How We Talk about Violence Against Women: Trauma, and the Idea of “Culture”

By November 23, 2015 Lifestyle, Uncategorized
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The purpose of this editorial is not for me to recount to you my experiences with harassment and violence during my study abroad in Morocco. It has been exhausting to sort through the details of each event for myself, let alone sort through them with you as an audience in mind, too. As we continue to stumble forward in our collective discussions of sexual assault and harassment, I feel that it is much more important for me to discuss the overwhelmingly frustrating interactions I have had with my abroad institution throughout my semester. The institution’s neglectful responses and policies, I believe, point to larger issues of how we talk about violence against women, trauma, and the idea of “culture”.

There are two fears that I have struggled with throughout this semester: the immediate fear caused by the traumatic experiences that I have had here, and the fear that I will be judged for voicing these experiences as “traumatic” to begin with. Even as I write this, I am overcome with the anxiety that what I am saying does not matter. It’s a never ending cycle of victim blaming, something so ingrained in my consciousness that it wasn’t until very recently- months into this program- that I was able to recognize as such. If we are to understand why this particular thought process that I have just described is so harmful, then we have to look more closely at the emotional damage that it leaves behind. In her essay, “The Illusion of Safety/The Safety of Illusion” Roxane Gay explores popular discussion of trauma and gender violence and makes the important point: “the illusion of safety is as frustrating as it is powerful.” We are never safe, even after we think the fear has left us. As Gay goes on to write, “we all have history. You can think you’re over your history. You can think the past is the past. And then something happens, often innocuous, that shows you how far you are from over it. The past is always with you.”

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White People: Changing Your Facebook Status isn’t Helping

By November 22, 2015 Uncategorized
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In the past week, students across the nation have been protesting against the marginalization of students of color on university and college campuses. In the process, they have brought to light the apparent disadvantages of being a minority on these campuses. Once again, we are forced to question our nation’s principles due to its seemingly intentional disregard of minorities in higher institutions. In response to racist events at Yale, the University of Missouri, and several other campuses around the country, many, including white people, have taken this time to publicly express their support for people of color at schools all over the nation. The most common method has been a popular Facebook status update that claims support for the Black community and other communities of color on college campuses. While solidarity is nice, this vocal support from the white majority destroys the fundamental purpose of this developing movement.

The white support does not go unappreciated – as a person of color, I appreciate the willingness to confront issues that make much of their own race feel “uncomfortable.” However, the vocalization of white support drowns out the voice from people of color. In the eyes of the white community, being an ally means making your solidarity with the marginalized as overt as possible. Through the popular Facebook status spreading, white people living in the United States hijack the movement. Through these acts, even if unintentional, they forget to listen to the oppressed. They forget that this is our cause to lead, not theirs.

 

When white people hijack instances like this, movements lose direction and are eventually altered, if not completely forgotten. The problem lies in the fact that white people have no experience suffering from racism. It’s impossible for a white body to bear the consequences from the systematic violence that perpetuates the interests of white America. Thus, over-exuberant white “allies” are trying to lead a cause that they do not and cannot fully understand, and, in the process, weaken the minority influence. When people of color lose their voice, the movement loses authenticity.

White people in the United States have a long history of dehumanizing, exploiting, and marginalizing the non-white community. This history has created a system where today’s people of color are restricted from the same advantages that allow the white majority to thrive. By posting the widespread Facebook update, “To the students of color at Mizzou, we, student allies at [specific college or university], stand with you in solidarity,” the white majority completely disregards its violent history. It ignores the fact that – even if involuntary – they are a part of the very problem students of color are fighting: institutional racism.

In addition to white students disregarding their participation in systematic oppression, they are centering themselves in a cause that isn’t theirs to fight. A true white ally will hold him or herself accountable and stop trying so hard to show him or herself off as a “student ally” “standing in solidarity” with oppressed victims while acting as the oppressor. It is crucial white students do not ignore the fact that all white people are complicit in racism one way or another.

My suggestion to white students would be to act as an ally by listening to the minority voice rather than muting it. Hear us out: We’re asking you to take a step back and take apart the systematic institutions that continue to harm us. Stop attempting to garner respect from friends and family by appearing informed. Promote discussion about white privilege and cultural appropriation, among other topics that your race continuously avoids. Support us from the backlines, rather than rushing to the frontlines for attention. Let Black lives matter, let the marginalized voice be heard, let us represent ourselves.

 

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The Fed Is Not Your Friend

By November 17, 2015 USA
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Since the financial crisis of 2007/2008, fingers have been pointed and voices have been raised in an attempt to find someone or something to blame for the blow up of the United States’ financial system. It is impossible to pinpoint where responsibility lies within a complicated web economic activity; however, the Federal Reserve of the United States was a key player throughout. Candidates in the upcoming presidential election will be promoting economic plans greatly influenced by the recession. By examining the Fed we are undoubtedly better able to engage with this discourse.

