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Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California | Volume 103 | Issue 4 | February 2018

The Mirror vnhsmirror.com

ACHOO! A deadly flu storms the winter season. Find out what you can do to prevent it. PAGE 3

Did you hear about the new music teacher? Meet Mr. Duncan, the new face at Van Nuys. PAGE 5

Follow up on all of your favorite VNHS sports teams on the road to the playoffs. PAGE 9

NEWS & ANALYSIS 2 FEATURES & PROFILES 5 COVER STORY 6 COMMENT & OPINION 8 SPORTS 9 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 11

Black Like Me What it’s like to be an African-American in today’s society Page 6

PHOTO BY WOO HAN | THE MIRROR PHOTO BY THERESA NGUYEN | THE MIRROR

GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, RELIGION, AND RACE. What is Identity Politics and has it done more to harm or help America and our society today? PAGE 8


2 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

News&Analysis STATE OF CALIFORNIA

vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

BRIEFLY SPEAKING JROTC Battalion Competes at All-City Drill Competition The Van Nuys High School JROTC Battalion participated in the annual All-City Drill Competition at Monroe High School on Saturday, Jan. 20. Cadets from Army JROTC battalions from the Los Angeles County, including Manual Arts High School and Franklin High School, competed against each other. The Wolfpack Battalion made Van Nuys High School JROTC history by placing top-five in all five categories of drill: Armed Drill for second place, Unarmed Drill for third place, Squad Drill and Company Drill for fourth place, and Platoon Drill for fifth place.—Lucas Shim

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN PLANS TO ALLOCATE SURPLUS FUNDS FROM HIS NEW BUDGET PLANS TO “RAINYDAY” FUNDS

VNHS Represented in Science Olympiad Invitationals

Savings for a Rainy Day Governor Brown’s new budget uses a massive surplus for projects and puts money in the bank. By CHRISTIAN WALSH The Mirror Staff

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alifornia Governor Jerry Brown has proposed new budget plans that leave the state with one of the largest surpluses since the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Brown, who ends his second term this year, projects that California will have a surplus of around $6.1 billion. Despite the surplus, Governor Brown has refused to spend most of it. His main goals are to keep the state on a path of long-term financial stability, establish a rainy day fund and to acquire more adequate funding for institutions such as schools and health care. Stabilizing state funds will allow debts and liability, including deferrals and budgetary obligations that have accumulated over the previous decade, to be paid off. This was identified to be around $35

AcaDeca Participates in City Competition

billion in May 2011. He has promised to dedicate $300 million to fund projects such as climate change reparations and educational programs, keeping the rest in the rainy day fund. His bill will continue to work on the continuous problem of climate change by including a legislation to extend California’s landmark cap-and trade program until 2030. This program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below that of the 1990 emission levels. Additionally, the fund will strengthen the transportation infrastructure; it will go to the Road Repair and Accountability Act, created in 2017, which provides stable long-term funding for state and local street projects. Brown’s plan also calls for bonds and special funds dedicated to specific sources like tobacco taxes and universal health care that total an estimated $59 million. Warning that a recession will eventually happen, the Governor stated that the rainy day fund exists to protect the paychecks of teachers and other government workers. “What we can talk about is spending now and cutting later, or filling the reserves and continuing our spending right

SHIMLA RAHMAN | THE MIRROR

By SHIMLA RAHMAN The Mirror Staff

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ine members of the Van Nuys High School Academic Decathlon team competed in the annual city competition on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 at Roybal Learning Center. The theme of the competition varies each year, and for this competition it was Africa. On Feb. 3, the team took seven objective multiple choice exams and competed

along,” Brown said. “This is about steady as you go, or exuberance followed by regret and pain.” Phil Ting, Democratic Assemblyman and chairman of the budget committee, states that he is glad to see Brown putting the money towards what really matters— children and schools in need. He considers this a first step in the right direction. With the imminent changes that the recently-passed GOP federal tax plan will bring, Governor Brown filed his proposal last December, a month before the tax plan was set to take place. Brown plans to use a portion of the the budget toward other items such as starting an online community college, which will cost around $120 million to build. California has some of the highest tax rates of any state. Last year California raised car and gas taxes by $5 billion. In 2017 Brown signed a $125 billion budget that would increase pay for MediCal doctors and dentists who provide for poorer patients, and for funding education and social services. The final budget is expected to be revised by the Democrat-controlled legislature and on the governor’s desk to sign in the summer.

THE ACADECA TEAM COMPETED AT THE ROYBAL LEARNING CENTER IN DOWNTOWN L.A.

in the Super Quiz, a Jeopardy style event that requires communication and collaboration between members to answer questions on the spot. At the preliminaries held on Jan. 27,

the members participated in the subjective tests—essays, interviews, impromptus and speeches, determined by the judges. “The Super Quiz was a nice end to a long day of testing! The ambience of the gymnasium fed our excitement, filled with the noise of the crowd and the teams cheering each other on,” said Captian Maya Peterson. “I believe it was the best part of the whole competition because I got to collaborate with my fellow teammates. All those long days of studying paid off!” Updates on the results of the competition will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Fifteen students selected to represent Van Nuys High School at the Science Olympiad Invitationals equipped their lab equipment and headed to Polytechnic High School on Saturday, Jan. 27 to participate in the preliminary regional competition. Students were tested on their knowledge in various fields of science ranging from Astronomy to Chemistry to Engineering. Van Nuys High School ranked 17th overall due to four prominent members being unable to make it to the competition. The team managed to rank third in the Fermi Questions event and fifth in the Thermodynamics test. Additionally, none of the teams were eliminated during Invitationals; all teams, if they choose to, will proceed to the Regionals competition on Feb. 17 at Antelope Valley College. —Aliza Patel

Skills USA Competes in Two Regional Competitions Van Nuys High School’s SkillsUSA team once again headed off to the Regional Conference in the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to compete against other schools through participation of leadership and skills activities.Led by Student President Hunter Davis and under the guidance of Mr. Joseph Agruso and Teacher’s Assistant Dana Salazar, the Van Nuys High School SkillsUSA team participated in two regional conferences: the Regional Conference Leadership Events on Jan. 27 and the Regional Conference Skillks Events on Feb. 3. Although the release dates to the competition results are unknown, students who are successful in the regional competitions will advance to the annual SkillsUSA California State Championships and Leadership Conference at the Ontario Convention Center on April 19-22. —Tommy Chan

Late Students Locked Out as HERO Tardy Program Starts The Van Nuys High School administration has started to crack down on late students with the new HERO tardy program, officially implemented on Feb. 5. The implementation of a new tardy policy has been pending from the start of the school year after the problem was brought up during the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) 2016 review. The policy increases the level of consequence for every tardy the student receives, ranging from an issued warning and a phone call home for the first few offenses to campus beautification and a loss of school activity privileges for repeated offenders. Though a quick and major change, the new tardy policy is a change that administrators are looking forward to in hopes of making a positive impact on students and chronic tardiness. —Stefanie Tyo


