and education into a community willing to be changed. Campbell has translated his identity and experiences to poetry, music and performance. Hip-hop helped to ignite Campbell’s talent for poetry. His brothers were rappers, and he was exposed to lyrical art at a young age. He started out singing, but something was missing. There were words left for Campbell to say that seemed impalpable. Ever since his creative writing teacher at Pioneer, Jeff Kass, introduced him to the idea that what he was writing was poetry, he hasn’t stopped writing. “The black community has a voice,” Campbell said. “We have something to say. I think it’s easy to say that [in] poetry, you speak on what you want to happen and you speak on what you need to happen. And I think the black community in Ann Arbor feels that the most.”

Chelsea Clemetson

When Chelsea Clemetson moved from Washington D.C., the first thing she noticed was how many white people there were in Ann Arbor. She wasn’t used to the predominantly white spaces, and her new neighborhood, new downtown, new schools – all of them were significantly less diverse than where she grew up. In Washington D.C., she was immersed with diversity. When she goes back to visit, or to see her Grandmother in Trinidad, she is in predominantly black spaces. But returning to Ann Arbor is like a

culture shock. Out of the 530 students enrolled at CHS during the 2018-2019 school year, African Americans made up only about 5% of the student body according to MI School Data. Clemetson is in predominantly white spaces all the time. White friend groups accompany white classrooms, and Clemetson is one of the only black people among her friends. One of her friends even told her that she was the first black person that they had ever been friends with. Her new town brought a new unspoken responsibility: representing the entire black race. In her friend group, Clemetson feels as though she has to represent her heritage and race, with the responsibility of educating people about her culture. Becoming the token black friend, she feels like she must make sure people understand the importance of diversity. There are few black staff members at CHS, and with limited black leadership from adults in the classroom, Clemetson feels like it is her job to step up into this position. She felt that the lack of diversity at CHS is alienating. “The longer I went to Community, the longer I realized being a part of the friend group that I’m a part of sort of has an impact on how I see myself versus how I see everyone,” Clemetson said. “I find it difficult to relate to just having a friend group of a large group of white people. Not necessarily just the fact that everyone in the friend group is white, but the fact that having only white people would have an impact on how much you're exposed to other cultures and the way other people see their lives.” Outside of the classroom, Clemetson is a part of predominantly white activities and extracurricular groups. The families that live in her neighborhood do not look like her. But when African Americans only make up about 7% of Ann Arbor’s population according to the 2010 US Census, it is hard to find a community of people that similarly identify with each other on racial terms. “It feels alienating to me personally because it seems like I can’t really find people who are quite like me,” Clemetson said. “It’s hard to find people who I can connect to on multiple different levels. I’ll find some people who I think I can connect to in some ways, but in other areas, I’ll end up feeling alienated and sort of left out. It’s difficult to find a community of people who I can relate to on multiple different levels.” Her outlet of racial expression and heritage outside of her family is nonexistent. However, it is important to her to have a community of people to identify with. After she graduates from CHS, she hopes

"There's not a class that they teach that’s how to support black people it's just, you're just a kind human being," Rios Hsu said.

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to go to a diverse college. Clemetson is considering Howard University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Washington D.C., because it is one of the top schools for black engineers. Alternatively, she is also interested in attending schools like CalTech or Maryland Institute of Technology (MIT), two universities that are predominately white. An important distinction to her, Clemetson identifies as black, not African American. Her familial heritage is rooted in Jamaica, and her personal history does not align with the stories of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement that many African Americans have. She and her family pay homage to their heritage by celebrating Jamaican holidays together.

Ruby Rios Hsu

Rios Hsu looks different from her family. Her mom is Mexican, her dad is Chinese and her brother his Korean. Rios Hsu is black. At school, there aren’t many people that look like her either. Rios Hsu’s peers don’t look like her either. At CHS, her peers are predominantly white. She often has to interject when her peers say something offensive. Similar to Clemetson, Rios Hsu is often playing the role of representing her entire race. When black history and oppression are talked about in the classroom, it is perceived that she is speaking for the entire black community and not voicing a personal opinion. To her, two choices are presented: speak for the black community, or don’t speak at all. But when she does speak up, she feels like she is seen as the “loud black girl” or “annoying black girl.” Some of the jokes and comments her peers would make when she was younger were ignorant; stereotypical jokes about her being able to run fast or liking watermelon because she is black were some things she heard often. Sometimes her white peers will say the N-word, justifying their speech by saying they’re quoting a song so it doesn’t actually matter. It is upsetting, especially when someone she personally knows says the N-word. White bystanders can be complacent when their peers say something offensive, especially when it is their friend. They may not want to hurt their friend and tell them what they did was wrong. But most importantly, she is the one who is hurt, disappointed that she didn’t understand how bad it was when she was younger and 48

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that she didn’t speak up. At CHS, she finds that her peers don’t understand everything about being black, and no matter how much history they learn, it is still hard for them to completely connect with her. “There’s always the few students that don’t understand anything, or they don’t realize that what they say makes you uncomfortable,” Rios Hsu said. “It doesn’t ever really get talked about it. I guess during Black History Month, you do all this stuff to celebrate being black, but you don’t talk about the hard parts about being black and how it’s different at Community, Pioneer and Skyline.” In the afternoons, Rios Hsu takes classes at Pioneer. There, she is able to feel more like herself because of the increased diversity. She looks to black adults in teaching positions to serve as role models for her. The relatability of someone who looks similar is lost in Rios Hsu’s household. Her mother has tried to compensate and find alternative ways to relate to her. She received “The Talk” from her parents when she started driving, discussing matters of what to do if the police pull her over. Because neither of her parents are black, her mother found YouTube videos about it so Rios Hsu could hear advice from other black people that have been in the situations that her parents have not. Rios Hsu’s black leadership and relatability came from her hair stylist. Their relationship was awkward at first, and

Rios Hsu found she was timid to converse with her. But as her visits became more frequent, they became closer. The leadership presented from Rios Hsu’s stylist came from the stories she would tell her. Being closer to Rios Hsu’s age and having lots of experiences with different career paths made their connection easier. They don’t always talk about politics or black and white, but having someone that looks like Rios Hsu makes it feel like someone is always on her side. Unfortunately, the connection that she has with her black hair stylist is not emulated in her other daily settings. Her predominantly white classrooms and adoptive home are not black. Campbell, Clemetson and Rios Hsu’s experiences are not indicative of the entire Ann Arbor black youth experience; no two experiences of black youth in Ann Arbor are homogeneous. But they are still a part of the 14% of African Americans that make up the Ann Arbor Public Schools system. Black Ann Arbor and white Ann Arbor exist within the boundaries of our city: the experiences of the two communities are not equal. C

Photography By Isaac McKenna | Ashanti Campbell stands on stage on Dec. 7, 2019 during his show, Staying Power: Concrete Not Wood. He and his peers from the Neutral Zone performed a slam poetry show about their experiences. “The black community has a voice. We have something to say,” Campbell said. “I think it’s easy to say that in poetry, you speak on what you want to happen and you speak on what you need to happen. And I think the black community in Ann Arbor feels that the most.


An excerpt from the poem, “Protest,” by Ashanti Campbell

What’s for dinner made

‘I’m not hungry.’

The noun birthday cake is replaced with a card and a

‘Do you feel older yet?’

I’m old enough to notice when I don’t get things because

we don’t have it.

I’m old enough to read the utility. Moving is a possibility

with no money in hand.

I hear Starbucks is looking to expand I know the hood can’t

coexist So I type up this as a form of protest.

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IDENTITY

WHAT HOLDS VALUE Steve Coron’s relationship with his grandmother influenced him and his art. BY CARMEN JOHNSON

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teve Coron has many fond memories of his grandmother, most of which took place in her kitchen. The kitchen in Coron’s childhood had always been the center of his home: food and family. “The kitchen was her domain. She didn’t let many people into her kitchen, and she let me into her kitchen. I’m sorry to say, but I was her favorite,” Coron said. “All my other cousins hated me for that.” The Coron kitchen helped build a strong relationship between Coron and his grandmother. The kitchen was a place of creativity and encouragement for Coron. “It was [a] very strong [relationship],” Coron said. “We would have lunch together, and I would sit and draw at her table and she said, ‘You are going to be an artist someday.’” Early on, Coron’s inspiration came from his grandmother and her guidance. “What’s really cool is this past summer I was visiting her daughter, my aunt, and she had a bunch of boxes in her living room, and I said ‘What’s in the box?’’ Coron said. In the box was Coron's grandmother's dishes and cookbooks. Coron’s grandmother was an Italian-American and during that time, her main dishes were American. “[That] was a little disappointing, but I think most of her Italian dishes are in her head,” Coron said. “But it’s fine, I remember most of them.” C

Photo Courtesy of Steve Coron

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Reading to Heal BY RUBY TAYLOR, PAIGE DUFF AND JORDAN DE PADOVA

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Graphic by Cy Veilleux

endy Piepenburg was walking down Washington Street in Ann Arbor when she saw a woman who needed her help. As the woman followed Piepenburg into her apartment building, joining her on the elevator heading up to the fourth floor, she knew fate had brought them together. She decided she had to do something. “I said to her, ‘Listen, I’m a psychic medium. I know this sounds nuts, but I want you to know that everything with your son is going to be okay,’" Piepenburg said. “She starts crying and starts to say, 'I have two sons,' and I go ‘The first one! The first one!’ It turns out she had twin sons. One was born a split second before the other and he was the one she was having trouble with.” As a psychic medium, this is a common occurrence for Piepenburg. She’ll pick up things from strangers on the street, and know things about them without needing to speak. “Sometimes, I just feel like I’m assigned to help someone,” Piepenburg said. “My daughter will tell you I used to go into grocery stores and walk up to people and just start talking to them about things I pick up. My daughter would go 'Mom, don’t do that.' But now I don’t do that; I let them come to me.” Piepenburg grew up a beach kid in Stevensville, Michigan. She roller-skated, she danced and she wrote for her school paper. But all her life she’d had strange feelings about people and places. She remembers walking into a party and immediately knowing that three people there had the same birthday without having spoken to any of them. She used to think everyone had those feelings, those odd instances of just knowing something. But as she grew older, she realized she was special. A radio psychic working with Piepenburg’s dad confirmed a part of Piepenburg that she had always known. “Psychics recognize psychics,” Piepenburg said. After this encounter, as she began to understand her psychic abilities, she grew tempted to illustrate their legitimacy. “When I was younger, I used to try and prove what I saw and convince people of what I had,” Piepenburg said. But as she grew more confident in her psychic abilities and in herself, this changed. “It’s just like anything you have that’s a good thing. You don’t have to convince people to love you.” Piepenburg’s family life exposed her to a variety of religions and forms of spirituality. Her mom was a Buddhist who required an

hour of silent meditation daily. This accustomed Piepenburg to introspection and self-reflection. Her father, on the other hand, was Lutheran and is likely the reason Piepenburg often mentally pictures Jesus Christ when she prays. Now, Wendy doesn’t subscribe to one sole religion, but sees every belief system as doctrine that can be learned from. “I don’t look to just one teacher,” Pienpenburg said. “I look to poets, Buddha and a Christian God. I also subscribe to some Native American philosophies.” Her family also influenced her relationship with her psychic abilities.; Piepenburg’s mom was clairaudient — her abilities were accessed through listening — and her grandmother was clairvoyant like Piepenburg. Though her mother was the first in the family to truly acknowledge her abilities for what they were, the history in Piepenburg’s family helped her gain an understanding of the gifts she possessed. Piepenburg went through high school and into college with her psychic abilities in the back of her mind, but she never saw them as anything more than an unusual gift. She studied psychology at the University of Michigan and envisioned for herself a career in the music industry. For a while, that’s what she pursued, working closely with artists like The Black Foot and Lynyrd Skynyrd. But her abilities didn’t fade. In fact, they continued to reveal themselves. She found herself helping strangers in the corners of college parties, unable to resist using her skills for good. Eventually, it became clear that this was what she was meant to do. Without telling a soul, she left her career in the music industry and became a professional psychic. “I was so sure that it was what I needed to do at that time that I didn’t even tell anybody that I was going to leave my job,” Piepenburg said. “I just did it. I believe in silent power — I didn’t want to dissipate the energy.” She expected a few appointments a week at first, but was fully booked before she knew it. From there, Clear Water Psychic Readings only expanded, with Piepenburg opening a second practice in Los Angeles. She grew to be an established psychic medium, being accepted into the The American and Canadian Association of Psychics, lecturing at the University of Michigan and being featured as a psychic authority in various public venues. But even as her career has soared, Piepenburg has never forgotten what truly motivates her. “Love of people is why I do this,” Piepenburg said. “I really truly love people. It’s not always easy to learn how to love others and love ourselves, so to be a part of teaching that is really beautiful.” C Feature

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IDENTITY

MY HANDS ARE TIED BY ZOE BUHALIS AND GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

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bortion is a stigmatized word: an idea and medical procedure that is surrounded with emotions and politics and hardship. It’s not talked about, and in health class, it can’t be. Sexual health — a controversial subject — is the only subject in any course taught by public schools that requires its own local governing board. Ann Arbor’s board is the Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee (SHEAC). Their purpose is to interpret state laws about what content must be taught, the way that content must be taught and what content cannot be addressed by teachers. The legal document, "A Summary of Legal Obligations and Best Practices," which outlines the laws about Sexual Education in Ann Arbor Public Schools, states that “Clinical abortion cannot be considered a method of family planning, nor can abortion be taught as a method of reproductive health. ‘Reproductive health’ means the individual’s well-being which involves the reproductive system and its physiological, psychological, and endocrinological functions.” Health class is supposed to educate students, but health teachers aren’t allowed to talk to students about abortion. Not only can abortion not be taught as something that affects an individual’s emotional health, but, if a health teacher were to refer a student to an abortion clinic, the entire school disctrict would forfit 5% of its state funding. “It’s awful,” said Becky Brent, CHS health teacher. “I think it’s hardwired into me to help people, and I don’t feel there’s any harm in education.” Despite the fact that Ann Arbor health teachers can’t talk about abortion, it’s not as bad as it could be: Oklahoma follows legislation called the Humanity of The Unborn Child Act, which states that students must be “clearly and consistently [taught] that abortion kills a living human being.” As of 2016, only three states taught abortion as a possible option following an unplanned pregnancy. In Michigan, abstinence is stressed as the only 100% effective protection from pregnancy, and in many places across the country it is the primary or only form of family planning taught in high schools. A 2012 meta-analysis done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that abstinence-only until marraige (AOUM) education caused a decrease in the frequency of sexual activity but an increase in pregnancies amongst teens; abstinence-only education isn’t preventing pregnancies at all — it’s making sex less safe for teens. A review of abstinence-only education programs from Debra Hauser in "Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact," showed that teens exposed to abstinence-only education

