The Gunn Oracle volume 58, issue 5
silent no longer.
the oracle 2020-2021 editorial board
Editor-in-chief Joshua Yang
business/circulation sophia stern
managing editors madison nguyen nikki suzani
copy editor kate mallery
news editors julianna chang catherine chu forum editors jessica wang jessica zang features editors dori filppu mia knezevic centerfold editors annika bereny katie shih sports editors calvin cai devon lee lifestyle editors haley pflasterer arjun shah online editor genna bishop photo editor mia knezevic graphics editor sophie fan
oracle/sec liaison annika bereny graphics artists Sarah chang madeleine chen clair koo mihika sane chinyoung shao zora zhang reporters lise desveaux paul garofalo carly liao hila livneh vandana ravi raphael semeria safina syed rebecca wu adviser kristy blackburn contact us (650) 354-8238 gunnoracle.com in this issue cover photo: mia knezevic
Table of contents 15 | silent no longer
The Atlanta shooting and a surge in anti-Asian racism have brought Asian voices into the spotlight.
7 | REading between the lines
Nuances in language alter our perception of everyday life, with meaningful consequences.
27 | we’ve seen this before
Biden’s promise of a “new America” rings hollow when it comes to Middle East policy.
33 | girlboss feminism
How toxic feminism has impacted the Women’s Rights Movement
april 2021: news updates in brief
vaccination provides peace of mind, proves worthwhile
my senior year bucket list
New drivers find unexpected experiences on the road
life in color: senior lila sanchez gives insight into living with synesthesia
student athletes return to campus for spring sports
here’s the tea: musttry tea flavors for tea lovers
class of 2021 homecoming court
california avenue farmers market offers delicious treats
4 | NEWS
SEC hosts Cooking Competition From March 29 to April 11, the Student Executive Council (SEC) is hosting a cooking competition for all students. The competition echoes last year’s baking contest, “The Great Titan Bakeoff,” but is instead Madeleine Chen open to students who want to show off their Junior Madeleine Chen cooks cooking using photos. chicken pot pie for the contest. The competition requires students to take a picture of their dish, draft a description and submit it to a form that will be available throughout spring break. According to Senior Class Vice President Mark Berlaga, the competition will be student judged. “We’re going to put all the dishes out bracket-style,” he said. “One dish will go against another. You’re going to get [a Google] form that is going to go out
to the student body. We’re going to have multiple rounds of voting until we have a final winner.” The three winners will receive a DoorDash order of up to 40 dollars of their choice. According to Student Body Vice President senior Charlize Chu, the main reason for hosting the contest is because of last year’s success with “The Great Titan Bake-Off.” “Last year’s [event] was just a baking competition,” Chu said. “We want to reciprocate that same energy from last year, especially since a lot of our events are decreasing in participation. This event would focus more on targeting a different group of people.” The competition is another way for students to try new things without fearing failure. “This isn’t only targeted at people who love to cook,” Dance Commissioner senior Boris Bukchin said. “I think this allows students who never had a chance [to cook] to try and make something, even if it doesn’t turn out the best. They have the opportunity and they have an incentive to do something new and open themselves up to new experiences, which is important.” —Written by Katie Shih
APRIL 2021 NEWs Students return on campus Since March 9, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) has reopened its secondary schools, allowing staff to resume working from campus while giving students the option to attend Zoom classes on campus or at home. The initiative, first mentioned during a board meeting in February, hopes to bring students back onto campus safely. Sophomore Julia Ng has been one of the few students who have attended classes in-person since day one. “I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” Ng said. “With a combination of the nice weather and the quietness of the campus, it’s been peaceful and encouraging all at once. I actually prefer being at school, mainly because I’m not very focused at home. In terms of academic success, being on campus really helps.” Many students have opted out of the in-person learning opportunities, still skeptical over returning on campus. English teacher Terence Kitada and Ng have both seen empty halls and barren classes. “There have been an average of about two students in each class so far, and between classes [the campus] definitely seems very empty,” Ng said. Despite that, Kitada has enjoyed his time on campus. “It was very nice to see my colleagues and coworkers,” he said. After unveiling the plan, many students and staff voiced
concerns regarding the safety of those taking classes in-person, leading to increased safety protocols. However, many are skeptical over whether they will remain effective if more people return. “I think the safety protoMia Knezevic cols are really helpful Freshman Lise Desveaux and well enforced, but attends classes behind plexiglas. as more people start to come back on campus, I’m not all confident that it will be just as safe,” Ng said. Kitada echoed Ng, addressing the same concern. “I’m not feeling too endangered if I’m sitting in a classroom with only two kids,” he said. “If I were sitting in a classroom with 16 kids, I might feel differently.” —Written by Raphael Semeria
News | 5
ASB officers elected On March 26, Gunn students elected a new Student Executive Council (SEC) for the next school year. SEC is made up of both elected and appointed officers who plan school events, represent the student body and oversee the Gunn Courtesy of Irene Kim community. Junior Irene Kim was elected as Incoming ASB Presthe 2021-22 ASB president. ident Irene Kim enjoys being a part of SEC. “I think there’s a place for everyone in SEC,” she said. “You really just kind of find your family there and it’s a super welcoming community.”
Student Activities Director Lisa Hall acknowledged the changes to SEC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I would hope the students on SEC would say that they’re part of a team and a family in a lot of ways, which has been hard to do during the pandemic because we haven’t had any opportunities to meet in person,” she said. “That’s a key thing I hope we can do next year, because if the team is bonded, they work better together in solving problems and doing things together for the school.” Kim named a few ideas she would like to put in motion for next year. “I would definitely want to have a Gunn-Paly event because I don’t think we’ve had a big Gunn-Paly event since I’ve been here at Gunn,” she said. “I also want to have more communication between SEC and the student body because a lot of the time, I feel like people don’t know what SEC does besides homecoming. There are a lot of things we do, like passion projects inside of SEC, so I think it would be nice to share those with the student body.” —Written by Carly Liao
UPDATES in brief Library runs print distribution Although the Gunn library is closed for in-person browsing, students can check out print books through the library’s print distribution program for the remainder of the year. Library assistant Megan Garcia holds print distribution from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. The distribution will happen from the Bat Cave. “I’m always set up at the first red table closest to the office,” Garcia said. Students have already taken advantage of this opportunity. Sophomore Alina Li, who has attended one of this semester’s distributions, says the book checkout process is very quick. “It’s only about one minute at school, because they lay out a table with some small brown bags that have the books checked out for you, and they’ve labelled your name and what date you need to return them,” she said. Gunn’s virtual library is also accessible through the ID portal. “We have a few thousand ebooks and audiobooks on Overdrive,” Garcia said. “I personally just love having the physical book—there’s something about turning the pages—but I also read ebooks too. It depends on your preference.” Students who wish to check out print books can order books on the Gunn library website, which is accessible through the ID portal, and pick them up on campus. A guide to requesting print books can be found on the library’s Schoology page. —Written by Vandana Ravi
Library assistant Megan Garcia hosts weekly distributions at the Bat Cave.
6 | FORUM
Vac c i n at i o n p r ov i d e s p e ac e o f m i n d, P r ov e s wo rt h w h i l e
ut of all the places around the Bay Area, Levi’s Stadium was the last location I expected to be a vaccination site. With the big field and even bigger stands, it’s notorious for being chaotically packed with people. However, when I arrived at the entrance gates for my first vaccine, the stadium and surrounding areas seemed oddly empty. Walking through the security gates and into the building felt endless without the sea of screaming fans; I was only met with volunteers every 10 feet, guiding me to keep walking along a marked path. Of course, my path to vaccination wasn’t completely smooth. For minors, a legal guardian must be present in order to give consent. Unfortuately, I brought my 23-year-old sister instead. After what felt like hours of waiting at the check-in table to see whether I’d have to drive all the way home and back, a short FaceTime call with my mother did the trick. The first shot was a walk in the park: I only felt an iota of pain in my left arm and a bit of drowsiness. Getting ready for my second dose a few weeks later, however, was another story. Immediately after the tip of the needle pierced my skin and retracted, my arm went limp. An hour later, I was passed out in my bed. Unfortunately, I was blessed with the worst symptoms: a two-day headache, perpetual fatigue and a slight fever that quickly diminished. If you think it would be safe to drive in this condition, it is not. Trust me; I learned the hard way after swerving down Alma Street. For others taking the vaccine, I’d recommend taking the day off from all activities, including school and physical extracurriculars. Hydrate with water as much as possible, lie down in bed and let your teachers know— they probably went through similar experiences. Lastly, as difficult as it is this late into the school year, try to not procrastinate on work. It felt impossible to concentrate on anything, yet I waited until the
last day to turn in all of my already-late math assignments. Despite the symptoms, the second-dose horror stories and my irrational fear of needles, the choice to get the vaccine was a no-brainer. I’m now able to go outside—to my job or to see a few friends—without the stress of putting myself, my family or my coworkers at risk. Working a part-time food service job gave me both eligibility and responsibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At work, it’s impossible to not be within six feet of each other; my decision to get the vaccine wasn’t just personal. Yes, it eases my worries of contracting it myself, but it also ensures that I don’t put any of the people I am surrounded by at risk. The personal experiences of others’ post-vaccination stories didn’t sway my decision either. Different bodies react differently to the vaccine, and it just happened to be my luck that mine wasn’t the best reaction. In fact, each coworker, teacher or friend of mine who has shared their experience with me didn’t feel anything but a bit of soreness in the arm. The needle is quite small, the shot feels like a pinch and it has the power to save you and others. Truthfully, my life hasn’t really changed. I don’t freely go out without a mask, and I’m not booking the next flight to Florida. Still, I am able to see more friends. I’m able to relax a little more when I’m working. I’m able to see my last living grandma. All of this makes me facing my fear of shots and the day or two of side effects worth it.
