What happened to the school lunches for SPPS?

By: Elsie Olive

Most students have already noticed, but if you hadn’t already, the lunches served at St. Paul Public Schools have severely gone downhill between the 2018-2019 school year and this one.

In the years prior to the 2019-2020 school year, SPPS had provided a variety of nutritional foods. In fact, in 2013, TwinCities.com said SPPS lunches had gotten national attention for the incredible and healthy foods the schools were providing.

However if you look at the lunches served now, almost always the options are either some variant of chicken, hamburgers, gyros, or Italian dunkers, and every lunch is served with a side of fries.

So, what changed in the few months between these two school years?

Unfortunately, there is hardly any information that explains exactly what happened, but, by checking some of the links on the SPPS lunch menus page, there is one that takes us to Nutrislice.com. Here, at spps.nutrislice.com, it gives us a message which suggests that SPPS no longer uses Nutrislice as a means of supplying their lunches. The newest and working links on the SPPS page take us to SchoolCafé.com, where you can view current school lunch menus.

It could be that this is the only reason school lunches have decreased in value this much, but it is hard to believe that such a small change could completely offset the school’s menu. It is likely that there were some staff changes in the Nutritional Services and Wellness department of SPPS.

At this point, there isn’t much other information available, and the lack of information provided on the SPPS website about it’s staff members or exactly what changed between this school year and the last one doesn’t help with that.

However, it probably has much more to do with the relaxing of regulations for school-provided meals by the Trump Administration according to BusinessInsider.com. This particular article also mentions that the billions of dollars cut from the education budget has deeply affected the ability for schools to provide enough nutritional food for all of their students.

Black Lives Matter!!

 

“I can’t Breathe”

by Zakianna Johnson 

“I can’t breathe, see his knee is on my neck as I take my last breathe 

I can’t breathe, my life is ending now as everyone sits here and watch 

I can’t breathe, someone please help me I’m begging you 

I CAN’T BREATHE, boom I’m dead another black man gone 

I can’t breathe,  George Floyd May 25, 2020

I can’t breathe, Eric Garner July 17, 2014

I can’t breathe, you shot me Tamir Rice November 22, 2014

Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Aebery, Breonna Taylor, how many more.

How many more will it take for America to realize the hate

I can’t breathe, I want to but it’s hard, it hurts, I can’t see

I can’t feel, I’m dieing, I love you momma, I’m gone.”

As a young black African American teenager it hurts to see that my culture has to destroy things just for us to get a point across. BLM ( black lives matter) is more than just a protest, more than a hashtag, it’s our lives. We say black lives matter but we still aren’t heard more of the less we still aren’t safe. Day after day the death of a black man or child or woman is on the news. Why? Because there are racist cops who will do anything just to harm us. They say “I saw a weapon” but they saw a hairbrush. He was resisting but in reality I asked you why was I being detained.

Video proof of cops, racist, KKK, and all and yet the white man doesn’t go to jail for long. Oh but when it comes to a black man killing anyone they get the death sentence. There have been plenty of times and opportunities for a change to happen. It’s so sad that I have to grow up in a world where I could be killed just because of the color of my skin. It’s sad because young boys and girls have to see how messed up the world is. No parent should have to sit down with their kid and tell them that they could die at a young age, because a racist police officer or man or woman will fear them because of the race they were born into.  

What did Sam Cooke say? “A change is Gonna Come” and yet we still haven’t seen it. When the color of my skin is seen as a weapon, I will never be unarmed. I will never be not seen as a threat, a murderer, a demon, a vicious animal. Everyday an Black African American faces a racist encounter. We are free, but it really doesn’t feel like it. We as people as human beings shouldn’t have to always wonder if today will be the day we die. If we’ll be talking our last breath in a matter of seconds and minutes. The world needs to change and it needs to change fast. 

I’ll leave you with these quotes and maybe it’ll help you realize why rioting was the only option that was left.

“It’s hard to elevate when this country’s ran by whites

Judging me by my skin color and my blackness” – Joyner Lucas 

“Is it a crime, to fight, for what is mine?” – Tupac Shakur

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal” – Martin Luther King Jr

The last quote left an engraving in my spirit because there have been many other races that have protested with us. They have contributed during the protest by speaking up and marching with us. But there are also the ones that aren’t doing anything to help us spread the word. We wanted the protest to be peaceful, but instead they were violent. We wanted to get a point across but instead we were called hoodlums.

Point is we are not hoodlums, we are not ratchets, we are not ghetto and we are humans. 

We are America’s people just like everyone else in this country. We are Black African Americans, We are Black Lives Matter and until everyone gets it into their heads we will not stop until our voices are heard. 

