Category: Social Justice

Confederate flag

Blogathon Post #18: Confederate Flag

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #18 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

[Content note: Racism, slavery, Nazism]

Why… Why would someone choose to hang a Confederate flag across the rear window of their truck (safety concerns aside)? Aside from total obliviousness or outright racism, do you think there is any sort of justification for displaying one’s pride in the ideals of the South that could possibly outweigh the blatant discomfort caused in others by their (justified?) associations with that display?

Lynyrd

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…

Nooooooo

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Space Colonization

Blogathon Post #15: Space Colonization and Poverty

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #15 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

Which do you feel is more important for the future of humanity: the colonization of Mars or eliminating poverty?

bluespacething

Space colonization–in fact, interstellar travel–is one of those areas where I have to keep my views pretty close to the chest, in case the Nerd Police catch wind and strip me of my license. Unlike most folks I know who grew up on science fiction and love fantasizing about the new worlds, even galaxies, we may eventually reach as our understanding of the universe expands, I remain utterly apathetic to the idea of colonizing space.

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Ferguson Roundup

Blogathon Post #12: Ferguson Link Roundup

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #12 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

Content warning: Police brutality, violence, racism.

My heart hurts.

It’s been a week and a half since police in Ferguson, MO shot and killed Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager. A week and a half later, and the system has devolved into a nightmare. Police responded to what were originally nonviolent protests with riot gear and military equipment and tactics. They’re using tear gas and firing rubber bullets. A curfew has been instilled. The Ferguson police seem to care little for the Constitution; peaceful protesters have reportedly been forced to stay on the move if they want to protest, violating their right to assemble, and police have arrested journalists and interfered with their work. It’s so bad that Amnesty International has, for the first time in its 53-year history, deployed a team of observers inside the United States–in this case, to collect information on what’s going on.

There’s so much that’s wrong with this. First and foremost is the blatant racism at work–Mike Brown’s murder was only the latest in a string of shootings committed by white Americans against young black Americans. Once again, America has proven that it views the lives of black teenagers as disposable, that they don’t deserve justice or fair trials, that they could be executed on the street by any white cop who thinks they look suspicious. It’s fucked.

Then there’s the terrifying amount of police power on display. This, like nothing else in the last few years, has illustrated how damn militarized our police forces have become–and what happens when you blur the lines between police and military. Seeing the police ganging up, turning on civilians, trampling on civil rights, and treating an American city like a warzone and American citizens like enemy combatants… it chills me to the bone. This is not how democracy works. This is not an acceptable use of state power. But this is what we’ve allowed to be built in this country.

All of this is weighing on me, and I feel an obligation to write a blog post about it; to write all of my remaining blog posts about it, but I don’t think that’s feasible. In lieu of that, here are a number of important links about the situation in Ferguson that you should read.

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My mind is burning

My mind is burning.

I’ve decided that this summer, it’s time to stop being ignorant. I’ve had the privilege, as a white, straight, middle-class American male, to live a life fairly unburdened by worries of social inequality or injustice, but it’s time that I stepped outside that privilege and learned something.

I’ve hardly even begun thinking about making a reading list for the summer, and already, it feels like my head is on fire with all of it. Racism. Sexism. Capitalism.

It feels right now like the world is fucked up in so many ways. I recognize that might be a bit of an overreaction, but I also can predict I’ll be going further into a slump of that hopelessness the more I research and learn, until I can accept it and start figuring out what the hell to do about it.

Learning about this isn’t going to be easy. It’ll be tempting to just back out and retreat to my privileged position, where I don’t have to deal with the painful reality of what’s going on.

It’ll be my challenge to stick with it and make a worthwhile change in my life.

It’s going to be an interesting summer, that’s for damn sure.


Header image: “Sparks” by Daniel Dionne (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Privilege: It’s a Thing

In my senior year of high school, faced with an otherwise empty slot in my schedule, I, on a whim, registered for an elective course entitled, simply, “Diversity.” Most of the other students I talked to about it–usually white males–scoffed at the subject matter. To a typical jaded high school senior, “diversity” is a word saddled with images of saccharine kids’ TV shows and painfully-contrived story problems in math textbooks that go out of their way to establish the non-white identity of their characters. After all, by high school, especially in a blue state like Oregon, nobody’s really racist anymore. Or sexist.1This, by the by, is total sarcasm. Maybe there are some homophobes, but really, is it worth taking a class about?

Well, yeah.

Under Bobby Cowles’ instruction, that simple elective opened my eyes to a world of injustice. Without being labeled as such, it was the first sociology class I ever took, exposing how ideas such as”race” are arbitrarily defined social constructs–still very real in their consequences, but entirely construed by society. It showed me the first-hand accounts of members of social minority groups in a way that I likely wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere during high school. But most importantly, it taught me about the concept of privilege.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. This, by the by, is total sarcasm.

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