Downloading the Future

Glimpses of the Future

Last March, inside a warehouse on Pier 28 in San Francisco, a rift in space-time shattered the very fabric of reality, challenged every law of modern science, and catapulted the future of the world in strange new directions. Sort of.

It was Worlds Fair Nano, a biannual expo in which the focus is on emerging technology and not-so-far-fetched visions of the future. It was about fifty percent product demos, forty percent forward-thinking talks led by influential innovators, and ten percent food trucks. Inside the packed warehouse there were drone races, virtual reality, motor-unicycles, liquid meals, bionic enhancements, and augmented art displays. Continue reading Downloading the Future

50 Years After Change

The current semester at San Francisco State University celebrates a milestone that has changed and influenced our country and the world. Black and Africana Studies was the horizon for an inclusive learning platform that has been geared towards teaching students who they are and where their cultures come from.

This spring semester marks the fiftieth anniversary of Africana studies, ever. After fighting and creating test material for courses with an Afrocentric concentration at a predominately white institution, activist won the battle and implemented a new branch to higher learning. Continue reading 50 Years After Change

Grad Caps and Wedding Gowns

The fresh spring air brings life to the dead world winter brought. Along with it comes graduation caps, prom dresses, floral-prints galore, and yes – marriage proposals. Something about the blooming flowers or the transition from one part of life to another catches the spirit of young boys in love; urging them to get down on one knee. It is the season, some say, for a ring by spring.

Getting married young has been around since ancient times – the Greeks are said to have married once girls started their period and boys grew pubic hair. Various reasons called for this: shorter life expectancy, agreement between two households, staying a virgin until wedded (usually for religious reasons), etc. As consent laws came to form, life expectancies grew longer, and sex out of wedlock became less of a taboo, younger marriages obviously saw a decline. So why in this day-and-age are some couples still deciding to tie the knot before they’re twenty-five? Continue reading Grad Caps and Wedding Gowns

Ebonics is NOT “Black English”

There is no coincidence that Black people throughout the country understand and communicate in a way that is foreign to people who are not close to the culture. There is no coincidence that, although the words used are English, they don’t mean the same thing you’d find in Webster’s Dictionary. A language with history, phonetic patterns, and can be translated and dissected. Ebonics is the language shared among Black Americans and has been passed down generation to generation. Continue reading Ebonics is NOT “Black English”

Grades and Pacifiers

College can be tough for anyone. Many students decide to focus most of their attention on it. Between midterms, finals, group projects, and long research papers, there is almost no time to take a breath. While some people struggle to handle this level of stress, others test their abilities by increasing this stress. Whether it is intentionally or by accident, pregnant students deal with a more intense degree of college pressure that many students could not handle. Continue reading Grades and Pacifiers

Killer Crossings

In 2014, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and SFMTA prioritized pedestrian and cyclist safety by adopting Vision Zero, a multi-national initiative with the purpose of decreasing traffic collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.

 

 

 

There are more traffic cameras and radar around the city than ever before. The San Francisco Police Department has also been pushing to monitor the busiest and most dangerous corners for pedestrians.

Continue reading Killer Crossings

Students Walk for Gun Control

On March 14, thousands of students participated in a national school walk out to demonstrate their support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students after a shooting occurred at their high school in February, in Parkland, Florida. The survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting have demanded change in gun regulations and have inspired youth around the country, including those at our very own San Francisco State University. Continue reading Students Walk for Gun Control

Enlisting for a Higher Education

Veteran Podcast

“Murderers” and “puppets” are just a few of the insults student veterans at San Francisco State University have received from their fellow students and faculty.

Veteran Services Coordinator, Benjamin Yang said that most of these insults are made out of misconceptions and stereotypes of the military. He stated that although most student veterans are taught to be thick-skinned and ignore criticism, he worries for the veterans that are still struggling to transition to regular civilian life. He believes that not all veterans can cope with the discomfort of being outed in class, especially those with PTSD.

To address this issue, Yang has partnered with Swords to Plowshares, to conduct classes, “Combat to Community”, that teach professors and faculty how to avoid situations that might trigger student veterans past trauma. These classes have been curated twice now and not a single faculty member has taken them, despite the classes being made especially for them.

“Staff members, psych counselors, the register’s office, admissions, and even UPD have all attended but, still no faculty, said Yang. “These classes are important to begin conversations that some veterans are too afraid to talk to their professors about.”

Later Yang explained that there was actually one faculty member, a dean, but still no participation by professors to  attend these courses.

Yang believes that these classes are necessary because triggers to PTSD are everywhere.

“It can be anything not just words that trigger these episodes,” explained Yang. “When I was a student here, the weekly tsunami alarm was always off-putting to me, it was hard for me to focus after. We witness and experience events differently than most people and though we veterans are resilient we still have trouble talking about these vulnerabilities.”  

