The Irony of the Black Vote

By: Nia Waller 

Online Section Writer 

Twitter exploded on Jan. 3, 2018 when Democrat Doug Jones beat Roy Moore for the Alabama Senate seat. In a state like Alabama that is traditionally red, Roy Moore should have seen an easy victory, but Moore’s race was littered with controversy. After announcing his Senate campaign, Moore was followed by several sexual allegations from various young women. Although many of our elected officials, even some in the highest offices, have still won elections with sexual assault allegations following them, Roy Moore’s case was special. Not only was he accused of dating young girls, Moore had been dismissed from two courts for what other judges interpreted as overstepping his bounds on religion stances. After being appointed as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore installed a 5,200 pound marble statue of the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building. After refusing to take it down, Moore would be unanimously voted off of the court after only two years of service. In 2012, Moore would be elected again to the bench, and ousted again quickly after. In 2016, he was accused of urging Alabama state court judges to defy the Supreme Court decision declaring the right for gay marriage.

Despite a career filled with controversies and failures, Moore found himself backed by the President of the United States, Donald Trump. So, how was Moore defeated? The answer is simple: black people, specifically black women. While immediate exit polls showed that Moore still won 68 percent of the white vote, black people came out overwhelmingly to cast their vote for Doug Jones. Black voters lifted Alabama out of a two decade-long Republican rule. Although black people are only 13 percent of the population in the United States, black people represent 25 percent of Alabama’s population. The Democratic Convention focused on getting the message out about Jones’s time as a crusader against white supremacy, he prosecuted the white men that committed the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Black voters were especially energized about keeping Roy Moore, a candidate who proudly referred to the period before the Civil War as “great,” even though we “had slavery,” out of Alabama office.

So, what exactly is the irony in all of this? Most of the Twitter reactions on the Jan. 3 were users “thanking” black women for getting Doug Jones elected. Although the Democratic public and the Democratic Convention does have black women to thank for a shiny new Senate seat, what exactly have politicians done for black people in Alabama, or other Senators elected largely by black vote done for black people lately?

The Democrats have historically relied greatly on the black vote to put and keep them in office. Democrats are practically promised the black vote, without ever doing anything in return. Although the NYPD has stayed in the news for the past decade for beating and even killing its black citizens, New York always clenched a Democratic Senate seat with the help of the black vote. Poverty in Michigan is exponentially linked to the horrible job market for black people and an education system that doesn’t help black kids, but Michigan has remained a blue state since 1992. This phenomenon isn’t just restricted to Senators. While the black population of Atlanta celebrated the election of Keisha Lance Bottoms, one of its many black Democratic mayors, one of her first new polices greatly increased police presence and gentrification in a city that had long asked for the opposite. We get them elected, and they do the bare minimum, or sometimes nothing at all for us.

The last Presidential election helped showcase just how powerful losing the black vote can be. With the divisive words of Donald Trump, the Democratic Party was absolutely certain that they could clinch a win with the help of the black vote in pivotal states like Michigan. When the results came in, narratives poured in about why black voters didn’t turnout for Hillary Clinton as willingly as they did for Barack Obama. The answer was simple: she didn’t align herself with them. Black voters weren’t willing to forgive statements about black men being “super predators,” or her general lack of any true ability to relate to black women or men. Black people are no longer supporting those who don’t truly support them. No, they won’t vote for Republicans, they just won’t vote.

If Doug Jones wants to keep his Senate seat, he has to keep the black vote. Keeping the black vote means supporting the struggling Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Alabama, fixing the classically broken Alabama justice system and fighting voter suppression that barred many black voters from polls. If Jones and other Democrats want to ‘thank’ black women, they need to do it in statutes, not statuses.




Social Media and the Kenneka Jenkins Case

By: Nia Waller

Online Section Writer

On Sept. 19, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel, an innocent gathering of friends turned to tragedy.

Kenneka Jenkins arrived at the Crowne Plaza around 1 a.m., what happened after that point has been disputed. Around 4 a.m., Jenkin’s friends called the police to report her missing. After an intensive search, she was found in an empty hotel freezer.

