The Godmother of Rock N’ Roll: A look into Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s accomplishments and careers.

When you think of Rock and Roll, where does your mind go? Sister Rosetta Tharpe is likely the last person you’ll think of. Her pop gospel jazz music was a precursor for the modern age of Rock and Roll we all know and love today.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is known nowadays as the “Godmother of Rock N’ Roll” but did not receive her due credit until years after her death. Tharpe began playing guitar at the age of 4, and began performing with her mom at the age of 6. She would later be one of the first big musicians to popularize the electric guitar.

Tharpe’s career took off in 1938 in New York City, alongside her mother, when she was only 23 years old. She recorded her first album that year, and was an immediate success. The album featured her hit single “Rock Me” which was a fusion between gospel and rock music.

Later in Tharpe’s career, she eventually got to tour with her partner, Marie Knight, and together they toured as two queer black women in a relationship across the country. Tharpe broke boundaries, and challenged institutional racism and homophobia throughout her career. Tharpe is accredited for being an inspiration to many of the names that may come to mind when you think of Rock and Roll. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more acknowledge Tharpes influence on their musical careers.

Toward the end of her music career, she quickly began being overshadowed by the white men in the rock and roll industry, and lived out the end of her days quietly in the suburbs of Philadelphia, before dying in 1973.

Despite Tharpes strong influence on modern day Rock and Roll, her accomplishments and trailblazing spirit was not fully acknowledged until 2018, almost 45 years after she died, when she was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While she was celebrated by many in her time, she finally has been able to live on in our modern times by millions of people.

Sources:NPR, RockHall.com

Black Excellence in Fashion: A look at Ann Lowe and her impact of black women in fashion design.

The fashion industry is an ever changing and evolving industry, and Black creators have played a large role in the evolution of said industry.

In the 1800’s, enslaved people were forced to spend their days picking cotton to contribute to the production of textiles made for clothing and such. Now, Black leaders have taken the fashion world by storm, and are among some of the most prominent names in the industry.

Ann Lowe was the granddaughter of a formerly enslaved dressmaker, and the daughter of an embroiderer, taking the skills of her loved ones, she took over her mothers position making clothes for the first family of Alabama after she died. Lowe was only 16 years old when she took over her family business.

When Lowe got married, her husband heavily encouraged her to give up her seamstress work, and she did for a short period of time, but left him shortly after to work in Florida, bringing her son and future business partner with her.

After spending ten years in Florida, Lowe travelled to New York to take proper sewing classes. She was the only Black student in her classes, and was segregated from her classmates, but she did not let this get in the way of her dreams.

Once she graduated, she moved back to Florida for a few years before she saved up enough money to open up her own shop in New York City. She catered mostly to social elites, one of her highest profile clients being Jaqueline Bouvier, designing her wedding dress to marry John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately, Lowe did not receive much credit for her work, as when Kennedy was asked who made her dress, she simply responded stating that a Black woman had made it, not actually naming Lowe.

Lowe went underpaid for her work, only receiving a small fraction of what a white woman would have made for the same work. Despite her hardships and roadblocks, Lowe did not let anything deter her from her dream, although she eventually went bankrupt following the death of her son. Lowe’s sacrifices made it possible for Black designers to have a place in the ever-evolving fashion industry.

Sources: FIT, L’Officiel

People of Eastern: Meet Malicka Encarnacion, a biochem major with a passion for ministry.

Malicka Encarnacion is a senior at Eastern University, but she won’t be leaving us without leaving a lasting impact on the Eastern community. Raised in the Bronx, Encarnacion came to Eastern with a traumatic past, ready to start a new chapter of her life.

Encarnacion is studying biochemistry with a concentration in pre-med, and a minor in youth ministry. She is the chair of the student chaplain program, and the president of Precious Movements.

Encarnacion stumbled across Eastern while googling Christian colleges, and fell in love with the campus. She knew she wanted to leave the Bronx for college, and she scheduled a visit at Eastern. During her Columbus Day visit, she found a spot alongside the pond, and knew she wanted to make it hers. She attended Explore Eastern her senior year, and while feeling homesick, she ended up finding a community of people worshipping that soothed her nerves.

While visiting Explore Eastern, she watched the dance performances, and felt drawn towards Precious Movements. She knew she wanted to be a part of the group, and it was the first club she joined her freshman year. She danced in her church her entire life, and made sure to continue her passion for dancing through college.

For Encarnacion, Precious Movements is “a place where brothers and sisters in Christ can come together, lay down burdens, and become free together.” She holds a close connection with her group, and through her years at Eastern has worked her way up to President of Precious Movements. She finds it easy to express herself through dance, and she enjoys being able to share a part of herself through dancing. She considers everyone involved as a part of her family in the community that she has loved for the past four years.

