Being Noah Tesfaye #30: Tapestry

I’ll be writing the school year recap post next week when I’m finally done, but honestly I just wanted to given an update as to the current state of mind. But since the only thing I have been thinking about for the past week has been this major English assignment, I thought I’d would try to explain how this project, which I do not know if I may share with you all. I wanted at the very least explain what this has meant to me mentally.

The project is called “Tapestry,” and we basically have only three requirements for this English assignment due yesterday:
1. Six pieces, and all poetry count as one piece
2. Must have some sort of theme to connect the pieces
3. Must answer the question: “Who am I?”

Everything else was left to the interpretation of the writer. When our teacher gave us the assignment at the beginning of the year, I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about. I had never had an assignment so open-ended, but I was destined to write something I profoundly believed since the beginning to be the most important writing project of my life.

The first step I took about two weeks ago once we finished all our other classwork, I dove into each piece that I wrote and attempted to come up with a theme. What I decided to write around was this idea of my current self writing to the version of myself that was angry, depressed, anxious, pessimistic, and pretty much any other bad adjective imaginable. I wrote letters in correspondence to him, discussing how I wanted to share with him stories about my life, meeting him for the first time, and living without fear for how he would affect me. My final of the six pieces would be the final letter, bidding my farewell to him and making the decision to move on from him.

For me personally, the easiest part of this process was cranking out the pieces. I already had four drafts complete, so I wrote one more narrative piece, and then the final letter. After I wrote each piece, I would print each one of them out and go through printed versions of the pieces with a pen in hand and try to catch grammar or phrasing issues. In these formats, I would also look for places where I could expand with more details, or pull back on sentences that were irrelevant to the pieces.

I also got a ton of feedback from my peers, and in many ways, that is always the best way to catch mistakes since no matter how many times you may read through your own work, it is your peers that will catch things far more often because the content is just so new to them. I would bounce ideas off of my friends on punctuation, tone in the letters between each piece, or just chat through each message. Those conversations were so valuable to developing the ideas that allowed me to write the pieces, and it ultimately allowed me to realize what my goals were in writing this project.

I didn’t want to just write this project because it was an assignment for a class; I wanted to write this project for myself, to try and discover who I truly am and what I want to become. All of the dialogue I had with myself and with you all on the blog was able to ultimately be united through this project. Had I not been so comfortable digging into who I was and with my personality throughout the past six months, I don’t think I would have been able to actually succeed in this project. What this project allowed for was an exercise that I regularly take part in: self-reflection. It required me to dig into my past and really understand how what has happened in the past has shared who I have become today.

Now, by no means am I saying that I think I wrote the best project. If anything, I feel as though the work my peers were extremely inspiring to me. I got to read some amazing work by people I hadn’t gotten to know as well throughout the year, and in giving feedback, I began to truly appreciate their stories even more. And honestly, I just want to say thank you to all of those peers who let me read their work and were willing to be so honest and genuine with me. That is something I’m extremely grateful for.

So now that Tapestry is done, I’m off onto the next project for myself. I’m planning on revisiting the most fascinating topic in all of American history for myself: reparations. I’m going to try my best to write a paper that truly allows me to explore the topic in far more depth than just reading through all of the major papers in the field, but I want to localize the issue, talking about how these reparations could, or potentially not, benefit black people here in Silicon Valley. That’s the plan this summer. While I’ll continue to work on writing here as well, I’ll be also diving into more literature pertaining to a paper I hope one day will be published. I’ll see you all next week…

Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts, and join the Silicon Valley Humanities Students Society if you’re a passionate SV humanities student who wants to join an awesome community!

Facebook group HERE


Being Noah Tesfaye #29: Growing Apart

With this year coming to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about school and the experiences I’ve had. For me personally, the one big thing that stuck out for me personally is how much I’ve grown and changed. Specifically, the people that I’ve spent my time with at school has drastically changed over the years, and that has pretty much been what’s been on my mind all week.

