Rajon Staunton: Opinions & Concerns

Belonging to a marginalized group of students can mean many things, especially when growing up in a community where there is a clear racial divide and deep-rooted racial and religious tension. There is always this oppressive feeling that no matter what you may accomplish, a good sum of the population will never acknowledge you or your accomplishments simply because of your skin color, religion, or sexual orientation. This subtle, yet harsh racism is magnified by 100% when it is observed on the high school level.
As a Black honors student, I am constantly receiving awkward stares from teachers as I walk into their honors or Advanced Placement courses, but I am welcomed in my basic level electives, because that’s where I am expected to be. I boast a 4.3 grade point average and a plethora of clubs and extracurriculars, yet all I will ever be to some of administration and staff at my school is the color of my skin. One example of this happened during my ninth grade year when I was scheduling for the following year. I had signed up for all honors courses and one Advanced Placement course at which, upon looking at my scheduling sheet, the administrator in charge of scheduling for me inquired, “Are you positive that you want this difficult of a schedule? We have some really awesome programs at our trade school down the hill.” I was slightly confused, but I let the situation go with a simple, “Yes, I’m sure.” I then witnessed another student (a non minority), go in there with the same schedule choices and receive no questions or inquiries from the same administrator. The only difference between them and myself; I am a Black student. This seems to happen year after year yet, no attention to how degrading it is to any minority students who want to succeed in their lives, that the administration of their own high school does not hold them to high enough standard to believe that they can.

I witness the impact of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia everyday from all aspects. In just your average day at Woodrow Wilson, you are guaranteed to hear countless racial and religious slurs being thrown around relentlessly to no intervention of any, except a select few, members of the staff or of the administration. My school tends to be a breeding ground for this kind of discriminatory action, and often times, the administration fails to realize this or provide any kind of counter action. I have witnessed this from numerous staff and administration and like all other forms of oppressive action, the impact is felt around the school. From actions such as creating a segregated bathroom for transgender students, to NOT allowing same-sex date to escort each other on various courts, everyone at Woodrow Wilson High School is somewhat unaware of their blatant disregard for the marginalized groups within the walls of the school.

This is not to say that all administration is negligent towards the issues bearing down on the student body, but the ones who are aware of it tend to lack the appropriate disciplinary action to those students who do violate policies on bullying, among other things. School should never be a place of which students are fearful to be, but the sad reality is that in my school and schools around the country like mine, minority students and marginalized groups do not feel the same sense of safety and security that the vast majority of students do. I would like to see fair and just treatment for minorities within the walls of Woodrow Wilson High School; which honestly should go unsaid, but instance after instance we are ignored.

Follow Up / Thank You

First of all I would like to extend my gratitude, for the overwhelming support I have received on my newly found mission for equality at WWHS.  Initially I had shown an administrator my article when I did he quote “tremendously objected’” to it and was utterly offended by what I had to say.  My only resolution was to spread the word and hope others who have also been wronged would speak their minds, at least fifty other peers have contacted me with their unconditional support and personal experiences, and for that I will be forever grateful.

This case surpasses the students who on that day decided to voice their Islamophobic remarks in the hallway, and proceeds into how it was inappropriately surpassed as simply “disrespectful conduct”- a level one offense.  When according to policy racial, religious, ethic, and sexual orientation discrimination is at minimum level 3 offense.  Not to mention one of the persons handling my case knew all of the offenders on a first name basis, and when asked about it grew defensive and overly aggressive with me.

I strongly urge anyone who has faced ANY kind of discrimination at Woodrow Wilson High School to contact me at ishaqjafary@gmail.com or Rajon Staunton via twitter (@restaunton) as we will gladly represent you in our case.

Again, thank you all for the overwhelming support as we try to undergo an investigation into discrimination at WWHS.

Being a Minority In a Southern West Virginia Public School

February 15 2017, as I walked to my 5th period class, I was behind a group of individuals, who usually attempt to tease or harass me, but today was different. As I walked I heard a fairly loud voice go “Hey suicide bomber!”, shocked I continued walking and nearly made it to the door without any confrontation. However I heard a sarcastic chanting of the words “ Allah Hu Akbar” followed by more racial remarks. I rushed to turn around and confront the individual, as I did a series of pushes ensued before it was split up by an administrator. I walk into the office of the administrator and began explaining what had happened, also mentioning that this was not the first instance of religious discrimination I had endured within the walls of their school, but certainly a notable one. One thing that has resonated wth me is, what if I and a group of fellow Muslims were to yell the words “Suicide bomber” and “Allahuakbar” in a public school? One word- prosecution.

The year before during a Model United Nations session, my cousin and I had chose to represent Pakistan, it being our family’s culture and heritage. As the session proceeded we were abruptly halted by a loud voice coming from behind us “Why are these two even in here? They’re the terrorists!”, the room silenced in shock; the teacher had called us terrorists in front of an entire Model United Nations session. After the situation subsided, I thought it would certainly be the last incident of that severity I would have to endure before I graduated, I was wrong.

