WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: Which Patron Saint Of The Internet?

Jul 3, 2020

There is a patron saint for virtually everything. And now the Internet may be about to get its own.

There are two contenders. On the one side, you have St. Isadore -- a 6th century bishop of Seville whose life’s work involved developing a 20-volume encyclopedia encompassing all human knowledge. Isadore was informally recognized as the patron saint of the web by Pope John Paul II.

Perspective: The Lost Art Of Reading A Map

Jul 2, 2020

Maps have defined my knowledge of the universe around me: road maps for driving, contour maps defining territory for army maneuvers, sectional charts for flying airplanes along designated paths to keep the planes separated, and solar and stellar maps to orient directions on sea or land. A peopled, inhabited, built up terrain.

I speak the language of maps. I know their origins and their references.

Perspective: The New American Majority

Jul 1, 2020
Joseph Redfield Nino / Pixabay

The last several weeks, we’ve been witnessing “The New American Majority.” Stacey Abrams coined this during her 2018 campaign for Governor of Georgia as she built a unique political and social coalition.  I believe it’s just the kind of broad-based coalition our country needs to work together combatting long standing policies and actions of injustice in our country.

Perspectives: Know Your Dictator

Jun 30, 2020
public domain

Juan Manuel de Rosas is someone everyone should know, not because of his role in nineteenth century Argentine history, but because he created a template for the modern autocratic ruler.

Perspective: Breathe

Jun 29, 2020
Cooper Baumgartner / Unsplash

A knee to the neck for over 8 minutes and a man can’t breathe, suffocated by the police ‘force’. Over 2 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., many of its victims can’t breathe. What ties these two crises together? The breath. We are, if not literally, figuratively gasping for air.

Perspectives: Grandmother Was An Astronaut

Jun 26, 2020
Nicolas Lobos / Unsplash

I grew up with a typewriter keyboard, and I grew up with a TV set. The other day I used a device that blends the keyboard and the screen -- it’s called a computer -- to talk via live video to a friend in Paris.  


Perspective: Let's Talk About The Post Office

Jun 25, 2020

In this topsy-turvy world, one welcome sign of normalcy has been the daily rattle of our mailbox. Mail delivery has been a connection to the outside world and a sign that things will return to normal one of these days.

Kevin Kobsic, for United Nations / via Unsplash


I'm a medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford. The COVID-19 pandemic put my schooling on hold, so back in early April, I fought back. I joined the Medical Reserve Corps of Winnebago County.


Perspective: I'll Try To Be Honest

Jun 23, 2020
Arek Socha / Pixabay

As a U.S. History teacher, I wanted my students to understand that we live in a flawed country, that our government has flaws, that we as humans have flaws and that with all of that, if we can view and accept multiple perspectives, we should be able to live together in some sort of harmony.

In the classroom, I’ve facilitated eye opening discussions about race and privilege. And I encouraged my students to sit in their discomfort to really reflect. I’ve done this before. I should know what to say now. But I really don’t.

Perspectives: We Cannot Look Away

Jun 19, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Disruption. That is part of the point of current local protests— bringing awareness so that people not affected by racial injustice can no longer look away and ignore it. The time for change is right now.

I believe that, for many people, this call for change is not anti-police, or about hating police— but rather it is to love Black lives. Black Lives Matter is an acknowledgement of the value of Black lives. Of course all lives matter, but right now Black lives are in danger. We are fed up with racial injustice that has persisted for far too long.

Perspective: Monarch Mama

Jun 18, 2020
Rosie Klepper

I am a monarch mama.

If you’ve never raised a monarch butterfly from an egg to a full grown, beautiful butterfly, you really should try it. It is really quite simple.

Perspective: Lessons From The Pandemic

Jun 17, 2020
United Nations Covid-19 Response / Unsplash

The last few months have been a social experiment of global proportions. We saw firsthand how interconnected the world has become and how quickly things could shift as we all bolted our doors to keep out COVID-19.