When I got to school, I knew not a single person on campus. It was in that that I began to figure out who was friendly and who was out to get something personally from me. I made friends, I lost friends, and ultimately, I didn’t really know what would happen. But there were people who were always approachable, unique, and eager to discuss topics with one another. They were the people who would have no judgements, would never shy away from wanting to just focus on the relaxed parts of life.

But slowly, I began to see them less and less. I didn’t spend as much time with them. We started to no longer have the same classes. We were on different paths, charted by who knows what and why. But what truly frustrated me now in hindsight is that I didn’t do enough to preserve those relationships. I was never looking to actually ensure I could be a person to be there for these people that were so genuine.

But during school, your peers change and your friends change. That is merely just a part of life itself. I’ve learned to accept that at points there are people that can be beneficial to helping me in different facets of my life for different reasons. In that way, it is what allows me to learn about different kinds of people, to experience new things, and to be able to grow as a person.

Where am I going with all of this self-reflection? Well, I’m currently writing the single most important assignment of my life. I’ve been thinking about this single project for the whole year, and now that it is only a week away before it’s due, I thought it would be nice to just say thanks for reading. This blog, which is still only halfway to its one year anniversary, has helped me revisit and reflect what is going on in my life, which has enabled me to be a better writer, prepared for this moment. So with that, I’m going to go back to writing that, and I’ll see you all back here next week.

Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts, and join the Silicon Valley Humanities Students Society if you’re a passionate SV humanities student who wants to join an awesome community!

Facebook group HERE


Being Noah Tesfaye #28: What if ‘Dear White People’ Could Be My Life One Day?

There are very few shows I get the chance to truly sit down and watch anymore. Aside from some Shondaland shows, I usually find some Netflix comedy specials to laugh to and that’s pretty much it. However, there has been one show that has truly caught my eye ever since it released its first season. Especially as I get prepared to head to college, season two of Dear White People made me think a lot about the fact that although nowhere near as dramatized, this could be my life in college one day.

Coming from a school that is 1.8% black, any university I will attend will absolutely have more people that look like me. Dear White People works as a show because the premise is simple: black students living on an Ivy League level university and having to explain who they are and what is culturally okay for people to do and not do. They have to deal with subvert and overt racism as they pursue education at the highest level. The show’s name comes from the main character, Sam(Logan Browning), who has a radio show entitled “Dear White People” where she feels the need to explain directly to the majority white population at Winchester University that they need to recognize their privilege and their racist actions. I see some of myself in her at times when I have to clear up statements about Africa or being black, things like “Do you say the N-word?” or “Where is Ethiopia?” It’s not that these questions bother me, because in many ways I truly believe they are something I just have to live with through the rest of my life.

What this show does so well is illustrate the very differences between groups of black students, almost perfectly resembling black student groups across American history. There’s the group that is very cautious and is always looking for ways to appeal to white people while plotting their plans to control the school. There’s a group that calls white people out on their BS, of which Sam is a part of. And there’s even a group of students who are extremely upset at the treatment of people like them on campus and want to take near-violent actions against the white police force who pointed a gun at one of their peers.

All of these groups join together into a powerful ensemble that makes me even more excited to go to college. Their discussions on how to take action against the school, deal with white students in a productive way, and just learn to coexist is a dynamic I have never seen in a show before. And that is something I want one day. That is something I want to be able to live one day. Having disputes with people like you on the state of your own people are conversations that are always some of the most enlightening conversations I have with my friends and family. We talk about Ethiopia and Eritrea, and we can disagree on how things could change or get better. But those discussions are needed in order to find new ways to progress, to become better.

For me, Dear White People is not just a great show. It has almost became kind of a weird dream. I would truly love to one day have the chance to live an experience like this. In many ways though I would say that I kind of live a life like depicted in this show, with far less drama and black people of course. So I would say if you’re looking for a break to watch a show and just have fun, or you’re looking for a show that could at least partially resemble the discussions that some black students deal with at the highest academic levels, watch Dear White People. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts, and join the Silicon Valley Humanities Students Society if you’re a passionate SV humanities student who wants to join an awesome community!

