February 7, 2016

Interpreting Horrendous Crimes Through Art

By Nicholas Tejeda Editor

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, Assistant Professor Irina Zakirova, alongside Professor Bill Pangburn, and Professor Julio Valentine hosted an art contest in John Jay’s Anya and Andrew Shiva Art Gallery. The contest, which was open to John Jay students, required the artists to take a story from Professor Zakirova’s book, The Pain Within My Soul: Short Stories About Crime And Life.

In her book, Zakirova, a Russian native, looks to her past as a police officer and crime journalist to share personal experiences and insight into a variety of different crimes, explaining both the impact it’s had on the victims and looking at the causation of crime in general.

“Nothing is simple in causes which lead to crime. It is first and foremost pain, which always accompanied these people to crime. I have pain in my soul for all of them, “Zakirova said.

The book, which is a compilation of various short stories, is used as a supplementary readings to students in different sections of Law and Police science courses. “We all know the text can be dry,” said Professor Valentine, to a group of about 20 students. “But Professor Z’s book offers students the chance to grasp the dry material through stories.” Students in the contest were encouraged to use any art form to detail their interpretation of one of the many short stories. The winners received prize gift cards, paid for by the Faculty Student Engagement Fund. Along with cash prizes, the winners will also have their art displayed in professor Zakirova’s next edition of the book.

Interested in reading The Pain Within My Soul: Short Stories About Crime And Life? It is currently up for sale on Amazon.com and Ebay.com.

Comic Book Culture: The Influence of Superheroes

By Kelvin A. Hualpa

Comic book culture has had a profound on adults andchildren alike. In ancient times, people told myths and folktales as a form of entertainment and as a way to build imaginations. However, in this new generation, what has taken the place of folklore and myths are comic books. There has been a dramatic change, and as a result of the surge of comic book culture.

Although the surge in regards to comic book culture can be attributed rrecent films that have taken over the box office, such as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, their foundation cannot be denied. The groundwork for the success of comic book movies lies within the comic books themselves.

The grandfather of all superheroes is “Superman”. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, “Superman” debuted in 1938 setting the stage for the Golden Age of superheroes. Since then comic book stories have influenced people all over the world.

“The cult of the hero became a thing. I grew up with this idea of the guy that is super strong, which can stand up to anything and anyone. The idea of a superhero was what inspired me to join the Marine Corp,” said John Jay Sophomore, Klevi Fusha.

“As a kid I would say that my favorite superhero was Superman, but as I grew up, I preferred Batman, not necessarily because he was depicted as a real human being, but it was because he was a self-made person. Batman shows us that it takes hard work to make a difference. A lot of people tend to forget that”, stated Fusha.

Fusha also added that comic books have given us a new definition of what it means to be a man. “I think superheroes do affect my actions, it does subconsciously, so since I grew up with the hero cult if I was faced with a confrontation, I cannot walk away from it without feeling like less of man. I mean, Batman would not walk away, why should I?”

As a serviceman, it is not unusual for comic book heroes to have influenced Fusha as it did. History shows us that comic books had a dramatic effect on American pop culture. During the height of the Second World War, the sales of comic books increased dramatically, since many of the comic book stories were often patriotic and positive, such as the popular hero Captain America.

Originally, comic books were aimed at children as a portable means of entertainment, but they soon became useful for adults and even soldiers. In November 1945, a Yank Weekly article was published, titled The Comic by Sanderson Vanderbilt that cited, the estimates of the Market Research Company of America, which found that about “70 million Americans, roughly half of the U.S. population, read comic books. The ages of readers heavily favored children, with 95 percent of all boys and 91 percent of all girls between the ages of six and eleven reading comic books.”

While the marketing for comic books was heavily focused on children, with 70 million readers, it was undeniable that among these readers were adults as well. The Yank Weekly article also stated, “The study also revealed a high percentage of adult readers, with 41 percent of men and 28 percent of women aged eighteen to thirty admitting to regularly reading comics. This impressive study proves that, in the Golden Age, comic books were not limited to children.”

The comic book age that coincided with the Great Depression and WWII was known as the Gold Age of Comic Books as it lasted from the 1930s to the 1950s. Comic Books reached a new level of success in both commercial successes and becoming a form of entertainment that was culturally significant.

The Golden Age of Comics was important because it was necessary for the commercial success that comic book related to culture is having today.

