The Hart of the Matter: The importance of a woman’s voice

This is my very last column of the year, so please indulge me as I make it slightly more personal than my other articles. Each Hart of the Matter has I wrote about was close to my heart and important to my values. This is why my column has been so important to me throughout the year — it allowed me the means to use my voice and speak about issues that matter to me. A voice is a powerful thing.

Ever since I could speak, I used my voice. My voice would let me take control of my surroundings. I was able to speak my mind. In group activities in elementary and middle school, I would take charge, dictating and organizing  While I was called bossy, my male peers were called leaders.

Being a girl and unafraid to use my own voice allowed many such double standards to come to light. I was frustrated that girls are supposed to fit in and be submissive, not take charge of her surroundings. That was for the boys.

I would say something in class or a group, and later a male would say the same thing. He was taken seriously, while I often found myself dismissed.

This is not an experience exclusive to me. Women everywhere have been shamed for speaking up, or talked over in a conversation.

When I started working in student journalism, I found a place where my voice was celebrated. Through journalism, I was allowed the means to develop my voice and publish it. And, more importantly, my words made a difference. Sometimes, students would come up to me and tell me how my articles offered them a new perspective. I got to talk to Principal Giglio about issues that were important to me

Journalism was instrumental in my acceptance of my voice. Being told constantly that I should not be speaking up had me believing such, but once I found a community that encouraged my voice I was able to use it. If I hadn’t, none of those little differences would have been made.

Places like this, where girls can find a community that empowers their voices, are absolutely crucial and so absolutely lacking.

In high school journalism, female students are censored disproportionately to male students, a trend noticed by the Student Press Law Center and later supported by a study from the University of Kansas.

 Despite this, women make up the majority of communications majors in college, according to DataUSA. Yet this does not translate into the workforce; only about 35 percent of newsroom employees or supervisors are women, according to the American Society of News Editors and Nieman Reports. There are always attempts to silence us.

I am not the first to take note of this alarming flip. One of my colleagues on the Epitaph, fellow columnist Thomas Denome, wrote about the issue earlier this year. In better words than mine, he comes to the same conclusion I have as to why there is still a lack of women in the industry: people don’t like tough women.

People particularly do not like the tough women who utilize their voices, which is essentially in the job description of a journalist. Society’s bias against strong women comes from decades of gender roles, as a means to keep women in their supposed place. This is exactly why using one’s voice matters more than ever. A woman speaking up is how change has been made, and how change and progress will continue to be made.

In order to empower future generations of girls, places where women can find a way to build and practice using their voice are essential. I found my place working on a school newspaper. To everyone who supported this endeavor by reading a column, picking up a paper or even writing nasty comments on my web articles, I am forever thankful. I have been incredibly lucky to be able to work in this environment.

Not all are as lucky. Nationally, student journalism programs are getting defunded, along with art and creative writing. Places of expression are shrinking, and girls are still getting censored and told to be less assertive. This is stunting the growth of our society as well as quelling the voices of our future.

 

The Ripple Effect: Culture is not a one-way street

Cultural conflict can arise from a variety of factors, but is especially visible in immigrants and their children. Illustration by Aishwarya Jayadeep.

I

f you’ve ever found yourself smiling vacantly at relatives during family reunions because they’re speaking too fast for you, despite the fact that they’re also speaking in a language you’ve technically known since birth, then congratulations! Cultural assimilation, or integration into a culture you weren’t born into,  may have gotten the best of you.

The cultural conflict can arise from a variety of factors, but is especially visible in immigrants and their children. While parents may be able to hang onto their traditions with a tight hold, kids who grow up submerged in a different culture can often feel as though there’s an invisible barrier separating them from family.

And while at the start of this year, I wrote a column titled “Refugees are not the death of your culture,” the converse question remains: Is assimilation the death of a non-dominant culture?

The commonly-held hypothesis is that yes, it is — use it or lose it. After all, when overwhelmed by a nation’s dominant culture, it can be difficult to keep one’s own customs and beliefs propped up, like a twig threatening to snap free in a tornado. Factors such as language ability are among the first to wear away, as according to the BBC, how much you fumble with your first language increases “the more immersed you are in a second language.”

Moreover, the casting aside of an identity to fit in has been key to the minority survival kit for centuries, although certainly not always done willingly. Native American children were sent to boarding schools that promised to “kill the Indian, save the man,” according to History.com, stripping away their language and cultural identity in order to make them less threateningly different to white Americans of the era.

