Jesuit Chronicle

Food Insecurity Amidst a Pandemic: A Crisis Within a Crisis

Cars+stretch+for+miles+outside+a+California+food+bank+during+the+coronavirus+pandemic.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cars stretch for miles outside a California food bank during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the economic turmoil and millions of job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of Americans face food insecurity this holiday season. The pandemic has exacerbated issues already present in America’s food insecurity crisis, significantly affecting those already experiencing financial hardship. 

According to a report by the Feeding America Organization, about 37 million (10.1%) Americans faced food insecurity pre-pandemic. However, a recent update to that report found the number jump to a staggering 50 million (15.6%) food-insecure Americans. The South is the hardest hit region, with Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama projected to have the country’s highest food insecurity rates. 

Andrea Casey, Director of the Arrupe Center for Justice at Jesuit High School, contends that the pandemic’s sudden grasp and uncertainty are to blame for the spike in food insecurity.

“A lot of new families are experiencing food insecurity because of sudden loss of job, business instability, etc.,” Casey said. “A lot of progress to fight food insecurity has been reverted in the past nine months.”

Furthermore, the pandemic has exacerbated issues for those already vulnerable to food insecurity, Casey said. People working a minimum wage job, facing reduced hours, or struggling to make ends meet are now facing even more obstacles to gain food stability. 

Casey has witnessed the pandemic’s effects on the food crisis as one of the coordinators for Jesuit Portland’s annual Food Drive. Although there are multiple logistic challenges of organizing a food drive amidst a pandemic, Casey has worked tirelessly to make a food drive possible. In total, Casey estimates that Jesuit Portland will support over 300 local families with grocery store gift cards (and 88 of those families will also receive gifts) and hundreds more with non-perishable foods going to local food pantries. 

Efforts such as the Jesuit Food Drive and other local initiatives are especially needed in Portland, as the city battles an alarmingly high food insecurity rate. A report from the Oregon Food Bank found that over 550,000 (14.6%) Oregonians face food insecurity, with the majority stemming from the greater Portland area. 

With such staggering local and national numbers, Casey stresses the need to support those most vulnerable in our communities. Casey is also a firm believer in community action, reminding us that all support—big or small—has a tangible impact.

“I encourage people to ask ‘what can I do?'” Casey said. “Especially during a pandemic, people can get hung up on what they can’t do. Instead, think about what is a reasonable ask. Is there something you can give up to support others during these difficult times?”

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Podcast: Seniors Reminisce on Food Drive Memories

The famous towers of cans at Jesuit High School's annual food drive.

Jesuit High School

The famous towers of cans at Jesuit High School’s annual food drive.

Keep your hopes up, Jesuit! Food Drive is still on for 2020, and there are many people working to make it a success. Listen to Jesuit High School Seniors Lucy Menendez and Reet Chatterjee reminisce about their favorite food drive memories over the past four years. Enjoy!

About the Contributors
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Photo of Lucy Menendez
Lucy Menendez, Staff Writer

Lucy Menendez is a senior at Jesuit High School and first time journalism student. Lucy plays basketball at Jesuit and is involved in multiple clubs. Her...

Microaggressions Impact Student Learning and Classroom Dynamic

Microaggressions+come+in+various+forms+and+can+amass+into+a+detrimental+impact

Turner Consulting Group

Microaggressions come in various forms and can amass into a detrimental impact

Microaggressions have become troublingly normalized in modern society. Schools, as microcosms of society, are not exempt from this issue; underrepresented students battle not only microaggressions, but also the implications they cause to a learning environment.  

The Merriam-Webster defines a microaggression as a comment or action that subtly expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, such as a racial minority.

While junior Jenny Duan accepts this definition, she recognizes the need for further details. 

“Microaggressions can either be implicit or explicit,” Duan said. “Oftentimes, the aggressor doesn’t realize that what they’re saying is hurtful and is usually based on stereotypes or false perceptions of people.”

Duan, a Chinese American daughter of immigrant parents, recognizes the harm that microaggressions can cause. She agrees that microaggressions have become alarmingly normalized in everyday life, especially in colloquial conversations. 