Perspective: I Asked For Wisdom

Jun 16, 2020
justcallmeang / Pixabay

“Could you send us an article?” Andrew Sullivan, the editor of the New Republic asked in a phone call. He was responding to a letter about how as a college instructor, I’d observed that I wasn’t sure young black men wanted to take advantage of the academic help being offered. I kept my voice calm. “Sure,” I said. Maybe this was my big break.

Logan Weaver / Unsplash

The current crisis concerning policing is so multifaceted that it threatens to overwhelm and immobilize us. What are the root causes? In what order do we address them?

But this is no time for collective handwringing or causal inertia, no time for doing nothing until we can do everything.

A small piece of our problem is the legal concept of "qualified immunity." We can address it now. It is a start. Let us begin.

Perspective: Thoughts On Flag Day

Jun 14, 2020
Osman Rana / Unsplash

When my two sons were little boys, we lived in a very diverse Southern California community, where the local gas station displayed what was considered the largest American flag in the world.

My younger son Jordan was in preschool at the time and very proud of himself for knowing how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Still learning the words, of course, he already knew the flag was a symbol of our country, that we needed to respect our country and our flag, that we took care of our things and the people around us because we are one nation, under God.

Perspective: History's Heroes And Villains

Jun 12, 2020
Fabien Barral / Unsplash

I had trouble digesting history classes in high school.

I had no appetite for massive platefuls of dates and names … a chronology of events that I was forced to memorize.

Those classes are history now. Ha-ha. Gone but not completely forgotten. Even now I feel pressure to never forget the significance of 1776. I still have trouble thinking in terms of dates. But there is something notable about all those names on that history plate. Yes, history buffs. Time and place are important.

Perspective: Support BLM Like You Mean It

Jun 11, 2020
photographer unknown, in Scherer family collection

“Black Lives Matter” is not just an expression, it is a fundamental truism in any fair society. It's deeply resonant because of the inherent and systemic injustice and violence that remains prevalent, and particularly commonplace in police forces around the country. But racists, in their willful ignorance, just don’t see it. Most racists probably don’t even know that they are racists.


In 1903 W.E.B DuBois wrote “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” 

Perspective: Teacher Education Is A Tool For Anti-Racism

Jun 10, 2020
Clay Banks / Unsplash

When I went to college to become a teacher, I learned the content I would need to teach and the best methods for creating successful academic outcomes for students. And, during my 35 years as an educator, that’s what we’ve continued to do.

But that is no longer enough.

Teacher-preparation programs must intentionally, and deeply, address equity, race, racism and social justice because, as I often say, teachers are the backbone of our democratic society. Teachers spark and nurture young minds, support families and contribute to every community nationwide.

Perspective: I Lost My Perspective

Jun 9, 2020
Anemone123 / Pixabay

I’ve lost my perspective. Not as in “the dog ate it,” but as in “I can’t think straight so how could I possibly articulate any coherent message to you?”

The disarray of my thoughts has been building since 2016, but what’s happened over the past couple of weeks has pushed my brain over its tipping point. And I’m left in a puddle of wordless emotions.

The best I can do is to try and describe what’s brought me to this state, so I’ll start with one of my favorite words, flabbergasted -- I think I picked it up early on from my mother.

Perspective: The Summer Of The First Amendment

Jun 8, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

While the nation’s attention is quite understandably focused on the protests taking place on our city streets, there is another First Amendment struggle that is developing online.

Recently, the President of the United States signed an executive order targeting social media. The order was a direct response to Twitter having fact-checked one of the President’s tweets by adding a link that invited users to learn more about mail-in voting.

Perspective: Go Before You Go

Jun 5, 2020

Trigger warning:  Anatomical terms, medical phrases, and grade school potty humor ahead.

I was thrilled when county forest preserves remained open during this pandemic. I was NOT thrilled to see signs indicating their pit toilets were closed. A few times, I treated these signs as advisory rather than compulsory.