Long live my black queens and kings 

What the US government has done wrong during the pandemic

Some countries have handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than others: Australia is already going back to school, South Korea has had widespread testing since the beginning of the pandemic, and Germany has the lowest mortality rate in the world.

On the other hand, in the US, the stay at home orders are being extended into June, there is a shortage of testing, states are competing for resources, and we have the most cases in the world. 

One of the biggest issues that the US has faced is the lack of testing. In the beginning, the WHO came out with tests that worked and were widespread and were working for the most part, but the CDC made their own tests that were going to be used in the US. These tests had major setbacks, and the US couldn’t get as many people tested as other countries because we weren’t producing enough tests.

Another huge issue is that states are competing for resources like ventilators and masks. The US government hasn’t done a good job providing, and rationing, resources so whichever state has the most money, or is willing to spend the most money, will get the most resources.

Finally, the spread of misinformation by the president is causing a lot of problems. Trump has been contradicting Dr. Fauci and telling people to take medicine that hasn’t been proven to help, or ingest chemicals that could have disastrous side effects. He recently told people that testing is overrated and that the less you test the less cases you have. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has been saying things that aren’t true and has not been listening to the government issued guidelines.

For more information, please visit:

Justice for Ahmaud

Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was gunned down on February 23, 2020, during one of his jogs. Ahmaud was a 25-year-old African American.

On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery was in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, GA when Gregory and Travis McMichael confronted him with two guns. Travis McMicheal then gunned down Ahmaud, not once, not twice, but five times.

Ahmaud Arbery is not the first African American killed or gunned down for no reason.

There have been plenty of cases and where young African Americans have been killed for the color of their skin. Such as: Trayvon Martin, age 17;  Jordan Edwards, age 15; Micheal Brown, age 18.

The racism needs to stop and sadly it hasn’t. As a black African American it makes me scared to go anywhere because it makes me feel like what if I’m next. We as people, as human beings, shouldn’t have to go through something like that. The African American community is constantly taking losses.

As a child, having to view these crimes, and seeing no justice being served, is stomach aching. It’s traumatizing really. Ahmaud Arbery was doing nothing but jogging, simply working out like any other person, and was targeted by people so hateful and sinful. They felt the need to hurt, and not only harm, but kill, Ahmaud Arbery.

And yet, they still aren’t sentenced to the death penalty. If it had been reversed, and Ahmaud had killed them, he would’ve been sentenced to the death penalty so quick. 

The justice system in America is sooo messed it literally makes no sense that someone loses their life and isn’t served the proper justice they deserve.

Everyone wants to scream Black Lives Matter but the question that should be asked is do they? Do black lives really matter? Cause at this point, we don’t know what to believe anymore.

The world is so messed up that we have to constantly relive the past. It’s sad that we can’t just live our lives and be free. 

So, I would like to end this article with saying long live Ahmaud Arbery and #justiceforAhmaud. 

Seniors missing graduation

Since the start of COVID-19 seniors have been a bit on the depressive side. Many seniors, including my own brother, have been in a panic when it comes to long distance graduation. My parents and my brother have been on the spectrum of trying to get prepared for the day of his virtual graduation.

When it comes to it, most of the seniors I know are really hurt right now. They’re upset that they are not able to have the graduation that they have been longing for their whole lives; the day where they are finally free from the whips of high school and are on to their new lives going on to be adults.

Not only are the seniors upset, but so are their parents and siblings. As a sibling, I’ve always awaited the time where I got to record my older sibling walk across the stage in their cap and gown. But since COVID-19, I am not able to have that experience. It’s also upsetting to my parents because they’ve longed for the day they were able to send my brother off to prom, and to see him walk across that stage.

Not only are seniors upset about graduation, but they were also upset that they weren’t able to have their prom. I’ve spoken to a couple of the 2020 graduates themselves and asked for their input on the matter.

Willie Wright Class of 2020 graduate 

I first had a conversation with none other than the man himself, (my brother) Willie Wright, a graduating senior at Como Park Senior High. Willie is a 2020 graduate with a football scholarship to Minnesota State University.  He said, “It’s so crazy because every other class year such as 2001-2019 got to walk across the stage, and I’m not able to. Those are the most memorable moments in our life. Even prom, and I wasn’t able to have that, hopefully this will all be over soon.”

Chaniyah Fenner Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then had the opportunity to speak with Chaniyah Fenner, a senior also at Como Park Senior High. She said that, “I am upset about the virtual graduation. I don’t like it at all, I understand that there’s a virus going on and everything, but they already took away our prom and senior night, and now they’re taking away our graduation. It’s just messed up.” 

