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Protesting ICE: A Perspective From the Frontlines

BY: BEC HOROWITZ


My siblings and I left home at 11:30. We arrived in Graham after the hour and a half drive at 1. The speeches began at 1:20. The crowd marched at 2:00. The crowd was stopped by police barricades at 2:05. We sat Shiva, a Jewish mourning ritual involving song, prayer, and kneeling, for the lives lost in US detention centers in the middle of an intersection at 2:30. The riot gear emerged at 3:00. Sound cannons went off at 3:15. Tear gas was threatened at 3:45. At 4:00, the arrests began. We retreated to private property. At 4:12, a girl in front of me was pulled from the curb into the road by an officer and arrested. At 4:15 we resumed singing, louder than the sound cannon could ever blare. We faced off with the police for another hour, face to face. And they had clubs. 

This is the reality of peaceful protests in 2019. 

On November 24th, Never Again action, a Jewish organization sponsoring protests against ICE detention center across America, held its first event in North Carolina. Approximately 300 Jewish, Latinx, and black activists and their allies met at the Center for Spiritual Living in Graham to end Alamance County’s $2.3 million contract with ICE, signed by Sheriff Terry Johnson. For months, Johnson’s policies have terrorized Alamance communities, resulting in the arrests and detainments of hundreds of immigrants in deplorable conditions. One speaker recounted his detainment before we began marching. He described the injuries he received there, sexual abuse he suffered, and the complete absence of health services. Another speaker explained that when she was arrested for a traffic violation, the police took her passport and work visa. It took weeks for her to get those documents back, weeks she lived in constant fear of deportation. 

As my sister and I stood at the frontlines, facing the armed and armored police directly, we began to get a small glimpse of the all-consuming terror immigrants feel day-to-day living in Alamance County. We felt it creep up on us as police apprehended and arrested two women simply standing on the public sidewalk across from our group, watching and filming the protest. I saw it in the flash of fear in the eyes of a woman behind me, who told me I reminded her of her daughter before handing me a small mask to cover my nose and mouth when we heard the police threaten that they had tear gas ready. It gripped me in the smallness, the unimportance, I felt as we sat Shiva, the mourning prayer of my people, and the police laughed at us, trampling over our strong silence. 

November 24, 2019 was the first day I felt truly connected to my Jewish community. It was also the day I lost all trust in the police. I wish I could have experienced the spiritual empowerment of our gathering without the violence and horror of the police response. Peaceful protest should never be met with unflinching brutality and fear tactics. Especially not when the majority of those demonstrating are minority groups. My involvement in this event taught me one very important thing, a lesson clear in the stark imagery of armed police lined up before strangers hugging and crying and singing as one: violence is the weapon of the oppressor, but love creates change.    

Pictured: Bec Horowitz (in orange pants) and their sister (in green plaid) listen to speakers before marching. 

Photo Credits: Anthony Crider

Cr: Anthony Crider

Bec Horowitz (author) pictured right. Cr: Anthony Crider (above and below)

Thanksgiving: A One-Sided Story

By Ebenezer Nkunda

What do you know about Thanksgiving?

There are always two sides to a story. However, in regards to Thanksgiving, American citizens are taught a one-sided history. The vast majority of our cultural understanding and history of thanksgiving derived directly from the perspective of white colonialists who landed close to Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620. In this version of the Thanksgiving story, the holiday commemorates the peaceful, friendly meeting of English settlers and the Algonquin tribe; celebrating with three days of feasting and thanksgiving in 1621. The version of the Thanksgiving story that is most commonly told instills an image of heroic, Christian settlers coping with the perils of the New World—and with the assistance of some friendly Natives— discovering a pathway to a new life and community.

 When nearing the time of Thanksgiving, many teachers and institutions focus in on this happy story, resulting in students crafting “Indian headdresses” out of paper and holding Thanksgiving reenactments in their lecture rooms.

Very few teachers understand that construction headdresses and  re-enactments produce a stereotype that Native Americans all wear equivalent regalia. These activities conjointly encourage young students to assume it’s okay to wear culture like they are playing dress-up, making it extremely difficult for them to understand the range and complexity of the culture of Native American tribes. They normalize the mimicry of Native wear, traditions, and culture— never understanding its religious significance.

