Knight Life The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community Sat, 15 Aug 2020 02:29:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Class of 2020’s socially-distanced graduation ceremony Sat, 15 Aug 2020 02:29:34 +0000 Class of 2020's socially-distanced graduation ceremony

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Riots in the US are diminishing the intentions of the Black Lives Matter movement Thu, 25 Jun 2020 23:55:53 +0000 On May 25th 2020, 46 year old George Floyd died after being pinned down by a police officer for nine minutes. While Floyd’s death sadly isn’t the first to happen in this nature, the spread of the video of this event caused a social media uproar and has been the recent spark for protests advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement across the nation. 

For members of the Black Community, this has been one of the constant reminders that skin is definitive in their image as a citizen. 

“Even though I would consider myself a great student and law abiding citizen, it still feels like I’m at risk of being profiled just because my skin is very dark,” explained Loy Norrix 2020 graduate Henry Parwoth. “It makes me feel uneasy and scared around law enforcement even though I know most of them are there to protect and serve me. It keeps me up at night thinking about how there’s a possibility I could be killed because there’s a clear presence of stigma against black people in America, and there has been since this country was formed.”

Loy Norrix choir director Julie Pelligrino marches at a Black Lives Matter protest that took place in downtown Kalamazoo on June 12th 2020. This was a peaceful protest in which teens from the community gave speeches about social injustices that are faced by black people in the United States. Photo Credit: Tisha Pankop

The nation is in an uproar. In the midst of peaceful protests where people aim for justice and awareness of racial inequalities, riots have broken out and have skewed the message of the meaning behind these protests. 

“Personally I go to these protests to represent myself as a black man,” said Parwoth. “We’re looking for reform in the justice system such as more psychological screenings for police officers, ending no knock warrants, more training as well as encouraging good cops to wean out and hold the not so good cops accountable. Also a way to raise awareness for institutionalized and systemic racism in America. It’s a chance to get people’s attention.” 

Loy Norrix 2020 graduate Emma Hilgart-Griff stands among a crowd of people at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Kalamazoo. The protest was organized for the community to band together and spread awareness for/fight racial inequalities in our community. Photo Credit: Tisha Pankop

In response to riots that recently overtook peaceful protests, government officials from  larger cities called upon the National Guard and took other actions in hopes to contain crowds. 

Here in Kalamazoo for example, a city wide curfew of 7 p.m. was issued on June 2nd after a night vandalism and destruction of local storefronts such as Terrapin and Gazelle Sports on the downtown mall and other various buildings in the area on June 1st. 

Additionally the police force barricaded a large block on the downtown mall in front of the Radisson hotel to enforce the curfew. Kalamazoo is just one example of how city officials took action against rioters. 

The issue of the protests has seemed to create an even greater divide on how people feel about the government in the United States. 

On the one side, a large portion of the nation seems to agree that these protests are necessary to progress and to ensure justice for those who have lost their lives due to police brutality. Generally, those who riot and those who protest represent two different groups of people. 

According to their website, The Black Lives Matter group is meant to “focus on issues concerning racial injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, black immigration, economic injustice, LGBTQIA+ and human rights, access to healthcare, access to better education and voting rights and oppression.” 

The goal of the group is not meant to achieve reform or equality through means of violence; however, as violent offenders use the Black Lives Matter hashtag in their routine of destruction, this can lead to a mixed perception amongst the media. 

In turn, this has led to peaceful protesters being met by violent means. For example, on June 1st, a group of peaceful protesters in front of the White House were tear gassed by the National Guard

Despite the stigma that has developed from violence in otherwise peaceful protests, Parwoth supports the intentions of the Black Lives Matter Group while protesting. He believes the protests are helping to push awareness of dangerous situations faced by himself and millions of other people due to the color of their skin.

 “I don’t want to end up dead because of my skin color or because I’m looked at as a threat, so I’m gonna do what I can to prevent it from happening to me, my friends, or my family.”  Parwoth continued, ”Protesting is one of the ways I feel like I am contributing to a greater cause and I am already seeing the change. Many people have told me they’ve changed their minds about Black Lives Matter and that they now support it because they understand more about it. Those are the wins that no one speaks about and that’s also a step in the right direction for ending racism and police brutality.”

