COVID-19 Vaccines Near Completion: An experimental vaccine brings hope amid the pandemic.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many are looking to a coming vaccine as a solution. There has been talk of developing a preventative vaccine since lock downs began in March, and the issue has been a topic of debate throughout the presidential election. While it may seem to still be an abstract and
distant idea, companies such as AstraZeneca have made significant progress.

The drug company claims to have created an experimental drug that causes an immunity response in both young and older adults. The vaccine is also said to reduce negative effects of the virus on the elderly, according to the University of Oxford who developed it alongside AstraZeneca.

It appears that the experimental vaccine could cause an immunity response in the elderly as well, all without any side effects. “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older
and younger adults,” said an AstraZeneca spokesman, “and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults,
where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher.” The vaccine is currently in phase-three trials, which
must be completed to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. Phase-three trials consist of wide-scale testing involving thousands of participants. Annelies Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described these trials as a “prerequisite for licensing.”

“The programme is progressing well [but] we’re not there yet,” said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the release of the vaccine. However, Hancock told Aljazeera that he was preparing logistics for a possible roll-out mostly in the first half of 2021.

Development for the vaccine, also known as the “Oxford vaccine,” began in January, and is formally
called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The vaccine was made from a version of the common cold that affects chimpanzees, which was then genetically engineered to include a spike-protein that COVID-19 uses to get into human cells.

The vaccine introduces neutralizing antibodies, similar to those of people who survived the virus, into
the body, which prevents the patient from contracting the virus. It also induces the patient’s body to make T cells, which experts believe will activate a second part of the immune system, thereby making the immune response more significant.

As of right now, there are over 200 different vaccines being developed to combat COVID-19, with around a dozen of them in phase-three trials. Because of this, Wilder-Smith says that there will likely be more than one vaccine made available around the same time.

“Probably the first two vaccines will come at around the same time and then new additional vaccines will
come out,” she said. “The intent is that by the end of 2021, we would have two billion doses of vaccine that would be fairly distributed to countries around the world.”

While the end of 2021 can still feel far away, having an effective solution to a deadly virus available on such a large scale is an incredible and game-changing feat.

Sources: Aljazeera

All About Conflict Resolution: A senior reflects on one of her favorite classes.

Conflict is an inevitable and uncomfortable part of life for everyone, though very few would consider themselves adept at handling it. An issue arises and perhaps you say things you did not mean, you find yourself apologizing though you have done nothing wrong, or maybe, you run and hide until the problem “resolves itself.” Even if you feel comfortable with conflict, there are ways for anyone to
improve their communication skills in order to better resolve interpersonal issues in the future.

This is why I am quick to recommend Conflict Resolution whenever a friend of mine asks for class recommendations. Conflict Resolution, or COMM 340, is a communication course typically taught by the one and only Dr. Julie Morgan. Though the class is a requirement for Communication majors, it offers valuable real-life application for everyone. There is minimal communication studies-specific language, making it easy for other majors to jump in and join the conversation.

In Conflict Resolution, students learn about different kinds of conflict and their causes, as well as practical strategies for how to deal with them. Students are encouraged to bring real-life situations to the table to brainstorm and receive information-based insight on how to best manage the conflict. While it can be daunting to share personal experiences in a classroom, the learning that comes from being
vulnerable is genuinely helpful and often applicable to many other instances.

The structure of the course enables students to connect to the material in a personal way and, in some
instances, can even act as an outlet. Assignments allow students to understand themselves and their
relationships better, process situations in their own lives, and use practical skills that will help them in
future conflict. The relationship check-up assignment, which is a semester long project, is an incredible asset that can be used to maintain and check in on the meaningful relationships in a student’s lives.

Personally, this course taught me that the way I had understood conflict should be managed was all wrong. I used to be someone who avoided any kind of conflict at all costs, and when it was confronted, I could never seem to say what I meant, instead absolving the other person of any wrongdoing and putting it all on myself. In my mind, this was the best way to keep the peace, as conflict seemed to only bring destruction and discomfort.

However, in Dr. Morgan’s conflict resolution, I found the opposite to be true. Conflict does not disappear when avoided, and it certainly does not when not properly addressed. I discovered that I was not resolving conflict at all, but that in many instances, my strategies had only made matters worse.

Conflict Resolution gave me a deeper understanding of what conflict is at its core, how to approach it gently and honestly, and methods for finding a resolution that works for all parties.

