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The Privilege Issue Exploring how privilege affects our daily lives and the lives around us

Carlmont High School / 1400 Alameda de las Pulgas / Belmont, CA 94002

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Privileged to be me



I just Look Legal

08 10 12 tABLE OF cONTENTS Finding where to fit in

the fword

Carlmont Journalism Carlmont Journalism is a nationally renowned media arts program run by the students of Carlmont High School. Our staff of 120 people works to deliver the latest news to our student body of 2,200, their families, and the community. News, within our school and beyond, is important to us, so we are committed to providing timely information, current events, and thought-provoking ideas to our audiences through story-telling, design, video, photography, and other emerging technologies. More than just another high school journalism program, our mission is to think beyond the “Bay Area Bubble” and stretch the community’s mindset to include those of the rest of the state, country, and world. We aim to encourage our community to step up and be educated advocates of change.

Scotlight is Carlmont High School’s “spotlight” magazine, distributed quarterly to our community. Spotlight stories take a deeper look at issues that are important to our audience and examine multiple aspects and angles. Our mission is to stimulate thoughts in our readers that are otherwise glossed over by offering in-depth feature stories that dig deeper into the lives of those around us. We aim to engage our readers through thought-provoking articles, photography, and design.

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Privilege ( priv·I·Lege )

Letter from the editor


a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people:

synonyms: advantage · benefit · entitlement Dear Reader, In our small Bay Area bubble, we carry more privilege than we are aware of. We attend a public school that provides laptops at our disposal. We have hot lunch services and vending machines for small snacks. We have a multitude of sports to try out for and an extensive list of AP classes to register for. In spite of this, we tend to ignore that some of us still carry more privilege than others. Some of us can walk down a street at night and feel perfectly safe doing so. Some of us don’t panic at the sound of police sirens because we know it’s probably just a speeding ticket. Some of us have never had to pretend to be “just friends” with our significant others. With our privilege comes power. Once we are aware of what sets us apart in society, we are able to advocate for those who may not have the privileges we do. In this issue, our team explored the ins and outs of what it means to be who we are. We dug deeper into heritage, skin color, and sexuality to understand how the things that make us who we are affect how we are perceived by the world. We hope this issue opens your eyes to how you can use your individuality to help those around you. Sincerely, Mona Murhamer Editor-in-Chief

Maya Benjamin Nina Heller Cath Lei Isabel Mitchell Briana McDonald Mona Murhamer


PRIVILeGE of being ethnic and what makes you proud to be

The word “privilege” carries many different connotations, most notably white privilege. However, a privilege can also be a blessing in disguise. Three students explore their experiences with ethnicity and how privilege has affected themselves.

I’m proud to be black because it has caused me to be so much more in touch with not only my culture, but also how social issues affect people like me. This is a privilege, not in the sense that I have some sort of societal upper hand, but that I’ve had to be so much more self-aware and educated on political issues. Being black affects the way I carry myself or how I act around others. Unfortunately, some may see this as a disadvantage for me because I have to work harder to prove myself and break away from stereotypes that plague the black community, but for me, I see it as a blessing. Not only have I become much more mature from it, but I have been able to find my passion within struggling for racial equality. I had to become very self-aware at a young age. When I was in summer camp before second grade, I was sitting with this girl on the bus one time, and I think I did something that agitated her and she said, ‘This is why my mom told me not be friends with black kids.’ Before that, I had never realized that the shade of my skin had been a huge factor in how my character was being judged. When I was in second grade, I was having trouble in reading and math in school, and my teacher asked my mom and I to come in for a parent-teacher conference. During the conference, she had implied that possible problems at home or my mothers ‘inability’ to help me with my coursework was the root of my problems. Although this may not seem like subtle racism, I believe the reason she inferred we had problems at home was because of our race. I think a lot of children have the privilege of growing up feeling equal, but I was forced to face the fact that I was different at a very young age. Although initially it was upsetting, it proved to be advantageous because I learned how to conduct myself in a way that wouldn’t further perpetuate certain stereotypes and still love the characteristics that made me different.”