In an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Comic Books No Longer Just for Kids by Maria Sciullo touches upon the unrealism. “A lot of comics have become more and more exaggerated over the years. And so, there is that impulse to ‘Make him bigger. Make her sexier,’ [or] exaggerate more. It gets to the point, where, in my opinion, it gets ridiculous.” Comic books at times bring forth this unrealistic expectation of a hero according to some readers. A counter argument can be stated, where perhaps this expectation is necessary so that people can keep striving towards excellence.

Although there exists some doubt about the benefits of comic book culture, most people seem to have a positive outlook on it. In recent years, comic book conventions have blown up in attendance. San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con set new records of attendance every year. The two events have become incredibly important in pop culture. Slowly comic book culture has begun to merge with pop culture as it did once in the past. The media seems to be enjoying this modern Golden Age of Comics.

Double Duty From Winter To Spring

By Jenifer Valmon



Photo Courtesy of Ryan Durning One of the styles discussed in the article on display. Styled by Jenifer Valmon.

What if I told you April Showers bring the opportunity to repurpose your favorite winter pieces? Yes, you can wear your winter clothes in the spring.

The easiest way to do this is to build your wardrobe with layering pieces or pieces you can combine into the perfect ensemble that will also keep you warm. My favorite layering pieces are the chunky cardigan and the cropped sweatshirt because they can help transform your outfit very easily. Choosing brighter colors when purchasing these pieces will help make the transition from winter to spring seamless.

jens rack 2

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Durning One of the styles discussed in the article on display. Styled by Jenifer Valmon.

No need for a jacket when you can throw on your chunky cardigan over a Maxi dress for those not so warm spring days. But why limit yourselves? You can also use your favorite winter cardigan as a replacement for that boring blazer you wear to work.

You can also turn a dress into a skirt just by adding a cute sweatshirt. Of course you can also wear a high-waisted skirt with your cropped sweater but if you are anything like myself, you love making a dress work double duty to earn its spot in your closet.

A common but often overlooked piece of our winter gear is the scarf. Your scarf is the ultimate game changer. A scarf can have more than one us because it can add the final touch to your outfit or be the outfit itself.


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Durning One of the styles discussed in the article on display. Styled by Jenifer Valmon.

Many talented ladies have started making videos on YouTube to help make your life easier. Don’t know what to wear tonight? Coolirpa will show you how to wear your scarves as a layered peplum skirt, a maxi skirt and strapless dress.

But for the natural hair girl, the scarf can be a bad-hair lifesaver. Your scarves make the perfect hair accessory when you need to look fierce but can’t get your hair to agree.


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Durning One of the styles discussed in the article on display. Styled by Jenifer Valmon.

All you have to do is wrap your favorite scarf around your head. If you’re feeling fancy you can make a bow but it is easiest to tuck the ends into layers of fabric you created by wrapping the scarf around your head. I find this to work best with printed scarfs.

Now you’re ready to grab this spring by the flowers and save a lot of cash by recycling your winter apparel. Remember every outfit is new if they haven’t seen it yet so make sure you change up the way you wear your clothes. Before you head to the store, shop your closet first.


The Other Side of Luxury

By Jenifer Valmon


Think of the fitting room as your own private fashion oasis, where any outfit you can think of is at your fingertips. You have an assistant on call to find the finest quality pieces to satisfy your personal taste and help your dream wardrobe come to life.

That’s what it should feel like in the fitting room of a fancy designer store, but after nine years of working in specialty retail, I found that people did not regard the fitting rooms in this way. Instead they treat it as if it were a cheap motel, to be tidied up after their stay.

It is easy for the customers to adopt this mentality because as part of the five star customer service experience, the employees are trained to never utter the phrase “please bring out all unwanted items on the hanger,” a phrase often heard in affordable stores like Forever 21 and H&M.

As a result the associates end up with piles of $200 silk tops balled up on the floor, white tops with the red lipstick stain and beautiful sequin gowns shedding their sequins.

The carelessness of one customer ruins the luxury experience for the rest. Often times the same customers who create the less than opulent environment complain of having an unpleasant experience. I say to them, if you want a luxurious experience, respect the things and the people that can provide it for you.

To help you not be that person, here are 8 things you need to remember when trying on clothes:

–Never try on white tops when wearing make up (as talented as we all may think we are, the color white is a make up magnet.)

–Remove all jewelry when trying on silk, jersey cotton or any other delicate fabric that may get caught.

