Nasty Women Rise

On January 21st 2017, history was made. The women’s march was the biggest protest in the history of America. I was lucky enough to attend this march following the inauguration. After watching the inauguration I legitimately fell into a slight depression. I had started to lose faith in humanity. Then 24 hours later my faith in humanity had been completely restored and more.

The streets of Washington D.C. were jam packed with women, men and children of all ages and races. People were wrapped up in rainbow flags, wearing pink hats and carrying some of the most creative protest signs I have ever seen. It was so crowded that people were climbing trees, stop lights and any type of sturdy object that they could climb on to get a better view. The vibe of the women’s march was night and day difference from the vibe of Trumps inauguration. At the inauguration, there was so much tension and everyone felt on edge, even the Trump supporters. It was almost like people were expecting protestors to attack and they were more than ready to fight back. At the women’s march, everyone was laughing and smiling and chanting and taking pictures together and showing off their creative outfits and protest signs. Regardless of the crowd being overwhelming, I have never been more okay with being squished and shoved with these people, because these are my kind of people. I remember at one point in the march, I got separated from members in my group. I had assumed they were following closely behind me in the sea of people, but I was wrong. It was then I heard a random man’s voice scream, “Kristen!” making me turn around to see my group members face show relief next to the guy who yelled my name. Turns out my group member was yelling my name but his voice wasn’t carrying far enough so a guy next to him yelled to help my group member out to get my attention.

This march was so incredibly revitalizing to my faith in humanity with how much hope all these people still had in our country. Not only were people marching in Washington D.C., or nation wide, but people were marching all over the world.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”


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The Slants

I ran into a band earlier this week at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. The band, who I thought were street musicians at first, played acoustically for a few minutes, collecting donations for the MLK memorial. The band explained to a woman what the donations were going toward and, while explaining, I heard them mention they were from Portland. As a fellow Portlander, I decided to chat with them.

The band is an Asian-American rock band called The Slants. While exchanging the purpose of our visits to Washington DC they explained they were there to argue a case at the Supreme Court.

When The Slants were forming, they were seeking a name that would incorporate their Asian-American culture. Some of the band members asked American friends what some Asian stereotypes were. The friends suggested slanted eyes as a stereotype. The band members thought the name The Slants would be fun and began producing music under the name.

The Slants have been a band for 10 years and not faced any issues with their name until the government interfered with their trademark. According to the government, the band name is derogatory and offensive. What puzzled The Slants was the fact that they are Asian-Americans calling themselves The Slants. They did not find it offensive and decided to fight back.

The case was challenged at each court, eventually ending at the Supreme Court. The case is considered a First Amendment matter which intrigued me as a student who just finished a law class about the First Amendment.

I am curious to see how the Supreme Court will rule this case. While The Slants may be derogatory to some, that is no reason to prevent the band from trademarking the name. There is freedom of expression in art, including the name of bands.

I predict The Slants will win the case. Making a case to censor a band name will be difficult. There are plenty of bands, NWA, for one, that have questionable names. If the government chooses to deny the trademark of The Slants, a law will need to be made to establish what names are okay or not. I find it highly likely that a law would be narrowly tailored enough to fulfill the need of a censorship ruling.

What made this case difficult is the association of the Redskins. The Redskins jumped on this case finding their situation like The Slants’. The Redskins are in trouble at the moment for their team name, a derogatory name for Native Americans. There are differences between the Redskins and The Slants. The Slants are Asian-Americans calling themselves The Slants, not even a common term to refer to Asian peoples. The Redskins is commonly seen as a derogatory term for Native Americans and the executives of the Redskins were not likely Native American. Additionally, the Redskins belong to the NFL which may have terms and conditions by which the team needs to abide.

I am interested to follow this case through the Supreme Court. I am also fortunate to have met the band. Talking with the band members helped me understand where they are coming from in naming their band and with their trademark fight.


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Trip Recap

In the months before I left Spokane I was exceptionally nervous and wary about this trip. I really only knew two people going, and really had no idea what to expect. I am not a communications or journalism major, which is what this trip was designed for. Little did I know that I would end up having the time of life, learn a ton, and build some amazing friendships.

I learned more about the media, and media organizations than I ever thought I would. I was able to broaden more horizons forms of media, and realized that it is not just about what is on the news, there are multiple layers. The research work that goes into every piece that is published is unreal, and the countless hours that people have to work to make sure all the facts they put out are correct is unbelievable. I also learned that I could submit stories or pictures into local news sources if I had something interesting to publish. I was able to get my after Inauguration protest piece published by the Spokesman, and all it took was about 15 minutes of writing, and an email to the paper. I saw firsthand numerous organizations’ headquarters, and we got tours of places most journalists would dream about. Personally, my favorites that we visited were The New York Times, Bloomberg, and PBS.

While I am sad to see it end, this trip is something that I am never going to forget. The people, the places, and the experiences made it all worth it.


Inauguration Day

The 58th presidential inauguration was a long time coming, and it was exactly what I expected it to be.

