fortnightly student magazine
volume 16 â€” issue 9
latino, art migration
Q&A: early eyes
annie clarkâ€™s XX
progress for a changing academy
VOLUME 16, ISSUE 9 latino, art migration
its time to invest
who controls the past controls the future
Q&A: early eyes
annie clark’s XX
progress for a changing academy
the bad kids lead to important discussions p. 22 3 reviews
©2017 The Wake Student Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Established in 2002, The Wake is a fortnightly independent magazine and registered student organization produced by and for students at the University of Minnesota.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR At a time when grammar gaffes and misinformation plague discourse at the highest level of government, the importance of editing seems evermore clear. My job is a lot more than simply eyeing grammar and style mistakes, though. As a copy editor for The Wake, I have the privilege of reading the work of students from diverse backgrounds, academic disciplines, and ideologies. While my role as editing copy for grammar, style, and accuracy may seem mundane to some, being a part of a publication that gives voice to a range of student perspectives is an extremely rewarding experience. It’s awesome to be a part of a publication that grants a voice to those who wish to be heard, and one that seeks to voice the otherwise silenced. It certainly makes the work easier—the compelling stories fellow students tell and report on make reading copy a captivating act. So know, reader, that if you wish to be heard, The Wake may be your medium. Please enjoy, then, shouts of passionate students contained within these next pages. And remember, your shouts are just as worthy. Alex Wittenberg Copy Editor
The Wake was founded by Chrin Ruen & James DeLong. Disclaimer: The purpose of The Wake is to provide a forum in which students can voice their opinions. Opinions expressed in the magazine are not representative of the publication or university as a whole. To join the conversation email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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MARCH 23RD @ TRIPLE ROCK
z.umn.edu/wakebirthday OLIVIA NOVOTN Y
My kimono dragon ate it
TAYLOR DA N IELS P G. 4
WHY DIDN’T YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK?
Homework is a social construct
Do you think I check Moodle?
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T H E WA K E
The importance of shared experiences and understandings
P H OTO S BY K ATE D R A K U L I C
BY KATE DRAKULIC Curated by William G. Franklin, “Latino, Art Migration,” described itself as exploring “geographical misplacement. Fear for the safety of loved ones far away. Nostalgia for a home being left behind.” The exhibit aimed to communicate and shed light on the incredible distress and pain that immigrants endure. Franklin suggests that “these complex emotions make us who we are as travelers, exiles, dreamers, refugees—they haunt us regardless.” The exhibition featured 15 local Minneapolis artists whose work reflected the personal and universal thoughts and experiences of migrants and immigrants. Located at the Concordia Art Center at Concordia University and St. Paul, the small collection was extremely powerful. Throughout the gallery, the work was diverse in both medium and subject. Film projections, and prints lined the first few walls, installations and mixed media works just around the corner. The first space contained a group of six large paintings of different sizes and styled Mexican skulls. They were among the first pieces that caught the viewer’s eye. Their intriguing rust-red color was in fact the artist Luis Fitch’s blood. Many of the pieces were created in frustration with the Mexican and Venezuelan governments and the violence against their citizens. Many described personal experiences, contradictions of heritage and location in Minnesota, and the feeling of displacement. A floating gun, hung with fishwire, directly over a plush white pillow represented the number of violent deaths that occurred in 2014 in Venezuela: 25,000. Another installation, constructed pieces of charred wood, asked the question, “Does a perfect place exist?” Each piece sent a message and had a purpose. The gallery felt heavy in this way, but also liberated. These 15 artists fully immersed themselves, migrant and immigrant histories, and current happenings into their work, and as a result, each piece demanded full attention. People immigrate for many different reasons: personal, political, economic, cultural, environmental. These migrations can also be a result of violence and force, leaving those affected no choice. Whatever the case may be, the repercussions of immigration for the individual and the community cannot be suppressed, ignored, or deemed unauthentic. This exhibit set out to remind us that as a society, respectfully accepting our differences and raising awareness of multicultural issues is essential to moving forward. Latino, Art Migration was described as “personal and universal meditations on the displacement, nostalgia, and anxiety of migrants and immigrants.” Contributing artists raised questions of the societal expectations of race, gender, ethnicity, and culture, and shared the details of their experiences. The exhibit emphasized the awareness, importance, and beauty of diversity, both in the arts and in our communities.
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Four Teams Vie at MSA Debate
The candidates running for MSA president and vice president took stage Feb. 22 to voice their platforms before the upcoming March vote. BY ALEX WITTENBERG Students ate Qdoba and tweeted in questions as MSA presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off on issues relating sexual assault, campus political climate, mental health, and food security at Coffman Memorial Union Theater Feb. 22.
Fostering effective relationships with University administrators prevailed as a common thread of discussion during the debate. Presidential candidate Alm, MSA speaker of the forum, and his running mate Biniam, MSA academic affairs committee director, said they’re committed to holding administrators accountable without severing ties necessary for collaboration.
Voting for MSA president and vice president was open from March 1-3.
Giving voice to underrepresented groups within MSA was another topic that captivated the candidates’ attention. MSA Director of Membership Parker and Mishra, diversity and inclusion committee co-director, underscored the effect of a “toxic political climate” on marginalized populations at the University. They said leading MSA with care and compassion would help boost representation and inclusion of these groups in MSA. The Snow and Loeb campaign’s focus Wednesday night centered on ending division on campus. They stressed the need for a unified student body and the importance of bringing about positive change to MSA.
K ATI E H EY WO OD
Unidentified Flying Objects Headed for Minneapolis
Alien contact role-playing game Watch the Skies! simulates nations’ reactions
BY JACOB STEINBERG The world of tabletop games and role-playing is fairly niche. For the brave few that dare to venture into the dungeon, they can find a hobby that is both endlessly enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. Over the past few decades, hordes of gamers have ascended from their basements and taken their games with them. A new breed of game is rising in popularity that draws influence from the wargames of the ‘70s and the video games of today: It’s called a megagame. Whereas a typical tabletop game like Dungeons & Dragons draws four to six players, a megagame
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While momentary sparks of disagreement flickered during the open discussion period, the debate remained mannerly, thanks to, in some part, Moderator Alex White.
TAY LO R DA NI E L S
The mostly amicable debate gave stage to each team’s presidential and vice presidential candidate— Matt Snow and Lauren Loeb; Trish Palermo and Erik Hillesheim; Nick Alm and Makda Biniam; Charlie Parker and Simran Mishra. Although each campaign is coed, Palermo is the only female presidential candidate. Snow and Loeb comprise the only ticket without at least one member with prior MSA experience.
Chair of Student Senate Palermo and running mate Hillesheim, president of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, emphasized their focus on reforming alleged malpractice at University dining halls, saying they’ve been in contact already with University Dining Services to voice their concerns. Palermo said her previous MSA advocacy experience has prepared her to tackle issues like these.
is meant to be played by anywhere from 20 to a few-hundred. Watch the Skies! is a megagame being played from New York to San Francisco. People have traveled hundreds of miles to partake in it. University of Minnesota student Peter Nixon grew tired of having to make the pilgrimage, and so he decided to bring “Watch the Skies!” to Minneapolis. Nixon described the rules: Watch the Skies! is a “gamified simulation,” meaning it simulates real world activity, but it “takes out all the boring bits.” More than 60 players partake in a game of strategy, negotiation, coordination, and misinformation. The game simulates global geopolitics with players divided into different nations, and different roles within those nations such as president, U.N. ambassador, and military chief. There are also mysterious aliens, self-interested corporations, and a clueless media thrown into the mix. The game
is remarkably complex, but the role each participant plays is relatively simple, which keeps the game from becoming overwhelming. Because every nation has its own agenda and motives, and misinformation is rampant, rumors can snowball and things can get out of control very quickly. In examples from past games, the aliens abducted the pope and replaced him with an alien clone. In another, the aliens, appalled with Japan’s whaling, got someone to invent “Whale-fi” to communicate with our aquatic friends. No two games of Watch the Skies! are alike; Nixon promises it to be one of the most unique experiences participants will have. The campus “Watch the Skies!” game starts April 8. Individual student tickets are $30 on Eventbrite.
