Serving Tennessee State University and the Nashville Community Since 1950

Author: Shayla Simmons

Former TSU Football Player Eligible to Return to School

Former TSU Football Player Eligible to Return to School

The football team of Tennessee State University made headlines in November after a video went viral of former defensive end, Latrelle Lee, punching strength coach, T.J. Greenstone, who was responsible for keeping players away from the sideline to avoid a penalty. The viral video showed […]

Changes Made to Greek Membership Intake at TSU

Changes Made to Greek Membership Intake at TSU

Hazing has become a real threat at colleges and universities across the nation. Headlines broadcasting the result of such a dangerous trend have unfortunately become commonplace. While not only hazardous and potentially fatal, hazing is also a liability for the schools themselves. Hazing is described […]

A Year in Trump’s America

A Year in Trump’s America

A year has passed since the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, swearing Donald John Trump into the highest office in the land. Even before his official term began, his road to the White House was highly reported and scrutinized for numerous reasons. Now, the past 365 days in office has lead to the documentation of arguably the most controversial administration witnessed in generations. Never before has a president stirred such visceral reactions. Whether it is love or hate, everyone has an opinion.

To review the first year in Donald Trump’s America, some of the most memorable (and infamous) moments have been compiled below:

  1. President Trump’s Inauguration Crowd

Right out of the gate the Trump administration made quite a statement regarding the amount of spectators at the 45th Inauguration, falling flat to meet the estimated crowd of 800,000 attendants. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed the issue by saying; “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular Tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period”.

Official photos released by the National Park Service proved otherwise. Aerial shots of President Trump’s Inauguration as well as former President Obama’s 2009 and 2013 Inaugurations give a very different perspective. Though there are no official numbers provided regarding crowds on the National Mall, estimates believe that approximately 1.8 million were present for the 2009 inauguration, one million in 2013, and only 250,000 to 600,000 present in 2017. This is very different than what President Trump saw from his standpoint saying, “We had a massive field of people. You saw that — packed…I looked out the field was, it looked like a million, a million and half people, they showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there.”

  1. “Alternative Facts”

One of the most memorable and even humorous moments of the Trump administration has been the announcement of the term “alternative facts” to pop culture. Advisor to the President, Kelleyanne Conway, introduced the phrase in an interview with “Meet the Press”, again discussing the size of the crowd at the Inauguration and the clearly erroneous statements made by Sean Spicer the previous day. Host Chuck Todd immediately retorted saying, “Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods”. Naturally, people made jokes and alternative facts became one of the “it” terms of the year.

  1. Repealing of Obama-Era Regulations

Possibly the scariest element to this administration has been the quiet undertaking to repeal policies, regulations, and protections enacted during the eight years under President Obama. While some have been highly publicized like the attempt to repeal Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, and the Federal Trade Commission’s vote against Net Neutrality, many others have quietly taken affect.

One such change has been the adjustment in how the investigations of sexual assault cases are handled across college campuses. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, has orchestrated the reverse in policy. Fearing unfair treatment of the accused under the Obama-era policy, which operated on a “preponderance of evidence” standard, schools should now utilize a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Critics believe that the alteration will deter victims from reporting crimes.

Environmental changes have also been made, making good on President Trump’s campaign promise to overturn former President Obama’s legacy on the matter. Since coming into office, the president has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact to adopt green energy sources, cut down on emissions, and acknowledgement to the threat of climate change. Also, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has repealed the Clean-Power Plan, which curbed power plant’s emissions of greenhouse gases and pushed for electric energy sources rather than coal.

  1. The Travel Ban

As part of his mission to increase national security and crack down on immigration, President Trump announced the Travel Ban, an executive order to protect against possible terrorism, targeting primarily Muslim-majority countries. Many may remember photos documenting the fear and grief shown throughout airports across the country as families were separated almost immediately due to the restrictions.

In one year, three versions of the ban have been declared- the first two have been blocked and expired before they could take effect. The latest travel ban has been issued, this time restricting eight countries and is far more refined than its predecessors. It is likely that the ban will hold given the fact that refugees are not directly targeted this time, coupled with clearer guidelines for the policy.

  1. Appointing Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court

A win for the Trump Administration has been the Appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The conservative judge has made headlines for his less than traditional entry to the Court, unabashed when it comes to making his opinion heard or showing support for his party. Furthermore, Democrats are still upset with his swift confirmation upon President Trump entering office, a year after a vacancy. Regardless, Justice Gorsuch makes for a Republican majority in the highest court of the land with several landmark cases awaiting their consideration in the new year.

