Imagine a movie where the protagonist is the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, with the villains being incompetent, barefooted, drunk black men that must be defeated. Pretty distasteful, right?  
Well, this is the plot of the 1915 movie “The Birth of A Nation,” critically acclaimed then and now and credited as the first Hollywood blockbuster of all time. The movie was based on the novel “The Clansmen” by Thomas Dixon, who claimed the purpose of the book was “to demonstrate to the world that the white man must and shall be supreme.” It was the first movie to ever be shown in the White House. The propaganda was so powerful, it transformed the KKK into heroes. The film is even credited by some for the reformation of the KKK in the early 20th century.  
With the 104-year anniversary coming up, people are still defending this movie to the ends of the earth, and the reason for that is understandable. The movie was revolutionary in the film industry. It produced some of the first movie stars and showcased previously unheard of movie techniques. The Hollywood Reporter praised “The Birth of a Nation” for its use of “spectacular battlefield panoramas, operatic melodrama, thrilling chase scenes—the full power of cinematic art pulling at their heartstrings and quickening their pulses.” says the film’s director, D.W. Griffith, “popularized countless filmmaking techniques that remain central to the art today,” like close-ups, flashbacks, and fade-ins. 
But, in a world where racial tensions are heightened and we’re increasingly aware of political correctness, should this film still be so well-regarded in movie history? What legacy should a movie that revolutionized film, but indirectly increased the death count of black people in America, leave? 
Film Analysis professor Nathan Blake from Northeastern University has studied “The Birth of a Nation” for many years. When asked about the relevance of the film, Blake first acknowledged Griffith’s advanced film strategy innovations that defined the Hollywood studio style and the dominant approach to narrative cinema. However, he then pointed out the film’s troubling racial elements. “It illustrates our troubling, racist history, not just of the Civil War and Reconstruction, but of the early 20th-century and beyond,” he said. “It is also relevant today because we continue to see these same stereotypes and tropes of ‘purity’ in contemporary white-supremacist discourse.” 
 I asked him how his students perceived the film, and he said “Students are generally troubled, and often don’t know how to respond, at least initially. If anything, students are shocked by the film’s blatant racism, its cartoonish stereotypes, and the depiction of the Klan as ‘heroic.’”  
On the topic of how the film should be remembered, Blake explained that “Birth of a Nation” will remain an important film to watch and discuss because it was simply a highly influential film. “It illustrates the ways in which cinema can manipulate its audience,” he said. “It is one thing to feel moved by a story in which you might already share its ideology to some degree. But when you see how you are positioned to fear for Flora (Mae Marsh) as she is pursued by the ‘monstrous’ Gus (Walter Long), you begin to see how the narrative, placement of the camera, music, and editing position the viewer to identify with certain characters and perspectives and against others.” 
“In other words, its objectionable ideology allows us to see the ways in which such messages are conveyed.” 
Read more…
Created by the late Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 and popularized by writer Chris Claremont in 1970, the X-Men team consist of heroes born with genetic mutations that grant them powers from telekinesis to the ability to shoot sparkles from their hands. These heroes, known in the Marvel universe as “mutants,” were cast out by society because they were different, and often considered a threat. While they may sound like another generic superhero team, Lee and Kirby had more planned for the fledgling heroes. From their inception, the X-Men were meant to be an allegory for those unrepresented in society.   
“Mutants in the Marvel Universe have always stood as a metaphor for the underclass, the outsiders; they represent the ultimate minority,” Claremont wrote in “Uncanny X-Men Masterworks Vol. 9.”  It would hardly be a Gambit to assume that the average moviegoer’s knowledge of the various “X” teams begins and ends with the SNIKT of Wolverine's claws; however, the X-Men universe is home to the most diverse cast of characters in comics and have pushed for a more inclusive world by mirroring the struggles of those outcasted by society through the exploits of the superhuman team. 
Kurt Wagner, otherwise known as the Nightcrawler, has been a staple of the X-Men franchise since his first appearance in 1975’s “Giant Sized X-Men #1.” Kurt hails from a German traveling circus, which, okay, isn’t too weird an origin for a comic book hero. He’s also blue and has a tail and fangs.  