MAR 13 –26
T H E WA K E
House committee passes bills raising penalties on highway protesters—
BY CARTER BLOCHWITZ
A small crowd gathered outside the hearing room on Feb. 22, half an hour before two bills that would cause a sharp rise in penalties for illegal protesting were publicly discussed at the State Office Building in St. Paul. The two bills, H.F. 1066 and H.F. 390, were originally proposed by state Reps. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater, and Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who sought to increase the penalty for obstructing public highways, transit and traffic access to an airport from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. The bills arose in light of several major interstate-blocking protests in 2016, including protests over the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Jamar Clark, and the election of President Donald Trump. “Civil dissent is critical for democracy to work,” said Kate Havelin, a member of the audience who had been arrested at a previous interstate protest. “Just look at the Boston Tea Party. Look at Selma.” Republican lawmakers have proposed similar bills in at least 17 other states, citing concerns ranging from highway blockage to “professional protestors,” or hired inciters of public disorder. As members of the House Public Safety Committee and audience filed in, signs that read “Shame” on a Minnesota license plate and, “This is what democracy looks like,” were confiscated from several individuals. public, photographers, and news crews. By the request
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of Committee Chair Tony Cornish, Lohmer and Zerwas presented their bills together to allow additional time for public input. Lohmer said her main motivation to propose H.F. 1066 was for the benefit of emergency services and public workers, which she believed were severely impeded by the highway protests. “This bill does not seek to limit the right to protest,” Lohmer said, “or limit protesters the right to express free speech.” Zerwas echoed her sentiments while discussing H.F. 390, but took a more aggressive approach to the issue. “It’s already against the law to block an interstate,” he said. “A law like this is meant to deter individuals from doing this. Clearly [the threat of] a misdemeanor has not.” Zerwas went on to commend Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton for his support of both bills. In late January, Dayton had expressed his concerns over public safety and right to protest, saying that he drew the line at the shutdown of a freeway.
false imprisonment. Other speakers expanded on Nelson’s statements. “Inconvenience does not come close to the horrors that led to the protests,” said Michelle Grouse, founder of Communities United Against Police Brutality, referring to the Castile and Clark shootings. She did not believe that bills would truly deter protesters. “Passionate, young people who want to protest are going to protest regardless of the punishment,” she said.
C A RTE R BLO C H W I TZ
BY: LIV RIGGINS
Although race had been brought up earlier in the hearing by Rep. Becker-Finn, DFL- Roseville, who had asked Zerwas if he’d ever read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” several of the final speakers directly addressed it. “There is not a single person of color on this committee,” said Quinn Connor, a concerned citizen. “H.F.390 was proposed by 16 people, all republican, all white, and almost all male.”
“If you block the freeway, you should go to jail,” Zerwas said, evoking a negative reaction from the audience.
Connor added on to another previous point of BeckerFinn’s, suggesting that the committee members are out of touch with the people they represent in the Twin Cities. He proposed this by calculating the average distance those who proposed the bill lived from the Capitol: 86 miles.
Following the representatives’ presentation, the committee opened the floor to the public. None of the 10 public speakers expressed support for the bills. Teresa Nelson, legal director of the ACLU of Minnesota, was the first in the public to speak against the bills.
“Jamar Clark was murdered by the Minneapolis police department. So if you want us to stop protesting sir,” said John Thompson, a member of Black Lives Matter, addressing Zerwas, “then stop giving us a reason to protest!”
“These bills will have a chilling effect on the right to protest,” Nelson explained. “They simply pose an out-ofproportion punishment for the crime.”
Both H.F. 1066 and H.F. 390 passed 10-6. “Shame,” members of the audience shouted.
Equivalent gross misdemeanors would include 5th degree assault, malicious punishment of a child, and
“Arrest me now,” Thompson yelled. “You’ve just given me another reason to protest!”
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New group aims to provide students with groceries and fresh produce BY CARTER BLOCHWITZ Crates lined the walls of a small meeting room in Appleby Hall, stacked high above the heads of volunteers and filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and other food staples for distribution to University of Minnesota students. Nutritious U, a new student group dedicated to providing campus with healthy, easily accessible food, hosted their first food pantry event Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the mere eight hours their makeshift pantry was open, nearly 500 students arrived, many times forming a line out of the door as they came to pick up free groceries. By the end of the day, all 3,000 pounds of fresh apples, oranges, carrots, potatoes and more had been completely given out. “It was incredible,” said Rebecca Leighton, president of Nutritious U and master’s student in the School of Public Health’s Nutrition Coordinated program. “We originally planned for three days, but by the end of our first day we didn’t have any food left!” To assemble the pantry, Nutritious U partnered with Minneapolis-based Food Group, a food bank fighting hunger in the cities. The majority of provisions at the event came out of this partnership. Using donations that had been collected over the summer and fall of 2016 as well as a $2,500 grant from the Minnesota Student Association, the student group purchased fresh food at a significant discount. The event was the first of two pilot pantries planned for spring 2017 by Nutritious U, which grew out of a project Leighton and several other graduate students had created in her Community Nutrition Intervention class. Although the projects only needed to function theoretically, Leighton decided to pursue her group’s plan. “At that same time as we were doing this project, a survey from Boynton had just come out,” Leighton recalled. “It indicated that 10 percent of students polled had experienced food shortages, and 17 percent were worried their food would run out before they were able to get more”
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These statistics shocked Leighton to the point that she began to do additional research, seek faculty to assist with the project, and eventually form a student group for recruitment of undergraduate volunteers.
“We found that lots of other schools had food pantries,” Leighton explained. “Minnesota is one of only two Big 10 schools without one.” By then, Leighton had already begun to form a new team with seven core members. In addition to connecting with the student body, Leighton and her team met and developed relationships with several faculty members, including Dave Golden, Director of Public Health at Boynton Health Services, who connected Leighton with many others. “He was one of the first champions of the project,” Leighton said. “Without his initial energy, I’m not sure how far we would have gotten.” Hans Peterson, program coordinator at the Office for Student Affairs, helped spread word about the pantry across campus as an adviser for Nutritious U, Leighton said. Finally, Alyssa Lundberg, sustainability coordinator at University Dining Services, contributed technical assistance and event planning for the pantry. After Nutritious U’s first successful food drive, Leighton had renewed confidence in the establishment of a permanent food pantry on campus by fall 2017. This pantry would continue to
be run primarily by student volunteers. However, the exact location has yet to be determined. “We’ve been looking at a lot of different locations,” Leighton said. She first thought of Boynton, then the campus YMCA, and finally came back to the idea of hosting the pantry in Appleby Hall. “We want to put ourselves in a location where the people that really need the food can find us. But for now we’re undecided.” Despite slight uncertainty, Leighton could not stop herself from thinking even further into the future, which she hopes will include pop-up food pantries on the St. Paul campus, if not a second permanent location. “I lived in Bailey Hall,” Leighton laughed, “so I’ll always have a special place in my heart for St. Paul.” The second Nutritious U pilot pantry is set for March 29-31 at the University YMCA. Leighton is currently seeking funding to provide an additional 4,000 pounds of food for the event and will also be accepting food donations when the next pantry opens. More information and future events can be found on Nutritious U’s Facebook page “NUPUMN.” “We’ve all put a lot of hours into this,” Leighton said. “I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”
CARTE R B LOC H WITZ
P H OTO S FR O M NU TR I TI O N U ’ S W E BS I T E
C IT IES
MAR 13 –26
T H E WA K E
PYRAMID OF TREMENDOUSNESS Ranking those associated with me, the Donald BY DONALD J. TRUMP (CHRIS SHEA)
TAYLOR DA NIE LS
One night I was going through my daily intelligence briefing, which is just a fancy way of saying I was watching the tremendous REAL news channel that is Fox News, when Chris Wallace started saying mean things that are totally FALSE and BOGUS, so I decided to change the channel to something far less unAmerican. That’s when I came across this fantastic show—but not as good as the “Celebrity Apprentice,” well at least when I hosted it. I mean just look at those ratings with Arnold. Sad! So I was watching this show, and it was called “Dance Moms,” and these moms were some wonderful people, believe me, and even more wonderful was the choreographer, Abby Lee. She has had such tremendous ideas, especially ranking the children by pyramid so that those on the bottom can feel terrible about themselves. I mean, genius.
