Friday, July 24, 2015

Rights, Rules, and Regulations: A Quick Guide for Interacting with Cops

photo source

The following information is not intended as legal advice. Rights, rules, and regulations will vary from state to state, as well as for members of the military.

Know that you have a right to...
  • be silent, as long as you cooperate when identifying yourself. If you wish to exercise this right to silence, say so.
  • say "no" if police ask to search your car or belongings (without a warrant).
  • leave if you are not being detained.
  • know why you have been arrested or detained.
  • speak privately with a lawyer without delay, even if you cannot afford to pay.
  • know an officer's name and badge number.
  • make a local phone call if arrested.
  • refuse a breathalyzer test, although your license will be irreversibly suspended.
  • observe, record, or videotape an officer, even if you are a bystander on the street, without interfering with the ongoing interaction.
  • report abusive police or their abusive behavior.
  • Police have the legal right to lie, bluff, or intimidate you.
  • Officers must tell you why you have been stopped or articulate observed suspicions.
  • You may only be strip-searched in private by an officer of the same sex.
  • Although you do not have to consent to a search, police may complete a "pat-down" to ensure their own safety.
  • If stopped in a car, an officer may ask you to step out of the car to ensure their own safety.
  • If stopped in a car, passengers have the right to remain silent, too.
  • If police do believe there is contraband inside your car, it may be searched without your consent.
  • If arrested or detained, police may not listen into calls with your lawyer.
  • Regardless of immigration or citizenship status, you have Constitutional rights.
  • Police misconduct may not be challenged on the street. Never resist or fight back.
  • Remember the details of your encounter.
  • Never lie. Never give false documents.
  • Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
  • Never secretly record the police.
  • Ask for clarification as to whether something is an order or a request.
  • Refusing to consent to searches or answer incriminating sources are not admissions to guilt or reasons for detainment.
  • If you are free, ask to leave. The best police interactions are short and sweet.
  • If in a car, park the car safely, but as quickly as possible.
  • If in a car, once parked, turn off the car, turn on your internal lights, open the window part way, and put your hands on the wheel.
  • If in a car, provide the officer with your driver's license, registration, or proof of insurance upon request. And then tell the officer where you're reaching and what for. If something is buried deeper inside a compartment or bag, make the officer aware of that.

"Officer, if I am under arrest or being detained, please let me know. If I am free to go, please let me know. If I am not free to go, please tell me why. I wish to exercise all my legal rights, including my right to silence and my right to speak with a lawyer before I say anything more to you. I do not consent to be searched. I wish to be released without delay. Please do not ask me questions, because I will not willingly talk to you until I speak to a lawyer. Thank you for respecting my rights."

American Civil Liberties Union
Flex Your Rights
Online Paralegal Programs

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#BLACKWOMENMATTER: On Sandra Bland, Angry Black Women, and Dignity


photo source
by Jaylin Paschal
As we all know, black women are not able to express normal, human emotions or opinions without harsh backlash. Although black women are constantly provoked, attacked, and taken advantage of-probably more than any other group of people-they are also constantly silenced and shrugged off. And although we, black women, are consistently lusted over, and our features and characteristics are consistently mimicked as "high fashion," we find ourselves repeatedly being told that we are undesirable and unworthy of attention, affection, or love. Black women are expected to be silent in all situations, even those that are offensive and even those that have been escalated by the other party. Our emotions, opinions, and asserts are almost always viewed as aggressive-regardless of whether or not they were formed in our own defense. And when we, black women, refuse to respond to this abuse with the proper hanging of the head and "yes, sir" or "yes, ma'am," we are deemed as attitudinal, bitter, and angry. No one takes the time to look at why we are upset, or to examine the conditions and cultures with which we are frustrated. They just lock their doors, and shake their heads at our "aggressiveness" while watching us out their windows. There is no attempt to understand our frustration, and there is no "freedom of speech" defense working towards our benefit as we try to advocate for ourselves. Black women are denied the empathy and understanding that so many others are granted, and take for granted. Our responses are not recognized as normal human reactions, because that would require the acknowledgement of our humanity. Instead we are pigeon-holed as the "wild" and "ghetto" beings who can be found stomping around mad at the world. The world that continuously belittles and rejects us.

