Sit Down to Stand Up

Everyone in the family called her “Auntie Rosa.”
Her great-niece, Nicole McDowell, knew she did great things but always thought of her as just part of the family. “It didn’t really hit that I still thought of her as just ‘auntie’ until the week of the funeral,” said the animal science junior, whose mother was the closest living relative to Rosa Parks. The civil rights icon died on Oct. 24 – but not without leaving memories behind for generations.
Parks became active in the National Association of Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) in 1943, but she didn\’t gain national fame until 1955, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her actions led to advances in the name of civil rights, specifically regarding a legal end to public transportation segregation. Later in life, Parks moved to Detroit with her husband. Following his death, she opened the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. When she died, she was laid in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, the first woman to be given such an honor. [mcdowellquote]
Marshanda Smith, assistant to history professor Darlene Clark Hine, was able to attend the funeral in Hine\’s absence. Hine wrote about Parks in her book, Black Women in America. “It was incredible,” said Smith. “The church was full and there was a line down the block of people waiting to get inside. There wasn’t a point during the funeral where there was an empty pew.”
McDowell said people were going to great lengths to get into the Nov. 2 funeral, even if it meant lying. “Everybody was being disrespectful of my family,” she said. “People were lying and saying they were family to get into the precession. Some of them were only related by marriage, but some weren’t even family. [People] just wanted to get their 15 minutes of fame.”
She also thought some of the speakers were inappropriate. “People who spoke at the funeral didn’t help the black community,\” said McDowell. \”A lot of them used it as a rally for themselves. They weren’t talking about the issues. They just shot things out there, like affirmative action. What she did should teach people that there are still discriminatory practices. It’s illegal in the books, but people still practice them. We have to stand up or nothing will be changed.” [mcdowellpic]
Attention to Parks’ legacy has been in full force at MSU. “She really sat down to stand up,\” said Alana Bowers, Black Student Alliance (BSA) member and zoology junior. \”It sounds cliché but it makes sense. I didn’t realize all the stuff she’s done. I feel bad that I didn’t get to learn more about her.”
But it\’s not too late. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, other campaigns to recognize women\’s rights, the LBGT alliance and black arts have influenced the nation, and even at MSU, where students have been historically active in civil rights movements.
For example, in 1989, a group of students were fed up with the administration’s lack of support for minorities and locked themselves into the administration building. The event, known as the ’89 Study-In, was meant to grab the administration\’s attention and to receive acceptable answers to a list of 36 demands, which included regular contact with the president with faculty and administrators, redress of allegations of racism by faculty and administrators, recruitment and retention of minority graduate students and a multicultural advisory committee on minority issues. Students who were involved remained in the administration building for eight days until the administration finally addressed their demands.
The struggle was made into a documentary, “By Any Means Necessary,” and on Nov. 3, the BSA showed the documentary during their general meeting. Members of the group also discussed the issues on campus that still need to be addressed, such as the construction of a standing multicultural center, the overwhelming police security for black events compared to events for other groups and some professors\’ racist comments about blacks.
“There are pertinent issues and we need to stand up for what we believe in so future generations can have a better life,\” said Jasmine Gary, BSA president and social relations senior. [quote1]
Following the examples set by Parks and the ’89 Study-In, packaging senior Blair Starnes sees the need for greater activism today. “The black community needs to do what we have to do and can do to take care of each other,” said Starnes. “We need to stop talking blame and do something about it. The fact is that we need to talk about it or at least embrace what we believe in. Are we going through a similar struggle [as students in 1989] or our own set of struggles? We need to interrogate the issues.”
Bowers said students need to be active today, but that they need to think of new ways to change the status quo. “Maybe we need to stand up so future generations can sit down,” she said, reflecting on the path Parks chose to improve civil rights. “At least make some headway. I think maybe activism – and not necessarily a rally or protest – is needed. You have to personalize the activism.”
While it’s important to protest, other forms of activism may be what this generation needs to be effective. For Bowers, she said she isn\’t one to stand up in front of large crowds and speak on behalf of civil rights. “I think my calling is to be behind the scenes and talk to people and make an impact, like one at a time,\” she said.
Gary finds there is still much work to be done to achieve true equality among people. “Struggles then and struggles today are very similar, [such as] the issues with retention rates and residence halls,” said Gary. Retention rates deal with the number of black students coming into MSU versus the those who graduate, which is still much less.
“I think the administration should make sure the university is doing everything possible for students, said Gary. “I believe that what can be taken from Rosa Parks’ legacy is that she stood up for what she believed in.” [backbus]
McDowell now thinks addressing black issues should be done across cultures. “We need to be clear on what needs to be changed,” said McDowell. “The Black Power Movement was needed in the past. Now, we need to work with other races. There are no more great leaders like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. They actually did what they talked about. We need leaders who do what they say they’re going do and not repeat the past.”
Losing a leader like Parks is a sad thing for a nation still struggling with civil rights, but her life and legacy left the example of how everyday people can and will continue to change our world. “[Parks] was just a regular person just like everyone else,” McDowell said of her \’Auntie.\’ “She did something that was in everyone’s grasp.”

