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Our Voices Heard Volume 1

Updated: May 16, 2023


Untitled, William Dewar Scholar 2028



Our Message

By The YPIE QuarenTimes/The Our Voices Heard Editors, YPIE Scholars 2027 & 2028


Welcome to the new and improved Our Voices Heard YPIE Journalism Publication! The YPIE Journalism Major has decided it is time for a revamp. Through our last few years running the publication, we have grown and adapted. Coming from a time when COVID-19 ran rampant, the name QuaranTimes gave normality and comfort to our strange and unpredictable lives. It provided a space for Yonkers students to create and spread their voices, building a community unlike any other. With our rebranding, we would like to continue providing this space.


And live up to our mission statement…


Since the beginning of this publication we have been committed to encouraging knowledge, authenticity and most importantly forming community; no matter the circumstances, we have kept our values. Being a platform for local Yonkers students to spread their voices, Our Voices Heard is here to report and learn from our world around us.


Here are some words brought to you directly by current editors:


My name is Julia Azulay and I am a senior at Yonkers High School. I chose Journalism during my first year in YPIE with hopes of improving my writing and my journalistic skills. Yet I was able to join something greater during a time of uncertainty and isolation, brought on by the pandemic: the student-run publication, known for a while as the QuaranTimes and now ‘rebranded’ as Our Voices Heard. Being part of this proactive team of editors since late freshman year and playing a role in most publications have not only strengthened my skills as a writer, editor, and possible journalist but have also opened me up to a productive community of brilliant writers and editors. I have laid witness to the rigor and eventual pride our team feels by enabling young people to express their deepest thoughts and selves.


My name is Natalie Flores and I am a junior in Yonkers High School. When I first joined YPIE in my freshman year, I found comfort and solitude in writing as it was my only outlet to properly detail all these new emotions I began to experience due to the pandemic. Joining the Journalism major allowed me to use my feelings and channel them into something beautiful while learning how to better my skills as a writer. This major opened gateways into a field of work I never thought I was capable of pursuing but has now invigorated this deep passion I have always had deep within me for the humanities. Working with a wonderful group of editors has strengthened my love for writing and made me realize that working on a publication involves more group work than it does working alone on the articles. I am forever grateful for the work my editors and writers have done for this publication and I hope you can read our passion in our writing as well.


My name is Joyeta Dutta and I am a senior at Saunders Trades and Technical High School. I joined YPIE as a freshman, however, I didn't come into this program till Junior year. I have always enjoyed writing but never had the opportunity to get anything out there. However, this place gave me the opportunity to put my voice out there and I hope that this publication does that for all scholars at YPIE. I have honestly never had the time to enjoy my passion in writing but Journalism gave me that chance to enjoy my passion in writing again when I thought I had lost it. Journalism makes me want to write more and get my voice out there, through current topics or just my stories. I hope this publication makes more people want to write for themselves.


My name is Amber Morales and I am a junior at Lincoln High School. I first joined YPIE in my 9th-grade year. As students at YPIE were picking their majors, I gravitated toward Journalism. I wanted to get a glimpse of what it feels to have my writing on display. When I first started journalism, I felt welcomed by the staff. As I started to write articles for the publication, I eventually grew closer to the idea of, “being the author of my own story”. Quite frankly, the journalism major implements a great form of self-expression and enlightenment.


My name is Annabelle Bradley; I am a 12th-grade student at Yonkers Montessori Academy. Since joining YPIE in freshman year, I have been a part of multiple majors and activities, but none of them captivated and engaged me as much as the journalism major and the QuaranTimes Publication. The publication was a place where you could express yourself in any way. You could be a writer, a poet, an artist, a leader, or anything your heart desires. I found that the more you contributed to the QuaranTimes the easier it got because you were surrounded by editors and friends who weren’t just there to write, but they were also there to help. The people I’ve met through the QuaraTimes were some of the most friendly, compassionate, and encouraging people I have ever met. This tight-knit community made the teamwork on the YPIE QuaranTimes Publication, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has taught me how to be a better community member and put myself out there in a way I never thought possible.


I want to thank the past editors, Editors in Chief, and Supervisors for creating the QuaranTimes and providing this opportunity for learning, growth, and creativity. I hope that my fellow editors and I can do the same and make you proud.


