Christina Peebles

Effects of the Romanticization and Glorification of Sex Trafficking


A long history of the sex industry objectifying the female body for male pleasure continues to be widely prominent and relevant across the globe today. Annually, hundreds of thousands of America’s children and youth are being sexually exploited. This trafficking of humans dates back to the late 1800s when children were first prostituted in the United States. Since then, the industry has been exacerbated by globalization and the emergence of the internet as a major source of communication. While the increasing prominence of the media and internet allows for news to be easily shared, it also causes people to become desensitized to the harsh reality of the sex industry. Also, false news stories decrease the credibility of news articles and, as an effect, audiences are less inclined to believe news in general (Sobel). Furthermore, the media unintentionally romanticizes and glorifies sex trafficking through pop culture and online literature. Because of this, sex trafficking is not a topic being taught in schools nor being advocated against by a majority of the population. This allows for Texas laws to continue to criminalize trafficking victims while indirectly authorizing pimps and the industry as a whole to thrive and grow in its crimes. The glorification of pimp culture in the media and criminalization of trafficked victims in Texas laws has caused sex trafficking to be normalized, and even romanticized in society, instead of being shown as a critical issue.

Review of the Literature

Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is defined by Edward J. Schauer as the “sexual exploitation of American children, within the United States borders, for commercial purposes.” Furthermore, the term was actually coined by Shared Hope International (SHI) as a means of drawing attention to the commercial sexual exploitation of people under 18 years of age who are permanent residents of America (Schauer). According to statistics, Schauer describes how men between the ages of 20 and 65 make up the majority of people engaging in the sexual exploitation of minors. Furthermore, they define how the ages of victims of DMST range from 12 to 18 years old. This is due to society’s obsession with the sexualization and exploitation of minors. Schauer further states how juvenile prostitution and child pornography are both examples of the sexual exploitation of children. The term ‘pornography’ is used to refer to anything that is “designed to encourage sexual arousal without emotional attachment” and can be considered, in a psychoanalytic context, to be a perverted, sublimated form of love (“Sex”).

Generally, sex traffickers of domestic minors are known as pimps, people who derive profit, monetary or not, in trade for the sexual exploitation of a minor by their customers (Schauer). According to Andrea J. Nichols, the word originated back in the 1600s to define an individual who coordinated the sale of sex for his own profit. Shared Hope International claims that almost all prostituted minors have pimps who profit from and manage them (Schauer). Pimps also perceive the sex economy as a low-risk enterprise with a high-reward through reported “incomes from $5,000 to $32,833 a week” (Withers). In the sex industry, modes of exploitation and oppression by pimps typically involve acts of abuse, degradation, and violence against women (“Sex”). This usually involves young people – mostly women – who have left home, after having been abused as a child, and are addicted to drugs (“Sex”). This hard life and background often lead women to the romanticized idea that pimps can save them from their past, which causes them to eventually end up in the violent control of a pimp. This is exemplified by Meghan Casserly’s interview with Rachel Lloyd that directly brings to light the glorification of pimping done by favorite rappers that serve to romanticize pimps for thirteen-year-old girls with how they can be “cute and handsome” men who “pay attention.” In pop culture, the word pimp means “really cool” with achieving a high level of success (Nichols). Overall, Nichols states how the word signifies images of wealth, power, and respect through the management of girls and women who sell sex for profit. However, Nichols takes notice of how these definitions distort, ignore, and glorify the harsh reality of what pimping truly entails for women, men, and children.

Casserly emphasizes the stigma around the term “prostitute” to describe girls in the commercial sex industry. Instead of addressing the harsh issue of women and children being trafficked, the term “prostitute” brings to the mind the image of a “girl on the street, [in] high heels, stockings, the works” and the idea of consensual prostitution (Casserly). Alexis A. Aronowitz states how using the term “prostitute tourism” to label sex tourism actually softens and narrows down the harsh, wide impact of sex tourism and the sex trade. The biggest misconception of sex trafficking, according to Casserly, is that it is a victimless, harmless crime with women who are “too lazy to get a job at McDonald’s” or “like having sex all the time.” In reality, the vast majority of trafficked girls come from homes of sexual and physical abuse, trauma, and domestic violence (Casserly). Furthermore, Aronowitz takes a look at the controversial view of prostitutes. She describes how radical feminists view prostitutes as oppressed sexual victims, while some liberals view them as empowered sexual actors. Aronowitz emphasizes how a distinction must be drawn between sex trafficking – which involves non-consenting adults and children – and prostitution, which involves consenting adults and the sex trades.

Despite hiring its first director of human trafficking prevention in the Department of Family and Protective Services and providing $4.4 million to combat sex trafficking in Harris County, Katie Watson found how Texas laws continue to fail to rightfully address sex trafficking. A report from The Schapiro Group found that approximately 188 girls under the age of 18 are sexually exploited through internet classified sex ads on a typical weekend night in Texas (“Texas”). Still laws in Texas continue to “permit the promotion and selling of child sex tourism” and “permit traffickers to build a defense around a minor’s willingness to engage in the commercial sex act” (Watson). Texas also “does not require delinquent child sex trafficking victims to participate in the governor’s care coordination program to avoid adjudication,” but Texas laws can prevent “child sex trafficking victims from receiving crime victims’ compensation money if they committed an offense related to trafficking victimization” (Watson).


            Trafficked women in Texas are stigmatized as prostitutes and therefore are taken less seriously politically and socially. Also, trafficking is not seen as an issue despite the large, uncountable numbers of trafficked victims in the city of Houston alone because of how pimp culture is glorified and victims are stereotyped as consenting prostitutes. The life of being taken and cared for by a pimp can be dreamed for by vulnerable girls and women who have a history of abuse and drug usage with how many fictional romance books romanticize the sex trafficking industry. Without proper restrictions in Texas laws, both the glorification of pimp culture and romanticization of sex trafficking causes the industry to continuously grow and prosper.

Romanticization of Sex Trafficking

On online literature websites, millions of young, female readers are obsessing over the idea of falling in love with a tall, dark, and handsome man with a troubled past who popularly stars as a protagonist of fictional stories. Dark themes of these characters kidnapping young girls and using them as sex slaves are romanticized and a popular trend on the website Wattpad. Wattpad is a social networking website and app for readers and writers to share, discover, comment on, and vote on user-generated stories. Co-founded by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, the website is based in Toronto, Canada with a monthly audience of over 65 million readers with over 400 million stories already uploaded and easily accessible. Over 70 percent of the users are female and 80 percent are Millennials or Generation Z (Anderson). With these demographics, it is surprising to find how dark the content can be. For example, when searching the tag “sold,” over 116,000 stories surfaced with thousands of views and many include being sold to a gang leader in some form. Titles included “The Abused Girl,” “Sold to the Gang Leader,” and “Abducted.” The most searched tags in romance include negative terms such as “badboy,” “heartbreak,” “love-hate,” “mafia,” and “revenge.” Many of these stories are written by teenage girls intended for an audience of other teenage girls. To a greater extent, a common theme in fanfiction about famous musicians found to have the young female protagonist be kidnapped by them and used for sex. For example, a Wattpad story titled “Kidnapped, By One Direction” was found to have 9.9 million reads and was written by a girl in her teenage years for other young girls to read. With such a large audience of young, female readers, these innocently written stories sparks a trend of romanticizing sex trafficking.

Another story titled “Sold. To Justin Bieber,” written by user TheSwaggyBieber06, has around 99,000 reads and approximately 1,450 votes as of May 2018. It tells a short story about a girl, Skylar, who is left vulnerable in Canada after moving with her family from the United States. She ends up getting kidnapped and sex trafficked later when going alone to a party. The sixth chapter immaturely describes Skylar’s experience of preparing to be auctioned off throughout her narration:

They walked me downstairs and into a room. As we went by there was a lot of other girls in cuffs or tied with rope to different things. They all looked as scared as I did. They led me into a room. “Melanie we have someone for you to fix for an auction” “Oh okay, what’s her name” she asked. Melanie had a lot of makeup and other things to ‘beautify’ someone. “That’s not important” a guy said. “Okay well if you wanna come over here and lay on the table” she said to me “Um no, I’m not lying on the table” I hissed. “Oh right, forgot to tell you, she’s a stubborn one.” Mason said “Well how about you sit in the chair?” She said “Fine” I said. I figured sitting in the chair would be better cause I could see what’s going on. “So what is your name” she asked sweetly. “Skylar” I said. “Skylar? That’s a nice name” she said. “Thanks” is all I mumbled. “So what is this whole auction thing?” I asked. “Well. Basically the guys that you saw, there gonna take you to this place where anybody can basically buy you, and do what they please with you. Basically it’s all for money” she explained. “Well what is this for” I said pointing to the makeup and clothes. “It makes the sales go faster because people bid higher amounts” She said hesitating. (TheSwaggyBieber06)

The author briefly describes a scene of a downstairs level of a building where many girls, assumingly other trafficking victims, laid scared and tied up. The protagonist passes by them to a private room to be dressed up to prepare for an auction where she is to be sold for money. According to Melanie, the clothing and makeup she wears are directly related to the amounts people will bid for her. Through a lack of proofreading with missing and incorrect use of punctuation and the wrong usage of “there” instead of “they’re,” it is clear that the author is a more immature writer. It is also noteworthy how the author never directly uses the phrase “sex trafficking” throughout the excerpt and in the story as a whole despite similar descriptions to the industry. This leads to an unknown understanding of whether it was the author’s intention to write a fictional story about trafficking or if they are even educated on the topic at all. With the immense popularity of stories on Wattpad where female protagonists are sold to a dominant male character, it is a strong possibility that the author was merely just following the trend. However, the lack of maturity when writing about the serious issue of sex trafficking causes the author, whether intentional or not, to seem like they are ridiculing and demeaning the harsh reality of what trafficked victims have actually gone and currently are going through.

Later in the chapter, Skylar is sold at the auction to the winning bid of $700,000 by Justin Bieber. When first seeing him, her initial remark was that “he was really cute, specially [sic] for someone who just bought me.” This statement is not only an unrealistic response to such a horrific event but further reveals how the sex trafficking industry is romanticized to the point where teenage Wattpad authors are disturbingly characterizing pimps as well-known, famous idols who are loved by many. Justin Bieber has a large, devoted fanbase titled the “beliebers” who love and view him as a role model. With this illustration of him as a sex trafficker, the author further romanticizes pimps and their actions by equivalating them to be seen as role models. Furthermore, the author demeans the experiences of trafficking victims in chapter 7 when Bieber states “how can she still want to go home? I’ve been nothing but nice to her. She is selfish, that’s her problem. She is ungrateful, I’m being nice to her. I mean I’m feeding her, giving her a place to stay, and I’m trying to make friends with her.” His confusion directly correlates to the popular idea and misconception that pimps are merely helping women in need. Not only does this mindset wrongfully victimize sex traffickers, but it leads to the criminalization of victims themselves.

