The Ups and Downs of International Soccer

By: Luca Muehlbauer

[Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

The World Cup, which will be held in Qatar, is coming up. The tournament is set to start on the 20th of November, and just the past week we had the last international break- when club teams take an extended break for national teams to play matches, usually friendlies- before the World Cup. There have been many injuries, losses and wins during this two week span. Some things have been surprising while others have been more or less normal. In this article the biggest surprises of this past international break and which teams are looking the strongest coming into the World Cup will be reported on.

The Strong Teams:

Belgium: They have been in the top 10 for the past 4-6 years. They have some of the best players on their squad and this world cup will most likely be that last for many of them. Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois are the stars of the team. They will be the leaders for this wonderful team. However this past international break has not been so great. Lukaku has been out with an injury so he did not play and they only won one out of the two games. They lost to the Netherlands in their final game of the break. They are still a strong team and if they can get Lukaku back, they will probably still be a favorite to win. Many players will be putting everything they got in this world cup because it will most likely be their last. 

Brazil: Many say this could be their sixth world cup win. With the team they have this year, I don’t doubt it. They have an amazing attack starting with Neymar and Vinicius and Richarlison. But that isn’t all, they have plenty others who can do damage to the opposing team. Their defense is led by Thiago Silva and Marquinhos who are both very strong defenders and their midfield is led by Casemiro. Those are just the headline players but the whole starting eleven is scary to look at, they have a very strong team that could easily go all the way. This past international break has really shown that they are a favorite, with their last friendly being a 5-1 win vs Tunisia, it is hard not to choose them to win the world cup. 

Argentina: They are always a favorite and especially this year. This coming World Cup will most likely be Lionel Messi’s last world cup. He will be giving it his all to win it for his country, but that isn’t the only thing Argentina has. They have many other stars including Lautaro Martinez, Rodrigo De Paul, Paulo Dybala, and Lisandro Martinez. This past international break really showed it too, their record keeps on going as they have a 35 game unbeaten streak going into the world cup and they took two wins in the friendlies. They beat Jamaica and Honduras. Both games they won 3-0. They may have been simple games but  they did look really good and ready for this coming World Cup. 

Germany: Germany is always a frightful team to come against in any game. They always have great players and a great team. They just came off a decent international break with a tie and a loss. They weren’t the best results but they did show against England that they can be a great team. This coming World Cup will be tough for them with a young squad, but hopefully their veterans can help them get to where they want to be. Their last world cup did not go as planned but they want to avenge their performance in this coming World Cup, so they will be hoping to get to the knockout stage at least. 

The Interesting Teams:

Uruguay: Uruguay are not a favorite to win the world cup but they will definitely put on a fight for whoever comes across them. They do have a strong team but it won’t be enough. They have a very strong attack with Luis Suarez and Darwin Núñez, their midfield is a little weak but aggressive which helps them quite a bit. But they do lose possession quite a bit, their star is Valverde in the midfield but he plays more wide so in the middle they have trouble. Defensively, they are pretty strong in the central possession but now with an injury to Ronald Araujo everything can change and the backs are good but not great, they lack confidence and don’t have much experience. They are coming off a big win against Canada but they also lost to Iran, which was not very good. They will be in a tough group so they will have to give it their all to make it to the knockout stage this coming World Cup. 

Denmark: Denmark is a tough team, they have a great spirit when they play and they are known for some heroic runs in tournaments. Now, with Christian Eriksen back they could be making another huge run in this world cup. They are not a favorite to win it but they can win some big games and make it far into the knockout stage. They don’t have the best squad in the world but they have good leadership and they will do anything to win. They put it all on the field. This past international break they looked very good. They won a huge game against France, but then they lost to Croatia as well. So they could potentially make a big run in this coming World Cup. 