—Nguyen, a senior, is a Managing Editor.
IN-DEPTH | 7
Reading between the lines:
nuances in language alter our perception of everyday life, with meaningful consequences. By Julianna Chang
8 | in-depth
ou guys!” aspect of our lives, even if we barely Almost everyone—male- think about it that way. Without it, we identifying or not—has been wouldn’t be able to tell our parents that called “a guy” at least once in their life, we love them (or gossip fruitfully with whether it’s through the welcoming friends); we wouldn’t be able to complain words of a teacher, an enthusiastic text endlessly about homework or make blunt or an obnoxious shout jokes about others. across the hall. To While language most, this word is is of ten used the smallest differences just that: a comin t he same in language can contribute mon greeting. way—to comIt’s become so munic ate — to a variety of perspectives and commonplace the manner meanings, many of which can that many don’t of get t ing be harmful or outright even consider the message incorrect. the genders of across varies the people they’re at an immeareferring to, and if they surable level. do, they find no issues with It may seem trivial to focus on seemit. Others, however, disagree, ingly superficial colloquial phrasing and citing the significant discomfort ancient gendered language systems; and exclusion it causes; for some, however, at the very least, it’s important being frequently misgendered is nothing to consider how much it impacts others. short of erasure. At its core, even the smallest differences Language undeniably impacts every in language can contribute to a variety
of perspectives and meanings, many of which can be harmful or outright incorrect.
he most profound—and possibly the most well-known—impact of language differences is made clear in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), a dialect commonly used by Black Americans that has recently been the subject of numerous cultural appropriation debates. With its distinct sentence structure and dropped consonants, AAVE has been around since the 17th century, stemming from Africans that were brought over from Africa, the Caribbean and South America, according to Stanford Linguistics Professor John Rickford. The dialect was formed in an environment of oppression—one with many speakers and very few teachers.
which of these terms do you use on a regular basis? check all that apply.
number of students
in speech in writing
Source: survey sent out to Gunn students with 55 responses. Jessica Wang
in-depth | 9
Do you believe that the term “Bro” is gendered? The majority of Gunn st udents sur veyed believed that “you guys,” “dude,” and “ br u h” w e r e n ot ge nde re d. “Bro” was evenly divided.
lasting part of the dialect. “What really gets me mad [is] that people are like, ‘Who still says chile?’” she said. “Like, [chile] wasn’t just some kind of trend.”
f course, it’s not just dialects that can shift meaning—entire languages can be constructed around gender and perpetrate sexism. In most romance languages—French, Spanish and Portuguese, to name a few—nouns are assigned a gender and are preceded by one of the two definite articles: the feminine or the masculine. not sure Usually, the gendering of nouns Jessica Wang isn’t problematic; very few complaints have been raised about the femininity Rickford noted that, to African Ameri- have anything to say,” Small said. of a cup, for instance. When it comes to cans, AAVE is a more informal, conversaMost recently, social media apps such professions or descriptions, however, the tional dialect they may use when speaking as Twitter and TikTok have pushed many negative effects of this foundation become to others in the same community. Non- AAVE terms like “chile,” “finna” and “peri- clear. In languages such as Spanish and African Americans, however, view AAVE odt,” as well as AAVE’s unique sentence Portuguese, there are multiple options differently. “People tend to think AAVE structure, into the spotlight. These terms used to refer to an occupation. But when is careless and unstructured,” Rickford are now being used by everyone—not just referring to groups of people—or someone said. “But it’s just like any other language African Americans. For instance, Asian whose gender is unknown—the masculine in that it has rules. You can’t just make form becomes the norm. For example, a things up.” group of actors and actresses is “los AAVE is often seen as This faulty perception is unactores” in Spanish, even though an doubtedly harmful for AAVE speak“lazy” and “unprofessional,” actress is “la actriz.” ers. According to Rickford, AAVE is “If there’s a convention of picking making it harder for often seen as “lazy” and “unprofesthe masculine form as default, then speakers to earn the sional,” making it harder for speakyou’re reinforcing a notion that the credibility that ers to earn the credibility that they normative person in this profession deserve. In his explanation, Rickford they deserve. is male, and you only go out of your cited the trial of George Zimmerman way to say, ‘Oh, this is a female author or for the murder of Black American a female teacher or a female doctor’ when Trayvon Martin in 2012, when RaAmerican actress Nora Lum, more that’s true,” University of Washington chel Jeantel, the leading prosecucommonly known as Awkwafina, is Computational Linguistics Professor Emtion witness, gave her testimony notorious for having a “persona [that] ily Bender said. in AAVE. The jurors dismissed has veered too close to black aesthetics for This clear lack of lingual representaher vital testimony and acquitcomfort,” according to Vulture Magazine. tion may perpetuate harmful stereotypes ted Zimmerman, likely because Rickford, on his end, doesn’t find this about the gender compositions of profesthey could not “hear, understand, or be- adoption very problematic, yet noted that sions that are outright false or discourage lieve her,” Rickford and linguist Sharese some AAVE speakers do. “[These speak- women, who frequently hear these masKing wrote in a paper. ers say,] ‘They are taking our language culine forms being used, from pursuing Naima Small, founder of the Instagram without paying their dues,’” he said. certain careers. “[Women] can feel sort platform “Dear Dark Skinned Girls,” exSmall echoed Rickford’s general indif- of out of place,” Bender said. pressed a similar sentiment and argued ference to the widespread use of AAVE Furthermore, romance languages have that this skewed perception limits op- terms, but added that it’s important for all recently faced extensive criticism due to portunities for AAVE speakers. “I think users to understand the origins of these their lack of non-binary pronouns. The it harms the Black community largest be- terms. What frustrates Small the most Spanish language, for example, contains cause [of] that idea [that] you speak AAVE about the adoption, however, is that these only two pronouns: el, the masculine, equals you can’t possibly be educated [or] terms are viewed as a “trend” instead of a and ella, the feminine. This system only
10 | in-depth
non-gendered alternatives suggested by Gunn students
functions if there are only two genders; these pronouns don’t describe non-binary or genderqueer people, or people whose genders lie outside the gender binary, according to Stanford Youth Development Manager Ana Lilia Soto, who works in the mental health field. “It can be super problematic for young people who might not identify [with the gender binary] or are more fluid with how they describe themselves, and it can be off-putting,” she said. “It’s kind of like asking somebody, ‘Well, where’s my community if I don’t identify with this or with that?” To adapt, many Hispanics have adopted the pronoun “elle,” or the plural “elles,” as a gender neutral option. Similarly, for people of Latin American descent, the all-inclusive term “Latinx” was coined to replace “Latino” and “Latina.” Yet according to Pew Research, even though one in four Latin Americans have heard of the term, only 3% use it. World Language Instructional Leader Liz Matchett, who teaches Spanish, noted
that making changes in favor of inclusivity will always be difficult—no matter what, not everyone will agree. “There [are people] that say, ‘Don’t do it because the people in charge of language say that you just need to do this, and language doesn’t make any kind of political or gender judgment statements,’” she said. “It’s just saying that this is [how it is]. And then there’s the people who say, ‘Don’t even tell me how to do this because you aren’t even part of my culture. I don’t want to be told by anyone what the right way is.’” English teacher Diane Ichik awa brought up another concern that comes with adapting these languages: fluidity. “It’s a necessity to take care of everybody who’s in our community and in our society,” she said. “And at the same time, linguistically, [a] roadblock to that is that [it’s not] fluid to say ‘Latinx’ like that. How do you even say that in some languages, right?” In response to the somewhat confusing pronunciation of “Latinx,” some Spanish speakers have adopted “Latine”
as a more fluid alternative. To address these recent debates over the romance languages, Gunn’s Languages department has encouraged teachers to be more gender-neutral. According to Matchett, a steering committee is currently developing a plan to bring to the district in hopes of establishing more inclusive practices in the language departments. “I haven’t ever done anything formalized with my department, but I have said in passing to teachers and especially teachers who may have non-gendered students in their classes or transgender students [to] find a way to be inclusive,” Matchett said. “I don’t care what it is, I don’t care what you follow, but make sure you find a way to be inclusive.” Matchett acknowledges, however, that there isn’t one correct way to address the issue of inclusivity. “I’m not going to advocate for one way to do it because there isn’t an agreement in the language world about the right way to do it,” she said.
