Education: Are YEARBOOKS  becoming  FEARBOOKS – By Yvonne Sam

 Are YEARBOOKS  becoming  FEARBOOKS – By Yvonne Sam

Yearbooks are getting in on the acts and becoming incriminating artifacts

From time immemorial yearbooks have been regarded as important memory keepers, with a particular year frozen in pictures and words. Advisors on Yearbook Committees have stressed to High School and University students, the historical aspect of the task, while reminding them that they are creating memories on which they will look back on in their future. Notably missing from the explanation was the succinct notification that yearbooks can be put to the test, serving as articles of interest and regardless of the year, the evidence can produce fear.

The first official bound yearbook containing information regarding the school year, the faculty and the students was created by the class of 1806 at prestigious Ivy League University Yale. It was aptly named Profiles of Part of the Class Graduated at Yale College.       

The book included silhouettes of the students, as permanent photographs were not invented until twenty or more years later.

All praise for the yearbook as it exists today is due in totality to George K Warren. When the daguerreotype, a photographic process in which a sheet of silver-plated copper is used to create a positive or negative image fell out of fashion, Warren turned to a different photographic technology and took advantage of the ability of a single negative to produce many images.  He encouraged college students to purchase many images and share them with each other, after which the images would be bound by a bookbinder into fancy albums sometimes with embossed covers and gilded pages.  Warren became one of the best known makers of graduating class pictures. The year book now had a new look and was well on its way, from revolution to evolution.

Protesters demand Ralph Northam stand down

Taking into full consideration the recent brouhaha surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and the current photograph on the medical school yearbook of Virginia governor Ralph Northam, showing a man in blackface and another in a Klu Klux Klan robe, are yearbooks truly serving their intended purposes. A photograph on Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The governor initially denied knowledge of the photos, but eventually accepted responsibility, and asked forgiveness for all accompanying hurt as a result. The discovery of the disturbing an inappropriate  photos came days after the Governor was blasted for defending a late term abortion bill.

Brett Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry was held up during his confirmation hearing

Pages in the high school yearbook of Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee offered a glimpse of his teenage life style, replete with lots of football, plenty of drinking, and parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius. — Judge Kavanaugh’s personal page boasts, “100 kegs or bust” — and a culture that some describe as disrespectful to women.  Although Judge Kavanaugh’s peers gave varied accounts of his personality, all in all the yearbook provided a contemporaneous glimpse of the elite Catholic school’s hard-drinking atmosphere. the circus surrounding the sexual abuse allegations against Judge Kavanaugh was not short of actors, as part of the controversy there was also a look at the yearbook of his accuser Christine Blasey-Ford. Seemingly, the early 1980s yearbooks of the all-female Holton-Arms School make for interesting reading.

While the Judge’s biography appears to indicate that he did a lot of drinking at his all-male high school, Ford’s yearbook talks about the girls trying to dazzle the boys with their good looks.

In all instances the individual’s youthful past came back to hauntingly disturb the present.  Is this the intended purpose of yearbooks?  Is it truly the perfect place to address controversial issues, or jocular heartfelt sentiments about love, friendship, teachers etc.?  Should the students indict with fright, wondering who in their yearbook would eventually look?   Yearbooks are usually written against a certain cultural background existing at the time, and people seem to forget the context in which things occur, instead measuring them against the mores of today.

To borrow a statement from George W. Bush “when I was young and irresponsible,” I was young and irresponsible”.

Although the goal is to memorialize, yearbooks are similar to social media posts in that we often end up reading them in very different contexts than they were originally created. They were never intended to be read that way, for all their inside jokes to be checked out and judged against modern standards, for newspaper reporters to go through them with a fine-toothed comb.

Now today, faced with no other means to prove a case either for or against, pictures are pulled from a yearbook page or words and dragged into the fray, only to be critiqued with current lens. It is blatant folly, to say the least, leaving the context of yearbook statements behind, while attempting to utilize the content as circumstantial evidence. The only thing they prove is that the year of the yearbook was a different time.  As a society we need to determine what we believe “burden of proof” to be in the court of public opinion. For relying on accusations alone is not a good place to be, and making decisions based on high school yearbooks is certainly not any better.  If what is written can allow us to get bitten, then the question facing the nation is, “does the yearbook fall under the statute of limitation}?

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  • Trevor  On March 9, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    The whites are forcing our brethren in America to have their nursery school grandsons to wear dresses and do LGBTQ favours for their teacher:

    White teacher: “Please don’t talk to me that way”, after she forced a young black boy to wear a dress for transgender class.

    What if such LGBTQ teachers have sex with their students after forcing them to wear dresses? The man was right to confront the teacher and complain to the school.

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