By Brittany Plange
On Tuesday Oklahoma lawmakers voted almost unanimously to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History classes in high schools. Why, you might ask? Because that class allegedly only teaches “what is bad about America.” The bill in question, HB 1380 sponsored by state Rep. Dan Fisher (R), would defund the current curriculum. The state would also end funds geared toward preparing students for the AP exam. When the news broke of this event the community in Oklahoma was outraged, much like the rest of the country. Within a few days petitions focused on ending the bill were created. One in particular now has 19,241 signatures and the numbers still rise every day. In light of the massive backlash Republican lawmakers made revisions to the bill that would change the framework of the class to what lawmakers consider more “pro-American.” This translates into students being required to read 3 Reagan speeches and a speech by George W. Bush. The curriculum does not include any speeches from a democratic press after Lyndon Johnson. Ultimately the revisions have not helped ease the opposition to the bill. Fisher is not the only person opposed to AP History courses. According to Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R), “…AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.” Sally Kern has asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to issue a ruling on the matter. Many students and members of the Oklahoma community are outraged and should continue to be. We can hope that our representatives will be forced to note this.
By Brittany Plange
Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26, 1944 in Birmingham, AL and is one of the most important female figures in African-American history. She is best known as an activist for civil rights, education, and prison abolition. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University where she studied under Frankfurt school philosopher Hebert Marcuse. In an interview she stated, “Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary.” In 1965 she graduated magna cum laude and went on to do her graduate studies at the University of California-San Diego. Towards the end of the 1960s she joined several groups, including the Black Panthers and the Che-Lumumba Club, an all-black branch of the Communist Party. During 1969-1970 she taught at the University of California-Los Angeles until then Governor Ronald Reagan urged the Board of Regents to fire her due to her ties to the Communist Party. In August 1970 an escapee attempt was made in a courtroom and several people were killed. The three prisoners associated with the attempt were inmates of the Soledad Prison and were thus given the name The Soledad Brothers. Because of this and Davis’s social stance during the time she was brought up on several charges including murder. The justification for this was that the guns used were in her name and that she was allegedly in love with one of the prisoners. She fled California and the FBI director at the time, J. Edgar Hoover, put her on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. In October 1970 she was found and apprehended and spent roughly 18 months in jail before she was acquitted of all charges. Since then she has written many books including Women, Race, and Class (1980) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003). She now teaches at the University of California-Santa Cruz on the history of consciousness and gives lectures at many different colleges, continuing to spread her wisdom to the next generation.
By Brittany Plange
On Tuesday Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu Salha were gunned down and killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Police have arrested and charged Craig Hicks with the murder of the three college students. The police, Hicks attorneys, and the majority of major news media outlets are saying that the motives behind this crime stem from a parking dispute. However, many people around the world including the victim’s family are not only calling this a hate crime but an act of domestic terrorism. It was not until a few days ago that this tragic murder reached national attention due to the media’s idleness on the matter. In the aftermath there have been a number of protests over the issue. President Obama weighed in on the event in a statement released Friday saying that the killings are “outrageous.” He also went on to state that “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.” That same day the FBI declared it would be starting an investigation on whether or not any federal laws were violated by the crime. Additionally, Palestinian officials have stated they would like to do their own investigation of the murders. The Palestinian foreign minister stated on Saturday, “We consider it a serious indication of the growth of racism and religious extremism which is a direct threat to the lives of hundreds of thousands of American citizens who follow the Islamic faith.” While officials seem to be doing their best to bring justice to the victims the rhetoric and behavior exhibited by the media has been disturbing to say the least. This hate crime is one of many that will happen this year to innocent civilians. Since September 11, 2001 there are around 500 hate crimes against Muslims every year. These crimes must be stopped. It is up to us as the next generation and future leaders of this nation to spark change. It is up to us to make sure their lives were not taken in vain.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson
While these words have not been upheld fully in this country to every person, they hold truth and value in them. We must always continue the fight of freedom and equality.
R.I.P. Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu Salha.
By Brittany Plange
Immigration reform seems to be something that has always been debated in congress. Each year, both parties in Congress promise us that we will get some form of comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed. Each year, there seems to be an attempt that falls through in congress. This year, instead of a piece of legislation, we have gotten an Executive Order initiated by President Obama. The executive order would give over 3 million undocumented immigrants protection against deportation that will be funded through Homeland Security. Republicans have vowed to dismantle the order, and now that they have control over the House and Senate they have more power to do so. One key way they are trying to block the action is through the country’s budget. The Senate put to vote, for the second time, a bill that would undo the executive order but still fund Homeland Security. The bill was again shot down by Senate Democrats who stated that “…that no matter how many times Republicans held the vote, the outcome would be the same unless the contested language on immigration was removed.” Republican Senator Jim Jordan of Ohio claimed, “We have the strategy, it’s to do what the American people sent us to do. That’s our legislation…I look at it as a chance for seven Democratic senators to find Jesus and do the right thing.”