Even today, not assimilating totally is dangerous for minority groups: just take a look at the recent news out of Montana that two American citizens were detained by Border Patrol because the fact that they spoke in Spanish seemed suspicious.

In the face of all this, how do you win your identity back?

The example of uncomfortable smiling and nodding I gave in the first paragraph was no hypothetical — it was personal experience. Every two years, I visit the country where I was born and hang out with the grandparents I spent my formative years with. Between my time frolicking on beaches and roundly enjoying all the Indian food, I realize that I don’t remotely feel like I belong.  

(For one thing, my enunciation is shot because of Bay Area pronunciation, and entirely too peppered with the word “hella.”)

Yet as much as assimilation is a defense mechanism, it’s just as much a participation mechanism. If participation can happen in two cultures, then there’s no reason they can’t coexist. Immersion in one culture does not automatically shut the door to the others — perhaps it narrows the doorway or adds an obstacle course in the path, but by no means does it set up a barricade.

And, for all its faults, there’s nowhere where this cultural interchange is more obvious than here where I live, in the Silicon Valley. I’ve seen people of all ethnicities and cultures rocking out to a playlist called “Bollywood Beatz” (yes, with a “z”) at a Holi celebration. I’ve watched my classmates in elementary school chow down on food from all over the world during the schoolwide Thanksgiving potluck. And I know a girl who went off to college, immediately joined several cultural clubs and immersed herself in her own culture after years of dipping a tentative toe in.

So yes, maybe in the process of assimilation, you lose a bit of yourself. But at some point, you’ll hunger to find it again. And you will.

The Garlick Press: Unemployment among conservationalists

The school year is ending quickly, and as a second semester senior, I am looking forward to my college experience. In my free time, I’ve been researching my major, environmental science. Within the schools I have applied for, the programs are wonderful, with plenty of opportunities for internships and studying abroad.

I cannot wait to get started on my future, working in labs and publishing papers about pollution levels and the health of local forests.

After getting excited about my major, I started thinking more about where my future degree would take me. I searched for job opportunities that arise from an environmental science degree.

My excitement quickly diminished when I was dismayed to find the lack of employment within these jobs. I scrolled through forums among forums of people who had graduated with similar degrees and had been job-hunting for years, without prevail.

After freaking out for a short while, I wondered why this could be. But after revisiting CNN and ABC news later that day, it was clear what the reason was: our current government. Most of this conflict comes from political figures who refuse to support or believe the proof behind global warming and environmental change.

It makes sense, but baffles me at the same time. Why is it so hard to get hired as an environmental scientist, when global warming is looming over all of us? Yet still we hear about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) being shut down more and more due to current political standings in the White House.

Hopefully, the future will not be so difficult to compete in for environmental specialists and consultants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists and specialists should expect employment in their field to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2029, a rate faster than average occupations.

My hope is that the looming threat of irreversible changes in the weather and our environment will spring every country to action. This may seem dire, but global warming is an imminent threat to the health of everyone on earth, and this field of study and advocacy will step up to solve these issues.

For all my fellow aspiring environmentalists, our efforts will not be in vain to make a difference. Saving the planet will be our job, and protecting our future is in our hands.

What makes a break a good break?

The approach of a break is always a sign of hope for high school students. Break means no early morning alarms, lectures, pop quizzes or tests.

It is often difficult to determine what balance is needed for a break.

It is hailed as a time for rest and relaxation, and for most high school students, as a getaway from school.

Unfortunately, breaks always have an end.

The reality is that when I am on break, the knowledge that it will be over soon and I will have to return to school holds me back from truly enjoying myself. And for some, this thought encourages them to do the opposite, essentially having the “you only live once” break.

This doesn’t necessarily mean going bungee jumping off a cliff, but rather looking past the idea that your break will end, and enjoying the moment.

If you are able to go on a tropical vacation away from home, that’s a wonderful opportunity, but keep in mind that shifting back into school mode after returning home is quite difficult.

At the same time, staying home while studying and doing homework is not much of a break either, which poses the question of how one can create the perfect break.

Think of how much you need this break. If it is a three-day weekend and you don’t feel drained, then stay at home and work on your homework, but set aside some time to go on a hike or shopping with your friends. This way, you are not confined.

