—Hélène Barthélemy focuses on the criminal justice system, activism and culture.
"Cecily McMillan's Statement of Release." JusticeforCecily.com, July 2, 2014.
Following a biased mistrial (one among too many recent miscarriages of justice), Cecily McMillan was released on Wednesday after fifty-nine days in jail. Her statement of release reminds us of the pressing injustices that plague current Rikers inmates—stories that are so little mentioned because they come from the most disenfranchised segments of society. This statement bridges the gap that separates prisoners' daily concerns from theoretical discussions of mass incarceration by revealing those demands, which local movements will hopefully pick up. As of now, the lack of visibility of those who disappear into jails or prisons permits the worse excesses. Cecily's mention of the solidarity and the sisterhood at Rikers is inspiring, revealing issues that we should lend our ears and voices to.
—Summer Concepcion focuses on race, gender and criminal justice.
"Social and Economic Benefits of Reliable Contraception," by Jacoba Urist. The Atlantic, July 2, 2014.
In light of the Supreme Court's controversial decision to side with Hobby Lobby, the fight for women's rights still has a ways to go. Jacoba Urist of The Atlantic argues that the benefits of providing reliable access to contraception empowers women regardless of socioeconomic status and even extends to the well being of society. Urist's argument touches on how the debate surrounding contraception relates to income inequality, health issues and the opportunities made available to younger generations.
—Erin Corbett focuses on national security and reproductive rights.
“Migrant Women Documenting Their Experiences Crossing the Border,” by Verónica Bayetti Flores. Feministing, June 12, 2014.
In this piece, Verónica discusses part of what’s missing from the discourse of crossing the border, and that’s the stories of women. Bayetti Flores points to the work of freelance photographer Encarni Pindado, known as MigraZoom, which provides disposable cameras to migrants so that they can document their own journeys. One of the themes from the women migrants’ photos, which Bayetti Flores focuses on, is sexual violence and strategies to avoid violence, but also “harm reduction practices such as taking contraceptives before crossing the border to avoid pregnancy should they get raped along the way.” What I found most important about this project is that it is a reminder that these individuals are people, often brutally dehumanized, who, as one immigrant woman explains, “deserve respect…deserve a chance to work, and to live well and to study.”
—Victoria Ford focuses on African-American identity, feminism/womanism and the arts.
"Three Reasons the Hobby Lobby Decision Is Worse for Women of Color," by Miriam Zoila Pérez. Colorlines, July 1, 2014.
How does Monday's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision affect women of color? This article succinctly illuminates three major ulcers that will be irritated in women's health policy with this monumental restriction: the cost of contraception, the risk of unplanned pregnancy, and America's history of sterilization and reproductive control over black and brown women.
—Douglas Grant focuses on labor and income inequality, gender politics and American politics.
"Moaning Moguls," by James Surowiecki. The New Yorker, July 7, 2014.
In the infancy of Obama's presidency, I remember the president letting bankers know, "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." That statement might have been premature—sure, there was outrage in the wake of bailouts and the outrage over executives' compensation, but it was well before Occupy, before rising numbers of Americans of all kinds identified as lower class, before the words "income inequality" were on everyone's lips and even people like Rick Santorum were suddenly talking about social mobility. In “Moaning Moguls,” James Surowiecki notes the plight of the beleaguered rich—those CEOs who feel besieged by the prospect of (marginally) higher taxes and the (relative) scorn of the public. They cope with a disdainful public by making obscene comparisons of their tax burdens to life in Nazi Germany, with one even arguing that the wealthier you are, the more votes you should be entitled to have. Before a sharp rightward turn in corporate America over the past three decades or so, corporations regularly saw their interests and those of their employees and customers as the same. Globalization and the boom in financial services has changed all that, Surowiecki writes, because their customers are no longer only Americans or the wealthy. This reminds me of an essay in Politico that's been gaining traction this week by Nick Hanauser, a Seattle entrepreneur worth billions who warns his comrades in affluence that if workers’ pay isn’t raised the way Seattle’s was—their minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour—they will, eventually, risk open rebellion. He tackled trickle down economics, seeing its reasoning rooted in ideas little different than antiquated notions like divine right. Hanauser lifts the veil a bit on the perspectives of plenty of people in business—"We love our customers rich and our employees poor"—and how it has been consistently proven that raising the minimum wage has not harmed business, nor has the prohibition of child labor or the actual establishment of the minimum wage. He proves how these fights for progress often repeat themselves, always face resistance but are always necessary.