With a large portion of the nation taking action in donating, posting, and attending protests, there is still a long journey to achieving total racial equality in the United States. 

Parwoth, like many others, believes that the recent protests are important in order to move forward as a nation. 

Parwoth said, “Protesting is a catalyst that gains support for the overall goals of this movement and other movements like it. If the public wants change, change will happen and I believe that 100%. Slowly but surely, doesn’t matter when or how long, or how slow the rate of change is, change is inevitable.”

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Loy Norrix People’s Choice Awards Fri, 19 Jun 2020 23:14:10 +0000

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Cradle Kalamazoo: Ending infant mortality together Tue, 16 Jun 2020 15:40:21 +0000 Cradle Kalamazoo is a multi-agency community collaborative composed of more than 30 organizations working together in an effort to reduce infant mortality. Cradle Kalamazoo offers programs related to reproductive health, family support services, health equity and safe sleep. Cradle Kalamazoo’s mission is to reduce infant mortality while raising respect for women, families and children.

Infant mortality is measured by the number of deaths out of 1 thousand babies before their first birthday in a given area.

The infant mortality rate in Kalamazoo is 12.8; however, according to Cradle Kalamazoo, babies of color are four times more likely to die than neighboring white babies. The race of the infant is more influential in death than the family’s socioeconomic status. Structural racism has been identified as a key cause.

Structural racism is when systems are implemented in policies in social and political institutions that are a product of historical oppression. Structural racism impacts things related to housing, employment, income, education, health care and the criminal justice system, just to name a few. This creates a cycle of poverty and crime in neighborhoods that are already lacking in resources that many others take for granted.

Cradle Kalamazoo has its roots at the YWCA. Demetrias Wolverton has been working with the YWCA for over 4 years, and has been the director of mission impact for about two and a half years.

In 2019, Wolverton accepted the position as the co-chair of the health equity sub-committee. One major goal of the committee is to increase community awareness. The committee is doing this by holding programs for new families such as the community baby showers where parents receive gifts, parenting education and emotional support from the community.

Demetrius Wolverton: Director of Mission Impact

Wolverton wants to spread the message that we need to educate ourselves on these issues.

“We typically wait for the vulnerable community to tell us what’s wrong,” said Wolverton. “We need to begin to wrestle with the concept that we are creating these disparities and need to create the solution.” Wolverton continued, “We’re engaging elected officials; you can only reduce disparities through strong policies and procedures.”

Komal Razvi is the health equity program manager for the YWCA. Razvi believes that home visitation is a major component in solving the issue of racial disparities in infant mortality.

“They [home visitations] are bridging the gap between the client and clinics. We’re trying to take the services to the community,” said Razvi. “You are at high risk, just by being a woman of color.”

The YWCA has been working with the four main health care systems (Bronson, Borgess, WMed and Family Health Center) to streamline mothers at high risk in order to get appointments sooner.

“The gap is being reduced already. A majority of moms now are being seen in their first trimester, which wasn’t the case before. Because of this, more babies of color are being born with healthier birth weights and on time, which are two things that relate to infant mortality.”

Terry Morrow has been the Vice President of Development for Bronson Healthcare for about 5 years, and was the VP of health equity and inclusion before accepting this position. Morrow’s work usually revolves around raising money for primarily Bronson-based practices. He’s also on the Bronson management team where he learns to understand clinical operations and discuss strategies to better meet clinical needs.

Terry Morrow: Bronson Healthcare Vice President of Development

Morrow grew up in the Kalamazoo area and recognizes that Bronson is an anchor for our community.

A group of passionate people from Cradle Kalamazoo pitched the idea of Bronson healthcare becoming the operational backbone of Cradle in 2018. Cradle Kalamazoo is led by an Executive Director and is funded partially through Bronson, as well as other organizations and community foundations.

“We believe that large scale social change requires an intentional model of collective impact,” said Morrow.