On the afternoon of February 28, students protesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement banged on classroom doors and yelled “walk out!” to encourage other students to participate. However, student veterans at Burk Hall misheard and thought students were yelling “lock down,” and according student veteran, Gabriel Flesher, this alarmed him to think they should look for the perpetrators that, in his mind, was the cause of all the yelling.

“Yelling and banging on doors is terrifying for anyone,” said Flesher. “I went outside and immediately thought something dangerous was happening. The recent campus shootings didn’t help either. It was like I switched to survival mode and that’s one of the differences between veterans and other students, we’re always scanning our surroundings to be assured of our safety.”

Forty-year-old Flesher, who was in the coast guard for fourteen and a half years, did one tour in Iraq, and thirteen three-month patrols to the Bering Sea, and has served in Africa, South and Central America, as well as Thailand, Singapore, and the Continental US. He believes that student veterans are not typical students.

“As vets, we have had huge responsibilities and tasks that we have completed, some of us have been to war and experience death at a level that people in regular society, simply cannot identify with, especially in a class environment.” said Flesher.

To Flesher, the “Combat to Community” classes have created an opportunity for staff and faculty to hear and ask questions to therapist and psychologist that work with Veteran Affairs and the veterans themselves

Another issue that the classes address is the student veterans’ misconceptions. Many student veterans have come to Yang to complain that certain professors single them out, make them feel uncomfortable, and even criticize them for their involvement with the military.

Jason Chittavong, a thirty-six-year-old history major, says that he’s heard from other veterans that a lot of their classmates, and even professors, have called him a “murderer” when they realize that he is a veteran.

“I refrain from giving my insight when war is a topic in class, even though I might have some in first-hand experience with it,” said Chittavong. “It leaves you kind of open, everyone turns for you for the answers and sometimes it becomes an uncomfortable situation.”

Jerry Cabilatazan, who did four years in the Marine Corp and did two back to back tours in Afghanistan, says that in class some people have asked intrusive questions, like if he has ever killed anyone. There were many times when he was called a murderer and not given the chance to explain the context to his actions.

Cabilatazan said that he was providing security for an all-girl school in South Afghanistan when the Taliban came and started shooting the school.

“Do I let these kids die or stop one individual?” Cabilatazan commented.“It can get really dark and often you get [put] in a situation and get asked ‘how I can make that decision’ and I don’t know. All I know is that, that girl (children) have nothing to do with this, she’s just trying to do the best she can in her age and we know better than her, so it’s our job to protect her.”

Christopher Ramirez, another student veteran, says that these invasive questions get asked a lot in class with faculty supervision present, who often also have their own bias with his involvement with the military. Flesher believes in order to counter these biases, there should be more awareness to everything else that veterans do other than combat.

“So many veteran contributions are lost in translation,” said Flesher. “There are medics, engineers, search and rescue groups that a lot people gloss over and never really given credit, some of our medic veterans actually helped student protestors how to aid themselves during the protest in Berkeley.

Ramirez, now thirty-four-years-old and served for sixteen years as a medic in combat, shares that he helped people protesting because he feels that his primary principles revolve around serving people in need, something he says has been with him even after returning from the military.

The past patterns of protest and school shootings, have inspired Ramirez to want to do trainings and teach other people how to prepare for injuries done in protest or potentially heal other wounds.

“Student veterans are untapped resources, that given the chance can bring so many contributions to this campus,” said Ramirez.

More than anything, student veterans, according to Ramirez, just want to be have the same opportunity to succeed in academia like their peers, but want teachers to be conscious of the other factors that might prevent them from doing so.

Last year Ramirez had to seek military withdrawal because he was summoned and deployed to another state. He got incompletes in most of his classes except for one. The sole professor who gave him a withdrawal unauthorized, accused Ramirez of not being communicative. However, Ramirez said he sent emails to all his professors.

Ramirez says that what really infuriated him was not having to pay back Veteran Affairs for not passing the class, but how unwilling the professor was to even understand his situation meet to have a conversation to fix the problem.

“The thing is I didn’t have a choice, I was literally at Fort Knox Kentucky and then Fort Bragg Carolina,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez says that not doing well in class in not only detrimental to his grades, but it could have affected his assistance from the VA, and at the moment in his life right now, the VA that is the economical and emotional support he has.

Cabilatazan also believes that because his education is so dependent on the VA, that student veterans are held to higher standards.

“We are ten times harder on ourselves than the most of the students,” said Cabilatazan.  “This is my life, if I don’t do better than this I don’t know what my future is gonna be like, I sacrificed four years of my life for this opportunity and I’m shitting it away because of this low score, most people don’t think like that.”

Cabilatazan explains that school is his only option and if he fails then his sacrifices in the military would be taken in vain.

