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Young Observers: July Edition

Have you received the COVID-19 vaccine yet? I received my first dose two weeks ago but not without feeling fear and anxiety. I knew, like any other vaccine or medicine, there could be severe side effects. But because there is a greater risk with being unvaccinated I thought it was more reasonable to get it than skip it. Luckily, my reaction to the vaccine was mild as I only had a headache and a sore arm. After 48 hours, the side effects wore off and I felt normal again.

Fullerton Observer Youth Editor Francine Vudoti receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine.

It is quite liberating to have finally gotten the shot.  My anxiety about the coronavirus has dropped significantly. The prospect of getting back to normal has become more real as I got messages from my friends (who had all been vaccinated before me) asking me to confirm my attendance at our very first meet-up after a year in lockdown.  Eventually, I was able to hang out with them.  Despite our statewide reopening, we still took precautions by choosing to meet up in an open-air mall and always wear our masks except when we ate lunch in an outdoor setting. These precautions did not diminish the satisfaction and happiness we felt because we could walk  side-by-side  and have fun almost like we did pre-pandemic. It was a significant milestone because not only was this a step towards normalcy, but it was a great score for our mental health.

As of June 16, about 50% of people ages 12-17 in Orange County have yet to receive at least one dose of the vaccine (covid.19.ca.gov).  Some may be waiting to see what other kids might experience with the vaccine before getting the shot. Others may be concerned about the recent reports of heart inflammation among male teens due to the vaccine. The rest may simply not believe in the COVID vaccine or do not think they need it. I would classify myself under the first group because I personally waited for other teens  around my age to go first so that I knew what to expect once it was my time to get vaccinated. I timed the scheduling of the vaccine, however, so that I would be fully vaccinated in time for school.  It is understandable for male teens and their parents to be concerned about the heart inflammation side-effect. Fortunately, less than 1% of vaccinated teens have been reported to experience this rare side-effect and they turned out to be mild and treatable. (www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/06/17/1007447098/pfizer-covid-vaccine-teens-symptoms-myocarditis). The benefits of the COVID vaccine far outweigh the risk of heart inflammation. For the skeptics and non-believers, I think their choice ought to be respected but for their part, they should also respect the safety protocols implemented in places they visit.

But, how about those teens who would like to get their shots but are being held back by their parents? Fortunately, there are online resources such as Vaxteen (www.vaxteen.org)  that provide help for kids who need assistance in convincing their parents to do their part.  If you need to schedule your vaccine, you can go to https://myturn.ca.gov. There are many other sites online or walk-ins around Fullerton and nearby areas. Hopefully, by the time schools open in August, most students in middle and high schools will be vaccinated so we can safely return to in-person classes.

The Fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day, is only a few days away and it is a great time to celebrate our country’s freedom. One of the most popular ways we celebrate this holiday is by setting off fireworks into the night sky. How did this come to be? Why do we use fireworks and other explosives to celebrate this special day? Do we really have to have a fireworks display?

The person behind this tradition of setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is President John Adams. He came up with the idea to make each July 4th from that point forward a day of celebration, patriotism, and freedom. He envisioned parades, games, and “illuminations” (fireworks) to be held on each and every July 4th. Adams was the second President of the United States, a Founding Father, and a leader in the American Revolution.  Because he was a very large figure in American society, word of his plan spread far and wide throughout the U.S. and on the first anniversary of the holiday, his vision became a reality. A huge parade was hosted with fireworks, bands, and many more festivities. Ever since that day, many Americans across the country have celebrated Independence Day with fireworks. I always have a blast seeing the displays of fireworks each year. It never gets old launching them into the sky to celebrate our country.  But, while many have come to love this tradition, there are also those who wonder if we can light up the sky alternatively (laser light musical shows maybe?) in consideration of the environment and all those who are sensitive to explosive sounds such as dogs, cats, horses, birds, babies, war veterans, seniors, and the sick in our community.

Linda Lindas is an all-girl punk band from Los Angeles with members who are all around my age: Mila, 10; Eloise, 13; Lucia, 14; and Bela, 16. Their song “Racist Sexist Boy,” which they performed at the LA Public Library, went viral on social media in May. They performed on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show, starred in the Netflix movie “Moxie,” and were featured on the Rolling Stone website. Their hit song was based on Mila’s story about how a boy said his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people, and when she said she was Chinese, he backed away. This song is one of my favorites because Eloise’s yelling is so full of raw emotion. I love their other songs too, like “Claudia Kishi” and their cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” They recently signed with Epitaph, a legendary punk rock record label. I can imagine that racist boy regretting what he said.

Linda Lindas is an all-girl punk band from Los Angeles.

Thousands of TikTok creators have participated in the “Adult Swim” trend, showing off their creative and unique take on Adult Swim bumpers — short clips originally aired before or after commercial breaks on the Cartoon Network. Recorded using producer VANO 3000’s remix of BADBADNOTGOOD’s “Time Moves Slow,” these videos under “#AdultSwim” have amassed nearly three billion views on TikTok. The climax of these cinematic and artistic short clips is when the term, “[as]” — an acronym for “Adult Swim” — is revealed near the end of the video. As more and more users demonstrate their individuality and captivating creations, it’s no surprise that this trend has garnered much praise and publicity.

Sometimes, you need a soft, fluffy rom com to cheer you up. And sometimes, you need a dark, scary, twisty thriller just to feel alive. This book was one of the latter. Ace of Spades follows Chiamaka and Devon, the only Black students who attend the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. But after both are nominated as prefects, their paths begin to tangle with an anonymous force known as Aces, a group bent on not only destroying Chiamaka’s and Devon’s senior year, but also on ruining any chance at their future.  I’ve read about five mysteries and thrillers this year and Ace of Spades is by far the best one. It’s one of those books that, when you complete it, you can only sit in silence and weakly process what you just read, a desire for more tugging at your heart.

This is one of the few times I loved the writing and the characters so much—both are sharp, smart, and brilliantly crafted. The writing is simple and compelling, cutting just as deeply.  Àbíké-Íyímídé expertly wields dual points of view to maximize suspense, cleverly jumping from one to the next, ending each character with a brutal cliffhanger, something that left me gasping. Chiamaka and Devon lead very different lives, but I was equally invested in both their stories. The powerful portrayal of white supremacy, classism, and institutionalized racism is so heart-wrenching, and I appreciate how the author doesn’t shy away from the suffering that injustice brings.

This review doesn’t even come close to doing this book justice, not with the way it explores relevant themes that appealed to me and had me losing my mind a little bit, and certainly not with its haunting social commentary that will linger in my mind for months to come.

This is truly a book I won’t forget, and I can’t recommend it enough.