Pierce Pioneer

Tacoma Mural Project

Tacoma is a city with a vibrant art scene, from its Art Museum and Glass Museum, to its Musical Playhouse, and the dozens of family owned boutiques and jewelry stores in between. Still, some of the most prominent pieces of Tacoma’s local art (as well as history) comes from its colorful murals decorating downtown Tacoma. 

The murals in Tacoma mix culture, advocacy, and tradition into art and with the help of Downtown on the Go and Spaceworks Tacoma, the legacies and meanings of these murals can be explored and discussed via a virtual 1.1 mail tour.

The first mural the tour shows you is titled Working Forward Weaving Anew, and according to the guides this mural “is designed to honor cultural traditions, the natural environment, and our need for new harmonious and sustainable paths into the future.” Painted by Esteban Camacho and Jessilyn Brinkerhoff with the help of a team of nine Native American artists, this mural was handpainted in only 6 weeks and is part of the Prairie Line Trail Project and reminds us to respect the land we share with others and nurture those relationships. 

A recent mural that was shown during this tour was a solo painting done by Tiffany Hammonds in honor of the 2020 protests, this mural isn’t painted directly on the storefronts and instead was painted on the boards during the protests in response to the death of George Floyd and the ongoing police brutality. In an interview with Chase Hutchinson of the News Tribune, Hammonds talks about the message behind this piece. 

“The message is hope,” says Hammonds. “If it’s our vision, that means we are capable of doing it.”

A more diverse twist on the usual painted murals on the tour was one done by David Long and Al Pikart who took screenshot images from webcam chats and turned them into an art piece drawing attention to the mistreatment of people detained at the NW ICE Processing Center. The words “Queremos Libertad” translates to “We want Freedom” and pushes Long and Pikart’s message that no human should be treated illegally. 

The final mural shown on the tour was a beautiful tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The artist, Nori Kimura painted this mural with four of his middle school students as he said it would be more meaningful to him. It was RBG’s work for equal rights, activism for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community that inspired Kimura to paint this mural as a tribute to her work and legacy as an advocate and activist.

My takeaway from this tour was that our state is steeped in history and culture and although it may not always be pleasant we must remember it and keep it with us, for me, the art displayed on this tour is a reminder to embrace who we are, who we live with, and where we come from so that we might pave the way towards a better future.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprises of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day that is known for celebrating Mexican pride with parades, friends, parties, family gatherings and most of all tequila.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has become a well-known holiday in the United States and has been celebrated in Mexico since 1863. In an effort to raise awareness and educate about this festive holiday, here are 5 Things you may not have known about Cinco de Mayo.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day

Mexico had declared their independence on Sep. 16, 1810 and this marked the beginning of hostilities against the rule of the Spanish government.

Celebrates the Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla is known as a great victory over 6,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862. Benito Juárez, president of Mexico rounded up about 2,000 troops made up of indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry to face the assault by the French. Mexico was led in the battle by General Ignacio Zaragoza from Texas and lasted from daybreak to that evening and the effort by the Mexicans was able to drive off the French. Immediately after, the victory was declared a celebration.

Mexico Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed by the state of Puebla where the Battle of Puebla took place. Although they are not the only state to put on a celebration, for most of Mexico May 5 is a day like any other and is not considered a federal holiday so banks and stores stay open. For those that celebrate, some traditions include military parades, reenactment of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.

Why does the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo?   

The United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage on May 5, mostly in parts where the Mexican American population is great. In the 1960’s some Chicano activists brought awareness of the holiday due to their observance of the Battle of Puebla. Today, most who celebrate do so with mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Mexican foods like the beloved tacos. Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are cities which hold some of the largest festivals that mark the occasion and there are still others that will celebrate with chihuahua races like in Chandler, Arizona.

Why Tequila on Cinco de Mayo?

On May 5, 47% of drink orders are margaritas compared to the rest of the year with 23% and tequila sales double leading up to the celebration of the holiday. However, tequila was not always so easily accessible. From 1000 B.C.-200A.D. the Aztecs fermented a drink called pulque which was made from the sap of the agave plant. The drink was important to the Aztecs and they worshiped Mayahuel the goddess of maguey and her husband the Patecatl the god of pulque. When the Spanish arrived and met the Aztecs they discovered pulque and the drink started to catch on. Since then, tequila has taken its time in becoming what we know today and had been handled by the Spanish who were distilling agave in the 1400’s-1600’s. In 1758 the Cuervo family started to commercially distill their own tequila followed by the Sauza family in 1873. Don Cenobio Sauza identified blue agave as the best for making tequila and this is where the tequila known today started to be produced. The Margarita was later invented in 1936 by an Irishman called Madden who ran a bar in Tijuana and called the drink Tequila Daisy (daisy in Spanish is margarita). It was not until 1974 that tequila became the intellectual property of Mexico.