Comics are weird, folks.  
While a bit on the nose, Kurt represents the broader social ostracism young people often face. While “social ostracism” to Kurt means being chased around the German countryside with pitchforks and torches, and it is doubtful the loner kid in the back of class doubles as a creature feared by German farmers, everyone certainly has had those moments where they feel alone. Kurt represents the idea of not judging a book by its cover turned up to eleven, set on fire and disintegrated with an optic blast for good measure.   
Ororo Munroe, better known as the weather-controlling mutant Storm, “shocked” readers and critics alike by being the first woman of color superhero in all of comics. “Hail”-ing from Kenya, Storm would bring the “thunder” with her inclusion in, again, “Giant Size X-Men #1.”  Storm’s role on the team revolutionized not only Marvel, but comic books as a whole, as she and her future husband, Black Panther, would be two of comics’ premiere non-white heroes. And Storm was no side character—she would go on to not only lead the X-Men team, but become headmistress of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, teaching a new generation of mutant heroes.  
Local artist and poet Kenny St. Fleur, 17, believes that Storm was the most significant contribution to diversity in comics.  
“She’s this ridiculously powerful, kick a** black woman who one minute is enriching young minds, then blowing up robots with her mind the next!” he said.  “As far as role models go, I can think of few better.”   
Suffice to say that Storm’s role as the first woman-of-color hero was be a big win for inclusion in a medium that even today is dominated by white dudes in tights.  Her inclusion on this most memorable of ‘X’ teams would pave the way for other female and minority heroes to come while also providing an underrepresented demographic, African-American girls, a hardcore superhero they can see themselves in. 
While he has been both friend and foe to to many X teams, Max Eisenhardt is probably one of the most controversial progressive characters in comics. While most villains are driven by greed or blood lust, Magneto, master of magnetism, is simply after tolerance. Being a holocaust survivor, he has seen first hand the atrocities of man, and seeks to liberate mutants from the oppression of  “Homosapiens,” often by any means necessary.  This mindset is often the cause of him being labeled a villain; however, it can not be overlooked that despite his often radical approach, it is clear to see where he is coming from. Just because he is the bad guy, doesn’t mean he's an objectively bad guy.  
The big reason Magneto is the villain is because we’re reading from the X-Men’s point of view. “We see him as this big bad, when really, he’s just a survivor trying to keep his people from going through what he did,” said Boston Arts Academy student Christian Kinney. “Yeah he’s intense about it, but that’s the only way he knows will keep mutants safe.”  While arguments can be made on both sides as to whether Magneto is hero or villain, his fight for the betterment of a marginalized group gives him a level of depth not often seen in older comic baddies, and pushes the idea that even the villain can just be a good guy with a different means of supporting change. 
JP Comics’ Paul Bryant believes that [The X-Men] “is about a group of ‘other,’ so as long as we have these other ‘other’ groups that feel like there’s a greater society pushing against them, then the X-Men will always be relatable, and people are more likely to support something they can relate to.”  Thanks to the enduring cultural pushback to characters who are separated from the majority, there will always be need for a team like the X-Men.  
By breaking the norms of 70s comics, the team would gain notoriety. By amazing writing and societal undertones they would gain fame. And, thanks to readers being able to better see themselves in the new team, the Giant-Sized X-Men would gain an undying legacy, the effects of which are still felt in comics today. 
Read more…
Johnny Silvercloud [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
African-American lives have just as much value as anyone else’s does. African-American lives have just as much value as anyone else’s does. 
Before I actually understood what the world around me was really like, I was just living my daily life, doing the things that I always do. I woke up, went to school, came home, and did my homework. That was my normal, daily routine. I thought the world was just fine. I never saw anything really happening outside and I never watched the news, so I assumed that everything and everyone was doing okay.  
In the past, I wasn’t willing to watch the news because I thought the whole news system in general was nosy and was always looking for a story. I didn’t realize that the media was saving lives by drawing attention to injustice. One day, I had nothing to do, so I decided to focus my attention on whatever my grandparents thought was interesting on TV. They turned on the news, and I saw something that sparked my train of thought. Innocent black lives were being taken by white police officers. That day, my whole world changed.  
