Controversy and Cultural Appropriation Reply

Fun in the Sun Friday was the final day of Spirit Week for the 2016-2017 school year, but it didn’t end up being very fun for many people.

Quite a few students came in that day wearing “traditional” Hawaiian apparel, such as leis, luaus, and grass hula skirts. In response, plain posters with text on them were put up in the school’s staircases. They included phrases such as “Hawaiian culture is not your theme” and “Hawaiian culture is not your costume.”  Rather than sparking a conversation, the posters ended up creating controversy and exposing deeply contrasting viewpoints. Generally, students that had come in wearing these items felt personally victimized and targeted, and maintained that their outfits were harmless and not at all an instance of cultural appropriation. This raised debate throughout the school about what does or doesn’t constitute cultural appropriation, a phrase which many people understand differently, and the moral values of which are fairly complicated and debated on by anthropologists and sociologists alike.

First, there needs to be an understanding of what the term “cultural appropriation” implies. The word “appropriation” has traditionally been used as a synonym for institutional or widespread theft. The cultural aspect of this has normally been defined as when “members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.” In the case of Fun In the Sun Friday, the dominant culture would be mainland American culture, while the oppressed culture would be native Hawaiian culture. It’s important to distinguish the two, given Hawaii’s history. More…


#noDAPL Reply

If you happen to own social media, you might have come across the hashtag NoDAPL. At that point, you either did one of two things- you clicked on the hashtag, to see what “DAPL” happened to be, or you kept scrolling, as it is so easy to do. Regardless, there’s a large chance you aren’t quite clear on what the big fuss is about.

For those who don’t know- DAPL stands for Dakota Access Pipeline, also called the Bakken Oil Pipeline. The pipeline has not yet been built, but it’s meant to be 1,172 miles long, and the projected cost of it would be 3.7 billion dollars. The Energy Transfer Project, the main backer of this pipeline, claims that the pipeline will offer jobs and economic relief to a struggling region. But at what cost? And is the trade-off worth it? More…

A Run-Through of Ramadan Reply

Aside from just another Monday to get through, there’s nothing particularly special about June 6 for most people. But for Muslims, it marks the start of a month-long holiday known as Ramadan. During these 30 days, Muslims fast (go without food or drink) from the break of dawn to sunset. This year, that means fasting from around 3:45 AM to 8:30 (both shift slightly throughout the month). Thus, for those of us living in New York City, the fast lasts around 17 hours of the day.  Because the sun rises and sets at different times during the day depending on where you live, people around the world fast for different periods of time. Those in Europe, for example, fast an average of 20 hours, while those in Australia fast around 10 hours. More…

BSGE Hosts Visiting Artists Maymanah Farhat and Athir Shayota

IMG_1632The BSGE Art Department often hosts visiting artists who can share their ideas and work with students of all grades, and on Thursday, October 29, Maymanah Farhat and Athir Shayota visited our school. Maymanah is a writer and art historian as well as a curator, while Athir is a painter. Both are long-time friends of Ms. Gretchen Schwarz, who met them while working as a security guard at the Met several years ago.

Athir spoke first, discussing several celebrated paintings/artworks from over the years. A few artists he mentioned were Cezanne, Picasso, and Van Gogh. At the tender age of 19, Athir created a portrait of his father in homage to Van Gogh, imitating the flowers and cut-up body that he was known for. He also showed us a family tree he created using Eastern and Western motifs. Athir is Iraqi, and he visited his home country after the war. He painted a butcher shop with a butcher inside, the sadness on his face clearly visible. He mentioned that Iraq has such a negative image in the media, but that’s not to be believed. Other paintings he showed us were a self-portrait, a still life of “flowers of hope,” a painting of Maymanah (his wife), and a portrait with a shadow, similar to a painting by another artist who covered the subject of the painting with a veil. More…

Fall To-Do List! Reply

Fall in Central Park (

Fall in Central Park (

Apple Picking

Apple picking is a wonderful way to kick off your fall season. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy nature and spend some time away from all the homework and technology. Getting to hang out with family and friends in a relaxing environment is a ton of fun and much healthier than sitting around at home on your couch with a jar of Nutella in one hand and a bag of popcorn in the other. Another positive side to apple picking is the benefits for those who have oral allergy syndrome. For people like that, eating the majority of fresh fruits makes your mouth swell and your throat itch. But when you eat fruit picked directly from the tree, you tend not to have an allergic reaction. Also, apple picking is a great way to support local orchards. By picking and purchasing fruit and other homemade items  from them, you are giving them the money that they need to keep running their farm/orchard. Plus, you now have your own personal supply of apples to be used for cooking, baking, or just biting right into.

Corn Maze/Hay Rides

Many farms that you would go to for apple picking also offer hayrides and corn mazes. For those who don’t know what a corn maze is: it’s basically a real-life maze in a field of corn. Everyone enters the maze at the same time, and your goal is to find your way out in the shortest amount of time. Some corn mazes have additional scary elements, like people who get dressed up and creep up behind you (others take place at nighttime, so your only source of light is a flashlight provided to you). Visiting a corn maze can actually build teamwork skills and is a great way to bond with friends! More…

Ramadan what?

Thursday, June 18 is the day of the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam for eighth graders at BSGE. For students in other grades, it’ll be just another day. But June 18th is a special day for Muslims. Those following the scientific calculations of moon positions, at least. For these people, the 18th will be the start of a month-long holiday, known as Ramadan.

During this month, Muslims fast (go without food or drink) from sunrise to sunset. Sunrise will be around 3:45 am this year, which means that many of us will be waking up around 3 am to make ourselves a meal, also known as Suhoor, before making the intention to fast.