Senior Aliyah Ramirez contends that microaggressions are especially prevalent in the classroom. She has personally experienced microaggressions unjustly correlating her Latin American heritage with her intelligence. These comments have degraded Ramirez’s confidence in her academic abilities, impacting her learning. 

“I think [these microaggressions] definitely make you question your intelligence,” Ramirez said. “I know that I’ve had to work extra hard just to prove my intelligence when it’s being insulted because of my ethnicity or my skin color.”

Senior Amen Zelalem has also faced microaggressions in the classroom which impacted her learning. In her case, the microaggression was committed by a teacher who used a derogatory Asian slur. While the action did not personally affect Zelalem, who is of Ethiopian descent, she still felt discomfort in the instance. 

For the rest of the class, Zelalem’s attention was solely focused on the microaggression, distracting her from the day’s lesson. She was torn as to whether she should speak up about the microaggression or remain silent since it was not directed towards her culture. 

“It’s hard to be in a class where the teacher is supposed to be teaching you, but you feel like you need to teach the teacher,” Zelalem said. “It feels like too much to be trying to make both the students and teachers less ignorant about their microaggressions on a daily basis.” 

The issue with microaggressions is how subtle they are; they usually fly under the radar except for the people that they affect. Microaggressions affecting students in schools are especially problematic as children are so vulnerable. Continually dealing with microaggressions in a school environment negatively affects student learning, especially for underrepresented communities. 

Diving deeper into this issue, Mia Simmons embarked on a research journey to explore the impact of racial microaggressions on students. Simmons, a recent graduate of the class of 2020, culminated her high school career with this project. Her main impetus for this journey was recognizing the need for a more inclusive race and culture-based education. 

“I wanted to have sufficient research to be able to educate people on microaggressions,” Simmons said. “I think this is a problem that some students have to face while others have the privilege of not even knowing what it is.”

Simmons’s research journey solidified the notion that microaggressions do impact student learning. In particular, she cited a 2007 study by Columbia University about the implications of microaggressions on student learning. 

“Microaggressions are detrimental to persons of color because they impair performance in a multitude of settings by sapping the psychical and spiritual energy of recipients and by creating inequities… Experience with microaggressions results in a negative racial climate and emotions of self-doubt, frustration, and isolation on the part of victims,” according to the study. “These feelings of self doubt can make it difficult for a student to feel like they belong in a class,” Simmons added. 

These adverse effects of microaggressions will continue to affect students unless teachers and students have adequate racial literacy training, according to Simmons. Expecting students of color to be responsible for handling microaggressions adds unnecessary—and quite frankly unfair—stress. 

“I think teachers and school administrators have a lot of responsibility,” Simmons said. “The culture of how students treat each other is set by teachers. If teachers have sufficient training to set an environment where microaggressions are unacceptable, that’s a big step to preventing the harmful impacts microaggressions can cause.”

Simmons stresses that teachers and administrators have a duty to incorporate racial literacy education to foster an inclusive learning environment. Conversely, students have a duty to engage with that education to develop their racial literacy. The burden for racial literacy does not lie solely on teachers; students must do their part as well.  

In the end, it really does come down to education for both students and teachers. Developing a racial literacy education is crucial to handling microaggressions and the harm they cause to student learning. 

 

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Oregon’s Drug Decriminalization: A Step Forward

Oregon+passes+measure+110%2C+becoming+the+first+US+state+to+decriminalize+drug+possession.

Oregon Public Broadcast

Oregon passes measure 110, becoming the first US state to decriminalize drug possession.

In the 2020 election, Oregonians voted to pass Measure 110, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative. In the process, Oregon became the first US state to decriminalize drug possession, taking a step forward in supporting victims of drug addiction. 

Measure 110 decriminalizes the personal possession of illegal drugs, meaning no arrest, prison sentence, or criminal record for first-time violators. Instead, drug offenders must pay a $100 fine, or complete a health assessment within 45 days of the violation. 

