Community college: a place to start

Friday, May 6, 2016
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By Alicia Stearn 

While attending DCCC in my first semester, I received two of the worst insults: “Community college isn’t a real college” and “community college is really easy.”

What those critics don’t know is that there are many more advantages to starting at a community college then most people realize.

First of all, tuition is cheaper. At DCCC, for example, if you take five classes a semester for two years it will cost about $16,000 (not including fees). Just in tuition, earning an associate’s degree at Penn State University will cost about $33,000 (not including fees). Temple’s tuition for an associate’s degree is roughly $29,000.

Second, you get to learn time management you become responsible for getting to class by driving or taking the bus, much like in the real world. You aren’t living within a 20 minute walking distance from everything.

As a case in point, I’ve had to attend classes at different campuses for my second year at DCCC. One campus was just 10 minutes from my house while the other was almost an hour away.

More community college students also work, so they have to be more responsible with multitasking. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 62 percent of full- time students work a full-time or part- time job.

In fact, you can keep the same job you had in high school. Instead of trying to work on campus you have the ability todrivefurtherandworkatmoreplaces. Also you still have the opportunity for a work-study job on campus.

My sophomore year of high school I started working at a local grocery store and have been able to keep the job ever since. Being there for so long I’ve achieved seniority among my coworkers and created a workable routine for myself.

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Another benefit is that community colleges have dual admissions and transfer agreements with four year colleges so students have that time to

figure out where they want to go and what they want to major in without spending a ton of money.

The agreement has to be signed before the completion of 30 college credits and this guarantees admission to the four year university of your choice if you complete your associate’s degree with DCCC and maintain a minimum GPA required by the university.

I have signed the dual admissions agreement with Temple University and am eligible for renewable scholarships from DCCC to Temple. With Temple’s transfer agreement if your GPA is within a certain range you are eligible for a certain amount of scholarship money.

“It’s good if you are unsure of what you want [to major in],” said Erika Bair from the transfer office. “We have partnerships and signed agreements so students aren’t totally in debt when they go to a four year school.”

The flexibility of changing classes and discovering which major fits appropriately is another benefit of community college.

“If I went to a university first, I would have no idea where to start,” said Sequista Wilson, a health studies major at DCCC. “You get there and they make you stick to a major.”

There is also more opportunity for switching classes to switch to a different major.

Another advantage is when you transfer to a four year institution with an associates degree, you already have that degree to help you get jobs and start working with a status higher than just a “current college student,” Suni Blackwell explained in a branding workshop he hosted at DCCC’s Marple campus on March 29.

Getting involved on campus makes the transition to a four year institution easier because you already have experience with clubs, possibly even in a leadership role. Community college is smaller so when you get involved in organizations you are able to participate more.

I am a member of Student Government Association at the Pennock’s Bridge campus and there’s more opportunity for everyone to express their thoughts and ideas. When you go off to a university you are able to take the skills from being an active member and apply them in a new setting or bigger group.

And lastly, you’re not homesick. Instead of being sick from being away from home, you get sick from being AT home.

At first it was great. I lived with my mom and I only had to worry about keeping my bedroom clean. I saved moneyfromnothavingtopayrenttolive in an apartment or dorm.

However, we all reach a point where we are ready to get out of the house and take the responsibility off of our parents’ hands.

The closer I got to my second semester the more I wanted my own space and have become more ready to move out.

For all of these reasons, community colleges offer many benefits that can’t compare to what universities have to offer.

Corporate greed wins over clean air in Chester

Monday, April 11, 2016

By Michael Blanche

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver,” said Mahatma Gandhi, who recognized the cost of industrialization and human consumption.

As a county and society, we turn a blind eye to the destruction and desolation created in our collective pursuit of profits and waste provision.

Economists have a word to describe this phenomenon: externalities, which basically means, it’s someone else’s problem, let them deal with it.

Unfortunately, the city of Chester and our neighbors that live there have been the recipients of our externalities for far too long.