in-depth | 11 Soto also notes that referring to suicide attempts as “successful” or “unsuccesscolloquial terms ful” has been problematic. These terms, according to the Mental Health Center of endered language also rears its Denver, imply that suicide is something to head in colloquial terms such as be accomplished. “Is there a really ‘con“you guys” and “dude.” Though gratulatory’ [or] a ‘successful’ suicide?” frequently used to refer to people of all Soto said. genders, both of these terms have masInstead, people should opt for using culine roots. “The singular word guy is more direct language like “suicide atdefinitely masculine,” Bender said. “If tempt” in place of “unsuccessful attempt” you say, ‘I met a guy the other day,’ most and “died by suicide” in place of “successEnglish speakers are going to imagine a ful attempt.” This language, Soto added, male-presenting person.” anguage’s impacts, of course, don’t helps make dialogue about suicide and Using these terms to refer to non-male stop there; mental health—some- other mental health issues much less individuals may lead to discomfort and thing Gunn has been striving to ambiguous. “I think the more direct that exclusion, among other things. In a video address—is widely affected, particularly we can be with getting people who do have for Makers.com, author and activist Alice in regards to terminology surrounding suicidal ideation [to engage] in their own Walker argued that the continued use suicide. decision making, as well as [demystifyof these masculine terms, especially by In colloquial language, mental health ing] that to the general public, I think it’s women themselves, is only due to a “fear helpful,” she said. of feminism” or a desire to ignore any rom the exclusion fostered sentiments of feminism. Others raised by starkly gendered roconcerns that these terms may only mance languages to faulty, This language, Soto added, helps exacerbate any underlying sexism damaging misconceptions of make dialogue about suicide and from earlier centuries. For transgender A AVE, language’s deeper imother mental health issues much people specifically, these masculine plications—although sometimes less ambiguous. terms may misgender them, serving as difficult to recognize—assert an unwelcome reminder of a past they’re themselves in meaningful ways. looking to forget. Thankfully, some progress is beIchikawa noted, however, that these ing made. Linguists are adopting terms aren’t problematic to everyone. “You presentations and informational new words and phrases to minican make a lot of arguments that it’s fine articles, we often refer to someone “commize the exclusionary effects [and that] we need to be okay with that mitting suicide,” a phrase Soto and countgendered language has, and and not so thin-skinned,” less others have pushed back on. are increasing general awareshe said. “When we think of ‘comness of language’s effects These terms mit suicide,’ there’s through numerous articles these terms are so are so strongthis criminal act and social movements. ly embedded that happens, like Gunn’s teachers, in particular, have strongly embedded into our into our evpeople commit attempted to make the classroom more everday language that it makes eryday lanmu rder [a nd] welcoming by altering their language. “As any awareness of their guage that people commit a teacher, I will accept you for whatever impacts—and tangible it makes burglaries,” Soto you decide to use as your pronouns and any awaresaid. “It’s a crim- the way to speak about it, and I’m not gochange—rather difficult. ness of their inal thing.” ing to force you to choose a pronoun that impacts—and Instead, medical doesn’t feel right to you,” Matchett said. tangible change— and mental health profesDespite these recent efforts to make rather difficult. “Our language has besionals have shifted towards language more inclusive and direct, there come so colloquial that we don’t really using “died by suicide” whenever is still more work to be done. “It is [clear] think about it,” Ichikawa said. Still, many possible—a change that empha- that a lot of our social world is constructed people are looking for change and have sizes that suicide is a public health through language,” Bender said. “So in adopted gender-neutral terms such as issue and a change that, according to Soto, that sense, [the] categories we experience “folks” and “y’all.” others should follow. “I think it’s really and the way we understand that people Gunn, meanwhile, is trying to make about acknowledging that this person died in relationships around us is very much inclusive practices the norm. On March by suicide because of things that they were influenced by not only what we name 21, the Student Executive Council, along going through and [that] this is an action and how we talk about things, but also with Adolescent Counseling Services and that was taken,” Soto said. [language] variation.”
Outlet, hosted a Pride Week Livestream where they provided a list of more inclusive alternative words to refer to relatives and friends. The list included terms such as “partner” in place of “husband” or “wife,” “folks” and “everyone” in place of “you guys,” and “sibling” in place of “brother” or “sister.”
12 | bucket list
help plan the Senior prank There’s no better way to create lasting memories, bond as a class and get some good laughs than a senior prank. Although this might take some collaboration and planning, senior pranks are a rite of passage. It doesn’t have to be illegal—you can still create a lighthearted prank that will be fun and harmless for all parties involved. Gunn hasn’t had any notorious pranks in the past... why can’t this year be the first?
experiment with food Skip school for a day Seniors deserve to break a few rules. Skipping school for a day and spending time with your friends is a great way to make those final memories of high school. School takes up so much time in our lives, and even though it’s important, we’d honestly rather spend time doing other things. For one day, follow whatever your heart desires: drive to the beach, go on rides in Great America or go skiing. Cutting class just gives the day an extra thrill and makes things even more fun.
Go to Chipotle and order a burrito with everything on it. Ever since my friend mentioned this idea to me, I can’t get it out of my head. Mainly, I want to see if the employee can get everything to fit and what they do if they can’t. The second reason is the taste: what would mixing so many flavors taste like? The third reason is ego: There’s nothing I would like more than to brag to people that I ate an entire burrito with everything on it. The concept doesn’t just have to apply to Chipotle; try it at Subway, Jersey Mike’s, Flame Broiler, Poke or Cold Stone.
organize a Movie Marathon with friends
As someone who has participated in many movie marathons, I highly recommend doing it at least once. The first few movies are exciting; as it gets later into the night and people start falling asleep, the movies seem less and less interesting. It is really just a fun challenge and a way to spend an insane amount of time sitting on a couch and eating food with friends. Leave more time than you think you need, and pick a series that everyone will enjoy. The “Harry Potter” series, Marvel, “Mission Impossible,” “The Hangover” and, of course, “Madagascar,” are some solid options. Even though this is something you can do in college, doing it with the friends you love is what really makes it special. —Compiled by Kate Mallery Chinyoung Shao
features | 13
New drivers find unanticipated experiences on the road
For a driver, popping a tire is a nightmare. While it is an uncommon occurrence, it creates a huge inconvenience for drivers who are unlucky enough to have to deal with one–including junior Sydney Leontis. Leontis had been driving while playing loud music when the accident occurred. “I was driving to the song ‘Stolen Dance’ near Sydney Leontis Palo Verde Elementary School and took a sharp right turn into the parking lot and hit the curb,” she said. When she hit the curb, her tire popped on a sharp object in the gutter.
After Leontis assessed the tire’s damage, she called her mom, but still attempted to fix the tire with her friends. “I started crying, and my mom called AAA,” she said. “My friend took a lug nut and started unbolting the screws on the tire.” The attempted fix failed, though, when the tire was not properly raised. “The disk of the wheel hit the ground and made an indent in the cement,” Leontis said. After the attempted fix, the tire was in worse shape than before, so she waited for AAA to replace it for her. In the future, Leontis definitely won’t try to fix another tire by herself. “I learned that I shouldn’t drive with the music so loud, and I’ve now become a much safer driver,” she said.
When senior Connor Missett signed up for his three mandatory driving lessons prior to taking his official test, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. “I had heard stories from my friends about their experiences [with the lessons], so I was ready for something odd, but I could have never guessed what would have actually Connor Missett happened,” Missett said. Only knowing his soon-to-be driving instructor as Martin, Misset was nervous for his lesson. “Martin came in his Prius, and immediately, I knew that this was going to be a wild ride,” Missett said. “He was wearing Crocs, one of my biggest indications, and five
minutes into the lesson he began sharing stories of his Eastturned-West Coast band and their couch surfing adventures.” Amidst Martin’s love for guitar was his love for experimentation: hallucinogens and adult entertainment included. “I thought it was hilarious,” Missett said. “Sure, I was a little uncomfortable, but I soon realized that Martin’s glory days were behind him. Instead, here was a man with a Prius and Crocs who had the unique ability to make driving lessons entertaining.” While Missett only had one lesson with Martin, he still thinks about him often. “I tell all my friends that Martin is the best,” Missett said. “Take his wildly inappropriate stories with a grain of salt, and just enjoy them. That’s what I did!”
The trip most 16-year-olds take to the DMV for their road test doesn’t always go smoothly. Senior Colin Chan had one of the most eventful experiences on the day of his test, almost a year ago. As Chan pulled up to the Santa Clara DMV, he got in the line of cars waiting to take the test and prepared to hopefully reColin Chan ceive the much-coveted driver’s license. As he reached the front of the line, Chan suddenly felt an uncomfortable feeling below his waist. “The moment my
test started, I realized I badly needed to pee,” Chan said. However, instead of going through the awkward situation of telling his examiner, he decided that he would tough it out. “I was faced with a tough decision, but after some thought, I decided that I could probably make it through 10 minutes.” As Chan drove through the streets of Santa Clara, his legs were shaking, and his face turned red, but he persevered through and passed the test. The moment he parked his car back in the DMV parking lot, he ran into the building and bolted to the bathroom to finally relieve himself. —Written by Calvin Cai
—Written by Sophia Stern
—Written by Dori Filppu
Sophie Fan Photos courtesy of Colin Chan, Sydney Leontis and Connor Missett
14 | FEATURES
Life In CoLor: Senior LiLa Sanchez Gives Insight Into Living with Synesthesia
