March 27, 2015

Dear Val

By Valentina Henriquez

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Valentina Henriquez' Instagram

Photo Courtesy of Valentina Henriquez’ Instagram

Is it healthy to have sex while menstruating?

 

-Anonymous

 

Dear Readers,

 

It is indeed healthy but should be done safely. Both partners must be comfortable beforehand. Many would say having sex while your partner is on her period is disgusting and unsanitary, others might find it normal.

Anthony A. finds it weird that females have sex while they’re on their period. “I just find it unhealthy and it’s weird that they would feel comfortable to actually do that. I mean won’t it hurt? Won’t It be uncomfortable?”

In reality it is normal and completely healthy.

It is important to remember, when having sex on your period you still run the same risks of getting a sexually transmitted disease or infection, as regular intercourse. Before you decide to have sex make sure your partner is clean and/or use a condom.

Getting pregnant when on your period is very unlikely but it can happen. Menstrual cycles can vary for each person, but a woman usually ovulates towards the end of her cycle. While birth control is effective at preventing pregnancies it does not protect you from getting an STD/STI. Although many find it disgusting, it truly isn’t.

It is okay to have sex while you’re on your period. If your partner is willing to there’s nothing to worry about.

At times people are afraid of what others have to say, but you don’t have to tell any one “hey I had sex yesterday, while I was on my period.” It should be between you and your partner.

A suggestion in order to make things less “messy” is trying to avoid positions like being on top and Doggy Style; stick to Missionary, Sexy Spoon, The Sensual Spoon or The Spider Web. You always have the option of having sex in the shower.

Its totally natural to have sex while your menstruating, and after speaking with your partner and coming to an agreement, go for it!

Remember readers no one should participate in something they feel uncomfortable with.

Tech-nically Speaking

By Dominique Goodwin

Staff Writer

For John Jay students taking the subway to school is natural as it is usually a part of their daily routines. As people squeeze in the train carts during rush hour, everyone has their hands full with things like tablets, iPhones, iPads or laptops.

Things aren’t much different on campus. Students are walking through the atrium or sitting on the couches that decorate the floor and are on cellphones.

Corinne Kreymer, a Queensborough Community College student said she usually gets distracted when using the computer for school work, admitting, “If I’m doing work online I most likely have quite a few tabs open, most of which relate to the work I’m doing and maybe just one tab open for something random.”

Development of technology not only affects students but professors as well. Seldom does a professor ask you to hand in a written piece of work. Chances are your professor wants you to hand in a typed paper or send it through email. Web based platforms are more common for educational purposes like, blackboard or safeassign. Now students have the option to take online classes.

The average user of Facebook spends 40 minutes on the website and checks the app 14 times daily said factslides.com. Students even access Facebook in class using the “check in” feature of the app.

Oscar Llivisaca, a major in Criminal Justice said “Sadly, I think i am on Facebook way too much then what I would like. It feels like its the norm now, to check every hour whats going on with friends or what is being liked or what pictures are being uploaded and if there is any big news among my peers. Guess we can say I don’t want to be left out and want to be up to date on everything. Seems like Facebook is more up to date than the local new stations unfortunately.”

Seventy percent of Instagram users check the app at least once a day says Buzzfeed.com.

Ten tweets per second mention Starbucks according to Socialtimes.com. In fact, Twitter has become such a large platform that jobs are focused around social media, like the title of a social media manager.

Zainab Bhatti, a student at Queens College said “I’m on Twitter any chance I get, it’s like an addiction. I can find almost anything to tweet about. I’m always reading my timeline before class starts.”

Students aren’t only spending time on social media but watching endless hours of video too.

YouTube is now partnered with companies like Disney and CBS. YouTube has become a successful platform. People can watch anything from beauty moguls, sneaker reviews to vlogs.

Anna Baloutch, a sophomore student majoring in International Criminal Justice, said, “I do have a YouTube account and it is very addicting because I love YouTube, I’ve had it ever since I was in high school and I love watching new things learning new things, such as cooking, makeup , hair and many other things. So that is very distracting but I try to manage.”