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Get Ready for Red

After reading this you may want to sign up for Mandarin Chinese lessons.
[home]Political theorists are pointing to China as the next global superpower. But what exactly is a superpower, other than the fact that most of us accept the United States as being one? Students are still debating the topic, and if the U.S. should get ready to start seeing red.
A classic definition might be a country that trades with major nations and has increasing success. China has had the fastest increasing economy over the years. Their top trading partners include the United States, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and Canada.
On Economy
“What [the Chinese] don’t have is a history of openness to the rest of the world, or our perception of economy,” international finance professor Kirt Butler said. “The Chinese are very cautious and are opening up a little bit at a time.”
International relations professor Simei Qing believes this is an issue across the continent. “Chinese economic rights cannot be separated from Asian economic rights,” International Relations professor Simei Qing said.
“The Chinese made its international entry through low labor cost,” Butler said. “Some of the wealth is being shared with the populace. Wages have increased, but eroded their cost advantage.”
Others feel that American trade with China is problematic and that the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which strengthens trade between Europe and America doesn’t benefit U.S. citizens. [red] “We have so much open trade with China that we’re not looking out for American goods,” MSU Republicans First Vice Chair Craig Burgers said. “TAFTA is great for corporations, but horrible for American workers.”
A second characteristic of a global superpower is that it is able to throw its weight around and have other countries listen. With North Korea increasing its nuclear weapon tests and building, China has been one of the major players in negotiations to end the building of nuclear weapons. The Chinese are also battling other world markets, since they don’t believe they are moving toward a completely free market fast enough.
On Weight
International relations and journalism junior Mariam Gillespie discussed similar ideas. “Based on what I’ve learned, China is definitely on its way to becoming a superpower because it’s so big in terms of politics,” she said. “It’s also becoming stronger and more forceful. I don’t think they bow down to the U.S. The U.S. is starting to recognize that China can’t be taken lightly.”
“China is already a superpower,” Butler said. “There is probably as much international trade as many countries.” China does have a bit of weight to throw around. The only countries stopping it from being the big kid on the bloc in the East are Japan and India, who are also industrial powerhouses. The Japanese economy may currently be slumped, but they still have their share of power. India is also rising in industrial strength.
But third, a global superpower – at least on the surface – seems to have citizens whom are well cared for. Over 1.3 billion people live on the mainland of China, so it is not shocking that there is a large number of poverty-stricken citizens.
On Well Being
“China is only on a basic need level,” said Chyi-Woei Wang, an education and interdisciplinary studies senior, referring to Maslow’s pyramid, which describes the needs of an individual.
However, many Americans are on “basic need level” and live below the poverty level. And in China, there is an ever-increasing concern of the imbalance in wealth between the cities and the countryside, since much of the economic richness of the country is based in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. The Chinese are trying to eradicate this by improving social programs that help people in the countryside. The U.S., in some cases, is turning to Chinese methods to deal with their own urban crowding. “Some cities in the U.S. are using Chinese methods of city planning to reform their own cities,” social relations sophomore Andy Evans said. “New York, for instance, is using the Chinese method for housing.” [sign]
So maybe we need a new definition for “superpower.” The dictionary defines a one as a powerful and influential nation, especially with nuclear capabilities that dominates its allies or client states in an international bloc.
On Who’s a Superpower
Wang does not define China as a superpower, using any definition. “It’s more like a developing country. Some consider it the new frontier.”
Microbiology junior Andy Ketner tried his hand at defining a superpower nation. “I think a country’s economics and technology play a big part, as well as developing and furthering disease prevention,” Ketner said. “Technology helps others or enforces negative views. Any power, like technological or arms, which gets you recognition from the world and the ability to provide aid to a crisis also defines a superpower.”
The debate doesn’t end there. “China is not a superpower,” interdisciplinary studies in humanities and history junior Crystal Micko said. “They could possibly become one depending on the stances they take on government policy.”
Steve Purchase, president of the MSU College Democrats said China is emerging as a bigger player. “If that forces the U.S. to take a hard look at ourselves and understand that we can’t treat the world as our own sandbox, then it should help us.”
Qing said China will definitely become a superpower if it does the right thing. “China could possibly face its greatest challenge and have two directions to choose from,” Qing said. “They can both use their power wisely and be willing to help other countries in the war on poverty or they can repeat fatal mistakes made by other Western powers and maximize their power. The Chinese path is still uncertain.”
On Influence
As China gains strength and pull throughout the world, it is possible other nations might adapt to some aspects of their culture. What would a Chinese-influenced America be like?
“It’s hard to figure, considering most Americans are in the dark about the Chinese, besides Chinese food restaurants,” political theory and constitutional democracy and journalism senior John Sturk said. “A Chinese-Western hybrid of press freedom would be mutated. It has the look of being free but will be really restricted.”
“If China were to become a powerhouse, I think their culture might diffuse around the world,” Gillespie said. “It’s got a little bit of a start already. I personally think they have an interesting culture.”
Others are already feeling an influence. “Chinese influence is happening every day,” Burgers said. “As China becomes a bigger player, we will learn more about China, whether we like it or not.”
But the sharing of cultures goes both ways. “China’s becoming more Western, though they aren’t willing to admit it,” Burgers said.
Purchase said there are “cultural differences” between the U.S. and China. “We need to not let these differences cloud our judgment,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of difficulty, especially on the U.S. side. We may start to see pressure from within China and the U.S. to address hard issues like fair labor practices and human rights.”
Qing said there may be noticeable changes in Chinese culture, but that they are limited. “There is always a movement for reform [in China], but there are those with old ideas,” Qing said. “China is not trying to replace the U.S. as world police.”