William Albert Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then reached out and spoke to William Albert, who attends Gordon Park High School. He said, “I hate the thought of not being able to walk across the stage, but knowing there’s a strong system of people behind me who are willing to bend for my education, it drives me to do better and prosper moving forward.”

With all of this going on, at least the seniors have something good to look forward to. They get a graduation speaker, who is none other than the man himself, Barack Obama (which is something really amazing).

But I just hope that all the seniors aren’t too upset about this, and I hope they still have a great graduation at home.

The addiction of social media

Zakianna Johnson

Introduction

There’s been many things going on in social media these days. But the addiction to the apps we all have is really bad. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, etc. are all of our lives, especially teenagers.

Now-a-days teenagers don’t know what it was like to just go outside and have fun. And many of them are always at home on their phones on social media. Yes, sometimes it’s fun, but other times it can be affecting their physical and mental health.

How it affects our lives

Social media is like drugs; you get addicted easily. Everyone has some sort of social media on their phone. Whether it’s to stay in contact with friends or family, or to have a laugh or two. But we don’t understand what the effect is on our minds and bodies.

I myself spend about almost a whole day on social media. I spend about 17 hours a day on my phone: texting, scrolling, liking and reacting to people and things on social media. Kids these days are addicted to the app Tik Tok, teens are addicted to Instagram and Snapchat, and adults are addicted to Facebook. 

These apps are toxic, but we love them. We try to take breaks, but it doesn’t work.

I spoke to my parents and asked them, “Do you guys have an addiction to social media?” My mom responded with, “Yes, I do have an addiction to social media because I get on because I see my family members on and that’s the way I communicate with them because I’m far away.”

My dad responded with, “I used to be really addicted to it. Like I used to not be able to sleep without it. But now I usually only go on social media when I do my live videos, and I speak on reality and show my family. You know, because I’m showing a side of me and my family and our morals and values.”

As I sat to finish writing this story, I came to realize that maybe I could take a break from social media. I mean, the apps that we have can really damage us and take us off our game. 

How the coronavirus has impacted my job

So, today we are going to talk about how the coronavirus has affected me in my job.

Well, at the start of the coronavirus outbreak we were still working in the Science Museum. However, after a while it called for us to just stay home and then eventually we were laid off, but temporarily, I’ll be working soon I think.

Working from home is a lot different than working at a location. I don’t get to see people at all unless we are in a video; there is no physical interaction. I can’t tease a coworker, hi-five them maybe, congratulate them in person too, and I used to talk to them one-on-one. No, it’s just all online; like we’re looking at video screens and you know sometimes multiple people try to talk and we have to make a rule to not talk while others are talking because it gets way too confusing.

Then there’s the fact that we like to have icebreakers and, we can’t really do that, but we have been playing online games together like trivia games, scribble.io and trivia murder. Those are fun games to play during this quarantine but then working with others can be hard as well because we have to leave the call and find another way to call our partners that we are working with.

So, we ended up starting a Discord where we can talk to each other but that wasn’t looking as professional so they decided to go with Slack, which is like Discord, but for work. It’s much easier to do work stuff in Slack, like make documents, but then you know we got a message saying that we would all get temporarily laid off.

It’s been maybe a month since I’ve been laid off and it sucks. I don’t get to talk to my people anymore and, you know, I don’t get to make money. I don’t get to, you know, have time to go buy stuff for my family now because I’m trying to conserve a little bit of money.

I have to watch my little brother now like a lot more than usual because, you know, mom’s got to work on her laptop with the video calls, because she can’t go into work and, you know, he likes to make a lot of noise so now he’s just in my room when I wake up usually.

So, in conclusion, quarantine sucks a lot for all of us, but there are still ways for us to stay connected and to help each other out. Just look at the image below, these are people in my
apartment complex trying to help each other in the dire time of need.

Youth Climate Justice Summit: Part 2

By: Vivian S

On Wednesday, February 26th, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and walked out of my house. But instead of continuing down to the bus stop, I was driven to the Capitol.

…Well, not exactly the Capitol, I was driven to the Good Neighbor Building, as that is where the Youth Climate Justice Summit began.

After I managed to find my way around all the twisting roads of the Capitol, I completed my registration and went down to breakfast. Everyone sat at tables with people in the same district as them and chatted for a while. Then, youth took to the stage.

We started with some icebreaker activities, but the true beginning of the summit was a speech about the exploitation of Native American people to this day, and how it related to climate justice. That idea is a part of intersectional climate justice, which was a big focus of the summit, which says that climate change disporportionallly affects communities of color and other disenfranchised communities which are normally systematically targeted, making it not just an environmental issue but also a social and economic issue.