For college students the rules in school are less harsh compared to middle or high school concerning technology use. Everyone can walk through the hall with headphones in iPod blasting and texting and theres no one to to say put it away.Some John Jay students believe that its the updating of technology that increases the distraction.

Baloutch answered, “Yes, definitely, technology is more resourceful than from high school because now many of our schools have apple computers and iPads so it has been very updated than when I started high school.”

Every month Netflix releases a list of new releases of shows and movies. Now, Netflix has its own original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. In 2015, the list will continue to grow, as noted on websites like USA Today or complex.

As a criminal justice school, many students are intrigued with shows based within the criminal justice system like Orange is the New Black.

Kreymer said, “I would say that the TV and my phone are the most distracting. Though at times I have to seriously buckle down and shut off and the TV. I could go from getting a text to going on twitter and then ending up doing a bunch of other things before getting to my work.”

Estefani Llanos, majoring in Forensic Psychology, said “When it comes to school work and technology I do not believe that technology is distracting. I think it all depends on the persons character and morality. If I know I have a lot of work to do, I’m going to get it done instead of playing games on my phone, texting my friends, and using social networks. It’s a simple matter of prioritizing.”

Attorney General Holder Implements Initiative

By Edir Coronado

Staff Writer

On Sept. 18, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in conjunction with Yale Law School, UCLA, and the Urban Institute will conduct a project named, “National Initiative for Building Community Trust.” This comes amid public outcry about law enforcement unfairly targeting minority groups.

Last year, the country witnessed two police officers acquitted for the murder of two unarmed black men. A lot of the country’s minority communities felt that racism still runs prevalent in our nation, especially those in urban areas. A recent gallup poll published Dec. 8, 2014 showed that only 26 percent of the Black community in urban areas have confidence in the police. The National Initiative, which will be held in several cities across the country will try to raise confidence in these cities.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in 2014, 37.5 percent of the inmate population was African American and 59.1 percent of the inmate population was White. According to the U.S. Census, only 13.2 percent of the population consider themselves African American.

David Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay, will be the professor leading the project. In the past he has been involved with other projects such as “Operation Cease Fire” which resulted in the reduction of homicides among youth by 60 percent.

Kennedy is also the co-chairman of National Network for Safe Communities, which is dedicated to reducing crime, incarceration, and racial tension linked to original crime policy.

The team of professors and researchers will work with cities across the country to tackle this issue, which has motivated so many to protest.

Some criminal justice experts agree that research on the subject is extremely important; however, they feel that perhaps too much time is being invested into just research.

Professor Donaldson of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of “Zebratown” and “The Ville” dedicated his career as a journalist to covering topics specifically pertaining to neighborhoods in New York City with high crime rates.

Donaldson feels that this kind of national research is important work, but that more action needs to be taken.

Donaldson is currently running a program to teach children in Brownsville, Brooklyn how to become better public speakers. While the initiative aims to mend criminal justice issues, he believes more of the funds should be invested into programs like his.

“The community needs to learn to trust the police, the police are paid to protect us and we should let them,” said Frank Mesi, a retired NYPD Detective.

Mesi has experienced strain between the police and community spanning across his 22 years on the force.

He agrees that the bond between the police and the community needs to be restored and that this initiative is great, he also agrees that it is a two way street and the police needs to learn to trust the community as well. “I would rely on recent data to implement programs to fix the distrust the community has against the police,” said Mesi

Ray Tebout, a consultant at the Vera Institute, a nonprofit center that places emphasis on justice policy and practice, is very excited about this new initiative and has high hopes for its success.

“My hope is that both the justice community and communities of color will be able to put to the side their feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and blame and work toward seeing each other as human beings with a shared responsibility for ensuring a healthy and safe community for all,” said Tebout. “Responsibility is not about blame, but about identifying where you have the power to change a situation for the better or worse.”