Facebook group HERE


Being Noah Tesfaye #27: I Lost Control

By the title, you can best believe that this week has been extremely difficult for numerous reasons. But rather than going into the details of everything, something I assume would only make me more frustrated about whatever went down this week, I want to take a moment to step back. I want to admit that I’ve lost control. I’ve lost the focus, the drive, the initiative that for so long I felt as though I had a strong grasp of.

Now, this could be for a whole host of reasons. My therapist thinks its because I’m basically stuck inside studying and don’t take enough time for myself. He’s probably right to some extent about that. Honestly, I think that if I did make that choice to work smarter, I could be a stronger student at points. But, every single time I do something for myself, I feel as though I am taking away from the time that I could be studying and working harder. It’s as though every single moment I want to be free and be happy, I feel like I am digging myself into a hole, when in reality, it’s this mindset I’ve lived in that is responsible for this.

For a more personal example, after studying all day long last Sunday, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to see Avengers: Infinity War, and I instantly said yes. Later that week, I could not stop yelling inside my head at myself for doing the right thing. That day, I spent nearly seven hours in this coffee shop I’m working in now studying, reviewing material, and I needed a break. But my unproductive and truly lethal mindset put me into a state of my mind that made my work that week abysmal. It was this mentality that cost me a lot this week. And I, after months, have to admit that I’ve truly lost control.

I don’t know if I mentioned this in a post, I probably did, about my Columbia professor telling me in February to stick to my principles, and live my life to those principles. One of those things I have is to work the hardest I can, but to actually take care of myself. The past few months, I’ve failed at that crucial key and principle in my life. I haven’t gone outside enough. I haven’t spent enough time with my friends outside of school. I haven’t used my time efficiently to take advantage of working, and thus, the second I come, I am burned out, and I don’t have the same excitement I’ve had for subjects I’m passionate about.

But most of all, I’ve been paralyzed with my fear of the future. I have been living my life not truly believing I can accomplish my goals and dreams. This is what stresses me out for no reason at all. For the early part of this semester, I just worked hard and always would just do the most I could everyday and accepted those results.

So where do I go from here? What can I do to ensure I can finish this year the strongest I can, but with control? For starters, I could probably work harder to get excited once again in my work and be passionate about what I do and to be proud of my work. The second and more important step would be to take better care of who I am. Going for a walk or grabbing dinner with friends, literally anything I can do that does not involve me looking at my phone or laptop is a step in the right direction.

I’ve got a few more weeks left, and I will continue to work the hardest I can. Hopefully these next few weeks can truly help make me proud of who I am. I’ll get back to the history and my coffee now. I’ll see you all next week.

Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts, and join the Silicon Valley Humanities Students Society if you’re a passionate SV humanities student who wants to join an awesome community!

Facebook group HERE


Being Noah Tesfaye #26: The Kanye Dilemma

As per usual, I like to write about what I’m discussing at home and with my peers on the blog, and something I had not anticipated discussing so passionately with my mom was on Kanye. I know. It sounds kind of bizarre. As a honest fan of Kanye West’s music, his resurrection in society, with his antics on Twitter, have left me thinking so much about everything in politics, and more importantly, what it means to separate the art from the artist.

To be clear, I am writing this around 1 PM PDT on Saturday, April 28th, 2018, so in case anything else happens when I post this, I’m sorry. I’ve been following his feed all week, from the Trump hat to the Candace Owens tweet. But why? Why the hell am I watching his feed to hear everything he tweets? Well, for pure entertainment value. I think it’s hilarious that this is happening. The second reaction I have to this is that I’m bummed. I really wanted to believe that Kanye may have had different views after coming from the “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” to supporting a presidential candidate who said, “Look at my African American here” truly makes no sense. But the third and final phase of thought I go through when reading everything he’s said the past three weeks is that it just makes sense.

Kanye West has always been an elitist, self-centered, narcissistic person. This is something we all have known for two decades. Every time he says anything is to make himself look better or to get more attention. So when he comes to say comments like this, it just makes sense. Donald Trump in this way is almost exactly like Kanye. Both are eagerly looking for the approval of other people. Some people, mostly black people, are now upset with him because they believe he’s looking and has been looking for white approval his whole career. Tweeting for money from Mark Zuckerberg and asking for money, begging to get involved with high fashion, an industry almost exclusively owned by and purchased by wealthy people, often times white.

