AFH Photo // Tim Hicks
Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification and the rationality of belief. We will discuss Western epistemology, or Western knowledge, as what we think of as “normal truth” or “common sense.” It can be seen in our language, thinking and real life. The system of education in the U.S. is built on Western epistemology and it trains us to become productive subjects for the capitalist economy. 
After a number of revolutions in the Americas, the language was a deceptive but needed decision to connect many languages through one official one. In South America, Simon Bolivar chose Spanish as the main spoken language among thousands of native tongues. On the other hand, in the United States, (men of European descent) chose for everybody and solidified the language through a constitution that excluded women, native people and Africans. That was the beginning of U.S. imperialism. Santiago Rivas, a 17-year-old graduate of the Boston Public Schools, said, “I prefer math as a language over that of these Europeans.”
The colonization of settlers led not only to a genocide of  native tribes and African people, but also set the stage for the brainwashing of future generations. Settlers set up boarding schools and public schools around the country that stripped language and culture from Africans and indigenous peoples, with the purpose of “separating the savage to save the human.”
Today, schools only teach us European languages,  not indigenous languages or African languages because these are not popular in our reality. Rivas took two years of Spanish in high school, but learned just basic stuff and thought the material was not useful in real life. Students are not being taught in school to feel proud of being African or of indigenous descent, because we are copies of the white man’s culture. Not beliefs, not culture, not past, we are just the now. 
Western epistemology erased cultures and languages. It is one main cause of many non-Western cultural genocides. The language structure that we use now is composed by Western epistemology. One example is when somebody uses the terms “America” or “American,” and people interpret it as something or someone from the United States. However, using this term contributes to Western epistemology. The reality is that America is the name of the large land that holds 36 countries. Anyone born in one of those territories can be named American. We do not realize it, because we have been taught for many generations that America is the U.S. and that American is the white man born in the U.S. 
Similarly, the different definitions of “black” include: the darkest color, sadness, evil, wicked, dishonor. This is how the white man taught everybody to use it. If you look at the definition of “white” you see the opposite. Even though we know this dirty vocabulary is wrong, our minds naturally use it. This is how Western epistemology is present in our lives as the invisible natural truth. This is the kind of knowledge that we receive from our parents when we are children. They think that it is normal and even good, because they were also taught like that. This is how we come to possess colonized minds.
Since we were children, our parents and guardians raised us to be good people, or to be “civilized” people. But the question here is: What does it mean to be “civilized?”
Those who held control in past times “educated” others, forcing those of different cultures to become “civilized.” In other words, their “education” aimed to eliminate other cultures, beliefs and languages to transform them into copies of the white man. Boarding schools were the epicenter for colonizers to civilize the “savages.”
Primary and secondary education is very important to form kids’ identities. Schools and parents make decisions for students, and often, students don’t start to make their own decisions until after they finish high school. Schools teach conformity in a way that prevents students from judging what they learn, because it is the only thing that they are exposed to. We think that all schools teach “truth.”  
One of the biggest everyday struggles for teachers is balancing the requirements of what they have to do and what they know they should be doing. Ms. Castillejo, a Charlestown High School history and English teacher, said, “You see a classroom full of 20 kids and you can only present one thing at a time, so how do you decide what should be present? It is a political decision. What you choose to put in front of the kids honors maybe five in the class, and the other 15 are lost or not honored or ignored.” 
The history department gives the curriculum to the teachers, but in Castillejo’s school, the institution permits it to be more flexible. However, she said, “There are certain set things that you need to explain to the students, but that is very white-central still, very Euro-central still, and very male-central. So how are you honoring any of the kids that are in front on you when the curriculum that you’re supposed to be following… looks like one of your students, if you’re lucky?” Charlestown High School is an institution where the majority of students are students of color; there is just a small percentage of white students, even though the school is located in a mostly white neighborhood. 
In many schools, kids whose educational background focused on minority perspectives are more likely to fail. In the U.S., students’ first contact with history and language is almost all about what the white man has done. Then, kids adopt the attitudes and beliefs of their superiors (parents and teachers) because it is the “truth.” 
Those who do not do well at school are considered losers and they won't be recognized as valuable to the system. This education structure is a tool to subjugate students. Students are encouraged to follow the “normal” path of life, but in actuality, this means kids can only follow one path: be a good student, get into college (if you can), then make your own decisions and find your own place in this society in order to survive. But the question is, what is after survival? 
Rivas’ perspective about the education system is that the curriculum was too slow for him. When he was in 8th grade, his peers took pre-algebra classes but Rivas was learning geometry and advanced algebra by himself. He said, “I am a bad student with good grades.” 
Those students that refuse to do what they are told in school, such as homework and tests, are pushed back by the system, and they are treated as “trouble kids” or “lost kids.” They receive bad grades, are suspended, and become less valuable to the institution than their peers that follow the orders. This is the nature of many teenagers’ questions: What is our purpose here? Why should we go to school? And why should we follow the rules?
Teachers also have their own opinions. “I see students in class who really understand something, and we put a test in front of them, whether it is a state test or one of my own, and they shut down completely,” Castillejosaid. “And a kid who can talk years and years about what he is really passionate about and not have it show in a test is really frustrating for them, and I guess that I'm also frustrated because I know that they learned something… It is a rough experience.” 
Castillejo believes that much of standardized testing does not prepare students at all for college and beyond. “When you get to college, you do not write the way that you write in the MCAS. As a teacher, I need to teach that stupid formula that is against everything that I learned as good writer.”
No Child Left Behind, high-stakes testing and the school-to-prison pipeline are outcomes of Western epistemology. These are forms that control students’ decisions and successes. If students obey these systems, they become a part of the capitalist economy.
It is true that capitalism permits us to advance into a “modern” society, but is it fair to dehumanize ourselves in order to advance our capitalist economy? Is it fair that we prefer a commodity economy over our natural environment? The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at him(her)self and make his(her) own decisions. But does America’s mediocre educational system really help us experience different perspectives or find ourselves? Is it fair that people know that we are on stolen land, that people have been dehumanized, and we do not do a thing about it? It is not fair seeing our kids grow up without a cultural past and without identities. It is hard to see generation after generation chained in the now, trapped by distractions that denied them of knowing the history of their ancestors. Do you think that it is fair that our reality is full of ignorant distractions that deny our cultures? Do you really trust what you know? And who really are you? 