Free For All: Educational Equality

By Yannis Trittas

Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

On Jan. 8, while aboard Air Force One, President Barack Obama made a video announcing a plan to invest in the middle class and bolster the country’s economy by ensuring free community college to those that work for it. He later reinforced the proposal during the 2015 State of the Union.

America’s College Promise is a plan to ensure that those who pursue a college education will have the opportunity to attain an Associates Degree, or take their first two years of a bachelors degree, free of charge at one of the nation’s community colleges. The requirements set forth in the proposal are simple: students must maintain at least six credits, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, be part of a work program that will teach them job skills, and have a household annual gross income of below $200,000. The proposal calls for over 60 billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.

The plan borrows its name from a program already being implemented at the state level, created by Tennessee’s Republican Governor, Bill Haslam. The Tennessee Promise has already had success with a 90 percent enrollment rate of high school seniors in Tennessee. An added stipulation of enrollment in the Tennessee Promise is community service, reigniting civic engagement in our youth that will connect students with their communities on a scale rarely seen these days.

State programs like this are important considering that President Obama’s proposal requires one-fourth of funding to be supplied by the states, which will allow for tailored implementation.

The criticisms facing the program are that free education garners less commitment from students, opposition towards the cap of $200,000 AGI to qualify for the program, and that the federal government should not be increasing funding for college education considering FAFSA and other state programs already exist.

Regarding the lack of commitment of students receiving government aid for their education; conclusions are anecdotal, at best. One can not draw conclusions on one variable without realizing that those receiving student aid have a multitude of factors affecting them. Concerning the annual gross income cap, many on the left criticize the cap for being too high and not focusing enough on those with lower incomes. In response to that, it must be argued that those with lower incomes do not stand a chance of mobility into the middle class while it is increasingly shrinking.

An analysis done by Bloomberg Business in August of last year, showed that tuition costs have risen by 1,225 percent since 1978. Coupled with crippling student loans, these higher rates are widening the gap of income inequality at a rate never before seen. Removing the cap altogether would have negligible effects considering that as of 2012, the IRS statistics report that adjusted gross incomes under $200,000 account for 96.5% of tax documents filed.

As for the last main criticism, that it is not the federal government’s responsibility to increase funding for college education, it is disproven by precedent set by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In 1965, after it became clear that our economy demanded a workforce with at least a high school diploma, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. As part of his War On Poverty domestic policies, its main purpose was to bridge the income gap in America by increasing the amount of high school graduates.

Title I of the legislation stated that it was the federal government’s social and economic responsibility to fund education as needed by our growing economy. The act has been reauthorized every five years since its signing and includes a provision to be rewritten to meet current needs. In the 70’s, the act was rewritten to include textbooks, and now it has provisions to purchase tablets and other technology.

Although the ESEA does not cover college education, the precedent it sets is clear; the federal government has responsibility to make sure that citizens have fair access to at least the minimum level of education necessitated by our job market.

The necessity of a college degree in today’s job market is undeniable. Increases in production due to technology mean most employees in any sector are required to have a general familiarity with technology even at entry-level. Looking past the initial success of the Tennessee Promise or the precedent set by the ESEA in declaring that it is the government’s responsibility to fund education would be irresponsible.

America’s Promise is a common sense policy that will strengthen our country. Failure to pass legislation enacted by our current Republican Senate or House would be an obvious retaliation against our President and a gross betrayal of the American people.

Not-So-Free Community College

By Jay Cruger

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

This year, President Obama outlined his plan for “free” community college for students seeking Associate’s Degrees in his State of the Union Address. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the plan will cost $60 billion over 10 years. This figure remains an “estimate.”

Yet again we are faced with an ambitious strategy to legitimately do some good, at least in intention, for education in America. The only difficulty with the President’s plan, as with many strategies of his, is that in wake of its proposal, the flaws are readily apparent and major.

