—Talal Ansari focuses on foreign policy/affairs, international conflict (including US involvement abroad) and human rights issues abroad.
"The Fight of Their Lives," by Dexter Filkins. The New Yorker, September 29, 2014.
The world's largest ethnic group without a country, the Kurds, are doing much of the fighting against ISIS in Iraq. This article examines their motivations for fighting for an Iraq they never wanted to be part of, and their desire for a country of their own.
Aaron Braun focuses on the psychology and politics of work, histories of socialism, and progressive critiques of Zionism.
In the wake of Operation Protective edge it is imperative to listen to political dialogue within the West Bank and Gaza, as well as among the Palestinian diaspora. The racist story readily peddled by right wing pundits, that Palestinians cannot be reasoned nor negotiated with, would not be as effective if media paid more attention to the nuances of Palestinian politics (as well as the perpetual occurrence of IDF violence) in between clashes.
Naomi Gordon-Loebl focuses on queer and trans politics, youth and education, and the criminal justice system.
"Why I'm Not Really Here for Emma Watson's Feminism Speech at the U.N.," by Mia McKenzie. Black Girl Dangerous, September 24, 2014.
This week, my Facebook feed exploded with appreciation for Emma Watson's feminism speech, launching her new HeForShe campaign, at the UN. In this article, Black Girl Dangerous creator Mia McKenzie explains why she wasn't such a fan. In particular, she takes apart the often-invoked argument that men should be feminists because patriarchy hurts them too. Does patriarchy really hurt men as much as it hurts women, McKenzie asks? (One look at the worldwide gender gap in pay answers that question with a resounding "No.") And even if it did…why should oppression need to directly, personally harm men (or white people, or straight people, etc…) in order for them to care about it?
Ted Hart focuses on criminal justice, arts journalism and media ethics.
"Teachers With Guns," by Wade Livingston. Missouri Life, October 2014.
In September, Missouri legislators voted to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of a controversial bill that would allow teachers to carry concealed guns in school. This week, Missouri Life published an engrossing piece on the training those teachers and school employees receive. Wade Livingston received truly remarkable access and is able to take us inside the program that "trains teachers to become warriors." Livingston's dispatch is far from an apologia for arming teachers, but his reporting provides a rich and nuanced look at how some Missouri schools are trying to protect their students in a post-Sandy Hook world.
Yazmin Khan focuses on intersectionality, feminism, race, foreign affairs, politics and pop culture.
“White House Intruders: Remembering Miriam Carey and How She Died,” by Lynette Holloway. The Root, September 23, 2014.
Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Mike Brown. We know these names and the tragedies that befell these people, but do we know the name of Miriam Carey and the tragic details of her shooting death in Washington, DC? Almost one year ago, this 34-year-old African American woman suffering from post-partum depression was shot and killed by local and federal police after driving her car, with her one-year-old child, into a barricade outside the White House and then driving towards the Capital building. She was killed when five bullets, out of the seventeen bullets fired at her, hit her torso and neck. Her name and memory have re-emerged in the news because of two security breaches at the White House last week. These two incidents with intruders at the White House both ended in arrests. One incident consisted of a 19-year-old man that was stopped and arrested after he tried to drive through a barricade to the White House (just as Carey did). The second incident involved a forty-two-year-old veteran, suffering from PTSD, with a knife and a car full of weapons, who made it inside the White House itself. Neither man was fired upon by police or Secret Service agents. Neither man was African American. The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia concluded its investigation into Carey's shooting death in July and is filing no charges against any of the police officers that shot and killed her. Both Carey and the veteran suffered from mental health issues, but why were such different tactics used when dealing with these different incidents? Why, out of all three of these incidents in the last year, is only Miriam Carey dead from police bullets? Why isn't the DOJ pursuing this case?
Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro focuses on world politics, social justice and technology
"The Student Loan Crusader: How Elizabeth Warren Wants to Reduce Debt," by Tim Dickinson. Rolling Stone, August 20, 2014.