enior Lila Sanchez’s name is blue and yellow. “The l’s are blue, and then i’s and a’s are yellow,” she said. “Pretty much all of my vowels are yellow except for o, which is black.” Sanchez has a rare sensory condition called synesthesia, which affects 2 to 4% of the human population, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. In a nutshell, synesthesia, which is Greek for “to perceive together,” involves crossed sensory information. More specifically, Sanchez has grapheme synesthesia—she associates words, numbers and letters with specific colors that she sees in her mind’s eye. Monday is watermelon red. Three is blue. Q is turquoise. On top of that, seasons, months, numbers and days of the week also have visual-spatial representations for her. Winter is in the back of her head, while summer is in the front. Numbers follow a staircase pattern. While this might seem like an anomaly to others, Sanchez has always perceived the world this way. “It’s always there,” she said. “If I’m reading a book or a street sign or anything that has words on it, my mind associates it with the color.” Her everyday sensory experience was so constant that she assumed it was normal. In fact, it wasn’t until a sixth grade presentation that she found out about synesthesia. “[ The teacher] was talking about how people read colors and listen to colors,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wait, I do that. Is that not normal?’” After conducting some personal research, Sanchez confirmed that she did, in fact, have synesthesia. From then on, it became something to share; positive interest from classmates and friends encouraged her to be more open about her experiences. “Last year, in my philosophy class, we were talking about what color means to different people, and somehow I mentioned that I had synesthesia,” she said. “For the next 45 minutes, everyone in the class had their hands up, and I sat at the front of the table answering questions
about it.” For the record, she doesn’t mind the questions. Joining the synesthete community has also allowed her to ask her own questions about the spectrum of synesthesia. “I didn’t know that almost everyone who has synesthesia sees the months in a circle and sees the weekdays in a circle,” she said. “I was like, ‘I do that! I see it!’ Mine goes clockwise, and I heard that some people’s go counterclockwise.” While it has given her solidarity to compare a unique aspect of her brain with other synesthetes, research has also shown her that experiences with synesthesia vary—a fact that she emphasizes for non-synesthetes. Some synesthetes might feel sounds, see music or taste in color. Everyone’s experience is different. She hopes to spread awareness about the condition through her creative pursuits like writing and art. To the skeptics, she notes that synesthesia is a real biological phenomenon. “It’s a misconception that [synesthetes] develop associations over time,” she said. “In reality, it’s not something that we can control. I could paint as many pink letter L’s as I want all over my room, but it’s still going to be blue in my head.” Ultimately, synesthesia is not just something for show. It’s a part of Sanchez’s lifestyle and her identity, and it has its perks and drawbacks. To her, having synesthesia has improved her memorization the most; she can simply slot a friend’s birthday into her visual calendar. At the same time, however, she might easily mix up new vocabulary words with similar colors. Similar confusion in math can lead to unforced slip-ups, like writing an eight instead of a four because they’re both yellow. Despite it all, Sanchez doesn’t consider synesthesia to be a disease, disorder or shortcoming of any sort. “I wouldn’t say that it changed my perception of myself,” she said. “It’s just kind of like a quirky little fun fact that always gets people interested.” —Written by Jessica Wang Jenna Han
silent no longer:
The Atlanta Shooting and a surge in AntiAsian Racism have brought Asian Voices into the Spotlight. By Lise Desveaux and Jessica Zang
cover story | 15
16 | Cover Story of Palo Alto mother and Asian solidarity rally organizer Gloria Huang, the media’s downplaying of the shooting and refusal to mention race was another slap in the face. “There was a lot of silence about the recent tragedy that I didn’t expect,” Huang said. “I also saw outright denial that the shootings had anything n March 16, in Atlanta, Robert Aaron Long drove 27 to do with race, and that almost felt like a second strike to what miles to three different Asian-owned massage parlors was happening.” and opened fire with a 9-mm gun, murdering eight peoIn a year that’s seen a significant increase in acts of violence ple—Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, and hatred against Asian AmeriDaoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Hyun cans, the murders in Georgia were Jung Kim, Soon Chung Park, Suncha the straw that broke the camel’s hate crimes against asian Kim, Yong Ae Yue—and injuring Elcias back, pushing Asian American R. Hernandez-Ortiz. Out of those eight, stories and narratives into the americans have increased six of the victims were Asian women. national spotlight. Online moveYet in media outlets across the naments such as #StopAsianHate tion, people debated whether or not the and #StandForAsians received incident was a hate crime. larger platforms and greater supIn breaking news press coverage, port, with many celebrities and major news outlets such as the New York civilians—including NBA star Times misrepresented victims’ names, Jeremy Lin, actor Steven Yeun in major U.S. cities since splitting up and wrongfully abbreviatand Nobel Peace Prize Nominee ing Korean names. Many people were the start of the pandemic. Amanda Nguyen—speaking up outraged by the press’s handling of the about the Asian experience in shooting, believing that the coverage America. minimized the racial aspect of the crime. Despite the increase in press coverage, this year hardly Events in Georgia have hit close to home for many. In the eyes marks the beginning of anti-Asian hatred in America. In reality, the history of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans runs as deeply as two centuries back—it’s only now that Asian American voices are being heard.
violence in atlanta
A history of Discrimination
MiaKnezevic Knezevic Mia
A group of protesters march in downtown Palo Alto on March 27 in protest of recent attacks against Asian-Americans.
n 1850, whispers of striking it rich in the California gold mines brought immigrants from all over the world, including China, to America’s west coast. This was when Asian individuals first entered America in large numbers, but nativism—the perpetual fear and hatred of foreigners—and anger at growing competition in the job market ultimately led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, an immigration ban prohibiting all Chinese laborers to enter the U.S. It remains one of the only immigration bans based solely on nationality in American history. Stanford history professor Gordon Chang, who has published books focusing on Asian American contributions to American history, highlighted the deep-rooted nature of anti-Asian discrimination. “What history shows me is that the violence directed against Asians in America is not new, but rather very longstanding, and has been a part of American history from the earliest beginnings of Asian migration to the U.S.,” he said. “Violence against Asians has often been overshadowed because of the terrible violence that we know more about against Native Americans and African Americans and others, but Asian American violence has been quite terrible too.” Chinese Americans were also the victims of one of the nation’s worst mass lynchings. On Oct. 24, 1871, around 500 white and Hispanic people entered Los Angeles’ Old
cover story | 17 Chinatown and killed 19 Chinese Americans while looting businesses and assaulting Asian citizens. The Chinese Massacre of 1871 bookmarks a painful period in American history for many Asian Americans, yet according to U.S. History teacher Laurel Howard, it wasn’t an isolated incident. “[A mob] lynched 19 different Chinese people who were just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “But that’s just one example. Up to 200 different Chinatowns across the West all faced violence in the late 19th century.” Later, during World War II, worries that Japanese Americans would betray the U.S. war effort prompted thenPresident Franklin Roosevelt to send hundreds of thousands of Japanese American families to internment camps. Many were uprooted from their businesses and homes, staying in the camps with poor conditions and minimal belongings for over five years. Palo Alto City Councilmember Greg Tanaka’s family suffered greatly at the hands of anti-Asian discrimination. His great-grandfather died of tuberculosis in an internment camp, and when his family was released, they’d lost all of their belongings and assets. Many Japanese families faced the same situation: Internment camps tore down any financial stability that Japanese immigrants had worked so hard to build. “My dad lost his dad and then his family when he got out of the camps,” Tanaka said. “The whole business was gone, right? Because you’re basically in prison for five years.” History books also often overlook Asian-led accomplishments or achievements. Gunn 2016 alumna Shawna Chen, an editor at the Yappie, a news publication reporting on Asian power, politics and influence, noted that even when she was learning about American history in high school, she rarely felt represented in textbooks or curriculum. “I only remember two times that I felt represented in U.S. history,” she said. “The first was when I read one line in my textbook about Chinese laborers building the transcontinental railroad, and it didn’t say anything about the kind of exploitation or abuse they faced—just said that they contributed. The second was one paragraph about Japanese incarceration during World War II, and again, it didn’t really talk about how much people suffered, or how it hurt.”
“What history shows me is that the violence directed against Asians in America new but rather very is not new, longstanding, and has been a part of American history from the earliest beginnings of Asian migration to the U.S.” —stanford history professor gordon chang
Since March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in America, hate crimes against Asians have increased by nearly 150% in America’s major cities, despite overall hate crimes dropping by 7%. NBC News reported that hate crimes more than doubled from 2019 to 2020 in major cities, logging a total of 122 in the past year alone. Along with physical violence, reports of verbal abuse have also increased in the past year. The Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate Reporting Center recorded 2,808 anti-Asian incidents from March to December of 2020. Approximately 71% of these cases were verbal harassment complaints, ranging from racial slurs to targeted COVID-19 affronts. Other reported attacks such as spitting or coughing on people have also increased in the past year. This increase in violence and verbal abuse stems from the fact that many American citizens blame the Asian community—more specifically the Chinese community—for the pandemic. Among the 2,808 reported incidents, more than 40% of the attacks were reported by Chinese Americans, with 15% by Korean Americans and 8% by Filipino Americans. In the eyes of Palo Alto Asian solidarity rally organizer Kalee Whitehouse, former President Trump’s use of terms such as “China virus” and “Kung flu” weaponized the virus against Asian Americans in order to mask his administration’s failure to adequately institute protective measures in America. “I’ve had to explain to my children that in the same way Trump misrepresented ballot counts, he has lied about coronavirus,” Whitehouse said. “He didn’t want to take responsibility for ignoring the virus and failing to protect American citizens.” According to Chang, the Stanford professor, the way public health crises have been politicized and used to blame certain minorities can lead to stereotypes and stigma. “Unfortunately,
between march and december of 2020,
2,808 2,808 anti-asian incidents were recorded by the aApi hate reporting center.
Racism during COVID-19
ith the COVID-19 pandemic killing more than 500,000 people in America, anti-Asian hate crimes have become more widespread, especially in places with a higher proportion of Asian residents, such as New York and the Bay Area.
18 | Cover story
“I am not a virus,” reads a sign held up by a protestor attending Palo Alto’s March 27 Asian solidarity march.
a lot of diseases are given ethnic names,” Chang said. “These are all unfortunate and terrible associations because they stigmatize different social groups, and people do that because they’re looking for scapegoats.”