But if you just finished a long week of finals and can no longer look at a textbook, then it is best to take some time away from school work and enjoy what makes you happy, so your break is memorable.

Really, it’s about the balance that fulfills your need for a break.

The Hart of the Matter: Gender disparity affects all

For years now, women have outnumbered men in college. In a patriarchal society, this is hugely significant; knowledge is power.

In 2017, women made up 56 percent of students in college, according to the U.S. Department of Education. While this may not seem like a significant difference, that is 2.2 million more women than men.

The gender disparity, though it favors women, is a product of sexism. Gender norms hurt everyone. Although there are many factors affecting the disparity, such as high school graduation rates or a higher likelihood for men to enter prison, a large factor is unwillingness to enter female-dominated fields.

Women have been entering male-dominated fields at higher rates each year. Since Rosie the Riveter in WWII, women have succeeded in traditionally masculine careers, despite barriers against them. They have become doctors, lawyers, scientists and businesspeople. While these fields may still hold more men than women, women are present and rising, which can be seen in the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau’s annual statistics.

Meanwhile, few men seek female-dominated careers. Traditionally feminine fields such as teaching and nursing have very few males pursuing college degrees in the subject. This is seen in the workforce — according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 90 percent of nurses were women in 2011.

Essentially, women are expanding in career choices, while men refuse to. As a result, more men opt for careers that do not require a college degree but still fit into the traditional notion of masculinity, such as manufacturing or construction.

While no one should feel forced to attend college, men should not feel pressured into any career because of gender roles. The disparity in college attendance is one of many examples of the ways sexism hurts men. Males are conditioned by society to fit into the idea of masculinity, which is a very narrow and fixed concept. Even the traditionally feminine gender roles set for women have wider bounds allowing more freedom.

The point of feminism is not that more women should be in college than men, or more men should be in college. It’s not even that there should be an exactly equal amount of each gender in higher education. There shouldn’t be any societal barriers stopping anyone from pursuing what they truly want.

The Denome’s Advocate: California’s crime against inmates

The recent fires in California have wrought incredible damages on the state, particularly in the human cost. According to Reuters and NBC News, 45 people total died between the Tubbs Fire in Napa and the Thomas Fire near Los Angeles. The human costs don’t end with just the deaths, however — some 3,800 of California’s firefighters are inmates battling blazes for a dollar an hour, according to KQED.

The inmate firefighter program has existed in California since World War II, when, according to the Atlantic, California pressed prisoners into service to replace the men who had gone overseas to fight the war. Since then, the program has expanded and become voluntary.

In the program’s history, four inmates have died in action, including two in the past two years, according to the Los Angeles Times. Not counted in those deaths are inmates who died in the program while not fighting fires; just recently, an inmate perished on a training hike, according to KQED.

This begs the question of how humane the program actually is. Regardless of whether the inmates are volunteers, no one, incarcerated or free, should be receiving slave wages for a job in which they run the risk of death.

In its explanation of the conservation camps, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stresses the work that the inmates do, and the results of their efforts. It particularly highlights the public works projects and safer activities, such as conservation projects and search-and-rescue missions.

And yes, we should recognize the good work these camps do, whether it be fighting fires or clearing a hiking trail. However, The Marshall Project, a criminal justice watchdog, showed that the inmate firefighters are typically responsible for more backbreaking and thankless labor while fighting fires.

This only adds to the heightened risks for diseases firefighters already face. According to the International Association of Firefighters, a labor union, all fighting personnel have a higher risk for cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and hepatitis B and C. In short, California sends 3,000 inmates into treacherous situations, with their risking death or impairment down the line — all for a dollar an hour and a few days off their sentence.

Does the system necessarily need to be done away with? No, the inmates are volunteers, and housing them at conservation camps year-round helps reduce California’s overcrowded prison system. However, does the system need reforms? Most definitely.

Inmate firefighters deserve a far higher wage than they currently make, one that, minus the cost to the state of housing them, is on par with that of normal CalFire personnel. If the fires are going to continue and more people are going to be incarcerated, we might as well compensate them fairly..

The Impatient Patient: Reduced, heightened expectations pressure minority students

Racial stereotypes have been proven to invoke reduced expectations and heightened pressures for students in affected groups. Not only that, but these racial stereotypes also contribute to the achievement gap, or set of disparities in testing scores, between Asian and white students versus non-Asian minorities, according to the National Education Association.

