We spend Thanksgiving in the same seaside town every year. Rehoboth is village of about 1,500 people, right on the coast of Delaware. It’s the same place that I took my first steps, the same beach my family has been coming to years before I was even an idea. During the summer, Rehoboth is packed with tourists, who carry beach chairs snatched from the local boardwalk shops and smell of salt water taffy and sunscreen. Off season, it’s silent. The ice cream stands and arcades are boarded up for the winter, Christmas wreaths and tinsel lining the streets instead of surfers. The only sounds are the soft calls of the ocean, waves rolling in on their own time. After three months of non-stop moving, it’s nice to be somewhere that has a reputation for being slow. It’s nice to come back to myself elsewhere.

Time away has helped me realize that November is never really a fun month. Amongst the hype of Thanksgiving lies a subtle somberness. The weather is still transitioning from autumn to winter, making for cold mornings and dreary afternoons. The days are shorter, nighttime creeping in much quicker than most would like. Throughout this past month, there was nothing more that I wanted than to burrow myself away, feeling adrift while the world was swimming just fine on its own. The rational part of my brain tells me that is far from the truth. The irrational part, however, never quite sees things on the same page. It’s been telling me to change in order to feel content, but not in a way that is beneficial to me. I am too much of this, too much of that. I need to get over this, fix that about myself. Ah, the toils of an anxious mind. It sometimes feels like being lost in the bitter cold, not knowing where to go or where I’m supposed to be.

With that in mind, finding warmth has been a priority. I have been nestling deep into the music of Albert Hammond Jr., both before and after leaving for break. I’ve found that I can’t really listen to New York artists while I’m there; distance often leads to better appreciation. Between his time briefly studying film at NYU and playing guitar in the Strokes, the reigning kings of the NYC alt-rock scene, Hammond Jr. certainly has roots in the city. Still, there’s something about his solo work that overlooks those standards. Every song is a lesson in genre bending, sending you into a different world entirely. It explores boundaries I’ve never experienced before, as seen in Francis Trouble, an album about the death of his twin brother in the womb. Upon first hearing his music, I immediately wished I had had it when I was in high school. I’m not the kind of person who can listen to an album all the way through. Hammond Jr.’s 2006 record Yours To Keep is one of the few exceptions. I listened to it in its entirety three times in a span of a couple hours.

“In Transit” is the second track from this album. There’s a lot to latch onto at first: an early 2000’s guitar riff trying to assert its dominance over another one, a contained drum sound in the midst of all the chaos. It’s the kind of song that feels like it would be at home within a Sundance indie movie soundtrack. Within these words, though, lies a message seemingly made for me. I’m not gonna change ‘till I want to, Hammond Jr. sings, as the hook of the song takes its final form. I initially overlooked those lyrics. They meshed in with sentiments that I’d heard many times before, but after listening to them nonstop for days, they began to take their own form. Albert sings of wanting to break free. From a world he has shut away. From a world he has built walls around. His voice, raspy and desperate, seems to be screaming for somebody to listen. He is himself. That is his redemption.

It took burying myself into this discography, this song, to see that I’ve been building my own walls for the last couple of weeks. In a literal sense, I have been hiding away, falling into rhythm with silent, solitude-filled nights. In a more metaphorical sense, I’ve been putting up barriers around myself, not truly taking the time to see what lies behind them. “In Transit” has led me to appreciate what’s there to begin with. Though I do have moments where I want to show myself to the world, I am somebody who feels at home, most often, with myself. I know when I am comfortable and when I am not. Falling into a certain mindset, where I try to force myself into being someone I am not, has become hindering. But, like Albert Hammond Jr. sings, I don’t have to do that anymore. I will change as I want to. 

I am writing this from my couch, nestled between my two dogs, on a quiet morning that has felt so rare up until now. The ocean is a couple blocks away, and I can hear birds outside the window, chirping against the slight breeze the beach pulls in. The stillness of this small town allows for me to truly catch up with myself, and the moments forming around me, again. Things are slow here. Things come one step at a time. Physically, I am in the present. Mentally, I am myself. 

I am still in transit. I am still moving towards my final destination, whatever that may be. For the first time in a long time, I am happy to be there.