If a young man were to ask me for words of wisdom, I would tell him, "Your prostate will swell to the size of a grapefruit, and your bladder will shrink to the size of a grape."

Perspective: Attitude Reflects Leadership

Jun 4, 2020
Joanbrown51 / Pixabay

In 1971, in Virginia, a black teen was shot and killed by a white store owner. The city Alexandria created T.C. Williams, an integrated high school. The movie Remember the Titans gives us a glimpse of that struggle. There is a moment when Julius (a black player) and Gary (a white player) are arguing under a tree. When Gary challenges Julius to give his all for the team, Julius turns to Gary and says, “Attitude reflects leadership…Captain.”

Perspective: A Middle-Aged White Guy

Jun 3, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

I live in a nice house with a nice lawn, in a nice subdivision and am comfortably upper middle class. My wife and I have both worked hard to have what we have. I also have the advantage of being a white male. I also have the disadvantage of being a white male.

Perspective: Looting, Allies, And Accomplices

Jun 2, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Last weekend, in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery, interracial protests against systemic racism erupted across the nation. The nation once again collectively played out the tried and true tired playbook: Peaceful protest, in some places devolved into rioting and looting, sometimes by sabotage.

Perspective: We Need A Hug

Jun 1, 2020
Anastasia Vityukova / Unsplash

It’s the hugs I miss most.

Joyous bear hug greetings, gentle squeezes of love, and lingering arm-wrapped farewells. All have disappeared like a loose kite on the breeze since the coronavirus took over in mid-March. And if you’re a hugger, like I am, then you feel the loss of those sweet embraces from family and friends more than your heavy heart can say.

Because my family and I have adhered to medical pandemic protocol, we have only hugged those who live with us, and lucky for me, at least I have a husband to hug.

Perspective: Use Your Head When It Comes To COVID-19

May 29, 2020
Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

Recently there have been some recommendations being made about treating covid-19 with over-the-counter medications.  As a pharmacy student I felt compelled to share my opinion and would like five aspects to be understood. 

One, over the counter medication is non-prescription medication that is used by many people every day.  These medications can be a convenient and effective solution when used correctly and as intended.  These medications can also be dangerous when directions are not properly followed.  

Perspective: Language Of The Pandemic

May 28, 2020

The words we hear about this mysterious virus that continues to spread, increasingly to children, carry serious emotional content and power to influence our hearts and minds.  For instance, we have heard something like, “I believe beyond a doubt there will be another wave of this virus in the autumn and winter months.”  But contrast this pronouncement to the message:  “If we can crush the curve, do thorough testing and contact tracing, continue safe social distancing, and safely move the opening of businesses, then we can avoid a second wave of infections.”

Perspective: When Your Skin Is Your Sin

May 27, 2020

The videotaped attack and murder of Ahmaud Arbery was shocking to some and not others. The 25-year old African-American man, and former football standout, was running near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga. Two armed white men, a father and son, pursued then shot and killed Arbery, who they claim was a burglar. Two days after the graphic video went public, and 71 days after the actual murder, the father and son were charged with murder and aggravated assault.

Perspective: The Renewal Of Democratic Education

May 26, 2020
Mediamodifier / Pixabay

“Democracy,” wrote Charles Dole in 1906, “is on trial in the world.” In 2020, the more apt analogy might be that democracy lies gasping for air in a hospital bed. Just as the coronavirus is savagely attacking our flesh-and-blood, so too is it attacking our body politic. The institutions built to sustain us in times of crisis are failing like organs starved for oxygen; addled by partisan fevers, we confuse compromise with capitulation and fiction with fact. 

Perspective: The Language Of Love(birds)

May 25, 2020
Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan

My husband and I adopted Sam, a Quaker parrot, when he was 3 years old. His previous owner, who’d grown too ill to keep Sam, had treated him well and taught him a few phrases. Sam’s limited repertoire then -- and now -- includes laughter, “ma,” “hello” and “yum yum.” While Sam is not terribly fluent, he has inadvertently become an ESL -- English as a Second Language -- instructor.