This romanticization of sex trafficking by teenage, female authors on Wattpad both reveals the lack of education in Texas schools concerning the topic and parallels how Texan laws criminalize underage trafficking victims. Children in Texas are not being taught about the seriousness and large-scale problem of sex trafficking in the state. Instead, they are writing and reading romantic stories of sex trafficking without restriction, so they then grow up desiring the care and love they think a pimp can provide. Therefore, the industry is not being widely advocated against by the younger generations, allowing both for sex trafficking to thrive and current Texas laws to continue to wrongfully criminalize trafficked children for selling underage sex instead punishing the people truly at fault.

Glorification of Pimp Culture

Pimp culture has been normalized and glorified by the media to the point that the term “pimp” has become part of common, everyday slang and language. Music videos play a large role in desensitizing the public to the sex trafficking industry by normalizing the act of stripping for girls. It is a common joke for girls and women to laugh about dropping out of school to become a stripper because of how the media glorifies the act of prostitution with its large revenue. Jasmine Johnson, a caught pimp who led a group of eight women in the city of Dallas, stated that she was drawn to pimping because she was “in love” with how the “money was good” (Walters). The opportunity to be rich is what draws many young girls and boys to the trafficking industry. Children and teenagers see pimps as cool and aspire to be like them while young girls view them as handsome men who will cherish and protect them. Common usage of the word “pimp” in language today further normalizes and glorifies sex traffickers with phrases, such as “you are such a pimp” and “that’s so pimp,” that are synonymous to wealth, power, and respect. Furthermore, many books positively use the word in their titles despite not having anything to do with actual pimps themselves – such as Pimp Your Finances: Get out of Bad Debt and Money Wisely by Ken McLinton (Otranto). This normalization of pimp culture plays a large role in desensitizing society to the disgusting role sex traffickers play in selling women.

In the media, controversy in the anti-trafficking movement arose when rap musician Necro published a violent song in 2010 titled “Sex Traffic King” (Hughes). Necro’s music carries a pimp theme to it with his album covers picturing himself in classic, stereotypical pimp attire. His disturbing lyrics and emphasize on violence against women in his songs were brought to the attention of anti-trafficking activists, specifically the Barnaba Institute, who launched an online petition to prohibit this song from being played (Hughes). Necro responded that he does not support human trafficking despite making a toast to white slavery in his other songs (Hughes). Lyrics of the song include “not even immigration knows where your place is, you’re faceless from the streets of the Czech Republic to being checked into a snuff flick, snatched in public, a piece of snatch, a good catch” and “you’re flipping like a mouse in a trap, you can’t get out, you’ve been caught, you’ve been bought, you’re an import, your existence is unimportant, no one will report you missing.” While he is protected under his right to freedom of speech, his disturbing lyrics demean trafficked victims and normalizes the sex trafficking industry for young age groups who are not educated both on what his lyrics mean and sex trafficking truly entails. Glorifying the act of pimping for young children creates one of the biggest challenges to ending sex trafficking both nationally and in the state of Texas.

Sex Trafficking and Effects in Texas

Despite making preventive measures against sex trafficking, Texas continues to criminalize a child for prostitution offenses by penalizing them for having paid sex. Moreover, the Texas Family Code can actually be utilized to define pimps as essentially the legal caregivers of trafficked minors if they provide them shelter, food, and clothing (Becker). With young girls at the mercy of prosecution, pimps use this law to their advantage by forcing them to carry out crimes. This causes an uneven distribution of criminality. Julietta Hua brings to light the questions “how are we being oriented to see victimhood in one situation but not another?” and “how do we come to see some issues as human rights concerns worthy of attention and intervention and not others?” Furthermore, how should Texas determine the legibility of sex trafficking victimization? The cultural narrative defines and affects what makes a person a victim of sex trafficking. Yet, this same culture is affected and controlled by the existing romanticized and glorified pimp culture in Texas. Teenagers are the most vulnerable to being trafficked and yet are not being educated and made aware of the issue in schools. Moreover, teenagers are made even more vulnerable to trafficking operations with the increased usage of social media, for sex traffickers can easily facilitate their crimes in and around schools through text messaging (“Recognizing”). A common misconception is that sex trafficking only occurs in “city streets and dark motel rooms,” but traffickers can actually be found in schools and playgrounds (“Recognizing”). With children being the most vulnerable to being trafficked and desensitized, Texas should do more to raise education on the problem in order to change the cultural narrative that affects how sex trafficking victims are defined by the law.

Due to the romanticization, glorification, and lack of education of sex trafficking, teenagers in Texas easily can fall prey to pimps and then be penalized for it by Texas laws. Additionally, the Texas Family Code places responsibility onto child prostitutes for their sexual acts despite not even properly educating them in the first place. This flaw in Texas legislature facilitates the promotion of sex trafficking by allowing pimps to emotionally manipulate their victims by persuading them that the law cannot protect them and they will be penalized for the criminal acts that the pimps force them to do. By seeing pimps as not doing anything wrong, Texas laws further devalue sex trafficking victims. This, in addition to the problem of romanticizing and glorifying pimp culture, further distances Texas from solving and ending the sex trafficking industry.


Because of the lack of awareness and education, children are growing up believing that sex traffickers are “cute” and “cool.” This mindset demeans the sickening experiences of sex trafficking victims and causes the industry to continue to thrive. Furthermore, the romanticization of sex trafficking and glorification of pimp culture causes society to be desensitized to the horrifying, growing problem of trafficking both globally and in Texas. This normalization causes people to not consider it a problem, therefore causing a lack of advocation and change. Creating better and accessible education on trafficking in schools is vital for increasing awareness of the issue to the younger generations who are most at risk of being trafficked. Through the hanging of posters and providing presentations, the problem becomes more visible. Also, resources – such as pamphlets and brochures – on how to attain help and guidance for trafficking victims should be shared and easily accessible to the youth. Through these learning materials, more emphasis should be placed on how the term “pimp” is not synonymous to “cool” in order to help decrease the normalization and glorification of pimp culture. A short lesson could be done in English classes that specifically examines and teaches the true meanings of misused words, like “pimp,” as an effort to further raise awareness. Society is at fault for allowing sex trafficking to occur because of how the industry is romanticized and glorified by all. But by increasing awareness and education, normalization of trafficking will eventually end and be seen as the sickening issue it truly is.



Works Cited

Anderson, Porter. “YA Reading and Writing Trends from Wattpad’s 60 Million Users.”

Publishing Perspectives, 25 Oct. 2017,

Aronowitz, Alexis A. “Sex Tourism and the Sex Trade.” Global Social Issues: An

Encyclopedia, edited by Christopher G. Bates, and James Ciment, Routledge, 1st

edition, 2013. Credo Reference,


Becker, Cristina M. Violating Due Process: The Case for Changing Texas State Trafficking

Laws For Minors, 20 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 85.

Casserly, Meghan. “Rachel Lloyd Gives Forbes the Truth on Pimps, Johns, and Trafficking

American Kids.” Slavery Today, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2012,


Hua, Julietta. “Telling Stories of Trafficking: The Politics of Legibility.” Meridians: Feminism,

Race, Transnationalism, vol. 12, no. 1, 2014, p. 201+. Literature Resource Center,

Hughes, Donna M. “Victory against Pimp Culture: National Music Seller Pulls Album with

Sex Trafficking Song.” Citizens against Trafficking, 22 June 2010, pp. 1–15. Academia,

Nichols, Andrea J. Sex trafficking in the United States: Theory, Research, Policy, and

Practice. Columbia University Press, 2016.

Otranto, Malea. “Let’s Stop Glamorizing Pimp Culture.” UNICEF USA, 21 Jan. 2016,

“Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking in Schools: A Guide for Texas Educators.”

Texas State: Texas School Safety Center,

Schauer, Edward J., and O. Oko Elechi. “Victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” The

Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Jay S. Albanese, Wiley, 1st

Edition, 2014. Credo Reference,


“Sex Industry.” The Anti-Capitalist Dictionary, David E. Lowes, Zed Books, 1st edition,

  1. Credo Reference,


Sobel, Meghan. Sex Trafficking and the Media: Perspective from Thailand and the United

States. Routledge, 2018.

“Texas Human Trafficking Fact Sheet.” Center for Public Policy, Jan. 2013,       TX.

TheSwaggyBieber06. “Sold. To Justin Bieber.” Wattpad.

Walters, Edgar, et al. “In Their Own Words: How Texas Pimps Recruit and Sell Girls for Sex.”

The Texas Tribune, 13 Feb. 2017,

Wattpad Corp. Wattpad – Stories You’ll Love, Dec. 2006,

Watson, Katie. “Texas Law Facilitates the Sex Trafficking Industry.” TribTalk: Perspective on

Texas, The Texas Tribune, 11AD, 2017,

Withers, Mellissa. “Pimp Culture Glorification and Sex Trafficking.” Psychology Today,

28 Apr. 2017,

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Catherine McCarthy

Homelessness in Texas

by Catherine McCarthy

            Being homeless in the 1600’s meant being “whipped, branded, jailed, indentured, enslaved, or executed,” (Diluio Jr. 2011, 30). Homelessness has been documented in America since the 1640’s (Fisher 2011). It is an old problem that still exists today. According to Robert Fisher of the Plymouth Congregational Church, homelessness was thought to be a moral and character flaw in the 1700 century. A homeless person in that time had to deal with the societal stigma of being homeless and would have to prove their worth (Fisher 2011). According to John J. Dilulio Jr. (2011) from the New York Republic magazine, today’s homeless are victims of abuse, mental illness, alcoholics, drug addicts or poor.  Homelessness transcends socio-economic racial and gender status, yet it seems to particularly affect people with mental illness, lack of affordable housing and lack of jobs for unskilled work. What is the broad picture of homelessness in Texas and what programs are being used to combat the issue?

The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition gives the definition of the homeless as an individual or family who lacks a fixed, and regular adequate nighttime residence (TCHC 2012). It goes on to break down how the new rule funded by HUD categorizes the homeless: literally homeless, imminent risk of being homeless, homeless under other federal statutes and fleeing from domestic violence (HUD 2012).  Peter Rossi, a professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst made a distinction between “literal homeless” and “precariously housed.” The “literal homeless” are those who do not have a regular house, apartment, mobile home, rented room or a shelter to lay their head down at night (Diluio Jr. 2011 28) They sleep in places not intended for this purpose, including bus stations, abandoned buildings, cars, vans, trucks and make shift metal roofed shanties whereas the precariously housed are poor individuals who are about to be evicted, and thrown out by relatives, as they struggle with paying the rent (Diluio Jr. 2011). In Texas, as of 2016, there are an estimated 23,122 homeless people (HUD 2011). Approximately, 7 out of every 10,000 persons in Texas are homeless (“History & Background” 2018). Texas is one of five states in the U.S. that account for the majority of homeless in America (Murphy and MacLaggan 2013).