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AFH Photo
It’s 2032. March 15, 2032 to be exact. Morgan Yu finds himself on the spaceship Talos I, with his life in danger. Yu has found himself as the prey of an escaped alien.  
“Prey” is a first person shooter game that was released in May 2017. In my opinion the most likely reason for the name “Prey” is because the main character, a human, has lost his place at the top of the food chain. Alien creatures and rogue robots are on the ship around you. This game literally puts you in the form of the weakest prey.
You are just a simple human, not a warrior, at the beginning of the game. At first, your best weapon is a simple wrench that you plugged off a dead mechanic. You must use it to kill mimics—creatures who kill by disguising themselves as everyday objects and attacking when your guard is down. As Morgan tries to escape from the aliens and off the spaceship, he finds more powerful tools and weapons to help on your adventure. 
Critics of this game hated the fact that they were underpowered for basically the entire game. However, I avoided asking myself, When am I going to be amazingly strong? and changed my mind to think like that of a small but intelligent creature, like a mouse. For most first person shooter games it’s easier to take down your enemies with each weapon you gain. In “Prey,” it still takes a significant amount of time to eliminate your enemies, even with new weapons, but maybe it’s supposed to simulate what you would actually do if you were in this situation. 
Some critics also disliked that the fact that the aliens were only shadowy squiggly things without many color differences, but I liked the graphics of the game. I agree that they didn’t really differentiate in color, but with the atmosphere of the game, I couldn’t see many ways that the enemies could be colored while still being scary. 
I really like the way “Prey” uses music, because it adds suspense. Right when you wake up, there is eerie music. Throughout the rest of the game, there’s either no music, which builds tension because you know there’s probably something around—you just don’t know where. When a mimic pops out, there’s a sound that startles you. The music makes you feel that you’re feeling that character’s suspense. 
Prey also has multiple endings. Some only differ from each other slightly. The main possible endings include you leaving early, leaving with everyone, leaving alone, or saving the research. 
At the end of the day I would give Prey the rating of 7 out of 10.  I give it this rating for the music, graphics and my personal enjoyment playing the game.

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AFH Photo // Aijanah Sanford
A nation led by a Cheeto Puff, casting a shadow of regression over this country, has a glimpse of hope from the upcoming generationin this new age, television programs geared towards younger audiences are becoming more progressive. As the nation becomes more accepting of minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and those with varying body types, these ideals become reflected into the shows we watch. This of course, raises some controversy from conservative parents and narrow-minded people. Nevertheless, many major stations still go fourth with their scheduled programming.
Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated Good Luck Charlie became the channel’s first show to present lesbian parents in a way that makes it appear completely normal. This couple played a minor role and stayed on screen for fewer than 10 minutes, yet they had a huge impact. At the time of this episode’s airing, the show received plenty of backlash. This was a risk Disney was willing to take, similar to other companies amidst this time of intolerance. 
“I do believe that it's important to represent a diverse range of humanity (race, gender, belief) in any creative endeavor,” said Mack Williams, an animation director, illustrator, and motions graphic artist who has worked for Archer and Comedy Central all while owning his own animation company, PigApple. “There are many segments of society that don't get exposed to the cultural rainbow I see every day in New York City,” Williams said. 
Williams believes representing a wide array of peoples and cultures in children’s shows is an important way to expose children to the diversity of the world. “Seeing these characters and the different kinds of viewpoints presented in shows like this may be the only exposure some children get,” he said. “If you grow up watching shows that only present one specific view of the world, you may think that's the only way the world is.”