As diverse and accepting of a campus HHS is, it is still not spared from this issue. According to an editorial done in print issue four of The Epitaph, the racial makeup of HHS (73 percent being Asian or Caucasian, 27 percent other) is not consistent in AP and honors level classes.

The achievement gap is not limited to distinctions between different racial groups but also gender and socioeconomic factors. According to an article in US News, the achievement gap between black and white students has improved little over the last 50 years.

Previously, 87 percent of white students in their senior year of high school outscored black students also in their senior year. According to the article, black students placed in the 13th percentile of the score distribution for their white counterparts.

Currently, black students place in the 19th percentile. It has been estimated that should these low rates of change continue, the gap in mathematics between the two groups will be closed only after two and a half centuries. The fact that black students have to wait 250 years for the gap to be closed is ridiculous.

Nationwide, black and Hispanic children account for 37 percent of students. Within this 37 percent, only 27 percent take at least one AP class. Location is another factor in this disparity. Black, Hispanic and Native American students are more likely to live in areas with schools that do not offer advanced courses.

According to a study done by School Psychology Quarterly, teachers viewed black students with lowered expectations and disproportionately refer black students to special education and disciplinary action as compared to their white counterparts. Regardless of high academic standing, black students were given less attention.

Students who are victims of this bias have not only been found to have lower grades, but also a lowered motivation to excel.

The stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” manifests in harsher punishments are doled out by teachers after two infractions due to the belief that this bad behavior is likely to continue. Black students are therefore three times more likely to be suspended and expelled.

If a student is continually led to believe that academic success is not inherent in their racial identity, how can they be motivated to exceed academically? Not to mention, if a student is placed with lowered expectations immediately, it is harder to deviate from these ingrained expectations.

For black and Hispanic youth, the desires to prove stereotypes wrong, or even simply the knowledge of these stereotypes, causes the body to produce more stress hormones as a form of a “coping mechanism.”

According to a study done by Educational Theory, the resilience within successful black students to overcome negative stereotypes manifests into a greater issue of a mental health crisis.

According to the author, “black students work themselves to the point of extreme illness in [an] attempt to escape the constant threat of perceived intellectual inferiority.”

A phenomenon dubbed the “stereotype threat” describes the impact of stereotypes on a student’s development of their identity and intellect. Black students were found to underperform on tests that were not “diagnostic of intellectual ability” due to the “priming” of negative racial stereotypes. Asian students were found to have lowered concentration skills and performance on quantitative skills test due to the “priming” of so-called positive stereotypes such as their presumed adeptness in mathematics.

Moreover, although Asian Americans are not negatively impacted by the achievement gap, racial stereotypes still come into play. Asian American students were viewed as “cooperative” and more successful academically, as per the “model minority” stereotype.

The model minority myth is described as a “cultural expectation” on Asian Americans. Perhaps the most detrimental aspect of the myth is the assumption that Asian Americans are never in need of assistance. The impacts of this is that Asian Americans are less likely to report issues of stress and hopeless feelings, yet not seek help from a counselor.

Asian Americans may be successful (for example, compared to their white counterparts, Asian Americans have a higher percentage of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher) but these high-achieving statistics mask groups who do not reflect the ideals of the model minority stereotype imposed upon them.

Teachers have been found to be three times more likely to expect their Asian American students to go to college. But 10 percent of Laotian Americans, 13 percent of Hmong Americans and 16 percent of Cambodian Americans in California have some of the lowest attainment of college degrees. In addition, Hmong and Cambodian Americans live in poverty at higher rates than black and Hispanic individuals. These statistics are said to be masked by Chinese and Indian Americans, and as such, is not an accurate reflection of Asian Americans.

As an article in The Atlantic puts it, “The consequences are classrooms where Asian students not excelling in math are seen as an oddity, and black students excelling in math are seen as an outlier.” The stereotypes placed onto these two groups have very real effects, and are more than just unfortunate statistics.

There are countless students who feel as though they may never amount to anything, or inversely, students who feel inadequate because they do not fit into the “mold” of what is expected.

Asian and black individuals are on opposite ends of a spectrum where negative stereotypes are place on to black people and more “positive” ones are placed onto Asian individuals. In the end, both  stereotypes have a negative effect.