I am proud of my ethnicity everyday. Of course when I see a group of predominately Latinos or blacks doing harm it makes me sad because I know that there is so much potential for them, and they are not representing our culture to the fullest. This causes outsiders to view us as criminals- a vicious cycle. But I love being Latino and black. There is no race I would rather be. Although I see ‘privilege’ in other ethnicities, I let the past of my family encourage me to see past those stigmas. I look at my grandparents who were extremely poor. Although they were Latino and stuggled with English, that didn’t stop them from building a better life for them or for their children. They set an example for my cousins, my siblings, and me. My parents did the same thing. They provided my siblings and me a better life to live than they experienced. And now when I look back and think about what they had and how they were able to achieve such greatness, I try my best to achieve better than what I already have. I don’t see being Latino as a privilege. I don’t see being any race as a privilege. Yes, there is a stigma with white privilege, but I truly believe that all races deserve to be equal. I would be proud to be born into any race. Although I’m proud and glad to be Latino, as long as I am healthy and happy, the race should be equal to everyone’s. So if everyone’s race is equal, then no one has an advantage. And if there is no advantage, there is no privilege.”

I am proud to be Polynesian because I am able to hold myself to higher standards. While growing up, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. Throughout my childhood, they’ve always taught me the basics, like what’s right from wrong, what to do, and what not to do. For instance, my grandpa always made sure I went to school to get a better education than they ever did. They wanted me to live a better life than they did so we are able to provide for those who were there for us. They taught me not to forget where I came from by not letting how I see others make me change the person I am. I don’t let what other people think of my family change myself. They also taught me to be grateful for what I have because there are people who are not even able to have what I have, even if it is the smallest thing. Lastly, they taught me to love others even if they didn’t love you. I am glad they told me all these things when I was younger because growing up, I saw my differences from other people. Lastly, they taught me to love others even if they do not love you. ‘Non-Polys’ look at us as these big, scary people. In reality, we’re the softest and most loving people you’d ever meet. We are just defensive over those we care for.”




Edward McDonald was born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1972. Surrounded by a minimum of 10 other kids at all times, he experienced a fun and hectic childhood like many others with a big family. Yet McDonald’s childhood also consisted of struggle and fear‑ fleeing a civil war and becoming an American immigrant. In 1978, there was a significant power struggle in Nicaragua. A civil war broke out between the Sandinista revolutionaries and the Somoza dictatorship in the heart of Managua. Life in the midst of a civil war was treacherous for many families. “We lived in very dangerous living conditions. We had to barricade ourselves in a bedroom and put mattresses up around the room. We could hear the tankers and the gunshots what felt like nonstop,” said McDonald. The frightening stress within the family brought them to the sudden realization to flee the country and take refuge in America. Although his family knew coming to America would bring safety and security, leaving everything they knew to start a new life in a foreign country brought a separate fear. “They [his parents] had fear and uncertainty of what America was going to bring to them. It’s hard starting your life over in your mid 30’s with five kids in a new country. It must have been terrifying,” said McDonald. A total of nine people: his three brothers, sister, mom, dad, two cousins, and himself, all packed into a four-door Chevy Nova with whatever else they could fit. Their journey to America was successful, but not at all comfortable. Driving 68 hours to a new life in a crowded car, they witnessed the war-torn remnants of their home country. “Just getting out of Nicaragua, I remember seeing it in slow motion like a movie. We were driving through the streets that were just riddled with potholes and army everywhere, bodies piled up on the sides of the roads, just the eerie kind of warzone that you see in the movies,” said McDonald. Arriving to the United States, the McDonald family settled in San Francisco, California. McDonald felt comfortable settling into his new home due to the welcoming environment. He lived in the Mission district of San Francisco, which at the time was largely Hispanic, and it was easy for his family to communicate with others because many people around them spoke Spanish. Yet starting school in America was an extreme challenge for McDonald.