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Conversation of the Year

Well, hello there! You’re just in time! Have a seat, boys and girls. Allow me to tell you a little story about what has gone on in our world over the last nine months, just in case you haven’t been paying attention.
Once upon a time, in a place called America, there was a thing called an “election.” Two men, George W. Bush and John Kerry, were trying to become president. They both believed they were the right man for the job, so they tried making their opponent look bad. One was called a liar, a deceiver and a Vietnam draft dodger. The other was called a confused, flip-flopping Botox lover.
Do you know which man should have been elected?
Well, neither did the Americans, to be honest with you. Many of them didn’t like either man, but voted for who they thought was less annoying or less evil. (Bush won the election, by the way.)
Anyway, about two months later, there was a thing called a tsunami. Do you know what a tsunami is, boys and girls? Basically, an earthquake, landslide or volcanic explosion happens under the sea, causing water to crash onto the land. It destroys people’s homes and sometimes hurts them. One of those happened in Indonesia and affected people in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and even as far away as parts of Africa.
Were a lot of people hurt by the tsunami?
Well, the news said a lot of people were affected. They said at least 128,000 people died from the tsunami. I’m not so sure how many people were hurt by it. That’s really sad.
Well, the tsunami victims weren’t the only people that passed away in the past year.
Really? Who else?
Other than a lot of actors, Ray Charles and Johnnie Cochran, Pope John Paul II died.
Who was the pope guy?
He was the leader of the Catholic Church. He did a lot of things to help the poor, fought against communism and capitalism and strongly believed things like euthanasia, abortion and the death penalty were wrong.
Was he a good guy?
He was. He did a lot of good things. After he died, cardinals that represent different parts of the world came together and elected a new pope. They elected a man from Germany who decided he wants to be called “Benedict XVI.”
How come he gets to choose his name? I didn’t get to choose mine! Why didn’t he keep the name he already had? Did he hate his name?
Umm…ask your mother.
OK.
Well, that’s all I really had to say. So, which story do you think was the biggest one? And when you tell me which story was the biggest, please tell me your name, your year in school and your major. OK?
I’m Kristin Rogers, a journalism senior.
Yay! A journalism person! I automatically love you! Anyway, go on with your comment, please.
As far as historical significance, definitely the death of John Paul II and the papal changing of the guard – not simply because it’s the freshest news, but because of the tremendous impact it has. The worldwide Catholic community obviously had a lot vested in it, but at the same time the Pope has a ton of global political clout as far as diplomacy goes.
That’s very true. I don’t think anyone deserves more respect than the man who stood against the three major –isms – Communism, Capitalism and Bushism – while still loving technology, skiing and break-dancers.
He liked break-dancers?
He entertained a lot of music styles, from traditional pipe organ music to rap. He was an interesting guy, to say the least. Anyone else?
I’m Jason Faulkner, an agriscience junior. I think the Pope dying is the biggest news story. I can’t see where it would be anything else.
While on one hand I agree the Pope’s death is big news, I also believe it’s a matter of perspective to say nothing else is more important. I mean, take Johnnie Cochran’s death, for instance. First of all, any of the people he kept from doing jail time that didn’t show up to his funeral should be ashamed and jailed just for insensitivity. Second, part of me will laugh if some celebrity that ends up in trouble in the next few months walks up to his grave, in a drunken state, of course, and knocks on Cochran’s gravestone to wake him up for court. Next comment.
My name is Katie Zimmer, and I’m a music performance grad student. I think the tsunami in Asia is most important because it had, and will have, such a huge effect on so many people.
That’s very true. I only hope the world realizes how much we need to work together and stop fighting over stupid stuff. Anyway, any more comments?
I’m communication junior Erica May. The most important story, I think, is everything going on with the tsunami and how it affected certain parts of the world. People need to realize there is more outside America.
Amen to that! People are so wrapped up in the latest load of crap with Hollywood they forget many of the things that are decided in this country (*cough, cough* Bush’s reelection) have a huge impact on the rest of the world, and vice versa. I really feel bad for those involved, or who had relatives trapped in, the tsunami. A friend of my family packed his things and went to India to help them get back on their feet. If you guys want to know anything about the site he started, feel free to ask.
OK, now that I’m done with my public announcement of the day, I’ll take two more comments.
Aww!
Sorry, but I have homework and errands to run today. Any more comments?
I’m Ali Jafri. I’m a junior majoring in IDS, public policy. I think Bush lying about WMDs and getting reelected is still the biggest story of the year.
Yeah, I think that’s kind of messed up, too, personally. I wanted the other guy to win, even though they said he was a flip-flopper. The way I see things, at least he wasn’t Bush. So that meant he had to be a good guy. Anyway, last person.
I’m Lauren Fox and I’m a professional writing sophomore. I think it was the entire voting process and how it shocked everyone. Proposal two passed, and Bush is in office for another four years – shocking and appalling. Those two ballot components changed so many people’s lives. It’s kind of crazy to think punching a hole in a card has that big an effect on people, but it does.
Without a doubt. A lot of people were trying very hard to convince voters not to vote for Proposal two, but it still went through. I thought that was weird, though – people in Michigan wanted the proposal, but not the man that suggested the idea for the Constitution. I found that hilarious!
Wait, you guys don’t remember what Proposal Two was, do you?
No…
Well, Proposal Two basically says only a man and a woman can get married in Michigan. Two men or two women can’t get married here. If either type of couple gets married somewhere else and moves to Michigan, their marriage won’t be recognized by the government. A lot of people wanted to avoid what are called “gay unions” becoming legal in their state. I personally don’t know what to think about it, but the decision wasn’t left to me either. I have the benefit of being from another state and not having to worry about Michigan politics.
Why do people hate gay marriage so much?
Well…umm…see…the thing about that is…umm…well, see kids some politicians think it’s a good idea to spread their morals..
Why?
Long story.
Tell us! Tell us! Tell us!
Wow, look at the time. Thanks for listening, boys and girls. Unfortunately, I need to go. Be good and come back next year!

