Culture Club
Turn down the flame: Roasting not as innocent as it seems
People bully for one reason. “I have something over you, and I’m gonna use it to make you feel bad,” explained Michelle Gormley, Director of Education for Boston vs Bullies.
Over the years, bullying has changed a lot. Kids used to view bullying as something wholly negative. It was the image of the big fourth grader demanding lunch money from the tiny, scared third grader. Now, being mean has become a joke, known as roasting. Roasting is a competition to see who can say the most hurtful things. Now it’s so funny to clown someone while screaming “BOY!” along with wild hand motions. Recorded videos of roasting, some with celebrities, gain millions of views. Something that was once so serious and meaningful has just turned into a joke, and now some people barely even think twice about it or what it could lead to down the road.
What has bullying turned into?
There are three types of bullying—physical, verbal and social. According to the US Health Department, 77 percent of students are bullied mentally, verbally and physically, and 43 percent of students experience cyberbullying.
This explains a lot about roasting. Roasting has become so popular that it’s not even considered bullying to teens. Nowadays, teens will roast anyone about any aspect about themselves that there is to criticize, no vendetta needed. It’s all “just for fun.”
Roasting captivates bystanders, and those bystanders won’t do or say anything because they’re oblivious to the fact that roasting is still bullying. Despite all the moments of silence we spent feeling guilty about the people we hurt or didn’t stand up for, it's just a room full of overflowing cries and laughter because “it’s just a roast.” 
Recent statistics show that revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings. School safety plays a very significant and essential role in school. The students safety is always what matters first and foremost. But what do the adults really try to do to help stop the drama or violence in the school?
As a kid, my friends and I always liked the anti-bullying organizations when they came to educate. But what did they really teach, besides repeating “Bullying is bad!” and hanging posters around the classroom?
Some organizations fail and there is always a reason for everything. Boston vs. Bullies believes it takes a team effort. It can’t be a one time thing, it takes persistence and value.
Even with all the programs and organizations, it takes something deeper to stop bullying. It isn’t enough to just say “stop.” My gym teacher once said people were put on this Earth to help each other. There is a lot of help, but there is also a lot of hate. Like Dai’zah Davis, 11, of Roxbury explained “ Bullies don’t depend on themselves, they depend on other people.They want hate because they can’t do what they want.”
Will bullying ever stop? It’s a question I can’t answer, and maybe you can’t either. And that’s okay.

“God put us on this Earth for different reasons. To be free and live our lives,” said Davis.
Michelle Gormley may have worded it best, however. “I think a little of it is human nature,” she said. “Unfortunately it’s not a disease like polio, where you can just eradicate it. But I think just because you’re dealing with the human mind there’s gonna be a fraction of the population that is going to act mean. The more knowledgeable you are, the better off it’s gonna be.”


Read more…
The End. 
 I was surprised to see a dictionary end that way. “The End” tends to be associated with fiction, not reference books. Unfortunately though, “The End” is an increasingly relevant phrase in the word of lexicography. 
Lexicography, the art of writing dictionaries, is a shrinking profession. With the Internet, almost everything is freely available. Fewer people invest in paper dictionaries, making it increasingly difficult for dictionary companies to stay afloat. Nevertheless, dictionaries are invaluable, now more than ever. 
Many consider today to be a turbulent time in America’s history. Alternative facts are the norm, so much so that the Oxford English Dictionary named post-truth (adj. relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs) its word of the year. 
Dictionaries existsas a record of language, reminding us of the virtues and faults of the past. They save us from an Orwellian future in which facts can be altered with no consequence. After Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway uttered the phrase “alternative facts,” lookups for the word “fact” spiked, along with sales of George Orwell’s 1984. With the dictionary reminding us what was and fiction warning us of what could be, it is easier to understand what is. 
Because of its objectivity, the dictionary is as flexible as it is factual. It isn’t the authority on language. It records language as it’s written. It does not prioritize one dialect over another or impose any idea of “proper” English; though, for the sake of accuracy, it does note non-standard words, spellings and pronunciations. The dictionary is a cheerleader, not a police officer. 
“Anybody can adapt English to their own purposes, and that, I think, has frightened some people, because that means that they don’t have control over it,” said Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and the author of Word by Word: the Secret Life of Dictionaries. “But that’s the whole point: English is completely democratic; it’s completely by the people and for the people.” 
In another paradox, the dictionary is as general as it is personal. The same dictionary can be used to learn a whole new language, settle a dispute over pronunciation, or find a new favorite word. “They are a reservoir,” said Manuel Da Luz Gonçalves, a Boston resident who compiled the first Cape Verdean–English dictionary. “If you don’t record the language, it’ll disappear. They are important as keepers of the language.” Gonçalves started compiling the dictionary as interest in the Creole spiked among linguists, tourists and second-generation immigrants. The dictionary’s gift to the language is accessibility. “A culture or language, if it’s only yours, it doesn’t make sense...We’re living in a society that isn’t just you and me, it’s we.”
Control of the language is a tool of power. From the legal requirement of Portuguese in Cape Verde to the more subtle linguistic demands of the classroom, authority stems first from words. 
“Words are words to me. It's that simple. I don't like having to censor myself in order to meet society's expectations,” said Carina Layfield, a junior at Boston Latin School.
Every dictionary is its own story. Dictionaries of the same language can reflect completely different groups of people. “Strange as it may seem, some dictionaries do indeed have distinct personalities,” says Jeremy Butterfield, editor of the third edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage.  “For example, the Chambers dictionary in the UK is seen as quirky and occasionally humorous, while the Oxford English Dictionary is seen as highly intellectual and serious. In my own experience, the character of a dictionary is shaped by two things: the team working on it and the target market.”
 In any story, the dictionary included, “The End” also implies a middle and a beginning. The story of the dictionary is the story of us, the human race and our language. Our story is far from over. And so I’d like to think that the dictionary, too, is far from obsolete. The story will continue.