February 9, 2018 | vnhsmirror.com

News&Analysis

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 3

Viral Phenomenon: A Rough Flu Season By MARC CORTES The Mirror Staff

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xactly one hundred years ago, in a world still being torn apart by the War to End All Wars, World War I, five percent of the world’s population died—not from the war itself, but from influenza. While there are numerous hypotheses about the origin, spread and consequences of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, there is no denying the severity of a virus that infected 500 million people, including about 675,000 Americans, and killed 50 million worldwide. One factor for the global prevalence of this disease were the conditions of a world at war, with millions of individuals cramped in military camps and urban environments and little to no access antibiotics or anti-viral drugs. This year’s flu season may not be within the same magnitude of the Spanish Flu pandemic, but it is one of the most severe flu seasons within the past decade. After an entire century, the effects of one of the world’s deadliest pandemics can still teach us how to prevent another one. With over 12,000 flu-related hospitalizations across the country and 49 states reporting widespread flu activity for a consecutive number of weeks, many health officials say this flu season is the worse the nation has seen since the swine flu pandemic of 2009. “We often see different parts of the country ‘light up’ at different times, but for the past three weeks, the entire country has been experiencing lots of flu, all at the same time,” said Director of the CDC’s influenza division, Dr Daniel B Jernigan. This year’s flu season started early, around late October and early November. The death toll from the flu is fast approaching 100 in California alone and has already claimed the lives of over 36 children throughout the nation. Health officials have stated that the

How to Prevent the Flu

Healthy living habits can boost your

immune system. However, tiring unusually high rates of strains, Yamagata and yourself out constantly can make Getting a flu shot reduces your infection may be caused Victoria. Having one type your immune system weak. So eat a chances of catching the flu since the in part by students of strain will not necesbalanced diet and exercise regularly. vaccine can protect you against the returning to school sarily protect you from common strains. Clean and disinfect surfaces and after winter break. With catching another so many objects that may be contaminated Washing your hands properly is one the large number of are encouraged to remain with germs. of the easiest ways to prevent the students and faculty vigilant in protecting flu since it’s easy to do. Wash your Carrying sanitizer around is useful infected with the flu, themselves from the flu. hands for 20 seconds, paying extra since it kills germs and can be carattention to fingernails and jewelry. many schools across the The most common ried around in a small bottle. Carenation have closed their strain of flu this year is fully rub the sanitizer on your hand Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, campuses for a few days H3N2 which is one of the to make sure it’s all covered! and nose. Germs spread this way. to disinfect buildings in more dangerous strains. an attempt to minimize This particular strain is the spread of the virus. very resilient and the flu The age group with the highest recorded there will be many more weeks to come vaccination is only 30% effective against it. hospitalizations and mortalities is adults in this deadly flu season and that it hasn’t This strain also dominated the flu season of over the age of 64, but adults aged 50-64 even peaked yet. 2014-2015 which the CDC estimated had and children younger than 5 are categories Based on previous flu seasons in Ameraffected 34 million Americans, hospitalizthat are close behind. Those most vulnerica, we may only be a little over halfway ing 710,000 and killing 56,000. able to the flu virus are people with other through at this point. The CDC estimates Health officials strongly urge the public to underlying conditions, like heart disease, that cases of flu will peak in late February. get a vaccination because although the flu vacrespiratory problems, and obesity. There are at least four different strains cination is not as effective against the domiWhat’s more alarming is that the Center of the flu circulating this season: two A nant strain, it is better to reduce your chances for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that strains, H3N2 and H1N1, and two B of catching one of the other strains of flu.


4 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

By STEFANIE TYO & TOMMY CHAN The Mirror Staff

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s Michelle King steps down from her post as the Superintendent of LAUSD, the school board is currently in the process of selecting the next figurehead to lead the 640,000 plus students and tens of thousands of employees that make up the second largest district in the country. The power transition within LA Unified began in September of 2017 when King mysteriously departed under medical leave—it was later revealed that she had an undisclosed form of cancer. With an absence of leadership within

vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

News&Analysis

On Jan. 5, King announced she would continue her medical leave and will retire by June 30 in order to undergo an undisclosed form of cancer treatment. With a gap in the district’s leadership, the Board of Education unanimously elected Ekchian as Interim Superintendent—a placeholder—as the district begins the process of interviewing and appointing a permanent candidate. “I look forward to accelerating the transformative work that is occurring throughout the district while maintaining our steadfast focus on 100 percent graduation rate that will guarantee college, career, and life readiness for our shining stars,” said Ekchian. As Ekchian takes the temporary role of Interim Superinten-

made from the previous election. The HYA clause was set in place years prior to the 2016 superintendent election. The clauses states “If the Superintendent departs from the position during the first year under any circumstances or within (two) years if the majority of the Board is still in place, HYA will conduct a new search for the Board at no additional cost barring expenses.” In the meantime a search firm was hired for $160,000, the same amount allocated to King’s selection process, to hold more than 100 community forums to seek input on what would make an ideal candidate. The forums were attended by approximately 1,600 people and the search firm conducted a survey that was taken by nearly

As this process continues, the district is commemorating King, who is now joining noteable past LAUSD superintendents such as Ramon Cortines, Roy Romer, David L. Brewer III and John Deasey. The superintendent’s office has had a revolving door since the late 1990s, as leaders have fallen to the LAUSD’s dysfunction, waste and scandals. In 2014, John Deasy fell victim to what many say was his hostile management style and the infamous iPad debacle, which promised a device to every student in the district. LAUSD paid exorbitent prices for the equipment and software, which students were immediately able to hack to get around security. That same year, his replacement Cortines tackled a malfunc-

issues still loom over the heads of board members as they scramble to find a replacement. Ekchian is now responsible for tackling the goal of increasing attendance and graduation rates, targeting early literacy, ensuring equal access to instruction and bringing order to the school board whose members remain divided over the rapid growth of charter schools within the district. With the current school year quickly approaching an end, the Board of Education hopes to have selected the next district Superintendent before the start of the next school year. “A unanimous decision would be ideal, but I can’t speak for my fellow board members,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “It’s a mutual decision, we will have

Trying to Tame the LAUSD Beast: 8 Superintendents in 12 Years

Roy Romer 2000-2006

the school district, King selected Vivian Ekchian as an Acting Superintendent in October while she tended to her ailments. Ekchian started in LAUSD as a school teacher in 1985. Like King, Ekchian worked her way up through the ranks, gaining experience in positions such as local district superintendent, chief labor negotiator and human resources director. As acting superintendent, Ekchian was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations within the district.

David Brewer 2006-2008

Ramon Cortines 2000 2009-2011 2014-2016

dent, the district must struggle with the cost of interviewing and vetting new candidates for Superintendent, which the Board has done eight times over the past 17 years. As the district searches for new candidates, within and outside LA Unified, the board is now hastily setting up a meeting to reinstate the Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Rosemont clause (HYA) in hopes of minimizing the cost of searching for official Superintendent candidates and preventing the $90,000 deficit

John Deasy 2011-2014

9,500 people. As the search continues, Ekchian, as the incumbent candidate, has the opportunity to prove herself in the job, possibly giving her an advantage with the board. Another name that has arisen as King’s possible successor is Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson,who has strong support from civic leaders. “What’s important is that we put in the time and honor and respect in electing a superintendent that will serve us best,” states Board President Mónica García.

