ALFK – Own Up To It.

It’s time to stop getting upset at human rights, and start fighting for them.

By Claire Ward

My last article discussing the Black Lives Matter movement and racism towards the African American community, received quite a bit of backlash. People threw my article in urinals (for aiming practice, I believe – but I hope if you’re in high school you don’t need help with that anymore), balled them up and threw them at my younger sister, tossed them on the ground, and broke out into “All Lives Matter” chants in their classrooms. Honestly, I find this very interesting. Why is it so hard for Dexter High School to hear it has a race problem? We say it all the time; Dexter’s lack of diversity has become a long running joke. So, why does such a large problem arise when it’s in print?

Hearing things that call out unknown, or unacknowledged, privileges can make us uncomfortable or angry. We like to believe that we’re all good people, doing the best we can. Or, at least, that we aren’t disregarding entire groups of people. So, when some dumb 18-year-old girl comes in and tells you you’re ignoring serious social issues, we tend to get upset. This anger can be justified by one simple line: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

When others ask us to acknowledge privilege, we start to feel guilty. The word “privilege” has connotations of guilt in our society. People feel as though they are being blamed for the privilege they have. The truth is, we can’t control privilege. We can’t control having it, or being a part of a privileged group or community. There shouldn’t be blame behind it. Yet, there is, and we still tend to feel this way.

Why exactly do we feel this way? Why does privilege sound synonymous to guilt? A lot of it has to do with age-old stigma. Classical conditioning has led us to associate privilege with the upper-class royalty who treated people poorly (think Marie Antoinette). But, privilege is more than just being born into the uppermost class. This guilt we feel is outdated, and something we need to surpass as a whole society.

But the backlash towards my BLM article wasn’t just about privilege. It was also about an inability to deal with the idea that we may not be as good of humans as we think we are.

Many of us believe that we aren’t doing any bad, that we stay out of other drama, and don’t contribute to the troubles of others. Here’s the thing: doing nothing is exactly that. You aren’t helping or hurting anyone, so you aren’t doing anything. Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” and it explains things pretty well. I said that we have a race problem in our country; the incarcerated population is almost half black, while only 13 percent of the American population is black, and people got upset. Because how could you have anything to do with putting people in jail? We’re just high school students completely separated from these situations.

Here’s a question for you: is the race problem in Dexter a reflection of the race problem in the US? The way we address race here is similar to the rest of the country: dismissal. Racist comments are said every day, but instead of addressing them we brush them off and ignore the fact that people here joke about being black (when we are so white). Our race problem isn’t just a race problem, it’s a social injustice problem that stretches across such a wide range of topics that is not limited to race or gender.

We don’t really make an attempt to fight against the injustice. We just sit on the outside, choosing to ignore the many faces of police brutality, or women in the global sex trade, or the biggest starvation crisis since 1945 going on in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria.

So, when some dumb high school feminist tells us we’re adding to the problem, we get upset. We stand isolated in our little community, watching as outsiders who may think they can’t do anything. Or, maybe you just really don’t care about it and listening to someone who does care annoys you. Or, maybe you do feel this guilt in knowing you have privilege, and you’d rather ignore that rather than face it (if not guilt, then maybe white fragility). The fact is it doesn’t matter how you feel. I won’t stop fighting for what I believe, and it’s time other people take a stand for themselves, too. We, as a society, can’t stop this feeling of guilt alone, nor can we stop child labor, rape culture, or violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s time to stop the little pity parties of ‘Oh my god, she’s so annoying. No one cares about this. This is bull. She hates police, and BLM is a terrorist movement’ (it’s not). It’s time to step up, acknowledge problems facing our world, and start working in aid towards them.

ALFK – Black Lives Are (Still) Relevant

The Black Lives Matter movement hasnt gone away.  Nothing will stop it any time soonYou still need to fight.

By Claire Ward

There is a war waged on people of color in this country. Statistically, over 250 black people were killed by police in 2016, and while blacks only make up 13 percent of the US population, almost half of the incarcerated population is black. Institutionalized racism was brought to light during the 2016 Presidential Election, and our current president brings to light the power of racism as a joining force against humankind. African Americans were granted full freedom legally in 1890 under the 13th Amendment, then further protected from legal barriers by President Johnson in 1965. The fight for freedom has been a long one, and it’s no where close to over.

It’s hard to talk about race in a place as white as Dexter. It’s hard to talk about race being a white person with a lot of privilege (if you’re still confused about privilege, send me an email) who hasn’t really had a chance to experience racism firsthand. It’s hard for me to sit here and say black lives are tough when I don’t live one. Sometimes, the hardest things to say are what need to be said the most.

Living in a community like Dexter, we are guarded. Sure, we can read the news and stay caught up on current events, whether nationwide or worldwide, but we don’t experience a lot that others do. Those in a big city have more chances to see violence, racism, and discrimination; the list goes on as the population increases. Yet, at the same time we are almost more exposed to racism than those in big cities. Cities are accepting, filled with people of all genders and races and religions. Here in Dexter, we are divided into the accepting of all, and the accepting of some (with conditions for why you can’t accept certain groups). This division can be felt more strongly due to the size of the school. We split into groups with similar beliefs to us, and a smaller population means these groups seem smaller and smaller.

I have seen blatant racism countless times at DHS. I have seen it in students, in media, in parents. From slurs yelled out in anger, to discrimination from social groups because of the shade of someone’s skin. I have seen racism in Ann Arbor, in East Lansing, in Detroit, and probably every city I have ever been in. Maybe this is because of the groups I’m in, surrounded by white people and very underexposed to different cultures. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my life working to acknowledge and fight racism, in turn making me more cognizant of the racism, using the privilege I hold to benefit others. Whatever the reason, the fact is it’s still there.