Netherlands: Netherlands are known for being a great team and almost winning it all . The Netherlands have the most final appearances (3) without winning a world cup. This world cup will not be different. They have a strong team especially on defense with Van Dijk and De Ligt in the center. Then they have Memphis Depay in the attack and if Frenkie De Jong comes back from injury they will have him in the midfield. Sadly Georginio Wijnaldum will not be able to participate in this coming world cup due to injury so they will have to rely on De Jong. They are coming off a very good International break. They beat Belgium and Poland. They are looking like a strong team but it is known that they have trouble winning the big tournaments so this coming World Cup they will try and bring the glory home and prove the doubters wrong. 

Spain: Spain is a favorite to win the world cup but many people have their doubts about them. They had a sketchy few games this past break with a loss to Switzerland  (but they did beat Portugal). They do look like a strong team with Alvora Morata and Ferran Torres in the attack. The midfield is really their strength where they have Pedri, Rodri and Sergio Busquets. On the defense they are quite weak. They are missing many of their stars including Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique from the last world cup. Both of them are older and most likely wouldn’t be able to lead them. They are missing players, they don’t have much depth on defense or attack. They must control the midfield if they want to win this World Cup. 

The Problematic Teams: 

United States: They are not looking good. They have come off a terrible display against Japan and Saudi Arabia where overall they only had 2 shots on target and both of those shots came against Saudi Arabia. They lost to Japan 2-0 and tied to Saudi Arabia 0-0. They lack depth in their squad. They will not go very far in the World Cup. They will most likely make it to the knockout stage but they will probably be out quickly. Giovanni Reyna is injury prone, he is always injured and doesn’t stay healthy. They have Christian Pulisic but he is very inconsistent and Weston Mckinnie and Ricardo Pepi just are on and off as well. They have plenty of other youngsters like Brenden Aaronson that have no experience so you can’t really trust them. It’s a very young team that won’t live up to the hope. They will be out early and they will have to hope for the next one in 2026.  

England: They are supposed to be one of the favorites but this past international break they did so poorly that they were dropped to Nations league B. They have not been playing well and the thing that is killing them is the lineup Gareth Southgate ( He is the manager for the England national team)  is choosing. He is starting players by pretty much his relationship with them. He has chosen Kieran Trippier over Trent Alexander-Arnold and he keeps starting Harry Maguire which hasn’t been working either. England has many problems and their main problem is that they are not choosing the right lineup. They have to make a lot of changes and doing it in the world cup is not smart. But when they are in a situation like this, they may have to. 

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the answer anymore. They need to find someone they can rely on day in and day out. Portugal is having trouble on the attacking end because they rely on Ronaldo too much. He isn’t the player he used to be. He is still a great player but they need someone else. They may sometimes get a good game from Joao Felix or Bruno Fernandes but they are inconsistent. They have a strong midfield and defense that can hold them to a certain point but then they need options up top, which at the moment they don’t have. They need someone fast. This World Cup will be a tough one for them. 

Mexico: Mexico is a very young team, they are sort of like the United States but a little better. They overall want it more and they may be able to make it to the knockout stage and get an upset. But, overall they don’t have much on their team. They don’t have much talent in their attack, and their defense and midfield isn’t what it used to be. Diego Lainez and Raul Jimenez are their star players, they have to really step it up if they want to win a couple of games. They will be very nervous coming into the world cup and it will be tough for them to adjust. They will have to play big teams as well which may give them quite a bit of trouble in the World Cup.  

Other Teams:

Senegal: They have a strong team and are coming off a big tournament win in the African cup of Nations. They are considered the best African team at the moment. They also have many top players. For example, Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy. All these players are currently playing in Europe. Mendy and Koulibaly are on the same team in Chelsea, while Sadio Mane is in Germany with Bayern. This is a very strong team that is very courageous. They have a great bond with each other. They are always happy as well and if they stay together and work hard it is possible that they can make it to the knockout stage. 

South Korea: South Korea is a strong team but they have a very tough group. They have their star player in Son Heung-Min, who is a very good player and is always in top form. The team is very cheerful and they did have a huge upset against Germany in the last world cup to knock them out. This year they will be hoping to make it farther than the knockout stage. This team is now more experienced and they will be hoping to make a better run. 

