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.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kris Brannon’s SuperSonics Dream

After his death on Feb. 11, Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon’s impact ripples through the community

 

Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon, 47, mostly recognized as “Sonics Guy”, died of heart failure on Feb. 11. The news of the Tacoma resident was confirmed by his sister on Twitter, as he will be missed by family, friends and fans alike.

“A sad day for all of us,” said the owners of an investment group working to bring back the Sonics. “[He was] one of the kindest, most dedicated [and] big-hearted Sonics fans ever.”

Known in the Puget Sound for advocating the return of the Seattle SuperSonics, Brannon became the subject of artwork, memes and has written over 20 articles on a Sonics fan website. Fans attending Mariners, Storm and Rainer games were always on the lookout for the 6’5” guy with an afro wearing green and gold.

Brannon had attended over 1500+ events, reminding fans of what they had lost by the NBA team moving to Oklahoma back in 2008. He could be seen holding a sign at every event that said “Bring ‘Em Back!”

With a smile ready and his battlecry being heard over any crowd at games, city council meetings and rallies, he was a presence that could not be ignored. Brannon’s enthusiasm for his team was immeasurable and was a huge part of why people are pushing for the team to come back to Seattle.

Today a mural of Brannon can be seen on first avenue south’s Wall of Fame. The mural was done by Jeff Jacobson and stands next to Walter Jones, Jack Sikma and Edgar Martinez in remembrance of his contribution to Seattle sports fans.

“Thanks for everything you’ve done for Sonics fans everywhere,” said owners of the investment group. “We’ll never forget and we won’t stop trying until we make your dream, and ours, come true.”  

The Meaning Behind Each Pride Flag

The month of Pride is upon us and already you’ve probably seen the beautiful flag colors popping up across towns and on social media. However, if you’re a new ally or a new member of the LGBTQ+ community many of these flags can be confusing. There are a lot of them after all, and each one of them has its own unique meaning. Worry not, for in this listicle we’ll cover each pride flag and the community they represent.

  • The Pride Flag

The rainbow pride flag is symbolic of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole and stemmed from an earlier version of the flag, created by Gilbert Baker, who chose a rainbow for the flag to represent hope and positivity.

  • Lesbian Pride Flag

The original flag for this community was created by Natalie McCray in 2010 and included a kiss mark on the top left corner. However, after facing allegations of transphobia, biphobia and racism in 2018, the community redid the flag. The dark orange represents gender nonconformity; the middle shade of orange represents independence; the light shade of orange represents community; the white is for unique relationships to womanhood; the light pink is for serenity and peace, the middle pink is for love and sex and the dark pink is for femininity.

  • Bisexual Pride Flag

Bisexuality can be described as an attraction to more than one gender, often men and women. Micheal Page created the Bisexual Pride Flag in 1998 to increase the visibility of the bisexual community. The pink represents same-sex attraction, the purple attraction to both sexes and the blue attraction to the opposite sex.

  • Pansexual Pride Flag

The creator of the pansexual flag isn’t known, but this flag gained traction in 2010 and is representative of people attracted to all genders and sexualities. The pink represents people who identify as female, the yellow as nonbinary attraction and the blue as people who identify as male.

  • Transgender Pride Flag

This flag was designed in 1999 by Monica Helms, a transgender activist, author and veteran. Helms designed this flag so that no matter how it was displayed it would always be correct. The pink represents girls, the blue represents boys and the white represents those who are gender neutral or transitioning.

  • Philadelphia’s People of Color Inclusive Flag

In 2017 the city of Philadelphia added black and brown to the traditional pride flag to symbolize and bring awareness to LGBTQ+ people of color. The flag had been created in response to racial discrimination in the city’s gay bars and was donned by Lena Waithe in the 2018 Met Gala.

  • Queer People of Color Flag

During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, this flag gained traction within the LGBTQ+ community and became symbolic for LGBTQ+ allies of the BLM movement.

  • Asexual Pride Flag[1] 

The asexual spectrum consists of people who feel sexual attraction less than average, varying from none at all, to infrequently, to only after they’ve formed a strong connection with another person. This flag was created in 2010 to bring awareness to the asexual community. 

The black represents the entire asexual spectrum, the gray represents gray asexuality and demisexuals (people who only feel sexual attraction when they have a strong emotional connection with another person), white represents sexuality and the purple represents community.