Being Mexican or not, Cinco de Mayo is a day which celebrates Mexican culture altogether and is known for friends, family and good fun. This year the holiday may look a little different, but a celebration of the Mexican culture will never die.

Could Washington survive the same storm that hit Texas?

Starting on Feb. 10 through 20, Texas experienced widespread blackouts after a record storm hit the state. Over 3 million people were without power and hundreds of thousands more were without drinkable water. This sparked a statewide emergency that claimed the lives of 40 people many of which from carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia when conditions reached 0 degrees fahrenheit.

The state’s energy sector froze over and left equipment and power resources unusable, in what was deemed a generational storm. Many Republican lawmakers pointed to the ineffectiveness of renewable energy and criticized the wind turbines that froze. It took over a week in Texas and its surrounding states to restore power for millions of people.

If Washington state was to see a similar record freeze like Texas did last February, the state could rely on its usage of hydroelectricity to power residents. This provides a renewable energy source that is carbon neutral compared to Texas who relies on fossil fuels.

According to Power Magazine, hydroelectric plants are less susceptible to freezing due to the depth of water taken in by pipes leading into the plant that remain above freezing temperatures. This allows hydroelectric plants to run year round and in colder climates around the world in places such as Norway, Russia, Iceland, and Canada. 

Hydroelectricity makes up 62% of Washington’s energy production, while Texas’ largest energy source is natural gas making up 52% according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. Texas’ largest energy source was limited due to icy conditions and freezing temperatures. If Washington saw the same conditions, the state would see a far better outcome due to the reliability of its natural water sources.

Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeted the blame for the outages on the state’s reliance on outlets, including wind turbines. “This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source. When weather conditions get bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”

According to The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s wind turbine production consists of 23% of the total electricity. This is more than double Washington’s usage at 8% of all electricity produced. If Washington’s wind turbines were to freeze over like they did in Texas, it would not have had as much of an impact in Washington.

Many years prior, the ERCOT refused to implement a weathorized system for their renewable energy. According to Newsweek, the frozen wind turbines could have been avoided with implementing a heating proponent or lubricants that colder states such as Wisconsin use to keep their wind turbines functional all year. Texas is a generally warm climate and rarely sees freezing cold temperatures, and therefore chose not to implement weathorized equipment.

Likewise, a combination of nuclear, coal, and gas power froze over and could not keep up with the increase in demand due to the freezing weather. According to The ERCOT, the state fell short of demand by 45,000 megawatts. This included 15,000 megawatts from wind and 30,000 megawatts from coal and gas. Both were responsible for the lack of power, but may have been prevented if the proper precautions were taken.

Furthermore, America has three main national power grids that connect communities and states. One covers the West side of the U.S., another covers the East side, and lastly, Texas is its independent grid. Since Texas is its own grid, it could not tap into other areas to match their increase in energy needs. According to the ERCOT, it controls 90% of the power resources in Texas and could not rely on outside sources for energy due to their isolation and wintery conditions. 

On the other hand, the majority of Washington’s electricity and energy production comes from hydroelectric power. According to the EIA, Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power plant in the country and can power up to 4.2 million households annually.

This contradicts Texas’ energy sector that has the majority of their energy deriving from natural gas and wind, and only gets .5% of its energy from hydroelectric power, according to the EIA. Texas receives less rain per year and has less access to large rivers like the Coulumbia. Additionally, Texas has an abundance of natural gas located in the state and results in a more reliable source of energy within the state.

With all of this in mind, Washington State would surely see outages if the state was faced with a generational storm as seen in Texas. Yet, thanks to hydroelectric power the weather’s impact on living conditions would be far less catastrophic. Going forward, if Washington State contributed more of its energy towards wind turbines, then it would need to weatherize these machines to ensure that none will freeze over. 

COVID-19’s Effect on Sports

Feb. 19, 2020 – the last day that we stepped on a field together. 

It has now been almost 12 months since we last laced up our boots, but we finally resumed play on Feb. 9. We were given a second chance to play the game that we love, for after what felt like an eternity away from my teammates.

Unlike Feb. 2020, this year looks very different. Every player is required to wear masks; players aren’t allowed to socialize outside of practice and social distancing is a part of our daily lives. Yet, with a different appearance to the world’s most beautiful game, on the field, it never changed. 

I still love this game just as much if not more. It has done so much for me over the years and I will do whatever it takes to compete on the field every day.

My teammates all seemed to share this opinion and on the first day of practice, you could not see the faces of each teammate, but you could tell that they were smiling from ear to ear. After all the strenuous and annoying suspension of Pierce College athletics, the team had never been more ecstatic to compete. We had 12 months of energy and passion balled up inside waiting to be poured out on the soccer field. 

Playing for Pierce College’s men’s soccer program has been one of the most enriching experiences of my young adult life. It has brought me new friends, new possibilities and a chance to play at the collegiate level. Yet all of that would be put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic took over all of our lives.

