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Reflections on RISE Conference 2010 November 11, 2010

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It has been almost one month since the RISE Conference. With over 300 participants in attendance and 25 workshops, it is not surprising that the colossal energy of the day still is still buzzing around. Check some of the reactions to the conference, offered by participants and presenters:

***If you have any reflections of your own from RISE Conference 2010, please leave them in the comments!***

 

 

“Rooted in Radical Values and Collective Action”- Anna Ortega, Keynote Speaker


Rebecca Stahl is a conference organizer and coordinates the RISE blog. Please email her at blog@riseconference.org if you are interested in contributing your writing, photos, events, or ideas!

October Event Round Up! October 6, 2010

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Recently we’ve highlighted organizers and presenters for the RISE Conference, but RISE isn’t the only awesome event going on in October! Check out some happenings in NYC this month…

Controversial Issues in Contemporary Criminal Justice: NYPD’s Stop and Frisk

Tuesday, October 12, 2010. In 2009, the NYPD stopped people in New York City more than 575,000 times. The NYPD asserts that its stop and frisk practices gather useful information for solving crimes and getting guns off the street. At the same time, nearly nine out of 10 people stopped were black or Latino. Only 12 percent of people stopped were arrested or received a summons, and police found guns in less than one percent of all stops. In this lecture/panel, presented by the NYU Wagner Students for Criminal Justice Reform, will ask  researchers, reform advocates, and law enforcement to discuss the critical questions around the issues. This is a free event, open to the public. Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm Location: The Puck Building, The Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, 2nd Fl. 295 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 1001

SEED. Presented in association with Classical Theatre of Harlem.


Oct. 11- Oct 13, 2010. Burnt-out social worker Anne Colleen Simpson decides to write a book detailing the child welfare case that brought her acclaim. But when Chee-Chee, a gifted ten-year-old from the “projects” collides into her life, she is forced to confront the shadows of her past. This compelling drama, originally workshopped by the Classical Theatre of Harlem, examines the class and cultural fault lines in one of New York’s most prominent black communities. Three shows Oct 11- Oct 13. Click here for more info or to buy tickets.

2010 Friends of RightRides Social

October 14, 2010. RightRides, who is presenting a workshop at RISE Conference 2010, is hosting a social to celebrate six years of building safer communities in NYC! The mission of RightRides For Women’s Safety, Inc. is to build safer communities by ending gender-based harassment and sexual assault. They work towards this by community organizing and offering direct service, safety education and advocacy programs. Click here to purchase tickets or learn more.

Report-back from Argentina: International Women’s Gathering

October 21, 2010. Over 25,000 women from throughout Latin America come together each year to share their struggles from the factories, home fronts, schools, hospitals and universities. Radical Women NYC Organizer Emily Woo Yamasaki gives a first-hand account of this inspiring meeting. Freedom Hall, 113 W. 128th St in Harlem (between Malcolm X Blvd. and 7th Ave). Admission free. Savory fall supper with vegetarian option served at 7pm for $8 donation. Childcare provided. Info: 212-222-0633 or nycradicalwomen@nyct.net

Organizer spotlight on…Shane! September 29, 2010

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In its first year, the RISE Conference brought together over 150 attendees and 40 speakers at New York University. In October 2010, organizers expect a turnout of at least double that number in Harlem for the second annual RISE Conference [register now!].

Leading up to the conference, we’re introducing you to some of the organizers here on the blog. Today’s spotlight: Shane, a second-year core organizer.

Shane, tell us a little about your background and what led you to this work.
I’m originally from near San Francisco and am currently an undergrad majoring in social work and economics.

Before coming to New York for school, I spent some time in India. For my junior and senior year of high school, I attended Mahindra United World College of India (www.uwc.org), which is one of a chain of schools in 12 countries founded on the idea that the best way to create international understanding is for kids from different places to go to school together. The curriculum includes a lot of community service, which we call “community interaction” because the idea is that you’re not “helping” people, you’re learning from them. Sometimes I felt very useless because I didn’t have the training or experience to do much, so I chose social work because I wanted to gain skills that could be applied to things that I cared about.

What has it been like to help organize RISE while a student?

RISE has been a great complement to studying social work.  Sometimes, I’ve felt that there just hasn’t been enough discussion of larger issues and power dynamics and social justice in the classroom as there could have been.

So when I heard about RISE, I thought, “this is what I’m supposed to be getting out of social work school!”