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten "omg your attitude," or, more often "you're so angry lol" from (white) coworkers because I was not allowing management or customers take advantage of me. Whereas other (white) employees were called "strong" or "smart" for literally regurgitating what I had just said. As professor Marc Lamont Hill explained during a CNN interview, black women are often called out for having an attitude problem when, in fact, they just have a bit of dignity. And while that dignity is praised and revered when demonstrated by others, it is frowned upon and attributed to bitterness when exuded by us.

And there is no more perfect example of this than the tragedy involving Sandra Bland and a police officer that has gained nationwide attention.

Bland, who was apparently being followed by the officer, switched lanes after he pulled an erratic U-turn and began to accelerate behind her, in order to allow him to pass. (Because who wants a crazy cop trailing them, right?) Bland was then pulled over for failure to signal that lane change. (For failure to signal a lane change. How many of us would be stopped if that was regularly enforced?)

The encounter escalated quickly, although Bland did absolutely nothing illegal during the interaction. It almost seems as if the officer was picking on her, when asking her if something was wrong or if she-predictable-had an attitude. She responded honestly, explaining that she was irritated (as we all are when pulled over) but also explaining that she knew the officer had to do his job and give her the ticket. Being irritated with police officers and expressing that irritation is not illegal, as Hill also pointed out in his CNN appearance: "Cops act as if you're not completely kowtowing and being differential towards them, then somehow you're violating a law. [...] We have the right to be irritated." And we also have the right to express that irritation honestly. Honesty is not illegal. It's actually one of those traits associated with dignity.

Many will argue that Bland was then uncooperative because she did not put out her cigarette when she was asked to. As black women we are, again, expected to respond to everything in "yes, sir's," so Sandra's refusal was insulting to the officer. But, that's not illegal. In fact, there is no Texas law against smoking a cigarette in your car, therefore the officer had no right to ask her to put it out in the first place. Bland stated that she didn't have to, and she was absolutely right. Asking her to get out of her car for refusal to put out her cigarette was improper, and yet another example of the officer's misconduct. Knowing your rights and reminding others of them isn't illegal. It's an example of having some governance over yourself. It's an example of dignity.

Others argue with the "combative" monologue, mentioning Bland's refusal to talk to the cop. She told him that she wasn't going to speak to him unless it was to identify herself. Which is also correct under the law. Bland was not at all being combative. She was, in fact, 100% correct and totally cooperative. She was simply cooperating in a lawful manner that involved refusing to talk to a man who obviously had little to no respect for her. Which was, again, an example of dignity.

When asked to get out of her car, she asked repeatedly why she was being arrested. To which the cop responded "for resisting arrest." That makes no sense. You have to have a reason to be arrested to then resist arrest. What he meant by "resisting arrest" was "daring to be dignified in the presence of a white man with a badge."

Bland should have never been arrested in the first place, and yet she has died in a jail cell. Not because she didn't signal a lane change in a moment of probable confusion and anxiety. Not because she was "resisting arrest," when the original reason for arrest was nonexistent. But ultimately because she displayed humanity in an unapologetic and dignified manner. She admitted to irritation, exercised her rights, and behaved as any of us would have. Apparently a black woman isn't allowed to do that, and if she does, whatever happens to her is her own fault.

Or at least that's ex-policeman Harry Houck's perspective, as he claimed on CNN that Sandra Bland is dead "because she was arrogant." However, if that was the case, the cop would have been dead as soon as he shouted "I will light you up" at Bland when she refused to comply to an unlawful request.

Sandra Bland is not dead because she was arrogant or because she taunted the cop with the classic "angry black woman" rhetoric. Mainly because she was not an angry black woman. She was a black woman, who was angry. And rightfully so. And understandably so; humanly so. The interaction was a raw, uncut example of our own humanity and behaviors and emotion. She was dignified, and she did what I would do. And probably, what you would do. And, more importantly, she did so legally. The truth of the matter is, as Senior Editor of The New Republic Jamil Smith tweeted, "Sandra Bland did nothing unlawful in that video. Attitude and disgust with her own mistreatment was treated like a criminal offense." And the "attitudes" of black women are often criminalized, as we are denied these very human responses. As we are denied humanity. As we are denied dignity.