Back in February of last year, the team was in good spirits and met for the first time since Nov. 2019. We had a new class of recruits to build upon a strong list of returning players, who represented essential leadership going forward into a new season later that year. 

The previous season ended with a devastating 1-0 defeat in the first round of the NWAC playoffs. We were left with a bitter taste in our mouths and knew we had to push ourselves to the maximum during the off-season.

Consequently, our off-season was postponed when all Pierce College athletics were suspended in March 2020. This was a hard pill to swallow as the opportunity to strive as a program was stripped away from us. The team could no longer meet in person, workout together, or even hang out outside of practice, we were deprived of the opportunity to play the sport that we loved.

Although, this didn’t stop us from persevering through the separation of players, as we engaged in individual workouts and training sessions. Our coaches required us to download and participate in a virtual training app called Techne Futbol. 

We were required to complete five hours of training sessions each week, as the app would track our minutes. This created a competitive atmosphere between the players who wanted to improve the most, but it lacked accountability.

Fast-forwarding throughout the off-season, our start-up date continued to be pushed back further and further. We were originally told April, then July, then August, then December, and finally January.

The team continued to get our hopes up for a return to play, but our hopes were crushed every few months. It was hard to gauge when we had to turn on the jets and train hard for the season and created an emotionally draining process that left us feeling grim. Yet, when given the first opportunity to return to the field, we took it, even if that meant wearing a mask knowing that we were healthy.

From now until the end of the season we are required to wear masks at all times, from when we step out of our cars until we leave. I have been wearing masks for months now and have become accustomed to wearing them in indoor places, but never while running outside. The majority of us aren’t in game shape going into the first weeks of training and wearing a mask while running only makes these matters worse. 

I am all for taking priority in players’ health, but it can’t be doubted that masks bring performance complications and hinder the amount of oxygen that we take in. According to our Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson, our state government and the NWAC are moving forward in hopes of not wearing masks during games, which would be applauded by players who on average run seven miles per match.

Our current safety protocols include filling out a health check form every day that we meet, temperature checks before entering the field, and applying hand sanitizer before each competition. These protocols may cause extra pain and add to more things to remember daily, but they have the best interest of players in mind. 

The thing that I will miss most is having fans at every game. Seeing my friends, family, and fellow students at each game adds to the motivation and competitive atmosphere. My parents never missed a game last year and were disappointed by the news, and I’m sure that they still find some way to watch my games. For everyone else, our games will be streamed online which expands our outreach but takes away the in-person spark that fans fuel you with as a player.

This season is unlike any other season, but I will trade Covid-19 protocols any day of the week if it gave me the opportunity to step foot on the soccer field one last time. All I can ask for is an opportunity to prove myself as a player and a man, thankfully I got the opportunity this winter. 

Littering in Local Wetland

63rd Annual Grammy Predictions – Who Should Win vs. Who Will Win?

At last year’s Grammy ceremony, we saw teen sensation Billie Eilish sweep the awards show stage with a collection of pop songs that fuses  relatable melancholy with grandiose visual and musical aesthetics. This years ceremony finds itself in a new predicament, one where the music industry and the major components of it, such as ceremony shows and concerts, are sidelined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Some artists took the pandemic as a time to practice escapism, creating music that is exuberant and bright, cheery and representative of a better time than the ones we’re living through currently. Others dove into their inner psyche, and wrote music that reflected the shifting social climates of America, and the way that ur brains all struggled through a period of self-isolation.

Which of these forms of artistic exploration and expression will the Academy reward; and of the nominated categories, who are the most likely winners, and who I believe should be the likely winner? Here, we present predictions for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Pop Field

With Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift leading in nominations within this field, it’s safe to assume that this will also determine the winners for major categories. Lipa and Swift have reasonably distinguished themselves as major front-runners for the year, as both are representing contrasting sides of the pop music community and its purposes today. 

Dua Lipa represents a younger generation focused on experimentation and escapism within pop, evidenced by her nominated smash hit, “Don’t Start Now”, which features a glossy and danceable, disco-inspired sound to compliment its rather standard pop song conventions.

Taylor Swift, the well established pop icon, abandons her somewhat inconsistent reputation as the princess of country-pop to write and produce some of her most mature and nuanced music to date. With a remade version of Fearless looming in the near future it’d be hard to discredit her merits as one of America’s iconic songwriters, and the Academy has certainly been unafraid of claiming so.

Other notable nominations include teen sensation and Grammy darling, Billie Eilish, present in this field with her second top-ten Billboard hit, “Everything I Wanted”, one of the strongest popular commentaries on fame in recent memory. Also nominated for her No Time to Die Bond theme song, it feels likely that we could witness the young star claiming more Grammy fame.

Additionally, Lady Gaga finds herself underrepresented at this year’s Grammys following her most bombastic pop releases in almost a decade. She’s likely to receive recognition for her pop banger with Ariana Grande, but the rightful group that dominated the last year and represented western cultures growing interest in K-Pop would be BTS. Their first single to top both the Global Hot 100 and US Hot 100, “Dynamite” is easily the most joyous boy-band single in years, and is worthy of awarding.

