Journalism in Verse

There Were No Firetrucks

by Đỗ Nguyên Mai

A lone coyote walks the city border, patrolling,
like a sentry listening for the first shot.
Already, a writhing pool of smoke sits heavy
in the belly of the valley.

It is no longer plum season.
The water bombers fly low over our roof
and my mother sings of the ocean that carried her,
the last refugee in our lineage

until my birth. The first flame
jumps the ridge, tumbles down blistered hill
to chase a rabbit through
someone’s tomato garden.

One mile east, an ember crashes into rupture
and here, an officer knocks on our door.
Start packing, he says. You’re on your own.
Leave, as if we aren’t already evacuees.

I close the front door. We scurry
into a car, a refugee family of three
carrying more than my parents first brought:
a passport, a license, the ghosts

of everything waiting to be incinerated.
Still, my mother keeps singing
as I drive us past the burning palms,
a new refugee watching the road

for every reincarnation of catastrophe.

Link to the article

Racial profiling is a sad reality of the times as one Riverside student discovered

We are all human. Rather than discouraging our differences, we should be celebrating them.


Often, the holidays are the times for travel in airports and across borders. People are excited to visit their families and go on vacation; however, if you think that the stress of getting to your flight on time, going through airport security (or across a border) and not losing your luggage isn’t enough to worry about, the racist behavior of some custom agents, as well as adding more stress, can be insulting for Canadian citizens, targeted because of their faith and ethnicity.

On January 4, grade 12 Riverside student, Marwa Aziz, and her family were detained for eight hours at the U.S. Customs and Border protection with no food or use of their phones. They were deprived of their passports, car keys, and even cellphones. When they asked if they could leave customs, they were told that they couldn’t since they were currently being searched. They entered the building at 10:00 am and were released at 5:00 pm along with dozens of other Iranian Canadians being interrogated and detained as well. The current tensions between the U.S. and Iran might be an explanation as to why Canadians, of Iranian background, are being unfairly targeted.

“I was confused as to why we were being detained since we all had Canadian citizenship. I was upset about the fact that we weren’t a threat, but we were treated like one,” said Aziz. All speculation aside as to the custom’s motives, it is not fair for them to have been held for so long. Marwa’s mother asked why they had been kept for so long and the officer replied with, “Due to global matters, we’re changing our protocol.” Even if the protocol has been changed, it is unethical for them to have detained people for eight hours with no food or use of their phones to contact any of their family members to let them know what had been going on. It is not fair for them to have been treated like criminals. As customs did not have any proof of those detained posing a threat or danger of any kind, certainly, they were judged solely on their appearances.

Racial profiling at airports isn’t something new; it is a process that depends on the existing stereotypes based on race, color, ethnicity or religion, rather than on a reasonable suspicion that can be undertaken for reasons of safety, security, or public protection. And it becomes a bigger issue when people act on their own prejudicial views in a way that can affect others. The way some at the U.S. customs have treated people who are the slightest bit different from them can be considered as arbitrary.

“Throughout my life, I have been judged based on my appearance and have faced discrimination and racial profiling. I am so thankful to not have experienced the worst of it that many others go through on a daily basis,” said Aziz. She is also very thankful to have an amazing community here at Riverside that supports and encourages diversity in the community.

Canada has also been guilty of racial profiling. According to a CBC January 9, 2020 article, racial profiling is the likely reason that resulted in a First Nations 12-year-old girl being arrested and handcuffed along with her grandfather on December 20, 2019, while trying to open a bank account so that her grandfather could transfer her funds electronically whenever she had basketball games. The employee at BMO (arbitrarily, we can assume) became suspicious and claimed that he and his granddaughter were both committing a possible fraud; they were then handcuffed and detained by the police. The bank and the police are both being investigated and recommended for ‘sensitivity training.’

We are all human, rather than discouraging our differences, we should be celebrating them. Blatant examples such as these are a sad testament to the times.


Tuesday, April 7


  • Greetings! We will meet online on TEAMS on TUESDAY, April 7 at 9:00 am – not on Monday. Be online, looking for the invite through TEAMS and accept it. Click on the screen and the small menu bar will appear; turn your camera on and mute your mic:

  • we will meet and go through the process of how TEAMS works – there will be a small assignment to get you used to how it works
  • please be prepared to cover the following infographic:


Meme Assignment – An exploration of the issues and satire

Here are the three parts of the meme assignment:

A) An interesting issue in the news and culture right now is Cultural Appropriation, which Wikipedia defines as “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures. According to critics of the practice, cultural appropriation differs from acculturation, assimilation, or equal cultural exchange in that this appropriation is a form of colonialism: cultural elements are copied from a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context—sometimes even against the expressly stated wishes of members of the originating culture.”

B) The articles I have chosen that explore the issue from various angles or perspectives are as follows:

News Story: This is a soft news story that explores the issue of cultural appropriation in fashion…. the language is very neutral and factual in explaining the issue…..

Blog: This post is written by a blogger who takes the issue quite personally; she at one point satirically states, “Sorry for taking away your ignorance defense.” The language is not objective….

Editorial: This is an editorial article in which the author explores his frustration with people taking offense; he uses non-objective language as this example indicates: “If you’re confused about what all the hullabaloo was about, it can be summed up with two words: cultural appropriation.” The author goes on to…

C) Here are my two memes that reveal the polarization of the issue; one of which I made:

Meme #1: This meme satirically suggests the question that at what point back into the history of various cultures does society have to go before the images and icons of those cultures can be safely used in a commercial or artistic way and that doesn’t offend someone. It uses the image of a watch, which is device that …. Its purpose is to be humourous for a like-minded viewer.

Meme #2: This meme satirically explores how offensive the perceived name-calling and trivialization of traditional symbols and names through appropriation can be for Indigenous cultures. Its purpose is to inform and make a point. The image contrasts the name of …

Friday, March 6


  • This is a friendly reminder that we are viewing a presentation by LaSalle college on Friday, March 6th   in Room 101. Come to the classroom for quick attendance and we will go down together
  • Meme assignment (in the media tab): questions 1 to 7 are due for Monday, March 10; make sure your answers are thorough!

Monday, March 2


  • Bias Assignment #3: in the Media Tab
  • Homework for tomorrow:
    • choose one of the four biases
    • read up on it – come up with a brief explanation of it in your own words
    • come up with an example of the bias in the ‘real’ world
    • why are biases dangerous in our current Media Environment? What did Ms. Shong mean by the ‘perfect storm’ – who was listening? 🙂