 Very few teachers inform students of the massacres of Native tribes, such as that of the Pequot that occurred within the years following colonists’ arrival. Our education and culture fails to accept that English settlers robbed Algonquin graves and stole food to simply survive the first couple years on this new continent. There are a number of the explanations why Thanksgiving could be considered a complex holiday and one that every American needs  to approach with larger sensitivity. It’s necessary to understand that for many Native Americans. Thanksgiving could be a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression that followed. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the murder of Natives, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in the National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples. It is okay to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that has been a tradition in American culture for years, and to American citizens, is no different than any other celebration; however, just know what you are celebrating, because to our Natives peers it is not just a day. Everyday is a day of remembrance and protest of the lives and land that were taken.

Thanksgiving: Ranked

by Alexis Cope and Jack Morgenstein

Thanksgiving is a holiday unlike any other. It’s the one day a year where families and friends gather around a table, groaning under the weight of a meal that has taken hours upon hours to prepare. A meal filled with everything from marshmellowed potatoes to cranberry sauce that will stretch on into the next week, and then the next. It’s a holiday where anyone and everyone can eat anything and everything, no strings attached, no judgement. 

It’s a foodie’s heaven, and so, naturally, we two poor, humble eaters (me, Alexis, and me, Jack)have offered up our opinions on classic Thanksgiving Cuisine. Welcome the Thanksgiving Food Hall of Fame: 2019 inductees edition. 

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Best Vegetable:

Candied Yams

Thanksgiving is the only time of the year where I reach for the vegetables before anything else. Even with such a contested field, one dish stands head above the rest. Candied Yams are my vegetable of choice for the Thanksgiving season. With enough sugar to kill a small cow, these yams are almost more desert than vegetables – and that’s just how I like it.

Worst Vegetable:

Green Bean Casserole

    You know that one person in your life that always butts in and won’t stop talking even though you really REALLY would rather be doing anything else? Green bean casserole is that person at the Thanksgiving table. A staple of thanksgiving since 5 billion BCE, I wish it had died alongside the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Tasting like a mix between sawdust and expired spinach, I urge my fellow author to schedule an appointment with the oral pathologist.

Best Side:

Green Bean Casserole

I absolutely love veggies and honestly almost anything savory. So, of course, the winner of my heart is the one and only green bean casserole. Made with green beans slathered in creamy mushroom sauce, topped with crunchy, crispy onions that add both a flavor and texture undertone, it’s simply delicious, just as it always has been, a fact my fellow food critic hasn’t yet been able to realize. 

Worst Side:

Collard Greens

Among the world of greens there are some winners and losers, and collard greens are definitely a loser. When you fry this cabbage all it gets is slimy, wilted, and just plain sad. You could add bacon or onions or even both, but still, this dish is on my Do Not Touch List.

Best Southern Food:

Cornbread

    Cornbread always hits the palette like a warm bed after a long, cold day. This icon of southern cooking is among good company at Thanksgiving. One of my favorite foods to make, cornbread is quintessential comfort food. Straight out of the oven with a crispy, golden-brown crust, cornbread is as appealing to the eyes as to the mouth. The inside is soft, crumbly and sweet. The perfect palate cleanser between dishes, you’re doing it wrong if you don’t have cornbread at your Thanksgiving meal.

Best Southern Food—Runner Up:

Biscuits

    A close second, buttermilk biscuits are a sure crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving. Puffy, sweet, and delicious, buttermilk biscuits are great year round. There’s no food which quite perfects an inner spongy softness the way biscuits do. Too lazy to bake your own? A quick run to Bojangles and your southern Thanksgiving meal will be well on its way.

Best Meat:

Turkey

    It would be high treason to declare anything other than turkey the unequivocal best meat of Thanksgiving. It’s been the star of the show for hundreds of years. A uniquely North American bird, Turkey is chicken’s larger, better-tasting cousin. Cooked just right, juicy and soft, turkey with gravy is impossible to turn down just one more helping. Even though it’s majorly responsible for my 10 pound gain at this time of the year, turkey resoundingly wins the category of best meat.

Best Potato Dish: 

Mashed Potatoes 

Potatoes. I love ‘em. From yellow to orange to blue to white they are great, none more than the king of Thanksgiving potatoes: mashed potatoes. Not the instant kind, but the boiled, mashed, creamy, spiced and seasoned kind. They are the heart and soul of the Thanksgiving table, and let’s be real, when you run out of mashed potato leftovers, that’s when Thanksgiving really ends. 

Best Dessert: 

Apple Crisp

While pumpkin pie is the classic Thanksgiving dessert, I’d have to say that a good apple crisp can beat that any day. Apples are a favorite of mine, whether on their own, baked, or made into butter, so this was my obvious winner. And when they’re this warm, sweet, cinnamony, covered with that wonderfully crumbly top, and served with a good scoop of ice cream, who wouldn’t love this awesome dish?

