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My sophomore year of high school is something that I work very hard to forget. As it was happening, I did my best to not create any outstanding events that might help me remember what a miserable year it was. Every day was the same. This made it easy to conflate all 365 days into one blurb that I might place in a footnote of my life.

New city, new school. If I tried hard enough, I might be able to remember how scared I was walking to the cafeteria on my first day. Or maybe how it felt the moment I failed my first test and realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. But there is one event that stands out from that sophomore year. …

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On captured the pain and turmoil that the 1960s were wreaking on a community that had been marginalized and abused in the name of privilege since America’s inception. Many African American soul artists at this time highlighted the grievances and injustices that the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement were working to disassemble but Gaye’s music rang differently. The foundation of What’s Going On lies on a message of communicating to find peace and understanding. The album isn’t rageful or angry but Gaye still passionately pleas for people to recognize the need for overwhelming structural modifications to the political, social, and economic conditions in the United States. The tone of the music might not be angry, but Gaye is unmistakably frustrated by the overt and institutional racism that far too many people are complacent in. …

Music is a celebration of expression and revelations of the human condition. It thrives on diversity not only in the music itself, but in the people that create and listen to it. However, since the rise of rap and hip-hop music in the 1970s and its increasing popularity in the last 20 years, there have been accusations of cultural appropriation by the white population, specifically white youth. To understand the complexities of cultural appropriation and to interpret the positive and negative aspects of it, the definition must be fully explained. …

It was finally Thursday. In a week that Dave couldn’t recall the beginning of and believed would never end. Dave got out of his car and assessed his parallel parking job. The sun peeked through the spaces between the buildings as it set and a chill started to settle in. It was the kind of day that wouldn’t be happening for much longer with summer around the corner. Dave walked a little fast even though he wasn’t late. He was actually on time. He was always on time. …

The immediate response to Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election was shaped by declarations of a postracial America. Amidst the celebration of the first African American president was a subsidiary narrative of the backlash Obama would face for the next 8 years in office, putting into question how progressive America was regarding race and racism. Although it would be naive to understate how historic the 2008 election result was, it would be a glaring mistake to believe America is postracial because of that. …

Britny Rodriguez

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