Thank you Mr. Fox

Mr. Fox, a school aide, sent me an email regarding my column.  He wrote:
“Arnav,
I read your editorial this morning with great interest and great sadness.  I would like to offer a little historical perspective that comes after living more than six decades.
I was born in 1951 and grew up witnessing the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  “Negroes” (who were often called much worse names) were treated as second class citizens in many areas of the country, both legally and illegally.  It took a long time to overcome the laws of the time.  Through the efforts of countless black and white people alike, laws and prejudices were slowly changed.

But unfortunately, prejudices are not limited to skin color.  Along with racial prejudices, there have been cultural and religious prejudices throughout history, in America as well as in many other countries – different Muslim sects warring with each other in the Middle East, Catholics and Protestants fighting one another in Ireland, Israelis and Palestinians feuding over the West Bank, etc.  The list goes on and on, ad nauseam.

Fortunately, we live in a country that is vastly more tolerant of racial, religious, and cultural differences than most other places in the world.  Yet, we still experience events like the one you mentioned in Texas.  I would venture to say that a lot of the misunderstanding that exists toward any culture and  faith and background stems from the actions of a very small percentage of extremists.
Thankfully, we are part of the Mason High School community that is even more tolerant than other places within our own country,  probably because we are culturally diverse and relatively well educated.  But we are far from perfect here, and it is morally and ethically imperative that we continually do what we can to overcome the fears and ignorance that lead to prejudice.
Finally, change comes slowly.  In my lifetime, I’ve seen a country come so far, but with a long way still to go.
Thank you for speaking out.  Don’t give up.  And please, do not ever lose hope.
Mr. Fox”
Mr. Fox,
Thank you so much for your eye opening advise. I am sorry for the injustices that you witnessed during those tying times. It is a pity to see human beings treat each other in such a manner.
As a Boy Scout, and an Eagle Scout, I have learned to always stand up for what I believe and to be brave in doing so. I was just doing that by writing my column. We as humans often witness injustices but are afraid to speak up against them. But it is the utter silence that infuriates the situation rather than silencing it. We often blame many for the actions of a few.  But as you said, we are so fortunate to live in a diverse community that is welcoming of everyone’s cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless, we are not perfect. Even in Mason people are ignorant of others culture and prejudice spawns from this. But, this doesn’t give us the right to give up.
Thank you so much Mr. Fox for your endearing words. I admire and appreciate your unwavering support both for me and the Chronicle.
Arnav
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Racial supremacy posions melting pot

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When 14-year-old and Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed went to school, he didn’t come home by bus.

Instead he was arrested by authorities. As Mohamed eagerly presented a homemade clock to his teacher, her reaction was far from anything Mohamed expected. Thinking that it was a bomb, she immediately notified school officials who proceeded to call authorities. He was then escorted out in handcuffs.

After authorities had established that the hoax bomb was indeed a clock, Mohammed was suspended.

The racial profiling of Mohamed wasn’t a rare occurrence. Time and time again, we let race become a factor on how we treat others. As a nation filled with diversity, it is our duty to pave the way for cultural tolerance and awareness. In America, diversity is not a weakness but a strength.

America is a land of immigration, a melting pot, a painted mosaic.  Our cultural differences ought to be valued and should be used it as a strength to unite, not as a weakness to divide. But when Mohamed was arrested, it didn’t represent these ideals. It only upheld racial supremacy.

Even after over 50 years, history still repeats itself.

On August 24, 1963 Emmett Till entered

a convenience store. He bought some bubblegum and when he walked out he said, “Bye, baby,” to the cashier.

Ryan Bryant, the cashier’s husband, and his brother-in-law, went to Till’s house a few days after. And they did the same thing what most white men living in Mississippi in 1963 would do. They dragged Till out, forced him to get in the car with him, and drove him to the banks of the Tallahatchie River. They then mutilated his body by gouging out his eyes, beating him with a barbwire fan, and shooting him.

After they had mangled him to their heart’s content, they threw him in the river to clean up their act.

Three days later authorities found his body, and the corpse could only be identified by the initialed ring on his hand. After convening for less than an hour, the jury miraculously issued the verdict, “Not guilty.”

In August 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington, he said, “One day I hope that my four little children will not be judged for the color of their skin but for the content of their character.”

But even after 50 years later, what are we judging a person on: by the color of their skin or by the content of their character?

Expression. Not Suppression.

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Mary Beth Tinker discusses the importance of student rights. 
“Religion and Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
Recently I had the opportunity to watch Mary Beth Tinker lecture. As a 13 year old girl, she never thought her name would be attached to a landmark Supreme Court Case of Tinker v. Des Moines
Born into a pastor’s family in Des Moines, Iowa in 1952, a decade when the tensions between blacks and whites continued to heighten, her family believed that religious ideals should be put into action. They tirelessly fought on behalf of the blacks living in their town. This selfless deed only reciprocated in the banishment of the entire family from town. From an early age, Tinker had been taught to remain sincere to her principles.
By 1965, 170,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed in Vietnam. Live footage flooded TV’s and publications of the first “televised war.” Appalled by deaths of many, Tinker and her friends decided to wear black arm bands to mourn for the lives lost on both sides.  On December 14, 1965 the principals of Warren Harding Junior High adopted a policy that made wearing armbands impermissible. Two days later, Mary Beth Tinker and her brother John, anxiously walked to school. A few hours after school started, she was sent to the principal’s office. 
Her stomach churned as she stepped into the Vice Principal’s office.   
He said, “Mary Beth, I’m surprised! What is a good student like you doing wearing that armband? Take it off.”
Tinker, scared of what would happen, instantaneously removed it.
He continued, “Well Mary Beth, since you wore it, you are suspended.” 
The next day, her brother John and all of her friends were suspended. With the help from an ACLU lawyer, Tinker took her case to court. Her case worked its way up the federal court system.  After a series of fierce school board meetings, encountering death threats, watching people yell “Communists!” and throw red paint at her house, the verdict had come out. 
On February 24, 1969, Mary Beth Tinker had won.
But the victory was really for all students. The Court ruled that the First Amendment applied to public schools, and school officials could not censor student speech unless it disrupted the educational process. Chief Justice Abe Fortas’ famous ruling, “Neither students or teachers “shed their Constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate,” establishes the rights of students in public schools for the first time.  
As a student journalist for The Chronicle, I realize the intrinsic value of this case. In a day and age where creativity flows among youth, students often feel discouraged to express that. It is cases like Tinker’s that spur others to step out of their bubble and take a stand for what they believe in instead of being suppressed. 
 Thank you Mary Beth Tinker. Thank you. 