This World Cup will bring out a lot of glory and pain. Many teams will succeed and many teams will not. This World Cup will not be the same as usual, but it will still have the competitive spirit from the teams and there will still be blood, sweat and tears every game. Each team will give it their all, making this World Cup one to remember.

Instagram’s New Update: A Pronouns Setting

By: Regan Sumy

Instagram recently made the exciting and necessary decision to create an option to display your pronouns on your Instagram profile. While some see pronouns as unimportant or unnecessary, that simply isn’t the case. 

Pronouns are used to refer to an individual in conversation or in writing. The most common pronouns are he/him, she/her, and they/them. If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, ask that person if they feel comfortable sharing their pronouns. You could also use gender-neutral pronouns. 

If you are cisgender, meaning you identify with the sex you were born with, you may ask, “Why would I need to display my pronouns?” Simple answer — to declare your alliance and support of people who are LGBTQ+. This doesn’t mean that everyone who does not include pronouns in their bio is anti-LGBTQ+, but having your pronouns can make someone feel accepted, so if you are comfortable doing so, share them!

If you are not cisgender, you can choose to put your pronouns in your bio whenever you feel comfortable enough to do so. Some people are not yet ready to come out, especially on big social media platforms, which is completely valid. 

Another positive factor of adding your pronouns to your bio is to help stop gender assumptions. So many people are called by the wrong pronouns, so normalizing and educating pronoun usage can lead to a future more accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Everyone — if you are still figuring out your identity or are simply not yet comfortable with sharing your pronouns on social media, don’t feel pressured by anyone to share. If you do feel comfortable sharing your pronouns, see the steps below for how to add this information to your profile.

How-To Steps:

  1. Log into Instagram. 
  2. Go to your profile page. 
  3. Click the “Edit Profile” button. 
  4. Find the box labeled “Pronouns.” 
  5. Select your preferred pronouns (up to 4). 
  6. Choose if you want your pronouns to be public or private. 


By: Johanna Ramirez-Perez

Over the years, many cosmetic companies have used animals in order to test new products, using them to test new formulas using a variety of chemicals. During this process, animals are forced to eat or inhale substances that could kill them, and most do end up being harmed or killed. This year, many audiences have learned about these practices and have reached out to stop animal testing in makeup products. There have also been many trending hashtags spreading all across America in an attempt to speak up to stop animal cruelty. Common animals that have been used for animal testing include:









Millions of these innocent animals are locked up inside cages in labs being prepared to be tortured and suffer. These animals cannot defend themselves and have no other choice but to wait in fear while the procedure starts. 

What can you do? 

There are a variety of brands that are cruelty free that you can purchase. If you own brands that aren’t cruelty-free, finish the products and don’t purchase them again. If you see a friend with products that aren’t cruelty-free, explain and encourage them to purchase non-animal cruelty brands. By not purchasing these brands that test animals, it will push government agencies to stop sponsoring and performing animal testing.

Brands involved in animal cruelty


-L’oreal Paris 





-Bed Head 

-Bath and Body Works

-Victoria’s Secret 

-Wet N Wild

-Laura Mercier


-Clean and Clear



-Fit me!



-Sephora brand 

-Mary Kay

For more brands that test on animals, visit 

However, it’s safe to say that many brands have been hearing us and transferring to a cruelty free company.

List of cruelty free brands:




-Anastasia Beverly Hills 






-Colour Pop



-BH cosmetics 


-100% PURE

-The Body Shop

-Urban Decay 



For more cruelty free products visit: 

Please help and spread trending hashtags to help reach out; your voice matters, and animal lives matter. #Saveralf, #vegan, #savetheplanetearth, #saveanimals, #stopanimalcruelty. You can also sign this petition to ban animal testing:

In order to see if a brand is certified cruelty free, check out these logos!

