Cover Story
With Title VII undecided, queer rights hang in the balance
When it comes to federal case law, LGBTQ+ people have a lot of rights. Statutory law — or the laws made by Congress — are where things get a little foggy. One of the responsibilities of federal courts is to interpret what Congress intended when they wrote a specific law. This should be fairly easy because all you’re doing is reading, right? Wrong. LGBTQ+ individuals fall into a gray category when it comes to whether they have protection under some of these laws, which has caused some trouble recently.
Obergefell v. Hodges was arguably one of the most important cases in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. It was one of the cases that gave LGBTQ+ couples and loved ones hope when it legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. A battle started far before with a freedom of speech case, One Inc v. Olesen, which in 1958 decided that writing celebrating gay relationships isn’t automatically obscene. There has been significant headway made in the last decades.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. On October 8, 2019, The Supreme Court heard three cases of LGBTQ+ discrimination, and will now have to determine if sexual orientation and gender identity fall within the walls of Title VII. These recent cases that have arrived within the grasp of The Supreme Court have brought up many questions that I have the hopes of answering in this interview.
I sat down with Michael J. Lambert, an attorney specializing in Media and First Amendment law at Prince Lobel to see how being part of the LGBTQ+ community contributes to his thoughts on these cases.
Before he answered the heavy questions, I needed to know something equally as important. Why should he answer these questions?
Nathan DeJesus: What is your background?
Michael Lambert: I studied journalism in Louisiana. And then I went to law school. And now I represent journalists for a living. So I don't necessarily work in the LGBTQ+ rights or civil rights area. But as a gay person, I follow these cases, and I'm a lawyer, so I have some [amount of] knowledge about it. And I do First Amendment work. So that's civil rights. In a way, it is civil rights.
Why will these cases be important justices-wise?
Justice Kennedy isn't there anymore. And he has historically written the opinions for the gay rights cases. Justice Gorsuch is big on textualism. And textualism is what I referred to before, in which when a court is asked to interpret a statute, you look to the text of the statute, and the text of the statute should be the prevailing interest. So if that theory holds and the justices interpret the Civil Rights Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that way, I'm inclined to think that the court will rule that Title VII does cover LGBTQ+ individuals.
Do you think that whether they rule in favor of the employee or employer there is going to be a ripple effect?
Unfortunately, right now, LGBTQ+ Americans don't have protections under the Civil Rights Act in the employment setting. So if the court decided that that Title VII does not cover LGBTQ+ individuals, then they wouldn't have those rights that others do within the workforce. But I think it also would send a signal to the country that LGBTQ+ rights are not respected. And are not equal. So beyond just settling this particular case in which the question is, does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act cover LGBTQ+ individuals? It kind of sends a signal to the country that we're not treating LGBTQ+ rights the same as we are other civil rights. And I think that would be a shame. If the court rules that Title VII does cover LGBTQ+ individuals, it validates the identities of so many people, even though you shouldn't have to rely on nine people in Washington to validate your identity. And it would send a signal to employers that you can't discriminate. You can't discriminate against somebody because of the sex of the person that they love, or the gender that they identify with. It would certainly send that signal and it would give LGBTQ+ people remedies against employers if they were discriminated against, and because of, who they are.
At the end of the day, this is an interpretation of the statute. The Supreme Court’s ruling may have some pretty small or pretty big effects on how the U.S. will treat queer people in the future. Lambert seems optimistic that the ruling will be in favor of the employees. The results of the cases are set to be announced in June of 2020.
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Free Write
He is freedom
His name was social security.

He was built of 9 numbers with bright blue eyes. 
He was the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Late at night he would visit me, 
Reminding me that I am lost without him.

He would visit me at job applications to show me what I am missing out on. 
I was jealous of everyone that had him.

What did he see in that blonde-haired light skin girl?
She doesn’t know how to treat a man. 
She inherited everything she got. 

These are hard working hands. 

I crossed the ocean for you, 
That girl didn't even move a finger 
But it was never enough. 