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Next we have Rick Perry. Many have criticized me for picking him to lead the Department of Energy because he apparently wanted to get rid of it back in 2012. But believe me, he is going to be fantastic. I saw him on an episode of “Dancing with the Stars,” and what he had when he danced was energy. See, now it makes sense that I picked him to lead the Energy Department. Who’s the moron now? He’s tied with Pence because he wears glasses. LOSERS need corrected eyewear; WINNERS deal with their poor vision, much like myself.
Moving up in the pyramid is Chris Christie. Christie is a fantastic pet. The Best! Much better than Paul Ryan. Guy is a total loser. Christie does whatever I command him to do. This one night, I kid you not, I told everyone After learning about this pyramid thing I told Kellyanne at the White House they could eat whatever they Conway to draw up a triangle for me, along with wanted, except for Chris. I told him some faces on it, so I can rank my “Chris, you and I are going to have the people—who are by the way the “She has had such meatloaf.” And you know what, he BEST people, well aside from a tremendous ideas, did have the meatloaf—which by the couple of them. Just look at it—it’s the most wonderful, tremendous, especially ranking the way was a fabulous meatloaf, I have it every night. very incredible pyramid anyone children by pyramid has ever seen. Next is Betsy DeVos. She is rich. BUT so that those on the NOT AS RICH AS ME. HAVE YOU SEEN At the bottom of the pyramid is bottom can feel terrible WHAT MY NET WORTH IS? NO, NOT Sean Spicer. Now I understand about themselves.” ASSETS. NET. WORTH. Anyways, she that Melissa—I mean Sean—is will be a fine...what department is she overwhelmed, but he has just been leading? Education? Oh… I’m sure it will be fine. doing a lousy job at handling the FAKE NEWS outlets that try to slander my good name. As much as I want Moving up from there is my lovely daughter Ivanka. She to fire Sean, I don’t think I can. Mostly because I don’t want to find out who SNL—which by the way is not funny, managed to stand up to Nordstrom after it treated her so unfairly. She is a great person—always rushing to do cast is terrible, and just really bad television—uses to the right thing. Tremendous daughter. Buy her shoes; play the next person I hire. Sad. prices are as low as $49.99, act now. Also at the bottom is Buzzfeed, since they are a failing Tied with Ivanka is my good friend who I have NEVER pile of garbage. Just thought I should get that out there. MET: Vladimir Putin. This needs no explanation. Moving up the pyramid is Mike Pence. I had thought At the top of the pyramid is none other than Steve about having him up near the top of the pyramid, but Bannon. Steve has been doing a tremendous job at I decided against that when I remembered that time being our president. Without him this nation would be he saw “Hamilton.” If he managed to get bullied by our a rudderless ship heading for a major disaster. That fake founding fathers, who knows who else will bully was a joke. I call my own shots, largely based on an that poor man. Pathetic! accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. This was just to rile up all of the FAKE news. The White House is running VERY WELL and all because of ME.
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Reading for Social Consciousness Interested in learning more about how we got where we are, politically and otherwise? BY LIV RIGGINS
“Appalachian Elegy” bell hooks bell hook’s compilation of poems draws on her harsh upbringing in Appalachia. “Meditative, confessional, and political,” it explores the experience of loving a place suffering from socioeconomic marginalization and resource pillaging.
“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” Matthew Desmond Explores how the devastating process of eviction becomes part of a cycle of impoverishment for tenants, and profit for landlords, courts, and companies. “Gender Trouble” Judith Butler A foundational text in queer theory, arguing that gender is an improvised and constantly constructed performance. “Guns, Germs, and Steel” Jared Diamond
“1491” Charles C. Mann Radically challenges the ‘noble savage’ myth of pre-Columbian American Indian life, showing the complexity of American Indian culture and asserting that Indians, too, actively molded and influenced their environments.
Chronicles how Western hegemony came to be, emphasizing the effects of geographical and environmental happenstance and dismantling race— and nation-based theories of human history. “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America” Nancy Isenberg Isenberg dispels the myth of a classless society, following the white poor from their origins in
The Privilege of a Protest
England through to Honey-Boo-Boo, exposing the widespread contempt for the poor and systems maintaining class divisions. “Zami” Audre Lorde This fast-moving novel created the genre of biomythography; it chronicles Lorde’s life as a young Black lesbian growing up in Harlem, outlining how she came to be one of the most influential Black feminist thinkers.
A RT BY J AYE A H N
With the remainder of the winter, or even over spring break, read up on the systems and institutions influencing our lives and our nation. A longer list, including podcasts and movies, is available on The Wake’s website.
“Globalization: A Very Short Introduction:” Part of a series offering concise discussions of complex issues: written by experts, but for a general audience Also: “Borders,” “Capitalism,” “Citizenship,” “Decolonization,” “Democracy,” “Postcolonialism,” “International Migration,” “Islamic Ethics,” “Jewish History,” “Modern War,” “Neoliberalism,” “Terrorism” “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” Michel Foucault Essential to understanding the modern prison system, Foucault’s brilliant (but dense) treatise explores how socalled reforms of prison systems have shifted the focus from control of the prisoner’s body to control of their soul.
We have a constitutional right to protest, but we must remember it is also our privilege BY EMMA DILL
Protesting is clearly a privilege for certain groups of Americans, and backlash from the Feb. 16 “A Day Without Immigrants” protest illustrates this point. That day, thousands of immigrant workers and students, both undocumented and naturalized citizens, walked off the job and out of schools to highlight the role immigrants play in American society and to protest President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies. When over 100 of these protesters returned to work Friday, they were fired. “A Day Without Immigrants” demonstrates the risks protesters take. Regardless of gender, race, or class,
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all Americans risk their reputations, but not everyone risks losing their job over protest participation. Therefore, protesting is a privilege of citizens with stable jobs and finances—mainly the well educated, wealthy, and white. Economic gaps between American-born and foreign workers also affect the ability to protest. According to the Pew Research Center, American-born and foreign workers have varied job profiles. Statistically, American-born workers fill positions in management, administration, or sales most frequently, while Hispanic immigrants, for example, work predominantly in construction and food service. However, not all foreign-born workers share the same job outlook.
Other groups, like Middle Easterners and Asians, are well-represented in higher paying sectors like healthcare and management. Nevertheless, these occupational differences mean that while higher paid workers may be able to take paid time off to attend or travel to a protest, immigrants and other low wage employees must work. White Americans also earn a higher average hourly wage than most Latinos and African Americans. Therefore, minorities disproportionately may skip protests not only because they can’t take time off, but also because they need the money.
ART BY ST EV IE LACH ER
As Americans, we have a right to protest. In fact, while the laws of many nations ban protest, the founding fathers embedded peaceful assembly into our Constitution. Yet, although we often consider protesting a “right,” for the majority of Americans it should be seen as a privilege.