How did that come about?
[Founding organizer] Kate sent an email out to a bunch of people: “I have this idea for a conference. Is anybody interested in working on this with me?” I just wrote back.

From February 2009 until later in the spring, there were just a few of us. We had a lot of meetings sitting in a bar in Prospect Heights. And then slowly others started coming more regularly, and applying to present, and getting more involved. (more…)

Presenter Spotlight… on Angela Jones of the NYCLU September 22, 2010

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RISE caught up with Angela Jones, coordinator of the School to Prison Pipeline for the NYCLU, who will be presenting “School to Prison Pipeline/ Juvenile Justice 101″ at the RISE Conference in October. Her work focuses on improving school safety policies and putting an end to the path that leads students away from schools and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Read on to find out more about Angela’s work and for a sneak-peek into the conference!

The NYCLU works very closely with students and youth impacted by the justice system. How has organizing with youth impacted you as an organizer and activist?

As an organizer I think it’s important to understand that those who are directly affected by the issues are the ones who will inform us about the problems, the solutions, and the steps we need to take to get from one to the other. In the beginning, we didn’t understand the extent of the problem around police in schools, not until youth began telling us what their day-to-day experiences were. We learn from them. It’s really young people who have been leading the movement to end over-policing in schools. It’s being led by youth from organizations like DRUM-Desis Rising Up and Moving, Make the Road New York, Future of Tomorrow, Youth on the Move, Brothers and Sisters United, and the Urban Youth Collaborative.

Working with young people around social justice issues is the single most rewarding experience for me. I’ve worked with youth in other areas who might be labeled by some as “at-risk”. To me, these youth hold the answers to better schools and better communities. Young mothers, court-involved youth, LGBTSTGNC youth, youth with special needs, youth from low-income families, etc. can educate us about the stigmas they face and their constant struggle to be treated with dignity by the adults in their lives.

As an activist, the stories young people tell me get my blood boiled. Their struggles light a fire under my feet and propel me toward action. When young people tell me that they were taken away by truancy officers for being ten minutes late to class, when they tell me that they were suspended for wearing a hat in school, when young people tell me that they were arrested for writing on their desk, I realize that things aren’t as simple as we think. The issue isn’t about “bad kids doing bad things”. These punishments do not fit the crimes. And the punishments themselves do nothing to address the underlying problems. Youth challenge me to look deeper into the social fabric and find the holes that they are in danger of slipping through.

You work with the NYCLU organizing action in support of the Student Safety Act. What is the Student Safety Act?

The Student Safety Act is a reporting bill. It would require the NYPD and the DOE to report regularly on school-based arrests and student suspensions. The number of students arrested everyday is recorded but it isn’t released to the public. It’s the City’s best kept secret. The bill will also make known the type of students who are being arrested and suspended. What we hear from teachers, parents, youth advocates, and youth themselves is that students of color from low-income communities are more likely to be suspended or arrested in schools. And students with special needs are especially vulnerable. The schools that have the most police personnel, surveillance equipment, and metal detectors serve mostly students of color from low-income families. That makes these students more vulnerable to policing and the justice system.

The Student Safety Act will give us the data we need to address the disproportionate impact that over-policing has on students. From there, we can begin to create more positive alternatives.

What is the importance of the Student Safety Act to social workers?

The data that would be released once the Student Safety Act passes, is data that social workers will be able to access in order to better serve the youth who they work with. The information will be school-specific, so that social workers who are assigned to a school will be able address the needs of the student body based on their school’s data. If there is an increase in suspensions among students with special needs, for instance, social workers will be able to identify that and work with teachers and administrators to address the issue.

How can social workers help to dismantle the school to prison pipeline?

We need social workers to be allies in the struggle to create more youth-positive policies in schools, in communities, and in the juvenile justice system. Because social workers are looked to as experts in the area of youth needs and effective ways of meeting those needs, it’s important for them to be outspoken about the ill effects of over-policing on the school environment. It would help our campaign tremendously if social workers came together as a group and supported the Student Safety Act. Your expertise is vital to the movement.

In addition to activism, we also need social workers for their forward-thinking vision. We’ve come to know what the problems are. What we need now is to begin to shape solutions. It’s not fair for us to ask student to leave their lives at home when they come to school. Social workers understand the social, emotional, and economic hardships that students face; elements that might effect their ability to function in school. Therefore, it’s important to begin brainstorming ways of addressing these matters before they become cause for misbehavior in the classroom.