Best Pop Solo Performance:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa or “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

Who Should Win: “Dynamite” by BTS

Who is Going to Win: “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album:

Who Should Win: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift

Dance/Electronic Field

With one of the most diverse groupings in the category’s recent memory, it’s evident that the Grammy committee is dedicated to appearing as though it is changing with the times. Kaytranada is the only nominee within this category to score a nomination in the major fields, being as he’s in consideration for Best New Artist. 

Kaytranada’s BUBBA release was met to general critical acclaim and a somewhat mixed fan reception. While singles such as the nominated “10%” performed well, but most non-single tracks on this album have been considered deep cuts within the DJ’s ever-growing discography. 

This field has notoriety for awarding bigger EDM artists over smaller ones, so it’s most likely that Diplo and Flume, both previous Grammy award winners, are the frontrunners. For both artists, these tracks represent earnest creativity from both producers, and are both some of the artists best works. Despite that, Diplo’s “On My Mind” is easily the popular choice from this list, especially following its brief tenure as a TikTok meme.

The real sleeper hit in this list of nominees is Jayda G’s “Both of Us”, a slow burn house track that was produced by Jayda and producer Fred again. With an incredibly simplistic beat and understated, raw vocal performance, the track is emotional and intelligent. 

Dance and electronic spaces have notoriously underserviced black artistry and undercredited those same black women despite a heavy utilization of black aesthetics and sound. While I find it unlikely that Jayda G’s joyful romp is rewarded, it is the rightfully deserving winner.

Additionally, Arca became the fourth trans person to become a Grammy nominee, joining late friend and collaborator, SOPHIE, as the second trans woman nominated for Best Electronic Album. While SOPHIE did not win for her stunning debut, Oil of Every Pearls Un-Insides, her influence and sound can be heard on both Arca and other nominees music. 

To see Arca win this award for her most accessible album, KiCk i, which is an avant-garde fusion of pop and deconstructed club, would be monumental to left-field experimental music. 

Best Dance Recording:

Who Should Win: “Both of Us” by Jayda G

Who is Going to Win: “On My Mind” by Diplo & SIDEPIECE

Best Dance/Electronica Album:

Who Should Win: KiCk i by Arca

Who is Going to Win: Energy by Disclosure

Rock/Metal/Alternative Field

Phoebe Bridgers has certainly set the scene for herself as music’s latest critical darling, and that continues to show due to her and HAIM being the only nominees in this field to also be nominated in the major leagues. Additionally, Fiona Apple finds herself nominated only three times for her critically acclaimed record Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which undoubtedly was one of the strongest records of the last year. 

Grace Potter and Big Thief are both the indie picks on this roster. Big Thief, helmed by Adrianne Lenker, was previously nominated for their first record of 2019, UFOF. While I believe they are unlikely to be rewarded this year, “Not” is easily the most engaging and cathartic track nominated this year.

On the other hand, Grace Potter largely avoided critical reception on her latest two records despite receiving commercial success. “Daylight” is simultaneously a slow burn and heavy hitter; it may not impact a listener on their first experience, but it’s the type of song that once you’ve heard, sticks with you forever. However I think it is most likely we see previous Grammy winner Brittany Howard rewarded here for her abundantly soulful ballad, “Stay High”.

The metal category sees some noteworthy nominations as well. Poppy became the first woman to be nominated in this category as an individual artist. A win for her would push the boundaries on not only who metal music is being created for, but under what grounds of consumption. 

Additionally, both Power Trip and Code Orange have become notable critical darlings within the metal scene since their inceptions; I think it is more likely that we see a co-signing of these up-and-coming bands from the committee. 

Ice T’s band Body Count also received a nomination here, allowing a majority black band to find its space once again in what could be considered a largely white scene. A win would mean that the said standard for success is possible for people who don’t necessarily appeal to the genre’s standard demographic.

A few longtime Grammy favorites also find themselves representing the Best Alternative Album field. While rising critical darling Phoebe Bridgers stands a large chance at being rewarded for her 2020 record, Punisher, Fiona Apple, Beck, Tame Impala, and Brittany Howard all stand decent chances at taking the award. 

Tame Impala further develops his brand of psychedelic rock into pop formats, creating danceable and accessible indie tracks that are worthy of praise and enjoyment. Additionally, Brittany Howard’s soulful Jaime is a testament to her lived experiences, and what America is like for a poor, biracial lesbian. It’s worthy of praise, and the Grammy’s seem to know that. 