From these facts alone, the case is admittedly sketchy. Before any other news could be released, hundreds fled to social media to share their perspectives on the case. Social media sleuths hooked on to the idea that Kenneka was “sold” for $200 to be raped, murdered and then eventually put inside the freezer.
These are just a few of the tweets people immediately took for fact on the case. Many went as far as sending death threats to the “friends” at the party.

I am still baffled about what exactly brought these self proclaimed FBI agents to this conclusion. In the video that went viral after the incident, Jenkins’ friend is seen at the party looking into her camera and listening to music. The Twitter detectives propose that you can hear Jenkins calling out for help, and the amount of $200 being mentioned in the video. I, for one, hear nothing of the sort.


Still, it is wild to me that a six minute video where the victim is never actually seen led so many to a conclusion that Jenkins was set up for rape and murder for only $200.

Unfortunately, the truth of Jenkins’ death is much less dramatic, but just as tragic. As Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat users alike spammed the internet with assumptions and confusing conclusions, Chicago Police discovered real answers. They found video footage of Jenkins limping through the Crowne Plaza late that night, obviously intoxicated.

I wanted to post the video here, but it is impossible to find any footage that hasn’t been altered in some way by Youtubers.

Toxicology reports found that Jenkins had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.112, well over the legal limit of 0.08. Although Jenkins’ mother did point to the hotel for foul play in her daughter’s death, she admitted “one cup was too much” for her daughter. This amount of alcohol, as well as a therapeutic amount of epilepsy medicine in her veins quickened the process of hypothermia in that freezer.

What sounds more plausible, a teenager who drank too much and stumbled into her early death, or a Lifetime Television movie plot in which teenagers team up to kill one of their own friends for a mere $200?

When finally questioned about the $200, the kids at the party said that it was the amount of a parking ticket that Jenkins would get if she didn’t move her car.

As for the rape, Jenkins had no physical signs of such. No vaginal tearing, no semen. Her only injury was a small bruise on her foot.

After these facts have come to surface about the case, the social media users that were a part of the tide that pushed the rhetoric have been oddly quiet. None of the self proclaimed detectives have said anything about the updates about the case, or bothered to apologize for the internet frenzy they caused. I propose that this is much more than a case of mistaken information. Countless police resources were wasted on unbacked leads, the teens that were relentlessly hounded on social media weren’t allowed to grieve for their own friend and a mother is left still confused about the death of her child.

We, as social media users, have a responsibility to share things that are well thought out, and well backed. The epidemic of “Twitter fingers” is more dangerous than we ever could think. Although it is natural for anyone, especially African Americans, to have a distrust for the justice system, we must use the power that we have been given to be watchdogs with credibility. Let’s point our concerns in the right direction, like the importance of being a responsible drinker, and do good instead of adding unnecessary trouble to an already tragic experience.

A Year in the Making: Why Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” is Still Essential

By: Alexandra Travis 

Web Director 

You know an album is timeless if a year has gone by and it still seems like a new release every time you hit play. That is how Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” is for me. Sept. 30 marks the one-year anniversary of its release, and I still play this album nearly every day. I listen to it walking to class and getting ready in the morning; I’m even listening to it right now. Not every album can stand the test of time the way Solange’s has, and I believe the message behind the album is what makes it so special

The message that Solange sends with “A Seat at the Table” is not something that fades with time, especially in the political climate that we live in today. Black women have been known to tell stories and relay history through song because our ideas were not accepted in academia, and Solange is no exception. She croons about the challenges faced by black women every day, whether it is unsolicited petting and people touching your hair, or feeling like you don’t have the right to be angry. By mentioning these issues, Solange has validated the thoughts and feelings of black women across the world, and her music has created a space for self-definition, self-care and community.

One of the most empowering messages that Solange sends is the importance of self-care. She stresses how essential it is to allow yourself to acknowledge your emotions, and through that acknowledgement, come to terms with them and let them go. A prime example is her song “Mad.” She sings, “You got the right to be mad, but when you carry it alone you find it only getting in the way. They say you gotta let it go.” As a black woman, I sometimes feel hesitant to express anger because of the fear of being labeled “the angry black woman.” Solange acknowledges this resistance for black women to express anger, but she points out that holding it in will only make things harder. She does not encourage keeping these emotions in just to appease those around you, instead she tells black women that putting our well-being first is okay. It is empowering to listen to this music and feel like you are understood and for such a strong, black woman to tell you it’s okay to be vulnerable, despite how society may label you.

