In celebration of the Lunar New Year, a traditional holiday in China, DCCC’s Multicultural and Badminton Clubs joined together to host their first fundraiser of the year on Feb. 14 to celebrate the year of the dog. The event occurred from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 2520 in Founder’s Hall and raised $287.
The celebration featured Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, Henna tattoos and handmade Valentine’s Day cards and gifts for students and faculty members to purchase while enjoying the decorations and festivities that members of the club had organized.
All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the clubs’ future events and equipment needed for the Badminton Club, said Chayawan Sonchaeng, who has a master’s degree in TESO (Teaching English to Students of Other Language), teaches ESL at DCCC, and is one of the co-advisors of both the Multicultural and Badminton Clubs.
Sonchaeng explained that the fundraiser is used as a platform for the Multicultural Club members to “raise awareness about others culture so we can learn to respect one another.”
“We would like to use this as a way to educate people about other cultures so they can learn about it and embrace it,” Sonchaeng added.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated in countries with a significant population of Chinese heritage. In other countries, this holiday is called by a different name: The Vietnamese refer to it as Tet, and the Tibetans refer to it as Losar. In Japan it is referred to as Shogatsu, and the Koreans refers to it as Seollal.
The fundraiser began with five different stations, each offering different items and foods for purchase.
Students at the first station sold summer rolls, a Vietnamese dish prepared by Hang Tran, the president and founder of the Badminton Club. Tran and other members that manned the station were dressed in their Ao Dai, a traditional Vietnamese dress.
Students and faculty were able to purchase $2 for one summer roll or $3 for two. “It’s very good and tasty,” said Jiajun Huang, a first year mechanical-engineering student at the college. Huang attended the event for the first time with his friend Charles Yang, a statistics major.
The second station displayed different Henna tattoos that students and faculty could purchase for $5.
“I really like it,” said Idalis Lloyd, a second semester business student after getting a full hand henna tattoo for the first time.
The third station offered $1 spring rolls and dumplings for purchase.
The fourth station sold $1 hand-made Valentine’s Day cards, teddy bears, and heart shaped pillow.
“The decorations are beautiful,” said ESL tutor Bobbi Morris.
“It’s a great way for them to work together,” said Morris. “I think it’s absolutely terrific that I could buy a Valentine’s Day card.”
The fifth station was a selfie station where students and faculty could take $1 selfies. Heart-shaped sunglasses, colorful beaded necklaces, and heart-shaped Mickey Mouse ears were some of the available props.
“It’s very good, friendly people and it’s cheap,” said Daiki Ito, a second semester ESL student. “I can get to know different countries and cultures. I like this.”
The Multicultural Club meets every Friday in Room 1180 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students can share information about their cultures with each other. Some of the countries that the club members have discussed include India, Madagascar, Albania, Bangladesh and Vietnamese.
“It’s very special and interesting because we are from different cultures,” said Premisa Kerthi, the president of the Multicultural Club. “We talk in English to help build our confidence because most of the students are from ESL classes.”
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When 10 students on Delaware County’s Marple Campus were asked, nine of them admitted to having absolutely no idea.
“Isn’t is because February is the shortest month of the year?” asked Angel Goins, a criminal justice major.
The reason February was chosen has nothing to do with the length of the month. It was chosen by a black man named Carter G. Woodson, the second black man to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University, according to Daryl Michael Scott, a professor of History at Howard University and vice president for Programs of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 1915 Woodson went to Illinois to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves in the United States. The event commemorated the progress black people in America had made since the abolition of slavery. Approximately 6000 to 12,000 black U.S. citizens attended the three-week event, according to Scott.
Due to the overwhelming turnout, Woodson formed an organization known as the Association For the Study of Negro life (ASNLH), which promoted the study of African people’s history and genealogy, and the sharing of those findings.
Woodson thought that sharing the historical facts about Africans would help to improve race relations by changing the way that Africans were perceived.
