April 16, 2014

One Billion Rising For Justice on V-day

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By Marckincia Jean

Contributer

On Feb. 13, John Jay College students gathered to perform a dance routine for One Billion Rising For Justice, a campaign aimed at combating violence against women worldwide.

One Billion Rising is an international campaign in 207 countries that advocates for justice in issues pertaining to violence against women. According to their website, onebillionrising.org, Feb. 14 has been referred to as V-Day since 1998, and addresses that 1 in 3 women, or one billion women worldwide, will be raped or beaten during her lifetime.

The song “Break the Chain” is the theme song of the One Billion Rising global organization. Tena Clark wrote and performed it, and Debbie Allen choreographed the dance routine.

The song is fast paced and intense, and the dancers learned and rehearsed the routine by watching the “Break the Chain” YouTube video projected onto a screen in John Jay’s Black Box Theater. The dancers further rehearsed the routine at home or during their spare time.

Every student dancer was actively engaged, confident after many rehearsals and wore white John Jay College t-shirts. Thirteen dancers, all women comprised of ten students and three professors. There were only a handful of audience members, and every one of the participants were present despite the snowstorm that day.

The dance routine illustrates women’s determination to reclaim her body and resist confinement. “No more rape, incest or abuse. Women are not a possession” is a lyric that sums up the song well.

Gabrielle Salfati, a graduate Forensic Psychology professor at John Jay, not only specializes in the study of violence against women, but she also trains police officers, equipping them with methods and strategies that lead to quicker arrests.

Through her work, Salfati educates students about violence against women, while at the same time enabling police officers to better protect victims from their perpetrators.

The One Billion Rising campaign has built their foundation on these two main principles of education and activism.

The campaign empowers women and men to rid themselves of shame and humiliation by sharing their personal stories of survival. They also seek to have legislation passed that tackles issues of discrimination and inequality while protecting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators.

Through dance, worship and protest, victims and families demand justice and assert a sense of safety in both private and public sectors. On Feb. 14, groups of people all over the world gathered in their communities to rehearse and perform a specific dance routine.

Professor Salfati seeks to “make students passionate about justice and advocating for justice.” She wants to ensure that students do not simply seek to reform the criminal justice system, but also “make sure that the system works well and make sure that people are safe.”

“Education opens up dialogue, gives people permission to talk about sensitive and important issues in a safe environment,” she added.

“Real education happens when you share ideas,” said Salfati. She emphasized that professors should help students practice what they have learned.

Salfati said the researching and actual event planning was difficult, but since it was an event organized by students, professors were even more encouraged to follow through with it.

“But it was worth it,” Salfati said. She would like to “make people aware, en- gaged and committed” to this cause.

Professor Elizabeth Hovey helped organize this event after attending The Vagina Monologues in the spring of 2012 and, from then on, she wanted to hold such an event on Valentine’s Day. According to the NYU Law website, The Vagina Monologues is a theatrical production based on a book that exposes issues pertaining to women, self-esteem, and oppression.

The Vagina Monologues is also an organization that provides financial aid and ongoing resources to women and men who are subjected to poverty and violence.

Hovey emphasized that, “Power only gets limited when people stand up to its abuse.”

Hovey said that the event was held at John Jay on Feb. 13, because most students do not have Friday classes, and many of them will not attend the public performances in the Hammerstein Ballroom, Grand Central and Times Square.

Nassima Ouaaz, a junior at John Jay College, said, “Dancing is used for political action and activism. For it to hit policy, it first has to capture the attention of the public.”

Ouaaz has previous dance experience. “Dance is one of my forms of catharsis,” Ouaaz said. “I dance to let loose, to let go of my oppression.”

“People are triggered by dance,” she added. She went on to say that there must be an emotional connection between the song, the dancers, and the audience.

The dancers, having backgrounds from all over the world, came to represent their country as well.

Marina Sorochinski, a John Jay College graduate student pursuing a PhD in psychology and law, said via email, “I think seeing millions of other women stand and dance side by side may help some victims.”

