Book Review: “Cinder”; Book 1 of the Lunar Chronicles

When you first pick up and read the hard cover sleeve summary of Marissa Meyer’s book, Cinder, a certain idea gets caught in your head: a cyborg-Cinderella story retelling with a fun android companion and the inevitability of going to ball. And it’s all true.

Our half robotic protagonist, Cinder, is a mechanic in a post-nuclear world where technology rules lives, androids are real (treated as second class citizens), cyborgs like her are discriminated against and a new race of people live on the moon, controlled by a tyrant queen who practically killed her entire family in order to achieve totalitarianism.

I have to confess: I haven’t read a lot of science fiction growing up. But Cinder and the other Meyer books had been catching my eyes every time I went to the Teen section at my local library.

This last time, I had been inspired to check out the book after listening to an interview on NPR’s 1A* with Meyer and N.K. Jemisin, who wrote The Broken Earth, a series I’ve tried to get into so many times, but had struggled with. It wasn’t because it wasn’t the science fiction aspect that I had issues with; it was an auidobook and I had a hard time visualizing. Lesson learned: for me, sci-fi requires some type of text format.

As an avid reader of young adult fiction, I was driven more toward fantasy and modern retellings of stories have been my favorites. First, there was there was the Beauty and the Beast retelling where Beast had hooks for hands. Then, Jane Eyre was nanny to a rockstar in another life.

I’d been wanting to read The Lunar Chronicles series for some time and I was not disappointed with this first book. I was shocked by the mixed elements of fantasy and science fiction used, but it was helpful in making descriptors, thoughts and actions powerful on page. I’m confident the use of glamour in the books is going to become significant in the other books going forward in the series.

I didn’t expect there to be a twist at the end–though I had caught on what it could have been early on–and the politics that begun to affect our character so quickly. The themes all weave together to create the perfect cliffhanger that makes you want to pick up the book first thing in the morning (which I plan to do).

I recommend this book for anyone who is unsure of how they’ll feel about science fiction, but don’t want to dive into sensations that are Star Wars and Star Trek. Cinder is the type of scifi novel that will help you stick your toe into the genre without the worry of overstimulation.

*I could not find the interview I listened to on their website, but I know for a fact it was NPR because I distinctly remeber this segment

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The War on Drugs is a War on Us

The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.

Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.

This 40-year campaign has brought a stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs for recreation or therapeutic purposes.

After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.

Despite being legalized for medical use in more than half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties and is highly addictive.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is also preventing people from being able to receive a medical treatment that–proven by the minimal science there is–that works for them.

Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this. The furthest along in this medical study is MDMA-assisted therapy assisting those who have severe traumas or post-traumatic stress disorder that has been immune to other treatments. It is in its final trials before going to the Food and Drug Administration.

The Drug War in the United States also began the sharp spiking of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.

I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought into the idea that drug use or drug addiction are a criminal issue; people believing that people who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.

Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently. We must focus more on education and harm reduction than on incarcerations and punishments.

We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.

“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically.

Now is the time to change the way we handle this.

This column was edited and republished by the original author.

This column was originally published in the independent student publication, the BG News,on March 20, 2017 which can be found here.

Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

In Response to Tuesday’s “On Interracial Relationships”

The fetishization of people of color in this country has been an issue since before the colonization of the Western world itself. While diversity in the United States is indeed on the rise, the growing political climate has also made white supremacy braver as it infiltrates our executive branch and hate crimes in the U.S. begin to rise.

I am a product of an interracial relationship. My father, for as little as I know about him, was a black and Native American man. My mother is Irish, German and Hungarian with red hair and blue eyes to match. So imagine my surprise, and disgust, when I opened The BG News and read that “interracial couples can make beautiful babies. Interracial relationships have so many benefits, can even be a fun ‘fetish’ for many.”

To avoid getting into semantics, the definition of interracial is actually “of, involving, or designed for members of different races.” The definition itself does not include anything about the interaction of those different races, be it platonic or romantic.

Also, an interracial relationship does not have to involve a white individual to be considered interracial as the column used in its examples. Interracial couples can also involve someone who is Latinx and someone who is Black; or someone who is Asian and someone who is Latinx; or someone who is Black and someone who is Asian.

While it is in the author’s opinion that “interracial relationships have the power to completely end racism,” it is fact that this is not ever going to be the case. Despite popular belief, people who are racist have the capability to be in interracial relationships. Historically, white supremacists have slept with women of color in an attempt to “dilute” the skin color of future U.S. citizens and to “dilute” the people and their culture.

How do white supremacists and racists in interracial relationships have the power “to completely end racism,” when their entire ideology sees black bodies as just a capitalist commodity and want to eliminate those people?