The once proud and prosperous city has become the public toilet where Delaware County, Philadelphia and even New York City flush tons of waste, literally.

For the people of Chester to bear the burden of 3,500 tons of trash being burned into their air every day is unacceptable and deplorable. Especially considering the city covers an area of less than 5 square miles and has a population of around 42,000.

John Linder, former Mayor of Chester and councilman, lifelong resident of the city and current DCCC professor, says that the tax revenue brought in by these industries is vital to pay the city’s expansive police force, volunteer fire station, and administrative officials. Linder cited the city’s budget as being “50 million dollars per year.”

In the past, members of the Environmental Justice Network have fought against companies, like Koach Industries and Covanta, who signed a contract with New

York City in 2014 to accept thousands of tons of solid waste that is burned for energy at their Chester incinerator.

Exposing corporate greed and holding polluters accountable for the destruction of the environment has been the hallmark of the grass roots organization.

“In 2008 we were able to stop the world’s largest tire incinerator from being built in Chester,” said Mike Ewall, the founder and director of the EJN.

Among other victories, Ewall and the EJN have been on the front lines fighting fracking, pipeline, and incinerator construction across the state and country.

But the EJN has not been active in Chester lately.

Ewall said that Chester’s poor reputation of high crime hasn’t helped, which could be why more environmental organizations have not been on the front lines with the citizens fighting for clean air and water.

Unfortunately, according to the EJN, Chester residents are three times more likely to have asthma than other residents in Delaware County.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Report of 2010 said the number of people with asthma nationally was more than 23 million Americans. In Pennsylvania, the rate is higher than the national average, with Chester and Delaware County leading the way.

Perhaps this is because industries like Covanta and specifically their waste-to- energy incinerator create the second most air pollutants in the county, just behind Philadelphia International airport.

Waste-to-energy is touted by Covanta as a “green energy,” but it is not sustainable to burn trash.

In fact, the EJN reports that waste-to- energy is worse for the environment than burning coal, releasing large amounts of CO2, dioxins, mercury and lead into the air. In addition, it is more expensive to manage waste this way and produce energy.

“There is a stench that hangs in the air of the Industrial Highway, and it smells like money.”

Worsening the situation is the fact that these industrial companies don’t seem to provide jobs for the people of Chester. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has Chester’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent as of April 2015, which is much higher than the county averages of 4.4 percent.

“These companies are not big enough to employ the entire city,” said Linder. “But they can do a much better job reinvesting into the community.”

According to Ewall, the celebrated and publicized PPL Park, which hosts the Philadelphia Union, is built on a site that is contaminated with toxic waste. Even worse, Ewall added, “the stadium isn’t even named after the city it is built in.”

Chester has a storied past. Throughout the Civil War era until World War II, manufacturing jobs were abundant and people

moved to the city with hopes of a better future. When those wars ended, jobs became scarce and overseas competition crippled Chester’s economy.

Kaya Benton, an 18 year-old Chester resident, hopes to attend DCCC in the fall of 2016.

“We didn’t have any legal way to stop the trash train from New York, so the company was allowed to bring in tons of trash to burn,” Benton said.

Linder attests that the rail delivery system is better for the city because they pollute more and waste constantly falls out of the trucks.

What Benton says is how many people feel: helpless.

People that are in positions of corporate power often choose profit over living, breathing people, ignoring the impact of externalities. Even when the people of Chester took lawful measures to prevent their air from being further polluted, they couldn’t stop further expansion of the Covanta incinerator facility in 2014.

There is a stench that hangs in the air of the Industrial Highway, and it smells like money.

The EJN is made up of caring citizens much like yourself.

The organization is counting victories for people and communities across the country. The time has come to help our neighbors clean up our mess.

To get involved and informed visit ejnet. org or energyjustice.net.

The lost women of literature want to be found

By Shannon Adams

In 1994, Publishers Weekly ran a story titled “Houses with No Doors,” which listed minorities’ lack of interest in the literary field as one of the reasons for the industry’s “overwhelming whiteness.”6

Eighteen years later, of the 742 books reviewed by the New York Times in that year, only 28 of them were written by women of color, according to Haitian-American author Roxane Gay’s graduate assistant Phillip Gallagher.