“My first time in school was horrifying, I didn’t know the language at all,” said McDonald. “When I was younger, It was so hard to explain to people that I couldn’t speak English.” Like many other kids, McDonald experienced many situations of being bullied in school. But unlike many kids, McDonald was stuck behind a language barrier that withheld him from speaking up. McDonald said, “In school, kids made a lot of fun of me, but I also made a lot of good friends, people who embraced the difference in culture. Obviously having a name like McDonald and looking white, people would be surprised that I couldn’t speak English.” Later McDonald would move to South San Francisco where he would attend Westmoor High School while also working to help provide for his family. “I struggled in a lot of my classes because English was my second language, so I was more comfortable working than going to school,” said McDonald. Growing up and fitting in with the American culture, McDonald continues to identify as Nicaraguense due to having pride for his heritage. “I am proud to be where I am from, I’m glad I was born in Nicaragua, but America also gave me many opportunities that I know for a fact I would have never had back home. Opportunities such as education- the public schools here are nothing compared to the public schools in Nicaragua. There you are lucky if you’re able to learn how to read and that’s it,” said McDonald. Growing up in an American society while also embracing his own culture, it wasn’t long before McDonald recognized the privileges he had as a white man in America. “I witnessed the privileges I have in the United States purely based on the fairness of my skin. I would hear what people would say and how they would treat people with darker skin that are my people. I was definitely treated differently because I looked white- that is a fact.” Because of his skin color, people never questioned McDonald’s citizenship. Having the title of being a citizen in America

was never a priority for McDonald. “Citizenship was always confusing to me, why did there have to be a label? You weren’t born here, but you were raised here, America is all you know, so to you America is your home. I really don’t get what the big fuss is about, to think that a piece of paper is going to make you an American. I think living in this country for over 40 years, paying taxes, and being a good citizen should be louder than a piece of paper saying you stand for this country,” said McDonald. It’s not until the recent years did McDonald’s citizenship come to mind. “Everything going on in the news with this new presidency has really brought my citizenship into light. I’ve never really felt like an outsider until now, where I see people getting deported that have been here for almost their entire life under the same circumstances as me, who fled a war coming here to look for better life in the United States. I’ve never felt as divided as I do now, because I am an immigrant- a war refugee,” said McDonald. “The enforcement of immigration needs to be evaluated, it has a lot to do with racism and prejudice in America, and it’s a systematic oppression.” The 2016 election is what drove McDonald on planning to become a citizen. “This election has really opened my eyes to what it means to have the right to vote. With the way the political atmosphere is, I learned that voting does matter, and through becoming a citizen, I will have the privilege of having a voice,” said McDonald.

According to the Washington Post, “White Hispanics have more economic power: Their median household income is $39,900, about $5,000 more than the median income of black Hispanic households and about $2,500 more than Hispanics who say they are some other race.”



With nations having their own unique history of culture and colonization that all create different racial make-ups, Latin America is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse regions in the world. Similar across Latin America and the United States, if you are perceived as white you benefit from most power structures. White Latinos are perceived as more innocent than than those with darker complexion, meet the standards of Eurocentric beauty, and their citizenship status is rarely, if ever, questioned. However, one’s skin complexion does not determine whether they are “Latino enough” or not. McDonald said, “It’s funny, when people first meet me they have a preconceived notion about me, and about what a Latino should look like. That goes to show that you should never judge someone by their skin color because you never know where that person has come from. Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I’m American or European, I am Nicaraguan. My skin color doesn’t define how prideful I am in my country; my skin color doesn’t define how Latino I am.”



Their Lives Matter Too Why black women killed by police are ignored by the media

Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray. All men who have been killed by the police in the past five years. Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Miriam Corey. All women who have been killed by the police in the past five years. But why doesn’t anyone know their names? Despite making up only 13 percent of the United States population, blacks account for 24 percent of those fatally shot by police. Similarly, black women make up 13 percent of the United States female population, but black women account for one third of police shooting of females, according to the Black Policy Forum (AAPF) During 2015 and 2016, the highprofile police killings of Michael Brown, Samuel Debose, and Walter Scott took center stage as protesters took to the streets to voice their outcry, and the controversial Black Lives Matter movement began. While the media heavily covered Brown, Garner, Debose, and Scott’s deaths, the deaths of black women faded to the background. Ayana Johnston, a junior at Carlmont, finds it worrisome that black women killed by police fail to receive the same coverage as black males killed by police, “After watch-