In This Issue



Editors

Julia Azulay, Creative Corner Editor

Annabelle Bradley, Our Voices Heard Editor

Joyeta Dutta, Current Events Editor

Natalie Flores, Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor

Amber Morales, Our Voices Heard Editor


Advisor

Stephanie Abiva




Current Events


Pelé Legacy and His Impact on Football

By Mircely Rodriguez, YPIE Scholar 2030


Have you ever watched the FIFA World Cup? If you have, you probably know who Edson Arantes do Nascimento is, better known as Pelé. According to Pelé, Brazil's mighty king of 'beautiful game,' has died | AP News, he died of organ failure at the age of 82. He is described as legendary and emblematic. He scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup matches and has won the World Cup 3 times. Although he retired in 1977, his skill and achievements are everlasting and will continue to impact others. He is still renowned for football and is one of the world's best football players.


When Pelé started playing professionally, it was the era where tvs were becoming common items in every household. The 50's were when professional football's popularity skyrocketed and it changed the look of football abroad as stated in Football By Decade: 1950s. Pele started playing professionally in 1957 and his incredible skills only allured more people to watch. He appeared in many newspapers and was the face of all the matches he played.

Along with all of this, he led Brazil to the place they are now. Today, Brazil is known for its amazing football players. However, back then Brazil was not as popular. Pelé changed that though. He led them to their first world cup win in 1958 with 6 goals. Moving forward after this, he won the world cup 2 more times in 1962 and 1970. Fast forward to today, Brazil has won more FIFA World Cup wins than any other country with five wins (including Pelé's wins). This portrays how successful Pelé was and his impact on Brazil and how he helped increase popularity.


Along with all this, he also helped sweep racial barriers. He was the first black soccer star ever and with his expertise he proved to the world that no race was better than another (Pelé and the world - Transatlantic Cultures). Many people of color worldwide looked up to him and he was the only representation for people of color. This makes him a very influential and symbolic person.


Pelé made football a game of an art form in his own way with his amazing plays. His legacy and influence will be very well remembered. He made soccer more popular as it entered tv, led Brazil to its first world cup win, and helped sweep racial barriers. He will be missed by many for all the important things he did for the football community, may he rest in peace.



Idaho Murders

By Emely Alvarez, YPIE Scholar 2030


In Idaho, a shocking yet terrifying killing happened with many casualties and death. Unfortunately, it happened to be four young students in college who got brutally murdered after having a night out. The more you read along the more you’ll find out.


All of this happened on November 13, 2022. Many investigators said that these murders happened shortly after 4 a.m. On November 12, Goncalves and Mogen, lifelong best friends, went out to the Corner Club bar in Moscow. Chapin and Kernodle, who were dating, went to the Sigma Chi house Saturday night. They were all very young and most likely were just in their third year of college. Two other roommates who survived the attack and are not considered suspects also went out to Moscow that night. Many people online suspected that the other roommates who survived were responsible for the other four attacks.


At about 1:40 a.m. Goncalves and Mogen were seen on video at Grub Truck, a local food vendor and used a private individual to get a ride home, getting back at 1:45 a.m. In the video, you can clearly see a strange-looking man following after them. Chapin and Kernodle got home at about 1:45 a.m. One of the roommates who survived said that she did not hear anything. But once she got out of bed she heard crying coming from one of her roommate’s rooms. She opened the door and saw a man standing over her friend.


She told the police that she did not recognize the man and did not know what to do and stood there in shock. After all of that, both of the roommates called the police and that’s where they found all four dead bodies. None of the police suspected that the roommates did any of it.


It took the police one month to find the man who did this. They were slowly putting the clues all together. After the bodies were discovered, authorities reviewed surveillance video and saw the suspect's white Hyundai Elantra go by the victims' house three times, before entering the area for a fourth time at 4:04 a.m.Moscow Police Capt. Roger Lanier said police are closely guarding "the information that we've discovered at the scene and our investigative information because we want to protect the integrity of this investigation.” Kohberger was stopped all the way in Indiana for traffic violations.


After Kohberger's arrest, the sheriff's department and state police said there was no information at the time on the suspect in the Idaho crimes or specific information on the white Hyundai Elantra. On Dec. 27, police recovered trash from Kohberger's parent’s house in Pennsylvania, and a lab determined the DNA from the trash was the father of the person who left DNA on the knife sheath. That’s when he was arrested on December 30th. His family and relatives actually said that they were happy and pleased that he got arrested because they did not know who he was. Charges were read for the murders of each student. Which were four homicides and burglary.


All these four students were innocent. They were all loved and did not deserve any harm done to them. These students had their entire future taken away from them.


May they rest in peace. Violence, such as stabbings, should be more controlled and reprimanded - if not people have to be more hypervigilant about their surroundings. Everyone needs to spread awareness, so this doesn't happen again.



Kayne West, Is He Problematic?