Aren’t you the one that brought this coronavirus?’” he said. While other bystanders were able to break up the incident swiftly, it resulted in lasting fear and apprehension for Lin and his family. According to Lin, his family began to make the conscious decisions to avoid certain areas of Palo Alto where people are known to be intolerant of the Asian community. Sinophobic sentiments have even affected prominent political figures in the area, including Tanaka. While Tanaka was biking down Middlefield Road last March, a vehicle pulled up next to him and rolled down the windows. “[The vehicle occupants] started yelling at me, saying ‘you brought the virus from China,’” Tanaka said. “And I’m thinking, gosh, I’m on City Council. Isn’t this liberal Palo Alto? I’m fairly well known here, but probably not well enough. Or they just don’t care.”
the model minority myth
he concept of Asians being a model minority has long been deeply ingrained in the Asian American experience: Asians are characterized as silent, law-abiding and successful individuals who do not challenge traditional systems of white supremacy—in other words, living proof that people of estled within the Silicon Valley and neighboring a world- color can succeed in American society. class educational instituYet the model minority myth tion, many see Palo Alto as a can be just as harmful as overtly city where tolerance and acceptance negative stereotypes. For one, the “Change looks like are commonplace. Asians constitute model minority myth is used to standing together 33% percent of the Palo Alto popumask widespread Asian American lation, far more than the national against racism. racism It looks poverty in major cities. In 2017, for average of 6%. Yet living in Palo Alto example, Asians had the highest like standing with Black doesn’t protect Asian Americans poverty rate in New York City, and communities, Indigenous and Pacific Islanders from racist many of those impoverished were incidents. communities and other elderly residents. In May of last year, junior Justin communities of color. It The stereotype of the model Lin heard about a cashier verbally Asian is harmful not only in veillooks like addressing the abusing an elderly Asian woman in ing the struggles that Asians face, government system and the government, a local grocery store, to his shock. but it also insults other minorities. “This happened in a place that not just the people.” “The idea of the model minorwas pretty close to my community, ity did not originate from Asian and there are a lot of Asian people Americans,” Chang said. “It was —palo alto high school around us,” he said. “I didn’t expect a description placed upon Asian sophomore johannah seah something [to happen] so close to us, Americans by social commentaand so close to my grandmother and tors who highlighted the different my family members.” aspects of Asian American life, not Lin and his father were themso much to praise Asian Ameriselves victims of a similar verbal altercation at another local gro- cans but to criticize other minorities. The idea of a model minorcery store. “A man looked at my dad and said, ‘Aren’t you Chinese?
hate close to home
cover story | 19 ity suggests that other minorities are not models, that they’re not so good, and that pits different communities against each other.” In addition, grouping Asians under an umbrella of assumed affluence can have a muzzling effect on activists wishing to voice their thoughts on Asian-related issues. “This [model minority status] is used against Asians to say that Asians don’t have anything they really complain about,” Chang said. “So whenever Asians do [voice their opinions], people actually then turn around and attack Asians for being unappreciative of life in America. It’s really a double edged sword to attack Asian Americans in addition to other minorities.” At the March 28 rally against anti-Asian hate, Palo Alto High School sophomore Johannah Seah spoke to the importance of uniting against racism and hatred. “Change looks like standing together against racism,” she said. “It looks like standing with Black communities, Indigenous communities and other communities of color. It looks like addressing the system and the government, not just the people.” Even with the help of organizations such as the Stop AAPI Hate website, where Asian Americans can report hate-related incidents, Asian Americans often do not self-report crimes, believing it easier to move on rather than linger on the past. “We don’t complain,” Tanaka said. “We just let it go. A lot of Asians don’t want to cause ruckus, so they don’t want to report it as a hate crime. They just kind of take it.” As a result, many anti-Asian stories are left untold, and the problem is minimized to the extent of disappearing completely.
silent no longer
ince the Atlanta shootings and countless previous attacks on Asian Americans, Asian voices have been thrust to the forefront of activism and racial justice. From New York to Los Angeles, people have attended protests and signed petitions in an attempt to enact meaningful change. A GoFundMe fundraiser created to combat anti-Asian hate has raised more than $4 million, with approximately 41,000 donors from all over the world. Corporations such as YouTube, H&M and Airbnb have shown their support to the Asian community through monetary donations or providing educational resources on recent events. Chen pointed out that while many people assume the Asian community is silent, it only appears that way because Asian activists so often go unheard by the general public. “Part of the problem is definitely lack of media coverage, but I also think people just didn’t care about the stories that did get published about anti-Asian racism,” Chen said. “It is still very frustrating for a lot of Asian Americans who have been living this reality their entire lives, and especially the last year, for all of a sudden to be catapulted into this huge thing.” In the last couple of months, Oakland and other cities in the Bay Area have organized marches and protests to stand in solidarity of the grieving Asian community. In San Mateo, Ashlyn So, a 13-year-old middle school student, organized an #StandForAsians rally. In San Jose, Gunn alumnus Adam Juratovac organized another rally in solidarity with Asian Americans. In Palo Alto, residents have similarly been coming out to show support to the AAPI community. In the last few weeks,
local community leaders have organized rallies and protests in order to stop the violence against the Asian community. On March 26, Tanaka participated in a rally in Foster City. The day after, a kid-friendly protest in Palo Alto called “Littlest March” took place; protestors walked down University Avenue to the City Hall, where a moment of silence was followed by speeches from the general public and writing hopes for a better future on postcards tied to a “wishing tree.” And it’s not just protesters who have taken action: On March 19, Principal Wendy Stratton condemned anti-Asian racism through a schoolwide Schoology message, sending solidarity and support to the many Asian American students impacted both personally and mentally by the occurrences. On March 22, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution to denounce and combat xenophobia and racism towards all racial groups in Palo Alto, but more specifically the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. “I’m hoping that this will unite Asians somewhat in terms of standing up for each other,” Tanaka said. “We can’t keep having a higher standard for Asian hate crimes.” Margaretta Lin, an activist for Asian equality, believes that education is key to putting an end to the model minority myth. “Today, we’re not taught about each other’s histories in this country, and so when we are not taught the truth and the reality of our experiences here in this country, it’s really easy for stereotypes about racial groups to become dominant,” she said. Similarly, Chen believes that ultimately, the cure to racism and ignorance is education. “I think a lot of it comes down to education, but it [needs to] start from the very beginning of schooling, and I believe that that’s true for all racial groups, whether you’re talking about Native Americans, Black communities or Asian Americans,” she said. “[Education] needs to start from the beginning, so that you don’t just learn this whitewashed version of history.”
Protestors walked down University Avenue to the City Hall, where a moment of silence was followed by speeches from the general public and writing hopes for a better future on postcards tied to a “wishing tree.”
20 | Sports
student Athletes return to campus for spring sports
The varsity football team performs sprint drills during a conditioning practice. This season, Gunn football remains undefeated.
A heat of swimmers dives into the pool for a 50-yard freestyle race at their last meet of the season, against Palo Alto High School.
A heat of Gunn swimmers compete in the 500-yard freestyle during a March 24 meet, the third meet of the season.
The boys water polo team works on their passing and defense skills in preparation for their first match of the season on April 20.
sports | 21
The girls varsity soccer team wins their third conference game of the season playing against Mountain View High School.
The boys tennis team practices their serves, passes and technique to prepare for their next match against Saratoga on April 13.
During tennis tryouts on March 29, a player tosses the ball in the air and winds up his tennis racket for a serve.
Between football and basketball seasons, the cheerleading team continues to practice their team choreography and routinues.
22 | LIFESTYLE
Here’s the tea: Must-try flavors for tea lovers
LEMON VERBE NA
A lt hou bag, br gh t his isn’t ew te produc ing lemon v chnica lly a t erb en a ea es an i n te and nu tritious cred ibly ea sy a leaves , delicio tea. Yo y ou r s e uc lf us the lem by ex t rac t ing an make the t e on ver a t he lea be this pla v nt at a na plant ( you es f rom n them i nto ho y nurser y) an can find t water d steep utes be for abo ing fo ut five for any re drinking. minTh i s i s weat he ag the sum r; mer an it’s ref reshin reat tea d c oz y The fla g dur in du vo g much s r is also amaz ring the w int e tronge i r n . g , since rt in prep it has a ackage aste than fla vors fo d tea b a g s. und
ORO M O CoLA C L n i l la o a I a V N t VA Sons dit ion rtd a nd o
f y ta ar ne e per fec It’s a com milk H e . e Th is t h inter t som o tea t in the w st w ith rominen r o m e h a p b g e i y t s r e e yn is chill a and go o has a v a ke s t h c t ly s e fe ing t in. It al wh ich m ste per d is d , ta an e r , x o e i k v h m f la wee g from t. T a s u l l l o a i fin ressin nd va n a nd to d st a st i s te bra n dies an e while de lone, t h es it o ma k s te a emb t choice d t a , which Overall, a e n r o g y g e a k. n y ol . B drin credibl k ag i n sc ho reat pac aling to i s i g and ppe ha s ore a nilla tea m n a e ev tv g re a it’s a able. y enjo
RRY E B Y f r om e r r y fr uit y VER B ry e
er. dibl r Ve l a v o n incre r summ his f a te go ra gt T h e akes fo e sprin drinkin ent h , t m h s h h es m or Stas er fect f er mont est refr t i s a n I p tea ng warm is the b r he at . l f unca i ia e Dur iced te su m m ny soc e a sona n e e a yr o h as i n t dition t lso ver alit y. Th f e l i a d qu xo wh ing a is ic e ven its as a mi es. z r a p m i e a ot nd h l ly g . Th or n t ion especia strong a rr y flav for the e , d able is ver y d raspb lso goo y flavor n a it e t a u s s i y r ta err is tea m, its f g. b w t t in stra ugh th t’s war i o m se A lth r when n a war i te w i n i s b e st y l u r t
CHAMOMILE Chamomile tea from Celestial is the ult imate key to destr essing and relaxation. This tea has a very subtle flavor, allowing drinkers to slo w down and relax. Not only does it help destress, but it also is great for sle epin g problem s; dr in king this about half an hour before going to sle ep impr oves sle ep qu ality. Th is tea claims a host of benefits, including reducing inflammatio n, helping to ease menstrual pains, treati ng cold symptoms and more.
— Compiled by H ila Livneh Sophie Fan
s: How p i t y t par a e T
to organize a socially distanced
LIFESTYLE | 23
tea p ar t
LOCATION Although afternoon tea is traditionally hosted inside, when trying to social distance, an outside setting is preferable. Look for a location close by: a great option is any park in your area or even a large backyard, as long as it’s somewhere with enough space to spread out. Right now, it might be safest to avoid popular attractions. When securing a location, it’s important to take into account other factors such as the weather, popularity of the spot, views or other activities to do—whichever is important to you.