For instance, some schools have after school programs so that students have somewhere to go and something positive to do after school hours. Some schools have breakfast programs so that students receive the nutrition need to start the day well. Some schools have child care facilities for young mothers so that they can continue their education while raising their child. Some schools have conflict resolution and peer mediation programs for students who get into minor disagreements. These programs not only get to the root of the conflict, they also reinforce a more positive and nurturing school environment. It’s often social workers who identify the need for these programs and advocate for their implementation. That kind of support is vital to student success.

What do you expect RISE participants will walk away with after attending your session?

After the session, I hope participants will understand the systemic problem of over-policing; that there are educational policies and practices that push struggling students out of schools and into the juvenile justice system. I also hope that the session will encourage participants to speak out about the problems students face in schools. And finally, I hope that our campaign to end over-policing can offer participants a vehicle to create positive changes.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the School to Prison Pipeline, and how you can get involved, please contact Angela at ajones@nyclu.org.

Spotlight on… Theater of the Oppressed September 15, 2010

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As we gear up for the conference, I will be talking with a few presenters to introduce them to the RISE community and highlight the topics  covered in their workshops.

This week, I caught up with Ellen Baxt, who is co-facilitating a workshop on Theater of the Oppressed. At the first RISE conference in 2009, attendees were invited to participate in an abbreviated workshop on Theater of the Oppressed. Luckily, this year Theater of the Oppressed is back by popular demand, this time with a full, 2.5 hour workshop!

Read on to learn more about Ellen, Theater of the Oppressed, and political theater in action!

What exactly is Theater of the Oppressed? And how do theater and performance contribute to fighting oppression? Theater of the Oppressed was developed by Brazilian activist and theater director, Augusto Boal and has been used for decades as a tool for fighting oppression around the world. Community members become actors and actresses, sharing their personal experiences of oppression using their bodies and voices. Actors and audience learn from each other about the oppressions that exist in our society, their impact, and ways of fighting back.

How did you become involved with Theater of the Oppressed?

My journey with Theater of the Oppressed began in 2005 when I went through a six-month training internship with the Theater of the Oppressed Lab (TOPLAB) and then became a core member of TOPLAB. I work with community organizations, training and supporting them in Theater of the Oppressed techniques that they use in their organizing and advocacy work.

You facilitated a Theater of the Oppressed workshop at the first RISE conference. What brings you back again this year? At last year’s RISE conference I facilitated an introductory Theater of the Oppressed workshop for a group of insightful, passionate, introspective social workers and activists and many said they wanted more. I am pleased to be able to offer a longer workshop this year.

What do you hope conference participants will walk away with when they leave your workshop? Theater of the Oppressed offers participants an opportunity to see, analyze and discuss one anothers’ experiences of oppression. It’s so rare that we share these experiences on both a personal and political level, making connections and more deeply understanding the nature of oppression in our society. I hope workshop participants continue to share these stories and understand how oppression affects us individually and in communities.

To see this political theater in action, check out VIVIENCIAS DEL INMIGRANTE, a play created and performed by Teatro Rodante del Inmigrante, the traveling theater of Make the Road New York. The play takes place in a New York City factory, created by five immigrant women who have lived that reality. It will be performed at the Queens Museum, September 19 at 1:00 p.m. Audiences members will be invited to take part in the play, showing how they would fight back against the oppression of factory workers. More event information HERE.

Theater of the Oppressed Lab (TOPLAB) offers workshops open to the public at the Brecht Forum. For more information go to http://www.brechtforum.org/institute. Anyone interested in having TOPLAB present at a conference or other event can email ellenbaxt@gmail.com.

Rebecca Stahl is a conference organizer for RISE and manages the RISE blog. Contact blog@riseconference.org with questions or for more information on what you read here!

September Event Round Up! August 31, 2010

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Every month we post a few of the many, many upcoming events of interest to RISE members. Leave us a comment if you’d like to write a report-back for this blog or shoot us an email at blog@riseconference.org to suggest events for next month’s round-up.

TUESDAY 9/7: NYC Rally to Support the Student Safety Act

The Student Safety Act would give the public basic data on police-student interactions.  According to the NYCLU, it’s the  first step in restoring students’ rights in the largest school district in the country.  For more information, call 212.607.3388 or email ajones@nyclu.org.  12 noon, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street.