I have seen a difference in how I handle conflict with others and how I feel about it. Very few classes in college provide information that is directly applicable to student’s interpersonal lives, especially in such a pertinent way. This rare and invaluable experience is why I will always recommend that my peers enroll in
conflict resolution.

An Unjust Nomination: The concerning nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court Justice.

Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Americans have looked on as President Donald Trump has pushed for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, to be her replacement.

Barrett is a strong conservative with stances that go against current Constitutional rights regarding the same-sex marriage, Roe v Wade, and the Affordable Care Act. Her nomination, which would give Republicans a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court, could drastically change many of the laws we know today.

However one may feel about her positions, though, many have concerns about the timing of Barrett’s nomination. Ginsberg’s death on Sept. 18 fell only about a month and half before the upcoming election, on Nov. 4. With such little time between the two, should Trump even try to appoint a new judge, or wait for the outcome of the presidential election?

A similar situation occurred during the 2016 election when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. At the time, Republicans insisted against the appointment of a replacement, and Senator Mitch McConnell successfully blocked the nomination of a Democratic candidate.

The issue here is complex and multifaceted, but the most glaring problem is the inconsistency between the two situations. The fact that the
primarily Republican Senate held off on a nomination during a Democrat’s presidency and rejected a Democratic replacement, but has chosen to do the opposite when it benefits the Republican party shows the power-hungry motivations that drive these decisions.

Whether the current president or the soon-to-be president choose the next nomination is not really the issue, though it is worth investigating.
The real discrepancy comes from our elected officials changing the rules whenever it benefits them. Senators, supreme court justices, and
presidents alike need to prioritize the needs of the people over their own self-serving interests, and if they cannot, rules must be established to
ensure that politicians cannot twist situations like this for their own gain.

Source: NPR

We the People: A brief history of the evolutions of democracy and how it applies to the United States today.

In Ancient Greece, democracy was exercised at least one a month, possibly even weekly. The people would cast plebiscitary votes in which every individual had the opportunity to express their opinion on an issue or a leader. Through this process, the people truly had the power over their government, and they got to use it regularly.

Over the course of about 200 years, the ancient Athenians saw at least three different versions of democracy, many ushered in by war. After one war, restrictions on which citizens were loosened significantly (though, it was still limited to “free and legitimate males,”), and another led to a dictatorship that quickly faded into a more stable form of democracy. However, toward the end of the fourth century BC, democracy as Greece had known it was overtaken by oligarchy.

Oligarchy, known as “the rule of a few rich citizens,” eventually came to color the modern world’s understanding of the word “democracy.” As government systems continued to change and evolve, scholars continued to use the Greek word “demokratia,” though what they were encountering was far from the democracy the word had once described. Instead, “demokratia” came to mean “not monarchy, and in practice rule by the rich or richer minority.” As the Christian revolution of 330BC progressed, the
monarchical structure was strengthened by theocracy (a system in which leaders rule in the name of god), and the meaning of the word democracy came to mean something similar to “mob rule.”

Eventually, after much ancient redefinition, America came to understand “democracy” in the literal sense
again, being “government by mass meeting.” However, our way of exercising it is vastly different from that of its creators in Greece. While mass meetings once occurred at least monthly, American citizens get much fewer opportunities to participate. Congressional elections take place every two years, as well as those for the House of Representatives. Senators serve six year terms, and the President of the United States is elected every four years. In this way, American democracy moves much slower than the Ancient Greeks ever intended it to.

According to a study by Bright Line Watch, many political science professors believe that the United
States is doing well democratically in that our right to free speech is protected, we have free and fair elections, and that there are judicial limits on executive power. However, other measures, such as no interference with the press and judicial independence by elected branches of government, came up short.

“It reinforces the story that the U.S. is a high-functioning democracy,” Brendan Nyhan, one of the contributing researchers, said of the study. “It’s not perfect, but it has stronger and more resilient institutions than other countries that have had democratic backsliding or turns toward authoritarianism.”

In many ways, it seems that in the traditional sense of the word, America is succeeding in being a democracy. Though it may appear differently than ancient Greek democracy did, experts rank America as a democratic nation. However, they say, a few missteps or ignored failings could cause it all to fall apart.
Issues of civic behavior in particular are key to protecting democracy. Behaviors such as graciously
accepting election results, accepting losses, and confirmation hearing are all examples of the unnamed
but foundational aspects of American democracy.