I can’t thank Solange enough for releasing this album nearly a year ago. It was exactly what I was searching for in terms of validation and understanding. Attending a primarily white institution can make you hyperconscious of the differences between you and your peers. Solange creates a safe space that black women can enter as simply as putting in their headphones. Though those surrounding you may not understand you, Solange does. Listening to her music and message puts me immediately at ease, and to me that is why her album is so classic. “A Seat at the Table” is timeless in the way that the black community can listen day after day and feel safe, at home and validated no matter their surroundings, and that never gets old.

You can thank Twitter for the diversity at the Oscars

By: Alexandra Travis

Social media always covers awards season extensively. People wait on the edge of their seats to see if their favorite actor or singer has been nominated for their latest project. They then take to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to express their support or disdain over who received nominations. This time last year, social media was in an uproar over the release of Oscar nominations. It was immediately apparent that there was a serious lack of nominations for actors of color. Even movies with mostly black casts like “Straight Outta Compton” only received a nomination for its white screenwriters, and people were fed up.

April Reign created #OscarsSoWhite in 2015, another year where there were no nominations for people of color. It was revived last year over the outrage that there could be no worthy nominees of color for two years in a row. Black Twitter spread and popularized the hashtag; it was impossible to scroll through your timeline and not see someone tweeting about the Oscars. The many tweets bearing the hashtag generated a lot of support, and was a great way to get conversation started about the issue. Black Twitter was once again a great platform for people whose opinions would not normally be heard. No Twitter user assumes that their tweet will be noticed by the Academy, but there is certainly strength in numbers.

The popularity of #OscarsSoWhite put pressure on the Academy to make an immediate change. With celebrities boycotting the award show over the lack of inclusion, it was obvious that the time for change had come. The board of governors of the academy fast tracked their plan to eliminate the votes of many older members of the Academy, which are overwhelmingly white and male. Without Black Twitter flooding timelines with #OscarsSoWhite and their outrage over the nominations, the initiative to diversify members of the Academy would have taken years. Black Twitter had to let the Academy know that the lack of inclusion was recognized and it would not be stood for.

This year’s Oscar nominations do not at all reflect the trends of last year, but instead make it apparent that #OscarsSoWhite was acknowledged and taken seriously. This year there are black nominees in all four acting categories. In addition to tying a record set in 2007 with seven minority actors being recognized, a new record of six black actors receiving nominations was set. These actors include Denzel Washington, Ruth Nega, Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer.

The difference between nominations for last year’s Oscars compared to this year’s nominees is so stark, it is undeniable that social media played a role in the change. Many people would not have even been aware that there was a lack of black actors and actresses recognized if it were not for the several tweets and posts on their timelines sporting #OscarsSoWhite. Seeing what a difference a hashtag can make, it is no wonder that they have recently been applied to other award shows. #GrammysSoWhite has also become popular since it has been noticed that over the past several years, the Album of the Year award has been given to white performers over equally qualified black performers. We can only hope that this hashtag will be as successful in holding people responsible and making a change. Nonetheless, it is certain that if you enjoyed the more diverse nominations and winners of the Oscar’s 2017, you can thank twitter for that.


The Issue of Building the Wall

By Monica Vega

“Build a wall!” has recently become a popular answer to the question, “What should we do about our immigration problem?”

Popularized by the now infamous presidential hopeful Donald Trump, this idea has gained momentum among many Americans. To Trump supporters, it seems like the most logical and efficient way to keep immigrants out of the United States. Trump claims that a nation without borders is not a nation and thus a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico is a necessity. Furthermore, he intends to make Mexico pick up the tab for the building of this wall. His argument for this relies on his belief that Mexico is taking advantage of the U.S. by using illegal immigration as a method for the exportation of crime and poverty out of the country.

Clearly, the border between Mexico and the U.S. is brimming with conflict and no American has been spared this bombardment of news. For this reason, it may come as a surprise to hear that around the world there are many borders with no issues. If we forget about our conflict-ridden southern border, we remember that we also share a border with our neighbor to the north.

However, just like there are borders that contrast with our southern border, others experience similar issues.

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Similar to the aforementioned borders, our border with Mexico is highly militarized. The U.S. Border Patrol boasted 21,000 agents in 2012, a number which has surely risen since.

