Forum Posts

Keirah Chen
Nov 27, 2021
In ARTICLES
In August of 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old caucasian boy, shot 3 people (2 of whom died) during the protests in Kenosha; the protests were sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake and were part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Rittenhouse had traveled from Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with an AR-15 to “protect” private property and a business there. During the protest, he ended up firing his gun 4 times at first, shooting a man in the head, he then continued to fire 4 more shots. Through the commotion, it was unclear how many total shots Rittenhouse fired but at least 16 shots were heard by many sources according to the New York Times. Rittenhouse faced 6 counts total which included first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide. These charges would have resulted in a maximum sentence of life in prison if Rittenhouse was found guilty. Judge Bruce Schroeder of Kenosha County Circuit Court was presiding over the trial. Schroeder reiterated that the word “victim” may not be used when referring to those who were killed or injured due to Rittenhouse’s shooting spree. He instead said he would allow terms such as “looters” and “rioters” to be used. Schroeder also decided to dismiss the 6th count: possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Throughout the trial, Rittenhouse restated his claim that all shots he fired were fired out of “self-defense.” Though, during the cross-examination, Rittenhouse admitted that he knew the first person he shot, a man named Joseph Rosenbaum, was unarmed yet he still decided to shoot Rosenbaum a total of 4 times. Rosenbaum had provoked Rittenhouse by acting “belligerently” and throwing a plastic bag at him and in response, Rittenhouse pointed his semi-automatic rifle at him. This created the chaos that ensued shortly after as the crowd including Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and attempted to take the rifle from him. Rittenhouse claimed that if Rosenbaum had gotten possession of the weapon, he would have killed Rittenhouse. Gaige Grosskreutz, the only survivor of the 3 people Rittenhosue shot, testified as a witness. When asked what was going through his mind amid the chaos, Grosskreutz claimed he thought he was “going to die.” The trial went on for 2 weeks, the majority of it consisting of testimony and evidence. After the closing arguments had been presented, jurors discussed for about 27 hours throughout a 4-day period before announcing the verdict: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all 5 counts. After the verdict was announced, Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards spoke to reporters outside the courthouse. “He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened, but as he said when he testified, he did not start this,” Richards told the cameras. The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office had a different view, expressing their disappointment with the final verdict. They also urged citizens to express their feelings and opinion on the trial civilly and peacefully. Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/us/kyle-rittenhouse-kenosha-shooting-video.html https://www.npr.org/2021/11/19/1057288807/kyle-rittenhouse-acquitted-all-charges-verdict https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kyle-rittenhouse-trial-timeline/ https://www.npr.org/2021/11/19/1057422329/why-legal-experts-were-not-surprised-by-the-rittenhouse-jurys-decision-to-acquit https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/08/us/kyle-rittenhouse-gaige-grosskreutz-testimony.html
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Keirah Chen
Sep 04, 2021
In ARTICLES
On August 23, the FDA fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. President Biden had originally said the FDA is expected to fully approve the vaccine by fall as beforehand, the FDA had granted emergency authorization only. This vaccine was approved only 4 months after Pfizer-BioNTech had applied for licensing making it the fastest vaccine the FDA has approved in the past 100 years. Critics had originally been pressuring the FDA to speed up the approval process as many Americans were refusing to get vaccinated. By giving final approval to this vaccine, this could increase the number of people who decide to get vaccinated which is vital as the Delta Variant is spreading rapidly and greatly affecting those who are unvaccinated. In a televised address, President Biden strongly encouraged corporations and non-profit organizations to require employees to be vaccinated. Numerous universities and hospitals are planning to make it mandatory to receive the vaccine. Furthermore, according to a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30% of unvaccinated Americans said they would be more likely to receive the vaccine once it was fully approved by the FDA. So far, according to an analysis done by ABC, the United States have seen an increase in the number of first doses administered. There has been a 17% increase in the number of American citizens receiving the vaccine. As of now, 53% of the population is fully vaccinated but medical professionals are hoping citizens will continue to register for at least the first dose. Experts say there is going to have to be a more significant increase in vaccinations in order for the US to be fully out of the woods. Sources: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/americans-vaccinated-full-fda-approval-pfizer-covid-vaccine/story?id=79750505 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/03/us/politics/pfizer-vaccine-approval.html
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Keirah Chen
Jul 18, 2021
In ARTICLES