We have a system set up against people of color. Plea bargains are often offered to those who are faced with criminal charges, leading to 97 percent never reaching a trial. Innocent men and women fill penitentiaries simply because they cannot afford $40,000 bail, and may be faced with a longer sentence after going through the court process. It is easier for someone to spend three years in jail (where the government would rather have them) than anywhere else. Many people don’t know that companies like Victoria’s Secret, JCPenney, and Microsoft use prison labor to manufacture goods. Inmates can be paid to do work for less than a dollar, while prisons and the government make an $11 million profit on them. “Non-profit” companies, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), lobby politicians to make laws (like the Federal Crime Bill in 1994 that doubled mass incarceration) that make it extremely challenging for the African American population to escape prison. These companies go on to profit off of the prisons.

Black lives are constantly viewed as worth less than white lives. It has been 398 years since the first African was brought to the US in slavery. It has been 155 years since the Emancipation Proclamation. It has been 147 years since the right to vote was granted, but only 52 years since their right to vote was protected by law (which still isn’t guaranteed through voter registration laws). The black population has been fighting constantly, and have never caught a break in their battle for equality.

So next time you go to purchase something from a department store, do a little research and see just who your money is going to. Check yourself before you join in on your friends banter about African American culture, or partake in a peaceful protest against injustice in your community.

Black lives still matter. Just because the mainstream media isn’t telling you that anymore doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. This fight is far from over, and it’s time we all use our privilege to aid in the resistance.

ALFK: Tackling Privilege

Tackling Privilege

By Claire Ward

Privilege

[privuh-lij, priv-lij]

noun: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

 

Chances are, you know the word “privilege” first hand. The social theory that certain advantages and special rights are only available to a particular group. Most of us at Dexter High School can point out the many privileges present in our lives every day, the many privileged groups we belong in. We live in a relatively wealthy community, with an almost completely white population, filled with a common and accepted religion. Rich privilege, white privilege, religious privilege. We are blessed to live lives that grant us these privileges. Unfortunately, many people choose to deny or ignore their privileges when the power status they’re given puts them in a place to benefit others. Maybe we all need to figure out how to use our privilege to the advantage of others, not just to help out ourselves. Here’s a little privilege check for you:

Continue reading “ALFK: Tackling Privilege”

ALFK: Periods

It’s not that big deal. Period.

By Claire Ward

Every girl knows the pain of that dreaded time of the month. Aunt Flow, the Crimson Wave, Shark Week, Code Red, Bloody Mary, Leak Week, TOTM. No matter what you call it, it’s still a period.

Accompanied by cramping, bloating, mood swings, acne, appetite changes, muscle aches, backaches, headaches, trouble sleeping, and trouble with concentration, the worst week of the month ensues at the end of your cycle. Every woman, or 49.6% of the world’s population, experiences it during her life. So, why is it seen as such a taboo, unspeakable occurrence?

Just recently, I walked down the hall to the ladies room. I passed friends in the hallway, returning smiles and greetings, and receiving weird stares. I was carrying my little bag (containing feminine products) openly in my left hand. Both boys and girls gave me a look somewhere between disgust and shock. How could a girl walk through the hall showing very brazenly that she was on her period?

What is this, the rapture? Nope, not the rapture. Just a girl on her period who’s tired of feeling like she has to hide it.

Most girls tend to agree. Senior Brigit Hammond feels “[the shame] is dumb because it’s a part of nature that [girls] literally have no control over.” Every day about 40 percent of the school will be on, just ending, or starting their ride on the Crimson Wave. There should be no reason for them to hide it, nor be criticised for symptoms.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is caused by the changing influx of hormones, and is used against women every day. Boys use it to make fun of girls. Any time a female classmate has a bad day and makes a grumpy comment, she will be asked sneeringly if she’s on her period.

Hammond states she “is sure [boys] would get a little cranky too” if they were suddenly bleeding. Even when boys are cranky, they aren’t asked if they’re riding the Crimson Wave.

The menstrual cycle is used as a tool to ridicule women for a wide range of things. Any woman with an opinion to voice can be seen as bossy. If she speaks up against this sexist double standard, she may be asked if she is on her period, if that is what’s causing her to be so “angry.”

Let’s not forget when Donald Trump accused Megyn Kelly, Fox News TV Personality, of having “blood coming out of her wherever” when she asked him questions he didn’t like at a presidential debate.

Women are sick of being told their hormones are controlling them. Choices girls make that may seem angry or fueled are because girls are angry and fueled. In a world full of double standards and inequality,
there’s plenty to be angered about.

Boys are fully allowed to be angry. They can express their emotions without hormones being mentioned. They can walk to the bathroom without shame. Girls want nothing but the same treatment. We shouldn’t be shaming for natural processes. Every one of us is alive because of periods. Period.

ALFK: Dress Code

A sexist issue that involves more than short-shorts and tank tops

By Claire Ward

All Dexter High School Students know that this school only has two temperatures: inside the inner rings of Hell, or exploring the arctic tundra.

Unfortunately, the fall seems to be the time where DHS students are enhancing their learning in the walls of Satan’s home. Okay, maybe not exactly, but you get the point. This school gets hot, and it’s hot outside.

With record high temperatures this summer and zero rain, the past few months have been a doozy. We’ve spent the time laying around in swimsuits and diving into lakes to cool us down.

Come September, we have to hang up our bikinis for fingertip-length, solid, not too tight, no holes above the thigh, plain, mom shorts.

Continue reading “ALFK: Dress Code”