By Joyeta Dutta, YPIE Scholar 2027


Kayne West is a Grammy award-winning American rapper, producer, singer, author, and fashion designer. Kayne has been making beats and rapping since the early 90s in Chicago, Illinois when he formed the rap group Go Getters with Chicago natives GLC and Really Doe.


He later became nationwide through his work in New York, where he began producing tracks for artists such as Jay-Z, Twista, Mase, Talib Kweli, and Alicia Keys. Now Kayne has over 100 songs and 24 Grammys


Although Kayne has had a successful music career, he has said and done things that are questionable. He has taken Taylor Swift’s big night, said that slavery was a choice, made a shirt that explicitly said “WHITE LIVES MATTER” during the Black Lives Matter protest, and has now said many anti-sematic comments, on how Hitler was correct.


So why is he problematic all of a sudden? Why are brands now dropping him? Should he have been dropped sooner? So why wasn’t he?


Well, I don’t have answers to these questions, but I will say that just because an artist is talented doesn’t give them the excuse to spread hate speeches about anybody. It doesn’t matter if you are an influencer with 1.0 million followers or a world-known musician, you shouldn't spread hate speech.


So what exactly did Kayne West say that has everyone cancel him? Well, it started in October of 2022, with a comment on Fox News with Tucker Carlson. In the two-part two-hour show, Kayne West made two antisemitic comments, one which was cut and one which wasn’t.


On the channel, he stated, I just think that’s what they’re about, is making money,” West was referencing Jared Kushner and his Jewish family. West was suggesting that Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, negotiated the Abraham Accords to just make money.


This feeds into the idea of greed, that Jewish people are materialistic and money-oriented, that they exploit others for personal gain, and that they control the world's finances.


Then he later went on to say that Planned Parenthood was part of a conspiracy to limit the growth of the Black population by preventing the birth of Black children. But instead of saying the Black population, he called it the “Jew population.”


His exact words were

Planned Parenthood was made by Margaret Sanger, known eugenics, with the KKK to control the Jew population. When I say Jew, I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people knew as the race Black really are. This is who our people are.”


But the comment that really got Kayne West in trouble was his tweet on October 8th, 2022, which stated,

“I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone who opposes your agenda.”


This comment got him banned from Twitter. However, the hate had already spread. Over a highway, in Los Angeles, a group of Neo-Nazis put up signs that said “Kayne is right about Jews” and then proceed to the Nazi salute.


This is not the first time people have supported what Kayne has said, people like Candice Owens, Tucker Carlson, and Elon Musk have agreed to the hate speeches he has said.


However, on October 25, 2022, Adidas dropped Kayne, and a few hours later so did GAP. Then later on the same date Def Jam Records, Balenciaga, and Donda Sports all dropped him. However, it wasn't just companies that were dropping him; other major outlets were also dropping him, like MRC Entertainment, Vogue, JP Morgan Chase, and UTA also dropped him. His own agency CAA also cut its ties with the rapper.


Mental illness doesn’t and never will excuse spreading hateful speeches to many people, and telling people that they are right to spread hate is not acceptable. If you still follow Kayne even after all the things he has done, I just have one question: why? Why do you still support Kayne West?



Our Voices Heard



School Violence

By Natalie Delikat, YPIE Scholar 2030

In this world, we cannot predict what happens in everyday school life. People are influenced by some kind of violence or assault. All across America, there is always something happening, such as shootings or stabbings. I can relate to this kind of situation. In my perspective, being through this kind of experience was terrifying. I feel like this incident influenced my life in the worst possible way. After the incident, I cannot forget this experience in the future, not knowing if I’m safe or not.


This is my story. I’m about to share an encounterment I had on a Friday morning. Never in my life have I experienced such a thing. And I hope I won't have to go through it again.


It was picture day on Friday, and I was in my physical education class. All of a sudden, on went the intercom, and the principal announced we were on a shelter lockdown! I felt very confused; no one in the gym had a clue what was going on or happening. My coach later came up to me and my friends and told us, ‘’All I know is that someone got hurt and that someone got arrested.’’


After hearing him say that, there were a lot of things going through my head, like, ‘’Had there been a major fight or even a threat?’’ The rest of the period went by and the principal announced on the intercom that shelter lockdown was lifted. Not knowing what had happened, I was afraid of what was soon to come. Deep down, at the bottom of my gut, I immediately got overwhelmed. Knowing that something would happen so serious like this would happen, made me very anxious.


I got to my third-period classroom and I simply asked myself, ’’What had happened?” My classmates and I waited in the hallway for our English teacher to escort us to the arena to take our pictures. When we arrived, people had already heard the rumors, including our classmates. Once they heard these whisperings, students started searching the news to see if the accusations were really true. We were anxiously waiting for the outcome.