Americans need to recognize the privilege of our protest, and should remember that lasting social privilege and inequality restricts some Americans from making their voices heard.
MAR 13 –26
T H E WA K E
Neglect of Minnesota welfare is neglect of families and children
ART BY R U BY G U T H R I E
BY BEN HALOM The Minnesota Family Investment Program, or MFIP, provides cash assistance to families living in poverty in the state of Minnesota. The program provides vital aid in helping Minnesota families, especially single mothers, meet their basic needs. However, the maximum cash amounts provided to families for MFIP have not increased since 1986, that is, in over 30 years. Inflation has greatly decreased the real effects of these services. The maximum cash grant for a family of three, then and now, is $532. In 1986, this amount met 70 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three. Now, it meets only 30 percent, meaning a single, out of work mother relying on MFIP would find herself and her children deep within what the federal government defines as deep poverty. Seventy-eight thousand Minnesota children currently live in these conditions. The MFIP is Minnesota’s poverty relief program operating under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant from the welfare reform act of the Clinton administration in 1994. Under this system, states receive a block grant of federal money to spend as they determine on poverty relief programs, and states are required to provide matching funds up to 75 percent of the grant. Minnesota receives $263.4 million in TANF money each year, and provided $353 million in state matching funds in 2012. This amount of federal TANF funding has not changed since 1996, and so has decreased with inflation as well. This lack of an increase in federal funding partially explains the failure to increase MFIP cash assistance. However, the lack of an increase in cash assistance also reflects a shift in the proportion of TANF and state funds spent on the program toward other areas of the TANF mandate, such as the Working Families Tax Credit and the MFIP consolidated fund, which provides money for services like job training and job searching, as well as covering some administrative costs. In 1998, Minnesota spent 71 percent of its total poor relief spending on direct cash assistance. In 2012 Minnesota spent only 46 percent of its total spending on direct cash assistance and childcare, while spending the rest on the consolidated fund and the Working Families Tax Credit. Minnesota, in the last two decades, has transitioned away from spending its TANF money largely on programs that provide vital lifelines to
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families in deep poverty and toward using this money for programs that seek to incentivize, or harass, the poor into finding employment, as though they do not realize that in our present system they must work to live. Though programs such as job training are important, they surely aren’t more important than keeping children out of extreme poverty. Additionally, while the Working Families Tax Credit has proven to be effective in combatting poverty, such programs serve only to combat poverty that is not as severe, as they only combat the poverty of those who are not unemployed and therefore make a taxable income. Tax credits like this are also more likely to benefit married couples, who have a lower unemployment rate than single parents, and white Minnesotans, whose unemployment rate is less than one quarter that of black Minnesotans. The more limited effects of tax credits tend to be a reason they pass, as Republicans prefer them to direct welfare assistance. For people who face structural obstacles to work, like childcare and discrimination, direct cash assistance is vitally important. This focus on incentivizing work rather than caring for the unfortunate in our society actually makes these programs relatively unsuccessful in providing stable homes for children in poverty, along with their failure to provide these children with the resources necessary for success. In typical circumstances, children affected by these programs, especially the children of single parents, find themselves in a situation wherein they do not have enough food or a safe place to live. If their parent does manage to find a job, the children may find themselves living just above the poverty line with an absent parent forced to work long shifts at strange hours for minimum wage in order provide for them. In either case, these circumstances lead to decreases in academic success and problems with both mental and physical health. Providing just an additional $100 to MFIP—though about $700 is needed to restore it to its historic high—would provide a great deal of assistance to Minnesota’s poorest families, allowing them to afford necessities like gasoline, heating, electricity, and rent. Though this measure received the recommendation of the Senate TANF Committee in 2014, it’s yet to pass. And all of Minnesota continues to suffer for it.
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Who Controls the Past Controls the Future
What Orwell’s “Nineteen EightyFour” can teach us about the Trump administration. BY JACOB STEINBERG On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, stood in front of the American public for the first time and claimed the inauguration ceremony had drawn the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration”—a demonstrable falsehood. The next day, Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer’s blatant lie, saying the administration had presented “alternative facts,” setting a clear tone for the new executive branch’s relationship with the truth. Conway’s statement generated frenzy across the media, with many decrying her words as “Orwellian.” Just four days after Conway’s remark, sales of George Orwell’s classic, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” had increased by 9,500 percent. What does the Trump administration have to do with postWWII dystopian literature? An unsettling amount, actually. In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Orwell crafted a world in which a totalitarian government exercises complete control over not just people’s actions but their thoughts as well. The government—or, The Party, as it’s known in the novel—manufactures its own facts, demands unquestioning obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies. Sound familiar? “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The Party’s slogan is also one of the main themes of the book, and it’s where many find parity between The Party and The Donald. In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” The Party maintains complete control over all facts and information. When The Party changes its position on something, the historical record is changed in concord.
Fortunately, our country has a free press to call the president on his bullshit. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is currently engaged in a smear campaign against the media in an attempt to snuff out unflattering coverage. Trump’s mission to discredit the media seems to have had some effect. Trust in the media is at an all-time low, and without the free press to check the president’s lies and uncover his dirt, he has free reign to spout whatever nonsense he so desires.
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Trump’s relationship with his supporters is similarly abusive. It seems as though every other day Trump announces a new factory being built in the United States, or a new deal that will help out American workers “bigly.” His base eats this up and uses it as evidence that Trump is looking out for them, even though he’s done nothing to address the fundamental problems affecting Americans such as growing income inequality and government corruption.
In his 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” Trump ominously described what he called “truthful hyperbole,” or “an innocent form of exaggeration—and ... a very effective form of promotion.” His book claimed that “people want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” That, in essence, is how Donald Trump secured the presidency, and is the mechanism by which his presidency has operated thus far. The Party didn’t take away people’s freedom; the people gave it up out of fear and indifference to the truth. It’s easy to accept lies if they’re convenient and easy. As Orwell put it, “They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”
The Party demands total obedience from its constituents. It achieves this through relentless patriotism fueled by hate for the opposition. Every day, citizens take part in the “Two Minutes Hate” wherein they must gather and express their hate for the nation’s enemies, yelling out vile obscenities and curses—and no, this is not a Trump rally we’re talking about. In the same way, Trump has marketed fear in order to secure his position of power. He’s galvanized his supporters by casting illegal immigrants “thugs,” and Muslims as the sinister villains we need to defend against, and in doing so, he’s been able to keep his base energized and motivated in support of him. The strength of The Party, and the strength of Donald Trump, comes not from its propensity to distort the truth, but from its constituency’s willingness to believe it.
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When Kellyanne Conway cited the nonexistent “Bowling Green Massacre” to justify Trump’s immigration ban, many saw the writing on the wall. The Trump administration, like The Party, has no qualms with fabricating past events to justify its current objectives.
In “Nineteen Eighty-Four” the populace is continuously satiated with fabricated news of improvement, productivity, and success. Even though the world around them lies in ruins and their living conditions are poor, the people wholeheartedly believe that things were better than they used to be. This fuels the rampant patriotism that keeps The Party in power.
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G R E U R B T T L A E B
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F E AT URE
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M A RI A H C R AB B
This week’s feature delves into the seriousness that is American food. Our very own Wakies went to six different burger establishments in the Twin Cities area, tasted burgers at every one, and have delivered their thoughts on the matter. With three categories, rankings on six aspects of the experience, and monumental commentary, we’ve got you covered for every possible burger rendezvous. Dig in. McDonalds
Consensus: The Big Mac was surprisingly good, and the Dinkytown McDonald’s had some nice decor.
Consensus: While the colors and props throughout the restaurant try to make the Washington Ave. Burger King a unique, University of Minnesota experience, the ambiance fell flat. Plus the Whopper was horrendous.