–Know your size. We would all like to be a size zero but there are only a lucky few who are so fortunate. Chances are, if you get into a dress two sizes too small, you will need help getting out of it.

–Never leave the clothes you tried on laying on the floor. Be courteous to the future owner of those jeans you hated and hopefully someone will do the same for you.

–Be mindful of the time you spend in the fitting room. Although you should regard it as your own private space, it is not. Other people need to use it and your sales associate will need to eat lunch at some point in the day.

–Always remember the people assisting you are human beings, not machines. Your energy is contagious. It is hard to deliver perfect customer service to someone with an awful attitude.

–Don’t forget your underwear, socks or bras as they are essential pieces of your getup (it happens more than you think).

–Finally, the fitting room is not a bus station. No one needs to know you were here and the little bench in the room doesn’t need your freshly chewed gum as a souvenir.

Hopefully these tips will help you understand that luxury is subject to the value placed upon it. A thing or a place can only be luxurious if you see it and treat it as such. With this I hope you make your next trip to a luxury retailer as pleasurable as possible by appreciating the things and people who work to bring you a lavishing experience.

Pressing Polarization: The Dangers of Fringe Politics (Republicans)

By Jay Cruger

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons


I enjoy shock value sometimes. A good joke or riveting story helps in the political sphere, especially when you need to bring your point across with humor. At times it’s good to humanize the political discourse when times are tense. The type of tenseness we were faced with was the one that we had in the first round of committee on clubs for our budgets. In the meeting I sat withYannis Trittas, of the John Jay College Democrats. Shocked yet?

It was the tense easing moment of laughter when we took the roll call of clubs saying “I’m Jay Cruger, president of the Republican Club,” and then immediately followed by “I’m Yannis Trittas, president of the Democratic Club.” The laughter, at the same time, is also very sad.

It is sad because it’s almost impossible to believe that Democrats and Republicans can get along together and agree on something, even when in the same room as each other. It’s expected that Democrats and Republicans fight often, even on campus.

The reality between the president of the College Democrats and myself, is that we do not harbor any bitterness with each other at all. Although Trittas tends to see himself as a “Clinton Democrat” and I brand myself as a “Rockefeller Republican,” both of us embrace most of our parties’ core ideologies on economic issues, but on varying issues we trend towards the political center.

Politics, especially in opposition, has become increasingly vicious, even on a national level.

There are few to no Conservative Democrats or Liberal Republicans left. It’s a shame since New York especially had a great examples of Democrats and Republicans working together. New York Republican Senator, Jacob Javits, worked with Democrat Senator, Robert Kennedy, to solve the problems that arose after the enactment of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. Both of them created partnerships between government and the private sector in manpower training and employment.

President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House, Thomas O’Neill, were political rivals but at the end of the day, they could sit down, drink and talk like regular men. Can anyone imagine that with President Obama and Speaker Boehner?

The national political climate is deplorable. There is no room for compromise in Washington anymore. George Pataki, who was governor from 1995 to 2006, won his third term with the help of public sector unions like Service Employees International Union 1199, a relationship unheard of today. Any Republican who followed in Pataki’s footsteps would be dismissed by more rightward leaning Republicans as a “Republican in Name Only.” It is clear that the sensible center is a vanishing phenomenon.

Earlier this month we could not agree on whether or not to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Before that it was a government shutdown, a sequester and another government shutdown. We are too concerned about being ideologically pure and not what needs to be fixed in our economic and social atmosphere.

Polarization has happened because we have lost the ability to listen. Howard Baker, former Republican United States Senate Minority leader, was described as an eloquent listener. In 2011 he said, “There is a difference between hearing and understanding what people say. You don’t have to agree, but you have to hear what they’ve got to say. And if you do, the chances are much better you’ll be able to translate that into a useful position and even useful leadership.”

A study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 said the polarization in the United States “is not just in our politics. American adults are less likely to compromise and often decide where to live, who to marry and who their friends should be based on what they already believe.” Should I start checking my dates’ voter registration card?

How ridiculous is it that we cannot see past each other’s ideologies at the end of the day? How can we not remember that we are all just regular Americans, people who should interact with one another as it is healthy to do so?

How will we ever survive this polarizing atmosphere when social media is further driving wedges in our relationships? It is my hope that this divisive trend does not continue. There’s too much at stake to keep fighting like this. Hopefully, as College Democrats and College Republicans, we can set an example to those set in their ideological ways.