Teenagers are generally more accepting than the preceding generation, yet they grew up in a time where TV programming such as Friends and Ed, Edd, and Eddy, did not represent the face of present-day America. How has the content changed since then?
Lynn Nguyen, a 17-year-old senior at John D. O’Bryant believes TV programming is starting to coincide with her beliefs. “I think that I have always been a more progressive thinker,” she said. “To see television broadcasting the same beliefs as mine is a relief, because it shows that I am not the only person who thinks this way.”
Teenagers are contributing to the ratings of shows like Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears, which features a Muslim character, and both Steven Universe and Star vs. the Forces of Evil, which both feature a gay kiss. It is evident the mindset of America has changed drastically in the the past three years with the opinions of teenagers having changed to be more accepting, but do their parent’s values reflect the same change?
“I definitely believe it is important to display a diverse array of cast members and content in shows,” says Ngoc Nguyen-Soares, a mother of two. “It implements this mindset into the younger ones to show it is okay to love who you want and be confident in your body type along with accepting the differences amongst people.”
As the generation of baby boomers hand over their responsibilities to the rising millennials, it is essential to play this new content to ensure the general mindset is in the right place. Disparities between people’s thoughts are not caused by biological factors, but rather environmental which only makes it more important to display progressive content in multimedia.
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Do you ever look at train tracks and see colorful words and pictures? An array of vibrant scribbles and lines? Names that you have no idea who they belong to? How about pictures of famous people, or illusions? That’s called graffiti. 
According to PBS NewsHour, graffiti started in the late 1960s when a high school student from Philadelphia, who went by the name of Cornbread, began tagging his name on the city walls to get a girl's attention. Tagging is a stylized signature that street artists use to broadcast themselves and their work.
The big question about graffiti is whether it is street art or vandalism. Graffiti should not be a crime. A lot of the time, graffiti artists create art that has a message and can be considered street art.
Street art and graffiti have their differences and similarities. Jason Talbot, a professional graffiti artist at Artists for Humanity, explained both can be done in public with spray bottles, but the difference is “street art is for sale and is mainly about the enjoyment of the person buying it. Meanwhile, graffiti is more about the artist.”
Street art can be done publicly, with permission of property owners, and is image-based, whereas graffiti can be created without permission, illegally, and is mostly word-based. If someone is caught doing graffiti on a public wall, they could face serious jail time. That’s why there are graffiti yards, like “Graffiti Alley” in Cambridge, where people can do their art and not be punished for it.
You can assume graffiti would be considered a crime because artists work on other people’s property without permission. But if it is not disturbing or inappropriate, then why is it a problem? 
Everyone has their own opinion. Graffiti artists should have the right to show off their talents wherever or whenever they want because it is their career. They do it for a living. You can’t take that away from them.
Some people question the reason for graffiti, but a lot of it has to do with respect. Talbot touches on how graffiti artists do graffiti and tag their name on walls because they want to elevate their voices and put themselves out there. They see big names like Amazon and want their names to be up there like them. 
Jaylah Gulley, a sophomore visual arts major at Boston Arts Academy, wants people to know “the effort and feelings she puts into her work” when she draws.   
Graffiti happens all over the world, especially in Great Britain, Australia and Colombia, and can be beneficial for cities. According to art and design website Co.Design, “A preliminary study for MIT’s Place Pulse suggests that street art may have a positive effect on how unique a city looks.” A lot of street art has a purpose. Artists try to relate their work to real world problems and contribute to their city’s economy and creativity. How is that a crime?
Would you prefer gang-affiliated graffiti plastered around your city, or graffiti with a positive meaning? When you criminalize graffiti on public walls, it can get out of hand and lead down to destroying the city rather than beautifying it. 

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Let’s admit it. Nearly everyone who plays violent video games knows that while it may be possible to do those things in the game, it won't end well in the real world when you get locked up in a jail cell. 
Nonviolent video games may seem boring, but surprisingly there are some good benefits from these types of games. One is that they can help suppress aggression, meaning that if you tend to be angry, you can release your anger toward a nonviolent video game to feel better. 
Strategy and adventure games that avoid violence offer some benefits to kids and teenagers. “Minecraft” is a lego-style adventure game. The creative and building concept of the game lets players build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D, procedurally-generated world. 
According to an article on MSN, “Minecraft” encourages and motivates learning for kids, boosts creativity, increases perception, is a healthier alternative and improves hand-eye coordination. 
Dionny Ortiz, senior at City on a Hill Circuit Street High School, agreed. “‘Minecraft’ is one of the many examples on how nonviolent video games can be beneficial,” he said. “People can learn how Redstone Circuits work, making really complex contraptions and machines.” 
Sports video games also provide a safe environment for adolescents to develop sports-related skills and knowledge. According to a study published on Researchgate, researchers found evidence to suggest that “sports video games may be an effective tool to promote self-esteem as well as participation in sports among adolescents.” 
Many teens really do become interested in playing a sport in the real world after starting with the video game. Isaac Amado, a senior at Saint Joseph Prep High School, stated, “I can’t tell you the number of people who play ‘2K’ and then the next day try to ball up in person at a court, it’s ridiculous but entertaining.” 
So go out there and try it for yourself. See how fun the sport is in real life and how active you can be while doing it. Who knows, maybe you can end up playing for the sports league and be on the face of the video game that started your whole career. 

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