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State Lotteries and Regressive Taxation

According to Investopedia, the definition of a regressive tax is “a tax that takes a larger percentage from low-income people than from high-income people.” Unfortunately when it comes to the lottery, that is the case in the U.S. State lotteries cause disproportionately high spending among low-income citizens, and are therefore a regressive tax.

State lotteries operate by printing large quantities of lottery tickets. Each ticket has an extremely small chance to reward their owner with a huge monetary prize. However, the insensible dreams of wild riches are mostly those of the impoverished. So, in an effort to escape their situation, they buy lottery tickets - but this only serves to send them further into poverty. Though the state is not deliberately asking for money from the low-income citizens, their lotteries have the same effect.

The Fiscal Policy Institute shows that lottery purchases are 4.0% of citizens with a median household income of $20,000, whereas they make up 0.25% of citizens with a median household income of $85,000. If it's the poor who are purchasing the majority of lottery tickets (money which goes to the government), then that meets the definition of a regressive tax.

The NCPA offers more evidence on the disparity between low- and high-income citizens’ expense on lottery tickets: “the dollar amount spent on the lottery by the lowest-income individuals (earning less than $10,000) is twice as much as the highest earners (earning more than $100,000 annually).” The impoverished buying twice as many lottery tickets than the wealthy, thus giving more money to the state government, is more proof that lotteries are a regressive tax.

In a memorandum to the governor of Massachusetts, Dong Kwang Ahn and Elizabeth Caldona did a study of 27 Massachusetts cities and found that “in 2009 the people living in Newton, one of the wealthiest cities in the Commonwealth with a $56,285 per capita income spent 0.4 % of their income on lotteries, while Springfield, one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts, with an $18,187 per capita income spent 3.6 % of its income on lotteries.” Here is yet more evidence that the poor are spending disproportionately high amounts on the lottery.

As the studies, research and statistics have shown, state lotteries in the U.S. have unintended consequences. Impoverished citizens feel that the only way out of their situation is to keep spending money on the one-in-a-billion chance of wild riches - but in doing so plunge further into poverty. By making the lottery available to everyone, the government is indirectly taking advantage of the poor.

Works Cited:

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Body Art and the Public Eye 2fer Revision

In America, today, seeing people in a “professional” job with sleeves of tattoos, a butterfly on the small of their back, or gages making gaping holes in their ears, or even a small nose piercing that is barely noticeable is a rare occasion. Body art, such as tattoos are seen as unprofessional or dangerous in the workplace. For employers, this negative stigma comes from the history of tattoos, which when originated in America, body art was associated with criminals and savages. Employers want their job to only show pristine employees, so the citizens who deal with these employees connect the good image of the employee to the job.

There are many articles where it has shown somebody not being hired because of too many facial piercings, or a visible tattoo. It is a common courtesy to look professional at work, but not even being able to qualify over self expression is not fair. The company, Runza, which is a fast food restaurant states that when applying, there should be no visible body art because “personal appearance and behavior directly affect the way guests feel about the quality of food, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the level of service.” Employers conclude that the personal appearance of employees should include no body art. With guests feeling comfortable with the employees, ensuring their comfortability with the food and restaurant, the guests connect the good image to the company. Tattoos in America were used to only be shown on people who were dangerous, so to cover up body art ensures that the people working will not be of any harm in anyway.

If people pay close attention to today’s upcoming work force, they will realize that with every new generation, the percentage of body art is going up. So it’s only natural that now, almost half of young adults today some type of body art. “Only 15 percent of Baby Boomers have tattoos, while 32 percent of Gen X and 38 percent of Millennials have body art, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study. Nearly 40 percent of adults [today] ages 18 to 40 have a tattoo while nearly 30 percent of the age group has a non-earlobe piercing, according to the Pew Research Centers “Generation Next” survey.” As seen, nearly half of adults between ages 18-40 have tattoos. More and more young people are going to get and are getting body art, so it’s been given more attention by people in the workplace. As more people start to get body art, it should start to be more of a normality, rather than taking a piercing out, or covering up. If the numbers of people who are getting body art rising, then eventually if everyone 18-40 has body art, are they all considered dangerous or unprofessional? While there are workplaces that hire people with visible body art, it’s still a struggle for people with body art to obtain better jobs that involve others.

People often see small tattoos, or one small piercing on each year and don’t bat an eye. But when it comes to something major, and out of the ordinary, people in the workplace can start to get uncomfortable vibes with who they are dealing with. An employer, Bob, “recently interviewed Jamie, a young female applicant who was qualified for the job, but because she had a revealing tattoo on her arm and several facial piercings, Bob decided not to hire her. Instead, Bob wanted to hire a qualified and attractive individual who would project a professional work image and convey confidence in the job(Perkins, Emily Jane, 3/18//14).” The employer showed that professional does not include excessive amounts of body art. In actuality though, the definition of “professional” is “relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill(Merriam Webster).” With this in mind, having body art does not take away from someone having special education, training, or skill.

In the workplace, where looks are applicable, many people have a certain picture already burned into their head of how a star employee should look. Clean cut, no visible, unusual piercings, no obnoxious tattoos showing, basically hiding all body art. Although applicants for jobs with body art may only seem important to employers and employees, it should in fact concern kids who will eventually apply for jobs.To live in this world, a job is almost always essential. There are only a few cases where it is rare to not need a job. Kids should be aware of body art, because eventually it will be their turn to support themselves, and whomever, and it will be up to them on how employers view them.





Work Cited:

"Body Art Painful for Job Seekers | WyomingNews.com." Body Art Painful for Job Seekers | WyomingNews.com. WyomingTribuneEagle, 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/12/26/news/01top_12-26-10.txt#.VBrbCRZiEzY


Employers don't have to allow self-expression, but most do. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://north.ops.org/news/InDepth/tabid/1019/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/219/Employers-dont-have-to-allow-self-expression-but-most-do.aspx


INK WELL: AMERICA’S TATTOO HISTORY. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://digboston.com/boston-news-opinions/2012/02/ink-well-americas-tattoo-history/


Professional. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professional


Regulating Appearance In The Workplace: An Employer's Guide To Avoid Employment Discrimination Lawsuits | The National Law Review. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.natlawreview.com/article/regulating-appearance-workplace-employer-s-guide-to-avoid-employment-discrimination-



Runza® | Job Application Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from https://www.runza.com/jobs/application_intro


"Tattoo Tolerance: Older Generation Must Embrace Body Art." NYU News :. N.p., 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://www.nyunews.com/2013/01/21/rashid/


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2fer Revision: Suspended All Day

The week leading up to Sunday September, 14th was possibly the worst one in the history of the NFL, and could even be considered the worst week for a national sports league in all of history. The nadir of the situation came when star NFL running back for the football team the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson, was indicted on charges saying that he physically abused his four year old son. Legally Peterson is being indicted of parental abuse, but should he really be convicted? The fact is that sometimes what seems like parental abuse is simply discipline. The Vikings organization and the NFL, do not have the right to punish Adrian Peterson because parents have the right to discipline their children as they see fit.

Peterson is being charged with parental abuse. This came about because he was caught beating his son with a switch, which is a flexible branch or rod used to whip or discipline. He was caught when a doctor examined the four year old and decided that the lacerations on his legs and back were, in fact, brought on by parental abuse. Now Peterson is being looked at very negatively by those in the NFL community. His fans, coaches, and teammates are all shocked and appalled and left reeling after learning what he did. The Vikings even deactivated him until the situation is legally resolved.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Services, “any nonaccidental physical injury or harm” is considered physical abuse under the United States official federal law. Based on this understanding it would be obvious that Adrian Peterson did in fact commit a crime. That being said, there are many exceptions to the rule that make Peterson’s case not as clear. The Department of Health and Services also reveals that, under the U.S. federal law, in 16 states (along with the American Samoa and the Mariana Islands) physical discipline. as long as it is within reason, is an exception to the law. The main issue here is what is considered within reason. What Adrian Peterson did may or may not be considered within reason depending on who is the one reflecting on his actions. It is because of this that it is impossible to determine if he broke the law until a judge officially decided if he was “within reason”.

Another very important exception comes with being in the state of Texas Peterson’s home state, and where the act occurred. In Texas, Physical injury is classified as, “injury that results in substantial harm to the child or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child...excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm” (Fam. Code § 261.001). This means that, when a child is injured by their parent or guardian, and the cause is due to parental discipline, then it may not considered unlawful abuse, as long as it is determined to be within reason. Adrian Peterson is from Texas. It was there that he was caught disciplining his son. In accordance with the law he may not be so guilty after all.

Unfortunately, other events in the NFL have had major contributions to the extreme criticism of Peterson. Another player from the NFL, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on camera, punching his then fiancee and knocking her out in an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The NFL originally gave Ray Rice only a two game suspension, a mere slap on the wrist. Fans everywhere were absolutely outraged. Then, after the video was released that explicitly showed Rice in the act, the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, took the opportunity to correct their mistakes and suspend Rice indefinitely. Goodell claimed that he had not previously seen the video, however there is a lot of evidence that makes it seem like the NFL did in fact have prior knowledge of the recording. Fans felt as though they could not trust the NFL, and that the commissioner deserved to be fired. It was because of the events with Rice that the punishment for Peterson was so harsh. The only reason that the court of public opinion is reacting so strongly to the Adrian Peterson situation is because the NFL handed the Rice situation so poorly and wanted to handle this correctly from the get-go. Former star basketball player and current sports analyst Charles Barkley came to Peterson’s defense in an interview with Jim Rome, saying, “Listen, we spank kids in the south...Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances”. Peterson is not alone in his actions. This is how many people from the south are raised: their given households often believe that this is the correct way of discipline. All parents including Peterson simply want their children to be the best that they can be. Peterson is not a child abuser, his charity the All Day Foundation even goes to help at risk children.

Adrian Peterson’s actions, while wrong in the eyes of the NFL, do not call for serious punishment. Peterson does not deserve to be punished for something everyone does just because the NFL is going through a hard time. Parent’s have the right to discipline their children “within reason”.  Although parents everywhere might not think that the decision regarding Adrian Peterson's case matters much, its influence goes beyond the NFL and its players. It also greatly influences the laws pertaining to child abuse and what is acceptable parental discipline.After all discipline is something parents do simply to make their children the best they can be. Parent’s that only want the best for their child do not deserve to be punished as long as they remain in accordance with the law. The law does not explicitly say that discipline is against the law, it is somewhat vague. It is the parents in the world that ignore their children and show no love towards their children that deserve to be punished.



Works Cited

Chase, Chris. "Charles Barkley Defends Adrian Peterson's Use of Corporal Punishment." For The Win. N.p., 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/09/charles-barkley-adrian-peterson-video-ray-rice-cbs-nfl-today>.

"Child Abuse Law." - HG.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <http://www.hg.org/child-abuse.html>.

"Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect." Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. <https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.cfm>.

Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. S.l.: Bibliogov, 2013. Child Welfare. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.pdf>.


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Police Brutality

If Cops stopped to think about it, they would realize that having authority is not just about / does not just involve brutality , but serving justice well.It is one thing to use violence to protect oneself when in immediate danger, but another to use it to commit vicious hate crimes. Police officers have built a system of racial profiling. When they see a black man, he is already predestined to commit a crime in their eyes.  In the past decades, the African American Community has struggled to get the freedom, equality, and respect they deserve as a people because the policies have been set against them. Through their policies for punishment, police commissioners have allowed police officers to abuse their authority to belittle the African American community.

As kids, children are encouraged to admire cops. They were the real life heros. When someone was in trouble, who was to be called? On one of Cartoon Network's most popular show, Scooby-Doo, The cops of course the good guys. At the end of the episode, they would call the cops and wait for their arrival to unmask the man in the costume. There are several things you can take away from that, but what children learn is to call the cops when in fear. Now the very same people everyone was told that would protect the citizens who are in trouble, are the very same people who the African American community should fear.  Eric Garner, a 43 year old father of 6 living in New York was one of the most recent victims of police brutality. He was wrestled to the ground by five malicious police officers. The one who actually put Garner into the headlock was driven to do so by his sexual fantasies. This was not the first time that this officer had stopped him. Garner knew there was something odd about that man, afraid of what the officer might try to do Garner pleaded with him, “Don’t touch me, please,” but the badge says he has permission to do so. As he’s being choked to death by the man who wants him, he screams, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe, Get off me! Get off me!” They choked Garner until he could no longer fight. This situation would not have taken place if these officers had a serious police commissioner over their heads, someone who wouldn’t just let them get away with it but someone who would see the wrong and fight for the justice of Eric Garner.

Instead of being the men who once wanted everyone to be safe, the Police Commissioner  protect the ones who make the streets unsafe. This all stems from the lack of professional training for these police officers. There was a lack of discipline when these police officers were trained, without discipline officers will see the inch they’re given and take a mile. This is how it starts. They see their captain lets them get away with something minor and their minor things become major things. They are given an inch and they take advantage and take a mile.

In 2012, a study showed that every twenty eight hours, an African American was killed by an officer or vigilante. Of these killings, 43% of these were shooting based on racial profiling. Based on their skin color, officers inferred that they were in the act of committing a crime. Trayvon Martin, a kid who was brutally shot to death by alleged vigilante, George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was 17. He lived in a gated community with his parents. He was leaving the store with an Arizona tea and a bag of skittles, on his way home when Zimmerman gunned down the teenager. It’s getting to the point where young black men are being told by their parents what to do if confronted by a police officer. The directions are to always keep your hands in sight. When directed to do something, move slowly. This was first introduced by a show called Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A character named Jazz was stopped by a cop. Uncle Phil told Jazz it was okay to put his hands down but Jazz refused. He went on and said, “No thank you, I put my hands down and the next thing I know, I’ll have 18 warning shots in my back.”