Encarnacion was inspired by her chaplains, Mariella DiStefano and Alicia Michaels, in her freshman year dorm to become a chaplain herself. Her chaplains inspired her and made her feel welcomed in the Eastern community, and she wanted to be able to do the same for others. Her goal as a chaplain is to make sure that people’s needs are met physically, spiritually, and mentally, to be a family to the community around her. She loves being able to inspire others around her, and feels like it’s her personal mission to share the love of Christ, and to love those around her. Her favorite part of being a chaplain is watching the girls in her hall become chaplains, even if it’s only one, and knowing that she is able to inspire others.

When she’s not spending her time working on school, doing work for the chaplain program, or practicing with Precious Movements, Encarnacion can be found spending time with her girlfriend, Faith, or watching some of her favorite shows, such as Grey’s Anatomy or This is Us, and any other show that brings out emotions. She enjoys watching shows that make her cry, and give her a chance to think and reflect on the content.

After Eastern, Encarnacion wants to become a doctor, specifically a pediatrician. She plans on opening up a youth center and providing healthcare to people that may not have easy access to proper medical care. She hopes to be able to work part time in the hospital, and full time helping people in the youth center.

If you would like to hear more of Malicka’s story, she will be speaking in Chapel on March 24th as a part of the Chapel series “Living into God’s story.”

Hey Macklemore, Should We Go Thrift Shopping? : Insight into the positive and negative effects of thrift culture.

In 2012, the country was taken by storm in the release of the new song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, bringing attention to the already popular culture of thrifting, and encouraging more people to take part in the activity. Another significant contribution to the increase in thrifting efforts came with the rise of sustainability efforts.

Thrifting can be wonderful for both the environment, and our bank accounts. It is a way to live sustainably without going broke, which can be particularly appealing for college students.
It also prevents textile waste, which means fewer clothing items are going into landfills as they are being upcycled in thrift stores.

60% of clothing in landfills contains synthetic fibers, making them almost impossible to break down. By avoiding putting these clothes in landfills through recycling articles of clothing via thrift store donations, we are decreasing the amount of plastic in landfills.

Thrifting also creates less demand for fast fashion. Companies such as Forever 21, Shein, and Wish, to name a few, mainly use fast fashion resources to make short lasting clothing. This production model is fueled by its low prices, which draws customers in, but is also really bad for the environment.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, fast fashion is when a company produces cheaply made clothing as quickly as possible in order to sell as much as possible. These practices may seem fine at first glance, but often, they negatively impact the individuals making said clothing, as well as contribute to landfill waste, as most of the clothing that is not sold immediately enters a landfill.

Oftentimes, the consumers who purchase clothes from fast fashion companies are more drawn to the significantly lower prices of the clothing than anything else; the affordable, convenient, quantity over quality mentality fuels the fast fashion industry.

Fast fashion aside, thrifting is great for giving old clothes new homes, and preventing any type of clothing from going into a landfill. Donating and repurposing clothing holds an overall positive impact on the environment.

However, while “popping tags” can have some really great environmental benefits, its growing popularity can also have a negative impact on the communities around us. Many times, people who need to use thrifting as a resource to find clothes for themselves or their families discover that most of the “decent” and “quality” items have already been picked through in someone else’s efforts to find trendy outfits.

This is not always the case, and there will still always be more clothes on the thrift store racks thanks to donations, but it is important that we remain self-aware about which items we take, and make sure to leave enough for those in our community who rely on thrifting as a necessity and not a hobby.

Love with Furry Friends: Copy editor Jennie Brouse writes a letter to her beloved pups.

To my boys,

You’re the ones who have never left my side, and you always know how to make me smile. You’ve been with me for good and bad, and you’re there for me even when nobody else is. You never judge, and your love is unconditional like no other. I miss you both like crazy, even after all the years we’ve spent together. You make me miss home, and goodbyes with you are the RUFFest. Even though you steal my food, and love to get in trouble, I can never stay mad at either of you.

They say a dog is a man’s best friend and that certainly applies to women too. You’re my two best friends, and I know I can rely on you. You’re more trustworthy than any human I know, and you’re the best at keeping secrets. You always know when I am sad, and how to cheer me up. Even though we cannot communicate verbally, you know how to brighten all of my days with your goofiness. I wish I could be with you playing in the snow. I know it’s your favorite time of the year, whether you’re catching snowballs or burying your heads under a giant lump of snow, soaking yourself in the process. Maybe next year we’ll have more snow to enjoy together. I cannot wait to come home and see you both again soon.