She went on to say, “Giving them power and will to fight against the abuse and violence can help them understand that they are not alone. It may, and I hope it will, empower some of the victims to seek help and seek justice for themselves and others, and stop the cycle of violence.”

A sophmore at John Jay, Marlen Ayala said, “I was afraid at first, but it made me feel confident to know that I am doing this for a good cause.”

Eve Ensler, the actor, playwright and activist who started One Billion Rising For Justice and V-Day spoke at John Jay on Jan. 27. She encourages dance as a means of expression due to its boundless nature.

Ensler said we need to share the stage for all of our causes. “Part of what, I dream, happens,” Ensler said in her lecture, “is that we all begin hooking up our stories.”

She has problems with this country’s training. “If you’ve gotten yourself through the door, good. You’re done,” Ensler said.“But that’s not the truth. The truth is, until we all get through the door, we’re not done.”

Rap Album Erupts From Seedy Past

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By Ryan Durning

Staff Writer

Top Dawg Entertainment artist Schoolboy Q’s major label debut, OXYmoron, is his most progressive yet frustratingly ignorant record to date. In interviews he has stated that the theme of the album was documenting all the bad he has done in order to support his daughter.

The former Hoover Crip/college football player/Oxycontin pusher has created an album that lives up to it’s clever title. The album is constantly flip-flopping be- tween honestly brutal introspection and brash celebration of his seedy past which is perfectly summed up by the titular track “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

The first half of the song details his addiction to prescription drugs before the beat flips into a menacing piano loop and stuttering drums that Q uses to brag about selling Oxycontin and whose hook turns into “I just stopped selling crack today.”

The long wait for the album, originally announced after the last TDE album “Good kid, M.a.a.D City,” which dropped Oct. 12, 2013, has only served to highlight some of it’s missteps. The album can be bro- ken down into a repeating pattern of three songs with the middle one usually being the weakest.

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The album starts off with the brash “Gangsta.” Q is at the top of his game, spitting about his past. This segues into the underwhelming “Los Awesome” where the slurring of his voice makes the track for- gettable, before the pace is picked up again by the lead single “Collard Greens” thanks to the pulsating hypnotic production and a funny guest verse from Kendrick Lamar.

This happens two more times on the album, most notably in the sequence of “Hoover Street”, which finds Q talking about his uncle, an addict, which is by all means a gritty tale, followed by “Studio,” ruining the mood with it’s uninspired romance. Finishing up the trio is the thesis of the album, “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

After the titular track, Groovy Q hits his stride and finishes out the album with hard hitting rhymes, especially in “The Purge” and “Break The Bank,” while flowing better and generally avoiding the minor mistakes made in the first half.

As a member of TDE, Q has amassed a following as the gangsta rapper whose infectious flow and chants of “yawk-yawk- yawk” help to liven up his well tread sub- ject matter of women and gangbanging.

Without his charisma, he pales in comparison to the lyricism that fellow TDE members’ Ab-Soul and recently Grammy nominated Kendrick Lamar bring to the table. Ultimately, Schoolboy has shown that he can make an album that can be both disarmingly blunt and maddeningly mindless.

Column: Education and Politics by Chris Pruner (The Filibuster Rule)

Chris Pruner is a Sentinel columnist who breaks down political issues for John Jay students.

All opinion pieces are his own and does not reflect the views of the Sentinel.

By: Chris Pruner

The Filibuster Rule is one of the most important powers that our government possesses. It provides the basic principle of the checks and balances that are set forth in our constitution, on November 21, 2013, the Filibuster rule was forever changed. Now the split between the ideologies of the Democratic and Republican Party has tarnished the rule.

“In the most basic sense, the Filibuster is important because it grants additional power to the minority party with respect to creating policy and staffing the federal government at its highest levels” said Dr. Andrew H. Sidman, assistant professor and major coordinator for the department of political Science.

The Filibuster is a power within the Senate that provides a check to keep the ones holding the most power in the Senate from abusing their power. The extreme polarity between the Democrats and Republicans ideology has create this false need for the change that the Democrats have pushed for.

The Filibuster gives the minority in the Senate a voice, and attempts to stop issues on legislation, or in the most recent and notable issue, Federal Judge appointments by the President from being confirmed by the Senate.