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The Passing of the Pope

Many in the MSU community, when they awoke the morning of April 2, did not realize the impact that day would have on the world. And as millions mourned the Pope’s passing by watching or attending his funeral on April 8, saying special prayers or recalling his legacy, many still do not realize the influence Pope John Paul II had in his lifetime.
In his 26-year reign as the leader of 1 billion Catholics, John Paul II aided in the fall of communism, challenged capitalism, spoke out as a moral voice for the poor and stood as a symbol for the ideals of Catholicism.
But despite his religious stature, he has been described by some as having “rockstar appeal.” His ability to bring people together in order to discuss their problems, as well as to celebrate what they have in common, was a feature that was highly praised.
[david] Pre-med freshman David Leitner recalled a trip to the pontiff’s World Youth Days in 2002. “The pope was very gentle and loving,” Leitner said.
“He’s like a child,” Leitner continued. “He would goof around and was a joking guy. He liked to have fun, take risks for the good of the younger generation and was radical.”
Leitner, with about 4,000 other youth, traveled to Toronto to hear the pope’s message. The theme that year was, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.”
“There were over 25 countries represented,” Leitner said. “It was like a concert. People stayed in schools, churches and with volunteer families.”
Fr. Mark Inglot, pastor at St. John Student Parish on M.A.C. Avenue, met the pontiff in 1998 while on sabbatical in Rome. He had very fond memories of John Paul II. “He was a very funny man,” Inglot said. “He was interested in where I was from and what people in our parish are like.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing, as well as other locations throughout the area, held a special tribute service for the late pontiff. A few funeral homes opened their doors for anyone who wished to watch the funeral service, which was held at 4 a.m., EST.
Currently, approximately 30 MSU students are studying abroad at John Cabot University in Rome. Classes there were canceled so students could attend the pontiff’s funeral. Students have yet to comment on the current circumstances there.
“I was surprised and inspired by how many were expected to view the pope’s body,” Fr. Inglot said. “No one realized how significant he was.”
[mark] “It felt kind of contradictory to grieve,” Leitner said. “I believe that he’s physically gone but emotionally and spiritually here.”
Certainly, Pope John Paul II will be missed, but his legacy will always be remembered.

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