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are having just as much sex, they are just less likely to use contraceptives. The Journal of Adolescent Health wrote a report summarizing the effects of abstinence-only education: “The goal of sex education is to raise sexually healthy adults,” the journal said. “Healthy development requires complete information, open and honest conversations, and support for decision-making about sex and relationships. This vision of sexuality education is directly contradicted by AOUM thinking.” Studies have shown time and time again that lack of education on certain behaviors does not prevent teens from engaging in them. Current sexual education policies indirectly increase unplanned pregnancy, yet make it harder for teens to access information about available options following unintended pregnancy. “Education is empowerment,” Brent said. “When you are well aware of the facts, you’re able to make an ethical and moral choice for yourself. So when I’m not able to provide the facts, I know then that students are going to get facts from their friends, facts from the internet; facts from those two places aren’t necessarily accurate. My concern is a lack of honest and factual education.” If teens don’t have access to abortion, the stigma surrounding it will continue to grow. Teens are not able to ask their health teacher where to get a safe abortion or even what an abortion would really entail. State law prohibits students from being taught what the word abortion means and how normal the procedure can be. Brent worries about how this guilt might affect students. “When I think about an individual who finds themself in a situation where an unplanned pregnancy comes up,” Brent said, “they’re feeling stressed and maybe they’ve gone through trauma, who do they tell?” The strong stigma surrounding abortion already causes people to be scared to talk about it, and it can make it hard for students to talk about it with people they trust and look to for support. “A lot of times they can’t tell their parents or their caregivers because it’s been made clear that that type of behavior is not appropriate,” Brent said. “All of those people should be supportive, but the person with the unplanned pregnancy doesn’t feel that support; there’s this fundamental break in human relationships and connection. So then comes loneliness. And fear. Two devastating emotions. Very powerful emotions. Emotions that are hard to move through. I imagine that individual coming to me and saying ‘Becky, I need some help,’ and I have to say to them ‘My hands are tied.’” C

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IDENTITY

Closet Door of Glass

BY ELLA ROSEWARNE

“I’m Homosexual,” Tommy Simon typed to his parents while walking to school in April of 2018. He had tried to come out to his parents many times, but he had always backed out. The reason this time was different was because his head was clear.

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Once he got to school he was distracted and could stop stressing. His mom responded telling him that she loved him and that they could talk later. He texted back and told her, “No, let’s not talk about it later. This is a one time event. Sorry.” When Simon got home from school he remembers crying before his parents got home. When his parents got home they did not talk about it. He’s confident that his parents already knew he was gay from a very young age. “My closet door is made of glass,” Simon said. In preschool, Simon was aware of his sexuality. “Differences were already showing between me and other boys,” Simon said. “And I was noticing them.” At that time, he had told his parents about the other boys and girls. He told them that he felt like a girl in a boy’s body. Before he came out to his parents, he came out to his friends. Simon’s friend group was largely female because of their shared interests. This has been hard for Simon because he often feels left out when his female friends are together, and he can’t be there because he has stricter rules since he is male. Simon is allowed to hangout with girls and guys, but rules are still stricter with girls. For example, when Simon sees his friends who are girls, he has to leave earlier and can’t sleep over. This is hard for him because he often feels “stuck in the middle.” When Simon does hangout with other boys, there is a suspicion from his parents that they are actually gay and dating. Simon finds this hilarious. “One of the difficulties that I face finding my identity as a gay teenage boy is breaking away from stereotypes,” Simon said. When Simon came out, he found that he was put into gay stereotypes. There is the assumption that since he is gay he loves all rainbow things. Simon finds this to be true especially with pride festivals. He has never been to one and thinks he would like it, but he gets annoyed that since he is gay people make assumptions and want him to like it. The “GBF” (gay best friend) stereotype has affected Simon and is demeaning to him. “It just hurts more than it helps,” Simon said. When Simon meets people, he is often told, “I’ve always wanted a GBF.” His reaction is often, “Who said I was going to be yours? I’m a person. I’ve got thoughts [and] a unique personality. My sexuality does not define me.” Going to Ann Arbor Open, he felt accepted. There was the occasional person who would, indirectly or directly, make fun of him. “It’s hard to recall specific things, but little comments, little jabs or people just generally being homophobic,” Simon said. He’s grateful that he lives in town like Ann Arbor with a mostly accepting community. Now in high school, Simon feels like he has a place. “I feel like at Community, the community is much stronger,” Simon said. C


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IDENTITY

“You’re not really black” You’re right. I am representation of two identities Two of which are hidden behind your judgment You look at me and don’t see me You see my color.

Growing up Mixed in a Black and White World BY CAMMI TIRICO

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eri Patterson and Ayannna Bell, both seniors at Skyline High School, have dealt with identity issues their whole life. Patterson — born from her white mom and black dad — has been subjected to comments on her fine hair and pale skin her entire life. Patterson has seen now that race has divided her own extended family; her black family seeing their ancestors being diluted and her white family seeing their ancestors being stained. Bell – born from her Persian mom and black dad — has felt increasingly connected to her mixed identity. Bell is beginning to explore, what she refers to as, her “other” side. Both Patterson and Bell experience life mixed. But they are not alone. Over 9 million people chose two or more racial categories on the U.S. Census. In the United States, the number of people holding mixed identities is increasing. But it goes beyond the numbers: experiences of mixed people are beginning to be recognized more as well. In 2018, Patterson and Bell presented a TED Talk entitled, “Things Not to Say to Someone of Mixed Race.” Through it, they quoted rude statements that had been directed to them. “You’re not really black” they start. “You’re right.” They respond. Because in all honesty, they are right. But they are also wrong. Patterson is not black, she is white. But she is black too — she is both. Bell is not black, she is Persian too — she is both. “So like, what are you? Hear me clearly when I tell you: I will not be reduced to one race, nor will you decide whether I am one of my two ethnicities.” They felt forced to identify more strongly with one group rather than the other in order to connect to anyone. Patterson, in middle school, associated herself with predominantly white people. She felt she would be more included this way, but the exact opposite was true: In an attempt to fit in, she felt even more like an outsider. In high school, she tried the inverse and associated herself with her new black friends. “Everybody wants you to be one or the other when you have to tell yourself, you’re both of them,” Patterson said. “You really have to stand up for what and who you are.” Patterson said she felt torn between being too white to be accepted with her black friends, but too black to be accepted with her white friends. After being accused of hating her mom when she spends time with her black friends and “playing up her blackness” when being with her white friends, Patterson felt torn. She did not feel both of these identities, she felt neither: too white to be black and too black to be white.

“Which race do you like better? As if I had a choice. If I had a choice, why would you expect me to choose: Choose between the cultures that make me who I am today, choose between the races that shape my world.” This mixing of cultures has not been an easy or linear journey for Bell. Constantly straightening her hair in middle school, Bell used her hair as a physical means of suppressing her black identity. As she came to embrace her entire culture as part of her identity in high school, she began to embrace her curly hair simultaneously. As Bell began to learn more about black culture and her black family’s history, she began to embrace those aspects of her life more. This trend in cultural identity is common. Racial identity can be fluid and change over time, especially in the transitional teenage years. As people begin to look more at themselves, they often see how race has affected them over time. It is not uncommon for people of mixed identities to entirely reclassify themselves from a singular race to multiple as they grow older, a Pew Research study reported. “Your words like hands squeezing everything that does not fit your labels. Pushing and shoving, painfully scrubbing the color of my skin until transparency suits me.” The issue of labels is one of the prominent issues surrounding mixed race, according to Patterson and Bell. The U.S. Census only began to allow the selection of more than one racial category in 2000. The long lasting effects of being forced into rigid categories took time to deconstruct: from 2000 to 2010 there was a twofold increase in the number of responders that classified themselves as more than one race. And data suggests that there are more mixed people in the U.S. than respond as such on the census. But to Patterson and Bell, the issue is much more personal. It is difficult for both of them to feel secure in their mixed identity when the world around them is attempting to force them to choose between their two halves. Over time, however, they have begun to embrace and love their entire selves. “No one understands trying to be whole when you are given two halves. No one understands when you want to be white and want to be black. No one understands this struggle of being torn between two different worlds. But don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t want to be anything other than me: Mixed.” C

No, you can’t touch my hair

Keep your hands and your suggestions to yourself. Feature

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IDENTITY

A Close Call How one family was affected by cancer and how they got through it BY CY VEILLEUX

CHS alum Kate Burns ate her lunch while she sat across from Julia and swallowed her words.

Julia, more commonly known to the public as Jupe, was a friend that Kate could tell almost anything. Kate knew she was acting weird, but she had to hold it in. Less than an hour before lunch, she had sat in the passenger’s seat of her dad’s silver Avalon as he sat next to her and told her he had cancer. Her dad, Steve Burns, had texted her earlier and asked to meet up and talk. Kate attended the University of Michigan and lived about fifteen minutes away from her childhood house. Nothing seemed off because her dad would occasionally ask to talk with her. Kate pushed it off at first because she was juggling college, rowing, exams and a personal life of her own. Still, he pressured their chat. He drove to her house and idled in the snowy driveway. She came out to the car and Steve kept it brief. He explained to her that he had gone to see a specialist over winter break. “I’ve got a Lymphoma, which is a cancer,” Steve said. 58

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Kate immediately began to cry. The two of them talked for another 15 minutes or so before he dropped her off at her lunch with Jupe. She didn’t end up telling Jupe during lunch; Steve didn’t want her to. But Jupe visited Kate later that night and Kate told her why she wasn’t herself at lunch. Over time they told other people and got used to the routine hospital appointments, but Steve’s cancer never affected Kate as much as she thought it would. “If he didn’t tell me he was sick,” Kate said. “I wouldn’t even know.” Steve didn’t let cancer consume his social life or his private life. He wasn’t his cancer. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect Kate at all. Throughout the six months of cancer treatments that her dad endured, Kate would visit Lot SC36 of the Michigan Stadium, off of South Main street: her dad’s favorite view in Ann Arbor. With the Jumbotron to her left, she could see the entirety of downtown Ann Arbor illuminated by apartment windows and streetlamps. While staring into the fluorescent streets, she commonly thought about how it all started in the first place. Steve Burns found out that he had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on Jan. 12, 2019 — a date he’ll never forget. Over winter break, Steve had scheduled a doctor’s appointment concerning a swelling in his right testicle. At the time, he was in Atlanta visiting family. By the time he returned back to Ann Arbor, the swelling had gone down, reducing his concern. He almost cancelled the appointment. “But I decided to go,” Steve said. “That was a fateful decision.” At the appointment he told the doctor what was going on and the doctor decided to do an ultrasound. The doctor left for a moment and came back; his face was sheet white. He

showed Steve an ultrasound of a healthy testicle: his left one. The slide changed and another ultrasound showed up, this time over half of it was black. “Typically when we see something like this, we think it might be a cancer and we will refer to oncology,” the doctor said. By going to that appointment, doctors caught his Lymphoma in between stage two and three while many Lymphoma patients are diagnosed during stage four. Since Jan. 12, 2019, Steve has been through 12 rounds of chemotherapy, a series of radiation treatments and he’s now six months into his two year remission. Steve has learned a lot from this journey and so has his family. They’ve compiled a list of four essentials for anyone in a situation like theirs.

1. Build a circle of friends, family and professionals

“The first thing that you do, is you assemble a team of people around you to support you,” Steve said. You should build your team with three groups of people: family, friends and healthcare providers. Steve knew he had great healthcare and a great hospital — a set of things many aren’t privileged enough to obtain. For example, he met many people in a similar situation to him. One person he met attended a hospital in Detroit — only 45 minutes away — with a cancerous lymph node the size of a grapefruit and doctors who couldn’t figure out what it was. Next is family, and a strong family should be “100% supportive” no matter the circum-

stances. Lastly, you need to get a small group of friends who are as supportive as your family. “I knew if I had that level of support, I could stay real positive, and positivity is something that’s needed,” Steve said.

3. Ask for help.

2. Stay positive

Steve is a very optimistic person, and he believes staying positive is absolutely crucial to a fast and easy recovery. Along the way, he found out that his specific strain of Lymphoma would have a 94% chance of being cured. Even though those are great odds, people can tend to dwell on that remaining 6%. One way Steve taught this to his children was when Kate ruptured a disc in her back while rowing during her senior year of highschool. She visited the physical therapist and was informed that she wouldn’t be able to row for the remainder of the season. On the car ride home, Kate broke down. “You can cry the rest of this car ride home,” Steve said. “But when you get out of the car, I want you to focus on what you can control, and that is you getting better. That’s what your focus is once you get out of his car.” Not only did that remind his kids to stay positive about his situation, but it also reminded him to be focused on staying positive and simply getting better. “Dwelling on the negative I think can break you down and cause a lot of problems,” Steve said. “So if you got a choice, which you do, then dwell on the positive.”

One last thing Steve didn’t do as much as he wished he did was to ask for help. It’s hard to ask for help; it’s hard to reveal your vulnerability. It doesn’t mean you should draw the ‘cancer card’ — even though Steve has admitted to using it a few times. Asking for help is meant for times when your necessities, such as your positivity, are on the line.

