Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.
“U.S. Territories.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, March 8, 2015.
John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight has a satirical spirit, but also does great reporting in the course of their segments. This clip focuses on the treatment of US territories and the racist historical basis for the US’s continued colonial attitude toward the people who live in Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Marianas.
Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.
“Uber and Lyft drivers’ class-action lawsuits will go to jury trials,” by Tracey Lien. Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2015.
The future of the multibillion-dollar ride-sharing market will be decided by twelve random citizens. Two lawsuits that seek to force Uber and Lyft to reclassify their drivers are going to jury trial. If the companies lose, they will have to pay for benefits, work expenses, and insurance for hundreds of thousands of drivers—a blow to the industry that could easily prove fatal.
Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia and representational issues in film and television.
“My Life as a Gay Congressman,” by Barney Frank. Politico Magazine, March 12, 2015.
I never knew a closeted Barney Frank. In my lifetime, Frank was held as theexample of an openly gay politician, one whose private life was kept separate from his congressional ambitions. In this excerpt from his upcoming book, Frank reveals just how wrong I was, as he details his tumultuous coming-out process, 1989 sex-scandal, his fraught relationship with the LGBT community, and how his homosexuality continues to make waves in Washington.
Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.
“A beginner’s guide to downtown’s alternative art scene,” by Rowan El Shimi. Mada Masr, March 2015.
This piece delves into the metamorphosis of alternative Egyptian art from its birth in the 1990s cafes and galleries to its expansion into today’s streets and abandoned buildings. In a culture that is both exuberantly open and intensely shuttered, emerging artists effectively blur “the lines between art and life, theater and the quotidian, private space and public space.” The progress of emerging artists who use art as a means of political expression spurring change from the bottom up is worth noting, especially as they face heavy suppression in a burgeoning police state.
Benjamin Hattem focuses on Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East, as well as economic inequality, homelessness, and the prison system.
“Losing Sparta,” by Esther Kaplan. VQR, Summer 2014.
This is a powerful deep dive into the closure of a Philips lighting plant in Sparta, Tennessee, written by the I-Fund’s Esther Kaplan. The story also elucidates the offshoring of American labor, the decline of manufacturing and union power, and the replacement of middle class jobs with low-wage, part-time and temporary work. And it’s beautifully written.
Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.
“Imperialist feminism and liberalism,” by Deepa Kumar. Open Democracy, November 6, 2014.
In this piece, Deepa Kumar describes how “gendered orientalism” has been used as a tool to justify ongoing military intervention in the Middle East. Mainstream media and the state continue to homogenize the entire Muslim world as misogynistic, portraying Muslim women as victims in need of ‘Western enlightenment.’ This framework based on the need to ‘liberate’ the ‘oppressed,’ which Kumar says is rooted in racism and empire, is then used to perpetuate the new age of liberal imperialism.
James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.
“Toward a Radical Climate Movement,” by Michael P. McCabe. Logos, Winter 2015.
McCabe’s essay in the new issue of Logos is a sobering reminder that the climate justice movement requires tactical reflection. While broadening awareness should be a necessary feature of a successful social movement, McCabe says “our primary objective must be to shatter the monopolistic claim that elites maintain over the organs of public policy, by redirecting the objectives of the state away from neoliberal imperatives and toward public ends.” Combating climate change ultimately depends on confronting the contradictions intrinsic to capitalism.
Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.
“Academe’s Willful Ignorance of African Literature,” by Aaron Bady. The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2015.
The field of African literature and Africanists, Aaron Bady explains, “only ‘seems to have grown up overnight’ to people whose eyes have been closed.” For many English departments across the country, African literature is always “emerging,” and often in the context of a cosmopolitan approach to world literature, rather than a discipline of study in its own right. “Racism is not the only word for this tendency, but it’s one of them, along with inertia and a self-satisfied lack of intellectual curiosity.”
Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.
“2015 State of Baltimore City: Mayor Reinforces 'Flawed' Crime-Fighting Program.” The Real News, March 10, 2015.
Operation Ceasefire, a supposedly progressive policing strategy that offers gang members access to resources if they stop the crime (and incarceration, if they don’t) is drawing criticism from community leaders and police veterans. In Baltimore, where an African-American mayor is expanding the program, critics say the city has failed to offer an adequate level of resources to youth in trouble and has failed to give poor neighborhoods ownership of the program. It’s a good reminder that “police reform” alone is not the answer to the “New Jim Crow.”
Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.
“Mary Cain is Growing Up Fast,” by Elizabeth Weil. The New York Times Magazine, March 4, 2015.
This feature, about young long-distance prodigy Mary Cain, held my attention from the beginning. Though I wish the writer, Weil, would have referred to Cain less as a sort of talented runt of the pack but rather let her talent stand on its own, this story is a multi-dimensional narrative that leaves you wanting to know more about this rising running star. It’s nice to have another female runner to add to the “Must Watch” list and even better to see a piece focused solely on her.