Origins of Halloween

By: Annika Getz

Celebrations surrounding the dead or death can be found all over the world, and all throughout history. Pretty much every country has a holiday which is similar to America’s Halloween.

Halloween itself has a rich history, originally coming from the Celtic holiday, Samhain (pronounced saw-win, so-ween, or soo-when). Samhain was celebrated from October 31st to November 1st, and was thought to be the beginning of the new year. It served as an autumnal equinox, a winter solstice, a spring equinox, and a summer solstice. The veil between the land of the dead and the land of the living was thought to be thinner than ever, and therefore, souls could pass between worlds for the night. Divination was also thought to be at its most powerful, so many fortunes were told.

The Druids kicked off the celebration by lighting a bonfire, and dancing around it. This was meant to keep the evil spirits at bay. They also threw the bones of sacrificed cattle into the fire (this is where the word bonfire comes from, bone-fire). They then smeared ash on their face to disguise themselves from ill-intending spirits. This grew into wearing masks or costumes, which of course, evolved into Halloween costumes. That night, the Celts would leave their doors open, and leave out the favorite foods of their passed-away loved ones, in hopes that they would visit them in the night.

This celebration was changed after the Romans took control of Celtic land. It became Feralia, which commemorated the passing of the dead, and celebrated the Goddess Pomona. People put gifts on graves, where spirits were said to hover over for the day.

In the seventh century CE, Pope Gregory IV came up with the idea of All Saints’ Day, which was a part of the three day festival called Allhallowtide. This celebration began with All Hallows’ Eve, then had the Feast of All Saints’ day the next evening, and concluded with All Souls’ day (which originated in the 8th century CE, in a French monastery, then spread through Europe).

These traditions were brought to North America by the British (though it was initially rejected by the Puritans). Many traditions spread through the United States somewhere around 1845, after the Irish potato famine, which caused displacement of many Irish people.

The rest of our modern day Halloween traditions were soon incorporated into these traditions. Some examples include: Jack-o-lanterns came from an Irish folk tale, trick or treating originated in people going house to house, asking for soul-cakes, which were small cakes that had crosses cut into the top, and etc.

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Islamic celebrations and customs

By: Sumaya Noor and Fatima Mohamud

Image taken from: Islam
https://www.history.com/topics/holid ays/eid-al-fitr

Islam has two main celebrations: Eid-al-Adha, Eid-al-Fitr; these are celebrated by all Muslims (or almost all). There is also the celebration of Ramadan, and the celebration of Ashura, the latter of which is mostly celebrated by Shia Muslims.

Islamic Celebrations and Customs

Ramadan is a period of fasting and prayer that lasts for 30 days. It’s to recognize the less unfortunate and bring ourselves closer to Allah.

Muslims wake up before dawn to eat and drink, refrain from eating or drinking throughout the day, and then have a meal to break their fast after sunset. Some Muslims may eat dates to break their fast before having the evening meal. If you forget and accidentally eat something or drink water, your fast is not broken and it is not a sin. However, if you eat or drink on purpose and tell it off as an accident it is a heavy sin and is extremely prohibited.

Some exceptions can be made during fasting, such as pregnancy, being old, being too young, or being ill. You can make up for missing days of fasting by adding it onto the end of Ramadan, meaning if you missed two days of fasting, you would add two days after Ramadan to make up for skipped days.

Reading verses of the Quran daily is extremely common in this month of importance. The Quran is a holy book that is well known because of its importance to practicing the rules and stories of Islam. Non-Muslims can read the Quran if they are curious about the religion and want to seek out more, but first they must wash their face, ears, hair, legs, arms, and mouth. This process is called the Wudu. Muslims cleanse themselves in this process before touching the Quran, and praying, and it is broken if you make contact with any haram (prohibited) animals such as pigs and dogs.

Muslims pray five times a day. The times change during the year because of the different seasons but some stay the same. Fajr, the first prayer is before sunrise. Duhur, the second prayer is around midday. Asr, is also midday but closer to sunset. Magharib, is at sunset, and Isha, is at night near common sleeping times (8-10 pm).

