Entertainment Issue 5 Magazine

Winter Beauties

By Roxy Schneider 

With COVID going on, it may be hard to get out and feel safe with distancing and people following rules with masks. With winter in season, it can also get very cold. This past week, I went to places around the Bay Area to see where the prettiest views were, and which places were the most Covid-safe. These spots also offer the ability to stay in your car, walk a short distance, bike around, or hike. 

Grizzly Peak is a popular destination point for teenagers. It is located in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills. Grizzly Peak offers gorgeous views of the city. Views range from the UC Berkeley campus to the San Francisco Bay. However, Grizzly Peak is a bit scary to drive to. If you decide to drive up, I suggest being a confident driver that can handle the turns. The sharp turns and blind spots can be very intimidating, especially at night. If you decide to get out of your car to get a better view, please watch the road before crossing. People love to speed around the corners and won’t have enough time to stop if you are in their way. The best time to be at Grizzly Peak is at sunset or sunrise. I drove up during the night and it was pretty crowded. Everyone stays in their car for the most part though, due to the city putting logs around the usual sitting areas. It may take a little while to find parking so I suggest you go during sunrise. Grizzly Peak is great because of its close proximity to downtown Berkeley. Going to one of the local restaurants for take out and going up to the top of the hills is a must. With such stunning views, Grizzly Peak is a prime location to enjoy some food. I went to Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana and then drove up for the sunset. It’s also a perfect place to bring your significant other because watching the sunset can be very romantic and relaxing. 

The second place I visited was my personal favorite: Mt. Diablo, which is a great spot to exercise and enjoy some views. I did one of the hiking trails, and it was relatively easy and the view was gorgeous. You can choose between an easy hike and a harder hike, depending on how you’re feeling. If hiking is not your thing, Mt. Diablo has a similar drive to Grizzly Peak, in the sense that it has sharp turns and blind corners. It is also a lot longer of a drive to the summit compared to Grizzly Peak. While Grizzly is a 15-20 minute time to the peak, Mt. Diablo is about a 45-60 minute drive. I have to warn you, if you decide to go to Mt. Diablo, you have to pay a $10 fee per car to get in. However, Mt. Diablo’s views are impeccable. You may not get a view of the bay, but the views you get of rolling hills and green grass are still amazing, and even better if you catch the view with little to no clouds. I did not get a chance to see the views during a sunset or sunrise, but I’m sure it is just as gorgeous. The only con to Mt. Diablo is that if you decide to go to the summit, you have to get out of your car to enjoy the view. Also, some people do not wear masks, but most do. If you decide to go up, there are tons of tables for a nice picnic with family or friends.

Entertainment Issue 5 Magazine

An American Dream Deferred

By Josh Silva

Graphic By Jane Wilson

It begins as it ends, with a montage of home video from the days when recording daily life was still a novelty, and not commonplace. We first see Fox Rich, the protagonist of Garrett Bradley’s 2020 documentary Time, through her proto-vlogs as she plays with her children, drives them around, and confesses to the camera about the film’s central conflict: the incarceration of her husband, Rob Richardson.

The couple, both African-American and living in New Orleans, were torn apart when he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for bank robbery. It is briefly mentioned that he had the opportunity to take a plea bargain, but did not. This detail, and many others, are not elaborated on. Bradley is less interested in the facts than in the psychological weight of having a loved one ripped away by a vicious system, and the endlessly deferred promise of reunion, making for a quietly heartbreaking masterpiece.

Time toggles freely between Fox Rich’s older home movies and Garret Bradley’s new, crisp footage of Rich still fighting her battles, but both are in black and white. We see her as she speaks to crowds about her fight and advocates for criminal justice reform, calling herself an abolitionist for the modern-day form of slavery. These speeches reach towards catharsis for her, strongly contrasting the simmering pain that underlies the many shots of her just…waiting. One of these scenes, in which she’s on hold to the judge’s office, captures the film in a microcosm. The passage, or stagnation of time, is felt not through montage, but through holding on three static closeups (two of her, one of her son). Bradley’s economy of shots communicates the tedium of Rich’s battle. In another scene of her on a phone call, her son fiddles with the blinds, a detail so perfectly placed it may have been staged, but that does not undermine the truth of it. Bradley’s style is calculated but not intrusive, and this style leaves “no shot wasted” feeling in the film’s brisk 81 minute runtime. It is, perhaps, a little too brisk; at times I wanted to see more characterization of the Rich family. But it is the waiting which characterizes them; their life is defined not by broad changes, but by the one central element which is kept from changing. 