This March, in an article titled “Why is Publishing so White?”, Publishers Weekly explained that the industry remains nearly as white now as it was in 1994.

Although the public may recognize J. K Rowling, Nora Roberts and Stephenie Meyer, they fail to recognize J.California Cooper, Esmeralda Santiago, and Bharati Mukherjee, just to name a few.

“As women of color we are underrepresented,” says Oya Bisi, who runs The Women of Color Writers Workshop in Brooklyn New York- “It is as simple as that.”

Bisi adds that the problem is not an insufficient number of minority female writers, but that their work is not always considered for publication by editors, who are predominately white, because of classism: a prejudice against, or in favor of one party, and other related phobias coming from the public.

Furthermore, people who are not of color fear that in describing someone who is, they will offend or “put off” other readers and because of that mindset, minority characters lack dimension and often are misrepresentations of the real thing.

In other words, a white female character may be described as having olive skin, wide green eyes and cascading brunette hair, whereas a African-American woman may be described as only being “black.”

English professor Liz Gray, who has had two poetry collections published, is no stranger to some of the issues faced by minority women writers.

“One of the hindrances that women of color in literature do face is this feeling of imposter syndrome,” Gray says. “Is my success because of things I can’t control, or is it my talent?”

It is a sad truth that there are people who judge others solely by ethnicity, gender or a combination of the two.

“In a lot of ways when people look at me, they may not necessarily think I’m an American [citizen],” Gray shares. “They definitely don’t associate me with so-called ‘white America.’ Before, people could at least associate me with an area of the world, my last name being Chang. Now, they don’t know what to do.”

All the while, publishers avoid publishing authors they fear won’t make any money; unfortunately, many of those authors are women of color: the people who know exactly how to describe themselves and their characters.

“Some of my writers who look to get published or get into MFA programs are rejected because they don’t fit the status quo,” Bisi explains. “Who’s going to buy this? Who is going to want your little stories? Do they fit the model?”

Questions like these are not only a result of discrimination, but they also leave the person on the receiving end asking questions, such as does my story not matter?

Bisi insists that is not the case.

“We are telling the story that is female,” she shared. “Women’s voices are important to the world. If we are stifled that point of view will be lost. ”

As a young African-American woman who considers writing necessary to my own survival, and who aspires to make a living on it, these findings are extremely discouraging.

As much as I read in school, I can only recall two novels written by a woman of color, nor a story that featured an minority character, and I attended a predominately African- American school.

The realization of this raised many red flags for me, as it should for anyone who considers herself a lover of the literary.

Consider the following: Bisi’s workshop is the only one for women of color that exists in the United States and has been for 17 years.

This suggests there is a lack of assistance for minority women who want to pursue writing or receive recognition for their work and therefore they are not being persuaded to continue.

Vendors of their publications are also vulnerable.

Between 2002 and 2012 two-thirds of black-owned bookstores closed.

According to Publishers Weekly’s “A Glimmer of Hope for Black-Owned Bookstores,” of the 400 that remained afterward, only 67 of those bookstores remain open as of January.

These stores close because there is a lack of advertisement or recognition regarding the work.

Publishers assume people won’t care about minority stories because they can’t relate and the cycle goes on; despite the fact that literature, no matter what it may be about, is always relatable and useful to someone.

People like Ariell Johnson, who opened her own comic store on the East Coast, and EvelynBurdette,19,whoin2010self-published seven books, know this and they are the type of women literature needs.

Still, the problem persists.

An executive from one of the Big Five publishing houses HR explained she felt her company did not have a diversity problem; still, the company refused to provide proof to

back up said claim. It is this blind avoidance that compounds the problem. We ignore it and it continues to grow.

“Literary is a very dangerous word,” Bisi explains. “It is a very limiting word because who is to say what is literary and what is not?”