Many Muslims visit the Kaaba, located in Saudi Arabia, for prayers throughout the day. Millions of Muslims practice this tradition of Islam for every year of their life until they are old and too weak or to go without eating.

What is Eid-Al-Fitr?

Eid-Al-Fitr is one of the two Islamic holidays that is always celebrated the day after the month of Ramadan. It’s very popular for people to go to their local mosque or spend the day with family and friends. It means the “Celebration of Breaking Fast”. On this day it is a sin to fast because people are supposed to enjoy themselves and not starve if it is an option.

Many people visit family, go out and have parties to celebrate their strength shown during the past month.

What is Eid-Al-Adha?

Eid-Al-Adha is another Islamic holiday. This celebration is to honor the prophet Ibrahim for willing to sacrifice Ismael in the name of Allah. The holiday includes sacrificing a sheep, cow, or goat and prayers.

“Eid-Al-Adha” literally means “Festival of Breaking Fast”. Some Muslims may go to sacrifice an animal to honor their prophet and Allah. This is done in good manners and the slaughter is quick.

What is Ashura?

Ashura is an islamic holiday that is greatly celebrated among Shia muslims.

It marks the day Moses was saved by God and when Noah left the ark, which is on the 10th of Muharram. Shia Muslims mourn this day because of the martyrdom of Hussein. Many will participate in activities, during their mourning, that many may consider extreme, such as sacrificing their blood.

Understanding the alphabet of LGBTQQIP2SAA

By: Bijou Kruszka

Happy pride month!

You’ve probably heard of the LGBTQ+ community, but have you ever heard of the LGBTQQIP2SAA (I promise I’m not keyboard smashing) community?

Most likely, no.

Because it’s June, I’d like to walk you through this lengthy acronym and shine some light on some queer identities.

L stands for lesbian, which means a woman who finds
other women attractive. There has been a lot of discourse over
the word “lesbian” due to its negative use. Some dislike it, but others are fine with the term.

There have been many variations of the lesbian flag over the years but the most widely accepted one has five stripes, the top two being shades of orange, the bottom two being shades of pink, and a white stripe in the middle.

G stands for gay, which originally meant a man who finds other men attractive, but is now an umbrella term for any same-sex attraction. The word “gay” is often used as an insult, and that needs to be stopped.

The gay flag is the most recognizable of all the queer flags, with its six rainbow stripes.

B stands for bisexual, which means any person who finds both men and women attractive. Some people call being bisexual “spicy straight” which is an offensive term, as it is its own valid identity.

The bisexual flag has three stripes: the top being pink, the bottom being blue, and the middle stripe, which is slightly smaller, is purple.

T stands for transgender, which means any person who identifies with a gender identity outside of their sex assigned at birth. The T used to stand for transsexual, but this is an outdated term.

The transgender flag has five stripes: the top and bottom being a light blue, the two stripes nearest to the middle are light pink, and the middle stripe is white.

The first Q stands for queer, which is an umbrella term for all those who identify as not heterosexual (attracted to the opposite gender) or not cisgender (identifying as the gender you were born with).

While there is no official queer flag, a flag commonly used is a rainbow flag with a brown, black, light pink, light blue, and white triangle on the left side of the flag.

The second Q stands for questioning, which is a term describing all those who aren’t sure of their sexuality or gender identity yet.

There is no official questioning flag.

I stands for intersex, which means any person whose anatomy at birth isn’t exactly female or male.

The intersex flag is yellow, with a purple ring in the center.

P stands for pansexual, and despite what many people joke, it is not the attraction to pans. The word means people who are attracted to everyone, regardless of their gender identity.

The pansexual flag has three stripes, with pink at the top, yellow in the center, and blue at the bottom.

2S stands for two-spirit, which is a term used for indigenous people who don’t fit into the gender binary. The term two-spirit comes from the idea that these people possess both a masculine and feminine spirit.

There is no official two-spirit flag.

The first A stands for asexual, which means any person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. Another form of this is aromantic, which means they don’t experience romantic attraction. These two are somewhat similar but aren’t correlated.

The asexual flag has four stripes, that are black, gray, white, and purple.

The aromantic flag has five stripes: two shades of green on top, then white, grey, and black.