ing a TED Talk in class, we learned more about intersectionality and how black women killed by the police are ignored by the media. I find it concerning knowing that if I am killed with impunity by police, I won’t get the same amount of coverage.” In an interview with Mic, Kimberlé Crenshaw, director of AAPF and a Columbia Law School professor believes that black women’s exclusion from the media should be concerning, “Their funerals aren’t the site of activism, their mothers don’t get invited to the State of the Union speech or the White House as a symbol of commitment to eliminating this problem. That element of erasure sends a message that these losses of life don’t matter.” The privilege of media attention received by black men killed by the police over black women killed by the police is extremely problematic and harmful. Police brutality is a significant issue in America that does not just affect black men, but black women as well. In order to combat the issue of the lack of media attention for black female police brutality victims, Crenshaw started the #SayHerName campaign. The campaign uses social media to share the names of women killed by police violence. #SayHerName also aims to encourage more

conversation regarding police brutality, intersectionality, and adopting policies to end sexual abuse by police officers. While black women may not be killed by police at the same rates as black men in the United States, that does not mean their lives are any less significant. Seven-year-old Aiyana StanleyJones was sleeping on her couch with her grandmother when police barged into her house to conduct a “no knock” raid of their home. After entering, Officer Joseph Weekley fired his gun, killing Stanley-Jones. Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter but the case was dismissed following two mistrials. Liane Brown, a junior was shocked by the lack of media attention surrounding the case, “I honestly had not heard about this case until last May, which to me is appalling. A seven-year-old girl was killed and no one in the mainstream media focussed on it- all of the attention went to the shooting of Oscar Morales.” While the media is beginning to fade away from covering police shootings all together, if the media decides to heavily cover police shootings again, it will be important to cover not only black men killed but black women killed, as well, because their lives matter too.

#SayTheirNames Shantel Davis was fatally shot by police while driving a car that police later claimed was stolen. NYPD officers approached her after Davis allegedly ran multiple red lights and crashed her vehicle. Police claim Davis tried to escape and and was subsuquently shot. Family members of Davis disputed the NYPD’s claims. Officer Phil Atkins, who shot Davis, had been sued seven times over the previous decade, with allegations of undue force.

Shareese Francis was killed after family members called the police to help Francis, who had schizophrenia. The family’s wrongful death suit claims Francis, who was unarmed, was not aware of arriving officers. When Francis tried to leave the room against the officers’ orders, she was tackled and tasered several times until she stopped moving.

Tarika Wilson was killed by a Lima Police SWAT team raided her rental home to arrest her boyfriend on drug charges. When Wilson was shot, she had her youngest son, Sincere, in her arms. Sgt. Joseph Chavalia was acquitted of the charges of negligent homicide and negligent assault after testifying he felt his life was in danger when he shot Wilson.

Kathryn Johnston was 92 when she was killed in a “no knock” drug raid by Atlanta police that was later revealed to be based upon false information. As the door opened, Johnston fired the pistol she kept for self-defense. Officers fired back, killing Johnston. Officers later admitted to falsely claiming cocaine submitted into evidence had come from her house. Officers Jason Smith, Greg Junnier, and Arthur Tesler pleaded guilty to charges related to Johnston’s death and all three received prison time. Above are the faces of women who have been killed by the police. These women are our sisters, mothers, wives, and friends who have been killed with impunity. WRITING AND DESIGN BY MAYA BENJAMIN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SOPHIE LYND