President Eisenhower immortalized the sensible center the best, saying “they (the left and the right) deliberately misrepresent the central position as a neutral, wishy-washy one. Yet here is the truly creative area within which we may obtain agreement for constructive social action compatible with basic American principles-and with the just aspirations of every sincere American. It is the area in which are rooted the hopes and allegiances of the vast majority of the people.”

I’mma Let You Finish But… It Was Ours First

By Jenifer Valmon


Photo Courtesy of Instagram Iggy Azealea

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Iggy Azealea

There has been an increasing interest in the topic of cultural appropriation lately, especially when it comes to Hip Hop/Black culture and style.

Cultural appropriation has been used to describe artists like Miley Cyrus, taking a culture such as Hip Hop and exploiting it for it’s monetary value, without regard to it’s history or significance.

“White America” has been accused of “stealing” black culture, starting before Elvis Presley’s hip-thrusting Rock and Roll and beyond Madonna’s gold fronts phase.

Accusers often claim to be offended by the imitations of Hip Hop/Black culture and regard it as ridicule and or exploitation. One of the most notorious accusers is the always-controversial Hip Hop artist and Harlem native, Azealia Banks, who is more famous for her numerous twitter battles (her most memorable, the feud with Iggy Azalea fueled by the same topic) than for her music.

Banks was interviewed by the Ebro on the Morning Show on New York’s Hot 97, Hip Hop radio station on Dec. 18, 2014.

“It’s like a cultural smudging, it’s what I see, They’re [the media] trying to erase us,” said Banks regarding the white washing of Hip Hop by the mainstream media.

Banks was also discontent about Iggy Azalea being nominated for a Grammy for best Hip Hop album of the year, reasoning that there are plenty of Black female artists who deserved the honors more.

She has also been criticized for her interpretation of Hip Hop style as the bottom heavy, stereotypical, voluptuous woman; aka Nicki Minaj.

“She is trying to bring things we do in our culture everyday […] like the barrettes and even the attire that were conceived as ghetto and make it popular,” said Howard D. Borden, president of John Jay College Radio about Azalea.

Grammy nominations for Azalea did not sit well with other Hip Hop lovers. They accuse Azalea of making a mockery of what is truly Hip Hop with her Popish songs and her unauthentic southern accent.

Not everyone agrees that White, or non-Black artists, adopting Hip Hop culture is the problem. It could be the lack of support coming from the same community claiming to be victimized.

Photo Courtesy of Instagram Nicki Minaj

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Nicki Minaj

“Show me the last Hip Hop album you bought,” said DJ Super Agent Dre, radio personality for Extreme 104 FM.

Dre believes that those complaining about cultural appropriation are often not supporting the artist they believe should be recognized. He argues that Black Hip Hop artists are the most listened to but their record sales do not reflect this fact.

This issue is not exclusive to Hip Hop culture. Dove started the “Love Your Curls Campaign” this month with the launch of their new hair care products aimed at women with curly hair.

The campaign is supposed to help girls with curly hair raise their self-esteem and love their curls but Kinsey Clarke’s piece, “The Problem with Dove’s ‘Love Your Curls” Campaign”, posted on TheHarriet.com on Feb. 16, says Dove is failing.

“It is appropriating so much of the black women’s natural hair movement, without placing black women at the center of the campaign,” stated Clarke. “This wouldn’t be an issue if the commercials didn’t focus primarily on white and mixed-race black girls, who already possess socially accepted curl textures,”

Clarke also accuses Dove of “stealing” the hair care practices that Black women have created to maintain their natural hair, to turn a profit from the natural hair movement.

“In appropriating the hair care practices black women have created for ourselves, we are being told by corporations that our methods are brilliant, but that we are not – and as an extension, our hair is not either […] again we are excluded from the market that steals its ideas from us”, stated Clarke.

It seems like capitalism plays a large part in the appropriation of other cultures by the masses. This can be seen in the translation of fashion trends every season. Perhaps one of the most memorable examples is the Timberland (a highly Hip Hop affiliated shoe company) inspired Manolo Blahnik work boot (valued at $1050 in 2011), worn by JLo in her Jenny From the Block video.

Other methods are the reinterpretations of Navajo and African prints on mass-produced clothing with no reverence to their origin.

John McWhorter, writer of “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation”, believes, “the concept of cultural appropriation has morphed into a parody of the original idea. We are now to get angry simply when whites happily imitate something that minorities do.”