The second A, and last letter in the acronym, stands for allies, which means anyone who isn’t a part of the queer community but supports those who are. This is controversial and less widely accepted, as people who aren’t LGBTQ+ are considered part of the community, but aren’t minorities like the rest.

The ally flag is black and white stripes (technically the heterosexual flag), with a rainbow triangle.

In the end, even this lengthy acronym doesn’t scratch the surface of all queer identities. However, it’s a good place to start, and these are the most common.

Have a happy pride month!

The nature of nightmares

By: Grace Helmke

Dreams can be a place of great comfort, but they can also be an incredible source of anxiety. Nightmares are a phenomenon that have wreaked havoc in the night for centuries. They have been the perpetrator of sleepless nights, anxious living, and declined mental health amongst individuals of all ages around the world. 

Sleep happens in cycles. Most dreams occur during a cycle known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During this phase, your brain releases glycine which causes the body to become paralyzed. This is likely a natural way to ensure that we don’t act out our dreams in real life. Oftentimes, this causes even more anxiety within a nightmare. It sometimes causes restricted motion within dreams, and can lead to sleep paralysis upon waking up, or exiting the state of REM. 

According to the Harvard Medical school, a nightmare was defined as a “Disease when a man in his sleep supposes he has a great weight laying upon him,” in the late 1700s. Although this definition doesn’t necessarily come up today, nightmares are still considered dreams which result in “Feelings of terror, fear, distress, or anxiety”.

Some researchers say that people are working through difficult moments in a day, or traumatic experiences in life. It can get to the point of dysfunction. If the individual has frequent nightmares, they may be suffering from “nightmare disorder”, formerly “dream anxiety disorder”. 

Dreams are defined as recent autobiographical episodes that are woven with past memories. Nightmares are simply dreams that produce a negative response. They are often confused with night terrors, which are fearful reactions that occur during transitions between phases of sleep. Usually, they occur when non-REM (non rapid eye movement) sleep transitions to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Nightmares are generally caused by anxiety, stress, mental health disorders, irregular sleep, and medication. But possibly the most common cause is trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). NIghtmares are so common in those suffering from PTSD that it has become part of the criteria for determining diagnosis. A study by Sleep Medicine Clinics found that 80% of people suffering from PTSD have frequent nightmares. A study that looked at over 200 episodes of nightmares found that they frequently contained physical aggression, emotionally intense situations, and failures or unfortunate endings.

Nightmares caused by trauma often involve elements similar to the trauma itself. In a study by the US Department of Veterans affairs, around half the individuals who have nightmares due to PTSD replay their trauma in their dreams. In PTSD nightmares, the regions of the brain involved in these behaviors work to identify potential threats, and could be overactive or overly sensitive. These nightmares caused by trauma are most likely not too different from flashbacks in the daytime, and the general anxiety that these people experience everyday. 

There are several ways that nightmares and PTSD are treated. The first step is to identify the stressor. From there, effective ways to manage it can be found through medication, psychological therapy, exercise, and so much more.  

Psychological therapy for nightmares involves image reversal therapy, sometimes called IRT. This involves the recollection and writing down of nightmares. The patient is then asked to rewrite the nightmare and give it a positive ending. The patient is instructed to rehearse the new version before going to bed with the aim of eradicating the unwanted content. This is a pretty effective method of treatment. It has been found to reduce nightmare distress by significant numbers. 

Nightmares are a response to trauma, anxiety, and stress experienced in life. They are a manifestation of what has harmed you. It is a record of your traumatic experiences and reminder of days you wish to forget. But there are ways in which people can heal and eradicate these pervasive dreams. There is always hope. 

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Has there ever been a communist state?

By: Grace Helmke

The world is seemingly convinced that communism is the devil. It’s branded as “killer of man,” attempting to dissuade any potential from leaning into the fiery grasp of leftism. We have allowed dictatorial characteristics to become the poster child of communism; for that is all people know. Stalin. Lenin. Mao Zedong. Fidel Castro. All dictators. All members of the communist party. And yet, not one was the leader of a communist state. And that is for one reason only: there has never been a true communist state. 