In 1926, Woodson established that a week in February would be known as Negro History Week and would be used to promote and teach the history of black people, writes Scott.
The Month of February was chosen because it holds the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a former slave turned abolitionist, and President Abraham Lincoln, the president who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves.
In 1976, 50 years after the establishment of Negro history week, the ASNLH finally had enough influence to establish Black History Month, and since then every president has acknowledged February as Black History Month, according to Scott.
DCCC’s Marple campus will be holding events all throughout the month February.
Allyson Gleason, director of Campus Life at DCCC expressed the importance of promoting diversity on campus both during Black History Month, and all year long.
“It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate different cultures,” Gleason said. “We try to reach out to everyone, which is why we had the play ‘Tres Vidas’ in October for Hispanic Heritage Month.”
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In a landmark decision, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down the congressional districting maps and declared them to be “clearly, plainly, and palpably unconstitutional.”
Pennsylvania’s high court had examined the state’s 18 congressional districts and concluded that the maps geographical lines were artistically drawn by state Republicans lawmakers to favor their own political majority, otherwise known as “gerrymandering.”
The benchmark 5-2 vote was immediately met with scrutiny and concern from many of the state’s Republican legislators.
Despite a court order, which granted Republican lawmakers the duty and privilege to remap their own districts again, some Republicans called for the impeachment of all five Democrats on the states Supreme Court who deemed the previous maps unconstitutional.
The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Because the previously rejected congressional district boundaries have always been drawn to comply with the U.S. Constitution, some Republicans have argued that the issue is obsolete.
Pennsylvania’s Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next month in an attempt to block recent alterations to the state’s congressional remapping. Harrisburg’s Republicans are concerned the recent changes will create confusion for Pennsylvania voters accustomed to the previously assigned districts and who may be unaware that all of Delaware County is now District 5, according to Michael Rader, chief of staff for Pennsylvania State Senator Tom McGarrigle. (R., Chester, Delaware) who represents the 26th District.
It’s a standard practice for congressional districts to be redrawn every 10 years as data from the U.S. Census report becomes readily available and examined by state lawmakers.
The main objective is to gather census statistics regarding registered voters and political affiliations every decade to redraw new district lines and extend borders to maintain a level and equally balanced political playing field for both Republicans and Democrats alike.
However, in the past three election cycles Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 U.S. congressional seats despite Pennsylvania’s nearly equal numbers of Democrat and Republican voters alike.
Delaware County was dwarfed into three separate congressional districts by the states Republican legislators in 2011. Consequently, the irregular shaped districting gained the national spotlight and became known as the most gerrymandered district in the nation’s history.
Gerrymandering has occurred for different agendas and in many forms. A common practice in the 60’s known as “racial gerrymandering” was utilized as a process that spread minority voters thin, spanning them across as many districts as possible.
At the height of the civil rights movement, racial gerrymandering was embraced by southern state legislatures to severely limit the power of the black vote. Few in numbers, the odds were deliberately stacked against them.
The courts prohibited the racially biased practice in 1965 and ordered states to remap districting unbiased to African-American voters wanting to elect candidates of their choice.
In hindsight, the court’s goodwill solution that granted African-Americans voters a more balanced political power is now being utilized to deprive them of it. The increasing number of congressional districts nationwide being “over packed” beyond the threshold with minority voters skyrocketed after the 2011 census-redistricting.
As the 2018 midterm elections approach, Democrats are sounding the alarm over an alarming defect that lies in the geographic lines drawn around congressional districts enabling state legislatures to blueprint their own precincts. In broader terms, states are granting politicians permission to cherry pick their own voters, instead of the process being the other way around.
American Democracy means “we the people” selecting our politicians and not vice-versa as it currently stands in the bulk of the nation’s Congressional districts. Gerrymandering undermines the vision layout by the founding fathers, and violates the rights slated in the U.S. Constitution
Dubbed as a “great communicator,” even the iconic former President Ronald Reagan denounced the practice of gerrymandering and advocated for fair and equal redistricting and elections nationwide during both of his presidential terms.