“Am I really gonna want to read about how great the big mac is?” Alex Van Abbema (Editor-in-Chief) “Nah, how decent it is” -John Blocher (S&V Editor) “I got special sauce on my hands” -Alex “What we have here, is not a Big Mac, but a big debauchery” -John “I rate it 3 because I can’t actually eat it” -Alex “I wanna give it a 4 just on a nostalgic basis” -Emma Klingler (Voices Editor) “Would it be better if I were drunk?” Carson Kaskel (Online Editor) “Do you think they were trying to make this the hot date spot in dinkytown” -Emma
Service: 8.5 Taste: 5.5 Appearance: 5.5 Ambiance: 7.5 Affordability: 10 Versatility: 3.5
“I have a visceral response to this, I’ve had bad experiences in Burger King. I saw the slushy and was like wow this is even more like a gas station” -Emma “This is bad” -John “Ketchup and mustard, those are our school colors if you really get down to it” -Emma “If you’re a vegan you could eat this because it’s not even meat” -Carson
Taste: 2 Appearance: 7 Ambiance: 4.5 Service: 7.5 Affordability: 9.5 Versatility: 2.5
WINNER: McDonald’s (by far) MAR 13 –26
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Consensus: My Burger is relatively affordable with a strong variety of options (see the fish burger), and has a good taste overall. You may or may not dig the quirky décor. “It’s a little schmoozy, like ooh ergonomics” -John “I do like the mustard bottle squeezing from the ceiling though” “There’s like 1000 calories in a burger” -Alex “It’s like pretty underwhelming” -Emma “I have nothing else interesting to say about this burger” Emma
(If you’re a cheap date)
Consensus: Annie’s is a classic Dinkytown burger joint, and the Plaza burger was a decent burger experience for our crew. “I’ve always wanted to try this one” -Emma (Plaza burger with sour cream, grilled onions) “Mmmmmm” -John “I’m not blown away though” “I’m whelmed - not under or over whelmed” -Carson “This is something that, like, your great grandma would make you, at a cabin” -John
Taste: 7 Appearance: 8.5 Ambiance: 8 Service: 7.5 Affordability: 7.5 Versatility: 8.5
“Pickles doe” -John “I could eat a cup of the mayo and be good to go” -Emma “Might be my least favorite” -John “I like the Big Mac better”
Taste: 6 Appearance: 7 Ambiance: 6 Service: 9 Affordability: 5.5 Versatility: 8.5
Five Guys Consensus: While Five Guys is a little expensive for the average student on a budget, the burgers are great. “This flavor profile is just insane” -Emma “Five guys is pretty gooey” -John “We are such a dysfunctional burger tasting group” -Emma “I appreciate the over abundance of dill pickles” -Emma “Five Guys feels clinical - too sterile for my liking” -Carson “Dinkytown is just made for drunk people” -Mariah Crabb (Photographer)
Taste: 7 Appearance: 4.5 Ambiance: 6 Service: 7.5 Affordability: 3 Versatility: 9
WINNER: MyBurger M A R 1 3–26
(Congrats! You’ve reached the realm of real food)
Blue Door Pub Consensus: Even though almost half the burger menu was unavailable for the night, we were blown away by the taste of Mount Blucuvious. “Mt. Blucuvius - like if it erupted green puke, but in a good way” -Emma “The textures are really popping” -John “I thought they (the tots) were average and then I ate 20” -Emma “First place to give us a plate” -Carson “This looks even better when it’s being cut, it’s like oozing out the sides” -Emma “This is the best I’ve had so far - one bite and I know” -John “Good sauce to burger ratio” -John “Pretty spicy” -Alex “Tolerable” -John “Best bun so far” -John “tastes like dinner roll” -Emma Ambiance: “Swimming in pool of spilled beer”
Taste: 9.5 Appearance: 9 Ambiance: 9 Service: 8 Affordability: 7 Versatility: 4
WINNER: Blue Door P G. 15
Q & A
B R I FL AS C H
EARLY EYES BY LIV MARTIN
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Middlebrook Hall’s ‘Coolest’ Kids Early Eyes is an up-and-coming indie band in Minneapolis. Currently, they are in the process of recording their official debut EP “Minutes.” The band is comprised of four freshmen dudes at the University of Minnesota. These young but talented men have already inspired many of their peers with their music. I met with the band in roommates and bandmates Jake Berglove and Henry Patterson’s artsy dorm room in Middlebrook Hall. Chilling on the futon couch were Wyatt Fuller, drummer, and Des Lawrence, bass player, of Early Eyes. The bandmates conversed and joked with each other as if they’d known each other for a lot longer than a half-year. The bandmates were very willing to reveal what inspires them, their philosophies on kindness, and how they aim to continue to grow as a band.
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Check out Early Eyes at The Wake’s Birthday Concert @ Triple Rock Thursday, March 23. Tickets at: z.umn.edu/wakebirthday
Q & A
The Wake: How did you guys come together as a band? Wyatt Fuller: Jake and Henry met at a show... Henry Patterson: It was a rock and roll concert! Wyatt Fuller: And then, I put something on Facebook on the UMN Class of 2020 page, and these two knuckle heads [nods at Henry and Jake] messaged me. Jake Berglove: I was going to have a little get-together in my room, and I asked some people to come. The rest is history. Des Lawrence: I walked into their room with my bass, and I was like, “Ready to make some music!?” : How do you balance being full-time college freshmen and simultaneously being part of a band? JB: You don’t. HP: I’m just always doing something. I’m always doing homework or messaging people or practicing songs or recording songs. JB: If I have free time I’m usually taking a nap. DL: I took an accidental 3-hour nap today. JB: Same. I took a 2-hour nap. HP: No one on this planet gets enough sleep. WF: Jake, you’re the Nap King. HP: I have plenty of time to watch videos and procrastinate homework. We all find ways to relax, like, we all need to. JB: I never feel super stressed because what’s relaxation to me is hanging with the band. : Early Eyes is less than a year old, though you’ve managed to acquire a fan base and get many gigs already. What have you done to cultivate your fan base and get opportunities like playing at First Ave’s 7th Street Entry? JB: 50 percent luck, 50 percent being nice. HP: I think it’s 100 percent being everyone’s friends. There is no reason not to let people into your life and then let people into yours. : What other music groups inspire you? WF: Is there one group that we all like? ... Whitney maybe? HP: Musically, I’m inspired a lot by Steely Dan. And, attitude-wise I’m inspired by the Rolling Stones. DL: Hmm, I’ll pick two or three. Wyatt Fuller… Just kidding, don’t put that down. I hate that guy [laughs]. Marvin Gaye… just anything revolving around Marvin Gaye and the Motown record scene. D’Angelo. And, let’s throw in a contemporary: Homeshake. JB: Shakey Graves, Amy Winehouse, and Whitney. We kinda like totally all are emulating Vulfpeck … Not in our music, but like in our attitudes. WF: For me, George Daniel particularly, from the 1975. Tears for Fears. Who else? Catfish and the Bottlemen.