As I consistently saw similar situations like this happen, I felt incomplete because I felt as if I could have spoken out or I could have done something to help prevent things like this from happening. The youth’s voice is strong, but I kept my voice to myself instead of using it as a weapon against inequality. As a young African-American girl, I should have been more aware of what was going on. I should have cared more about this topic instead of just wandering around like everything was fine, ignoring the fact that people like me were being innocently slaughtered by people that are “higher in power.’’ But I thought, who was going to listen to me? I’m a young girl and no one is going to care about my opinions because I do not have that much power.  
Now as I search police brutality against people of color, I see a bunch of news articles and videos about it. I now realize that I’ve been ignorant to the fact that African-Americans such as myself need guidance, strength and support in such crucial situations. I felt as if I’ve been misled by my society, just thinking that everything was fine because of all the cheery, upbeat videos I watched on YouTube. The world is like a person that pretends they’re happy in front of others, but is deeply hurting inside. 
Read more…
It’s a place that has more than what meets the eye 
It’s Beauty 
The beauty behind the rubble and decay that spectators have witnessed throughout the 4 seasons 
The elegance of the culture scattered throughout the community, the embodiment of who we are as people in the front lines 
Within these communities it contains the beautiful figures, profiles, and numerous dispositions dispersed throughout the realms that stretches as far from the sunshine Oaklands to the brutal cold Dorchesters 
And yet 
These dispositions are hidden behind the innumerable fourth estates 
projecting these unappealing images of these beautiful kingdoms 
Placing them in a negative limelight they’ve never asked for that have constantly appears on conservative and liberal outlets. 
They’re afraid to display elegance and  prosperity that are the various gems and diamonds  
the people who’ve  molded and proper this beautiful estate in which is common to the ear of those who are not familiar with are kingdom name: 
The glorious ghetto... 
Our humble abode... 
My Home...Our Home...
Read more…
My father never went to college. My mother works in a field unrelated to what she studied in college. Yet, almost every day of my life, I feel influenced by everybody around me to go to college. In this modern society I do not believe it's necessary to go into debt for a college degree because there are other viable options that can lead to success.  
The stereotype that one is a failure if they do not go to college pushes many Americans to feel as if their only option is to go to college after high school. This feeling has led to a record-breaking $1.5 trillion of collective student loan debt in 2018, according to Federal Reserve data. The current cost of a college education is $63,973 more than it was 32 years ago, which is an increase of 161 percent, according to Market Watch. 
Emily Stainer, the Chief Academic Officer at Match High School, graduated from college years ago, but the debt still follows her. “It worries me. It really does. Even my husband is still in debt,” Stainer said. 
Stainer believes getting a college degree should be a backup plan and not a gateway to getting a job. “Imagine you lose your main job. If you had a college degree, you would surely be able to get another job,” she said. This point of view is a very valid one as, according to a study by The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major.  Companies like Google and Apple no longer require a degree for many positions, according to the Consumer News and Business Channel. The absurd amount of debt people may obtain just to ensure they’re not poor, it’s far too much. 
Alikhan Fabrice, a local student, dreams of attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is not concerned about the debt he might get into. “Well, to be frank, I don’t really care. All I know is that I’m going to get into MIT and get a good job,” said Fabrice. It is viewpoints like this that have caused staggering student loan debt in the U.S.  
Saving for college while in high school is a difficult task. How is a student going to get a high paying job, save all the money for college and balance their academics? It is almost impossible to do this. Some teens are in better financial positions than others. For the teens in worse financial situations, there should be more scholarships and grants awarded than loans. 
Canada, for example, offers college for free, and I think this is something America should offer as well. Many countries, in fact, offer college for free. Countries are able to offer college for free because the colleges are funded publicly by taxes. I personally wouldn’t mind a costlier tax. What’s a couple of extra dollars for free college? 
Many teenage students like Johandy Ozuna agree. “If there are free colleges in Canada, in my opinion, I think there should be free colleges in America,” said Ozuna. He wouldn’t mind a higher tax for free college instead of wasting tax money on things like the death penalty. If America really raised their taxes to support free colleges, many people would support it as the new generation’s lives would benefit from this. 
Read more…