  • Aromantic Pride Flag[2] 

The aromantic spectrum consists of people who feel no romantic attraction to others or romantic attraction only after they’ve formed a strong emotional connection with another person. The dark green represents aromanticism, the light green represents the aromantic spectrum; white is for platonic and aesthetic attractions, and gray and black represent sexuality.

  • Genderqueer Pride Flag

Genderqueer is a term for people who don’t conform to or act as the gender they were assigned to at birth. The genderqueer flag was made in 2011 by writer and musician Marilyn Roxie. The lavender represents androgyny, the white is for agender identities and the green is for non-binary identities.

  • Non-binary Pride Flag

Non-binary is somewhat of an umbrella term and depending on who you ask it can mean many different things. At its core the definition of non-binary means not adhearing to the traditional male-female binary or identifying outside of it. 

The flag was created in 2014 for people who didn’t feel that they fell under the genderqueer flag. The yellow represents genders outside the gender binary, the white is for people who identify with different genders, the purple is for people that identify as both male and female and the black is for people who identify as agender.

  • Agender Pride Flag

The Agender pride flag was created in 2014 by Salem X and represents people who don’t identify with or connect to any gender. The black and white represent the absence of gender. The gray is for semi-genderlessness and the green is for non-binary genders.

  • Genderfluid Pride Flag

People who identify as genderfluid shift between genders, be it male, female or non-binary. This flag was created in 2012 by JJ Poole to create a flag that was less broad than the genderqueer flag. The pink represents femininity, the white is for all genders, the purple is for both masculinity and femininity, the black is for a lack of gender and the blue is for masculinity.

  • Intersex Pride Flag

Intersex is an umbrella term for people whose bodies do not conform to the male-female binary. This can be having both sets of genitals, a varying combination of chromosomes, or different sets of internal reproductive organs. 

The intersex flag was created by Australia’s co-executive director of Intersex Human Rights Morgan Carpenter in 2013 to create an image intersex people could identify with and join under without depending on stereotypes. The gold represents the reclaimed slur “hermaphrodite” and the purple circle in the middle represents being whole and complete, as well as symbolizing the right for intersex people to make their own decisions about their bodies and genders.

  • Polysexual Pride Flag

The polysexual flag was created in 2012 and lies between both the bisexual and pansexual flags, in being that people who identify as polysexual are attracted to more than two genders but not necessarily all. The pink represents attraction to women, the green is for attraction to non-binary genders and the blue represents attraction to men.

  • Polyamourous Pride Flag

Not to be confused with the polysexual pride flag, the polyamourous pride flag is representative of people in open relationships or in relationships involving more than two people. The original flag was made in 1995 by Jim Evans, who used blue to represent honesty and openness in the relationship, red for love and sexuality, and black for people who had to hide their relationships. 

Evans’ flag also featured a golden pi symbol on the front, the symbol for infinity or infinite partners. Over the years, however, the flag has changed to be both easier on the eyes and less stigmatizing by desaturating the colors and changing the pi symbol to a golden heart with an infinity symbol across it.

  • Straight Ally Pride Flag

The straight ally flag is exactly what it sounds like, for people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ but support the community. The black and white in the background represents the allies, while the rainbow in front represents the LGBTQ+ community. 

While this is far from all the flags you’re likely to see at Pride this year, as more subsections of the community blossom and grow each year, these are the ones that have gained the most traction within recent history and should be the easiest to identify. If there’s ever a flag you don’t recognize this year, don’t be afraid to ask. You’re likely to learn so much more about the community and how to support it!

Pierce County enters phase 1 for a new trail in Tacoma

A breath of fresh air is being given to nearby residents of Tacoma and South Hill, with a newly planned trail being headed by Trails Coordinator Brianne Blackburn. Designs have been completed for the current pipeline trail in Tacoma to be extended to reach South Hill, with projections to start construction in 2022.

The Pierce County website stated their intent for the trail is to provide residents with expanded non-motorized commuting and recreational opportunities, while supporting healthy, active living.

“The long-term connection has long been a vision of Regional Trail advocates with the “Tahoma to Tacoma” vision connecting communities from Commencement Bay to Mt. Rainier National Park,” Pierce County website stated.

Pierce County’s pipeline trail will be a paved trail running along the Tacoma water pipeline between 72nd St E and 94th Ave E. This will connect Chapman Memorial Trail in South Hill with the newly constructed trail in Tacoma.