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: What has it been like to work on your very own EP? HP: We’ve learned a lot as a band. There have been a lot of realizations about how to make a good recording. JB: Let’s be honest, it’s been pretty hard. But it’s getting easier. WF: The more we work on it, the better it gets. HP: This is the first time we’ve ever recorded, so next time we do this, it’ll be so much easier because we’ll know the best ways to do it. JB: We started recording at IPR (The Institution of Production and Recording), which is where Wyatt takes some classes. And, we’re about half-way done with the EP. : What has been your favorite experience so far while being a part of Early Eyes? DL: Playing at the Triple Rock. JB: I can’t choose man. The last night we played at the Paper House and the last night we played at the Triple Rock! It was the coolest thing of my life. At Triple Rock, I looked out into the crowd, and I was like ‘Sh*t! There’s a lot of people here!’ At Paper House, I felt like I was surrounded by such a good community. A lot of our friends were there. WF: I’d say the Triple Rock, too. HP: I’d say every show is the best show because you have to make every show the best show. WF: I think one reason why the Triple Rock was so fun was because we stayed at Jake’s house. It was over break, and it was super chill. Then we went to the show all together. HP: Yeah, this was the first show that our parents got to come to, and they could see us all perform. JB: The Triple Rock was definitely the first time we were playing where I felt like, ‘Wow, we could take this thing to a new level.’ HP: Everyone came out for it. And we promoted it, and we felt pretty responsible for it. And so, it was a success. : What is the future of Early Eyes? How will your band continue to evolve? JB: We’ve got a lot to think about and plan for the future. But ideally, we’d love to make music for the rest of our lives. Cause, I don’t know what else I’d want to do. This is the number one thing I’d want to do. HP: Like, I don’t dream about being in finance. DL: So true. Seriously, I’ve dreamt about this since I watched School of Rock for the first time. JB: Ever since I was little, I’d always wanted to be in a band. Like, I was kind of embarrassed to say it. All of the other kids were like “I wanna be a football player,” and so, sometimes I said that too. But in the back of my mind I always knew this is what I wanted to do.
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Annie Clark and Co. deliver an innovative horror quartet confronting themes of motherhood and death BY SAM BATISTICH
“The Birthday Party” Annie Clark’s short investigates motherhood as well, but beneath a decidedly different aesthetic. “The
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and “Girlfight.” It was also my favorite of the four, alluding to horror classics such as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen,” while forming a largely original and intriguing narrative of a mother’s
struggles with her troubled son and his absent father. Throughout the course of the piece, the son becomes the devil, yet his mother refuses to surrender him to his father. Through this, Kusama succeeds in presenting the absolute and often irrational love a mother feels for her child. Each of the directors clearly exercised her immense capacity for creativity and inventiveness, lending to an anthology film that feels coherent and whole within its range of visions for the genre. In an industry so dominated by men and so routinely plagued by gender discrimination, daring and cerebral female-led productions like those presented in “XX” serve as evidence of the presence of innovative, subversive, and up-andcoming women in the film industry.
Birthday Party” is supremely surreal, employing an The new horror anthology film from the wayward XYZ absurd and irreverent plot to explore such substantial Films, “XX,” is important. Under the direction of four and poignant themes as coming-of-age and suicide. rising female filmmakers—Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, and Annie Clark of St. Vincent— The film takes place on the day of a young girl’s birthday party. Her mother, a wealthy housewife, the collection of short films has arrived as an offbeat discovers her husband dead at his desk. Thus, she diversion from this year’s largely standard Hollywood spends the movie’s remainder attempting to hide the landscape. “XX” is composed of four equally disturbing body from the children and parents who begin to and thematically alike shorts. Their conceptual stream into her home for the party. Ultimately, “The connection is interesting, particularly when considering Birthday Party” functions as an impressive and tragic that each director was given absolute creative freedom commentary on the difficulty of teaching one’s children in producing her short. But they differ, too, as each of the concept of death, and the impossibility of removing the quartet presents a unique exploration of death, the memories of the departed from everyday life. and all but one of them explore the struggles of motherhood, divulging the difficulties of raising children and losing a spouse. Of all the movies I have seen, only “Don’t Fall” “The Babadook”–a 2014 psychological horror film also “Don’t Fall,” Roxanne Benjamin’s contribution to the directed by a woman (Jennifer Kent)–has so vividly and anthology, departs markedly from the overarching disturbingly captured the struggles of being a mother investigation of motherhood that characterizes as the films featured in this anthology. the other shorts, offering a gory detour and a unique vision of the traditional slasher Last week, I checked out the four shorts of “XX” at St. flick. “Don’t Fall” follows four friends Anthony Main, where the Film Society was playing the into a generic, untouched, and anthology’s small release. Here are my thoughts on each. isolated region of the American Southwest. There, the group “The Box” is terrorized by a prehistoric amphibian monster, which Jovanka Vuckovic’s entry begins with a simple frame: gradually turns three of them a subway window and a woman’s tired face. Nothing into monsters of their own. The is said, but it is obvious that she is deeply alone. The fourth friend is finally chased camera cuts to a full shot of the subway, and we learn off a ledge, breaking her arm that, in fact, she is not alone. The car is teeming with and waiting for the creature’s brilliant life. “What’s in the box?” her son asks a man inescapable pursuit. “Don’t sitting next to them. “No, it’s okay,” the man tells her, and Fall” was genuinely terrifying, her son peeks inside. So begins “The Box,” which follows making use of jump-scares the story of a mother becoming increasingly isolated that felt authentic and an by her husband and two children, who successively overall production that was learn the contents of the mysterious box. Ultimately, this fast-paced and fluid. knowledge coerces each of the three to commit suicide, leaving the mother completely alone and desperate “Her Only Living Son” to understand their motivations and the revelations hidden in the box. But she never understands, that The final short in the ensemble was inevitability being the crux of the film’s message: death from Karyn Kusama, the most prolific of is unexpected, and the reason for its happening is the participating filmmakers as a previous incomprehensible. director of such features as “Jennifer’s Body”
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T H E WA K E
S OUND & VIS ION
Chances Are …
The Grammys’ Best New Artist Isn’t All That New BY KARL WITKOWIAK
Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper had a big night at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Chance took home three Grammys that night, one for Best Rap Album for his phenomenal mixtape “Coloring Book,” one for Best Rap Performance with his smash hit “No Problem,” and one for Best New Artist. That last Grammy is a bit peculiar as well ... Chance the Rapper is not a new artist. He’s been releasing critically acclaimed mixtapes since 2012. In fact, “Coloring Book,” the album that got him the most buzz as an artist, is his third mixtape. Did the Grammys screw up here? Why would they give the
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Best New Artist award to someone who has been a beloved, independent artist for the past five years? Well, one thing to realize about the Grammys is that the Best New Artist award does not technically mean the artist is completely new. If that were the case, none of the nominees would have been eligible, as The Chainsmokers have been releasing music since 2013 (you probably remember their 2014 single “#selfie”). Anderson Paak released an album in 2014, though under a different name. Maren Morris released four independent albums before her major label debut that got her the Grammy nod. Kelsea Ballerini is technically the only new artist, but even then, her debut album was released in mid-2015. In actuality, the Best New Artist category is for artists who have recently received critical and commercial success in the mainstream. They need not be a completely new act, as stated by the official Grammy guidelines, hence why all the previously named artists have been nominated in this category. Even so, Chance has had buzz and commercial success as an independent artist well before 2016, much unlike the other nominees. What made him more qualified as a new artist than the other nominees, despite having a longer-lasting career than all of them? Another thing to consider about the Grammys prior to this year is that they did not consider the number of streams and free downloads, but instead only physical and digital sales. An album,
song, or artist wouldn’t be eligible if they didn’t sell the units. In 2012 and 2013, when Chance released streamonly albums, he was never given the chance for the award (pun not intended). This year, the Grammys took streaming numbers into account when determining an album’s commercial success, and what better way to commemorate that then by nominating a stream-only album for Best Rap Album? As such, the reason Chance was never given the attention before this is because he was not eligible until this year. To the Grammys, Chance is an anomaly; an artist who established his career off the “brandspanking new technology” of streamable music. Yes, the Grammys continue to remain behind the times by awarding a well-established artist with the Best New Artist award, but Chance the Rapper’s Grammy win is important for several reasons. His nomination alone was enough to establish streaming as a possible means to make an impact in the music industry. Essentially, his nomination went against the norm of the typical record sales of the industry by being a cultural phenomenon without selling a single record. None of Chance’s mixtapes are available to buy, but instead, they are readily available on streaming services like Spotify. Chance always believed his music should be free to everyone, and he chooses to remain independent even after his Grammy wins. In terms of the artists who won the Best New Artist award this decade, Chance is unlike any other. He isn’t like a Sam Smith or Meghan Trainor, both of whom make wholesome, generally agreeable pop music that sells units en masse. He is the first independent artist to ever win the Best New Artist moniker; not to mention, he is also the first black hip-hop artist to win the award since Lauryn Hill in 1999. I respect the Grammys to go for Chance instead of the arguably more predictable act, The Chainsmokers, who have had five of their singles hit the Billboard Top Ten in the past year. Chance’s win is not only widely unique and unheard of in Grammy history, but also has the ability to draw more attention to one of the most likeable and unique hip-hop artists in the game. And I have no problem with that.