We began the day early, hitting the streets at 6am to avoid the inevitable droves of people desperate to catch a glimpse of history. As soon as we reached the first security checkpoint I felt trapped in a sea of red “Make America Great Again” hats. Anti-Trump protesters lifted signs as we stood in line, and were met with “Build A Wall!” chants from Trump supporters. The atmosphere was strange; everyone was defensive. After security we encountered throngs of hat-wearing Trump supporters, more anti-Trump protesters, the Westboro Baptist Church, and anti-abortion protesters.

When the inauguration ceremony began with the Trump and Pence families descending the stairs to the stage, the mood around us was pure excitement and adrenaline– the very opposite of what I was feeling as someone who did not vote for Trump. It was especially upsetting when the crowd jeered and booed Hilary Clinton when her face was flashed on the big screen.

Being a liberal in the midst of thousands of Trump supporters was intimidating and slightly frightening. The ceremony was historic, and it was interesting to witness the president and vice president be sworn into office. However, watching history as it’s being made is frustrating when it’s not what you wished for.




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Photos speak louder than words

Experiencing the Pulitzer prize-winning photography exhibit at the Newseum was an incredibly powerful experience for me. It proved how a single shot captured by a photographer can encapsulate the experience of an entire moment in time.

I was especially intrigued by the ethical implications of photographers documenting tragedies such as war, famine, or natural disaster. There were several photographs depicting children in the midst of terrible conditions, and seeing those photos made me wonder what kind of internal moral dilemma the photographer faced after taking said photographs. There was a particularly shocking photo of a young girl in Nigeria, completely malnourished and emaciated, hunched over in the dirt while a vulture stalked her from behind. The plaque near the photograph informed me that the photographer chased the bird away after taking the photograph, but did nothing to help the young girl. Later, the photographer committed suicide, as he was haunted by the images he had seen.

This got me thinking: what kind of responsibility does a  a journalist, or a photojournalist, have to tell stories such as the aforementioned photograph? And is it unethical? Personally, I believe that we need to see those images in order to understand the complete scope of human experiences around the globe. However, I also think that those who can help someone have the moral obligation to do so.

Regardless, exploring the Pulitzer photos at the Newseum was a great way to explore and ponder the impact of photojournalism.


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Inauguration Day

I would love to write in a much more professional fashion of my experience at the Inauguration, but I am so distraught with what I have witnessed that I can only write down my hourly schedule.

Started at 4:30 a.m. – I woke up, put on my Obama t-shirt and tennis shoes and got my bag ready for the day.

6:00 a.m. – I departed International Hostel and headed towards the mall.

7:00 a.m. – I waited in line for security surrounded by Trump supporters shouting, “Build a wall!” and “U.S.A.!”

8:00 a.m. – I was still waiting in line for security at this point.

9:00 a.m. – I finally made it past security and headed towards the mall. I saw many people protesting and arguing back and forth. A woman looked at my Obama shirt and said, “Are you insane.”

10:00 a.m. – I was on the mall surrounded by people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, and my five other class mates. We stuck out like sore thumbs in a crowd of these supporters with our Obama shirts and “Love Trumps Hate” pins on our jackets.

11:00 a.m. – I was watching the big screen and saw Trump and Obama departing the White House together. Following the footage of the President of the United States and the President-Elect of the United States was footage of Hilary Clinton. Following the footage of Hilary Clinton was a sudden up roar of “Boo’s,” from the Trump supporters.

12:00 p.m. – Donald Trump is officially sworn into democracy and a long four years begins.

1:00 p.m. – My group and I stood in line to go through security to get out of the mall. (Yes for an hour.)

2:00 p.m. – My group and I are frantically trying to find ways to get back to our hostel, but police and security have us trapped in the mall.

3:00 p.m. – Still trapped in the mall.

4:00 p.m. – Still trapped in the mall.

5:00 p.m. – Finally we were let out of the mall because the parade was delayed. My group and I took off in a sprint down a closed off street to find food and water and a bathroom.

5:30 p.m. – We arrive at the hostel with tired feet and weary souls.


Final thoughts on our trip

Today is the last day in our Media Impact Jan Term trip. It has been an amazing experience that has helped me make decisions about my future in journalism.

We have been to many places and met with many high-ranking individuals. Their knowledge and insight was a gift to learn from. 

These places convinced me to pursue what I am passionate about. This trip helped me determine that I would love to focus my career around Virtual Reality. I believe VR will have a big impact on the way we deliver news packages and how we make our news more relatable.

This trip showed me that there are many opportunities for me to chase my career. Organizations and news rooms such as the New York Times , National Geographic, and PBS all have VR departments that are actively working on these new forms of technology. 

Finally, I was able to make connections with individuals who could help me with a career in VR. Our host at Media Kitchen told me he would give me the email of the person in charge of the NYT’s VR department. Additionally, the people at CJR gave me a magazine article that they had written on VR. 

This trip helped me define my future and gave me the tools I needed to make it happen. I am very thankful to have gone on this trip. It has made me excited to see where life takes me next.

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