Best Rock Performance:

Who Should Win: “Not” by Big Thief

Who is Going to Win: “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers

Best Metal Performance:

Who Should Win: “BLOODMONEY” by Poppy

Who is Going to Win: “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax) – Live” by Power Trip

Best Rock Song:

Who Should Win: “Shameika” by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: “Stay High” by Brittany Howard

Best Rock Album:

Who Should Win: Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka

Who is Going to Win: Sound & Fury by Sturgill Simpson or The New Abnormal by The Strokes

Best Alternative Album:

Who Should Win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers or Jaime by Brittany Howard

R&B Field

Following a tumultuous summer of racial turmoil and campaigns throughout the world, the R&B category sees itself most affected by these events, with numerous songs having been written and recorded in response. In contrast to Jacob Colliers avant-pop R&B fusion, and Beyoncé’s “BLACK PARADE”, most of the R&B performance nominees are somber expressions of love, pain, and struggles for power in a system that specifically disables some from obtaining such. 

While “BLACK PARADE” is easily the most popular nominee in this category, as well as being the only song also nominated in a major category, “Goat Head” is a nuanced and soulful introspection on Brittany Howard’s relationship with race and oppression, due to her parent’s interracial relationship. 

Additionally, Emily King surprises with an incredibly simplistic acoustic track that carefully straddles the lines between soulful mourning and call to action, and is worthy of praise.

The best R&B song category also finds itself in a somewhat odd place, with both somber emotional tracks such as Robert Glasper & H.E.R.’s collaboration “Better Than I Imagined” and the buoyant and groovy pop track, “Do It” from sister act Chloe x Halle. 

H.E.R. finds herself as a double nominee in this category this year, also nominated for her collaboration with Skip Marley, “Slow Down”. Both of these tracks are simple love songs that are accessible and high quality, with the former being a fun and dance worthy fusion of dancehall and modern R&B’s guitar-centric style. 

Best R&B Album finds itself in another odd predicament. The assumption to be made is that Jhené Aiko’s Chilombo is the frontrunner, seeing as it’s the only album in this category that is also nominated for Album of the Year. 

While Aiko certainly has established a reputation for developing what could be considered modern neo soul, this is not very represented in her latest record, which often puts attention grabbing hooks and sensual vibes over tracks with actual substance. 

Thundercat has previously won a Grammy for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls”, and has been critically well received for many years. While his latest record largely explores and incorporates musical elements from his 2017 release, Drunk, It is What It Is is certainly his most accessible and enjoyable record to date, and worthy of praise. 

Additionally, Chloe x Halle had one of the most notable pop moments of the year with their Ungodly Hour record, which saw them do numerous live streamed performances and music videos. With a Chrome Edition of the record just released, the album is certain to attain the sister further Grammy buzz.

Best R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “See Me” by Emily King

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Best R&B Song:

Who Should Win: “Do It” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Progressive R&B Album:

Who Should Win: Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: Chilombo by Jhené Aiko

Rap Field

Highlighting new artists and protest songs in a newly unprecedented manner, the Grammy committee seems dedicated to persuade American audiences that they’ve come to terms with their own issues with diversity. 

Genres like Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B have always existed to separate black artists into a position where they are “recognized” but still not considered for major awards. This is evidenced with none of this year’s Best Rap Album nominees being nominated for Album of the Year and with no Hip-Hop producers being considered for Producer of the Year.

Most of the nominated tracks spent extended periods occupying the Billboard charts. Of these songs, Roddy Ricch makes a case for himself as a standout with acclaimed single “The Box”, as well as a double nominee position on his collaboration with DaBaby’s “Rockstar”. 

While the relevancy curve has arguably not been doing Roddy any favors as of late, with white America’s “rapper-of-the-moment” constantly fluctuating, “The Box” still stands as a highlight of life pre-pandemic, and is worthy of awardship. 

On the opposing side, Best New Artist nominee, Megan thee Stallion, certainly had the most show-stopping year of her fellow rappers. With 2 number one singles, one of which is the nominated “Savage (Remix)” featuring Beyoncé, as well as a debut record that is sure to be in rotation for months to come, Megan makes a strong case for herself as an adversary in what is otherwise a male-dominated category. Megan reigning supreme would be a legendary moment for women in rap.

Additionally, DaBaby is another multi-time nominee at this year’s ceremony, including nominations in the major categories. With his level of production value and the overwhelming popularity of his multiple hits in the last year, he stands a decent chance at being crowned an upset winner in this field. 

Additionally, the committee has rewarded white rappers in the past and I would not be shocked to see “What’s Poppin’” claim awards over aforementioned artists due to the general accessibility of Jack Harlow’s brand of pop rap.

Best Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Best Melodic Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Song:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Album:

Who Should Win: Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

Who is Going to Win: King’s Disease by Nas or A Written Testimony by Jay Electronica

General Field

This year’s general field finds itself in an almost precarious situation. The battle seems to be coming down to Taylor Swift, who is en route to establishing herself as one of the pop greats, and Dua Lipa, who is benefitting from the high of a euphoric sophomore era. While Swift has certainly made artistic development worthy of praise, it would be a safe move to crown Swift in the present moment. 

