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1 5 7 9

A Collection of Newspaper Blackout Poetry

Calming Fears - Being out of Place

Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline

Racing for Rights

All Around The World

Bios

Table of Contents 11 1


We hope you enjoy exploring our magazine!

27 Volunteer

25 Religious Acceptance

23 Homosexuality Map

21 History Circles - Gay Rights

19 Rooting for Stem Cell Research

16 Divercity - A Photo Essay on the Subject

Girl Effect - An Opinion on Women’s Rights

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Dear Readers, Welcome to this first issue of Unity, a magazine focused on the topic of discrimination. For centuries, people have had trouble coexisting with others that are different from them. We aim to show that discrimination continues to occur today through many forms. There are many sides to discrimination, and we hope that you will get a better idea of them through our magazine. There are three contributors for this issue. Megan has covered a variety of issues including the importance of universal women’s rights, religious diversity, and the widespread presence of discrimination. Katie focused mainly on homosexuals’ struggle for the right to marry in the United States. She’s interviewed a victim of this discrimination and researched the severity of it. Karleigh has written mostly about racism, past and present, in American society.


Staff Biographies

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

What were your contributions to the magazine? What experience have you had with the topics you wrote about? What is your favorite quote? Who are your heroes? If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Which character from Disney’s Finding Nemo best describes you?

Megan

1. Religious Unity, All Around the World, the Girl Effect, and Blackout Poems 2. I have visited Tunica, Mississippi, which is racially segregated to this day. Discrimination and unity are close to my heart. 3. “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” - Buddha 4. Tina Fey, Spock, and Ghandi 5. I would be able to pause time. When the alarm went off I could just pause time and then sleep to my heart’s desire. 6. Crush

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1. Calming Fears, History Circles, Where Is Homosexuality Accepted?, and Diversity Photo Essay 2. Not very much outside of what everyone experiences, like seeing and reading about instances of discrimination in the news. 3. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Ghandi 4. Quan Cosby 5. Undo button for life. 6. Pearl (the little girl octopus)

Kat i

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e i l g r h a K

1. Racing for Rights, Rooting for Stem Cell Research, MLK Timeline and Volunteer Opportunities in Austin 2. I’ve had almost no experience with any of the topics discussed in our magazine at all, fortunately. I find it interesting learning about these things because I have no personal experience regarding those issues. 3. I don’t like quotes. 4. Dirk Nowitzki 5. I think I’d either like to be able to pause time or rewind... or maybe FLY. 6. Dory!


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Feature

All Around the World A woman who has seen discrimination on three continents By Megan M.

er outfit is a plastered in dark red and black African newspapers with headlines in a foreign language. There is a longer shirt that goes to about the knees and hangs loosely around her frame, complete with a matching pair of pants. She smiles as you walk in and looks at you with respect, and she calls all of her students Sweetie. She prepares a math warm-up on the board, her hands covered in chalk. The letter z, or as she pronounces it from her years living in Ethiopia, zed, is one of the variables used in a lengthy equation. Ruth DeHolton teaches at LASA High School, but she is no average teacher. Her outfit reflects her many years spent living around the world. DeHolton was born and grew up in the Congo and lived in other countries in Africa as well. Her parents chose to work in Africa and raised her there. She also lived in France for 2 years. When she was 16 she moved to Houston for high school, and she attended college in the United States as well. “I just thought I was one of the luckiest people to get to live on 3 continents,� DeHolton said. DeHolton started in college as a math major, until she switched over to engineering. She later went on to become a water and sanitation engineer with her degree. She worked in this profession for fifteen years before switching careers to become a teacher.

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“I just thought I was one of the luckiest people to get to live on 3 continents,” DeHolton said. DeHolton started in college as a math major, until she switched over to engineering. She later went on to become a water and sanitation engineer with her degree. She worked in this profession for fifteen years before switching careers to become a teacher. “In high school I started helping others with their homework and explaining classes,” DeHolton said. “I continued doing tutoring in college. [Later in my life] I worked and had kids, so I decided to reevaluate my career. I had always thought of teaching, and I wanted to have the same schedule as my kids, so this profession worked out really well.” Her teaching career also led her family to a unique opportunity. DeHolton wanted to move with her two children to a country other than the United States. When she saw an opening for a math teacher at an international school in Ethiopia, she decided to take the position. “I wanted to take my two children somewhere new to get the same experiences I had growing up,” DeHolton said. “ I had lived in many African countries before when I was a water and sanitation engineer.” While moving is no problem for DeHolton, it was a more difficult transition for her children. DeHolton helped her children through this process. “I’ve moved many times, so I adapt easily,” DeHolton said. “It was interesting to watch the

children. It took them some time, but they adapted quickly.” While DeHolton has lived many places, the move to Ethiopia was special. She says it was a combination of the country’s history and moving with her children. “The move to Ethiopia with my children was different [from other moves I have made in the past],” she said. “Ethiopia was never colonized, and Italy previously occupied it. It has a written language that is thousands of years old. This was quite different from anywhere I had previously lived.” Her children attended an international school where English was spoken. As a family they studied Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, for daily use.