Michelle King 2016-2017

tioning online records system that produced errors in transcripts and also won labor peace with a double-digit pay raise for teachers. This gave the union some say in teacher discipline practices along with school technology funding. Eventually stepping down, Cortines was replaced by King, who has faced the issues of a declining enrollment rate, a deficit throughout the district and an effort to dramatically increase the number of charter schools in the region. Since King’s departure, these

Cancer Forces King to Step Down

KING ANNOUNCED PLANS TO LEAVE IN JUNE.

After several months of mysterious absence, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King has officially announced her retirement to undergo treatment for a form of cancer that has not yet been disclosed to the public. King started out as a teacher in 1978 and spent 33 years with the district, climbing the ranks as the first female, African-American Superintendent. In just two years in the top LAUSD post, King achieved the current record graduation rate of 80.2 percent in LA Unified. Starting Sept. 15 of 2017, King went on medical leave under unknown circumstances. On Jan. 5, she officially announced her retirement as Superintendent on June 30, until which she

Vivian Ekchian 2018-???

to choose the candidate, and the candidate has to choose us. Making the decision on a unified front maybe more reassuring to the person coming in, than doing so with divisions.” “For me, ideally, I would like to have a new superintendent before the next school year. That would be six months or so, but I’m not married to any particular number if it takes longer to find the right person, then that’s probably the right decision to make,” said Gonez.

will remain on paid leave. King leaves the district during a time of challenge and change. Currently, the district is experiencing many difficulties, including a long term budget deficit, expired labor contracts, and a civil rift between traditional educators and those supporting the freelance charter systems. The district is now on a search for a new superintendent to lead through this time. In the meantime, the leader of the second largest district in the country will be Vivian Ekchian, who has been acting as the interim superintendent since King’s disappearance. The Board of Education will now be tasked with the job of selecting a new official superintendent to lead the district by the start of the new school year in Aug. 2018. —Tommy Chan


February 9, 2018 | vnhsmirror.com

Features&Profiles

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 5

Hello Mr. Duncan, Goodbye Ms. Ravitch THERESA NGUYEN | THE MIRROR

MR. DUNCAN CONDUCTS THE VAN NUYS ORCHESTRA.

By AARON MEJIA The Mirror Staff

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t’s hard to see old faces go—but new faces are always welcome at Van Nuys High School. After one year as a music teacher at Van Nuys High School, Ms. Valerie Ravitch has left the school to be the new band director at Van Nuys Middle School, where the previous band director, Mr. Ken Hyatt, passed away on Oct. 23 last year after battling leukemia. With Ms. Ravitch’s departure, Mr. Andrew Duncan will be a long-term substitute for the rest of the spring semester, teaching music classes including band, strings and percussion. Mr. Duncan is well known throughout LAUSD as an experienced music teacher. He has been playing for almost 30 years and is excited to inspire students at VNHS. What made you get into teaching music? I love playing music both as a student and as an adult. I figured as long as I gave the knowledge and the inspiration

to other people, why not?

learn how to teach beginning and advanced courses was a great opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.

What did you do before becoming a substitute teacher? I was a private trumpet teacher and for a day job, like 15 years ago. I would deliver flowers for the Enchanted Florist out in Burbank. I worked a ticketing department for the World Cup back in 1994 when [it was in L.A.]. But I was mainly a trumpet instructor. I was doing trumpet instruction and raising my son, who was just born about eight years ago. My wife was working, and I ended up just doing that and dropping my son off in the afternoon to teach at my mother-in-law’s house.

What made you get into teaching music? I love playing music both as a student and as an adult. I have been in numerous bands around town and have also been very inspired by good music. I figured as long as I gave the knowledge and the inspiration to other people, why not?

Why did you want to come to VNHS? I was given the opportunity to substitute for the band director who had taken a full time job at Van Nuys Middle School, so since the position was open here, I emailed Mrs. Gardea to let her know that I would be available to work as a substitute teacher. I’m currently working towards my full time credential which should take another year and half to get. The fact that this school gave me the opportunity to

Have you taught any string or percussion classes before? I have been a substitute for a couple of middle schools around town. So yes. Do you miss Van Nuys Middle School? I do indeed. I really like the fact that Van Nuys Middle School seemed very much of a home. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. Mr. Crow was a really good guy, and Mr. Clemensen a very nice guy, and of course the music department was great. So I was really fortunate to be able to have such a great bunch of students in the department. THERESA NGUYEN | THE MIRROR

Stages of Learning: Straight Outta UCLA By STEFANIE TYO The Mirror Staff

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new face on campus opens up a new experience for students on and off the stage. Mr. Ron Green will be the new stage technology teacher for Van Nuys High School.

What interested you in stage technology? The excitement of a large performance and the preparation in knowing that the show must go on. How long have you been a teacher in stage technology? What did you do before? I’ve spent my whole life in love with the stage. Before

I came to Van Nuys I was working at UCLA in Royce Hall as their senior scene technician and I managed the crews, the house, the stage...all aspects of putting on the show. Although I haven’t done any specific teaching until now I’m confident in this year. What interested you in Van Nuys as a school/ potential workplace? I had heard good things about Van Nuys’ Performing Arts program and I heard that it was starting to grow and become more prominent in the district so that intrigued me. It’s also very close to home and I know Principal Gardea so finding an opportunity for work was very direct. What are your main plans to improve our stage tech team in the long and short run? In the short run my goals are to improve with the students their technique on the stage, the students have the basic techniques down, so now we just have to

focus on polishing up on harder skills to learn. As for my long term goals I would say they’d be to see everyone in my class operating on a smooth single unit basis, I want production to flow steadily.

MR. GREEN’S FAVORITE PART ABOUT TEACHING IS WATCHING STUDENTS GO THROUGH THE STAGES OF LEARNING.


6 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Cover

What it means to be

BLACK

B Y T H E M I R R O R S TA F F W I T H P H O T O S B Y T H E R E S A N Y U G E N

Matthew Egu

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lack history is American history. From government official to military general to president of the United States, the African-American community has become a vital aspect of the planning, maintenance and execution of our country’s ideals. According to recorded historical texts and evidence, African-Americans have fought in every war that the U.S. has been involved in since the colonial period. Blacks have served our country at a rate higher than other ethnic group of the U.S. population after the desegregation in the military with President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 made in 1948.

The black community needs to step up and show that the stereotypes are not true. Stereotypes are one of the biggest struggles a black person could come across. Many people are close-minded and it hurts me, as well as other blacks, to see how ignorant some people are. Diversity means much more than different races. Diversity shows all of the qualities that make each and every individual unique. Diversity allows respect and acceptance of those unique qualities. For all the black people that are too scared to show off their culture, don’t be scared of what others think about you when you present who you are and what shapes you. Be proud of who you are and stand strong!

