Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Recently, there has been a lot of debate weather or not to keep the ban of  University of Virginia's "Greek life" after an alleged rape of a student at a Frat party was reported in Rolling Stones Magazine.

The author of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erderly, referred to the rape victim as "Jackie." "Jackie" describes three friends (referred to as) "Randall", "Andy", and "Cindy" who discouraged her from reporting the horrific rape. 

The controversy started when the student who identified as "Randall" came forward and told The Associated Press that he:“couldn't help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect.” Erderly only relied on the account of "Jackie" to tell the story of the UVA rape. She never corroborated information and she was never able to reach the alleged attackers for commentary. 

This mistake may cause more that just damage to her credibility and reputation as a writer. This might damage the credibility of future woman to step forward about their own personal rape cases. Victims of rape will be afraid to be seen as another "girl who cried wolf." The media will be afraid to cover the story, in risk of hurting their own credibility as a Magazine or a Newspaper. Regardless if "Jackie's" story is entirely true, rape is still a huge issue in the "Greek life" community (or at colleges and universities in general) and it should never be seen as a liability to a journalism business. I think Erdely made a huge mistake with not collaborating and verifying her sources before hand, because I think this may lead to even more rape cases pushed under the rug. 

Equal Pay Act of 2014?

51 years ago, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed and passed by President John f. Kennedy. In part, the law states: 

"No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs..."

If this United states Federal Law states that employers can't discriminate wages based on the sex of the employee, then why does such a dramatic gender pay gap still exist in the US today?

Gender gap infographic

In the US alone, a woman working a similar, if not the same, job as a man will only be paid around 66% of what a man is paid. This hurts our nations because single-mom households are being cheated out of deserved paid that is needed to support a family. The Gender Pay gap is especially dangerous because the race of the woman is also a secret factor of how much she gets paid. According to aauw.org, Hispanic women only make 54% of white men's earnings. ("White men are used as a benchmark because they make up the largest demographic in the labor force"). I think this is terrible because some women need to support a family and/or themselves. Some women need to pay off student loans or debt. Just because someone is a different gender, doesn't mean they deserve to be discriminated against in the work place. 

A solution to this problem, we can pass an act banning federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries or ask about pay. This would empower women to negotiate higher wages with confidence. Higher wages that women obviously need. Wages that have been withheld from them for (more than) 51 years. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

(is it) Right to Bear Arms?

December 14th marked the two year anniversary of the Sandy Hooke shootings, where 20 children and 6 teachers were left dead after a mentally ill gunman broke into the school and opened fire (using his semiautomatic weapon and large-capacity magazines).  This stirred a national gun control debate, where an effort to cement gun control laws fell short.

As of today (according to the National Pew Survey), 52% of Americans believe that it's more important to protect gun right, while 46% of people think it's more important to control gun ownership. This is the first time protecting gun rights surpassed controlling gun ownership.

Especially in the wake of the Sandy Hooke tragedy and even the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting, I would think the populations would be more in favor to the gun control laws and regulations. I think it's ridiculous that a mentally ill man can get his hands on a semiautomatic weapon, a weapon used to fight wars, and find his way to a school. I know that 52% percent of people believe that gun control is infringing on their 2nd Amendment right, and that the right to bear arms is necessary for personal protection, but at what cost? I think as technology advances, it's only right to run background checks on gun buyers, check registration and gun licenses, and even restrict the types of weapons that can be bought and sold. Obviously it's unsafe to have an unregistered gun falls into the wrong hands, so I think our nations must take aggressive steps towards preventing something like that. Even though the Sandy Hooke shooting was 2 years ago, there have been at least 94 other school shootings (grades K-12 and at colleges/universities), that shouldn't be alright.

Derrick Rose Can't Breathe

Above are a few basketball players wearing the famous last words of Eric Garner , "I can't breathe," during pre-game warm-ups. This seems to be the latest trend in the sports world. Many players wear these shirts to show support for Eric Garner and the anti-police violence protests. Derrick Rose, the first NBA Basketball player to wear one of these shirts, released a statement saying:

 "I grew up and I saw it every day, not killing or anything like that, but I saw the violence every day. Just seeing what can happen. If anything, I'm just trying to change the kids' minds across the nation and it starts here. I'm a parent now."

Many celebrities, unconsciously, promote negative and hurtful behavior towards others or use their stardom for selfish reasons. I think it's amazing how Rose is using his powerful celebrity platform to send a positive message to his fans and young kids who look up to him.  