I think it’s important to first discuss what communism really is. It seems that in today’s political climate, the ideology is often misrepresented and defined incorrectly. There are various overlapping political and economic ideologies which can be defined as communism.

However, the basis of a communist system lies in the idea of anti-capitalism. The means of production are collectively owned and operated, instead of privatised.

Under a capitalist system, money begins to accumulate in a small percentage of citizens: the bugeouise. This means that socioeconomic classes within a state would be abolished. The bourgeois would have the same access to resources that a member of the proletariat would. The formerly rich would have to labor, or work, just as the formerly poor did. Everyone contributes to society according to their ability, and receives back based on their need. The theory of communism revolves around the idea of abolishing all that oppresses the proletariat and all that benefits the bourgeoisie.

The USSR is often represented as being far more radically left than they actually were. We often immediately think of communism when we hear the names Vladmir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.

But the reality is that the USSR was a state capitalist society. They imposed a layer of state managers to operate the industry in the name of the people.

Like discussed before, under a true communist state, workers control production. The only time Russia was close to a communist system was right after the Bolshevik Revolution when land was redistributed to the peasants, and the farmers agreed upon how their products would be used. But, of course, the leaders were set on the idea of a state capitalist society which was far closer to a dictatorial socialist state.

Lenin did believe in Marxist theory. Karl Marx claimed that in order for a state to become fully communist, it had to go through various stages. They first would have to be a capitalist society. Capitalism would then fail, and socialism would take reign. Eventually, the communist utopia would be implemented. One could not claim to be a communist state without having been socialist first.

It could also be argued that communism never existed because the abolition of all forms of class was never administered. A social hierarchy within Russia still existed, and many believe that was due to the fact that capitalism still existed though in a different form. Amongst communists, it’s widely believed that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and much more cannot be combated until capitalism falls. 

China, as it currently exists today, although ruled by the communist party, is not a communist nation. It is most closely related to socialism, but even then it strays from what we in modern day society consider socialism. There still exists a private sector of the Chinese economy which is responsible for a larger portion of the GDP than the state sector. The state enterprises coexist with the private sector of society.

But before modern China was switched over to a mixture of private and state operated institutions, the communist party that ruled the nation was led by Mao Zedong. Upon establishing rule, the communist party wished to first implement a socialist state (like many other nations). Many leaders actually sought to follow the line of the Soviet Union, including placing restrictions upon labor in the same manner that the USSR did. They desired some control over industrial and capital society. Leaders envisioned a mixed economy of privately owned capitalist firms, state-owned capitalist firms, communist collectives, and other diverse types of enterprises. This was called market socialism.

The myth that China was communist under Mao Zedong can be further dispelled when reading an essay called “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship,” in which Mao established socialism as the foundation for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Mao stated that their mission was to implement socialism and then, long into the future, establish communism. But he admitted that it would take a significant portion of time to even commit to socialism.

There never existed a time where workers controlled their own production and surplus. They simply redistributed the wealth, and then re-established state-feudalism. This allowed them to implement communes, providing the illusion of collectivisation which gives the illusion of communism. The workers did not control anything regarding labor and surplus. They were obligated to work by commune management appointed by the government. The surplus was also under control over the government.

China was never communist, it only appeared that way due to the fact that many people don’t really understand what it means to be communist. 

Again, in Cuba, under the rule of Fidel Castro, the nation was a socialist republic not a communist state. Castro publicly admitted that communism would not work in Cuban society after an economic crisis emerged.

Cuba today is a socialist country, and does not claim to be communist. This is a common pattern in many countries with a history of communist party rule. It is believed they are communist because that’s what the leaders claim to be. But that does not mean the economic or political system actually mirrors the beliefs of the leaders. What needs to be looked at more closely is the relationship between the working class, their surplus, and their involvement in the operations of production when indicating whether or not a nation is or was communist. 

Our nation has placed an emphasis on hostility towards communists, and leftist in general, due to the false belief that communism is to blame for the totalitarian, oppressive forces of many dictators throughout history. But the truth is that communism has never existed on our planet, and therefore no one can claim that it is a theory bound to fail. There is no evidence to prove this. It’s entirely possible that one day we will be a stateless, moneyless, classless society if the belief in the superiority of capitalism falls. 