We as a whole need to understand that different groups are subjected to different barriers in their success. It is useless to place blame on certain groups for the achievement gap. Stereotypes may always linger, but your choice to partake in the belief and perpetuation of these stereotypes is dependent on yourself. Stereotypes are more than just unfortunate statistics, but have real-life impacts that need to be recognized.

The Ripple Effect: A Cuban continuation

Cuba’s new president was named last Thursday. The plot twist? His name isn’t Castro.

Yes, for the first time in decades, someone unrelated to Fidel Castro holds that office: Miguel Diaz-Canel. It’s no surprise, seeing as he was selected to be the first vice president in 2013.

But apart from the (admittedly nicely-rhyming) name change, it’s unlikely that this shift heralds any greater transformation. This is, after all, the man who promised to bring “continuity to the Cuban revolution,” using variations upon the word ‘continue’ at least four times in his inaugural speech.

Not to say there aren’t elements that set Diaz-Canel apart from his predecessor, Raul Castro. For one, his attempts to embody the everyman led him to cut an extremely recognizable figure to Cubans in the 90s, according to NBC — that of the guy in Bermuda shorts biking to work. For another, he’s advocated for change to an extent in the past, in the form of promoting internet access for Cubans and other modernization, according to the New York Times.

Miguel Diaz-Canel (left), the Cuban first vice president under Raul Castro (right), was named the country’s president on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

But at the same time, the mild front of change is clearly tempered with constancy. The New York Times also reported, for instance, on Diaz-Canel’s support of the censorship of “subversive” websites, no matter the possible backlash. Moreover, Castro still heads the Cuban Communist Party (arguably more powerful than the president himself), still heads the military and will still, according to CNN, have a sizeable say in major decisions.

Had Diaz-Canel replaced Castro in all those roles as well, greater change may have happened — albeit in the opposite direction regarding U.S.-Cuba relations, judging by his criticism of the creakily slow normalization of relations under Castro. (In fairness, President Trump is averse to it as well.)

If anything, Diaz-Canel’s election highlights how much the Cuban Communist Party, once revolutionary with its implementation of things like free medical treatment and education, doesn’t want change. The party — now essentially led by octogenarians — sprang for a fairly young, Bermuda short-wearing, everyman-touting, mildly-revolutionary successor who, when it counts, will continue to defer to Castro on “major decisions.”

And there are definitely major ones coming up. Cubans are staring down an economic recession with an average salary of $30 per month in their pockets, America is shrinking away from the tentative ties reestablished under the Obama administration and modernization is crawling at a snail’s pace.

What’s clear for now is that when these challenges are faced by Diaz-Canel, the party line being held will be that of Raul Castro’s, by any other name.

The Impatient Patient: In defense of a lazy, smartphone-obsessed generation

Lazy. Entitled. Snowflakes. According to Media Post, these are the qualities 71 percent of past American generations attribute to Generation Z. These sentiments are reflected not only by the parents of Generation Z, but in those belonging to it. 40 percent of parents and 45 percent of Generation Z themselves agree that within this “selfie generation” lies an inherent trait of laziness.

HHS students participated in a walkout on March 14. Photo by Riley Anderson.

Generation Z, or the cleverly nicknamed iGeneration are the 23 million born from 1995 to 2012. 4 million of Generation Z own a smartphone, and most have never known a world without apps and instant gratification. And some fear that the implications of a generation shaped by social media and smartphone are dire.

Lonely. Dislocated. Unhappy. Another triplet of not so flattering traits attributed to Generation Z. A study by The Atlantic ties the rapidly increasing rates of depression in teens to the devices they cultivate their entire persona upon — smartphones.

Teens hang out together less too, with a 40 percent drop from 2000 to 2015. Screen-related activities are linked to unhappiness, while non-screen-related activities are linked to a greater overall wellbeing.

    Yet although Generation Z may be suffering at the hands of of their smartphones, they’re also saving lives. A large social media following and the ability to condense thoughts into a relatable, retweetable 140-character limit may not be necessary an advantageous skill set for most, but the Parkland students and many other teen activists across the country beg to differ.

    Take one of the most well-known of the Parkland students, Emma Gonzalez. With her steely gaze, the high school senior, among with many others of Never Again MSD, organized the largest student-driven protest in American history thus far. Not only that, but Never Again MSD has been credited with the Florida Legislature enacting several gun control measures. Lazy? I think not. And Gonzalez has a remarkable 1.2 million followers on Twitter. Lonely? I think not.