The minority in the Senate is able to stand in front of the members of the Senate and plead their case as to why it should be changed, or why it should be stopped; then the Senate votes on the issue again. If the majority thinks the Filibuster is taking too long or the argument is exhausted, they can vote to stop the Filibuster from moving forward, which is called the Cloture Rule.

The Cloture Rule changes the Filibuster by allowing the majority a chance to stop a Filibuster from happening by voting, as I previously stated, and achieving a 3/5 vote or 60% or 60 votes in the Senate by members who have been sworn into office. This new rule change will stop a Filibuster from continuing by changing the 3/5 vote to a simple majority or 51% vote, to make it easier  to stop a Filibuster on vacant Federal Judge seats, but not the Supreme Court.

With the current composition of the Senate being 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents, this ultimately gave the Democrats in the Senate a greater say in who is appointed as a Federal Judge.  President Obama has been opposed on most appointment nominees by the Republicans in the Senate, the minority, and the Democrats have not been able to stop it.

Shakira Rincon expressed her concern about the lack of compromise that this change creates. “The change defeats the purpose of the entire concept of a Filibuster, compromise”

 

Where Muhammad Alam was more concerned with the competence of the nominee, “In order to nominate competent individuals, everyone needs to have a say in process, and this change takes away from that,” he said. Both students think that this change is for the worse.

The Filibuster Rule, before it was changed, was a very good example of how effective our check and balances work in our government. Across the three branches of government the Republicans are the minority, making them the party that has pushed for recent denial of Federal Judge appointments by the President.

A President has the duty of consulting with their administration and fellow party member Senators on approving nominations of Federal Judges to a vacant seat. What happens most of the time is that the judges have similar ideologies as the President and will rule on policies that are in favor of the President’s agenda or party affiliation.

If the Republicans can’t stop the President’s appointments, this will create an unbalance in the judiciary ranks that favor a one sided, narrow way of thinking. If the judiciary system becomes tainted with this narrow mindedness, then the integrity of the judiciary branch will be forever tarnished. If Republicans can’t stop this, then no one can.

When the tides turn, and the Democrats are the minority throughout the branches, they will be regretting this rule change, which many Republicans have already addressed. The judiciary system, by nature, is supposed to be a third party and to only interpret law as it presents itself, but keeping ideology out of the equation is impossible, it is human nature to have a bias towards any given issue.

I believe that eliminating ideological manipulation in a ruling doesn’t exist, so playing to the judge’s ideologies might be a more viable answer. If we can somehow create a systematic way of predicting the outcome of a particular judge’s ruling by looking at precedent, the judge’s previous rulings, then we can create a trend and a general idea of how the judge will vote on a particular issue.

By being able to make this prediction, we can choose certain judges for certain cases. We will choose a judge that will vote in a more neutral matter than other judges. This will decrease the likelihood of the judges making a ruling that corresponds with their ideology and rather, increase the likelihood that their ruling will reflect the law itself. The Filibuster Rule and the cloture rule worked perfectly well the way they were and held a standard of being a fair and balanced. It is a permanent fix to a very temporary problem.

Proper Police Prep For Students: All you need to know to apply to the NYPD Police Academy

By: Keyunna Singleton Staff Writer

On May 28, 2014 John Jay’s commencement will launch criminal justice seniors into the career world, but will they be prepared for it?

Joseph Giacalone, adjunct professor of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay, suggests that students are not prepared because they are not fully aware of the process. “Many don’t understand it’s a big administrative task to get all the paper work done.”

Giacalone held several prestigious positions while serving the NYPD for 20 years. His extensive knowledge on criminal investigations and cold cases has made him highly sought after by the media. Now, one of his main concerns is making sure that John Jay students, especially criminal justice majors, are prepared for what comes next.

The waiting list to join the police force is so long that it can take years for an applicant’s name to be called. For Giacalone, the best way to use the waiting period properly is for students to create a plan.

Within that plan, he often mentions, “Choose your friends wisely.” He added, “You’re responsible for your Facebook, even if it’s a post that someone else writes.”