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Voices of Zaatari

By November 16, 2015 Middle East
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Listening to Syrians during a Visit to Jordan’s Largest Refugee Camp

In northern Jordan, nearly 5,000 kilometers from Paris, lies a second Champs-Elsyée. It is the commercial hub of Zaatari, a “home” for over 80,000 displaced refugees. A superficial stroll through this street, teeming with caravan shops and carts, almost distracts Syrians from their displaced reality. Almost.

Opened in July 2012, Zaatari is the biggest of two refugee camps for Syrians in Jordan. The initially disordered resettlement space in the Jordanian desert has transformed into a makeshift city—the fourth largest in Jordan by population. Despite assistance from international aid, UN agencies, the Jordanian government, and Syrians’ obstinacy, Zaatari has failed to undergo camp-wide developments since its hasty establishment. Three years later, Zaatari still faces a crippling water supply, unorganized distribution of electricity, and substandard education system for Syrians. However, even the proper maintenance of these basic necessities will not redefine Syrians’ conception of home. For displaced Syrians, a refugee camp is not home.

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Don’t Forget: Parisians Aren’t The Only Victims

By November 14, 2015 International

This weekend, as the events of the Paris terrorist attacks unfolded, the news took the Western world by storm. TV stations covered the breaking news, online publications published up-to-the-minute reports and Facebook created a safety check for people in Paris to inform their friends and family that they were safe. Today, there is an outpouring of support as people offer their prayers for the Parisian people and change their profile pictures to add Facebook’s overlay with the French colors  to show their solidarity. This unification in the face of terror attacks is beautiful and exactly what the world needs in the face of a crisis.

But this is just one crisis. Just one day before, a brutal double suicide bombing struck a shopping center at rush hour in the city of Beirut, Lebanon killing 43 people and injuring over 200. Among the victims were children and Syrian refugees whose lives continue to be ripped apart again and again. This violence is the worst the city has seen in years. Just like the Parisian terrorist attacks, ISIS  quickly claimed responsibility for these bombings. Just like the Parisian attacks, families were ripped apart and lives devastated. Just like the Parisian attacks, victims were not in a warzone, but in a community area they believed to be safe. But unlike the Parisian terrorist attacks, there was no outpour of support from the global community, no show of solidarity in the face of terror, no profile picture for the victims of Beirut. To many this was just another flash of violence in the tumultuous Middle East, but as soon as Paris saw violence the world came to arms. Does no one else see a problem with this? Why is there such a double standard? Why are we mourning Parisians while not considering the lives lost in Lebanon?

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Critic’s Corner: Spectre – How Bond Beat the Hype

By November 11, 2015 Critic's Corner
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It’s already been three years, but it feels like just yesterday I sat myself down in the theater to watch the James Bond film Skyfall. The excitement and enjoyment I felt was purely indescribable. The writing, the action, the pacing, and the performances were all top notch, but the most important aspect of Skyfall was that the 50 year old franchise was going back to its roots and bringing the classic 007 vibe to the gritty edge of modern cinema. It was a colossal success, and it became evident that the latest Bond release was going to have some big shoes to fill. So how did James Bond’s latest adventure, Spectre, fair?

Not only does Spectre live up to the hype, I’m of the opinion that it may just surpass Skyfall in quality entertainment.

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officer, officer (tell me what to do)

By November 11, 2015 Poetry

Officer, officer,
you told me to be carefree,
so I played.
Why didn’t you stop your car
before you buried a bullet
in my stomach?
You could have joined our game.

 

Officer, officer,
you told me to get in the back,
so I sat.
You heard my spine snap
from the driver’s seat
and just turned up the radio.

 

Officer, officer,
you told me to go to college,
so I enrolled.
Before I could open my first textbook,
you taught me the chemistry
of rotting corpses
and the angle
of surrendered arms.

 

Officer, officer,
you told me to stick to my own kind,
so I did.
But you’re still sucking scraps
of my orange bikini
from beneath your fingernails.

 

Officer, officer,
you still tell me to stay calm,
so I breathe—
and you choke the violence from my lungs
with the crook of your arm.

 

“Black kids have no fathers.”
You string them from trees.
“Black families are broken.”
You feed bullets to children.

 

“Black people can’t read.”
You tear down the schools.
“Blacks have no future.”
You whitewash the past.

 

“All lives matter.”
But you start and end with your own.
“But blacks should fix this themselves.”
Now you know why we riot.

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for carefree black girls

By November 10, 2015 Poetry
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Here’s to the carefree black girls who make mistakes.

