4 - Friday, February 14, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4 - Friday, February 14, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
.ce 1J*idhigan 4&ilij
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
PETER SHAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
EDOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Equal treatment for all students
Transgender children must be respected in public school policies
nn Arbor Public Schools officials have joined school board
administrators across the country in the discussion of unequal school
policies in an effort to protect the rights of transgender students.
Current school policies are generally non-discriminatory, but they don't address
issues such as a transgender student's right to choose his or her bathroom or
which gender's cabin to stay in on a field trip. While we commend the officials
for their dialogue, just having the discussion isn't enough. Ann Arbor schools
need to take substantive action to protect the rights of transgender students.
The (Marcus) Smart thing to say
U nder absolutely no
a player physically
react to a fan."
been repeated C
over the past few
days, as think
piece after think
piece has rolled JAMES
in discussing the BRENNAN
basketball player at Oklahoma State
University, shoved Texas Tech
University fan Jeff Orr after Orr
yelled something at him.
Looking at the tape, it's hard to
gather exactly what Orr actually
said, but rumors are buzzing that
Smart told his coaches Orr yelled a
racial slur; others claim they can see
Orrmouthingoutthe words "goback
to Africa." Orr denies saying either,
but admits that he said something he
To say that Orr definitely or prob-
ably used a racial slur is founded in
about as much evidence as saying he
didn't. Other players have alleged
that Orr is known for crossing the
line and that Lubbock, Texas is
notorious for racist fans, but Marcus
Smart is also a player with a well-
documented history of hot-headed-
ness. Maybe Orr used a slur, maybe
he didn't. What I think is more
important is the one-sided debate in
these think pieces about the appro-
priateness of Smart's response -
regardless of what Orr said.
For a moment, let's forget
the Marcus Smart incident and
just imagine it's any other Black
basketball player at any other
stadium. The player tumbles into the
stands and the fan tells him to "go
back to Africa," so the player shoves
him and runs back onto the court.
If I'm that kid's coach, I'd com-
mend him for having the restraint
not to clock that guy across the
face, too. But according to the
consensus opinion of sports com-
mentators, even if Orr did say some-
thing that crossed the line, Smart
To apply the standard "there is
no circumstance where a player can
react"is making a conscious choice to
be blind tothe pure hatred some peo-
ple still openly express and the deep
pain it causes others. When some-
one is called something as horrible
and hurtful as what Orr might have
called Smart, expecting that per-
son to restrain himself is completely
illogical. There is such a thing as
"fighting words" - words so hateful
and incendiary that, when personally
directed at someone, will provoke
hatred or violence right back. Calling
a 19-year-old Black kid the N-word a
foot from his face? Yeah, I would call
those fighting words.
I'm not a person of color, nor am I
gay, Jewish, a woman or of any other
identity that faces a hatred compa-
rable to what African Americans do.
There is no word someone can use
toward me that would sting quite
like a racist, sexist or homophobic
slur. It's not my job to tell some-
one with a different identity how
they should or shouldn't feel when
people spew hate at them. Even if I
were a woman or if I were Jewish, I
shouldn't tell someone who is Black
how to feel when they're called a
name, and vice versa. We don't know
the experiences, thoughts and feel-
ings of other people.
It's a totally unfair double
standard for people who experience
hatred to be expected to act with
uncompromising restraint. This
politically correct, violence-is-
never-okay ideology ignores the
realities of racial animus and hatred
in our society. It isn't 1947 anymore;
stop holding everyone to the Jackie
Robinson standard. Not everyone
can just sit there and ignore it when
someone angrily unloads racism on
a person they don't even know. I'm
not advocating for violence, but I'm
sure as hell notgoing to tell Marcus
Smart how to react if someone says
something hateful toward him.
Saying a situation like Smart's is
unwarranted in all circumstances
applies far too broad a brush.
If you're walking down the
street with a Black friend and some
random guy gets in his face and calls
him the N-word, what are you gonna
do? Yeah, we'd all hold our friend
back, tell him "he's not worth it" and
try to get out of there, but if he ends
up kicking this guy's ass for a couple
seconds, we wouldn't tell our friend
he "crossed a line" and that what he
did was unwarranted. In the heat
of the moment like that, some of us
may even jump in and help teach the
guy some manners.
