Most Lehman Students Back #TakeaKnee, but Some Call Disrespect

By Jorel Lonesome

Members of the Washington Redskins kneel during national anthem before football game. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On Sept. 1, 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, instead choosing to kneel. Following this, NFL protests gradually began to spread among different football teams and other leagues such as the NBA and MLB, and starting a national controversy. Most Lehman students and staff who spoke to the Meridian voiced support for the protests as part of a necessary conversation about racism in America.

“We need a larger voice,” said Samantha Anglero, 26, theatre major at Lehman. She added, “It’s centered around people of color tired of oppression. It’s a safe way of protesting where athletes are doing the right thing when America fails to do something about its flaws.”

Other Lehman students and staff concurred. “The protest now has nothing to do with Colin. This derived from the police brutality against people of color,” said Christopher Milton, director of pathways to student STEM success at Lehman. 

“Racial injustice, most definitely,” agreed David Williams, 27, a junior and recreational therapy student at Lehman.

The Oakland Raiders take a knee. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kevin Rivera, a graphic designer and part time computer graphics and imaging major at Lehman, views it as a shift in historical perspective, “For one, it’s [about] inequality,” he said. “The pledge was written and took place during a time when it doesn’t apply to us now, especially people of color. More people are starting to see it as a serious issue. It went from pro athletes to people kneeling at work or at school. That is why it’s a mass attack by the whole NFL league.”

Indeed, since the protests took off, the NFL is now considered the least popular sports league in America. According to a zerohedge.com article dated Oct. 8, from the end of August to the end of September, the NFL’s popularity ratings dropped from 57 to 44 percent, and it has the highest unfavorable rating---40 percent---of any big sport, according to the Winston Group survey. The same research found that the attitude of those fans went from 73 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, a remarkably sudden turn against the sport.

But while the majority shifted to disapproval, some feel that outright protest is going too far. In particular, a number of army veterans feel disrespected by recent protests.

“I understand that players like Colin Kaepernick is  standing up for racial injustice and violence against blacks by the police. I get that, but this is the American flag. They need to understand, you’re disrespecting those that served in the armed forces,” said Jerry Giles, 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran.  He added, “We’ve put our lives on the line to protect this country and kneeling sort of feels like a slap in the face.”

“You have young men and young women dying overseas for America,” said Annette Wyss, 21, a marine recruiter. “I don’t think kneeling during the anthem is appropriate.”

However, U.S. Navy veteran Kevin O’Carrol from Queens, New York disagreed and felt it’s okay for people to express their freedom of speech. “As a navy vet, I fought for their rights to protest against racial discrimination and our frustrations of inequality in the U.S.,” he said. “America isn’t perfect like any other country. It needs to be critiqued. There’s more things besides racism that is dividing us, but these are one of those that has lasted for so long and doesn’t seem to die out anytime soon.”

Milton echoed O’Carroll’s stance. “No man or woman has to stand for the flag if they don’t want to, because it’s a free country. I think it’s a travesty. The First Amendment allows us to express freedom of speech here in America, but when people of color do it, and it doesn’t agree with the mainstream, we’re shunned upon for it.”

Anglero agreed. “I think pro athletes should represent their rights for the U.S. constitution to express themselves when they feel they need to,” she said. “It’s not dishonorable at all to kneel or raise your fist when the national anthem plays, if you feel your country does not seem to treat you equally for the color of your skin.”

“This is their right to peaceful protest,” Rivera said. “I think there’s a form of injustice that should be voiced. Colin Kaepernick has been protesting for a while and he’s not on a team now. The NFL says they’ll support the players, but they still aren’t having him play in the games. That just shows us how much they care about colored people.”

For Mouro Sow, 26, entrepreneur and Lehman graduate said, “The protests are necessary and is a conversation that needs to be discussed.” Yes, he said, players are protesting “due to racial divide. But it’s not to disrespect America and the soldiers that have fought for this country. I think you’re even more patriotic by standing up for injustice and police brutality no matter what your skin color or background is.”

 

Lehman Students Favor Costumes That Go Against Predicted Trends

By Leah Liceaga

Comic book superheroes and villians remain popular Halloween costumes. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

This Halloween, some Lehman students have different---and grimmer---costumes in mind than those trending nationally.  

Biology major Francisco Aquino Ramirez, for instance, said that while his favorite costume from past Halloweens is Batman, this year he plans to dress as a Catrin, a male version of the traditional Catrina, a figure associated with Día de los Muertos.

Senior, and English major Mariah Dwyer also wants a scarily powerful costume. “I’m either going to be Poison Ivy or the Red Queen this year,” said Dwyer, who plans to attend Oktoberfest this year and go trick-or-treating. In the past, Dwyer has dressed as a witch, a police officer, and a teacher. 