The project schedule started with analysis in Nov. 2019, and will have 3 public meetings in between the process being held as virtual open houses on the Pierce County website due to COVID-19 restrictions. The plan for the trail is currently in Phase 1, which will construct 1.6 miles from 72nd St E and Waller Rd E through Orangegate Park.

A grant application has been submitted for Phase 1 funding and the project is seeking $2.2 million from state or federal aid. All future phases will be planned as resources are available.

In the meantime, residents have opportunities for input and to receive updates on the project by signing up for email updates.

Tacoma Public Library eliminates overdue fines

The Tacoma Public Library is eliminating overdue fines as of June 1, according to South Sound Business News. Director Kate Larson during a press meeting said that overdue fees from missing or damaged items that incurred a charge as far as Jan. 1, 2016, will no longer be owed. 

“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh,” Larson said. “We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here.”

The library had already stopped charging overdue fines in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. TPL will continue to follow their new policy, nonetheless. 

There is a difference between fines and fees however. Fees are when the book is damaged or lost, which the library will still oversee. On the other hand, fines are when the item is overdue which is what the library is getting rid of starting June 1. So go visit Tacoma Public Library again!

Late Nite Take Out Ep. 4 – A Talk About Music, Culture & Life w/ Joshua Riley

 

Episode Description:

In this special hour-long episode of Late Nite Take Out, my friend, music journalist, & fellow music lover Josh comes on the show to share his thoughts & have a conversation with me about Music Culture. It was an absolute blast making this episode with him! I got to find out how well-spoken and intelligent my friend is and truly connect over culture. During our conversation, we cover a variety of topics, such as black celebration, cultural appropriation, racism, trends, predictions, & the current state of music. But not only that, but we also just chop it up about life.

My favorite parts of the conversation are where Josh talks about when he feels most represented in music, & when he and I talk about feeling “othered” by music. We don’t hold back! And, get as honest as we can be. I got to talk about how I relate to music as an Asian American man, too. That felt particularly great.
On that topic, Is black music made only for black people? What is the responsibility of the listener, and artist, when taking part in a culture that is not theirs? All things we talk about in this episode.

Timestamps

1 – 14min.
Introductions, Black Celebration, Cultural Appropriation

14 – 30min.
When Josh felt most represented in Music, artists who push the boundaries, & who is music made for?

46 – 58min.
Daniel talks about feeling “othered” in Music

58 – 64min.
Josh closes up the show!

8 ways to spend Memorial Day 2021

What is memorial day? Why do we celebrate it?

America’s tradition of honoring fallen soldiers is not new to the 20th Century. Dating back to the Civil War, which took the lives of over 600,000 men, citizens have mourned and gathered in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Originally known as Decoration Day, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, founded the holiday on May 30, 1868. During this time, it was known as “Decoration Day” for the act of decorating the graves of buried soldiers with flowers and reciting prayers.

When the country was faced with WWl and WWll, the Decoration Day commemorated the deaths of soldiers from all wars instead of just the Civil War. From 1868 to 1971, the nation honored and mourned on May 30, but in 1971, Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday and moved to May 31.

Today Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and attending parades. It is a time to be thankful for our freedoms, honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives, and to give back to those who serve. There are many ways to observe this holiday, here’s a few to get you started for Memorial Day 2021.

Things to do for Memorial Day 2021:

  • 1. Give thanks to veterans

    Suggest calling a loved one, family friend who has served, or their family and thanking them for paying the ultimate sacrifice. Or if you want to send a letter or package to a soldier that you don’t know, think about participating in organizations such as A Million Thanks and Operation Gratitude.

  • 2. Visit a cemetery

    Pay tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for our country at a veterans cemetery near you. The Tahoma National Cemetery, is a great local cemetery to visit and honor Washingtonian veterans. If you can’t find a local veterans memorial, you can sponsor flowers to lay on a veterans grave through Memorial Day Flowers.

  • 3. Watch a documentary

    To get in the memorial day spirit and understand what our veterans have gone through, watching a war documentary is a great way to learn about our history. Here is IMBd’s Top 100 list of the best war documentaries of all time.

  • 4. Donate to veteran charity/non profit

    To directly help veterans and their families, consider donating to a charity or non-profit organization of your choice. Research trusted groups and determine what cause you want to support, either being homeless veterans, the wounded, their families or those struggling with PTSD.