“I’ve moved many times, so I adapt easily.” - Ruth DeHolton

“It was good to know for the streets,” DeHolton said. “It’s not like we could speak English with the vendors.” After living in Ethiopia for four years, DeHolton and her children decided to move back to the United States, as it was time for her daughter to go to high school. They chose to move to Austin because it was similar to

Houston where DeHolton had previously lived and there were job opportunities there. Now DeHolton teaches advanced math classes such as Algebra 2 and PreCalculus at LASA High School in Austin and her two children attend magnet schools, one in high school and the other in middle school. “I myself love learning,” DeHolton said. “I like kids, and I like learning myself. This profession fits me nicely.”

Seeing Discrimination Now both DeHolton and her children have seen the cultural differences in various parts of the world. Her past in living around the world has helped to shape her views on discrimination and how societies interact with one another. DeHolton specifically has been able to compare discrimination in the United States and in other areas of the world. “I don’t think there’s more discrimination in the US than in other areas of the world,” she said. “In different countries it’s with different groups. For instance in Texas there might be issues with Hispanics, who live more in poverty. In France there’s discrimination against Algerians, in Germany it’s the Turks. It exists in different ways with different groups.” DeHolton was alive when Apartheid, a series of laws where racial discrimination was institutionalized, was ongoing in South Africa. Racial separation became a standard in every aspect of life,


Feature and the system was not taken away until 1989. “Economic and educational gaps are still tremendous between whites and blacks [in South Africa],” DeHolton said. “There are still different backgrounds, and no real societal equality.” DeHolton believes that discrimination can be passed down through generations. This is part of the reason why discrimination continues to be such a problem for the world. “[Often] you absorb your parent’s views of the world. A lot of people break out of that, and a lot don’t,” she said. “If you live in one place, and that is all you know, then ideas and prejudices form about other groups of people. I have seen that in rural societies in Africa.” Although she has seen discrimination, DeHolton does believe there is a way to work towards having less of it in the world. “I think that cultures mixing with and living equally among

each other is the best way to stop discrimination,” she said. “When people are separate, you get ideas about different cultures that aren’t true. When you live among them, you see that this isn’t true. This is part of why I wanted my children to go to a new place; to see the importance of being with another culture.” DeHolton does believe that there is more to stopping discrimination then many cultures living amongst each other. She says there has to be deeper connections between most members of all cultures for them to truly bond and for discrimination to stop. “I recently heard someone talk about how if you sit down with someone and talk in depth about topics like their dreams when they grew up, and how they grew up you really learn a lot about them,” she said. “We don’t do this often. It’s just incredible what you can learn about someone, how well you can get to know them.” DeHolton has seen this

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process first hand when she found out something she didn’t know about her grandmother. “When my father was in college he brought home his friend who was a Guinean man, as he had lived in Africa for most of his life,” she said. “My grandmother had a prejudice against black people. And she made him feel welcome; she was kind and a good host. She wasn’t going to be rude to her guest. So she made an exception for this one person. And she really got to know this person and saw that he was a good man. If eventually she kept making exceptions, her prejudice could go away.” DeHolton said she thinks that this really is the way to break down one’s own prejudices, and could be part of the key to ending discrimination. “There have to be personal connections to break down pre-conceived notions,” she said. “That is the way to fight discrimination.”

Global Discrimination Statistics ~ In the Netherlands Turks and Morrocans are discriminated against. ~ Yemen had the lowest index of equality between women and men. ~ Kenya has one of the lowest public optinoin rates for equality for homosexuals. Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project


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Feature

Racing for

Rights Man who reflects on Civil Rights movement By Karleigh R.