Bipartisan politics are key to the success of American democracy. Our elected officials who win elections are more likely to get things accomplished if they are held accountable as lawmakers by their constituents.
So the state legislators responsible for drawing new boundaries should follow the same process as that which determines how they are elected.
District lines for state officials are clear and clean cut because they are drawn on a bi-partisan method. The legislative power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which includes 50 members elected to the state Senate and 203 members to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Pennsylvania Senate districts are referred to as state legislative districts. Article II, Section 17 of the Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that these districts be drawn by a five-member commission. Four of these are the majority and minority leaders of the PA House and Senate. These four then select a fifth member to serve as the commission chair. If the four cannot agree, then the Pennsylvania Supreme Court appoints a chair.
Under these guidelines, state officials are elected by the people which is the way democracy is meant to be. This method of redistricting should serve as the golden standard and protégé for any future congressional districting plans.
Pennsylvania State Senate District 26 in Delaware County is regarded as one of the state’s most honorable seats held by McGarrigle. Elected into the state legislature in 2014, he has withstood years of success despite gains from Democratic voter registration due to strong constituent service records and the strong backing from local unions.
Rader explained that McGarrigle is open to improving the complex redistricting efforts following each census.
“Though the new congressional maps don’t pertain to McGarrigle’s election,” Rader said. “Any and all matters that pertain to the best interests of Senator McGarrigle’s constituents is his priority.”
Since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, the political divide in the nation has deepened. Trumps entire campaign shouted strong messages that accused our general elections of being corrupt and rigged, yet look who’s sitting at the realm promoting the continued practice of gerrymandering today.
“Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the newly issued Congressional Map,” Trump tweeted. “All the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your original 2011 map was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”
Despite Trump’s tweets, the wave of Democratic candidates running for seats in the U.S. Senate and Congress is at an all-time historic high.
Knowing that the election process is being “unrigged” is a reason for everyone to get out there and vote on Nov. 6th.
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The Rev. Kail C. Ellis from Villanova University gave a lecture at DCCC titled “The Shared History of Muslims and Christians in the Levant: Concept of Rights, Equality, and Citizenship” Feb. 20.
Ellis is an ordained Catholic priest and a member of the Augustinian Order as well as the founder-director of Villanova’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.
In his lecture, Ellis stated that the common perception of the West is that the Arab world is all Muslims.
However, this perception may have originated by the invading Crusaders, inaccurate information, and or lack of knowledge about the region. Christianity in the Middle East existed since the 4th Century, the era of St. Paul. Aramaic was the language of Jesus, his disciples, and all those who converted to Christianity.
Many monasteries and churches still thrive in many parts of the Arab world such as Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. It was a monastery in North Lebanon that introduced the first printing press in 1585.
For centuries, Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region thrived side by side, contributed, and shared in all aspect of civilization; science, medicine, literature, and music, according to Ellis.
With the advance of Islam, Christians, then and now never consider themselves as a minority because they are the original inhabitants of the region before Islam.
For centuries, they thrived and contributed to the rich diversity of the region and beyond.
As for the interpretation of the word Dhimma under Islam, it was considered a protected status for non Muslims and not as protected status for minorities. Under the Ottoman Empire, it was required that Christian and other communities have separate system of laws to rule themselves. This type of separate system resulted in division and separation among various communities, where it was seen that a dominant minority ruled over the majority, Ellis explained.
An example of this is the Sunni minority ruling over the majority Shi’a in Iraq.
As for equality, gender roles, and citizenship, the Arab world consists of 22 Arab countries that each has its own laws and system of government that affect gender roles, citizenship rights, and equality.
What applies in one country cannot be instituted in another. In Tunisia, women have equal rights to men, whereas in Lebanon, women are not allowed to give citizenship to their children if married to a foreigner.