Part of the President’s plan to finance his proposal is to tax the special saving funds, called “529 plans,” which people can use to gather money to pay for their children (or theirselves) to go to college. Under current law, 529 plans allow you to put money in and the money grows tax-free for college.

Distributions are tax-free, provided that they are to pay for college. Under the Obama plan, earnings growth in a 529 plan would no longer be tax-free. Instead, earnings would face taxation upon withdrawal, even if the withdrawal is to pay for college. This was the law prior to 2001.

The proposal was calamitous for education, simply because the cost of education is already very heavy, as understood by John Jay students especially. Tuition costs are constantly on the rise and families of multiple income levels are finding it increasingly difficult to finance their children’s education. These 529 plans, the plans the President plans on taxing, are one pathway available to Americans looking for an effective way to save money for education expenses.

As the College Savings Foundation reports, “close to 10 percent of 529 account holders have incomes below $50,000, and more than 70 percent of the total number of accounts are owned by households with incomes below $150,000.” So while The President wanted us to believe that he is “fairly” taxing those of higher income to pay for quality education, the reality is that his taxes on the last vestige of savings for tertiary education will affect people already struggling to afford college across the board.

As usual with these upward taxation plans, this strategy almost inadvertently punishes the middle class.

Even without the fiscal issues, the President and the Democrats continue to ignore a simple fact about society today: not everyone has to or should go to college. The average age of someone in a trade is in the middle to upper fifties or sixties. What does this mean? It means trade work suffers as a culture is pushed more and more to go to a college or university as a means to get a job.

As unpopular as it is to say into a microphone, not everyone is cut out for a college or university, and any push to offer “free” community college is likely to further push a society into that. Not everyone needs a degree to be successful in life (see: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker). We live in a country where people in trades are making better livings than those in dentistry, for example, but are suffering from a lack of potential employees due to the educational backlog.

The problem with the proposal is that if we just add more school, then our students will graduate from more schools that they are not prepared for.

The plan will lead to lower level schools simply moving students along under the appearance that the next institution or level of education will fix them. This becomes disastrous when the next level has their own material to cover and therefore has no time to go and re-teach (or, in many cases, teach for the first time) lessons that should have been gained in the lower levels.

What we need is to correctly target our children’s ambition for college or university academics to trade schools while also improving lower-level schools to better prepare students for either skills and career training or academic study.

If the president wants a legitimate fixture to education and additions of accountability to the education process, he could maneuver his plans differently. He could lessen the federal intrusion in education across the country and introduce programs and initiatives that reward state-level improvement based on statewide growth.

We can also fix education by incentivizing private education, which would force competition and drive public schools to do better.

In essence, the President’s plan does not solve any key educational problems. What we need to do is redirect many who simply are not interested in college or university academics to trade schools while also improving lower-level schools to better prepare students for either skills and career training or academic study.

What we do not need is a plan that will punish the middle class.

Sociability Lost To Social Norms

By Fifi Yousseff

Staff Writer

Students leaving John Jay during community hour.

By: Jenifer Valmon Students leaving John Jay during community hour.

New Yorkers tend to distance themselves and avoid any interaction with others in public spaces such as the city streets, subways, and now college campuses.

A survey conducted on 26 John Jay students concluded that students are applying the rule of isolation from the streets of New York City to the John Jay campus and social life.

The majority of the participants recorded that it is unlikely for them to approach an unknown student around campus.

Author of “Here is New York”, E.B White writes New Yorkers norm of avoiding eye contact and conversations with others is a form of respecting personal space. However, some students on campus claim the lack of communication is due to John Jay College being a commuter school. “I only have a couple of friends at school. I just go to do my work and go home,” said Elvis Hernandez, 21, a John Jay student majoring in Criminal Justice.

For Renata Dragan, 21, a senior majoring in Forensic Psychology, socializing on campus seems to come natural for her. “For the most part I feel confident because, from my experience everyone I encountered was friendly.” Dragan and her friends from John Jay tend to share similar classes and go out to lunch together.