You’ll never understand this letter, and that is perfectly fine, but I truly am so blessed and grateful to have the two best dogs in the world to call all mine.

Love, Jennie

Pope Announces Inclusive Decisions: Pope supports LGBTQ+ civil unions; names first Black American Cardinal.

For the first time ever, Pope Francis has recently spoken out about his support for same-sex civil unions. The announcement was made in a recent documentary entitled “Francesco” and has since made international headlines.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, they are children of God,” said the Pope as part of the documentary. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this.” He then goes on to discuss the idea of creating a civil union law. “That way they are legally covered,” said the Pope.

The documentary containing these remarks was released as a part of the Rome Film Festival, and was
directed by Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky.

A St. Thomas professor, Charles Reed, made a statement regarding the Pope’s remarks, noting that
because these remarks were made via documentary the likeness of the Catholic Church as a whole following suit is slim. “The mode of speech was very carefully chosen,” Reed said, according to KARE 11.

This is the first time Pope Francis has fully come out to support same sex unions, but in past interviews he has suggested that he is not against same sex civil unions either. The Pope has been known to have a record of encouraging LGBTQ+ relationships. These remarks may further indicate that although he is speaking publicly about his support, there is no evidence that the church will be altering their laws to benefit same sex unions.

While the documentary came out rather recently, The Vatican has been denying these remarks and labeling them as old news. Many conservative wings of the church have been asking for clarification.

It is important to note that the Pope made these remarks in regards to same sex civil unions, a term
that is similar but not equal to same sex marriage. Pope Francis is still unwaveringly in support of the church’s already existing laws in regards to same sex marriage. This means that while he may be in support of same sex civil union, it is still unclear as to whether of not he supports same sex marriage unions.

This is not the only thing the Pope has done recently that gained attention. On October 25, the Pope
appointed 13 new cardinals. One of the new cardinals, Wilton Gregory, has become the first Black American in the church’s highest governing body. The Archbishop Gregory is also the first American since 2016 to be appointed to the college of cardinals.

Archbishop Gregory has been urging his fellow church leaders to improve upon race relations in the months leading up to his appointment.

Of the 37,000 Catholic priests in the United States, only about 250 of them are Black, according to the
New York Times, as most Black American adults are Protestant; about 5% of Black Americans are Catholic.

Black Americans have been excluded from seminaries for centuries, so this recent appointment is a significant step towards a voice in Archbishop Gregory’s stance against racism.

These recent developments are indicative of Pope Francis’s attempts to, according to the New York Times, “redirect the church towards greater acceptance of those on the margins.”.

Sources : KARE 11, CNN, Richmond Free Press, New York Times

Avoiding the Trap of Bias: How to find reliable news sources in a whirlwind news cycle.

In this current day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a news source that does not hold some type of bias. Most of the time it is based on a political bias, but other times it can be based on a personal bias, and articles are written to sway a reader for or against a person or organization.

Trying to find a non-biased news source can feel virtually impossible, and it kind of is. We’ve all been in the situation where we have needed to do research for a project or have been writing an article where it is required that we find an unbiased source.

I will admit, there have been many times where I have needed to use an unbiased source, and eventually just gave up and used a source that I knew had partial bias.

There are many ways to avoid bias in the media, and it is not always an easy task. One rule I always make myself follow is to always use more than one source. If I know one source is more biased on one side, I try to either find a second source that is more neutral, or one that leans more towards the other side, or oftentimes both.

Another option is to use the Warner Library resources; the school pays for many unbiased subscriptions for us to use in research papers and essays.

So why is it important to use unbiased sources? Bias in the media is used to influence the opinion of the reader. Even the most highly regarded news sources are guilty of trying to sway a reader one way or another. The news source’s job is not to influence your opinions, but to report the news as factual, the good and the bad, and allow the reader to form their own opinions.

That being said, almost all major news sources hold some form of bias, and it is important to know that going on. If you are reading an article that was written in the news section that indicates the source’s bias, it may not be the best source to use.

Sometimes bias is encouraged in the media. Pundits and opinions sections are made to include the bias of the writer, but these are never sources that you should be using as factual.

There are many signs that a news source is showing bias, and there are many ways to avoid falling into their bias. The first sign is the most obvious, but showing clear bias, good or bad towards a specific politician or political party is one of the common indicators of bias. While outright bias seems to be happening more and more, especially surrounding the recent presidential election, there are still many other things to look out for when looking to avoid bias.