“They’re norms not in the Constitution but the kinds of practices that generate compromise, and if they go away things can unravel pretty quickly,” Nyhan told the New York Times.

Democracy has evolved countless times since its inception, and will continue to do so for as long as the
system exists. No matter what the technical definition or exact practices are, the spirit of democracy resides in the ability of the common people to direct the trajectory of their nation.

Sources: independent.co.uk, usa.gov, The New York Times

Registering to Vote In 2020: A look at the registration process for the 2020 election.

Voting this year is absolutely imperative, possibly even more so than ever before. However, for many, it could be your first time participating in a presidential election. Voting is a way to make your voice heard and to stand for your beliefs, but first, you have to make sure you’re registered.

The registration process really is quite simple. For Pennsylvania residents, visit www.pavoterservices.pa.gov and complete their voter registration form. The form asks basic questions, such as your name, address and eligibility. It even includes a place to request an absentee ballot. This is not something that would take much time – you could easily complete the form between classes or during a homework break.

The process is similar for surrounding states as well. To find your application in particular, simply search “register to vote (your state name),” and one of the top results should be the website for your home state. These forms also typically serve as a way to change anything about your voter registration. If you have moved, changed political parties, or have any other information you need to update, please do so!
If you are not sure if you are registered, please check by visiting howtovote.guide. This site allows you to input your information, and then it will let you know if you are registered! If not, it will guide you through the process of doing so.

While registering is incredibly simple, please be sure to do so on time. Though some states allow voters to register on election day, many have deadlines beforehand. In Pennsylvania, for example, voters must be registered by Oct. 19, 2020 in order to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Check your state’s requirements, and be sure to register!

Sources:
https://www.howtovote.guide/
www.pavoterservices.pa.gov

September was Suicide Prevention Month: Members of Eastern’s community reflect on their experiences and opinions regarding suicide, mental health, and more.

The Aftermath: How an uncle’s suicide shapes a young girl

by Gabrielle Pardocchi

My uncle committed suicide when I was nine years old. At least, I think he did. He had been battling with a drug addiction for years, before overdosing in 2008. He had told my grandmother a few months before that he wished he could end his suffering. There was no note. There was no goodbye.

At nine years old, you don’t really understand death, much less suicide. You don’t understand why they won’t be able to have wrestling matches with you anymore or why they won’t be there to play makeover. You just know that they won’t. I didn’t understand what had happened to my uncle until I was much older. I didn’t understand the pain of the world that weighed on him, until I started to feel it myself.

When I finally started to understand what he did, I was angry and confused. I didn’t understand why my uncle couldn’t fight it. I didn’t understand why he just gave in.

The most troubling part of my uncle’s death is that no one really knows if it was an accident or not. My family is split in the middle, believing what they like. As someone who knows people that have experience depression and suicidal thoughts, I don’t believe it was an accident. The pain that some people feel is overwhelming; it feels like it will never stop.

Even after suicide, the pain never does stop. The pain was transferred to my grandparents, my mother, my sister, and I. When a person ends their life, the pain may leave them, but it moves on to those they left behind. Even after eleven years, the pain still weighs in my chest. I have always wondered what life would have been like if my uncle would have stayed to see another day.

Sources: Insider

Systemic Suffering: How the mental health crisis can be seen as a systemic issue going into the election.

By Abigail Brooke

Suicide prevention is challenging and important work. It is crucial that we show up for each other in times of suffering, and that we end the stigma surrounding mental health, and all else that goes into the traditional understanding of caring for mental health. However, the issue is bigger than just the conversations we have.

In order to truly prevent suicide, we as a society must make strides toward systemic change in the ways in which we treat one another and what is expected of us. Common causes of suicide include financial trouble, substance abuse issues, being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and more. Though this list is not exhaustive, it represents many aspects of what can drive people to hopelessness and even suicidal ideation – and they are all fixable.

Ensuring universal access to substance abuse treatment, for example, can save lives. Support for LGBTQIA+ people, both in interpersonal and professional instances, can save lives. Adequate care for the people who are poor or houseless can save lives. Instituting programs and laws that make it easier for people of all walks of life to live saves lives.