This delayed payoff accumulates for 70 minutes until the pain is finally released in a joyous crescendo. The film’s beautiful ending, which will likely leave many in tears, is the only plot development to be seen firsthand. By then, the viewer has been so accustomed to lack of change that the catharsis cannot fully be processed, to say nothing of how Fox Rich feels. The film ends with the same shots that opened it playing in reverse. This does not mean that those memories are forgotten or erased, but that they are finally free to become memories, rather than a constant, chaining present.

Perhaps Time’s strongest quality is its capturing of systemic injustice through personal experience. Bradley trusts her audience’s intelligence enough not to resort to didacticism. While thousands of other black people experience this same oppression at the hands of America’s draconian prison industry, Bradley does not define them with a number. The statistics, as horrifying as they are, cannot linger the same way the sorrow in Rich’s face does as her phone call with her husband is cut short. Only through specificity can there be universality. 
James Baldwin perfectly summarized the cruelty of waiting and its innateness in the Black American experience when he said, “You always told me it takes time. It’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brother’s and my sister’s time, my niece’s and my nephew’s time. How much time do you want for your progress?” Early in the film Rich states that she believes in the American dream, a bitter irony considering that the framers of that dream built their success and their country on slavery, and her husband’s plight is merely that same oppression with a new face. But it is her belief that keeps her sane through the interminable waiting. Though she and her husband cannot regain their stolen years, they are now freer than ever before to shape their own present.

Entertainment Issue 5 Magazine

The Xbox and PlayStation Could Be Doomed

By Eric Khodorenko

Graphic By Yiying Zhang

I’ve been playing games for about a decade now, starting with my early years as an avid Pokémon fan, leading up to my beloved memories playing Wii Sports and now, when I regularly play massive, open world games. Every time I play, I have used a dedicated console or computer, but there is a new way to play now. Enter Amazon Luna, a new game streaming service that allows you to play games on most internet connected devices. This means you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a console or a computer. Amazon Luna accomplishes these lofty goals by using cloud streaming, which means that you only have to pay $6 a month to play from a library of games that Luna is constantly expanding. Though this price is rumored to grow when it emerges out of early access.

Luna is ambitious, but it has genuine potential. I was able to play Control, a demanding modern game, on my iPad and iPhone smoothly and with a sharp resolution. Control looked absolutely stunning as I ran around the ominous detective agency performing heroic acts; there were only a few stutters and it ran and looked better when compared to a PS4 or Xbox One. However, the biggest downside of Luna is latency, which is not too noticeable in Control, but in games that require precise timing like first person shooter games, Luna falls short. I notice that when I input to shoot, it takes a noticeable amount of time before the input actually shows up on screen. The other downside is that you can’t play whatever game you want. Luna has a library of games that is growing, but as of now there are only two blockbuster games. That makes Luna hard to recommend currently, despite its relatively low price and high performance. However, I predict that in a couple years from now, game streaming will become more popular given its low entry price, and the Xbox and PlayStation will have some serious competition.

Entertainment Issue 5 Magazine

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: A Film Meant for the Stage

By Brodie Ziegler

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' showcases the triumphs of Black people, not just  our burdens

Initially intended to be the second of Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptations for HBO, the story of a 1927 recording session in Chicago, Illinois, changed hands to Netflix in June of 2019. August Wilson’s play revolves around the real-life “Mother of the Blues” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and one particular day in a recording studio under the supervision of Mr. Irvin and Mr. Sturdyvant. Much like another 2020 release, One Night in Miami…, Director George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom examines the African-American experience through scenes of prolonged dialogue and conflict, set in virtually one location. Wolfe portrays the different perspectives of those marginalized in the early 20th-century social climate by accumulating a cast of vastly different characters and personalities. 

It is apparent from the first scene that Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis, acts as a magnet, attracting the attention of anyone around her and establishing herself in a place of dominance. However, the incorporation of the late Chadwick Boseman’s Levee, with his ego and hubristic charm, creates conflict with Ma’s controlling nature. These two emotional powerhouses are surrounded by trombonist and lead-man Cutler (Colman Domingo), bassist “Slow Drag” (Michael Potts) and aging pianist Toledo (Glynn Turman). As a foundation, August Wilson’s story finds stability, with the possibility to contrast perspectives between genders and multiple generations. Infuse these possibilities with the precarious employer-employee relationship between the band and Ma, and white businessmen Irvin and Sturdyvant, and you not only have a potentially riveting film, but also one with a unique and deeply moving commentary on racial injustice. 