Mental illness is a main contributing factor to homelessness. Of these homeless Texans, 19% have severe mental illness (Hogg Foundation 2013). The experience of homelessness can elevate the people into psychiatric distress as well as psychosocial vulnerability (Castellow 2015). According to the BioMed Central Journal, homeless persons living with a mental illness experience multiple deprivations, such as cognitive deficits, depression and higher risks of being physically ill, which can cause risks of suicide (Godikumar 2015). Behavioral health problems can prevent people from having stable relationships with developing trust with others. One of the issues they experience is shame from being in the situation they are in (Jimenez 2015). Mental illnesses can affect a person’s physical health in chronic ways such as aches and pains, obesity, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, sinus issues, headaches, irritated skin, anxiety and tics and twitches (Hayward 2016). According to Anuj Shah, a Professor of Behavioral Science, poverty affects the cognitive functions in the brain with the juggling of the demands of lacking food, a home and having their needs not met. Many homeless people are forced to think critically about every day decisions and they see life through a different lens. Also, the lack of money can make it hard to think clearly, leaving a person to feel mental fatigue (Andress 2018).

Addressing the needs of those homeless who are mentally ill is more difficult. Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) of Tarrant County offers programs for mental health services for those in crisis, by monitoring and providing programs for group counseling as well as individual counseling. They encourage mental health recovery with safe affordable housing options and housing resources. Supported case management is offered with training of community reintegration skills for the person dealing with mental illness. In Texas, another source of help for the homeless is the Healthcare for the Homeless. They work closely with public health providers and the county health department as well as the Harris County Center for Mental Health to provide direct patient care for the homeless who are vulnerable and in need of immediate care (“History & Background” 2018).

The mentally ill homeless in Texas can benefit from advocacy programs like the Hogg Foundation for mental health. This foundation supports a permanent affordable housing community. Permanent supportive housing is housing support with safety and affordability, community integration, full rights of tenancy, immediate access to housing, availability of voluntary and flexible services and functional separation of housing management and health and human services. The Hogg Foundation encourages advanced wellness and recovery, people who have been through the process themselves or have gone through it with a family member can know what it is like to experience the hope of recovery (McGraw 2012).

One major issue facing all homeless people is the lack of affordable housing. The city of Fort Worth began to address the needs of the homeless after an article by reporter Jeff Guinn was published in the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1997. Guinn wanted to experience what it would be like to live the life of a homeless man for one week. He set out for the quest in April. Guinn chose April thinking it would be warm. Guinn discovered his first night to be cold and rainy. He found that the homeless were not about camaraderie, they were all about themselves and did not prove to be a source of support to Guinn or one another. He found he could get a free bowl of soup from a nearby Mexican restaurant. By 11 p.m. he was ready to find a place to sleep. He found a parked cargo van that was not locked and crawled in there for the night. He was able to use the bathrooms at the library. For Guinn, dignity was nowhere to be found. People did not make eye contact with him nor did they speak with each other. Union Gospel and the Presbyterian Night Shelters had lines forming down the block simply for a bed for one night. From this experience, Guinn deduced that by sharing this personal experience with others through his reporting of the homeless situation in Fort Worth, this would call attention to this problem. As a result, community leaders and politicians decided to try to address the issue. This was done by starting the Day Resource Center (DRC) in 1999 which offered services to the homeless such as showers, bathroom facilities, and life skills training. An average of 350 homeless people visited the center each day (Branch 2012).  Eventually, this led to the center opening a complex with twenty-four apartment units. The complex housed people of whom 80% were homeless within that neighborhood. This effort of combatting homelessness eventually led to DRC putting housing first with rapid rehousing programs used to improve housing for the homeless people. This provision provided a safeguard of hope. DRC has partnered with the Paulos Foundation which developed the Palm Tree Apartments that are a permanent supportive housing community complex (Day Resource Center for the Homeless 2017).  The biggest impediment of ending homelessness is the extreme shortage of affordable housing. Of all the communities nationwide Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranks among the lowest for available and affordable homes for low income people.

Over the last decade Texas, has made progress in a much-needed solution to solving the problem with affordable housing for the homeless. One such example is the Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) program which is a grant award funded by nonprofit organizations, cities and counties of Texas. These programs help the homeless to regain some stability quickly. The ESG program provides help in operating shelters, provides essential services to the shelter residents and rapidly re-house homeless individuals. The Housing Choice Voucher assistance program of Section 8 assists with rental payments on behalf of the homeless individual.  There are income stipulations, and the size of the family is considered. The Texas Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) which is a HUD-funded program implemented to help and re-develop foreclosure properties that may provide a livable home for a homeless individual. The state of Texas also has a Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Program (PRA) which provides rental assistance for extremely low-income persons with disabilities (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs).

In addition to the other programs a new facility in Fort Worth, Texas is True Worth Place. It opened in 2016 to help the homeless, this facility serves individuals based on five core values: respect, compassion, integrity, responsibility, and hope. True Worth Place offers a safe and clean day shelter that includes restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, telephones, computers and temporary storage. It helps individuals with healthcare, employment, education, mental health, and substance abuse treatment, benefits, as well as critical documents such as acquiring a social security card and ID and birth certificate.

Another major issue for the homeless is the lack of jobs for unskilled labor which contributes to homelessness. Clean Slate, is a program offered through Fort Worth Presbyterian Night Shelter (“Clean Slate” 2018). It is designed to erase any issue that may cause the homeless from working. The goal is to provide work for the individuals that will allow them to feel like part of a community. Clean Slate provides a place to live at the shelter. The shelter partners with the community to provide the homeless with jobs. For example: The Clean Slate workers provide litter pickup, make-ready cleaning, commercial kitchen rental centers, and commercial janitorial services. These guests are welcome to work with the program indefinitely; however, it is with the hope that the training will prepare them to transition permanently into the workforce.

Star of Hope Mission in Houston offers life changing positive programs, these structured programs are examples that encourage educational opportunities for spiritual growth, life management, employment and recovery (Star of Hope). There are programs for men as well as women and family development classes. Compassion is the model for a purposeful out reach. Community partners and donors help to transform the people who live in poverty. They inspire the homeless to rise above their circumstances and set measurable goals.  Many services are offered to help set them on a path to success. Career development curriculum, personal development, spiritual life programs, workforce development, computer learning centers, counseling, emergency walk-in centers, health clinics, new hope substance abuse recovery, on-site day care, partnership with other agencies, and new journey class transition-age youth initiative programs are among the many opportunities offered for growth in making positive changes in the lives of the homeless.

Solving the problem of homelessness is a marathon not a sprint. If the problems causing homelessness are met, success can be accomplished. Purposefully, addressing the mentally ill, the lack of affordable housing for the homeless and providing skills for gainful employment solves many of the issues in providing a solution to help the homeless. Some of the government programs are working that are implemented for the homeless in Texas, but more needs to be done to continue to address the issues for those who have not been included in the solutions. More funding is needed to sustain the ongoing efforts for the plight to end homelessness in Texas as well as the United States. Regardless of their circumstances, the homeless deserve to be treated with dignity while meeting their needs. Strong communities are built on partnerships and collaboration in setting a goal to improve life for the less fortunate. The state and local governments must persevere by continuously seeking news ways to sprint in the race toward improving homelessness.



“11 Physical Symptoms of Mental Illnesses.” ActiveBeat. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Andress, Jamal. The Mental Cost of Poverty: How Being Poor Leads to Poor Decisions. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Branch, Alex. “Fort Worth Daytime Homeless Shelter Must Move.” Star-telegram. Accessed       March 29, 2018.

Branch, Alex. “Housing First Approach.” Journal of Housing and Community Development, November/December 2012, 8-13.

Castellow, Jennifer, Bret Kloos, and Greg Townley. “Previous Homelessness as a Risk Factor for Recovery from Serious Mental Illnesses.” Community Mental Health Journal 51, no. 6 (2015): 674-84. doi:10.1007/s10597-014-9805-9.

“Clean Slate Program.” Presbyterian Night Shelter. September 08, 2017. Accessed March 29, 2018.

DiLulio, John, Jr. “There But For Fortune.” The New Republic. June 24, 1991.

“DRC Solutions to End Homelessness.” Day Resource Center for the Homeless Is Now the DRC. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Fisher, Robert. “The History of Homelessness in America 1640’s to the Present.” Plymouth Congregational Church, November 16, 2011, 2.

Godikumar, Vandana, Joske Bunders, Kanala Easwaran, Nirmal Jude, and Mrinalini Ravi. “International Journal of Mental Health Systems.” International Journal of Mental Health Systems. August 18, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Godikumar, Vandana, and Inge Petersen. “Health System Governance to Support Integrated Mental Health Care in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.” International Journal of Mental Health Systems 9, no. 1 (2015). doi:10.1186/s13033-015-0004-z.

“History & Background.” Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston. Accessed March 29, 2018.

“Home.” TCHC – Tarrant County Homeless Coalition. Accessed March 29, 2018.

“Houston Coalition for the Homeless.” Coalition. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Jimenez, Sally. “SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. March 20, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Keeler, Meda. “360 West February 2015: Page 108.” 360 West February 2015 Page 108. February 01, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2018.{“page”:”110″,”issue_id”:243877}.

McGraw, Peter. “Housing for People with Serious Mental Illness.” Hogg Foundation. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Murphy, Ryan, and Corrie MacLaggan. “Interactive: Texas’ Homeless Poplulation Declines.” The Texas Tribune. November 27, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2018.

“Rehousing Homeless a Win-win for City.” JPS Health Network. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Star of Hope. Accessed March 29, 2018.

“Welcome to HUD Exchange.” HUD Exchange. Accessed March 29, 2018.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Megan Miller


            Access to quality health insurance is a problem for many people, but especially for children. One of the main goals of recent U.S. health insurance policies is to increase health insurance access for children. The driving force behind Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) is the recognition that investing in children’s health is important to their education and ability to contribute to society in the future. A cumulated review of research examining the impact of CHIP on children’s health is positive and suggests that CHIP programs are advancing the goal of health coverage which is better health. Although the source of funding for CHIP is often controversial, CHIP provides effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life.


Effective, Affordable Health Insurance for Needy Children: CHIP

            Children need health insurance. Access to quality health insurance is a problem for many people, but especially for children. One of the main goals of recent U.S. health insurance policies is to increase health insurance access for children. The driving force behind Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) is the recognition that investing in children’s health is important to their education and ability to contribute to society in the future. Joycelyn Elders, a former U.S surgeon general, said, “You cannot educate a child who is not healthy, and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated” (Oral Health and Learning 3). The availability of health insurance for children will increase their utilization of medical care and hence improved overall health. Even though Medicaid was expanding during the 1980s, millions of children remained uninsured (The Children Health Insurance). Something needed to be done to address the gaps in coverage between the poorest populations where children received Medicaid and the more affluent populations where children and their families could not afford health insurance. With bi-partisan leadership, the federal government established the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 as a federal and state partnership. States administer the program with the expressed purpose of providing health insurance for children who do not qualify for Medicaid nor have access to other forms of insurance (The Children Health Insurance Program). State’s Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) gives families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but earn too little to be able to afford private insurance, a means of covering their children (“CHIP in Texas”). Families USA, the voice for health care consumers, claims that “lawmakers from both parties have recognized that investing in children’s health is an investment in the country’s future” (Mahan). Although the source of funding for CHIP is often controversial, CHIP provides effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life.