Unofficial Logos:                   Certified Cruelty Free Logos:

Men Who Wear Dresses are Manly

By: Jack Chrest

Singer Harry Styles recently modeled for the December 2020 issue of Vogue Magazine. For the photoshoot, Styles wore an assortment of dresses, one of which he wore for the magazine’s cover photo. Soon after the cover photo was released by Vogue via Twitter, several conservative figures criticized Styles for his clothing choice. Conservative political commentator and activist Candace Owens retweeted Vogue with the quote “bring back manly men.” Another conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro, also posted a tweet criticizing Styles, calling his dress a “referendum on masculinity.” 

I’m sorry–did I miss something? Is it unmasculine for Styles, or any man, to wear clothing that is typically associated with the feminine? Are men who prefer dresses instead of suits actually trying to abolish the traditional understanding of masculinity that society has come to accept? The answer to both of these questions is no. Men who don the occasional dress are not unmanly, nor do these men share some kind of ulterior motive. In fact, men who wear dresses from time to time–or all of the time–are likely doing so to feel confident, just like when I wear jeans and a T-shirt. The fact of the matter is that gender is too complex of an idea to be defined by fabric, and so is masculinity. Therefore, Styles and others should not care what you and I think of them, and they probably don’t.

One might ask, “When have men actually worn women’s clothing?” Well, a LOT of male celebrities have, in fact, presented as androgynous/nonconforming. Actor Billy Porter regularly wears dresses to award shows. Rapper Young Thug wore a dress and a pointed hat on the cover of his 2016 album, ‘JEFFERY’. Kurt Cobain, frontman for Nirvana, wore a dress and nail polish for a 1993 issue of The Face magazine. Even David Bowie, a pioneer with respect to androgyny, created a fully-formed stage persona fitted with jumpsuits. Traditionally feminine clothes are not only not unmanly. In some cultures–both past and present–value is placed on the idea of men wearing robes, skirts, and other such attire. Look no further than the Scots, some of whom still wear kilts to this day. Furthermore, the Scots aren’t the only example of historically manly men who styled themselves in ways that would be heavily deemed womanly in 2020. The Vikings of Scandinavia often braided their hair. America’s Founding Fathers all wore wigs with ponytails attached. Even Jesus Christ, a prominent religious figure, sported a robe from day to day. 

So, if clothes don’t have a gender, and some male clothing is conventionally feminine, then what’s the problem? There isn’t one. A laundry list of evidence exists to prove this, but evidence isn’t even necessary. The ways in which we chose to present ourselves simply don’t matter. To Owens, Shapiro, and other conservatives, I ask: why do you care?

America, Do Better

By: Johanna Ramirez – Perez

What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word white? The first few things that come to my mind are privilege, power and wealth. Not many people will understand this way of thinking because they haven’t experienced it firsthand—they have no clue what it’s like to live in America being colored. The stares, the pain, and the hurtful words that are carelessly hurled at us each and every day. In America, people of color are seen as dirty, bad, and ugly. Americans have produced movies and T.V. shows that cast those of darker complexions as villains, with even Disney having scenes that stereotype racial manners, portraying different races in an offensive manner. The movie Peter Pan stereotyped Native Americans by referring to them as “redskins,” an offensive term for Natives. In the movie Dumbo, Disney also created a musical number where they referenced Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation. Movies like these brainwash the world to think that that’s what people of color are like. Another example can be taken from the movie Coco, where Disney featured Hispanic culture called the Day of the Dead. Disney was inspired by a lady named Maria de la Salud, also known as Mama Coco. Movie producers approached her and offered her many things, and they asked what she would want in return for using her image. However, Disney never gave in and left her with nothing. They robbed her identity and never gave credits to her. Maria de la Salud said that she does not want money, she just wants her recognition out in the world. She is now 106 years old and her home is being treated like a museum. In Mexico, there aren’t many opportunities like in America. Disney made mistakes of stereotyping races and doing the least to change the way they treat us people of color. As a company that produces entertainment for kids, they help to create younger audiences’ image on racial segregation. Our culture is a gift, and it’s time to embrace all races. We want to change the world, not bring back how America was in the past.

Now: Imagine dreaming of a perfect place filled with opportunities, full of promise for a better future. To start a new life filled with accepting people that can help families move forward. The sad truth is that America tricks you into their lies; people of color from different designated areas fall into America’s lies. America’s promises ring hollow for people of color. I have been mistreated for the color of my skin. I see a multitude of minority groups all being mistreated by society just for existing. This makes it seem as though “white” is the only color of skin that deserves to be treated fairly. It’s the differences in our skin color that makes us unique. Our differences in foods, culture, history, and language ought to be celebrated. Speaking for the people of color living in America, all we want is to be treated fairly.

Growing up in America: I’m a Mexican born in America. As a child, I used to do ballet and tap dance, but I was quickly removed because I was the only Hispanic on the team. How is it okay to tell a six year old child that they aren’t welcome on a team for being a person of color? How do you explain to them that America doesn’t like them for the color of their skin? I was accepted in many areas, but not in all. I was on a dance team my sophomore year, and I was the only Hispanic. I felt so left out and mistreated; it almost seemed as if I was invisible at times. I barely made friends because I wasn’t their race. As a kid, I had to see my mother struggle to speak English and be treated differently because of what language she did speak. We are no less deserving of respect than white people. We are all human, and we all bleed red. I wish America would treat us all the same and understand what they have put us through. I am a chicana, and I’m not ashamed of my culture.

Witnessed: You take a risk to go to this place that everyone talks about. You come to America and forget where your culture comes from and what it means. People from all around the world devolve into thinking they are better than everyone else because they live in America. Media regularly shows people of color being mistreated. I have seen Hispanics outside selling ice cream, corn, or any type of food to have something to bring to the table for their family. Scrolling through the media, I see people of color being harassed, called names, and getting hit on for no reason. For what? This is how you “Make America Great Again?” Since when was America ever great? Racism has been alive for many years and is still happening to this present day. I have been stared at and been judged by Americans. It hurts to see how this country treats us, quick to blame the people of color. We all are made out to be some type of criminals. Every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears that my family has shed to make my life better wasn’t just to watch us get disrespected and mistreated by a race who thinks they are superior to us. 

America, Do Better: Together we can make the world a better place. Stop using excuses and do something about it. Speak up and fight for what is right. We have all been through a lot, and it’s time for equality.

The First 2020 Presidential Debate: A Headache

By Amarah Din

If you watched the first 2020 Presidential Debate, you probably developed a migraine. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on, we can all agree that this debate was a disaster from start to finish. From constant interruptions, to arguments, to yelling-fits, this debate perfectly showcases the current state of America.

Moderated by Chris Wallace from Fox News, the debate left voters asking themselves a slew of questions. Are we politically stable? If our political leaders can’t be respectful and civil, what’s to be expected for the future of our nation? Was there a “winner” in this debate? When do we draw the line in politics? And do we draw it before or after attacking family members of the opposing side?

One thing is for certain: there were no surprises.

Joe Biden announced he wasn’t in support of the Green New Deal as stated on his website; he has a new plan, but we don’t know what it is. He openly supported law enforcement and referred to the system as having a “few bad apples.”

Donald Trump attacked Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for his previous drug addiction and falsely claimed he was dishonorably discharged from the military because of it. Trump also failed to condemn white supremacy and instead told the right-wing extremist group, Proud Boys, to “stand back and standby.”

It is not enough to sit back and hope for the best for the 2020 election. We must take to the polls and vote. Whether it be by mail or in person, early or on November 3rd, make your voice heard. This debate might have caused a nationwide headache, but we can persist through the chaos.

The North Carolina Voter Registration Deadline is October 9th. We encourage anyone and everyone who is eligible to vote to utilize their rights. To vote in the 2020 General Election, visit this website to register:

Stop the RDU Quarry!