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Don Ross (center) in 1953 at Texas A&M

he stands were packed—with whites and African American’s alike. After all that had occurred to make this day possible, the heart’s of everyone on the field were racing. Some felt pressured to prove their worth, while others, they just wanted to reassure who they ‘knew’ were best, the whites. It didn’t matter who you were rooting for. Everyone was there for the same reason, and for the first time in a long time, talent came first, and the ongoing battle of the races was only secondary. In 1962, Donald Ross, the track coach at Alamo Heights High School, took the liberty to invite an ‘all black school’, Wheatly High School, to the Mule Relays, the annual Alamo Heights track meet—something that had never been done before. The first integrated track meet went off without incident. The eyes of American’s everywhere were starting to open up to the way society was running-it especially had an impact on Donald Ross, who was a student at A&M during times of segregation, and later grew to be a high school track and football coach when things were still unfair. Looking


Feature through a lens of social injustice, nothing seemed to be changing, and many, Don included, wondered if they’d ever see a new light reign over the country. Now, 40 years later, we’ve come to accept an intelligent African American individual as our president, an honor that in the past has only been credited to white men. There have been many other advances as far as civil rights and racial discrimination are concerned, but how much left do we have to progress? How far have we come, and how far is there still left to go? Don Ross describes his real life experiences--as a child with different influences, as a student when times were unfair, and as a teacher when blacks were still discriminated against-- and how these experiences have shaped how he views those matters today. “My father, I would class as more or less bigoted. I can remember in the early years, always if we were watching a professional team play, he always had to count the number of blacks on the team verses the number of whites, and so on. He didn’t see black people as individuals, but more as a race. I’d say I had good influences and bad influences as far as that goes,” Ross says of his childhood. Still unexposed to the racism and discrimination that the world had to offer, Don attended Texas A&M University after graduating high school, hoping to be in a less sheltered environment, and to learn more about society and get a better grasp on what he believed. Unfortunately, A&M didn’t provide the diverse environment he was looking for. Of his college experience, Ross says, “In those days, Texas A&M was a relatively small

college. The entire student body was made up of male students, almost totally white. There were a few Hispanics, but other than that, it was a total male, white, student body. As you can see, I had no influence whatsoever from knowing, or being around black people when I went to college, because they were not there.” During that time period, Civil Rights were a huge issue, and one that everyone was just expect-

“I doubt that there is another black man (or woman) in America who could have pulled it off.” ~Don Ross, a track coach at Alamo Heights

ed to have some sort of stance on. Of course everyone is going to have an opinion, but most of it was based on the experiences that people had. “I just didn’t have the exposure, and I don’t think that my exposure to being with all white male students had a negative effect on me, but it certainly didn’t have an effect to help me resolve my particular thinking about integration and segregation.” Don remained without an opinion on the Civil Rights movement and what it had to offer, but he didn’t credit this entirely to the school he went to, by any means. “I doubt my views would

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have changed much [had there been women and people of color allowed to be enrolled in A&M University],” Ross says. “I believe it would have helped to accelerate my position on integration and segregation because I’ve always been for the person or individual outside of color. The color is secondary. I think that if I was exposed to more women and people of color in college, than I probably would have had stronger views early in the process of Civil Rights.” Although Don Ross didn’t have much of an opinion on the Civil Rights movement and all that it had to offer, he credits the Civil Rights legislation to the ‘true progress that was made’. Don believes that if you look at history from Abraham Lincoln (president 1861-1865) to Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) you will note very little change in the status and opportunity of the black man. “That was a long, long time,” he said. ‘About a hundred years with not a lot of progress.” In regards to Barack Obama, America’s first African American president, Ross has nothing but high hopes and great things to say. Living through such a unique lifetime, seeing the ups and downs of many social issues— this presidency was something that Ross never thought he would live to see. “It took a remarkable, brilliant and educated black man to finally see it happen. Good for him. I am hopeful that the politicians will not beat him down and that his presidency will succeed gloriously. I doubt that there is another black man (or woman) in America who could have pulled it off.”


Life and Times of

Martin Luther King Jr.

1953 The first bus boycott started in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 19, 1953.

1963 Wrote ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’ stating his resonsibility to disobey unjust laws

1963 Delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.


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1954

1955

1956

Elected as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

Received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University

Led a successful effort to desegregate Montgomery, Alabama, buses

1958

1957

Published Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story

Founded and was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

1964 Won the Nobel Peace Prize

1968 Was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Tennessee

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.� ~ Martin Luther King Jr.