As the years progress, it appears that African Americans have more and more of a reason to be in fear for their lives. When the system gets to the point where it protects the people no matter the race, then African Americans will be able to live without fearing the cops.

"Staten Island Man Dies after NYPD Cop Puts Him in Chokehold — SEE THE VIDEO." NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

"1 Black Man Is Killed Every 28 Hours by Police or Vigilantes: America Is Perpetually at War with Its Own People." Alternet. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.


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Silenced

“Hey Cacy.”

I gave a slight smile and shrugged.

“How are you?”

I shrugged.

This was a chat I would have at least twice every day. However, I shared it fewer and fewer people as they began to realize they wouldn’t get anything out of it. Usually at this point in a conversation, someone would give up. They would just stop trying to talk because they thought that it wasn’t worth it. Why would it be? No one wanted to talk to the girl that wouldn’t talk back. Of course every few days one person always tried to be a hero and get me to say something.  They thought they could magically pull all of the words hiding in my throat out into the open. No. That wasn’t a possibility, not even when I wanted it to be.

My head hurt all the time. It was hit with words, sports, and school. Things I did, I couldn’t do anymore. Things I had, I didn’t have anymore. Things I said, I couldn’t say anymore. My favorite words were “yes” and “no”. I also loved to shrug my shoulders. Shrugging was used for answering things that could not be answered with “yes” or “no”. Usually I wouldn’t even say the words, I would just make the sounds, “mhm” or “hmm” and then shrug. Only when forced or on rare occasions would I say the actual words.

I scared the hell out of my mother. She had never dealt with this before and had no idea of what to do. She was always open with her emotions and talking about everything, so when I stopped talking, she noticed. I could see her getting frustrated when I did not say “thank-you” or when I didn’t respond at all. As time went on her frustration increased, as did mine. We seemed to be communicating less and less which brought out more emotion from her, and kept more inside of me.

I didn’t want to be, but I was a snowball in slow motion. I was in the process of being built up with emotions into a solid, blank-faced sphere. When I was finished I would be hurtled, slowly losing some of that emotion through the journey to the wall. Finally I’d hit the wall and crumble down until I was one tiny flake without anything to hide. I hated the thought of vulnerability. I would do everything in my power to stop myself from hitting that wall.

At first I didn’t want to hit that wall at any cost, but sometimes all of the emotions kept piling up and it was too much for me to handle. Those were the times I wanted to crash into it and let my emotions fly, but I couldn’t because of all the protection I put up not to. I went with what Elbert Hubburd once said, “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” There were days where I wanted to scream and cry and shout but nothing would show because I was afraid people would not understand and judge me for being silent. I didn’t even understand. I had no idea why I was shutting myself out from the world beside the fact that people just wouldn’t get it. People did not know what to think of my silence because they never faced it before.

All of my emotions kept piling up before I could get rid of them. As a snowball, I was in the hurtling stage. Things kept getting in the way. Things spilled out of me before I knew what was going on. I was having random panic attacks all of the time, but trying to compose myself so that they would stop. At this point, people did not talk to me even though I wanted them to. They would turn away because they did not know how to deal with me. I was out of control and emotionally unstable all because I kept everything hidden before. At first I wanted to shut people out of my life and not talk to them at all, but then I realized how vulnerable and alone I was becoming. I was trapped in between cutting myself off from the world, and letting my emotions run free.

I realized that communicating through speech was extremely important. If I kept everything to myself and never shared it with anyone, sooner or later I would just explode. Piece by piece I was falling apart without even realizing. When I finally broke down and expressed my feelings, I felt vulnerable and scared. However that was so much better than feeling nothing at all. As I gradually built up the strength to start talking again, I was nervous. I wondered if people would even want to talk to me after so long of being in silence. Because of this, I started out talking only when I needed to. As I got a little more comfortable, I started joking around with my friends and family. Nonetheless, it has been more than two years since I stopped talking, and I am still not 100% confident in expressing myself through words. 

Because of this experience I will never have full self confidence when speaking. I am always second guessing what I say because I am afraid that I will not be understood. I’m afraid that my words will not make sense or that people will judge what I am saying because of my previous silence. I know now that words are extremely underappreciated and underused. Language and emotions are connected through expression. I did not express myself at all. My advice to others is that people need to speak and express themselves. If they don’t, all of their emotions will stay trapped inside of them.

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"The Whole Megillah"


“Okay guys, I need three people to help shlep food from my car.” My mom asks my brother’s soccer team.

They look at each other, confused.

“She needs you to carry some stuff over to the field,” I clarify.

“Oohh.” One says.


Shlep - (sh-LEP): Verb

Definition: to carry, lug.



Growing up in a Jewish family taught me a lot. It taught me about holidays, it taught me about traditions, and of course, it taught me another language. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I learned Hebrew at Sunday School like every other Jewish kid. But, that’s where you are wrong. I did not learn Hebrew; and to this day, I do not know Hebrew. Instead, I learned Yinglish. “Yinglish” is the super original name that people use for the combination of Yiddish and English. People who speak it seamlessly can flow from English to Yiddish as if it were one language. If you don’t understand them, you better figure it out quickly.


“I hear you got a new puppy!” My mother’s friend says.

“We did!”

“Do you have a picture of her?”

“Of course! One second.” I show her a picture on my phone.

“Oh my gosh! Look at that face! Such a shayna punim!”


Shayna Punim - (SHEY-nuh puh-NIM): Noun

Definition: Pretty, sweet face.


Yiddish is the hybrid language between Hebrew and German. (In case you were wondering, that makes Yinglish a combination of German, Hebrew, and English.) It was spoken by Ashkenazi Jews all over the world. Ashkenazi Jews lived in Central or Eastern Europe. In the 19th century, my great great grandparents lived in eastern Europe, more specifically, Lithuania. Yiddish was their language. Yiddish was the common language of Jews in Eastern Europe at that time. The history of Yiddish in my family begins with my great great grandparents.


“Ugh, I have soooo much homework, it’s unbearable.” I whine.

“Stop kvetching about it, and just get it done.” My mom replies. “There is no use in talking about it.”


Kvetch - (k-FET-ch): Verb

Definition: to complain, to whine.


My great grandma, my great great grandparents’ daughter, was born in the US, and was educated in English despite her parents’ heritage. Since her parents did not know much English, they spoke Yiddish in their home. However, she had to know how to speak English to communicate with people outside of her family. While raising children, my great grandmother used Yiddish to speak to her husband so that her daughters (including my grandmother) wouldn’t understand. She forbid her daughters from learning Yiddish because she wanted them to be more American. That very quickly shaved down the Yiddish vocabulary that was passed on in my family.


“I really don’t want to go to this barbeque.” I told my Mom.

“We will only be there for a little bit. We can eat a little, schmooze a little, and then we can go.”

“Okay, but you always talk to people for FOREVER.”

“I’ll keep it short.” She promised.


Schmooze - (sh-MOOZ): Verb

Definition: to chat, talk.



My grandmother used Yiddish, but certainly not as much as her grandparents did. Since her mother did not let her learn Yiddish, she only picked up a few phrases here and there. She used these phrases while speaking to her Jewish friends or her family. She said them around the house, casually, as if you could hear them in any house on the block. The truth is, you probably could hear them in most houses on her block because she lived in a Jewish neighborhood. Yiddish has this funny way of connecting Jewish people. It is kind of like a secret language that everyone has the opportunity and resources to learn; but only the people who don’t have the choice of learning it, know it. As a writing piece by Bell Hooks says, “words impose themselves, take root in our memory against our will.” I will never be able to forget the Yiddish words that have taken root in my brain. They are a part of me.


“What happened to my coat?” Our family friend asks, confused.

“I hung it up on the coat rack. Is that okay? I can get it for you if you want.” I reply, concerned that I did the wrong thing.

“Oh, what a mensch! Thank you sweetheart.”


Mensch - (MEN-ch): Noun

Definition: a person of integrity, honor, or responsibility.


The Yiddish vocabulary quickly dwindled as it was passed down through generations in my family. But, I have tried my hardest to make sure it is still a prominent part of my life. My mom learned all the Yiddish she knows from her mom, and a little bit from her grandfather. The little Yiddish that I use, I learned from my mom. I have also picked up phrases and words just by being a part of a Jewish community. Sunday school and camp are two places that I have learned some Yiddish. However, it is hard to be a Jewish teen in the modern world, and not know some Yiddish. You might be surprised how much movies, that have a character that is a stereotypical  Jewish grandmother or a Jewish New York native, can teach you about your own culture. Most people do not realize how much you can learn from stereotypes in a movie. I feel a deeper connection to the Yiddish language because it ties me to my history. It is my job to rebuild the Yiddish vocabulary in my family and my community.


“How are you today?” I ask the airline flight attendant. I see his yamaka, he sees my Star of David necklace. We have a common bond.

“I’m good. Long flight. How are you bubala?” He knows I will understand.

“I’m alright I guess. A little restless,” I admit.


Bubala - (BUH-buh-luh): Noun

Definition: (term of endearment) sweetie, darling. Traditionally used by grandmothers, refering to children.


Over time, the Yiddish language, used by my great great grandparents, became sentences. Those sentences became phrases, and those phrases became words. And eventually those words were etched into my brain. It was as if each of my ancestors shaped the vocabulary that came before them, to make it fit their life. Now it is my turn to change the Yiddish language so that it fits with my life. All of my ancestors have passed down a set of words that has now become a part of me. I grew up with those words. I identify with them. I understand them. I appreciate them. I have shaped the words, just as they have shaped me.


That’s the whole megillah, folks.

Megillah - (ma-GIL-uh): Noun

Definition: a long, detailed story.

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2fer Revision: Ukrainian Linguistic Identity

Ukrainian Linguistic Identity

Over the past year, there has been civil unrest in the former Soviet Republic country of Ukraine, which recently went through a semi-violent change in government. The coup was sparked by the governments move to work with Russia, rather than the European Union. As a result, a bloody civil war has began in the Russian speaking eastern regions, with Russian backed separatists taking control of the region. Ukraine is made of many nationalities, with ethnic Russians being the second largest population in the country, and Russian is still a very popular language, being the main language in most of east Ukraine. The ethnic population there would like to keep their ties to Russia and their language, which is threatened by the attempts to mandate Ukrainian in the country. Despite the current ceasefire and granting of special administrative status to said regions, ethnic tension, as well as the divide between Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers, will remain, as they always have. The divided ethnolinguistic identity and the instability of Ukraine does not just involve the Ukrainian leadership wanting to combat Russian influence, but the unresolved tensions between Russia and the West from the cold war.


The population of Ukraine currently have Ukrainian as their main language, with Russian being an official regional language in the areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, and the Crimean peninsula, which was recently lost to Russia. The most recent statistics stand at Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian (regional language) 24%, other (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 9% [CIA]. Russian is a major minority language within Ukraine, and around 24 percent or more Ukrainians speak Russian as their main language. Meanwhile, 17.3 percent of Ukraine’s population identified as ethnic Russian in 2001. [CIA]. Said population is mostly centered around Donetsk and Crimea. Not surprisingly, they are the territories currently contested in the bloody conflict, and have a history of being Pro-Yanukovych and Pro-Russia.


Russia and Ukraine have a long, complicated history. During most of the past thousand years, most of the area that we call Ukraine today has been under Russian rule, either during tsarist times, or as a soviet socialist republic. Of course, the rulers attempted to russify the population. There is an example from Soviet times, where a man who moved to Ukraine from Russia as a child gives his experience: “I am also from Russia... Then we moved here with my parents [to Udy, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine,]... Our village, they were Ukrainians there, a Ukrainian speaking population.... But the school was in Russian... It was discrimination by the teachers, they always accused us of speaking Ukrainian outside the school...”[Borderlands into Bordered Lands] This example, of a village with a Russian School in a Ukrainian village, would attract settlers from Russia. The Russian-Soviet authorities would thus ensure that the village would be “Russified” and maintain a Russian identity. Thus, Russian authorities would homogenize the population of Ukraine, which they called “new russia”, and expand their own claims to it’s land in order to strengthen it’s borders. This strategy was rather common, the most famous example would be the “iron curtain” / “Soviet Bloc” of Europe, established to cushion Russia’s borders against the NATO powers.


One of the big questions when Ukraine finally regained independence was language. Would Ukrainian become the standard, or would the country stick with the ever popular Russian? Laada Bilaniuk, a Ukrainian-American researcher into the topic stated on the matter that: “When people name a language, and describe it as mixed or pure, language becomes the site of struggle over identity, social values, and.... a certain type of ‘cultural correctness’“ [Contested Tongues] We can see the struggle right now, in the form of the current civil war between two worlds, two cultures, that were united in the last moments of the dying empire that created them. Russian social values, which were pushed to expand influence, seem to be doing a good job of that by causing the chaos needed for Russia to expand; push it’s way west, even by a couple hundred miles; and restore it’s “importance” in international politics.


Russian influence, as a result of tensions with the west over the course of Ukraine’s history has caused an ethno-linguistic divide within the country that current events have ripped apart even more and turned said divide into an all out civil war. Although the Ukrainian civil war and ethnolinguistic divide may only seem important to Ukraine and possibly it's neighbors, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about the well being of the world's economy and stability. Both NATO and Russia have made moves to influence Ukraine, with Russia annexing part of the country, and sending proxy troops into other unstable parts. NATO and the European Union wish to have Ukraine join as a member, however Russia does not want either organization to get any closer to it's borders. As such, the conflict between Russia and the Western world can only intensify, thus effecting the entire world.