I think the "I can't breathe" is a powerful symbol because it represents the working lower class feeling suffocated by law enforcement. They feel smothered by racial stereotyping. They feel threatened and they're afraid for their loved ones and themselves. Derrick Rose, who grew up surrounded by this type of relationship with law enforcement, mentions he's "a parent now" and he just wants to make sure the world is a better place for his children to live in. "I can't breathe" sounds almost like a plea for help. The protesters need help changing America. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Protest Symbols

As my past post briefly commented on, there have been massive demonstrations protesting the decision not to indite two different white police officers for killing two different black men (the cases were not related). The protests have been heavily covered by the media. People are becoming familiarized with the symbols of these protests. Somebody could watch the news on mute, without headlines at the bottom of the screen, and still know what the story was about. The most prominent protest symbol: people walking with their hands up while chanting "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" (which is in respect to Michael Brown, the black man shot in Ferguson).
The gesture of putting your hands up is a universal sign of surrender. I think it's interesting that protesters are using a gesture of surrender in a fight for justice.I think it shows that they've surrendered to police violence in the past, but now it's time for change.The chant, "hands up, don't shoot" is directly aimed at law enforcement officers. 

Despite the fact that there has been conflicting testimony as to weather or not Michael Brown actually did put his hands up before being shot, I still think that this protest symbol is important because it symbolizes more than just Michael Brown's case. I think it's a powerful symbol that is useful to anyone who has felt stereotyped or been a victim to police brutality. I think the symbol embodies the idea of peaceful protest because it demonstrates protesters are not willing to fight physically (they have their hands up), but they're fighting with marches, rallies, and civil disobedience. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Still Fighting

Due to the Grand Jury's decision,  not to indite Officer Wilson after he shot Michael Brown (Ferguson), it's an understatement to say tensions between police officers and minority groups are strained. Riots and protests broke out all over the world in protest to this, perhaps, racist decision.

Well it seems as if a gallon of gasoline was just poured onto the flame. This past Wednesday, a Grand Jury decided not to indite another white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, for the death of Eric Garner, a 43 year old black man. Unlike the Ferguson case, there's video footage of Pantaleo, along with 4 other officers, tackling a presumably peaceful Garner to the ground.

At :40, you can see Garner's head smashed against the pavement, and you can see Pantaleo force his arm around Garner's neck into a choke hold, a tactic banned by the NYPD. Garners final words were, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I can't breathe." Garner passed out, and died an hour later in a hospital due to, "compressions to his neck and to his chest."

In Ferguson, Officer Wilson was not indited because there wasn't enough evidence in the case to create an argument against him. Here, in Stanton Island, New York, we see clear evidence of cruel and potentially racist, treatment of a black man and Officer Pantaleo still wasn't indited. The Grand Jury ruled that Garner had prior medical conditions and his death was not the police officers fault.

Like after the decision in Ferguson, massive riots and protests broke out.
Above protesters staged a "die-in." Similar to the "sit-in" protest method used in the 50s/60s. Sit-ins have been an icon symbol for civil rights movement and here we see clear evidence of where these protesters are coming from.

Like we've asked in American Studies class, are we still in "the civil rights era"? Would the Grand Jury's decision(s) been different if it were two white men dead? Would the decision be different if more black people were given spots on both of the Grand Jury's trials?

I'm not sure. But what many protesters are saying is that they were hopeful for the inditement of Wilson and Pantaelo, but they never expected it to happen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Teen Spirit

Every year there's the annual White House "Pardoning of the Turkey" which is a presidential Thanksgiving tradition. This year President Barack Obama's two daughters, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, joined him in presenting the turkey.

As seen in the picture above, the two girls are dressed respectably casual. They look like two normal teenage girls. Like any teenage girls, they rolled their eyes and snickered at their dad's bad jokes while he pardoned the turkey. So why did this deserve an angry personal rant from Republican GOP Aide, a congressional staffer, Elizabeth Lauten? 

According to ABCNews.com, "Lauten took aim at the president through his daughters, writing: '...you're part of the First Family, try showing a little class.. Then again your mother and father [referring to Barack and Michelle Obama] don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department...'"  

Nobody should ever use children as a way to criticize political attributes. Lauten goes on to criticize Sasha and Malia directly by saying, "Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar." Malia and Sasha are appropriately dressed. Lauten herself is "coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department" by cyber-bullying, which is a nationwide hot topic issue, two teenage girls only to express her own political angst. 

Like Amy Carter, the First Daughter of President Jimmy Carter, was once scrutinized in the media for acting too childish. The fact of the matter is: she was a child. She was only nine when she entered into the world of the White House.

 Even though the First Children lead different lives, does not mean that they are different from "normal" children. I think the media and the angry critics, like Elizabeth Lauten, need to lay off and let the President raise his own kids.