#SandraBland #SayHerName

Jaylin Paschal is editor of INSIGHT Magazine, editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, Surge, and can be found ranting and rambling on her personal blog Creative Liberation. You can contact her directly at

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Photography: A Collection of Photographs by Jirawadee (Set 2)

Family Tree

Be Thankful for What You Have

Conscious Recollection


Jirawadee is a Florida-based photographer, DJ, and vocalist. Her work showcases and brings together the beauty of nature, nudity, and color. She was born in Thailand, grew up in the Bahamas, and is currently a high school student in the Sunshine State. More of her camera-wok can be found at www.jrawadi.vsco.c and her DJ mixes can be found at

Friday, July 3, 2015

Photography: A Collection of Photographs by Jirawadee (Set 1)

What You Put Into the World Can Either Be Flowers or Pollution

Beauty of Color pt. 1
Beauty of Color pt. 2

Forced to Bloom

Forced to Bloom

Jirawadee is a Florida-based photographer, DJ, and vocalist. Her work showcases and brings together the beauty of nature, nudity, and color. She was born in Thailand, grew up in the Bahamas, and is currently a high school student in the Sunshine State. More of her camera-wok can be found at www.jrawadi.vsco.c and her DJ mixes can be found at

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Did You Know? ---- Rachel Dolezal and "Race Swapping" in History

by Kara Combs

Recently, you have probably heard about Rachel Dolezal’s story. She claims to be from African-American descent, however, her parents say that she is 100% Caucasian. Although you may agree or disagree with what Dolezal has done, she has fought for human rights through her work with the NAACP. Her story (somehow) reminded me about a couple by the name of Ellen and William Craft. However instead of posing like a black woman, Ellen posed as a white male in an attempt to flee from the chains of bondage in the south.

The Crafts were around right before the Civil War, around the time the Missouri Compromise was passed. They were working as slaves on a plantation in Macon, Georgia. Ellen was twenty-five percent African-American and seventy-five percent caucasian-as she was born out of an affair between the plantation manager and one of the slaves. Even though Ellen’s background was comprised of more English than Africa, she was still traded at slave markets and treated the same way as any other slave. At the age of fourteen, Ellen’s plantation owner bought a new slave by the name of William Craft. They got married at the ages of twenty and twenty-two, but refused to start a family while still in bondage. The couple agreed to run away December of 1848. Ellen was going to presume the role of a white male slave owner and William was going to play the slave. William, a carpenter, used his profits to buy clothes a male slave owner would wear. Ellen prepared by cutting her hair in hopes of passing for a man. If you look at the picture, you’ll see that Ellen has her arm wrapped up. She didn’t break her arm, this was another genius disguise by the couple. Since they both grew up as slaves, neither of them knew how to read or write, a skill most all white people would have a basic understand about at the time. Whenever asked to write something, Ellen would simply point out her arm was broken and could not fulfil their request. The couple took many trains and even a steamboat to reach Pennsylvania  on Christmas Day. Although, there are many close calls the couple never got caught in the south. The Fugitive Slave Law did not exist yet so the north was more tolerant to escaped slaves compared to when the controversial legislation was passed. Once in the north they met William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. He encouraged them to write down their travels and soon they published the book, Running a Thousand Miles For Freedom. (You can still purchase their book today.)

Soon after they moved to England and had five children. Some historians claim that this was the most intricate escape plan among those involving fleeing from slavery.
I know their story is one of the most interesting stories I have ever heard; I've remembered it since elementary school. I hope you enjoyed this little dose of history.


  Hi! My name is Kara Combs and I am a student at Northmont High School. Outside of school I participate in Academic Challenge and Youth group at church. I hope you enjoy my contributions to Insight

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Poetry: "Cherry Blossom," "Whisper through Illumination," and "Oil andWater" by Christensen Oninku

Cherry Blossom 
I want to watch the trees get old with you.
Let's be carried by the clouds.
And watch every tornado hit the Stars.
I always knew I wouldn't be able to be with you.
Your eyes paint horrifying canvas,
That I still want to draw on.
Everything I care for you is inked to the paper.
I want to make shift lips to fit geometric ideals.
I want to see butterflies learn how to fly with you.
I want to see life transcribe through awkward talks.
And childhood walks.
Your Amber eyes,
Could Tell deep tree sap lies,
But the fact that I'm still willing to let the tree collapse.
Shows something.
I thought about you today.
I thought about what you could be.
I thought about what we could be.
If we were together,
the cherry blossoms would finally bloom.
Too bad we're constantly out of season.