Works Cited

Bilaniuk, Laada. Contested Tongues: Language Politics and Cultural Correction in Ukraine. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005. Print.

"World Factbook Ukraine." Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

Zhurzhenko, Tatʹi︠a︡na. Borderlands into Bordered Lands: Geopolitics of Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2010. Print.
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Trying To Sound Smart

Sit up straight. Stay focused. This is important. Remember to pronounce water like “wah-er” instead of “wooder”. Remind yourself to put emphasis on the letter ‘s’ in the word ‘ask’ so you won’t sound like you are saying ‘ax’.

“May I assssk a question about relating themes in different religions?”

“Would you like some wah-ter?”

I feel like in order to impress a certain group of people, or in order to ‘sound smart’, you have to pronounce words in a “correct” way. Meaning, loose any trace of an accent you have and get rid of that hometown dialect; it won’t be helpful when you’re trying to impress people of importance.

“Mah, could I get a glass of wooder?”

“Did you see that jawn yesterday?”

“Do you know where the manguera is?”

Be relaxed. Don’t care about the words that fall out of your mouth; don’t pay any mind to the way you pronounce them either. You are with the people you know and spend most of your time with. They don’t care about your Philly-bound slang, or your disheveled ‘Spanglish’, they do the same that you do. I feel a bit more at at ease when I am around the people who grew up with the same dialect as I did. It is comforting to know that you don’t have to impress someone when they do not care about the way you are speaking. Needless to say, I still feel like there are times where I should speak “proper” even though I am in a more “judge free setting”.

Stay focused on the way you pronounce words - wait no, they don’t care - then again you care. Now I am confused. Though I use my Philly dialect when I am in a more comfortable zone, I still feel like I have to speak “proper” English.  If I end up speaking that way, then I feel like I am being judged.

“Why do you speak like that?”

“Speak like what?”

“Using big words and stuff, why are you trying to show off?”

“I’m not, I just like big words, and I like saying them the right way.”

“So are you saying that you say stuff better than me?”

“No… Not at all.”

Being said, that conversation with my friend ended badly; but after that I noticed a trend. The more big words I used and the more I enunciated, the more I was getting judged. They would say that I am ‘uppity’ or that I am trying to be better than the rest of them. But in reality, I am not. I surround myself with books, dictionaries, and other places of where bigger vocabulary roams, and I indulge myself in them. I just love vocabulary, yet people don’t seem to understand how much I enjoy it.

“You’re just trying to sound smart.”

That phrase haunts me. My relatives have told me that, my friends have told me that, and people I don’t even know have told me that. I am not attempting to “sound smart” at every chance I get. It does get offensive sometimes as well. I feel as if I have to restrain myself when I am supposed to be comfortable. It is like I have to be locked in some sort of cage to restrain or censor myself from sounding ‘smart’ just to avoid conflict. But by doing so, I no longer feel as if I am accepting myself. The way I speak and the language and dialect I use reflects on me. Using slang and big words are apart of my everyday life, but when I have to hold myself back, then I no longer feel true to myself.

Thinking about this reminds me of the 8th grade. I, along with 8 other students got put into an advanced English class. Instead of reading books and doing tests about them, we read Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Edgar Allan Poe and ripped their texts to streads (meaning we learned their vocab and tried to decipher the meanings behind their writings). Our English class loved learning new words that were supposed to be beyond our grade level. But when we got back to our normal class, there would be a separation between the Advanced English students and the standard English class. They would always say “they’re showing off” and “they think they’re smarter than the rest of us”. We never felt like we were smarter nor did we think ourselves higher than the rest of the students; we just felt lucky that we got the opportunity to be in Advanced English since there were limited spots.

“...Language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity” - James Baldwin. I now realize that the vocabulary that I possess is seen as power, that the more vocab I know, the more control I will have in certain situations; but personally I doubt that to be true. There are plenty of people in this world who do not have an extensive vocabulary, and have more power than I possibly ever will. I also realized how language and dialect separates and brings together certain groups. Like in the 8th grade, language separated my class in two. Or how with some of my friends who speak a bit of Spanish like I do, feel separated from the rest of our friends when we end up saying a few words in Spanish. But it brings us together when we all know the same language and dialect, i.e people from Philadelphia have words that only we know of.

I also realized how language and dialect is a key component to my identity. It partially shows where I come from and mostly shows who I am. But when I feel separated from people due to the language I use, I end up silent. Instead of being heard and being judged, I sit with my mouth shut and listen to those around me. It feels uncomfortable to stay silent or to censor myself, but I find it better than hearing the question “Why are you trying to sound smart?”


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The Entertainment Industry and Racism



Since the turn of the last century, the American entertainment industry has had an influx of non-white characters in film, tv, movies and literature. This is evident in films by director Tyler Perry, networks like ABC who have one of the most diverse television series lineups in all of television, and authors like Nancy Farmer, whose most famed book (The House of Scorpion) features an all brown and black cast. However, the lack of diversity does not reflect what America looks like today. The reasoning behind this is simple; the entertainment industry values white characters more than non-white because the entertainment industry is inherently racist.


It's not hard to observe that the majority of characters in mainstream movies, whether main or side, are almost always white. This fact has taken the interest of Dr. Stacy L. Smith of University of South Carolina who has proven that this isn't fiction, but fact.  Smith created a five year long examination of all top grossing movies for its corresponding year and presented the racial demographics. “Prevalence. Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are Black, 4.2%are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 3.6% are from other (or mixed race)ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are white (76.3%)”.  This is in comparison to the racial demographics of the US in 2013. 77.7% of Americans are white, 13.2% are black, 5.3% are asian, and 17.1% are hispanic. These statistics might almost parallel one another, but based on a 2012 study by Roderick Harrison, white people will be the minority in America by 2040, as the asian and hispanic population is growing rapidly (white population growth has stayed flat since last year and asian and hispanics has increased by 2.2%). Just in 2012 alone, it is clear that despite there being non-white characters, the overwhelming majority of characters being given the most important roles are white. Out of the top 100 movies of 2012, less than 24% of them include people of color being given important roles as opposed to the 76% of whites. An “important role” is usually the role as a main character. The act of writing roles that specifically target white actors and blatantly excludes people of color is an act of racism. Even if the majority of America is white, it is racist to only include white people when writing a film. Since the 2040 census projects that white will be the minority, then by 2040, the entertainment industry should be filled with movies that project black and brown faces instead of white. If this does not happen then it will go on to prove that the entertainment industry is even more racist than it already is.


In 2013, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) gave their recent statistics to the New York Times, showing the racial demographics of their books given. “ Nearly half of the books were fiction, both middle grade and young adult. As of July 11, we had received 1,509 trade books published in 2013. I found that 1,183(78.3 percent) were about human beings. And just 124 of those (10.5 percent)featured a person of color. And that also means that 1,059 of the books about humankind (89.5 percent) are about white people.” As seen, literature is even worse when it comes to diversity. These are children’s books, and even in this day and age, it would make sense for there to be more people of color in literature. But for some reason, they're aren't according to the statistics. The reason that the top best selling books do not feature non-white characters is because the writer subconsciously knows that white characters are ideal in literature. All of the books that are considered classics (Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Brothers Grimm) feature entire white casts. These books were written and published during the 20th and 19th century, when racism was prevalent in reality and fiction. The authors who write children’s books of today most likely were born and grew up during these time periods (19th-20th century)and quickly learned that white is the ideal from classic books like these. Thus creating a neverending cycle of white characters in literature and the exclusion of people of color. Only representing the white part of the population in literature is purposefully excluding young children of color and perpetuating that it is okay to be unrepresented. Even young teens and children of color are being taught that they are unvalued in America. Thus perpetuating that white is the dominant and most important factor when it comes to characters in the entertainment industry.


The lack of diversity within film is not surprising when explored through a historical context. The depictions and views of black people during the 20th century were made clear. In director D.W Griffith’s film made in 1915, “The Birth of a Nation”, the main premise of the movie was that the fall of society would occur if blacks were equal to whites. The actors in the film were not black, but white people in blackface and the portrayals were horrid caricatures that enticed more brutalization of black people. The budget for this film was a mere $112,000, but the box office earnings were a large $60,000,000. Movies like this continued to be made throughout the 20th century;  the only views of black and other people of color were stereotypes (these were the only roles provided for them). For example, Stepin Fetchit was a black actor who made millions from starring in movie “Hearts of Dixie (1927)”. His character was the stereotypical “dumb, lazy, negro” of that time period, which American seemed to love (as he was even “awarded” the name “The Laziest Man in World”). Another film, The “Song of the South (1947) came from the beloved Disney franchise and was aimed at children. One of the characters, a black old man named “Uncle Remus”, was shown as someone who loved his master and loved being a slave. With box offices like that of “The Birth of a Nation” and racist white directors being in charge of Hollywood, the only representation of people of color were what white people wanted the audience to see. The aftermath of this is what is seen in today’s entertainment industry. Such as the “token black friend”.  In recent films, such as the Percy Jackson series, the main characters best friend, is (not surprisingly) black). His character neither adds nor takes away from the story line and seems to only be there for comedy relief. For a majority of the first movie, he spends most of his role as clueless and lost. Not only is this type of character present in film series, but in television. The Degrassi television franchise is famed for depicting “real teen life”. But they do not seem to want to include blacks or non-whites in this claim. One of the sole black actresses in all of the Degrassi series, Andrea Lewis, expressed her experience as black the token black character “Degrassi had an issue with my race. They told me how the writers and producers had no intentions of developing the story lines of my character unless it was to enhance the story of one of their other white characters. They had some plans for some of the other black characters on the show but their ideas were only to cover the usual stereotypes that we see of people of color on television teen pregnancy, petty theft, basketball, broken family homes etc and he usually had to fight with them to think out of the box with those characters to not have them go down the road of the usual cliches.” The hesitance to involve people of color in television has even caught the eye of the beloved animated show, South Park. The creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to poke fun at the lack of black characters in television by making a single black character on the show named “Token Black”.  As shown, the feelings about people of color in the entertainment industry have not changed as a result of it’s founding fathers. Little to no non-white characters, and stereotypes where applicable.


The lack of non-white characters in entertainment all has to do with the entertainment valuing whiteness above all else. Unless there is an interest in telling the story of people of color, fictional or not, the entertainment industry will most likely never be an option for aspiring non-white actors and actresses, or even non-white fictional characters. Representation in all aspects is very important, but the lack of it in mainstream media will only perpetuate that white people are valued above all others.




Works Cited:


Blair, Elizabeth. "As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

FOx. "Minorities Now Surpass Whites in US Births, Census Shows." Fox News. FOX News Network, 17 May 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

Lewis, Andrea. "(New Post) A REAL Conversation about Degrassi....#tbt."MISS ANDREA LEWIS. N.p., 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

Smith, Stacy L., Marc Choueiti, and Katherine Piper. Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films: Is the Key to Diversifying Cinematic Content Held in the Hand of the Black Director? N.p.: Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, 2013. PDF.

Thegrio. "Slideshow: 15 Films That Hurt Black America." TheGrio. TheGrio, 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

"The Worst Thing About “Birth of a Nation” Is How Good It Is - The New Yorker." The New Yorker. N.p., 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

"United States Census Bureau." USA QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. US Census Bureau, 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.


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The Conflict Within the Voice

“What did you say?”

“Did you say something?”

“Who said that?”


These phrases are what I hear most often when i’m not at home. I’m the quiet guy, the one who doesn’t speak up.  My voice was given to me by my ancestors-- before the  slave trade, before America. In America Africans were forced to forget their native languages and learn this new one. I can’t make this language my own because of what was done to my people before it became mine. This language I have inherited is helpful only in making me forget what was once rightfully mine. My voice is the only thing that connects me to my memories.

When i’m at home, I use the voice I developed as I grew up with my parents. The voice I use outside helps me blend in with the crowd and seem ”normal”  It also sets me apart from other kids who might “look” like me but speak a different language. Most people say they want to stand out when in reality most people want to blend in. Why? because our whole lives, we have had our voices preened for the singular purpose of one thing: survival. It is hard to survive if you can’t speak the language.

My  outside voice is quiet because that is the socially acceptable norm. Nothing about my voice sticks out, it is just as low and smooth as any other boy my age.  My voice has changed many times.  Before this year, my voice was lighter, and happier. When my father died, it became darker and unpredictable. I can’t say the things I want to say, the way I want to say them.

One specific time was when I forgot my trailpass on the train. I was late for an appointment so I had to run for the train. On my way to the train station I somehow dropped my pass and hadn’t noticed. I got on the train and the conductor started walking over

“All tickets and passes please” yelled the conductor.

I reached into my pocket to get my wallet and my pass , but the pass wasn’t there. I got angry, I got frustrated at myself for not having the pass and ashamed for not noticing sooner. I wanted to express to the train conductor my own feelings, my depression, my anger, my self hatred. My voice had other plans.

“Ticket please” the conductor said.

“I’m sorry but I forgot my pass. Could you please let me ride for today? I swear I had it,” I replied.

“What? I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you. Could you please repeat that?” says the conductor

“Never mind” I reply.

So I paid the train conductor 5 dollars that I never should’ve given him in the first place. I’m ashamed to say that this particular event happened to me more than once. I happened to do the same thing 3 weeks later.


