inequality

How to Get Away with Microaggressions

“There’s too much diversity in the show” was just the first of many racially charged microaggressions committed by my grandmother while we were driving to have birthday dinner with my mom. The conversation about television had started innocuously, but quickly developed into a debate about the “diversity quota” and the “overabundance” of representation. The conversation particularly focused on Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder.” (more…)

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The Right to Live: Homelessness and the Privilege of Existence in the United States

Liz Stevens is a Senior here at Pacific University. She’s an Anthropology and Politics & Government double major, and plans to go on to work in public policy and social justice fields after she finishes her formal education. She’s a non-traditional student who has moved a lot, loves books, Netflix, and video games, and misses having a real kitchen to bake in.


The question of the right to live, to exist as a valued person in this world, usually only brings one issue to mind in this country—that of abortion. But all issues of bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and fetal rights aside, there is another group that we repeatedly deny the very right to exist: the homeless.

Homelessness is an ongoing issue in this country, one that dates back to colonial days. While most individuals might identify homelessness as a social problem, few would have any idea of how to address it other than ‘make those people get jobs.’ (more…)

Preserving the Old in the Smallest of Ways

Our guest writer Sophia Backus is a first year student at Pacific University who plans to double major in Creative Writing and Literature with a minor in Editing & Publishing. Originally from Wisconsin, she has lived in Salem for the past three years before deciding to come to Forest Grove for school.

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Ten more minutes, I think to myself after glancing once again at the clock. This is what you get for coming to the doctor’s office early on a busy day. There’s hardly any seats and there’s a delay because everyone’s here to get routine procedures done. Despite the mass of people, I don’t have any neighbors. To my right is a table and to my left is an empty chair, a true score. I can use both armrests and spread out after being confined in the car on the drive here. Then, disaster. A new person enters the room. I watch apprehensively as he scans the room and starts to make his way over to the open seat in the room. Half a second before he sits down, I murmur a quick “Oh, I’m sorry,” gather my purse, relinquish the left armrest, and huddle to the right side of my chair. After the cursory smile and nod, he spreads out over the relinquished space, by claiming the armrest and by spreading his legs an inch or so past the armrest of his chair, and pulls out his phone. While this relegates me to three quarters of my chair, he is , the image of contentment.

A flash of rebellion crosses my consciousness, but I squash it down. I did the right thing. That space had to be shared. It would’ve been rude not to move, to keep the armrest within my personal space and not give him room to sit. Though, if I was honest, he wasn’t so much sitting as he was lounging–taking up way more space than necessary. Looking down at my own crossed knees, I frown. I now have no room, I’m confined even more than when I’m driving, and I still have eight minutes before my name will be called. So I pull out my phone and begin to skim blindly through it as my mind only focuses on the tiny space I am now forced to inhabit. (more…)

Black Appropriation in Music Industry

The guest author of this piece is Madison Thompson, a second year Pacific University student majoring in Philosophy: Ethics, Law, and Society and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, surf, play Assassins Creed, and, most of all, play with dogs.

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Music’s highest earning musician, Taylor Swift, found herself amidst another controversy pertaining to her newest music video Wildest Dreams. The contention stems from the entirely white cast filming on location in Africa amongst lions, zebras, and giraffe – oh my! Many have taken to the internet to express their support for the video, but surprisingly, the negative seems to outweigh the positive feedback. On the U.S. NPR blog, journalists Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe wrote: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”

kjuAPWjMMlxx.jpgThis isn’t the first time Swift has come under fire for cultural insensitivity in one of her music videos. Her hit Shake It Off has been criticized for portraying woman of color as the “ghetto” dancers, while having an all white woman cast for the parts of ballerinas. The singer was also forced to take a step back after a scuffle with Nicki Minaj over what Minaj said to be inherent racism in the music industry.

While she has yet to comment on the discrepencies in the two music videos, in response to the rapper she said, “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke.”

The problem of cultural insensitivity in the music video rests on the fact that white artists who adopt black culture as their own reap the benefits of another culture that, mainly women, are belittled and trivialized for having. Khloe Kardashian posted a photo to Instagram of herself wearing a niquab (a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women, only exposing the eyes), and many people liked it because “her eyes looked beautiful”, whereas if someone saw a young, Muslim woman wearing the same thing, they might think “terrorist” before anything else.

I think Amanda Steinbleg said it best when she called out Kylie Jenner for posting an Instagram photo of herself sporting cornrows: “When you appropriate black features and culture but fail toyou’re your position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards your wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

Local Resident Attempts to #SaveHauBush

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Hawaii’s pristine beaches, clear water, and breath taking views often obscure the fact that paradise is also invaded by large corporations that fight Native Hawaiians for land they’ve been living on for generations. You may have heard of the viral #WeAreMaunaKea movement that started on the Big Island or protests against development of a similar telescope on Maui, but there are also smaller community movements are fighting just as hard for their homes. The locals, especially Native Hawaiians, are not giving up their connection to the land, access to public space and beaches, or their native culture without a fight.

Shay Arneho, recent University of Hawaii at Manoa Hawaiian Studies graduate and leader of the Save Hau Bush movement, revived the undertaking from her parents with the mission to save the Ewa Beach community from Haseko, a company who wants to build hotels, condos, and shopping centers on their beach called Hau Bush. Continue Reading