Shortly after reading the news, we found out that someone had been stabbed. Imagining that something could happen like this was emotionally unnerving. Everyone was scared. After hearing about what had just happened, I was overwhelmed. After lunch, I couldn't stop thinking about the cause of this nightmare coming true. My friends were so frightened that some of them even left early. I wanted to leave early, but I couldn’t contact my parents since my phone died.


After most of the student body and the staff found out what just happened, they seemed perfectly fine and acted as if nothing happened. Last period, my history teacher gave us some of the details about what happened since he was actually near the incident.


He told us that left his classroom to wet his towel for cleaning off the blackboard. When wetting his towel, he had heard something in the bathroom but thought nothing of it. But when leaving, he heard another teacher yelling for help. A few minutes later, the security officers, the nurse, and the police arrived at the scene of the incident to help the boy that was being injured and to hold back the students injuring the boy.


After he told us a brief account, he asked us if we knew what had caused the accident. No one knew, but he did. He told us it was because of a girl. My class was in shock and could not stop repeating the phrase, “OH MY GOD.” I never would’ve thought this terrifying experience would be caused by a female since I’ve never heard of a situation like this that has been started by a female.


In the end, my feelings have been mixed with being terrified and joyful. I was happy to leave school that day knowing when I got home, I would know I was safe. Spending the rest of the weekend after discovering what had happened, I was still feeling the same way as I was at the moment of the incident.


In my mind, I knew this was a “one-time thing,” but what if it did become a recurring situation? In this world, we can never predict what happens in the future, but as people, we shouldn’t predict but prevent situations that are mentally, emotionally, and physically damaging to people.


Is Tiana Treated the Same as the Other White Disney Princesses?

By Jogita Dutta, YPIE Scholar 2029


For those who aren’t familiar with the story of Princess and the Frog, it follows a woman named Tiana, who works tirelessly to fulfill her dream of opening New Orleans’ finest restaurant but her plans are suddenly halted by her unexpected transformation into a frog after kissing the enchanted Prince Naveen. The frog couple navigates the bayou in search of the means to break the spell.


At first glance, there appears to be nothing wrong with this story; this story teaches a multitude of lessons to its younger audience. Tiana learns that relationships are the most important accomplishment of all and that Prince Naveen learns the importance of hard work and how that money isn’t everything.


Princess and the Frog delve into the classic Disney theme of how love conquers all. But as one takes a closer look at the story when compared to the white Disney princesses, it's easy to see the differences and issues.


In Princess and the Frog, Tiana is practicing her domesticity by working for an elite White family. Tiana begins her journey as a member of the working class - although she improves her socioeconomic status, she is still seen as serving the elite White family. Unlike any other white princess, Tiana has a job and gets paid. It seems as though the other white princesses are granted high status, whereas Tiana is forced to work for it.

Tiana is not only granted magic to further her goals but she is encouraged to work hard for her dream life. Whereas, in Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, the princesses are assisted by some magical elements rather than working for them themselves. Tiana even denies the use of Dr. Facilier’s culturally appropriated magic to make her dream come true.

Tiana is not the only princess of her generation to not heavily rely on magical elements but instead rely on themselves to work towards their goals as Bella from Beauty and the Beast does the same. But despite Bella also not heavily relying on magical elements or obtaining magical powers, she ends up having a much easier time throughout her character arc.


We only see Bella struggle for about half the story and the rest is her stay at the Beast’s castle until the climax; she doesn’t struggle half as much as the Beast does, if anything, Beauty and the Beast is more about Prince Adam (the Beast) struggles with his identity than Bella!


On top of that, despite being Disney’s first black princess, she spends most of her screen time as an animal rather than a human. Ironically as a frog, she is even more of a domestic figure as she spends the entirety of her time as a frog being a babysitter to Prince Naveen. From the moment she is morphed into an animal (which happens less than a quarter of the way into the run time of the film) she works hard to show Prince Naveen the importance of hard work. So if anything, Princess and the Frog is more about Prince Naveen learning the importance of hard work than Tiana learning about the importance of relationships and relying on others.

Funny enough, both Prince Naveen and Tiana's lessons are completely forgotten by the end of the movie as we got to see Tiana in her restaurant doing all the work by herself and Prince Naveen is just playing the ukulele.

Overall, the movie may seem to be promoting feminism so little girls can be empowered in the film, but the characters continue to embrace domesticity and can still feel racially unempowering.

Pretty Privilege

By Rana Larry, YPIE Scholar 2027



Pretty privilege is said to be “a principle that people who are deemed attractive based on beauty standards that stand in society, have an upper hand, and are afforded many opportunities that regular people who society regard as unattractive don't have”.