Even though CHIP is a state-federal partnership, states have flexibility in designing their program and determining how to spend the federal dollars received for the health insurance program for these uninsured children ( A state must follow some federal guidelines, but overall, states have more flexibility in their administration of CHIP than they have with Medicaid. Some states have separate CHIP programs, and some states include CHIP as part of their Medicaid expansion. Of the children enrolled in CHIP, roughly 44 percent are involved in separate CHIP programs, and the other 56 percent are part of a CHIP Medicaid expansion program. (Mahan). Combined, CHIP and Medicaid provide insurance coverage to approximately 39 percent of all children in the United States (Mahan).

CHIP is available to children under 19 years of age (Mahan). Those who apply for CHIP are required to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. In the state of Texas, CHIP can be offered to children up to 20 years old under certain conditions (“CHIP In Texas”). The enrollment in CHIP is open to any pregnant women, regardless of age, so that they can receive coverage for their unborn child (CHIP In Texas). Families USA mentions four categories of children who benefit from CHIP: children with special health care needs, children in working families, children of color, and children in rural communities (Mahan). According to Texas Health and Human Services, more than 4 million low-income Texans are covered by Medicaid and CHIP (“About Medicaid and CHIP”).

Families qualify for CHIP based on their annual income and size of their household. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “the median income eligibility threshold for CHIP is 255 percent of poverty level which is $60,818 for a family of four” (Vestal). In Texas, CHIP applicants in a “household of four must not exceed an annual income of $49,086 in order to qualify for benefits; a five-person household cannot surpass an annual income of $57,449 to be eligible” (“CHIP in Texas”). There is a small cost the families must pay towards their enrollment in CHIP. In Texas, it costs the family $50 or less per child per year depending on the size of the household (“CHIP in Texas”). Medicaid is different because there is no cost, and there are no fees for co-pays. CHIP is affordability to low income families reduces the uninsured rate among children. “Nearly 90 percent of children covered are in families earning 200 percent of poverty or less” (Mahan).

Paradise found that in 2011, 87 percent of children who were eligible for Medicaid and CHIP participated in these programs nationwide, although the rate did vary by state and by subgroups of children. It is noteworthy to mention that between 1997 and 2012 “the uninsured rate for children fell by half, from 14% to 7%” (Paradise), signaling that the program is working. CHIP and Medicaid play an especially large role in this drop in uninsured children, especially for specific populations of children, those of color and those with special health care needs. According to Julia Paradise’s research on the impact of CHIP, “CHIP and Medicaid cover more than half of Hispanic children (52%) and Black children (56%), compared to one-quarter of Whites (26%) and Asian (25%) children” (Paradise, 2014). Children with special health care needs are the most likely group to be eligible for CHIP and Medicaid programs. According to a research study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chip covered 8.1 million children at a total cost of more than $13 billion in 2013, and the program has been instrumental in reducing the number of uninsured children “nationally from 10.7 million in 1997 to 6.6 million in 2013” (The Children Health Insurance 1).

Paradise’s research concluded that “Medicaid and CHIP have significantly expanded health coverage among the U.S. children and provided a coverage safety-net for children in working families during economic downturns. The programs now cover more than one-third of all children (37%) in the U.S.” (Paradise). A more recent 2017 study by Families USA concludes that “together CHIP and Medicaid cover 39 percent of children in the United States. Today CHIP covers nearly 9 million children” (Mahan). These research studies suggest that the trend of uninsured children is decreasing because of CHIP, and CHIP has helped reduce disproportions in coverage for low-income children and children of color.

Ensuring that all children have access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage is where most citizens and congressional leaders agree. CHIP participants “have much better access to primary and preventive care and fewer unmet health needs than uninsured children. Medicaid and CHIP programs have indeed expanded the health benefits for children. In some cases, CHIP even provides better services than private insurance when it comes to children’s health and development needs, such as speech therapy and dental health (Mahan). However, benefits do vary because of the flexibility states have in designing their CHIP programs. Federal guidelines mandate that all CHIP programs cover speech and language therapies, hearing test and hearing aids, pediatric benefits, and dental care (The Children’s Health Insurance Program; CHIP In Texas). States that do not have CHIP as part of a Medicaid expansion afford the state greater openings to adapt their CHIP program according to what they see as the children’s greatest needs. Paradise’s research found that all separate CHIP programs cover outpatient and inpatient mental health services, without limits, as well as substance abuse treatment, annual eye exams and coverage for glasses (Paradise). According to, Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program “covers visits to doctors, necessary vaccines, any needed prescriptions, lab tests and x-rays (“CHIP in Texas”). Texas CHIP also includes any needed hospital care for qualified children” (“CHIP in Texas”.).

Dental coverage is another huge benefit for children. Dental disease is the most common childhood disease (Oral Health and Learning). Julia Paradise mentioned that “untreated dental problems cause pain, school absence, and missed work among parents” (Paradise, 2014). Oral disease decreases a child’s appetite and hinders their ability to pay attention in the classroom, which leads to school failure (Oral Health and Learning).  Research presented by the US General Accounting Office’s publication, Oral Health: Dental Disease Is a Chronic Problem Among Low Income and Vulnerable Populations, concluded that “poor oral health can lead to decreased school performance, poor social relationships, and less success later in life. Children experiencing oral pain are distracted and unable to concentrate on schoolwork” (Ora; Health and Learning 1). David Keller, et al., concluded that children under CHIP or Medicaid are more likely to get preventive medical and dental care than privately insured children (Keller, et al).

It is apparent by the body of research done on CHIP that children who have CHIP are taking advantage of the program and more likely to seek preventative care (Lurie 1518). Ithai Zvi Lurie concludes her article, Differental Effects of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Expansions by Children’s Age, with the findings that physician visits did increase under CHIP, especially for post-elementary age children (Lurie, 2009). Routine physician visits by older children allow doctors the chance to educate these teens on risky behavior, proper diet, exercise, and birth control. It is also significant that children under CHIP are less likely to experience unmet medical needs. Paradise states that “in nine of ten studies cited in the Congressionally-mandated evaluation of CHIP, rates of unmet need were reduced by 50% or more” (Paradise), and Families USA makes similar claims (Mahan). However, statistical evidence regarding the actual impact of CHIP on the overall health of children is mixed. Julie Paradise’s research on Medicaid and CHIP completed in 2014 found that some studies show “a positive impact on health outcomes, including reductions in avoidable hospitalization and child mortality, while others show no impact on health” (Paradise).  For example, one “national study found that a 10-percentage point increase in Medicaid/CHIP eligibility (e.g., from 30% of children in a state in a particular age group to 40%) resulted in a roughly 3% decline in child mortality” (Paradise). Paradise concludes that most low-income parents enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP appreciate the program and express a high degree of satisfaction with “the quality of care, the range of covered services, and affordability” (Paradise).

Since more children have their health care needs met under CHIP, it stands to reason that these children will have an increased chance of achieving greater success in school. Julia Paradise’s review of the research leads her to conclude that “there is evidence that improved health among Children with CHIP translates into educational gains with potentially positive implications for both individual economic well-being and overall economic productivity” (Paradise, 2014). Families USA also advocates that “children’s health, school performance, and future success in life are all linked” (Mahan). A study by Steven Shaw, et al. compared healthy children to unhealthy children. One of their conclusions was “unhealthy children are at higher risk for school problems, failing, or dropping out” (Steven, et al.). Common sense would suggest that since healthy children are more likely to attend school, and since attending school provides children with more opportunities to learn the material, healthy children are more likely to succeed in school. Success in school contributes to the child’s ability to become a productive adult. Few would debate the significant correlation between a child’s school performance and future success. Carolyn Schwarz and Earl Lui reviewed published articles which looked at the link between health insurance and school performance (Schwarz and Lui). They were led to draw the conclusions that “good health is connected with improved school performance and having health insurance is linked to better health” (Schwarz and Lui  1). The rational deduction to be made would be that children who are insured experience good health, and healthy children have a greater chance to succeed in school.

CHIP does, in fact, provide effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures that children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life.  A cumulated review of research examining the impact of CHIP on children’s health is positive and suggests that CHIP programs are advancing the goal of health coverage, that is better health. Kenney and Chang state it best: “By many different measure, SCHIP has been a success. It has provided health insurance coverage to millions of children and improved their access to care” (Kenney and Chang, 2014, p. 59). Unfortunately, uninsured children remain, and many of these children are eligible for CHIP. Better education of parents might be needed so these children can get the insurance services available through CHIP, and thus allow these children to receive the health care they need. Of course, financing for CHIP will always be an issue. States are likely to face funding issues as the federal government deals with their own large federal deficit, and congressmen must determine what federal money will support which programs.


Work Cited

“About Medicaid and CHIP.” Spoink. August 26, 2016. Accessed March 23, 2018,

“CHIP In Texas.” CHIP In Texas | Accessed March 23, 2018,

David Keller, et al., “Kids with Medicaid, CHIP get more preventive care than those with private insurance,” JAMA Pediatrics, November 16, 2015,

Kenney, G., and D. I. Chang. “The State Children’s Health Insurance Program: Successes, Shortcomings, And Challenges.” Health Affairs, vol. 23, no. 5, Jan. 2004, pp. 51–62., doi:10.1377/hlthaff.23.5.51.

Lurie, Ithai Zvi. “Differential Effect of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program Expansions by Childrens Age.” Health Services Research 44, no. 5p1 (2009): 1504-520. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2009.01005.x.

Mahan, Dee. “The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).” Families USA. October 10, 2017. Accessed March 23, 2018,,

Accessed March 23, 2018.

Oral Health and Learning.

Paradise, Julia. “The Impact of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): What Does the Research Tell Us?” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. July 17, 2014, Accessed March 23, 2018.

Schwarz, Carolyn, and Earl Lui. The Link Between School Performance and Health Insurance: Current Research. 2000,,5068.1.

Shaw, Steven R., Paul Gomes, Anna Polotaskaia, and Anna M. Jankowska. “The relationship between student health and academic performance: Implications for school psychologists,” School Psychology International, Vol 36, Issue 2 (2015),

“The Children Health Insurance Program.” Pew Trusts. Published October 2014.