  1. Allegations of Russian Interference

A repeating topic throughout the year, and likely to continue, has been allegations of Russian interference during the 2016 campaign upon the Democratic National Committee revealing that Russian hackers infiltrated the party’s servers. The idea has become nothing short of a scandal complete with allegations of collusion, secret meetings, and public hearings making headlines throughout the year of presidency. Since the matter has become public knowledge several members of the administration have come under fire, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law. With the investigation still ongoing, new revelations are sure to come.

  1. Inability to Denounce White Supremacist

A major point of contention for many was the response of the President after the alt-right protest in Charlottesville, VA in August of 2017 regarding the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park. The “Unite the Right” rally made headlines for the imagery of hundreds of white supremacists protecting the statue with lit tiki torches and peaceful protestors surrounding them. The following day however, violence erupted, leaving one dead and many injured. One alt-right demonstrator even plowed through a crowd of peaceful participants.

The public looked towards the president to give a statement regarding the situation and condemn the actions of those that aligned themselves with the alt-right yet, the opposite occurred. In a press conference President Trump was quoted saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides…It’s been going on for a long time in our country.” The statement drew both its share of critics and supporters.

  1. Successfully Signing Tax Reform into Law

A second win for the Trump Administration has been signing a new tax reform into law. The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” was signed on December 22, 2017, making it one of the last major acts in the first year. There is still much to be learned about the new law and how citizens will be affected, but changes have already taken effect starting January 1st. Some of the earliest changes that will be seen from the reform are altered tax brackets, lowering tax rates.

Tax cuts have also been changed. Now, corporate taxes will experience a permanent cut while individuals will only experience temporary cuts. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise, thus reducing the number of those covered by health insurance. Experts predict that the new law will result in a rise of the federal deficit by billions.

  1. Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” President Trump said in a press conference from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. The controversial declaration continued to make waves when he made the announcement to move the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has ignited violent protests. Again, all eyes are on the President as the world watches these events unfold.

  1. Literally Everything He Tweets (North Korea, Trans Military Ban)

One area that both liberals and conservatives alike can agree upon is President Donald Trump’s Twitter and how much everyone wishes it would disappear. A meager 26% of 1,500 polled by The Economist found the President’s Twitter to be appropriate. Wrapping up his first year, Trump has spent about 40 hours tweeting approximately 2,600 tweets. The social media platform has been used for everything from shameless self-promotion to petty twitter beef.

Lackluster diplomacy has also found a home on Twitter with threats of nuclear war being exchanged with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, in only 240-characters or less. Twitter has also been the means of communication for policy introductions, as was the case for the Transgender Military Ban (which has not and seemingly will not take effect).

A Senior Mass Communications student with a concentration in Marketing, Editor-in-Chief Shayla Simmons is a native Marylander. Self-identifies her editorial writing to be her strongsuit with topics ranging from politics to social issues to pop culture commentary.

Net Neutrality and You

Net Neutrality and You

A hot button issue as 2017 came to a close was the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to end Net Neutrality in a 3:2 vote on Dec. 14. The outrage leading up to the vote was obvious with people rallying together to voice their dissatisfaction with […]

The Power of the Black Vote

The Power of the Black Vote

“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his book Why We Can’t Wait. More than three hundred years later, the voice of the black community, once a whisper, […]

The Double Standard of Drugs: When Weed Sees Color

The Double Standard of Drugs: When Weed Sees Color

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the news that marijuana is big business. Weed has become an industry all on its own, creating overnight millionaires whether it be growing or selling and everything in between. According to Forbes, North America spent a total of $6.7 billion in legal markets in 2016, a number that is expected to grow to $20.2 billion by 2021. With a growth rate of 25% annually, weed is exceeding the both “dot-com era” of the 2000’s and cable television in the 1990’s. That’s a huge deal since the process to nationwide legalization is just beginning.

As of January first, eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use, California being the latest. (29 states permit medical marijuana use in some fashion). California law allows for people 21 and over to posses no more than one ounce of marijuana and farmers can also grow up to six plants at home. Naturally, these freedoms will come at the cost of requiring one of twenty licenses and permits for farmers, distributors, and retailers. Since the law took effect on Jan. 1, California is expected to be home to the largest legal market for marijuana in the world, worth $7 million and possibly generate $1 billion in taxes. It’s no wonder that so many industries are trying to stake a claim.

Television series have been created based around the drug and been met with critical acclaim, a la the sitcom Weeds which ran on air for eight seasons (2005-2012) and won an Emmy in 2010. Several other networks are taking on the topic such as Netflix’s Disjointed, MTV’s Mary+Jane, Amazon Go’s Highland, and NBC’s Buds. Documentary style series have also taken up slots on the primetime like Vice’s Weediquette.