The importance of communication is essential in today’s professional work field. One student, in a survey response, felt that communication is crucial around campus because “you never know who’s gonna contribute to your future.”

Dragan is just as open and confident to socializing in city streets and subways as around college campus. “I get to meet new people and experience,” said Dragan.

Richard Ocejo and Stephane Tonnelat, authors of “Subway to Diaries: How People Experience and Practice Riding the Train,” explain distance between strangers is a result of security issues.

“I don’t feel like I need to socialize. The people I socialize with are more than enough,” said Hernandez. “You just made me realize that I don’t socialize because people come and go so what’s the point of going through all that trouble.”

According to Michael Argyle and Janet Dean, the normal eye contact between strangers should last approximately 3-10 seconds. “When glances are longer than this, anxiety is aroused,” they said.

Imani Stone, 24, a John Jay student majoring in Literature, disagrees with Argyle and Dean. Stone finds that eye contact “makes me feel like I am making them uncomfortable, but I’ll stare at someone in the eyes for an hour with no problems.”

Freddy Velez, a 21-year-old John Jay student, can relate to Argyle and Dean. “Well I get very uncomfortable making eye contact, I don’t do it for more than 3 seconds actually,” said Velez. “I get very shy and tend to look away a lot.”

By applying these New York social norms to a college campus, students are affected on a professional network scale. Isolation means a limited range of opportunities and connections.

Stone describes herself to be “antisocial” but claims it hasn’t affected her on a professional scale much. “Isolation affected my professional scale but not to much. I am still able to get involved in things as quick as a person that is more sociable,” said Stone.

A way to break out of these norms could include planning time to attend club activities. John Jay College offers a wide variety of clubs and organizations where a student may find something they enjoy.

Students also receive John Jay emails that can allow them to keep up with opportunities and events that occur throughout the semester.

Fearing the Unknown: Life After College

By Angeline Dominguez

Editor

College is a combination of very exciting and exhilarating things but what happens when it comes to an end?

In a survey taken by the John Jay Sentinel, five out of 15 students do not know what they are doing after college.

Olivera Jokic, an English Professor at John Jay states, “It is a huge transition for anyone. For most people it’s quite a shocking thing because you come out of something very structured and very scheduled and very disciplined, into an open field you don’t know.”

Students agree that life after college is overwhelmingly hard to think about as it is something that they have never experienced.

Linda Mitchell, a career development counselor at John Jay, helps students come up with a four year plan during college.

“I think many students are concerned with the fear of the unknown; not knowing if there’s going to be that job that they have their hearts desire,” stated Mitchell. “Not having that sense of certainty, of knowing that the opportunity is going to be there, not knowing if they are ready, that’s probably one of the critical factors students are struggling with.”

According to the survey, students feel like they are not prepared because life after college is something they have never experienced as they have spent most of their time in a structured environment that schools typically provide.

A John Jay student, who preferred to stay anonymous, said, “new things are happening to me, that aren’t really normal.”

Roughly it takes about 16 years to complete a basic amount of schooling in which you achieve a bachelor’s degree.

A student who majors in Police Studies at John Jay, and who prefers to remain anonymous, claims “who knows if I will get a job in my field of study.”

In addition, students are unsure of the career path that their major could provide for them.

“There’s this sort of suspicion that everybody will be disappointed, that nobody will get what they really wanted and that whatever fantasies you had about dignified life with enough money, doing things that are meaningful, that make you happy… that, that’s just not going to happen and it’s probably true, but that’s part of growing up,” stated Professor Jokic.

According to the survey, part of the struggle of not being prepared for life after college comes out of the frustration from not being able to find internships and opportunities that correlate to the major they are studying.

Sanah Afsal, a junior majoring in Forensic Science, finds that the emphasis on certain majors has overshadowed the Science department.

“In a college that is based on Criminal Justice, I feel like the science students are forgotten. The school generally sends out a lot of emails for other majors but for science, there are not ways to get involved,” said Afsal. “Essentially the lack of guidance in this aspect makes me feel unprepared.”