In short, it is just an easier way to discriminate against people of color, especially the women, who are already discriminated against.

Moreover, considering that authors tend to write from different points of view, their stories may not always reflect their own beliefs, so why work so hard to market to specific ethnicities?

That is the source of this issue entirely, our need to classify.

The argument may be made, that women of color don’t write as often as Caucasian women do or that the writing isn’t as “good,” but that isn’t true.

You’ve probably heard of Belinda Mckeon, and her novel “Tender,” but more than likely there hasn’t been a whisper about Sareeta Domingo, Anjali Joseph or Han Kang, who all have books scheduled to be released this year.

This is because studies show 79 percent of the literary industry is Caucasian and unconscious bias is an issue.

The simple fact is this: non-Caucasian perspective does matter and, ultimately, women need to be supportive of other women. We need to start the change.

We need to encourage more programs, such as We Need Diverse books, a grass roots campaign dedicated to honoring the lives of all young people through literature.

Companies, such as the Barbara J. Zitwer Agency, who publish international bestsellers and the newest American foreign authors, are helping to do this and you can help too: Log onto your nearest bookstore’s website and find yourself a book written by a woman of color. Read it and promote it just as you would any otherbook.

“Women of color have as much a right to be a part of the mainstream as everybody else,” Bisi said. “It is important that people know what we felt, what we thought.”

The Queen causes controversy defending her nation

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The-Queen-photo-1

By Shanaya Day

“World Stop.”

The “Queen Bee” herself, Beyoncé Knowles, is receiving a lot of unnecessary backlash from her “Formation” video and her Super Bowl X halftime performance.

Beyoncé used her platform to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black Panther Party.

In her video, she uses great imagery to put a spotlight on police brutality, showing a young boy wearing a hood, dancing in front of a graffiti wall that reads “stop shooting us”.

A line of police officers watches the boy dance.

During her performance, she channeled Michael Jackson, wearing a body suit that resembled the top he wore in his 1993 Super Bowl performance.

Her dancers wore black leotards and black barrets, recognizing the 50th year anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party.

So what’s all the commotion about?

No one expected Beyoncé to touch on the obvious social issues concerning race for the sake of her diverse mainstream audience. Now that she is speaking out in defense of her own African-American culture, many people have become offended.

Saturday Night Live aired a trailer for a spoof apocalyptic movie called “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black.” The blunt title alone drew many viewers, offending some, of course. The skit is hilarious as it shows white people panicking when they “realize” Beyoncé is black. The skit does a great job bringing realization to and poking fun at childish racist antics.

Tampa and Miami police departments have taken a stand against Beyoncé because they believe that she is promoting anti-police movements. Some officers have even refused to provide her with security for her upcoming world tour, and will be boycotting it instead. All of this because Beyoncé did her job as an artist and expressed her beliefs for her audience.

She’s not going to stop her job, so officers, please don’t stop yours.

Remember, we’re talking about Beyoncé Knowles. She’s well respected, well connected and of course, well protected.

Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan praised Beyoncé on her controversial performance.

“She started talking that black stuff and white folks said, ‘We don’t know how to deal with that,’” Farrakhan said during a sermon in Detroit last month. “You gonna picket? You’re not gonna offer her police protection? But the FOI [Fruit of Islam] will.”

The FOI is the Nation of Islam’s male- only paramilitary wing, in lieu of police protection.

Whenever any prominent African- American speaks out on structural discrimination, racism, or uplifting the African-American community, the outcome is always controversy. Why can’t we stand up for the people that have always been targeted?

I must say, this year’s Black History Month was definitely one for the books.

In the 29 days of February, Stacey Dash suggested to get rid of Black History Month, Jada Pinkett-Smith called for a boycott of the Oscars with the support of her husband Will Smith and Spike Lee due to of the lack of African-American nominations, Kendrick Lamar won a Grammy for his culturally uplifting music, and Beyoncé finally took a stand on social discrimination issues.