In 2016, there were 60.25 million married couples in the United States. As of 2014, 35 percent of all marriages were interracial and interracial marriage is still projected to rise as the demographics of the United States begin to change. Does this mean that interracial marriage is still the minority? Yes. But that does not mean people aren’t “embracing” interracial dating. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

Of course people are still going to think interracial dating and marriages are “taboo.” In 2016, we saw the case of Loving v. Virginia come to life on the silver screen, the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in 1968.

A movie screen cap of
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving from the 2016 movie, “Loving.” The movie made $7.8 million at the box office.
It is going to take more than “beautiful mixed babies,” tolerance and embracing to end racism in U.S. society. It is going to take action, unlearning racist and white supremacist behaviors, and dismantling our institutions of racism before we can even think about it being completely over.

As an active member of the BDSM community, I found it to be incredibly racist and offensive to my community that interracial dating could be seen as a “fun fetish.” People of color have been fetishized for decades and to promote this through interracial dating promotes white supremacy. “Race play” is a very real thing in the community which is where participants take on the roles/stereotypes of different races to enact a power dynamic. A common scene is a submissive taking on the role of a slave and the dominant taking the role of a plantation owner; white submissives will go as far as putting themselves in blackface.

I agree interracial relationships are to be celebrated and embraced. Without interracial love, I don’t know who I would be as a person. I am a tri-racial woman because of interracial dating. But please refrain from fetishization when celebrating these relationships.

This column was written in response to “On Interracial Relationships.”
This column was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Hello all!

Happy New Year! It has been quite some time since I’ve written any news stories or updated my blog with stories I have written, so let me bring you up to speed on things:

To start, I’m graduating college in May! I’m very excited and it has been a long journey. I’m currently taking two journalism classes that require me to write stories; one of them requires me to have a separate blog for the stories and those you’ll be able to read here.

For my second journalism class, I hope to keep posting those stories here on this site for you as I try to get them published. I’ve been on WordPress for a year now and this blog has been really helpful in helping maintain a place to keep potential clips. Thank you all for reading!

–Erika “Fonzie” Heck

“Black Like Me” a social justice beach read

Title: Black Like Me
Genre: Nonfiction; Sociology
Author: John Howard Griffin
Publisher: Sepia Magazine
Publication Date:
1960
Pages:
176
Price: Library Rental

To the journalist or the activist who is engaged with racial inequality, it is not uncommon to take a book pertaining to social justice on holiday with them to read when they’re not doing research.

The good thing about “Black Like Me” is that the research is practically already done for the reader. Author John Howard Griffin, a white man from Texas, physically inserts himself into various Black communities in the South and Deep South, by medically and artificially darkening his skin. He uses UV sun lamps and an oral treatment often used in helping the pigment of people who suffer from vitiligo.

Griffin was from Texas and born in 1920. He graduated from the University of Poitiers in France. According to The Telegraph, he became a part of the French Resistance and helped Jewish children escape from World War II to England.

Before talking to various people and doctors, he admits in one of his beginning journal entries that even though he specializes in race issues, he did not fully understand the real struggle of the Negro. So, in a journalistic context, he feels that since he does not know what he calls the “Negro’s real problem,” he feels it is his duty as a journalist has to investigate this matter on his own and see for himself what it is really like.

Before reading this, I was incredibly skeptical of what the content of the book was going to be like. As a woman of color, I have faced racism both inside and outside the home. Here, I thought prior to reading the book, was a white man who medically and physically painted on blackface to put himself in a society he was never in to start with.

However, I was surprised when I started reading the book.

For starters, he went out of his way to talk to multiple people about whether or not it would be a good idea to invest in such a project. Then, he dedicated himself to the cause further by consulting with a dermatologist and getting a medication that would darken his skin. While he only participated in this social experiment for a month, the medication would not darken his skin completely, so he finished it off using a stain and giving him a “pure brown” skin tone. This would come in handy after he creates a system of going between himself as white and himself as a black man.

I was not sure how he was going to interject himself into society as a black man, but it helped he decided to travel for his experience. He portrayed himself as a black man traveling for work, which I thought was a clever but ambiguous identity for him to have when encountering strangers.

I found the book to be an easy read. Griffin writes clearly and easily about his experiences. Even for parts that could seem particularly uncomfortable to the white reader, his points are easy to understand.

I understand Griffin’s desire to want to know exactly the problems the Negro faced in the South and Deep South, it’s hard to ignore the privilege he had not only have the option to try and investigate this as journalism story. But also, he had the privilege to also “zigzag” between being black and white, before permanently returning to white society. While he was able to darken his skin to “see” what the struggles of Black people were like, actual Negros do not have the same luxury or privilege.