As for the demographic decline of Christianity in the region, Ellis attributed that to many factors: wars, invasion, western foreign policies, political meddling, shifting allegiances/ alliances, and discriminatory laws, and immigration, all of which resulted in fractured and failed states. As a consequence and with the presence of ISIS, both Christian and Muslim communities suffer persecution and expulsion as witnessed in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. Failed states are the result of political meddling, corruption, lack of opportunities, inequality, discrimination, and total disregard to human rights that resulted in loss of life and property to all, regardless of religion or gender, according to Ellis.
The irony of the current political climate in the region is that most political leaders are not necessarily or truly religious, however, they appeal to sectarianism and to extreme religious groups that fight each other and other groups in the name of religion. Therefore, all religious groups in the region are victimized.
In spite of the dwindling number due to immigration and decrease of birth rate, Christians still play vital and fundamental roles in their respective governments; Christian president in Lebanon, Christian foreign minister in Syria, even before the Iraqi invasion, Christians were represented in the government. These communities, irrespective of their numbers, are the original citizens their respective country or region.
On an optimistic note, Ellis stated that at a recent conference in Al Azhar Mosque in Egypt, all Christian and Muslim representatives at the conference called for a renewal of alliance among all Arab citizens in order to bring about harmony and healing of their communities.
Ellis concluded his lecture by emphasizing that in order to remedy the ills of wars and upheaval, there must be sound and unbiased foreign policies, strategic assessment, security, democratic governments, opportunities, and equal rights for all citizens in the region irrespective of gender and religion.
More about the Rev. Kail C. Ellis
Ellis earned his PhD from the Catholic University of America. Currently, he co-edits the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and is the editor of three books: “Secular Nationalism and Citizenship in Muslim Countries: Arab Christians in the Levant,” 2018); “Lebanon’s Second Republic, Prospects for the Twenty-first Century,” (2002), and “The Vatican, Islam and the Middle East,” (1987). He has also presented papers, published articles and contributed book chapters related to the Middle East.
Delaware County Community College hosted a viewing of “The Loving Story Documentary” Feb. 13 at the Marple campus. The documentary follows the legal battle that ensued between an interracial couple and the state of Virginia.
Keely Mitchell, director of paralegal studies at DCCC, organized the screening.
“We chose this documentary because it is the 50th year anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case,” said Mitchell, adding that it coincides with the school-wide reading book, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson.
Mildred Delores Jeter, an African American woman, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian man were an interracial couple from Virginia who married in Washington D.C. in 1958.
On July 14, at approximately 4 a.m., Sheriff Brooks of Caroline County, Va. entered their home, ripped them out of their bed, and arrested them. They broke a law that forbade interracial marriage in 16 southern states.
Anti-miscegenation laws are what plagued the Lovings. The law stated that interracial marriage was illegal as long as the couples lived in the states where the laws were enforced.
Although the Lovings were sentenced to one year in prison, a judge said their sentence would be waived as long as they moved from Virginia.
“Almighty God created the races… and he placed them on separate continents,” said the trial judge who presided over their case. “The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
As a result of the ruling, the lovings were forced to move to Washington D.C.
Mildred Loving was miserable in Washington D.C., and never adapted to the city life, according to her daughter Peggy. When one of the Loving children was hit by a car while playing outside, though he survived, Mildred decided to take action.
Mildred Loving wrote a letter to Robert Kennedy, the U.S. attorney general, pleading for help. Kennedy suggested she seek the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against anti-miscegenation laws in all 16 states, which let the Lovings return to Virginia as a legally married couple.
A discussion was supposed to take place after the showing of the documentary, but time ran out.
Thomas Raptor, a 20-year-old education major at DCCC, attended the viewing. He said he was not at all shocked that the ruling happened only 50 years ago.
“It was a good ruling,” Raptor said. “But it should have happened way sooner.”
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