MLK Day: A day on, not a day off

Martin Luther King Jr., born in 1929, was a civil rights activist and pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, who propelled the civil rights movement of the mid 20th century with his leadership. He gave hope to many African-Americans around the United States and took a stand at combating racial inequality in the nation.

Along with his rise in fame during the 1960s, King gained many enemies and opposition due to his stance on civil rights and peaceful protest. Despite personal death threats and attacks against him and his family, including a bomb thrown into his house in retaliation to the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, King stood strong and maintained his fight for the rights he believed in. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, but his legacy lives on in modern civil rights protests and especially during MLK Day.

Soon after King’s death, a campaign to honor his life works and achievements began, with President Ronald Reagan finally signing the MLK Day holiday into effect in 1983. With King’s birthday being January 15, the holiday was officially recognized on the third Monday of January, close to his birthday.

This year the holiday, recognized on January 21, was given the title ‘the MLK Day of Service’ by the Corporation of National and Community Service. It is considered a day of service because it “is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community,’” and is observed as a “day on, not day off.”

The website of the MLK Day of Service has volunteer opportunities posted for anyone to attend, including anything to help others; it does not just have to be related to civil rights. Volunteer opportunities in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro region include driving a senior to the doctor, the youth cloth bag project, volunteering with churches and more.

Though we just have one day to memorialize Martin Luther King and his monumental achievements, you can sign up to volunteer at any time of the year in his honor by visiting https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service.

Where Should Sam Stand?

On August 11, 2017, the devastating Charlottesville riots took place leaving catastrophic results. Originally called the “Unite the Right” rally, it was supposed to be a rally supporting White Supremacy, Neo-Nazism, Anti-Semitism, and other similar views. During this rally, counter-protesters arrived at the original rally. This led to violence among the two groups, many resulting injuries and even a fatality due to a car being driven into a large body of counter-protesters.

The rally was originally focused on protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park, and in the midst of the following events, a national debate came to light on whether Confederate monuments should be kept up or removed.

Two days after the riot’s conclusion on August 12, “The Boys Who Wore The Grey” monument in Durham was removed by a group of protesters from the pedestal where it had resided for about 93 years.

Under almost the exact same circumstances as the statue in Durham, Silent Sam came down as the result of an anti-Confederate, anti-racism protest at UNC. However, according to the North Carolina legislature and UNC president Margaret Spellings, Silent Sam must be returned to its original location 90 days from its toppling, November 18.

Most people who believe the statues should remain in their current locations claim that they are part of the country’s history. To them, these statues aren’t a symbol of the Confederate viewpoints and racism, but part of the path the United States has taken to become the great nation it currently is today.

Contrary to that belief, many people perceive the statues to be clear signs of racism and a defense of slavery. According to the News and Observer, even UNC’s website says that “many view it as a glorification of the Confederacy and thus a tacit defense of slavery.” When Julian Carr erected the statue in 1913, he promulgated a long tirade supporting prejudice and racism. This monument is a transparent mask of the hate contrived within Confederate America.

In light of both sides, Governor Roy Cooper proposed a solution in which all Confederate monuments are moved to a historical site. There they will be both out of the way for anyone who finds them offensive and they can be in a place where their history is preserved. Cooper found a clear-cut compromise for both sides, where each receives what they desire. Even with this solution, the North Carolina Legislature, being predominantly Republican, abrogated the proposal.

Phil Berger, the lead North Carolina senator, said immediately after the Silent Sam statue was removed that this was caused by “violent protesters”. Berger also stated that “many of the wounds of racial injustice that still exist in our state and country were created by violent mobs and I can say with certainty that violent mobs won’t heal those wounds. Only a civil society that adheres to the rule of law can heal these wounds and politicians – from the Governor down to the local District Attorney – must start that process by ending the deceitful mischaracterization of violent riots as ‘rallies’ and reestablishing the rule of law in each of our state’s cities and counties.”