Congress seems more polarized than ever on an issue that will have dire consequences on our countries physical and financial security. Ironically, any attempt to shutdown Homeland Security will not affect the executive action from being enacted since 85% of DHS employees, including those necessary for the order, would still work. However shutting down DHS would halt, according to Domenico Montanaro of PBS News Hour, non-disaster FEMA functions like risk mapping, delaying hiring additional Secret Service agents for the presidential election, delaying improvements to immigration detention centers, delaying new border surveillance, and much more.
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri argued, “At a time when the world is united in trying to send a strong signal about confronting ISIS and defeating ISIS, I think putting veto bait in the funding for homeland security is a very bad idea.” I find myself completely agreeing with Senator McCaskill. As February 27th comes closer and closer, the stench of another government shutdown swiftly follows.
Ongoing series focusing on giving our members a platform to voice their experiences and opinions
Hey everyone! I’m Brittany Plange and I’m a freshman studying International Studies. I got involved in this organization by showing up to post fliers on campus last December. There I met Alice and a whole bunch of other cool people and this is the result of that chance meeting.
I have always been into social justice and I think that’s mostly due to my unique social location. I’m a first-generation Ghanaian who grew up in predominantly white places. When my parents first moved to the United States, we briefly lived in Chicago but then moved to Hammond, Indiana for 5-8 years and then Moore, OK for the remainder of our lives. In both places we were the only people of color on our street. I learned very quickly that because I was black my experiences in life would be different than from those of a white person. I also learned that because I was Ghanaian my experiences would be different from an African-American’s. I do not remember the exact day I learned those things but I do know that ever since that day I have had a passion to figure out why these differences exist.
Because my parents are from Ghana the way they deal with things is different than how most people would. Living in Indiana we had to deal with more than our fair share of racism and discrimination. We were excluded from our church, neighborhood, and even had to drive 30 minutes to a private school because the local public schools weren’t safe enough for me and my sister to attend. But my parents, in light of all of that and some, never let it phase them. We didn’t move churches and we stayed in the neighborhood. My parents didn’t have the need to go out and make the community less racist because that wasn’t their responsibility. Instead, we just lived our lives, and they ensured we could have the same opportunities as anyone else. Ironically, that did ultimately make the community a little less racist. Watching how my parents responded to adversity shaped the way I do now. They taught me to fight for what I believe, stand up for others, and never back down. They told me that we must all do our part to make the world a better place. That is what I am attempting to do by being a part of this organization. So many people, including myself, are suffering in this bankrupt country and around the world and it’s time that changed. Equality, fairness, and justice are achievable and it is our responsibility as the next generation of leaders of the world to make that happen.
By Brittany Plange
This year’s State of the Union address was filled with lots of applause, slight shade, and promises for future. President Obama touched on various issues, ranging from net neutrality to advances in western medicine, and access to higher education. Obama spent a large portion of his time talking about the economic gains that have been made since he was elected into office and the strides his administration will be taking to ensure this success continues. President Obama also made it very clear to Congress that he plans to veto any bill that attempts to undermine the work done to healthcare, rules on Wall Street, any sanctions on Iran, and immigration. Ultimately the majority of what was said in the speech was expected, except for the historic mention of transgender people: “As Americans, we respect human dignity…and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” (source). What was unexpected was what was not mentioned in the president’s speech. President Obama neglected to mention Boko Haram and the recent tragic events in Nigeria when discussing his administration’s plans to address terrorism on our planet. This left me wondering if the U.S. would intervene or continue to stay silent while thousands of Nigerians and citizens of Africa are being massacred. Immigration was also seemingly left out of the speech in comparison to last year’s speech when the president called for a comprehensive reform bill by this year. This may be due to the president’s recent executive order on the topic; nonetheless, we are are still entering the new year with no sign of a partisan comprehensive immigration reform bill coming out of congress.
The lack of bipartisanship is still very much present in Washington. With republican control of both the House and Senate, we may actually see a more productive congress than last year. Ultimately we will just have to wait to see what this year will hold and hope our future will be bright.