Sunset will be around 8:30 pm this year (give or take a few minutes throughout the month), which means that as soon as the call to prayer (also known as the Athan) goes off, we will be breaking our fasts with a date and some water, followed by a meal. This process is known as Iftaar. To put this into perspective for you, people will be going for 17 or so hours (between Suhoor and Iftaar) without putting any kind of food or drink (including water) into their system. More…

Extra Day Off! Hooray! (Or, Not So Much?) Reply

A few weeks ago, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City public schools would be closed for Eid holidays, starting in the 2015-2016 school year. This year, we’ll be having September 26th off.

After years of fighting for this, many Muslims across the city rejoiced.  “When these holidays are recognized, it’s a sign that Muslims have a role in the political and social fabric of America,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. This is especially important because of the post-9/11 state of mind that many people still tend to hold tight to.

What is Eid, anyways?

There are two Eids, both at different times at the year and celebrated for different reasons. The first is Eid Al-Fitr, celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims, in which they fast for approximately 30 days in a row, from sunrise to sunset each day.  Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the month, being the first day out of the past thirty that they’re allowed to eat and drink during the day. Muslims start the day off by praying, then tend to go join in festivities with family and friends. Depending on the culture, children may also receive money and or gifts from family members. More…

Opinion: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

If you were to look up the phrase “Je Suis Charlie,” I am Charlie in French, you would find all types of products supporting the cause such as t-shirts, pins and caps. As with most political trends, many people don’t even really understand the true meaning behind the phrase – they just like the idea of supporting a cause, which is understandable. After all, who doesn’t like solidarity?


When it’s blind solidarity, I don’t. I do not support the market that has sprung up from this tragedy, from this idea that the freedom of speech in France is being limited, and as a result, we have to fight for that right. There is a limit to just how far your freedom of speech extends. There is a fine line between hate speech and satire, and it could easily be argued that Charlie Hebdo crossed the line with their comics that poked fun at the Prophet Mohammed. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right in France. But by not allowing French media to publish anything anti-semitic, France has created a bit of a double standard- one that makes them seem a bit hypocritical.

In 2009, 80-year-old Maurice Sinet, a political cartoonist who was with Charlie Hebdo for 20 years, was fired for publishing anti-semitic cartoons. No one said a word. No one tried to sell “Je Suis Sinet” products. Sinet ridiculed Israel, and he was shut down. Based on this, it can be seen that freedom of speech in France was already limited. People already had to censor themselves from publishing things about certain political views. How does it make sense, then, to fight for the freedom of speech to make fun of Islam? Either fight for the right for complete freedom of speech, or don’t bother trying to be a part of the cause at all. More…

Thai Protestors Detained for Using Hunger Games Salute

If you take the subway, there’s a good chance you’ve seen posters with Jennifer Lawrence splashed across the front, and “Mockingjay Part 1” written in big letters. These posters advertise the first part of the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, based on Suzanne Collin’s novels.

The movie continues its predecessors with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) being in District 13, the district that no one knew existed, because the government had kept it hidden. Her courage during the Quarter Quell inspired the nation, and rebellions have been breaking out throughout the districts. President Coin, the leader of District 13, asks Katniss to be the “Mockingjay,” and the voice of the people.

However, it appears that these Hunger Games rebellions are not purely fiction. On November 20th, the day of Mockingjay’s release in Thailand, hoards of students mobbed theaters and flashed a salute from the Hunger Games, used to represent protest and rebellion. This may seem harmless and innocent, but the Thai government did not perceive it that way.

Source: The New York Times

Source: The New York Times


Halloween Costumes? Halloween Costumes. Reply

It’s that time of year again – the leaves are changing color, the temperature is gradually dropping, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have started offering Pumpkin flavored items, and big packages of candy are on sale; it’s fall, and Halloween is right around the corner.

The Problem: Finding costumes for Halloween.

If you’ve ever flipped through a teen costume catalogue, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that trying to find Halloween costumes can be a real struggle for both girls and guys, but it’s a lot worse for girls. First of all, getting a costume that is school-appropriate is close to impossible because the majority of costumes don’t cover a lot of skin.  The structure of teenage girl costumes is generally the same: mini-skirt and some form of a tank-top or short sleeve shirt. If you feel comfortable and you enjoy wearing those types of things, be my guest. I have nothing against it. In fact, if I could get away with wearing one of those kind of outfits, I might; but it’s hard to wear so little clothing this time of year when it is supposed to be 48 degrees this Halloween night. On top of that, many of these costumes break the school dress code. You don’t want to risk being the “sexy police officer” wearing gym shorts. More…

Advice for New Bees

1. Appreciate seventh grade.

Appreciate your teachers, appreciate Music, appreciate the amount of homework you get. Before you know it, time will fly, it’ll be June 26th and you’ll be looking back and wondering where the year went.


This is probably the most important thing you’ll need in BSGE, and just life in general. Take the time to figure yourself out. Are you the type of person who procrastinates and works best under pressure? If so, congratulations, you are a part of the vast majority. The sad truth is, even though we might be given two weeks to complete an assignment, about 90% of us will end up waiting until 7:00 pm the night before to start working on the essay and actually printing out the essay during lunch. (Just ask any of the teachers. Or students in older grades. Or visit the college office/library the day an assignment is due). This will result in at least one mental breakdown, and a lot of unnecessary stress.

My advice to you is: figure out some way to put pressure on yourself, instead of waiting for the actual pressure of an imminent due date. One thing that works for me is timing myself. Also, the Self-Control App for Macs and Productivity Owl for Windows allow you to block More…