But John Griffin gains something from his experience that racist individuals are not capable of having for marginalized people is empathy. That’s the important thing to keep in mind while reading this brief book—only 176 pages. So it makes for an easy read for even a four-day weekend.

New retro toy store brings nostalgia to BG 

Near the corner of South Main, across the street from Lola’s Frozen Yogurt, two small but bright orange flags hang outside with blue lettering and two blue boxing gloves hitting each other. One with an “M” and the other with an “L.”

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Retro is a new retro toy and video game store in Bowling Green, Ohio. They opened their doors for the first time on Oct. 24, and held a ribbon cutting on Nov. 3. Co-owner Kayla Minniear said and things are going “really well,” for almost one month.

“I think the hardest part about opening the store was actually getting it opened because you have to inventory,” she said. “We cleaned and tested every single game in here, [and] that took us about two weeks.”

Clean and test every game? Individually? I glance at the wall to my left where shelves of Nintendo64 and NES game cartridges lay. In the glass enclosure, a Game Boy Color sits inside with Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow next to it. The holy trinity of Pokémon games at half the price of the new Pokémon Sun and Moon available for Nintendo 3DS.

“There’s probably over a thousand in here,” Minniear said. “Just out right now. I know we had about 700 original NES cards when we first opened.”

Minniear works in the the store full time and co-owns with her husband Jon, a full-time plumber. A couple nights a week and on the weekends, he comes in to help run the store. He also repairs and fixes video game consoles.

Growing up, Kayla was an avid collector of “Sailor Moon” and Disney’s “Aladdin.” When she and her husband first started dating, they began to collect video games after he noted he wanted to have all the games for one of his retro Nintendo systems. For their third anniversary, she bought him a Super Mario Bros. arcade game, which now sits at the front of the store on “free play.”

Photo taken by Erika Heck; Edited by Jonathan Miksanek
Super Mario Bros. and Smash TV arcade games inside Rock Em Sock Em Retro. The games are set to “free play,” according to Kayla Minniear.

A market for retro video game collecting and collectors exists, and it’s increasingly growing into (as Kayla described it) “it’s own stock market.”

“Most people don’t realize that because they’re not retro collectors. Regular stocks go up and down…it’s the same with video games,” she said. “There will be a game that’s worth like, $600 at one point; drop down to $200 and then shoot up to like, two grand. It just depends.”

A game called “Little Samson,” was valued at $80 when the couple first started collecting video games together. It’s highest peak price, according to Kayla, was $1,600 and it is now currently valued at $1,200. They recently traded this game for a trip to Ireland.

As collectors, Kayla and Jon want to get more known in their local collector community and their online community is already strong. Minniear said people at flea markets would ask about where their store front was, but they didn’t have one. Not only are they hoping to give the collector community a new place to buy quality games, but they are hoping to give the Bowling Green community a new place to hang out and remember the good things of the past.

“We’ll be hosting some free tournaments soon,” Minniear said. “If [a] college kid wants to come and do his homework at the booth, I don’t care.”

The white walls are drawn and decorated with different but familiar characters. Above the window facing the alleyway, Spider-Man holds Captain America’s shield. By the arcade machines, Scooby Doo and the gang are fleeing in the Mystery Machine.

“My mother did [the artwork]. She’s going to start painting it on canvas, so if people wanna buy them, they can.”

Picture taken by Erika Heck; Edited by Jonathan Miksanek
Rock Em, Sock Em, robots painted by the entrance wall of Rock Em Sock Em Retro.

Kayla said many collectors of all ages have visited the store.

With the holidays approaching, Kayla Minniear hopes Rock Em Sock Em Retro will be a place people can buy gifts.

“I know a couple people came in to buy the NSYNC dolls just because their sister had it growing up. We’re just hoping to bring a lot of those people in, and we’re also hoping we can keep the shelves full too.”

The Redskins name debate

With the beginning of fall and Halloween quickly approaching there is one thing also happening that makes people either excited or nauseated and it’s not pumpkin spice. 

It’s sports. 

It’s also that wonderful time of the year when you will hear sports fans and activists alike talk about one thing: mascots and names involving Native Americans. 

I would like to think that most people can recall that one time The Washington Post said 9 of 10 Native Americans did not find the term “redskin” offensive. This is something that has been widely debated by not only sports fans, but activists and Native Americans themselves. 

Owner Daniel Snyder has also taken a stand to the point where he has written emotional letters about how Native Americans face more dire issues than the name of a football team. These condition include the poverty rate on reservations, diabetes, substance abuse, lack of infrastructure, transportation and lack of water resources. At the end of a letter he even announces the start of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. 

In the summer the NFL asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look over their revocation of the Redskins trademark registration. 

Already, I am seeing reporters say Snyder has already said no this season to changing the name. Which is a shame—he didn’t even wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the revocation. 