Ruth Haile Something that needs to change in the black communit

is a huge stigma in the black community where lighter skin tones and thos lated with it, such as curlier hair, is seen as more beautiful while those of a seen as the opposite. Many black people grow up hating their own feature lems are need to be fixed. Don’t let anyone undermine your abilities. You h achieve anything. Be proud of your culture. Don’t ever change yourself to p are black, independent, beautiful and strong.

Alexis Davidson

Cultural appropriation is not okay. People need to be more aware about black, or African, culture. People know about the bindis, but they don’t know about the face paint. It’s disappointing to see people say, “Oh, it’s cute if you’re not black.” Diversity means including everybody and being aware of everyone’s culture. [It’s about] appreciating, not appropriating.

I AM NOT

DEFINED BY MY

HAIR OR BY

YOU

A personal essay about being black by Devorah Porter

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he routine of school is infamous for its spirit drainage of the young and ongoing strenuous workflow. I was reminded of these factors every time I would walk through the metal gates of my middle school and throughout the day. There was never any deep-seated hatred for the place, but there was enough tension created by our expectations that I’d choke up and find myself struggling to stay afloat. My steps through the crowded halls and narrow concrete paths were made less stressful by the presence of my friends. I could laugh and banter with my friends for hours on end as we’d always find joy in any topic we were sticking to. As I sat through lectures in my history class, I found it tangling how my parents couldn’t have had the same friendships I had today. The grueling details of segregation between colored and caucasian students seemed impossible to me, knowing I had plenty of friends of different backgrounds and ethnicities. To this day I cannot fathom living in a state that separated me into a sector of living conditions purely based on the amount of melanin in my skin. The dividing mindset the officials of yesterday had seemed barbaric and unquestionably immoral. I was raised among people who saw color as anything but a primary determination of character. As a child of both white and black heritage, I found no

Today, 20 percent of active m they make up 13 percent of the “We helped to build this nati McKenna, a sponsor of the resol rican American member on the “We are an integral part of the fa The study of our role in the hist States leads to broader respect a February is dedicated to hon and recognizing the contributio have made to the history of the LAUSD has decided to ackn but forgotten black figures by c

issue in befriending a girl who might have not grown up with the same culture as me. This stayed true through my middle school years as my favorite people to talk to were Armenian, Filipino and Hispanic. There were no noticeable differences between each despite how varied our races were. I saw my friends as people individualized by their personality more than anything. From my perspective there seemed to be little to no opposing views from the standard to be equal. Little did I know I would come face to face with the oppression I made imaginary from my lack of experience. My encounter brought attention to the prominent oppression towards minorities that lingers to this day. I chattered on with a few of my friends during passing period to occupy the leisurely stroll to my next class. I’d soon be greeted with the same class I associated with lectures about Thomas Jefferson and the haunting recalls of the Jim Crow laws from the African-American community. As I approached my desk I glanced in front of it to see my classmate chatting with the student to the right of him. I gave little thought into what he was doing, as I only talked to him near the end of class out of pure boredom. My neighboring classmate was a boy about a year older than me and pale-skinned with brushed blond hair. Our teacher sat at her table finishing the rem-

Morgan Agee

African-Americans everyone else. There’s millions of African-A for great things. I have many friends that a and hear the different languages and see t song, “Keep Your Head Up” about never let

nants of her lunch before preparing the presentation for the day. The lights flicking off must have been a signal to the student in front of me, as I saw his conversation with the other boy quickly wind down. As my neighbor’s last conversation ended, he attempted to begin one with me. With the little time we had left until we started taking notes, my neighbor thought it was crucial to ask me something. As he turned himself around to face me, I was taken out of my daydream and into confronting him once more. “Okay, so I was wondering during lunch….” He began placing his hands on my desk to flow along in different motions as he talked. “Since I had a black friend with that weird braided-straight hair thing going on….” As he muttered this phrase I was instantly unnerved. I was mostly confused as I tried scanning his eyes for any insincerity he might’ve been hiding behind the potent words he used. “How can some black people have straight hair when yours is all, y’know, poofy?” At first, this question left me without any clear direction as to how to handle it. I gave a nervous chuckle despite how offput I was by his sincere demeanor. “I mean, don’t white people also have some variety of hair textures?” I spoke as a subtle deflection of the boy’s question. I could tell by his preemptively


vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

r Story

military is black, while he nation’s population. ion,” said Dr. George lution and the only Afe LAUSD School Board. abric of this county. tory of the United and perspective.” noring the achievements ons African-Americans United States. nowledge important celebrating this year’s

ty is colorism. There se features correa darker shade are es. All of these probhave the strength to please others. You

Black History Month by specifically honoring African-Americans in times of war. Take Crispus Attucks for example. Few know the name of the former slave who was killed in the Boston Massacre. But even fewer know that Attucks was the first American to be killed in the American Revolution. “It directs the superintendent to work with educators, librarians, all the schools of the District, and the community to recognize and celebrate this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that generate in-depth discussion of the complex factual history of the United States and legacy of Black Americans,” said McKenna.

The School Board unanimously voted for the theme African Americans in Times of War to bring to light African American contributions to our history. “Students in L.A. Unified learn about the history and achievements of African-Americans throughout the school year,” stated Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “Recognizing Black History Month provides additional opportunities to focus on a part of American history that, too often in years past, was ignored.” As one of the most culturally diverse school districts in the nation, LAUSD has in its care approximately 60,000 African-American students.

Kezai Jones Growing up as a child, I didn’t love myself enough to be proud in my own

skin and that amongst itself is a challenge. I feel like even in educational institutions, the minute I walk in people already create an image of me. When I talk about something I’m passionate about like dance or math, they say, “Oh. He’s smart.” I just strive to be a more intelligent person and a better dancer. You can be in a room with other ethnicities and other people of different races and coexist. Diversity is about acceptance; it’s about understanding and not being judgemental because of someone’s skin color. Love yourself. Learn to love yourself because that’s the best thing you can do for yourself as well as those around you.

are hard-working people and have the same aspirations and goals as Americans who are educated and smart; we are good people and strive are from a different backgrounds and it’s amazing to learn their culture the beautiful traditions. [Listen to] Tupac Shakur’s inspiring words in his t anyone bring you down as well as empowering women!

The celebration of Black History Month is an event set with the mission of motivating them to reach for their best and achieve great things; continuing the line of their predecessors. “During this tumultuous time in our country—in which the contributions of certain groups are being ignored, misinterpreted, and dismissed—it is more important than ever that we remember and celebrate the contributions of the African-American community,” said School Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, a co-sponsor of the resolution. ­—Tommy Chan, The Mirror News Editor

Sabreena Tejeda I think the concept of stereotyping within

the black community should change such as boys being thugs and girls being oversexualised. As black people, we should love ourselves and each other rather than have stereotypes like that. We are intelligent, compassionate and hardworking. Diversity, to me, means that everyone is different. There is such a wide array of people, whether it be by looks, personality, talents, and things of that sort. Everyone should be proud in their own skin, no matter what people think.