Oregon has been known for its progressive stance on drug legislation. Back in 1973, Oregon became the first US state to decriminalize possession of marijuana. The drug was later approved solely for medical purposes in 1998. Following the lead of Washington and Colorado, Oregonians later voted to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana in 2014. 

People should note that Oregon’s drug decriminalization is not synonymous with drug legalization; drugs are still illegal substances. However, minor drug possession violations will no longer be criminally prosecuted. Individuals who manufacture or distribute drugs still face strict criminal penalties and possible felony charges.  

With drug decriminalization, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimates an almost 90 percent drop in drug-related convictions. Such a drastic decline in arrests will cause major state savings from fees associated with arrests, the legal system, and incarceration. The savings will be used to support the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, supporting addiction treatment and rehabilitation centers. 

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission also reported findings that drug decriminalization would significantly reduce ethnic and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. For example, the overrepresentation of Black Oregonians with drug charges would fall by nearly 95 percent. Hispanic and Indigenous communities will face a similar reduction in overrepresentation in drug violations. 

Oregon’s Measure 110 will treat minor drug possession similar to civil violations, such as traffic offenses. Through this process, the state aims to support victims of drug addiction with treatment and rehab instead of hurting them with arrests and prisons. 

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

I Asked Teenagers How They Feel About the American Flag. It Got Interesting.

The+American+flag%2C+a+traditional+symbol+of+unity+has+shifted+to+one+of+controversy.

Amy Shamblen

The American flag, a traditional symbol of unity has shifted to one of controversy.

In our country today, the American flag holds a different story depending on who you talk to: some are proudly waving the flag at parades while others are burning the flag at protests. A symbol of unity has morphed into one of controversy, leaving Americans to question what the flag really means to them. 

To address this questioning, the National Public Radio asked 1,800 adults how they feel about the American flag. As expected, opinions varied greatly, but most Americans agreed that the country lacks a sense of national unity. To get a glimpse of the youth perspective, I interviewed six high school seniors about what the flag means to them. 

Max Lavey has seen the flag as a symbol of American freedom and liberty from a very young age. He recalls being indoctrinated to take his hat and glasses off and proudly place his right hand over his heart to pay respect to the flag. Moreover, Lavey saw its true significance when seeing soldiers drape a flag over the casket of his grandfather—a Korean War veteran. 

“I think that was an extremely life-changing moment when it came to how much I respect [the American flag,]” Lavey said. 

Emma Quach sees a different perspective. Quach believes the flag itself is not the issue, but rather people displaying excessive patriotism which can lead to a sense of supremacy. 

“I don’t think the flag itself has direct connotations to anything in terms of bigotry,” Quach said. “However, I do think that the people who are parading it around right now do seem to hold those ideals.”   

On the other hand, Noah Lyman, whose heritage stems from Hawaii, sees the flag as a symbol of American imperialism. Specifically, Lyman cites the illegal annexation of Hawaii, during which the American flag was draped over Iolani Palace (the royal residence for the rulers of the Hawaiian Kingdom). Lyman argues that the flag has historically been used—and continues to be used—as a sign of dominion over indigenous peoples. 

“I would say that the American flag is used as a symbol of dominance,” Lyman said. “Hanging today in front of Iolani Palace, the American flag flies above the Hawaiian flag, which just shows who’s dominant.”

Anna Dellit contends that the flag has become so controversial because it is now a rebuttal to social activism. For example, Dellit noted the societal backlash to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the flag and national anthem. She believes people and the media focused too much on respecting the flag, rather than addressing Kaepernick’s message of ending police brutality towards African Americans.  

From another perspective, Damon Grim was initially outraged and offended by Kaepernick’s protest. Grim is still unsure about Kaepernick’s actions, but he admits that they have raised his awareness of social injustices such as police brutality. While they disagree about Kaepernick’s actions, Grim agrees with Dellit that the flag has been used in politics to create dissonance amongst citizens. 

“What has happened in our country is that because we’re so polarized, everything has become a political symbol,” Grim said. “And sadly, our flag has become a political symbol.”

Alternatively, Ziggy Berkoff believes the flag will never represent unity in such a diverse America. 