And, who is to forget David Hogg, the Parkland shooting survivor who also made headlines following provocations from those like Jamie Allman and Laura Ingraham, who saw it fit to make jokes about sexually assaulting the 18-year-old, and mock his rejection from colleges.

While Ingraham boasts a net worth of 45 million, Hoggs boasts 753,000 Twitter followers. And, while there is not yet a conversion between American dollars and Twitter followers, Hoggs engaged followers in asking Ingraham’s advertisers to boycott her show. 25 have dropped so far.

While it is easy to argue that the Parkland activists are simply outliers in the convoluted model of how a Generation Z individual is supposed to act, many researchers who study adolescents believe that they are not. I know, because I see feats of activism among my friends, among my classmates, within my community.

The HHS March for our Lives protest was organized by two sophomores. The protest then made a detour to Sunnyvale City Hall made possible by a group of juniors and seniors, poor weather conditions be damned. They were joined by neighboring schools such as FHS and De Anza.

Inspiring. Revolutionary. Tenacious. This is what I believe Generation Z to be.

The Hart of the Matter: Domestic violence and female homelessness heavily connected

Homelessness is a massive issue plaguing the United States, but it is rarely looked at as the complex and multi-faceted problem it truly is. One such overlooked factor of the homelessness issue is the role of violence against women.The U.S. Department of Justice reported that one in four homeless women are on the streets because of violence inflicted against her.

This isn’t a problem that solely affects women, but children as well; Among women who experience homelessness and have children, over 80 percent had previously experienced domestic violence, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

This isn’t just domestic violence in the far past with coincidental homelessness later on. The sheer amount of homeless women who have experienced domestic violence already contests this, but also, in an examination of twelve studies, the Family and Youth Services Bureau found that between 22 and 57 percent of women report that domestic violence was an immediate cause of their homelessness, with numbers varying depending on location.

Countless studies and reports have shown that domestic violence is a huge determinant in homelessness among women. And this only contributes more to violence against women.

Homeless women are significantly more likely to experience any type of violence than non-homeless women. This is partially because homeless people on general are prone to becoming victims to violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, homeless women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than homeless men, showing how the issue of domestic violence against women continues into vagrancy.

Victimized homeless women very rarely report such instances of violence against them, the U.S. Department of Justice reported, and when they do rarely get legitimate response from the authorities.

When domestic violence and homelessness meet, it creates a brutal cycle of assault against women with little way out. The National Network to End Domestic Violence conducted a nationwide study in 2015 in which ninety-three percent of domestic violence programs participated in. In just one day, over 31,500 people escaping domestic violence went to a shelter or program for such victims. Over 12,197 requests were not met due to lack of resources.

More resources for victims of domestic violence are necessary now. Not only is support for victims of domestic violence something we should uphold as a civic duty to them, but it will also address a huge contributor to homelessness.

The Garlick Press: Does ‘flexible’ vegetarianism have a lasting impact?

It has long been known that climate change is happening, and that our everyday consumption of fuels and products contribute to the rising temperatures. But what people don’t usually think of straight away is how diet can affect the environment.

Yes, I am talking about vegetarianism. I have been a vegetarian for almost a year now, and recently been reflecting on my journey of cutting out meat and various dairy products with my family, and we’ve been discussing different kinds of vegetarianism along with what reasons I myself abstain from meat products.

Not only do people abstain from meat for religious, dietary or ethical reasons, they also stay away from consuming animal products for a better environmental impact.
Beef industries take up a lot of water and energy. According to a study from 2010 conducted by Water USGS gov, California uses around 101 to 250 million gallons of freshwater and groundwater for livestock, coming in as the second state for most bovine water consumption.

But of course, not everyone wants to give up meat in the blink of an eye — or at least, not for the rest of their lives. So the question of eating meat less frequently throughout the week comes to the table.

There’s actually a dietary lifestyle for this concept; flexitarian. Combining ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’ to create this new term perfectly exemplifies what flexitarians are; mostly focused on eating vegetables and simply reducing their meat intake.

Flexitarians will eat meat on fewer occasions, and mostly opt for meals that do not have animal products, cutting down their meat consumption more than the average meat eater.