Suicide prevention is bigger than being kind to others and sending a caring text. It means thinking outside of yourself and advocating for change that can truly save lives. If you truly want to prevent suicide, work to counteract the issues that drive people to it. Consider the experiences of marginalized people in your voting, donating, and volunteering, as it could save lives.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Coping with Suicidal Thoughts: An Interview with Dr. Lisa Hemlick, director of the Cushing Center

By Megan Schoenleb

According to National Today, “There are an average of 123 suicides each day in this country. It’s the tenth leading cause of death in America — second leading for ages 25-34, and third leading for ages 15-24.” While this is an awful reality, it is perhaps unsurprising; after all, college life is challenging. Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and mental health in general need to be taken seriously – both by college students and the people and institutions that host them.

At Eastern University, the Cushing Center for Counselling and Academic Support (CCAS), located on the third floor of Walton Hall and headed by Director Dr. Lisa Hemlick, provides free counselling. According to Dr. Hemlick in an interview, everyone at CCAS has experience, is hand-picked for each student, and is committed “to help students to function well in the role of the student, and help them get the most out of that experience.” Despite being free, the “Services here are professional counseling services.” For those who have never received counseling before, it can be difficult to take that step.

In my case, I felt like my problems were easy compared to those of others. Dr. Hemlick pointed out that “People feel it’s a sign of weakness, that they need help,” but that “It can be a sign of strength to take care of a problem.” If you are unsure, you can try a session before deciding to commit. Personally, I have received counseling at Eastern for two years and am better for it. When asked what students should do if they are having suicidal thoughts, Dr. Hemlick said that “they should take it seriously and not condemn themselves for having those thoughts.” She also said that “scriptures tell us to shine the light on things… telling someone is the first step to moving on.” For mental health in general, she said to “put your focus on the things you’re doing well.” There is hope, and there is help if you need it. CCAS is only open and on-call from eight-thirty am to five pm. If you are in a crisis outside those hours, please call one of the Hotlines.

Source: National Today

Caring as God Commanded: Understanding the signs of suicidal thoughts, faith, and support.

By Colton Domblesky

It’s never an easy thing to discuss, but with mental health becoming less and less of a priority among college students and young adults, it needs to be discussed. Some of you may have connections with it, whether it’s personal or through a loved one. Either way, the effects are lasting for individuals who have experienced it firsthand or felt the shockwaves of it from another.

To avoid this trauma, we need to be aware of the signs of suicidal thoughts in ourselves and our peers. Suicidal thoughts and tendencies are never the same between individuals. However, there are three general areas in which a peer may express suicidal thoughts: talk, behavior, and mood. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), people expressing suicidal thoughts may talk about how they feel hopeless, like a burden to others, or how they feel trapped. Behaviorally, they may appear withdrawn from certain situations, isolate themselves from others, or increase risky behaviors such as drinking or doing drugs.

Emotionally, suicidal individuals may express a wide variety of emotions like sadness, fear, indifference, or irritability. Suicidal thoughts are not always expressed uniformly; the key is to notice and talk to the person about any vast differences you notice in them.

As Christians, faith can play a major part in our mental well-being and health. In fact, we might think of self-care as turning to scripture, prayer, worship, journaling, or talking to a pastor about our problems. While these are all valid options, they are not the only choices. Self-care is by no means uniform, whether you are a Christian or not. How we pour into ourselves is different from how a friend pours into themselves.

In fact, as a Student Chaplain, I can say that the Student Chaplain Program is an advocate for self-care in any form because we are all unique beings made in the image of God. Whether your self-care looks like praying, worshipping, watching movies, or ordering food, God has your back, and so do we. The Student Chaplains are here for you in your times of need, as it is our job to love you and make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Source: ASFP

Book Highlight: “The Bluest Eye”, a perfect read in light of the Black Lives Matter fight for justice.

I read “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison over the summer, when Black Lives Matter protests were at their height. In a surge of people educating, donating, listening and advocating, I was compelled to read books by Black women, specifically those that centered their experiences in the face of racism. This novel was everything and more I ever could have asked for, and should be required reading for every American.

The book takes place in Ohio in 1941 and follows Pecola, a young African American girl. Pecola is often
regarded as an “ugly” girl, and wishes to be beautiful. Her greatest desire, though, is to have big, blue eyes like the white girls she is surrounded by. Her story is told through both from her own perspective and that of those around her.

Pecola experiences much trauma throughout the book, which highlights the ways in which our society, both today and in the past, has failed Black and African-American women. By being both a woman and Black, Pecola is the victim of what is now known as misogynoir, a kind of prejudice specifically against Black women. Though some of what Pecola endures is indicative of the time period, misogynoir and the effects it has are still very present and overt in our modern world.