But there’s the flip side argument that I lean towards. It’s this idea that he is obsessed with being the best and does not care about anything else except power. He knows the fact that the majority of his fans today are not those young black people that fell in love with College Dropout but the young, wealthy white teenagers who are buying up all his YEEZY apparel and reselling his sneakers for thousands of dollars. Those kids have more influence and will take everything he says as a god’s word.

But I digress. Politically, I have no issue with the fact he leans more towards the right. In fact, I think that what Chance the Rapper said, “Black people don’t have to be democrats,” is something that I think is causing us to kind of really rethink politics. Maybe Kanye, even with this disagreement, can be the uniting force that Donald Trump has been. Maybe this reflection upon our circumstances as black people in this country is what we need. I disagree completely with the idea that we should just all of a sudden pretend that slavery and its children should be ignored. In fact, I think that maybe this reflection can allow us to truly get a better grasp on what is still affecting the black community today and how we could eventually overcome these issues.

Having this dialogue, however, cannot come without substantive and concrete decisions about what we should do in our pursuit of making our voices heard. I don’t know where this Kanye thing will go, but I hope that we can use this as a chance to take initiative and be vocal, ready to share our ideas any time necessary.

So what about Kanye? I’m still going to listen to his music. Will I purchase his music outright? Probably not. Will I continue to stream his music? Probably. Do I agree with almost anything he’s said? Absolutely not, but I ultimately believe that I can separate his beliefs from his discography, which is one of the greatest in music history. I’ll still be following his feed and I hope his album is good. I’ll see you all next week.

Thanks for reading this week! Follow me on Twitter if you want to ever discuss anything and hear my spontaneous thoughts, and join the Silicon Valley Humanities Students Society group on Facebook if you’re a passionate SV humanities student who wants to join an awesome community!

Facebook group HERE


Being Noah Tesfaye #25: A Humanities-Focused Students Silicon Valley Network

I’m going to be completely honest: STEM is something I can appreciate, but it is not for me per say. I can enjoy Calculus and Physics because they are truly interesting concepts and topics for me. I can appreciate C++ and Java. But it does not give me the satisfaction or joy that history or English give me. Reading about the Compromise of 1850 intrigues me far more than limits in math, and that does not mean that I don’t enjoy finding limits, but they’re not the same for me.

I love the different challenge humanities bring as opposed to STEM. For me, it’s fun to read something and the second you get it, that rush of excitement parallels nothing. Or, when I read an article in the news, then go and research what it is about, that sense of search and learning process give me the same excitement that my friends get when they run a program correctly for AP CS. The humanities let me put the world into perspective, engaging with the past and how it can change our present and future.

Silicon Valley is not exactly the best place to be, for obvious reasons, to be a humanities-focused student. I’m always bummed that there are, by comparison, far fewer chances for students like me to pursue our passions. We do not have options and opportunities to pursue the passions of our STEM-focused peers and it is definitely frustrating.

Furthermore, often times, schools may not provide that same opportunity. I wrote an article with my friend for my school paper talking about how we could double up on STEM courses but not humanities courses. You can take two math or two sciences at our school, but not double up on history or english. Our district’s goals for the next five years even includes advancements in achievement for students in STEM. It is not that the schools do not recognize that there are students who love the humanities, but it is the fact that we are in the area we are. Every couple days, I’ll see someone whom I recognize presenting at Apple’s WWDC or Google I/O, or I’ll see Sergey Brin riding one of those elliptical bikes.

So what can we do? I honestly do not know. I’ve worked hard to make the most of my opportunity on staff at my school paper. I’ve appreciated being a part of our Creative Writing Club. I’ve given my all to my humanities courses and writing here. But that is not enough.