4. Don’t take your health for granted

When Steve discussed his options with his specialist, the specialist said he could do nothing if he wanted to, which would be a death sentence. When Steve heard his specialist say that, he wondered how long it would take for his Lymphoma to kill him. He thought he might’ve had between five and ten years. At his very last appointment with that specialist, Steve put his thoughts into words and asked him how long he would’ve had. “Oh no Steve,” The specialist said. “It would’ve killed you in a year, no more than two.” That made Steve reflect on how close it could’ve been if he had never shown up to that first appointment. “Your health can be something that can change,” Steve said. “And you have to look out for yourself and your health.” C

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JUUL WAS MEANT FOR KIDS JUUL claims to be “improving the lives of nearly one billion adult smokers,” but their origins tell a different story. BY LEO KUPPERMAN Photography By Ebba Gurney

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ecent months have seen an epidemic of otherwise healthy kids suddenly becoming extremely ill after using e-cigarettes. Given this, it is worth looking seriously at how this public health issue has grown and how it was created in the first place. This is remarkable because smoking among adolescents was essentially a solved issue in this country. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette use has dropped among 12th graders from almost 1 in 4 in 1997 to less than 1 in 25 in 2018. However, a rise in e-cigarette use has led to an increase in the number of young people using tobacco products in recent years. In 2019, over 25% of high school students said they used electronic cigarettes, an increase from 1.5% in 2011. The most prominent e-cigarette manufacturer, JUUL, with over three-quarters of the market, claims to “improve the lives of nearly 1 billion adult smokers” and they are “dedicated to eliminating cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers a better alternative to combustible cigarettes.” But their earlier marketing tells a far different story, one of marketing and design more akin to a tech startup than a cigarette company, and one that resulted in a younger generation becoming addicted to nicotine. First, make no mistake, JUUL is a Sil-

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icon Valley tech company. Founded by two Stanford design school graduates, one of whom was a designer at Apple, evidence of JUUL’s status as what WIRED and others have called “the iPhone of e-cigs” is not hard to find. Just look at the design. Past versions of e-cigarettes fell into two main categories: the cigarette wannabes and enormous, longer-lasting, plume-producing devices. These devices may have been functional, but they were not very sleek or low-key. JUUL, on the other hand, features a USB-like sleek design that allows people to vape discreetly. In 2018 on Twitter, JUUL posted, “JUUL Labs co-founders designed JUUL to be as easy to use as a cigarette but not to look like one.” This design was a great way to appeal to a younger audience and to sneak their products into environments where it would have otherwise been out of place. It is not just the design, but also the philosophy of JUUL that makes it a tech company. They, like many other modern companies, employ an initial external trigger: something that entices people to try the product for the first time. This is where JUUL’s marketing comes in. In 2015, when JUUL Labs was still a small offshoot of Pax Labs, they launched the “Vaporized” campaign. Male and female models in their 20s are shown flaunting their devices with glee while set against

bright, colorful backgrounds. Despite the fact that these ads were eerily similar to cigarette ads from a half-century prior, the ads, distributed through email, social media and even a giant Times Square billboard, were clearly meant for young people. “While the models were young adults, in many of the advertisements their activity was more typical of teenagers,” said one Stanford analysis of JUUL’s early years on the market. This type of marketing not only sold the product, it created an aura around it. It was an assertion that JUUL is to be associated with teen bliss, with a fun time and certainly not with quitting cigarettes. You cannot talk about the company’s marketing without mentioning its flavored pods. They are a huge aspect of what made JUUL so popular. The flavors appeal to people who have never smoked, helping to create a separate type of e-cigarette users who never even considered smoking. According to the CDC in 2018, two thirds of high school students who used tobacco products reported using a flavored product. JUUL flavors used to include cool cucumber, crème brûlée and fruit medley along with others like mint and the especially popular mango. Since November of 2019, the number of flavors has been reduced to three: Virginia to-


JUUL flavors targeted kids: Mango, Mint and others were available for purchase until November 2019 for $16.

JUUL starter packs with a device, pods, and a charger retails for $50 but can easily be bought for less than half of that.

JUUL devices charge via a simple USB connection that can be purchased for $6.

bacco, classic tobacco, and menthol. This happened due to pressure from the outcries of people saying the flavors seemed geared toward a younger generation, with Michigan even banning e-cigarette flavors. However, there are still third-party manufacturers creating exotic flavored pods. Though there are other external triggers that JUUL has employed like throwing parties and using celebrity influencers, it is not just external triggers that made JUUL successful with teens. Like any good addictive product, JUUL products contain internal triggers that keep people coming back time and again. Obviously, there is the addictive chemical nicotine and the established aura of fun and relaxation that JUUL has cultivated among young people. But there are less obvious ways JUUL keeps you coming back. First among them is the way that its cartridges are refilled. Users start off with a kit costing as little as thirty dollars and then are locked into using special JUUL “Pods.” These pods help JUUL maintain standardized quality (as no manual refilling is necessary), the initial price point lowers the barrier for entry and the convenience keeps the process to get a hit extremely simple. All you have to do is insert the pod and you are ready. And, when you use the device, it gives a much stronger and faster hit than

5.4 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019, an increase of 1.8 million from 2018.

“Clearly, people internally had an issue with the marketing, but a lot of people had no problem with 500% year-over-year growth.” - JUUL Manager most other e-cigarettes. This is because of “nicotine salts” in the pods that give you a fast high comparable to a cigarette, unlike other e-cigarettes that use “free-base nicotine” and give you a much smaller high over a longer period. All of this means that any time you are feeling stressed, bored, or just feel like it, you have quick and easy access to an addictive high. JUUL has significantly toned down its explicit marketing to teens after regulators started to catch up to the industry, and JUUL has switched its marketing focus to show testimonials of middle-aged, former smokers. But its early marketing has had a lasting impact even if some people at JUUL were concerned about the im-

plied messages. Despite increased efforts from regulators, and JUUL creating a “comprehensive strategy” to defuse youth sales in 2018, teenage use has risen. Yes, young people today are probably not trying e-cigarettes because of an ad from 2015. However, these ads, along with a sleek design, and other slick promotion were clearly aimed at reaching a younger audience and keeping them coming back with their friends. Serious damage has been done because of JUUL’s initial push, which they are now ineffectively trying to reverse. It was clear from the beginning: JUUL was meant for kids. C

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IDENTITY

WHITE HYPE

While the "For You" page on TikTok is packed with content, the creators getting the most attention don’t look like me. BY TAI TWOREK

I hate to admit it, but I spend a copious amount of time on TikTok. As the app gained immense popularity, it captivated my attention and my everyday life; the catchy 15-second music clips, dancing, acting and comedic trends are so ingrained in our generation’s popular culture that it is almost impossible to escape. And with the embarrassing amount of time I spend on TikTok, I have become familiar with the epitome of internet popularity and fame: the Hype House. Several teenage TikTok stars have been contracted to live in a mansion in Los Angeles called the Hype House to produce daily content. The teens crank out 15-to-60-second videos each day that spam TikTok’s “For You" Page, the app’s explore page. Among the house’s 19 members, the four adults are the only members to live in the mansion full time. One of the main creators of the collective was Thomas Petrou, a creator that was previously in Jake Paul’s Team 10 House for YouTube. Collaborative houses for popular users of social media platforms, like Vine, YouTube and now TikTok, are common in Los Angeles. Many famous creators live near or with each other in order to make collaborative content to boost each other’s fame. The Hype House was the first collaborative house exclusively for TikTok teen stars. The four adults in the collective – Thomas Petrou, Alex Warren, Kouvr Annon and Daisy Keech – are relative strangers to TikTok fame in comparison to their colleagues, riding the coattails of teen popularity. “[To be in the Hype House you must] have a lot of energy and personality and honestly be a little weird,” said Chase Hudson to the New York Times, a 17-yearold TikTok star with 8.3 million followers. “The weird

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people get the furthest on the internet. You either have to be talented at something, or a weird funny mix, or extremely good looking.” The members of the house are some of the most popular current creators on TikTok. They all obtain “the hype” – the internet’s obsession with a popular person or trend – and they are all homogenous. And by homogenous, I mean white. The most cherished creators and celebrities in our media are, more often than not, white. And as it has persisted through history, the people who gain the most “hype” don’t look like me. With around 500 million active users, there are many popular creators on TikTok that are people of color. But the white creators that live glamorous lives, gain fame and are a part of collectives like the Hype House are the ones that constantly attract the most attention. Many creators of color on the app point out the lack of diversity in terms of popularity and “hype” in their TikToks. They point out that obtaining the same popularity would be much easier if they were white, as the most celebrated creators don’t look like them. The creator that has taken TikTok by storm is 15-year-old Charli D’Amelio, a white teenager from Connecticut. As the first creator to be crowned with the infamous “hype,” D’Amelio rose to ultimate stardome overnight in the fall of 2019. As of early January 2020, she has 15.4 million followers and around 580.6 million total likes. She appears to be in a relationship with Hudson, one of the founders of the Hype House. Under the username of “Lilhuddy,” Hudson has received enormous amounts of attention. Like most teenage boys on the platform, he draws attention from


young girls, but he has also been accused of saying the N-word countless times on the internet and in person. In early June of 2019, Hudson released an apology on social media for his racist language. But jokes about his past continue to circle the “For You Page.” It can easily be inferred that Hudson’s apparent relationship with D’Amelio is fake, set up by their managers in order to boost each other’s “hype.” Or in Hudson’s case, draw attention away from his N-word scandal. Through the vicious jaws of today’s “cancel culture,” white influencers seem to escape unscathed, able to rebuild their branding and fame. For example, Hudson is constantly dragged for saying the N-word, yet the eight million TikTok followers he has amassed remain consistent. Although other influencers and creators exposed for their problematic pasts don’t necessarily obtain the current “hype,” most are able to still live by themselves in Los Angeles, and their glamorous lifestyles are untouched. While the Hype House and its members are some of the most popular creators currently on TikTok, the “hype” will fade soon enough. The turnover is inevitable: once one famous white girl gets criticized by the internet, another one will take her place. It happened to YouTube star Emma Chamberlain and her friends last year. As a large group of predominantly white teenage girls gained popularity for vlogging on YouTube, they faced backlash. Some of it came from jokes they started about themselves, while other hate was bred on different social media platforms, criticizing Chamberlain and her friends for their lack of humor. The largest backlash they received, however, were the trips sponsored by the online shopping app Dote that Chamberlain and her friends would take. Although the group did have influencers of color attending, the ones that received the most publicity were white. Many girls of color that attended these trips later came forward on YouTube to share their experiences, and after a while, many of the girls in YouTube’s teenage limelight steadily lost the “hype.” As the Hype House gained more popularity, there seemed to be a rebuttal on social media from creators of color. In response to the lack of diversity in the

The members of the house are some of the most popular current creators on TikTok. They all obtain ‘the hype’ –– the internet’s obsession with a popular person or trend –– and they are all homogeneous. And by homogeneous, I mean white. house, platforms for creators from marginalized communities have been created, the most popular being the University of Diversity. For about a week in December, the two creators in charge of the platform held applications over TikTok where users showed themselves off in videos tagged with #universityofdiversity. Still, it is almost impossible to go on TikTok without seeing content about the Hype House or any of its members. Living vicariously through influencers is almost inescapable; it is easier than ever to constantly stay connected with people my age through almost every social media platform. But the ones that get the most “hype” look nothing like me. Our world is constantly changing. It is incredibly common for people my age to move to the West Coast, taking an untraditional approach to success through social media. This unconventional lifestyle may summon hate from older generations, but the real problem is the lack of diversity among young creators and influencers. On platforms like Instagram, YouTube and now TikTok, it is easy to recognize that the most popular creators and influencers are white. But I want to see more young influencers and creators that look like me. I want to be able to see myself as I scroll through explore pages, finding people my age from around the country that I can relate to on deeper levels. I want someone to look up to. And I can’t do that with the Hype House.

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IDENTITY

The Other Half

This time next year, voters in Michigan will have decided 151 elected offices. Divided into partisan and non-partisan ballots, Michiganders will elect the next President, 15 U.S. congresspeople, 13 state judges, 8 state executives and 111 members of the State Legislature. Here’s the catch, you might forget to vote for half of the entire ballot. BY NOAH BERNSTEIN

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A

majority of those 151 elected offices will be chosen by means of straight-ticket voting: a convenient voting approach which allows a voter to simply select a box in support of a party, which automatically votes for every candidate in every office for the said party. However, this only works for offices on the partisan ballot: offices like Governor or U.S. Senator are considered to be such. Beyond the partisan ballot there is a lesser-known, but equally important, section dubbed the non-partisan ticket. Here, the State Supreme Court, judicial offices and various municipal leadership positions are found. Due to the assumption common among voters that voting straight ticket covers the entire ballot, the non-partisan ballot suffers what is called “voter roll-off” where, often unintentionally, voters simply fail to vote on that category. Frequently, as voters make their way down the ballot, there is a substantial down-tick in voter participation. As detailed by the Secretary of State’s reporting of the 2016 elections, 4,874,619 voters turned out in Michigan: 98% voted for President. Only 69% of those voters bothered to vote for the State Supreme Court. Since it is a judicial position, candidates do not formally run as a member of a party. Subsequently, they are filed under the non-partisan area, which straight-ticket voting doesn’t cover. This matters. The Michigan Supreme Court serves as the final court before the US Supreme Court for state matters and supervises all of the other courts in the state.

The chronic, inadvertent disenfranchisement begs the question, why don’t we just ban straight-ticket voting? In often partisan battles, Republicans supported a ban and Democrats called to sustain straight-ticket voting. “The problem with straight-ticket voting is that it means people vote for parties rather than people,” former Michigan Republican Party chairman and current University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser said. “When you are running for Regent, it has a huge impact because there are areas where there are very, very high percentages of straight-ticket voting, no matter how well you connect or advertise.” The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan — classified under the non-partisan section of the ballot — make up the governing board of the institution. On the contrary, “I believe that straight-ticket voting is an excellent voting rights tool that allows voters to vote for the party of their choice in an easy and accessible way,” said Lavora Barnes, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “Straight-ticket voting helps keep the lines shorter on Election Day as voters who choose to use this option can complete what is sometimes a very long ballot in a shorter time. Voters from both parties use the straight-ticket option.” Four legislative and judicial efforts to deflate accidental voter fatigue by banning straight ticket voting have been reviewed in Michigan. However, instead of eliminating the problem, it merely shifted the cause of it. Originally, the concern with straight-ticket voting was that it was a substitute for a lack of ballot knowledge.

After it was banned, the blame for voter drop off then fell upon voters who enjoyed the efficiency that came with straight-ticket voting, and simply did not take the time to continue down the ballot. Candidates and political parties in Michigan instead resorted to educating the electorate on this easily overlooked, yet tremendous misinterpretation. “I think [straight-ticket voting] has its benefits, but also its costs. For people in a hurry who don’t have much time to cast their ballot, it can make the process easier,” said Chief Justice Bridget McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court. “It means I have to find ways to connect with voters that remind them to complete their ballot, even if they plan to vote straight ticket.” If the candidates aren't connecting with us, how can I connect with them? When Proposal 3 was passed in 2018, a multitude of voting rules came into effect in Michigan: it included the most recent reinstatement of straight ticket voting in the state. It also included many additional adaptations to voting rights to make it more accessible. “First-time voters should use the resources that the Secretary of State and the Parties provide to learn about the process and about the candidates,” Ms. Barnes said. “[They] may also want to take advantage of the new ‘no-reason’ absentee ballot law and vote from home — that way they can take their time with the ballot and not feel rushed.” C

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IDENTITY

STIgma BY MAZEY PERRY

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STIs are part of living a sexual life. Let's start talking about them.


