It’s not the 60s, but it’s also not what you think it is

We’re not there yet.

For the past month, I have had the opportunity to write a feature on some of the diverse relationships in my school. The idea sparked after Mr. Conner ignited a fire under the staff and challenged us to write for the middle–the kids that are often seen as average yet make up the vast majority of the student body. So, the idea came to me to feature modern romantic relationships in my school that don’t fit into the stereotypical dating scene. The articled explored interracial, inter-religious and LGBT relationships and how their experiences differ from the typical, storybook romance.

I’ll be honest though, when I first pitched the idea, I thought of it nothing more than an interesting take on a common occurrence in high school (dating); however, I was surprised to find my “middler” story was actually an example that there is still much improvement to be made in society and that we’re far from the Utopian idea that we’ve fooled ourselves into believing.

Meet Emily Plummer and Anna Kemper:

These two sophomores were featured in my piece as the sole LGBT couple. The two have been dating for more than a year and are a lesbian couple. I remember going to interview Emily and Anna with the intention of making it quick, for I had to meet up with faculty from Ohio University. Even when I initiated the conversation, I had the idea that I was going to get brief quotes that were merely surface level since they were sophomores and student interviews are rarely very thought-provoking.

I was wrong.

I left that interview taken back and slightly disgusted. Not because what they said was rude, but because I knew everything they said was true. Anna was quoted saying her family uses ‘gay’ as a curse-word, and that the word, rather than being used to describe one’s sexual orientation, was instead being used to degrade people. Emily said “people hate me more” when discussing the reaction she got from her classmates when talking about her relationship with Anna. These girls are at most 16 years old. They, along with many other teens around the nation, are growing up and being told that who they are is wrong and “annoying.”

Meet the eight couples that refused to be in my article:

Like I said, when I first dreamt up this idea, I had the naive idea that everybody would say yes and that everybody would love the idea and that everybody would be itching to showcase their modern relationships.

Again, I was wrong.

Eight couples told me they didn’t want their names printed in this story. I was dumped over the phone, in text messages, in GroupMe, in person, through a third party (and not gonna lie, it was a small shot to my self esteem). At first I shook it off. I thought to myself, ‘So what if one couple says no, there are plenty more out there.’

For the first time I was right. There were plenty more couples out there. But they said no too.

I couldn’t understand why they were so against the idea of being featured. The entire article was meant to showcase and nearly praise the diversity. It was meant to highlight these couples not shame them. But then I realized it. There was something telling them not to do the story, something telling them it was either embarrassing or dangerous to have their names printed for the entire school to see. Let me get one thing straight, I fully support their decisions not to be featured. The entire story was to make them feel more comfortable about who they were dating and show the school that this is a good thing, but if they didn’t want to do it, I didn’t ask twice. With that being said, they didn’t want to do it. For some, it was because their parents may not have known about their relationships, and they didn’t want to be ousted. But for many, they turned me down because they didn’t want to have the label ‘interracial’ ‘inter-religious’ or ‘LGBT’ tacked onto their names and were worried about how they would be perceived.

We as a society hold this falsehood that everyone is treated as equals. We hold this falsehood that we’ve finally achieved Martin’s dream of people not being judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We hold this falsehood that millennials and the generation after them are completely accepting and have no prejudices towards minority groups.

We are wrong.

The fact that so many students felt uncomfortable with being in the January edition of The Chronicle, a high school newspaper produced in Mason, Ohio, shows that society is still uncomfortable with seeing these relationships on a production of NBC news shown across the United States of America. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made impressive strides since that address in 1963, but we’re not done progressing.

The debate on same-sex marriage and laws about which bathroom transgender students should use and court cases about businesses discriminating against the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against Islamophobia and the Women’s March for equality and the controversy surrounding immigrants are not just politics. They’re not just policies. They’re people’s lives. There are people fighting everyday for equality. There are people fighting everyday to be able to love freely. There are people fighting everyday to be able to hang out with who they want to hang out with. And, this country’s got a whole lot of work to do.

In the wise words of Tina Broaddrick, “It’s not the 60s, but it’s also not what you think it is.”

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Church vs. State: Davis Defies the Supreme Court

Love may have won, but Kim Davis refuses to stop fighting.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, legalizing the practice nationwide. Despite the ruling, the nation remained divided on the issue prevalent in the 5-4 ruling.

This Tuesday, same-sex marriage supporters received new opposition: Kentucky’s County Clerk Kim Davis.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, says she was acting “Under God’s authority” when she decided not to issue a marriage license to any couple; gay or straight. There have been many protests to the ruling, some Christians saying the bible clearly states marriage should be between a man and a woman.