S N E D R U B E TH OF THE Y T I N U M M O QUEER C The gayest generation: those from age 18 to 36 are officially it. According to Pew Research Center, this age group is nearly 50 percent more likely to identify as LGBTQ than those aged 37 to 51. In 2016, 63 percent of adults said that homosexuality should be accepted in society. In 2015, only 51 percent of adults agreed. With this 12 percent increase in just a year, America is growing increasingly more accepting. “I think that people have become more accepting, but the judgement and discrimination is still there,” said Oliver Golden, a senior who is the president of Carlmont’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA). While acceptance seems to rise on the surface level, finding an inclusive community and environment remains a struggle for many. Even those within the queer community have a hard time feeling accepted among other LGBTQ people. In June 2017, Pew Research Center published data showing that bisexuals were nearly 50 percent less likely to come out in comparison to gay or lesbian Americans; many bisexuals felt as if they couldn’t. The privilege of gay and lesbian Americans is knowing just where they fit in. This is an experience that many face, whether they’re bisexual, pansexual, or non-binary. The feeling of not belonging to a specific orientation is daunting. “You feel like you’re not really valid, especially if it’s an identity that’s neither this or that,” said Shea Rouland, a senior. “This sort of feeling pressures people to choose one or the other, even though it might not be what they really feel.”


LOVE IS LOVE As secretary of GSA, Rouland also acknowledges the privilege of white people in the queer community, and they’re aware that the voices of LGBTQ people of color are often swept under the rug. Rouland, Golden, and others know that the community cannot preach equality if oppression is only viewed from the perspective of a white person. “As a white person, I’m privileged on every axis except for my sexuality,” said Golden. “I’ve never had to worry about the queer community excluding my narrative, but people of color do.” Outside of the LGBTQ community, however, the discrimination is much worse; in 2016, the New York Times reported that LGBTQ people were more likely to be victims of hate crimes than any other minority. “For heterosexual people, there’s no fear when they’re in public. For us, it’s dangerous to even hold our partner’s hand in public,” said Rouland. “It’s dangerous to ask for the right pronouns.” Perhaps the best way to understand the effects of cisgender and heterosexual privilege is to look at why National Day of Silence exists. First implemented by the University of Virginia in 1996, the event has grown immensely, gaining traction across the nation. National Day of Silence draws attention to the burden of silence, especially in school; according to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 50 percent of LGBTQ students are bullied at school, specifically because of their sexuality. 64 percent of the time, teachers took no action and told students to simply ignore the incident. “If you’re heterosexual or cisgender, you get the privilege of standing up for yourself,” said Cameron GarciaBrown, a junior and the treasurer of GSA. Day of Silence is often met with skepticism and judgement; those who don’t participate in the day will often edge on participators in hopes of getting a response and breaking the silence. “Even then, you have to deal with people who don’t understand the point, and that in itself shows this burden of silence,” said Rouland. “You get to walk a mile in our shoes and understand what it’s like to not be able to speak up for yourself.”


June 2003 The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down laws discriminating against homosexual conduct. The Homosexual Conduct Law criminalizes sexual intercourse between those of the same sex, but not identical conduct by different sex couples. May 17, 2004 The first legal same-sex marriage in the U.S. takes place in Massachusettes. Sept. 20, 2011 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, ending a ban on openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military. June 26, 2015 Gay marriage is legalized in all U.S. territories. July 27, 2016 Boy Scouts of America removes restrictions against openly gay leaders and employees. June 24, 2016 President Obama announces designation of the first national monument to LGBTQ rights. Nov. 7, 2017 Danica Roem, Andrea Jenkins, and other openly transgender politicians win the 2017 elections.

NATIONAL HOTLINES: THE TREVOR PROJECT: 1-866-488-7386 LGBT PEER LISTENING LINE: 888-340-4528 LOCAL RESOURCES: San Mateo County Pride Center 650-591-0133