Read more…
Miley Cyrus. Danielle Bregoli. Kim Kardashian. What do these celebrities have in common? They have all been known to use black culture to benefit themselves. 
What is this phenomenon called? Cultural appropriation. According to social commentator Emma Bracy, “Appropriation, the kind that's constantly decried, occurs when an actor from or representing a historically dominant or oppressive culture takes a cultural product...from a historically marginalized culture, and...benefits while the latter does not...The benefit doesn't always have to be exceptional. It's not always gonna look like piles of cash. It can be as simple as a compliment, which seems petty and mundane, but actually feeds into a system of eventual erasure.”
True to this definition, white media figures will often use other cultures in ways that perpetuate negative stereotypes.
In 2013, Miley Cyrus released hit album Bangerz.  In the music video for the song “We Can’t Stop,” Cyrus shows off grillz, twerks and grabs the behinds of  black women twerking in the background. That video garnered 771,448,537 views on Youtube and the Bangerz tour earned over $62 million. In 2016,  news outlets everywhere reported that Kim Kardashian had created a new hairstyle called “boxer braids,” instantly causing the hairstyle to become a trend. In 2017, 14-year-old Danielle Bregoli appeared on Dr. Phil for her fights with her mom and theft. During her appearance, Danielle uttered the now famous phrase “Cash me ousside, how bout dah,” which utilizes ebonics,  a way of speaking associated with African-Americans. Bregoli now earns thousands from endorsements and is predicted to gross a million dollars by the end of the year. Danielle and Kim took credit for pre-existing concepts in black culture, and Miley’s wild child image caused people to overlook the elements she took from black culture. 
On the contrary, black people are often ridiculed when they indulge in their culture. Twerking has existed for years, yet until white artists did it, it was called “ghetto.” Cornrows, the correct name for “boxer braids,” are one of the hairstyles that black women use to manage and protect their hair. These hairstyles are “cute” when worn by celebrities such as the Kardashians, yet black women often face discrimination when they wear the hairstyle. For example, according to Teen Vogue, bi-racial Zara employee Cree Ballah was told to “fix” her hair when she came to work with box braids because her hair was not the clean professional look Zara wanted. 
When Danielle used ebonics in the phrase “Cash me ousside,” she was seen as entertaining. In real life, African-Americans often face prejudice for speaking that way. These blatant double standards makes me ask: Why can white figures profit off of the use of cultural appropriation so frequently? 
To gain a better understanding, I spoke with social commentator Emma Bracy and Bamsfest founder Catherine Morris, who both have some expertise on the matter. Both professionals had the same answer: white privilege. “Consider all outlets of information and propaganda in the United States--they are owned, controlled and distributed by  old white men who have the power, influence and desire to assert themselves as being the premiere example of a race of people,” Morris said. “They control the a way that burns itself into our memories, creating a false belief that their social normal is standard.”
Culture appropriation differs from cultural appreciation, which is when people take time to learn about and understand another culture. A good example of cultural appreciation is Angelina Jolie’s visit to Pakistan. During Jolie's visit, she wore a hijab to show respect to the local culture. 
The difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation is not always obvious. In unsure situations, it might be best to follow this advice from Eleni Kinney, a 10th grade student from Noble and Greenough. “Think about whether something does or does not poke fun or disrespect a group,” she advises.“Educate yourself; know why or why not certain things may be appropriation. Be sensitive and be respectful.”