Kenny Fields

People thinking it’s okay to say the “n” word, especially with the “er,” is a major problem. One main struggle I’ve faced is being judged by people. People tend to think that because I’m black, I can’t act smart or that I can’t speak English well. When I tell people that I speak fluent Spanish, it shocks them. They don’t believe me until they hear it coming out of my mouth. I’ve learned over time though, that people’s opinions shouldn’t matter. Diversity is the range of things someone is capable of, and it’s possible for anyone to expand that range. You don’t have to be what people want you to be. You just have to be you. WOO HAN | THE MIRROR

open mouth that this retaliation didn’t phase him. “But don’t guys get that poof from where you were from?” It was now clear that he had intent with what he said. I felt the realization sink into me as I sat there giving him a puzzled look for what felt like hours. Time started to press me, so I blurted out, “That doesn’t make any sense.” I spoke with a sarcastic tone as a final attempt to distract him from confronting me. My efforts still weren’t successful and I had to stop dancing around his topic. “Well... not all black people have the same kind of hair, just like others’ races.” This answer felt reasonable in my mind as I uttered my official reply. Looking at my neighbor’s perplexion, he still seemed to approve his own notion of what “my people” are supposed to look like. Boiling anger slowly settled in the pit of my stomach. This was the exact encounter I never wanted to experience, but perhaps that was my fault not to expect. The class continued as normal and thankfully I didn’t seem him pressing on about our discussion. Even though I knew I was not harmed in any physical manner, I felt an aching feeling of hate and shame in my chest on my walk to sixth period. Venting this frustration out to friends didn’t

“I WAS RAISED AMONG PEOPLE WHO SAW COLOR AS ANYTHING BUT A PRIMARY DETERMINATION OF CHARACTER.”

provide the relief I was seeking either. Thoughts of obsolete racial standards from 20th century America crawled to the front of my subconscious and struck with a lesson I learned from the strife from earlier that day. Living in a day where political feuds seem to take up a great amount of societal space daily has emphasized many outdated ideals unlike any other time in recent history. The rich assortment of racial backgrounds has undoubtedly been beneficial to our country’s growth, but it has also brought about an ongoing era of shallow disputes. Although constant arguments about skin pigment aren’t favorable ones, they have made their way to being a staple in American life. Sweeping this clash between ethnicities under the rug is worse than taking the subject as what it is. On my ride home I looked towards the clouds as these conclusions scrambled to be true. At face value, my class neighbor had more of an ignorant perspective than a malicious one. Being challenged by his contentious questions just showed how many American people are bewildered by diversity. Whether or not the bewilderment of race-sensitive eyes is coarse, it seems to me to be another sign that our country is indeed a melting pot. Devorah Porter is a student at Van Nuys High School.


8 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Comment&Opinion

vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

The Fine Line of

TheMirror

CATEGORIZATION

Executive Editor Woo Han

POLITICAL

vnhsmirror.com

Editor-in-Chief Amanda Godfrey Online Editor-in-Chief Tyler Jung Layout Editor Shimla Rahman Online Layout Editor Chandler Beon Managing Editor Khrista Sayo News Editor Tommy Chan Features Editor Elissa Choi

W

Opinion Editor

hat defines an individual? Their character or their skin? Their beliefs or their body? Their behav-

ior or their class? The answer many of us come to is: “of course they’re defined by their actions, personality and beliefs.” However, this sort of foundational truth of how we view people, and the world as a whole, has been pushed into the back of many of our minds by the polarizing and powerful influences of Identity Politics. Identity politics has crept its way back into the world’s mainstream, as the political sphere has become dominated by a slew of societal identifiers. Black, white, straight, gay, up, down, left, right—the list goes on. The lure of this double sided political sword grasps at us all, a tinge in the back of our heads. We’ve seen this sort of base, persuasive force acting upon us from both sides of the isle. The right and the left have employed these tactics effectively, as our nation’s been pulled in two. These methods have been so effective because they play into our primal instincts and baseline emotions. Nonetheless, humans are still animals and our brains are built to fall victim to emotionally triggering and tribalistic things. Humans are prone to genetic altruism, those they see most similar to themselves are those they like the most. This general trait is heavily exploited via emotional arguments and identity politics. That does not mean, however, that we can’t use the rational brain that millions of years of evolution has provided us with to come to logical conclusions. Identity Politics as a whole is a difficult subject to tackle, as there are many different aspects to take into consideration. However, in order to find a foundation for observation, I’ll look at a statement by an author that’s gained a lot of traction in recent years. Sam Harris, acclaimed neuroscientist and philosopher, has touched on Identity Politics throughout his work, and has come to many reasonable conclusions. On his podcast, “Waking Up,” Harris said, “You need an argument, and the nature of any argument is that its validity doesn’t depend on who you are. [...] When

talking about violence, again, the facts are whatever they are—how many people got shot, how many died, what was the color of their skin, who shot them, what was the color of their skin. Getting a handle on these facts does not require one to say, ‘As a black man, I know x, y, and z .’ The color of your skin simply isn’t relevant information.” First and foremost, Harris makes probably the best argument against the usage of Identity Politics. That argument being on the validity of an argument itself. It has become increasingly commonplace JACKSON an individual’s arBECKMAN- that gument has more credSMITH Opinion Writer ibility and sensibility about it based upon the author’s identity than the substance of their actual argument. This sort of ability to shut down an opponent’s argument solely based upon their skin or gender is wholly fallacious. Argumentative substance is based upon content, not the proponent. For instance, if I were to say that you couldn’t argue about any issues surrounding white people because you aren’t white, that would shut down your argument without any real logical train of thought. I’ve seen this tactic most commonly employed by Pro-Choice individuals. If their opponent happens to not have a uterus, their opinion on female reproductive rights are automatically null. We saw this at our own school, as there was an uproar against an abortion debate because both speakers were male. This is a cheap and unfounded way to debunk an argument with ad hominem and not actual material. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and their opinions should be an extension of their character, not their birth happenstance. We have the means to observe everything around us. Our observations aren’t limited to only ourselves and those like ourselves. True diversity comes from diversity of thought and to throw up walls within the intellectual domain is to do humanity a monumental disservice. Harris continues, “When talking about the data – that is, what is happening

throughout a whole society – your life experience isn’t relevant information. And the fact that you think it might be is a problem. [...] Now this isn’t to say that a person’s life experience is never relevant to a conversation [...] it can be used to establish certain kinds of facts. I mean, if someone says to you, ‘Catholics don’t believe in hell’, it’s perfectly valid to resort, ‘Actually my mom is a Catholic, and she believes in hell’. Of course there’s a larger question of what the Catholic doctrine actually is—but if a person is making a statement about a certain group of people and you are a member of the group, you might very well be in a position to falsify his claim on the basis of your experience.” Identity can assist one’s personal testimony, but it should never be as restricting as to limit their pursuit of intellectualism or their ability to speak their mind openly and freely within our nation. Our nation was built on the free exchange of ideas and we’ve fought long and hard to unqualify the tag of race, color, gender, class, and creed from those ideas. It is essential to the survival and integrity of our free society that we do not allow for the exclusion of all from the interpretation of the facts. Harris hits this on the head; the interpretation of data should not be restricted to one’s class or creed but to the ability of their mind. Harris concludes, “...a person’s identity and life experience often aren’t relevant when talking about facts. And they’re usually invoked in ways that are clearly fallacious.” Summing up the ploy that is identity politics perfectly, Harris pulls the rug out from under this dangerous trend. Identity can be important and discussions on the identities of our citizens can be warranted in a productive manner. But this is a fine line we walk. We can be proud of our identity, and each other’s identities, but to discredit each other based solely on the tags we’ve been given at birth is to regress 100 years. At the end of the day, we are all very different and unique individuals. We can divide ourselves infinitely based upon identity but we can all claim to be human. In order for real progress, we must tackle issues together instead of prying ourselves apart.