We then were given a short presentation of how to talk to representatives, and on the bills that the summit was trying to get passed, and those they were trying to stop from passing.

The bills that were being supported were:

  • Solar on Schools (HF1133 & SF1424): which is a grant program to give schools solar panels which will eventually take on a great part of the electricity load of the schools.
  • Energy Conservation for Schools (HF1148 & SF2016): which would make a loan-fund for schools to make investments in energy conservation.
  • The Women of Color Opportunity Act (HF841 & SF1123): which is a collection of grant programs for organizations working with women of color to develop small businesses, expand access to STEM careers, provide internships, etc. to combat the how women of color are underrepresented.
  • Trash-burning is Not Renewable: which would declare that trash-burning is not a renewable energy source and companies cannot keep claiming it as such. It is still being drafted.
  • Green Affordable Housing: is a proposal by Governor Walz to make massive investments into affordable housing that is energy efficient as well.

The bills that weren’t being supported were:

  • Felony Free Speech & Guilty by Association (SF2011/HF2241 and SF3230/HF2966): 4 bills which would make harsher punishments for water and pipeline protesters.
  • Clean Energy First Act (SF1456): which, while it says that electric companies have to prioritize carbon-free energy, it also defines trash-burning as renewable and coal and gas plants “carbon free resources”.
  • Exempting Climate Impacts from Environmental Review: which says that new projects in Minnesota don’t have to consider the impact they would have on the environment due to carbon emissions. This bill is still being drafted.

After we were given these bills, and an overview of them, we then went to meet with our representatives. I went to meet Rep. Dave Pinto.

We were let in, and about 10 of us squeezed in. We went around introducing ourselves, then got straight down to business. Rep. Pinto immediately expressed his support for what we were doing and the bills we were talking about. The meeting was short, and we only had the time to bring up a few ideas, like how to get moderate Republican support, and short discussions on the bills. By the end of it, Rep. Pinto said that he would co-author the House Solar in Schools bill, which would mean he would be signing his name as someone that was supportive of the bill.

Then, we tried to go meet with Sen. Dick Cohen. We didn’t have a meeting with the senator though, so our meeting failed, but we left letters expressing what bills we supported and what we didn’t.

After that, I participated in one of the student-led workshops. There were many of those over the day, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see most of them, but I managed to catch one. “Raising the pressure on legislators”, in which one of the students led us through how to contact your legislators and more effectively express your opinions and ideas to them. We were given instructions and how to write letters and emails, how to make phone calls, and how to be active on social media and the community.

We were also given a list of places to look for other events to become active in: US Climate Strike, MN Climate Strike, and Yea! MN.

Then, there was lunch, which may have been my favorite part of the day.

After that, all of us walked up into a sanctuary and filed in row by row, to listen to a whole host of speakers.

The first speaker introduced Will Steger, who founded ClimateGeneration, one of the programs leading the summit. Then came Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan who discussed the need to be active in politics and the fight against climate change. Following her came Governor Tim Walz, who talked about the urgency of battling climate change and how we as young people had to protest, to demand our rights.

Before this summit, I had barely known who Governor Walz was, much less how much of a contested character he was to the climate change activists at the summit. He only spoke for ten minutes, and left at the end without taking any questions. The entire group had a discussion about what he had said, with many of us coming to the consensus that we were disappointed by his lack of specifics.

After that, we had the chairs of both the house and senate climate justice committees talk to us, in which they discussed the specific actions they were taking, their problems, and how to get involved.

All in all, it was a very long day.

I enjoyed it, getting to talk to our representatives was important and it did feel like having a bit of a voice in politics, but the summit could have been managed a bit better, and I wish we got to meet with more representatives.

I would urge all of you though, even if you were unable to make it, to contact your representatives and make your voices heard, and to join in other events.

LGBTQ+ misrepresentation in the media and how it harms people

LGBTQ+ representation in the media is much more frequent nowadays than it was even ten years ago. However, more representation means more chances for misrepresentation, which more often than not is the case in media with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships. 

Harmful stereotypes of members of the LGBTQ+ community are a huge part of this. One of the most popular stereotypes is the extremely feminine gay man. While obviously there are many people like this, and it is in no way a bad thing, the sheer amount of characters written in this way reinforces the harmful stereotype that being attracted to men “makes you” incredibly feminine. In the same way, lesbians are frequently portrayed as more masculine by having short hair, wearing what is considered traditionally men’s clothing, etc. 