Vestal, Christine. “Covering Kids: The Children’s Health Insurance Program.” USA Today. September 04, 2014, Accessed March 23, 2018.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Anna Gaspard

Anna Gaspard
Professor Toups
March 13, 2018

The Deadly Influence of a Negligent League

            In 2012, a 25-year-old National Football League linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before committing suicide, leaving his infant daughter without parents. A year later, it was discovered that Belcher suffered from a degenerative brain disease that’s shockingly common among professional football players (Delsohn). Kyle Van Winkle, a new father and football fan, died outside of Arrowhead Stadium in 2013 after being assaulted by tailgaters (Babb, Rich). On the evening of the Philadelphia Eagle’s Super Bowl victory, celebratory riots wreaked havoc on the streets of Philadelphia, with people looting stores and breaking public property (Fedschun, Calicchio). None of these events are unique, and though they took place over the course of several years, they all share a common thread: the negligence of the National Football League.

The National Football League has become a paramount fixture in modern American culture. In 2015, the National Football League’s championship game, known as the Super Bowl, averaged 114.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in United States history (Pallotta). The NFL’s audience is immensely dedicated, with many Americans following a ritualistic routine on Sundays during football season. We gather with friends and family to eat our preferred grub (likely from a sponsor of the NFL) and watch the game while donning official merchandise in the name of team spirit. This support empowers the NFL, but the League has proven that it is not worthy of such power. The NFL has been negligent in exercising its influence over its audience, failing to ensure the safety of football lovers, fans and players alike, and this negligence has led to destruction and death.

Concussions and chronic trauma encephalopathy have made themselves known as the largest and deadliest threat to football players. Chronic trauma encephalopathy, commonly referred to as CTE, is a brain disease caused by concussions that has no existing treatment and can only be diagnosed postmortem. The Concussion Legacy Foundation, a group dedicated to raising awareness and researching CTE, defines the disease and some of its affects:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. …Some common changes seen include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia. As the disease progresses, some patients may experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia.

The Foundation runs a brain bank where professionals like the director, Dr. Ann McKee, study donated brains in search of information on CTE. Through this process, Dr. McKee examined 111 brains of former NFL players. It was determined that 110—all but one—of the subjects had CTE. In many instances of NFL players committing violent crimes or suicide, a post-mortem examination of their brain results in the discovery of CTE, such as with Jovan Belcher. As previously mentioned, in 2012, 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Belcher murdered his girlfriend, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, before killing himself. When the family filed a suit against the NFL a year later, his body was exhumed and found to have signs of CTE (Delsohn). But even with prominent cases such as Belcher’s being reported, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees. When asked about player safety in regards to concussions and CTE in 2017, Goodell retorted that the average NFL player lives five years longer than others (Barrabi). Goodell didn’t offer a source for his information, nor did he clarify with whom the lifespans were being compared.

The NFL’s approach to concussions and related issues, such as CTE, negatively affects our local community as well. In 2016, KHOU reported on high school football player from the Woodlands, Grant Milton, who suffered from a brain injury that required the removal of part of his brain.  Flippant remarks like those from Gooddell, the face of the most influential organization in American football, downplay the dangers of the sport and hinder progress towards making it a safer sport for players. Research like Dr. McKee’s clearly indicates that serious football players are at risk of developing CTE, but the NFL ignores this fact. Acknowledging the connection would open the door for lawsuits from players, both former and current, as well as their families, such as in the case of Jovan Belcher. Even if a NFL player does in fact live five years longer than an unknown average, those extra years are likely filled with health issues like dementia. The lack of respect for such a serious issue implies that the organization values money and reputation above the long-term quality of life of its players.

The life-threatening action isn’t restrained to the field either. In 2016, Joe Bauer took his wife to the M&T Band Stadium in Baltimore to support the Ravens. Joe got into an argument with a fan of the opposing team, the Raiders, which escalated, resulting in the Raider’s fan punching Bauer. Bauer fell and hit his head, causing a serious brain injury that threatened his life. While the NFL has implemented tools to help ensure the safety of fans in the stadiums, including an anonymous text message line to report inappropriate behavior, there’s violence within parking lots as well that they have failed to effectively address. One man, Kyle Van Winkle, died in 2013 after being assaulted by several men in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot. When others went to go look for help during the assault, they could not find any officials. The NFL claimed that there were almost 500 arrests in the parking lots of stadiums in 2015 alone, yet in the year of Van Winkle’s death, security was nowhere to be found (Babb, Rich).

The NFL is aware the issue of fan violence at its venues, but have only tried to fix it with retroactive methods, such as texting hotlines. Current employees for the security department do not make public statements about it, despite former employees voicing concerns about the fan temperament in stadiums and parking lots. People who go to stadiums instead of simply watching at home bring in a lot of revenue—they pay for tickets, parking, food, drinks, and often merchandise. Releasing a public statement risks alienating rowdy, passionate fans like those at the Arrowhead Stadium in 2016, and that is not a financial risk the NFL is willing to take. When someone purchases a ticket for a NFL game though, they likely don’t know just how dangerous the crowd may get, and they assume security will be there to protect them if things do get a bit out of hand. The League and the individual teams continue to deny responsibility for these events, but they have also failed to inform their audience of the risks of attending a game, ultimately disregarding their safety.

In February of 2018, Philadelphia streets were flooded with fans celebrating the victory of the city’s team, the Philadelphia Eagles, at the Super Bowl. During the celebrations on the streets, people looted stores and even flipped over a car. Fans tore down light poles, jumped onto awnings, and climbed onto buildings.  Luckily, only three arrests were reported with no fatalities, only leaving behind a giant mess with no estimate of the monetary value of damage (Fedschun, Calicchio). This was not the first celebratory riot of this nature. Some years, riots are prevented by police intervention, with hundreds of officers monitoring streets in the cities of the two teams that make it to the big game. Seattle was not so fortunate in 2014, when riots following the Super Bowl resulted in 25,000 dollars of damage to a historic building, a glass pergola. As seventeen panes worth of glass covered the ground surrounding the pergola, people burned furniture in intersections and threw bottles at police officers. Six people were arrested, a surprisingly small number compared to the thousands of rioters that rampaged that night (Dejohn).

Violent trends noticed in the stadiums can affect not only the surrounding communities, but the communities of the participating teams’ origin as well, even when they are miles apart—the 2018 Super Bowl took place in Minneapolis, not Philadelphia. The police in these communities have to prepare for events that may not even occur, potentially directing resources away from emergencies. The NFL does not discourage these destructive celebrations, nor does it dedicate any of its coveted Super Bowl commercial time to remind fans to respect their communities. A service announcement to viewers as a reminder to respect their communities could be effective in reducing the scale of the riots, but the NFL doesn’t feel the need to do so, especially when it would take the place of a paid advertisement. This follows the trend of the organization’s continued refusal to use its platform to prevent violence.

Fans may agree with the League’s opinion that riots and fights are due to violent, often drunk fans and are not the responsibility of the NFL. The mentality behind this belief is valid; people are responsible for their own actions. However, it is a narrow-minded way of looking at the issue. The NFL is a multibillion dollar company because of the supporters, and they could easily invest some of that revenue into ensuring a safer environment. By publicly condemning rioters, the NFL may lose some support, but it may make fans think twice before acting recklessly.

The National Football League may be negligent, but that just means there are many opportunities for improvement. Roger Goodell will inevitably be replaced as commissioner, and his successor will have a chance to bring humanity into the organization. The NFL needs people in power who are free to speak out and fight for the safety of the community of fans that have made the League what it is today. As CTE research continues, the League will be forced to admit to the serious threat it poses to its players. Groups like NFL Players Association (the players union) and the Concussion Legacy Foundation can work with the NFL to devise ways to reduce concussions on a professional level, which would have a ripple effect on the approach to all levels of football. Ultimately, if the NFL continues to fail to address these issues, the American people could create a new competitive league. America’s love for football goes beyond the National Football League, which is successful because of our nation’s love for community and prime athleticism. This passion is what will make it possible to find solutions to the deadly environment of the NFL.

Works Cited

Babb, Kent and Rich, Steven. “Fan Violence and How to Contain It.” The Washington Post, 28

October 2016,


bb29-bf2701dbe0a3_story.html?utm_term=.bf1fe395551a. Accessed 10 March 2018.

Barrabi, Thomas. “Roger Goodell Downplays Player Safety Concerns.” Fox Business, 1 August

2017, Accessed 14 March 2018.

Concussion Legacy Foundation. “What Is CTE?”

resources/what-is-CTE. Accessed 10 March 2018.

Concussion Legacy Foundation. “VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank” resources/brain-bank. Accessed 10 March 2018.

Dejohn, Irving. “Seahawks Fans Celebrate Super Bowl XLVIII Victory.” New York Daily News, 3

February 2014,

celebrate-seahawks-super-bowl-win-article-1.1600079. Accessed 13 March 2018.

Delsohn, Steve. “Belcher’s Brain Had CTE Signs.” ESPN, 30 September 2014, Accessed 11 March 2018.

Fedschun, Travis and Calicchio, Dominick. “Super Bowl Celebration in Philadelphia Turns

Rowdy.” Fox News, 5 February 2018,

/philly-celebration-turns-rowdy-after-eagles-win-super-bowl.html. Accessed 14 March 2018.

KHOU Staff. “Grant Milton’s Uncle: ‘We Don’t Know What’s Up Ahead’” KHOU11, 2 December

2016, Accessed 10 March 2018.

Pallotta, Frank. “Super Bowl XLIX Posts the Largest Audience in TV history” CNN Media,

2 February 2015, Accessed 13 March 2018.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Anders Lindstrom

Anders Lindstrom
ENGL 1301.4009
Dr. Hughes
9 November 2017

The Future of Energy

            The perpetually moving wheels of progress stop for nothing. They turn day after day, year after year. Technology has revolutionized countless industries, from the manufacturing of automobiles to the harvesting of crops from a farm. The same is true for our electric grid. Where coal once reigned supreme, it is being slowly supplanted by greener, more economic power sources such as natural gas and renewables, like wind and solar. As the world heads into an exciting future of renewable energy, the question is simple. Given the power output of renewables is largely dependent on environmental variables, how do we maintain the reliability of the power grid as we know it today? A solution exists, and it might even bolster the American economy in the process.


            To address any given issue, one must first understand the problem that calls for a solution. The way our grid has historically functioned under primarily coal energy has been simple. The more fuel that feeds the power plant (in this case coal), the more energy is produced. Natural gas and oil power plants also operate on a very similar principle, as do thermo-nuclear reactors to an extent. This creates a very reliable means of increasing electrical production as demand requires, and decreasing it during off-peak hours. Unfortunately, renewable energy throws a wrench into this system. The power output of solar and wind cannot be scaled up or down on demand, as is reliant on certain environmental variables. In the case of solar, this is reliant on time of day, cloud cover, and the orientation of the sun relative to the solar panels (Astbury 211). Wind energy has fewer variables to worry about, but relies entirely on the wind strength conditions at its given location. Because of this variance in power output, a power grid constructed purely of renewables and emissions free sources of power would seemingly prove unreliable. Fortunately, there are an array of potential options.