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What is haram?

By: Mohamed Ahmed

What is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam? Well, that is what this article is about.

Let’s start from the roots. Islam is the fastest growing, and second most practiced, religion in the world. It is estimated to have almost two billion followers. To put that into perspective one in every four to five people in this world are Muslim. Islam has five pillars and rulings about what is and is not acceptable in their holy book the Quaran and the words of their prophet the Hadith.

Halal 

Before we get to what is forbidden, let’s look at what is allowed. Halal is the term used for when something is permissible for a Muslim.

Permissible sometimes has a negative connotation, but it’s more like what’s normal for Muslims. This includes anything that isn’t haram, or looked down upon (there’s no easy English translation). Everything from the way you react when a member of your family is killed to when you are able to do certain things, is dictated by this branch of Islam, but the part most people want to know about is what not do. 

Haram 

Murder: In Islam, murder is strictly prohibited. There is a clear line between self defense and murder. There are no circumstances where your life is not in danger and it’s OK for you kill someone.

There are rulings for compensating families impacted by killings and executions, but if you are not careful you could be breaking one of the largest taboos in Islam. 

Suicide: Suicide is one of the more clear cut taboos in Islam. You are not allowed to commit suicide in any situation. There is nothing in my research that pointed to there being a debatable point in which suicide was an option. 

Tatoos: Changing the body in a permanent way strictly for beutificational reasons is haram. This not only includes tattoos but plastic surgery, implants, and other such changes. Surgeries that are fixing something, like skin grafts, along with nose surgeries, are permissible to an extent, but not past a certain point. 

Domestic abuse: The Prophet said in a Hadith “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” It was also stated that you should try to get as close to your spouse as possible, akin to your best friend. 

Interest and gambling: Interest is taboo in Islam just for the fact that it makes the poor more poor. Charging or taking interest loans is haram. Gambling can make a rich man poor, a poor man rich, but most of the time a poor man poorer.

Adultery: Having pre-marital sex, or sexual relations is strictly forbidden in Islam. While you are married, you also cannot have relations with a mistress.

Alcohol and drugs: Alcohol is forbidden in Islam because it causes you to act irrationally and do things that you wouldn’t even think of doing before being intoxicated or high. Medicine in moderate doses does not count as drugs. 

Slaughtering animals the wrong way: The wrong way is haram. Excessive pain, along with not saying the name of God, while slaughtering is also haram. Muslims are not allowed to eat meat that was slaughtered incorrectly. 

Eating pork: Eating pork is haram. The only exception is if you are starving and have no intention of sinning you can eat pork. 

Portraits of Allah and prophets: You are not allowed to draw or depict the prophets in any kind of drawing; no exception.

Shirk is the worst sin of all: It is forbidden to put others with Allah (monotheism), or to reject his existence.

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Josephine Baker: A biography

By: Reagan Welch

Josephine Baker is a name you’ve probably never heard, but it should be. Baker was a performer, mother, civil rights activist, and spy for the Allies during World War II.

Intrigued yet? I thought so.

Let’s start with her childhood. Freda Josephine MacDonald was born on June 3rd, 1906 to a single mother in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up very poor, and had to drop out of school at age 8, becoming a servant for a white family.

She was very passionate about dancing, so she performed on street corners for extra money. There, she caught the attention of a theatre troupe, who hired her. She gained her fame by performing in the Broadway show ‘Chocolate Dandies’.

While living in New York, she married a man named Willie Baker, whom she later divorced, but kept his last name, therefore becoming Josephine Baker.

In 1925, she moved to Paris and became a star there, where she was known for her flamboyance. In one of her most famous performances, she wore a skirt made of bananas. She also owned a pet cheetah named Chiquita, and went on to star in French films.

When World War II began, Baker enlisted as a spy for the French military. She kept performing, and was invited to many parties. She would flirt with generals of the Axis powers to coax information out of them. After that, she would write the information in invisible ink on her sheet music. If she found crucial photos, she would pin them to her underclothes, depending on her stardom to keep from being strip-searched.