An Act of Selflessness

Nick Seifert and the owner holding the rescued cat.

Nick Seifert and the owner holding the rescued cat

Eagle Scout is the ultimate pinnacle of Boy Scouts. The last rung of a long and arduous ladder. But this is not the end, but only the beginning of something so big; something so vast. The moment when you yourself realize your true potential and caliber.

Today as I was talking a walk in the blazing heat with Brian and Nick, a lady yelled towards us.

She yelled, “Would you boys like a chance to be good Samaritans?”

Puzzled by this question for a moment, we replied, “Yes of course!”

The task I had in my mind was something simple. But what she asked us to do was no simple task.

She frantically said, “My cat has been stuck in the sewer drainage for two nights. I don’t know how much longer she can go like this. The fire department couldn’t really do anything. Can you boys please help me?”

The answer to this question we didn’t have to think about. We grabbed the metal grate and lifted it. Nick quickly ran to his house to change into his swim trunks and came running back. Brian and I lowered Nick into the sewer and we handed him milk to lure the cat. After several minutes of sticking his head into the pipe and reaching out to the car as far as he could, Nick finally pulled the cat out and handed it to me. I grabbed a towel to hold her and gave it to the owner.

She was thankful beyond belief. The look in her eyes was indescribable. Her face was glowing and her smile exuberant. She asked us, “How do you all know each other?”

Brian replied, “We’re all Boy Scouts.”

She continued, “Are you all Eagles?”

I replied, “Of course.”

She then responded, “I knew I was in good hands.”

She offered Nick a reward and he kindly denied it. He didn’t want anything of  monetary value because that’s who he is. That’s who we are. We help people for the sole purpose of helping them. That’s what a Boy Scout is. That’s what being an Eagle has taught me.

Importance of High School Journalism

There is one organization in the entire Mason High School that has become my utmost priority. There is one organization that has shifted my focus. There is one organization that has become my life. The Chronicle.

Everyday, as the bell rings, I walk through the door of room C103. I feel privileged to be there. A lightening bolt of passion and dedication strikes me as I step foot into that room. I have emerged as a completely different person because of The Chronicle. Never have I ever, had such a boost in confidence. Coming out after conducting my first interview for a CSPN story, I will never forget that breath of relief. I will never forget the first time my name The Chronicle has exposed me to so much. I have interviewed a variety of different people from school officials, to project managers constructing new buildings, to high school students. I have been to a soup kitchen in Over the Rhine and have directly interacted with the homeless and the needy. I have grown so much because of our journalism program. A program, that not all are lucky enough to have.

In fact, due to the lack of funding, many high school newspapers are forced to fold. But I know the Chronicle will never have to face that day because, we have outstanding business managers like Emily and Ashton. Programs like the Chronicle and MBC are what connect the 3,600 students attending Mason High School. It gives students a  chance to voice their opinions through staff editorial and opinion columns. After looking at the latest issue of the Chronicle or the latest MBC broadcast, it creates a synergy between the audience. Like  Mr. Conner said, students are able to come together and talk about it and bond over it, creating a bridge between students. Through this, the journalism program has become and will remain an integral part of MHS culture.

Do you speak Christian?

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Mason High School is the spitting image of the American melting pot.

It’s a school filled people with various races, different cultures, and a plethora of ethnicities. You would expect that in a school like this, people don’t have to be immersed, but are at least aware of other’s cultures and traditions. That’s right. You would only expect.

I was in biology class the other day, and a few kids were talking in their native Indian language. My lab partner, let’s call him Sam, was observing this conversation.  He approached them. Sam then, after they finished rattling away, asked , “Are you speaking Hindu?”

The students responded in shock,”What?!”

Sam continued, ” I mean are you speaking Hindu?”

I was puzzled. I didn’t know whether to laugh in ridiculousness or to take offense. I immediately signaled Sam to come back.

I then asked him, “Do you speak Christian?” Sam laughed in response.

Though Sam was only off by one letter between the language Hindi and the religion Hindu, there was a big difference.  What Sam said, though it was out of ignorance, was threatening cultural identity and diversity. According to nationonline.org, almost 500 million people speak Hindi world wide. Almost that many people speak English.

America is considered the land of immigration, a melting pot, a painted mosaic.  But what Sam said that day, didn’t embody these principles but only presented close mindedness. A sophomore in High School can’t distinguish between one of the most common languages spoken in the world and one of the most practiced religions. This ignorance only proves that even in Mason, where there are events like the Taste of Mason, promoting cultures and the different nationalities from all around the world, some people are still isolated to the outside world. As a nation of immigrants, it’s our duty to pave the way for cultural awareness.

That day, I asked Sam that question as a joke.

But really, do you speak Christian?