Sex. STD. STI. When reading, hearing and worst of all saying those words out loud people generally become uncomfortable. Sex is so often taboo and tip-toed around, but even more closeted are the conversations about STI’s. Contracting one is dirty. If you get one you are careless. If you have one you should be ashamed. Those are the things youth are taught to think, and when only 33 states require sex education and HIV/AIDS instruction be taught in public schools, it is not shocking that sexually transmitted infections are on the rise. Educating youth on HIV/AIDS is important, but there are many other STI’s that are far more common to contract. To not teach about these is a disservice to kids. In preschool we start teaching kids to wash their hands so that they don’t get sick. We focus on the importance of vaccines with elementary aged children. Teaching sexually active teens to use condoms to protect them from getting an STI should be the same, but if we aren’t even teaching kids about these things then how can we expect them to be safe about sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40% of teens reported being sexually active, and half of the 20 million new STIs contracted in 2016 were among young people between the ages of 15 to 24. By the age of 25, 50% of sexually active people will have contracted an STI. They are normal. They are a part of life. “It’s weird because we live in this weird culture where sex is glorified. It’s everywhere, it’s used to sell everything from cars to laundry detergent and yet we are real puritanical about it too,” said Robbie Stapleton, a health teacher at CHS. “If we are normalizing sexual behavior we have to normalize what goes with it and that sometimes there’s some illness that goes with it. Just like sharing a cup or a fork.” As a society we need to view STIs like we view any other sickness. If you have strep throat you go on antibiotics, don’t share personal items for a few days and then return to normal. The same can be said about STIs. Most people know what an infection is and most people know what to do about them. That’s what an STI is and the reason we get so tripped up about it is because it has that sexual aspect. Taking care of personal health is an everyday thing, so taking care of sexual health should be too. Asking to use a condom is deemed embarrassing. As is asking if your partner has been tested because it’s awkward. The way sex in the media is displayed is not accurate. In porn, actors rarely pause to use a condom or to communicate. It makes sense that teens think about sex this way, but it doesn’t have to be like porn, and it’s unlikely that it ever will if communication is taking place. “In reality, when you go to hookup with someone new it is a necessary conversation, even just for your own state of mind,” said Ben Smith, a member of the LGBTQ+ community. “HIV is

synonymous with gay life and gay culture, so when you’re just entering the exploration period and begin having sex I think that HIV is this boogeyman where it seems like more of a threat because that’s what we have always been taught.” Being HIV positive undetectable is a new label in the gay community that has opened many doors in breaking down stigma. Being HIV positive undetectable means that the individual has HIV, but the amount of the virus in their system is so low that it is very unlikely to be spread during sex. This is due to advancements in antiretroviral therapy (ART), which uses medications to suppress the HIV virus. Another medication called PrEP can be taken by individuals who do not have HIV, but are likely to be exposed to it, to prevent them from contracting the virus. What do you do if you have an STI or think you might? Luckily, getting tested is not difficult. Most regular doctor's offices will perform STI tests in office. Urine can test for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, the two most common STI’s, and a blood swab can test for HIV, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Syphilis and Herpes. If confidentiality or an economic situation is preventing you from getting tested, Planned Parenthood is a great resource that offers free or reduced-price, confidential STI testing. All you have to do is make an appointment. If a test comes back positive, it can feel like the end of the world, but staying calm is the best thing you can do, and remember you are not your STI. Having one does not make you dirty, it doesn’t make you irresponsible and it doesn’t mean you will never be with anyone again. “We always say it’s best to tell your previous sexual partners that you have tested positive for whatever and that they should go get tested too,” said Elizabeth Shaieb, a Planned Parenthood Peer Educator. Be gentle and sensitive when telling your partner because the stigma can cause people to react strongly. If you are worried about a reaction there are services that will anonymously text your partner that they have been exposed to an STI. There are options, but communication is key. “I ended up finding out one of my partners was HIV positive undetectable and I freaked out for a second, but then he sat me down and explained what it meant and educated me. I have had that crazy reaction,” Smith said. “And it is a big thing but not as much anymore because of how far we’ve come. Educating yourself about it is the best thing you can do, and it’s power as you navigate a sexual lifestyle.” C *All statistics and facts are sourced and checked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Planned Paenthood.

Fast Facts

50%

of sexually active teens will contract an STI by the age of 25.

40%

of teens report they’re sexually active.

1 in 8

Americans aged 14-49 have HSV-2, better known as genital herpes

Q&A When and how does HIV transition to AIDS? If left untreated, HIV will usually transition to AIDS within 5-10 years. The disgnoses of AIDS occurs when the T-cell count of the individual drops below 200. (Most people start with 500-1500) Can Oral Herpes translate to Genital Herpes? HSV-1 or oral herpes can be spread to genitals through skin to skin contact but it is rare. It is especially uncommon when the indivudual already has HSV-1 orally. When should I be getting tested? Being tested between every new partner is the best option. That way, if a test comes back positive it is easier to trace and will prevent you from spreading it further. What is the most common symptoms of STIs? The most common symptom is none at all. Majority of the time people won’t know if they have an STI until they get tested, that’s why routine tests are recommended! Opinion

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The Fraud of Conversion Therapy The Mattachine Society partnered with lawyers at McDermott and spent years uncovering the history of conversion therapy. This is what they found. BY GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

For hundreds of years, LGBTQIA+ people in America have suffered great violence, discrimination and misinterpretation by society, medical professionals and even the government. Lawyers at McDermott Will and Emery teamed up with the Mattachine Society to uncover the forgotten past of the community and bring to light current issues that stem from this historical oppression. It all started in 2012 when Patrick Salmon and Charles Francis visited McDermott’s Pride program to show Salmon’s film Codebreaker — a documentary about queer mathematician Alan Turing, who played a substaintial role in ending World War II. After the screening, Francis approached Lisa Linsky, the firm’s first partner-in-charge of LGBT Diversity and Inclusion. Francis is the president of the Mattachine Society, which was one of the first LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups, created in 1961. The group was founded by Dr. Frank Kameny, after he, like many other queer people, was fired from federal employment after he was discovered to be gay and served the LGBTQIA+ community for many years, supporting the establishment 68

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and preservation of queer rights. Francis reinvigorated the Mattachine Society with a new mission: documenting and preserving LGBTQIA+ history. The advanced diversity program at McDermott, one that Linsky spearheaded, caught Francis’ eye. That’s why, after the documentary screening, he approached her with a proposal: the Mattachine Society and McDermott lawyers could work together to get access to confidential government records about queer history. The Mattachine Society has partnered with McDermott for eight years now, with 20 lawyers participating in the partnership, but one of their biggest projects began in 2017 when Pate Felts, the Vice President of the Mattachine Society, was in a library in Little Rock Arkansas and something caught his eye — an article about a man named Garrard Conley who’d escaped from a conversion therapy program and what had happened to him there. When he flew back from his travels, Felts was looking for reading material at a Hudson News in the airport and he stumbled upon a book called Boy Erased. It was written by the man in the article, Conley.

Felts bought the book and read it on the plane ride home. “By the time he landed,” Linsky said, “he was emailing me and Charles to say ‘I’ve just read the most phenomenal book; I think we should try to get the author to meet with us and see how we can do a project together.’” They managed to get in contact with Conley and met with him in Paris, Texas to discuss what he’d experienced at Love in Action, the conversion therapy program he went through. Through talking with Conley, it was discovered that he left with workbooks Love in Action had provided during his time there, which was against the program’s policy, but Conley had managed to do because his mother picked him up and quickly removed him from Love in Action. Conley got in touch with John Smid, the reverend who used to run Love in Action. For 25 years, Smid was a figurehead for “ex-gay movement,” or the group of individuals who had been converted to heterosexuality. Now, Smid has left the program and is married to his husband Larry. “John Smid came out and said ‘What we


did in conversion therapy, in Love in Action, was wrong,’” Linsky said. “‘It didn’t work. It was a fraud and it was horrible — young people killed themselves.’” Smid and Conley both donated papers and memorabilia from Love in Action to the Mattachine Society; the documents have been moved to the Smithsonian. After meeting with Conley and Smid, Francis, Felt and Linsky decided to take up projects that would help society work towards ending conversion therapy. To do so, they first had to research about the beginning of discrimination towards LGBTQIA+ people — to tackle its most modern forms, they needed to understand conversion therapy’s genisis. Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs), they discovered, began in the mid 1800s. At that time, homosexuality was classified as not only abormal, but an illness, despite scientific research concluding that queerness was a “normal permutation.” It was believed that same-sex attraction was an effect of genetic defects, poor parenting and sexual abuse. Early SOCEs attempted to reverse queerness by “enforcing heterosexual behavior”: suggesting have sex with prostitutes of the opposite gender; promoting opposite-sex marriage; orgasmic reconditioning, which was masturbating to pictures or video of the same sex, then, direct preceeding orgasm, switching to pictures or video of the opposite sex. In addition to promoting attraction to the opposite sex, many SOCEs also promoted forms of torment. Early conversion therapy was so common, the Farral Instrument Company marketed a line of tools to aid medical conversion treatments. They sold the Acoustic Keyer, which would shocked patients when they were aroused during recounting homosexual acts; the Personal Shocker to help patients prevent relapse; and the Office Shocker, which was meant to be used in a doctor’s office. As well as queer people, Farrall products were also used to treat “child molesters, transvestites, exhibitionists, and alcoholics.” Not only were early forms of conversion therapy prevelant among medical professionals, but, during the Cold War, the federal government created a hospital for SOCEs — St. Elizabeth’s. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the United States was undergoing what historians would label a “red scare,” or fear of the rise of communism within the coun-

try. At the time, as the U.S. was competing against the then-communist Soviet Union in a nuclear arms race, the government was purging communist or presumed communist staff members from federal employment. It was believed that LGBTQIA+ people were national threats, as they would supposedly be easily blackmailed. “The idea was that given widespread and popular disgust with homosexuality, [foreign] agents could leverage gays to betray their country in wartime,” said Douglas Charles, author of Hoover’s War on Gays: Exposing the FBI’s “Sex Deviates” Program. In 1953, J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sanctioned queer identity as “a behavior threatening national security.” Hoover then instituted his sex deviates program, an campaign to educate the American people about the dangers of LGBTQIA+ people, claiming they would kidnap or otherwise abuse children. For nearly 50 years Hoover would continue to persecute using his power in the FBI. Many federal employees who were discovered to be queer would be sent to St. Elizabeth’s — the aforementioned government-sanctioned conversion therapy — to try to ‘overcome’ their sexual orientation and to be persuaded to reveal the identity LGBTQIA+ coworkers. “While the government was ferreting out homosexuals from federal employment, it was also trying to turn these now former gay employees against their colleagues; they would try to make them turn informants,” Linsky said. In trying to change the sexual orientation of staff, the government employed various forms of abuse. “These people underwent significant torture,” Linsky said. “Torture. It really was — it was torture: electroshock therapy; insulin therapy; they would put them in comas for weeks at a time, and then the FBI and other government officials would show up and interrogate them and get them to tell them the names of others who were gay so the government could go after them and get them out of federal employment too. So it really was a huge government effort to purge LGBT people from federal employment.” With all of this research, the Mattachine Society and lawyers at McDermott created a white paper, a report giving information

and proposals on an issue. The purpose of this paper was not only to summarize the history of SOCEs in the United States, but to educate the American public on modern conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is still flourishing in the United States. According to Linsky, many of these practices are faith-based, as they are often above the law due to religious exemptions. Currently, conversion therapy is legal in 31 American states and 53% of the LGBT population in the U.S. lives in areas where conversion therapy is not banned. Ann Arbor does not outlaw conversion therapy. Despite that, Linsky said, “many people, and perhaps most Americans are in disbelief when we talk to them about conversion therapy. People typically have a knee-jerk reaction that goes like this: ‘Wait, that doesn’t go on anymore,’ or ‘That’s illegal; you can’t do that,’ or ‘That’s something that happened back in the ‘50s or the ‘60s, right?’ People are somewhat incredulous that there are still ministries and camps and mental health professionals who are trying to convert young people. “What we have tried to do through our work with the Mattachine society is get out there, get the paper out there and educate, educate, educate: educate teachers, educate parents, educate communities about the importance of understanding that this ‘therapy,’ whatever form it takes, it doesn’t work.” Smid, for nearly 30 years, lived as a poster-child for the ex-gay movement; he lectured all over the world, wrote papers, created a curriculum for conversion therapy and ran Love in Action. But, as Linsky said “ it was all made up.” Conversion therapy didn’t work for Smid: he was never successfully converted to a heterosexual lifestyle and left Love in Action to marry the love of his life — another man. “Young people are being hurt,” Linsky said. “And they’re being hurt in ways that are long-lasting. We don’t want to see that happen, we don’t want to see another young person try to hurt themselves. The more we can get out there and talk about this and educate the public that you are who you are and you can try to deny who you are, but you’re not going to be living an authentic life and there’s no one that can change you. “Conversion therapy is harmful and it doesn’t work. It really is a big old fraud.”

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One Student One Forum Leader One Dean...

How Forums Form BY JULIA SONEN

My First Day

I entered the freshly waxed floors of CHS early on the first day of ninth grade. I followed directions through the brick colors and murals of the second floor, to the carpeted CR office in the south hallway, and was welcomed by my forum leader into the crazy thing that is high school. Wide-eyed after the opening ceremony, I watched my new forum members laugh and catch up like the good friends they are. And I relaxed just the tiniest bit as I was welcomed in to the place where I have spent the most time at Community. I was assigned to the Mosher Forum, given a place where I could figure out what high school was. Forum is a place where despite everyone’s different interests there is a family of students supporting me.

A Dean’s Take

“If you put students together where everybody knows each other, that is not the best work environment, it’s too comfortable,” Dean Marci said. “Everyone falls into a role that is expected of them and they don’t get to grow and learn and become [someone] new. But if you put four strangers together in a group, that is also not good, because there’s no safety. Everyone feels so unsafe, that you don’t even take any risks, so then you don’t grow and learn. The perfect combination is where you have a lot of unknowns, but there’s at least some familiarity to give you comfort so that you will stretch and grow.”

A Forum Leader’s Take

Forum was originally intended to “bring us all together in ways, despite differences, just really coming together,” said forum leader Anne Thomas. It is a place to “see things from other people’s perspectives and to be with people that you might not normally hang out with.” But she continued, saying it is “hard to really get the whole forum to come together as a forum, because you kind of [get] these divided cliques [...] I have a hard time getting students to look beyond their clique,” and talk to the students who “don’t feel like they belong because they are not part of a clique.”

My Take

When freshmen arrive at their forum without any pre established friends, the class will quickly develop bonds and friendships as they look to one another. It can definitely be nice for the first few weeks to have people who you know, but after those first few weeks of forum bonding everyone knows each other, and overtime, these comforting groups can become stifling and alienating toward the rest of the forum. When students enter a forum already comfortable and with a friend or friend group, they tend to spend all their forum time with that friend group, which has negative impacts on that student’s bonding with the rest of the forum while disrupting forum activities and spirit. Even one close friend can undermine a forum’s bonding and generally harm the forum experience for everyone. One of the things I value most about forum is the friendships that would otherwise not exist because of the different circles we run in. Because we came in looking for friends, we allowed forum to bring us together, to force us to reach past the point we normally stop, and to create a family. Even if our family only meets twice a week, and some members are closer than others, it is great to know that a have my forum members standing there behind me if I ever need anything, and I wish that was something every CHS student could feel.

