A Push for Progress
*Trigger Warning* - mentions of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
February is National Teenage Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Alarmingly, teen dating violence – a pattern of aggressive, abuse, and controlling behaviors that happen within a relationship, are common. Virtually, one in 11 teenage women and one in 14 teenage men have experienced physical abuse, while one in 8 female and one in 26 male high school students experience sexual abuse. The repercussions of this abuse can be and are very detrimental to the survivor’s well-being and are at risk to develop addictions, mental disorders, take part in illegal activity, and become suicidal (CDC). Despite all of this, teen dating violence is usually preventable; however, when it is not when it is not, it is important to learn how to support victims.
In an anonymous interview, it was voiced that, “...being supportive could just be having someone to talk to them and not tell them it is their fault.” When supporting a survivor of abuse, be there and listen. A lot of the time words are not needed to provide support for someone. It was also stated that the supporter should, “...just give them reassurance and do not corner them because when (I feel) cornered, I shut down.” Avoid pushing for information; survivors will open up when they feel safe.
By creating safe environments, supporting victims, and teaching healthy relationship skills such as setting boundaries, consent, and respect, along with how to recognize warning signs, the violence can be stopped before it begins. To create a secure environment for teenagers, allow open and judgment-free communication when it comes to topics such as relationships and sex. Another way to show support is to let them know that what they feel is validated, and to avoid victim-blaming— holding the victim at fault rather than the perpetrator. Consider using phrases such as “Nothing you did or could have done differently makes this your fault.” or “I know it can feel like you did something wrong, but I promise you didn’t.” Finally, know where to point them for professional help. Here are several resources to recommend them to, remember they are not obligated to call these helplines, so leave space for them to decide what they want to do.
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1 (800) 779-723 - www.ndvh.org
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline - 1 (866) 331-9474 - www.loveisrespect.org
Idaho 24-Hour Domestic Violence Helpline - 1 (800) 669-3176 - www.icdv.idaho.gov
“I show my scars so that others know they can heal” -Rhachelle Nicol
Black Trailblazers in Medicine
February is a month dedicated to honoring and celebrating Black accomplishments, impacts, and Black Americans everywhere. Every year Black History Month has a theme that focuses on different aspects of the Black community. The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. This theme concentrates on contributions the Black community has made to the healthcare world and actions they have taken to promote wellness.
There have been countless Black medical heroes who have made great impacts on the world of medicine. Being a man of firsts, Dr. James McCune Smith, was a trailblazer for Black people in healthcare. From 1835 to 1837, Smith earned three degrees from the University of Glasgow located in Scotland. He was the first African American to receive a medical degree, own a pharmacy, and be published in medical journals. Smith was also a renowned abolitionist who used his writings to scientifically discredit racist beliefs, such as those in Thomas Jeffereson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. Another Black medical heroine is Henrietta Lacks. Lacks was a young mother who died of cervical cancer in 1951. During treatment, samples of her cancer cells were taken without consent, and they were found to be “immortal,” meaning the cell line was durable and long lasting. The cell's longevity allowed numerous scientific experiments and studies to be conducted. This significant discovery was made after Lacks lost her life to cancer, and her family was not made aware of this for almost two decades. Although unbeknownst to her, Lacks’ contribution to medicine has led to advancements in vaccines for HPV and polio, medication for HIV/AIDS, and Covid-19 responses. This particular type of immortalized cells are now known as HeLa cells, named after Lacks. The Lacks family carries on her legacy through the advocacy for equitable healthcare and access to HPV vaccines.
Black history plays a tremendous role in American history and should be studied along with it all year; however, having a month to focus on the often lesser-known and forgotten history of African Americans is crucial. Black doctors, nurses, patients, and many more have an innumerable impact on healthcare, and it is only right to honor their legacy and bring awareness to those who have shaped the modern world of medicine.