By refusing to issue David Ermold and David Moore a marriage license, Davis blatantly defied the Supreme Court. This encouraged people to speak up and tell her to either carry out the law, or find another job.

While Davis just recently started making headlines, the issue has been ongoing for weeks. Davis has been defiant of the new law from the day it was passed. District Judge David Bunning initially ordered that Davis remain in jail until she agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but reconsidered, landing Davis a court date for earlier this afternoon.

Davis being a county-clerk had employees under her–one of whom was her son. She ordered the six deputy-clerks to follow her lead and refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When brought before a judge, all of the deputy-clerks said they were afraid of defying Davis, and that they would issue the licenses without further complication–well, all but one of them. Davis’s son Nathan, 21, refused to issue the licenses just as his mom had done before him.

As a result of the many conflicts, on September 3, Kim Davis was found in contempt of the court and was ordered to spend the night in jail. Prosecutors agreed to let Davis off with a fine, but Bunning didn’t think ordering her to pay a fine would be enough, and there was a lesson she needed to learn.

“I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs, but I took an oath,” Bunning said. “Mrs. Davis took an oath. Oaths mean things.”

Religion aside, Kim Davis works for the state. Whether she agrees with the ruling or not, she is required to issue a marriage license to any couple that walks through the door. On June 26, David Ermold and David Moore were granted the right to marry whomever they wanted. On September 1, that right was taken away from them.

LGBT supporters demand equality outside Ashland federal courthouse and Kim Davis’s hearing before Judge Bunning

(Video Credit: KENTUCKY.COM)

Yes Mr. Conner, Times Have Changed

The number of times my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts have uttered the words: “back when I was your age”, is immeasurable. The differences between our generations are unfathomable, but those changes are still prevalent among the slightest of age differences.

In April, Mr. Conner commented on the noticeable differences in photos found in newspapers and magazines today, versus decades ago–specifically in the New York Times.

Well, I’ve noticed that the resounding differences don’t just stop at magazine photos.

With new technological innovations and fashion fads and recent precedents in music, I think there are obvious changes between today’s elementary school kids and when I was there.

So, shall we begin?

Technology:

Some of my older family members would always comment on how their phones used to be the size of bricks with those six inch antennas. They would joke about how spoiled we were having a phone at the beginning of high school, when they didn’t get one until the end of college. Well, I hate to break it to you Nana and Papa, but the craze of cell phones have reached a whole new age group. My first cell phone was a free black flip phone with limited minutes, meaning that every time I sent a text message or called someone, a number in the corner of the main screen would get smaller. When that number hit zero, the phone was merely a decoration; useless. I was ten when I received this starter phone, it came with no data, WiFi never even crossed my mind, and the fact that it could take pictures was the coolest thing to me–camera phones were all the rage then. Now, I see seven year olds with their “starter phones”, and it’s certainly not a flip phone, I doubt they have a steadily decreasing number in the corner counting down to the phone’s demise, and they have the ability to take hundreds of pictures. Yep, that little seven year old booger eating child had an IPhone. I’m fourteen and I do have an IPhone, something my sister wouldn’t even be able to say, so maybe some of you older kids even think I’m crazy, but really, a seven year old? What do they even need it for?

Clothes:

Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, modeling up to date fashion trends always seems like it’s the only way to fit in with the “in-crowd”, but I remember when it didn’t matter what you were wearing if you were under the age of ten. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was a fourth grader in 2009, silly bandz were the hottest accessories you could wear. They were colorful pieces of rubber, but in my nine year old eyes, they might as well have been diamond bracelets–okay maybe not diamonds, but you get the picture. We didn’t care if we had the latest Air Jordans as long as we had one more accessory in the holes of our Crocs then our peer next to us. In 2009 we raved about Justice and Aeropostale, in 2015; Victoria Secret’s Pink.

Toys/Games:

Moving to 2011–also known as the start of my sixth grade year–we were obsessed with a plastic Japanese toy called a Tamagotchi. Basically you had this virtual pet, and you would feed it virtual food, and play with it using virtual toys. Trust me it was harder than it sounds. You used to be considered babysitter material if you could keep your pet alive for more than 24 hours. My point? Something as simple as a plastic egg game on a key chain kept us occupied throughout all of elementary school. Those games: Flappy Bird, 2048, and Trivia Crack, kept us occupied today for about two weeks. We want constant upgrades in our Play Stations, Xboxes, IPhones. Simple is no longer good enough.

Times have changed. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but we’ve changed. We’ve changed how we dress, how we speak, how we act. However even five years later there’s still one thing that remains the same, it is ridiculously hard to keep that Tamagotchi monster alive.

A Tolerance for Tardiness

We all have triggers. In one moment we’re fine, but within five minutes that little vein in the side of our necks slowly begin to make an appearance.