The coffins propped up on the Mexican side of the border represent the thousands who have died on their journey to the United States. The U.S. Border Patrol Reports an approximated 6,000 deaths between 1998 and 2013. However, many deaths have gone unreported, so the actual number is thought to be higher.


Why are these two groups of borders so starkly different? One group has almost non-existent borders while the other has borders reminiscent of war images. Of course, these differences have to do with issues between the countries. Many times, as is the case for the United States and Mexico, these issues are economic or security related. Americans worry about illegal immigrants who seek jobs in the United States as well as about the illegal transportation of drugs into the country.

But would building a wall really be the answer?

First, it must be noted that about 40% of illegal immigrants in the United States enter the country legally with visas and then simply overstay the visas. A 1,900-mile wall would be useless in helping to end this problem. Inclusively, it may even lead to an increase in the number of over-stays in the US. A wall may make entering the United States more difficult but it certainly would not make it an impossible feat.

Second, it would be physically impossible to build a wall that spans the 1,900 miles that is the Mexico-US border during the short span of time that Trump would be president. Only once has an architectural endeavor like this succeeded, and that was the building of the Great Wall of China – a feat that took a huge labor force and centuries to complete.

And third, Trump plans to make Mexico foot the bill for the construction of his wall. His plan is to stop the flow of money from immigrants in the U.S. to their families in Mexico. These payments, called remittances, account for a large portion of the Mexican economy. Trump would block these payments until they agree to pay for the wall. But of course, Mexico can always say no.

In our current world, where globalization has generated both financial and social interconnectedness between nations, it seems an archaic idea to begin the building of a wall. On top of that, though it may sound appealing to some, it is unrealistic and nearly impossible to carry out.

Our world should be changing for the better. Instead of spending time thinking about ways to prop up walls, we should focus on ways to solve the issues that lead to conflict between countries. Building a wall is too simplistic an answer. If there is an issue with the border, the U.S. needs to face it head on, not build a wall around it.


Cruz, Rubio Not Latino Enough?

By Monica Vega

When Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz first announced their presidential aspirations, many predicted that their campaigns would result in a higher number of the Latino vote going to the GOP. Both candidates seemed to reflect the image of the American Latino. Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and fluent in Spanish, and Ted Cruz’s father was born in Cuba.

But these predictions have fallen far short of reality. Latinos are not voting for either Cruz or Rubio. This boggling situation leads to the question: Why are Latinos not celebrating the prospect of a Latino president?

Historically, Latinos in the United States have not voted Republican. In fact just four years ago, the GOP’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney amassed only 27% of the Latino vote. The GOP’s loss that election cycle led conservatives to rethink their strategy for gaining votes. Four years later, cue Cruz and Rubio.

But the presumption that Latinos would vote for a candidate based on their Latino background has been proven incorrect. In fact, Cruz and Rubio have even come under fire by some Latinos who accuse them of betraying their Latino culture. The Democratic-backed group Latino Victory Project makes no distinction between Cruz’s, Rubio’s and Donald Trump’s policies, which they consider anti-Latino. Furthermore, they urge other Latinos not to vote for them.

Dolores Huerta, a prominent civil rights activist, referred to Cruz and Rubio as sellouts and traitors. She thinks that they have turned their backs on the Latino community despite being Latinos themselves.

Still others claim that Cruz and Rubio do not represent the ideals or reflect the interests of U.S. Latinos.

This last claim rings true. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that the four main issues concerning the Latino electorate are education, the economy, healthcare, and immigration. Cruz and Rubio’s strong stance against illegal immigration and Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) have undoubtedly alienated many Latino voters from the GOP.

In addition, the fact that Mexicans, not Cubans, make up two-thirds of the Latinos in the U.S. has also contributed to the low level of support for both of these candidates, who both come from Cuban families. While the media and government tend to consider all Latino people as part of one group, Latinos often identify with their country of origin before identifying as Latino or Hispanic.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Latino electorate’s enthusiasm for a Latino president is so low. Cruz and Rubio simply do not speak to the concerns of American Latinos.

But are Cruz and Rubio really “traitors to their culture?”

Ted Cruz was born Rafael Edward Cruz in 1970 to a Cuban father, but that is the extent of his Cuban heritage. He was born in Canada and raised in Texas. His parents never spoke Spanish at home so he never developed fluency in his father’s native tongue.