The melting of the polar ice caps. The burning of the Amazon rainforest. Thousands of species going extinct annually. If you’re anything like me, these issues produce visceral feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, and insignificance. As high school students in North Carolina, what CAN we do about global climate change? Using metal straws, reducing waste, or conserving power are all important actions, sure, but in the scheme of things, these actions mean very little. Research has shown that over 66% of man-made emissions are directly caused by companies rather than consumers. Recently, Wake County approved one of these companies to begin a massive new development over public lands, and this issue is something each of us can play a direct role in stopping. 

Graphic showing the effects of quarries on natural resources. (

In March of this year, The RDU airport authority (a governmental organization) approved a lease allowing Wake Stone Corporation to develop a quarry on 105 acres of public land, as well as designate an additional 506 acres for commercial use. Currently, this heavily forested land is adjacent to William B. Umstead State Park and is home to an unknown multitude of plants and animals. Once the quarry is built, these thousands or even millions of living creatures will be either killed or displaced. Not only is this morally despicable, science shows us how harmful this could truly be. Each year, 611 acres of trees produce enough oxygen to sustain almost 11,000 people and remove almost 1,600 tons or 3,200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Further, tree root systems are absolutely essential to maintaining water quality throughout our aquifers and watersheds (both of which directly feed into our water supply).

Map showing the location of the projected site for the new RDU Quarry. (

Not only is this deal morally compromising and environmentally damning, a Wake County Court Judge ruled that it failed to follow federal regulations and NC state law regarding approval for how the deal plans to use the land. The main legal problem with the RDU quarry deal is that the land was previously designated for “aeronautical use” and before this land can be repurposed (such as for a quarry), the FAA needs to approve a “release” of the land as well as disseminate a Federal Register Notice. Despite the fact that neither of these steps were followed, Wake County Stone is continuing exploratory drilling in the area. 

Debra Laefer is an NYU professor of Civil and Urban Engineering. In 2003, she conducted research in Fountain, North Carolina near a quarry of similar size to the proposed RDU quarry. She found that a quarry near a residential area can cause millions in structural damage to houses over time. The RDU quarry would be significantly closer to houses than the Fountain, NC quarry ever was. The stated purpose of this quarry deal is to help fund a 4 billion dollar infrastructure plan. It’s worth noting that previous to the RDU quarry deal being signed, The Conservation Fund offered a 6.4 million dollar lump-sum payment for the land, which then would’ve become a part of an expanded Umstead park. This lump sum is not any less money than RDU may receive from the rock quarry if you factor in losses from property damage caused by the quarry. 

What all this means is that the deal for the RDU quarry is morally reprehensible as it will lead to unnecessary death and suffering of wildlife, environmentally detrimental towards air and water quality, legally flawed, and was chosen over a deal that is significantly better for our environment. However, hope is not lost, there are still many steps each of us can take in order to halt this repulsive agreement. 

What You Can Do:

  1. To learn more about the RDU quarry read here:
  2. Sign this petition:
  3. Email or call your elected officials, Wake County commissioners contacts can be found at
  4. Message our Governor Roy Cooper through
  5. Support this GoFundMe:
  6. Most importantly, spread the message about how our very own government plans to use public lands.

Thoughts and Prayers: A Reflection on Grief in Crisis



It happened again.

I checked my phone this Tuesday evening to see that another school shooting had taken place. The fifth one this week. On a Tuesday.

Like many Americans, I’ve become desensitized to gun violence. It seems that every day there’s another story about a far off shooting in a far off place. They’re senseless, they’re preventable, and they’re tragic, but they’re more of a political talking point than a loss of human life when they’re so distanced from my reality.

As I opened my Twitter feed, however, I realized that this shooting was different. The logos, the colors and the hashtags associated with this shooting were all familiar, too familiar. UNC Charlotte may be two hours away, but it’s deeply ingrained in the fabric of the Cary High community. Many of my senior classmates will be attending Charlotte next year, and many Cary alumni are a part of the terrified, grieving Charlotte community. This wasn’t just another school shooting, this was our state, these are our friends, this is our community. This is real.