If a source has too many ads, it may be an indicator that the source is not the most reliable. This is also highly dependent on the type of ad displayed on a website. If the ads seem to be a form of click bait or inappropriate in any way, that website may not be the right one to use for all of your information. It is no secret that most news sources need to use ads in order to make any sort of profit and pay their writers, but most reliable sources
bypass the need by offering a subscription service and properly evaluating the ads they show.

Using multiple sources can help you find out if a source is showing bias. If the source you are using is omitting information that you find in another source, or contradicting the information of said secondary source, it may be indicative that either one or both sources may contain bias, and it may be necessary to look at a third source to compare and uncover potential bias.

If nothing else, please be careful in what sources you use, and try not to believe everything you find online without fact-checking the information you are receiving.

The Most Troubling Costumes of Halloween: A guide to avoiding offensive outfits.

Halloween is a great time to dress up and be whoever you want to be. But there are limitations on what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to what you should and should not wear. Many of us have been guilty of wearing some of these problematic costumes and while that
cannot be reversed, we can make the conscious decision to avoid these costume choices in the future. While these costumes may not seem offensive at first, it is important to keep in mind that the person wearing the costume is not the one harmed by the possible offensive content.
So how do we identify a problematic costume?

Well we can start by using what is referred to as “the grandmother test” where you ask yourself if your grandmother would approve of seeing your costume if posted on social media. The answer to this question should almost always be yes. Halloween costumes do not need to be offensive to be fun and creative.

Now to be clear, this article is not in regards to the labeled “slutty” costumes. This article is about the costumes that are made to humiliate or make fun of a group of people, or tragic events.

In elementary school, my school had an annual Halloween parade, where every student would dress up on Halloween and we would show off our costumes to each other and our families. My school had a primarily white population, with almost no diversity, so racial based costumes should have not been a problem. I have distinct memories of my classmates going as different racially based stereotypes. I remember different students wearing fat suits and quite a few others wearing clothing that I did not think much of at the time, but in retrospect, were very tasteless.

There are costumes that we all know should be unacceptable at this point; well, we should know, at least. These include black-face and other racial based costumes such as a sumo wrestler, and characters from Mulan, which I have seen a lot of.

Alongside these costumes, there are many others that may not seem offensive at first, but can negatively affect the people these costumes represent. Unless you belong to the group being represented, do not wear them. For example, if you are not Black, you should not be dressing up as a Black person such as Rosa Parks.

The idea of a straitjacket as a Halloween costume can seem harmless at first, but the glorification of mental illnesses and disorders can be dangerous. People have made costumes playing mental hospital patients with straitjackets, and a few years ago a costume company came under fire for making a costume entitled “Anna Rexia” “The incredibly poor-taste outfit included a skeleton dress with a measuring tape belt to ‘cinch the waist.’” (Good Housekeeping) Nothing in relation to any mental disorder is something that should be laughed at or used as a costume when there are people suffering from them.

Another popular costume theme that can be problematic are those that reference tragedy or groups that took many lives. In my research for this article, I found dozens of people dressed up at the twin towers, some featuring stick people “falling” from the costume. On the other hand of the same event, there are costumes depicting “terrorists” that range from a simple coat and a turban, to one’s with fake bomb units strapped to the
costume wearer.

A very popular costume or dress up idea, that many of us may not think of as offensive, but is indeed harmful, are cross-dressing for humor costumes. There is a difference between a genderbent superhero and a college guy wearing a dress to receive laughs. These costumes mock the transgender community, and can be very offensive.

Either way worn, these costumes are not funny and should not be worn by anyone. There are also many people that find it funny to dress up as either a school shooter, or a school shooting victim. Especially as a student in the day and era where this is a regular problem we face, we should not in good conscience even consider these costumes. In my research I also found many Hitler themed costumes, and some entitled “Holocaust Victim.” Again, it should not have to be said, but these costumes should not be worn.

Other examples of problematic costumes can be body shaming costumes, which can feature the blow up costumes that I see every year on Halloween. Mariachi costumes and other cultural stereotypical costumes are also very offensive unless you are a part of that culture and understand the cultural significance. One of these cultures that always seems to be used in Halloween costumes is that of Indigenous People. Bottom line, do
not use these costumes, since there are plenty of unproblematic costumes that one can wear for Halloween.

Sources: Good Housekeeping

Serviceable Service Learning: Inside the changes being made to Eastern’s Service Learning program in the midst of a pandemic.

Each year, all first year students are required to take an INST 150 course, and one of the requirements regarding the course is the Service Learning program. The program is run by Megan Acedo. Acedo is the Coordinator of Student Ministries and Service Learning.

In a typical year, without COVID, students are given the opportunity to go into the local community and
volunteer with local organizations, making a difference. For the Service Learning program, Eastern normally partners with around twenty nonprofit and community organizations, and each week INST students will spend a few hours volunteering with their chosen organization.