Mehdi Mahorai, a senior Public Administration Major, says, “My social media is safe.” For others there is a pressing uncertainty that comes from not knowing what potential employers will see or think.

Although going through your social media and deleting any incriminating media may seem tempting, doing that is the equivalent of “throwing bleach on a crime scene,” Giacalone said.

There are several sites that employers use to do Internet background check. To see what employers see, check out http:// www.spokeo.com.

It is also important to stay physically fit when applying for a government job. Many positions require recruiters to perform athletically within an allotted amount of time. “Physical fitness is important. The better prepared you are the easier a time you’re going to have in the academy, Giacalone said.

Careers in government are in high demand, because of the benefits and security they offer. When applying for government jobs make sure to meet all of the deadlines and the proper paper work is available. It’s best to make copies of everything needed, in case something gets lost in the process.

Antolina Garcia contributed reporting for this article.

 

 

 

 

CUNY Service Corps Opens Opportunities

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By: Angeline Dominguez

Contributor

On Thursday, Feb. 12, the CUNY Service Corps held an information session in one of the lecture halls at John Jay College, for students during community hour.

As a part of the Service Corps, one will be able to get paid a set amount of $12 per hour for 12 hours weekly.

As Director Noel Blanchet describes, in some cases you will be able to find a site that, if permitted, will allow you to receive credit for some courses you are taking within the semester. Now, after enlisting in the Service Corps, 20% of John Jay’s students are receiving credit.

Due to weather conditions about ten to fifteen people were spotted at the event, including Blanchet. Everyone sat quietly with nothing but a sheet of paper and a pen in front of them, patiently waiting for the session to begin.

Blanchet welcomed everyone to begin and thanked students for attending. She then continued on for a full ten minutes explaining the purpose of the Service Corps.

‘CUNY students and faculty and staff members wanted to help, but there was no way to kind of get them together,” Blanchet said. “They wanted to develop something where they could have students ready and faculty and staff members ready to just send one email and have them come together and do something like sandy relief,” she said.

The CUNY Service Corps started in the fall of 2012. They currently have 719 Service Corps members, not only from John Jay College, but also seven other participating colleges, such as Lehman College, Borough of Manhattan Community College and many others. By fall 2014, they plan to have 850 spots filled. Since Feb. 3, 94 people have attended the sessions.

The CUNY Service Corps requires a one-year commitment that begins every fall semester. You have to be a full time student and must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above with at least 24 credits.

Students are given five choices of the job placement of their preference and of those five choices, depending on your application, will determine your placement. After close consideration it is imperative that students understand that they are not always subject to the placement of their choice, but almost always is granted one of their choices.

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Quincy Pennix, a senior at John Jay, found a job at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. He began his participation in the Service Corps when it first began. Pennix spoke from experience, “If we’re selected, we’ll be doing something that [has] never been done in the city…doing community service projects…doing something like this and making money. That’s a great thing.”

Pennix and Blanchet described the Service Corps as a learning experience. It is open to students who want to help out the community and want to be a part of something big, as the Service Corps is CUNY-wide. Last year 500 applications were submitted to the Service Corps, but only 200 were accepted. This year more than 500 applicants are expected but the amount accepted is decreasing to about 125.

The Service Corps opens opportunities to network, learn new skills, and allow you to gain knowledge about how to function in a professional environment.

Being a part of the Service Corps can be looked to as a “leg up” as Pennix put it in a previous interview. It can be a useful token to help guide you after you graduate and are ready to begin your career path.

“It’s definitely changed me in different ways,” Pennex said. “They’re willing to help you, if you’re willing to show that need for help.”

Violent Explosion Claims One of Our Own

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By: Jeffrey Nunziato

On March 12. two buildings exploded on Park Avenue in East Harlem.

Among the unaccounted for in the explosion was a John Jay student, and soon to be father, Alexis (Jordy) Salas.

An email was sent out from Lynette Cook-Francis, vice president of Student Affairs, informing students of Salas’ unaccounted status on March 13.

Salas has been confirmed as a victim of the explosion as of March 14, in an email sent by Cook-Francis.