“Some people when they fall have a little bit of support left , someone to hold onto just in case you fall,” said Cabilatazan. “But if I fall I fall deeper and I don’t’ have any other choice I have to dig myself that.”

Ramirez and Cabilatazan both agree that if faculty members and professors take the “Combat to Community”  classes they would be more aware of the situations that student veterans face and more understanding to the external hardships they have no control over. But again the problem that the Veterans Affairs Office has is convincing faculty members to participate.

“For me, I’m cellular molecular biology major,” shared Ramirez. “Our STEM professors say they don’t have time, or that’s what the common statement would be, but they have time to have keynote speakers to come in, these seminars and all that is great, don’t get me wrong, but these classes aren’t long either. It’s a little disheartening and frustrating.”

The next combat class will be held in the summer for the next Fall semester. For more information on the Combat to Community classes, please contact Benjamin Yang at his email byang@sfsu.edu.

Should we put Woke to sleep?

The past tense of awake is woke, obviously. “I woke up,” is what someone could utter any given morning. The word has also been adopted as a slang word with a meaning that is ever expanding, but generally entails being in the know when it comes to social and political enlightenment. A word with such subjectivity allows people to feel a sense of “wokeness” when it comes to just about anything.

Has anyone ever told you to #staywoke? The term has existed for a while, and now got a brand-new make over with its existence on social media. Its social media presence is what caused many to refine or narrow down its meaning.

Many people have various interpretations of the word.

San Francisco State University biology student, Rosa Gutierrez, thinks “…it is when someone is enlightened, or trying to learn about something that is going on around them, and not ignoring the issues that are going on around them.”

American-Indian studies major, Shawnee Sample, believes that, “It’s about seeing different perspectives and different sides to everything, just being able to recognize what’s going down whether it’s political, educational, etc.”

“I think it means being aware of situations and problems that people aren’t aware of,” shares computer science major, David Harvey. “I feel like it’s being overused for now, but with time it will be used less.”

The great thing about social media is that it can get information to circulate on a broader scale. People all over the world can get a laugh from the same memes at the same time! And while that is amazing it’s important to realize that not just memes are being rapidly spread, so are these trends of activism.

We live in a time where big social movements involving hashtags can catapult through the likes of social media. Take #BlackLivesMatter for example, the entirety of that movement started on social media and without social media it would not have spread as widely as it did.

With that being said, even though a social movement as such holds much more value than a trend, it is treated the same when it comes to having a shelf life, which brings me to the topic of being or staying “Woke.”

Even though it has taken off on social media, the term has been around for decades in the Black community. Although not the most reputable source, The Urban Dictionary satirically describes it as “a state of perceived intellectual superiority one gains by reading The Huffington Post.”

A lot of people think that because they were there first they get to delegate what the meaning is and how others should be regarded within that term,” says Ghila Andemeskel, former executive coordinator for the Black Student Union. “In general it does open doors for discussion.”

At the peak of its existence in the world of social media, “woke” seemed to bring a lot of awareness to issues. It also became something that people were striving to be a part of because it was highly looked down upon to be considered not “woke.”

With that popularity arose various problems. On one hand people were beginning to just start calling themselves “woke,” unjustly throwing around the word like Northern Californians throw around the word “hella.” On the other hand, people began to develop this unwarranted sense of intellectual superiority, and additionally it led to a lot of talk of issues, but no action.

“Media is a tool that can be used positively and negatively,” explains Hanna Wodaje, an Africana studies Alumna who currently works at the Black Unity Center. “The word can be like a double-edged sword obviously if it’s used inefficiently.”

The overuse and misuse of the word by people wanting fit in led to a lot of folks misconstruing the meaning. While it is great to care for these issues and give them more attention, the only thing this superiority does is create a divide between people, as opposed to spreading awareness which was the goal from the beginning, which in my opinion is the cause of this dwindling trend.

Often people think that a simple double tap on someone’s “woke” post or a simple retweet is enough and that is as far as their wokeness goes.

“Social media things like hashtags have been an amazing way for people of color and marginalized groups to reclaim their spaces and their platforms,” Wodaje points out.

Even singer and Bay Area native, Kehlani, sported the word as a tattoo in giant letters gracing the back of her hand, which she had covered up at the beginning of this year.

“When I got the ‘Woke’ tattoo at twenty-years-old I thought I was the smartest cookie in the jar,” shared the now twenty-two-year-old in an Instagram post. “I was so ready to declare my intelligence to the world.”

Someone who is truly about that life, lives it everyday. It shows in the company they keep, in them standing up for themselves and others, and it shows in their active activism—not including “Twitter activism”, which is not necessarily bad, but it is not enough to make an actual impact in the community and the lives of others.
We should stop looking at it like it is a finite state of being. There is no end to learning, growing, and becoming better versions of ourselves.