However, this is where the film gets lost, as Wolfe’s execution is an unfocused, puzzling and juvenile disappointment. While groundwork and intent are there, and the story it presents is important, highlighting the African-American experience and difficulties in 1920s America, this is a story that didn’t need to be transferred onto the screen. Wolfe’s film incites apathy and discomfort in its viewer as his direction comes across as surface-level, almost as if he just filmed a play. Its structure and dialogue are purposefully fitted for the stage, not the silver screen. Additionally, the performances feel very theatrical, with hyperbolic emotions and very melodramatic line-delivery. The narrative is delivered through frantic dialogue and disorienting editing as Wolfe and his cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler desperately try to fit in each character’s lines and reactions, unlike on the stage where everyone can be seen simultaneously. For a film set in only one location or so, the production design is quite underwhelming as well. The establishing shots of a bustling 1927 Chicago are uncomfortable to look at, flooded with rushed CGI, lackluster production design, excessively dramatic color grading, and an inconsistent tone.

It’s as if George C. Wolfe was foolishly straining to make Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom feel cinematic, with unique shot composition, montages, and unnecessary moments that force beauty, without subtlety or patience. Numerous plot points don’t add anything to the story, and even Sylvester’s stuttering, which gives Ma a maternal and empathetic light, feels forced. Some racial metaphors or commentaries are explained to the viewer, voiding these moments of any poignancy and not allowing them to put it together themselves. However, with all the film’s faults, there are quite a few saving graces as well. The comedy, while quick and easy to miss, is quite effective in lightening some scenes and establishing comradery between the characters. And, after his tragic passing this past August, Chadwick Boseman truly delivers a fantastic performance, and his passion and devotion flood the screen. Viola Davis – in her sweat-drenched but entrancing costumes – is powerful and effective in establishing a character that is bothersome yet sympathetic. While the film’s pacing is incredibly poor, it does deliver some emotional moments as well, especially towards the end. 
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is undoubtedly headed for multiple Oscars this coming April and gives us two of the better performances of the year, but Wolfe’s execution makes it an apathetic experience for the viewer. I’ll be absolutely thrilled to hopefully see Boseman win his deserved Oscar posthumously, but I wish his last film was something more memorable and moving than this.

Features Issue 5 Magazine

Betty Reid Soskin: A local Hero

By Mateo Requejo-Tejada

Graphic By Yiying Zhang

Born September 22, 1921, Betty Reid Soskin is the country’s oldest Park Ranger at 99 years old. She has served as a Park Ranger at the Rosie The Riveter National Park Museum in Richmond for 14 years. Prior to that, Soskin made several contributions as a Civil Rights Activist and in local politics.

In 1945, Soskin helped her then-husband, Mel Reid, open up Reid’s Records in Berkeley, California. The store predominantly sold to the Bay Area’s Black community for almost 75 years, providing Jazz, R&B, and most popularly, Gospel music. Reid’s Records provided a place for African-Americans to buy records at a time when they wouldn’t have been allowed into other stores because of discrimination. Over time, the shop became more and more successful, and the record store continued to do exceptionally well. They sought to build a “dream home” in Walnut Creek because their housing options were limited in Berkeley due to intense redlining (a form of segregation) during the 1950s. In the recently desegregated community of Walnut Creek, white families were angered at the thought of having Soskin and her family as neighbors.

Her family would, for years to come, receive death threats from the predominantly white community and threats of destroying her property. In response, Soskin spent many hours guarding her family’s property because she refused to be intimidated and leave Walnut Creek. After 20 years, Soskin finally began to be embraced by some in her new community and later became politically active in Walnut Creekand Berkeley.

During the Civil Rights Era, Soskin helped join the Black Panthers to her liberal white community. She collected money in the suburbs and held fundraisers, as well as other events, to support the Black community. She would then head to Oakland or San Francisco and deliver the money to Kathleen and Eldrige Cleaver, early leaders of the Black Panther Party. Soskin’s involvement with local politics didn’t end there. 