This book demonstrates the impact racism, both systemic and interpersonal, can have. Unlike a textbook
or a class discussion, “The Bluest Eye” gives readers an intimate look into how it feels to be a little girl in a world that does not want her. This painful account was impactful for me as I have never personally experienced racism. Entering into Pecola’s life and watching as these experiences shaped her self-image and her life as a whole gave me a richer understanding of the deep and damaging effects of racism.

Considering the intense subject matter, “The Bluest Eye” still manages to be a beautiful and somewhat easy read. For me, historical stories can often be challenging to follow with the old-timey language and unfamiliar settings. However, “The Bluest Eye” creates simple, detailed scenes with dialogue that is easy to understand, while still maintaining the historic dialect. Being able to focus on the story instead of foreign, confusing words allows the reader to fully feel the weight of the book.

Furthermore, Morrison tells the story with some of the most breathtaking prose I have ever read. Even in
the most mundane or grimmest moments of the story, Morrison manages to make the scene poetic. Though the book is Morrison’s first-ever novel, it establishes her as the literary legend we now know and love.

No matter what you are looking for, “The Bluest Eye” has something for you. It is a simple, beautiful,
educational story with compelling characters, shocking plot twists, heartbreak and celebration. This book is captivating and will forever hold a place on my list of favorites; I hope it does yours as well.

Note: This book includes regular and detailed description of both domestic abuse and sexual assault. Read cautiously.

Messages Across the Distance: Reviving the lost art of letter writing in the face of uncertainty.

Being sent home and separated from our friends due to COVID-19 proved difficult for everybody. Zoom calls can get old and eventually I ran out of things to talk to talk to my friends about on FaceTime. Connecting with loved ones had to be done creatively, so I decided to tap into a habit I had long forgotten. I got out my stationary and multi-colored pens, texted my friends for their addresses, and began writing letters.

I believe that letter-writing is an endangered art that many of us have long forgotten. It is no longer necessary to sit and organize our thoughts into writing, spend money on stamps, or wait the days it takes to deliver mail. Instead, most communication is conducted through the far more advanced and simplified method of texting or calling. While these are also excellent choices for connection, something about writing a letter or a card feels sacred.

Especially while separated from loved ones (whether while in quarantine or while living on campus), taking the time to thoughtfully communicate with one another can draw people closer together despite the distance.

While I was at home and far away from my friends at school, I had a few penpals. We would write to each other semi-regularly, and it meant the world to me.
Daily trips to the mailbox became exciting, and I was always eager to get updates from my friends. We did not just talk about what was currently happening in
our lives, though.

We exchanged stickers, and memories, and what our favorite flowers are. I think my favorite letter that I received was one that came not only with a note from my friend, but a list of song recommendations specifically chosen for me, a sticker, and a teabag. These small gifts meant so much to me, and when I drank the tea she sent me while responding to her letter, I felt almost as if we were just having a normal chat in a cafe.

Letter writing can be meditative as well. Taking the time to reflect on what is important to you and what you want to tell your friends about can help process and organize your thoughts. It can be similar both to journaling privately and chatting with a loved one. Not only is it another way to communicate with friends, but it can
be beneficial for your own mind.

Though we may not be quarantined in our own homes anymore, many of us are still missing loved ones, some of which we may not see until Thanksgiving. Set aside some time in your daily class, homework and social schedule to sit down with a pen and paper and write a letter.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor insufficient funds…: How the Postal Service is struggling and what can be done to save it

Imagine a world without the postal service. It may not seem so bad initially, but when you look closer, you will see that many things you once took for granted have vanished. Things like postcards from Grandma, easy access to your absentee ballot while at school. It may seem ridiculous to propose that this could be a reality, but we are not too far off.

Even in our digital world, countless Americans rely on the postal service. Though it might seem like everything is done online, there are still those without reliable access to the Internet who depend on the mail to receive information like bills. If the postal service that we know now were to disappear, thousands would struggle to operate without it.

The United States Postal service has been struggling financially for a long time, but that is not their fault. In response to this, many have begun campaigns to buy stamps in bulk, or even order merch from the postal service’s website. Could these efforts save a cornerstone of the United States, or is it too far gone?