Morrow believes that multi-sector collaboration is the most effectual for Cradle Kalamazoo, but when so many people and institutions are working together, it can get complex.

“Infant mortality for white babies in Kalamazoo is pretty low, and there is no reason it should be different for babies of color. Change requires that all 30 organizations are moving in the same direction,” Morrow continued.

Bronson plays a vital role in not just the health outcomes of patients, but also their thousands of employers and families.

“We are the largest employer in Southwest Michigan. The banks play a role, the education plays a role. We are just a part of society,” said Morrow.

While clinics play a major role, the community environment is even more impactful in health outcomes.

“The positive correlation of lack of resources and high infant mortality rates is not a coincidence,” said Razvi. “These policies don’t exist blatantly, but they have not gone away.”

This epidemic is a product of our community’s atmosphere, structural racism, and misinformation.

“If you are an employer in Kalamazoo, you fit into the solution to infant mortality,” Wolverton said.

Infant mortality is not only related to direct families and friends.

“No matter where you are in Kalamazoo, you know there are racial disparities here. Why does this side of town look like this? Why are there no grocery stores, fresh food, delivery drivers here?” Wolverton rhetorically wondered.

Morrow says structural racism is at the root of these problems as well.

“It [racism] happens in law enforcement, banking, employment, education, it happens when you walk into a store and are being treated differently. We just can’t ignore that we have to address this issue at a root level in society.” Morrow continued, “Our CEOs and executive teams of all institutions need to understand that these policies and procedures do not work for all people, we need to understand the role institutions play in infant health, before and after babies are born.”

In 2019, Bronson’s board of directors took the health equity pledge from the American Health Association which requires health care providers to do several things around cultural training, such as reviewing policies, challenging mindsets, and requiring providers to look harder at understanding how race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation affect health outcomes.

So what can YOU do to help? Wolverton says donations are always needed. New families need things as simple as diapers, car seats, wipes and Pack ‘n Plays.
“There are so many organizations, but sometimes we lack resources,” Wolverton adds, “We are a non-profit, we need all of the hands on deck we can get. We have space for everyone to volunteer.”
To get involved in Cradle Kalamazoo and help families in your community, visit their website at News & Events.

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Quarantine comic #2: The cat giveth, and the cat taketh away Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:00:22 +0000
Maya Crawford
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Reopening economy amidst Coronavirus is still dangerous Mon, 15 Jun 2020 16:30:50 +0000 While COVID-19 is still dangerous, the economy has struggled throughout the whole world. About ⅓ of employees have been fired because of the virus.

The people who have been fired want governments to reopen the economy so they can earn money again to live a normal life. They think it can happen because the situation is getting better that fewer people are catching the virus than before, and scientists are trying to develop the vaccine.

I don’t think governments can reopen the economy yet, though. It is true that the situation is getting better right now, according to other countries’ cases, reopening the economy has to be done really carefully.

For instance, Korea seemed in a good situation about the virus until a few weeks ago, and the government decided to end social distancing. However, it caused a sudden rise in the number of people who have caught COVID-19.

Not only Korea, but many other countries got worse after their governments decided to turn citizens’ lives back to normal.

It is important to reopen the economy and let people live their normal lives, but I still think people’s safety is much more important than any other stuff. I hope governors make decisions really carefully and all citizens could stay safe.

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Summertime tick update Mon, 15 Jun 2020 16:30:33 +0000 With the summer months quickly on the rise, so is the increase of bugs, especially ticks. While ticks may seem small and harmless, ticks carry many diseases, one example would be Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause rashes and headaches when it first shows symptoms. With Michigan being surrounded by lakes, it puts the Midwest at a higher risk of a rise in the tick population.

“And because its [the Midwest] natural areas so strongly resemble those of the northeast in terms of climate, the Midwest is also a center for Lyme disease: apart from New England, the states around the Great Lakes see more cases of Lyme disease than any other region,” reported

Lyme disease is spread through tick bites. Not every tick is infected, but if you are bitten by an infected one, it could spread. People that spend more time outdoors or have pests are at greater risk of infection. 