Students’ also feel that the lack of preparation derives from the unfamiliarity of living a life where one only works.

Professor Jokic feels that “things constantly change, that one of those sort of defining features of the modern world is constant change and that part of what happens is that peoples’ identities and peoples’ self perception and fantasies of what they are and what they should be, are kind of ripped from them because the world changes, the economy changes, and professions or the kinds of identities are sort of being given and taken away. One of the things you can learn in college is that you are a part of that process.”

The idea is that college is there to help you prepare for the life to come once those 16 years of schooling ends, depending, on your career path. Students hope that working hard to reach the end of those 16 years will guarantee them a job.

“Life continues and in some ways your tolerating all this pressure in order to live this magical life afterwards that everybody is saying is coming because you’ve completed your degree and its not coming in that way,” said Professor Jokic. “It’s a continuation of the world in which you subject yourself to pressure so that you would get other things that you might want to like, your constantly looking for new things to like, and that’s probably why we’re in college.”

TRANS-itional John Jay

By MG Robinson

Contributing Writer

By: Ryan Durning The gender neutral bathroom located in the teacher's lounge of the new building.

By: Ryan Durning
The gender neutral bathroom located in the teacher’s lounge of the new building.

John Jay has created an LGBTQ Task Force to tackle gender sensitivity issues that plague students in the school’s diverse community. The task force consists of students, faculty, and staff from the John Jay campus who handle issues such as name preferences in the classroom and gender neutral bathrooms.

The LGBTQ community faces many social and political issues that hetero-normative people do not face and take for granted. In addition to social and political issues, transgender students also face administrative issues at their colleges.

Transgender students at John Jay College often require their professors’ rosters to reflect their preferred names in order to avoid that awkward and potentially embarrassing moment when the professor calls the roll on the first day of classes. In addition, transgender students’ e-mails and identification cards that do not reflect the student’s preferred name or preferred gender can also prove to be uncomfortable obstacles for transgender students.

But perhaps the biggest and most controversial issue facing transgender students is the use of the most gendered facilities in our society, namely restrooms and locker rooms. The insecurity and uncertainty of which bathroom or locker room to use is a nerve-wracking and reoccurring experience, since one’s gender may not necessarily match the body in which one was born. It is common for transgender students to forgo using campus bathrooms altogether for fear of re-living an awkward experience.

In order to accommodate transgender students, John Jay College is also transitioning.

A new CUNY policy has made it easier for students to have their preferred names used on rosters and for their official John Jay student e-mail addresses. According to the John Jay 2014-2015 bulletin, although the preferred name is not a students legal name, the college understands the importance of preferred names and they will be admitted for use on all school documents except official documents such as transcripts and diplomas.

According to Adam Stone, Registrar representative, prior to the new CUNY policy, students had to obtain very expensive legal name changes in order to have their preferred names reflected on school documents and e-mail addresses. Some departments, including DoIT, which is responsible for student e-mail addresses, were still unaware of the changes.

Adam Stone said he would be “following up with DoIT” and that “ this was a very new policy and people are getting used to a new procedure.” Stone added, “CUNY did a great job…[and there’s] a great combination of faculty and staff that continue to advocate for an underrepresented population.”

To address the bathroom issue, John Jay recently converted three previously gendered restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms. According to an e-mail from the John Jay LGBTQ Task force, there are now three gender-neutral bathrooms. One is located in North Hall, just beyond the double doors adjacent to staircase “B.” Another gender-neutral bathroom is located on the second floor of the T-Building, just to the right of the elevator lobby. Lastly, the gender-neutral bathroom in Westport is located on the first floor, past the turn styles, and just beyond the door to the right.

Students in need of a gender-neutral bathroom in the New Building “are able to use the single-user, gender-neutral bathrooms in the faculty and staff dining room on the second floor. The Faculty and Staff dining room is located between the cafeteria and the entrance to the J-Walk, on the south side of the building. The bathrooms are located toward the back of the dining room on the right.