How it Works

Freshmen admitted to CHS fill out a form that contains questions about traits they look for in a forum leader, and which, if any classes they plan to take at other schools. The form helps the counselors, Dean Marci, Gretchen, a few forum leaders, and the special education chair place them into forums in a system that is still being polished. One of things that is insured during the placement process is that incoming student are placed with people they have identified as acquaintances.

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EDUCATION OR FUTURE Ann Arbor Public Schools needs to prioritize the future of our schools and our planet. BY ETHAN GIBB-RANDALL

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t’s wintertime at CHS. Students file into school, relieved that they can finally get out of the freezing temperatures outside. Inside the school, there is a different problem. Some of the rooms are so hot that students strip down to t-shirts and no one is comfortable. Teachers open windows in an effort to keep the room at a comfortable temperature for the students working. Around 35 miles away, there is a DTE coal-fired power plant. It spews pollution into the air to be able to produce electricity to power a large portion of southeast Michigan. As an official Green School, it doesn’t seem like CHS should be throwing energy away on a daily basis over the winter. The problem is the school’s outdated and inefficient heating system, just another reminder that CHS is one of the oldest buildings in the district, built in 1922. Fortunately, in the most recent election, Ann Arbor passed a 1 billion dollar bond to support the entire school system. The money will come into the district over the next 20 years and will be used for all sorts of much-needed upgrades throughout the district. Though “charting a course to carbon neutrality” is listed as one of the goals of the bond proposal, it is only one in a list of over 30. Carbon neutrality should be the number one priority of the school bond money. The safety of the environment is one of the biggest uncertainties in the future of our planet and it’s vital that our school district does their part in helping with this problem. This fall, the City of Ann Arbor declared a climate emergency and announced that there would be “community-wide” carbon neutrality by 2030. That in itself is an extremely lofty goal, considering that the city would have to shell out millions, if not billions, of dollars to be able to upgrade the infrastructure in every single home and building in the city to make them

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capable of carbon neutrality. The district owes it to its students to have an enriching learning environment, but also a safe and healthy environment in the future. New playground equipment isn’t going to help anyone if the city is covered in smog 30 years from now. Right now is the time to act. Older generations have already spent the world’s carbon budget and they owe it to the children that they brought into the world to make it a safe and livable place in the future. The school system is one of the only things that truly unites a large part of Ann Arbor, making almost every family in the city feel like they are a part of the AAPS community. If the school district had a larger focus on addressing climate change using any means they had, the community would reflect that initiative and help support their city to do their part in changing the world for the better. Now is the time for administration and the board of Ann Arbor Public Schools to make a difference and prove to their students that they really care about their future. They need to make a realistic plan for a carbon-neutral school district by the city deadline of 2030. They need to use their well-earned influence to inspire the AAPS community to follow in their footsteps by combating climate change and ensuring that all students can enjoy the same long and successful life that older generations have had the privilege of living. At CHS, we are considered one of the most progressive schools in the district, allowing students more freedom in their studies and giving us more opportunities in determining the path of our high school education. So, we should hold ourselves to the same standard with sustainability and use this funding to improve not just the quality of our education but the quality of our lives. C


FIGHTING FOR TRUTH Staff Editorial

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ur journalism teacher tells us that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” As a young freshman, this was at times hard to see— how could my 300 word article about the club fair be history but over time it becomes more clear. Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast. But in practice it is much more. It is the practice of storytelling, teaching and learning. The 2018 Time Person of the Year award was given to the “Guardians.” This group was made of a columnist who was murdered; reporters who were convicted of after investigating a crisis in their country; An editor of who was arrested for spreading falsified news; and a publication who fell victim to a mass shooting. Time Magazine gave them this honor because the are the “Guardians” of the war on truth. But they are not the only ones who fight for journalism. We, as journalists for The Communicator, fight for the same truth. As teenagers, we have each experienced a lot of different things, some good and some bad. But there is so much we have not experienced. Through journalism, we are able to learn lessons from people who have. In practicing journalism, especially at such an impressionable age, the life long skills of empathy and communication are ingrained within each and every one of us. Journalism can change lives. And we at The Communicator certainly believe that is has changed ours for the better. That is why we are proud to have “journalist” as an identity. This identity, like many others, is under constant attack. Journalism has been under constant scrutiny since the beginning of the free press, but never more so in the United States until recently. President Trump called the press the “enemy of the people” in February 2017, October 2018 and again in February 2019. It is unprecedented for a sitting president to openly criticise the press, the last president to do so, President Nixon, just months before he was impeached. Journalists are truly the guardians of truth and are more important now than ever. Journalists, especially youth journalists, are the storytellers of today and the historymakers of tomorrow. That is why we proudly wear the identity of a journalist like the trailblazers who have come before and the next generation of youth journalists to follow us. C

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PAIN My story of disability. BY GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

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I

experienced the worst pain I’d ever felt in August of 2019 when I was a first-year counselor at Camp Al-Gon-Quian and was walking back to my cabin after washing dishes. I limped all the way from the dining hall to Cabin 13 across the grass field, collapsing into a pile of clothes my messy campers had left on the ground. That was the most I’d ever cried. As a younger counselor, I was only at camp for two weeks that summer, but somehow, the work still managed to destroy me. My coworkers and I spent hours every day dishing, smaller campers would climb over me during free time and there was little time for the physical therapy I’d been doing regularly at home. I’d say the work was back-breaking, but that ship had sailed long ago. Freshman year, I began visiting my neurological surgeon, Dr. Muraszko, relatively regularly for pain in my lower back that came suddenly at a summer program in Pennsylvania and had remained ever since. She had me walk back and forth in a straight line, balance on one foot, touch my toes, all typical tests I’ve performed for her for as long as I can remember. But this visit wasn’t typical — it was life altering. As I sat on the thin tissue paper draped across the exam table, Dr. Muraszko picked up an x-ray from the counter and pointed to a spot just above my tailbone. “Do you see this bone here?” she said. “It looks like you have an extra lumbar, but it’s actually supposed to be one bone; this bone has been split in two.” My infant life was spent acquiring various diagnoses. The most obvious was identified by my father directly after my birth: an extra thumb on my right hand. When he told my mother her response was “Jon, that’s not a funny joke.” After that came the scoliosis; the muscles on the side of one neck that were shorter than the other; the one kidney instead of two; the holes in my heart, which closed on their own; and the ball of nerves in my spinal cord that were tethered to my spine. My extra thumb had to be removed, as it was stunting the growth of the other thumb on that hand and I had sur-

gery to untether the nerves in my spine. So, ever since I was a baby, my body has been scarred from procedures I did not choose and do not remember. Growing up, my medical issues seemed a closed case; my body functioned about as well as any of my peers’ and, until freshman year, I never encountered any new issues. This diagnosis was the first I could remember. The pain in my lower back is still omnipresent and, though I’ve been through hours of physical therapy, it has become clear that this pain will never leave and will never decrease. Dr. Muraszko told me that the bone formed that way out of sheer misfortune: there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it, and, now that it’s happened, it is likely that it will continue to grow worse and worse, especially if I aggravate my back. That time at camp was not the first I’d had back pain, but it was the first time I understood it, and that, somehow, made it worse. After picking myself up off the ground, I forced myself into a shower stall. I’d spent years as a camper imagining what it would be like being a counselor. Like most campers, I admired the counselors and I aspired to have their excitement at seemingly small things; to get up on table-tops, stomping and clapping in rhythm; to harness that hopeful energy they seemed to bring with them everywhere. Now that I was here, the place I'd always longed to be, I felt stuck and stagnant. Alone in the bathroom while campers socialized at their activity hours, I sobbed for what I had lost: the ability to move through the world how I used to — to run and jump and play. I felt hopeless. Now, more than that: I felt afraid. The back pain had started suddenly, shooting up from where my feet touched the ground to just above my hips. Occasionally, after washing dishes or staying on my feet too long, the ache would be heightened for a few

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hours, days sometimes weeks; each time, I worried it would stay that way. Sometimes, I wondered if it didn’t actually go away, but rather, I just got used to it being there. In those times, when my pain is worse than usual, I’m often suggested pain medication. My pain is supposed to get worse as time passes, so if I start self-medicating now, even with over-the-counter ibuprofen, I’ll likely just need more of it as I start to feel worse, and possibly become addicted. The worst fear, however, is this: that I’ll get to a point where my pain will be so great, I will no longer wish to continue living. That was the main thing that kept those tears streaming down my eyes in the shower at Camp Al-Gon-Quian; I was going to miss wanting to live. Which is, I think, the reason I’m writing this — because pain, in any form it takes, can serve as a reminder of joy and elation and wonder and all of the good things in life. Not only can pain show us how lucky we are, but it can show us how strong we are. Being disabled, I’ve had to learn to advocate for myself and learn about my body and how much I can take. Pain showed me how to be the person I want to be, how to be like those counselors I so admired: not only were they enthusiastic, but they seemed to be confident and in charge of themselves; they knew who they were and what they wanted and they weren’t afraid to show it. To prevent my pain from getting worse and controlling more of my life, being like those counselors wasn’t a choice for me — it was a necessity. I had to express to the people around me, and the people in charge of me, when something was going to hurt me and how they could best accommodate me. Pain made me in charge of my own life, and, therefore, as well as making my life worse — in some strange, broken way — ended up making my life more complete. Pain makes me embrace myself. Pain makes me, me. C

“There’s this human capacity for joy and endurance, even when things are at their worst. A joy that occurs not despite our suffering, but within it.” - Elizabeth Gilbert 76

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I CAN LIVE WITHOUT ICE CREAM.

I used to hate my body, but now it’s one of the most important parts of me.

BY CATE WEISER

I

once had someone tell me that I’d lost my childhood to food allergies. At the time, I didn’t understand what they meant. How could I lose my childhood to something I tried to ignore? My allergies were a part of myself that I despised. If I could get away with it, I never talked about them. I used to be allergic to soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Whenever I had to tell adults or classmates, I was met with pity and responses such as “I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t eat ice cream,” or “Why are you allergic to so many things?’’ It made me self-conscious and embarrassed. The concept of being allergic to food had always seemed silly to me, and that idea was reaffirmed by the responses I would get from others. In elementary school, kids with food allergies have “treat bags” filled with candies that they can eat. The treat bags come out when another student brings in birthday snacks, or the class has a party. They’re designed to be safe snacks that kids with allergies can eat so they don’t feel left out. My treat bag only fueled my humiliation. Being the only kid in my classroom with allergies meant I was always the only one who had a different snack. Kids called me weird for not eating the chocolate cupcake. They would tell me that I was missing out and that it would suck to be me. By

third grade, I was telling the teacher that I didn’t want anything from my treat bag. Once I reached middle school, my parents and my allergist told me about a conference put on by a non-profit organization: Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). It was an annual national conference where food-allergic kids from all over the U.S. would come together. Every year, I would tell them that I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t until this year, my sophomore year in high school, that they made me go. The conference was three days long, in National Harbor in Maryland; I was dreading it. The conference meant that I was going to be surrounded by thousands of people with food allergies. That meant there was no way of getting around talking about my allergies. I was certain it was going to be a weekend of wallowing. The first event I went to was the Friday teen social. We were grouped into tables by the date that we were born. I sat down at a table playing Jenga and noticed a girl who looked around my age. She introduced herself as Ally. We immediately connected through our allergies, as well as our love of tennis. I left the social that night with Ally’s number and plans to meet up the next morning before the first conference session. Ally had been going to the conference for years, so she had amassed a friend

group. She introduced me to all her friends and we spent the morning going to sessions together. We left the conference during lunch and explored the small town. That evening I went with two girls that I’d met, Madigan and Chloe, to relax in Chloe’s room. It was the first time I’d ever been able to talk to people about issues caused by my allergies who understood right off the bat. We talked about feeling like outsiders, dating with allergies and eating out at restaurants. They gave me advice and talked about their experiences. I had never felt like I belonged as much as I did in that moment. Going to the FARE conference changed my life. Before, I’d been ashamed of my allergies. I didn’t have people I could talk to who understood what it was like. The feeling of isolation always sat in the back of my mind. I left the conference feeling empowered; I knew I wasn’t alone. We text each other whenever we need to talk, and now I always have people who understand. Thanks to the conference and the people I met there, I have finally accepted myself. C

According to FARE, around 32 million people in America have life-threatening food allergies, six million of whom are under 18. The top eight most common allergens are milk, soy, egg, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat (as pictured above).

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Acceptance.