I scrolled through Twitter and saw videos and pictures of students running away in fear with their hands held high, protected by policemen with big guns on a campus just hours from mine. This is a school, not a warzone. Two students were pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. Were they two students that I knew?

Everyone that I reached out to on the Charlotte campus was shaken, but safe. I knew I was supposed to feel relieved, but as I scrolled through my Twitter page and read more details and updates from students about the attack, I felt nothing but grief. My friends and classmates in Charlotte’s class of 2023 could just as easily have been gunned down on April 30th 2020. I could have just as easily been gunned down at Cary on April 30th of 2019. These students aren’t people I know personally, but really, they are- they’re all of us. A generation lost to senseless, preventable gun violence. My Twitter page was filled with condolences from activists, chancellors, governors and even presidential candidates. Among those tweets, however was a sentiment that stuck with me as I closed my feed- “stop sending thoughts and prayers when they are not enough”.


With nothing on my mind but Charlotte, the lives lost that could’ve been my friends and classmates and siblings, that could’ve been me, this tweet, a sentiment I’ve seen and agreed with so many times in the wake of other mass shooting tragedies, infuriated me.


Don’t get me wrong- I’m all for smart, comprehensive gun legislation to prevent the senseless casualties of gun violence. But Charlotte is a real community with real people- students who have lost their friends and classmates, families who have lost their children and siblings, young adults who lost their lives, their future. Gun violence is a serious, addressable issue and we shouldn’t discount the need for legislative change to prevent future tragedies, but the UNC Charlotte community doesn’t need legislation or politicization right now– they need condolences, they need sympathy, they need support. They need thoughts and prayers. Giving thoughts, prayers and condolences in the wake of such a tragedy as this doesn’t make you weak on gun control or politically apathetic, it makes you human, and in times like these, our shared humanity is what allows us to find meaning in grieving the events that we can never change or comprehend.

Tomorrow we can fight for common sense gun legislation, tomorrow we should fight, tomorrow we will fight. But today we must fight for that humanity, we must fight to honor the victims of this shooting not as victims but as human beings. Tomorrow is for change; tomorrow we will have change. But today is for grief, for community, and for humanity; today is for thoughts and prayers, and that’s OK.

In Memoriam: John McCain


Senator John McCain died of a brain tumor at the age of 81 on August 25, 2018. Looking back on his life, many will recall a seasoned hero and Vietnam veteran who served our country for 23 years, or perhaps a six-term conservative “maverick” from Arizona. But the true John McCain was much more than that; he was a family man with a loving wife and seven children, a man whose passion for life earned him respect across party lines. To understand the international respect for McCain, one must look at the extraordinary life of a man who was deeply loyal to his country and beliefs. When John McCain followed in his four-star Admiral father and grandfather’s footsteps and enrolled at the Naval Academy in 1954, he never could have known the impact he would have on our country and the world throughout his long military and political career. At the Naval Academy John McCain earned the respect of his classmates, not through his stellar academics (he graduated 894th out of 899) or familial connections, but through his sense of duty and leadership.

After graduation, John McCain was commissioned by the Navy to be a naval aviator. Although McCain would eventually rise to the rank of captain, it wasn’t due to any natural talent passed on from his veteran father and grandfather; during his training as a pilot, he crashed two of his flight missions and collided with a power line during a third. An instructor rated him as “sub-par,” but McCain refused to let this get in his way; less than a year later he was marked as a “good flier.” In the Vietnam War McCain was assigned to Operation Rolling Thunder. (His deep-rooted sense of duty compelled him to specifically request a combat assignment.) During the infamous fire on the U.S.S. Forrestal, where McCain was stationed, he put himself in harm’s way and saved the lives of multiple fellow pilots.