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BY GABBY GRANADA When you step onto the diamond draped stage of the Dolby Theatre to accept your Oscar, you thank your mother, your agent, maybe even your God, but above all, you thank the Academy. Despite the Academy Award’s glamorous notoriety, it’s still somewhat shrouded in anonymity. Who are the lucky members that get to award those lauded, tiny, gold men every year?
The Academy was founded in 1927, and up until very recently, its nominations problematically reflected its age. In response to the #OscarsSoWhite boycott last year, the Academy recently barred its unexpirable membership policy. Now, members must be active in the industry within the last ten years to maintain voting privileges. The hope is that this new rule will hold the Academy accountable, while continuously ushering in the voices of younger, more innovative, and culturally diverse filmmakers.
The short answer to that question is a hesitant yes.
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This year, a record seven minority actors were nominated, contrasting the zero nominations in the past two years. Complete diversification within the Academy and its nominees, unfortunately, is not going to happen overnight. Progress, however, can be marked by significant victories. There’s something deeply symbolic of the fact that this year’s Best Picture was reclaimed by a film about an impoverished, gay, black man after being mistakenly awarded to a film about two white lovers and their dreams of grandeur. Both films are indisputably cinematic works of art. The discerning factor is that, while films like “La La Land” are ones the world loves to watch, films like “Moonlight” are ones the world so desperately needs to see. This year, the Academy recognized that. “We didn’t do this. You guys [the Academy] chose us,” Moonlight director and writer Barry Jenkins said, still in shock from the chaotic Best Picture win. “Thank you for the choice.”
BY LIV RIGGINS
Arts and entertainment journalism can be politically relevant, even politically active, if we make it so
If you’re reading this and wondering how to apply for Academy membership, I’d advise you to apply to film school first. The Academy of Moving Picture Arts and Sciences is comprised of over 7,000 acclaimed film professionals—and membership is as selective as it is prestigious.
Leading up to the 89th Annual Academy Awards this February, the question remained: Did these diversification efforts catalyze change?
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This year’s Oscar winners could reflect the youngest, most diverse Academy yet
The political changes brought by Donald Trump’s presidency have resulted in a glut of political articles, and rightfully so, the political dynamism of the past few months warrants thorough coverage and analysis. Because of this, though, arts and entertainment journalism can fall by the wayside: is it worth it to cover new art, movies, and bands when there is an abundance of directly political news to be investigated? However, this separation of arts journalism and political reporting neglects how much political art is currently being produced and fails to show how inextricable art and politics are. By giving artists a platform to produce and show their political work, rather than avoiding their work because it is controversial, arts and entertainment journalism can become part of the press’s mandate to act as a watchdog of the government and society. For example, it’s almost harder to think of non-political hip-hop than political hip-hop. The tradition of political critique stretches from its beginnings, with Gil Scott-Heron, Public Enemy, and Mos Def to the more recent 2Pac, Kendrick Lamar, Saul Williams, P.O.S, and Common. Nonetheless, hip-hop was reviled by the mainstream, ignored by art critics, and generally disregarded until the last few years.
ART BY TAY LO R DAN I E L S
for a Changing Academy
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However, the potential for politically relevant reporting doesn’t stop at explicitly political art. All art is political, in the sense that all art supports certain cultural values and certain systems. Understanding and critiquing previously unexamined forms of media and even arts institutions, is crucial to creating a more just, interesting, and diverse arts scene. The proliferation of #OscarsSoWhite created a chance to examine the entire system of filmmaking. Journalists dug into ideas stretching beyond the extremely white history of the Oscars, to issues of gender and ethnic representation in the film business, and the troubling practice of hiring white actors to portray people of color. In searching out new artists, new fields, and new mediums rather than endorsing safe narratives that are often institutionally-backed, arts and entertainment journalists can promote questioning and investigation, thereby remaining engaged in the most crucial and interesting discussions in both arts and politics.
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ST E V IE LAC H E R
T H E WA K E
My drug of choice for the evening is a bag of hotel-grade chamomile tea steeped in a microwaved mug. It’s as dreadful as it sounds, but at least it’s drinkable compared to the cold tap water taken from the corroded pipes of my temporary “home.” I sit and drink and stare at the off-white wallpaper of my room. I’ve been writing songs for quite a while now. Ideas for songs come in fits of inspiration. They spring forth at random times for me to hold onto desperately until I can get myself to a quiet place to hum the melody into my phone. It might not be good work, but it comes relatively easy. The lyrics are a more painful process—they need to fit the melody well; they need to sound good; and they need to either be devoid of cheese or ironically overstuffed with it. I sit and drink and stare at the offwhite wallpaper because I have nothing to say. The wallpaper itself could tell more stories than I could. I open my laptop and hope that a small break will take care of the writer’s block I’ve been afflicted with. I run through the usual ringer of websites, hoping the endless amount of information and entertainment will put my mind more at ease. Eventually, I stumble onto a news site. The headlines of the day flash before me. I cannot help but react. The pen hits the page. “The fascists run amok Don’t mind the hate.”
The Upper Middle Class Blues Personal ruminations on being lyrically speechless in today’s political climate BY BROCK SPLAWSKI
I’m back in my hometown, eating a familiar dinner surrounded by people I’ve known my entire life. Mom’s home-cooked meat and potatoes as always, with a heavy helping of vegetables.
I cannot speak the wisdom of Dylan. Try as I might, I cannot relate to the charged experiences of M.I.A. or Kendrick Lamar or Gil Scott-Heron. I can only speak for my own self, for what I believe in.
A racial argument is turning ugly. “There are two types of black people,” a voice says. The infamous Chris Rock line, once a searing criticism on how poor attitudes can hurt a community, has now been reduced to a cultural affirmation of racial fear.
So, the question becomes whether my experiences are strong enough to write a song about it. Do I know who the fascists really are? Do I look at the people I’ve known all my life and suddenly decide that I can point out and expose the flaws of their views?
I say nothing to retort and instead stare into my potatoes.
Or am I just someone that copies what I’ve heard? Do I recycle old tropes and ideas, casting them as talking points as if I’m trying to win some low-brow argument? Is there anything I have to say that hasn’t already been said?
Kendrick Lamar writes of oppression within the black community. Buffy Sainte-Marie spoke of the terror inflicted on Native Americans. Who do I speak for? I was born and raised by conservative parents who made smart decisions with their money and lifestyle. I lived and went to school in the “rich” area on the north side of my otherwise dilapidated hometown. My blues are the upper middle class blues. Who wants to hear those?
I stand at the bus stop, waiting for a bus that seems like it will never arrive. Skin unlike my own stands on either side.
That isn’t to say that something of old can’t be born anew. In fact, it’s now quite fashionable to revive old trends and old ideas under a “modern” light, but nuance is also necessary. It’s easy to write something out of scorn, something that attempts to put a message across–but it’s difficult to write something that bites. It’s difficult to write something that doesn’t read like a “gotcha” moment. It’s difficult to write something that, really, doesn’t sound stupid. Who do I speak for? Who do I speak to? “The fascists run amok, Don’t mind the hate.” I erase the line.