My struggle with mental illness. BY ARLO DURGY

M

y mom nudged me awake. It was 3:00 a.m. I sat there in my two chairs made into a bed, looked up and rubbed my eyes. Standing in front of me was the doctor who would decide whether or not I was going to be admitted. I remember feeling my stomach drop before he gave me the news. “This isn’t who I am,” I thought. Devastated and barely awake, I didn’t know what to expect. I longed to go home so badly. I pictured the words in the doctor’s mouth before he had even opened it. “You’re going to the unit,” the doctor said. My mom had a worried look on her face, a look I couldn’t comprehend. After ten hours in the waiting room, I was admitted to the C.S. Mott Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Program. I was too exhausted to fight back. I did as I was told and said goodnight to my mom. I was taken to my room and I got in bed. I thought about the events that led to me ending up here and I thought about how I was going to get out. I was going to lie again. My story begins in the spring of 2016 when I was in the 8th grade. In March, my dad’s brother died from ALS after a 2 year battle. My first major depressive episode followed soon afterwards. My family was in a funk after my uncle’s death. I didn’t want to burden them with how badly I was feeling. I kept to myself. I remember thinking if I simply didn’t acknowledge

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my sadness, it would eventually go away, so that’s what I did. I buried my thoughts and feelings and put all my energy into other people and other things for as long as I could. No longer enjoying the things I was passionate about was exhausting. Confiding in friends helped lighten the load, but embarrassment came with those conversations as well. The words “you’re depressed” were shameful at first. I now know that beginning to accept it was the best things I’ve ever done. Freshman year. I slept too much, studied too little, faked a smile, repeat. I began retreating to my room whenever I could. My blue walls and cave of a bed became my safe haven. I thought if I could stay positive and upbeat in public, then I could get by, but living a lie exhausted me. Sophomore year. I was getting 12-16 hours of sleep, but I was always tired. School was my biggest trigger and I was watching myself do nothing from outside of my body. I decided to tell my parents. It went as well as it could have, but I hated counseling and quickly ran out of excuses not to go. Prozac was prescribed, it didn’t do much but at that point I didn’t, and couldn’t, care. When first semester finals rolled around, my mental and emotional state was at an all time low. I began listening to depressing music, identifying with negative and depressing culture and ideas and

self harming. This resulted in my psychiatrist and therapist sending me to the psychiatric emergency room. To ensure I wouldn’t be admitted I lied to all the staff about how I was feeling and how I would act from then on. I waited in that waiting room for what felt like all day, I met all sorts of nurses, social workers, and doctors telling them all the same lie. I was admitted to the pediatric unit on a Friday morning. I soon learned that weekends at the hospital are far easier than the other days of the week because most of the doctors are at home with their families. That weekend I participated in games and other activities, but when group and other therapy sessions began, I didn’t actively participate or try to get help and learn to use coping methods to help myself. I was able to put on my happy face, the one I had been using for so long. I quickly figured out what I needed to do to have the shortest possible stay, and played along until I went home with my family on Monday. I began living a lie in the hope that I’d never have to go back to the hospital, but faking my happiness and not being honest only led to anxiety. I felt anxious all of the time. I feared that my closest friends and my family didn’t like me anymore. I spent my time isolated from those that I should have been closest with because I imagined that they were disappointed with me. I managed to keep my friends but didn’t


leave the house much, nothing seemed important enough to get me up. I told my family as little as possible because I didn’t want them to worry. Keeping to myself led to unhealthy actions and thoughts. I fought my hardest to act happy but I couldn’t anymore. The life I was living wasn’t real and I knew what I had to do. Going back to the hospital voluntarily was a defining moment in my life. I had been­ uptight about the stigma surrounding depression, self harm and the hospital, but I was now ready to own it. I realized that the only people I cared about cared about me and wanted me to get better. This time when I arrived at the hospital I told the doctors my true story. I wanted to be there and I wanted to get help. I wanted to feel better, and I was willing to be honest and work hard to make that happen. I stayed for a full week this time. I actively participated in groups and other sorts of therapy. I was open about what was going on in my life that past year, how depression was ruining my life and that I needed help. At the end of the week, I was put on new medications, and learned that I was going to participate in a “partial program” at St. Joe's to make sure I had a good transition back to my life and that the new meds were starting to work. The program is called “partial” because it’s a structured group environment with inten-

sive therapy, talk, group sessions, and focus on coping skills just like the hospital, but I got to sleep in my own bed at night. I was happy. I thought my struggle with depression was behind me and that as long as I took my medication, saw my counselor and remained honest and truthful, I was going to be happy from now on. For approximately the next six months, this was my experience. Then my aunt died from cancer. It was around this time that the side effects of my new medications started to show. One of my new medications was known to cause rapid weight gain. This threw me off. I didn’t expect to see physical changes in my appearance because of my mental health. I spiraled again, and this continued for months until I hit rock bottom. I wasn’t going to be able to keep living this life I hated, I had to go to my parents for help. My family and I decided that I had to go back to the hospital. I was evaluated and the medical staff decided that I should be admitted again. Third time’s the charm, only this time the doctors told us that there were no open beds available in the pediatric ward. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to go back to this familiar place and work to get better, but I couldn’t. We could have driven to another hospital in another part of the state, but I heard negative things about the other facility, so we decided to wait until a bed opened up at U of M. For the next week, my parents literally never let me out of their sight. I went to work with my dad and slept in the same room as them. I was a risk. I had been taken off my medication, my thoughts were irrational. I was agitated and lost. When we returned to the hospital a week later, the doctors reevaluated me, and this time I was admitted. Back in a familiar setting, I already knew the goals of the program, the routine, and the staff. I was motivated and I wanted this to be the last time I would ever need to spend time in a mental health facility. I was more determined than ever to get better. I walked into the unit, said goodbye to my parents, and was immediately greeted by all the staff I knew. I was ready to beat this. I stayed in the hospital for a week, this time I participated in every available activity and I completed extra work to become more comfortable with CBT and DBT techniques and how to use them when in crisis. I felt in control of my life for the first time ever and didn’t want that

feeling to stop. This time the new meds I was prescribed were very effective. I left the children’s psychiatric hospital knowing that I would not be returning. I knew who I was and who I wasn’t. One of the biggest things that I had to overcome was the unrealistic expectations I had set for myself and wanting to be who I wasn’t. I was mad and disappointed in myself every day because I was never going to meet those expectations. And the day I realized that, was the day I changed so much and was finally able to accept who I’ve become. Since my last stay, I have finally been able to truly understand and recognize my illness, and I continue to work on mastering the skills I need to help me manage it. I have learned many techniques for coping and I am aware of my stressors. So much of me getting better has been based around changing my train of thought and realizing when I’m thinking irrationally and how to change or limit those thoughts. Although when struggling with depression, it can be so much harder to recognize these thoughts, emotions and actions as irrational and distorted. Depression and anxiety can be paralyzing and can change your entire train of thought, as well as make it hard to do simple things that can make it that much harder to make progress and feel better. Simple things like maintaining physical activity and personal hygiene can be hard, but they are very beneficial to overall mood and attitude. Anyone can be affected by mental illness no matter their race, gender, economic status, and whereabouts in the world. I never thought depression would be something I would have to deal with, but the people I have met and who have shared their stories as well as advice and music with me have changed my life. There is stigma around mental health, but nobody is against you. If you need help, there are people who want to and will help you. Telling someone how you’re feeling and talking about it will help you. Thinking irrationally and keeping it to yourself isn’t a good plan. Everyone’s struggle is different. Everyone feels and thinks differently, and it takes everyone their own time to get better. This is my story. C Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741-741 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 U of M Psychiatric Emergency Services: 734-936-5900 Commentary

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Mom, I’m Not Straight BY ELIZABETH SHAIEB

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hen I woke up later than I usually do on a Thursday, I stayed in my warm bed longer than normal in a state with my eyes closed but mind wandering; I didn’t think I would be coming out to my mom a half hour later. My middle school, along with the rest of our school district, had a late start on this drizzly day. The toast my mom made for me was unusually crunchy that morning. I heard my mom putzing and tidying as I wondered why this bread was so dry that it stuck to the roof of my mouth. “Are you trying to tell me something with this,” My mom said from behind me. I turned in my chair to see her smiling and holding the worn book I had borrowed from my 7th grade humanities teacher. It was filled with narratives of folks telling their coming out stories. I had borrowed it in hopes of finding a label that could feel right and learning more about a commu-

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nity that I knew I was a part of. I had been questioning my sexuality for two years ever since since 5th grade when I had my first crush — on a girl. I had never mentioned it to anyone. Up until that point I lied to my friends about liking a guy from my class, just because they all had crushes on boys. Was I trying to subtly tell her something by leaving that book out? I wasn’t but I thought maybe I would use this opportunity to talk to her about questioning of my sexuality. “No … But mom? I guess I am bi,” I said as I broke our eye contact and shifted my gaze lower and lower until it met the ground. Unphased but curious, she gave me a hug and told me she would accept me no matter who I liked. This conversation had been much less eventful than I had imagined. From the butterflies in my belly to my blushed cheeks, my body was flood-

ed with relief and pride. The book illustrated many negative coming out stories where the narrators were kicked out of their home, shamed and bullied. I didn’t ever expect my parents to respond in those ways but I also didn’t know what to expect when coming out. I had never really had family or friend role models open about being in the LGBTQ+ community. The secret I hadn’t told anybody except my own reflection and the blue diary under my bed was out, at least to one person. With time, I told a few of my close friends. Their reactions varied from greatly supportive to bordering on unkind. My mom’s response prompted me to feel more confident in this identity of mine which encouraged me to come out to more people. Although our positive and nonchalant conversation led me to do this, the most notable element for me was feeling more at home and accepting of myself. C


BEFORE THE DARKNESS TURNED

PURPLE BY LOEY JONES-PERPICH

Photo courtesy of Zeke Dolezalek | My cast of 17 stands onstage as the lights go up on our production of "Anon(ymous)" by Naomi Iizuka.

Every morning for five weeks straight, I laid on the floor of black box 201. It was the most beautiful room in the entire Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern University, anyone could tell you that. Its wall of floorto-ceiling windows let the summer sun stream in, illuminating every fleck of dust. If you looked in the window at eight in the morning during those five weeks, you would see the 17 of us — all rising seniors dressed in black and white, brought together by pure love of theatre — lying on our backs. A tall man with salt and pepper hair would be standing barefoot in the middle of the room, talking us through our morning yoga. Slowly, you would see us begin to move. You would see us cycle through downward dog and cobra pose, and then flip to our backs for our daily ab workout. When our limbs got close to giving out, we would quickly shuffle away, rolling up our multi-colored yoga mats and trying to take a sip of water in the 30 seconds that we’d been gifted. You would see us congregate in a circle in the center of the room and watch as the gray-haired man handed each of us a long, cylindrical stick. Maybe, if you squinted, you could see our eyes, focused so closely on the tops of our sticks as we attempted to balance them

on our hands, elbows, and knees, but after 15 seconds or so, we’d dash across the room in an attempt to conquer gravity — you’d see us learn that there were some forces even we could not beat. We would balance the sticks for 30 minutes, gaining confidence and trying new tricks, only to fail again and again. And then, if you were still watching, eventually you would see us snap out of it and begin walking in random patterns around the room, our eyes in a soft focus. We would walk, changing pace every few seconds, for anywhere between ten and fifteen minutes, and when music began to play, we would start to dance. You would see us moving our bodies to the music you couldn’t hear, without a care in the world what we looked like. You might laugh as we twirled, leaped, and rolled across the ground. You would see us learning to just be. And when the music ended and we left the room, heading to another class, you would think “What on earth was that?” and walk away. For five weeks, I thought the very same thing. It wasn’t until I went onstage for the first time in six months that I realized what we were doing in black box 201: We

were learning to be human. The impossible task of balancing our sticks taught us to fail; the seemingly silly dancing let us find what it meant to simply exist and breathe. We learned that we had the tools within ourselves to bring any character to life, and that if we gave every ounce of focus, energy, and passion that we had to our acting, we could never truly fail. And so with five weeks of dancing, failing, and breathing under my belt, I stepped barefoot onto the stage of the Josephine Louis Theatre. In the second before the darkness turned to purple spotlights, with the fake fog swirling around my head, I breathed. I inhaled the truth of my character: her dreams, her fears, and the things that made her human. My lungs filled with the dusty air, full of energy from the audience and my castmates. I exhaled and let the fear of failure roll off my shoulders, knowing that nothing — not a hasty quick change, a stumble, or an unstable lift — could keep me from giving every drop of humanity I had to telling that story. And with the confidence that I was born to be on that stage, I turned toward the light, and the play began. C

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IDENTITY The New York Times recieved over 8,000 entries for their narrative contest. CHS students Gordon Lewis and Geneve Thomas-Palmer placed in the top 35.

L A N D M I N E

The night of graduation, she was wearing a lacy white dress, her hair in loose curls as we said our weepy goodbyes on my back porch. I was about to tell her my big secret. As this was something I couldn’t fathom saying out loud, I always thought I’d write her a letter. My desk was littered with unfinished drafts—tear-stained scraps of pages I’d ripped from my notebook, reading iterations of “I’m so sorry,” “I understand if you don’t want to be around me anymore,” and “This is tearing me apart.” I’d been sitting on a landmine, and it was about to explode. “I have to tell you something,” I said. She nodded, concern evident in her face. I braced myself, took a breath and said “I’ve been in love with you for a year.” Preparing for this moment, I somehow thought I’d be able to see the workings of her brain as she sifted through our friendship. Like my birthday present to her that brought her to tears and the little notes I’d written to remind her of how strong she was on the anniversaries of three significant events in her life: the day she’d gone to her dad’s house to celebrate Christmas and discovered he was missing; her dad’s death; and, two days later, the day she found out he died. I wanted her to realize I’d been in love with her when I’d spent hours counseling her boyfriend—a friend of mine—in how to maintain a healthy relationship with her; and when I proofread and gave her the love letter he’d written her. Her expression, however, was one of plain shock. The past school year had intensified all of the guilt I feel as a queer woman. For my entire life, inconspicuous social cues have been telling me that being gay is perverse, dirty and wrong: little jokes made at the expense of queer people, lack of education about the LGBTQ community, films and television shows that thrust straight relationships to the forefront of their stories. I grew up watching The Little Mermaid. But Ursula, and the way she preyed on young women, scared me more than the other villains. In an interaction between Ariel and her in which Ursula tried touching Ariel’s face, but Ariel cringed, looking horrified. Ursula, with her short hair and masculine appearance was the only Disney character who reminded me of myself and my boyishness. Maybe that’s why, when my father acknowledged Ariel as his childhood crush, I was afraid to tell him she was mine too—when everything around you says you should be ashamed of loving the people you do, it’s nearly impossible not to believe it. Every time I complimented my friend, hugged her or even brushed past her in school, I felt as though I was being manipulative, predatory almost. I thought, if I told her the way I felt all my guilt and shame would disappear, because keeping my feelings hidden from her seemed to be the only reason I felt disgusted with myself. But that self-hatred persisted, and I began to understand: I’d been built to hate myself. Part of me wanted her to jump back at my confession, to yell, scream, and call me sick, perverted and sinful. I felt so strongly that my feelings for her were wrong, the only situation I could imagine was one in which I was hated for being who I was and loving the person I did. But she didn’t hate me. She didn’t jump back. She didn’t scream.

Geneve’s Process BY ZOE BUHALIS

CHS junior Geneve Thomas-Palmer received an honorable mention in The New York Times personal narrative contest. Her narrative, entitled Landmine, is about falling in love with one of her best friends and coming to terms with her internalized homophobia. “This narrative was about a really tough time for me emotionally and a very tough internal struggle I was having with my queerness,” Thomas-Palmer said. “I thought that writing about it would help me process that and it really did. It provided an easier way to discuss this issue with the person that the narrative is about and all of the other people involved in the story and that helped me not necessarily get over all the emotional stuff but understand why it was there and where it was coming from.” She entered the competition because her English teacher, Matt Johnson, encouraged her to and offered extra credit to students who did. She didn’t expect to win anything and wasn’t expecting the email at all. “It feels kind of surreal,” Thomas-Palmer said. “I think that it taught me that self worth and feeling proud in my writing and other things I create isn’t something that’s going to come from winning contests and praise from others, it’s going to come from within me.” Thomas-Palmer talked about how re-reading her writing can be challenging and difficult. “When I found out I won I re-read the narrative I wrote, and I was reading it and I was like, ‘I hate this, its horrible it’s really hard to read and confusing,’” Thomas-Palmer said. “At the time I was reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and in the afterword she was talking about how after examining the book she hated parts of it. So now when I don’t like my writing I think about that.”