Although it is important to maintain a sense of our nation’s roots, people will continue to feel the effects of hate and racism from the presence of these statues, all while the negligent North Carolinian legislature proceeds to strike down fair solutions and prolong tensions.

What Berger and people who oppose Cooper’s proposal do not understand is that the protesters who removed Silent Sam on August 20 will not be easily stopped. If they knew that they could have been arrested when they knocked down the statue in August, they will not abide by the state law in the future. By reinstating Silent Sam, the legislature is only causing more unrest between protesters and law enforcement. Violence should never be condoned, but with the rejection of Cooper’s proposal, it seems almost inevitable.

Though Confederate history should be maintained and studied, Confederate monuments should not remain in public spaces. Any sign of hate should not be publicly displayed, no less upheld by any form of government. No one should have to worry about being discriminated against in modern society, yet it is something we as a nation struggle with. Let’s unite to silence Sam, and to get rid of the racist aspects behind his presence.

A look at Parental Celebration at CHS

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: a worldwide honoring of parenthood. Whether you’re the one celebrating this holiday or the one being celebrated, these two holidays are an ongoing tradition that have been eminent through history. This year, Mother’s Day was Sunday, May 13th, and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17th. Both of these holidays date back to the Greek and Roman empires, with festivals being held to honor mothers in their culture and to honor the mothering goddesses.

But, Anna Jarvis created today’s Mother’s Day, using this holiday to remember her mother who had just passed away. Jarvis worked to popularize this holiday and even worked with local floral companies to promote it.

This sprouted the origin of the next holiday, Father’s Day. It began when Sonora Smart-Dodd thought up the idea to honor her father while at a Mother’s Day sermon. Her mother had died at a young age and her father was there along the way to raise the children. He was a Civil War veteran and a widower, and she believed that he deserved just as much honor as mothers did, thus creating the holiday Father’s Day. Not long after, this holiday too become commercialized, following in the steps of Mother’s Day.

Here at CHS, many students celebrate these two holidays, but many teachers also do so as parents. Some of Carrboro’s teachers have kids, making them the subject of celebration on these holidays.

One of these teachers is Carrboro’s engi- neering teacher, Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs. Dr. Arthurs has a son, aged 20, who attends the University of Florida. While it may be tough to try and get together, they make an effort every year.

“We try to do something special,” says Arthurs. “That includes going somewhere, doing something together.  He’s finishing his third year at Florida, and it’s been a bit hard to do things with timing, but we try every year.”

While it may be onerous to meet every year for Father’s Day, it is the meaning of  the holiday that makes it truly special.

“I think that it’s one day that allows me to really be proud of being Joshua’s father. I’m reminded of the awesome responsibility and I celebrate the joys of seeing him grow up and become an outstanding adult,” says Arthurs.

Even though the holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are increasingly commercialized, it doesn’t detract from the meaning of each one. While the celebration may be different for each family, it all has the same backstory and purpose. It is meant to honor parents and celebrate how they’ve changed and influenced their children.

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson

Firearms: CONTROL-ALT-DELETE

Students in Parkland, Florida, came to school on an ordinary Valentine’s Day morning. What they didn’t know was the terror that they would have to endure later. Nikolas Cruz, a 19 year-old ex-student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed seventeen people in yet another mass shooting. While this is a major  tragedy, we cannot forget the shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and more.

These mass shootings have a direct correlation to the adaptation of the Second Amendment. Second Amendment was written in 1791, two years after the adoption of the Constitution. This amendment stated that Americans have the right to bear arms, or to own a firearm. Ever since the passing of this amendment in 1791, the gun has modernized to fit the wants of American citizens and the US military. From revolvers to shotguns and from pistols to automatic weapons, guns have become a part of American culture that will be difficult to alter.

The issue with the Second Amendment is that different people interpret the meaning of it in different ways. This leads to the confusion we have today over modern gun reform and the debate between pro and anti-gun.