To the girls who drown their depression

with one too many shots

and throw up at their ex’s feet,

the girls who reblog natural hair

but tug at their 4c roots, wishing it were

long,

straight,

good.

 

Here’s to the girls who might like girls

and who tell other girls

that ‘It gets better!’—

Meanwhile they’re healing

the bruises of their mothers’

‘God can change you!’

 

Here’s to the girls who have stopped

going to church

but not stopped looking for God:

to the girls who lie awake panicking

that they’re going to hell.

 

Here’s to the girls who can’t bring

themselves to watch Sandra Bland,

who’ve stopped reblogging Black Lives Matter

because they’ve gone numb.

Here’s to the girls who clench their fists

when white people walk by

and the girls who secretly wonder

if black girls deserve it.

 

Here’s to the girls whose mothers

have given them containers of

sticky yellow skin bleach.

Here’s to the girls who use it

‘only to clear acne scars’

but who relish in the fact

that their new skin glows in the darkness.

 

Here’s to the girls whose acne scars

form angry red constellations,

the girls who sleep in makeup

and the girls too afraid

to wear short sleeves;

no one told you

that those scars can reach the elbow.

 

Here’s to the girls who wish

they were boys

but never want to be men,

and the girls who squeeze their legs together

whenever a man walks by.

Here’s to girls who flinch in the mirror.

 

Here’s to the girls who are so damn tired.

Here’s to the girls who are so damn manic.

 

Here’s to the girls who are so damn fat

and so damn skinny

on the same day.

 

Here’s to the girls who can’t go on

but go on,

who preach forgiveness but can’t forgive themselves.

 

Here’s to the carefree black girls

whose freedom comes at a price.

Here’s to the carefree black girls

who never feel carefree.

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A Welcome ’80s Encore From the Pumpkin King

By November 10, 2015 Art
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If you’re a fan of all things Halloween, chances are you’re a fan of Tim Burton; his warped sense of direction and unmistakable visual style lends itself perfectly to the holiday. And if you’re a fan of Burton, then chances are you’re a fan of Danny Elfman–Elfman has been a long time friend and collaborator of Burton’s, composing the scores for all but two of Burton’s films (those being Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd). Elfman’s distinct musical sense, with pounding brass and percussion and haunting strings, is one that the keen ear can surely distinguish after hearing the scores to Beetlejuice and Batman. But only those of the highest Elfman fandom will know of his origins, and how from 1979 to 1995 he was the frontman and composer for the hyperactive new wave rock group (and my personal favorite band), Oingo Boingo.

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#VictimsOfYourComplicity: NU Divest Stages Student Center Take-Over In Light of Administrative Apathy

By November 6, 2015 USA
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After more than 6 hours of tense and emotion-infused debate on the night of February 19, 2015, a coalition of students at Northwestern University who called themselves “NU Divest” successfully pushed their resolution through the Associated Student Government Senate. The resolution, which passed 24-22-3, called on the university to be more financially transparent, invest responsibly, and most importantly, divest from six corporations that are commonly understood by human rights activists to actively contribute to the brutal Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

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Critic’s Corner: Rob Zombie’s Hallowins and Halloweaks

By October 27, 2015 Critic's Corner
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This time of year is my absolute favorite; the aesthetic of fall in Wisconsin is one that I simply cannot get enough of. From the golden and red leaves dancing about in the breeze and framing the countryscape, to the cobwebs and jack o’ lanterns that adorns neighborhood houses, autumn is a time of season where I can finally chill out and take out all that life has to offer. Plus, I can bust out all the horror films and not be slandered as a freak. And whenever I’m asked what my favorite horror flick is the answer is always John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher masterpiece: Halloween.

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On 70th Anniversary of UN, Voluntary Veto Restraint the Next Step for Progress

By October 23, 2015 International
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This weekend, the world is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. While indeed an opportune moment to praise past achievements, this anniversary must also be a time for introspection and self-improvement.

Nowhere is this need for progress more compelling than in atrocity prevention policy. In response to the global refugee crisis and an uptick in violent conflict, the international community has rightly returned to a recurring discussion about the UN’s role in preventing, mitigating, and responding to global mass atrocity crimes.

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Critic’s Corner: Felt – Exploitation for Exploitation’s Sake

By October 23, 2015 Critic's Corner
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Ever since starting school in Milwaukee, and with the MKE Film Festival kicking off proper, I have been exposed to far more indie films in one month than I have in my whole lifetime. The cinema at the student union even screens some of these films, and one such film that caught my attention was Felt. The trailer for it was dark, disturbing, and had a keen sense for the What the hell is this going to be? It looked like the perfect balance of creepy psychological storytelling and bizarre and memorable visuals.

Basically: I really wanted to like Felt. But I didn’t.