People who express that kind of
personal, horrible hatred deserve
exactly what they get, and no one
should be made to feel guilty for
giving it to them.
- James Brennan can be reached
Under current policy, transgender
schoolchildren in Ann Arbor are dealt with
on a case-by-case basis, and there are no
standards in place regarding the treatment
of these individuals. Nationally, no strategies
have been tested or standardized. The efforts
of AAPS officials to better accommodate the
needs of transgender students are positive
and forward-thinking. In Michigan, a
person'sgender is identifiedby his or her birth
certificate, but if a student is over the age of 18
or has his or her parent make a request, that
gender can be changed. Even though these
students aren't old enough to change their
gender without the consent of a parent, they
should be given the right to choose which
bathroom makes them most comfortable or
where to sleep on a field trip. By approving
new policies to help make their educational
environment more inclusive, school officials
will be working to create a positive school
experience for transgender students.
On Jan. 1, California was the first state to
enact new transgender policies for students
in public elementary, middle and high
schools. While students in California now
have equal access to school-based resources,
they also face some risks, including alienation
from friends, discrimination and bullying.
Some students are dissuaded from using
the bathrooms they want to use by the
fear of harassment. It's important for Ann
Arbor to make sure anti-bullying and anti-
discrimination policies are enforced before
transgender laws are implemented. Another
option to consider is using gender-neutral
bathrooms instead of having students choose
between male and female bathrooms.
Still, Michigan shouldn't hold back when
giving students the right to choose their
own gender. They should join other states
like California and Maine in pioneering
policies for transgender equality inside
and outside the classroom. California's law
states, "Students who identify as the opposite
sex can now choose which restroom to use,
which locker room to use and whether to play
on boys' or girls' sports teams." The Maine
Supreme Judicial Court also ruled on Jan.
30 that children should be allowed to use the
bathroomoftheirchoice. Currently, Michigan
doesn't have any laws that expressly ban
discrimination against transgender people,
but in 2007, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm
signed an executive order that prohibits
discrimination against transgender state
workers. These protections have remained in
effect even since Granholm left office.
As AAPS is working on these novel
transgender measures, other school districts
in Michigan may follow its lead. Implementing
equal rights for all students is a great issue
to be spending school board time, effort
and money on. Despite complications, such
as bullying and other students' discomfort,
Ann Arbor should be commended for taking
the initiative to give transgender students
equal rights. The discussion should then be
translated into real policy that will ensure the
rights of transgender students are protected.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Barry Belmont, Nivedita Karki, Jacob Karafa, Jordyn Kay,
Kellie Halushka, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman,
Paul Sherman, Allison Raeck, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
POLINA FRADKIN I
Stop hating on snow
"Go back to Russia, Polina." That's what
people tell me when I say I love the snow.
Maybe it did somehow seep down from my
Russian roots, but there's something wonder-
ful that this eternal winter breeds in me.
Despite the thrashing snowy tempest, or
maybe because of it, I woke up this morning
struck with an impulse to write, along with
an unflappable sense of joyous motivation -
a perfect combination, if you ask me. I soon
realized I was walking through campus smil-
ing in the face of the frigid wind. What is
there to complain about? It's a scorcher today
- 19 whole degrees outside!
I bet that along your walk, trek or ice
skate to class today you cursed the snow, the
cold, the winter or maybe the entire state of
Michigan. After class this morning, I checked
my phone and wearily read through a slew
of weather condemnations sent to a group
message from my friends. I responded to the
group with something along the lines of, "As
slippery as it is, can we just take a moment
to appreciate how beautiful Michigan is and
how awesome it feels to walk through the
swirling snow between gorgeous buildings
with the bell tower chiming and how glorious
academia is in general?"
My friend Michelle's immediate response:
"A really sharp snowflake hit me right in the
A while ago I read a New York Times
article, "The Longest Nights," by Timothy
Egan, that concisely summarizes the theory
of bad weather and its conduciveness to
creativity. When the blizzard strikes, people
escape to the indoors where their distractions
are limited. Within walls and under roofs
we sit and reflect while a white powder (or
brown slush) temporarily blankets reality.