In his article posted on TheDailyBeast.com, on July 15, 2014, McWhorter argues to the fact that the world is a melting pot of appropriations that created the culture we live in now.

“The very faculty of language is, to a large extent, a matter of imitation. The idea that when we imitate something we are seeking to replace it rather than join it is weak. Think about it: Does that even make sense?” stated McWhorter.

Ultimately, cultural appropriation is never going to stop, according to McWhorter. If it will ever stop being appropriation and just be American culture is yet to be seen but Dre is correct about Hip Hop, in that “it’s a multicultural thing.”

El Superhero

Graphic Novel Debates Latinos in Comics

By Richard Felipe

Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons Latino Spiderman in Marvel's new Spiderman comic.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons
Latino Spiderman in Marvel’s new Spiderman

On Sept. 17, a John Jay lecture room was packed for the Graphic Novel Club’s debate on the trend of Latino comic book characters. The roundtable debate was very lively with students and club members having to sit on the floor due to the lack of seating. Latino representations in terms of comic book characters have been spotty or nonexistent until now. Some characters ethnicities have been ignored completely by the Hollywood craze.

Edwinson Matias is a junior and member of John Jay’s Graphic Novel’s Club. Matias feels that well written Latino characters can and do exist without the need of removing character race traits. “If you think about it, comic books were made by white people for white people for years. It’s only now that we’re getting this representation”, said Matias.

Characters like Bane from Batman had his Latino roots either ignored or not portrayed in the 2012’s Dark Knight Rises. It is only mentioned that Bane is from a foreign prison yet, his Latino heritage in the comics is never touched. The actor Tom Hardy, who portrayed Bane was also not of Latino descent. “I think there are aspects that white writers don’t want to cover because of their background,” said Michael Martinez, a 24-year-old student.

The discussion presented at the roundtable debate uncovered new Latino characters that the leaders felt deserved more exposure like Michael (Miles) Morales, a recent Spiderman iteration. Characters like Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic from Brooklyn, have been given the opportunity to take up the mantle of Spiderman.

Other characters include Kyle Rayner, a Mexican-American that has donned the ring and has become one of DC comic’s most notable heroes, the Green Lantern. Tariq Sims, a non-Latino from the Bronx, 20, said “I see the few gems [Bane] in the bunch, I know that it is possible to have these amazing characters.”

The meeting also considered characters from various anime and manga such as Bleach and Black Lagoon and the probable Japanese viewpoint towards Latino characters. The exposure has leaked into Japanese culture as well.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons Yasutora Sado, a character in the anime "Bleach".

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons
Yasutora Sado, a character in the anime “Bleach”.

Characters like Yasutora Sado, a Japanese-Mexican in the popular anime Bleach, are a part of the team in the main protagonists story. These also include antagonists such as Rosarita Cisneros, aka Roberta, a Cuban assassin disguised as a maid in the hit anime Black Lagoon.

Students walked away from the meeting with better knowledge of Latino characters. The viewpoint of writers and the lack of covering Latino or foreign comic characters was a major focal point during the debate. According to one student, the reason that different renditions of a comic series may cast white characters in place of Hispanics, or change their roots to better suit the plot is, “I think there are aspects or things white writers don’t want to cover because they feel they don’t have the right to due to their race,” said Martinez.



The Legend of the Killer High Heels

By Darren Harris

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Since the 1600’s the creation of high heels continues to be an ever evolving trend for men and women. There are different kinds of healed shoes such as the cone, kitten, prism, puppy, spool/Louis, stiletto, and the wedge heel, to name a few.

In the history of high heels, the trend has come and gone throughout the years. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that high heels started making a comeback in fashion and in everyday wear.

Jameka Johnson, a sophomore student says, “Not only am I in love with wearing a stiletto, but any type of high heel for that matter, and knowing that the high heel has been around for so long shows that it will continue to stand the test of time.”

To honor the history and many styles of the high heel, the Brooklyn Museum opened an exhibit to display the legacy and many styles of the high heels known as “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe.”

Maria, one of the customer service representatives of the Museum states, “this exhibit pays tribute to the history of the high heel, and the contributions it has made to society, and educating people on the legacy behind the heel.”

The art exhibits features over 160 different historical and contemporary heels, that were donated by Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Pietro Yantorny, and Christian Louboutin.

In addition to the displays there are six short films, that served as a tribute to the high heel. The films were created by filmmakers Ghada Amer, Nick Knight, Rashaad Newsome, Marilyn Minter and more.