Worst Dessert:

Coke Salad 

I’d never heard of this monstrosity until recently, and oh boy, it really is a monstrosity. There are way more recipes for this dish than I ever thought there’d be, and according to most of the ones I found, to make a classic cherry coke salad you will need: cherry jello, cherries, pineapple, cream cheese, coke, and sometimes pecans. Yeah, I think that list speaks for itself. 

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A Recap of the Fifth Democratic Debates

(Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times)

BY: SARAH GOVERT

The fifth Democratic debate took place on Thursday, November 20th with ten hopefuls still vying for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. The remaining candidates and debaters include the following: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobucher, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. At the start of the debate, the frontrunners were considered to be Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg. Following the debate, these four remain at the top. MSNBC and the Washington Post co-sponsored the debate. Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Ashley Parker, and Kristin Welker moderating. Maddow is the host of the MSNBC nightly news show The Rachel Maddow Show and a political commentator; Mitchell is the NBC news foreign affairs correspondent and host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC; Parker is White House reporter for the Washington Post; Welker is NBC News’ White House correspondent.

We chose three main topics of the debate that caused disagreements between the candidates, highlighting some of their fundamental differences. Let’s take a look at these categories and see what each candidate had to say.

The Impeachment Inquiry:

Warren began the debate, focusing on the Mueller report and the evidence it provides to show that the president attempted to obstruct justice. She also discussed Ambassador Sondland as an example of the corruption in Washington, seeing that he has no qualifications for his position. Klobuchar responded with an attack on President Trump, saying that he “is a president that not only with regard to his conduct with Ukraine, but every step of the way puts his own private interests, his own partisan interests, his own political interests in front of our country’s interest.” Sanders focused on the American people—specifically those struggling within the country. Following the first three speakers, Senator Harris and Mayor Buttigieg both contributed to the discussion of the criminal conduct on the President.

Medicare:

Division of the Democratic Party over Medicare was a large topic of the night. Senator Warren and Senator Sanders are running on Medicare for all and former Vice President Biden is running on rebuilding Obamacare. Warren discussed her plan to bring down the cost of prescriptions, defend the Affordable Care Act, and bring 135 million people into Medicare for free in her first 100 days as president. Sanders followed Warren’s plan with his own—to introduce Medicare for all in the first week of his administration. Biden rebuked both of these plans, saying that they would never pass in the Senate with the Democrats right now. He provided his plan to build on Obamacare, add a Medicare option, and allow the people to choose what they wanted. 

The Climate Crisis:

Climate change was another big topic of the evening, especially on the candidates’ plans to ensure bipartisan support would be there to continue the fight against climate change. Gabbard discussed one of her plans for the first time that evening, stating that she would “[transition] our country off of fossil fuels and [end] the nearly $30 billion in subsidies that we as taxpayers are currently giving to the fossil fuel industry, instead investing in a green renewable energy economy…” She continued on to say that the United States should invest more in local agriculture. Moderator Maddow gave Tom Steyer the chance to jump in because one of Steyer’s main political points is climate change. He was quick to say that he would declare climate change a national emergency on day one of his presidency, and that he would “make sure that [his] climate policy was led by environmental justice and members of the communities where this society has chosen to put our air and water pollution.” Biden responded by stating that he believes climate change to be an existential threat to humanity, adding that he “[passed] the first climate change bill… managed the $90 billion recovery plan, [invested] more money in infrastructure that related to clean energy than any time we’ve ever done it.” Sanders interjected to state that climate change is happening now, and that we don’t have decades to do something about it. He also said that he will possibly prosecute the fossil fuel industry, to let them know that “their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.”

Additional Resources:

Candidates’ websites:

https://elizabethwarren.com/, https://berniesanders.com/, https://joebiden.com/, https://peteforamerica.com/meet-pete/, https://kamalaharris.org/, https://corybooker.com/, https://amyklobuchar.com/, https://www.tulsi2020.com/, https://www.yang2020.com/, and https://www.tomsteyer.com/

The full transcript of the debate: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/read-democratic-debate-transcript-november-20-2019-n1088186?yptr=yahoo

Mr Yasick: The NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year

BY: SARAH GOVERT

Mr. Yasick—Cary High’s outstanding chorus teacher, the “godfather of the fine arts department” in the words of Mr. Bryant, and now the NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year. Mr. Yasick was recognized for this well-deserved honor at the Honors Chorus performance in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 10th. The Teacher of the Year award has been given prior to the performance each year since 2001, making, Mr. Yasick the 19th recipient.