Trayvon Martin was an unarmed, 17 year-old black boy who was murdered February 26, 2012. Martin was on his way back from the store when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Despite the fact that this tragedy occurred almost a decade ago, Trayvon Martin still has not received justice. His killer, George Zimmerman, currently walks free due to Stand Your Ground Laws. What are Stand Your Ground laws? Stand Your Ground laws can best be described as a set of laws that grants people to use deadly force against others if they believe it is necessary in order to defend themselves. These laws make it so citizens in certain states are not expected to de-escalate situations by retreating when possible. Instead, they give people a license to kill. These laws are legal in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and more. In Florida, Stand Your Ground laws are more extreme and offer immunity from prosecution. A citizen living in Florida could shoot someone but claim it was self defense under the state’s stand your ground law and avoid a trial. According to the Tampa Bay Times, nearly 70% of those who invoke Stand Your Ground to bypass prosecution walk free. Why Do Some People Think These Laws are Necessary? Those who strongly advocate for the right to bear arms and defend themselves believe Stand Your Ground is beneficial and necessary for citizens. A common argument amongst advocates for Stand Your Ground is that these laws will reduce and prevent violent crime. That argument is a bit flawed since, in 2020, the RAND corporation conducted a study and found no evidence proving that Stand Your Ground has prevented violent crime. Instead, the study demonstrated a rise in firearm homicide rates. How Does This Affect Gun Violence in America? There are many issues regarding Stand Your Ground laws including how convictions in cases appear to have a particular bias against Black citizens. According to a report done by the Everytown analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide, in Stand Your Ground states, White shooters who kill Black citizens are deemed justifiable 5 times more likely than when the situation is reversed. However, the main issue that will be talked about in this article is how it increases gun violence in the United States. According to the RAND corporation, these laws are associated with increasing homicide rates in the United States by adding more than 150 deaths due to guns each month overall. Stand Your Ground has also been linked to unintentional deaths and nonfatal firearm injuries. In addition, these laws cost taxpayer’s money. In every state that Stand Your Ground is passed, each gun homicide costs taxpayers $688,600 on average to cover for criminal justice, police response, and healthcare. The Future of Stand Your Ground Stand Your Ground has had very few benefits for this country. All it has really done is given angry and slightly mentally unstable people the right to shoot someone and claim it was “self defense.” The United States already clearly struggles with gun violence as, in 2019, there were 3.96 deaths per 100,000 people which is more than 8 times the rate in Canada. With these laws, rates are just getting worse. Going off of what studies show now, Stand Your Ground will keep increasing firearm homicide rates and more and more citizens will be forced to live in fear of what has become of this country. It has done and will do nothing to prevent violent crime and instead create more of its own. Sources: https://www.blackmaleachievement.org/blog/is-there-racial-bias-in-stand-your-ground-laws https://everytownresearch.org/report/stand-your-ground-laws-are-a-license-to-kill/ https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-law-basics/stand-your-ground-laws.html https://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/florida-stand-your-ground-law-yields-some-shocking-outcomes-depending-on/1233133/ https://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/self-defense-and-stand-your-ground.aspx https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/03/19/148937626/trayvon-martin-killing-puts-stand-your-ground-law-in-spotlight https://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/justice/florida-teen-shooting-details/index.html https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/03/24/980838151/gun-violence-deaths-how-the-u-s-compares-to-the-rest-of-the-world
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Keirah Chen
Jul 02, 2021
In ARTICLES
In April, the Biden administration announced their plan to offer grants for history classes that teach students about racism in history specifically focusing on Ibram X. Kendi’s work on critical race theory as well as the 1619 Project, a New York Times series on American slavery and consequences of slavery. The 1619 Project were presented with a Pulitzer Prize but is considered controversial as it focuses on how slavery was the defining characteristic of America’s history. This grant program was listed as a proposed rule in the Federal Register on April 19. Biden’s proposal plays a big role in the debate over what students should learn about American history. As America is very divided on many issues including racism, many oppose Biden’s grant program. People like Donald Trump and his supporters are avidly against educating students about racism in America. In fact, while Donald Trump was president, he created the 1776 commission which promoted “patriotic education” and essentially made schools sugarcoat the racist parts of American history. Trump and his supporters claimed that public schools history teachings of America were “left-wing propaganda” and equal to child abuse. However, since Trump is now not president, Biden has terminated the 1776 commission much to the dismay of right-wing politicians and supporters.. Recently, these same people have expressed opposition to Biden’s program as Mitch McConnell, a member of the United States Senate, claimed that the grant program is “divisive nonsense “and will indoctrinate students with a “slanted story.” As a student, it is clear to me how important the truth is when learning about history. Students must either get the whole story or nothing at all. Otherwise, opinions can become very one-sided and mistakes made in history will repeat themselves. Since the students are our future, if they receive education on racism’s role in American history, they can lead our country into progressing. Biden’s grant program will work to achieve this. The grant program will push schools into doing thorough history lessons which can change the course of future politics. Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/30/us/politics/mitch-mcconnell-1619-project.html https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/20/opinions/biden-1776-commission-trump-fight-over-history-hemmer/index.html