“To me, it’s hard because when the flag means something different to every single person you talk to, it can’t really represent us all in the same way,” Berkoff said. “America is such a big country and we can’t represent everyone with one visual representation. 

The dissonance surrounding the flag is yet another example of how America is more divided than ever before. To work for progress, Emma Quach stresses the importance of meaningful dialogue, specifically with people of differing perspectives. 

“I definitely think we need more discussion among people of different opinions,” Quach said. “Especially, with social media now, we can completely isolate ourselves in a bubble of people who have the same ideas that we do.”

Quach refers to the current era of social media news, during which news is personalized to individual social media users. However, people can become trapped in a “bubble” of one-sided news that fits their own narrative, as algorithms tailor social media feeds to a user’s interests. A recent study from the Pew Research Center showed that Americans are aware of the issues surrounding the intersection of social media and news, yet there is no clear solution in sight.    

While all six interviewees hold different opinions regarding the flag, they echo Quach’s call for more listening and less arguing.

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Creating lasting change in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department

2020+Jesuit+Diversity%2C+Equity%2C+and+Inclusion+Logo

Miyako Barnett

2020 Jesuit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Logo

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, many schools and companies have released public statements about their commitments to racial equity. Jesuit, too, has released such a statement and makes a commitment to creating lasting change related to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department has made tremendous progress in the last six years under the guidance of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Melissa Lowery. The office has extended its outreach with parent affinity groups, student clubs, community conversations, and a new webpage on the Jesuit website. However, Lowery asserts that lasting change is only possible with a shift in culture. 

“We are a resource for DEI, but for real change to happen, it requires all hands on deck in the community to do the work,” Lowery said. 

The DEI program continues to grow with the addition of a full-time staff member, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Brenda Cruz Jaimes. Cruz aims to support current efforts in DEI and work to implement curriculum changes and community dialogues in the near future. 

As a former counselor at De La Salle North Catholic, Cruz has seen an overwhelming number of students working for change. 

“All of the clubs that are under the DEI umbrella have really stood out to me,” Cruz said. “Without the support and leadership of our students, we wouldn’t be able to make as much lasting change.”

While the institution is committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community, Lowery argues that a shift in Jesuit culture is needed for lasting change. 

“Culture is a big factor in how communities work, feel, and move,” Lowery said. “It affects curriculum, programming, policy, and all the things you can think of.”

In addition, Brenda Cruz emphasizes the importance of dialogue among students, parents, and faculty. While Jesuit has assisted open dialogues with the monthly Community Conversations and Peer-2-Peer conversations, the community needs to continue making genuine efforts to have discussions about race, identity, and culture Cruz says. 

From a student perspective, senior Miyako Barnett calls for representation of underrepresented voices. She asserts that a culture change can only be achieved through hearing from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented communities. Barnett also stresses the importance of accountability and awareness. 

“We need to hold each other accountable for our actions,” Barnett said. “Avoiding passiveness and actively working together is how we create change.”

Lowery, Cruz, and Barnett are hopeful for the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Jesuit High School. They are committed to working with the Jesuit community to create lasting and sustainable change.

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Open House With a Closed Campus

2020+Jesuit+Portland+Virtual+Open+House+Poster

Jesuit High School

2020 Jesuit Portland Virtual Open House Poster

Jesuit High School will host its first-ever virtual Open House Sunday, October 11. The event will last from 1 to 4 p.m. and take place using a Zoom webinar. Click here to register.

Open House is usually the day with the most energy present on campus, as the Jesuit community welcomes prospective students and families. Because large gatherings are banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesuit is challenged to utilize that same energy in a virtual environment. 

Open House attendees will first hear from Director of Admissions Erin DeKlotz, President Tom Arndorfer, and Principal Paul Hogan. They will segway into student experiences about the five elements of the profile of a Jesuit graduate.

Future students and families will also have the option to participate in a number of live panels. These panels will feature current students, parents, teachers, and coaches that represent many sports, clubs, and academic departments at Jesuit. There will also be a Q&A panel with students, parents, and teachers available for any general questions.

