Commentaries

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‘Taking The Risk To Be Myself’

Mar 15, 2017
A debate on a transgender public accommodation bill drew crowds to the Massachusetts Statehouse on June 1, 2016.
Shira Schoenberg / The Republican

The Trump administration recently announced it was withdrawing the protections for transgender students established by President Obama. The decision comes at a tough time for commentator and high school student Jay, who’s known since childhood that he was a boy. The hard part has been trying to convince others that’s who he is.

It’s been obvious since the first day of kindergarten, when my mom dressed me in all pink and I hated it so much. As I saw it, I was the only boy dressed that way. 

Unsung Women Who Pushed The Bounds In Space

Mar 8, 2017
Visiting the space center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins in 1995 are seven members of the Mercury 13 (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Ratley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman.
NASA / Creative Commons

The toy company LEGO recently announced it would release a new line of plastic figures immortalizing the women of NASA. The new NASA set will feature astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, as well as computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman — and mathematician Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame. Commentator and author Martha Ackmann says, as laudable as the Lego’s move is, she’s got some advice.

Keep going.

Democracy's Doubters

Mar 4, 2017
Via Flickr by Scott / CREATIVE COMMONS

Commentator and law professor Austin Sarat is nervous. He says federal judges’ rulings to block president trump’s executive order on immigration were stirring victories for the rule of law. But he says no one should be resting on their laurels.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the federal judiciary retains the authority to challenge executive action. Its decision echoes one made by the Supreme Court more than 40 years ago, when it ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over evidence in the Watergate case.

Journalists: Members Of The Opposition Party?

Feb 27, 2017
Shaheen Pasha teaches international journalism at UMass Amherst.
UMass

Commentator and journalist Shaheen Pasha has a rule in her house. Her kids are never allowed to tell each other to shut up. It’s not just a matter of politeness, she says. Shutting people up can be dangerous.

As a child, my Pakistani immigrant mother taught me no one has the right to silence another person. She told me to respect a person’s voice even if you disagree.

When Not-Bad People Obey Not-Good Orders

Feb 17, 2017
Shaheen Pasha teaches international journalism at UMass Amherst.
UMass

Commentator Shaheen Pasha has a passport full of stamps from Muslim nations as well as European countries and far-flung Asian destinations. It’s always been a source of pride to have been able to see the world. Now it’s a source of concern.

Gary Campbell is a senior at Springfield High School for Science and Technology and a participant in NEPR's Media Lab project.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

A recent graduate from New England Public Radio’s Media Lab program wrote this piece about his father, who no longer lives at home with him.

Dear Hartford: Climb Right In.

Feb 9, 2017
The Colt Armory in Hartford, Conn.
Aaron Knox / Creative Commons

Commentator Julia Pistell moved to Hartford years ago on a compromise. Her not-yet-husband had a job in insurance in Hartford, so Pistell packed up her books and sublet her South Bronx apartment. She’s been here ever since, and is happy about what the city has asked of her. She wants others in the region to recognize it’s asking things of them too.

We didn’t have a car. I didn’t have a job. I had about $200 from walking pit bulls.

Author Grace Lin.
Courtesy of Grace Lin

This Saturday marks the Lunar New Year, formerly known as the Chinese New Year. For commentator Grace Lin, it’s a holiday that comes with baggage.

As a child, I resented Chinese New Year. My Taiwanese parents celebrated with great enthusiasm. Other holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, were treated as obligatory duties as well as with much puzzlement.

What Photographs Can Teach Us About Our Leaders

Jan 24, 2017
Barack Obama before going out to take the oath in 2009
Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

The day before President Trump was inaugurated, commentator and art historian Paul Staiti was passing though an airport in Los Angeles when he noticed Barack Obama’s photograph greeting every arriving passenger.  Staiti found himself contemplating the image, and its imminent disappearance.

Sports Parents Loving Their Kids Too Loudly

Jan 11, 2017
Youth hockey players
File photo / MassLive

For many parents, weekends mean spending time watching their children play sports. Commentator John Galvin faithfully attends his kids’ games. And he loves watching the kids play. But watching – and listening – to certain people on the sidelines is another story altogether.

If there’s one thing that makes me lament this coming weekend, it will be having to listen to loud-mouthed, micro-managing sports parents. Dads and moms.

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