MENU When planning the menu for a tea party, there are many directions to explore. You can go with the traditional route of finger sandwiches and cookies, or try a potluck style event where everyone contributes. Another idea would be to try new foods with your friends: popular food trends such as charcuterie boards, four-fold quesadillas, cloud bread, avocado toast and minimalist cakes offer creative snack inspirations. Another must-have item on the menu is tea. But what kind? When there are many incredible types, it’s all up to what you like or want to try. For an afternoon tea there’s traditional blends and herbal teas, or you can modernize with a boba tea.
DECORATIONS Once location and a menu are finalized, the next step is setting up. This includes setting out pillows and blankets. A good idea would be to use a waterproof blanket to catch any spills. Gathering plates, cups, napkins, other utensils and possibly a small personal desk is important. Another fun addition could be setting a theme to base decorations or outfits around: it can be anything as simple or complex as wanted. Although decorations can be individualized for a theme, it can also include simple things like flowers, candles, balloons or even a special matching tea set. Make sure everyone is being safe by using masks, hand sanitizer and gloves or shields if needed. —Compiled by Safina Syed Sophie Fan
24 | Homecoming Court
Student Body Vice President Charlize Chu has won a spot on the Homecoming Court in recognition of her charismatic personality and involvement in school events. “To me, being on Homecoming Court means that I’ve made a positive impact on the student body,” she said. “Not only does this mean implementing change but being a role model for students to look up to and ask for advice.” Chu remembers her junior year Night Rally fondly. “My favorite memory at Gunn so far was junior year airbands,” she said. “That was the year our class truly connected while still making the most out of our time together. To the Gunn community, I want to say that there is a place for each and every one. I’ve grown to love the community at Gunn being accepting of each of our differences. It’s important to support each other through everything.”
mine alo s a
ry pool Hen
Yasmine Alonso is known for her bubbly school spirit and never-ending love for her class. “Being on Homecoming Court this year is super exciting—I never expected that I’d win,” she said. “I think it’s a big honor to know that my peers respect me enough to think I deserve it.” Alonso has always shown her spirit, making sure to go all out when dressing up for homecoming week. Despite her love for homecoming week, her fondest memories come from simply going to class. “I think that I realized this past year that I took for granted just being at school and spending time with other students and teachers,” she said. “Some of my other favorite memories come from just being in class on a regular day.”
Henry Poole has been recognized for his achievements in promoting Gunn.app, which has saved many from being late to class. Poole often reminisces on his last memories of in-person school. “It’s hard to pick a favorite memory from school, but one moment I remember fondly was actually the last day of in-person school in 2020, on March 13,” he said. “It was surreal after we learned the news that school would be ‘canceled’ for a few weeks, but it also brought us closer for a little while. I made a point to say goodbye to as many people as I could, and that was valuable as distance learning stretched longer and longer, meaning I couldn’t see them.”
y Moshf r n
Timothy Herchen is one of the founding members of the Ovinus Real group, which created Gunn.app and has done many things for the Gunn community. “Winning this title feels like an appreciation of my contributions to Gunn,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that I won, but I’m glad I’ve helped people through my work on the Analysis textbook—a continued effort, thanks to my friend Yu-Ting!” Herchen also takes pride in the Gunn Discord. “Its detractors call it a ‘cesspool,’ but it’s pretty chill,” he said. He encourages people to engage in activities that will connect them to the things they are passionate about. “Go to clubs,” he advises. “I didn’t, and I regret it.”
class of 2021
a r l ize Ch
Henry Moshfeghi is part of the cross country, track and field and band community, allowing him to make trusting connections with his peers–ones he thinks landed him a spot on the court. “To me, this title is about friendship,” he said. “What means the most for me was that I was able to make positive connections with my classmates at Gunn and that they voted for me.” Moshfeghi is a strong advocate for joining groups on campus that connect you to people who share the same interests; in fact, his favorite memory from Gunn was a band field trip. “Going to New York City junior year with the band was a great experience,” Moshfeghi said. “It was so much fun traveling with my classmates.” Photos courtesy of Arunim Agarwal, Yasmine Alonso, Charlize Chu, Sarah Emberling, Banafsheh Hussain, Timothy Herchen, Andrew Kim, Henry Moshfeghi, Henry Poole, and Madeline Siu.
Homecoming court | 25
homecoming court line Siu
Olympian Editor Madeline Siu originally didn’t think Homecoming Court could be less traditional. “Before coming to Gunn, my idea of ‘Homecoming King/Queen’ was straight from the movies—most popular girl and most popular guy,” she said. “I thought it was the coolest thing, how the Gunn community chose a Homecoming Court based on hard work and devotion to the community rather than just how many friends they had. I’m humbled and genuinely surprised that the student body sees me the same way, and it makes me really proud to be a Titan. Although high school isn’t easy, especially at Gunn, these past four years have taught me so much about myself and helped me become a better person.”
drew kim n A
Student Body President Andrew Kim has been a part of Student Executive Council for three years, and is grateful for the fond memories he’s made within this community. This year, however, the meaning of Homecoming Court has changed for him. “I’ve always thought of hoco court as some huge honor,” he said. “But now that I’m here, I realize that the title of Homecoming Court isn’t what gives it its value. It is the support and validation from my classmates that makes me proud of who I am and how far I’ve come.” Despite his dedication to the entire student body, Kim will always have a special place in his heart for the Class of 2021. “I think about all the friends I made along the way—every smile and awkward handshake, all the Hoco memories and lost voices,” he said. “No matter where I go or what I do, I know that I can find support from the Class of 2021.”
sheh hus f a
Banafsheh Hussain found her community through choir and the swim team. “One of my favorite high school memories would have to be studying with my friends in the Mitchell Park library the day before a [biology] test and having other people in our class just drop by to hang out—we never really got much actual studying done,” she said. Looking back at her time at Gunn, Hussain is thankful for Gunn’s welcoming community. “As a freshman, I was pretty nervous about meeting so many new people, but the Gunn community has been the best I could ask for,” she said. “When I had bad days, even people I didn’t know well were there for me. I hope I was able to have a positive effect on others, too.”
Arunim Agarwal is a spirited member of the Gunn community, participating in many activities such as Student Executive Council, juggling club, Title IX club, cross country and track and field. Agarwal encourages students to put themselves out there and take part in spirit events. “My favorite memory is probably random hugs, high fives and handshakes that I was lucky enough to give and receive on campus, both with friends and random classmates,” he said. Additionally, Agarwal has been working on a project on campus to help support students who are passionate makers. “Check out the Village Studio (Gunn’s very own makerspace) once we open,” he said. “And follow @pa_public_piano on Instagram!”
m ag a r i n u
Sarah Emberling is known for her role in Gunn Theatre and will be playing Portia in the spring production of “Something Rotten!” “I have so many really great memories from all the shows I’ve been in here at Gunn,” she said. Emberling highlighted the memory of when the production of “Romeo and Juliet” was tragically shut down last March. “The cast and crew gathered in the theatre to complete the pre-show rituals we wouldn’t have the chance to do,” Emberling said. “Looking around at the circle of people celebrating the work we had done made me realize how happy and grateful I am for this incredible Gunn theatre community we have.”
Photo illustrations by Clair Koo
–Compiled by Genna Bishop
26 | humor
what i taught myself over quarantine Sewing
This skill is actually still in progress. Quarantine has given me the opportunity to explore the world of sewing. After countless YouTube videos, I honestly still cannot make a single thing, but at least I can pin my clothes now.
Boiling milk for hot chocolate Burning seems to be a common theme in my life. While trying to make hot chocolate to keep up with the winter festivities, I burned the milk. One second, the milk was fine and seemed to be heating up, but when I went back to stir it, the entire bottom of the pot was covered in ash. Luckily, I’ve improved! I now use a microwave for milk instead. Highly recommended for mediocre results.
Focusing on school while my mom sings Since March of last year, I’ve learned that my mom enjoys spontaneous singing at arbitrary times during the day—especially in my room. Thus, I’ve acquired the ability to respectfully ignore her singing while I’m trying to do my homework or Zoom for class. The trick lies in playing loud music through my headphones, but not quite loud enough to get called out for it.
How to Cook Rice (without burning it!) I didn’t know it was possible to burn rice with a rice cooker, but I guess I defied the odds. According to my mom, the rice I made was “simply inedible,” since the bottom was just slightly less moist than the top. Thankfully, my rice-cooking skills have improved, and my mom has opened up to the concept of eating the rice that I make... after everyone else tries it, that is.
Watching TV on 1.25 speed I started getting quite a bit of judgment from my friends when I told them I watch a lot of shows on 1.25 speed. I’m not doing this because I don’t enjoy the show, but because I really want to know what happens. In some shows, it might seem like the characters are talking very, very quickly, but at least I can find out if they survive 1.25 times faster than my friends.
Finding the perfect position to watch TikToks The main issue with my room configuration is that I don’t have power outlets on both sides of my bed. When I’m trying to watch TikToks peacefully at midnight on the side of my bed that has air vents, I can’t charge my phone. However, when I turn to the other side to charge my phone, I start overheating. There is really no solution to this besides laying horizontally across so only my upper body overheats. Zora Zhang — Chu, a junior, is a News Editor.
perspective | 27
We’ve seen this before: Biden’s promise of a “new America” rings hollow when it comes to middle east policy
BY Arjun Shah
28 | perspective
An airstrike was carried out in Raqqa, on Aug. 15, 2017, killing 1600 civillians.
Former President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike on Al Hasakah, Syria on June 12, 2018.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. coalition launched an airstrike on Mosul, Iraq on March 17, 2017, causing a surge in casulaties, killing up to 200 civillians in the area.
President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike on Al Bukamah, Syria on Feb. 25, 2021.
In response to a rocket attack on the U.S. airbase in northern Iraq in early Feburary of 2021, the U.S. coalition carried out an airstrike on Qaim, Syria to hit the Iranian supply network.
On Dec. 24, 2015, there was a airstrike on Ramadi, Iraq to retailate against ISIS.