Here’s the dream: a student network, whether it be a Facebook group or other medium, where students who love the reading, writing, history, and more, could come together and work together. We could publish our content on one central hub, building relationships with the writers in Silicon Valley, the historians at Stanford and Berkeley, fostering creation amongst each other. We could get feedback on pieces we’re working on, collaborate on research projects, and meet up at coffee shops to share our passion for politics, creative writing, or anything related to the humanities. My thinking behind this is that we, together, can be the center of our passion, and no longer feel as though we’re as isolated in this STEM-driven community, creating our own community of young philosophers, political theorists, and novelists.

Honestly, I do not know how this could work. But, I believe that it could and should exist. I guess the first place to start would be to join this Facebook group HERE. Share this with your friends, classmates, adults, writers, anyone! It does not start with me. It starts with you. If enough people want to join this, we can get that support system of feedback and have people to bounce ideas for pieces on with others. If this flops, that’s fine. But, there is a slight chance that this could work. And I’m willing take this zero consequences chance to create something that could become something. So share, spread the word, and I’ll see you there!


Being Noah Tesfaye #24: Living in Shondaland

You know when you pretended to be that cool teenager who watched primetime shows on TV, but actually just recorded them to watch it on Saturday mornings? That was me. I remember back in the summer of 2014 when I saw a commercial for a show that was about a group of kids who got into some trouble and I did not know what it looked to be, but it sounded amazing. I mean, the title had a ring to it: How to Get Away with Murder. Catchy, isn’t it? I watched the premiere of the show on September 27th, 2014, two days, of course, after it aired. And I haven’t missed a single episode yet.

About two winters ago, one of my friends told me to watch an interesting show about some doctors. At first, I thought the show was stupid. I thought to myself, “Who the hell would watch a drama show about doctors and their bizarre relationships as residents in a hospital?” But, that February break, I gave the show a chance. So I plopped on my couch that first Friday of break and opened Netflix. And I watched all of seasons one through nine of Grey’s Anatomy in one week. And caught up to the season finale of the current season at the time by April.

I became obsessed. These two shows were amazing to me because I had never watched a show in my life that depicted characters with more nuance and stronger emotions. Granted, I had yet to watch other shows at the time, but for some reason, these shows meant so much to me growing up and still do today. So with this connection, I began to research about who could have made these shows and created something that truly changed my life. So I was finally introduced to Shonda Rhimes.

The first major African American female lead on network television in decades. The first openly gay doctors, a second powerful African American female lead, and more. What Shonda Rhimes was able to do with her opportunity at ABC was to share the stories of people who may have never been real, but were able to showcase how different types of people can thrive in America.

I’m writing this post with nearly five days left to the final episode of perhaps the most important show in Shondaland’s catalogue, Scandal, which almost nearly predicted lunatics winning the presidential election and election fraud. Is it a bit salacious? Sure. Is it overdramatized? Absolutely. But it was a show and is a show that I appreciate for its originality. I love Shonda’s originality and her personality is driven through the narratives of the main characters. She made television cool for having all types of people in roles of power.

I’m watching the second to last episode right now and I still cannot believe how much this show and her shows have changed my passion for politics and pursuing law. It gave me the slight interest in looking at politics, which led me to finding constitutional law and political theory. So thank you Shonda for everything. Maybe I can become a real life gladiator one day too.

Being Noah Tesfaye #23: Why I’m a Proud Journalist

With applications for our school paper now open and JEA being next week, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience being on staff at my school paper, and more importantly, what it’s been like to be a journalist. When our adviser and my English teacher said at the beginning of the year and now with applications that “Journalism is really cool,” I kind of thought he was gassing it up. But no. He was completely right, and in many ways, did not even express how amazing being a journalist really is.

I was talking to two friends yesterday, who go to private school, and they said their school paper was heavily censored and they were not allowed to publish anything political or threatening to the administration. Thankfully, by going to a public school, our paper has the majority of our First Amendment rights available to publish nearly anything we want. This has led us to pursue stories ranging from school segregation, to the presidential election, all without any censorship.