What are society's standards for both men and women? What is deemed to be attractive?


In this society, men’s beauty standards are deduced by their hyper-masculinity, skin, ruggedness, and muscular physique”2 Not only from this but their skin color, features, and body language (also for women). Then people asked the question “Is this a “REAL” man?”As nitpicks a man's qualities to deduce if they fit the standards of society, which can go into another topic of race. Is pretty privilege even real?


For women, beauty standards are impossible and imaginary illusions people have for them. It’s engulfing women around the world; people believe they have the voice to pick out features of women they do not like. Women experience these different encounters daily, which continues this whole question of does pretty privilege exist?


Some evidence of pretty privilege is demonstrated through the media that we consume on a daily basis.


IN MEDIA


Women

Pretty privilege is seen throughout society that can be picked out easily but isn’t called out frequently. These standards placed on men and women continue to displace these nonsensical illusions into social media every day. People work to fit into this society so they are not clawed on as ugly and unattractive. This ruins kids' mindset from a young age, as there is a lack of diversity seen on TV and a small number of character roles that have the skin color and features of a person in the society that we live in.



200 Pounds Beauty” Korean Movie - Powered by AsianCrush - Director: KIM YONG-HWA 3


In this scene, Han-na went to a plastic surgeon to help her change her appearance after facing a moment she believes was very embarrassing from someone she had a crush on. She wanted to fit in with the society of the music industry and fought to get plastic surgery done.


In this scene of the movie, the main character Han-na said “I died yesterday” expressing her feelings about the pretty privilege in the music industry. She had to sing backstage for the other character who couldn’t sing but she was known for the Han-na’s voice due to her being more pretty for the music business. She continued to realize that they only needed her for her voice and nothing more. Han-na wanted the life of a star and could not take the humiliation she was receiving from staff in the company anymore.




“200 Pounds Beauty” Korean Movie - Powered by AsianCrush - Director: KIM YONG-HWA


In this scene, Han-na has returned from the 1-year break she took to lose weight to undergo her plastic surgery. As she has finally appeared back into society in her “beauty standard body”, the song in the background continues to say “I’m a beautiful girl”.


The song keeps saying “I’m a beautiful girl” after the character went to undergo surgery due to her feeling she didn't fit into society. Though plastic surgery isn’t bad and it’s a person’s choice, this message speaks on how messed up the world is. As it continues to instruct that beauty is the way to have success in one’s career. From the lyrics of the song, it is associated with one's mentality. Han-na believes she is finally a beautiful girl after going through everything.


One can not be beautiful since it does not fit society’s standards. Afterward, she was able to continue with a career as a soloist and not just a girl backstage, not seen, singing for a girl, who can not sing, that is on stage in front of the crowd.


Men



How to Build A Better Boy Powered By Disney Channel; Director: PAUL HOEN


This scene is after the girls created a perfect boy to fix up the lie they told a girl who bullied them for being nerds.


Men in this society have also been ripped apart and dragged through mud though it’s not spoken about much as it is for women. It still happens in movies and tv-shows. Pretty privileges for men tend to go into more features, height, and body shape. I think it’s important to understand this not only happens in Hollywood but also in school.


I’m not about to speak for men but I’ve seen what people go through. Pretty privilege for people is either wanting to become friends with them, the “pretty” person, but if they think you don’t fit the standard then you're not worth their time.


Pretty privilege is apparent within the media and within our contemporary society.


School Violence & Judging Girls

By Katherine Lagos, YPIE Scholar 2030


When girls start to go through puberty their bodies start to change. For obvious reasons, not every girl gets the same body. As girls, our bodies change into our own unique shapes. As our bodies change, so do the perspectives of others towards us. Our insecurities kick in. We start to feel shame because of a lack of understanding as to why our bodies are changing. This lack of understanding can be due to our parents never speaking about puberty. This link, by Mary L. Gavin, MD, provides great information about when both girls and boys go through puberty, as well as when parents should have “The Talk''. In some cases, puberty happens earlier than expected and we feel embarrassed of telling our parents, we become isolated. Puberty is a big part of a child’s growth. One day a girl wakes up and all of a sudden has all these new rules to learn and to follow. , this link proves 10 new rules girls have to follow when they get their menstrual cycle. What some parents don’t know is that our bodies’ changes aren’t the only thing changing. The people in our lives change their attitude toward us. This change in attitude is where the judging starts.