Although Open House will look different this year, Jesuit still endeavors to provide a welcoming yet informative experience for prospective students and families.

About the Contributor
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

Raging Wildfires, Sudden Power Outages, and a Worldwide Pandemic: Finding Hope in the Uncertain

High+winds+exacerbated+a+brush+fire+causing+devastation+to+parts+of+Oregon+City+%28KPTV%29

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office

High winds exacerbated a brush fire causing devastation to parts of Oregon City (KPTV)

Principal Paul Hogan joined local school districts—including the Portland Public Schools—to cancel classes on Friday, September 11 due to disruptions caused by wildfires in the region. The announcement came as a relief to disorderly times, as students enter the school year battling wildfire evacuations, hazardous air quality, power outages, and a fully remote learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A powerful windstorm, with gusts surpassing 50 mph on Monday, September 7th downed power lines, causing power outages for over 120,000 people in the greater Portland area (KGW). Additionally, 97 large fires around the state ensued, contributing to the state’s record-breaking fire season. Over half a million Oregonians faced some sort of wildfire evacuation notice, while the state’s population endured prolonged hazardous air quality polluted with smoke, ash, and debris. 

Senior Charlie Strear was one of many Jesuit students who lost power on Tuesday, September 8th due to the high winds. To attend Zoom classes as part of Jesuit’s fully synchronous distance learning system, Strear had to use cellular data on her phone to log into class. Throughout the day, she battled unreliable cell service, inaccessible school resources, and even had to sit in her car to charge her device. 

“It was just difficult because the service kept dropping in and out… and then in breakout rooms too, my connection was so bad I couldn’t join in any conversations,” Strear said. “The overall stress kind of distracted me a lot from [school].”

Junior Zak Simmons also faced disruptions to school, yet evacuation orders were to blame for his case. Although Simmons is grateful that he did not actually have to evacuate, he still had to take stressful precautions following the Level 1 evacuation orders his family received. 

“There was genuine worry when I came in before work that I would have to drop my shift and evacuate,” Simmons said. “With everything going on, it was difficult to stay focused on schoolwork.”

These frantic, unpredictable times have come at a time when Jesuit students were already experiencing a difficult start to the school year in an online learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Freshman Oskar Sanchez described his challenges acclimating to high school while fully remote. He has toiled through his own WiFi issues, video call malfunctions, and eye fatigue from prolonged blue light exposure. However, Sanchez noted that the greatest struggles for his class have been creating relationships amidst a pandemic. 

“It’s hard not going in; going into school would definitely be better,” Sanchez said. 

Throughout these times of despair, there are people in the community still finding hope amid the challenges. 

Vice Principal of Professional Development and Innovation Alyssa Tormala was under imminent wildfire threat, as she lives in Oregon City. While the Level 3 mandatory evacuation order was impending on her family, she is grateful that she did not need to evacuate. 

“Going from thinking everything as pretty much fine and the fires were at a distance Tuesday evening to realizing they were on our doorstep on Thursday… was very scary and real in a way that it hadn’t been,” Tormala said. 

Even while preparing for mandatory fire evacuation, Tormala was able to maintain hope and composure. She credits the song “The Next Right Thing” in Disney’s Frozen 2 as a guiding light for her in times of despair. 

“When all the things are going on in the world that you have zero control over, what can you control?” Tormala said. “Well, you can do the next right thing in front of you. You can put that one foot in front of the other; you can open up that book; you can give that hug to your family member; you can call up your friend. There’s always a next right thing that you can do and… it helps you get through. It doesn’t mean it makes everything better, but at least it gives you a focus so that you can feel like there’s some level of positivity going on.”

Tormala emphasizes that her family was not the only one affected by the fires, but rather a substantial number of Jesuit families and extended families have faced similarly stressful situations. She encourages students and their families to do “the next right thing” in unpredictable times, especially as we live with the uncertainties of a worldwide pandemic.

About the Writer
Photo of Reet Chatterjee
Reet Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A senior at Jesuit High School, Reet Chatterjee strives to better humanity with his writing. His writing focuses include social justice, politics, reform,...

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