Cruz has spoken out against the claim that he does not embrace his heritage. Instead, he prefers to think that his heritage doesn’t define him. He was quoted in the Associated Press as saying that he has never run for office as “the Hispanic guy” but rather as “the strongest conservative.”

Marco Rubio takes a similar position. When asked in an interview with Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos about his decision not to run as a Hispanic candidate, Rubio responded in Spanish that “a president has to work for everyone.”

The controversy over Cruz and Rubio’s cultural identity is reminiscent of that which surrounded Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race. Obama’s authenticity as a black man came into question and some even dared to ask if he was “black enough”.

But these questions are irrelevant. Cultural identity is not something to be assigned but rather something that individuals decide for themselves. Whether Cruz and Rubio choose to identify as Latinos or not, it is their choice, and it is one others shouldn’t criticize. They may not have swept the Latino vote as forecast, but they shouldn’t have to project themselves as more Latino – as Latino enough – just to win votes.


A Politically Polarized America

By Katy Sunderland

When real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump announced he was running for president, many people thought it was a joke. However, as he gained more and more followers, those same people started sweating bullets. From making jokes about women on their periods to suggesting a wall between the US and Mexico to sharing a quote made famous by Mussolini, Donald Trump has managed to offend almost every demographic outside of white supremacists (which explains the KKK support he has received).

The dislike of Donald Trump does not end with the general public, the Republican party as a whole is in a panic trying to stop the “Make America Great Again” candidate. Ultra-conservative House Speaker Paul Ryan even condemned Trump, and many Republican politicians have said that Trump as President would be bad for the party.

Despite all of this, Trump has managed to be the Republican front-runner in the presidential race.

On the other end of the political spectrum is Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders has massive support among the working class and young people tired of money-grabbing politicians, and he has held his own against opponent Hillary Clinton despite all expectations. His strong social media following is a great example of his grassroots support, and his success in the New Hampshire primaries proved him a serious contender. But while he is not as wildly offensive as Trump, Sanders still represents a political extreme. A self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders represents the far left just as Trump represents the far right. Both politicians were not taken seriously at the beginning of the presidential race, but are now enjoying huge followings.

In 2013, an argument over ObamaCare shutdown the U.S. government. It was not the first time such a thing had happened, and probably won’t be the last, but it certainly drew attention to the conflict between an equally stubborn Democratic President and Republican House of Representatives. Imagine the same situation but with a Republican President that most Republicans in the House do not support. Imagine the situation again with a self-declared socialist President and a conservative-leaning Congress. Personal feelings about either candidate aside, would anything ever be accomplished? Even now, Congress claims they will shut down whomever Obama nominates as Supreme Court Justice, and Obama is by no means a radical. How many times would the government shutdown over the far-leftist policies of Sanders or the radically conservative policies of Trump?

The amount of support both Trump and Sanders boast is disconcerting for the future of America. True, many support these candidates because they represent an alternative to professional politicians with their fake smiles, perfect hair, and perfectly moderate views, but they also represent two polar opposites of the political spectrum. That means significantly large voting groups of people in America hold polar opposite views. Progress is most often made through compromise, but if too many people choose to support extreme left or extreme right leaders then compromise will be near impossible and so will progress. Sometimes reaching across the table is the only way to move forward, and that goes equally for the right and the left.

Women and Sony

By Kerri McNair

Kesha Rose Sebert was 18 when she signed a contract with Sony and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. Like many artists, she did this in order to partner up and get her music to reach a wider audience. After about a year with the contract, Kesha felt that she wasn’t being managed as well as she could be and signed another contract with DAS Communications. This led to legal problems that surfaced in 2010. During the lawsuit between Kesha, DAS, and Gottwald, DAS claimed that Gottwald had engaged in immoral behavior to convince his client to get out of her contract with them. Kesha made claims in unsealed portions of a deposition from this lawsuit that Gottwald had not assaulted her, but later reneged on this saying that she had been threatened so that she would not tell the truth.

Six years later, Kesha’s battle with Sony and her producer Gottwald has been popping up in headlines for about a year without resolution. The Sony Corporation (under which Kesha and Gottwald formed their contract) has anything but a pristine record when it comes to women they’ve signed. Is it a coincidence that Kesha, a women, is having trouble escaping her contract and her alleged rapist?

