Amnesty Spreads the Word on Solitary Confinement

’18by Soorya A’18

On February 3, 2017, QHSS’ Amnesty International presented the issue of solitary confinement in prisons. The project was done in collaboration with Mrs. Majumder-Afzal, Mr. Kalamaras, and Mr. Sweiven. The President of Amnesty, Mohamed M’17 (nicknamed as Momo) explained that the members “[aimed to find a topic that would] target a large part of our criminal justice system and address its effects on our society.” From there, students created a presentation designed to convey the seclusion of solitary and its detrimental effects on the prison populations, as well as focus on the youth involved in the practice. As Valerie F’18 described, Amnesty’s primary goal was to raise awareness of the subject to the students of QHSS. They’ve accomplished this not only by their elaborate presentations, but also by their bold outfits,  displaying the attire commonly worn in prisons.

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Momo M. (‘17) and Nia R. (19’) answering a question during presentations.

For those who may have missed the presentation, solitary confinement is the isolation of prisoners in a cell, anywhere from 22 to 24 hours a day. In order to express the severity of the practice, presenters began by gauging a range of the students’ prior knowledge, asking questions such as, “What do you know about it?” and “What do you think it accomplishes?” In one class, all of the students in the audience were actively participating, both asking and answering questions. According to one presenter, Arwa R’18, the orange jumpsuits themselves sparked interest in students and were “vessels [for students] to ask questions on the topic.”

Amnesty members discussed aspects of solitary confinement such as which countries uses it, what it hopes to accomplish, who is held under solitary, and what its effect is. What seemed to be the climax of the presentations was when the students were shown a 360° interactive video on the effects of the practice. During her presentation, Valerie F’18 found that students “grew wide eyed and had interesting opinions to share with the class.” The video rendered the class silent, as many began to comprehend the severity of solitary. It seemed to be one of the defining moments of the presentation.

The presentations closed with “steps to move forward,” as the presenters explained to the audience the importance of staying involved in the our society. Amnesty members confidently concluded that they “all effectively delivered our message to our intended audience and learned a great deal from the experience” and  “that there were a number of people, regardless of grade, who learned something regarding the experience of solitary or the effects of it.”

Arwa R’18 went on to say, “This experience was valuable to me as well, as I did not know much about the issue of solitary confinement before. This experience allowed me to be actively involved and truly feel that I was helping in the cause.”

Why Everyone is Deleting Uber

by Catherine (Ching-Yuan) W’17

The #deleteuber campaign trends as netizens around the world scramble to delete their accounts from the popular taxi app, Uber.

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On Saturday night, Jan 28, 2017, between 6 and 7 p.m., the New York Taxi Workers Alliance went on strike, halting taxi rides from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The protest was prompted by the recent executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, which called for a temporary travel ban from seven majorly Muslim countries and the suspension of refugee admissions.

The alliance went on Twitter to inform U.S. citizens about the strike. Around two and a half hours after the alliance released the statement, Uber tweeted that the surge pricing (the increase of price when an increase in demand occurs) at the airport would be disabled.

The tweet caused an uproar among users. Customers accused Uber of advocating President Trump’s ban, and others disapproved of Uber’s ignorance, ultimately leading to the boycott against the app. Many users tweeted screenshots of themselves deleting their accounts and signing up for other ride-hailing companies with the caption “#deleteuber.”

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Five hours after the initial tweet, Uber posted another tweet, stating that they oppose the travel ban and did not mean to undermine the taxi driver’s strike. However, the tweet did not prevent Uber from sustaining a significant loss. According to the Times, over 200,000 customers deleted their accounts.

Following the campaign, Lyft, a lead competitor of Uber, announced that they would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the course of four years.

On their official blog, Lyft co-founders stated that “banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”

Since the pledge, Lyft has undergone a sharp increase in customers and, for the first time, surpassed Uber in app downloads.

The Women Behind the Screen: QHSS’ Third Movie Day!

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By: Pelumi Omotosho

On February 17th, at 9:00 am, our school will be venturing on a day trip to see the movie Hidden Figures at Jamaica Multiplex. Much like similar outings a couple of years ago, during which we saw the movies The Great Gatsby and Selma, this “Movie Day” aims at entertaining and informing QHSS students. In its 127 minute runtime, Hidden Figures tells the untold story of three female African American mathematicians whose calculations were imperative to Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States.

Hidden Figures, which is based on the book, chronicles the impacts of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, as they broke barriers in space and their professions.  

In the midst of pressure caused by a successful Russian satellite launch, Katherine Johnson was assigned to the Space Task Group, which made her not only the first African American woman on the team, but also the first in the entire building. Katherine would go on to aid in the dissolution of segregation within the Space Task Group and calculate the trajectory for the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on the Moon: Apollo 11.

Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson experienced similarly impressive breakthroughs. Dorothy Vaughan became supervisor of the West Area in 1949, making her the first African American woman to supervise staff at the center. She also prepared for the introduction of machine-computers that can perform the jobs of her and her colleagues by teaching herself and her staff the programming language FORTRAN. Her knowledge in the area would lead to her heading the programming section of the Analysis and Computations Division. Mary Jackson became NASA’s first black female engineer in 1958 and, after 34 years at NASA, would earn the highest title for an engineer. Her focus later turned to highlighting the accomplishments of women in her field.

Despite their very impressive feats, the stories of these women have been concealed for several decades. Hidden Figures aims to bring the undervalued achievements of these women out of the dark by telling the story in a way that could only be captured on the big screen. Hidden Figures makes it so that the incredible impacts of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson aren’t hidden any longer.