“Why not,” people ask me, “talk about Blackhawks, the Indians, the Braves, the Chiefs?” 

But they are, and we will…but not in this column. 

In my time here at BGSU, I’ve taken every Native American Studies class. In my second Native American Studies class, I learned that the term “redskin” comes from collecting Native American scalps for bounty. 

A column by Esquire shows a picture of the Phips Proclamation written in 1755 saying, stating, “The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for very red-skin sent to Purgatory.”

A picture of an excerpt from the 18th century Phips Proclalmation.
A section of the Phips Proclamation which gives the prices for how much every Native American bounty is worth. It lists the prices of both whole bodies and scalps.

An advertisement appearing in Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, prices dead Native Americans at $200, citing that the amount is “more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.

An advertisement from the Minnesota newspaper, The Daily Republican, which advertises the price of Native American scalps to be $200.
An advertisement showing the price of a Native American scalp from a 19th century newspaper

Native Americans were scalped and had their heads sold as if they were pelts

To a lot of Native Americans, the terms is seen as offensive and it is something they do not wish to have as a name for the Washington football team. However, cannot ignore that there indeed may be some Native Americans who are completely okay with the name. With all topics, it is a fact of life that there will always be a divide in opinions. 

Daniel Snyder is right. There are indeed these problems he listed in his letter on Native American reservations. Post World War II Germany was treated better than Native Americans have been. 

A protest has been going on in the Dakotas over an oil pipeline that is being built on Native American land. The pipeline would stretch over four states and could potentially affect the drinking water of 18 million people with just one accident. 

I have yet to see the NFL, nor the Redskins, do anything to either help Native American communities or lend a hand to the protesters who are up against an oil company invading their land, and defacing burial sites and sacred places. 

The Original Americans Foundation has also been inactive since 2015. Their website isn’t even updated or functioning. 

There are definitely other teams who need to step up for Native American communities and the Redskins, and while they have done so in the past, they have not done so to my knowledge in the present.

CORRECTION: The original column cited the advertisement to be an excerpt of the proclamation. This turned out to be incorrect and was changed.
The original version of this column was published in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Pipeline raises concerns for many groups

A pipeline in the Midwest has caught the attention of the press and the people affected by it through a string of protests that have been happening since spring.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new pipeline, meant to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to the state of Illinois daily.

Construction of the pipeline was granted in March 2016. Dakota Access, the company constructing the pipeline, hoping the pipeline would be constructed and running by the start of 2017, but the protesting by both Native Americans and environmental activists has halted construction.

President Obama met with tribal leaders earlier this week to hear their concerns about the pipeline, but no remarks were made after the meeting.

The pipeline will have capacity as high as 570,000 pounds, according to a website about the pipeline created by Energy Transfer.

The website also said the $3.7 million investment will create up to 12,000 construction jobs. Dakota Access said the pipeline would “bring significant economic benefits to the region.” According to CNN, Dakota Access also said pipelines were the safest, most cost-effective and responsible way to move crude oil between locations.

“Originally the pipeline was slated to go closer to Bismarck,” said Andrew Kear, an assistant professor at the University. He’s in both the political science and the environment and sustainability departments. “(It’s) an urban area, more affluent, and they thought that there would be more political opposition to a pipeline going closer to a heavily populated border of an urbanized area; rather than sending the pipeline towards a more rural, less populated—but nonetheless, land that’s close to Native Americans.”

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice ruled that construction of the pipeline bordering a North Dakota lake would not continue.

At the end of April, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, along with the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, sent separate letters to the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency overseeing the pipeline. The three agencies called for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environment Impact Statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes have argued with federal judges that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly assess the impact the pipeline could have on the cultural sites of the tribes and the effects an accidental spill could have. The tribe also argues the pipeline could affect the river, which could impact not only their only source of clean water, but could also impact the drinking water of 18 million other people.

Native American reservations have tribal sovereignty, which means that they are supposed to have jurisdiction of their own lands, without interference from state governments. The federal government handle issues pertaining to Native Americans.

In August, David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote an opinion editorial for The New York Times. He writes the Dakota Access Pipeline has been “fast-tracked from Day 1, using the Nationwide Permit No. 12, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites.”

Archambault also wrote that the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River (the river the pipeline will be built under it) in 1958, taking away their natural resources and land in order to create Lake Oahe.

A judge also denied Standing Rock’s request to stop the pipeline earlier this month as well, which prompted the tribe to take their cause and statement all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where David Archambault II spoke as part of a hearing on indigenous rights.

“While we have gone to the court in the United States our courts have failed to protect our sovereign rights, our sacred places and our water,” he said.

This article has been edited by the original author.
This article was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News. You can find this version here.