—Hélène Barthélemy focuses on the criminal justice system, activism and culture.
"Work It! The New Face of Labor in Fashion" by Annemarie Strassel. Dissent,Spring 2014.
Increasing poverty is making the difference between previously defined "good jobs" and "bad jobs" more tenuous. While the poor are more and more disenfranchised, the creative classes are similarly losing ground. This article describes unionizing efforts across professions and countries in the fashion world, highlighting the commonality of the struggle between more privileged laborers (models), unpaid interns and overseas factory workers, all of which represent different degrees of precarious labor. As many have said in the past, the precariat, which unites the traditional working class to freelancers, temp-workers and interns, has revolutionary potential. The objective is now for all to work together and build links across unions, to organize and make pressure in idiosyncratic ways to advance popular interest, raise wages for low-wage workers (fifteen now!) and ensure better working conditions for all, while not forgetting to use this widened platform to give a voice to the more powerless.
—Summer Concepcion focuses on race, gender and criminal justice.
“The Prisoner's Daughter,” by Albert Samaha. The Village Voice, June 10, 2014.
Because prison has the effect of dehumanizing the people in them, stories that put a human face to the prison experience often prove to be especially worthwhile. "The Prisoner's Daughter" sheds light on Amanda Rosario, a young woman whose father has been in prison for as long as she can remember. Despite the distance and time that passes, Rosario continues to hold onto the relationship she has with her father and sees him well beyond the "criminal" label.
—Erin Corbett focuses on national security and reproductive rights.
"American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: The Misleading History and Messages of the 9/11 Memorial Museum"by Patrick L. Smith. Salon, June 9, 2014.
While briefly seeing some debate over the 9/11 Memorial Museum as a commercial product, I came across Patrick Smith’s piece at Salon.com, where he discusses the museum as an exploitation of “tragedy, confus[ing] history with ideology.” I thought this piece was interesting, as he uncovers the complexities of layering memory, history and grief, as well as Smith’s discussion of the ways in which memorials, known as “sites of memory,” often tell us HOW to remember events.
—Victoria Ford focuses on African-American identity, feminism/womanism and the arts.
“Am I My Sister’s Keeper?” by Hope Wabuke. Ms. Magazine, June 10, 2014.
This article asks an unsettling question being faced by women around the world: What's happening to our girls and when will we save them? Women of color have time and time again been excluded from the movements fought for civil rights and discussions involving civic membership. Their (our) omission from “My Brother’s Keeper,” the $200 million private-public program launched by President Obama, suggests that "we know that structural racism exists in a gendered way" but we aren't doing anything to change the frames (mass incarceration, unequal employment opportunities, debilitating school systems, etc.) in which they exist, an argument made recently by Rutgers Professor Brittany Cooper on the Melissa Harris-Perry show and, indirectly, by this open letter from 200 black men (including the article's interviewee, Kiese Laymon) calling for the inclusion of women and girls in the President's initiative.
—Douglas Grant focuses on labor and income inequality, gender politics and American politics.
“Jocks and nerds of the world, unite!” by Amy B. Dean. Al Jazeera America, June 11, 2014.
Grad students slogging through dissertations and athletes giving it all on the gridiron might have little in common at first glance. But Amy Dean provides a glimpse into how these disparate groups opened a new debate on campuses across the country about student athletes and scholars demanding rewards for work that goes unpaid or exploited for a university's bottom line. The athletes sell our merchandise, fill stadiums (and their colleges' coffers) without financial reward and after, they are often left without health insurance, oftentimes besotted with injuries after the grueling work on the field and least of all without a chance at the pros. Graduate students that do plenty of the work that professors do—teaching and grading papers—are often left with no better bargain. Despite their PhDs in hand, barely a quarter of adjunct professors have health insurance and even fewer are on a tenure track. With an unlikely alliance, students and student athletes are changing that across the country as they vote to unionize and petition their demands.
—Hannah Harris Green focuses on South Asian Culture and Politics, and Sexual Assault.
"Some Shocking Facts About Maharashtra's Muslims the States Does Not Want You to Know" by Aarefa Johari. Scroll, June 10, 2014.
This week, Aarefa Johari of Scroll.in revealed the contents of a damning report on the condition of Muslims in Maharashtra, India, which the state government had failed to release. According to the report, Maharashtran Muslims suffer from generally worse conditions than their counterparts who belong to scheduled castes and tribes—groups that have traditionally been oppressed under the caste system hierarchy. 45 percent of Muslim households in the state have a monthly income of less than RS 500 (approximately $8.50) per person, and Muslims also experience discrimination while trying to attain public services.
—Alana de Hinojosa focuses on immigration, race and racism, Latin@ identity and feminism.
“The Racism Beat,” By Cord Jefferson. Medium, June 9, 2014.
For the last couple of years, I've pretty much dedicated my young career in journalism to writing about the stories, struggles and politics of Latin@s in the United States. Cord Jefferson, the author of this blog post and former editor at Gawker, has pretty much done the same thing, except geared toward African-Americans. The difficult thing about this sort of "beat" writing, as Jefferson points out, is that it's both important and uncommon work, but that it's also personal. And when something like the prevalent occurrence of racism in American society is not only part of your job, but also part of your life, this can be exhausting work.
—Crystal Kayiza focuses on the African diaspora,immigration, Black Feminist thought, and police brutality.
“Why do African teams under-perform at the World Cup?” by Antoinette Muller. The Guardian, June 11, 2014.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has elicited immense controversy. From the marginalization of low-income communities to the monumental expenditures on infrastructure across the region, rage towards FIFA has finally matched the intense excitement for the games. But the lack of representation of the African continent within the immaculate FIFA event has gone largely unnoticed. Similar to political and economic representation on the world stage, in her article, Antoinette Muller points out that African nations are oftentimes unequal participants in the World Cup. "As a continent, Africa has 48 countries competing to get to the finals but only five places available. Europe gets 13 places. It used to be even worse, with Africa only allocated two places," writes Muller. She details many reasons for the underperformance of African nations in the World Cup, ranging from institutional corruption to bad sportsmanship. This year more than ever, the winners and losers of the games will speak volumes on the political stage. And hopefully, this time will in fact be for Africa.
—Agnes Radomski focuses on labor, mass incarceration, the war on drugs and the military industrial complex.
“Ten Years a Temp: California Food Giant Highlights National Rise in Exploited Labor,” by Bill Raden and Gary Cohn. Capital & Main, May 27, 2014.
From big-box superstores like Wal-Mart to fast-food chains like Burger King and McDonalds, cases of exploitation among American workers continue to proliferate. Now temporary or "contingent" workers at California's Taylor Farms, one of the country's major salad producers, adds to this daunting trend. Two-thirds of Taylor Farm's 900 workers in the Central Valley town of Tracy work for subcontractors or are considered temporary employees. What does this mean? Low wages (employees start at the state minimum of $8 an hour), little to no job security and limited protection for worker's under labor laws. The authors exposed yet another player contributing to the American workforce's race to the bottom. As they so bluntly put it, their investigation "reveals a business model in which Taylor Farms' Spinach is treated with more respect than their workers."