The issue of gender-neutral locker rooms proves to be more challenging to fix than gender-neutral bathrooms. According to Carol Kashow, Director of Athletics, students who require gender-neutral locker rooms may use the locker rooms on the 3rd floor of the T-Building for “lock-up” and the gender-neutral bathrooms in the T-Building to change. Kashow stresses that this is only a temporary solution.

However, talks for a permanent solution are ongoing. Kashow expressed her concern for student safety, stating, unlike bathrooms that have private stalls, there is “no privacy in locker rooms.” There is fear that a gender-neutral locker room may attract “curious people who do not belong there…how do we identify who belongs there?”

Kashow also stated that John Jay “wants to accommodate students in the most safe manner and it will take education and thought.” In a display of her commitment to “education and thought,” Kashow has invited Dr. Sue Rankin, an expert in gender-neutral facilities at Penn State University, to campus in April 2015 to continue the discussion of gender-neutral locker rooms.

The LGBTQ task force is committed to working toward making the campus the most comfortable college experience for students in the LGBTQ community and says it m will continue to strive for gender equality on campus.

 

I’mma Let You Finish But… It Was Ours First

By Jenifer Valmon

Editor

Photo Courtesy of Instagram Iggy Azealea

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Iggy Azealea

There has been an increasing interest in the topic of cultural appropriation lately, especially when it comes to Hip Hop/Black culture and style.

Cultural appropriation has been used to describe artists like Miley Cyrus, taking a culture such as Hip Hop and exploiting it for it’s monetary value, without regard to it’s history or significance.

“White America” has been accused of “stealing” black culture, starting before Elvis Presley’s hip-thrusting Rock and Roll and beyond Madonna’s gold fronts phase.

Accusers often claim to be offended by the imitations of Hip Hop/Black culture and regard it as ridicule and or exploitation. One of the most notorious accusers is the always-controversial Hip Hop artist and Harlem native, Azealia Banks, who is more famous for her numerous twitter battles (her most memorable, the feud with Iggy Azalea fueled by the same topic) than for her music.

Banks was interviewed by the Ebro on the Morning Show on New York’s Hot 97, Hip Hop radio station on Dec. 18, 2014.

“It’s like a cultural smudging, it’s what I see, They’re [the media] trying to erase us,” said Banks regarding the white washing of Hip Hop by the mainstream media.

Banks was also discontent about Iggy Azalea being nominated for a Grammy for best Hip Hop album of the year, reasoning that there are plenty of Black female artists who deserved the honors more.

She has also been criticized for her interpretation of Hip Hop style as the bottom heavy, stereotypical, voluptuous woman; aka Nicki Minaj.

“She is trying to bring things we do in our culture everyday […] like the barrettes and even the attire that were conceived as ghetto and make it popular,” said Howard D. Borden, president of John Jay College Radio about Azalea.

Grammy nominations for Azalea did not sit well with other Hip Hop lovers. They accuse Azalea of making a mockery of what is truly Hip Hop with her Popish songs and her unauthentic southern accent.

Not everyone agrees that White, or non-Black artists, adopting Hip Hop culture is the problem. It could be the lack of support coming from the same community claiming to be victimized.

Photo Courtesy of Instagram Nicki Minaj

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Nicki Minaj

“Show me the last Hip Hop album you bought,” said DJ Super Agent Dre, radio personality for Extreme 104 FM.

Dre believes that those complaining about cultural appropriation are often not supporting the artist they believe should be recognized. He argues that Black Hip Hop artists are the most listened to but their record sales do not reflect this fact.

This issue is not exclusive to Hip Hop culture. Dove started the “Love Your Curls Campaign” this month with the launch of their new hair care products aimed at women with curly hair.

The campaign is supposed to help girls with curly hair raise their self-esteem and love their curls but Kinsey Clarke’s piece, “The Problem with Dove’s ‘Love Your Curls” Campaign”, posted on TheHarriet.com on Feb. 16, says Dove is failing.