Margarita Hovsepyan Entertainment Editor Lucas Shim Sports Editor Devin Tse Photo Editor Theresa Nguyen Chief Copy Editor Stefanie Tyo Chief Financial Officer Yerin Oh Social Media Editor Aaron Mejia Staff Writers/Photographers Jackson Beckman-Smith Marc Cortes Jessica Eusebio Laurence Geronilla Kaitlyn Jung Bo Kyung Kim Gina Kim Seung Youn Kim Sara Kuchimpos Gwendolyn Langi Holden Mandell Allen Park Aliza Patel Michael Phung Ariana Rodriguez Christian Walsh Tyree Winborn Lauren Woolsey Raymond Yang Journalism Adviser Mr. Ron Goins The Mirror is the student newspaper of Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, California. It is published six times per year. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board. Letters to the Editor may be delivered to Room 112 or mailed to 6535 Cedros Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space and to conform to The Mirror style and format. Advertising questions may be directed to Yerin Oh at yoh001@ mymail.lausd.net, or by telephoning (818) 788-6800. Publication of an advertisement does not imply endorsement of the product or service by the newspaper or the school. The opinions expressed in bylined commentary articles and columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mirror or the Editorial Board.


February 9, 2018 | vnhsmirror.com

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 9

Sports

COURTESY OF BRYAN DENQ

GISELLE ALVARADO IN THE MIDST OF A HEATED GAME AGAINST KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL.

BOYS SOCCER:

A Tough Season with Some Bright Spots Faltering last season in the quarterfinals of the Boys

California Interscholastic Federation Los Angeles City Section (CIFLACS) Division 2 playoffs, the Van Nuys Boys Soccer team is looking to regain their stride. Starting off the season on a shaky note, the team dropped their first five games as miscommunication on both ends prevented them from creating momentum. “Our communication on the field needs to improve, and we need to be resilient when there is adversity,” said Captain Alexis Herrera. Herrera, however, has had his moments in the spotlight, tallying a total of six goals in the season so far. Whether its crossing or passing the ball between the defenders’ legs, Herrera constantly set up his team for scoring opportunities. His quick dribbling skills has created opportunities for his teammates to get accurate shots at the goal. Another standout, Goalie George Hernandez has protected the defensive end with fast reactions and superb physical ability. From diving to leaping into the air, his defensive awareness has given him the opportunity to foresee ensuing attacks. In a matchup against the Kennedy Cougars, the COURTESY OF JOCELYN SORIANO

NUMBER 15 CESAR LEMUS AND NUMBER 14 INMAR MONTES SPAR AGAINST SYLMAR HIGH SCHOOL.

Girls Soccer Bound for Division Playoffs By LAUREN WOOLSEY & ARIANA RODRIGUEZ The Mirror Staff

T

he Van Nuys Girls Soccer team is going to the Division 2 playoffs after a respectable 6-2-2 season. The team is seeking redemption this year after being eliminated last year in the quarter-finals of the Girls California Interscholastic Federation Los Angeles City Section (CIFLACS) playoffs. Van Nuys had their fair share of bright moments throughout this rigor-

ous season, especially during the highly staked match against the Kennedy Cougars on Jan. 17. Even though they were lacking on offense due to the multiple inaccurate passes, two goals in the second half from Danatya Montiel and Cristina Peruch lifted Van Nuys from a slump to victory. Strong communication and coordination contributed to the team’s winning season. Whether passing the ball effortlessly or tackling opponents, their cohesiveness as an unit led them to six victories. “Our unity and teamwork is what makes the victories sweeter,” said Dan-

Girls Hoops Looking for Success By DEVIN TSE & TYREE WINBORN The Mirror Staff

A

team truly shined as they attacked right from the start to apply immense pressure to Kennedy’s defense. Efficient ball movement spaced out the defenders, resulting in a total of 11 shots at the goal. Ultimately, Van Nuys was successful as Herrera notched a pair of goals and led his team to victory. Now with a 1-7-2 league record, the team hopes to gain more momentum as they face Kennedy and Reseda in the final two games before the playoffs. ––Devin Tse & Tyree Winborn

atya Montiel, the leading scorer. Montiel, who scored a total of three goals this season, has established herself as a threat on offense while her precise passing created shots for her teammates. Whether they chased their foes from yards away or tackled at the last minute, defense was certainly essential to the Wolves’ success. The Lady Wolves strengthened their defense with great coordination between the fullbacks and goalies. This combination of defense swarmed the opponents, limiting their chances of scoring. The team will begin their playoff quest on Feb. 12.

fter barely missing the championships last season, the Van Nuys Girls Basketball team is making a deep playoff run in a quest to snag this year’s title. The Lady Wolves have shown their capabilities on both ends of the floor, starting off the season with a 5-1 league record and ending with a 7-3 record overall. Their most significant victory thus far has been against the Sylmar Spartans in their league opener on Dec. 11. The Wolves had sole control of the tempo of the game while the quick rhythm of their offense allowed Van Nuys to generate fastbreak points, preventing Sylmar from establishing their defensive blocks and ultimately overwhelming their opponent with an impressive 64-36 victory. As the long and grueling season continued, the team faced its fair share of difficulties. Co-captains Mayln Omisore and Roselyn Poommai led their squad through various obstacles by maintaining harmony and chemistry within their teammates— the key to their success.