Data collected from the Institute for the Study of War, US Central Command Chinyoung Shao
perspective | 29
merica is back” was the message that seemingly echoed through every American household when then-Presidentelect Joe Biden addressed the nation in his victory speech on Nov. 7, 2020. In the wake of his victory, Biden’s supporters flooded the streets in celebration of what the Biden campaign dubbed “A Presidency for All Americans.” Just a month after his inauguration, however, Biden ordered airstrikes on Iran-backed militia groups in Syria, killing 22 people, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. The attack came in response to an Iran-sponsored rocket attack on a U.S. military base in northern Iraq, which injured eight and killed one. In an increasingly divided political era, Biden’s campaign focused on the promise to depart from the Trump era. Indeed, the campaign pledged to offer newly bipartisan solutions to the problems the United Statesfaces, namely the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet Biden’s recent actions in Syria hardly reflect a new America, but are instead reminiscent of a long and tumultuous saga of U.S.-backed settler colonialism, exploitation and violence within the Middle East. A further investigation is necessary, then, to contextualize Biden’s actions within the history of the United States’ presence in the Middle East. By diving into the history of U.S. imperialism within the Middle East, and comparing it to the present, we can better understand what Biden’s actions mean, and what they can tell us about our future.
tutional monarchy to the more authoritarian-style government that is in place today. The Shah of Iran, who aided the U.S. and Britain in getting rid of Mosaddegh, would abolish the many democratic processes that were in place before the coup in 1953. Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford and Hoover Institute fellow Dr. Abbas Milani noted how public perception in Iran of the U.S. changed after the events of 1953. “After ‘53, I think this sense that the U.S. is an imperialist, just like Britain, they’re after their interests, and they have propped up this authoritarian Shah—that became the dominant discourse in Iran,” he said. Because of the United States’ interference in Iran, the Iranian government has harbored anti-A merican sentiments ever since. Though the negative ramifications of U.S. involvement in Iran are very real, like all things in history, there’s more than one side to the story. “You talk about imperialism in the Middle East and you’re absolutely right, that there was that,” Milani said. “But there was also [the U.S. contributions of] the American University in Beirut, the American University in Cairo, the first nursing school in Iran, the American College in Iran. These were, I would say, the lighter side [of imperialism].” But despite the good that the U.S. has done, after the events of 9/11, administration after administration—both Democratic and Republican—has taken an aggressive approach to resolving conflicts within the Middle East. While the West became more progressive and aware of social plights, it also has continuously disrupted lives abroad. “When the West was talking about democracy, it was talking about liberalism, it was talking about women’s rights and human rights, but it was doing some pretty nasty things in Africa and India, in Latin America and around the world,” Milani said. “We talk about the Age of Enlightenment—enlightenment had a dark side.”
though the negative ramifications of u.s. involvement in Iran are very real, like all things in history, there’s more than one side to the story.
hough dialogue around U.S. involvement within the Middle East has long orbited around countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, one of the earliest examples of the U.S. acting like an imperial power was in the country wedged between Afghanistan and Iraq: Iran. After World War II, oil emerged as a must-have resource for countries seeking to be at the top of the geopolitical ladder. Specifically, the United Kingdom and the United States both made numerous efforts to control oil fields in the Middle East. The British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company reaped millions of dollars from Iran, so when then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran nationalized Iran’s oil industry, effectively undermining Britain’s oil revenue, the British wanted to act. Meanwhile, America had its own worries that Mossadegh was too sympathetic towards the communist cause, prompting the United States and Britain to collaborate in a joint effort to remove Mossadegh from power. The effort, dubbed “Operation Ajax” by British and American operatives, was a plan to stage a coup against Mosaddegh in Iran’s capital city of Tehran. As a result of Operation Ajax, Iran would transition from a consti-
THE WAR ON TERROR
n Sept. 11, 2001, Americans watched as the twin towers in New York City went up in flames, firefighters rushed into burning buildings and paramedics treated wounded civilians who lay around pieces of rubble. The attack, which would later be referred to as 9/11, caused the deaths of almost 3,000 people, injured countless others and caused severe health implications in the years that followed. Social Studies teacher Laurel Howard recalled how her family reacted in the aftermath of the attacks. “I remember my mom talking on the phone being like, ‘Could Disneyland be bombed?’” she said. “There’s this feeling of you never know where the next attack is going to be. That’s the very purposeful part of terrorism.” Howard wasn’t the only one to feel that way. The events on 9/11 brought a new kind of fear to many Americans who
30 | perspective suddenly felt vulnerable on American soil. Only a few days after the anced than that. “We hit the Cold War after World War II, and [in attacks, then-President George W. Bush announnced the infamous the 1950s] we have this big divide in our world between, ‘Are you “War on Terror.” “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it going to be communist, or are you going to be capitalist?’” Howard does not end there,” he said in an address to Congress. “It will not said. “Afghanistan was democratic, and then it was overthrown by end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, a communist group. So now, Afghanistan and the USSR (Soviet stopped and defeated.” Union) are very closely tied. And to America, the more communism What followed was the war in Afghanistan, the United States’s expands, the more Americans are in danger, so we see a proxy war longest war ever—a war that emerge in Afghanistan.” is still continuing to this day. A mong t hose f ig ht ing Though it may often seem that And soon after, in 2003, against the Soviet Union in Bush would announce the the war was Osama Bin LadAmericans are disconnected invasion of Iraq, a separate en, the son of a wealthy Saudi from the U.S.’s war actions effort to topple the regime Arabian real estate mogul and abroad, thousands have died of dictator Saddam Hussein, the eventual orchestrator of because of U.S. involvement in who American intelligence the 9/11 terrorist attacks. agencies believed possessed By funding the Taliban in the Middle East. nuclear weapons. order to stave off Soviet power Though it may often seem in Afghanistan, the U.S. dithat Americans are disconnected from the U.S.’s war actions abroad, rectly helped the Taliban rise as an extremist political faction, and thousands have died because of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. this rise of the Taliban contributed to the attacks on 9/11. According to a study by Brown University, approximately 500,000 Throughout U.S. involvement in the Middle East, there’s a compeople have died in the post-9/11 War on Terror. mon theme of the U.S. seizing power from the people, and people With so many lives lost, the question must be asked: Were the resenting them for it. In Iran, the U.S. shattered a democracy and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq truly necessary? And furthermore, gave way to an authoritarian regime that viewed the U.S. as an how much did the United States’ previous imperialism in the Middle imperial power that was seeking to control their way of life. In East lead to anti-West sentiments that culminated in the attacks Afghanistan, the U.S. initially aided what would later become the on 9/11? Taliban and Al-Queda, causing years of war and thousands of deaths A common phrase within the post-9/11 anti-war movement was between the two countries. that America “funded”’ the Taliban. The story behind U.S. involveBoth of these instances demonstrate the cyclical nature of impement in the Middle East, however, is much more complex and nu- rialism. The current conflict between the U.S. and the Middle East
number of u.s. military personnel stationed in the Middle East since 2010
Data collected from U.S. News.
perspective | 31
In january 2020, there were an estimated
u.s. military personnel stationed in the middle east. Data collected from U.S. News. is the legacy of decades of cascading, causal events: It’s no lon- Biden’s actions in Syria. ger whether the U.S. can remove itself from Middle Eastern afU.S. Government teacher Brian Miguel noted how political biases fairs, but whether relaenable double standards. “We tions between the U.S have that double standard of It’s no longer whether the U.S. can and the Middle East can excusing when our guy does it remove itself from Middle Eastern be repaired after the two and being upset when the other have become so closely inside does it,” he said. affairs, but whether relations tertwined—and so much In the midst of a hyperbetween the U.S and the Middle East damage has been done. militarized age, however, when can be repaired after the two have Maybe the first step the military industrial combecome so closely intertwined—and toward repair is acknowlplex seems to be just as strong edging and understandas ever, it’s worth revisiting if so much damage has been done. ing this complicated histhe president should have the tory. Through her teachpower to attack other countries ing, Howard hopes to provide different perspectives on the United without congressional approval. “The original interpretation of the States’ actions in the Middle East, even if those perspectives paint Constitution [is that] one of the 18 enumerated powers of Congress the U.S. in a darker light. “I do think part of the history of America is is to declare war, and this would seemingly be an act of war,” Miguel seeing the way America has interacted with the world and what the said. “Although, ever since the Korean War, just about all U.S. benefits and the consequences of that have been,” she said. “We don’t military actions have gone through without congressional consent.” exist in a vacuum, so how can we understand what’s going on within If the Biden administration continues the same foreign policy our soil if we’re not thinking about what’s going on elsewhere?” stance as previous administrations have, it increasingly runs the risk of making Middle East imperialism an accepted norm for Americans. “I think it’s natural when something is so common to stop being so shocked and alarmed by it,” Miguel said. And, despite his progressive tendencies, Biden shows no inclination to end U.S. interference in the Middle East. While the Bideno many Americans, Biden’s pledge to create a “new Amer- Harris ticket may tout a “new America,” their actions prove that no ica” was certainly appealing. Much of Biden’s campaign matter what new message or agenda is behind the actions of U.S. focused on his promise to answer calls for social justice politicians, the neo-colonial relationship that the U.S. has with the reform in the wake of the Middle East will remain Black Lives Matter movement. in place—unless signifi“if you want change, if you have However, Biden’s decision to cant action is taken. bomb Syria is jarringly simiMiguel highlighted a specific idea or vision, there’s lar to past U.S. involvement the importance of conno reason to let up based on in the Middle East, throwing tinuing to hold presiwho’s in the White House; you into question whether Biden dents of both parties always have to fight and push.” is truly capable of creating a responsible for their ac“new America.” tions abroad. “There is Despite some criticism by so much consistency —U.S. Government Teacher members of Congress, Biden’s f rom administration brian miguel actions in Syria have largely to administration and gone unnoticed or ignored by there is some positive to some of his supporters. This is especially concerning considering that,” he said. “But there also is that element of just keep doing the the fact that Vice President Kamala Harris and Press Secretary same old, same old, so if you want change, if you have a specific idea Jen Psaki questioned President Trump’s authority to bomb Syria or vision, there’s no reason to let up based on who’s in the White in 2017 without congressional approval, but have so far supported House; you always have to fight and push.”