BY GENEVE THOMAS-PALMER

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Gordon’s Process BY BEN MARTINS-CAULFIELD

CHS junior Gordon Lewis was recently crowned a winner of The New York Times personal narrative contest. Lewis’s narrative was one of eight selected out of over 8,000 entries. His narrative is called “The Man Box.” “In eighth grade, My english teacher showed the class a Ted Talk titled “The Man Box,” Lewis said. “It was about how men are supposed to suppress their feelings and not step outside of the man box where your only feelings are supposed to be either anger or happiness. In my personal narrative there are boys talking about things that are outside that so called Man Box and kind of like the first step outside that Man Box.” Lewis’s narrative was actually repurposed from a previous school assignment. “I already had the narrative written for Tracy’s class,” Lewis said. “When Tracy sent me the link to enter I thought I might as well. Worst case scenario is that I don’t win. I thought there’s always a chance that I could win and if I do, then it would be a great thing for college. Also it would just feel good to win a huge contest like that.” The personal narrative contest called for a unique and meaningful story, not one that is particularly dramatic or life-altering. Lewis delivered just that. “The story is unique,” Lewis said. “Everybody has the correct writing style down and an interesting story but I think that I was the only one or one of the few to write about boys talking about their feelings. So I think the uniqueness is the factor that drove me to victory.”

BY GORDON LEWIS

THE MAN BY GORDON LEWIS

We’re all average boys: hard working in school, spending every minute together in the summer, and doing our best to pretend we don’t have a worry in the world. The facts are no different as the sun is beginning to set on a warm July evening. Sam and I say goodbye to Ben, stepping out of our best friend’s house. “My sister is going to pick me up while we’re walking, is that okay?” I ask. “Yeah.” “Actually, she can probably drive you home too.” “Sounds good,” says Sam, but lacking his usual upbeat, comedic energy. None of us say anything else, but I’m okay with it, we just keep walking. I look around, admiring the still, peaceful park as the warm summer breeze brushes across my face. The crickets are chirping and an owl sings along between the soft hum of cars rolling along nearby. It’s nature’s tune of serenity. I almost forgot Sam was with me until he asked, “Can I ask you kind of a weird question?” “Sure,” I say, expecting a joke in poor taste as per usual. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to,” he says before asking. More hesitantly, I say, “Okay.” “Do you have someone that you talk to about like deeper stuff ... Like more emotional stuff?” Silence hits us like a brick wall: The crickets stop chirping, the owl stops hooting, even the cars stop driving by. It’s deafening. I’m only shocked at the question because it’s Sam, one of the happiest and funniest people I know. I’m wondering. My disappointment takes over just as quickly as my hope fades as I fail to come up with a name. In the end, the closest thing I can think of is the book I occasionally write in when I’m feeling sad or stressed. “Huh,” I say quietly, “I’ve never really thought about that, but I guess not.” “Yeah, I didn’t either, but at camp we did activities and had talks that led to more emotional conversations.” I’m silently both jealous and proud of him, but it’s mostly jealousy. “It’s funny,” I say, “In English we always joked about that TED talk guy talking about the man box, but it’s actually so true. We shouldn’t feel like we can’t talk about deeper stuff like that.” “Yeah,” laughed Sam. Silence drapes over us again, but this time it’s more comfortable. I’m lost in my thoughts trying to think of what to say next, but there’s too much. I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. However it’s not shocking or overwhelming, even though it’s with Sam of all people—Instead it’s therapeutic. The silence is broken once again by Sam: “Like I never told you guys that my parents got divorced.” “I’m-I’m sorry,” I say, “That really sucks.” I’m disappointed in myself for not saying more. “It’s okay,” Sam says, but I know he’s lying. I can feel his sadness. Drowning in my thoughts, I try to pick out something to say. But there’s too much to say. There are too many options after being silent for sixteen years. Headlights appear in front of us, and for a split second I’m relieved, but it rapidly turns into regret. Knowing it’s Rose, I quickly tell Sam, “If you ever want to talk again just let me know.” I say hi to Rose, masking my solemn, thoughtful mood as tiredness. The warm breeze gives my cheek one final kiss; nature resumes her number, and the cars roll by again as Sam and I reluctantly step into the car. Commentary

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MY OWN SKIN BY LEAH DEWEY

MY OWN SKIN BY LEAH DEWEY

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omes Eanes de Zurara created racism in 1453. Or at least he was the first to articulate ideas of racism — specifically the inferiority of the black race. Zurara was hired by Portugal’s king to write a biography about the king’s uncle, Infante Henrique, the first major slave-trader to enslave and trade exclusively African people. Zurara wrote, “They lived like beasts. They had no understanding of good, but only knew how to live in bestial sloth.” In 2016, a black Ford F-150 slowed to a halt. My step-dad strode from the truck and walked into the hotel. Driving through Tennessee, I struggled to locate other people of color. It was off-putting: the lack of people who looked like me — black and brown like me. Both of us standing at a quaint 4’11”, my mom and I leapt from the running board. My weary, drooping eyelids were met with a wall of thick, moist air. I sauntered to the truck-bed to get my bags. I glanced at the car behind us; a couple stood behind their white station wagon. The man put a consoling hand on the woman’s shoulder. The woman’s eyes darted from the man’s face, down to her frail, shaking fingers. I opened the tailgate and reached for my luggage. Accessing the trunk was a challenge with my height making my suitcase appear to be a New York skyscraper. I turned around to see the woman nodding and whimpering to her husband. She peered over his shoulder; her blue eyes connected with mine. Her eyes tread through my thick curls, scraped down my arms and along my brown skin. A shudder crept up my spine. Suddenly, she turned and sprinted into the hotel, drawing eyes from everyone in the lobby. Heat lightning flashed in the distance. I began to scramble for my bags. Heavy footsteps approached me from behind. I heard the beep of the car locking its white doors. One beep for safety, two for good measure. The man now stood in front of his white station wagon, arms crossed, feet planted firmly on the cement.

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My hand slowly dropped from my bag and my stomach sank to my knees. I felt him. His eyes penetrating my flesh and bone. I stepped carefully to the side of our black truck. My heart sat in my throat and the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. I felt a finger interlace with my pinkie. My mom laid a reassuring arm on my back and led me into the hotel. The man’s eyes followed until the doors shut behind us. Our room was on the first floor, just a few yards from the front desk. We walked past the concierge and his sympathetic eyebrows, as he gently pushed complementary sweets to the edge of the desk. I spotted an old-fashioned loveseat decorated with a floral pattern. The pattern was to mask the blotches and blemishes that time had gifted its knackered cushions. The air reeked of a perfume that was trying far too hard to hide something. The hallway wallpaper seeped a thick, brown ooze. The carpet was frayed and stained with substances now embedded in the physical composition of its stitching. I pushed open the resistant door and stumbled into the hotel room. Nausea swaddled me like a newborn baby. My feet followed behind me as I swayed into the bathroom. My reflection glared back at me. I stared at my caramel skin. My coiled, frizzy curls. My deep brown eyes. I thought about the man and woman and how they made me feel. I hated how she feared me — how even her husband’s meaty arms and broad shoulders couldn’t protect her. I hated how he watched me, how his eyes stuck to me like tar stuck to a fence around a plantation garden. I hated how they painted me with their broad brush as dangerous, savage, bestial. But what I hated most of all, as I stared back at myself in that drab, smudged mirror, was the feeling that I should be afraid of my own skin. C


The “E-Boy” trend has influenced Romeo Klobucar’s style –– not just for this month, but for the long haul. BY CHAVA MAKMAN-LEVINSON

Picture this: the year is 2011. You are walking around town and pass two women in a row with feather hair clips. You turn the corner, and pass a man in royal blue jeans and a fedora. This image may seem improbable now, but these trends were a common find during that year. The decade of the 2010s has come to an end, and it has been a time of trends evolving at a fast pace. Think about the various fashion trends that you have tried out over the past years. Have any influenced your personal style for longer than a short period? Which stuck? For Romeo Klobucar, CHS junior, the answer is obvious. “In 2019, I’ve been very attuned to what is trending in fashion communities,” Klobucar said. “A lot of my edgier aesthetic comes from the E-Boy trend, which has been huge in helping me figure out my own taste and style.” The “E-Boy” trend was born with the rise of the popular app TikTok. The term is associated with a goth-like, darker look. “I dressed as an E-Boy for Halloween as a joke, but when I looked in the mirror, I thought to myself, ‘Wait … this is actually how I want to dress,’” Klobucar said. Clothing can be a convenient way to express your personal style to the world around you, yet it can be difficult deciding which clothing you want to wear. When figuring out how you want to portray yourself through the way you dress, observing trends can be helpful. “Trends can get hated on for being ‘unoriginal’, but I think they can be a great jumping-off point for finding an interesting, personal aesthetic,” Klobucar said. “You can try a trend, and take it in any unique direction you want.” C

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The '90s trend of tiny sunglasses came back in 2018, setting us up for an era of smaller and more angular glasses, leaving Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton’s love of oversized frames in the early 2000s.

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Strong prints have made a big comeback with animal print being a go-to style for fall 2019, and tie-dye has made a more recent resurgence.


The Fashion Fishbowl High school has always been portrayed as a high-judgment environment, but that may be starting to change with the influence of social media and a more-inclusive generation. BY AVA KOSINSKI

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igh school is often portrayed as a high pressure, fishbowl environment. Rigorous social standards keep an entire group of people acting and dressing the same way. The pressure to be the same combined with the fear of being noticed has been accepted as the way high school is, but this standard has been slowly breaking down with a new generation inspired by social media platforms and a more inclusive attitude. CHS in particular has become a breeding ground for new and different styles. Always regarded as the “alternative option” among the high schools in the Ann Arbor area, CHS has carried this reputation through its students' style. Being smaller than the other schools, having a unique raffle entry system, and the lack of sports programs has made for a diverse environment and style different from the larger schools that surround it. Walking into a typical high school, the students may be dressed similarly with sweatpants, leggings, sneakers and anything that fits into the casual fashion culture. But walking into CHS is a different experience. The spectrum of fashion shows more: patterned maxi skirts with sneakers, platform mary janes and puff-sleeve dresses, combat boots worn with lace trimmed socks, layered chain necklaces, and baggy corduroy pants. This unique style has created an atmosphere where students feel comfortable dressing in any style they like without feeling isolated from the rest of the student body. This creates a chance for anyone to experiment with their style. Shannon Khan, a CHS student, typically finds herself dressing in colorful, but comfortable, clothing day to day, but has recently used this environment to try to push her fashion boundaries. “Earlier this year, it was a walkout, and we were supposed to wear all black. I went crazy and I wore this mesh shirt and a black bra underneath it,something that I usually don’t go for. I usually wear colorful, modest clothing.” Kahan said. Dressing outside of your comfort zone can be scary, but the key to wearing a bold outfit is always confidence. Having that amount of confidence is difficult, especially in high school, a time where you are branching out and getting to choose who you are for the first time in your life, but creating a more open and accepting environment is the key to making a space where people feel comfortable expressing themselves in ways they may have been afraid to before. C

Yet another '80s revival trend comes back in the form of bleached denim. Whether it's power wash, acid wash or splattered, bleached denim has been huge since it popped up on SS19 runways. Fashion

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OFF THE FIT

Ava Hiney has found a love for experimenting and expressing herself through fashion. BY SOPHIE NUNEZ

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Ava Hiney picks out her outfit every night before bed; this has become one of her favorite parts of the day. Hiney, a freshman, uses her outfits as a way to express herself and enjoys experimenting with different styles and clothing pieces. “I found that when I dress in comfy clothes I do not feel that confident in myself,” Hiney said. “As opposed to when I put myself out there, I feel a lot better about myself.” She started getting interested in fashion this year and has decided to do her best to stay away from fast fashion and invest in more sustainable pieces. The majority of Hiney’s clothes are borrowed from her brother or thrifted, in addition to purchasing clothes from stores like PacSun. Her favorite article of clothing is her pair of parachute pants with collages of angels, a piece she got from her brother.

Hiney likes to complement her outfits with jewelry. Her favorite piece is a small golden ring she got from her mom; wearing it makes her feel close to her mom when they are apart. Hiney’s outfits are always brought together with a necklace and a pair of hoop earrings. She loves hoops because they bring the eye to her face.

Hiney always makes sure to have her phone, wallet and lip gloss with her at all times. Her small leather wallet always carries her airpods, money, school ID and bus pass. Hiney has many different lip glosses including Kylie Jenner and Glossier, but her favorite is from Bath and Body Works because it is glossy, shiny and lasts a long time. Fashion

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10 Questions MICK HANSON shares childhood memories, cereal preferences and a supernatural experience.

BY MIA GOLDSTEIN

What’s the last song you listened to? The last song I listened to was "The Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers. I listened to it on YouTube while walking to school. I like the vocals and it’s got a catchy riff. I like “Blue Sky” and “Jessica" by the Allman Brothers too.

What are the best and worst breakfast cereals? My favorite cereal is probably Apple Jacks, just because I used to eat them a lot when I was younger and they taste really good. I really hate Captain Crunch. Some of the sugary cereals are just unbearable, not to say that I haven't eaten them a lot.

What is your greatest virtue? I like to think I’m pretty open-minded. I used to get pretty upset about things but I’ve learned to hear other people’s opinions. I try not to judge anyone.

Have you ever had a supernatural experience? I think so. I’ve had a dream where I talked to my grandfather. He passed away before I was born. In the dream he was just reassuring me about everything. It freaked me out a little bit. It felt more real than a normal dream.

What’s your favorite thing to buy in Kerrytown? I will occasionally by lunch at Kerrytown. I like buying gallons of chocolate milk and drinking those. In Sparrow Market, I saw a couple of upperclassmen buying milk or eggnog in cartons and I thought, “That would look like it would entertain me for a while." If I have something to drink constantly, I won’t be bored.

Where do you feel most at home? There’s this cottage that my dad and his siblings have split for the past 40 years or so, in a little town called Lincoln up in northern Michigan. There are a couple little shops in the town center. Our property is right on a lake, too. I spent a lot of time there when I was younger and I still go up there a good amount.

What’s the strangest dream you can remember?

When I was about four or five, I was in my backyard and there was this tunnel made out of sponge. I was being chased by these strange men; it was like a movie. I think I had just watched "Indiana Jones" or something. There was a slate of rock, closing slowly as I was running up the stairs and I had to jump to make it.

What’s the weirdest fight you’ve had? When I was in second grade, my friend and I were at Jungle Java. I thought it would be funny to leave him so I ditched him. When I came back, he was crying. He started punching me and I started scratching him. We both cried. We were fine two days later.

What do you do with your hair in the morning?

Nothing. I try and it doesn’t work. One time I put half a bottle of hair gel in my hair and it wouldn’t stick. I guess my hair just doesn’t like to be styled.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? Probably nine years old. Nothing really significant happened when I was nine. Life was simpler and I enjoyed that.