November 24, 2014 saw a massive hack and release of some of Sony’s data, including emails and salary information for various actors. Producer Scott Rudin had sent emails calling Angelina Jolie “a minimally talented spoiled brat” Not only that, but it was discovered that, despite the Equal Pay Act which supposedly guarantees all genders equal pay for equal work, Sony was paying its actresses significantly less than its actors.

“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony…I got mad at myself…I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,” said Jennifer Lawrence. Whether Lawrence is mad at Sony or not, the treatment is obviously and egregiously unfair. A corporation that treats its female workers as Sony has forfeits most of its rights to “benefit of the doubt.”

Many reference Zayn Malik when talking about Kesha’s unfair treatment, who was released from his contract with One Direction around this time last year. Since neither Malik’s nor Kesha’s contracts with Sony have been released to the public, one can’t determine whether Sony’s drastically different treatment of the two is due to solely gender. However, given Sony’s past dealings with women who work for the company, the existence double-standard is not that hard to imagine.

I interviewed Dr. Marisa Pagnattaro who is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs at the University of Georgia. She commented on the recent injunction loss that Kesha experienced. An injunction, she explained, is asking the court to immediately order something to happen, or to stop something. She wanted the courts to force Sony’s hand, and the courts said no. “It’s like emergency relief,” Pagnattaro said.

When asked how she thought the recently unsealed portions of Kesha’s deposition might affect the current case, Pagnattaro said that it really depends on how the jurors view the artist’s credibility. She also said that it is understandable that a victim of assault might be coerced into lying by his or her abuser. The ordeal Kesha is going through must be onerous if her allegations are correct.

“The courts have a lot of discretion,” she said, “And it seems as though, if the things she’s saying are true, that she would ultimately be released from the contract.”

A Note from Your Neighborhood Ginger

By Samantha Ward

We go by many names: Red, Ginger, Carrot Top, Rusty, Cherry, Fire Cr. . . I think you get the idea. Once a year, when the shamrocks are unfurling and the green ale is flowing, redheads are celebrated along with St. Patrick (because apparently we are all Irish).

Considering only 1 to 2 percent of the world was blessed with fiery hair, it’s safe to say not many understand what it’s like to have red hair. Allow me to be your token ginger friend and to enlighten you on the ups and downs of the red head life.  

Genetically, there is so much more to redheads than any other hair type. Take a look at my MC1R protein, and you would notice it looks quite different from yours. It affects far more than my hair, and the most obvious victim of this difference is my skin.

Now that warm weather is here, many people are working on their tans. I’m just trying not to burn. Half an hour in the cloudless, summer daylight and my shoulders go pink. Double the time and they are bright red. I’ll be slapping aloe on them for at least a week.

However, I’ve now grown fond of my pale complexion. The unnerving alternative is guaranteed melanoma. My dermatologist already gives me a hard enough time about the countless freckles that all pose a similar threat.

The effects of my mutation don’t stop there. I am more sensitive to certain types of pain, like thermal pain, making sunburns that much worse. I also need more anesthetics for surgery. Don’t even get me started on how sick I felt after being put under for the first time.

Though I make it seem like being a redhead is the worst, there are plenty of benefits as well.

Back to sunlight (redheads are always thinking about the sun): It turns out that our hypersensitivity to UV light also makes our bodies the most efficient at generating vitamin D. That ability in turn helps keep our bones and immune systems strong when paired with the proper amount of calcium.

Longer sun exposure also turns my copper hair into a vibrant red. It can be so dazzling in the light that it draws the attention and compliments of total strangers. Even when I’m slathered in layers sunblock, I can’t help but thank the sun for helping me look my best.

On a more personal level, my red hair helps me on the journey of self-love. Body positivity is an issue for so many people, myself included, but finding at least one physical thing to love about yourself really helps you realize just how beautiful you are, along with every other human being.  

By keeping my ruby crown, I proudly carry on my heritage, which in my case does happen to be Irish, and I’ve come to appreciate even more so the differences that make us all exquisitely unique.

So as you’re celebrating the Emerald Isle’s saint, make sure to show some love to your neighborhood ginger (even if they are not Irish)!