This year, as many things have, things have changed in regards to the program. Clearly students cannot go into the community, especially when the only travel that is allowed from campus is for essentials.
Because of these changes, Acedo was forced to come up with a solution. The volunteer experience was
transformed into Zoom sessions where students attend for two hours once a week and learn about different injustices occurring in the community.

As the Service Learning program is unique to Eastern, Acedo ended up writing the entire service learning curriculum on her own. A few of the modules include hunger, poverty, and homelessness, among
others.

“Instead of exposure to one injustice, students now get exposure to all,” Acedo said when describing how the changes will affect the program. The program is still working with a few of the local organizations from before, as students learn about each injustice, different from how they previously would only focus on one injustice per learning group.

Acedo describes the Service Learning experience as transformative, as many students gain a different perspective on life after their service learning is changed. Many students even tend to change their majors after the experience.

As a student going through service learning this year, the experience has definitely been interesting.
Each week we go through different modules in relation to a different injustice issue. We watch different videos related to each topic, and then we have group discussions in regard to that week’s topic. These discussions can range from personal experiences relating to the topic to what we learned and took away from the videos watched.

So far the experience has made me yearn to learn more and wish I was able to actually go out and help
with these injustices. Part of the reason I chose Eastern was to experience the Service Learning program and get the opportunity to volunteer with the community. This is not to say that I do not enjoy the way the program is being handled this year, as Acedo has done an excellent job in organizing the entire curriculum and making sure we are still given the opportunity, despite the current worldly circumstances.

The organizations that have partnered with Eastern in the past are even more in need of help this year, as the pandemic has especially hindered those who had preexisting needs. Over 8 million people have entered into poverty since the start of the pandemic. The partnered organizations are still working to help with these injustices and are being discussed within these service learning groups.

Another new addition to the service learning program are group facilitators, who lead the Zoom sessions and provide help to INST students in the program. These group facilitators also assist in tracking hours for the program, leading discussions and asking questions.

Although the circumstances are not ideal, the Service Learning program is still a key part of Eastern’s
curriculum and has continued to impact the students in the program and the community that is affected.

Petitions Alone Cannot Save Us

Online petitions have been around for a while now, and can be spread over many different media platforms. The most popular source of these petitions is via a website called change.org. Change.org has made it easier for any person to start a petition, whether it is political or personal. But how effective are these petitions really?

Recently, an online petition was posted in regards to Eastern University’s COVID rules that require students to fill out a form before leaving campus for any reason, even essential reasons. The petition was
posted to one of Eastern’s Facebook pages and, at the time this article was written, has 123 out of the
200 goal signatures.

After two weeks, nothing has come from the petition to get rid of the Campus Exit Form, and it does not seem like anything will come of it either.

While the previously mentioned petition had little to no traction, which could be a result of the lack of
signatures, many large petitions have yielded similar results.

After the death of Breonna Taylor, a petition was started on change.org demanding justice for her killing. This petition has since gained over 11 million signatures from people across the country, and even
around the world, all demanding that the officers involved in her shooting face charges relating to her
death. However, as we have seen, the petition was no use in serving her justice.

In a 2016 article published by the New York Times, the point is brought up that politicians are unlikely to
completely change their viewpoints and policies over an internet petition. Honestly, politicians are still unlikely to change their minds even with a petition that took place in person, collecting signatures “off the street.” Online petitions are viewed as being “not good enough” at achieving the justice that is viewed as the goal for each petition. Just signing a name is not as effective as going out and demanding justice be done for a certain incident.

Change.org has an option after signing a petition to share the petition on social media, which can be effective in helping to achieve the goal aimed for. In political based petitions, there is often an option as well to contact the representative in charge of taking care of what the petition is asking for. While just signing petitions is simply not enough, signing petitions alongside sharing the petition and contacting those that the petition is asking something of can certainly help gain awareness and spread the message that the petition is trying to convey.

That being said, there are quite a few petitions that have been successful through change.org. The website boasts roughly one victory per hour as a result of their petitions.

Over the last decade, many petitions have been successful thanks to change.org. One of the more successful petitions led to the signing of the PACT Act. The PACT Act made animal cruelty a federal felony, and after the bill had stalled in the House of too long, the petition brought forth more attention to the bill and helped speed up the process of passing it into law.

The PACT Act petition only had 800,000 signatures to work, whereas the petition for Breonna Taylor has
over 11 million signatures and has yet to be successful.

Overall, online petitions may work sometimes, but many times they don’t, it doesn’t seem to matter how
many signatures, but more about who the petition is aimed towards.