Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

49-ers quarterback refuses to stand for national anthem

Published in the September 14, 2016 issue of The Bells On August 26, 2016, before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit down during the playing of the US national anthem, going against the age-old tradition of standing during the song. During his post-game interview, he explained his decision, stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Currently, Colin Kaepernick is still refusing to stand (he kneels instead of sits) during the national anthem, and says he will continue to do so and until he feels like social changes have been made. Kaepernick has received both support and backlash for his decision. While we could make this about the US Constitution and American rights, I believe the issue is much, much deeper. Critics are not mad because Kaepernick is sitting or kneeling. They are mad that he’s standing up for people of color who have had many injustices perpetrated against them in this country. Kaepernick has a platform that many do not have the privilege of having, and instead of just playing professional football, he is creating conversation—conversation has needed for a long time now. The deadly shootings of Black American citizens, often by police officers, has steadily increased over the last few years and it would be heartless and naive to ignore it. Michael Brown. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Jordan Davis. These names have not been forgotten. However, what is incredibly important is that the issue is not getting better, it is getting worse. Alton Sterling, Philando Castle, and Delrawn Smalls, were all shot in July 2016 by police officers. If you do not know these names, then learn them. If you do not know their stories, then learn their stories. These narratives need to be heard, so no more have to be written. It seems to me that when white and black Americans get together and talk about racism, some white Americans (not all) get uncomfortable. They sweep it under the rug and pretend it is not there. They would rather not talk about it at all because it is easier not to. It is easier to act like racism and prejudice does not exist in our country anymore. But it does. It has been around so long that Americans have become...

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Is race swapping in the media minority biased?

Published in the September 14, 2016 issue of The Bells In the past few years the world of entertainment has seen dozens of comic book and video game adaptations  for television and cinema. With all the new comic adaptations, filmmakers are exploring all casting options, even if it means using race swapping. This happens when a classic comic book character’s race is swapped fora different race on a television show or in a movie. For instance, the traditionally white Johnny Storm from The Fantastic Four comic was portrayed by black actor Michael B. Jordan in the 2015 film. Race swapping is not to be confused with whitewashing, which is when you take a character that is a minority and cast a white actor in their place.So why is Hollywood race swapping characters in upcoming films? Well, most of the comics that are being adapted to film were written in the Golden Age of Comic Books, which lasted from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. During that time, it was hard to represent all races, because of the country’s mindset. But today, comic books and their film adaptations are enjoyed by people of every race, gender, and generation. Since there is a more diverse crowd buying comic books and movie tickets, it has become more noticeable that minority groups are  not represented in primary roles. Race swapping seems to be a positive change that moviegoers and comic book lovers are excited about. Just one look at the much-used hashtag #RepresentationMatters can prove this. It is filled with heartwarming posts of children who talk about how there is someone on the screen that looks like them, and tales of people pursuing a career in the arts because they feel there is now a place for them in the mainstream media. Some recent casting, that has race swapping fans excited, include the addition of Candice Patton as Iris West in The Flash, which airs on The CW, Tessa Thompson as Valkryie in Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The list continues with Jamie Foxx as Electro in The Amazing Spiderman 2, Idris Elba as Heimdall in the Thor films, and Zendaya Coleman who is rumored to be Mary-Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. These are just a few characters that have been race swapped. But all these actors have something in common. They all are the same race. And while there are other minorities that get roles, they are not as common. So this begs the question, are we race swapping to a certain demographic? Personally, as a dark skinned...

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Judicial system fails sexual assault victims

Published in the September 14, 2016 issue of The Bells Three months. Three months is how long it takes Mercury to orbit the sun, how long it takes to get over a broken heart (scientifically speaking), how long it takes to create a new habit, and how long we get for summer vacation. Three months is approximately 90 days, 2190 hours, or 131,400 minutes. Three months is NOT a long time. And yet, according to our judicial system, three months is enough time for rapist Brock Turner to learn his lesson. Given the name “Stanford swimmer” in the news, each article contained a picture of a smiling young man, seeming to be an upright citizen. On January 17, Turner took advantage of a girl who was intoxicated, assuming that her lack of a voice was consent. After what his father called “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” Turner left the girl when two students approached. The two men then chased and apprehended Turner when they realized the girl was unconscious. Since then, the case has turned into a circus. After an eye-opening and very personal statement from the victim, much of America watched in horror as the proceedings continued on. Hoping for the longest sentence for such a crime we watched as the media portrayed Turner as an innocent kid, who had simply made a mistake. Butthat is not what he is. On pins and needles leading up to the final decision, I strongly opposed leniency for Turner. How could one use the excuse of intoxication as to why they “messed up” when no consent had been or could have been given? And yet, as I watched the proceedings, I continue to see a picturesque depiction of him as the typical “stand up guy.” And while all that happened over the course of this summer, it seemed as though he was the only one depicted in such a manner while his crimes were far more severe than others portrayed in the media. And when the judge’s final judgement came out, I lost my breath. I lost my breath for every victim, every mother and daughter and sister out there that had ever felt the emotional sting of sexual assault. He was given just six months of jail time, because Turner was “just a kid.” And then as if that wasn’t bad enough, Turner was let out three months early because of “good behavior”. And here I am, like all other media outlets, focusing only on Turner himself. What about other victims who are too scared to come forward, who are now being shown...