Other nominees in the general field stand out because they did not receive many nominations in other categories. HAIM’s Women in Music Pt. III only received a best rock performance nomination despite also being in contention for Album of the Year. Women in Music, Pt. III is the most finely crafted and varied album up for the major award, however it is unlikely that the sister trio is rewarded for such.

Critical success’ such as Phoebe Bridgers and Kaytranada also find themselves on the roster for Best New Artist, despite both of their debut albums coming out over three years ago. I think this actually hurts artists like Bridgers and Kaytra because it means artists who are actually benefiting from the relevancy curve of a true debut record, such as Megan thee Stallion, stand a larger chance. 

That is not to propose the idea that Megan is an undeserving winner however. Megan winning in a major field would be the first time a female rapper has done so since Lauryn Hill, and would be a major stepping stone for both black women and rappers in the industry today. 

Megan is a clear standout of the nominees, and stands a chance at walking away this sunday as a multi-time grammy award winning artist, and certainly the most deserving best new artist of 2020.

Best New Artist:

Who Should Win: Megan thee Stallion

Who is Going to Win: Megan thee Stallion or Phoebe Bridgers

Record of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan the Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “cardigan” by Taylor Swift or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: Women in Music, Pt. III by HAIM

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift or Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Ultimately, we’re likely to either see the crowning of a newly reigning pop diva, or the establishing of a genre-fluid pop icon who’s set to become one of the most esteemed artists of her generation. What it likely to happen is that we’ll see a Grammy ceremony like no other, deeply impacted by the political turmoil of America’s last year as well as the social struggles of artists across the globe that hope to express themselves despite limited accessibility.

Vice President of Learning and Student Success Debra Gilchrist parts ways with Pierce College after 30 years

Pierce College president Julie White announced March 3 over email that on June 30 will say good-bye to Debra Gilchrist, who is retiring after 30 years of service to the school. 

As the vice president of learning and student success for the last 9 years, Gilchrist has continued to gain the respect of her colleagues through her dedication to excellence.

“Throughout her time, she led the re-visioning of the library into an award-winning program, guided us through successful accreditations with the NWCCU, and collaborated on a district-wide model of academic leadership,” White stated. “Deb has been a strong, quiet, persistent voice for continual improvement.”

White commented on the difficulty to replace Gilchrist’s role as vice president for learning and student success, but the search for a successor will begin and the announcement will be given in the near future.

“Please join me in wishing Deb the very best,” White stated. “We will be sure to celebrate and wish her well before June 30.”

Joe Biden Instills 12 New Executive Orders

Newly elected President Joe Biden signed a record amount of executive actions just within his first week of office. Twelve of which directly reversed former president Trump administration policies in a progressive push towards immigration, climate and COVID-19 relief initiatives. 

With over 30 executive actions in his first week of office, President Biden continues to separate himself from the previous administration. Here are all the reversed policies in week one:

Health

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the World Health Organization after the previous administration cut all funding to the organization in May 2020. In this decision, the President appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci to represent the United States on WHO’s delegation committee. 

Former president Donald Trump rescinded from WHO last spring after claiming that the organization helped cover up the mishandling of COVID-19 by China. The Chinese government faced criticism throughout 2020 by not accurately reporting the full danger of COVID-19. After long negotiation, WHO sent a team to investigate the origins of the virus in late January of 2021, over a year after the first known case was detected in 2019.

Five days later, COVID-19 travel restrictions were reinstated for non-citizens travelling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, most of Europe, and South Africa. The Biden administration pointed to new discoveries of a second strand of COVID-19 that was detected in England and South Africa. 

Immigration

Of President Biden’s 19 executive actions on day one of his presidency, three of those reversed previous immigration policies. The first was to halt the construction of Trump’s border wall that broke ground in 2017. Over 450 miles of border wall have been installed since 2017, where 47 miles of that were in previously non-existing locations. Biden’s executive order gave him the power to divert $10 billion dollars of allocated funds to other resources that haven’t been determined at this time. 

Additionally, President Biden reversed the controversial travel ban on Muslim majority countries. The travel ban faced several court obstructions until 2018 when the Supreme Court upheld the executive order on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and restricted North Korea and Venezuela. President Trump defended his ban in regards to improving the vetting process of refugees and safety concerns for U.S. citizens.

In an effort to revise and evaluate the United State’s immigration, President Biden reversed the Trump administration’s expanded immigration enforcement. Trump’s reversed executive order prioritized the deportation of illegal aliens who have committed a crime and sanctuary cities that housed illegal immigrants. Cities who didn’t cooperate with federal law enforcement would be at risk of losing federal grants, but this policy has been deemed unconstitutional. 

Equity

LGBTQ rights were included in President Biden’s plethora of executive actions by reversing Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from serving in the military. This previously would not allow the military to turn away or discharge people for their gender identity. Trump pointed to financial costs and distractions to military operations in a tweet in 2017. 