Though both men and women get judged for their bodies, judgment is usually geared more toward women. Women’s bodies are more noticeable when they change compared to male bodies. They get judged because of different things: how they dress, their figure if they wear makeup or not, etc. Women are judged every day for the simplest things, like too much makeup or no makeup at all, especially in a school environment. What people don’t understand is that their words hurt. Every remark, every criticism, every look has an impact on a person. When people comment on a person's weight, on their size, on their height, they may think it’s a joke, but comments like these are what cause women to feel insecure, shame, and embarrassed.


Women don’t have control over how their bodies are changing, but people have the control to not comment on a female's body. However, they chose to speak about it, they chose to comment. Why? To feel better about themselves, or jealousy or simply because they want to make females feel bad about their bodies changing. Do they not understand that comments like those hurt? If only they knew how females felt every time they were judged. If only they knew how many females cry at night not knowing how to make those comments to stop. How many more females have to cry at night for people to understand that their words hurt, that they should stop unwanted comments?


These comments sometimes lead to violence. A person can only take so much judgment. That shame, embarrassment, and insecurity turn into anger, which can turn into violence. Violence to fight back the words and the more hurtful comments. This violence can change into what is known as school violence.


School violence is a huge problem in a child’s everyday life. The judgment and discrimination towards women shown previously are good examples of the embers that ignite school violence. Disagreements between classmates, jealousy, and problems at home can cause anger issues, leading to school violence. This link will show you some types of school violence.


Sometimes, children can’t express their emotions or control problems at home. This causes them to want to take their anger out on other people. But, what if that anger is so uncontrollable that someone ends up in the hospital? What if that violence brought from home, jealousy, or bottled-up emotions, is so uncontrollable that it turns into a fight and someone ends up in the hospital or with someone in prison? This link demonstrates how bullying, and judging women can lead to school violence, as well as how some school boards turn a blind eye, and don't do enough to stop the violence in our schools.


Violence and discrimination have proven to be a problem in our society, yet it spreads like wildfire. Why? What is something we can do to end these problems? Should we speak against it, protest, or simply stand there and watch it happen not knowing if one day you’re going to be next? Maybe it’s not you but someone you know. Well, what should we do so that our voices are being heard and not ignored?


The Parallels Between Banned Books and The Discussion of Race

By: Annabelle Bradley, YPIE Scholar 2027


Every year the site ala.org, or the American Library Association, publishes a list of the year's top banned books in the United States. Along with this there is a short sentence listing the reasons for the book being banned. These reasons can range anywhere from sexual content and profanity, to LGBTQIA+ content and indoctrination of a social agenda. But, when looking over these lists, there is a recurring theme with the books being banned. Many of the books being banned year after year, are books that tell a story about people of color; most prominently, the story of black Americans.


When looking at the most current list from ALA’s, “Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021”, six of the books ranked most challenged are stories told from the perspective of a person of color; these perspectives include African-American, Mexican American, and Native American. These stories are not only showing new perspectives but also sharing stories demonstrating the struggle that people of color and minorities face in the society we live in. They demonstrate issues that are not shown in your average classroom, but are happening in the ‘real world’.


An example is The Bluest Eye, a novel by Toni Morrison. This novel at its core is showing the oppression of women and the ways in which internalized white beauty standards deform the lives of black girls and women. The novel's women not only suffer the horrors of racial oppression but also the tyranny and violation brought upon them by the men in their lives. Taking place right after the Great Depression, the reader gets a look into what life was like for black women during the time period and exhibits this new view on the development of womanhood that can be applied to today’s society. This novel’s message is especially important today because of the recent ban on abortion in multiple states; a ban that is violating a woman’s right to autonomy and healthcare. These abortion laws are having a major impact on poor women and women of color with black women receiving more than a third of the country's reported abortions and Hispanic women about a fifth. To this day, men feel the need to terrorize and control women’s bodies and their ways of living. This despotism turns into a cycle of violence and oppression that has been occurring since the beginning of civilization. The cycle can never be broken if people remain ignorant and uneducated.


Another book that has faced backlash, censorship, and banning is Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This book is geared towards young adults and starts a discussion about the construct of race and how it has been used and is still being used to gain and keep power in the hands of the people in charge. The book teaches the history of racism and the racist ideas that have been integrated into our way of living. It reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Stamped is not just teaching a history lesson to the reader, it is telling a story that will inspire, educate, and bring hope to our future generations.


The banning and censoring of books is not only taking the voices away from the authors writing these books, but it is also taking the voices away from the community of people that are represented through the stories. No matter if the story is nonfiction or fiction, it can be applied to the real world and make an impact on a person’s way of living. Besides that, the problems and topics being discussed in these banned books are not works of fiction. They are addressing real-world problems occurring in our daily lives. If we continue to censor real-world issues and topics, they will persist. Ignorance is what keeps those sitting at the top of the pyramid in control. Children should be given every opportunity to learn and form their own opinions, not exposing them to certain topics like race is not keeping them safe; it is leaving them in the dark.