  • 5. Shop veteran owned business

    Shopping veteran owned businesses on Memorial Day or any day, is an opportunity to support our heroes financially and keep our communities flourishing. Veterans Owned Businesses and Washington Department of Veterans Affairs are easy portals to find a business near you.

  • 6. Fly a flag

    A simple way to pay your respect and show love for America is flying a flag. This could be a large flag placed on the side of your house, or smaller flags stuck in the ground. Here’s a few things to remember when displaying your flag and performing proper Etiquette.

  • 7. Take a moment of Silence

    No matter what your plans are for Memorial Day, take a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time for The National Moment of Remembrance. Taking one minute of silence to send your thanks and prayers to all who have served and or are currently serving, will remind you of what to be thankful for in America.

  • 8. Get outdoors

    If you’re looking to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, taking a hike is a great way to appreciate America’s beautiful landscapes that veterans have died to protect. Also, get together with family and friends for a barbeque or a picnic to honor our veterans’ sacrifices and celebrate our freedoms in a way for all to enjoy.

Mass Shootings – A Seemingly Endless American Tragedy

With mass shootings on the rise again, we take a look at what may be the causes for such violence in America.

Fifty-nine dead and 500 injured: Las Vegas. Forty-nine dead and 58 injured: Orlando nightclub. Fourteen dead and 22 injured: San Bernardino, Calif. Thirty-two dead and 17 injured: Blacksburg, VA. Thirteen dead and 24 injured: Columbine, Colo.

 
 

These mass shootings happened between 1999 and 2017 and were executed by people of various ages and races. Mass shootings are not new to American society but are still a surprise when they occur.

 

Wanting someone to blame is a natural response for these repeat occurrences, but pointing a finger is not as easy as it seems. Perhaps what happens before a mass shooting is worth taking a look at, in hope of finding a solution before such violence occurs. 

 

Dr. Jeffrey Simons, an expert on terrorism and political violence, believes mass shooters are lone wolves and more dangerous than terrorist groups. “One thing to remember about lone wolves and what makes them so dangerous is they’re not part of a group, so there is no constraint on their level of violence,” Simons said in an interview with NBCLX.

 

According to the gun violence archive website, mass shootings are defined as there being four minimum victims either killed or injured, not including the shooter if the shooter were to be killed during the incident. There have been 610 mass shootings in 2020, even with nationwide quarantines in effect. Since 2014 mass shootings have been on the rise in the U.S., and Washington State lists as having had 29.

 

The most obvious statement one can make is that the list of mass shootings is long and getting longer. The desire to end such a threat, which can happen at any moment and any place, is great, but the question is how to defeat a threat that is invisible until it decides to show itself?

 

The reality is that anyone is capable of committing such an act of violence and the rest must try to look for signs of it. As difficult as it seems, violence does not stop, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On the mentality of mass shooters, Simons said that 30% to 40% have some type of mental illness. “Many times, that mental illness will affect their perception of reality, but they also can be very dangerous in what they do.”

 

The perception of mental illness being directly correlated with mass shootings is a normal one. Yet some think that the cause of gun violence is more complex than just mental illness.

 

According to a study done by  Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the factors for mass violent acts are due to childhood abuse, neglect, household antisocial behavior, binge drinking and stressful life events. This is not to say that mental illness plays no role in the matter, but the study does seem to bring out preventable issues.

 

The article went on to say that many researchers have had an understanding that most people with mental illness are non-violent and that a lot of the violent acts are committed by people who have no mental illness. The study wanted to point out that substance abuse along with mental illness is responsible for the increased risk attributable to mental disorders.

 

Looking at reports of violent acts is difficult, to say the least, and there is a more difficult view of the cause of violent acts. There is a consensus among researchers about mental illness and violence, but the difference in opinion lies in what is at the center of the recurring incidents.

 

The study found that having a mental and substance disorder simultaneously will put an individual at the highest risk of expressing violence. The conclusions from the study signaled that severe mental illness with substance abuse had a stronger relationship to violence. In contrast, severe mental illness and violence had a modest relationship.

 

Solutions have been brought up in the effort to deter and stop mass violence such as arming teachers, banning assault weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, active shooter drills, banning violent video games, having people report potential threats, funding CDC research for gun violence and more. Still, the issue of mental health problems to any degree arises and the risk of any type of violence is real and is left unchecked while deciding powers debate the issue.

 

All of the proposed solutions would have either a low or high level of success but the debate over the cause of mass violence is ongoing and finding a solution seems far from over. At the moment people must be on the lookout for the threat before it happens and find a more personal solution for it.   