Calming Fears

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ow Robert Pitman, a successful lawyer who lives in Austin, can talk about his homosexuality without shame or remorse. Unfortunately, his life was not always this way. Pitman grew up in Fort Worth, Texas in a religiously conservative family who would disown him upon his coming out. However, he would not be confident enough to do this for many years because of the homophobic environment he was raised in. “It was pretty clear what my church community, which was really my whole world, did to people who were different from what we were all “supposed to be.” Because there was no room for difference - of any kind - I got the message and acted like I was like everyone else,” Pitman remembers. “It was never even part of my world that it was possible that it could be accepted.” He says he knew that he was attracted to other boys around age 6 or 7 but he didn’t begin to think of an alternative lifestyle as an acceptable option until he was about 23. In high school, Pitman confided his secret in his sister Susan. She was not only the first person to know of his homosexuality; she also turned out to have one of the worst reactions to the fact. “I have only seen her once in the last 15 years and that was at my dad’s funeral,” he says. Although Pitman told Susan in high school, he didn’t officially “come out” until he was in college. “Because the first people I told were within the “church”, I learned quickly that there was nothing to do with this but hide it and hope for the best. So there was no incentive, really, to tell anyone else,” he explains. It was in college that he realized that living as a homosexual was a viable option and eventually, it became

By Katie F.

inevitable for him to tell the rest his family. He knew that his parents’ reactions wouldn’t be good. Looking back on it, Pitman remembers that his Dad was mostly worried about how this would affect his future. “My mother’s response was more along the lines of ‘How have you let Satan get hold of you like this?’ and an immediate ultimatum of ‘repent and get help or you’re not welcome here’.” Since Pitman was unwilling to conform to his parents’ expectations, they disowned him for many years and refused to include him in the family. Now, he is on good terms with most members of his family although he still has no contact with one of his sisters and her family. Unfortunately, his mother has severe Alzheimer’s and they were unable to restore their relationship before the disease set in. Along with telling his family, Pitman’s coming out brought the duty of telling his straight friends. Some reacted badly to the news while some worked with him through hard times. He says that in general, people who he’s come out to have been accepting.

“R way you a more has m to su he w back relati partn class witho to ha other meet neve says, Smit a trip Worl “ spon wher go to


Feature

Rather than just taking the easy out and saying, ‘This is wrong and are bad’, they struggled with it and e than anything else in my life, that made a difference for me.” Although he had many friends upport him, Pitman didn’t think would find a partner because of his kground filled with intolerance. He didn’t decide to pursue a ionship until he met his former ner, David Smith. They met in a s at church called “Gay Theology out Apology” and each claims ave sought out a seat next to the r. “My parents always hoped I’d t my mate in church. They just er thought it would be a guy,” he , smiling. Years later, after Pitman and th had become partners, they took p to celebrate “Gay Day” at Disney ld. “It’s not a formal thing and it’s not nsored by Disney but it’s just a day re everybody says, ‘If you’re gay, o Disney!’” Pitman describes. “It’s

unorganized but everybody shows up.” For some evangelical groups, this was the perfect environment to spread their message in. One of these groups had decided to picket Disney on the same day that Pitman and his partner had chosen to visit. They held offensive posters and they were confronting people in the park. One evangelist came up to Pitman and Smith and asked if they were homosexual. When they responded yes, the man asked them if they knew that they were going to hell. Since they had both grown up going to church, they began to talk to the man about his comment. “All of the sudden a bunch of reporters with cameras and microphones came up and said, ‘Can we record this?’” Pitman remembers. An Associated Press article appeared in the Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel soon after. According to that article, at one point in the thirty minute conversation the evangelist informed the couple that statistics showed that their lifestyle led to a shorter lifestyle. “It’s not a lifestyle. It’s a death-style,” he concluded. “My lifestyle is exactly like yours,” Smith replied. “I wake up, I pick up my paper, I say ‘hi’ to my neighbor, I feed the dogs, I go to work…The only thing different is that I share a bed with a man, and I love a man.” Pitman and Smith were partners for about 7 years before separating. They were unable to be married because laws in Texas forbid it. Being a long-time lawyer and prosecutor, Pitman has a reliable perspective on justice. He believes that, in the name of equal-

“My parents always hoped I’d meet my mate in church. They just never thought it would be a guy.” - Robert Pitman, a sucessful homosexual lawyer from Austin