He always picked those gringos over me. 
I wanted to let him know that I am great without him. 
I spent 5 years looking for you. 
Now I’m done chasing you...
But then there he was again at the job application, 
Beautiful as can be. 
I fell for him again. 
I wanted him,
I needed him, 
everyone needs him. 

He is freedom, he is hope.
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I wish I could make this sound poetic
I wish I could grab my brain and wring it out 
Until everything I wish I knew 
was soaking my feet 
right there for me to look down and see.

Maybe then I could put reasoning into words that weren’t ‘self sabotage’ 
And my name
Maybe then I would know who I am
Know why I am

How do I say it’s all my fault with grace
How do I say I hate who I’ve made myself 
Like Edgar would 

The blame I could spew at others, I swallow 
Instead of it going down like warm tea in a sore throat
I’m swallowing glass shards 
I once looked at my reflection in 

I’m a mystery to myself 
Don’t know if I’m hollow or overwhelmed 
A coded book with a foreign language I don’t understand 

I wish I could make this sound poetic 
I just don’t understand it 
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I speak my heart
My every word
So true.
The sentences flow
My every word
So melodious.

She looks me back
With those deep brown pools
Which dig into my skin
As though she can see
My every thought
My every wish.

A silence spreads
Vibes of disappointment
Fill the room
Wrapping around my form
Choking me.

My gaze dropped
To the floor
Where I left
My courage.

A quiet apology
Escapes my lips
No louder
Than the buzzing
Of a bee.

I wish to leave
But her gaze
Pins me down
To my position.

I whimper,
Wishing her to look away
To forget
All I said.

I close my eyes
Wishing to melt
Into the floor
To forget
All I said.