Forcing gay and lesbian characters to fall into these categories can cause mental health issues and emotional struggles amongst people in the LGBTQ+ community. For example, LGBTQ+ people might not fit in with who they’re “supposed” to be/how they’re “supposed” to act in accordance with their sexuality. From here can stem extreme feelings of loneliness and isolation, as described in the article “Is Chronic Loneliness Real?” as people who don’t fall into these categories would not feel like they belong anywhere, even within the LGBTQ+ community, which of all the places should be the most safe and accepting space for all its members. 

Often times gay characters that fall into the stereotype category are overly sexualized as well and they overly sexualize all other attractive people of the same gender that they come into contact with in a way that is more often than not inappropriate and borderline harassment. The existence of this trope greatly harms the public perception of the LGBTQ+ community. It reinforces the idea that LGBTQ+ relationships are solely sexual and thus people involved in them are “sexual deviants,” which was and is an argument used against same-sex marriage and relationships. 

According to the LGBT foundation, the misrepresentation that follows the trans and non-binary community often damages the public’s perception of them. Anti-transgender hate crimes doubled in 2018 from the previous numbers in 2015-2016. This strongly indicates a surge on anti-trans attitudes, that can be credited to misrepresentation on who these people are.

Another way LGBTQ+ people are misrepresented is in the form of queerbaiting. Queerbaiting according to PinkNews is a way that companies and producers try to lure people from an LGBTQ+ viewer base that are connecting with a character that is heavily implied to be part of the community but ultimately ends up either unconfirmed or being heterosexual. This is thought to be a way to satisfy, and or appeal to the media’s LGBTQ+ community fanbase and not lose their main/straight audience. This seems to do more harm than good though as it insinuates that the LGBTQ+ audience is a 2nd thought to them, or less important. It also suggests that queer relationships are less valuable.

The misrepresentation of LGBTQ+ people in the media is abundant and harmful. In the end, it hurts the very people the media is trying to represent. The problem is that all companies that don’t take the time to hire LGBTQ+ writers and editors want the most amount of people to be interested in whatever it is they are producing, instead of wanting for all people to be represented in media. Because of this, these companies become lazy in writing media with LGBTQ+ people and instead write whatever they think will appeal to the LGBTQ+ community by playing into stereotypes used by other sources of media. This cycle repeats itself over and over again for years. 

So, how can we address and solve these issues? Well, for starters, media creators heavily rely on the audience’s response to their product. Without viewers the creators make no money, so they’re almost always willing to adapt to whatever their audience wants (although this isn’t always the case). If there’s a big problem with the product, cause an uproar. Make people notice the problem. Once the issue is addressed, people will start to react and hopefully the producers will too. From there we can show these companies how to show LGBTQ+ characters in a way that doesn’t harm the community. There is hope for improvement in the representation of LGBTQ+ people in media, all we have to do is act.

Cultural appropriation

Zakianna & Kiana 

2/18/2020

Appropriation of black culture 

Like the above image asks, “What if?” That’s the question that all African Americans ask. Nowadays Black culture isn’t as appreciated as it should be. People believe that racism is over but in reality it isn’t. It’s still affecting African American people. 

Many people try and appreciate the Black culture. But do they know how African American people feel when they do what they do? People see appreciating Black culture as doing things that they feel are right but in reality are actually really wrong and hurtful. Like for instance, when other races get box braids or get extensions added to their hair people react to them with positive comments. But for an African American woman or girl to do the same thing it’s considered “ghetto” or it “isn’t cute.” 

These are the types of things that go on everyday and people don’t seem to realize it, but it happens. The caucasian community loves to make fun of the Black community by calling them things like “hoodrats,” “ghetto,” or ”ratchet.” These are words commonly used everyday to bring down the spirits and hopes of the African American culture. 

We ourselves as African Americans are proud to be who we are. But just being proud really isn’t enough anymore. Other cultures and ethnicities don’t know what it’s like to be in our shoes. They don’t know what it’s like to be called out for trying to protect your hair or being fired for wearing color in your hair which they call ”inappropriate.” As an African American it’s hard to live life when you’re constantly judged during it. 

African American women are constantly judged everyday for trying to protect their hair. When they wear box braids, or twist, or any form of weave they’re called ghetto, but African American people wear weaves because they like it and think it is pretty.

Many famous people have celebrated cultural appropriation. But little did they know that non famous people were hurt by them because they were not of color and did not look okay wearing what they had done. Kim Kardashian once had cornrows.

They did not look right because it was just not a look for her. Instead of doing multiple cornrows she should do just 2. In my opinion when non African American people try and celebrate cultural appropriation they should try and involve African American people or, just give us credit for our looks and how we look and dress. 

With that being said, cultural appropriation is a big thing in the world.