            There is a wide array of potential solutions to stabilize the power output of a largely renewable based electrical grid. Some have advocated for an all or nothing approach, in which a single option must be used across the board. Fortunately, our nation is not constrained to a single option, as there are many. Some are best suited to certain geographical areas, where others are not. The first option is extremely simple. Say one has a grid largely comprised of solar power in Nevada. During the day, a significant amount of power is generated, yet none is created at night. For a largely solar powered grid to be successful, one must find some way to store the power generated during the day, so that it can be utilized during the night. To do this, a very simple technology already exists that the public has most likely already heard of: hydroelectric power, or more specifically, Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity. Where conventional hydro-electricity is a power generation method in and of itself, pumped storage hydroelectricity is an energy storage medium instead. During the day, solar panels (or any other form of renewable, such as wind) power a series of water pumps, elevating water from a low-lying reservoir, into a higher lying one. At night, water is then lowered from the high-lying reservoir into the lower lying one, passing through a hydroelectric turbine generator on its way down, thus creating electrical power after dusk (Rehman 588). While this is perhaps not the most efficient electrical storage medium, the mechanics behind it are simple, and it has already been implemented in certain areas successfully.

The next potential energy storage medium is one most are already very familiar, albeit on a much smaller scale: batteries. Rather than taking electricity, storing it in a mechanical medium (pumped storage hydroelectricity), and then converting it back into electricity, batteries allow one to store electricity as electricity, and it stays that way. This energy storage technique can be somewhat cost prohibitive, as high capacity batteries are still expensive to manufacture, as many require rare earth elements such as lithium. A significant advantage to this approach, however, is the sheer simplicity of the storage medium. Unlike pumped storage, batteries do not require water, a complicated pump system, hydroelectric turbines, or reservoirs. Such a system is currently being actively developed and installed for various utility companies by Tesla corporation (Lambert).

Using a combination of the aforementioned electrical storage mediums may prove invaluable to efforts to construct a truly next generation, sustainable power grid. To that end increased government funding to sponsor research and development efforts of the variety of corporations involved with energy storage technology is advocated. By utilizing government funds to give American companies an edge in this arena, not only can the United States become the world leader in electricity storage solutions, it can export its technology to other nations as well. Not only will the nation lead the way towards a future of zero emissions and sustainability, but it will be opening new, potentially massive markets in which an economy could benefit.


            First and foremost, the largest benefits of having an effective energy storage solution is the ability for us, as a society, to push forward and continue our roll-out of renewable, sustainable energy. There are obvious benefits to being able to construct a carbon free power grid, such as its impact on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, however there are additional tangible benefits.

For one, the construction and installation of these energy storage solutions would entail a significant effort. Many jobs could be created in this sector. For instance, individuals who work in the coal industry could be re-trained and given the tools and skills to work in a new industry with a bright future, rather than a stagnant and declining one. Further, retrained coal miners would no longer have to spend their days underground in hazardous conditions, and could work in a much safer environment on the surface. Another benefit would be an increase in energy independence. Unlike other fuel sources (such as oil), wind and solar based renewable energy is inexhaustible and highly abundant just about everywhere.

Additional benefits would stem from further economic growth in the United States. To support this developing industry, large factories, distribution facilities, and offices would need to be constructed. It would create many domestic manufacturing jobs, require many engineers to design and implement the technology, and provide jobs for countless administrative, sales, and other personnel.


            A significant amount of work will be required to continue the charge forward on the path of progress. There will no doubt be great costs incurred by the transition to renewable, next-generation energy, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. By funding the development of energy storage solutions, the nation will be able to not only take a step towards securing the environmental future of the planet, but will be able to economically benefit from such efforts as well. By ensuring that the United States leads the world in energy storage technologies, efforts will be made to help save the planet, provide jobs to countless Americans, and even make a profit in the process.



Works Cited

Astbury, Chrissy. “How America’s Solar Energy Policies Should Follow (and Stray) from Germany’s Lead.” Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, vol. 27, no. 2, ser. 2017, 1 July 2017, pp. 211–211. 2017, doi:10.18060/7909.0051.

Lambert, Fred. “Tesla Quietly Brings Online Its Massive – Biggest in the World – 80 MWh Powerpack Station with Southern California Edison.” Electrek, 23 Jan. 2017,

Rehman, Shafiqur, et al. “Pumped Hydro Energy Storage System: A Technological Review.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 44, Apr. 2015, pp. 586–598., doi:10.1016/j.rser.2014.12.040.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Nikohl J. Allgood

Adoption as Relinquishment and How It Impacts Mental Health

by Nikohl J. Allgood


According to psychologists, adoptees are overrepresented in mental health treatment settings (Sunderland, 2010).  A study published in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that an adoptee’s risk of a suicide attempt is four times greater than their non-adopted peers (Keyes, Malone, Sharma, & McGue, 2013, p.7). Adoptees also present at higher rates than non-adoptees with a number of psychological disorders including ADD, depression, and substance abuse disorder (Sunderland, 2010). This paper will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and what can be done to reduce this risk.

Adoption as Trauma

Shareen Pine, an adoptee, describes adoption as a “traumatic, lifelong experience that is rarely recognized as one” (2015). Most people do not see adoption as a traumatic event, in fact the majority of us who have had little personal experience with adoption envision adoption as something out of a fairy tale. The problem with this way of thinking is it ignores the immense trauma and grief that accompanies every adoption. Paul Sunderland, a therapist specializing in treatment of addition and adoption issues, explains that every adoption begins with at least one relinquishment and every relinquishment in the early years of development causes trauma. He believes Developmental Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will soon be recognized as a subcategory of PTSD. To those who question whether adoption begins with trauma, Sunderland says, “Can we imagine, is there a bigger trauma than being separated from your mother, the one person you need at the beginning of life? I think not” (2010). Another respected doctor who has studied the effects of early trauma on mental health, Gabor Maté, explains that separation from the birth mother whose voice, body, heartbeat, and rhythms the newborn is used to can have a devastating effect on the infant’s nervous system. A baby needs a consistent caregiver. Many relinquished children move several times before being adopted. The fact that adoption is forgotten as a factor in emotional security amazes Maté (1999, p. 51).

Effects of the Trauma of Relinquishment on the Brain

Hormonal Imbalance

Most women who give their babies up for adoption live with a great deal of stress during the pregnancy. This stress causes her hormones to remain at abnormal levels, especially cortisol which is the stress hormone. Cortisol affects infants developing brains and nervous systems which puts all adoptees at a greater risk of psychological problems (Maté, 1999, pp. 51-52). In their book Reparenting the Child Who Hurts, Caroline Archer and Christine Gordon reiterate the impact cortisol has on the brain, specifically that it is known to affect the development of neurons during pregnancy and immediately following birth (2013, p. 23).

High levels of cortisol as well as adrenaline occur during any trauma, but in mother-infant bonding trauma, reduced levels of serotonin also occur. These irregular hormone levels make a huge impact on an infant’s brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. Infants are born with over 100 billion neurons. These neurons make connections based on experiences. Sunderland quoted famous neuropsychologist, Allan Schore, who observed, “Neurons that fire together, wire together” (Schore as cited in Sunderland, 2010). Relinquishment at birth feels life threatening; cortisol and adrenaline levels raise, neurons fire, and now the infant’s brain has made neurological connections between danger and abandonment. This causes the adoptee to experience real fear of any kind of separation or abandonment. An adoptee also experiences a strong need for attachment while at the same time fearing it, because the first important person in their life left, so they expect everyone will abandon them eventually as well (Sunderland, 2010).

Loss of Identity

Fear of Abandonment

The fear of abandonment can cause a child to live unconsciously on high alert. “There was a trauma, I’ve got to make sure it does not happen again” (Sunderland, 2010). Adoptees often internalize the belief that they caused the first abandonment and hope to somehow prevent another by pretending to be something they are not. Either by trying to mold themselves into what they think their adoptive family wished they were or by trying to be the good, perfect child. In both scenarios, the adoptee hides their hurts, fears, and struggles in an attempt to be accepted (Sunderland, 2010).

No Pre-trauma Personality

Adoptees have no remembrance of their identity before their trauma of relinquishment. Due to this, they begin to believe they are the person they adapted into. Most people who experience a traumatic event can remember a time before the trauma. That knowledge can help them get back to the person they were before the event occurred. When trauma happens at the start of life, there is no pre-trauma life to remember (Sunderland, 2010). There is nothing to measure their current self against. It is difficult to become the person you would have been without the trauma when you have no idea who that person might have been.

Lack of History

A loss of identity can also stem from a lack of personal history. Most individuals look to their families or their culture to help them connect to the world – to help them form a sense of who they are. Frequently, adoptees have little or no knowledge of their beginnings. Pine asks, “Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?” She says this led to internal questioning she kept secret out of fear and insecurity (Pine, 2015). This kind of questioning does nothing to alleviate the pain. Questions asked silently can never be answered and will lead to further feelings of frustration and isolation as more questions arise.

Recovery from the Trauma of Relinquishment

Thankfully, experts agree, healing of developmental trauma is possible at any age though will prove more effective the earlier the process is begun (Archer & Gordon, 2013).


Creating a Healing Environment for Adoptees

Counseling for adoptive parents. When possible, prospective adoptive couples should seek counseling prior to adopting. Counseling will help them deal with any grief caused by being unable to conceive a child. It will also help to ensure they are not unintentionally attempting to fill the gap of a biological child with an adoptee. It is impossible for an adoptee to become someone they can never be in order to heal a wound in their adoptive parents, and this only contributes to further loss of identity for the adoptee (Sunderland, 2010).  After healing the wounds of their own grief, a couple is in a much better position to help their adopted child heal as well.

Investigate the adoptee’s history. When going through the adoption process, the adoptive parents should gather as much information about the child’s natural family as possible. This will ensure they are fully equipped to help their child explore their history when the time comes.

Be honest and open about the adoption. Acknowledge their loss, grief, anger, and pain. Allow them to share their feelings openly. Archer and Gordon put it well when they observe, “It may be painful for us and our children to think about past hurts, but this in no way equals the pain of bearing them in isolation” (2013, p. 215). They need to know it is acceptable to share their feelings about their birth parents without feeling disloyal. When a child is able to talk about the trauma in their past, it begins to lose its power (Archer & Gordon, 2013, p. 78).

Provide reassurance and acceptance. Give adoptees permission to be themselves and to make mistakes. Let them know they are not expected to be perfect; no one is perfect. Take steps to get to know who they really are and accept every part of them. Reassure them they are loved and accepted for who they are, not what they do or who they pretend to be.

