If the hoodie fits: Boston police stopping black males without justification
Imagine being with your friends, and then a patrol car pulls up. You and your friends know of the police brutality going on in the world, but you don't know exactly what to do.
This exact scenario happened in 2010 in Boston when police officers were alerted of a break-in near Roxbury and got a description of three black males, one wearing a red hoodie, another wearing dark clothing and a third wearing a black hoodie.
When I read this description of the men, I looked outside and saw about four black males who fit the description. It reminded me of how many of those men could have been stopped, and how vague the description was. This vagueness contributes to the disproportionate stoppings of black men and women.
 Boston is an open and diverse city. The mayor constantly speaks on the police department’s improvements in racial relations, but the statistics don't show it. According to statistics reports by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, 63.3 percent of civilian stops in Boston from 2007-2010 were black people. That statistic would make sense if blacks made up the majority of Boston, but that isn't the case. At the time when these statistics were captured, blacks made up less than a quarter of Boston's population, yet made up more than half the civilian stops. 
The amount of civilian encounters are disproportionate among the races, and the Boston Police Department gave no justification for the disproportionate stops. In fact, according to the ACLU, 75 percent of stops weren't justified, with only “investigate person” written on the police report. Furthermore, only 2.5 percent of stops resulted in finding contraband.
An incident recently took place where five teens were almost arrested for trespassing and breaking and entering. I spoke to two of the teens, Mattapan 15-year-olds Jamie Giovanni and Lexi Turotcher. They were playing around, one of them with a large rock in her hand, when a police car pulled up. One woman in a police uniform and another male police officer out of uniform directed the teens not to run. They cooperated with the officers, telling them their names and addresses, but then something weird happened with the male cop and the male in the group. 
“The boy in our group was black and wore all black and had his hoodie on,” Giovanni said. “We were asked different questions compared to him. They asked him if he had weed or any weapons on him. He said no.” Strangely, the female holding the rock was not asked about drugs or weapons. This again shows the amount of pressure that is put on black males when they encounter police.
Now how can we repair this system? First, we can start by making all data more public. Also, we need to be able to read more reasoning for the stops rather than just “investigating persons”—what was the point of investigating them? What made you pursue them? Did you see them commit a crime? Finally, we need to make sure citizens are constantly reminded of their rights. If they’re asked to be searched, they need to know that they are not legally obligated to answer any questions form a cop without reasonable cause. These are all just beginning steps in changing a system that has been broken for awhile.

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AFH Photo // Fabio Tave
This November, everyone will be heading to their local movie theaters to see DC’s Justice League or Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok,whether that be for the popularity of the characters, the action, or the gritty storyline. Naturally, there will be a competition between the two films. 
While it might seem all the superhero movies are the same, there are actually three separate studios that each own big superhero franchises, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. (DC), and Fox. While each studio has its fanbase, Fox stands out among the others. Do you see Marvel Studios or Warner Bros. experimenting with R rated films like Fox? Fox, the leading bannerman in superhero movies can pull off funny R-rated films (2016’s Deadpool) but at the same time can make a gritty dark R-rated film (this year’s Logan).
Fox began the superhero franchise craze with X-Men (2000). Fox had time to stabilize the franchise with a groundwork of actors, directors, and producers. The X-Men are relatable because they are just normal people with special genes, not some Norse god frozen in time like Marvel’s Thor. They have real stories with real loss, like when anti-hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)’s adoptive father gets killed by his biological father or when 11-year-old X23 (Dafne Keen)’s own parents die in front of her.
As Fox developed a passionate fanbase, they also laid the groundwork for R-rated superhero movies. Initially, executives at the studio weren’t sure that Deadpool would succeed since it was rated R,  but we fans pushed for it and we made it happen. “One year ago to almost today, some [explicit] in here leaked that footage, and that’s why we’re standing here,” said Ryan Reynolds, who played Deadpool, at Comic Con.  “You guys, the Internet, fans, you guys made the studio do this. You bent their arms behind their backs, twisted their [explicit] necks, and here we are.”
The test for Fox is the departure of Hugh Jackman, who was the constant in the franchise that we could always count on. However, with new actors like Dafne Keen, Evan Peters and James McAvoy, the future of the X-Men franchise is in good hands. 
After the success of Fox’s X-Men universe, Marvel Studios decided to begin a franchise of their own with Iron Man (2008), led by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a playboy and egotistical genius. Since Iron Man, Marvel has added more and more new heroes and villains, but  the villains have become dull and the action feels repetitive. Marvel just doesn’t seem to have the same flair as X-Men and Deadpool. The Avengers seem more like co-workers, while the X-Men seem more like family. I don’t dislike the movies—I go watch them because I like superheroes—but if it is The Avengers or X-Men, I’m team X-Men. Regardless, each of Marvel’s movies continue to score big at the box office, so you can’t deny that their films are the most popular and profitable.