Mass shootings are happening on a regular basis. The first major mass shooting to bring national attention to the issue was the shooting at the University of Texas- Austin bell tower in 1966. Ever since, hundreds of mass shootings have occurred, seemingly with more people dying in each one. The largest mass shootings have been the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, and the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The latest shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, brought major attention to the solution, and not as much the shooting itself.

With all of the recent activity involving guns and mass shootings, there needs to be some regulations. Guns should have many restrictions put in place, such as background checks, age restrictions and banning of automatic weapons to ensure the safety of others over the personal freedom of gun owners.

But why should we have gun control?

The United States has much higher rates of gun ownership than any other country in the world. The US makes up less than five percent of the world’s population but still accounts for 31 percent of all mass shooters. Our homicide rates are over 25 times higher than any other first world country, with the runner-up being Finland. Americans own more guns per capita than any other citizen in the world, and Americans own about half of all civilian guns worldwide. With statistics like these, it is clear that America has a major gun problem.

With that many guns at the people’s dispense, it isn’t a surprise that we have so many issues with gun-related fatalities. In 2018 alone, there have been over 10,300 gun violence related injuries, with there being over 2,700 subsequent deaths. While millions of people harmlessly own guns in this country, we need to put the safety of future victims in front of personal freedoms.

Lawmakers should first focus on making sure people are unable to purchase an automatic or semiautomatic weapon — period. Automatic guns are weapons of war that have no ethical use in the hands of a civilian. The only people who should own this type of weaponry are highly trained police officers and any trained soldier in the military. There is no logical reason for a normal civilian to have this type of gun, let alone a mentally unstable person like some of those involved in many of today’s mass shootings.

One specific gun continues to be used in the nation’s largest and most devastating shootings: the AR-15. Shooters used this semiautomatic weapon in Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Las Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and others. The excuse that this gun is a way of personal protection is completely
absurd, especially when one could have a pistol or a taser and use it just as effectively. This gun is not necessary to have, and it is an example of the first steps we need to make towards gun control.

In a poll conducted on a small group of Carrboro sophomores, almost all were in agreement that there should be more gun control than we currently have. 92.3 per- cent said that there should be, while 7.7 percent said there should only be partial gun reform. In the same poll, 76.9 percent said that automatic and semiautomatic guns should not be allowed for purchase by a normal citizen while 23.1 percent said that they were not sure.

It is clear that firearms have a negative impact on our modern society and cause lots of unnecessary deaths. It is time that we, as a community, stand up and fight the current position of our government on guns. After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, many people felt distraught with grief for loved ones lost and wounded. Mass shootings have become a pattern in this country, and that in itself needs to be changed.

Events like these leave us wondering: When will the next one occur? When will another shooting be condemned, and then not acted upon? When will it happen to me?

Sports and socioeconomics. One in the Same?

Sports are something that can be performed by anyone, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity or background. But, even with the improvement in equality in our society, there are still differences that separate people on the field, court and arena.

In the NFL (National Football League), over 70 percent of the athletes are African-American. In NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) lacrosse, only 1.9 percent of the athletes are African-American. Is it just coincidence? In tennis, only four players of the top ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) 100 in 2010 were non-White, while in the NBA (National Basketball Association), 70-75 percent of the athletes are African-American. These sports clearly have racial disparities, whether they are or aren’t intentional.

While there are many factors that could contribute to these differences, including traditions, representation on television and outreach programs, there is one lens — privilege — that may explain some of the disparities.

Some examples of sports that are more accessible for privileged athletes are lacrosse, tennis, and volleyball, while sports that are more accessible for mostly less privileged athletes are basketball and football. What divides these sports at their core is the expenses involved in them.