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ity, there needs to be some recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. “I’m a citizen just as much as you are; I pay taxes just like you do. If you don’t want to marry a man, then don’t, but I won’t tell you who to marry and you don’t tell me,” Pitman says. Although he has seen discrimination in his personal life because of his homosexuality many times, Pitman says that people close to him are not the people that he feels most hurt by. “I feel most discriminated against with people who I’ve never met and who appear on TV or on talk shows,” he says. “And I have to say, it’s generally people who are either politically very conservative or religiously very conservative. I hear things on the TV or in the news or I read in the paper about things they say and these people who I’ve never known make these judgments and say these terrible things without ever having met me.” Despite the great amounts of pain some of them have caused him, Robert says that people who are close to him have been the most accepting of his homosexuality. “With the exception of my family and maybe another one or two other people, I have had really good experiences with coming out to people. And that is because, first they knew me as a person and then once they learned I was gay they weren’t able to just write me off and say, ‘Oh, well you’re one of those.’” There are a great deal of people who find homosexuality unnatural and some even find it non-biblical so they tend to discriminate against gay people. These people are called homophobes. “If you look at the word, it really means fear of gay people,” Pitman observes. “I don’t know if they’re afraid of us but if they are, they shouldn’t be.”


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Blackout P

A Collection of P


Poetry Slam

Poems By Megan M.

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Commentary

The Girl Effect

Better a girl’s life. Better a society. Better a country. Better the world. By Megan M.


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Commentary

eaded to school, you chat with your friends. The group of you attend an all girls’ school, eager to be one of the first generations of women in your family to learn and get a job. As you round the corner and approach your school, a gang of huge men surrounds you. They are dressed in black, holding spray bottles. As you begin to cry for help, your face starts to burn from the liquid they are spraying at you. They shout threats, telling you to stay home, to learn your place in society. You are a girl in Afghanistan. This is no new occurrence. Events such as this happen all around the world. Traditional societal beliefs of previous eras that women are of lesser importance than men continue to reign in many societies, especially in many areas of the Middle East. In that area, women are beaten for actions perfectly acceptable when done by men and often do not get to choose their own futures. The oppression of women needs to stop globally,

specifically in the Middle East. I am appalled by the countless number of times that I turn on the news and see images of women in Afghanistan or the

A girl is the world’s greatest and most diminished natural resource. Swat Valley of Pakistan being flogged in the streets because they left their house without their husband. Women are treated as if they do not deserve the same rights as men. This regressive thinking needs to be abolished; no good comes from it - only hate and wasted efforts to keep strong women down that could be helping society as a whole. Every human being is entitled to the same freedoms no matter what gender they are. Many women are incapable of choosing their families, jobs, or futures in the Middle East; they are forced into marriages and futures they do not always choose for themselves. In Saudi Arabia, girls can

get married as young as the age of ten and are often forced into marriage with suitors by their families. The fact that in this area of the world today women and girls do not have their basic rights such as the ability to choose when and who they marry is just saddening. An immeasurable amount of good would come from putting an effort forward to stop the discrimination of women in the Middle East. These women would be able to show a viewpoint of their society that has hardly represented through the global media. If women in this area were able to choose what they wanted to do, they would in turn empower their children, who would go on to live the lives they chose. Women in the Middle East would be able to live better lives. Every girl, everywhere should be able to have the freedoms she is entitled to, freedoms such as being able to leave your house on your own and go where you please. All women should be able to be treated with the same respect men are, and not be accused of acts and crimes because they are women. Coun-

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Commentary

There is no limit to what we can each do as individuals. tries should not hold down their female citizens, particularly countries in the Middle East where there are Islamic laws keeping women from the basic rights they deserve. These laws may not say it is acceptable to flog a woman in the streets if she has been accused of adultery, but they do give way to a societal discrimination against women. All governments are responsible for ensuring that the women of their country have their basic rights. While leaders and citizens of many countries in the Middle East may argue that keeping tradition in place is more important than women’s rights, we have to keep in mind that societies need change. Change is healthy. For example, many areas of the world once used slavery, making the lives of so many enslaved people horrible. When African American people were given their basic freedoms they deserve in America, industries were strengthened and more people were able to own and stake down land. The

army force grew and the African American population was able to go to school and take on higher roles in society. The liberation of people leads to stronger societies. In the strongest countries politically and economically throughout the world women are empowered. Women can do what they wish, lead the lives they want to lead. Societies are strengthened, as women take on bigger roles in society and more progress is made. For instance when American women started taking on more jobs during World War II, the army had a greater workforce and was able to make more progress. Hospitals also had more of a workforce and were able to save more lives. This is the true way to see that women can and have helped the world; they have strengthened societies and continue to do so. There is something we can all do, and we all must do – both world leaders and average individuals, to empower women and help the world. We can visit