While some people can wait in lines for hours at Kings Island, or walk behind couples in the hallways too busy confessing their love for each other to walk up the steps, I cannot.

I can’t, I just cannot do it. My threshold of patience only allows me to stand in a line for about thirty minutes, leaving no room for tolerance of the “No you hang up” lovebirds.

My preference for fast-paced everything–plot lines, waiting lines, videos–has caused me to develop a pet-peeve for tardiness. I hate being late for things, and I hate it when things start late.

While you would think this would be the general consensus–that people would prefer to be ten minutes early rather than the opposite–that’s not always the case.

This year the state of Ohio required all freshmen to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is just a fancy name they created for a standardized test that earns groans from both teachers and their students. (Totally off topic, but my teacher pointed out to me that the acronym spells CCRAP backwards which I personally think is more fitting). Anyway, in the midst of this prolonged assessment, I received an article discussing different cultures’ perception of time and timeliness.

The author documented his experiences while travelling and noted that while in the foreign country, he would often show up for events scheduled for one time that wouldn’t actually start until approximently an hour later. When he asked the locals about their tardiness, they responded saying they’re not late, Americans are just acustomed to a more strict time schedule.

This idea can be illustrated among different cultures in social settings such as restaurants or parties. In an American restaurant the waiter seats you, takes your order, delivers the bill, and pushes you out the resturaunt within the hour. In contrast, when I travelled to Paris over spring break, they would bring out your food and would refuse to give you the bill until after you ate everything and discussed world events from the 1700s until present day.

My friends whose families are of Middle-Eastern decent always joke about parties their parents throw where people don’t even show up until what was supposed to be an hour and a half into the festivities.

With everyone adjusted to their own cultural clock, who knows? Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not late, maybe we’re just early.

Journey Thousands of Miles

I travelled 4,130 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to find myself in a capital rich with culture and historical architecture: Paris, France.

Everything from the way locals were dressed to the way they got around the city–and obviously the way they communicated with each other–was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Within the compact city stood buildings hundreds of years old. Museums showcased detailed images that most would need a camera to portray today. Foods whose names I couldn’t even begin to pronounce were the common street snacks in the hands of local Parisians. I journeyed a few thousand miles and found myself among a culture completely foreign to that of my own.

The first things I noticed when I arrived in the heart of the city were the iconic structures–The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe–but the architecture in general is in a league of its own in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in Mason, Ohio. The amount of detail seen in every building always had me wondering: Who has this much time on their hands? From all of the individual structures carved into Notre Dame, or each of the heads along the bridge stretching across the Seine River, each of the buildings, bridges, and even roads didn’t lack any detail.

A day trip to the city of Versailles brought all the knowledge I crammed into my brain during the French Revolution unit right before my eyes. A tour through the Palace of Versailles allowed me to see where famous monarchs such as King Louis XIV, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette spent their days as they ruled over France.

The local food and restaurants aren’t the same major restaurant chains we have here in the States. The only restaurant I saw that was also in the United States was McDonalds. Most of the time you’ll find small cafes–probably family owned–that specialize in just a few items. When you think of the French you probably think of berets, mimes, and baguettes, strangely enough the latter isn’t entirely false. It wasn’t very odd to see people walking in the streets with an approximately 2′ long baguette in their hands or smaller ones shoved in their bags and purses. The small cafes and bakeries added to the already close feel of the city, something I don’t see everyday.

In Mason most people get around the city by car, in Paris public transportation and walking are key. Like New York City, Paris has a metro (subway) system. The metro runs through the entire city and is probably the fastest way to get from place to place, otherwise walking and riding a bike or motorcycle are options as well. Considering driving in Paris is quite the headache and terrifying experience (it’s more like a big game of survival of the fittest) we stuck to the metro and our feet to get us around.

Being someone who’s only ever lived in the same house and attended the same school, seeing a city like Paris was like walking into a new world. A world where you can’t understand what people around you are saying. A world where you gasp every time you walk another block. People all around the world journey thousands of miles to see the incredible sight that is Paris, France, and I’m thankful that I was one of them.

The 22%

Twenty-two percent. That’s how many students at Mason High School have the label minority tacked onto their name.

According to the Public School Review out of the 3,246 students at MHS, only about 714 of them walk through the hallways and rarely see someone who looks like them–racially speaking of course. To put this into perspective, the minorities at Mason High School don’t even make up one graduating class. Along with the challenge of being an outsider, comes the challenge of changing preconceived ideas about you and your race.

Hispanics, African Americans (Blacks), Arab Americans, and Muslims are a few targeted groups in a society where stereotypes dictate the thoughts and feelings towards a particular ethnic group. These groups have often had the misfortune of being associated with the titles: illegal immigrant, thug, and terrorist, and social media has done nothing but fuel the flame.