I wish every moment
To be a nightmare
To simply drift away
As I open my eyes.
A wish
That never
Follows through.
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Movies and musicals have a symbiotic relationship
Courtesy of Playbill
If you enjoy musical classics like “Phantom of the Opera” and “The Lion King,” or more popular ones, like “Hamilton,” “Mean Girls” and “Beetlejuice,” then continue reading. 
Recently, musicals have become even more popular in American media. In particular, the movie industry has paid more attention to Broadway by adapting actual musicals into movies. This is important because adding musicals or musical-related scenes into movie theaters widens the audience for the art form of musicals.
One musical that widened the audience for musical theatre was “The Lion King,” which is not just a popular animated Disney film made in 1994 but is also a classic musical that has been playing since 1997. It has warmed the hearts of many with its touching story of a lion cub, Simba, who is destined to be king. When his envious Uncle Scar gets in the way of his rise to the throne, disaster strikes. This musical is the third-longest Broadway show with 9,176 performances according to While it has always been popular on Broadway, it has also had major success on the big screen. Even after Disney made its cartoon version in 1994, in 2019, they made a new live-action animated version. 
The trend of movies becoming adapted into musicals does not stop there. For example, “Beetlejuice,” which started as a 1980’s Tim Burton film, follows the story of a demon named Beetlejuice who haunts and kills couple Barbara and Adam, to teach them how to be a ghost. Years after the Tim Burton film first premiered, “Beetlejuice” has gained so much popularity that fans of the film also enjoy the musical on broadway. 
On the other hand, popular musicals becoming adapted into movies widens the audience for those musicals as well. “The Phantom of the Opera” is another major musical, which began in 1986 and became a movie in 2004. It follows the story of a young soprano girl who falls in love with a murderous musical genius living under the Paris opera house. This musical is the longest-running on Broadway, with 13,246 performances according to After the movie played in 2004, the music became more popular with a wider audience. 
Musicals play an important part in many people's lives all over the world. Movies are increasing the audience for musicals, which makes people appreciate this important art form more than ever before. 
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Free Write
Plant novice? Have no fear, your plant recs are here
Lazily scrolling down my Instagram feed, I see many posts of bright room layouts with plants adorning the walls. This makes me turn away from my phone screen and look at my bedroom walls. There’s a stick figure drawing that my sister drew some time ago and some marks of Crayola from babysitting. The rest of my bedroom walls are bare and lifeless. 
Although I am a big fan of plants and agriculture, I don’t have a particularly handy green thumb. My first plant was a small succulent gifted on my fourteenth birthday by my older brother. I put the plant on my windowsill and watered it too often. It was early October, so the New England chill had started to settle in. It went from a pretty Echeveria to a squishy, yellow-colored dying plant in three weeks. I stared in shock as the plant looked back at me in disgust. It inflated as I poked the plant. Then It gave out and the watery insides dribbled down my fingers like plant vomit. That was the first plant I killed. Filled with regret, I promised to not have another houseplant (that was a lie, I have a spiky cactus that is still going strong). 
What I didn’t know is that plants vary in the amount of care needed to survive. Some plants need constant watering and attention, and some will just flourish on their own. Here are five plants that are hard to kill—even if your green thumb is non-existent.
Devil’s Ivy (Pothos): This plant sounds ominous, but it isn’t! Pothos is often called “Devil’s Ivy” because it is hard to kill and still thrives in darkness. My biology teacher has this plant in the back of his room and it hasn’t been watered for quite some time. It’s like the Hulk of plants: green and resilient. 
Philodendron: Often mistaken as Pothos, this plant has large and shiny leaves. Would it be weird to pet it? Yes. But should you? Also yes. Philodendron can range from hanging in small baskets to being the main focal point of your indoor garden. It will keep growing with care and might outgrow your apartment (hopefully not).
Strawberry Begonia: Although there won’t be any sweet summertime strawberries, Strawberry Begonias are stunning on their own. It has wide circular leaves, and when flowering, it will send blooming runners downwards. This plant will liven up any room with its charm and bubbliness. 
String of Hearts: String of Hearts is a particular favorite of mine. The leaves can vary from purple to green. Also called Chain of Hearts, they can be tricky to handle at first, but with proper care, they can reach the floor! This plant is also non-toxic to pets. Don’t let your cat paw at them because they will break the chain of hearts (and your heart too!)
Jade Plant: I remember gifting this to my freshman U.S. history teacher, who let me take care of her plants before class. After a few months, it did start drooping because of the lack of watering and sunlight, but we revived it! The Jade Plant is also called a money tree because of the Feng Shui belief that the plant attracts wealth.
Some days I find myself wanting a new plant to decorate my room with. I try to convince myself that I DON’T need any more plants. But to no avail, I still end up in my local plant nurseries and flower shops and my wallet wilting. My two favorite places are in the South End: niche plant shop on 619 Tremont St, and Olympia Flower Store on 1745 Washington St. 
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What you don’t know about Fast Fashion
Jasmine Heyward
Clothing is something that we all should care about. Items of clothing are worn every day, by everyone everywhere, right? Well, your clothes may be the cause of harm to the environment after being produced at the cost of another person working in a sweatshop. At the same time, the concept of the piece itself could have been stolen from someone else. This should really surprise you. You may not expect a piece of cloth to have that many effects, but it does and you need to be aware. Fast fashion has been taking over the clothing industry without anyone realizing what’s happening. 
Fast fashion is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” In fast fashion production, the clothing is made at a rapid rate and uses cheap materials to mimic trendy clothing at a lower cost. The mass market, which is anyone who wants the trend look without the cost, is targeted, as thousands of stores are stocked with these items, from puffer jackets to mimicked Balenciaga speed trainers. Popular stores, such as H&M, Forever 21, Ross, Primark and more, fall under the umbrella of fast fashion when they recreate fashion trends from high-end designer brands, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton and streetwear brands such as Off-White and Bstroy.
The environment is being damaged because of fast fashion. “More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill, it will not decay,” wrote Tatiana Schlossberg in her New York Times review of the book “Fashionopolis” by author Dana Thompson. Schlossberg also stated that about 85% of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated. As these fabrics are used in numerous new styles every week the effect on the environment is compounded.
Humans are also affected by fast fashion. The workforce that produces the clothing often faces harsh working conditions. “Without authorization or affiliation, fast fashion brands carry no legal obligation to ensure decent working conditions in the bottom tiers of their production network,” wrote Victoria Stafford in a blog piece for the Green Business Network. 
But the worst part of fast fashion, or at least what should be the most discomforting, is that millions of consumers worldwide are spending their money and wearing these clothes, supporting a cause that is technically killing them, all for the look. H&M was worth over $15 billion in 2019, and that is just one out of the many companies that are creating their clothes with the element of fast fashion. 
So, how do we combat fast fashion? The price, more than anything, is what is pulling in more people than ever. Who doesn’t want the trendy look for cheap? But that is the problem. Cheap isn’t always good, and there are ways to fight back against the ways of fast fashion. Be aware of where you’re getting your clothes from, make sure you care about the quality and don’t always focus on the trend. At the end of the day, you should be buying what you think looks good not what’s gonna get you likes.
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The things left unsaid about the Black Arts Movement
During the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s African American people exerted their artistic potential. The movement was full of black excellence across many spectrums, but most articles only mention three parts of the movement: the work of Amiri Baraka, the poets and jazz music. What’s missing from the narrative is visual arts and dance. 