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It’s Not Ignorance, It’s a Goddamn War

By October 21, 2015 USA
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The House Judiciary Committee recently held its first of many hearings as part of a loosely-substantiated investigation into the supposedly morally-bankrupt activities of Planned Parenthood in an effort to defund a crucial provider of health services to low income women and trans men. The common rhetoric from Democrats has been decrying the ignorance of Republicans. Pamphlets are distributed, percentages are cited, and testimonies are trending on nearly every form of social media, all in hopes that if the dusty white men leading this crusade against reproductive health are given figures and data that break down Planned Parenthood’s spending and services, that they’ll be informed and ultimately swayed.

While an honorable endeavor, ultimately, it’s ineffective.

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Critic’s Corner: A Night With the Disaster Artist

By September 23, 2015 Critic's Corner
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When a film is so horrendously awful that it fails to gross even a fraction of its budget, that’s one thing. But when said film suddenly sees an incredible surge as a global cult phenomenon due to exposure on the Internet–thereby turning its eccentric creator into a rockstar–and has most likely obliterated the original releases gross and budget due to re-release and tours…well, you get Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

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Imperialism: A Barbaric, Oppressive Policy, With No End In Sight

By September 21, 2015 USA
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The United States prides itself on the fact that we fought communism, thereby restoring “democracy” and spreading capitalism in many parts of the world. History books highlight the direct influence of the United States on South Korea and its successes, versus North Korea and its failures, as well as the successes of Israel, often deemed Middle East’s only true “democracy.” Although it may seem as if the international community has prospered from American imperialism, further research proves that is not the case. Looking to Latin American countries, specifically Guatemala, one can see that U.S. imperialism results in terrible consequences, and begin to question what kind of future is in store for countries currently suffering from this faulted foreign policy.

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Time Out, @POTUS: What President Obama’s Tweet To Ahmed Left Out

By September 17, 2015 USA
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The only thing I hate more than President Obama’s racist policies is the way he continuously negates them through an incredibly strategic cute public persona which makes him seem hip, quirky and removed from the violent structures that manifest in daily interactions. While President Obama’s dancing, jokes, and tweets are endearing, they don’t excuse how disruptive, damaging, and lethal his policies can be.  

The most recent of these light-hearted public comments was a tweet directed at Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year old Muslim student who was arrested in school yesterday morning in Irving, Texas after bringing a clock he invented to class that was apparently mistaken for a bomb. The act of a teenager being taken out of class, detained by police and sent to a juvenile detention center for inventing a clock was seeped in Islamophobia and caused public outcry. The incident, just days after the anniversary of 9/11, reminded communities of the reality of institutional racism, policing and militarization of Muslims in this country.  

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The Balance Between Awareness and Self-Care: When Staying Woke Is Too Much

By September 16, 2015 Lifestyle
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My body autonomy is a constant political debate–by men who have no clue what being a woman in 2015 means. Convincing people that transgender is, in fact, a gender, is something reminiscent of walking to the moon. Kim Davis thinks her beliefs trumps others’ Constitutional rights. And about two weeks ago Donald Trump stated plainly (and with his signature dollop of racism) that my people fighting for their rights were “thugs who are happily and openly destroying Baltimore.” This man, a legitimate candidate for the Republican nomination, said he knows nothing about the Black Lives Matter movement, yet had the audacity to call it a disgrace.  And while the subject is present: Read More

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Your Selfish Humanitarianism is Killing Syria

By September 15, 2015 Middle East, USA
A Turkish police officer carries a migrant child's dead body off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on Sept. 2 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos. (AFP/Getty Images)

By now you will have seen the image circling the internet of Aylan Al-Kurdi. The Syrian Kurdish migrant child was found dead on the shores of Budrum, Turkey two weeks ago after his family’s boat capsized in the Mediterranean on their way to Greece. Footage showing the 3-year-old’s lifeless body lying face-down as waves washed over him created an international outcry over the mishandling of the EU’s refugee crisis. The response put more pressure than ever on western governments to open their borders and ease restrictions in refugee intake, particularly in the EU and even several gulf nations.

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Black Lives Matter at New York Fashion Week

By September 14, 2015 Lifestyle
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“If I’m going to be the black designer, I’m going to tell it my way,” Kerby Jean-Raymond said in a recent interview with Mic. And the way he chose to do so was radical – in all the right ways.

On Thursday, Jean-Raymond  showcased his Spring 2016 collection at New York Fashion Week, meshing the Black Lives Matter movement and fashion to make art of social justice. A 10-minute video, all in black and white, set the tone for show. The opener was the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man shot by police officers in South Carolina this April. It then rolled to footage of unarmed black teens terrorized by police at a Texas pool in June. Only after Eric Garner choked out “I can’t breathe” did the clothes appear.

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