The F-Word Feminism lacks intersectionality in a privileged society

A woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. But that is only for white women. Black women earn 64 cents and Hispanic women earn 56 cents for every dollar a white man makes. In mainstream culture, feminism focuses mainly on white upper-middle-class women, leaving out anyone who does not fit into this category. This phenomenon is known as white feminism. “As a black woman in this area, although a lot of people think there is not a lot of racism, there is definitely a lot of racism here. I feel excluded from a lot of beauty standards. Here, black men tend to be celebrated and black women tend to be ignored,” said Liane Brown, a junior. Feminism is the support and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality among the sexes. “I identify as a feminist, but not in the sense where people assume that feminists argue that women are better, but in the sense that women are equal to men, and not just women that are white, but also women of color,” said Brown. The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 in her work “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination, Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” Crenshaw’s work was based on Emma DeGraffenreid and


her female colleagues, who sued General Motors in 1976. The women argued that the workplace was separated by both race and gender, preventing them from gaining employment as black women. While Crenshaw’s thoughts reflect her experiences as a black woman, the term intersectionality has taken on a new meaning to involve LGBTQ people, immigrants, trans women, disabled women, and women of lower economic class. Intersectionality tends to get lost in the sea of white feminism and silences the voices of those who need to be heard the most. According to The Washington Post, 35 percent of women feel that feminism is not focused on the changes they feel should be happening within the movement. Those desired changes look different for everyone, which is why the unified message of gender equality gets overtaken by white feminists. “In Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration [class], we talked about how intersectionality is not just experiencing one thing, but it is also experiencing another thing on top of that, like being black and a woman, for example. While a white woman and an Asian woman may both be women, they will be different because of the experiences they face based off of race. It is a culmination of all the plight that you face,” said Brown. One of the lessons taught in the class was about intersectionality. For many, it was the first time hearing and learning about the term, according to teacher Karen Ramroth. “People have kind of used [intersectionality] as ‘Oh, we all have multiple identities,’ which is true, but where intersectionality really takes the next step is those multiple identities, where will you potentially fall through the cracks in terms of discrimination protection?” said Ramroth. Mainstream feminism is often white feminism, feminism that pertains to a white woman of upper-middle-class standing, and does not acknowledge the issues that women of other backgrounds and experiences face. Feminism that is not intersectional excludes entire groups of people from feminism, thus making it no longer feminism. “I don’t think that I necessarily feel the effects of sexism as

much as other people might. I recognize that I can face sexism as a female, but I don’t feel that I am being barraged with sexism on a daily basis, and part of that is that I am privileged in other areas,” said Ramroth. White feminism often refers to rape culture, equal pay, and the patriarchy as a whole, issues that are relevant to all women, with the concern only for cisgendered white women of a certain economic standing. In an interview with NPR, Ashley Farmer, who is a historian at Boston University and concentrates on African-American Women’s History, said, “When we actually get down to representation or creating a list of demands or mobilizing around a set of ideas, it tends to be that white middleclass or upperclass women’s priorities get put above the rest,” White feminists who don’t understand intersectionality see feminism as “one size fits all.” “White women have a certain set of issues that they face as the result of discrimination than women of color. When you fail to consider intersectionality, you are seeing only a certain set of problems and therefore will only come to a certain set of solutions, which doesn’t help everybody. If you ignore inter-

sectionality and make feminism just white feminism, you are only going to be hitting certain components of the problem,” said Ramroth. Conflict over intersectionality was seen in the planning of the Women’s March after the 2016 presidential election. It was originally called the Million Woman March, but the name was changed after complaints on social media, due to the fact that that was the name of a series of demonstrations organized by black activists in the 1990’s. After this, more diverse faces have been brought on board, such as Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez, all of whom come from different intersectional backgrounds. The diversifying of the organization of the march is an attempt bring to light intersectional issues, such as making LGBTQ rights, disability rights, and efforts to end violence against people of color to their “Unity Principles,” among other points. “When you make something that accounts for the most oppressed, everybody’s life tends to get better,” said Farmer. The necessity of feminism being intersectional comes into high demand in a society where so many people are marginalized. The importance of it increases constantly, and it is necessary for the intersection to be recognized. “Racism does exist, and so does sexism and so really the main thing that we need to do is to work

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own” -Audre Lorde

towards equality. Telling ourselves that we have already achieved it is one of our main issues,” said Brown.



Sequoia Union High school District Carlmont High School 1400 Alameda de las Pulgas Belmont, CA 94002

Profile for Scotlight Magazine

Scotlight: Volume 2 / Issue 1  

Scotlight: Volume 2 / Issue 1