—Hélène Barthélemy focuses on the criminal justice system, activism and culture.
“The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats,” by Nick Hanauer. Politico Magazine, July/August 2014.
This has been a highly read story by zillionaire Nick Hanauer, which is interesting in both the many preconceptions it slashes and those it embraces. As Hanauer points out, the failure of considering workers as consumers is creating a society where most cannot afford the production of industry. There is actually a profit motive to advocating the minimum wage, as better paid workers would make more avid consumers. Zillionaires should therefore jump on the 15-NOW bandwagon! How lovely. Yet, Hanauer embraces a few highly problematic myths: firstly, that of capitalism as a vehicle for progress, which promotes some form of mild, necessary inequality, which simply has to be reduced and kept in check for capitalism to better strive. You can be poor insofar as we still profit. Then, he fearmongers on how the blood-lust of the unsophisticated masses will take over if we don't do anything. Reform, zillionaires, or you shall be killed. This is an abject vision of the disenfranchised as prone to passions and violence, not simply asking for basic rights and justice. If this sparks reform, it would be for the wrong reason—yet, in an odd and cynical way, it could lead to more worker rights, which we're hardly in a position to reject, unfortunately.
—Summer Concepcion focuses on race, gender and criminal justice.
“Fifth-graders defend their South Shore neighborhood.” Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2014.
The narrative of the South Side of Chicago being a war zone, aptly nicknamed "Chiraq," is an issue even the youngest of its residents take to heart. In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, fifth-graders at the Bradwell School of Excellence in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood call out the media on how it fails to put a human face behind its news coverage in the area. Even in elementary school, these fifth-graders know that they and their neighbors are more than just "another statistic."
—Erin Corbett focuses on national security and reproductive rights.
“Fitting The Description.” Doifitthedescription.tumblr.com.
As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed over the weekend, I came across a hashtag, #ChiCopWatch. Curious about what this was, I clicked on the link and read through a number of testimonials about being harassed by Chicago police for “fitting the description.” #ChiCopWatch was launched by a grassroots group, We Charge Genocide, and is dedicated to revealing the “epidemic of police violence” in the city of Chicago. Along with the Twitter campaign (among other community organizing) is a site called Fitting The Description, a series of beautifully composed portraits of individuals holding whiteboards with three words to describe themselves.
“Focused, Motivated, Hopeful”
“Powerful, Progressive, Passionate”
“Feminist, Queer, Anti-Racist”
The social media campaign is an effort to both break down the stereotypes of those who are most brutally harassed by police, while also calling on communities to “copwatch” and report police abuse. This is of particular relevance and importance with recent outcries of police brutality as anational crisis, from New York to Chicago and beyond.
—Victoria Ford focuses on African-American identity, feminism/womanism and the arts.
"Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist is a manual on 'How to Be a Human,'" by Nolan Feeney. TIME, August 5, 2014.
If you haven't heard about Roxane Gay's new collection of essays—personal and scholastic—Bad Feminist, count yourself among the fallen (and now saved, because you're currently reading this sentence and the collection recently came out. Praise be). Time interviewed the professor and author of An Untamed State to discuss questions for those interested or at odds with contemporary feminist doctrine, from combating ignorance like the Women Against Feminism campaign to discussing Beyoncé as a target and then bringing feminism back to the basics—humanity and empathy. America needs this brand of imperfectly human commentary, written as both a shedding of self and a loud, earnest exhalation that teaches its readers how to better move through the world as woman, as man, as human. For this I would (if I could) scream from a mountaintop and say, so it might land on the heads of the many who need to read these essays, Thank you, Roxane.
—Douglas Grant focuses on labor and income inequality, gender politics and American politics.
"The GOP's mixed message to minorities", Jill Lawrence. Al Jazeera America, August 6, 2014.
Jill Lawrence writes about the battle within the Republican Party and its official aim of reaching out to voters of color, while its members in Congress, channeling its most fringe constituents—those who chose to spend their Fourth of July weekend screaming invectives at child migrants fleeing deplorable violence—offer the worst possible message, lacking any compassion or logic. The striking contrast of Reince Priebus reaching out to the National Urban League as the House Republicans sue President Obama on spurious charges of abuse of power paints a picture of a party that has alienated the people of color in the country, which will shrink their party.
—Hannah Harris Green focuses on South Asian Culture and Politics, and Sexual Assault.
“Gaza Calls! Day of Rage August 9th, Jantar Mantar, Delhi,” by Nivedita Menon. Kafila, August 7, 2014.