***To learn more about the Student Safety Act and other ways you can help, register for RISE Conference 2010, where Angela Jones from NYCLU is presenting “School to Prison Pipeline/ Juvenile Justice 101”***

WEDNESDAY 9/15: How Does the US Social Forum Contribute to Building a New Progressive Movement in the US?

The accomplishments of public forums are often elusive. People come together—sometimes in massive numbers—to strategize, engage movement building issues, and share knowledge and experiences. But the main work of movements takes place outside of the forums. What is (or isn’t) different about the USSF? 7:30pm, The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Streets). Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15

WEDNESDAY 9/22: Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice

A talk by Mark Warren, who takes a scientific perspective on the ways that white Americans become advocates for racial justice.  6:00-8:00pm, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue (Room: Urban Education Lounge). Free.


Ideas and action against Islamophobia August 24, 2010

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The heated opposition to building Park51, an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, is less about the sensitivity to New Yorkers and victims of 9/11, and more about pervasive Islamophobia in America at large. The following two opinion articles address the racism that pushes forth opposition, and provide deeper insight into the controversy.
  • For Mosques, ‘Anywhere But There’ Echos Far Beyond Ground Zero. The outrage against mosques and Muslim Americans is not unique to Ground Zero, or even New York. We are witnessing a magnified instance of oppression  and marginalization that Muslim Americans have dealt with since 9/11. In this article, Marian Wang draws our attention to resistance and discrimination against building mosques from all over the US.
  • The Park51  Islamic Cultural Center and American Values. What exactly is at the heart of the chaos and opposition to Park51 Islamic cultural center? Valerie Elverton Dixton says it is “the mistaken ideal that Islam attacked the United States” and “anti-Muslim bias and fear.” Her analysis places an imperative on disconnecting Islam from terrorism in the conversation about building the cultural center near Ground Zero.
Want to know how you can show support for religious tolerance and freedom? Participate in an interfaith, peaceful rally on September 12th.
Liberty Walk: Interfaith Rally for Religious Freedom

Sunday, September 12 @3pm

“We will walk from St Peter’s Church to a synagogue (TBD), World Trade Center, and finish at Park51.  Please be respectful and mindful.  We won’t allow any signs at this demonstration.  Rather, we ask everyone to bring a flag to the demonstration as a reminder of religious freedom.

Who is RISE? Organizer Spotlight on…Sarah August 10, 2010

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In its first year, the RISE Conference brought together over 150 attendees and 40 speakers at New York University. Workshop topics ranged from Undoing Racism to Theater of the Oppressed to Media Activism in NYC. And in October 2010, organizers expect a turnout of at least double that number in Harlem for the second annual RISE Conference.

RISE began humbly: with an email written from a couch in Brooklyn. Since that first call for organizers was sent in early 2009, it has grown into a vital group of organizers, activists, and social workers. RISE initially came together to create a social justice conference, but in the process created a community.

Leading up to the conference, we’ll introduce you to some of the people in that community.  We begin with Sarah, a core organizer from 2009 and 2010.

What led you to the social work community? When did you first know you might want to work toward social justice?

It was a natural path; I come from a long line of social workers, teachers and providers. My father worked at one of the very first free health clinics in Montreal in the ’70s. Socialized medicine was a really big deal at the time, because the government was finally making health care available to everyone – you could walk into a clinic, get free services, and it was a one-stop thing. My father worked at same clinic as his brother, providing free health care and social services, linking families with various resources. It was revolutionary for its time. So this was in my genetics.

And what type of work do you do?

My interest lies in international relief work, immigration and human rights. I’ve always been more geared toward the challenges, indignities, and issues that come up when you have to leave your job and country and find that people don’t really want you here. I had a really easy time making a transition to the U.S., but clearly for others it’s not so easy.

I’ve traveled a lot, and it makes the U.S. look like Disneyland in some places. I have all these resources— people abroad would kill to have a$5,000 grant to go back to school or start a small business—and my clients don’t call! But all I can do is provide a gentle nudge. Then I have clients who have had female genital mutilation happen to them – we’re working through incredibly intense consequences.

I try to leave it at work. Sometimes their voices haunt me – I remember having to call someone, or remembering that I should have checked something off my list. I try really hard not to do that at home.