One of the first misunderstandings that has led to where the post office is today is the very understanding of the purpose and management of the USPS. When the post office was established, its main intention was to disperse information across our expansive nation. From letters to periodicals, it served as a communication system that was, and continues to be, vital to the operation of our country.

To preserve this, the United States government has historically covered for the USPS financially – no matter how great the deficit. For hundreds of years, the USPS has been supported by the government with no question due to the essential function it serves for Americans.

Now in the face of potential collapse, though, the USPS has been left to fend for itself. Some believe that salvation for the post office may lie in privatization, but this again goes against the very foundation of what the USPS has been designed to do.

The post office has always been an invaluable asset to the American public, but perhaps even more so this election cycle. As COVID-19 progresses, concerns about in-person voting continue to rise. Many voters will elect to vote by mail in lieu of their typical polling center in order to avoid large gatherings. This will create even more traffic in the already under-funded postal service, which could lead to delays or other mistakes.

The postal service is not built to be run like a business in the traditional sense, but instead, to serve the American public. Because of this, it should not be expected to turn a profit like a private business but should instead be protected and funded by the government.

So, what can we do about it? Should citizens continue to buy stamps and merchandise or increase their mail flow in effort to sustain the post office? While these efforts are valiant and honorable to say the least, ultimately, the post office needs more support than any citizens could give it. The office needs federal support to continue to run at the level that it has for so many years.

According to CNN, President Trump has stated that mail in votes could be illegitimate due to Democratic
voter fraud. “They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent,” said Trump according to CNN. “That’s election money basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes.”

It seems that this belief gives the Trump administration further incentive to allow the USPS to fail financially – if they were to get adequate funding to aptly handle the influx of mail-in votes, they would be complicit in rigging the election.

It should not be up to the American public to “save” an institution that is integral to their way of life.
Instead, it should be protected by the very government that relies on the office. As Richard R John, a writer at the Washington Post, says, “The Founders intended the Postal Service to be a pillar of the republic, binding together millions of Americans, urban and rural, for the common good.”

The USPS is a necessary and integral part of life in the United States and should be prioritized as such – both by citizens and federal funding.

Sources: Washington Post, CNN

Kamala Harris Disinformation: QAnon’s continuous spread of disinformation on Democratic political candidates of color

California Senator Kamala Harris has faced extensive backlash since being named Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s vice president running mate, mostly from the far-right on social media. QAnon, a popular conspiracy group from the far-right, has been the most notable source of
the vitriol, particularly in questioning Harris’s eligibility for the vice presidency. Similar to the backlash from Obama’s presidential race, QAnon has spread misinformation stating that Harris is not a legal American, therefore disqualifying her from the position.

Harris, who is of half-Jamaican and half-Indian descent, is a wholly legal American citizen. However, the suspicion that she is not has been spread across all different social media platforms – so much so, that the conspiracy has even made its way to President Trump.

“I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the
requirements,” Trump said of Harris according to the New York Times. “I have no idea if that’s right,” he added. “I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.”

Though disappointing, Trump’s stance on the issue should not come as a surprise as he was
also a main proponent of the conspiracy theory that Obama was Kenyan born. Further critique of Harris rises from her racial identity. Posts from those who oppose the Senator refer to her as “Kamala Dolezal.” This title questions Harris’s identity as a Black woman by referencing Rachel Dolezal, a former official
at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who was later revealed to be a
white woman.

The New York Times spoke to Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of digital ethics
at Syracuse University about the conspiracies against Harris.

“Regardless of political party, sexism and racism have long been fixtures in American public life,” Ms. Phillips said. The lies about Harris, though while politically charged, are based in the sexist and racist ideals that fuel both QAnon and the alt-right as a whole. Another conspiracy theory sprouted by QAnon
poses that Harris is involved with “PizzaGate,” a non-existant child sex trafficking ring supposed
to be run out of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. This theory is based on the belief that Harris’s sister
was invited to a “pizza party” by Hilary Clinton’s former campaign manager in 2016.

Though these claims have been fact-checked and disproven, the rumor persists on every social media platform. According to the New York Times, the falsehood is believed to have spread to as many as 624,000 individuals.

These conspiracy theories are pointed attacks against Biden and Harris’s campaign, and ultimately serve to promote Trump’s re-election. Misinformation, suspicion, and conspiracy theories are used to manufacture distrust against the candidates, which could incite some voters either to vote for Trump instead, or simply not vote at all.