According to the email, Salas was a 22 year old junior, living with his wife and parents in their apartment on Park Avenue. He was a transfer student from the Borough of Manhattan Community College and “was an aspiring lawyer and dedicated Sunday teacher.”

Salas’ wife, Jennifer, is five months pregnant.

Francis-Cook stresses that anyone affected by this tragedy may seek out the counseling services available to the entire campus. The Counseling Services Office can be found in L.68 of New Building, or can be reached at 212-237-8111.

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

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By: Alex Guzmán

Getting in the ring with Martin Scorsese always hits you with a knockout punch. And “The Wolf of Wall Street” is Scorsese at the top of his game. The film overcomes you like that third rail of pure cocaine. Your eyes widen, your jaw clenches, your knuckles turn white and you’re hooked instantly; you become a fiend.

Although banned and censored in several foreign markets, it’s as if Scorsese’s been preparing for the past two years for his title fight, perhaps over the span of 40 years since he directed “Mean Streets.” Trained and ready to hit the audience with a knockout combination, he succeeds.

With 506 F-bombs, hardcore and kinky sex, 99% pure cocaine, hookers, Lamborghinis, multi-million dollar yachts, country clubs, corruption, greed, embezzlement, federal investigations, dwarf tossing and more full frontal nudity than you see in most soft core pornography, this smörgåsbord of a film will leave you both appalled and enthralled. Lemon 714 Quaaludes lead to easily one of the best on-screen drug scenes in contemporary cinema. If this upsets the natural order of your peaceful tranquil disposition then perhaps “Disney’s Cinderella” is more your pace?

 But behind all of the things is the Wolf — the 20-something year old charismatic penny stock tycoon Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). At just a little over 3 hours, it can have you feeling overwhelmed by the abundantly disgusting human nature of Belfort, yet you never lose interest as this film. Martin Scorsese, a master craftsman, leaves you feeling completely and utterly unable to check your text messages, avert your eyes or miss even one second — the entire film is just simply too damn good!

Scorsese doesn’t hold back in “Wolf.” Tidal waves of stinging quips at the real Belfort and America’s greedy capitalist culture wash over the audience in the dark cinema leaving the audience in a deep pensive state of bewilderment and hedonistic guilty pleasures. The question I asked myself in those moments were “am I inspired by and jealous of Belfort, or am I wholly repulsed by him?” This question will haunt you for some time after you’ve seen this film.

As we live in a society that plays up the new American Dream to acquire all the bling possible, we tend to overlook the details of our dreams. “Wolf” leaves you aggressively with the bang that can occur if you’ve acquired the bling vis-à-vis climbing the walls of corruption like Madoff and Boesky only to watch your kingdom crumble to the sea. Bang is almost the perfect word to describe this motion picture in summation actually. Bang is what happens when Belfort takes too many drugs. Bang is what happens when he says “the year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” Bang is what happens when he goes to federal prison for 22 months for fraud.

You see bling on the other hand would be when while being interrogated by the FBI on his multimillion dollar yacht the S.S. Naomi (which happens to have its own helipad), we see Belfort reach into his pocket to reveal a wad of cash that he comically refers to as “fun coupons” which he proceeds to throw at the two Feds investing him as they leave the Naomi, telling them that the money in his hand is a years salary for them.

 Part of what makes this movie so enjoyable, so keenly cool, and so horrifying and disturbing all at once is writer Terrance Winter’s macabre yet at time hilarious and outright cool storyline. It’s part dark fantasy, part guilty pleasure and part hatred of Belfort that thrust it’s audience onto the edge of their seats again and again throughout the film.

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 Jonah Hill and DiCaprio both give the performances of their careers. And the stunning Margot Robbie has just made a name for herself that will carry her very far in her career as an actress. And that name is not just the “Duchess of Bay Ridge” either. Hill is certainly worthy of a best supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards with his both brilliant — although risky at times performance — I pray he’ll be nominated. And as for DiCaprio, well his tour de force performance has him pushing so many envelopes; transforming himself so well and exposing so much raw and uninhibited emotion that it’s no wonder Scorsese had him cast for the fifth time. He’s remarkable. A real pig most of the time, but nonetheless absolutely remarkable.