Kim Davis: American Hero?

By Monica Vega

After the groundbreaking announcement in June 2015 that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry it seemed that marriage equality was a guaranteed right in the United States. At least that is what David Moore and his fiancée thought until they walked into the Rowan County clerk’s office in Kentucky seeking a marriage license and were denied the right to one. The decision for the denial came from clerk Kim Davis, a devout Apostolic Christian. Davis’s decision spawned a nationwide discussion about religious liberty and how far the government should go to accommodate religious belief.

Davis calls on her faith as the motivator for defying the Supreme Court ruling and denying gay couples their constitutional right to a marriage license. “It is not a light issue for me. It is a heaven or hell decision,” she stated, emphasizing the consequences of veering from her beliefs.

Furthermore, Davis claimed she did not want her name associated with any same-sex marriage license so she prohibited her six deputy clerks from providing the licenses. Due to her actions, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning declared Davis in contempt of court on September 3, 2015. She was released from jail on September 8 under the condition that she not prevent her deputy clerks from issuing any more marriage licenses. However, she did not agree to issue the licenses herself and has no plans to do so.

The Kentucky governor has no legal right to remove Davis from her position as clerk and she has no intention of resigning. Her attorney said, “She will remain the clerk of Rowan County as long as the people want her.”

Davis’s actions have created a division within the American people. While some agree with her refusal to issue the licenses due to her deeply held faith and have called her heroic, others believe her actions were a blatant obstruction of rights.

So, is Kim Davis right?

The Family Research Council thinks so.

They honored Davis with the “Cost of Discipleship Award” on September 25th at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, spoke about Davis before presenting her with the award and compared her to the likes of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Whether it was Abraham Lincoln asserting the Constitutionally unsettled nature of the Dred Scott decision; Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of a public bus or Martin Luther King risking the call of police dogs to end legal segregation, our nation has been ennobled and enriched by historic citizens who declare their unwillingness to accept rulings and statutes that conflict with the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Perkins went on to say that Davis “pursued justice at a great personal cost.”

A crowd cheered for Davis as she accepted her award. While at the podium, Davis, in tears said, “I feel so very undeserving. I want to start by thanking my lord and my savior Jesus Christ. Because without him, this would never have been possible. For he is my strength that carries me.”

Like the Family Research Council, others have reached out to support Davis and her protest of same-sex marriage. Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee met with Davis in Kentucky after her release from jail. Huckabee stood beside Davis outside of the detention center in which she was held and even went as far as to say he wished he could go to jail for her. Just like Huckabee and Cruz, other Davis supporters across the United States are rallying behind her and the belief that the right to religious liberty is being infringed upon by the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.

At the other side of the spectrum are those who adamantly believe that what Davis did was wrong. Laura Landenwich, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.” Federal District Court Judge David L. Bunning agreed. He said, ““We expect at the end of the day for the court’s orders to be complied with.” William Sharp, also with the ACLU, went on to say that he believes the case is “simple” because “religious liberty…does not allow public officials to deny government services to the public based on their personal beliefs.”

The bottom line is this: Yes, Kim Davis has the right to believe gay marriage is a sin and the right to practice whatever faith she desires because this is the United States of America and religious freedom is secured under the First Amendment, but this does not mean that Kim Davis is right.
This is an issue of religious liberty and the accommodations that are provided to people because of it but we must not forget what her job is. She is an elected county clerk who swore to uphold the law. When someone enters a job as secular as hers, they must assume the consequences.

She is not being forced to endorse gay marriage. She is simply being told to do her job. If she believes that by giving out the licenses she is indirectly endorsing gay marriage, she should resign from her position.

Furthermore, her actions were repressive. The comparison between Davis and civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are completely illogical. Parks and King worked towards the expansion of rights of an oppressed people while Davis’s actions reflect a retraction of rights. Her denial of marriage licenses is more similar to the actions of the people who refused to allow African Americans entrance into businesses despite the passage of the desegregation law during the Civil Rights Movement. Her actions reflect an attempt upon the infringement of rights upheld by law. She cannot claim that the law is infringing on her rights to religious liberty because she is allowed to practice any faith she desires. The fact that the law will not allow her to discriminate and violate the rights of other human beings does not in any way constitute an infringement upon her own rights.