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Race, Class, & Immigration

The intersectionality of racism, classism, and immigration policy is as pertinent today as in the past. Who is deemed legal and illegal, afforded full citizenship rights or not, is almost always determined by master-class politics and race.

Twelve Years a Slave: Trauma, White Ignorance and Solidarity

By Lisa Brock, Senior Editor, Praxis Center and Academic Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

When I first thought of writing about the film Twelve Years a Slave, my primary angle was going to be about what the film teaches us about the legacy of slavery. I planned to focus on the physical and psychic violence meted out to enslaved African families in the US over a 250-year period and the tremendous pain and trauma that it caused. In fact, scholars have begun to point to what might be called “historical trauma” within black communities, as well as the disproportionate presentation of Hypertension and other illnesses among African-Americans. This, they argue is due in part to a history of racism that has given rise to health and environmental disparities today.

Dr. Nancy Krieger at Harvard University states in Unnatural Causes that:

We carry our histories in our bodies. How would we not? We carry with us    the conditions under which we were being conceived, under which we grew as a fetus. If we were born a low birth weight, that has implications for our health    as an adult. So when you measure things like people’s cholesterol levels, for example, it’s not just an innate property of people. It’s a function of who people are and what they’re exposed to in the world, what their opportunities are. You start to see biology as a biological expression of the social conditions in which we live.

This is where I had hoped to start.

And then this happened. I was on a plane flying from Detroit to Kalamazoo, Michigan when I sat next to a nice white man about 40 years old. There was a People magazine in the seat pocket in front of me and I began flipping through it. On the front was Lupita Nyong’o, the young actor who won an Oscar for her role as Patsey in Twelve Years a Slave. This row mate of mine pointed to Ms. Nyong’o and asked if I knew who she was, if I had seen the film and what I thought of it. I told him I did know who she was and I thought the film was well done. I had a few critiques but in general, I thought it was a historically sound treatment of slavery. (more…)

In Memory of Chokwe Lumumba: Social Justice Warrior

By Jim Van Sweden, Director, College Communications, Kalamazoo College Reposted from Kalamazoo College News and Events Chokwe Lumumba ’69, mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, died on February 25, 2014. He was 66. He came to K from Detroit, Michigan, as Edwin … Continue reading

Standing Our Ground

By Regina Stevens-Truss, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice When did we lose our humanity and accept circumstances in which we are allowed to say, “I have a right to be here and to prove that I’m going to shoot … Continue reading

Devils, Saints, and Denmark Vesey

Repost from the Huffington Post On February 15, the city of Charleston, South Carolina unveiled a long-overdue monument to one of its most controversial historical figures. In scenic Hampton Park on the upper part of the peninsula, crowds gathered under … Continue reading

Pratibha Parmar Brings Alice Walker’s Art to Life

Repost from Women in the World. Samina Ali interviews Pratibha Parmar, who most recently directed Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, celebrating the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Parmar speaks about retelling Walker’s words. Read more at … Continue reading

A Titanic Defeat

Repost from Lawyer, Guns, and Money The United Auto Workers lost its attempt to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga after Tennessee politicians interfered to defeat the vote when VW acquiesced to unionization. Read more at Lawyer, Guns, and Money.

Researchers Examine Gap Between Rich And Poor

Repost from NPR, Morning Edition, January 28, 2014 This NPR interview highlights what many Americans already know: social mobility in the United States is difficult to attain. The interview reveals that other countries offer their residents more opportunities for social … Continue reading

Beyond Microaggressions in 2014

By Dan S. Wang As we turn into a New Year, I wish for a corresponding turn in progressive priorities, away from the current fixation on so-called microaggressions. As readers undoubtedly know, microaggressions are the slights, subtle insults, unfair prejudgments, … Continue reading

Again, Where Do We Go From Here?

On MLK Day, we often celebrate King’s accomplishments but many of us forget or fail to take further action necessary to make his dream a reality. Although injustices may be less visible today, structural racism continues to exist. By asking this question, I wanted to provoke people to think about what actions they might take to challenge racism today. Continue reading Continue reading