I was sixteen when I first heard about the Equal Rights Amendment. At the time, I was taking AP United States History where we learned about our nation’s history from the first colonists to Barack Obama. When we first began learning about the amendments of the constitution, it never came to my mind that new amendments could be made. I thought our ancient constitution was untouchable. Though, in fact, amendments are proposed every year, they just rarely ever make it to ratification. The ERA was one out of six amendments that were passed by Congress, but failed to be ratified by the required state legislatures. I found this news so fascinating that I told my parents about it later at home. Can you imagine? I actually went home and told my parents about what I learned in school that day. It turned out that my parents had never heard of the ERA (it turned out that a lot of people hadn’t a clue of what the ERA was). They were hardly even interested in the amendment that never was. How are they not fascinated by this? I remember thinking. Then I realized, what I learned didn’t excite me, it made me angry. 

It’s the 21st century. We were well into the 2010’s and nearly a 100 years since the Seneca Falls convention, we didn’t have equal rights for women. We still don’t. But now, the ERA is back in action. In 2017 Nevada ratified the amendment, and in 2018 Illinois did the same. Now the ERA is alive again. It’s being talked about and the word is being spread as fast as possible. There’s talk of the deadline being renewed by Congress and of which states are going to ratify the amendment next. The process of officializing an amendment is slow and arduous, just look at how long it took us to get here once again. Women’s fight for equal rights has been ongoing since the beginning of the 1900s. 

It was in 1923 at the Seneca Falls convention when Alice Paul, the founder of the National Woman’s Party, first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, which she wrote herself. After the passing of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920, flash forward to 1972 when the ERA was taken seriously for the first time. The amendment was passed by Congress and was awaiting to make it through the two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representative and the Senate. Through laborious hours of women protesting, lobbying, and advocating, they were finally being heard. It was stated in the amendment that, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” States would continue to ratify the amendment in the seven-year deadline given by Congress until the deadline was postponed again for three years until 1982. The numbers of states ratified had come to a lull and there was hesitation in the air after the beginning of the anti-feminist movement lead by Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly led a movement to protest against the ERA because it would take away from “real women’s rights.” She spoke of a woman’s place, claiming it was in the home taking care of her husband and kids, and how this amendment would take this right away from women and destroy the traditional 

American family. Women rallied for her viewpoint and slowly put an end to the ERA. When the time came, 35 states had ratified the amendment, only three states short of what was required. The ERA had ended then. 

Now it’s 2019, and we have 37 states that have ratified the ERA. All we need is one more state for the two-thirds and for Congress to set a new dead-line. Virginia was only one vote short of ratifying the amendment and in April Congress had a hearing on the ERA. It’s time to be heard and it’s time for a change we’ve been ready for. Equal rights for everyone stated directly in the constitution, which will further support people in their political battles and court cases. No-more loopholes. No-more waiting. For the first time, our own constitution might be able to acknowledge that not only men have rights, but all the people in the United States of America. 

Everyone can easily support the amendment, as well. It all starts with being heard. The ERA website contains all the information you need and a toolkit on how you can help with everything you can use to become an advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment. Maybe then, one day, a kid can go home and not only tell their parents about the amendment that fought harder than any other and is REAL, but can also proudly say that their nation’s constitution acknowledges them. 


Illustration by Zoe Wollman

Until recently, fallout shelter signs could be found throughout New York City pinned to building walls and store fronts. They served as remnants from the Cold War era. 

In 1947, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published their first issue which detailed the destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. Its cover doned the now iconic Doomsday Clock insignia. In Semipalatinsk, Northern Kazakhstan, the Soviets tested their first nuclear bomb, RDS-1--dubbed “First Lightning”--on August 29th, 1949. On April 7th, 1950, a National Security Council paper named the “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security” (Often referred to as NSC-68) was presented to President Truman. The report detailed a defensive protocol against the impending threat of the Soviet Union. 

                                                                                                         PS38, Brooklyn, NY

This resulted in the decision to create and stockpile weapons, both conventional and nuclear. According to the charts presented at cato.org, military spending jumped from 59.8 billion dollars to 134.7 between the years of 1950-51. In 1952, the United States tested their first hydrogen bomb which was detonated on November 1st in the Eniwetok Atoll, a coral reef located in the Marshall Islands. The detonation was codenamed: Ivy Mike, which was the first of two nuclear tests in a series called “Operation Ivy.” Also in 1952, “Duck and Cover” aired, which detailed the proper behavior and necessary actions required in case of a nuclear attack--behavior that would be later disclosed as useless in such an event. 