This month marks the 52nd annual Black History Month in the United States. For over half a century, an entire month has been devoted to the celebration of African American culture, extensive history, and their impact on the world. While they have most notably led the United States in its struggle to enact the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ‘60s, the Black community has had a major effect on the entertainment industry. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the influence of African Americans on today’s movies is too great of an achievement to be ignored.
In 1914, actor and singer Sam Lucas became the first Black man to have a leading role, starring in the film Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Previous to 1914 African Americans were portrayed by white actors through the offensive use of blackface, the act of a non-Black portraying a caricature of a Black person. The release of the film resulted in an era of Hollywood where production studios would feature Black actors, which was also an outcome of the controversial and openly racist yet renowned film The Birth of a Nation. The movie sparked strife among African Americans and carved the pathway to the “race film” era.
“Race films” were orchestrated by African American companies with all-Black casts and were aimed toward audiences in the southern states. These movies allowed for a substantial African American presence in the film industry, a presence that was only heightened by the civil rights era. In 1964, Bahamian American actor Sidney Poitier became the first Black actor to win an academy award, which he received for his work in the film Lilies of the Field. Poitier also portrayed Black icons Thurgood Marshall and Nelson Mandela in films and eventually received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009.
In today’s world of cinema and television, African American representation is stronger than ever. As the nation still feels the effects of the Civil Rights Movement and the climax of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, it has been critical for Hollywood to allow African American filmmakers to showcase their artistic abilities, such as with projects like Moonlight, BlacKkKlansman, and many others. In 2019, Black Panther, led by African American icon Chadwick Boseman, became the first superhero film to receive a nomination for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards, a monumental achievement for the Black community. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also challenged the country’s representation of African Americans by introducing Black actor Anthony Mackie as the new Captain America.
Although the world still has many steps to accurately represent Black culture in cinema, the steps that have already been taken are significant for the African American community.
Hoppily Ever After
Once upon a time, in a far away pond there was a town. It was a small town, more of a village in fact, and truth be told it really was not that far away. The name was Sphagnum, after the moss. Inside Sphagnum were two elderly, lovestruck frogs. The spunky, sweet Nymphaea, who read stories to the tadpoles on Wednesday evenings and held a book club every month for widowed frogs, had caught the eye of the quiet, somewhat grouchy Herman, who only cared about his garden. Both frogs were nearing the final stages of their lives, although Nymphaea would never admit it.
Their love story began when Herman spotted Nymphaea at the library reading quietly in the corner. She was not doing anything special; she was just being herself. He became obsessed with Nymphaea in the sense that she never left his mind. He wanted to know what made her laugh, know what made her stomach erupt in butterflies, and know what made her heart skip a beat. In other words, he was in love.
Having no experience in the game of love, Herman expressed his admiration in the best way he knew how, planting flowers. Using his impeccable gardening skills, Herman planted a new flower in Nymphaea’s garden everyday while she was in town. He first started with the more common flowers such as roses and daisies, then he moved to more exotic flowers including bleeding hearts and middlemist reds. When the flowers first started appearing, Nymphaea did not give it much thought. She thought that perhaps a seed had landed in her garden and grew, but when more and more flowers started appearing, she knew that something was up. She began waiting at the end of the street to see who this mystery gardener was. Much to her surprise, it was Herman. As Nymphaea watched Herman carefully planting a new flower, she began to see his cold exterior melt away and she grew to love the old grouch. She loved the meticulous thought he put into the flowers, the care that he took when planting them, and the way his eyes lit up after he put in a new flower. In other words, she was in love.
As Nymphaea walked home from her weekly tadpole story night, she noticed the trail up to her house was lit with sparkling lights, and an abundance of fireflies roamed the sky. At the end of the trail, Herman stood next to a small pond filled with water lilies, also called nymphaea. In his hand was a smaller water lily with a radiant ring in the center. Needless to say, the frogs lived hoppily ever after; in other words, they were in love.
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