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Your voice counts: Why everyone should vote
Aug24

Your voice counts: Why everyone should vote

Published in the Aug. 24, 2016 of The Bells Two candidates have officially been chosen to run for the office of the presidency-Republican nominee billionaire Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Senator Hillary Clinton. But despite having devout followers, these candidates might not see very many people come to the voting booths this November. Due to Hillary’s email scandal and Trump’s notorious outspoken attitude, it seems like many Americans are contemplating whether or not they should vote at all. According to www.americancla.org, 40 to 50 percent of Americans are projected to skip the voting booths in November. Many of these apathetic voters are millennials But despite the statistics, it is important to vote, whether you’re a Hillary or Trump supporter. For this election you are not only electing the next president, you’re also deciding the fate of the Supreme Court. Half of the Supreme Court officials are expected to retire in the next four years. Currently, there is an even number of conservatives and liberals. But this could change once the new president chooses the new judges. And once the judges have been chosen they are in office for life. You may think your vote doesn’t count, but it does. It’s anybody’s race. According to the New York Times, as of this printing, Hillary leads Trump 43 percent to 38 percent. Those who don’t vote will determine the outcome of the election more than those who do vote. And if you are thinking of foregoing your right to vote, think about the generations before us who didn’t even have the chance to cast their ballot. Before 1920, more than half the population of America couldn’t vote simply because they were women. This means that the great or great-great grandmothers of today’s millennials (the same millennials who aren’t voting) weren’t allowed to vote for part of their lifetime. Today anyone can vote no matter their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. But even though we all have the opportunity to vote doesn’t mean we should do so blindly. It’s equally important to do your research and find out where each candidate stands. Don’t just vote the same way as your parents or friends. because it’s not their vote, it’s yours Even if you’re not too crazy for either candidate, one of them is going to be elected to be the next President of the United States for the next four years, so make your vote count. Whether it’s Trump, Hillary, or another candidate, it’s up to the American people to make the...

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Domestic charity work should be first priority
Apr20

Domestic charity work should be first priority

The United States of America is known for their dabbling in foreign affairs and coming to the aid of countries in need. Almost everyone has seen the commercials filled with heart-wrenching images of starving children in Third World countries, who need water and food to fill their bloated bellies. As viewers, we are compelled to call the 1-800 number and donate to save a life in a country far away paying no mind to the homeless population in the streets of our own country. This begs the question, is it right to help those suffering in other countries when we have people struggling to make ends meet right here at home? In Third World countries the undeveloped infrastructure provides little to no means of basic living essentials to its citizens like food, clean water, adequate housing, and some form of commerce. The United States on the other hand is a super power amongst most countries, having in place a democratic form of government, successful infrastructure, and health care. America has so many avenues for individuals to access the “American Dream” but many people continue to hover near the poverty line. Homelessness is not okay in any area of the world, but it is even more unacceptable in a nation that is perfectly capable of adjusting its system to help those in need. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer in our country’s time of financial deficit. Austin has an average of 2,300 people on the street. Of that total 900 are chronically homeless according to the city. Chronic homelessness refers to those on the street for one year or more or over four times per year and 40 to 50 percent face death everyday. People don’t have to turn on the TV to see homelessness because it is right here in our back yards. If aid is given to those in need here in the United States, it threatens the money and status of the elite class. Taxing the higher class could be beneficial to helping get those less fortunate on their feet so that they can work to sustain a livelihood. The American upper class is so consumed with monetary value that aiding those of their own country isn’t as important as keeping their fortunes. Instead, people turn a blind eye to the issues of our homeland. In the question of home versus foreign affairs, no one wins because all of those in need deserve help. But there is no excuse for a great country like America not to exhaust every option to sustain its...

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Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds
Apr20

Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds

We’ve all seen the commercials; an anthropomorphic bear telling you to put out campfires, smokers telling the dangers of tobacco. Public service announcements run rampant on television, radio and just about every other form of mass communication. But what we don’t question is whether they’re an appropriate use of government funds. The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces public service announcements for a wide range of non-profits, agencies and even the United States government. The organization was founded in 1941 and soon became a major contributor to World War II efforts, encouraging Americans to enlist, buy war bonds, and support the war effort in many other ways. Seventy-five years later, the country is in an era where most people have access to a multitude of information in their pockets. So, is it really necessary to spend government funds pumping out ads that most people think are common sense? Let’s look at the Ad Council’s most notable campaign, Smokey the Bear. The iconic bear is the product of a collaboration between the US Forest Service and the Ad Council. The campaign was created in 1944 to spread awareness about wildfire prevention. Smokey’s warning that “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave” is good advice, but one would think campers could use their own common sense when it comes to putting out campfires. If someone needs a cartoon bear to tell them that leaving a roaring fire unattended in the woods is a bad idea, then humanity as a whole probably has bigger problems. Another reoccurring PSA subject is tobacco awareness, with frequent ads that show the side-effects of smoking. But in 2016, do people really need to be told that filling their lungs with smoke could have negative health effects? It may be different if campaigns had a noticeable impact, but it’s not clear that they do. According to United Press International, a recent study on hundreds of PSAs worldwide produced mixed results. The study concluded that while anti-smoking campaigns seem to be effective, campaigns warning about the dangers of alcohol fall flat. Ads with additional content – from nutrition to health screenings – were all over the map. So, if it’s not clear whether or not the ads even have the desired impact, then maybe it’s time to consider shutting them down. After all, it’s not the government’s place to make life decisions for everybody. It’s time we used a little common sense to make our own...

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