“Inconsistency is our main concern” said Poommai. “At times we might start off sluggishly which causes us to lose the tempo of the game. However, our resiliency has brought us back to ultimately finishing off our opponents.” Junior guard Jackie Buenaventura and sophomore Meshario Guzman strong plays have contributed immensely to the team’s winning efforts. Both possess a handle that allows them to cross up opposing defenders with ease. Whether sprinting down the court or penetrating the perimeter, they have proved to be a dynamic offensive duo. In the paint and around the perimeter, Mayln and Michelle Omisore constantly have lurked for their next block or rebound, affirming their dominance around the glass. The Omisore twins have anchored the team’s defense, halting incoming opponents with multiple blocks. Leading the offense by controlling the tempo of each game, Poommai’s passing abilities have let the offensive plays flow and created opportunities for wide open shots. Add to that her wide range of scoring skills, has made her a scoring threat as well. “Our win against Sylmar was definitely worthwhile,” said Omisore. “We embrace any challenge from here on out.“


10 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

Sports NEXT STOP:

PLAY FFS

COURTESY OF JOCELYN SORIANO

By DEVIN TSE & ARIANA RODRIGUEZ

SEASON SCOREBOARD 11/28 vs St. Bernard 68-54 (L) 11/30 vs Rancho Dominguez 83-72 (L) 12/1 vs North 66-57 (W) 12/2 vs Venice 53-50 (L) 12/4 vs Long Beach Poly 86-58 (W) 12/5 vs Los Angeles CES 65-58 (W) 12/7 vs Washington Prep 84-50 (L) 12/9 vs Loyola 89-45 (L) 12/11 vs Sylmar 66-56 (W) 12/14 @ Panorama 76-38 (W) 12/26 vs Bishop Montgomery 94-46 (L) 12/27 vs Southeast 69-57 (W) 12/28 vs Lynwood 84-41 (W) 12/29 @ Price 83-76 (L) 1/2 vs Grant 87-51 (W) 1/3 vs Chatsworth 84-71 (W) 1/4 vs University 82-77 (L) 1/5 vs Venice 65-61 (W) 1/8 vs Canoga Park 87-84 (L) 1/10 @ San Fernando 92-35 (W) 1/15 @ Malibu 70-59 (L) 1/17 vs Kennedy 78-52 (W) 1/19 @ Reseda 75-38 (W) 1/24 @ Sylmar 84-68 (W) 1/26 vs Panorama 81-33 (W) 1/29 @ Canoga Park 68-44 (W) 1/31 vs San Fernando 70-30 (W)

The Mirror Staff

C

oming off a historical season for Van Nuys Boys Basketball, the Wolves were promoted to play in Division 2 as one of the California Interscholastic Federation Los Angeles City Section (CIFLACS) favorites to claim this year’s title and have established themselves as a formidable force in this year’s championship lineup. COURTESY JOCELYN SORIANO Starting off with a 6-1 league record, and a 9-1 record overall, the Wolves have made tremendous plays throughout the season. The important games against the awareness allowed Ali to play stingy deSylmar Spartans, fense, and his quick hands allowed him their arch rivals, to deflect passes and contest shots. became the pivot The Van Nuys paint has been effecto their league tively protected by Matthew Sykes and victory. The two Josh Updegraph who both possess treteams traded STAR GUARD TYREE WIN- baskets in two mendous strength and athleticism. The BORN DOMINATES THE Sykes and Updegraph duo overpowered tightly-contested COURT WITH HIS CRAFTY opponents with countless rebounds. games, but the HANDLES AND EXPLOTheir brute strength consistently Wolves’ doubleSIVE SCORING ABILITIES blocked incoming shots, allowing them digit victories to control the paint. Whether they are allowed them to take the top ranking in sending shots into the stands or rising the league. up for a slam dunks, they create havoc Star guards Tyree Winborn and Ethan when they are on the court. Quiambao led the Wolves to claim their Winborn is at the forefront of the second consecutive title. Their superb team’s scoring, producing 30+ points plays as co-captains stand out on the STAR GUARD ETHAN QUIAMBAO LEADS THE WOLVES TO A HUGE VICTORY AGAINST THE OPPOSING KENNEDY COUGARS in ten of the games. His ability to court but both preach the strength of knock down the three allowed him teamwork in winning games. All of the talented players contributed to the winning effort. dishing dimes. Quiambao’s crafty handles can shake off most to stretch the defense. With slick handles at his disposal, Winborn dropped his defenders to the floor. Quiambao and Mijuhaim Ali are the two dynamic guards defenders with ease as he creates open space for his shot. The Boys Basketball team is in excellent form for the that stormed through the court. Quiambao dictated the Ali is deadly from the three point range with his consisplayoffs starting on Feb. 12 and are looking to bring a tempo of the game with his passing abilities and broad court tent deep stroke. Aside from his three point range, Ali is second consecutive title home. vision, allowing him to find the open man on the court while also a formidable defender. His exceptional footwork and

From Team Player to Team Coach By DEVIN TSE & ARIANA RODRIGUEZ The Mirror Staff

A

new chapter begins in the Boys Volleyball Program, as Omri Azarly takes the helm as the new Head Coach. Inspired by his brother and the USA Men’s Volleyball Team in the 2012 Olympics, Azarly has made volleyball a lifestyle for himself. Throughout his career as a student at VNHS, he has played in every single position. Possessing talent and skills with every facet of the game, his teammates considered him an all-around player. His skill on the court earned him a spot on the 2016 CIF LA All City List in his senior year. After his successful high school career, Azarly yearned to become a coach and his affinity for VNHS compelled him to stay. He became the Varsity Assistant Coach, as well as the Head J.V. Coach for the

Boys and Girls volleyball teams. Azarly led his Boys Junior Varsity team to a 2017 league championship, with a league record of 11-1. He continued to be successful as his Girls J.V. Team also claimed a league championship in Oct. 2017. With the departure of Head Coach Michael Del Homme, Azarly seized the opportunity to become the new Head Coach for Boys Volleyball. According to Azarly, the decision to take the coaching job was relatively easy for him. After just graduating from VNHS two years ago, Azarly is now the man in charge. From star libero to now-head coach, he has gained the respect and trust of his players. Captain Daron Excel strongly supports the hiring of his former teammate and is confident in his abilities. “The team is really glad to have him.” said Excel. “Although he is still young, we believe he can guide us to success and lift the program to new heights.” Aiding Azarly in his pursuit of a Division 1 ring in the upcoming season starting Feb. 23 are team captains Excel, a senior, and Jacob Lee, a junior, who have shown tremendous skill in the

previous years. Azarly firmly believes that development in the fundamentals and creating a team culture will be essential for the success of the program; whether in practice or a highly staked playoff game, extreme work ethic and preparation is required on a daily basis. “Our ultimate goal is to win a championship for Van Nuys, with that said hard work and dedication on and off the court is essential,” said Azarly. COACH AZARLY BELIEVES THAT HARD WORK AND DEDICATION CAN HELP THE TEAM REACH THEIR GOALS.

AMANDA GODFREY | THE MIRROR


February 9, 2018 | vnhsmirror.com

Arts&Entertainment

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 11

DC COMICS

CRESS WILLIAMS STARS AS JEFFERSON PIERCE, THE ALTER EGO OF BLACK LIGHTNING WHO IS A RETIRED SUPERHERO THAT HAS THE POWER TO HARNESS AND CONTROL ELECTRICITY.