Being a journalist has meant pursuing stories that you may not want to go out and pursue, but knowing it is the right thing to do to pursue it. There are also moments where you want to publish a story or information that will not fit in an article, yet you know that it is something the school needs to hear. These daily conversations in our class brings all of us together and pushes all of us to be better journalists.

Through my experience as a journalist, I’ve been pushed to meet new people, forging new relationships I could not have ever anticipated. Fostering relationships with our administration have gotten not only our paper important information to publish, but has given me the opportunity to learn from those who are in charge and get a better understanding of how our school works. Whether it is pursuing a school safety article or researching on the amount of people who vape at our school, creating channels of communication that are respectful and productive for both sides have been extremely helpful for our school. Our principal also reads this blog sometimes too, so I want to say to you thanks for reading!

I’ve hit some walls this year though. There was one story for a video that I could not pursue because my editor and I could not find a conclusive angle, and it hurt to not continue because I really believed that this story could have been amazing. I put in a lot of time, but we just decided to move on. There are moments also where you cannot seem to figure out an angle, or the purpose of writing a particular article, and that is frustrating too.

But that is where I believe the most important people I’ve got to know this year come in to support me: my fellow staff members. Editors, staff writers, fellow videographers have all helped me so much to hammer out how to get through those challenges. These people have been there helping edit late at night, in coffee shops, online, and during our literal “latenights” (where our editors lay out the paper), all to ensure that I can succeed to the best of my ability. Those countless hours I’ve spent working with this community has gotten me to forge true friendships that I had not known could have existed when I started in August. It is these people who have helped me become the journalist I am proud to be.

So, to anyone who is considering applying for our paper this year, I want to let you know that this experience changed my life. I truly could not have ever thought that after not getting accepted to my school paper last year that I would receive the privilege to be a managing editor. Let me know if you want any feedback on your application, and I would love to support anyone I can who wants to give journalism a chance. And if you are not from the same school, I encourage anyone who wants to pursue journalism to post here, on Medium, and share your stories as I do every week. Maybe it could change your live too.

Being Noah Tesfaye #22: Really, Now Coffee Is Cancerous?

Alright, here’s an honest fact: I’m a coffee addict. I don’t hide it. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, I love coffee so much that I think it makes me truly appreciate how amazing coffee is. So when I read earlier this week on the Guardian that “California law requires coffee companies to carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process,” I lost my damn mind.

Here’s a funny story. I was never a coffee drinker. I didn’t enjoy coffee and did not really understand why people could enjoy it. Then, last summer, I had my first lecture at Columbia. Combined with the jet lag and lack of sleep, I could not stay awake during the second lecture of the day. So on Tuesday, the next day, I went to the coffee shop under my dorm and got some iced tea. That seemed to do the trick. So Wednesday arrives, I go to get my iced tea, and they ran out. My friend suggested I get some cold brew, some drink so foreign to me that I just went along with them and got a medium. This single cold brew changed my life. It changed everything.

For starters, as an Ethiopian/Eritrean, coffee runs through my blood. It’s part of my heritage. There is always coffee time whenever we go back to Addis and every time I visit relatives who are more in-tune with the culture, they always brew coffee the Habesha way. The instant I had that first coffee in New York last summer, it felt as though a new experience had opened for me. More than just the caffeine, where I could have gotten from anything, I appreciated the flavor, tasting the subtle hints of orange and cherry in the beans. I appreciated the balance of bitter and acidic tastes, meshed together into a clear, non-branded plastic cup over ice.

Coffee has brought people together for centuries, and especially as a student, there isn’t anything like working in a coffee shop with your peers with your caffeine to fuel you through your projects. Especially this year, I’ve spent hours upon hours upon hours at coffee shops, working on all my subjects and the newspaper. Those countless hours I could have spent procrastinating at home disappeared, and the grades went up. It’s the truth.

So this brings me back to today, where I’m in my local coffee shop, where I write my blog every single week, with a cup of iced coffee right next to me(I know!!! They’re out of cold brew…). Reading that Guardian article, along with some other coverage on CNN made me confused. How can something that has been proven to have health benefits and has “no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption,” now require a cancer label? I honestly have no idea. Even though the coffee companies could not prove that there were significant risks, there is no way I think anyone would ever give up this amazing beverage.

