There’s a thin line separating tradition and misogyny. When thinking of high school basketball, do you see tall, uniformed guys running in packs and drenched in pride? Or do you see the girls’ basketball team practicing for the semifinals? At many schools, there seems to be a passive discrimination in terms of which games -- or gender -- to support. Though the games may be equally announced to the student body over the intercom, girl athletes say they can hear a pin drop on the court when it comes to game day. The silence is not surprising. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation website, girls still play under poorer conditions when compared to their male counterparts and have 1.3 million fewer sports opportunities at the high school level. It doesn’t stop there. Girls receive more than $190 million fewer scholarship dollars annually than guys when they play college sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. So the question is: Are you part of the lack of having the female athlete’s back?
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Growing up, I was one of those girls who was always smiling, a joy to be around. But behind my beautiful smile was my shyness. As the years went on, I noticed that my shyness grew. In school, I would always sit in the back of the class. I was safe there. If I sat in the front, I would be in the spotlight. I never wanted to raise my hand. I was fearful that I would be judged if I did not know the answer. “You are nice and quiet,” my classmates said. I would just smile. In sixth grade, some of my teachers pushed me to come out of my shell. One day in social studies our teacher told us that we had to research a state we had learned about. I was excited about the project until she said we would have to present to the class and that it counted for 20 percent of my grade. I had no choice. On the day of the presentation, I was nervous. So many things were going through my head. I thought I was going to mess up and get laughed at. “How am I going to start? What if the class asks questions?” I wondered. But I did it. I aced my presentation and I felt good about myself. I realized that as long as I know what I’m capable of doing that I can be successful. Now, I am feeling stronger than ever. The advice I have for other shy students is to be open to different opportunities. You will build confidence in yourself and feel like you have achieved something new. My self-confidence was hidden behind a wall, and now it has broken through.
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I didn’t know sexism existed until I first encountered the topic when reading a history book. My parents have always been really far from holding the typical gender roles depicted of women being housewives and inferior to men. To start off, my father has a deep passion for cleaning -- sometimes a little too much. He constantly picks up after me and my siblings and notices every little crumb as if he had installed surveillance cameras around the house. The difference with my mom is that she cares more about the ambiance and less about the detail, and always maintains a comfortable and fresh atmosphere. It’s very peculiar, but my parents always had this very competitive nature in them. They tended to see each other as opponents trying to outwork the other by pleasing all our guests and spoiling me and my siblings. One day, we had guests over and both my parents saw this as an opportunity to really impress them with their cooking skills. My brother and I would giggle because every time a guest took a bite, my parents would ask what he or she thought and whether it had beaten the rival’s dish. And to their disappointment, the guests would always reply very politely: “They’re all very delicious.” In a sexist household, one gender overlooks the value of the opposite gender. Thankfully, my parents raised their children in a sexist-free home. The only thing to fear now is everywhere else.
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I remember my mother moving frantically in the kitchen. Yelling at my father who went shopping for a chicken. My mom wanted a turkey and so she sent my dad back to the car. Preparing six hours before the party was apparently a bad time to start. My dad was annoyed because he would much rather be sleeping. Too tired to pay close attention to the grocery list he was reading. The seasoning had to be made and potatoes needed peeling. There weren’t words to describe the frustration my mother was feeling. Me and my sister took over the side jobs to get back the time we had lost. The kitchen was the workplace and my mom was the boss. Dad’s behavior was typical, but quickly we learned. That it was never too late for the tables to turn. My brother, who lived in Worcester, arrived shortly after. He calmly asked my mother if he could take her place in the kitchen. It was no joke -- but there was laughter. By cook, I thought it meant he could restrain from burning the house down by trying. But he sent my mother away for a nap as she claimed she was “this close” to dying. My brother, a guy, was in charge of pots and stoves. He finished the rest of the meal in two hours or so. I was agog, I was aghast, at my brother's sudden ability. He showed way more promise compared to my dad’s vulnerability. My mom jokingly took credit for the entire delicious meal. We all knew it was courtesy of my brother. Embarrassment was all that my father could feel. As we all talked with our mouths full at the same time, it was hysterical. That’s the story of my big dinner where there was quite a miracle.
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Who is Herykson Lopes? Well, where can I begin? I’m the type of person who knows it all but is afraid to speak his mind. I feel like I’m looking at the world from the inside out. I struggled a lot when I first moved to the United States from Cape Verde. I tried to fit in with the popular crew -- even if that meant getting into trouble. One time, we went to the convenience store and my so-called friends tried to pressure me into shoplifting. Being the dummy I am, with no hesitation I started stuffing snacks into every pocket. The owner caught me, locked the doors, and called the police. While I was emptying my pockets, I noticed my friends had fled. Luckily for me, I got off with a slap on the wrist. When you are young, you can make some bad choices. One positive I can take from this is that true friends are the ones who accept you for who you are. I also came to realize that it is better to be a leader than a follower. I feel it is an honor to be educated in the United States, especially Boston. Boston has some of the best schools and colleges in the world. I hear other immigrants say they were heartbroken about being torn away from their families, but I consider it an opportunity and a blessing to come to a country where, with a little backbreaking work and determination, you can become anything you desire.
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