Entertainment and Lifestyle


Who is Ryan Coogler?

By Joyeta Dutta, YPIE Scholar 2027


Ryan Coogler is an African American director, producer, and writer who is best known for his work in the Black Panther film series, the Creed series, and Fruitvale Station.


He grew up in Richmond, CA in the East Bay area north of Oakland, CA. He attended Saint Mary's College on a football scholarship. Later, he transferred to Sacramento State College. He was a graduate student at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.


He got his break from the movie Fruitvale Station, starring Michael B Jordan as Oscar. Then later on, he went to direct Creed in 2015, which also starred Michael B Jordan. After the success of Creed, he went on to work for Marvel Studios for Black Panther, becoming the youngest director to work for Marvel Studios. This movie made him a globally recognized director and it even got nominated for a Best Pictures nomination at the 2019 Oscars.


He is a frequent collaborator with composer Ludwig Göransson, production designer Hannah Beachler, editor Michael P. Shawver, and cinematographer Rachel Morrison. He also has a very similar way of telling his stories, such as having a predominantly Black cast. Giving him an outlet to use their Black identity to elevate the story of the film.


All his movies have been major box office hits - Black Panther was his biggest hit as it earned the highest domestic gross, $700 million, out of all the films released in 2018, and earned $1.3 billion worldwide. This box office streak continued with Creed 2, as it was also one of Coogler’s major successes making $214.1 million worldwide.


With the recent Black Panther Wakanda Forever, Coogler has established himself as a box office hitmaker as it made $451,735,952 domestically and earned $839,045,359 worldwide. It became the sixth highest-grossing film in 2022.


Ryan Coogler's upcoming movie is Creed 3 which comes out in theaters on March 3rd, 2023.



Women's Involvement in The Fight for Equality

By: Annabelle Bradley YPIE Scholar 2027


Throughout history, we have had many movements that shaped our society into what we know it today. The Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter Movement, Me Too Movement, and the Fight For Equality. We know many great figures and role models that have come from these demonstrations like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; but what about the women behind these movements?


Eartha Kitt (1927-2008)

Eartha Kitt was an American singer, actress, dancer, and activist. Most known for her role as Catwoman in the 1960’s series Batman and recordings of “C’est si born” and “Santa Baby” this enemy award-winning star had a rough upbringing. Ertha was born on a plantation and was conceived by rape. Due to her light complexion, Eartha was refused by the man her mother lived with and was forced to live with her abusive relative. This hard childhood showed her how important it was to stay true to herself and pushed her to start her career as not only a star but an activist.


Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s Kitt focused her work in social justice and equality for all. She began a non-profit organization, Kittsville Youth Foundation, which is still established to this day. The foundation offers opportunities in dance and the arts to underprivileged youth. Eartha Kitt also openly supported LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage because she believed it was also a basic human right that should be protected.


Along with these acts of activism, Eartha Kitt once spoke out about the youth of America and the truth behind juvenile delinquency with the First Lady, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. When Ms. Kitt was asked “Why is there so much juvenile delinquency in the streets of America?”


She hesitated at first


But after a bit of thinking, she gave her response…



This was the moment that the world realized the truth behind Eartha Kitt’s voice and the power that she held. She was a woman who was not going to stop until the truth was heard and kids and people could walk on the street without having to worry if they were going to die or not.


Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)

Shirley Chisholm is the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was the daughter of immigrants. Chisholm worked side jobs to study at Columbia University. Although professors encouraged her to consider a political career, she replied that she faced a “double handicap” as both Black and female.


By 1960, Sirley Chrisholm was a consultant to the New York City Division of DayCare. She always had a strong awareness of racial and gender inequality; she joined local chapters of the League of Women Voters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League, as well as the Democratic Party club in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.


Soon, Sirely Chrisholm began her campaign for legislator and in 1964 she was elected into the New York State Assembly and became the second African American in the legislature. After court-ordered redistricting created a new, heavily Democratic, district in her neighborhood, in 1968 Chisholm sought—and won—a seat in Congress. Because of her efforts in winning her seat in Congress, she gained the nickname “Fighting Shirley”.


During her time in Congress, Chisholm introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equality, the plight of the poor, and ending the Vietnam War. Along with this, she co-founded the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. In 1972, Sirely Chrisholm tried to receive the Democratic presidential nomination. But, due to discrimination and racism, she was blocked from participating in televised primary debates. Of course, Chisholm did not give up, after taking legal action, she was permitted to make just one speech.