The situation at Warner Bros. is complicated. They have superhero films, but they can’t seem to find a lead actor that can lead a series. Right now there are three main actors that are spearheading the studio’s franchises, Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), and Henry Cavill (Superman). The big film that started this universe is Batman vs. Superman because it introduced Batman to this version of the universe for the first time. Batman is my favorite in the DC universe. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was easily the best film franchise of all time. If there was an Oscar for the best trilogy of all time, the Dark Knight trilogy would win in a landslide. But now that Christopher Nolan has been replaced by Zack Snyder and Christian Bale has been replaced by Ben Affleck, their portrayal of Batman is entirely different. Zack Snyder’s DC movies aren't bad, but they seem like garbage next to Christopher Nolan, However, we as fans all have high hopes for the arrival of the Justice League franchise.
Now each studio is on an upward path, and the future's looking bright. This is the golden age of superhero movies, and we should all rejoice in its light. 
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AFH Photo // Ashley Chung
Death shapes our lives. The knowledge that our time is running out lights a fire beneath us, forcing us to achieve our goals, form relationships, and create something to leave behind. Death is like a guardian angel, driving our decisions and making sure we live a full life before it’s our time to pass. But it is also our greatest enemy. For all of history, we have been seeking ways to avoid death. For example, Qin Shin Huan Di, the first emperor of China, drank mercury because he believed it would grant him immortality. Ironically, this very elixir killed him.
Today, the quest for immortality continues. Scientists are developing several options for technological fusion, such as uploading memories into an unaging casing, keeping the human brain in a robotic body, and, most popularly, integrating nanobots into the human body and brain, allowing problems at the microscopic level to be fixed as soon as they begin.  Leading minds in Silicon Valley, including Google cofounder Sergey Brin and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, have invested money, expressed interest in or stated outright that they desire immortality. Some, like Aubrey de Grey, a leading advocate for immortality, insist that aging is a disease that must be cured. “The reason we have an imperative, we have a duty, to [stop aging] as soon as possible is to give future generations a choice,” said De Grey in conversation with Sherwin Nuland, author of How We Die.  “People are entitled, have a human right, to live as long as they can; people have a duty to give people the opportunity to live as long as they want to.” 
However, the unpredictability of immortality obviously creates several moral issues. Death is a central but subtle part of our lives. There is no way to know exactly how the lack of it would affect the human race. “Immortality changes the very nature of human interaction,” said the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, the director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and an ordained Buddhist monk. “Part of the reason that we tend to deeply care for and deeply love one another is that we know those people won’t be there forever...we cherish the limited time we have together.” 
What is the value of life if it never ends? “If we were immortal, we wouldn’t get out of bed. We’d have no reason to,” said Priyadarshi. “When Death is Good for Life,” a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that “the awareness of mortality can motivate people to enhance their physical health and prioritize growth-oriented goals; live up to positive standards and beliefs; build supportive relationships and encourage the development of peaceful, charitable communities; and foster open-minded and growth-oriented behaviors.” 
But it’s no secret that immortality might have equally unpredictable benefits too. Multiple studies have shown that awareness of mortality increases in-group preference and out-group hate. An Atlantic article by Hans Villarica about terror management theory asks readers to remember their childhood fears. Many will remember monsters, the dark, and deep waters. All of these could cause harm and, potentially, death. A child’s security net is their parents. With age, fears take a more abstract form and the expectation of safety shifts from the parents onto the culture. When reminded of their mortality, people lean back onto the culture that has protected them thus far. Some experts attribute the increased political polarization in our society since 9/11 to this theory. Without the fear of mortality, therefore, perhaps it will be possible that we will also stop fearing people different from us.
As life extension technology continues to evolve and the possibility of immortality becomes more realistic, we must seriously ask ourselves—what, ultimately, is the reason for immortality? Some, like de Grey, suggest that humans have a right to experience life at the maximum. But perhaps living life to the maximum isn’t about quantity—rather, it’s a matter of quality. 
“Very rarely can you say that somebody used all 70 or 80 years of their lives meaningfully,” Priyadarshi points out. “People want immortality simply because they don’t want to die.” 
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Get Out: a fictional masterpiece by Jordan Peele that illustrates what goes wrong when you put too much blind faith in those we perceive to be “woke.”