Read more…
This fall, picture TD Garden with a bunch of smoke, fireworks and a cheering crowd. The announcer shouts:
Introducing your teams for the the League of Legends (LOL) summer finals!
Wait, what is happening?

What is happening is the future is here, in the form of esports. Esports, short for electronic sports, is a global phenomenon where gamers play in competitive tournaments facing off against other top notch players. There are esports tournament for your favorite games, from Mario Kart, Super Smash, Madden or Call of Duty. 

Esports have been gaining popularity across the globe and are changing the way we view video games. Some even argue esports should be considered a real sport, like basketball or baseball. 
Robert Skinnion, founder and CEO of Vector Gaming, said, “Technology is changing how we live, and it is changing how we compete. Not that it replaces traditional sporting events, but it adds another opportunity for us to experience the same thrill of competition at the premier level.”
Skinnion isn’t the only one that believes esports have a big future in sporting events.
“Every year, competitive video gaming gets more popular. In the future, I think it is going to be recognized as a sport like basketball,” said Isaac Amado, a 17-year-old from Jamaica Plain.
Gerson Cruz, 17 years old, explains why he agrees. “To make a sport a sport is practicing and communicating and having a team.” 
Still, critics continue to blast esport players and consumers. On The Herd with Colin Cowherd, the former ESPN host mocked esport players with the stereotype that adult gamers live in their parents’ basements and telling them to go outside. 
ESPN President John Skipper agreed, saying at the Code Media Series in New York that “it’s not a sport, it’s a competition.”
Despite the critics, the esports scene keeps pushing forward. 
The U.S. government now recognizes gamers as professional athletes and will grant visas for gamers to participate in international tournaments, according to Forbes. 
“The players are professional, they put in an amazing amount of time and work. In my view, they are athletes. But even if by your definition they aren't, it doesn’t matter, we love watching them anyway,” Skinnion said. 
For readers who believe esports won’t succeed because no one will watch nerds play video games, you are wrong. In a 2015 ESPN article comparing viewership of major sporting events in the U.S., the Super Bowl came in first, League of Legends (LOL) second, the Masters third and Dota 2 fourth. Video game tournaments for LOL and Dota 2 surpassed the NBA, NHL, and MLB championships. Market researcher Newzoo also released a report this year suggesting esports revenue will hit $1.5 billion by 2020. 
Multiple people ranging from professionals to casual gamers agreed they would go to an arena to watch esports tournaments. 
“The fans are electric at these events. When I was growing up there were a lot of stereotypes that got slapped on gamers, and now you see 45,000 people who are gamers packed into a stadium together all going nuts for their team. It’s awesome to see as Boston becomes a larger esports market!” said Skinnion.
Both Cruz and Amado would both also go to an arena to watch video games.
If you choose to ignore the games going on around you on your monitor and phone, you will be left behind. One day when you turn on your television and want to watch sports like soccer and football, don’t be surprised when Rocket League or Madden takes over.

Read more…
According to South Africa administrative capital Pretoria, 35 percent of South African women use skin bleaching products. 75 percent of women in Nigeria and roughly 52-67 percent of Senegalese women use skin bleaching products. West African women are actually more likely to use skin bleaching products than any other African region,with a rate of 70 percent of women as consumers of the skin bleaching industry. What do all of these regions with high skin-bleaching usage have in common? They were all targets for European colonizers in the late nineteenth century.
As countries tried to expand their economies to many non-industrialized countries, they left a lot of damage that changed the psyche of many Africans today. The idea of “whiteness’’ being superior made Africans believe they are less, or lower ranked. 
Betsy Kim, long time beauty supply owner in Dorchester, noticed a pattern with the kind of people walking into her store buying skin bleaching products. “They are mostly black,” Kim said. “Black, but they are mostly foreigners; you can tell from their accents. A lot of them are light brown. You never really see the darker women buying those stuff.’’ Kim mentioned that she believes that the reason behind why darker women don’t really use skin bleaching is because it’s harder to get lighter natural results from these products.
The practicing of skin bleaching comes with serious risks. Health issues associated with this practice include permanent skin bleaching, thinning of skin, uneven color loss (leading to a blotchy appearance), redness and intense irritation, dark gray spots, skin cancer, acne, increase in appetite and weight gain, osteoporosis and neurological and kidney damage.
Mariam Killo, 16, from Hyde Park, has seen women in her family use these products since she was a child. “Being a dark skin girl, watching everyone try to get lighter made me really insecure,” says Killo. “It made me think ‘well, I'm that girl everyone would never want to be.’”

Read more…