On John McCain’s twenty-third bombing mission, he was shot down by North Vietnamese troops and placed in Hoa Lo Prison, the infamous P.O.W. camp that became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Even with a fractured arm, a bayonet wound, and a crushed left shoulder, he received no medical attention and was beaten and interrogated daily. John McCain’s patriotism (and quick-thinking) showed when, instead of telling the North Vietnamese the names of his fellow pilots, he gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line. In 1968, a prison doctor told John that his wounds were fatal and that he had less than a week to live. He not only lived but helped other prisoners, even though this brought the risk of more beatings. In early 1969, when the Vietnamese learned his father was the commander of U.S. Vietnamese forces, John McCain was offered release, but he refused, requesting that every soldier before him be freed first. The torture inflicted on McCain would leave him unable to lift his arms above his head for the rest of his adult life. But actions like these, putting the lives of other Americans before his own, are what make John McCain an American hero. He embodied his belief that “it is your character, and your character alone that will make your life happy or unhappy.”

Despite an offer to be honorably discharged from the Navy, McCain continued to serve the military until 1981, when he decided he could do more good from the Senate. McCain’s military decorations and awards included the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal.

McCain’s first foray into public office was a race for the House of Representatives seat in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He narrowly won the seat and was reelected in 1984. With rising ambitions, McCain ran for and won a Senate seat in 1986. Although he suffered greatly as a prisoner in Vietnam, McCain visited multiple times, advocating for peaceful relations with Vietnam. In his own words, “no just cause is futile, even if it’s lost, it makes the future better than the past.” McCain was never afraid to speak his beliefs—even when it went against the party line, such as when he openly opposed the US’s military involvement in Lebanon in the mid 1980’s. This willingness to act on his beliefs and go against his party throughout the 90’s and beyond earned the nickname “maverick.” McCain had a deep desire to make the world a better place, which inspired him to run for President in both 2000 and 2008. Despite being political adversaries, McCain earned not only the respect, but the friendship of the these two eventual presidents due to his passionate, thoughtful nature.

John McCain went on to serve six consecutive terms in the Senate before his death. During that time, his bipartisan “Gang of 14” in Congress solved a crisis over judicial nominations, and he became chairman of the Senate’s Armed Service Committee. While his congressional accomplishments were incredible, it was his clear passion for life and willingness to stand up for his beliefs, no matter the cost, that earned him the respect of his fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. At McCain’s funeral in 2018, former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama delivered eulogies, and former President Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as numerous other public figures, were in attendance. John McCain was an American hero whose accomplishments weren’t measured in laws but in people he helped and lives he touched. Perhaps a quote from the dearly departed senator himself sums his life best: “courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears.”


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Straight Actors, Gay Roles


For the past decade, straight actors in Hollywood have pursued LGBT roles to prove that they can play a character whose life experiences have been greatly different from their own. From Armie Hammer to Cate Blanchett, many have gone through this rite of passage, and their fans have applauded them, calling them heroes of tolerance and progress. At first, this was wonderful; the actors who took on these roles dealt with them seriously and were almost always important advocates for the LGBT community. Timothée Chalamet, who stars in Call Me By Your Name, has donated to the LGBT center in New York, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who stars in Brokeback Mountain, donates to LGBT charity GLAAD. Along with their charity work, these established stars can bring lots of attention to LGBT movies, thereby raising awareness of different issues that many would not hear about otherwise.  Eddie Redmayne did this when he played one of the first trans people to undergo a sex change in The Danish Girl.

Although I can’t imagine Modern Family without Eric Stonestreet (who plays Cam), straight actors need to allow for greater opportunity for LGBT actors. According to LGBT magazine The Advocate, 52 straight people have received Oscar nominations for gay roles, and actors such as Sean Penn for Milk and Tom Hanks for Philadelphia have taken home the award for best actor, while no openly gay man has ever taken home the award. The work these actors have done to raise awareness is greatly appreciated, and of course straight actors can certainly play an LGBT role every once in a while, but it is also extremely important that the people representing the LGBT community on television are themselves LGBT, so the youth in that community can have role models who share their experiences.