This time my trailpass and $25 was stolen by someone whose identity i’ve yet to discover.  I decided to take the subway to the bus to get home so I could save money. I bought a transfer to catch the bus with minimal money. I made sure to button my coat so I wouldn’t lose the transfer, but somewhere between the subway station and the bus platform I dropped my transfer. If you’ve had a week as shitty as mine,then you’d know this was just the icing on the cake. I was angry that I’d cost my mother so much money in a week, that yet again i’d let her down. I knew some of this anger was about my father, but I didn’t know what to be angry at him for. I couldn’t yell at him , so my anger had nowhere to go but inside. I got on the bus feeling like the slime on the bottom of someone’s shoe and went up to the busdriver. I was ready to explain to him what had happened, I’d had the plan all setup in my mind, but I just couldn’t turn my thoughts into language. My voice disappeared .

Instead, I gave him 5$ for a transfer I wouldn’t even use.

“That was a one right?” asked the driver.

“No, it was a five” I replied.

“What? Don’t ever do that again son, ever. Next time i’ll spot you, but please don’t ever do that again”. said the driver

“Okay,” I said.


Out in the cold, unforgiving world my frustration and anger is not always obvious. I  express my anger in subtle ways. I am sarcastic, people have to ask me to repeat myself which I know is annoying but sometimes that gets their attention. At home, where I am  comfortable, my anger is not subtle,my voice is not quiet.  I am loud and everything that is on my mind spills out, like a waterfall of molten lava, my words incinerating or cremating everything in its path. One incident in particular caused my mother great pain and I resolved that day to reign in my tongue, to format my way of speech. I was getting up for school, trying to get out of the house on time to catch the bus. My mother was doing her usual, checking to see if I had everything I needed for school.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes.”

“Did you deodorize?”

“Yes, mom.”

“Did you eat?”

“No, i’ll just bring my food with me.”

“Did you take your meds?”

“Yes mom, I really have to go.”

“But you didn’t feed the cats.”

“I did.”

“You don’t have your squash bag stuff together though.”

“Maybe it would’ve been together if you hadn’t made me go to the doctors yesterday.”

“I’m doing the fucking best I can! I bust my ass going out there in the world applying for new jobs because of you! Whenever I buy something or send you to the doctor, its for your own good! I don’t know what else you want! I can’t do anything else! What else do you want!”

“Thanks. Now i’m late for school.”

My mother left the room and sat down in the living room. I immediately regretted what I said and went over to comfort her. We stayed there for a few minutes, and then she pushed me out the door.

“I love you Duke”

“I love you too, mom”


In James Baldwin’s essay “If black English isn’t a language then I don’t know what is” he says: “Language is formed out of brutal necessity”  Daddy and I shared a deep connection through music. That was our language.  Daddy sang all the time and we sang together. My voice was already changing before daddy died. He used to tease me when we were singing a song and  I couldn’t hit the high notes anymore.  Sometimes it felt like it was the other way around, like my voice changed to match my feelings inside. Daddies voice had a power that made you want to listen, it could lift you up or make you angry but you could always hear him. I am afraid that one day I will forget what his voice sounds like and all I will have are his photographs, the songs he wrote and the notes he left for me in our notebook. Maybe this means I will have to find a different language for this new sadness.  I will have to alter this voice to be more compatible with the world the way it is now. In this language I will have to accept the fact that daddy is not coming back. As I move away from this hard time in my life, my language now stripped of any grandeur or confidence will change again.  I believe that just like my feelings dictate my facial expressions , my voice will tell a new story. Hopefully, the new story will be a better one.

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Osman's 2Fer Draft

Online social networks reduces the amount of face-to-face conversations that people use to have back in the twentieth century. A social network is an outlet where people can chat, make new friends, share experiences, bond, and meet together- all at the same time. Common websites like Facebook and Twitter, more intensely Facebook, fit the description perfectly, when describing a niche for social interactions. Although they are an easy gateway to gratification, they diminish the quintessence of real human interaction.


              Back in the old days, typically the mid to late 1900s, people did not have all these fancy virtual websites so often there would be personal conversations. But now, it is becoming a problem for us to be able to approach and speak to people or make a phone call, without seeing it as awkward or a hassle. According to the article Why can't we all just stop texting and have an actual face-to-face conversation for once?, by news editor David Thomas, people are starting to consider things like ‘’What? TALK to someone? Who does anything as old-fashioned as that any more?” Now a days people text, tweet, and make Facebook post. Although these modes of communication are certainly convenient and easy-to-use, they are definitely not as effective as a legitimate phone call. In the article, Social media is Transforming the Way We Communicate, by Sukhraj Beasla, a blogger on viralheat.com, this was her reaction of phone contacting: “I stare longingly at the phone missing out on hearing a dial tone, the butterflies I get when it connects through and the person on the other end picks up and I hear their sweet voice.” Obviously by her reaction, it is reasonable to say that the feeling of a phone call, in comparison to a text message, is much more intimate. It also says that old ways of communicating via phone call, face-to-face conversations are more real and feel a lot more human because they trigger emotions like jitter and nervousness.        

      

              The biggest problem of social networking sites is anonymous intimacy. This is when people spend countless hours on Facebook and Twitter and start to develop a false sense of actually knowing and befriending people who they communicate with. According to Rachna Jain, a clinical psychologist specializing in couple and marital therapy, this poses problems because considering what really makes an intimate relationship: “shared experiences, shared time together — like doing things together — and it relies on a shared history.” Being on Facebook or Twitter does provide some form of shared experience, since there is involvement in the same spectrum of imparted information; however, there is still a digital divide. There

is a big difference in feelings when you are in the presence of a person as opposed to being accompanied by people online. In person, there are facial expressions, body language, and voices are heard. They are a lot more resilient indicators of someone’s feelings toward a person than online because none of those characteristics are present; feelings are always mislead online and can never always be able to be estimated well, so it can’t really be told when someone really considers a person to be friend or not. That is why communicating online is more effective in making friends.              

               Considering what anonymous intimacy does on social networks, It gives off a fake feeling of engagement and makes it seem a user has thousands of friends, when really the numbers are quite shorter. The infographic: Is social media making us socially awkward?, given by Sam Laird, a Mashable reporter, states that “despite the ease of connecting online, only 50% of Facebook users have 100 or more “friends.” This means that only half of all Facebook users have actual and real relationships with other people, not 1000 or 3,000, which is blown way out of proportion. The friend list is what keeps people tuned in and gives the false idea that someone has all of those friends, but they really don’t. This is because instead of going out and making actual friends, people would rather add or follow random people on Facebook and consider them a friend when they really aren’t. The statistics don’t lie, in the article Is Social Media Destroying Real-World Relationships?, it says that “20% actually prefer communicating online or via text message to face to face conversation, while a third said they're more likely to approach someone new online than off.” This shows that people are endeavoring more to make these “fake” friends/followers on Facebook and twitter rather than developing real relationships and friends through personal communication, in the 21st century.


                The sheer fact that the preference of online chatting is more prevalent than face to face conversations shows that people don’t talk as much personally. As a result of this, there will be less intimate relationships if these trends continue to rise, because people will prefer the more artificial feeling of communicating online (less personal bonding), rather than in person.


Works Cited:


  1. Laird, Sam. "Is Social Media Destroying Real-World Relationships? [INFOGRAPHIC]." Mashable. Schools.com, 14 June 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://mashable.com/2012/06/14/social-media-real-world-infographic/>.

  2. Morgan, Mandy. "Social Media Impacts Real Relationships."DeseretNews.com. DeseretNews, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865576858/Social-media-impacts-real-relationships.html?pg=all>.

  3. Beasla, Sukhraj. "Social Media Is Transforming the Way We Communicate." Viralheat Social Media Is Transforming the Way We Communicate Comments. Viralheat, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <https://www.viralheat.com/blog/2013/01/15/how-social-media-is-changing-the-way-we-communicate/>.

  4. Bates, Chelsea. "The Dangers of Social Networking Sites | Commonplace."The Dangers of Social Networking Sites | Commonplace. McGraw Hill, 2009. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <http://www.mhlearningsolutions.com/commonplace/index.php?q=node/5582>.

  5. Goessl, Leigh. "How Does Social Networking Affect Socialization." Sciences 360. Sciences 360, 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/how-does-social-networking-affect-socialization-2-8428/>.

  6. Thomas, David. "Why Can't We All Just Stop Texting and Have an Actual Face-to-face Conversation for Once?" Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 18 July 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2175274/Why-stop-texting-actual-conversation-once.html>.
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Inside out Oreo


The air rushed out of our palms created a popping sound. The language of a handshake.

“Wassup yo.” I said.

“Wassup. You good?” Said Will. We were standing in a hundred foot hallway packed with kids waiting for classes to start. The walls were blue and yellow.

“Yeah, I’m chilling, tired.” I replied.

“True I got like three hours.”

“Bo’ you a nut cuz that history jawn due.” The bell rings and the slow crowd yawned and moved down the hallway as a mob. Then the hallway filled with lockers slaming, songs being sung, basketballs bouncing, students yelling, and teachers yelling. I move towards the door of my home room. A forty year old man in a button up shirt and khakis stands tall greeting students.

“ How you doing, Luke?” He asks.

“Morning, Mr.Schere, I’m pretty good.” I move into the room with more blue walls and a brown carpet covering the floor.

“Nigga luke” A voice calls out from across the room. A skinny girl with bright orange sneakers and short hair is sitting in one of the chairs arranged in a circle.

“Wassup Ki” I took a seat in the circle and shook the person next to me’s hand. 

"You know my manz Luke an inside out Oreo." She joked. The mood was light and humorous. From the other side of the circle I hear a angry voice at a loud tone.

“I’m just trying to be out, like, teachers trippin.”

“Right Cort, imma boobop the ish out them.” A laugh rippled around the room.

Later in class I raise my hand to answer the question my teacher asked; Why was the industrial revolution the perfect time to put new ideas into practice?

“Yes, Luke?” The teacher called on me.

“Well, the industrial revolution was a time where there was a lot of innovation. Because of this the acceptance for new creations was very high, anything was possible if you could sell it to the public.”

“That’s good, Luke.” He moved on, placing white papers on everyone's desks.

That night at my cousin’s house my aunt asked me about my day.

“Well, it was pretty good. I have a project and some homework to do. But I like my classes and teachers and today was fun.” With that I wiped the side of my mouth with my napkin.

Those were examples of how dialect or language changes given who I’m talking to. My school was all black. Plus me. I came from a middle class white family. All my classmates were middle class or working class black. So, when I got placed in Wissahickon Charter school in kindergarten, I had no idea that over the next nine years of my life I would undergo ignorance, culture shock, resentment, and then adaptation in that general order.

When I started noticing differences it was later than my peers.  I realized I was white at the ripe age of 8. I had already been affected and shaped by black culture but in more subtle ways. Emerging from ignorance I noticed the differences. I started noticing black culture versus white culture. From there I became resentful. I hated that my parent sent me to this school, that we lived in this house, that we had this lifestyle. But I was brought up with values of justice and right versus wrong. So that I saw the beauty and necessity of how we lived. Throughout it all I was learning how to be black with white skin. The most important part of this was probably the language. How black people talk is very different from how I talk to my family, how I talk to family friends, and how I talk to extended family.

Language, in this sense, is just how you talk. The way you say your words and what words you use is language. This holds much more weight that we normally give it.

James Baldwin addressed this in his article “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What It Is?” In this article he’s defining language and arguing that “Black English” meets its criteria. “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power… It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. … in such a way that one's antecedents are revealed” This quote shows how much language affects perception of your identity. Language shows where you came from (accents/slang) and that area has some sort of stigma towards it. For instance, if I said I was from Philadelphia people would, without knowing Philadelphia, associate me with a urban stereotype they’ve made up. Language reveals how you were raised, who you are, and how you view the world with the same process. All of these judgements are subconscious and in each one of us there is a small part that analyzes every word people say.

This quote comes from  a bell hooks’ article titled “This Is The Oppressor’s Language / Yet I Need It To Talk To You.” In this article she talks about how African slaves had to learn this English language (which was the language of the oppressor) and how this language was shaped by oppression to be a new black English. She tells the story of black English and how we relate to it today. “The very sound of English had to terrify. I think of black people meeting one another in a space away from the diverse cultures and languages that distinguished them from one another, compelled by circumstance to find ways to speak with one another in a ‘new world’.” People always look at the new world slavery system and say the color of skin was all they needed to define your level of power in the system. But really, it was also language that was a definer of who you were.

She goes on to talk about how blacks have created a dialect of their own, continuing the different  two languages or dialects (black and white). Language is a definer of African Americans in this country. And yet the “Oppressors’ language” and “fear” talked about in this quote still exists. White english. White English has as much slang and as many sayings but is held up as how the actors of movies and the media talk. It is basically held up as the “right” way to talk. This is because white culture has been, since the beginning of America, the dominant culture. When Europeans discovered America there was a mindset that western culture was the best. This resulted in the construction of a white society where skin color spoke the loudest. A clearly defining feature of this system and culture was language. This form of cultural racism (language being a part of that) means to be successful and not white means you have to “act white”, or assume the culture.

My situation was pretty unique especially given my skin color. Many white people will come into contact with at least two cultural dialects, but one is much more dominate. But, I was getting such large portions of two cultures (middle class white liberal and black working class teen) everyday that I needed to adapt to survive. So over time I learned black speech. Then I was aware of codeswitching saw how useful it was in different situations. I saw and see how easily I can change my dialogue to match others or connect with others.