Frosted windows stir the nostalgic soul.
Creative juices flow. Great works are born.
Productivity peaks. I'm presently at the cusp
of my third hour in the basement of Panera
and I've finished all of my reading for the
week, sent 10 or 15 outrageously overdue
e-mails and am now in the midst of furiously
typing words to form sentences to make up
the article you are now reading.
Even if you slipped on the way to class this
morning, look around and see the beauty
in this opportunity. Quit languishing in
weather-related sorrow. Turn that miserable
pit of despair into a well of creativity. Revel in
the crunch beneath your feet, and when you
get home, bake a batch of cookies that rival
MoJo's, or read the book that's been waiting
on the shelf for months. Take the weather
for what it is and make the best of it. As my
English professor Ralph Williams says, you're
just a guest in life. Wouldn't you hate to be an
I Polina Fradkin is an LSA sophomore.
ALEX NGO I
I am on a swing. Pushing off the
ground so hard it almost feels like
I can escape my loneliness and fly
away. It'srecess, first grade.Violently,
the rusty chains of the swingshudder
and stop. I fly off and out oftmy happy
place and onto the woodchips. I hate
the smell of woodchips. I look up to
see a group of white boys surround
me. They ask me if I know kung fu.
They throw punches before I can
answer. I don't know kungfu.
Another memory places me on
a baseball diamond, second grade.
A kickball game of girls versus boys
begins. I nervously ask if I can play
on the girls' team. Boys are mean and
all my friends are girls. Everyone,
includingthose on the team I wish to
be on, screams, "You're a girl! You're
a girl!" I don't understand why that's
an insult. I cry anyways.
As I walk away, I hear, "He
probably can't even see through his
tiny Asian eyes."
I'm six. I ask if I can play dress-
up and "house" with the girls, but
my teacher points me towards the
building blocks and toy cars, using
her notion of what it means to be
a boy as her compass. My compass
seems to be broken. Full of confusion
and resentment, I obey.
At an age when I am still too young
to understand how to coordinate my
own wardrobe, I learned what it feels
like to lust after another boy. I am a
Pokdmon Master. I am a child with
one hand in my dreams and another
in my fears. I am a pervert.
My parents are in the kitchen,
arguing. I am in my bedroom,
wrapped in blankets, holding onto
myself so tightly, I wonder how
much harder I will have to squeeze
in order to shrink into nothingness.
I listen to the sounds of hushed,
sharp Vietnamese being thrown
back and forth. The noises pierce
me like daggers. I struggle to
translate the words in my head. I
lose my own language through the
tears falling out of my eyes.
I hesitate to trust my own
memories, clumsily and crudely
pieced together in a fog of guessed
meanings and translations.
I wonder what it'd be like if a
benevolent white family swooped
in and rescued me into a Hallmark
happily ever after - the kind of
family that kissed each other goodbye
before leaving the house and prayed
to white invisible superheroes in the
sky before eating dinner.
It's in these situations where I
begin .to internalize my constant
desire to be someone other than
myself. All my life, I have always
wanted to be something other
I snap back to last semester. I'm
in a classroom, all eyes on me. The
professor repeats the question,
"What was growing up as a boy like
for you?" I am the only man of color. I
manage to stutter, "It was fine." Eyes
stay locked on me. I feel my queer and
yellow otherness fester. I nervously
[e so we can heal
look down at my hands and notice
the purple polish on my nails. IwishI
could disappear. I clear my throat, "I
can't really think of anything to say."
Even as I claim to be a proud queer
person of color, son of Asian immi-
grant warriors, heir to their sacrific-
es; even as I claim to be a humble and
resilient first-generation cash-poor
college student; even as I claim to be
an activist, an organizer, an educator,
and an advocate; even as I claim to
be made up of stars, all held together
by an inner fire with ancestral magic
fueling my spirit; even now as I write
these words, I hurt.