 

https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls

Jeffrey Simon’s interview with NBCLX

https://www.lx.com/community/author-says-lone-wolves-like-colorado-shooter-are-more-dangerous-than-terrorist-groups/33457/

Mental Illness and Violence Article

https://www-proquest-com.ezproxy-h.pierce.ctc.edu/docview/921486642?accountid=2280

What is the driving force behind sexual harassment?

Author and talk show host Candace Owens was left with a bad impression by the performance of ‘WAP’ by rap artist Cardi B at the 63 annual Grammy Awards. Cardi B and Owens had a dispute on Twitter about what empowers women following the performance and came to the answer from different perspectives.

“You are in a position to empower young women to aspire to something more than taking off their clothes,” tweeted Owens to Cardi B. “But you don’t feel you can be more.”

I have noticed intrinsic worth alludes to many modern women today, yet it determines the expression of self and what others expect from them. A woman is a woman, and she need not prove her equality to men. I believe her worth and empowerment are found neither in what she provides or takes from society, but in who she is.  

What empowers women has been an ongoing discussion for some time and there are many, from experts to the common person with varying answers on the issue. The idea of women taking control of their sexuality or taking control of their minds and pushing forward has been difficult to balance.

In today’s culture, it seems each woman must make a choice and stand to either one side or the other of the line drawn in the sand by society. Whatever choice is made, there is no definitive answer as to what gives women their power be it their body or mind.

In any industry today women can be seen thriving and achieving great success and are in high praise and respect from peers. Some women have made their choice and are either expressing the ownership of their own sexuality or on the other hand, women engaging with the world intellectually. Still there are those who choose to be wives and mothers. The social norms of women being only homemakers have been all but removed.   

Whenever women empowerment is mentioned, sexual harassment and abuse of women are not far behind. It seems to arise to try and change the conversation and puts the focus on a different issue altogether. Perhaps what must be done is to take a hard look at women empowerment to find what the cause of a plague such as sexual harassment is.  

Pretending sexual harassment does not happen to anyone is foolish, and pretending it happens to everyone is foolish as well. The essence of women empowerment could be the key to revealing a clear answer as to what makes part of society believe sexual misconduct is acceptable in any way, shape or form.

According to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs website, women are one of the demographic groups which are victimized more frequently than others. The statistics show that 80 percent of women are being victimized before the age of 18 and only 25 percent of these women will seek medical attention after the assault and only 33 percent of them will seek counseling.    

Bitterness and resentment have crossed generations in the battle against harassment. There are many theories as to why such a vulgar thing keeps happening, and there seems to be no end in sight. Anyone can be caught in the battle whether they signed up for it or not and it seems there is no particular thing one must do to be a victim other than just be present.

James Campbell Quick, Ph.D., a professor of leadership and management at the University of Texas thinks the issue lies with how power is used by people in authoritative positions. “Sexual harassment is really not about sex. It’s about power and aggression and manipulation. It’s an abuse of power problem.”

There must be a clear dominant person with the power to do what they wish with another person. When these parameters are met, there is one that possesses power over another and exerts it with disregard to consequences.

Now, the awareness of consequences alone seems to not be the answer as to why sexual harassment keeps occurring. The fear of consequences has been proven to not completely stop anyone from engaging in cases of sexual misconduct in the workplace or other areas.

Such behavior and even emotions may carry through to the next generation and then pass to the next. Thus the cycle can continue, and no escape be provided for future generations if the mentality toward women cannot change and the adjustment of how to look at women as people does not take root in society.

Certain measures may be taken such as women not assuming that every action from a man is a sexual act. And on the other hand, men must stop thinking everything a woman does is for sexual attention. This could be a start for the bitterness, resentment and hurtful social norms that keep sexual harassment and the mistreatment of women around to cease.

Women taking control of their sexuality or women taking control of their minds in their field of work are the dominant approaches to empowering women. The other choice and less observed by culture is seeing women with intrinsic worth and willingly leaving this dignity intact.