But, I graduated in 2013. I could have dropped the codeswitching. “Survival” was no longer necessary. But codeswitching is something that allows connection. It allows people to view you in the most positive light. It feels wrong in some ways to put on a front, but different language is just a part of the diversity of the human race. Code switching lets other feel comfortable around me and allows me to feel comfortable around others. Because, unlike other white people, I know how to code switch, I can be friends with a more diverse group of people. So I will never “talk how I talk”, never “just be me”, but I’m ok with that if it also helps me to strengthen bonds with people, lets me relate to more people, be the best I can be to people, and make people comfortable. So I will build bridges and reach out to all with how I use my voice.



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One day I was in Chinatown with my parents. We were waiting for a table at a restaurant called Penang which serves really good Asian food. As we were waiting, an Asian man and white woman came in after us, their name was taken by the hostess for their table. They would be waiting with us.

There was an awkward silence in the waiting area. My mother, Jennifer, opened her mouth. I cringed. She always does this. We call it “public talking.” It’s when someone feels that they need to start a conversation with some random person they see in public. My mom’s mouth was flapping away at lightning speed talking about “The great egg noodles” and how “Downtown Philly is really busy on Friday nights. . .” and making sure to not leave out that her son sings in a choir that travels the world. That’s when she said something that really stood out to me.

“Yeah, we love coming here, the food is amazing and mainly locals eat here, so it’s not full of tourists like us.”

At which point the man said

“Oh, where are you all from?”

I was just standing there internally face palming, laughing and screaming all at the same time. I knew what would come next. She then said,

“Oh, heh, no. We’re from Philly, just ya know.”

At which point I leaned over to my other mom, Angela, and whispered,

“We’re from Philly… ya know, the eh, white part.”

Angela chuckled then made her usual annoyed face. The man looked confused. The woman still had the mannequin-esque smiling face she had when I first saw her. The man responded slowly with,

“Well, we are from Washington state.” said the man.

“I’m from Quebec.” This was the only thing the woman said before my mom went back to workin’ her jaw. When the couple was seated the waiting area became quiet again until I said,

“Yeah, we love going here, the food is amazing and mainly ASIAN PEOPLE go here so it’s not full of WHITE PEOPLE like us.” Angela started to laugh louder now and Jen, realizing what she said chuckled and looked a bit embarrassed.  

I don’t like to take myself too seriously. I usually try to come up with ways to get my point across or carry on conversations with humor whenever I can. Sometimes this “humor” is snarky, sarcastic, or ironic. In the case of “The Great Penang Incident”, I used sarcasm to point out to my mom that she was being an annoying public talker, and saying something that could be mistaken for racist. If I had been too blunt or too serious in pointing out the problem with what Jen said, she might have gotten too focused on me being  “too critical.”  By using humor, I was able to get my point across in a less threatening way which ended up opening up more dialogue in the end. If I had bluntly said exactly what I was thinking it might have been something more like, “Hey mom, you're embarrassing me and yourself and I think that your comment could be taken as racist.”  This sentence might have hurt my mom’s feelings and lead to an argument. I am pretty sure that softening it with the use of humor was a better way to go.

A couple of years ago I saw my friend Elogio at a friend’s 16th birthday party. We  see each other only occasionally since we both graduated from our old school in 8th grade but we still do things together from time to time. Elogio is still a good friend of mine for over 5 years now. We’re both pretty chill with each other but one thing we both enjoy doing is saying stupid stuff to each other. When he saw me, he walked over to me and said,

“Hey Jake, wow, you’ve gotten taller.” It would make sense that the guy who hardly ever grows would notice my height. Elogio, when I first met him in 5th grade, might have been 4’ 5” and I was maybe 5’ 1”. Going into 9th grade he was probably 4’ 11” or 5’ with me at 5’ and 8”. He was the shortest person my age that I knew. I responded to him in a cheerful tone,

“Yea, I guess so. I wish I could say the same about you.” Then I let out a cheesy laugh that would make Mike Brady cringe. One might think that after knowing the guy for so many years I would have laid off the short jokes. The Mayor of Munchkinland looked at me disapprovingly, I just stared back with a smug grin on my face. A grin twice as smug but not as yellow then formed on Elogio’s face, and he said.

“I guess the lack of oxygen up there is already starting to do damage to the brain cells.” There was a second of silence and then we laughed, we were probably over laughing. I then grabbed his shoulder and gave him a sideways bro-hug. I held my nose in the air, and in the most pompous voice I could muster said,

“I don’t take too kindly to that sir.” We chuckled a bit and then caught each other up on how life was going after graduating from our old school.

It was by jokingly insulting each other with sarcasm and campy dialogue that we were able to connect as friends.  Most of our conversations are through jokes, but we are still able to remain friends and talk about a lot of different things.

Of course, not all people take too kindly to snarky comments. Some people can’t tell the difference between something being said sarcastically and something that’s said out of genuine resentment. When people misunderstand my attempts at being a jokester, it isn't exactly good for me - even when their reaction is priceless. My use of humor can be risky and sometimes backfires.  I see the world as a funny place. I include humorous comments in my daily language as a way to share with others that the world is a strange, ironic and entertaining place.

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Consequences of Smoking Cigarettes

A lot of people do not realize that they could have done something harmful to their body until something happens or they have health problems. There is a lot of things and actions that can cause cancer and one of them is smoking cigarettes. Most of the people smoke cigarettes without thinking what is the effect after smoking for a while, but also it makes them look older, and feel less stressed.

Most of the people just start as if nothing to worry about, but then they get addicted to Nicotine and it is hard for them to quit. In the PDF called A Comprehensive Adult Basic Education Curriculum, “There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes. 51 of them are known to be carcinogenic. A carcinogen is something that causes cancer. Cancer is a disease that often kills those who have it.” What people breathe in while smoking is pretty scary. When humans smoke, all the harmful chemicals end up in the lungs, which is a major organ, and damages them after a long period of time. Smoking for not a long time does not mean there will not be any effects. Smoking for a short time will always leave some changes in the lungs, but it does not have to cause cancer right away. Cigarettes are not good for people because they harm their lungs, and such a damage is not worth it.

Adults and even teens smoke, but they do not exactly know why. Some just smoke to be cool like their friends, and others because of their stress and their addiction to Nicotine. A lot of people have to deal with a lot of situations where they can not help it and just go for a cigarette because it makes them feel good and more relaxed, but while smoking they do not think about what is happening to their lungs. In the PDF called A Comprehensive Adult Basic Education Curriculum, “Three of the main reasons that young people smoke are to look mature, to be like their friends, and to experiment… If their friends or peers smoke, they may feel pressured into doing the same to be accepted. The last reason is the excitement of experimenting with something that is forbidden.” Teens do not realize how cigarettes can affect them because they just want to be cool like their peers. They should be the ones to change it and not let people go with it, and show that it is not okay to smoke, even if they are teenagers because it is harmful for their health and lungs. Most of them do not realize it. Most of the reasons why people smoke cigarettes it’s because of their mind set. Psychology has to do with this because people think about cigarettes as something that it will keep them relaxed and be cool.

Chemicals added to cigarettes could be imagined just like in the lab. All chemicals react with one another. Chemicals in cigarettes do not work well in order to keep a person healthy. K. H. Ginzel, M.D. tells us what’s in cigarettes,  “In contrast to other drugs, nicotine delivery from tobacco carries an ominous burden of chemical poisons and cancer-producing substances that boggle the mind. Many toxic agents are in a cigarette. However, additional toxicants are manufactured during the smoking process by the chemical reactions occurring in the glowing tip of the cigarette.” Smoking is not good for people. People just do not see how bad they can be to their health system. Smoking for a short or a long time is bad because no matter what people breathe in it is all the chemicals that cigarettes have. Cancer also spreads to other organs, but humans do not think about consequences of smoking.

In order to be healthy people need to look at the consequences some products might have if they choose to use them. Cigarettes are the ones that do have side effects. Usually they do not know that something is happening inside their body because it is not immediately visible while it is developing, but the symptoms do not appear until it is too late. Cigarettes can cause lung cancer. Cancer takes time to grow and it usually shows up out of nowhere. There are a lot of people that do not take care of their lungs because they think it will not affect them, or they will get lucky, but that is not promised. This behavior will continue as long as teens and adults let the psychological attraction of cigarettes outweigh the dangers. If smokers stopped to think about it, they would realize that cigarettes are not just about them or other smokers, but about kids and teens that do not smoke. Kids and teens that are not smoking, they see that their parents smoke and their parents show that it is okay to smoke, even though it is not. Just being around people who smoke is not good for their health systems.


Work Cited


  1. "What's in a Cigarette." What's in a Cigarette. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

<http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/tobacco/Unit4/1whats_in.html>


  1. "What's in a Cigarette? - American Lung Association." American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

<http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/whats-in-a-cigarette.html>


  1. "Cigarette Ingredients - Chemicals in Cigarettes." Cigarette Ingredients - Chemicals in Cigarettes. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. <http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html>


  1. "What's In a Cigarette, 599 Ingredients in a Cigarette." What's In a Cigarette, 599 Ingredients in a Cigarette. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

<http://www.quitsmokingsupport.com/whatsinit.htm>


  1. "Smoking: Do You Really Know the Risks?" Smoking: Do You Really Know the Risks? N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

<http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/QuittingSmoking/Sm

oking-Do-you-really-know-the-risks_UCM_322718_Article.jsp>


  1. "Why Do People Try Smoking Even When They Know That It Is Bad for Them?" OxyGen. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.

<http://www.oxygen.org.au/smokefree/faqs/why-do-people-try-smoking.html>


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The Art of Being Sassafrass

 

The Art of Being Sassafras

Everyone is raised different ways. Depending on our cultures and how we see fit to raise our children. Everyone is different. Since everyone is different, we all have different ways of viewing the world, and different ways of speaking depending on your culture and your society. Your culture, society, and your personality all shape the way you function in your everyday life.  


“She’s so rachet”

“She’s so what?”

“Rachet”

“Like a wrench?”

“Ghetto, uncouth”

“Umm... ok”

I never typically speak slang. I’ve never seen a need to have my language adapt or evolve  due to what seen as fashionable during time period. There is so many disadvantages to speaking slang such as people misunderstanding your, not taking you seriously. Since these terms are used by only a select group of people when another hears you speaking one way they can form misconceptions about you and you culture. The main reason I shy away from the usage of slang is because its not appropriate in every setting. Having to change your language depending on the setting gets tiring. So I rather just keep it out of my vocabulary.   

If you are from the Philadelphia area you may use the word “Ratchet”.To describe a personality trait, or an object that you find displeasing. In definition terms “Ratchet” is a type of wrench. A culture can switch the definition of a word so drastically, changing a noun to a adjective. Society determines the way you speak. Such as vocabulary, accent, and slang.  

Its when meeting a person different from your culture, society, and your personality that’s language begins to clash. You have this mindset of what right, or what's grammatically correct. Others not from your culture or society may see your grammar as wrong, and vice verse for your culture. Having these two different opinions of  language determines how your language is perceived. These opinions of language that have been dubbed as wrong can become a pariah. They do not fit into the “idea“ of the group.

Its not always the fault of the first group, they can’t accept the preferences or opinions of another. Some people can’t deal with difference. So the only way for them to acknowledge or deal with it is to censure it.  

Coming from New Jersey and being raised in Philadelphia it was difficult to adjust to the differences of this society. Even though there isn’t much distance between the city to state the culture change is huge. An example would be, where most would call it a sub sandwich or even a hoagie. In New Jersey's culture it is called a “hero”, possibly because its longer than most sandwiches and saves you from hunger.

Language is both the opportunity to confuse and enlighten. We are constantly influenced by our society. Language, words, and even definitions are changing at this very moment. Meaning the dictionary you're right now using, the one you got in 5th grade is no loger relevant to this time period or this society. Not all the words will be outdated but some and maybe even most will have changed. It is perceived at young age that language is something set in stone. That if you can’t find it in a dictionary, then it's not a word. Say there is one specific way to say or pronounce something. But if language is constantly evolving then maybe one day “Me and Logan” can go to the mall, instead of

“Logan and I”.

“I spread them out (so black and full of possibilities) and pretended the curtains were swinging open, flying up, one after another, sunlight underneath, mighty operas.”

This quote I feel it captures language in it purest form. From Marine Hang Kingstan “Tongue-tied” the text introduces language with the portail of innocence and unknowing. This quote talks of how language is branched out and how there is so many possibilities for it to reach ground shaking heights. Although we may breakaway from the roots we are left with the mighty trunk (dialect, accent), and leaves (jargon) which all strive to touch the sun (striving to be more and create more).


“Hi, welcome to Rita’s want would ya like?”

“A vanilla cone with rainbow Jimmies”

“Sprinkles?”

“Yeah”

“So just for clarification, a vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles?”

 “Thats what I just said”


This is what my third grade teacher told us after she got back from visiting family in North Carolina. I remember thinking “Jimmies? What are Jimmies”. Everyone else in the class was tentatively nodding their heads, confirming they knew something I didn’t. I just didn’t get it. “Why would you put Jim on top of a vanilla cone.” “What did Jim do, that could be so bad that made you want to eat him?” This all happened at between a very confused Rita’s employee and a Philadelphia native. When she said the word “sprinkles” in relation to “Jimmies” that’s when the meaning of the word finally clicked into place.   

It is crazy how many words we could make up and then have it become actual vocabulary for another. Adapting the word into your mind without even realizing it.

When did it stop being sprinkles. The sign at Rita’s never changed, its clearly states sprinkles as one of it toppings. Yet some how jimmies wiggled its way into your vocabulary changing the word in your mind from sprinkles to jimmies.  