Still, students, women, and minorities believed in her and showed their support. She entered 12 primaries and garnered 152 of the delegates’ votes despite an under-financed campaign and contentiousness from the predominantly male Congressional Black Caucus.


In 1977 became the first Black woman and second woman ever to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee.


Chisholm retired from Congress in 1983 and went into teaching. She became a professor at Mount Holyoke College and went on to co-found the National Political Congress of Black Women. Even in retirement, Chisholm was seen as a resource and was considered for the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica but had to refuse due to health concerns.


When asked to leave a legacy, this is what Shirley Chisholm said.. “I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.”



Valerie Thomas (1943- )

Valerie Thomas was a Black mathematician and inventor. She worked for NASA and invented a way to transmit three-dimensional images to appear real. Thomas was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and since a young age has had an interest in electronics, mathematics and physics. Despite girls not being encouraged to study those subjects and racial segregation, she went on to attend Morgan State University and graduate with a Bachelors's in Physics,


After graduating college, Valerie Thomas went on to work as a data analyst at NASA. Before her job, Thomas had never seen a computer in real life; despite this, she was eager about her job and made it a goal to learn as much about computers as possible. Thomas worked on translating data captured by Orbiting Geophysical Observatory satellites, including information about gamma and ultraviolet radiation, into formats that scientists could understand and use. In 1970, Thomas began working on the Landsat program with NASA and the United States Geological Survey. Landsat satellites capture multispectral images of Earth from orbit, meaning they gather data along various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.


After seeing an illusion that involved concave mirrors and light bulbs in a museum, Thomas became curious about how she might apply concave mirrors in her work at NASA. This is when she began developing a new invention, the “illusion transmitter” in 1978. This illusion technology creates an optical illusion that produces a 3D image. The technology worked by taking pictures through multiple cameras and bouncing them off of a mirror.


Thomas’s patent for the illusion transmitter was granted in 1980, a position that very few Black inventors hold, especially Black women. Today, the illusion transmitter is used by NASA, and Valarie Thomas’s technology has had further applications in video, television, and even surgical imaging.


In 1985, she earned a master’s degree in engineering administration from George Washington University. Within the same year, she served as the computer facility manager for NASA’s National Space Science Data Center. Later in 1986, Thomas became the project manager of the agency’s Space Physics Analysis Network. A network was created to assist scientists to share data and collaborate. Thomas held the position of associate chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office and later retired from NASA in 1995.


She went on to receive her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.


Today, Valier Thomas works as a substitute teacher. Here she continues to share her love for S.T.E.M. by educating and encouraging young people, especially African Americans, and girls, to pursue an education in science.



Creative Corner


Why Being Born on Valentine’s Day SUCKS: An Opinion Piece

By Natalie Flores, YPIE Scholar 2028


If you didn’t know this about me, I was unfortunately born on Valentine’s Day. My mom decided to curse me the moment I was born - I mean… I’m not saying she planned it but she once told me I was almost named Valentina, so there’s that…


When I was little, I used to love the attention it brought me; I would go to school on my birthday, wearing a dress filled with hearts and lavish in the “happy birthdays” I received while walking in the halls. But as I grew older and am now surrounded by the idea of dating in high school and just relationships in general, I realized how much of an enigma that day has been for me.


Don’t get me wrong, birthdays are fun/exciting and a great way to know that you are loved by many but not for me, it has always been a complicated day with such mixed emotions. Now that I am in high school, I have this pressure to get a significant other and ‘put myself out there’ but I really don’t want to. I realized that many people my age believe that romantic love is all we are fit for, so we seek love in people who are too emotionally immature to receive it, more or less actually reciprocate it.


I am perfectly fine with being single but I am not fine with the connotations that come along with it. I remember talking to one of my best friends about how I don’t plan on dating and she was shocked, she responded with this, “Natalie, are you just scared to put yourself out there? I mean, your birthday is soon, why don’t you try to get a Valentine or something?” I just wish that people can realize that romantic love isn’t everything a person is fit for because that platonic love is enough for me.


If I got a nickel every time I told someone my birthday and they responded with, “I feel so bad for you, that’s awful,” I’d be able to buy a million cheesy Valentine’s Day cards. But that’s not even the worst part: I have to plan everything beforehand because all my favorite restaurants are already filled with reservations.


As much as it is a hassle that my birthday is on a holiday that was solely created to sell jewelry and roses, I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s hilarious and depressing, but hey, it gave me the opportunity to write a funny article.


Interested in contributing to the YPIE Our Voices Heard? Email Stephanie Abiva, YPIE QuaranTimes Advisor and College Readiness Manager.



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