                                                                                                             PS38, Brooklyn, NY

Fast forward nearly a decade and nuclear fear was on the rise. In 1961, John F. Kennedy addressed the public urging families and cities to construct bomb shelters due to the threat of the Soviet Union and the nuclear arms race. Life magazine even ran a cover story, “The Drive for Mass Shelters” on January 12th, 1962. The Cold War and society’s dread of nuclear annihilation had supposedly gripped the U.S., including New York City. With the added support of Nelson Rockefeller, who served as the 49th Governor of New York from 1959-73, shelters were produced all over the five boroughs. However, these shelters weren’t extremely popular. It’s important to note that only 1.4% of Americans actually built any form of shelter by 1962. This was primarily due to their expenses. 

                                                                                                         PS261, Brooklyn, NY

Regardless, fallout shelters were still produced in the thousands. Interestingly enough for locals in Brooklyn, one known shelter is hidden within the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, which had been forgotten since the mid-60’s and wasn’t rediscovered until 2006. Sadly, most of these shelters are off limits to the public due to being part of private property or deemed hazardous. The shelter signs that once alerted people to their presence are now being removed as they’re no longer considered safe nor functional. This is understandable, as some of them are over 50 years old. 

                                                                                                          PS38, Brooklyn, NY

Yet, there are still a couple of interesting places that you can visit that were either created during the Cold War era or provide information on the time period:

1. Fort Tilden:
Established in 1917, Fort Tilden was later used during the Cold War to house anti-aircraft guns and defense missiles. The fort became an Army Reserve post until the late 1970’s where it was then decommissioned and provided to the National Park Service. It’s located in Roxbury outside Rockaway Park. The closest station is Beach 169st/Rockaway Point BI. 

2. The KGB Espionage Museum:
Houses the world’s largest collection of KGB and Soviet relics relating to espionage.  located at 245 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011.

3. Columbia University:

Manhattan’s own Ivy League college once housed a cyclotron (particle accelerator) built during World War II. Although not created during the Cold War, which spanned from 1947-91. The cyclotron did aid in experiments responsible for creating the nation’s first nuclear weapons. It has since been removed. However, knowing the university's history may be enough for some to venture there. 

Located at: 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027 


                                                                                                             PS38, Brooklyn, NY


Photographs by Samuel Herrera 


The first woman I remember learning about in school was Frida Kahlo during my sophomore year of high school in Spanish class. I saw her as a self-centered Mexican painter, why else would she spend her life painting self portraits if she wasn’t obviously obsessed with herself? However, if any research was done beforehand about Frida and her life, my teacher would have informed us that she was in a bus accident leaving her bed ridden for several months, during which she found her passion for painting by placing a mirror above her and painting herself. Later, when Frida was asked why she only painted self portraits, she stated, “I paint self-portraits because I am the person I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is what I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any consideration.” All of Frida’s art is personal and was never meant to mean anything to anyone except herself. Today, she is considered a feminist icon and the inspiration for many female artists, and yet she was introduced to me as nothing more than a conceited woman. 

Throughout history, women's stories and experiences have been ignored, forgotten or not given their rightful credit. When they are mentioned, women often are given derogatory, belittling descriptions such as being self-centered, angry, complaining, a wife of someone, etc. We hardly ever get the whole of who they were and what they stood for. If I hadn’t done my own personal research on Frida Kahlo after class, I wouldn’t of known the things I know about her now. 

What will happen to young women growing up that do not know the stories of important women? Young women who are left to hear only of men and what they have accomplished? I’m not saying that we should take away the accomplishments of men, but I am saying that boys are given a lot of figures to look up to, but what about the girls? Why does it take so long for women’s stories to come into the open and why does it take so long for them to be believed? Who are young women supposed to look up to? It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I found a woman figure to inspire me in all the work that I do. What I want more than anything is for girls to have women to look up to.

Fortunately, times are changing. Women are slowly but surely receiving the credit they deserve for the work they have accomplished. My six year old cousin has books upon books of rebellious women in history. Her biggest inspiration is Katherine Johnson. Every night she makes someone read her the book, “A Computer Named Katherine,” a picture book telling the inspiring story of Katherine Johnson and her accomplishments as a NASA research mathematician. Because of Katherine, my cousin adores math, counting each step she takes, just as Katherine did when she was younger. Sharing these womens’ stories gives hope to and inspire young girls, just as Katherine Johnson did for my cousin. Their stories should be shared for all people, young and old. The impact of their stories is bigger than may be imagined.


Illustration by Janie Peacock

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