After the war ended, Baker returned to the United States for a tour. She faced lots of racism, with as many as 36 hotels forbidding her to perform. Eventually, she sat down on stage and refused to leave until the hotel’s manager finally gave in.

She became heavily involved in the civil rights movement. She was the only woman to speak in the March on Washington. When Martin Luther King Jr. died, she was asked by his wife to lead the movement. Baker declined, as she had 12 adopted children at home. She called them her “rainbow tribe,” as they were from all different ethnic backgrounds. The NAACP named her Woman of the Year, and a parade was held in her honor.

In 1975, Josephine Baker performed in her last show. Three days after opening night, she died of a cranial hemorrhage. She was buried in France with a 21-gun-salute, and over 200,000 people came to her funeral.

Though she may have passed away, her legacy lives on. The NAACP declared May 20th “Josephine Baker Day”. Beyoncé has said in an interview that Baker is an inspiration to her.

Josephine Baker accomplished many wonderful things in her life, and should be talked about more often.

If you’d like to learn more, PBS released a documentary about her life titled ‘Josephine Baker: The Story Of An Awakening’

Yoga in the United States

By: Grace Helmke

Yoga was once a practice that involved great spirituality and mindfulness. It was a way of life which no individual had taken lightly. However, after its introduction in Western society, yoga became a factory which Americans have simply thrown money at. The culture of Hindus, Buddhists, and Janeists have become a multi-million dollar industry marketed towards white women. 

The origins of yoga date back thousands of years. It was first mentioned in the ‘Rig Veda’, which are ancient Sanskrit texts from India, however, yoga was practiced by yogis long before there was written record of it. The ‘Rig Veda’ is one of the most important texts in the tradition of Hinduism. It is a collection of hymns and mantras divided into ten mandalas (books).

Over time, yogis passed down the discipline to their students. Schools of yoga had begun to expand across India, and started to spread through Eastern Asia as well. 

Yoga is one of the six schools of philosophy in Hinduism, and is a major part of the traditions of Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism as well. It is a practice which combines aspects of physicality, spirituality, and mental well being through breathing techniques, poses, and meditation.

Yoga is most commonly known in the Western world as being an exercise that involves poses, but in reality, physicality is not as significant in the traditional practices in India. Instead of being a fitness routine, yoga was focused on spiritual growth and mental improvement. The word yoga in Sanskrit means “union” and is meant to be a way to connect the mind, body, and soul.

According to a research study done by the University of Connecticut, yoga practitioners in the United States are generally white, middle aged, women, of a higher socioeconomic status. Therefore, the American yoga industry markets towards this demographic. Products such as yoga mats and blocks are so overpriced that they have become inaccessible to individuals of lower socioeconomic status. Yoga studios are generally built in areas of greater wealth. This might have something to do with the $90 yoga pants they sell, or the $20 per class fee they charge. Yoga practitioners in the U.S. spend more than $10 billion a year on classes, clothing, and accessories. The upscale white woman is the face of yoga, because that’s who Western yoga (white yoga) is marketed towards. 

One of the most significant symbols of the commercialization of yoga is the mat. Many consider this a vital piece in the practice. A top of the line mat can cost you around $100. However, mats have not always been a staple to the practice of yoga. The first mat which was intentionally produced for the purpose of yoga, was created in the 1990s. Before that, yoga was practiced on grass, rugs, and even just on the bare floor. Today some argue that the use of mats interferes with the practice, claiming it distracts the practitioner away from the true aims of yoga, and towards that accumulation of commodities.

The result of the commercialization of yoga could potentially be dangerous. Unqualified teachers can cause physical harm to students. According to an article by the ‘New York Times’, it is all too common for students and teachers alike to injure themselves from lack of experience in yoga. Glenn Black, an incredibly experienced and famous yogi, claims that the majority of people in practice, shouldn’t be.

Commercialization has driven yoga to become more of an exercise which involves harsh posing, causing injury to be common. It’s rarely known that certain poses can cause serious issues such as strokes, wounding of vertebral arteries, and blood clots. These poses are not meant for the inflexible white urbanite. The poses were extensions of positions ancient Indians used to sit and stand in every day. Their bodies were built to be able to bend this way.