How did you get involved with RISE?
In June 2009, right after I graduated, I was surfing on Facebook and I saw that a friend had posted Kate’s call for organizers. I thought it looked cool, so I reached out to Kate, sent her my resume and an email with my interests and work history. It’s funny in hindsight because we’re not so formal – little did I know RISE at the time consisted of her and Shane sitting on a couch somewhere!

When I went to my first meeting, RISE already seemed like a pretty sturdy vehicle. The call for presenters was done, tasks were in place and things were moving, so I said, “This sounds great. How can I help?”

What’s your role on the organizing committee?

I’m probably the most shallow of the RISE members because I am into the money. I’m into the donations. And sponsorship. Did I mention money?

There’s a deeper level to it that motivates me, though. Last year, connecting with the coffee shops and businesses where the event was being held, saying “You can be a part of this, and here’s how,” was really satisfying. Creating that sense of ownership is one of my favorite parts of working in a community. For me there’s a certain thrill and challenge in trying to persuade someone to believe something that I believe to be extremely important.

Plus, free food makes sense in the social justice realm. At an event like this where we’re all volunteers, to have our efforts rewarded and be able to provide a low-cost conference and provide food and coffee all day at no cost…that gives a real sense of collective and community. Free coffee all day long? That sounds pretty good to me.

Has RISE changed the way you view your degree or your work?

It’s definitely changed how I look at institutions. My own education was mainly focused on clinical work and very little on grassroots community organizing. I remember thinking, “I like this, but there’s so much more I want to do. I want to be out in the community mobilizing people and getting things done!” Coming into RISE and meeting people who had very different experiences showed me other, more grassroots routes social workers can take.

On a personal level, being a member of the RISE team has left a huge impact. Many of the organizers have extensive experience in anti-racist work, have focused on minority groups that have less privilege and less of a voice. We talk in school about position and privilege, but having those conversations on a regular basis with people I trust has been extremely important. Not a lot of people sit around on a Sunday afternoon talking about this stuff. If we’re going to try to mobilize a community, we have to put our money where our mouth is. Thanks, Heidi! Pushing myself in this direction has been challenging and rewarding.

Can you talk a little more about the organizing team?

For me, the RISE team has grown into a small family. I’ve literally picked up the phone and called another organizer and said, “Hey Heidi, I have an interview coming up and they’re testing my Spanish. Will you please practice with me for 15 minutes?” and gotten help. These relationships have developed into deep connections with powerful, intelligent, strong women who really want to make a difference – and actually DO it.

What do you remember most vividly from the first RISE conference?

Bagels. And orange juice. I was in charge of a lot of the food and supplies for the day, and mostly I remember running around.

The day itself was a blur. We had no idea what it was going to be like, whether this thing would sink or swim. As the day went on, I could feel this positive energy and sensed that we had winged this. Panel discussions were happening, workshops were coming along, and people looked happy! People were hugging!

And then toward the end of the day, I started seeing students, colleagues, professors, and everyone was giving such positive feedback. People said over and over that they were walking away with something, a tool, a discussion, some piece of learning. And that was incredible.

How do you think this year will be different?

With everything we learned last year and then some, and with the growth of our organizing team who have been struck by the RISE movement, I think it will be bigger and better. It’s one thing when 200 people come to your conference, but when people email to ask “How can I help? I want to be part of this in a deep way,” it’s so special and meaningful.

And this year I’m hoping that with the help of our new volunteers, I’ll actually sit down for 10 minutes and hear what’s being said. This year we’ve had new volunteers out pounding the pavement with me, talking to all the local mom and pop shops in Harlem, which makes me feel like when the buzz of the conference comes, I’ll have that support. I’ve learned you can’t do things all by yourself – this is the collectivity of RISE at its best.

Where do you hope RISE will be one year from now? How about in 2015?

I hope for a RISE chapter in Canada! I would love to spread this movement, get the universities involved in Montreal, bring it international. I think that would be my goal for the future.

Julia Smith spends her days working in nonprofit communications and project management. She attended the 2009 RISE conference on a hunch, learned something new in every single workshop, and feels very lucky to have joined the organizing team this year.

August Event Round-Up! August 3, 2010

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Every month we post a few of the many, many upcoming events of interest to RISE members. Leave us a comment if you’d like to write a report-back for this blog or shoot us an email at blog@riseconference.org to suggest events for next month’s round-up.

Looking for more events? Try the NY Activist Calendar or the NYC Protest Calendar.