In a school with a 0.5% (8/1344) Muslim population (yes half a percent), why is there nothing being done to ensure minorities like these their safety and security when they walk into the jurisdiction of Woodrow Wilson High School? It seems to me that religious harassment is a recurring problem at WWHS, but why have there been no initiatives to secure us minorities during a time of extreme racial tension? The problem persists, after every negative incident in the name of Islam circulates in the media, we don’t go the following day in the actual fear of a hateful response. After every religious harassment, we miss school, again in fear of an unsolicited retaliation.

And you may ask what did I get? Two days suspension (might I add my record was clean before that day), for standing up for my religion to a group of kids who found it funny to collectively disrespect it. The others, well none would admit to it besides one, so it was not written off as religious harassment, but simply “disrespectful conduct”. We received the same punishment: suspension.

(Later did I find out that one of the persons handling my case had direct ties to these students. The three offenders were called in and questioned, as well as two of their friends who were not present during the incident. A total of five against me, I inquired if said administrator had called in the witness I named, I was ignored and it was disregarded.  I inquired with my witness the following day; he was never called in for questioning (he is also a fellow Muslim). The administrator stated only one confessed and the others had denied what each other had done, of course if you only call in the offenders’ close group of friends they will all support what one other says.  A strong conflict of interest if you were to ask me.)

West Virginia & Tesla Motors

West Virginia & Tesla Motors

What most West Virginians do not know is the famed electric car company Tesla, almost made a rather large appearance here in the Appalachians nearly a year ago.  Former Senate President  William P. Cole III, also known as Bill Cole, alongside former Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill to prevent Tesla’s entry into West Virginia.

Certainly a shock to many of the West Virginians that actually knew about it, that the  (at the time) governor of their state turned away a company that could have came in and produced many jobs to serve customers in the surrounding states.  The most interesting aspect is Bill Cole is rather well known in Kentucky and West Virginia, for you guessed it, automotive sales.  Former Governor Tomblin said himself “I have a lot of friends who are car dealers, and maybe they would like to protect their turf, but at the same time, it’s just another business.” , raises a few questions doesn’t it?  Many states have banned direct Tesla sales, therefore forcing you to go through a third party dealership.  Many say it’s for quote “the consumers protection” when the only ones who it really protects is the owners of the car dealerships, a car manufacturer cutting out the third party and selling directly to the consumer is for the most part unheard of.

Are these laws simply protecting car dealerships?  Tesla’s latest model unveiled on March 31, 2016, had reservations that could produce potential sales up to US $14 billion.  To most of us it seems these laws are simply in place to protect any other car manufacturer from coming in and doing the same thing Tesla is doing, cutting out the middle man.

Metaphorically if every car manufacturer were to come in and do the same, it would indeed put many car dealerships out of business.  The source of the issue is that the manufacturer can consistently undercut the dealerships’ set prices.  But wait, wouldn’t that save the consumer money in purchasing a new vehicle?  So is this ban to protect us, the consumer, or the large dealerships that mediate car sales?

Does Your School Lunch Feel Rushed?

Does Your School Lunch Feel Rushed?

According to the West Virginia State Board Policy 4321.1 (2005) requires schools to provide a minimum of 10 minutes for breakfast and 20 minutes for lunch; meanwhile the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) states that the FNS encourages schools to provide sufficient lunch periods that are long enough to give all students enough time to be served and to eat their lunches. Our key words here being “all students”, how many students actually receive 20 minutes to eat his or her lunch?  This begged the question of how Woodrow Wilson High School (WWHS) with a population of approximately 1,400 students manage to give every student 20 minutes to consume their lunch in only two lunch periods?  Here’s the catch, they don’t. With nearly 700 students in each lunch period, a school of that size cannot guarantee every student an adequate amount of time to eat their lunch.

At this point you may be asking “So what if they have to eat fast?”, well allow me to elaborate.  First of all weight gain; our brain and stomach work together to control how much we eat, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full.  Per say a student falls towards the end of the lunch line and has less than that time, they eat calories too quickly for their bodies to register they’re full hence overeating.  As of 2016 West Virginia’s adult obesity rate is currently 35.6 percent, up from 23.9 percent in 2000, could this habit formed in the school system be a factor in the rising obesity rate?
Secondly according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine eating too quickly can cause indigestion.  Resulting in any of the following: heartburn, bloating, feeling of being overly full, and excessive burping.

So I’d like to ask you, do you have at least twenty minutes to eat at school, work, or home?

  1. Sources:
  2. http://www.nasbe.org/healthy_schools/hs/bytopics.php?topicid=3110
  3. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title7-vol4/pdf/CFR-2011-title7-vol4-sec210-10.pdf
  4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/446323-the-effects-of-eating-too-fast/
  5. https://www.bustle.com/articles/150802-5-signs-youre-eating-too-fast-how-it-can-affect-your-health
  6. stateofobesity.org/states/wv/