The failure to discuss the idea that yoga can cause blinding pain is done on purpose. What’s pumped out into the media is the idea that yoga is a miracle cure for anxiety, depression, back aches, high blood pressure, and so much more. This furthers its already growing popularity and contributes to the rising trust in its abilities. The industry creates such an incredible profit that they would do nothing to endanger it. Therefore its potential harm is not mentioned.

In addition to the dangers commercialization of yoga can cause to Americans, the dilution and corruption of yoga in the Western world does harm Hindu people and culture, as well as other traditions that practice yoga. The way that yoga is practiced in Western society is cultural appropriation. It has erased the true traditions of yoga through the failure to practice in the correct manner. This creates obstacles for Hindu people attempting to access their own culture, and prevents the passing down of tradition.

Practicing yoga without acknowledging its background is also very problematic because of its history with British colonial rule. Hindus were persecuted by the British, and prevented from practicing yoga in their own land. Their culture was almost erased.

Hindus today still face discrimination for practicing yoga, while white people practice it without consequences and without ackknowledging the culture and people behind it. 

Western commercialization has created a culture of appropriation. We have turned hallowed traditions and spiritual practices into workout routines for the wealthy. Our lack of awareness and acknowledgement harms cultures around the world. The practice of yoga is not a weekly stretch, but in fact is a way of life.

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Women’s History Month: Mary Kenner

By: Hayat Osman

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner is an African American inventor who was born on May 17, 1912, in Monroe, North Carolina. Her father, Sidney Davidson, was an inventor and she had one sister, Millred Davidson.

In her childhood, Mary Kenner was filled with many ideas. Mary wanted to invent tools to help make people’s lives more convenient.

In 1924, she explored the U.S. Patent and Trademark office and became familiar with the building and patent process.

Later, Mary Kenner graduated Dunbar High School and attended Howard University but had to stop attending due to financial reasons.

Although Mary didn’t finish her formal education she still used her spare time to invent. In 1957, Mary created her first patent of the sanitary belt (a sanitary belt was an early model for the type of pads women would wear during their periods). Originally, Mary had Invented it earlier in the 1920s, but could not afford a patent. As the years progressed Mary continued to improve her version of the sanitary belt.

Mary’s first patent of the sanitary belt was an elastic band that held napkins in place. Maxi pads were not invented until much later. But Mary’s invention was revolutionary and prevented way more leaks than the rags women used at the time.

One company approached Mary’s idea and was interested in marketing her patented invention, but when a representative learned she was black, the company backed away. Because of the racism and prejudice against women at the time, Mary’s invention was declined until 30 years after Mary invented it.

Despite the racism Mary faced as a black inventor, she continued inventing and filed five patents in her lifetime. Leaving behind a legacy worthy of celebration.

Happy women’s history month!

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Substance abuse

By: Olivia Kendle

First off, substance abuse is when a person uses too much of that drug, or substance. Substance abuse is different from addiction because addiction is when you can’t stop even though you might be getting hurt in the process. Most people with substance abuse are actually able to change or quit their bad habits.

The first example of substance abuse is drugs. Drugs have certain chemicals in them that affect how your mind and body would usually work. Most people use these drugs to feel “high” to cancel out any stress or anxiety in their lives to relax themselves. But drugs can cause large amounts of damage to mind and body, such as lung cancer, insomnia, etc.

A commonly used drug is cocaine, which is made from leaves from a cocoa tree that are found in South America. The side effects are insomnia, dilated pupils, nausea, headaches, heart problems, etc.

Another commonly used drug is marijuana, also known as “weed” or “pot”. Marijuana is made from the hemp plant and has side effects such as slowness in reflexes, issue with balance and movement, euphoria, etc. A similar drug to marijuana is LSD which has a lot of the same side effects.

The next example of substance abuse is alcohol. Although drinking alcohol has different effects for everyone, drinking too much, and getting drunk, increases the chances of getting into an accident of some sort. Not only that, but it is unhealthy and can cause health problems such as liver failure and cancer in the breasts, colon, mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver. Studies show that alcohol can also increase the chances of you starting on drugs as well.

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