Hannah Foster, author of “Black Past,” begins by describing Amiri Baraka, as he’s seen as the “Father of the Black Arts Movement.” She proceeds to write about how jazz musicians such as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Archie Shepp and others were celebrated.
For an article dedicated to the understanding of African American history, I’m surprised that there isn't more discussion of other parts of the movement. For example, a Google Images search of “Black Arts Movement” yields a lot of artistic drawings. Yet, the drawing aspect of the movement is barely mentioned in articles that cover this topic. 
Non-profit website mentions Baraka and his significance because they also view him as an important figure. The website focuses on the poetry aspect of the Black Arts Movement because “poetry was the genre that saw the most expansion and growth at the time.” The site shares information about Baraka and his poems, but it fails to acknowledge other important aspects of the movement such as the transformation of art or women's role in exhibiting the black aesthetic. 
Learning about the Black Arts Movements solely through the lens of writing, men and music is bad because it is a limited perspective. I find it saddening that only these aspects of the Black Arts Movement are displayed. Many sources accuse the movement of sexism, but these sources also exclude female artists who strived to make the Black Arts Movement even more popular. 
I could only find one article that focused on another type of art: painting. In “Widewalls,” notable journalist Patina Lee explores theater, dancing and drawing. For example, Lee mentions Jeff Donaldson, who was a respected artist known for his “Wall Of Respect” mural. Lee writes that he was “one of the most prolific visual authors.” If it weren’t for this article, I would have never learned about the art and theatre parts of the Black Arts Movement. If we are to learn about something as encouraging and powerful as the Black Arts Movement, I would want to learn every aspect of it. Wouldn’t you?
Why aren't we learning about the Black Arts Movement in its entirety? Firstly, sexism was much more prevalent in the ‘60s. Women, in general, were looked down upon by men and males were seen as the dominant gender. The Black Arts Movement was criticized for being sexist, and I believe it was. You can definitely find solid information on the web that explains how women contributed to the movement now, but the articles themselves would tell you that during the Black Arts Movement women seemed to be excluded. 

How come writing is so heavily discussed, and specifically poems? A partial answer that explains this is the fact that the start of the Black Arts Movement revolved around poems. Also, since poems were short and could be recited at rallies or protests to sway the people, poetry was one of the most popular aspects of the movement due to its effectiveness. 
The Black Arts Movement let people see the aesthetics of black culture and put black people from various many professions in the spotlight. The Movement can be criticized in any way, but you can’t deny the fact that the movement did a lot of good. It helped Black culture progress and thrive at a time where the dominant racial group was trying to aggressively oppress them.
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