 This film is an adrenaline junky and party monster’s wet dream… on anabolic steroids! Belfort: “On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my ‘back pain,’ Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine…well, because it’s awesome.” This movie keeps you teetering on your seat with outrageous lines like this and infamous “The Sopranos” writer Winter’s call for DiCaprio to go from having an internal monologue, to a dialogue with another character while Scorsese’s cinematographer then swings around the camera via Scorsese’s trademark camera action, the “whip pan”, and has DiCaprio look directly into the camera with his piercing blue eyes and corrupt smile and narrate to the audience directly.

 If you think you’re in a mind frame that you can accept this film for what it is — a glutinous hedonist’s paradise that rapidly builds at any cost imaginable — well then, you should definitely go see it.  “Is it good”, people have asked me? “Unequivocally so!” I respond.  In fact, it’s damn near perfect.


 

African-Americans Evolving in Comic Books

By Alex Guzman

Can you think of a comic book or graphic novel whose central character is black?  Have you ever read of a black superhero that is not merely a sidekick, or an irrelevant character? Last month “Heroes in Black: Race, Image, Ideology and the Evolution of Comics Scholarship” was an event held at the CUNY Graduate Center on 34th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Professor Jonathan W. Gray, an assistant professor of English at John Jay College lead this talk.

White characters, like Superman and Batman, are more prevalent in comics than black protagonists. There were differences in their upbringings and how they became superheroes, but almost all of them were white. Black superheroes, like Luke Cage, were not always painted in the best light. Even though Cage was the main character in his comic, he was born of the exploitation of black people in the film industry. He portrayed the archetype of the big buck.

“Early black characters faced moral quandaries [and were] placed under the gaze of white superheroes [and] popular culture,” Professor Gray said. Compared to the 1970’s, black characters now embody fewer stereotypes.

The African riots and the Black Panther movement heavily influenced Cage’s character when Luke Cage comics first came out. But after his disappearance for some time, he reappeared with the rise of Barack Obama as a state senator.

The new Luke Cage looked different from how he used to look in the 70’s, which gave off a less extremist image, according to Gray. His new costume helped him to better fit in as a member of society rather than being associated with a specific ethnic group. He was now integrated with the black working class, rather than the black power movement.

Gray quoted Scott Buktaman, who said that young scholars say that comics pay special attention to non-traditional superheroes. Gray also quotes Scott McCloud, who claims “universality of the cartoon image” as a “white, heteronormative, masculine subject.”

Gray spoke of neo-liberalism and the introduction of the first black comic book characters to appear on their own.

“In 1975, Marvel creates four iconic black characters,” Gray said. He speaks of the Black Panther, Storm, The Falcon and the aforementioned Luke Cage.

Gray remembered how, in one comic, The Falcon is fighting an enemy while Captain America watches. He claimed that this “endorses militant black masculinity, [which] mirrors and mimics that of the reader.”

Gray mentioned that many considered The Falcon who was the true hero of that comic. He explained how “this displacement of course is incomplete [because] The Falcon has never had his own comic book.”

Gray looked at his audience to read their reaction, and continued, “I began to see Superman as a punk, that Superman didn’t relate to replenishing the earth, like Huey Newton and other people did,” Gray said. “In essence, Superman is a phony and a fake. He never saved any black people in this country in any comic book stories.”

The last of Gray’s PowerPoint slides was of Luke Cage. In this interpretation, Cage was a more humanized multicultural member of society, and not so much a member of one ethnic group specifically, as he walked with his white wife, pushing his multiracial infant son in his stroller.

Professor Gray is teaching The African-American Experience: Comparative Racial Perspectives in the Spring 2014 semester.

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

By Alex Guzman

“Days ago I was with my family, in my home. Now you’re telling me all that’s lost? Tell no one who I am, that’s the way to survive? Well, I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” Solomon Northup, “12 Years a Slave”

Only for a portion of 134 minutes is it difficult to sit in a dark cinema and live vicariously the experience of slavery through the interpretation of British indie-director Steve McQueen.