websites such as girleffect.org, an amazing organization devoted to putting girls in school, and it’s easy to donate online. Helping out at female abuse victim centers such as SafePlace can also go a long way by helping women in a tough place. One of the best things to do is to write letters to your country’s leaders and tell them how important women’s rights are to you. Tell them to take action and put pressure on countries that do not allow women their basic rights – if enough of us speak out, they may even take action. The future is here. This crime of diminishing the lives of girls has to end; it can no longer be overlooked or forgotten about. Women and girls are waiting. I know I am empowered. I know I am ready to help women, to help as many as I can. The question is, are you? Is the world? Better society. Better the world. Better a girl’s life. Help stop the oppression of women today.


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rsity .

A Ph oto E It’s ssay by K atie F always . been with us and it always will be. People have struggled with this fact and tried to rid us of it and its complications throughout history. People’s problem with diversity stems from the human tendancy to want to view the world in black and white. We need to get more comfortable with the grey that life presents. Sometimes things simply refuse to fall into one of our predetermined “right” and “wrong” catagories and accepting that is the only way to deal with it. Diversity is the only thing we all have common and we should embrace it.


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Commentary

Rooting for Stem Cell Research By Karleigh R.

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n February 14, 2009, the legendary San Jose band leader and drummer Louie Bellson, who played with jazz greats for over six decades, died from Parkinson’s Disease. In a profile story in Mercury News in 2007, Bellson was described as someone “who didn’t just change how people play the drum set; he transformed the way people think about drummers.” Tragically, Bellson’s life was taken due to complications of a disease that could have been treated with the use of stem cells. Had stem cells been available just 25 days earlier, Bellson would have had the opportunity to continue his life as a loving husband, father, and grandfather that he is remembered as. Fortunately many of us living today, on March 9, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to allow federal funding for hu-


Commentary man embryonic stem cell research. This has become one of the most significant changes from the previous administration yet. This isn’t only a political issue—it’s a moral and ethical issue that divides our country. The president’s decision on the highly controversial subject provides an opportunity for a positive effect on everyone, and could help save many lives in the future. Stem cell research, which strives to nurture and cultivate stem cells, provides opportunities to millions of Americans with all kinds of diseases. Unfortunately, at this time, medical experts believe that the only way to have the most potentially useful stem cells is believed to be from human embryos. The extraction process of stem cells is what causes the most ethical problems— first, excess embryos from invitro fertilization procedures are thawed, and then the inner cell mass of the embryo is extracted, killing the embryo in the process. The stem cells are all that remain. Some believe that human “personhood” starts shortly after conception, and at that point, the unborn babies already have souls. This alone raises various ethical questions and conflicts. Many of the people in opposition to embryonic stem cell research are also pro-life when the issue of abortion comes into play. These people typically disagree with the funding for stem cell research and the research itself, because it concerns the use of “alive” human embryos. But, if the embryonic cells left over from in-vitro fertilization are just going to be disposed of, why shouldn’t medical researchers put them to good use?

Others against the process are concerned with the fact that as popularity in stem cell research rises, there are many under handed means to obtain the stem cells. This may lead to extreme issues in an organs black market—because stem cell research had been previously banned, many doctors and other researchers were paying large amounts of money for fetuses to collect the stem cells. Through this highly publicized controversy, many are also aware of the benefits that stem cells can provide. Organs can be grown to maturity in a lab and can then be used in transplants. Stem cells can be used to replace malfunctioning

This isn’t only a political issue—it’s a moral and ethical issue that divides our country. or dying cells which are causing problems in the body. Stem cells provide raw material for every single kind of human tissue, which can offer treatments for common diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, certain forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer in particular, and heart disease, the number-one cause of death in the United States today. In many unfortunate cases, developmental studies that are needed cannot be studied directly in a human embryo, because many clinical consequences could arise, a few of which include pregnancy loss, infertility, and birth defects.