Chefs, restaurateurs, and bakers have cashed in as well, appealing to foodies and stoners alike by creating cannabis-infused creations- some of which are fine dining selections that are as exclusive as they are expensive.

But weed sees color. Whether it is buying, selling, growing, or using black people have been left with the short end of the stick.

In the battle for decriminalization, disproportionate arrests between Blacks and Whites are still heavily prevalent, though the amount of use between the two groups is relatively the same. Across the board, Black people are at least four times more likely to be arrested for possession. In states where laws have changed, the question remains of what happens to those convicted of possession charges that have since been decriminalized?

In California, prisoners have the chance to petition for their record to be cleared or reclassified in court. And in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational use, felons can re-class level six possession felonies to a class 1 misdemeanor, but only after completing the original sentence. But neither of these options make up for the time lost behind bars or difficulty of readjusting upon his or her release.

Also, with so much success and nearly surefire fortune there is a noticeable lack of black ownership in dispensaries, medical or recreational. Concluding an investigative report, BuzzFeed found that less than three-dozen of roughly 3,600 dispensaries were Black owned in 2016, making up about 1%. This statistic is disheartening since those that have been most effected by the war on drugs are having a tough time breaking into the legal market and therefore the wealth.

The “green rush” is far from its peak, with little over half of the country legalizing medical use and an even smaller percentage allowing recreation use. The year 2018 will surely see more states following suit to further decriminalize the drug, giving budding Black entrepreneurs ample time to prepare to make their mark. Hopefully the winds of change will also bring improvement to right the wrongs of a failed war on drugs.

A Senior Mass Communications student with a concentration in Marketing, Editor-in-Chief Shayla Simmons is a native Marylander. Self-identifies her editorial writing to be her strongsuit with topics ranging from politics to social issues to pop culture commentary.

Gentrification: Land of the Left Behind

Gentrification: Land of the Left Behind

People, by nature, want to have it all: an affordable home close to exciting attractions and amenities located in a neighborhood full of culture and like-minded people. Often times in booming cities, this perfect recipe comes at the cost of a select group. A pattern […]

Republican Senators Use Nuclear Weapon

Republican Senators Use Nuclear Weapon

By Ada Taylor Editor-in-Chief On Thursday, April 6th, the Senate triggered a policy known as the nuclear option that makes it possible to break a filibuster. It all took place over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who many Democrats feel is unsuited for […]

President Trump’s Russian Relations

President Trump’s Russian Relations

By Ada Taylor

On Monday, March 20th, the directors of the NSA and FBI testified before The House Intelligence Community. While the conversation was not limited to one topic, much of the time was spent covering Russian interference in the 2016 election. FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers were interrogated by Republicans and Democrats alike. Other topics that were touched on include the hacking of the DNC that took place last June, as well as President Trump’s claim that his predecessor, ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower in order to listen in on the then-candidate’s conversations.

When questioned, FBI director Comey said “I have no information that supports those tweets”, referring to the platform on which Trump broadcasted his claim. He also made it a point to add that the Justice Department authorized him to speak for them in addition to the FBI on that particular matter. This is concerning for a number of reasons. 1. A sitting president should know better than to make such a radical accusation without any evidence to support his claim, and 2. Trump’s excessive tweeting is a dangerous precedent to set as a major form of communication between President and the American people. I do not say this to be a critic of President Trump, as this would be concerning regardless of political ideologies.

What is also concerning regardless of your political leaning is the fact that a foreign territory was able to successfully hack one of our two major political parties. Still, it gets worse. In his opening statement, Comey confirmed that the FBI does have an open investigation into contentions that Trump’s campaign team worked with Russia in their meddling of our democratic process. On this matter, I feel the need to reiterate that it makes no difference whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or other – our president is under investigation for treason, and that is troubling.

The only bit of relief the public received from this hearing is confirmation that while there may have been Russian interference, no actual votes were changed.

A Senior Mass Communications student with a concentration in Marketing, Editor-in-Chief Shayla Simmons is a native Marylander. Self-identifies her editorial writing to be her strongsuit with topics ranging from politics to social issues to pop culture commentary.

TSU Honors Dr. Page

TSU Honors Dr. Page

By Christina Young Tennessee State University celebrates legacies by honoring the Pioneers of the Mass Communications department on March 3rd. The Distinguished honoree was Dr. Donald C. page, who has taught in the department of Communications since 1977, specializing in mass communications. Professor and Journalist […]