“It is appropriating so much of the black women’s natural hair movement, without placing black women at the center of the campaign,” stated Clarke. “This wouldn’t be an issue if the commercials didn’t focus primarily on white and mixed-race black girls, who already possess socially accepted curl textures,”

Clarke also accuses Dove of “stealing” the hair care practices that Black women have created to maintain their natural hair, to turn a profit from the natural hair movement.

“In appropriating the hair care practices black women have created for ourselves, we are being told by corporations that our methods are brilliant, but that we are not – and as an extension, our hair is not either […] again we are excluded from the market that steals its ideas from us”, stated Clarke.

It seems like capitalism plays a large part in the appropriation of other cultures by the masses. This can be seen in the translation of fashion trends every season. Perhaps one of the most memorable examples is the Timberland (a highly Hip Hop affiliated shoe company) inspired Manolo Blahnik work boot (valued at $1050 in 2011), worn by JLo in her Jenny From the Block video.

Other methods are the reinterpretations of Navajo and African prints on mass-produced clothing with no reverence to their origin.

John McWhorter, writer of “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation”, believes, “the concept of cultural appropriation has morphed into a parody of the original idea. We are now to get angry simply when whites happily imitate something that minorities do.”

In his article posted on TheDailyBeast.com, on July 15, 2014, McWhorter argues to the fact that the world is a melting pot of appropriations that created the culture we live in now.

“The very faculty of language is, to a large extent, a matter of imitation. The idea that when we imitate something we are seeking to replace it rather than join it is weak. Think about it: Does that even make sense?” stated McWhorter.

Ultimately, cultural appropriation is never going to stop, according to McWhorter. If it will ever stop being appropriation and just be American culture is yet to be seen but Dre is correct about Hip Hop, in that “it’s a multicultural thing.”

Re-designed Website Receives Mixed Reviews

By Matthew Williams

Staff Writer

The front page of the redesigned John Jay website as of Feb. 24.

The front page of the redesigned John Jay website as of Feb. 24.

The newly redesigned John Jay website, launched by the Marketing and Developing Department on Monday, Feb. 2, has received mixed reviews from students on campus.

Dil Zaman, a Criminal Justice major at John Jay, says, “ It’s different, yet not difficult to explore.” Zaman also stated, “I only use it for blackboard and the calendar,” which can be found at the top of the webpage along with links to the library, email, and directory.

The website, which took 18 months to complete, sports a new color schemed page equipped with a bigger and brighter font, as well as new organization of links that includes exploring undergraduate majors, visiting directions, and an “I Am John Jay” video of students who were interviewed on what they like about the college.

There is also a section dedicated to social media feeds such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. This section displays John Jay related account’s tweets, videos from the John Jay Youtube account, and posts from the John Jay Facebook page. Some students find value in this new feature. “It’s a better way to link the students to each other,” said Corine Corbett, a senior at John Jay.

While explaining the reasoning behind the website’s new design, Rama Sudhakar, chief communications officer at the Office of Marketing and Development, said, “We needed a responsive design for our college website so it can be viewed effectively on mobile and tablet devices.”

Even though Sudhakar and her team had good intentions, there are still some problems with students navigating the new mobile design. Courtney Wail, a freshmen says, “I find the mobile version even more confusing than the desktop version. You have to think a step ahead to know where things will be.”

On the other hand, the brighter background has scored positive feedback. “It’s brighter and keeps me more awake,” said Corbett.

Another feature that is receiving positive reviews is the new email tab at the top of the page. Rochelle Walker, a sophomore says, “I like it. It makes it easier to find the email on the website now.”

In the first week of the website’s release, it experienced some problems, as was predicted by the marketing team. The site had broken links and video playback errors among other bugs that had to be worked out. As of today, these problems have been corrected, and the web page is up and running normally.

If any students are having problems with the new website, contact the Marketing Department via [email protected]

“We encourage feedback from students regarding the new website,” Sudhakar said.