Seeing as words and meanings of words are changed all the time anyone can literally be the start, the change, the evolutionist to a new generation of astounding vernacular speech. Meaning I could take the word Sassafras, which is the name of a plant known for their leaves and bark. Change its meaning to showing great amounts of energy; related emotions such as happiness, exuberance and excitement. As long as a word can be identified as something by more than one person, it is infact a word. Even if it is not in the Merriam-Webster's dictionary.

Although making and changing these words can be fun. Changing a word takes away it history. The word being reintroduced into society as one word, but never to use the old definition of the word. Thereby killing and robbing the word of it true purpose and meaning. When changing words  we scan over and forget the words that got us to the place we are at. Words of the past get lost in translation.

Dialect, accent, slang, and jargon is just culture expressing itself through words. Every culture is different and change is inevitable, so embrace it. Im not saying that you should pick up every slang term you hear, but if words are a part of your culture, then EXPRESS YOURSELF. Have fun. Its your language. You shouldn't have to bend to its laws, make the laws of language bend to you.
~ Chelsea Middlebrooks
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Heaven Mendez 2fer Revision

People have a variety of ways to handle a difficult situation. In most cases, people rely on a traditional support network, like religion, family, or friends. However, the circumstances may call for help from another, not generally thought of source. In these cases, people generally feel alone, and afraid to come to peace with themselves. Teenagers especially, have found a new way to cope with difficult and stressful periods in their lives. Through song lyrics, concerts, and social media, modern day musicians can ultimately save people’s lives.

The biggest connection that someone going through a difficult situation can make is through another person, who has faced similar circumstances, and has had a successful outcome. In this case, song lyrics can be the large piece in finding a connection, even though the singer or band is not physically present to comfort them.  Some bands even create their music with a struggling audience in mind. Post-metal core band, Pierce the Veil, shows this, during an interview about their song,Bulls in the Bronx.’ When asked why the song was written, frontman Vic Fuentes, responded, “Many of our fans reach out to us and let us know the effect our music has had on their lives. We never take this lightly, and it’s important to us to make music that hopefully in some way helps people get through darker times.”  They aren’t looking at them as just another fan. They generally care about the music they write, and want something good to be taken away from it. Whether it be giving someone hope after a suicide attempt, or providing a method of distraction to prevent an act of self harm. These musicians can sometimes be someone’s only support. Another song, from the very same band, ‘A Match into Water,’ displays this within the first few lines of the first verse. ‘ I kissed the scars on her skin, I still think you’re beautiful, and I don’t ever wanna lose my best friend. I screamed out God you vulture, Bring her back or take me with her.” While it isn’t extremely apparent until the chorus, the song implies a suicide, as well as self harm attempts, and the feelings that come afterward. Having someone pour their emotions out into a song is one thing, but having it actually relatable is a completely different

 

As humans, feeling a sort of comfort within ones own skin is something most wish to acquire, but isn’t a task easily done. Sometimes, it’s more about how someone feels about themselves, rather than what they think about others around them. The popular social media outlet, Tumblr, is especially known for this, considering both musicians and their fans use this to spread the message that they’re never alone . That being said, some of the most influenced, through music, share their stories. A fan posted on a blog dedicated to follower’s favorite music genres “I became a Black Veil Brides Army soldier on January 20th 2012 and ever since then, slowly but surely I’m getting over my self consciousness. They taught me its ok to be weird and abnormal as long as you just be you.,. Certain people within the music industry can really help people figure out who they are, in a personal sense. Specifically with the band, Black Veil Brides, one of the biggest things that set them apart from others in the same genre, is their appearance. Whether it comes to the typical heavy eyeliner, to full on face-makeup and black lipstick, the band believes that no matter what, no one should ever feel ashamed of who they are. “I had a goal, I had a dream…and at the end of the day no matter what people say to you as long as YOU know who you are as a person NOTHING in else in the world matters,” lead singer, Andy Black said in an interview. The band’s message is simple. No matter what, no one knows who you are, but yourself, and no one can take that away from you.

The support isn’t limited to just songs,  or the lyrics. Sometimes, it can simply be something said to an audience, that makes them want to move forward. Like most bands in the metalcore, punk, and pop punk genre, the support that band members give to their fans is immense. Specifically, in this case, Austin Carlile, from metalcore band, Of Mice & Men. “Be your own person because no one can ever take that away from you, no one,’ is the message he spreads to his fans. This follows suit with the last context. People working in this industry don’t care about how many people buy their albums. They want to make a difference in peoples lives. Helping others through their music, and their words, and even their own lives. Giving themselves a greater sense of fulfillment more than anything else.

Band members can also show support through bigger causes. To Write Love on Her Arms, a non profit organization based upon helping individuals who struggle with self harm , has a wide variety of bands that promote the cause through music. Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore, uses this influence in her song, Oh Star. “And I won't let you fall away, From me, You will never fade And I won't let you fall away, From me.” This quote signifies that regardless of the situation, the circumstances, or how bad things may be going for someone, she, as a person will always be there for them. Having gone through issues herself, Hayley’s songs bring a sense of security for fans who struggle with coming to a stable emotional state.


Whether it’s meeting fans in person, interacting on social media, or putting out songs to help a certain situation, music, and the artists behind it have a strong impact on those who listen. Through seemingly small actions, bands members can ultimately save fans lives.


Works Cited:

"Pierce The Veil: Explanation of What Inspired "Bulls In The Bronx"."Piercetheveil.net. Tumblr.com, 12 July 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://piercetheveil.net/post/27353338110/explanation-of-what-inspired-bulls-in-the-bronx>.

Re: Bands Save Lives." Web log comment. Bands Save Lives. Tumblr.com, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://bandssave-lives.tumblr.com/tagged/black_veil_brides>.

Lopez, Miguel. "Austin Carlile Quotes." Success Fortress. Sucessfortress.com, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://successfortress.com/austin-carlile-quotes/>.

Kemba. "To Write Love on Her Arms: The Music." UpVenue. UpVenue, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://www.upvenue.com/article/1568-to-write-love-on-her-arms-the-music.html>.

Rakasha. "Black Veil Brides Quotes." Fanpop. Fanpop.com, Jan. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

<http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/black-veil-brides/articles/156555/title/black-veil-brides-quotes>


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Teenagers identity stripped away

Whether listening or playing an instrument, music is an outlet for teenagers to get feelings off of their chest. Teenagers today go through so many obstacles such as self harm and rape and sometimes they need a getaway escape. Self expression is very important when it comes to teenagers because now a days everyone wants to “fit in” and be apart of the crowd. Since teenagers want to fit it, they struggle with being themselves which mutes their voices. Music is a source of inspiration and a voice for teenagers who feels as though their identity has been stripped away by traumatic experiences.

As a teenager, the now singer Demi Lovato used to self harm and as a result she uses her experiences with self harm as a base for her songs. She has  numerous songs about her being depressed and self harming. One of her most famous songs “Skyscraper” tells a powerful story. In the song lyrics, she says “Would it make you feel better to watch me bleed? All my windows are still broken but i’m standing on my feet”. Demi is using her past experiences as a teenager to portray the hurt and pain she has been through. Another part of the song that is used in the chorus of the song “you can take everything I have, You can break everything I am, like i’m made of glass, like I’m made of paper, Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, Like a skyscraper”. This is one of the most powerful parts in the whole song. She is trying to encourage teenagers that the situations they may be going through are just temporary and that they will eventually get through. When the music artists puts out talks about their personal experiences, it gives teenagers a place to go if they are going through something.


Another singer that tells powerful stories in her music is Pink. While singing Pink’s “perfect” on America’s got talent, 14 years old Mara Justine shedded tears during it. When she sung the chorus “Pretty pretty please don’t you ever ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect”, she had a lot of passion. The passion that Mara shows is that there was a deeper meaning to why she chose that particular song. When the audience looked in her eyes, they saw the tears run down her face. Teenagers tend to choose songs based on their feelings at the moment and since they are discovering themselves, the moments don’t last long.


The group, My Chemical Romance tells different stories in a variety of ways. One of their songs “I’m not okay” talks about people giving them dirty looks for who they are. Some of the lyrics to the song are “I’m not okay, I’m not okay I promise, To be a joke and look, forget about the dirty looks, you said you read me like a book but the pages all are torn and frayed”. These lyrics are indicating that no one is perfect and the dirty looks you give people can come off as something else. It’s saying that people will make fun of you and stare at you but you know who you are and that you can tell if I am okay but in reality, I’m not that important to you because I am ripped and hurting inside and no one can see that. This is important because the way you act around people can tell them everything they need to know. You never know what someone is going through so don’t treat them any different than how you would want to be treated. If you have music to push you through those tough times, it is easier to handle those things.



In today’s society homosexuality is a huge topic, especially with teenagers. Homosexuals in society now a days do not have much of a voice. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has a song entitled “Same love” that is to show that is okay to like the same sex and to be proud of that. In the song he says “you can be cured with some treatment and religion….god loves all his children is somehow forgotten but we paraphrase a book that was written 35 hundred years ago”. In the bible it is to be thought that homosexuality is a sin. Because of what the bible says about Adam being made for Eve and not Adam and Steve homosexuals especially in the christian religion feel as though they have to be quiet about their liking of the same sex. Societies views of homosexuality in a way that homosexuals are not equal and they feel as though they are an outcast. Being an outcast, homosexuals learn to separate themselves from certain people who do not accept them and they express themselves freely. Homosexuals uses this song as a way to speak out for all in the community so they can have their voice heard even if it is from the singer.

Teenagers often feel like they don’t have a say in the world. Music portrays all of the emotions and different views about things that teenagers feel like they don’t have a say about such as homosexuality. Teenagers music taste is very diverse in the way they think and the way they interact with the world. Music such as pop, rap and reggae has an affect on how teenagers express themselves. Depending on the music they are listening to, they act a certain way or are more enjoyable. Music can make teenagers be more expressive in other ways as well.


Sources:

"Skyscraper Lyrics." Archive -. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

""Same Love" Lyrics." MACKLEMORE LYRICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

"Mara Justine: Emotional Cover of Pink's "Perfect"- America's Got Talent 2014." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDYz9_M9DEk>.


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Angelica's 2fer Revision

Whether listening or playing an instrument, music is an outlet for teenagers to get feelings off of their chest. Teenagers today go through so many obstacles such as self harm and rape and sometimes they need a getaway escape. Self expression is very important when it comes to teenagers because now a days everyone wants to “fit in” and be apart of the crowd. Since teenagers want to fit it, they struggle with being themselves which mutes their voices. Music is a source of inspiration and a voice for teenagers who feels as though their identity has been stripped away by traumatic experiences.


As a teenager, the now singer Demi Lovato used to self harm and as a result she uses her experiences with self harm as a base for her songs. She has  numerous songs about her being depressed and self harming. One of her most famous songs “Skyscraper” tells a powerful story. In the song lyrics, she says “Would it make you feel better to watch me bleed? All my windows are still broken but i’m standing on my feet”. Demi is using her past experiences as a teenager to portray the hurt and pain she has been through. Another part of the song that is used in the chorus of the song “you can take everything I have, You can break everything I am, like i’m made of glass, like I’m made of paper, Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, Like a skyscraper”. This is one of the most powerful parts in the whole song. She is trying to encourage teenagers that the situations they may be going through are just temporary and that they will eventually get through. When the music artists puts out talks about their personal experiences, it gives teenagers a place to go if they are going through something.


Another singer that tells powerful stories in her music is Pink. While singing Pink’s “perfect” on America’s got talent, 14 years old Mara Justine shedded tears during it. When she sung the chorus “Pretty pretty please don’t you ever ever feel like you're less than, less than perfect”, she had a lot of passion. The passion that Mara shows is that there was a deeper meaning to why she chose that particular song. When the audience looked in her eyes, they saw the tears run down her face. Teenagers tend to choose songs based on their feelings at the moment and since they are discovering themselves, the moments don’t last long.


The group, My Chemical Romance tells different stories in a variety of ways. One of their songs “I’m not okay” talks about people giving them dirty looks for who they are. Some of the lyrics to the song are “I’m not okay, I’m not okay I promise, To be a joke and look, forget about the dirty looks, you said you read me like a book but the pages all are torn and frayed”. These lyrics are indicating that no one is perfect and the dirty looks you give people can come off as something else. It’s saying that people will make fun of you and stare at you but you know who you are and that you can tell if I am okay but in reality, I’m not that important to you because I am ripped and hurting inside and no one can see that. This is important because the way you act around people can tell them everything they need to know. You never know what someone is going through so don’t treat them any different than how you would want to be treated. If you have music to push you through those tough times, it is easier to handle those things.



In today’s society homosexuality is a huge topic, especially with teenagers. Homosexuals in society now a days do not have much of a voice. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has a song entitled “Same love” that is to show that is okay to like the same sex and to be proud of that. In the song he says “you can be cured with some treatment and religion….god loves all his children is somehow forgotten but we paraphrase a book that was written 35 hundred years ago”. In the bible it is to be thought that homosexuality is a sin. Because of what the bible says about Adam being made for Eve and not Adam and Steve homosexuals especially in the christian religion feel as though they have to be quiet about their liking of the same sex. Societies views of homosexuality in a way that homosexuals are not equal and they feel as though they are an outcast. Being an outcast, homosexuals learn to separate themselves from certain people who do not accept them and they express themselves freely. Homosexuals uses this song as a way to speak out for all in the community so they can have their voice heard even if it is from the singer.