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Stem cell research can be advantageous to these studies, giving the opportunity to study using stem cells from a discarded, real human embryo without the risky consequences. Research and funding of stem cells could provide a more in-depth understanding of human development, thus allowing the treatment, and ultimately prevention, of abnormal human development. Yet another benefit of stem cells and stem cell research is the increasing ability to test tens of millions of potential medicines and prescription drugs without the use of animal or human testers. Eliminating the involvement of live “test subjects” would require the simulating the effect the drug has on specific cells in the body, which would determine if the drug is problematic, or indeed useful. Funding for embryonic stem cell research has been approved by President Barack Obama for significant reasons. It is beneficial to many different people, with hardly any consequences. The main controversy lies within those who think it’s unethical, while it’s possible that they just don’t understand or realize the fact that the excess in-vitro embryos are just going to waste. Just imagine—If you had a son or daughter who was paralyzed, wouldn’t you like it if there were a cure? If your husband or wife were dying of Parkinson’s disease just like Bellson, wouldn’t you like the opportunity to have a loved one survive? Fortunately, in providing funding for stem cell research, President Obama has already provided us with a multitude of opportunities, which is something we should all be proud of.


By Katie F.

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On a hot August day in 1963, upwards of 200,000 eager civil rights supporters, both black and white, gathered to hear an African-American pastor relay his dream. Now, with the election of America’s first colored president, that dream is being fulfilled. The women of the United States flocked to voting booths alongside men for the first time ever in 1920. Today, we have a female Speaker of the House and we had a woman in serious contention for the presidency. Currently homosexuals are attempting to have their turn at gaining the unalienable rights

granted to everyone by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, which states that “all men are created equal.� However, it seems that it has become an American tradition to make exceptions to this rule. Our bad habit must be stopped. This tradition was taken to a horrifying level when Proposition 8, which challenged the Californian policy that allowed homosexuals to be married, was approved. It is especially concerning consider-


Commentary ing that it was passed on the same ballot that granted Obama, who propagated change throughout his campaign, the presidency. The most publicized argument against gay rights is that homosexuals violate the Bible’s rules on marriage. However, since the United States was founded on the principle of separation of religion and politics, the claim that homosexuals should be persecuted because they are not following a biblical example is irrelevant and invalid. In her article “Our Mutual Joy” published in Newsweek, Lisa Miller writes, “While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one and one woman.” She also cites that, if we are to follow the biblical example for marriage, we would be polygamists just as Abraham, Jacob, David, and many other heroes of the Bible. Needless to say, this concept tends to revolt most Americans more than homosexuality. Moreover, anyone who has even a slight knowledge of Jesus’ teachings knows that he emphasized inclusion, especially of outcasts. His message stressed loving unconditionally and accepting everyone. When you take a broader look at the Bible, its overall messages not only do not condemn gay marriage, they support it. One of the arguments that many conservatives cite is that traditional marriage is between a man and a woman. While I hold that homosexual Americans deserve every right that straight Americans are granted, including the right to be married, I can

understand that “marriage” is a controversial word connected to this issue. The most urgent priority in gay rights should be granting homosexuals the civil rights that go along with marriage. These include the right to visit your spouse in the hospital, take responsibility for their possession if they die, and other things that married couples take for granted. If the government wants to call this arrangement something other than “marriage” (“holy union” is one of the terms floating around),

high STD and promiscuity rates. While they make up only 1-2% of the United States population, they account for 3-4% of gonorrhea cases, 60% of all syphilis, and 15% of all non-STD hospital admission. They are largely blamed for spreading AIDS in the U.S. in the early 1980s. One study found that the average homosexual claims to have between 20 and 106 sexual partners in a year, while the average heterosexual has about 8 partners in their lifetime. First, it is important to note that many homosexuals are not promiscuous and are committed to enduring relationships. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to get married. These are the people that legalizing gay marriage would most greatly effect. Allowing gays to be married would support them having stable relationships which should bring down the promiscuity rate and, consequently, the STD infection rates. In short, I find it ridiculous that our government and fellow citizens would take opposers of gay rights so seriously. Denying people their rights simply because they are different has been deemed wrong throughout history as progress has been made and I am appalled that this crime is still written into our laws. Discrimination against gays is the last remaining prejudice required by law and it is imperative that this be changed. Homosexuals are just as American and just as worthy of rights as any straight person. As long as they continue to be denied their rights, there will be a blemish on America’s proclamation that all men are created equal.

Discrimination against the last

gays

is

remain-

ing prejudice required

by

law.

be my guest. The “holy union” solution would not completely absolve this issue but it would be a perfect first step towards eliminating discrimination against homosexuals. There are two parts to marriage: a legal part and a religious part. Since the large majority of the people that oppose gay marriage do so for religious reasons, it is reasonable to classify same-sex marriages from traditional marriages by changing the name. As I said, the important part is allowing homosexuals to join in the legal part of marriage. Another issue that surrounds gay rights is homosexuals’

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Where is homosex 23

Key: - gay marriage is legal

- gay unions/partnerships are recognized - gay partnerships are punishable by law


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xuality accepted?