By JESSICA EUSEBIO

Black, an ongoing problem AfricanAmericans face. Despite “Black Lightning” being pure fiction, the masked vigilante encounters timely issues and realistic situations—like gang violence and racist cops. Even the dialogue stands apart from other superhero shows due to the show’s mature tone and storyline. Jefferson and his daughter Anissa even engage in conversations that quote famous African American activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer. One aspect that many fans enjoy about the show is that it does not take place in the Arrowverse, a shared universe between “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl,” allowing the series to branch out in ways the other shows cannot. The pilot refrains from the conventional superhero origin story, amusing the audience with a mystery behind Black Lightning’s beginnings. Characters are well-cast. Cress Williams and Adams truly capture the essence of the concerned and worried parents of their two daughters. Nafessa Williams’ excellent performance expresses an activist’s sincere emotions. McClain transitions from her Disney Channel roots to a more mature role as a rebellious teen. The action scenes are well-coordinated, with the close combat scenes presenting excellent special lightning effects, shining light on Black Lightning’s gifted abilities. The series offers a well-pieced R&B and hip-hop soundtrack, making noteworthy scenes more dramatic. In spite of a poorly done trailer, the first episode was a success in almost every aspect except costume and character development. Black Lightning’s superhero outfit is a flop, looking like a cheesy Halloween costume. And viewers who are unfamiliar with the comic book may be unaware of Peter Gambi’s backstory as Jefferson’s mentor/partner, which is slightly confusing. Audiences seem to be responding positively. The pilot episode of “Black Lightning” has a Certified Fresh Tomato Score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.2/10 on IMDb, the Internet Movie Database. Watch “Black Lightning” every Tuesday on the CW at 9 p.m.

The Mirror Staff

H

e’s back on the streets. After four successful superhero shows, The CW Television Network introduced their first African-American masked vigilante as the lead in “Black Lightning.” Adapted from DC Comics, the series was developed by Salim and Mara Brock Akil, known for their collaborative works on “Girlfriends,” “The Game” and “Being Mary Jane.” The DC character made his comic book debut in “Black Lightning #1,” first published in 1977 as the comic book franchise’s first leading AfricanAmerican superhero. “Black Lightning” stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce, China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Inspector Henderson, and Marvin Jones III as

A New African- American

SUPERHERO Tobias Whale. The show is not your typical origin story. The story centers on high school principal Jefferson Pierce, who retired from his heroic identity as Black Lightning after nine years because his crime-fighting became too dangerous and risky for himself and his family. Jefferson claims he’s been doing “as much good, if not more good” for the Black community since he retired his superhero persona by leading his students in the right direction and keeping them safe as the principal. When the 100 Gang—a group of hooligans overrunning the city— threatens and kidnaps his two daughters, Jefferson is forced to come out of retirement and suit up. The show introduces an influx of African-American characters rarely seen in superhero media except for Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther” movie which features an almost all African-American cast. Unlike its predecessors “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl,” “Black Lightning” deals with more modern social issues. The pilot tackles police brutality and racial discrimination. After vicious treatment by aggressive police officers, Jefferson realizes that the only reason must be because he is

T Black Panther: A King Will Rise THE RULER OF WAKANDA CLAWS HIS WAY BACK TO THE BIG SCREEN WITH A NEWLY UPDATED ARRAY OF WEAPONRY AND TECHNOLOGY IN THIS MARVEL PRODUCTION.

he Black Panther will be the first cinematic black superhero with African roots. Premiering on Feb. 16 during Black History Month, the film of the same name features an almost exclusively African-American cast—something seldom seen in Hollywood. Returning to the big screen after his theatrical debut in “Captain America: Civil War,” Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, revisits Wakanda, a fictional, technologically advanced African nation, to succeed the throne after the death of his father. However, his leadership as king attracts enemy forces to destroy his homeland. Allied with CIA agent Everett K. Ross, played by Martin Freeman, and Wakandan special forces, T’Challa suits up as the Black Panther to prevent a world war. Given the recent controversy surrounding the under representation of minorities—especially African-Americans—in Hollywood, this slick superhero screenplay will bring a dose of diversity to the big screen, and a potentially massive fanbase. —Jessica Eusebio MARVEL COMICS


12 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

vnhsmirror.com | February 9, 2018

Arts&Entertainment

Black History Takes the Stage

LUCAS SHIM | THE MIRROR

VANNAIRES COMMEMORATE VARIOUS BLACK ARTISTS

The Van Nuys High School Music Program performed the Black History Concert on Feb. 2 in the Hubbard Auditorium. The show featured the Rhythm Lab, Vannaires, Second Line Band, Congo Square and the Dance Company, presenting audiences with a diversity of music and culture that celebrates Black History Month. LUCAS SHIM | THE MIRROR

THERESA NGUYEN | THE MIRROR

JAZZMYN WARD, ABOVE, SHARES A COMPELLING POEM ABOUT IDENTTITY ISSUES

CLARA PIERONE AND DARION CALDERON SING ALONG WITH THE OTHER VANNAIRES

LUCAS SHIM | THE MIRROR

LUCAS SHIM | THE MIRROR

CONGO DRUMS PERFORM RHYTHMS INSPIRED BY AFRICAN CULTURES

TROMBONIST GUILLERMO MORA PLAYS IN THE RHYTHM LAB

Get Out : Racism in the Abstract By KHRISTA SAYO The Mirror Staff

T

he dark history of slavery is appalling enough to think about for many people. Imagining such an event in modern day society might even seem inconceivable—except Jordan Peele’s horror film, “Get Out,” depicts just that. The story follows the experience of African-American photographer Chris Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya, as he meets the white family of his girlfriend, Rose Armitage who is played by Allison Williams. His suspicions immediately arise after a series of peculiar events unfold in the deep Southern setting of the Armitage’s estate. Peele does not shy away from the

societal ostracization that people of color have endured throughout history. Scenes where Washington was racially profiled by a police officer symbolize the struggles that are still prevalent in society today. “Get Out” stands out as a horror film because it diverges from a stereotypical thriller. The horror in “Get Out” is purely racism itself. Considering that most black people are often the villain or the first victim in movies from this genre, having Washington as the main character who lives through actual experiences of racism also sets the film apart. Critics have lauded the motion picture for the cinematography, storyline and characterization of racism through events that ring true with reality. Scoring a 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and maintaining popularity among audiences, the film has garnered the atten-

tion that people of the black community have been rooting for. “Get Out” racked up four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Kaluuya and Best Director for Peele. Much dismay and confusion arose after the Golden Globes nominated the film under the Best Comedy or Musical category. Placing “Get Out” under such classifications seemed patronizing to the depiction of racism and the dehumanization that is still prevalent in society today. Peele commented on his decision to submit it under this category, stating that “We are still living in a time in which African-American cries for justice aren’t being taken seriously.” His act, while slightly controversial, demonstrates how indifferent people outside of the black community are towards

DANIEL KALUUYA STARS AS CHRIS WASHINGTON

racism in society. The success of this abstract portrayal of racism goes to show how significant the story is in depicting discrimination in contemporary culture. The modern take on discrimination and dehumanization depicted in the film makes us realize that the open wounds of slavery are still fresh today.

The Mirror 020918  

The award-winning student publication of Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, California. Online at www.vnhsmirror.com

The Mirror 020918  

The award-winning student publication of Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, California. Online at www.vnhsmirror.com

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