Teenagers often feel like they don’t have a say in the world. Music portrays all of the emotions and different views about things that teenagers feel like they don’t have a say about such as homosexuality. Teenagers music taste is very diverse in the way they think and the way they interact with the world. Music such as pop, rap and reggae has an affect on how teenagers express themselves. Depending on the music they are listening to, they act a certain way or are more enjoyable. Music can make teenagers be more expressive in other ways as well.


Sources:

"Skyscraper Lyrics." Archive -. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

""Same Love" Lyrics." MACKLEMORE LYRICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.

"Mara Justine: Emotional Cover of Pink's "Perfect"- America's Got Talent 2014." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDYz9_M9DEk>.


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这么说呢?

这么说呢? (How do you say it?)

I never felt like texting her that day because I knew she was a person with very proper English and she is not interested in any guys that are “ghetto”, so I didn’t think we would put up a good match, but either way, I did.

Me: “Heyyy.”

Her: “Why do you always say ‘Yo’? You always text me with a ‘Hey’, but I never hear you say it in person.”

I sighed and thought to myself, “And here we go…”

Me: “It’s just the way I talk lol, is there a problem?”

Her: “No, it’s just so...ghetto. lol”

I never thought the way I talk could affect the way I talk to other people. It is rare to find China born kids being influenced by the ghetto language because of where they came from. However, you are reading my story, so I can tell you that that does not apply to me.

Surprisingly that was the end of the conversation; I changed the topic because I was getting uncomfortable talking about it. It kept me thinking and judging the way I talk; if I should consider changing it or not. In the past, I purposely change my tone to satisfy others, so I can fit in. It’s a very hard job, but I thought it was worth it.

I came to America when I was four years old. I spent most of my childhood in a not so good neighborhood in which people refer to as the “hood”. From there I started to develop my new language and my tone. English is my third language with Fujianese and Mandarin being my first and second. I find a lot of new people that came into my life surprised of how I talk because it is not what they expected to be or it simply doesn’t fit their vision of a Chinese kid. And yet, I question myself about the way I talk all the time.


It was cold outside that day when I arrived at my uncle’s house. With pretty snow flakes falling down, I walked in his restaurant with my hood on.

“Jay! You’ve grown a lot since the last time I seen you.”

I smiled and walk towards the front of the restaurant until he stopped me.

In a very jolly voice, “Jay, you look very ghetto with that hood on!” (he laughed)

I smiled again and said nothing while continuing towards the front of the diner.

I never liked being made fun of because I’m not what they want me to be, but it was really cold so I just left my hood on.

A lot of my family members think that the “ghetto” language negatively determines the type of person you are. As you can see, sometimes I get made fun of because I said, did, or wore something that is what they consider “ghetto”. In most situations, I simply ignore what they say because I feel like the generation has come to the point where a lot of people are fighting against stereotypes. So they will slowly learn by themselves that it is wrong to say certain things.

In the passage, If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?, James Baldwin wrote, “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: it reveals the private identity, and connects times, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.” We human beings use language and tone to communicate every single day to create new things, present, change lives, simply talk to family members or friends, etc. If every human being talks the same way, then everything will stay the same. Think about it, how will we challenge each other to accept different people when we are all the same? Everyone is their own unique self and their voice is a very important part of sharing it with others.

To add on, in the story, Tongue Tied by Maxine Hong Kingston, “I hoped that she would not cry, fear breaking up her voice like twigs underfoot. She sounded as if she were trying to sing though weeping and strangling. She did not pause or stop to end the embarrassment. She kept going until she said the last word, and then she sat down.” I specifically chose out this quote because I found it very inspiring. The main character and her sister never liked talking, but when they had to present, she didn’t care about the embarrassments and read her piece with great confidences. This quote explains no matter how quiet you are, you can use your voice to be the loudest person in this world. This isn’t about race, gender, disorders, etc. this is about using your voice to stand up for yourself.

Now with that said, the way I speak is one of the ways I express myself to the world and the people that come in and out of my life everyday, so I think I am the only one in this world that is capable of changing it.

With all the put downs and discouragements in my life, I became a very quiet child. Day by day, I start to gain more confidences from my friends that inspire me to embrace the hate and the negative comments, to fall forward and learn from my failures, and last but not least, to continue improving as a human being. Finally to conclude, now I reflect back to those negative times and decide to do something about it.  Sure, I feel like my family is putting me down, but unlike friends that gets lost, they are people who will be in my life for a really long time. Society might be moving really fast for them, but that why I’m here to speed them up. Some people choose to leave everything the way it is, but even if they hope for the better, nothing will magically change.
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Huzaifah Malik 2fer Revision

Regular drone attacks by the United States have now become a norm in many countries. The use of drones has become one of the most controversial human rights issues in the world, sparking many human rights campaigns. Throughout the history, human rights have been jeopardized by the masses of society. They are effective tools that impose terror on the people that they fired against, creating more enemies for the United States with every innocent person that is killed.

The US has been using armed forces drones in the “War on Terror” for eight years. The vast majority of drone strikes have occurred in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. US officials have credited them with severely demolishing Al-Qaeda’s capacity in that region, though the drone strikes are intended for targeted killing, civilians casualties cannot be prevented and it has caused a lot of disruptions. A report was released by the Human Rights Watch, claimed that the U.S had made six “unacknowledgement” drone strikes in Yemen, which killed a total of 82 people, including 57 civilians. The report cites an attack that occurred somewhere in September 2012, in which 12 people, including three women and a pregnant women, were killed when believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Such kinds of drone attacks are continuously violating the human rights.  Some people might argue against other techniques for example bombers, land mines, and etc, where there fighters can’t really see in details who they are killing, and military are incapable of effectively identifying their intended target; and yet despite this glaring problem, they still use them to target individuals. Using drone strikes and saying they are killing extremists is pretty illogical because they have no idea who they are killing, and yet they are still trying to make it happen and claim that they do know.

Imagine drones hovering 24/7 in the skies, children and adults running around because of the fear of dying.This is happening right now in Waziristan, Pakistan.  An 8 year old girl gave an interview to Amnesty International about the strike in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Her grandmother was killed in the drone strike and she said, “I wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?” Her uncertainty is clear. It’s pretty obvious that the death of her grandmother is surely tragic for her. One might ask did the grandmother do something that made the drone operator suspicious? How can other innocent civilians avoid her fate? Ironically the U.S doesn’t accept to compensate the families of innocent civilians. In fact the U.S government capes the killings in secrecy, refusing even acknowledge to its role. Another interview was taken from the communities in the tribal areas where one said, “When children hear the drones, they get really scared, and they can hear them all the time so they’re always fearful that the drone is going to attack them. Because of the noise we are psychologically disturbed women, men, and children. 24 hours, a person is in stress and there is pain in his head”  This raises another point that by striking down the towns, U.S. government is not only eliminating the extremists but also increasing them. They cannot even gather in groups as that attracts drone missiles. That’s the reason why funerals are targeted; thus denying the right to live and die in peace.  If someone’s family member is being exploded into thousands of pieces that splatter all over a person.  That person will probably want to fight against the person who did it or at least stand against them.

One problem is that humans are often seem like “bugs” when they are viewed by drone , and like bugs, they are crushed by drone strikes. Recently, charity organization named Reprieve, along with the Foundation of Fundamental Rights (FFR), helped a group artists to install a giant portrait of a child victim of a US drone strike in Pakistan on a lush green field. The idea behind this step was to evoke empathy and humanity in drone operators when they spot the face a child and to spread awareness among people. Despite resolutions condemning blatantly in British Parliament and United Nations’ resolution against drone campaign, they still continue to hover in the skies, making those children even more terrified. The attacks are increasing day by day.

The irony is that nearly two thirds of Americans think that the U.S government should use drones in other countries against suspected extremists. However they are much less likely to say that the government should launch an airstrike in other countries against U.S citizens living abroad who are suspected to be affiliated with extremists group. They survey’s result is pretty shocking that the fact American are much likely to say that government should launch airstrikes against them. This raises another interesting point that they are unaware of casualties of civilians and shows that they are biased.

Drone strikes continue to wreck havoc on the civilians rather than targeting the extremists.. The use of drones raises some questions and it is extremely difficult for the civilians to live where drones 24/7 hovering over the sky. If the government of United States stopped to think about it, they would realize that drone strikes are not just about the killing of people who are affiliated with terrorist groups, but also about the international law and innocent people as well. Violating the international law and disrespecting the humans rights play fundamental role in this conflict. It definitely makes the global system more chaotic and unpredictable.



Works Cited:


"Out of Sight, Out of Mind." : A Visualization of Drone Strikes in Pakistan since 2004. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/>.


"Are U.S. Drone Strikes Really War Crimes?" The Week. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://theweek.com/article/index/251492/are-us-drone-strikes-really-war-crimes>.


"Between A Done and Al-Qaeda." (n.d.): n. pag. Human Rights Watch. Web. <http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/yemen1013_ForUpload.pdf>.


"Will I Be Next?" US Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/will-i-be-next-us-drone-strikes-in-pakistan>.


"#NotABugSplat." NotABugSplat. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014. <http://notabugsplat.com/>.


"In U.S., 65% Support Drone Attacks on Terrorists Abroad." In U.S., 65% Support Drone Attacks on Terrorists Abroad. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/161474/support-drone-attacks-terrorists-abroad.aspx>.


"Living Under Drones." Living Under Drones. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014. <http://www.livingunderdrones.org/living-under-drones/>.





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Avery Monroe 2fer Revision

Death is inevitable, but it can happen in many different ways. Those who cause death, are often sentenced to death as a punishment. When convicted of murder, there is always a consequence. When someone is given the death penalty it is because they have been found guilty of a certain crime, there is a small list of crimes that would make the death penalty a possibility. There are currently 32 states that still practice the death penalty. Not only is the death penalty a cruel and unusual punishment but also, it can be extremely expensive and devastating to the prison and state system. Experts say, sentencing a prisoner to death on average costs about three times as much compared to sentencing them to life in prison. The Death Penalty should be banned in every state, because it is a financial burden that will eventually cause major problems to the prison & state system.

If the person is not given the death penalty, usually the alternative, is life in prison. Although the price that the prison system has to pay varies from state to state, it is pretty similar. According to Amnesty USA, “Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).” Criminals have committed a crime that is not only constitutional in our governments eyes, but also have committed such an inhumane act of foul behavior. It is difficult to believe that states spend millions of dollars to allow the death penalty to continue. Instead of creating a cycle of death, the state should abolish the death penalty and replace it with a more suitable consequence. It costs so much more to kill somebody than to just give them time in prison. Since there are sometimes large numbers of people on Death Row, this will cause a default in the money that the government has.

To be on death row, there must be a deplorable crime that has been committed. It is up to the judge of the court to decide if the crime was horrendous enough to give the criminal the death penalty. Mario M. Cuomo, the previous Governor of New York, stated that “That law is a stain on our conscience... The 46 executions in the United States in 2008 were, I believe, an abomination. People have a right to demand a civilized level of law and peace.” Not only was Mario Cuomo, a respected governor, he raises a fair point on the matter. As stated before, the cost of having criminals on death row creates a staggering cost due after the senseless “consequence” they completed. According to information gathered previously and the information from Mario M. Cuomo, those 46 executions in 2008 would have been a grand total of over 58 million dollars. While on the other hand they could have spent a more manageable portion of money. Yet still expensive, the cost for the 46 inmates sentenced to life without parole would have been closer to $35 million. Spending this much more money, over time, will mean the states have to take money from other resources and will eventually will end up causing bankruptcy to the state. It is much more of a financial burden to the states to continue the death penalty.

When a state spends so much money executing inmates, they do not have to money to do other things that are very necessary, such as reducing available resources. Again, Amnestyusa states, ” Reducing the resources available for crime prevention, mental health treatment, education and rehabilitation, meaningful victims' services, and drug treatment programs.” When spending money to put people on Death Row, the state prison system is not only at risk of going into bankruptcy, but also at risk of reducing, or eliminating other state needs. One of the resources that will be diminished is “crime prevention”. Using this money for crime prevention will reduce Capital and violent crimes that they are being put on death row for What sense does it make for the states to take the money to kill people when they could be taking the money to stop crime in the first place? So many of these resources are vastly important and useful to everybody.


The Death Penalty should be banned in every state, because it is a financial burden that will eventually cause major problems to the prison & state system. If the state stopped to think about it, they would realize that The Death Penalty is does not just affect the money in the state, but the children as well. There is a lot of money that gets spent on the prison system every year. A lof of this money could, instead, go to children in the school districts. It is effecting the children, and could start a cycle of people who do not go to school ending up in prison. It costs a lot more for the prisons and states to continue with the death penalty law, rather than to imprison the criminals. Keeping the death penalty drains the financial needs for other major resources. It would be much more efficient to discontinue the law of sentencing people to death.



Works Cited:


  1. Slobodzian, Joseph A. "Rarely Used, Pennsylvania's Death Penalty Remains a Headache on Both Sides of the Debate." Philly.com. N.p., 15 May 2011. Web. 03 Oct. 2014.

  2. "Death Penalty Cost." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

  3. "Death Penalty Fast Facts." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

  4. Cuomo, Mario M. "Death Penalty Is Dead Wrong: It's Time to Outlaw Capital Punishment in America - Completely." NY Daily News. N.p., 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.


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Soy Johnny Depp

depp
Hola, mi nombre es Johnny Depp. Tengo 51 años. Soy de Kentucky pero vivo en Los Angeles.

Soy talentoso y trabajador. Yo soy conocido por mis papeles extraños en películas.