On the same ballot that gave Barrack Obama the presidency, voters in California banned gay marriage after allowing it for 6 months.

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In Uganda, gay partnerships are a crime worthy of a 5-year to life prison sentence.


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Religious Acceptance: Not Just a Dream By Megan M.

The importance of my spirituality grows nearly every day. I believe this is true for many people throughout the world. One of the most common ways people throughout history and today people become more in tune with their spirit is though religion.


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I believe all of the world’s major religions have beautiful aspects to them. Over and over again we can see ideals for humanity repeated and taught in many of the world’s religions – love, kindness, respect for yourself and others. There is an immeasurable amount of good to gain from religion, for both society and the individual. But somewhere along the line, long ago, people became so attached to their religions spiritually that all other religions began to appear incorrect, unjust, and even immoral. This ongoing headbutt continues, paving an underlying battle throughout the world. The basis for most religions is historical writing, often from a sort of prophet or holy person. Each religion claims their writings are the truth and the only truth. I believe that based on the logic used to show the truth of one religion, we as a collective people worldwide either have to view all religions as equally true or all of them equally plausible. I tend to prefer the second, seeing as religious means are often impossible to prove. The world truely needs for each individual to have respect for all religions. Just think; take a second. If every person around the world accepted all other religions, but chose to honor and follow the one of their choosing; if there was mutual respect for the beliefs of every other person on this earth. There is an immeasurable amount of good here. Think of all the wars that could end, the violence that could stop, the hate that would finally be put to rest. All of this from a new societal standard. Most religions see it as a higher power’s duty to judge others anyways. I have not seen a part of any religion that says to hate other religions and members of said other religions. I believe this should be the cultural norm – a culmative respect and understanding for every religion around the world. I am currently being confirmed into Christianity. Only now in my life am I even beginning to wrap my head around my spiritual beliefs, and while some of them fit in with Christianity, others do not. I believe religion should never be forced onto a child. Each person should always have the opportunity and have the comfort to feel like they can choose their own spiritual beliefs. If each person were able to do so, they would likely be able to find a religion that fits them better spiritually. All of this would come from respect for all religions. I believe in the tolerance and respect for all religions. There is so much good that can come from this action. It is up to you and me to start.


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in your community

Volunteer

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The Austin Children’s Shelter provides emergency shelter and high quality care for the abandoned, abused, and neglected, of our community. Volunteers at the Austin Children’s Shelter most often assist direct care staff with the children or help in the office with activities or arts and crafts projects. To get more information or volunteer with the shelter, contact Volunteer@AustinChildrenShelter.org

Keep Austin Beautiful empowers the citizens of our community to take responsibility for enhancing Austin’s environment. Volunteers for this program commit time in events like ‘Hosting your own Cleanup.’ Other volunteer opportunities include Adopt-AStreet Program, Adopt-A-Shore and Container Program. The anual Keep Austin Beautiful Clean Sweep is also a fun way to get involved and clean the parks of your community. For more information contact: Volunteer Services at 512-974-3577


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Any Baby Can helps families to ensure that their children reach their potential through education, therapy and family support programs/counseling. Volunteer positions can be a one-time event or volunteer projects with long-term positions working directly with ABC families.

Any Baby Can helps families to ensure that their children reach their potential through education, therapy and family support programs/counseling. Volunteer positions can be a one-time event or volunteer projects with long-term positions working directly with ABC families.

For more information contact: Lindsey Martin, 334-4452 or lindseym@abcaus. org

For more information contact: Lindsey Martin, 334-4452 or lindseym@abcaus. org

Safe Place provides services to end sexual and doemestic violence through healin, prevention, safety, and social change. Some volunteers may help with administrative duties or in prevention and awareness programs. To contact Safeplace for volunteer opportunities, email Info@SafePlace.org.

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Everyday, volunteers are needed to help deliver nutritious meals to over 1,800 people who are no longer able to prepare food for themselves or leave their homes. Volunteers are also needed for various other programs such as “Groceries to Go” where volunteers shop and deliver groceries for participants who can’t go to the grocery store To contact Meals on Wheels and learn of the volunteer specifics, contact the Volunteer Services Department (512) 476-6325 ext.130.


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