A great deal of work went into the consideration of Mr. Yasick for the Teacher of the Year award. The process starts with a nomination by another choral director in the state of North Carolina. The criteria for a nominee includes: being an active member of NCMEA and teaching in North Carolina for at least five years. In addition to these qualifications, a letter of recommendation citing the merits of the candidate must be submitted by the nominator, and the nominee must send in an updated resume, including their philosophy of teaching. Following this process, five or six choral directors are nominated for the final vote, which takes place at All-State in April. The voting body includes the high school choral teachers in the state of North Carolina.

Mr. Yasick met all the criteria. He was a member of the board from 2006-2018, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award during his last year on the board. He first became involved with NCMEA when former Enloe High School Choral teacher Anne Huff asked him if he wanted to become the Choral Activities Chair. From this position, he went on to become the Chair of the Board of NCMEA for two years. In addition to being involved with NCMEA, Mr. Yasick has been teaching at Cary High for 24 years, helping the choral program grow from 33 to 200 students. When asked how the arts department has evolved during his time here, he responded, “The program was nowhere near as big as it is now. I mean, we never did Galas and all the stuff that we do now together with the band and orchestra and having the art people in the same building and everything else.” He has helped transform the Cary High School arts department throughout the past 24 years. 

Mr. Yasick shown being crowned by Mr. Bryant to recognize his award (WCPSS)

When asked what this award means to him, Mr. Yasick smiled and said, “It’s just a real honor. I mean, it’s such an honor, and it’s really nice to be recognized by your peers across the state that know the work that you do and be able to give you an award that recognizes people who made a difference in choral music in North Carolina.” To celebrate Mr. Yasick earning this well-deserved award, Mrs. McCormick gathered a group of about 50 people to surprise him in Winston-Salem last Sunday. They sat out of sight in the last three rows of the Stevens Center, making themselves known by screaming and clapping when Mr. Yasick’s name was announced. That was not the only surprise. On Wednesday morning the second period performing arts students had the chance to celebrate Mr. Yasick on his way to class—rolling out the red carpet and showering confetti on his head while he walked down the hall to the chorus room.

Cary High is lucky to have the newest NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year producing and inspiring generations of talented musicians. This honor is truly well-deserved, and we are so proud of Mr. Yasick and the work that he has done and continues to do for all of his 200 students and counting.

Mr. Yasick shown conducting his chorus class. (WCPSS)

What Holiday?

By Ria Devgon

Many people don’t know that there was a special event that happened on Sunday, October 27. This event called Diwali is celebrated by millions of people all over the world. Diwali or Deepavali is a Hindu festival of lights. This holiday is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Many Hindu’s all over the world come together with the people they love to celebrate this wonderful holiday by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes with lights and candles. 

Many other religions also celebrate this holiday. According to Britannica, “Diwali is also an important festival in Jainism. For the Jain community, the festival commemorates the passing into nirvana of Mahavira, the most recent of the Jain Tirthankaras. The lighting of the lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira’s passing. Diwali is also an important festival in Jainism. For the Jain community, the festival commemorates the passing into nirvana of Mahavira, the most recent of the Jain Tirthankaras. The lighting of the lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira’s passing.” 


So what’s the story of Diwali? The story told on this holiday is that there was one a prince named Rama who had a beautiful wife named Sita. There was also a terrible demon named Ravana, who had twenty arms, ten heads, and was feared throughout the land. He wanted to make Sita his wife so one day, he kidnapped her and took her away in his chariot. However, when Sita was kidnapped, she left a trail of her jewelry for Rama to follow. Rama realized that she was gone and went to follow the trail she left along with his brother, Lakshmi. While Rama and Lakshmi followed this trail, they met with the monkey king, Hanuman, who became their friend and agreed to help them find Sita. Messages were sent to all the monkeys in the world, and through them to all the bears, who set out to find Sita. After a very long search, Hanuman found Sita imprisoned on an island. Rama’s army of monkeys and bears couldn’t reach the island, so they began to build a bridge. Soon all the animals of the world, large and small, came to help. When the bridge was built, they rushed across it and fought a mighty battle. When Rama defeated the evil Ravana with a magic arrow, the whole world rejoiced. Rama and Sita began their long journey back to their land, and everybody lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back. Ever since, people have been lighting candles to remember that light triumphs over dark and good always defeats evil.