“There are two types of black people.” The thought creeps in for just a moment before I’m able to shoo it away. I loathe the fact that it had even popped into my head to begin with. I’ve lived my life in the status quo.
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Indie Lens Pop-Up documentary screening creates space for community interaction BY ISABELLA MURRAY
To localize discussions and bring the community together, an Indie Lens Pop-Up screening of the documentary “The Bad Kids” was held on Feb. 23 at the Twin Cities PBS location in St. Paul. While the viewing of “The Bad Kids” was the primary event of the evening, the documentary created a discussion space for topics surrounding the narrative of the film. The plot of the film follows how an alternative school for students at risk of dropping out tries to impact its pupils’ lives and keep them in the education system. The film was set in an impoverished Mojave Desert community. The alternative high school featured, Black Rock Continuation High School, is one of California’s alternative schools where every student has fallen so far behind that they have little hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school—Black Rock is their last chance.
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The Indie Lens Pop-Up screening is being played at various PBS locations around the nation. The series is meant to draw residents, leaders, and organizations to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics to topics of family and relationships. The next Indie Pop-Up event held at the Twin Cities PBS location will be March 30 for the screening of “Newtown,” a film that depicts the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. Tireless Principal Vonda Viland and the teachers at Black Rock are on a mission to help students realize their potential, according to PBS’s website. The systemic nature of the film left much to be discussed, and the Twin Cities PBS event featured a panel geared toward community-driven conversation. James C. Burroughs II and Adrienne Diercks were the panelists leading this discussion. Burroughs serves as Chief Inclusion Officer for the State of Minnesota. In this role, Burroughs is responsible for leading efforts to increase the percentage of jobs held by people of color across state government and expand economic opportunity for people with disabilities and others who are underrepresented within the state’s workforce.
The panelists for the upcoming event are Keith Jacobus, the superintendent of the South Washington County School District, and Commander John Lozoya, senior commander of the St Paul Police Department’s Community Engagement Unit. Beyond March, several films are set to be screened in late spring, including “National Bird,” which touches on the topic of whistleblowers and “Real Boy,” an intimate story of a family navigating their emotions regarding their son’s gender transformation. As far as take-aways from the “The Bad Kids” screening and discussion, the panelists hope more understanding of students can be reached.
N O RA P E T E R S O N
Leads to Important Discussions on Education
Diercks is the Founder and Executive Director of Project SUCCESS. Her organization serves over 12,000 students and families in 17 public schools in the Twin Cities. “I expected to share how my own experiences from 23 years of Project SUCCESS relate to the issues discussed in the film,” Diercks said. “To share stories of working with youth, what works, and what doesn’t. To explain that blanket solutions don’t work; that individualized attention and solutions are what make the greatest impact.” The reactions regarding the film were varied. Diercks thought that most of the audience got a lot out of the film. She also witnessed how some related more with the teachers and the struggles they had, while others felt deeply on the stories of the three students. “I think that James and I added some dimension to the film and were able to relate it to our local community,” Diercks said. Diercks wanted the audience to understand that a holistic approach must be adopted when working with youth. She said that it’s important to find the spark for each individual student. “Events like these are important for community building and understanding of the challenges that different students face,” Diercks said. “These types of events like the ‘Bad Kids’ screening allow attendees to open their eyes to new stories, perspectives, and opinions. Knowledge is power.”
“These types of events like the ‘Bad Kids’ screening allow attendees to open their eyes to new stories, perspectives, and opinions. Knowledge is power.”
“I support the efforts of TPT to bring high level programming to the community and was honored to be a part of the panel to discuss the film,” Diercks said. “As one of my favorite poems says, ‘There is no one in this world exactly like you.’ Reaching students who are dealing with challenges takes time and dedication and it’s important to pay attention to the small details, as well as the big picture.”
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“Antifragile” A book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb BY CODY PERAKSLIS To live is to experience randomness. Things will happen that you can’t foresee; Murphy’s Law, whatever you want to call it, the unplanned will occur. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, “Antifragile” describes three categories of people and institutions: the fragile that are hurt by randomness, the robust that can handle randomness, and the antifragile that thrive on randomness. An alternative way of life is antifragility. Antifragility involves accepting small, known downsides with seemingly unlimited upsides. An example of this that the author integrates into his own life is avoiding certain foods on certain days, so that his body can better absorb nutrients when he eats those foods later. The human body is antifragile. So the small downside of a temporary lack of food on specific days influences the upside of better utilizing the nutrients later. In Taleb’s book, consistency in diet is detrimental. For the antifragile, random events bring benefits, and nothing brings random events like time. Wait long enough, and something sporadic will happen. This means that concepts that are fragile are withered by time, but the antifragile is what remains. New concepts need to prove themselves over the old, because the old have already proven themselves by surviving. The author gives the example of people demanding evidence that smoking is harmful, when the onus should be on smoking proving itself, instead of refraining from smoking proving itself. The book offers advice on how to live by making the most of antifragility. The antifragile accept the unpredictability of life and embrace volatility. Taleb’s biggest advice: we live in a random world, use it to your advantage.
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“Life Will See You Now” Jens Lekman BY BROCK SPLAWSKI Whether writing up-tempo dance tracks or somber ballads, Jens Lekman has proven himself to be one of the better songsmiths of the past ten years. His fourth album, “Life Will See You Now,” continues this trend for the Swedish singer-songwriter. Boasting a sunny disposition and a knack for turning even the kitschiest of production choices into positive aspects, Lekman simply shines throughout. “Life Will See You Now” is a bit of a departure for Jens, as the album features more electronic backing than his previous endeavors. Modern drums and chintzy synths layer each track, but Lekman can flip them into positive attributes by combining them with powerful hooks and a flair for disco-flavored textures. Those looking for the darker side of Lekman, the sound that flooded his early EPs, will be satisfied with this album as well. “Postcard #17” and “How Can I Tell Him” are beautifully introspective, with light arrangements accentuating the endearing romanticism that makes Lekman so enjoyable to listen to. That said, the album can succumb to its own corniness at times, and a couple of tracks do not entirely hold up, like “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel,” and lead single “What’s That Perfume You Wear?” But trying to be critical of this album is like trying to be critical of a wedding. Everyone is having fun and it’s beautiful, regardless of the cheesier moments. Pretensions be damned.
Funkonaut Bass Flavor at the Fine Line Thundercat gets crowd feeling drunk BY DYLAN KUNKEL Stephen Bruner, who goes by the cartoon-inspired stage name Thundercat, has seen a busy last few years. He’s lent his virtuosic bass playing to releases such as Flying Lotus’ “You’re Dead” (2014), saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” (2015), and Kendrick Lamar’s releases “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015), for which he won a Grammy, and “Untitled Unmastered” (2016). Because of Bruner’s penchant for collaboration, it’s sometimes easy to overlook his solo efforts. This is a shame given his formidable talent as a front man. With his astonishing bass technique and crooning falsetto up front and center, Thundercat delivered an impressive set of nervy, R&B-inflected jazz that locked the entire room into a groove that wouldn’t let go. The show coincided with the same-day release of his third solo album “Drunk,” this word also being a pertinent descriptor of the surprisingly rowdy crowd at the Fine Line. Although the audience was unfamiliar with much of the new material, their new discovery only seemed to heighten the sense of spontaneous energy found in Thundercat’s music. The sound mix at the Fine Line was one of the clearest and most balanced that I’ve heard at a live show in recent memory, making the set that much better. Check out Thundercat next time he’s in town. You’re bound to have your feet moving and your mind blown.
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11/29/16 10:48 AM