It is easier for me to rage and
be furious at society for being an
unforgiving place than to admit that
I am hurting because of it - setting
the world on fire versus setting my
heart on fire. Being vulnerable is just
a nicer way of saying, open yourself
up from the inside out, rip your
ribcage apart, and bleed.
I hurt because I am a survivor of
abuse. I hurt because I am putting
words to my agony. I hurt because,
for so long, I was just screaming out
loud without realizing that I could
be putting art and love out into the
world. I hurt because I was killing
myself every day, complying with
those who wanted me to be less
alive because my existence made
them uncomfortable. I hurtbecause
my heart beats within layers of
wounds and scars that I have since
painted over with the colors of my
My heart is in the center of a
flowerbed, its roots taking hold in
an undeniable aura that reminds
me that I am everythingI am meant
Being socialized to believe that
we are not worthy of love is painful.
Unlearning that shame and doubt
is excruciating. Excruciating, but
necessary, and part of what it means
to grow, heal, and find community.
Not the theories of "community"
that social justice classes or allyhood
trainings will have students try to
imitate, but the community that is
rooted in survival. The community
that embraces me after my armor
cracks and my fierceness wavers.
The community that jumps into
my car in the middle of the night
and blasts somber electronic music.
The community that replenishes
my spirit after it has been violently
drained and sucked out of me.
The community that affirms and
challenges me in ways that make
me believe I am actually worth
something. The community that
blooms and blossoms as we sit in
a circle to bask in one another's
beauty and strength while healing
through home cooked nourishment.
Whenwetakethe risk toopen our-
selves up and reach out, others will
reach back. They breathe, "You're
hurting. I have hurt, too. I am hurt-
ing, too." I am convinced that those
with pain - real deep, down-to-the-
core pain - also know what it truly
means to love and to love fiercely
As a queer person of color, my mere
existence is an act of rebellion. To
have the audacity to take ownership
of my body, my gender expression,
and whom I choose to love and share
my energy with is to declare war. To
demand to be treated the way I want
to be treated is to declare war against
a society that does not want me.
My community, my comrades in
war, is the difference between life
and death. This community can only
be found in our hearts, our fury, our
art, our words to each other, and our
love for one another.
Admittedly, the process of finding
community is not an easy journey. I
do not mean to suggest that, but the
alternative is not any easier.
On that journey, I have begun
to understand how to be loved and
how to love intentionally, among
many other lessons that I hold dear
to my soul - scrawled in a notebook,
memorialized in a Facebook status
or a tweet, and emblazoned into
the stars that make up my being. I
would not have learned these lessons
without the guidance and support
from so many other trailblazers who
shared their pain and love with me.
With everything I have learned, I
hope to empower my communities to
realize thatwe -no one else -are the
authorities of our own existence and
to embark on the journey of loving
ourselves despite all of the messages
that tell us otherwise. I practice
empowerment through compassion,
vulnerability, and the reclaiming and
construction of spaces.
By refocusing our energies
towards self-healing and radical
love, by cultivating and encouraging
the ability to articulate and make
sense of our experiences, we equip
ourselves with the arsenal necessary
to navigate this world.
We become agents of change that
make things happen. Whether that's
societal change or individual change,
it all makes a difference. We keep our
hearts soft and strong by loving one
another and being accountable to our
comrades, not the systems that seek
to destroy us.
Kim Katrin Crosby, during her
keynote speech at the 2013 Color of
Change Community Summit said,
"Ourmost radical workis to love our-
selves." These words made me realize
how far I had to fall just to get back
up. She changed my life because she
saw me. I now pass on that energy.
The words in this article are not
mine. They belong to those who have
selflessly reached out to me without
even realizing they were savingme in
I hope others, find community
within these lines.
I hurt. I hurt every single day. I
don't know if I'll ever stop hurting. I
know others are hurting too. I burn
so I can see you. I bleed so I can find
you. I love so we can heal.
Alex Ngo is an LA senior.
-Ithe Feminine Critique: 2014 has been deemed "the
year of feminine writers," but Erin Kwederis
pOd IU M doesn't think that's going to help examine
bias against women writers.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium