Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Dec 15, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Amanda Gorman’s Historic Debut

Did you watch President Biden’s inauguration in January 2021? If so, you probably remember that it was rather unusual: because of the pandemic, there were no crowds, limited celebrations, and very few people attending. But do you also remember Amanda Gorman? She was the inaugural poet who read a poem called “The Hill We Climb” while the world watched. At 22 years old,  Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

Since then, Gorman has published her debut book of poetry, entitled Call Us What We Carry, which includes her poem from the inauguration. The book is largely about America dealing with the problems of the present by reckoning with the truth of its past. Through her poems, she argues that we cannot know who we are as a country without knowing who we have been. She also writes about the pandemic, and how our common grief and fear as a nation can help to unite us. Just as our ancestors pass their stories on to us, she writes, so will we pass our pandemic stories on to our children. Ultimately, the book’s message is a hopeful one.

Gorman hopes to write novels someday and says that her greatest influences are a wide range of authors, from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou. In addition to poetry, she loves to read fantasy and young adult novels, such as The Giver, The Hate U Give, and the Percy Jackson series. Her favorite literary hero is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books.

What Do You Think? Find Gorman’s inaugural poem online and read it through once or twice. In your own words, what do you think it is about? Explain.

Bob Dole Dies at Age 98

On December 5, 2021, former senator Robert “Bob” J. Dole died. He was 98 years old.

Senator Dole was a World War II veteran who received two Purple Hearts for his service. For almost thirty years, from 1969 to 1996, he represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate. He was also the Senate Republican leader for more than ten years. He became well known by many Americans when he ran unsuccessfully for the presidency against Bill Clinton in 1996.

Senator Bob Dole in 1996
Senator Bob Dole during his presidential campaign.

Senator Dole lay in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda on December 9, 2021, an honor reserved for those who have given the most distinguished service to the country. President Biden also delivered remarks that day at a congressional tribute ceremony. The president talked about his many years of serving alongside Dole in the Senate. He said that despite disagreements over many issues, they were able to come together for bipartisan efforts such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Biden was joined by former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, as well as many members of Congress. Those who gave remarks spoke of Senator Dole’s unusual ability to work effectively with both Democrats and Republicans. The public was not invited to view the casket due to the coronavirus pandemic. To honor Senator Dole, U.S. flags were flown at half-mast across the country until December 9.

Dig Deeper: Use Internet resources to learn more about some of Senator Dole’s key congressional contributions. What legislation do you think he should most be remembered for? Why?

Chile’s Congress Approves Same Sex Marriage Equality

Last week, both houses of Chile’s Congress voted to approve same-sex marriage equality. This makes Chile the eighth Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, the ninth country in the Americas, and the thirty-first country in the world. The vote passed in Chile’s Senate 21-8 (with three people choosing not to vote). An hour later, in the Chamber of Deputies, the vote was 82-20 in favor of the law (with two people choosing not to vote). Then, on December 9, 2021, President Sebastian Piñera signed it into law.

The road to equality has been a long one in Chile. Equal rights activists have been campaigning for marriage equality in Chile for the past ten years. In 2015, same-sex unions were recognized by a Civil Union Pact. This gave same-sex couples many of the same rights as married ones, but it left several important things out, including the right to adopt. Four years ago, then-President Michelle Bachelet introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. But that effort halted once President Sebastian Piñera took office. Piñera has long opposed the legislation. However, six months ago, he changed his mind and said he would support it after all.

Married same-sex couples will now have all of the same rights as married opposite-sex couples, including the right to full spousal benefits and full parental rights. They will also have full adoption rights. The law also changes gendered terms in the country’s civil code to non-gendered terms, such as spouse or parent. The new law will take effect in ninety days.

Dig Deeper When did same-sex marriage become legal in the United States? What Supreme Court case was responsible for marriage equality in the United States?

Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year

If you had to pick a color to represent 2022, what would it be? Why? A color company called Pantone has done this. Every year, Pantone chooses a “color of the year” that will best capture the essence of that time. For example, for 2021, a particularly complicated year, the company chose two colors: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a bright, buttery yellow). The gray stood for quiet and resilience, while the yellow represented optimism and hope.

For 2022, the company has created Very Peri, a shade of periwinkle. Why periwinkle? It is a combination of blue (tranquility) with red (energy). Together, Pantone says, the color represents happiness and newness. 2022’s color choice is exciting for another reason as well. Previously, the company used an existing color from its archives as the “color of the year.” But this time, Pantone manufactured an entirely new color. Pantone says that the brand-new color represents the future.

Pantone sets definitive color standards to keep colors universal and consistent across different brands and manufacturers. It has been choosing a color of the year for the past two decades. Starting last year it began incorporating technology as well. In 2022, for example, Very Peri will be used in a variety of Microsoft apps. So keep your eye out for it!

What Do You Think? Imagine that you must choose a color (or combination of colors) that represents you. What will you choose? Why?