Although, given the loaded content of the film, it is easy to forget you’re simply watching his depiction of Northup on screen. You are thrust into an 1840′s-50′s New Orleans slave plantation.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northrop in this version of the infamous story. Ejiofor is profoundly gifted in this role, that his face alone told a story.  Throughout the three acts of this film his face takes us from complacency to bewilderment, surrender and finally elation.

Edwin Epps (played by the provocative yet alluring Michael Fassbender) reads from a tiny blue book of scripture that he has in his possession to his newly bought slaves. He reads from a passage with the deliberate intention of letting his newly acquired slaves know the consequence in which they will pay for defiance of any sort.

Epps feels that he has a biblically endorsed prerogative to dehumanize, commodify, rape and kill, if necessary, his slaves.

Epps has a sociopathic love for a female slave Patsey (played by the talented Lupita Nyong’o) deepens his villainy.

He interrogates the frightened young woman, who escapes the atrocities of her everyday life by regressing and creating tiny dolls out of corn husks while daydreaming of the day she gains freedom through death. When Epps notices she keeps disappearing he is furious and threatens her.

Northup jumps to the aid of Patsey and as a consequence is almost stabbed by Epps, so Patsey places herself between the two men, her back to Northup, she looks into Epps’ ferocious eyes and puts her hand on his cheek and with tears in her eyes admits to where she was.

Edwin Epps’ wife walks out among the confusion in her perfectly tailored white dress, with her hands held daintily in front of her waist and looks upon the quarreling pseudo lovers.

Patsey states that she was in fact at the home of another master, but only to beg and barter for a minuscule sundry which her mistress Mary Epps (played by Sarah Paulson), denied her as punishment for winning her husbands affection.

She puts out her free fist and unwraps her fingers to reveal a tiny portion of what used to be a bar of soap. Mary Epps thinks of Patsey one of the pigs that cinematographer Sean Bobbitt had focused in the foreground, as Patsey approached the pen from behind. Mistress Epps orders Patsey to be whipped for insubordination.

It’s as if the audience was looking at Medusa. For wanting to be human enough to bathe, Patsey is stripped and whipped.  Edwin Epps cannot bring himself to whip her so delegates this task to Northup, who apprehensively takes the thick leather whip in his large hand. Patsey begs him to lash her instead of Epps, and so he does. Mary Epps screams to hit her harder, her eyes ablaze with sickening psychotic delight.

Edwin not wanting anyone else to touch his prized property yanks the whip from Northup’s quivering hand and beats the poor young girl until she nearly passes out.

McQueen and his team push the viewer’s to their breaking point and then draw them back in. It’s as if he’s forcing his foot onto the audience’s necks until they begin to feel faint, and then hastily removing it so that they can catch a huge gulp of air. He’s brilliant at provoking the emotion he wants to evoke, but not oversaturate his audience with just one emotion.

He’s quite talented at being able to arouse a plethora of emotions, yet not in an overbearing way. For instance he’ll utilize cinematic devices such as shooting silhouettes and shadows instead of what’s actually occurring onscreen so that the scene is still graphic, but not provocative. Often, such scenes are quite beautiful actually.

What McQueen is really good is the utilization of one very specific film device which he, his sound department and editor Joe Walker had worked on together. Making the audience uncomfortable through the use of sound.

Upon waking up on the cold, heard ground after being drugged by two men who kidnapped him in order to sell him into bondage, all that can be heard are the chains around his wrists and feet clanking, while Northup wriggles to free himself and tries to recall how he got there in the first place. His guards attempt to inculcate through beating him with a wooden paddle until it breaks over his back that he is no longer a freeman.

All that can be heard is the paddle smacking against Northup’s flesh, his crying and the chains clanking away. McQueen also uses the cinematic device mentioned earlier of shooting Northup in a shadowy abyss created brilliantly. From this scene on, the viewers are drawn in like a Pavlovian dog hearing a bell ring.  They yearn for more.  Not the mental and physical torture, but rather the hope that Northup will be free once again.

McQueen really drives home the empirical insight into what it means to be a slave.