The first major expense in many sports is gear. In lacrosse, for example, there is so much gear that is needed to just play the sport, including a stick, pads, helmets, balls to practice with and goals to practice on. A stick itself is about $150- 200 for decent quality, while higher-quality helmets are around the same price. Different types of equipment will vary in price, but it is all overly expensive in the end. Fortunately, there are scholarships involved to some people who are interested in playing the sport.

Even in sports with less gear, costs can mount because of the common practice of taking personal lessons. In tennis, for example, the essential equipment includes a tennis racket and tennis balls . But the most common way to increase your skill at tennis is by practicing and taking lessons. The prices differ based on where you take the lessons, but a two-hour clinic with about 20 other players can cost around $40. For example, at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club, a one-hour tennis lesson will cost $71. Most tennis courts are part of a tennis club, so there is usually a fee for renting a court and being a non-member at those clubs. A membership will cost even more, which is something usually that is only for higher classed people.

Club sports and tournaments command an entry fee as well. Travel team membership is the primary cost for both of these sports. According to Parker Zinn, a sophomore for the Carrboro team and a competitive club athlete, a volleyball tournament usually cost around $40-50 per person. A USTA tennis tournament in the Chapel Hill area can cost anywhere from $50-70.

There are much cheaper options such as football and basketball. The gear for football is provided by the school or team, while basketball has little gear at all. The easiest ways to practice for these sports are free, by finding a court for a pick-up game or a field to play a four v. four game with friends. While there are many prep schools to partake in for athletes that play football and basketball, players do not have to be successful to go through these prestigious programs. Some of the NFL’s most prestigious athletes attended public schools, such as Jarvis Landry, Carson Wentz, and Khalil Mack.

According to Braden Hunter, a football player for the Carrboro team, it is very cheap to play football at the school, with gear only costing around $20 dollars. The school supplies equipment such as pads and a helmet, which comes out to about $20 dollars per person to rent these. While the school supplies equipment for football, it does not supply equipment for tennis.

“All you need is your equipment for a practice,” said Hunter. “Another way to practice is to go out and throw a football, or play a game with friends.”

Why is it that the majority of these sports have clear disparities?

High schools, professional organizations, and teams clearly need to take steps in order to reverse this effect. The only question: how?

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson

Shop for schools

In today’s society, there are gift cards for almost everything: restaurants, movie theaters and online shopping. One newly-popular place to get a gift card in Carrboro is a grocery store. This is because of the Grocery Store Card Program, run by Christie Osborne and the Carrboro PTSA.

Osborne, a parent of three who currently attend Carrboro, has run the program since her kids were at Scroggs Elementary. She just recently started with the Carrboro program.

“When we did this at Scroggs, we tripled the amount of money [for the PTSA] in two years, and the person at Carrboro was awesome, so it is now the major PTSA fundraiser,” said Osborne. “We did it before and we were very successful, so we started at Carrboro.”

Funding for Carrboro was very low, and the program has been helping tremendously to reverse that. According to Osborne, the school budget was redone and the PTSA discovered that
over $10 thousand was raised from this program.

Lowes, Weaver Street, Whole Foods and Food Lion are four of the grocery stores involved in the gift card program.

“I’m not quite sure how it all started, but they offer this to any school,” said Osborne. “Not all schools do it, but most do. They have offered to almost all schools where the grocery stores are located.”

Even though the program has been so impactful, few families participate in it. According to Osborne, only around 3 percent of the families participated last year. Osborne and her colleagues—Snehal Patwardhan, Jean Huang, Stephanie Mosteller and Bethany Paine—are all working on increasing the number of families this year by advertising to the other 97 percent of families.

“We are really implementing a new way to change the credit card spending, and we’re still looking to do more,” said Osborne. “A very small percent of the school actually used this, and we still made over $10 thousand. So, we are really trying to reach people through different marketing, and once we are able to get people, we will have much more profit.”

The PTSA is currently working on making the 2017-2018 school year even more successful than the years before and making sure that Carrboro’s specific programs—STEM, Theatre, Student Government and more—get sufficient funding.