Author, political activist and lecturer Hellen Keller in her book Optimism Within wrote about what she thought brings balance to the world. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”

Quick, J. C., & McFadyen, M. A. (2017). Sexual harassment: Have we made any progress? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 286–298. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000054

Catching up with the Wadaiko Club

Two thunderous live performances and an interview with members of Pierce College’s Wadaiko Club

 

On Friday, April 30, six members of Pierce College’s Wadaiko Club gathered at the Sunrise building of Fort Steilacoom for a roaring and united live performance. The club performed two songs, “Amaterasu”, which translates to “God of the Sun”, and “Umi wo Wataru Sakura”, or “Cherry Blossom Across the Sea”.

Wadaiko, otherwise referred to as Taiko drumming, is the art of Japanese drumming. Introduced to Japanese culture decades ago, taiko was first utilized in military combat, but would later find its place in the Imperial court and theater.

For members of the Wadaiko drumming club, performances and practice give space for community and creative expression.

The second song performed, Umi wo Wataru Sakura, symbolizes the club’s members in the United States and Japan. This can be heard in the song’s polyphonic melodies, separate and distinct but joined to create a beautiful sound.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wadaiko club has not had the opportunity to resume practice on campus, however online practices are hosted every Sunday with additional information available on the groups facebook page, linked here.

This performance was brought together and made possible by the official Pierce College podcast, PierceCast, which can be found here.

A Crisis at the Border

U.S. borders see an increase in migrants following President Joe Biden’s pause on non-citizen deportation

Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has seen a 15 year high in migrant border crossings. According to the CBP, 172,331 migrants went into custody in March. This was up from 101,028 detainees in February. 

In January, the Biden Administration announced that for the first 100 days, it would pause the deportation of non-citizens and discontinue the previous administration’s usage of the “remain in Mexico” policy. Formerly known as the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, it requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for an American court hearing.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske said that the U.S. faces a significant challenge at the southwest border, while confronting a serious global pandemic in a memorandum release in January. 

“In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security,” Pekoske said.

Since January 2019, 60,000 migrants have been sent back across the border under the MPP policy. Now they are eligible to be housed or remain in the U.S. while waiting for a court hearing.

With the rise in illegal crossings, many have critiqued the administration’s border policies. According to Rep. French Hill (R), who visited the border this month, the Biden administration rescinded former president Trump’s policies and took a lighter stance at the border. 

“Despite what the Biden administration says, the administration’s policies, words, and actions have created the current public health, humanitarian, and security crisis at the border, and its refusal to take the crisis seriously is having a negative impact on our country,” Hill said.

Last March, $86 million was allocated to house 1,200 migrant family members in hotel rooms. This was completed with government contracts between hotels near the Mexico border in both Arizona and Texas. 

A growing influx in illegal crossings and asylum seekers created a strain on border facility capacities. With the strain of COVID-19 protocols, the administration has to deal with the daunting task of where to hold so many people.

A major difficulty for the Biden administration has been finding housing space for an influx in unaccompanied minors. In March, CBP encountered 18,890 unaccompanied minors, which was a 100% increase from February. Once minors are detained, Border patrol is required to transfer them to the Department of Health and Human Services, who then designates housing space or works to reunite children with family members. 

Although, due to COVID-19 restrictions, HHS was working under reduced capacity, and there was limited space to house the increase in migrant children. This required HHS to open up previous housing facilities or build more primarily in Texas to support more children and still attempt to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Children are not to be held in border patrol custody for more than 72 hours, but the high number of children and lack of bed space in HHS facilities left children in CBP possession for 122 hours on average. Border Patrol facilities then became crowded with minors as the transfer process became backlogged. A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas was reported to be over 700% capacity with 1,800 people in an area designed for 250 migrants. 

Additionally, the number of unaccompanied children in CBP facilities peaked at 6,000 children in March. During the last administration, the height of unaccompanied minors was 2,600. This has more than doubled and now matters remain increasingly difficult with more health restrictions and less housing space.

An influx in migrant border crossing has been attributed to both relaxed policies of deportation and the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most children are fleeing economic hardship and violence from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Yet, along the way migrants face more violence and harm. It is estimated that 1/3 of women are sexually assaulted along the journey to the U.S. border.

Moving to April, CBP still saw a slight increase in migrant crossings with 178,622 border encounters. Yet, the amount of unaccompanied minors decreased compared to April while the number of single adults rose. 

A poll published in May by Associated Press-NORC at the University of Chicago found that 43% of adults approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the crisis at the border. On the other hand, 54% do not approve of his administration’s actions since January.

The Biden administration still faces a daunting task of resolving a near 20 year high of border crossings with no end in sight.

Park Appreciation Day at Wapato Park

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