Beyoncés song “Formation” is definitely a hit, and not just because of the cool beat and the timing of the bass drop.

Her lyrics are empowering for all African-Americans, bringing stereotypes to light instead of sweeping them under the rug out of embarrassment.

It’s motivational for those singing out loud “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.”

Her performance promotes financial, educational, and emotional black power. It does not take anything away from the police or white Americans for that matter.

Everyone is entitled to her own opinion. I believe in fighting for equality and standing up for equality. I stand with Bey.

“Carry on.” 

Donald Trump’s immigration ideas offend me

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

By Clery Chavez

Special to The Communitarian

Republican primary candidate Donald Trump has an immigration plan that consists of three ideas.

First, he wants to convince people that Mexican immigrants are undesirable criminals.

Second, he wants to build a wall separating the U.S border from Mexico along the 2,000 miles.

Third, he wants to close the entry to the United States for any Muslim immigrant.

I believe that none of these ideas will be affective.

During the announcement of his candidacy, Trump said that illegal immigration is one of our country’s biggest problems.

During his speech he stated: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Where does he get this idea? Breitbart News presented data that shows millions of arrests of illegal aliens for all types of crimes including theft, assault, rape and drugs.

The report is based on numbers compiled by the Government Accounting Office (GAO). And the report’s logic is that if there were no illegal immigrants none of these crimes would have happened.

I do not believe this data can be considered valid.

It is not compared to any general population or to the population of Mexicans in general in the United States, or even to the population of legal Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Without any context, this data is meaningless to me.

However, the census looked at the population of all male ages 18 to 39 who were in jail, and seven percent of those were of Hispanic heritage but native born to United States.

Only 1 percent of the population was Hispanic immigrants.

So the Hispanics born in the United States committed 7 percent more crimes than the illegal Hispanics. This clearly proves that Trump is exaggerating and trying to scare people about Mexican immigration.

Trump thinks he can scare the American people enough to build a 2,000- mile wall along the border with Mexico. He says it can easily be accomplished.

He may be right that it is not impossible to build a wall, but there are so many reasons it is a terrible idea.

The wall would interfere drastically with the eco system in the area. It would have to go through Native American reservations, and possibly a couple of rivers.

Worst of all, it would not stop the 6 billion dollar industry of the Coyotes who always find the way to smuggle illegal

immigrant into the country under and around borders.

According to Jorge Ramos, a reporter for Univision, this wall would cost about 20 billion dollars.

Ramos also points out that, in 2013, 40 percent of illegal immigration was by people who entered the country legally by airplane but overstayed their visas.

“So the Hispanics born in the United States committed seven percent more crimes than the illegal Hispanics.”

No wall will help this problem.

In addition to Trump’s problem with Mexicans, he is also very concerned about Muslim immigrants.

He has proposed the United States completely stop allowing Muslim immigrants, even legal ones, into the country.

Unfortunately for Trump, that action would be completely illegal because the First Amendment of the Constitution provides Freedom of Religion.

Of course, Trump may argue that only applies to Americans, not immigrants. However, it definitely would also negate the Constitution’s guarantee of Equal Protection Under Law, and that law governs immigration.

Therefore, Trump’s proposal is completely against the law and anti- American.

Trump’s campaign slogan is, “Make America Great Again.” But his ideas on immigration would send the United States back to the years before any anti- discrimination laws were in effect.

Badmouthing Mexicans to scare the American people will not create useful immigration policy.

Pretending that it is realistic to build a 2,000-mile wall along the entire Mexican border, when experts show the reasons this will not help, does not create useful immigration policy.

Banning an entire group of immigrants, based purely on religion, from entering the United States under any circumstance, certainly does not create useful immigration policy.

More importantly, with these policies, instead of “Making America Great Again,” he seems to forget what actually makes this country great: the fact that immigrants can come from poverty and oppression anywhere in the world and have an equal chance to get ahead by working hard.

Trump would overturn the very foundation on which America was built.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” says the Statue of Liberty, which speaks to the American people. Trump does not.