Find friends, mentors, and counselors uniquely able to help. Look for people who have similar backgrounds either culturally, if necessary, or as a fellow adoptee. Enlist the help of people who can connect with the adoptee in ways the adoptive parents are not able to and celebrate those connections. This will not only help with the adoptee developing their own identity; it also gives them the opportunity to make new, safe attachments.


Although the trauma of relinquishment presents adoptive families with a unique set of struggles, adoption provides a child who has been relinquished with a family to love them. When adoptive parents proactively address the issues facing their children, they provide an environment where the adoptee can begin to heal. The correlation between mental illness and adoption remains largely unstudied. More research is needed to determine how differing approaches to healing affect an adoptee’s mental health long term. Until then, acknowledging the trauma of relinquishment and being aware of the elevated risk of mental illness in adoptees bring the first steps toward healing.


Archer, C., & Gordon, C. A. (2013). Reparenting the child who hurts: A guide to healing developmental trauma and attachments. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Keyes, M., Malone, S., Sharma, W., & McGue M. (2013). Risk of suicide attempt in adopted and nonadopted offspring. Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 132(4), 1-8. Retrieved from

Maté, G. (1999). Scattered: How attention deficit disorder originates and what you can do about it. New York: Penguin.

Pine, S. (2015, January 9). Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted. Washington Post. Retrieved from

Sunderland, P. (2010, November 9). Adoption and addiction ‘remembered not recalled’. Lecture. Retrieved from

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Jesse Ward

Jesse Ward
Dr. Gonzales
ENGL 1301
21 November 2017

What PTSD Looks Like

Brian Scott Ostrom sits alone in a waiting room on a blue-checkered cloth chair. The chair has brown wooden arm rests, but he uses neither one. The chair to his left is open and has a magazine sitting on the cushion. An open area is to his right, and his green backpack rests against his chair. No one is sitting next to him. Two seats over to his left, another man sits waiting as well. Scattered throughout the lobby, several individuals sit waiting to be seen. Most appear to have been sitting there for a while. Some have a book or an iPad out to help pass the time. Others, like Brian, have headphones in so they can listen to music while they wait. This is how all waiting rooms in every VA Medical Center across the country look.

Brian prefers to go by his middle name: Scott. Scott is a Veteran of the Iraq war. He is sitting in a waiting room in the VA Hospital. His hands are together holding his cell phone in his lap. He appears restless, even anxious. His eyes peering through his glasses look uneasy. His mouth is wide open as if he is taking a deep breath very slowly. He shows all the signs of someone who has been patiently waiting for his turn. One by one, people are called. With every announcement of the next patient’s name, he anxiously waits to hear his name called. His anxiety slowly turns into frustration as each minute passes. Scott does not know why the other patients are there. He only knows that they too must need to see a doctor, just as he does. All of the other patients are veterans, varying in age. Scott reminds himself that he is not the only one who needs to see a doctor and his turn will come shortly. This only temporarily subdues the overwhelming anxiety that fills Scott.

You see, Scott struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or more commonly known as PTSD. He, like many other returning war Veterans, struggles to cope with everyday life due to PTSD. It affects every aspect of his life, and there is no way of getting away from it. No break. No pause. No relief. Instead, constant fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, impatience, resentment, paranoia, sleep deprivation, mal-nourishment, and stress are a few of the overwhelming feelings Scott experiences daily. This disorder is affecting his quality of life in ways that make him consider any way possible to stop it. He contemplates suicide almost daily. He can tell you his detailed plan of how he would commit suicide. Just by hearing his plan, you can tell that it has been rehearsed dozens of times in his own mind. Hearing him speak of it will send shivers down your spine. He has convinced himself that death may be his only escape from the side-effects of PTSD. However, at the same time, you can see that he battles with himself internally about that decision. Otherwise, why else would Scott be here sitting in a waiting room outside the pharmacy in the VA Medical Center in Denver, Colorado?

Scott finally hears his name called. He tells the doctor about the issues he is having and how they are affecting his life. After seeing Scott’s mental state, the doctor prescribes him some antipsychotic medication. Just another medication, another pill that he has to take. It seems as though Scott has a pill to take for every feeling he experiences. Two months later, Scott is finally accepted into the PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program: a program designed to help Scott deal with the traumatic events triggering his PTSD. A program that will hopefully help Scott cope with the variety of overwhelming emotions he feels constantly and lead a more normal life. Time will tell whether the program helps Scott or not. He is optimistic about it and speaks of a day when he no longer struggles. He hopes that day is soon. In the meantime, he will work the program and focus on himself.

All too often, veterans return from war and battle with PTSD. Some cases are minor and eventually subside on their own. Others, however, such as Scott’s, require treatment. Oftentimes, veterans are scared to reach out for help. They are afraid that by admitting that they need help, they will be labeled as weak or crazy. So, they say nothing about it and try to deal with it on their own. Sometimes they can suppress the side-effects; other times they cannot. Meanwhile, the people that they are truly hurting are their family members. PTSD is a sickness and is no different than alcoholism; PTSD requires special treatment in order for its victims to live a healthy and normal life. Episodes of depression or anxiety can be so overwhelming at times that suicide seems like a relief. To many veterans who struggle with PTSD, the thought of committing suicide is less frightening then the thought of reaching out for help.

Just like Scott, I too have battled with PTSD. After coming home from serving 13 months consecutively in Iraq, I was not the same. I had paranoia so bad that I got anxiety driving, going into a gas station, or even spending time with loved ones who I had not seen in a while. I would lay down at night to go to sleep, but my mind would begin to play tricks on me. I would start hearing noises that could not possibly be real. I would break out in sweats from the anxiety and paranoia that someone was trying to break into my home. I had multiple panic attacks at places such as church, the grocery store, and even at my in-laws’ house. The only thing that brought me comfort or relief from these symptoms was medication or a pistol. I began sleeping with a loaded pistol sitting next to me on my night stand. I bought a dog and trained to him to be extremely protective of my house. So protective that he would growl at my own brothers and sisters. Eventually, the temporary relief faded. Once again, I was left alone to deal with my PTSD. Just like Scott, I finally broke down and went to seek help. It was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life—much harder than physically fighting in Iraq.

So, if you happen to pass by while Scott is sitting on that blue-checkered chair patiently waiting his turn to be seen, sit down next to him. Ask him how he is doing and if he needs anything. Take a moment of your time to see if he is okay. You never know. You may just say something that changes his life. You may talk him out of committing suicide because he no longer feels alone. If he is sitting there with his headphones in, tap him on the shoulder and say hi. More importantly, tell him that, as a nation, we have not forgotten his sacrifice and because of his service, we will always be here to support him. Let him know that he is not alone, and we are eternally grateful for his sacrifice. Because of people like Scott, we all can sleep better at night. We can go to Starbucks in the morning on the way to work. We do not have to worry about a suicide car-bomber driving into the Starbucks while we wait for our caramel macchiato. Scott and other veterans need to know that we appreciate what they sacrificed for our freedom. If anything, our support will provide them with a moment of peace, and that sliver of peace is the least we can offer.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Minerva Gillis and Marilyn Shaughnessy

Medicine on Mars
by Minerva Gillis and Marilyn Shaughnessy


Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Laura Ramirez

Fred Marer and The Marer Collection
by Laura Ramirez

Ramirez1_Fig. 1
Voulkos, Peter
Sculpture with thin colemanite glaze
35 x 21 x 21
Stoneware, (82.2.1)
(MacNaughton et al. p. 95)

Carefully organized within the walls of Scripps College in California lies a vast conglomeration of nearly 900 works by American, British, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese artists (MacNaughton 9). As one studies this collection, one begins to notice that the core of this diverse collection is focused locally on west coast ceramics— especially the work of a handful of artists nicknamed “the Otis group.” In the mid 1950’s, these artists challenged ceramists’ tradition-bound attitudes (MacNaughton 9). Through their creation of non-utilitarian, larger-than-life sculptural clay art, they would soon catch the attention of a man who would in time collect many of their works. This man would collect enough works to not only fill an entire house, but also detail the historical outline of an important period in ceramic history. These works, also known as the Marer Collection, were all obtained by one man with a humble passion for ceramics: Fred Marer.

Ramirez2_Fred Marer (pictured left in Fig. 2) was a humble mathematics professor at Los Angeles City College from 1937 to 1976 (MacNaughton 9,48). While he was interested in the ceramics works created at the Otis Art Institute as a child, it wasn’t until the early 1950’s after Marer bought his first ceramic piece, hat he became truly invested in modern ceramics of the time, as well as the artists that were making it (MacNaughton 10). The piece bought by Marer was the striped piece entitled Bowl, 1954 (pictured right in Fig. 3) Ramirez3_by leading Southern California artist Laura Andreson (MacNaughton 10; Koeninger 17, 19). Marer soon after ended up attending a faculty exhibition at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (later Otis Art Institute) and instantly became interested in the work of a young artist named Peter Voulkos (MacNaughton 10).

Ramirez4_Peter Voulkos (pictured left in Fig. 4) was the head of the ceramics department at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1954 to 1957. According to MacNaughton, this is the place where Voulkos led a “revolution in Clay” (MacNaughton 47). The artists that were involved in this group were Billy Al Bengston, Michael Frimkess, John Mason, Mac McClain, Ken Price, Janice Roosevelt, Jerry Rothman, Paul Soldner and Henry Takemoto. Ramirez5_These young artists wanted to break free of the tradition surrounding ceramic forms, creating “nonfunctional, sculptural works that gave the medium a new freedom of expression” (MacNaughton 47). And as illustrated in the image on the right (Fig. 5), these artists absolutely would create a new, less traditional platform for ceramic art with help from the financial and moral support given by Fred Marer.

After discovering this “dynamic group of young artists” that were producing “new and unfamiliar works that challenged traditional notions of ceramics” in 1955, Marer would soon befriend them and become a major support for the group as their patron (MacNaughton 10,48). Marer loved so many of these ceramic works that his own home was soon overrun by pieces of all shapes and sizes. Marer was not a particularly wealthy man; however, he was able to collect so many works despite not having a lot of money because he knew the artists personally, and bought directly from them — sometimes even buying works immediately after they came out of the kiln (MacNaughton 10). Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection states it simply: “What he lacked in funds he made up for in engagement with artists” (MacNaughton 9). It was this unrestrained love and support that Marer had for these works that truly helped many of these artists continue to survive and experiment as young creators. Marer collected simply because he liked pieces, not due to any fame or importance of an artist. This was tantamount in Marer’s contribution towards supporting a vast range of artists, both new and unknown.

The Marer Collection features an incredibly vast series of artists and works, however the major “core” of this collection was created by the original “Otis group” that triggered Marer’s collecting career. Such artists include Peter Voulkos (51 pieces in collection), Michael Frimkess (47 pieces– some collaborative with wife Magdalena), John Mason (23 pieces), Jerry Rothman (22 pieces), Henry Takemoto (29 pieces), and Paul Soldner (16 pieces) (MacNaughton 9).