Around ten years later, during the height of the Crack Epidemic in the ‘70s, Soskin was facing troubling times and wanted to revive the records store. The store was mismanaged, and commerce was low due to the increasing death rates in the Black community. Facing this issue, Betty challenged Berkeley’s City Hall to clean up the devastating presence of drugs on Sacramento Street. Due to her efforts in fixing up the neighborhood, Soskin later ended up working at City Hall as a legislative aide to Don Jelinek because of how effective she had become. 

In order to become effective in pushing her agenda through City Hall, Soskin learned to follow three rules taught to her by her friend, late minister Aron Gilmartin of Mt. Diablo Unitarian-Universalist Church: “Always make others look good, great things happen if you don’t care who gets the credit, and the best leadership is when the leadership is invisible to those being led.” In her blog, “CBreaux Speaks,” Soskin writes that the rules were “all that I needed in order to succeed as an organizer activist.” During her tenure at City Hall, Soskin worked with the mayor of Berkeley to build low-income housing throughout the city. She was also able to lobby the city to purchase the former crack houses as well as other properties around Sacramento Street and Ashby Avenue and turn them into affordable housing units called Byron Rumford Plaza.

After working at City Hall, Soskin went on to work with Dion Aroner, a California Assemblywoman. This would later lead to her involvement in establishing the Rosie The Riveter Park in Richmond, California. In 2006, she joined the Rosie the Riveter Museum and worked there even after she suffered a stroke in 2019. At the museum, she brought her personal experience working on the homefront during a time when the Jim Crow laws were still alive and well. Soskin says that she chooses to talk about her life during this era in order to preserve history that is too often ignored and forgotten because “what gets remembered is a function of who’s in the room doing the remembering.”

-Betty Reed Soskin was not available to comment until after print. Stay tuned to hear her story from her very own words when she is featured as a guest speaker this Black History Month!

Features Issue 5 Magazine

Auto Shop During COVID-19

By Jack Abells

Graphic By Yiying Zhang

The transition to online school has ranged in ease for each class. Some classes were smoother and simpler to adapt to online, while others were seemingly impossible being based in an in-person setting. The Automotive Engineering, or Auto Shop classes were in a position similar to that of last Spring, and were forced to be creative in how they change the class during COVID. 

William Stivale teaches Automotive Engineering at Las Lomas. Stivale has taught for 35 years, both at high schools and colleges. He’s also worked for General Motors to train technicians working at dealerships. During distance learning, Stivale has worked even closer with other Auto Shop teachers in the district: Steve Boone from Campolindo, and Ryan Shelley from Acalanes High School. Stivale comments on the first distance learning experience: “My class in the beginning year, the first level, was about a 50% hands-on class. The advanced class was more 80% hands-on. So that’s where we had a problem with the COVID year.” Stivale continues on explaining that after brainstorming with other Auto Shop teachers they were able to come up with the idea of video demonstrations of procedures for students to watch. Another benefit Stivale mentions is that they will be functional for in-person classes to come. “I would continue to use the videos as a helper teacher out in the shop. So I would present it to the class in the classroom setting, then we would go out in the shop and maybe do a quick demonstration.” 

While the videos, which are embedded with questions, can teach the theory of the subject, they can’t substitute for kinesthetic learning in Auto Shop. “It’s frustrating because I can’t do the hands-on part. Some people learn better by using their hands and taking things apart themselves,” Stivale said. He continues, “Other than that, you don’t get to know the students very well on the Zoom calls. In the past I’ve gotten a lot of people jobs after [high] school, but now I don’t know the kids well enough to even recommend them to do that. I don’t get to see individual students’ abilities because of the way we have to teach right now.” While it may not be as significant as the downsides, Stivale does see a little upside to teaching through Zoom, “The only benefit I can see is that [online school] forced us to work together and to produce the videos that we have always talked about doing.”

Students are also feeling the dramatic impact of distance learning in Auto Shop. “Class just being online makes it greatly different,” said Josh Stemmerich, a Senior taking Automotive Engineering. Stemmerich, having taken the class before, says that while there are “not really” any benefits to taking the class online, he is still able to learn the subject well online. Stemmerich expresses optimism saying, “I just know we all hope to be back soon.”

In the future Stivale hopes the new instructional videos will be useful for students after they graduate. “It’s going to be on YouTube so they can access all the videos online, and if they have a problem with one part of their car they can look up how to do it, they don’t have to remember everything.” For the future of Auto Shop, Stivale wants to expand the program and see more people get interested in it. One way he’d hope to accomplish this would be by creating an all-girls class, since the subject is often male-dominated. 