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump stated.

As a counter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, former president Trump founded the 1776 Commission that was to promote “patriotic education.” The commission is composed of 18 members appointed by Trump in December of 2020. Present Biden rescinded this commission through executive order, claiming that the report attempts to “erase America’s history of racial injustice.” 

Environment

Included in his Jan. 20 executive actions, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate accord after former president Trump left the agreement in 2017. Trump left after calling the agreement harmful to the U.S. economy and claimed it to be a flawed plan. The agreement attempts to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and binds over 190 countries into cutting their carbon emissions each year. 

Although, the agreement allows China to increase their carbon emissions until 2030, where they have then vowed to decrease emissions after reaching their energy peak. China produces the most amount of carbon emissions in the world at 10.43 gigatonnes which equals 29% of all emissions. The U.S. is second, behind China and makes up 14% percent of all world emissions. 

Furthermore, in an effort to continue his climate activism, President Biden stopped the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that connected oil reserves from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. This decision came at a cost as 1,000 jobs were immediately lost and an extra 10,000 employees won’t be hired after the pipeline contract was canceled. The Biden administration has made it a priority to step away from oil usage and expand the country’s reliance on clean energy.

Census

In President Biden’s early actions to address U.S. immigration, he revoked the previous administration’s action to not count illegal immigrants in the 2020 Census. In his executive order, Biden addressed the 14th Amendment and its call to count whole numbers of persons in each state. The Census is the deciding tactic for assigning each state’s amount of electoral votes that deviate the 435 members in the house based on each state’s count. 

Economy

On the campaign trail, Biden presented his plan on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and took the first steps to achieving this through an executive order. In his action Biden provided federal employees with emergency paid leave, and restored collective bargaining rights and protections. This would give federal employees more mandatory work compensation that was rescinded by the previous administration.

Since this executive order, Biden continues to advocate for a federal minimum wage of $15, but the policy was not included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the house of representatives. The Biden administration’s hope for an increase for low wage earners would have to come from a separate congressional bill. 

Regulation

With an increase in regulations on the agenda for the new administration, President Biden aimed to change how the White House reviews regulations. These changes attempt to emphasize the benefits of regulation and turn away review of weighing the cost of regulation. This executive action paves the way for an increase in federal regulations as the Biden administration continues to go around Congress in their first week in office.

Fully vaccinated people not required to quarantine

The CDC announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine after being in contact with people diagnosed with COVID-19

 

On February 10, the CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine if they are in contact with someone that has COVID-19. However, this doesn’t mean that vaccinated people can ignore other CDC guidelines, as stated by CNN reporter Christopher Rios.

“[T]he CDC makes clear that vaccine trials have largely focused on preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19.” Rios stated. “That doesn’t mean people can’t catch the virus and spread it asymptomatically.”

The CDC states that there are three criteria needed to be met in order to not quarantine:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

“Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.” The CDC stated.

Almost all vaccines in Phase 3 use a two shot method; only one currently requires a single shot. For the vaccines that require two shots, there is a two week to three month window for the second shot to be administered. Currently it’s unknown if every vaccine fits the CDC’s requirements for “skipping quarantine.”

This is an ongoing story; as such, updates will continue to be released here as the CDC provides more future information.

UK COVID Strand Found at University of Washington

Between Dec. 25 and Jan. 20, 1,035 DNA samples were collected and tested at the University of Washington’s virology lab, two of which tested positive for the B.1.1.7 strain previously identified in the UK in September. 

Chris Spitters, a health officer for the Snohomish Health District says the district had already instituted standard case investigation, isolation, and contact tracing prior to learning about these cases; he adds that containment protocols will not be handled any differently than with standard COVID-19 cases.

In regards to vaccinations, UW medicine states that the current Pfitzer and Moderna vaccines will still be effective against new variants, but encourage taking extra precautions until then such as double masking, maintaining social distancing, and keeping your hands clean. “This new variant is 30%-50% more contagious than the original strain, so wearing masks and physical distancing is even more important,” UW stated.

The University of Washington encourages people to take extra care in following the CDC guidelines while awaiting their vaccinations. “[The] B.1.1.7 variant spreads the same way other coronaviruses spread; it’s just better at it,” UW stated. “Strictly following prevention measures is the best way to slow the spread of all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Recommended steps to take in order to prevent contracting or spreading the B.1.1.7 variant are maintaining a social distance of up to 6-feet with people not in your household, avoiding crowds or poorly ventilated areas, washing your hands, staying home or away from others if you or someone around you is showing signs of COVID-19, getting vaccinated when you are eligible, and/or wearing a properly fitting mask with multiple layers if available.

The University of Washington states that wearing a facial covering with at least two-layers can block up to 80% of exhaled respiratory particles as well as inhaled and adding a double facemask can provide additional filtration.