So what now? I mean, “They’re taking our coffee. They’re taking our caffeine. They’re taking our sustenance, and some, I assume, are good people.” But they’re not good people. I love coffee. And honestly, of all things that require a cancer label now, are you telling me they’re putting it on coffee and not fattening foods with saturated fats, trans fats, and more? I have no expertise in health at all, but I still find it absurd you’re putting a cancer label on a beverage my people have been drinking since its inception. So, while people are being freaked out about drinking coffee and Frappuccinos, I’m going to continue to sip on this iced coffee next to me for the foreseeable future.

Being Noah Tesfaye #21: Give the Supreme Court Some Respect Please

The first time I remember learning about the Supreme Court was when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated for the court in 2009. I did not know what this court did nor did I understand the power they actually had. Through elementary and middle school, there were bits and pieces thrown into my history and social studies classes, but the true power of the court was never explained to me until I became interested in learning law in high school. I became fascinated with the court and their decisions, but I still cannot believe that so many of my peers and adults also do not understand the actual significance of the court.

Supreme Court of the United States

I’ve come up with a few different possible reasons as to why people do not get to know much about the Supreme Court aside from its major decisions like Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, etc and nominations. The first reason I think there is as to why there isn’t a general public respect for SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) is that their job is not as glamorous nor as appealing to watch as the other two branches. The executive branch is filled with usually a charismatic, or in our case today, a flamboyant, ignorant man, and the legislative branch is filled with loud arguments that are aired on television every single week. By contrast, the Supreme Court is a group of nine people who go under the radar, with less security than many officials in DC. They don’t express loud and ludicrous opinions out on CNN every week, nor do they make it their goal to be seen by everyone all the time. They always put their job and duty to the law as their singular goal. Although you may see justices participate in events across the globe, the majority of their work happens in DC. Then again, there’s the Notorious RBG, my all-time favorite justice on the court who’s a true legend and would destroy me in a workout

Harper Collins

Another possible reason why they could not be followed or understood well in schools until a civics or US history course is that much of the process is based on partisanship, and while schools feel comfortable discussing beliefs of the past, some schools choose not to bring up these arguments in the classroom. I know when I was studying the Supreme Court that we never discussed the current form of the court and the opinions of the justices. We didn’t really pursue current cases and discuss the possible opinions on both sides. I did eventually get this learning opportunity last summer at Columbia, where I was exposed to a brief, but important overview of the opinions of all the justices and their histories that helped me understand why decisions break down the way they do.

Supreme Court of the United States

While I can understand why schools may refrain from discussing politics at all for fear of alienating other students, I believe the true objective of education is to share both sides as equal as possible and allow students to create their own opinions. This means explaining the position of Breyer as much as Gorsuch. Exposing students to all ideas is the solution, not restricting just to the ideas discussed that are most comfortable to the student body. They’re not going to stop going over slavery (although they have in some places) because there’s a black person in the room. They’re not going to stop covering the Trail of Tears because a Native American in the room. They aren’t going to stop covering the horrific pasts of women or homosexual people in this country because there are women and homosexual students in the classroom. Why shouldn’t we stop covering politics and politics in the Supreme Court in particular because there are a few conservatives in my classroom?

Executive Office of the President of the United States

The Supreme Court is responsible for shaping this country just as much as our presidents and Congress and in many cases much more so. I love the Supreme Court so much because I know their job is focused on one central guiding set of principles: the Constitution. They are some of the smartest people in this country and people who have the historical knowledge necessary to help guide this country to new precedents. At times, I have not agreed with the decisions made by the court in the past and I don’t agree with many of the decisions made today, but the one thing I do have faith in the United States government in is the judicial branch. Even though there’s a weird political theory idea that one day the Supreme Court could one day literally take over the country, picking cases to shape the country they want and retain their power above all other branches, I trust the Supreme Court more than I will ever trust the current Congress and president in upholding dignity and the rights of citizens in this country for the foreseeable future.