Studies show families who have ‘meatless mondays’ and ‘fish fridays’ save water. According to the Meatless Monday Website, a quarter pound of beef takes 425 gallons of water to make, whereas soy takes only 75 gallons.

Some people are’ financial vegans’, and buy no meat unless it is free to them, saving their pocketbooks while working for a cause. Meat is expensive, and the average meat consumer can save $2,200-$3,000 each year, by just eat four less meals that have meet each week would save around $600-$800 per year, according to SomethingFinance20.

Others run into the ethical farm dilemma; if a chicken has been happy all its life living on a nice farm, and cannot stop itself from making eggs, is it ethical to eat them? Some will say yes, as the chicken was not harmed and is not contributing to global warming since it lives on a small scale operation. Besides, if you didn’t eat the egg, it could potentially become food waste.

Either way, it is up to the consumer to decide what is ethical to them and what makes the most important change for them personally. After all, becoming vegetarian is a personal choice.

Eating less meat could have health and ecological benefits, and decreasing the rate of one’s overall consumption could do a considerable amount of good for the environment and our population.

Making educated decisions about what kinds of dietary changes one can make to fit within a lifestyle is important for everyone’s health, as well as the planet’s.

The Denome’s Advocate: Israel, an apartheid state? (Opinion)

Author’s note: It has come to my attention that this article has garnered extreme criticism from the opposing perspective. However, after a number of productive conversations on the issue with critics, and doing further research, my stance on the issue has not changed. I understand, though, that many statements were made without source attribution. So in that regard, I have made several corrections and clarifications to the article and cited sources, as noted in the revision below.

 

T

he entire world, not just the U.S., seems to be on edge lately. Along Gaza’s border with Israel, in the always-contentious Middle East, 29 Palestinian citizens were killed last week in protests against the Israeli government, mostly by Israeli snipers, according to NPR.

Normally, I leave discussing world issues to my colleague Aishwarya, but something about the Gaza protests in particular struck a nerve with me. This kind of violence doesn’t happen in America during protests; there’s no reason it should happen in Gaza, or anywhere else.

While militants from the terrorist group Hamas were among the protesters killed, a number of citizens perished in the violence as well, and thousands more were wounded, according to NPR. Among the citizens killed was a Palestinian journalist, Yaser Murtaja, who was wearing a jacket that clearly marked him as a member of the press.

Israel claimed that the protests had turned violent and citizens were being encouraged by Hamas, as an Israeli army spokesperson said to foreign press. However, there’s no excuse for shooting journalists who are clearly labeled as such, or other bystanders such as farmers, as NPR also reported. A pro-Palestinian legal organization, Adalah, called the response to the protests a violation of international law.

This isn’t the first time Israel has viciously treated Palestinians; it’s been a common occurrence for about a half-century, in both Israel itself and the occupied territories that Israel controls. Since 2000, over 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in conflicts with israel, as compared to just over 1,000 Israelis, according to B’tselem, an organization that tracks human rights abuses by Israel in occupied Palestinian territories.

However, tensions ratcheted up even further in late 2017 when America, under the direction of President Trump, announced that it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, officially recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, according to the Washington Post. Palestinians — and much of the rest of the world — were outraged, with the U.N. soon passing a resolution condemning the U.S. decision 128-9, as the Post also reported.

While the protests last week were against Israel’s continued ban on travel from the Gaza Strip, the heightened tensions of late have likely played a hand in both Israel and Hamas’ more extreme behavior. And while Hamas has had a presence at the protests, throwing rocks and firebombs at Israel’s encampment, no Israeli soldiers have died so far, according to NPR.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is eerily similar to how apartheid South Africa treated black citizens in the second half of the 20th century: with segregation, racism and needless violence. A report by a UN committee of Arab countries from 2017 accused Israel of committing apartheid-like international crimes.

The U.S. response to this? Rather than further investigating whether apartheid was actually happening in Israel, America, led by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, threatened to stop funding programs perceived as “anti-Israel,” according to the Washington Post. Less than a year later, the U.S. announced the embassy move, sparking another round of protests.

Israel is responsible for the killings themselves, but the U.S. needs to examine its role in allowing their ally to continue to oppress the Palestinian people. Israel can claim it is the real victim and the Palestinians are obstructing peace all they want, but it does not really help their cause when they fire at protesters from behind a wall.

Updated 4/13/18