Classes that normally focus on solely in-person work are now having to find creative ways to adapt. The new academic changes, created to adapt to distance learning, will mostly be used in future instruction. These changes show that in-person school won’t be returning in the same learning format, for better or for worse.

Features Issue 5 Magazine

Sustainable Leaders In Action

By Caroline Johnston

Environmental degradation is a pressing issue in our world, and we have local organizations to thank for taking the initiative to keep our communities safe and sustainable. A relatively new organization called Sustainable Leaders in Action, or SLIA, is the youth-led branch of Sustainable Contra Costa. SLIA works to inspire citizens to incorporate sustainability into their daily lives. 

Director and Chair of SLIA, Karen Rosenberg, said, “In founding this group, I truly wanted a place where youth felt a sense of camaraderie and allowed them to make positive change within their community while gaining pertinent skills that would help ease them into a future green job, as well.” The organization is composed of high school student volunteers, college student volunteers, and interns. Since the organization was founded in July of 2020, it has accomplished numerous victories, such as: “[Being] recognized on the county level as the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge winner 2020, publishing 6 e-newsletters that are entirely written/composed by our members and organizing a free virtual interactive event, the Climate Careers Chat (CCC), focusing on the journeys of industry professionals within sustainability,” said Courtney Jane Sanchez, Vice Chair of SLIA. Their monthly newsletters include “environmental articles, personal narratives, recipes, restaurant recommendations, infographics, comic strips, artwork and photographs.” To receive these virtual letters, you can sign up for their mailing list on their website. By publishing newsletters, the organization has been able to educate community members about how they can make environmentally friendly decisions. 

The group has hosted one Climate Careers Chat, where they host industry professionals in sustainability and conservation as guests who share their knowledge with citizens, and their second is planned for January 28. 

Members of SLIA also commit to an “Action of the Month,” such as taking a shorter shower every day or eating more sustainably, and they encourage other community members to take action alongside them. When it comes to sustainability, little actions can make a large difference, and all great movements must start locally.

Issue 5 Magazine Opinions

What the Senate’s 50-50 Split Means for America

By Cameron Pitzak

The election in Georgia has been decided, with senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock taking two previously Republican seats. This has led to a lot of excitement among Democrats because with these two seats, they technically have a majority in the senate with the added tiebreaker vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, who acts as President of the Senate. While many thought this would give the Democrats a chance to finally push forward legislation, this isn’t completely the case.

In the Senate, it is possible to filibuster, which is the act of taking advantage of the rule in the Senate that allows unlimited debate time, infinitely prolonging the legislative process by giving constant speeches for hours on end. In order to stop a filibuster, the senate can invoke cloture, which allows the senate to end the debate as long as they have three-fifths of the Senate votes. Right now it would take 60 votes from senators to actually pass any laws that are more favorable to the Democrats as Republicans have a long history of using the filibuster. For example, Republicans used it to try and stop the civil rights movement for as long as possible.

At this moment, it will be virtually impossible for the Democrats to get the required 60 votes due to the incredible polarization between Republicans and Democrats over the Trump presidency. However, it is still possible for President Joe Biden to eliminate the filibuster as there have been debates over whether or not it is a good rule for decades now. Top Democrats like former President Barack Obama have argued that Joe Biden should only remove the filibuster if Republicans use it to obstruct voting rights legislation.

While it may now seem as if the Democratic majority doesn’t mean anything at all, it does actually serve one purpose. When Republicans had senate control, they were essentially able to just block any bill that would have come to the senate floor and not even bother to vote on it. But now, Democrats can now force Republicans to to actually vote on legislation, which hasn’t even been happening before. Now when voting for bills concerning voting rights and healthcare, Republicans can finally be publicly held responsible for going against legislation, putting pressure on Republican seats. If voters see that their representatives are voting against new health care measures, voting rights, and other democratic legislation that tends to be popular across party lines, they can easily feel the need to remove Republican seats when midterm elections come around in 2022.

Here is a list of a few bills that the people should keep their eyes on and see how Congress reacts to them. 

To repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. To repeal Public Law 107-40. Both sponsored by Rep. Barbra Lee (D-CA) This vote will probably be glossed over by a lot of people, but it will actually have a huge effect. The first bill to repeal the AUMF Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, was the bill that allowed the US to go to war with Iraq under the justification that they had “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and the second bill, to repeal Public Law 107-40, was the bill that allowed the President to declare war on anyone that could be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Now almost two decades after these events, most people have come to the conclusion that nothing good has come out of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In reality, many people probably forgot we were still even fighting there. So now it’s up to congress to decide if there is a reason to continue fighting. It’s significant that Barbra Lee was the one to sponsor these bills, as she was the only House Representative that voted against Public Law 107-40, in a 420-1 vote. She has still held true to her belief that the war in Afghanistan was a rash decision made in a moment of fear and mourning.

To prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for any violation of federal law, and for other purposes. To abolish the death penalty under federal law. Sponsored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY). These bills, if passed, will be a huge part of American history. Currently 28 States still allow capital punishment. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1,529 inmates were executed, and there are still more scheduled to die. As of October 1, 2021, there were 2,553 prisoners on death row. In California, only 13 people have been executed since 1976, though California is also the state currently with the greatest number of death row prisoners, totaling up to 711 according to information provided by the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, DC.

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) This would actually be the first time the US government considered giving reparations to those that have been affected by slavery, and would be a huge step towards facing our dark past.

Features Issue 5 Magazine

The Black Family and Its Struggles With Stereotypes

By Brooke Killgore
    This is a special month for Las Lomas because we, as a school, come together to appreciate minority voices in the world and in our community. The 2021 Black History Month theme, set by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is the black family. Our student body has witnessed in our equity training, conversations about race that are both important and difficult. As a white student, excited to learn more about black history, I chose to allow the voices of black individuals and experts to steer the angle of this article. Kurtis Reese, Allyson Hobbs, and seven Las Lomas students were approached and did not respond before The Page went to print, but I found a number of resources online to answer the questions regarding this month’s theme. After some conversations in journalism class, I decided to approach this topic from the stereotype perspective. What are the pigeonholes of black families and how are they harmful?

    The definitions of stereotypes. They influence our assumptions and/or judgements about a person, or group of people.  Stereotypes have changed perceptions of black families. One of the most common preconceptions regarding black families is a single parent head of household stereotype. 

    The Century Foundation contributor Kimberly Quick and director Richard D. Kahlenberg, authors of “Attacking the Black–White Opportunity Gap That Comes from Residential Segregation,” dove into the potential components that surrounded the issue, differing incomes from white and black households. “Black–white residential segregation is a major source of unequal opportunity for African Americans: among other things, it perpetuates an enormous wealth gap and excludes black students from many high-performing schools…the separateness of African-American families and white families has contributed significantly to two entrenched inequalities that are especially glaring: the enormous wealth gap between these races, and their grossly unequal access to strong public educational opportunities…” They then elaborated on this topic and said, “[it’s a] rise to a substantial income gap…African Americans make, on average, about 60 percent of what whites make…Stunningly, African-American households headed by an individual with a bachelor’s degree have just two-thirds of the wealth, on average, of white households headed by an individual who lacks a high school degree.” 

Dani McClain, contributor at The Nation magazine, discussed the need for everyone to understand the issues African Americans face both throughout history and present-day “Through a shared desire to balance a critique of structural racism with a call for personal responsibility, liberals and conservatives have been united in looking with exasperation at the black family, which dares to persist even where male breadwinners and wedding vows are in short supply…” A data table provided by National KIDS COUNT shows that over 64% of black children in America were raised by a single parent throughout 2019, rounding to about 5,988,000 kids without two parental figures in their life. From the same year, children in Asian/Pacific Islander homes reigned in at about 15%, children in Latino homes reached 42% and children in white households ranging around 38%. 

Understanding society’s definition of a black family is important for unpacking the societal views, as McClain continued on in her report, “It was Dorothy Height, longtime leader of the National Council of Negro Women, who drove home this point and situated it in a specifically black understanding of family, writing: ‘Some social analysts…define a “family” as a social/economic/political unit with a man at its head, and they continue to insist on this definition even at a time when divorce rates and serial marriages, resulting in merged families and increasing numbers of female-headed households, reveal how archaic it is. For black people, this definition has never applied.’” 

An American Experience article, written by producers at PBS, added more definitions to Height’s argument. “In the 1960s, many African Americans around the country deeply distrusted the motivations behind government funded birth control clinics, fearing it was an attempt to limit black population growth and stunt black political power. Their fears were well grounded… In the South, black fertility had a long history of being controlled by whites…African American women were encouraged to have children to increase a plantation owner’s wealth. After the Civil War, when African Americans were no longer valuable property, the view among white supremacists abruptly shifted. It became desirable to decrease the African American population in the South. Sterilization abuse of African American women by the white medical establishment reached its height in the 1950s and 1960s. Women who went into the hospital to deliver children often came out unable to have more.” 