Me encanta trabajar y actuar mis papeles en las películas. Siempre estoy muy ocupados, pero paso la mayor parte de tiempo con mi familia cuando tengo un tiempo libre. No me gusta ser rechazado o ingnorado.

Así que, ¿qué hay de usted?




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Soften

“WE HAVE TO GO TO THE NEXT STREET OVER!”

“WHY are you yelling?”

“I don’t get to yell often” I say softly“ My friends are always telling me that I’m yelling wherever we go. If it’s walking to down street or if it’s sitting in school. Yelling is only to cover up the fact that I’m scared you can’t hear me, that you won’t notice. That you’ll forget me if I’m to quiet. Yelling is the little power I have with my friends. My animated stories are how I express myself. It’s my way of reminding you that I’m here. So can I yell?

Many say that you have to be confident, and your confidence is shown on how you carry yourself, on your power. Power comes from many different places but most importantly your voice. You have to speak up but what if your loudest voice isn’t heard?

It’s like your lose your voice. That’s my everyday life. The words are in my head they just won’t come out my mouth. They get stuck in my throat, like I’m choking on them. It gets to the point where I feel I can’t breath until the words come pressuring out. When they do come out they are soft and quiet.

“She’s has a soft voice.” My mother tells others.

“Wow you voice is so soft.” Kids at school would say.

I get told my voice is soft so often that I just find it easier to not say anything at all. Sometimes when someone screams speak up, I think I have a soft voice that explains everything that makes it all better. On the other hand when someone walks over to me and says you have a soft voice it gets annoying. I want to prove them wrong. That I have more power. I want to scream “NO I DON’T” to show them I can be loud. But I can’t do that because I know I don’t have that power, at least not enough not to be overpowered by others. That’s okay because I don’t really want to talk anyway. I don’t always want words thrown at me.

“Hey, Lo do you want to go over your friends house?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Cause I don’t want to talk.” I say.

Then my silence is taken as being anti-social. So I get defined as a loner. Isn’t it ok to not want to talk, but to just want to be in your presence? Not to want to worry what to say or if I’m heard!

“STOP screaming.”

“NO. NEVER!”

I have to admit sometimes silence gets boring. So I have to go into the little power I have, my voice. But I have to amplify it by ten to make sure others notice. But I also have to change my speech. This moment shows how much the kids in school have affected my speech. By using words like “rachet” to mean ghetto, or “turn up” to mean you have to be hype. At that moment I don’t know how people are going to react to the words coming out. Some laugh, others are confused.

It’s hard to be serious or to be mean, in a sense, because it’s not taken seriously. I’m viewed as a joke. Sometimes my friends joke with me and say I can say almost anything with my soft voice and a smile. And the person will think it’s funny. Most of the time I test their theory just to see the reaction I will get. I will get smiles and others will laugh when I’m dead serious.

It bothersome that I can’t be taken seriously and I have to scream to heard even in my own home.

“Hey mom what are we having for dinner?” I mumble.

“Speak up” she said

“WHAT ARE WE HAVING FOR DINNER?” I scream

Others don’t always like that I don’t like to talk. So over time they expect me not to say anything. In the few moments when I do want to talk they have already tune out on what I was going to say. And it seems like as more time pass the less they expect from me. And the more we drift apart, and I lose a good friend. Not only have others kids been upset with me, adults will get upset and think I’m playing games.

“Hi Miss. I was calling-” I say gently

“STOP PLAYING ON MY PHONE.”

“I’m not playin-” I reply softly.

“WHERE is your mom!”

I take it in strides. As time passes I realize it isn’t always a bad thing. It could be my superpower. Being quiet and shy around others is my Clark Kent, my secret identity. When it comes to the time for me to speak up I become Superman. I can shock other with what I have to say. That way I can be Superman, louder, more often. Just like every superhero I have a weakness. It just like what Maxine Hong Kingston said in Tongue Tied “When I went to kindergarten...I became silent. A dumbness- a shame - still cracks my voice in two,even when I want to say “hello” casually or ask an easy question in front of the check-out counter, or ask directions of a bus driver. I stand frozen.” So I know that I’m not the only one who has the problem of being too quiet. But just like they could adjust to the situation I can too.

The others had to struggle first, some make it through it by expressing their feelings. Others hold on to grudge. I’m appreciative that I’m not one to hold on to grudges.


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Shhh...

“Thoe hi nenes*.”

“Alo nane, shi ye ti*” I said.

My mom was asking me to talk to my grandmother. Relatively easy to do for any person, say hi, and have a conversation. Not exactly in my case. My first language was Albanian and going to school in Philadelphia, where everyone spoke English, it was already hard for people to understand me. It wasn’t just a different language, but also a speech impediment. I had a lisp that caused my “s” to sound like “sh.” So even though I tried to cover up my accent, it was still difficult to understand what I was saying because of my lisp.

Even from a young age, I tried to erase the sound “s” from my vocabulary. After trying so hard to not use my lisp, I gave up. I realized that my lisp was attached to me and I wouldn’t be able to get rid of it. So when people would make fun of me, I would speak albanian. It doesn’t seem like much, but it did the damage. Once I spoke, they would get mad because they didn't know what I was saying. It hurt in the beginning to know I was different from everyone else I knew, but since then, it helped make me who I am today. I learned that I would rather stick out of the crowd, then be inside of it.


“Please introduce yourself.”

“Hi, I am Miranda,” I said.

“Tell us something about yourself”

“Okay, well, I like food and shl-.”

“HAHAHA”


I transferred schools in 8th grade, and everyone at my old school forgot about my lisp. I forgot too, so, unfortunately, I would have to get used to new people asking me about my lisp. They would ask me to pronounce usual words that had the sound “s” in it. My first instinct was to tell them off, but I realized I should be nice. I did as they asked and it soon died down. They forgot about it sooner or later. I made some friends along the way, and it was a good experience.

My next challenge was when I joined Poetry Club in High School. I like poetry, but the only problem started when I learned about slamming. Slam poetry is a competition where poets read or recite there original work. I enjoyed watching people share their poetry. It is a great way to express yourself. From my first poetry slam, I said to myself, I really want to do that, get on a stage and share my poems. I had already written so many that I wanted to practice. I asked some people to hear me recite them. I was excited for what they were going to say.

“Miranda, can you speak clearer?”

“Umm, I can try” I said.

I recited my poem again, but this time,  opening my mouth more and pronouncing each sound carefully.

“So, I think I would like your poem, except I can’t really understand what you are saying.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You aren’t clear, your lisp is distracting and I can’t listen to you.”

I was devastated, listening to my friend tell me that she couldn’t hear my poem because of my lisp. How else am I supposed to feel? Knowing that I can’t perform because I knew nobody would understand me. I thought about quitting poetry for a little while, but I couldn’t. After meeting up every tuesday and thursday to find a place where I can feel good about what I was doing. I couldn’t stop doing that. My friends would share their feelings about how it felt going up on that stage, sharing their poems. I wanted to feel that feeling. They would ask me why won’t I share my poems. I was scared. I didn’t mind showing them the poem, it was the whole going up on stage and having all the attention on me thing that scared me. I couldn’t show my love for poetry because of a stupid little speech impediment. As James Baldwin states “ It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power.”  I felt like I couldn’t do much without actually showing people what I had written.

I’m still in the phase of trying to get ready for the big moment. Where I can go on stage, share my poems, and not have to worry about if they can hear and understand what I am saying. I definitely hope to do so sometime this year. Not only to show everyone my love for poetry, but to show that I can get over this obstacle of letting my lisp control my life.

Still, at times, I ask myself if my lisp has gotten better or worse. I can never find out because if I knew people for a long time, they wouldn’t notice. But, If I just met a person, they couldn’t tell me either. It still frustrates me but there is nothing I can do about it at this time.


“What do you mean you can’t tell if you have a lisp, can’t you hear it?”

“No, its not that simple,” I said.

Having a lisp, most people think you can hear the lisp you have. As far as I know, I sound normal. From what I hear when I speak, I sound like everyone else. I don’t hear this “sh” sound that everyone talks about. When I talk to people, they hear this and point it out to me. I didn’t know what they were talking about, so I experimented. I got a voice recorder and said a sentence to hear how I sound. I sounded completely different. Then, I thought, “wait, maybe it’s the recorder.” So, I told my mom to say the same sentence. When I heard the difference, I could finally hear the “sh” sound everyone talked about. This helped me finally understand my lisp.

I have realized that I have come a long way from where I started. From Kindergarten, I had a really bad lisp and a heavy accent. Over the years, I have definitely embraced my accent a lot more even though it is not as apparent as before. The more I talk to new people, they definitely don’t hear it as much. I feel like my language is definitely different than others. Everyone has their own story about their language, seeing how much mine has changed, has really impacted me.

*”Thoe hi nanes” Say hi to your grandma. “Alo nane, shi ye ti”- hew grandma, how are you?
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The Family Accent

The house was a suburban treasure. A middle class paradise. The walls were as bright as if the sun itself had been sewn into the plaster, and mahogany cabinets over marble counters were sprinkled in the kitchen like Jimmies on ice cream. Framed paintings of animals and old family photographs peppered the hallways, and you could almost see the air freshener twinkling in the air like stars.

“This is beautiful,” my grandmother breathed. She stood in the front room with her arms around her children and her makeup immaculate. “And the kitchen installation is included?”


“Yes, of course,” said the real estate agent, but there was no happiness in her voice. She was white, and she eyed my grandmother’s Mexican family distastefully, all the way from their tea stained skin to their big brown eyes to their Spanish speaking tongues. My grandmother has always had a strong accent.


“How much?” she asked. There was a short pause.


“I don’t believe it’s in your price range,” said the agent.


“Excuse me?”


“I have some less expensive housing options I can offer you … ”


~


Ten years later, my grandmother leaned forward on her couch in California. Her big family of aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews were all gathered around, me included. It was last summer, and she was telling us one of her favorite stories from when she tried to buy a house down the hill.


“And what happened next?” I asked.


“Well, I told her exactly where she could put her less expensive housing options -- ”


“Grandma!”


“What? She was racist! She thought we were poor because we were Mexican! When she found out the house we were considering moving out of, she got all green. Because this is a nice house! We paid a lot for this house!”


I looked up at the ceiling, at the huge windows. It certainly was a nice house, a real gem of prime real estate. My mother had told me before that it could be worth millions.


My grandmother continued. “I let her know that we wouldn’t be needing her anymore, we were gonna stay where we were.”


The whole family laughed and twittered among each other, their voices canceling out hard r’s, tough j’s and double l’s, creating a magical cacophony of sounds I’ve always loved to be in the middle of. But my family has been stereotyped because of the way they sound throughout their lives.


Humans as a species prefer to simplify. We are programmed to organize our knowledge by creating their own representations of the reality that we are perceiving, displaying its most fundamental elements instead of minute details or objective characteristics. In this way, these basic principles of the world around us become our basis for opinions, emotion control, and social cognition. Our thoughts and actions are governed by these preconceived notions, and it can take a lot to overcome them. One type of fundament is that of stereotypes.


Elliot Aronson, an American psychologist, said, “stereotypes are used to attribute the identical features to each member of a certain group without taking the existing differences among the members into consideration.” They show the viewpoint from a specific group of people, and sometimes, when exposed relentlessly for long periods of time to these opinions, humans may adopt them as their own. They are internalized during socialization. Some influential sources are parents, friends, siblings, teachers, and media. Stereotypes do not present the full picture; instead, they put forth a warped, incomplete, subjective and often false image. They are usually negative, and usually based on a traditional mindset. It is most common that arguments defying stereotypes are treated as exceptions rather than counterexamples.


Language has always been one of the most popular stereotype creators, a deciding factor about one’s place on the power hierarchy. As soon as someone opens their mouth, a million assumptions are made about their background, their history, their lifestyle, their names, their friends, their family, their culture, their choices. All from a couple of words.


Here is an example from The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingstan. In this particular story, a mother is going to a very far extent in order for her daughter to be able to speak. Here, she is explaining to her daughter why she did it. “I cut [your tongue] so that you would not be tongue-tied. Your tongue would be able to move in any language. You’ll be able to speak languages that are completely different from one another. You’ll be able to pronounce anything.” Families take ridiculous measures to make sure that their children are prepared for a world ruled by the so-called, “standard English”. It teeters on the edge of insanity, but is not seen as unrealistic. As you can see, my grandmother faced the discrimination based on speech and race. In that moment, her power had been taken away from her and she had been assumed to be everything that she was not.


It is worth noting that race is a big factor in the stereotyping of language. Many people have preconceptions about how one may speak depending on their race, and if that person’s speech turns out to fit that stereotype, they may assume that all of their preconceived notions are correct and discriminate against them all the more.


Here is another example from Kingstan’s text. In this scene, Kingstan remembers drawing pictures of all black when she could not speak English in school, and her concerned teacher gave them to her parents. “My parents took the pictures home. I spread them out (so black and full of possibilities) and pretended the curtains were swinging open.”


The concept of language being a performance fascinates me. I don’t have an accent of language barrier myself, but it’s interesting to consider the dynamics of learning a new language and always having it feel strange in your mouth, as if you’re putting on a show for someone else that you can’t quite understand the point of. Especially if learning that language was not one of your original intentions, and it was for the sole purpose of communication.


Though race and the accents that accompany it don’t pertain to my lifestyle, they do to my family’s. My grandmother never bowed to these stereotypes, and always insisted on proving them wrong. Though these accents have not rubbed off on me, I have been able to treat others with respect no matter what their speech patterns, because assumption based on something that someone can’t help is counterintuitive, ridiculous and reductive.
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