The high heel is typically one and a half to four inches tall, but at the exhibit there are some heels that are close to six inches. Those were specifically designed for the exhibit. In some cases the height of the heel can cause serious cons. For example, the higher the heel, the more likley it will cause lower back pain, foot and tender pain, stress on the knee, and an unbalanced gait.

While some of the pros to wearing high heels is that it gives off this tall look of about five to six inches being the maximum in height

The high heel creates a stylish look for women in their appearance especially when wearing an evening gown, or skirt to a girls night out.

Despite the high heel sometimes causing an unbalance in the way wearers walk, in the same sense it creates good body posture that helps to straighten the length of the back to produce proper airflow. Heels also build confidence in presence and appearance.

“I believe, that depending on the heel, it can determine the women’s confidence,” said Evelyn Fair, a sophomore. “I absolutely believe that women should wear high heels once in a while, because it does boost their confidence and allows them to feel sexy and good about themselves.”

The high heel has been around for many centuries and will continue to inspire and be reinvented as designers find elevating ways to keep high heels trendy.

“Every women should have a fabulous pair of high heels,” said Fair.

To learn more about the pros and cons about the history of high heel, visit The Brooklyn Museums “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe” that will continue to run until Feb.15, 2015, located on the 1st floor of the Robert E. Blum Gallery.


The Criminalization of Style

The History and Effects of Sagging

By Jenifer Valmon

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

From the oversize baggy pants of the 90’s to the legging like, slim legs of the last decade, sagging pants have become a permanent fixture in Hip Hop as well as American popular culture. With mega stars such as Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber adopting the style, sagging pants are a part of the urban youth’s uniform, including John Jay students.

Fashions adopted by urban youths have been met with opposition throughout history. Gene Demby’s Sept. 11 post on the Code Switch blog, denotes the way in which urban street styles have been one of the main characteristics used to accuse certain individuals of being suspicious and criminal.

Demby draws parallels between the ways that the “zoot suits” of the Jazz era were synonymous with young Black and Mexican American delinquency in the 1930’s. And how saggy pants are responsible for labeling delinquency in the same group of individuals in the 90’s and today.

There has been a wave of backlash against the controversial fashion for decades with the most recent being the most forceful strike against this street style.

An unanimous vote was cast on the law against sagging pants, on July 15, in the city of Ocala, Florida. Council Woman, Mary Sue Rich, headed the vote.

Sagging your pants two inches below your waist in Ocala would have earned you up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.

“Everyone’s saying I’m targeting young black men. I’m black. I’ve been black for a long time, why would I be targeting black men? I would just like to ask one of these men, ‘What is the advantage of pulling your pants down so far?’” said Rich, on July 22, to Genevieve Shaw Brown of Good Morning America.

The decision was later overturned due to legal threat from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, claiming racial profiling of young black men and calling the law “clearly discriminatory” according to Catherine Mejia’s article on WESH.com.

Nelson Arroyo, 25, a senior at John Jay, admits to sagging his pants in the past. It portrayed him as “not caring about his appearance,” Arroyo said. Arroyo believes the look sells the “bad boy” persona, popular in mainstream media and attracts a negative kind of attention.

In 2010, New York Senator Eric Adams launched a campaign against sagging in NYC. In the campaign, he urged young men to drop the trend using billboards around urban areas, depicting enlarged pictures of the ill-fitting attire.

Adam’s went as far as asking School Chancellor Dennis Walcott to take the initiative to ban sagging in NYC classrooms, in his New York Post article on March 11, 2012.

“I sag my pants because I wanted to emulate the older men in my neighborhood, after I got to college it became clear that I would have to assimilate a little to adapt here at John Jay, but I didn’t necessarily abandon the idea because it’s all about a sense of style,” said Manuel Castillo, 19, John Jay sophomore and Urban Male initiative (UMI) mentee.

UMI is a campus based peer advocate-mentoring program. The program’s mission aims at helping students transcend obstacles usually attributed to being part of a minority, regardless of race or gender, but focuses on Black and Latino men. Black and Latino men have a lower graduation rate than any other group. The program provides social, academic, and personal support, as well as networking opportunities on campus.

Castillo has been a member of UMI since his freshman year and has found it to be a place to connect to his professors and to “overall better yourself.”