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Keirah Chen
Jun 17, 2021
In ARTICLES
On May 19, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed the heartbeat bill. This bill is effective in September and bans abortion when the fetal heartbeat is detected. This law makes it illegal for women to get abortions 6 weeks after pregnancy and makes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Other states including Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana have also passed this anti-abortion bill. The majority of the remaining states uphold the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Roe decision which states that abortion is legal until the fetus develops the ability to survive or live successfully. This generally happens in the first 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. The states passing anti-abortion bills like the heartbeat bill are essentially challenging Roe V. Wade, the 14th amendment in the US constitution that protects the right for a woman to choose whether or not she will have an abortion. If states can pass these kinds of bills that challenge rights established by the constitution, what’s to stop other states from passing bills that oppose other constitutional rights? There are many things wrong with the heartbeat bill, one of them being that most women do not even know they are pregnant within the first 6 weeks as signs like nausea and fatigue do not start until after 6 weeks have passed. However, the most concerning part about both Texas’ and Alabama’s anti-abortion bill is how it bans abortions for victims of rape and incest. This promotes rape culture as Alabama’s bill would punish doctors who perform abortions for victims of rape more than rapists themselves. According to Alabama’s anti-abortion law, doctors can be punished with up to 99 years in jail while the maximum sentence a second degree convicted rapist can be charged with is 20 years in jail. Furthermore, most rapists do not even get the maximum sentence as a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice found that, on average, the time served for convicted rapists was 5.4 years. These anti-abortion laws passed by states like Texas, Georgia, Alabama and others emphasize where the state governments priorities lie. Among all victims, 16-19 year-old girls are 3 times more likely to be raped and if they get impregnated through rape, these girls would be forced to have the child and care for it because of these laws. These girls would be forced to give up all their dreams that most likely did not involve being a teenage mom because of a man with no self-control and a government who feels they have the right to regulate women’s bodies. Victims would be punished more than the rapist himself. The state’s priority is obviously not to protect victims or hold rapists accountable. It is once again clear that the state’s concerns are not on the side of women. The concept of rape culture itself was made possible due to the deeply rooted misogyny and sexism in society. These laws are proof of misogyny that is present in the government as men somehow believe they are entitled to deciding what women should and should not do with their own bodies. It has never really been about the children and the government has shown this through the lack of concern for the babies once they are born. The state governments that pass the ban on abortion laws often have the highest infant mortality rates. Alabama has an infant mortality rate of 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. It is clear that anti-abortion laws are yet another way men in the government assert their “dominance” over women. Sources: https://time.com/5591166/state-abortion-laws-explained/ https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/alabama-statutory-rape-laws.htm#:~:text=Second%20degree%20rape%20includes%20sexual,much%20as%20%2430%2C000%2C%20or%20both. https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/news/2020/12/16.html#:~:text=The%20Alabama%20Department%20of%20Public,deaths%20per%201%2C000%20live%20births. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/29/texas-senate-abortion-heartbeat/ https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/alabama-abortion-law-rape-sexual-assault-punishment-835583/ https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/abortion-laws-states.html https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/parenting/abortion-six-weeks-pregnant.html https://www.npr.org/2021/05/19/998237349/the-governor-of-texas-has-signed-a-law-that-bans-abortion-as-early-as-6-weeks
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Keirah Chen
May 15, 2021
In ARTICLES
What is the model minority myth? The model minority myth is an idea that Asian Americans naturally reach academic success and thrive in achieving stable careers by being hardworking. In addition, Asian Americans are considered to be more law-abiding citizens who accept and follow the law, even racially discriminatory ones, thus they are perceived as less of a “threat” to White Americans. It perpetrates essentially all common stereotypes about Asians. It paints them as hard workers and immigrants who are capable of achieving the American dream by not rocking the boat. Consequently, they have been used as a model for other minorities. The origins of the model minority myth: The stereotype that Asians are smart and compliant rose in the 1950’s and persists today as portrayed in several popular movies. Before then, the Westerners saw Asians as more of a threat and referred to them as the “Yellow Peril.” Then, in World War 2, American politicians began realizing that being a racist country was bad publicity. Asian Americans were the closest solution to this. Congress began repealing laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act. As a consequence, the Asian population in America grew, many were educated and able to enter the middle class. Additionally, because America was trying to prove they were not a racist country, middle class schools, neighborhoods and professions were open to Asians. The harm of the model minority myth: The model minority myth not only harms Asians but other minorities as well. To start off, the myth generalizes all Asians to have the same traits and cultures, completely overlooking the fact that Asians are made up