It is wonderful to spread awareness about social issues, the feeling that comes from doing such feels amazing, but anger or bashing should not stem from a difference in thoughts of opinions regarding various topics. I couldn’t decide whether something like this needed a different title like ‘socially conscious’ or maybe we should eradicate titles all together and let our actions speak louder than or words.

Let’s put the focus we have on the term to sleep and wake up our potential to be the catalyst for positive change in our communities. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about.

Black Panther & Cultural Conversation

Another superhero movie came out this past month. That’s where we are at now. Marvel movies are becoming as essential to American culture as the Super Bowl or the Olympics; we all have to see them.

Except Black Panther was more than just another Marvel film.

Black Panther is a platform for black artists and creators to create a lens into their culture. This was a first for a large demographic of kids. They get to see themselves as the hero; the main event. Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as the titular Black Panther, reprising his role from Captain America: Civil War, with Michael B. Jordan as the debut villain Erik Killmonger.

Michael B. Jordan played a heavy role in the film while also reuniting, for the third time, with writer and director Ryan Coogler—proving to be a match made in cinematic heaven. The two came together in 2013 for Fruitvale Station and again in 2015 for Creed.


“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.              

 

Zanesha Williams:

I love Marvel films. I always look forward to seeing the Avengers come together and watch the solo films in between. To be fair though, the other day I overheard a group of girls talking in the cafe and one of them mentioned that she didn’t know that the Black Panther was a superhero. Most people didn’t. I am also fairly new to the club.

Mitchell Walther:

I am a marvel fanboy. There’s no use in me hiding it. While I don’t read the comics quite as much as I did back in the day, I have done everything I can to stay up to date on the Marvel cinematic universe.

Black Panther was always a superhero I liked, but not a character that I found incredibly enticing on his own. Often when I read his stories he was paired with the X-Men or Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. That being said, I was excited when I heard they were giving Black Panther his own film. I was even more excited when I heard Kendrick Lamar was going to be producing the album.

Zanesha:

Once it was announced after Captain America: Civil War that the Black Panther would get a full length film, the most exciting part was seeing updates on the cast. Who would’ve thought we’d being seeing Angela Bassett in a Marvel film? On and off the screen, “blackness” was praised and proved to be something worth watching. The selection for costume designers, the “inspired by” soundtrack, and the director.

Mitchell:

I will be honest and say that before Black Panther, I didn’t know who Angela Bassett was. Bassett put forth a stirring performance as the mother of T’challa, the Black Panther.  It’s sad how long this movie has taken to get made.

Black Panther is another installment in a long line of Marvel films that pushes the envelope. Rather than serve up standard superheroes, Marvel has attempted to give us something unique. A talking raccoon and a giant tree voiced by Vin Diesel would never have gotten the green light when Iron Man and The Dark Knight were the pioneers.

Black Panther is culturally a more important film than Guardians of the Galaxy though. It is the story of a superhero who is also the king of a sovereign nation. In the comics Black Panther fights with politics almost as much as his claws. The story of Black Panther and his nation of Wakanda also carries a lot of racial and social commentary.

Rather than shy away from the issues, the movie leans into them and allows what made the story unique in the comic books to make it unique on screen. It’s a movie about representation, juggling the identity of a comic book flick with that of a film about black culture. How did it do?

Zanesha:

Black Panther was a very different combination of excitement. You have so many new and unusual factors going in one mainstream film. The idea that a blockbuster depicts Africa as beautiful, self-sufficient, and most importantly superior to its surroundings is an anomaly. The excitement that black kids can look up to a superhero that looks like them, play with action figures that have the same features. This film supports an identity that was well overdue.

There’s so much to rave about. You have Kendrick Lamar, an activist through his rap, producing the soundtrack for the film. Ryan Coogler’s $200 million budget for a film he was allowed to make his own. Ruth E. Carter, known for her repeated work with director Spike Lee, and more recently her costume design for Selma.

Names that resonate in the black community are now widely known due the weight that Marvel films hold. The excitement comes from the shift in a community finally being able to show how profitable it truly is.

Mitchell:

It comes at a fortuitous time in Hollywood as well. Black Panther as a movie is poignant. Opening on Oakland, California in 1992, the film makes its goals clear while still entertaining us the entire way. Stunning visuals and an incredible soundtrack composed by Swedish visionary Ludwig Goransson never distract from the climax.

Black Panther is about a hero and a villain who both want what is best for their people. They both see the suffering and persecution endured at the hands of the privileged and the powerful. The crux of their characters fall on what the answer is. How do we as people fight against hundreds of years of systematic and institutionalized racism? Black Panther director Coogler answers as best as he can: we get involved, and we point a spotlight at the beautiful.