Ramirez6_In fact, it was through a friendship with Paul Soldner, a ceramist who came to Scripps College after graduating from Otis Art Institute (pictured left in Fig. 6), that Marer eventually donated parts of his expansive Marer collection to Scripps (MacNaughton 11). Marer now insists that the collection be widely used for teaching. Specifically, teaching that “artistic change must always be valued for its continuity as well as for its uniqueness” (Koeninger 24). This additional focus on continuity reveals that Marer was very aware that it was much more than the Otis group itself that led and built up to new creative frontiers in ceramic art. Not only this, it speaks to Marer’s awareness of the continued effect on modern ceramic art that came after this period of time. To Marer, ceramic innovation was tied together by a historical timeline of works new, old, and spanning across the globe.

In fact, Fred Marer was not only a major supporter of local works, but works from all over the world. Marer held interests in European, English, and Japanese works. This is further exemplified by the vast series of international works found within the Marer Collection (Koeninger 22). As small examples, Marer traveled to Japan in 1977 and visited England every year from 1978-85 (Koeninger 22). Marer made many acquaintances on these trips to ceramic artists such as Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew, and Jun Kaneko ( Koeninger 22).

For a collection of works so varied in source and artistic direction, it is no surprise that the Marer Collection features an incredibly wide range of cultural ideologies. This massive diversity of works from different cultures allows art historians clear snapshots into different ceramic movements during the specific period of the 1950’s.  As stated in Revolution in Clay: “These pieces offer unparalleled documentation and special insight into the creative development of that period (1950s)” (MacNaughton 9). Especially in the case of the California Otis group, these works depicted a “turning point in the history of contemporary ceramics when these artists and their colleagues broke the boundaries of functional ceramics to claim a freedom of expression long enjoyed by painters and sculptors” (MacNaughton 9).

In my own personal opinion, Marer’s genuine love for ceramic art is something to be admired. I appreciate so much his non-discriminatory attitude towards a multitude of unique works by artists of all backgrounds. It is that simple “I bought things because I liked them” attitude that makes Marer so genuine and special as a collector (qtd. in MacNaughton 10). Here is a humble man that took on multiple teaching jobs in order to continue supporting artists of all levels. The idea of collecting not for renown, but for pure enjoyment is, in my opinion, something to be protected and held in high esteem.

It’s incredible that one man’s passion for art could become so large that it offers such a clear image of the 1950’s ceramic climate. Many of the works featured in the collection are from artists that would later become famous; however,  Marer was a man who bought them when they were made simply because he liked and saw something special in them. As Marer observed,  “When I acquire, I don’t look for types of work, but the work I like. I respond to each work individually” (qtd. in MacNaughton 10). Marer’s active and continuous support for ceramic artists is what truly makes The Marer Collection such an important part of art history.

Works Cited

Andreson, Laura. Bowl. 1954. Scripps College. Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al. Scripps   College, 1994, p. 28.

Fred Marer. 1956. Photograph. Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al. Scripps College, 1994, p. 10.

Koeninger, Kay. “The Studio Pottery Tradition, 1940-1970.” Revolution in Clay: The Marer        Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, Scripps College, 1994, pp. 17–24.

McNaughton, Mary Davis. “Innovation in Clay: The Otis Era 1954-1960.” Revolution in Clay:    The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, Scripps College, 1994, pp. 47–68.

— . “Preface.” Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, Scripps     College, 1994, pp. 9–11.

Paul Soldner’s M.F.A. exhibition at Otis. 1956. Photograph. Revolution in Clay: The Marer          Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al.        Scripps            College, 1994, p. 56.

Peter Voulkos’ trimming plate. 1970. Photograph. Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al. Scripps College, 1994, p. 101.

Voulkos, Peter. Covered Jar. 1956. Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary   Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al. Scripps College, 1994, p. 90.

—. Sculpture with thin colemanite glaze. 1957. Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton et al.

Scripps College, 1994, p. 95.

Posted in Visual Communication 2018

Tomás Córdoba Marín

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh: A Research Comparison Analysis

Tomás Córdoba Marín

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous Post-Impressionist artists that ever lived. His work is characterized by the extensive use of colors that appeal to the emotions of the viewer. He also was renowned for being an eccentric artist. Art historians and doctors have concluded that his mental health was tormented by schizophrenia. Art is said to be the expression of the self. It is extremely remarkable how an artist that went through so much pain in his life expressed his emotions in paintings that reflect the opposite. They are pure color ecstasy in motion. His use of color is so impressive, that it influenced many art movements following his death, including the Fauves and German Expressionists.[1] Beautiful art can be created from pain.

This pain was often recorded in a journal where the artist depicted many scenes from his daily life. These records often included landscapes. In these journals, it can be seen how Van Gogh was tormented by his psyche. However, he also reflected on his never-ending love for art. Van Gogh sent the majority of these entries in the form of letters to his brother, Theo van Gogh.  Theo was known to be the major economic support of his brother during his lifetime. Vincent only sold one painting in his life with Theo as the buyer. The majority of these descriptions were later recorded visually in his paintings. An interesting analysis can be made from this fact. How did Van Gogh’s paintings differ from his letters and journals?

To understand how a written record can differ from a visual one, it is pertinent to address the psychology of color. This field of psychology studies the influence of color in human emotions and behavior.[2] This branch of psychology is still in its early stages but can be an amazing tool when it comes to analyzing the formal characteristics of a painting. It has been widely used throughout history by artists and marketing companies, but it has just been recently formalized as a field of study. In the psychology of color, each color is linked to a certain emotion or behavior. For example, the color red is associated with feelings of anger, passion, and lust. Following this pattern of the psychology of color, the first description in a letter (Figure1) for analysis is the following made by Van Gogh:

Foreground of green and pink grass, on the left, a green and lilac bush and a stem of plants with whitish foliage. In the middle, a bed of roses. To the right a hurdle, a wall, and above the wall a hazel tree with violet foliage. Then a hedge of lilac, a row of rounded yellow lime trees. The house itself in the background, pink with a roof of bluish tiles. A bench and 3 chairs, a dark figure with a yellow hat, and in the foreground a black cat. Sky pale green.[3]

This letter refers to the painting The Garden of Daubigny (Figure 2). As it can be observed, Van Gogh is a master descriptor. The painting is remarkably similar to the description. This ability to portray landscapes so accurately from memory was only outmatched by his ability to communicate through color. However, this description differs in some respects from the painting. The first one is that Van Gogh describes the foreground as the green and pink grass. In the painting, it is clearly noticeable how the foreground consists of the much brighter house and sky. Van Gogh switched the traditional role of the foreground-background relationship by adding more color to the house and sky. This leaves the impression that the foreground is the house (that in a traditional color scheme would be the background). This shows how Van Gogh used color in order to change the perspective of his paintings without actually changing the composition. The second element that sets the difference between the written and visual descriptions is the dark spot in the painting. It is located on the left side of the painting among the trees. Van Gogh does not mention the inclusion of this spot but, ironically, is one of the most outstanding elements of the composition. If this is approached from the psychology of colors, it can be assumed that the inclusion of the dark blue spot can be associated with feelings of melancholy, depression, apprehension and fear. This can be interpreted as an inclusion of the memorial of the death of Charles-Francois Daubigny. Daubigny was a famous painter admired by Van Gogh and owner of the garden. The third difference from the letter is the color and shape of the cat. In the letters, it is emphasized that there is a black cat. In the actual painting the cat can hardly be seen. If the viewer is not paying enough attention, it can be confused as part of the grass.

The second letter to be analyzed is the one Vincent wrote in 1878 (Figure 3). The letter describes his famous view from his asylum in Saint Rémy. The famous view would later be interpreted into the painting, Starry Night (Figure 4), the artist´s magnum opus:

This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big. Daubigny and Rousseau did that, though, with the expression of all the intimacy and all the great peace and majesty that it has, adding to it a feeling so heartbreaking, so personal. These emotions I do not detest.[4]

This letter is crucial because it reflects pure intimacy. The final sentence of the letter recognizes that the artist was settled in the asylum. The letter describes a morning star, Venus. The artist exaggerates the star immensely in the painting. He does not achieve this by exaggeration of size but exaggeration of color. The star is significantly whiter than the rest. Once again, Van Gogh achieved magnificent communication through the use of color. According to the psychology of color, yellow represents emotions of happiness. This color dominates the painting and it can be interpreted as Van Gogh´s happiness. It is often thought that Van Gogh took his time at Saint Rémy as if he were on a mystical journey.[5] This letter does not differ in composition from the painting. The main difference is the exaggerated use of color in the painting. The colors are not described at all by Van Gogh in his letter, but are passionately portrayed in the painting.

Van Gogh was a great artist, and he not only achieved art through painting but also through his writing. They can be usefully compared, and the artist’s writing is very intentional. From the given descriptions, the reader can imagine exactly what the artist was seeing and living. The main aspect missing from the letters, as discussed above, is the accuracy of color. Van Gogh was much more expressive with his colors when it came to painting. This does not make his writing less enjoyable, but rather showcases Van Gogh’s facility for the use of color in order to express emotions. Reading the letters is an amazing experience that is enhanced by studying the paintings. It is always interesting to investigate what was going through an artist´s mind, which is crucial for a full comprehension of the art.



Figure 1: Van Gogh letter, 1890
Accessed April 13, 2018

Figure 2: Daubigny’s Garden,
Vincent van Gogh, 1890
Kunstmuseum Basel

Figure 3: Van Gogh letter, 1878

Figure 4: Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889
Museum of Modern Art, New York


Gogh, Vincent van and Anthony M. Ludovici. The Letters of Vincent van Gogh.

Lawrence, Kan.:, 2010.

Heller, Eva, and Joaquín Chamorro Mielke. Psicología Del Color (Spanish Edition).   Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2005.

Kleiner, Fred S. “Europe and America, 1870 to 1900.” In Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, 833. 13th ed. Vol. 2. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2009.

Soth, Lauren. “Van Gogh’s Agony.” The Art Bulletin 68, no. 2 (June 1986): 301-13.  Accessed April 13, 2018. doi:10.2307/3050939.

[1]Fred Kleiner, “Europe and America, 1870 to 1900.” In Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, 833. 13th ed. Vol. 2. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2009.

[2] Eva Heller, and Joaquín Chamorro Mielke. Psicología Del Color (Spanish Edition).

Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2005.

[3] Vincent Van Gogh, and Anthony M. Ludovici. The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh.

Lawrence, Kan.?, 2010.

[4] Van Gogh, 73.

[5] Soth, Lauren. “Van Gogh’s Agony.” The Art Bulletin 68, no. 2 (June 1986): 301-13.

Figure 1: Accessed April 13, 2018 doi:10.2307/3050939.

Van Gogh letter, Vincent van Gogh, 1890

Posted in Visual Communication 2018