Image result for Rama and Sita

   (Left: Rama, Right: Sita)

On November 3rd, The Hindu Society of North Carolina or the HSNC celebrated this holiday in the temple located in Morrisville, NC by having dancers all over the area come in and give dance performances for the public as well as sell food and ice cream. 

Image result for HSNC temple

They also did fireworks at night to celebrate the wonderful victory of Rama, Lakshmi, and Hanuman. They allowed the public to bring their own fireworks to join them in the celebration. 

Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that’s also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities. Diwali is a time spent with joy and happiness all over the world. As this Diwali season ends, we always remember the lesson of the story and anticipate for next year. 

शुभ दीवाली or Happy Diwali!

Syria, Turkey, and the Plight of the Kurds

GETTY IMAGES

BY: ASHLEY LOGUE

Just a few weeks ago, the centuries-old conflict between the Kurds, an ethnic minority group based in parts of the Middle East, and the country of Turkey was thrust into the international spotlight. The reason for this newfound deluge of worldwide attention? The Trump administration decision to withdraw American troops from the Syrian border, where they were allied with Kurdish forces in defeating ISIS. 

The Kurds comprise the largest ethnic minority group in Syria, making up between five to ten percent of the total population. They are mostly concentrated in the northern region of Syria, which shares a border with Turkey. Large Kurdish communities also exist in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, but no country in the world has a majority Kurdish population. The Kurdish population in Syria gained international recognition for their boots-on-the-ground efforts to eradicate the terrorist organization known as ISIS, or the Islamic State, which gained power after the turmoil of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Their involvement began after the United States joined a multinational coalition in 2014 aimed at defeating ISIS; this coalition soon allied with Kurdish militant groups who consistently proved themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the region. 

While the Kurds are heroes to the free world, Turkey is distrustful of them: the Kurdish militia that proved itself irreplaceable in the fight against ISIS is considered by some to be a subsidiary of a Kurdish insurgency group within Turkey known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. This subset of the Kurdish Turkic population has brewed guerilla violence for decades upon decades, leading Turkey and the United States to label it a terrorist group. Turkey sees Kurdish reclamation of land formerly controlled by ISIS as a threat to their national security, and fears that Kurdish extremists could convert those fighting for freedom into those fighting for insurgency. The Obama administration tried to smooth over this conflict of interest by encouraging the Kurdish militia to adopt a different name and enlist more non-Kurdish freedom fighters. This policy enjoyed moderate success, as the group has since been renamed to the Syrian Democratic Forces and about 40 percent of its members are non-Kurds. As a show of good will, under Obama, American troops stationed in the region began patrols of the Turkish border to preserve peace. American goals of Turkish appeasement even went so far as to convince the Kurdish administration to retreat from the border and dismantle some of their defensive capabilities. 

However, President Trump has largely been an opponent of continued United States presence in Syria and what he views as “endless wars.” Campaign trail promises to his supporters finally came to fruition as he led an official order for American troops to leave the Syria/Turkey border after consulting with the Turkish president on October 6th, 2019. The American retreat effectively opened up the region to Turkish attack. An alliance of Turkish troops and Syrian Arabs began an invasion of Kurdish-held territory on October 9th. The invasion quickly devolved into chaos; American troops experienced several close calls with Turkish firepower while attempting to retreat. As a result, the Pentagon reevaluated the situation, and orders have now been sent for a full withdrawal from northern Syria. While President Trump has slapped Turkey with economic penalties for their invasion and treatment of Kurds, Americans, and their allies in the region, all that will be left of the American footprint is a small base in southern Syria. 

What does this mean for the rest of the world? Firstly, Turkey and their allies immediately benefit: Turkey can reclaim land from groups it views as dangerous, with over 75 square miles of Syrian-turned-ISIS-turned-Kurdish territory seized by the Turks in just one weekend. Secondly, Russian support of Syria turned insidious: the Syrian regime is taking back power previously held by Kurdish forces, supported by money and influence from the Kremlin. The Putin administration has even emerged as the main intermediary between the Kurds, Syria, and Turkey, expanding their power in the region to the detriment of United States interests. The final concern is perhaps the most widely recognizable and most widely feared: the resurgence of ISIS. The Kurdish militia no longer has the capabilities or support to attack remaining terrorist cells or guard the over 11,000 captured ISIS militants in the region. 

Abandoned by America, Kurdish freedom fighters are alone in the region, surrounded by enemies on all fronts: Syria, ISIS and Turkey, with Russia pulling the strings. Only two questions remain–will the international community ignore the anguish of our allies? Or will we help them as they so bravely helped us?