The White Privilege of Occupying

 

You may have noticed your Facebook friends “checking in” at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. No, they didn’t all plan a trip without you, and if you’re lost, go read this CNN article to get caught up and come back. Given this development, and the stark difference between the treatment of Standing Rock protestors and Ammon Bundy and Co., we’re going to revisit the idea of White Privilege as it pertains to protesting. Or in this case, occupying land.

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Trump’s Problem With (White) Women

The past week has been rough for the Trump camp. A leaked tape from 2005 let voters hear Trump and Billy Bush, the host of Access Hollywood, talking trash about women. Including a choice quote of Trump saying that, “And when you’re a star they let you do it…You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Beyond Trump repeating himself all the time (does no one remember Trump making fun of Rubio for repeating himself??) we have the crux of issue: Trump says he assaulted women. Then he backtracks, saying it was just “locker room talk” and that he has never done these things. In and of itself, it’s shady, but people brag when they think they’re doing something great, right?

Continue reading “Trump’s Problem With (White) Women”

DivestNU is in-tents About Climate Justice

DivestNU is in-tents About Climate Justice

Walking through Northeastern University’s main quad, it’s hard to miss the protestors camped out on Centennial Common. Student activists from DivestNU have been occupying the quad since Monday Oct. 3rd in an effort to pressure the university to cut its ties to the fossil fuel industry.

DivestNU, a student-led campaign, has formed a coalition of student organizations on campus, including the Northeastern Black Student Association, the Feminist Student Organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Progressive Student Alliance, Students Against Institutional Discrimination, and the Husky Environmental Action Team. This coalition is key, according to DivestNU organizer Austin Williams, because divestment isn’t simply a climate issue, but a social justice issue.

“The cruel irony of climate change is that the folks who have contributed the least to the problem are the ones who are going to be hit first and hardest by its impacts,” said Williams. “So we don’t think of this as a green or an environmental issue, but rather we try to frame it as a justice issue and focus on how climate change is going to exacerbate the existing inequities in our society.”

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Nicole Erickson, president of the Feminist Student Organization, agreed, saying that, “[climate change isn’t] gonna be hard for President Aoun, it’s not gonna be hard for the people saying it doesn’t exist because they have all the resources to work around it. The people who are really going to be affected are the ones I’m out here for today.”

Those people, Erickson points out are those who historically get the short end of the stick: women, children and other marginalized people. Geographically, the areas most in danger are nations in the global south, from coastal flooding in South Asia to droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa. We see the effects with Hurricane Mathew–a rising death toll of over 400 according to the Haitian government. (Edit: as of Saturday morning, it’s over 800 deaths.)

Climate change-related disasters aren’t limited to natural disasters, but man-made ones as well. And that causes dangers for workers, making climate change an issue for labor rights groups as well, such as the Progressive Students Alliance, says Student Government representative Pratik Dubey, of PSA.

“Labor rights and climate justice are typically two fights that are pitted against one another but we recognize that in reality you can’t have climate justice without labor justice,” said Dubey. “Take for example, the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. The accident itself killed many workers, and in its aftermath, the spill itself ruined the livelihoods of all the people that depend on the Gulf Region for work.” (Mac McClelland has two great pieces on the DeepWater Horizon spill, the first on the runaround of the oil industry, the second on the effects on those living in the gulf. Definitely worth a read.)

When I asked protestors how long DivestNU would occupy Centennial, they said as long as it takes for the university to enact change. Let’s hope for their sake that it happens before the effects of Hurricane Mathew reach New England.

All Look Same, Especially When You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For

You’ve heard it before: All Look Same. This isn’t just some racist joke kids taunt on playgrounds, pulling the corners of their eyes and putting on unmistakably Asian accent. It’s actually a psychological phenomena known as Out-of-Group Homogeneity, and paired with the Cross-Race Effect, it explains why folks struggle to differentiate people outside of their own race. Essentially, interracial interactions are based on features only, while intraracial interactions are holistic–you literally take the person at face value if they’re outside your race, but if they’re within your race you see them as a whole, individual person. So it’s not an inherently racist statement, and it leads us to consider the larger psychological basis for mixing up people of the same race or even racial profiling.

So you’re an average New Yorker wasting time on your phone when you get this emergency alert.

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Via The Verge

 

 

Note that there was no photo attached, so New Yorkers needed to look up images on their own time. Images have flooded the media now, but initially, there weren’t too many photos available and so citizens were left with nothing but an Arab-sounding name and an age. (Fun fact, another result of the Cross-Race Effect is that people struggle to accurately guess the age of folks of different races! So the odds of someone accurately determining Rahami’s age based on a picture are somewhat slim.)

Various media outlets have already chimed in noting that this alert may have lead to citizens racially profiling their brown neighbors. Jessica Lachenal of The Mary Sue wrote that,

“By sending out an alert like this, which lacks critical context and information, people are left with only their imagination and previous biases to judge who “Ahmad Khan Rahami” might be. In a single moment, suddenly everybody who appears to be Muslim and/or Middle Eastern becomes a suspect.”

Lachenal cites the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, when Sunil Tripathi was mistaken for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The Daily Beast ran a story on his family in April of 2015, check it out here. People searched incessantly for Tripathi, who didn’t show up, primarily because he was dead. He’d killed himself a month before the bombings even happened.

Let’s be clear: police were able to apprehend Rahami because a citizen saw him and called for help. But when we consider the number of young black men stopped (and arrested or killed) because they matched the brief description of a suspect, we can understand why an emergency alert with a lack of details is concerning.