—Hannah Harris Green focuses on South Asian Culture and Politics, and Sexual Assault.
“The Supreme Court Should See What I See As an Abortion Clinic Escort,” by Lauren Rankin. RH Reality Check, June 30, 2014.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that a 35-foot buffer zone to protect patients from protestors outside abortion clinics is unconstitutional; that it impedes free speech. But according to Lauren Rankin, who volunteers at an abortion clinic in Englewood, New Jersey, the Supreme Court is in effect protecting the right of anti-choice protestors to not only speak to abortion patients, but also to physically block them from entering clinics and film them against their will. Rankin describes the difference a buffer zone at the clinic where she works made for patients, whom she saw "reduced to tears and shaking, just for trying to access the health care to which they are constitutionally entitled," before the zone was installed.
—Alana de Hinojosa focuses on immigration, race and racism, Latin@ identity and feminism.
“Hobby Lobby Ruling Proves Men of Law Can't Abide 'Immoral' Women Having Sex,” by Jessica Valenti. The Guardian via AlterNet, July 1, 2014.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby on Monday, which gives corporations the right to deny coverage of certain kinds of contraception to their employees based on religious freedom. Now, Hobby Lobby may indeed have religious objections to contraception, but let's be frank, as Jessica Valenti was in her Guardian piece on Tuesday: Hobby Lobby sued because the company believes pre-martial or non-procreative sex is a big no-no for women. Essentially, we can view the initial case and the Supreme Court's eventual (and predominantly male-decided) ruling as yet another attempt to make sure women cannot have sex as freely as men. What's sad is that this is not the first time women's reproductive autonomy will be affected by governmental policy and institutions (forget about the history; this week alone five states passed policies that make it significantly harder to get an abortion). And surprise, surprise (like a lot of things) women of color will likely be facing the brunt of this (predominantly white male-decided) ruling. It's just another case to add to the long list of forced contraception, sterilization, abortion and unsafe birthing practices our government has normalized for women of color. (Sigh.)
—Crystal Kayiza focuses on the African diaspora,immigration, Black Feminist thought, and police brutality.
“Protesters in Murrieta block detainees' buses in tense standoff,” byMatt Hansen and Mark Boster. The Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2014.
Hatred and violence directed toward undocumented immigrants in the United States is at an all-time high. Proof can be found in Murrieta, California, where residents blocked busloads of refugee children and undocumented immigrants from entering their city. In downtown Murrieta, 200-300 protestors relayed their dedication to keeping California "American" by forcing the buses to turn back prior to entering the border patrol station in the community. Murrieta Mayor Alan Long allegedly prompted the protest, stating that “Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities”. The buses were met with chants of "USA" and signs that read "return to sender." Many connect the influx of migrants, specifically children, to the increasing violence and poverty found in some Central American communities. I firmly believe that the fabric of the United States is woven by the desperate and oftentimes undocumented risks of immigrant communities. But the United States does not have an "immigrant problem"—it's in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. With border patrol agents detaining more that 52,000 unaccompanied minors in the southwest, many communities have been slow to act with compassion. It is perplexing that a nation that celebrates the struggling immigrant narrative—although an oftentimes-Eurocentric retelling of the exploitation Native and enslaved communities—would deny this same access to opportunity to those crossing another type of border. But Americanness has become more about nine-digits on a card than liberty and justice for all. And as it always does, history will remember our intolerance.
—Agnes Radomski focuses on labor, mass incarceration, the war on drugs and the military industrial complex.
“A City of Convicts: The statistical sleight of hand that makes the U.S. crime rate seem lower than it really is,” by Josh Voorhees. Slate, June 30, 2014.
When recording crime in the US, writer Josh Voorhees takes one group into account that is often overlooked: the prison population. Without including this population of 2.2 million people, today’s violent crime rate is nearly half of what it was in the early 90s. In 2012, 1.2 million crimes were reported to the FBI, and a little more than 5.8 million were self-reported by inmates according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. Voorhees argues: “The brutality occurring behind bars deserves a fuller accounting—particularly given that we know there are innocent men and women serving sentences they don’t deserve.” He notes that the numbers suggest that violence itself hasn't disappeared, but has nearly been relegated to a place the public barely sees.