At first, Lyme disease usually causes symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache, and fatigue. But if it is not treated early, the infection can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system,” reported MedlinePlus.

There are ways to prevent tick bites, such as wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outside. Animals are prime hosts for ticks because they are lower to the ground and are covered in fur, making it harder to detect them. Animals can carry ticks and bring them into the home and they get on furniture and people. Pets should get flea and tick medicine to kill the embedded tick. 

Most medicine won’t stop the tick from getting on the animal, but once the tick bites the skin, they die. The best way to kill a tick is to burn it or drop it in alcohol, flushing a tick will not kill it.

“Going for a walk or a hike? Stay in the middle of the paths, away from the high grass and brush that may be on the edges of your hiking trail. Avoid going into the tall grass and brush if you can,” reported John Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center.

When going outside, pets rely on their owners to check them thoroughly for ticks and other unwanted guests. If left untreated, ticks can cause irreversible damage that could have been prevented if only the proper precautions were taken. So, take the time to check over both yourself and your pets after time spent outside.

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Quarantine comic #1: Time is relative Sun, 14 Jun 2020 18:00:35 +0000
Maya Crawford
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The importance of wearing a mask Sun, 14 Jun 2020 16:30:34 +0000 There are many people who don’t want to wear masks because they make it hard for people to breathe.

Wearing a mask plays a very important role in preventing COVID-19 spread because the most diffused path of COVID-19 is through saliva, and a mask can prevent saliva from coming out.

I found that there is a perception of reluctance to wear a mask. However masks are not only for the people who get very serious diseases.

For instance, in Korea, people wear masks when the air is not good because of the dust. Of course the dust is serious in Korea and it causes people to wear masks.

However, people in Korea even wear masks when they catch a slight cold, flu, have a fever, etc. Furthermore, they wear masks when they think they look tired.

The United States doesn’t really have bad air, so people in the U.S don’t need to have the habit of wearing masks as much as Koreans do, but getting used to wearing a mask will be helpful for their health.

It would also be great that people in the U.S. learn to have positive perceptions about masks so that people can actively wear masks.

Why don’t we start wearing masks when we have only slight symptoms of disease for other people? I believe this small change could make our world healthier.

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How the pandemic has affected me Sun, 14 Jun 2020 16:00:45 +0000 During this pandemic, a lot has changed around the world. We’ve had to be more cautious about everything we do. We have been on a stay-at-home order since March 13th, which is now being lifted as the state of Michigan reopens.

During this stay-at-home order, it has been difficult for me with doing online school work and just normal problems at home, but it has also made me learn a lot.

While staying at home has been hard, it’s been a good thing. So far no one in my family, thankfully, has had Covid-19. I do, however, know a lot of people who unfortunately did end up testing positive for a Covid-19. Each day it got worse and worse, more cases started to pop up, and also more deaths.

Michigan started slowly closing down & shutting down all businesses such as restaurants, pools, amusement parks — basically everything where people have large gatherings. Everyone started to stay 6 feet apart to minimize the spread. People now wear masks to avoid spreading the virus by sneezing or coughing on anyone. Multiple people couldn’t celebrate their birthdays due to the stay-at-home orders, and students couldn’t have a graduation ceremony or other traditions the schools usually have.

My dad personally got laid off from his job due to the virus. His job closed down fully for almost two months, but my mom thankfully still had hers. I would worry that she might get infected with Covid-19. Despite my dad being unemployed, he unfortunately could not sign up for unemployment and did not get the stimulus check. My dad is a hard-working immigrant who deserved that extra help.

We did struggle for a bit but we pushed through and my dad started working again at his usual job. As for me, I’ve taken more walks throughout this quarantine and enjoyed nature so much more. I spent more time with my family and tried to enjoy it as much as I could. It got hard staying at home all day, everyday, but I’m pushing through it all.

The pandemic changed a lot. It changed the way we live and the way we associate with people. It has been tough, but eventually we will all push through it. Hopefully soon we will eventually get back to living a normal life.

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