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REVIEWS

ALBUM

JACKBOYS Brenan Dionne

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2019 was a dry year for rap. Travis Scott and his Cactus Jack label signees looked to end the drought with the compilation album JACK BOYS. Sheck Wes, Don Toliver, and Pop Smoke are the young signee ‘jack boys’ who lend their voices to the ensemble while Travis Scott seems to step into a production role. On top of Travis’ disciples, Quavo, Offset, Young Thug, and Travis Scott add verses of their own. “OUT WEST” and “HAD ENOUGH” stand out due to these features. “OUT WEST” reminds listeners of the dominant duo of Travis Scott and Young Thug. The song provides us with the best Travis Scott verse on the project. Where “OUT WEST” is clearly a more traditional rap song, “HAD ENOUGH” is highlighted by thrilling vocals from Don Toliver. Don Toliver as an artist stands out on the album because of his melodious voice and the overall polished sound he brings to the songs “HAD ENOUGH” and “WHAT TO DO?” When compared to his fellow ‘jack boys,’ Pop Smoke and Sheck Wes, Don Toliver clearly delivers the strongest performance. Sheck West spits the most memorable verse on the project in “GANG GANG,” but Pop Smoke falls short. Although rap fans may enjoy the gritty and loud sound of Pop Smoke’s “GATTI,” it is clear that the production of the song carries Pop Smoke. Overall “JACK BOYS” left me wanting more. With only 7 tracks, two being a 40 second intro with no lyrics and the “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” remix, the disappointment of Pop Smoke seems to sting even more and leaves the listener craving more from the stronger performers such as Don Toliver. Although Travis Scott was no doubt looking to thrust his "jack boys" into the spotlight,s it seems that truly only Don Toliver was ready for his debut as part of the Cactus Jack ensemble. C

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EL TORO COMBO MEAL Sam Dannug

EL TORO COMBO MEAL by Earl Sweatshirt is a powerful, melancholy rap song that sees the artist let out some of his darker thoughts and feelings through an impressive lyrical performance. The song is the fifth track off of Earl’s latest project, "Feet of Clay," an EP released on Nov. 1, 2019. The song’s instrumental is a loop featuring a choir-like sample, a light piano, and cutoff drums. The entire beat has a very vinyl/ vintage-like sound to it, which is contrasted by Earl’s clear-sounding vocals. On the first verse, Earl spits lines like “Lost my dawg to the staircase” and “I spun ‘til the loss of my grandmama buried the dunk,” tackling problems he’s faced with fame, the death of loved ones, and losing friends to incarceration. The lyrical structure is complex, typical of Earl’s work, with unique uses of rhyme, alliteration, word play, and other techniques. On the second verse, there is an added layer of intense, dynamic reverb, and Earl wraps up the song describing his struggle cutting out the fake people in his life and “figuring out his own thing.” Earl’s powerful delivery of a lyrically masterful and cathartic reflection on life is what makes “EL TORO COMBO MEAL.” A project with immense meaning, "Feet of Clay" was an important project for the artist moving forward, and fans will be curious to see what Earl puts out in the future. C


REVIEWS

M OV I E

Little Women Sam Dannug

M OV I E

Jojo Rabbit Charles Solomon

Greta Gerwig proved her prowess as a solo director and screenwriter in "Little Women" (2019), a coming-of-age story that delves into the experience of women in the 1800s, the pursuit of artistry, and what it means to be human. The drama follows the winding paths of the four March sisters, each with unique determination to live life on their own terms. There’s Jo, a prodigious and ambitious writer; Amy, an artist seeking to secure her family’s financial future in high society; Meg, a housewife adjusted to her humble family life; and Beth, a painfully shy and nurturing pianist. The film takes a non-linear format as their paths intertwine, painting a beautiful depiction of women struggling with expectations, freedom and agency as they grow. The movie was nominated in six Oscar categories – though Gerwig controversially did not receive a nomination for Best Director. Featuring a star-studded cast, writing that rings true and achingly beautiful cinematography, it only makes sense that "Little Women" received both box office and critical success. C

M OV I E

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Writer, director and producer Taika Waititi has been involved in everything from superhero films to horror-comedies. In the film “Jojo Rabbit,” he does even more. In this film, Waititi not only writes, directs, and produces the film, but he also takes on probably his toughest role yet: that of Adolf Hitler. “Jojo Rabbit” is a comedic satire of the Nazi era. It stars ten-year-old Jojo Betzler, a Hitler Youth member. Jojo, in general a staunch Nazi, faces a crisis when he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in a secret wall compartment. Unable to turn her in without implicating his mother, he is forced to let her stay and gradually comes to know her. Along the way, an imaginary (and idiotic) Adolf Hitler offers him advice. Going into the film, I felt conflicted. I had some idea that it was a comedy about Germany in the 1940s, and I was pretty skeptical. I felt the very idea of this film being a comedy felt vaguely disrespectful, and was prepared for an hour-and-a-half of vague, uncomfortable smiling. Waititi, however, completely overturned my expectations. From the very first scenes, the film was laugh-out-loud hilarious — I couldn’t help it. But laughing didn’t seem disrespectful; I felt the film did an excellent job of balancing the humorous banter with the seriousness of the situations narrated. Some might have been offended, and I’m probably not the best one to ask, but personally, I felt that the film toed the line and kept things borderline. A friend made the point that the best way to insult egomaniacs like Hitler is to belittle them; this film did just that.

Brenan Dionne

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" delivers all the flashy appeal of a sci-fi movie but lacks the story and drive we expect from a Disney blockbuster. "Rise of Skywalker" is a beautiful movie filled with all the necessary elements of a big-screen sci-fi movie: spaceship dogfights, aliens, lightsaber battles, etc. Although it does complete the sci-fi checklist, Rise of Skywalker’s plot gives the impression that the writers dug themselves into a massive plot-hole. The entire first half of the movie feels rushed. Rey, Finn and friends often find themselves saved by some new plot device that has been kept secret throughout all other eight movies. The second half of the movie sees the balance of the galaxy restored and some of the "Star Wars" universe’s greatest questions are finally answered. Overall the movie feels rushed but the nostalgia and grand visuals try to make up for it. If you are not a fan of "Star Wars" be prepared to be left confused but in awe of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." C

This balance between humor and solemnity was for, me what really made this film great. Waititi was able to turn on a dime between the often awful realities of this time period and hilarity was stunning. Near the end, for example, the film was enacting an Allied capture of this town and the German last stand. One moment, we see the awful reality of this situation — women and children lying dead, thrown uselessly into Allied fire — and the next we cut to a running gag with a German sergeant in a ridiculous costume charging into the breach, cape billowing. Sometimes the film could simultaneously be funny and horrifying, as when a Hitler Youth instructor gives a kid a live grenade and encourages him to “go give the enemy a hug.” As a whole, I found the message of the film to be quite poignant. In today’s day, when hatred and racism are unfortunately growing more and more mainstream, this film’s anti-hate message is still quite relevant. Overall, I loved “Jojo Rabbit.” Though its black comedy and satire may not be to some people's taste, to those who appreciate that style of movie, I would highly recommend this film. C

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HUMANS OF BY SYLVA DAS Photography by Cate Weiser

‘22

“Over break I went to Detroit, where we went to this big Hanukkah celebration where they lit a giant menorah and there was a lot of speeches about Hanukkah and how they appreciated the big number of people that showed up. I also saw the movie "Little Women," which I liked a lot because ever since I was in "Peter and the Starcatcher" in 8th grade, I have had an obsession with the Victorian era. It was really fun because I hadn’t seen a movie in a movie theater in a while. I really liked the artist, Amy, because she was very determined and I am also determined to make a dream of mine come true.”

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Wallace

Wolmark

‘20

“I’m really excited for college. I have this one friend who goes to college in New York, and I texted him and was like ‘Hey I’m applying to FIT, and it’s my number one school, how is it?’ He was telling me how you have to learn to be independent, because it’s such a big city. I want to go somewhere, learn to be on my own and find my people. I’ll be doing something that I’m actually interested in. Honestly, I feel like I’ve known that I wanted to go into fashion and go to NYC literally all of high school because I’ve always been putting effort into what I wear. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year where I had this moment where I was like, ‘Shoot my jeans really don’t fit. I want to make jeans.’ And then I was like, ‘Maybe I should go to college for this,’ and then I was researching schools, and I realized, 'Oh my gosh this is what I want to do.'”


‘20

“My grandpa passed away. I’m up and down about it. I’m really sad because we were really close. I lived with him when I was younger. I knew it was coming. It has been hard to cope and sometimes I distract myself and other times, honestly just sitting there and crying is a great coping mechanism because you’re just letting it all out. Screaming into a pillow gives yourself the chance to feel what you’re really feeling. So that’s been helping, and then I’m also talking to my therapist as well and all that.”

Hopes

Melcher

‘21

“My break was pretty good. I basically worked extra hours to get more money. I work at Noodles and Company, but I just got a new job at Piata, which is an Italian street food company downtown on State Street. I think I will like it a lot more because I made $9.50 an hour at Noodles and Company and at Piata I will make $11. I just wasn’t feeling the vibe at Noodles and Company from the employees. They were rude and I didn’t like their work ethic. So I wanted a new experience and when I got interviewed at Piata, everyone was super nice and I really liked the vibe there.”

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IN MY ROOM

AN G ELINA S MITH BY HANNAH BERNSTEIN AND JENNA JARJOURA

A few months ago CHS senior Angelina Smith moved into a new house. When she first began to think about designing her room she noticed that she had a lot more space than before. “I definitely saw a lot of potential to make my room a place I actually wanted to hangout,” Smith said. “My last room didn’t show who I was and it wasn’t really a place that said a lot about me.” She is an only child so her room is a place she finds herself a lot. She creates artwork, watches Netflix, eats almost every meal there and does her homework in her room too. Her room is designed with mostly family memories. Smith recently came across film photos of her mother from when she was younger and added them to her room. “[The pictures] help me remember the good times, that way when I’m sad I can look at the memories and relive them,” Smith said. The photos bring life to her room and comfort when she is alone. Her walls are also decorated with notes that her mother has left her. They are all filled with love and encouragement. This keeps Smith positive and motivated. The rest of her room is a collection of posters, a snow globe and artwork. Aftrer some broke in the move, the only snow globe she has left reads, ‘May there always be an angel by your side.’ She feels lucky having it in her room with her to this day. “I feel like my room is definitely much more of who I am now rather than who I used to be,” Smith said. “I feel like as I have gotten happier and discovered who I am, the more my room has shaped into that.” Photography By Jenna Jarjoura TOP: Smith has created herself an environment with a chill vibe where she can express herself and grow even more. In her room, her cat is important and is always in there spending time with Smith. MIDDLE LEFT: Smith has collected snow globes ever since she was young. Unfortunately, Smith has moved many times and within the process of transporting her belongings, many of them broke. But, one that she holds close to her heart is one she got in the beginning of her collection. MIDDLE RIGHT: Smith does not live with her mother. But, her mother surprises Smith with different letters and works of art to let her know that she is thinking of her and misses her. BOTTOM: Smith has a collection of both film and digital photos scattered around her room. She used many things from her parents and past life to design her room, but also includes posters and pictures from more recent experiences. The posters around her room are very personal to her life and are not similar to many of her friends' interests.

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KIPFERL COOKIES CRAVE

BY RUBY TAYLOR AND LOEY JONES-PERPICH

SEPARATE SIDES OF THE WORLD, SAME COOKIES It’s early December, 1940-something and Becky Mericle, my great grandmother, cuts a recipe for Kipferl crescent cookies out of the Detroit Free Press. She hand-chops hazelnuts and beats butter until she has more cookies than she can count. She knows they’ll be a perfect Christmas treat for her family of five. She keeps the recipe, and soon they become a classic holiday treat. Soon her daughter, her granddaughter, and eventually I will be making them every December. Half-way across the globe, in Zurich, Switzerland, Shelley Rosenwald, my other great grandmother, is making a variation of the same cookies for her only son, my grandpa, to celebrate Channukkah. I’ve eaten Kipferl cookies while decorating our Christmas tree and while lighting our Menorah. They’re buttery and delicious, but they’re also a reminder of my roots in different parts of the world. Find the recipe at chscommunicator.com.

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Our Turn: Impactful Identities BY JORDAN DE PADOVA AND RUBY TAYLOR Photography By Jordan De Padova

NOAH BERNSTEIN

“Throughout my entire life, I’ve seen myself first and foremost as an older brother. Regardless of what I do and where I go, my family, specifically my two younger siblings, is going to really affect who I am. When I was younger, being a big brother meant something different than it does now. When I was four, it meant playing Legos with my little sister, but now it’s more about being a role model and setting a good example and holding myself accountable to myself and for them. It’s knowing that what I do could affect how they see the world.”

LEAH DEWEY “My black identity has probably impacted my life the most. I’m mixed, but I’m second generation mixed, but still a lot of people percieve me as black. I’ve had many instances where that’s been a problem. I’ve been in uncomfortable and even unsafe situations because of my skin color. But on the other end of that, growing up I had neighbors who were 50/50 black, which I am not, and they used to poke fun at me for not being “fully black." But as I got older, people would notice that I was black and it was a problem for them. I feel like I’ll never be white enough for some people, and I’ll never be black enough for others.”

EBBA GURNEY “The thing that I think about the most is the fact that my dad died when I was younger. That makes me different from most people because something so hard hit me so young. I think that probably taught me the most about who I am as a person and how to treat other people. When he died, I started to think a lot more about people’s lives in the sense that I don’t know what’s going on with them. When he died, it was obviously a huge thing for me, but I didn’t want to tell people so nobody knew about it. So that made me start thinking a lot about the private things going on in other people’s lives and just being conscious of that.”

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About the Art ART BY ROMEO KLOBUCAR FOR THE CHS LITERARY MAGAZINE “VOICE”

This piece is titled “Distance.” It is largely referential to the 14th century epic poem “The Inferno” by Dante Alighieri. Specifically, this scene takes place in the second ring of Hell: Lust. The lower figure is symbolic of an inhabitant of the second ring, as well as the guardian of it, King Minos. King Minos is a figure in “The Inferno” who resides over Lust and decides which ring of Hell souls will be condemned to. He has a snake that wraps around his body a number of times equal to the ring each person is condemned to - the snake wrapped around the figure’s arm and the diadem he wears are both symbolic of King Minos. The snake itself can be seen wrapped twice around the figure’s arm, which can be interpreted as sentencing either of the two figures to the second ring - the upper figure or the lower figure himself. The upper figure is an angel, tied to the heavens and therefore unable to stay with the lower figure.


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Communicator: Volume 46 Edition 3  

Communicator: Volume 46 Edition 3  

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