Racist Twitter PostRacist Twitter PostRacist Twitter Post

The problem is that I’m guessing at least one person reading those tweets laughed, smiled, or thought so true! Social media allows users to post any comment that pops into their heads regardless of how derogatory. While some may find these stereotypes humorous or playful, racial attacks effect minority groups outside of the Twitter app on their phones.

Senior and Board Member of Mason African American Students for Change, Ayianna Alatishe, recognizes there are stereotypes she’s faced with as an African American.

“As a Black woman [common stereotypes I’m affected by are] I’m loud and I’m boisterous” Alatishe said. “In classes I’ll be seen as not as smart as my white counterparts.”

These stereotypes as expressed by Alatishe, tend to make their way onto the big screens, as Hollywood tends to stick with the portrayal of stereotypical minority characters.

Asians in television shows and movies often have strong accents, and are sometimes shown speaking such poor English, that subtitles are needed to understand them.

Movies and TV shows written with stereotypes and prejudice in them, cause unfair conclusions to be drawn about particular groups. However in the media outside of TV shows and films, the same conclusions are being made based on the actions of a small percentage of a race.

Arabs and Muslims are often too quickly labeled terrorists. With old and new world crises, the assumption is sometimes made that all Muslims act in a threatening and suspicious manner.

The Huffington Post comments on the portrayal of Arab Americans and Muslims in the media:

Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans receive information about Muslims and Islam primarily from the media. As Jack Shaheen, a leading writer on Arab and Muslim media stereotypes has documented, more than 200 movies have portrayed Arabs and Muslims in prejudicial scenes, often when the plot has nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims since 9/11. When Hollywood blatantly excludes multi-dimensional portrayals of Muslims, it can lead to harmful stereotypes in the real world.

Biased depictions of ethnic groups cast a negative light on minority races, and impact students such as Alatishe and other minorities at MHS.

Almas Malik, a freshman at MHS, has dealt with being labeled an aggressor as an affect of stereotypes towards Muslims, but in reality, seeing terrorizing attacks around the world hurts her just as much as it does any other American.

“There’s a lot I want people to know, but the biggest thing is that it’s hard for us to turn on a news channel and hear about all the evil that is going on around the world.” Malik said.

The problem with stereotypes is, they cause people to judge a group before they get to know them. Someone may see Alatishe and her dark skin and assume she’s unintelligent, when she could possibly be a straight ‘A’ student. Someone may see Malik and assume she plans to harm them, when she could possibly be an advocate for peace.

This goes out to everyone, not everything you see on the big screen or in your Twitter feed is fact. Whether you’re 1 in 2,532 or a part of the small 22%, it’s time to ditch the stereotypes and start to get to know the kid in your science class who doesn’t have the same skin tone as you.

Inside WCPO Channel 9

I was fortunate enough to tour the WCPO Channel 9 building, downtown, this morning. Through this experience I was able to see what a potential career in broadcast journalism may look like. Now, I won’t sit here and bore you about what I learned or what my aspirations for the future are. But instead, share my experience inside of the WCPO Channel 9 studio.

Decked out with TV monitors and city backdrops and stage lights and a green screen, the studio definitely had me and my tour group in awe. After taking numerous pictures and gasping and pointing, we decided to see first hand what it was like to put on a news broadcast.

We raced towards the anchor chairs and pretended to be the next Barbra Walters, or–in Channel 9’s case–Clyde Gray. We flashed our pearly whites, pointed at the cameras throwing out catch phrases such as: “Back to you Jim”. All this and more was able to be scene from the control room, where more than one person would be caught acting out their dreams.

Next we were off to the part of the studio housing the equipment used to broadcast the weather–unfortunately I didn’t see any signs of school closings. My attempt to give a weather broadcast, failed to say the least. While I knew the weatherman telling me it’s going to be thirty degrees and cloudy, was standing in front of a green screen, I didn’t know the monitors he was looking at were showing him a picture of himself… backwards. Anytime I moved to the left, the monitor showed me moving to the right. If I pointed to something with my right hand, from my view, it looked like I was using my left. It was quite challenging.

One part of the workshop involved a Q&A with a panel of professionals with a career in media. Mason High School Alum, Griffin Frank, was one of the professionals on that panel, and as a fellow comet, understood the position all of us are in. He shared his experiences of being apart of The Chronicle, and his trial and error process that got him where he currently is. Knowing that he graduated from high school only a few years ago–back in 2010–assured myself that my hope to pursue a career in this field isn’t–by any means–out of reach.

Getting up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning isn’t always the ideal situation, but my experience at WCPO Channel 9, proved to be well worth my time.