The B.1.1.7 variant may sound scary and new for the residents of Snohomish and King county, but by taking the necessary prevention steps and staying vigilant with our health as well as our community’s can make the situation easier to contain and manage.

Quarantining Making Us Apathetic to Crime?

Crime rates continue to spike in Pierce and King County, yet support for these issues seem minimal

I began my morning the usual way, which involved waking up early to take my dog out. I walked down my steps to take her to the courtyard, only to be stopped in my tracks upon a realization — my car was not where I parked it last night.

I questioned myself at first; I must have parked it somewhere else and clearly forgot. I grabbed my keys so I could press the lock button and hear my car alarm sound off, only when I did so the sound never came. I circled the parking lot for about five minutes, growing frantic as I searched for my car to no avail. It soon became clear that my car had been stolen.

Since beginning quarantining in late March of 2020, support for crimes have felt “off” in general. Understandably, with COVID running rampant it makes sense that many officials have fires needing to be put out. But it doesn’t change the fact that with everything going on, finding support, especially for crime related concerns, feels at its lowest lately.

“In October, the FBI reported that the homicide rate across the country between January and June rose 15% compared to the same time period in 2019. In Seattle, the increase has been even greater. In 2019, there were 28 homicides in Seattle. That number has nearly doubled, with 55 homicides reported this year.” ”

— Vanessa Misciagna, King5 News

When I contacted officials, the police issued out a missing car report and that was that; from there it became a waiting game. My apartment landlords, however, were less than helpful; they had no idea what happened, and because they don’t fund any form of security on their sites — such as security patrolling our ungated community at night or even just camera installation — there was nothing that could be done on their end. 

Not even a month later on Jan. 26 my boyfriend Carl, who lives with me, had his work van broken into and all his tools stolen on the same lot. We didn’t even bother notifying the police or our apartment that time; we kind of just knew nothing could be done about it.

One thing I began questioning the day my car was stolen was the overall safety of my neighborhood. Was Lakewood always this bad, or has COVID and quarantining simply made some people become desperate thieves? It turns out, there is in fact a trend between the two, according to data provided by neighborhoodscout.com.

Residents in Lakewood have a one and 22 chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crimes as of 2020, with crime rates ranging around 46 per one thousand residents. With this, Vanessa Misciagna from King5 News also reports a rise in homicides in Tacoma during 2020, with these statistics not being seen since the early 90’s.

It is possible that part of the reason for the spike in crime is reactionary to a number of misfortunes caused from quarantining. Jason Rantz from MyNorthwest speculates that crime rates have increased due to a lack of people outside due to restrictions.

“When you look at the precincts most impacted by the burglaries, they tend to have normally busy business districts,” Rantz stated. “But at a time where there is no one around, they’re easier targets for burglaries.”

While crime rates may have gone up due to the window-of-opportunity increasing itself for criminals, I feel as though there is more to why this is happening. Since COVID began, it was mass reported that many individuals were put out of work due to restrictions. 

According to PewSocialTrends.org and the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, around 25 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with this number only continuing to increase as time passes. “Overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started,” PST stated.

With this information in mind, it makes sense that more desperate behaviors and crimes of theft have begun to increase. Many people are most likely simply trying to make ends meet, and thus may have gone to stealing from their own communities as a way to survive.

Despite the hardships many of us are facing during these times however, I find theft amongst our community to be highly deplorable and inexcusable. Job loss or even death in one’s family does not give one the right to steal one’s property or harm another individual. I myself have been struggling with keeping up with rent and small bills that I’ve never had issues with paying before, but I have not used this struggle to further disadvantage others.

The area of Lakewood I lived in wasn’t immune to crime, but I never thought I’d be a victim to it. But what hurt most was how helpless and violated the incident left me feeling. In a way, it felt as though the theft were my own fault and absolutely unpreventable.

Days after my car was stolen, I felt as though the last slither of my motivation for that horrid year had finally given way. I felt I couldn’t focus on work and I ended up dropping my fall classes due to all the stress. While my insurance company was very supportive of the incident, I still couldn’t shake the fact that I’d been robbed and something that was once mine was probably gone for good.

I never ended up getting my car back; it was filed as a loss and to this day I am still car shopping. But what this incident has truly left for me, is the idea that justice and resources for crime-related concerns during the pandemic feel minimal. 

Calling 911 and contacting the police, while being something you should absolutely do if faced with a crime, won’t magically fix the situation. But if there’s anything the year 2020 has taught me, it’s that this year is truly unnatural and I am not the only one being affected negatively by it.

Some advice I had to tell myself that day is that things can happen that are out of my control, but regardless I have to continue doing what needs to be done in my life. It took me a few weeks to get out of my funk, but I’ve since been taking classes again and working normally, thanks to the support of my family. 

Finding that motivation isn’t a quick process by any means, but it’s something that just has to be done during this pandemic.

Crafting With Kyla, testing out last minute valentine’s day crafts

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