For the entirety of the time on Epps’ plantation the viewer experiences by proxy McQueen’s illustration of the day to day livese of slaves. Property with which you can do with whatever you’d like to by constitutional law. Despite the blatant human on human cruelty throughout the picture, there is beauty if you look hard enough.

“12 Years a Slave” is a gut-wrenching, tour de force that is both wrenching and heart warming. It’s as beautiful as it is dark and depressing. It’s an account of 12 years of hell on earth based on a true story. It’s a microcosm of and a glimpse into the 400 years in which slavery occurred.

This film is a must see for anyone who has ever asked the perilous question: “How did I get here?”  It serves to answer this by putting on display what happens when we decide to mistreat one another.

Investing Opportunities Await Students Today

By Ayala Blumenkrantz

Staff Writer

 

Students at John Jay realize money doesn’t grow on trees, but have no idea that money does grow in the stock exchange; the only part of the American economy that is booming rather than flailing.

“Oh God, I don’t know anything,” Cynthia Zajaczkowski, a student pursuing a Forensic Science said.

International Criminal Justice  major, Yorkt Peralta, had a similar reaction: “All I know is that the stock market has numbers with lots of arrows.”

A common misconception throughout John Jay is the perception of exclusivity.  Students generally believe investing is only for the wealthy or business class, when in reality everyone can invest.

“It’s something for Wall Street,” Peralta said.

However, even with limited knowledge, students expressed interest in the stock market and investing at some point in their lives. In an interview of students at the college, some students responded that they believed they will invest later on in life, while others responded that they will invest in their college years.

Many students stated their limited knowledge of the stock market as the reason for pushing off investing. “Because I don’t know anything about the stock market, I’d be too afraid,” Alorah Bliese, an honors student said.

Students are also not aware of how to go about investing: “I wouldn’t know what I was doing,” freshman Kevin Hall said.

A major reason students do not know about the stock market is because the internet is used mainly for social networking. Stock information can be found with any web browser. From the basics of the stock market to investment strategies, most everything is available online. There are even websites like foxonstocks.com, which was created by teenage actress Rachel Fox, that are  geared specifically to college students on the subject of investing.

Kenneth Valle, a financial services representative at TD Bank said, “The most important thing is educating yourself about the market.”

The few students who had a basic understanding of the stock market all attributed it to an economics class in high school that taught financial literacy.

“We had a stock market game in my economics class in high school,” Amanda Salvato said. She  went into detail about a fantasy stock market she had to maintain with an assigned group. They tracked their losses and gains, and were required to make trades every few weeks.

“I got really into it,” Salvato said. Nevertheless, she currently does not invest because she feels like she is too young to enter the market.

Most students interviewed, did not have a high school economics class that taught financial literacy, but claimed they would be interested in taking a course in college to learn about the stock market.

Peralta, said, “I would invest if I had more information.”

Unfortunately, classes that teach financial literacy are not available at John Jay, because there is no Finance major. Essentially, the only way John Jay students can get information is through the internet, or through a stock broker. Banks like Chase, have stock brokers that talk to their customers on an appointment bases, but also take walk-ins, although the wait might be long. Stock Brokers will explain investing, and then work with the client on creating a successful stock portfolio, all the while only taking commission on gains in the portfolio.

While lack of knowledge was the primary reason students gave for not investing, lack of money followed closely behind.

“I can’t invest because I don’t have a job,” Garcia said.

Although Garcia has a basic understanding of the stock market from a high school economics class, her finances play a role in her decision to push off investing: “I would, if I had the money,” Norhan Ahmez said. College students’ wallets are usually tight, and investing is not on their radar.

In addition to lack of information and monetary reasons, students gave an array of other things stopping them from investing.

“I feel like I’m too young,” Salvato said.

“Some students, like Maria Savino said, “I never really thought about it.”

Erica Fontanes claimed her Economics teacher in high school turned her off by making the students do tedious work in relation to the stock market. The class had specific requirements regarding fantasy trading, and the students were constantly busy with maintaining their portfolios.

Furthermore, those were just a few students’ responses and still, the most common reason students do not invest is because they do not have enough information.

As Bliese put it, “I don’t know shit about the stock market.”