TODAY 8/3: Joel Olson “Racial Order and Arizona SB 1070″

The State Senate in Arizona (that’s 17 voting members) decided to solve the ‘immigration problem’ by passing SB 1070. Worse, it seems that a great many Americans are supportive of the solution. Join Joel Olson of the Repeal Coalition for a discussion about struggles over white identity, about contemporary populist actions by state powers to impose of racial order, and about obviating both nativist and reformist views through international grassroots movements. Olson is the author of “The Abolition of White Democracy” and teaches political theory at Northern Arizona University. 7:00pm, Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street. $5 suggested donation.

TODAY 8/3: Civil Liberties Discussion Series: Privacy and Stop-and-Frisk policing

A few weeks ago RISE linked to the NY Times article about the Stop-and-Frisk problem in New York.  Tonight, you can join the NYCLU in a discussion about the civil rights and liberties implications of the new stop-and-frisk database law. Following the presentation, NYCLU staff will lead a discussion about how you can help in the fight to end racial profiling in New York City.

RSVP by e-mailing discussionseries@nyclu.org or calling 212.607.3371.

7:00 pm, NYCLU office, 125 Broad Street, 19th floor. Free.

FRIDAY,  8/13: The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Presents: Black August Hip Hop Show

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is hosting the 13th annual Black August Hip Hop Show at the Highline Ballroom. Advance tickets are only $15! Go out and shake your booty for social justice. Featured artists: Dead Prez, Pharoahe Monch, Homeboy Sandman, ADM, Kalae All Day, Sadat X, Hasan Salaam, Akir, La Bruja & Surprise Special Guests.

Doors Open at 8:00pm, Concert Starts at 9:00pm, Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St. $15 in advance/$20 day of show.

THURSDAY, 8/19: Film Showing and Discussion: “One Woman, One Vote.”

This documentary highlights the fight for Women’s Suffrage in the U.S., including internal divisions such as racism. Open discussion will follow on what is needed to build a militant, multi-racial feminist movement today. Childcare provided.  For info, call 212-222-0633 or email nycradicalwomen@nyct.net

7:30pm, Freedom Hall, 113 W. 128th St. Free.

News Round Up! July 27, 2010

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The RISE News Round Up is a selection of RISE-relevant articles from around the internet.  Have a news story to add? Want to respond to something you’ve read? Leave a comment!

Sexual Assault Left Out of Military’s PTSD Reform

Although the Department of Veteran’s Affairs recently announced reforms that will allow ease veterans’ difficulties when claiming benefits for PTSD, it remained pointedly silent on the issues of PTSD resulting from military sexual trauma (MST). This post from COLORLINES argues that women of color will be disproportionately affected by the DVA’s continued silence on the matter.


A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops

This article from The New York Times chronicles the debate over the NYPD’s “Stop, Question, Frisk” policy through the lens of its use in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Is stopping every citizen once a year (on average) without justification warranted if it lowers the rate of violent crime? What if the connection to lower violent crime is heavily disputed?

Jim Webb’s Anti-Immigrant Rant

Again from COLORLINES, the story of Senator Jim Webb’s Wall Street Journal piece, in which he argues against affirmative action. By drawing a line between “black Americans” in need of “remediation” for historical wrongs and other people of color (who seem to be doing just fine and dandy here in the USA according to Webb), Webb argues that affirmative action started hurting not only white people, but African-Americans as well. Interesting argument, Senator.

Race, Lies, and Videotape: Lessons from the Shirley Sherrod Saga

Fitting in nicely with the above link, Richard Kim takes the right (and the left) to task in his post on The Nation’s blog. He traces the Tea Party’s (and Jim Webb’s) rhetoric of “reverse racism” back to its roots in earlier conservative politics, and expresses his disapproval with how the Obama administration and the NAACP missed the chance to have a honest conversation about the state of racism by focusing on all the wrong issues in this “scandal.”

Farmer’s Markets, CSAs Struggle to Get Food Stamp Customers

Although the number of people who are using their food stamps (or, to be precise, their EBT cards) at farmers’ markets and CSAs is rising, this article from City Limits magazine outlines the various reasons why it is still extremely difficult for people receiving these benefits to get access to fresh fruit and vegetables. For farmers’ markets, the difficulty of having a wireless EBT card reader is cited as the greatest challenge; for CSAs it’s getting the USDA to sign off on your CSA as a valid acceptor of EBT cards.

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