This brief Rolling Stone Q&A with US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) puts her proposed Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act in the spotlight, a progressive measure that aims to allow student-loan borrowers to refinance their outstanding debt at 3.86 percent interest while taxing the rich to make up for the decrease in money flowing to the Fed. With student debt surpassing $1 trillion, according to the New York Federal Reserve, I believe it's important to keep an eye on pending student-loan legislation that could help reverse this critical situation.
Jessica McKenzie focuses on technology and politics, transparency and accountability.
"Want to Find Out Where Your Fruit Was Grown? Good Luck" by Elizabeth Grossman. Mother Jones, September 24, 2014.
If you ever think about where your food has been you might lose your appetite. Your grocery-stored sourced fruit and veggies alone travel from grower to packer to distributor to supplier to store and, finally, home with you. A thorough explainer over at Mother Jones details just why you generally can't track down where your produce comes from or where it's been (beyond country of origin). Spoiler alert: that information is often considered a "trade secret." All the more reason to shop at your local farmers market.
Muna Mire focuses on race, politics, criminal justice and social movements (youth/millennial movements in particular), using an intersectional, Black feminist lens.
“Up From Pain,” by Charles M. Blow. The New York Times, September 21, 2014.
"…I would come to know what the world called people like me: bisexuals. The hated ones. The bastard breed. The 'tragic mulattos' of sexual identity. Dishonest and dishonorable. Scandal-prone and disease-ridden. Nothing nice."
This week, an explosive column from New York Timeswriter Charles Blow has captured my attention. Excerpted from his upcoming memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones—Blow writes a personal account of coming to terms with his sexuality, the traumas of his past and finding the courage to truly be himself. Blow brings the audience into his most inner sanctum, and the vulnerability and intimacy that electrify the page are apparent right away. The author makes a powerful case for the freedom that comes with speaking one's truth.
N’Kosi Oates focuses on race and politics, social justice, black identity, pop culture.
“To keep peace, DOJ bars media from town hall meetings,” by Trymaine Lee. MSNBC, September 22, 2014.
It was announced that the Community Relations Service, an agency within the Department of Justice, will exclude the media and non-Ferguson residents from attending any of the city’s slated meetings, with the goal of healing tensions between city officials and the residents. Devin James, Ferguson's city spokesperson, told MSNBC, "It is my understanding that they [the DOJ] believe that the presence of media hinders and disrupts the conversation so that it is no longer productive and does not fulfill the purpose for which it was intended." Yet, it's problematic that the media will not be present. The claim that the media provokes tensions in the case of Ferguson is specious; we need the media to continue to record events as they unfold. In this case, cameras documented the previously invisible black Ferguson residents victimized by the police, inundated by structural disparities, yearning for their humanity to be validated. It was only this media coverage that made us aware, on a national level, of the contemporary political and social realities in Ferguson. Broadcasting images and videos of US citizens engaging in the political process is the media's duty. Fifty years after Freedom Summer, this continued media coverage is necessary to elevate American and international consciousness of the problems still plaguing the United States. This coverage affirms Dr. King's words, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Allison Pohle focuses on feminism, labor and income inequality, education and health.
“When no gender fits: A quest to be seen as just a person,” by Monica Hesse.The Washington Post, September 20, 2014.
Kelsey Beckham is not a boy or a girl. Kelsey identifies as “non-binary” or “agender,” if required to put a label on it, but, more than anything else, Kelsey is a person. In this beautiful and intimate story, Monica Hesse explores what it means to be a teenager in suburban Michigan who struggles with an identity that is not widely recognized. Although not all readers can identify with Kelsey’s particular struggle, this story transcends gender issues. From Hesse’s story, readers can recognize that we all struggle to find our identity based on varying societal expectations. No matter how we define ourselves, we are more than just boys or girls or agender or non-binary. We are people.