 A junior at Las Lomas, who wished to remain unidentified, debated their views of what they considered the black family to be: “I believe the media portrayals of black families cultivate an inaccurate stereotype or motif and reduce the black experience. Black representation in all media is an important issue because for many years, it was either inaccurate and hostile or non-existent, all of which had a harmful impact on the perceptions of what a black family could be or look like. Not only in media but in real life, the world had an impact in shaping this because of the multifaceted systemic racial inequalities such as redlining, hiring practices and the prison industrial complex, to name a few.” A sophomore discussed their points of view as well, “The world has had an impact on shaping the definition of everything, including the supposed typical black family. This definition, of course, varies from person to person, depending on what [students or adults] have learned from said world.”

Regardless of what society claims a family to be based solely on skin color, the growth of communities and the open-mindedness within them have allowed the narrative of what a black family should look like to change into something we view today as strength. By not being held down by harmful stereotypes, it allows others to come to realize that no standards should be set to hold down a group of people based solely on their skin color but how they choose to show themselves to the world.

Issue 5 Magazine Opinions

Raphael Warnock Makes History in Georgia

By Cam Lippincott

Graphic By Zeyada N

On January 5, 2021, Raphael Warnock made history by being elected Georgia’s first Black senator. Warnock was elected alongside Democrat Jon Ossoff. Warnock and Ossoff’s victories were what gave the Democrats a majority in the senate; there will be 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans and Vice President Kamala Harris will act as the tie-breaker.

Warnock was not in the national spotlight until August. He remained relatively unknown until his opponent former Senator Kelly Loeffler, a far-right billionaire who illegally sold millions of dollars worth of stock after receiving briefings about the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020 and called Black Lives Matter a Marxist organization that wants to “destroy the nuclear family.” Loffler is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. The athletes of the Atlanta Dream responded to Loeffler’s racist comments by wearing t-shirts that simply stated “Vote Warnock.” Before this Warnock was polling 3rd in the runoff election of 20 candidates. He then surged to first in a matter of weeks.

Before November it seemed impossible that any Democrats could win the state. The state hasn’t gone to a Democrat in a presidential election since 1992. However, President Biden and Senators Warnock and Ossoff were all able to win. These unexpected results were largely credited to former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. In 2018 Abrams was the first Black Woman to become the nominee for a major party in a governor race in the United States. Abrams came just 50,000 votes short of a victory in the 2018 Georgia governor election, where current governor Brian Kemp clearly engaged in voter suppression targeted towards Black voters. After her election, Abrams launched the Fair Fight organization, which advocated for easier voter registration and increased voter turnout. Abrams is credited for helping register 800,000 new voters in the state of Georgia.

Warnock has never held political office before. He has been a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor, for 16 years. It also served as the location for the funerals of Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis.

Warnock’s victory makes him the second Black senator from the former Confederacy since the Reconstruction. He is also the first Black Democrat to win a senate seat in the South ever. His win has sent a tremendous message to African Americans in the South who have faced voter suppression and systemic racism for decades. Warnock was smeared as “radical” by his opponents and had attack ads aired against him that darkened his skin. Despite all of this he was still able to win in a state with a flag based on the first flag of the Confederacy. Warnock’s win serves as a signal to Democrats that they shouldn’t think of the South as super conservative states, but rather as ones where voter suppression is rampant. If they put the time and effort into these states, they can win.

Warnock also owes his victory to the fact he did not let his opponents define him. Too many Senate candidates spent all their time simply stating that they were not Republicans and somehow expected swing voters to choose them. During the end of his campaign, Warnock focused on COVID-19 relief, promising to vote for $2000 stimulus checks. By doing so he was able to give reason for people to vote for him rather than just pointing out the flaws in his opponents, a problem many Democratic candidates face.

Since Warnock’s election was a special election, he will have to run again in 2022. As of today, it seems he will be favored to win in the state that’s becoming more and more blue. I hope the Democratic Party looks to Warnock’s campaign as an influence for swing state campaigns. Democrats should run campaigns focused on the issues and not entirely focused on their opponents. The party needs to do everything in their power to end voter suppression in these Southern states, which is not just good politics, it’s the morally responsible thing to do.