of diverse people. It also sets this standard for Asian Americans which they now feel forced to meet. As a result, those same Asian Americans tend to be more quiet about their struggles as well as internalizing these expectations for themselves. People who subscribe to this myth dispel empathy or attention to issues that Asian Americans face by praising Asians for keeping their heads down and being submissive. Furthermore, because the model minority myth is often utilized by racists to justify their racism, it is frequently used as a way to divide Black Americans and Asians. This strategy is commonly used by White conservative politicians. They start off by praising Asian Americans’ “work ethic”, only to finish by comparing them to Black Americans. These people will claim that Asian American success is evidence that racism in America does not exist and they’ll take it a step further by questioning why Black Americans are not thriving in this society. They act as if hundreds of years of enslavement followed by decades of oppression can all be solved by being hardworking. How we can dismantle this myth in the future: As a society, we can acknowledge the issues Asian Americans have to deal with due to their race. We have to stop ignoring the struggles Asian Americans undergo and encourage them to speak up about such things instead of pressuring them to stay quiet. Leaders should recognize differences among communities and attempt to meet those diverse needs rather than attempting to have all communities fit a model that serves their own agenda. Lastly, everyone who’s desperate to help needs to realize that pitting minorities against each other does not solve anything and is actually incredibly inefficient. All minorities have a common enemy and that is the racism present in America; therefore, everyone should work together and fight this. Sources: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/04/19/524571669/model-minority-myth-again-used-as-a-racial-wedge-between-asians-and-blacks https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/what-is-the-model-minority-myth https://goop.com/wellness/environmental-health-civics/model-minority-stereotype/
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Keirah Chen
Apr 30, 2021
In ARTICLES
Transphobia has been a clearly prevalent issue in the US as transgender people continue to be the victims of violent hate crimes and murders. Furthermore, beyond the obvious and blatant attacks on the trans community through assault, people in power such as government officials have found another way to make their transphobia explicit yet discreet. Through proposing transphobic laws, they have established a strategy where they can continue to oppress the trans community without getting their hands dirty. 2021 has become a year where a record number of anti-transgender legislations have been passed by certain state governments. March 13th marked the week of 82 anti-transgender bills being introduced, just surpassing the 79 anti-transgender bills that were passed in 2020 and making it the highest in history. The recurring focus of several of these bills is banning transgender youth from playing in sports in middle school, high school and college. The states passing these transphobic bills include Montana, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, and Utah. Their government’s argument is that these bills are needed to ensure equality and abolish unfair advantages. Officials continue acting as if there is no transphobic agenda behind it at all. These conservative governments utilize fear-mongering to get more people on board with this campaign against transgender youth by claiming that transgender women in sports will take away opportunities from cisgender women. They allege that cisgender women and girls participating would be physically outmatched by the transgender women. However, these government officials are ignoring the fact that unfair advantages have always been present in sports and will continue to be present. Michael Phelps, for example, possesses a genetically advantaged body for a swimmer with a wing-span larger than his height as well as double jointed ankles that give his kicks extreme range. Furthermore, Phelps’ body produces half the lactic acid compared to his average competitor so he is much less fatigued during races according to The Washington Post. Altogether, these assets gave Phelps an advantage and increased chance of winning. Moreover, socio-economic status also contributes to unfair advantages in sports. Some student athletes are born into wealthy families and therefore can afford additional professional coaching and club sports. By the Mississippi state government's logic, these athletes should be prohibited from playing school sports as they will have a more refined skill set and take away opportunities from lower income students who cannot afford to participate in sports outside of school. This is why I say that banning transgender athletes from playing sports is absurd unless state governments could resolve the inequality resulted by both genetic and socio-economic differences. Or, the more rational thing to do would be to accept that differences in athletes’ inherent qualities will exist in sports. The fact that these state governments are only targeting the issue of trans people’s advantages speaks volumes. Clearly these laws are meant to target specific groups of people based on their gender identity which is nothing other than shameless discrimination. An individual’s personal prejudice should never dictate laws citizens are forced to live by. This type of state enforced discreet discrimination can have serious consequences and continue this cycle of oppression by people in power. Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/podcasts/the-daily/transgender-girls-sports-republicans.html?searchResultPosition=1&showTranscript=1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-celebrated-michael-phelpss-genetic-differences-why-punish-caster-semenya-for-hers/2019/05/02/93d08c8c-6c2b-11e9-be3a-33217240a539_story.html https://www.biography.com/news/michael-phelp-perfect-body-swimming https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/breaking-2021-becomes-record-year-for-anti-transgender-legislation
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