Indians who protest Israel's assault on Gaza face similar resistance to Americans who are against the attacks—India has a military and trade relationship with Israel that many Indians do not wish to jeopardize. This week, Indians opposed to the war will meet to protest at Jantar Mantar, a famous Delhi landmark, to demand that the Indian government impose a military embargo on India, a boycott of all direct and indirect collaborations with Israel, including academic collaborations, and encourage increased educational and cultural exchange with Palestine. The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel also campaigns for greater awareness of the destruction of Gaza.
—Alana de Hinojosa focuses on immigration, race and racism, Latin@ identity and feminism.
“Understanding Israel’s War as Racist Is Crucial to Ending Occupation,” by Sonali Kolhatkar. Truthdig, July 31, 2014.
Twelve years ago, Jewish right-wing journalist Uri Elitzer referred to Palestinians as "snakes" in an article, and called for Palestinians and their mothers to be killed. Last month, a Danish reporter came across a group of Israeli's gathered outside in the Israeli town of Sderot with folding chairs and popcorn cheering and clapping as a bombs dropped on Gaza. This past May, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel to be formally defined as a Jews-only state. And this year, Upper Narazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso called for his city to be "Jewish Forever." He was quoted saying, "If you think I'm a racist, then Israel is a racist state." It's no doubt that racism might very well be the driving force for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What's even more sobering, as Sonali Kolhatkar points out in her July 31 Truthdig article, is that their Jews-only logic is not unique. "Just as Zionism is based on the belief that God granted Jews the land that Palestinians were living on," she writes, "white settlers in the United States believed they had a God-given right to the land they were settling—a Manifest Destiny." American settler colonialism was not thought of as racist at the time. But we know better now, or at least we should. So maybe it's time we take a more critical look at the very blatant racist behavior, rhetoric and policies towards the displaced, dying and disheartened Palestinians living in Gaza.
—Crystal Kayiza focuses on the African diaspora, immigration, black feminist thought, and police brutality.
“I was wrong about Gaza: Why we can no longer ignore the horrors in Palestine,” by Brittney Cooper. Salon, August 5, 2014.
For centuries, religious texts have been used to justify the genocide and oppression of African-American communities. Today they've formed another barrier—but this time by halting solidarity with another marginalized group. African-American communities are disproportionately evangelical Christians, and stories of the Promise Land have left this community deeply rooted in a pro-Israel political agenda. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the violence and occupation that Americans for so long have been taught to support. Brittney Cooper eloquently deconstructs the lies Americans—and specifically people of color—have been told about the history and suffering in Palestine. Communities of color are not unfamiliar with racial and ethnic police brutality and political oppression, and what Cooper comes to realize is that "as a black person attuned to the processes of colonization, slavery and apartheid that built the West on the backs of black and indigenous people, [she] cannot help seeing these acts of war and terror as interconnected." With this understanding, it is hard to consume the sermons that use religion to morally justify the Israeli occupation of the Gaza. "Having come from people who have risen up, rioted and rebelled against oppressive state forces that confined us to land, restricted our movement and denied our humanity, [resisting] the urge to characterize all forms of resistance as terror" and evaluating religious understanding, may be difficult—but it is necessary. To read Biblical texts with a sociopolitical agenda—as many in power have been doing for centuries—only continues the cycle of violence and occupation. America has used religion to justify its "sordid history of settler colonialism, slavery, mass incarceration and other racially driven social ills, [and this] teaches us a lot about why our country identifies with Israel and it teaches us everything we need to know about why we shouldn’t."
—Agnes Radomski focuses on labor, mass incarceration, the war on drugs and the military industrial complex.
“The CIA Must Tell the Truth About My Rendition At 12 Years Old,” by Khadija al-Saadi. Gawker, August 6, 2014.
This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee is battling the CIA and White House over redactions made in a Congressional report on the agency’s use of detention and rendition. At stake, is the possibility of one victim’s story “being hidden under a sea of black.” Khadija al-Saadi was just a child when her family was flown to Libya, surely to be tortured for her father’s opposition to Colonel Gaddafi. Her story is one that should be familiar to most Americans: rendition, secret prisons, our government’s complicity and involvement in heinous acts. Now, at 23, she hopes her name isn't one that’s been redacted from the report. Khadija al-Saadi’s story allows us to reflect on our post-9/11 world and empathize with the CIA’s victims. As al-Saadi’s family moves forward, she hopes to gain closure as a result of “a full admission of what has taken place in the past.”