The fight against the popular style of dress has even reached popular television shows and social media outlets. One of the most memorable is the then 62-year-old Larry Platt’s audition on American Idol for the show’s ninth season. Platt preformed his original song “Pants On The Ground.”

“Pants on the ground, pants on the ground. Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground,” begins Platt’s song.

The more recent being, the “pull your pants up challenge,” famed by Malik S. King’s YouTube video, posted on Aug. 29.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

In his video, similar to the ice bucket challenge, King challenges a number of friends to pull their pants up. He also claims that conversations in black communities should move away from racial profiling and he says, focus more on what we are doing to contribute to the problem by re-evaluating the way we present ourselves.

King’s comments prompted a discussion on CNN’s show “The News Room,” two days later. The commentators included political commentator Marc Lamont Hill and Tara Setmayer.

In their discussion Setmayer agreed with King’s notion that the sagging pants contribute to racial profiling by saying “in the real world presentation matters.”

Hill, on the other hand believes that there is no connection between sagging your pants and black people being criminalized. He also debunks the jail origins of the fashion as urban legend.

“The truth is before black people pulled their pants down they were still getting locked up. My concern is, that if we continue to tell young black men that they can’t behave or dress or otherwise demonstrate their way out of police oppressing, then we’re blaming the victim here,” said Hill.

Florida is not the first or only state to legally attack this style of dress. New Jersey also passed a law that banned the fashion at Wildwood boardwalks with fines ranging from $25 to $200.

In this land of the free, women seem to be more free to choose what they would like to adopt as their style . Although many women’s fashions carry specific stereotypes, none are punishable by law at this moment.

“It’s ludicrous to me. Society has this view of what the average person should look like and anything that does not match that look is demonized by society. I’m a person that enjoys expressing who he is and if someone decides to do that [sag], that’s their choice,” said Castillo.


Get Your Zen On

By: Aimee Estrada

Staff Writer

Club meetings, guest speakers, lunch, socializing, studying, and special events like karaoke; community hour is jammed with competing events. However, every week a few dozen students take to the mat instead. Yoga Wednesdays are back, and this semester yoga classes are being offered on Thursdays as well.

Rachel Shanken, a counselor in the Counseling Department, teaches Wednesday classes in the combative room (T300).  Jessica Greenfield, a Women’s Center counselor/gender-based violence prevention and Response Advocate, teaches Thursday classes in the dance studio on the C-Level of the T-Building.

So, why yoga? “What AREN’T the benefits of yoga?” Greenfield asked, “There are emotional; decreased anxiety, decreased depression, lowered stress, increased concentration, improved memory, etc, and physical; strength, flexibility, stamina, heart heath, increased lung capacity, etc. benefits.”

According to the American Osteopathic Association, “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, explained.

Additionally, Dr. Nevins said, “regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention, and sharpens concentration.”

“My first impressions were how friendly and welcoming the yoga instructors were as well as the ‘yogis,'” Icaro Soares said, a Sophomore and Forensic Psychology major who is new to yoga, “it was a non-judgmental environment which made me feel comfortable.”

Soares was part of the first class, which had a turnout of about 24 students. According to Shanken, turnout is normally around 30 students, however they were competing with karaoke that day. The students were a mix of beginners and more experiences yogis.

For those new to yoga, they can expect “to focus on breathing, moving your body, stretching, and getting your Zen on,” Shanken said. Her advice is to “wear comfortable clothing and come with and open mind.”

“Yoga was more intense than I expected but at the same time very relaxing and I felt encouraged by the instructor to keep going,” said Soares. “I’ve been going every Wednesday and I don’t plan on missing any class.”

The Women’s Center created the yoga program in the winter of 2012.  According to Greenfield, they thought, “yoga would be a great complimentary support for students dealing with some of the issues that are central to our mission.” However, at the time there were no trained yoga instructors on staff, but Greenfield said, “we were fortunate that we were able to find a registered yoga teacher who was willing to volunteer to come to John Jay and teach the class on a weekly basis.”

In May 2013, Shanken became certified as a yoga teacher and the yoga program became a joint initiative between the Women’s Center and the Counseling Department. Greenfield became certified in May 2014 and this semester classes are offered on Thursdays as well.

“I would definitely recommend friends since yoga is something that anyone can practice and it is free here at John Jay,” Soares said. “it’s been really relaxing and helping me keep focus on my studies.”

Which is the point, as Greenfield said, “Our hope is simply that our classes inspire students to take what they learn about themselves on their mats and bring it with them into their lives.”