Biden’s “new america”
32 | LIFESTYLE
California Avenue farmers market offers delicious treats FONTANA FARMS
Fontana Farms offers both sweet and savory almonds that cater to every taste palette. Although the small bags are expensive, these unique flavors cannot be found elsewhere. Their jams are also a perfect topping for crackers or morning toast; the apricot and red chili pepper jam is a delicious blend of sweet and spicy.
As the destination booth for all fruit lovers, Twin Farms supplies some of the best produce on California Avenue for those visiting on Sunday morning. From oranges to plums and apples to pears, Twin Farms sells whatever fruit is fresh and seasonal. No matter what you get, you will always get fruit that is sweet and juicy, compelling you to come back the next week to grab more. Sarah Chang
THE MIDWIFE AND THE BAKER
The Midwife and the Baker’s always has a long line for their tasty pastries and bread. Their country sourdough bread is one of their bestsellers with its hard, chewy outer texture pairing perfectly with a pillowy inside. They also sell many different types of croissants and other pastries, with seasonal specials like lemon poppy seed muffins perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Get there early—their tasty baked goods sell out fast.
Tomatero Organic Farms provides an abundance of fresh produce that outshines any produce available at supermarkets. While they have a wide variety of products available, Tomatero has a few outstanding fruits and vegetables, including their kale, lettuce and aromatic strawberries. They manage to hit the sweet spot—great products for a reasonable price. —Compiled by Mia Knezevic and Haley Pflasterer
perspective | 33
Girlboss: the good, the bad and the ugly
Clair Koo and Zora Zhang
How toxic feminism has impacted the Women’s Rights Movement
By Annika Bereny and Rebecca Wu
34 | perspective
n 2013, late night host Eric Andre invited singer Melanie Brown onto his talk show to ask a simple question: “Do you think [former British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher had girl power?” “Yes, of course,” she responded. He followed up: “Do you think she effectively utilized girl power by funneling money into illegal paramilitary death squads in Northern Ireland?” Brown was clearly caught off guard and simply responded with, “I don’t know about that.” Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of Britain—yet left a complex legacy. Although she broke a myriad of gender barriers, she simultaneously garnered an unfavorable reputation as she disregarded women’s rights, sparked the rise of British nationalism and shunned labor groups. Thatcher, however, is hailed as a feminist icon despite having arguably done nothing to deserve that title. Thatcher is a case in point of a larger issue: With the lack of representation in a male-dominated society, we often overlook politics and personal views simply for the sake of putting strong women in power; women who have downright
strong, intelligent and powerful women who are outstanding individuals. To truly be a feminist icon or a girlboss, one should not just be a woman in power, but also one who works to uplift other women and utilizes that power to enact structural change.
AN EMPTY GESTURE
hat exactly is a girlboss? The ter m or ig inated f rom t he founder of clothing retailer NastyGal, Sophia Amoruso, in her memoir, “Girlboss.” The term was originally used as a way to describe a strong, empowered woman. It’s a definition that has endured, at least for some. “[When I hear the word girlboss,] I think of girls being themselves, powerfully, unequivocally,” answered a student on a survey sent out by The Oracle. “I see them taking on roles traditionally assigned to men, and making them theirs.” Many survey respondents also saw “girlboss” as an empowering term for women, one that signified their strength. The term was also often associated
“A woman shouldn’t have to be at the top of a corporate ladder to be respected.” —student survey Answer horrible or even anti-woman policies are excused just because they’ve broken new ground or shattered glass ceilings. This phenomenon holds many names— it can be called corporate feminism, neoliberal feminism or girlboss feminism. Yet the common denominator is that all these terms stress the influence of a woman with no actual regard to what that woman has done. Certainly, at a point when gender equality was still a burgeoning issue, those who fought for the cause stood out among the rest. That’s why we often remember women’s rights champions such as Susan B. Anthony in glowing terms, despite their—in Anthony’s case—racist or otherwise unscrupulous views. There is no shortage, however, of
with the business world and corporate entities. “A girlboss is a girl or woman who is in a senior position at a company or organization,” noted one student. “Female CEO or successful businesswoman,” wrote another. Indeed, it’s in this context that the term girlboss begins to stray from its originally positive intentions and lean more towards defining worth through financial success. The financial focus of the term’s connotation has been criticized. “The term puts a price on feminism,” a student wrote on the survey. “Implying a girl should just rise up the ranks of a corporation to earn respect devalues their identity as a woman and puts value on their identity as a superior. A woman shouldn’t have to be at the top of a corporate ladder to be respected.”
Zora Zhang The term “girlboss” itself draws similarities to a statue of a young girl facing down the Wall Street Bull in New York City, titled the “Fearless Girl.” The original intent of the statue was to encourage workplace gender diversity and promote female empowerment. Ironically enough, the firm that paid for the statue was subject to a 2017 lawsuit alleging that they didn’t pay their female staff members equally. And that’s exactly emblematic of the issue with girlboss feminism: It can often be nothing more than an empty gesture—a symbolic action with no actual change. “I think that on the one hand, the whole term of a ‘girlboss’ in particular is infantilizing,” English teacher Kate Zavack said. “It’s also reinforcing capitalistic structures at the same time.” The elements of corporate feminism are also often found in advertising targeted to women and stressing the importance of so-called “Girl Power.” In 2019, McDonald’s flipped their iconic doublearch M into a W to signify International Women’s Day, a move that was widely hailed as insincere and performative. “I don’t think [corporations] should market diversity for the sake of getting money,” freshman Antonia Minion said. “It should be for the sake of actually, you know, striving for a change.” Zavack agreed with the sentiment, especially when it comes to the commodification of feminism. “We see a
perspective | 35 similar ethos in a lot of advertising now— marketing razors or soap as a feminist product—when really all that’s doing is making money,” Zavack said. “They’re using feminism to make money.” Even details as small as the actual word “girlboss” can be carefully placed corporate marketing. “I think that it’s essentially marketing—it’s a phrase that’s designed to get the individual to feel like they are empowered,” Zavack said. “But it doesn’t actually give them real power, and it doesn’t change how power is distributed beyond the individual.”
The politics of Representation
omen in positions of power, such as in politics, are often seen as a progressive ideal, which can undermine them when women begin to be defined by their womanhood and not by their policies and views: Criticize Vice President Kamala Harris’ past actions as a prosecutor, for example, and suddenly you’re sexist, or level a critique on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and you’re using a double standard on a powerful woman. “With [Vice Presidential Candidate] Sarah Palin, or [Supreme Court Justice] Amy Coney Barrett, or any of these women, their identity as a woman is used to either excuse their actions or to rhetorically attack the other side [by] saying, ‘Oh you don’t support women in power,’ when really, it’s just excusing their beliefs that do not make women’s lives better,” Zavack said. The line between sincere representation and performance can easily blur, however. “I know some companies who put one woman on their board of leaders and are like, ‘girlboss, we’re so progressive,’” Minion
said. “No, you’re really not. But I think it can also be incredibly powerful and good if a company is actually striving towards not only symbolically having women leaders but actually making change.” Still, there are ongoing efforts to increase positive representation for women, especially on a community level. “STEM
let one woman on the board and I’ve got to be better than the next woman in order to get there,’” CEO and co-founder of Snowball Print Marketing Katrina Shaw said. “I think real confidence, real feminism, is not, ‘I’m great and she’s not,’ it’s ‘I’m great, so is she.’ That’s real confidence, that’s real feminism—there’s room at the table.”
“real feminism, is not, ‘I’m great and she’s not,’ it’s ‘I’m great, so is she.’ That’s real confidence, that’s real feminism—there’s room at the table.” —CEO of Snowball Print Marketing Katrina Shaw is a male-dominated field, and it always has been,” Women in STEM Club CoPresident junior Sarah Bao said. “Our goal is to create a space where women at our school who are interested in STEM can come together and talk about interests, and we can just support each other and make each other comfortable in our journeys in STEM.” This camarader ie can serve as valuable encouragement, as it turns achieving gender equity into a group effort rather than placing all the responsibility of breaking these barriers on a single person. “Seeing female role models in STEM can push women to pursue STEM,” Bao said. “It becomes the new normal, so it’s not crazy anymore.” Working together as a group of women can help dispel a needlessly competitive atmos p h e r e . “ Tr a d i tionally, women have had this thought of, ‘Well, they’re only going to
Similarly, a diversity in educational material can be empowering. According to Zavack, more or less diversity in readings can often send subliminal messages to students. “Having voices represented is one step,” Zavack said. “It sends an implicit message about whose experiences, whose intellect, are worth celebrating and honoring and studying.”
UPLIFTING STRONG WOMEN EVERYWHERE
he image of a girlboss is often one associated with financial success or corporate leadership. Women with more “traditionally” feminine jobs, such as stay-at-home moms, are often looked down upon for conforming to gender roles. Yet true feminism should work to uplift women, wherever they are. To truly break free from that narrative, according to Shaw, it’s essential to unlearn the image of the lone woman in the boardroom, and collectively realize that strong women exist in all facets of the world. “Women tend to tie up our self-worth in our productivity,” she said. “‘I’ve done all these things so therefore I must be a person of value.’ I think women should be free to choose if they want to be someone who earns a great deal of money in their life or [if] they’ve decided to be a homemaker.”
Palo Alto Unified School District Henry M. Gunn High School 780 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA 94303
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