Whisper through Illumination 
I'm stuck in the past tenses.
I ran.
And I ran
And I ran.
Now I run-on off of sentence.
I pick up my shoe to talk to the sole.
It whispers an illumination.
It speaks Schindler last resort.
It tells the mind what you had before.
I sense the tense
that provided covetance
through my fossil prints.
my imperatives.
Star 67 the Star of David
even David had bigger Goliaths to fight off Hitler’s native.
Open your mind through
And belief.
Open your mind.
I fall like autumn,
I leave to the tallest trees.
And it ain't no Biggie
that I'm living life after death.
I found Christ and laid eggs in Easters nest.
Lit the fire under the candles breath.
Blacker than Rosa Parks in the brightest park.
Whiter than Martin when he was supposed to March,
not talking about the third month.
Still get disrespected
by the black Beatles.
Because I'm the blackest Beatle
weaving through my needle in a haystack!
And now that I have a chokehold on America I'm garnering the attention.
This is the different intricacies of life.
Deep volumes of saturation.
Different shades of colonization.
Our color fades as we age.
But some minds stay at power to the 1.
And the CIA paired with the NRA handed out guns by any means necessary shoot all day.
Launch an Isis attack on our black men all day!
Muslim men all days!
Minorities all day!
Sandy Hook to the face!
I asked to buy a vowel because I always wonder why.
Now I A.E.I.O.U
To a Devonte or a Cecelia bedside.
I cried tears that robin Williams hung for me.
Cobain with a gun at your brain
Wondering did you do this
to remain sane or became sane?
You preach Malcolm and Martin but don’t eat their candies M and M's.
I'll swipe the race card on your debit machine.
I'm a slave to your everyday schemes.
You stack dollars but your pockets are on loose change,
you lose change
Because you refuse to be the change.
Rub them nickles and dimes to find time for you
to lock my brother up.
Because my brother is my brother.
And his mother is my mother.
Because we all came from the same wound
Called black incarceration.
But remember the prophet ain't the profit until he gets the government cheese to top it.
Food stamp on that!
The different intricacies of life are wise, profound, and fascinating.
Like Tupac said: 
darker the flesh. 
Deeper the roots.



We're like oil and water,

We don't mix. 
But we're constantly mixing the two 
To see who reacts first.
You press my patience enough for me to lash out.
I hate that you make me do that.
But I love that you the only one to make me do that.
The oil sticks to the water.
if it's the wrong timing. 
It sucks on it like a leach.
But if you time it too late
The oil will flicker off the water
Screaming for you to leave it alone.
If we leave the oil and water on forever 
We can burn together.
We can love together.
We can finally grow together.
You want to test my waters to see how long I last.
And I want to test the oil to see how long you'll stick to me. 
This time my tears are providing the water.
And your love providing the oil.
Let's see who reacts first.


INSIGHT interviewed Christensen Oninku on Poetry, Protest, and Purpose. Read the discussion here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Being Offended vs. Being Oppressed

by Alexandria Montgomery
When a white person uses a slur against people of color (PoC), it is racist. When a cisgendered person uses a slur against trans people, it is transphobic. When a heterosexual person uses a slur against a homosexual person, it is homophobic. This is because those using the slurs are members of a socially, politically, and economically dominant group. They are, as a whole, granted rights and privileges others not of the group (PoC, homosexuals, trans people) are denied. This denial of rights and privileges is premised on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This is key in understanding why their use of slurs is oppressive: oppression is the result of supremacist ideologies, structural dominance, and discriminatory acts. When the above scenarios are revisited with this knowledge, it is easily realized that the white person using the ‘n’ word (even with an -a as the ending) is racist, the cisgendered person using the word ‘tranny’’ is transphobic, and the heterosexual person using the word ‘faggot’ is homophobic. Racism, transphobia, and homophobia (among many other things) are systems of oppression. Racism, for example, succinctly fits into the oppression ‘equation’:

(“white is right”)
(whites hold the majority of economic, political, and social power)
(white dominated institutions often discriminate based on race)


If you are a member of one or more of the dominant groups, your initial response to this may be. “Why can they (LGBTQA+, blacks, etc) say it (n*gg*, tranny, faggot, etc.) and I (white, cisgendered, straight, etc.) can’t?” The answer to this lays in the fundamental difference between being offended and being oppressed. Members of the non-dominant (or marginalized) group - this includes PoC - cannot be oppressive because they do not have structural dominance to execute discriminatory acts that promote their supremacist ideology. This is what makes a PoC calling a white person ‘cracka’ rude and not racist: there is no oppression taking place.

Alexandria Montgomery is a sixteen year old with an ever-present desire to understand (make sense of? know? feel one with?) humanity - whether it be our dirty aspects or dazzling facets. Because of this, she reclines into writing to navigate through this world. Her work can be found at