Get Out follows the story of Chris, a black male, whose seemingly normal visit to his white girlfriend Rose’s family quickly takes a dark turn. Many horror films that deal with race—The Cabin in the Woods and The Purge franchise, for example—feature Southerners or the KKK terrorizing black characters. However, Get Out’s antagonist is a suburban white family who was viewed as being progressive. Get Out was immediately seen as a nightmare to most African-Americans; but after further analysis, it becomes clear that the themes of Get Out should worry all Americans. As the movie progresses, Jordan Peele introduces many subconscious ideas that should cause the audience to stop and think—under the fictional narrative of the movie, is there any fact to Chris’s experience? 
In the beginning of the film, Chris and Rose are stopped by police officers. When one officer asks Chris for his identification, Rose steps in and accuses the officer of being racist. As events unfold,  it is revealed to the audience that maybe the police weren't being racist, but rather doing their jobs. This plays into the liberal mentality that all police officers are bad and racist and out to do harm. Instead of hearing the officer, the viewer unconsciously allows his bias about the situation take over and see the police as villains. 
Another subconscious idea is placed into our heads in the scene when Chris plucks cotton from his chair before the trance-inducing brain procedure. It isn't until Chris takes the cotton out of his ears that the audience realizes that Chris picked the cotton to save his life. Ironically, something that many blacks were once killed for, cotton, saves Chris’s life. 
Finally, the scene that everyone in my movie theater gasped over—the ending. With Rose shot by her “grandad” and Chris choking her out, the audience begins to see the hues of red and blue lights—the police. We feel the sinking feeling in our guts that we all know how this ends, with the black guy always being screwed over in the end no matter what the situation is, but Get Out changes that—or did it? In an unreleased final scene, the actual police arrive rather than Chris’s ally Rod, arresting Chris and jailing him. The idea that we all assume the black character will be held accountable for violence plays back into the question of what parts of this movie are fact or fiction. Have we as a society come to expect that the black man will always be charged with the crime, regardless of his guilt? How can we transverse day-to-day with all these subconscious ideas eating us up? 
In the end, Get Out gives the viewer a lot of powerful ideas and imagery. More importantly, it shows how many prevalent societal ideals and biases we hold within our subconscious. Get Out leaves the audience with a final question. What do we do? How do we fix this? Most importantly, where do we go from here?  
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AFH Photo // Abraham Rosa
Walk into a room of teenagers. What’s the first thing you notice? You are most likely to see that all of them are either using a smartphone or have one in their pocket. Many adults and members of the older generations are quick to criticize, deeming smartphones distracting and bad for adolescents. While some aspects of today’s technology can be overwhelming, this constant disapproval is uncalled for: the thin powerhouses have many practical uses that are changing the world for the better.
A Pew Research Center study reveals that by the end of 2015, almost 75 percent of American teens had access to a smartphone. 17-year-old Lauren Cloherty, a senior at Boston Latin School, uses her iPhone daily and agrees that it assists her in very practical ways.
“I use it to look things up and inform me about topics I am interested in,” Cloherty said. I also get notifications for breaking news and I like that. When I’m driving, I use maps to help me get places. I even have a AAA app, which would help me if I was ever stuck in the middle of nowhere and needed assistance.”
Justin Fyles, product strategist at the mobile design firm Intrepid, works to create applications for companies that are useful to all consumers. He believes in building things that are necessary for people and impactful in their lives.
On smartphones and modern technology, Fyles said, “It’s really the intersection of people and the world around them. The goal of smartphones isn’t to remove you from the world; it’s to enhance the world that you’re experiencing.
Smartphones help people capture moments, learn things, travel, communicate and connect with others. They bring information right to our fingertips and allow us to read the news in real time. They give us tools and opportunities to change our daily lives for the better, and we should be eager to appreciate these.
“Yes, we are using more and more technology,” Fyles said, “but technology is permeating itself into more aspects of our lives and benefiting us. As a society, we’ll increasingly spend time on smartphones as they advance. It’s up to us whether we want to spend that time for a burst of entertainment or if we want to learn Mandarin. Or learn Spanish. Or video chat with someone in Iran and connect around the world. 
As a teenager in today’s ever-changing technological world, Lauren finds her phone very helpful in her academic life. She even has a whole folder on her iPhone with apps for school.
“Some apps I use include Google Drive, Quizlet, to help me study, and WordReference, which is basically a dictionary,” Cloherty said. “I use these for school all the time.”
It’s no secret that technology is infused with today’s world and smartphones are going to continue evolving. Only one question remains: will you evolve with them?
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