These choices diverge from mainstream tastes, which can be on the lighter side. “Princesses and superheroes are always popular,” said Wayne Baker, owner of Frank Bee Costume Center and Frankie’s Carnival Time, located on 3435 E. Tremont Ave. Baker added that movies create particular interests in costumes. “Captain America, Iron Man. ‘Game of Thrones’...surprisingly a lot of people want to be IT [the clown]. It’s a mix of what’s new in the movies and what’s classic.” Baker also noted that sexy costumes have become popular in the last decade; listing the sexy cop, sexy nurse, and sexy Batgirl.

Traditional Catrina costumes, associated with Día de los Muertos. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Jasmine Monserret, an employee at the Party City on White Plains Road, concurred. “Adults costumes, for females it would be something sexy, short skirt, and something to show off their body,” Monserret said. “For males, it would be Michael Myers, Jason, or Freddy Krueger.”

Quartz magazine also predicted that the clown, Pennywise, from “IT,” Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” and the kid protagonists from “Stranger Things” would be the most popular costumes for Halloween this year. Also on its list were characters from “Game of Thrones” like Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen, “Wonder Woman,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” whose live-action films both came out this year. 

Yet Lehman students are leaning towards more sinister looks. Stefanie Nolli Gaspar, another Lehman student, with a double major in Latin American and Caribbean studies, and anthropology, said this year she plans to try something new, and dress as a dark angel. Her favorite costume ever, she added, is that of a schoolgirl since she’d never worn a uniform before then. 

Michelle Santillan, a senior and English major, plans to take it easier this year and just use face paint, though she hasn’t decided on what to go as yet. “I’ve done the Queen of Hearts, and I’ve done vampires,” she said. “The rest is just hair color change and make-up.”

Baker praised the versatility and diversity of today’s costumes, adding that he likes all costumes, including scary ones. “I like Jason, I like Michael Myers, I like Chuckie. I was a big fan of Freddy Krueger at one time. There’s such a variety today, of costumes, that you can be anything you want to be.” 

Starfinder: An Updated Pathfinder for the Stars

By Juan Vasquez
Explore the galaxy with Starfinder. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Explore the galaxy with Starfinder. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Published on Aug. 17, Starfinder is the latest, long-awaited role-playing game from Paizo Publishing. It mixes pulp-style fantasy and derring-do sci-fi. Think “Star Wars” with more fantasy influences. Perhaps the game’s greatest strength---and some will argue, its greatest weakness---is its similarities to Pathfinder. Despite a few minor changes, if you know the rules for Pathfinder, then you will have a much easier time learning Starfinder. This makes the game not only an enjoyable read, but an absolute blast to play. 

On the plus side, the game’s simple premise makes it very engaging. Much like Pathfinder, the core rules are divided into two parts, the player’s guide and the game master’s guide. This is great because you do not need three core books for players, game masters, and monsters as with Dungeons and Dragons. Players create spacefaring adventurers and romp around in a science fantasy setting akin to Spelljammer and Dragonstar.

Character creation is also very similar to Pathfinder’s; each character has a race and a class. There are there are six races in total, whose unique variety presents an amazing homage to the works that inspired the game. The character classes themselves are designed to be gaming staples and fit well within the setting---the envoy, mechanic, mystic, operative, solarian (a Jedi-style character), soldier, and technomancer. 

In addition to these classes are character themes, which seem to have some similarities to characters’ backgrounds in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. These include ace pilot, bounty hunter, icon, mercenary, outlaw, priest, scholar, spacefarer, and xenoseeker, and are supposed to add several customizable features to characters without being overwhelming to the player. Besides detailing a ton of gear that players can purchase, steal, etc., the book also covers rules for vehicle and space combat, which is a welcome addition.

However, its similarity to Pathfinder’s rules leads to one of the game’s biggest problems. Much like Pathfinder, Starfinder is very crunch heavy; mathematics and quick calculations play a hefty role in the game’s mechanics. For seasoned grognards, this brings very little concern, but for the uninitiated, this can easily be a baptism by fire, especially if this is their first attempt at role playing. 

In terms of presentation, however, the art is much better than the iconic masterpiece of the Pathfinder core rules cover art. With no disrespect to Wayne Reynolds (artist of the Pathfinder core rulebook), the art presented in Starfinder is sleek and modern. Given that the book’s artwork is full-color and presented throughout the book, Starfinder gets high marks for its production value. 

Overall, I am in love with Starfinder and I look forward to running a few games. Sure, it is a bit on the “Mathfinder” side, and some of the subtle rule changes may leave you scratching your head. Despite these details, the game is a welcome addition to any gamer’s library.