Five longish articles that I’ve recently read that you may find interesting. We begin a radically different view of the pandemic, followed by two articles on climate, then a article on big data. We conclude with a book review.
A piece that challenges all the expected rules of addressing the pandemic. It’s about our response and how poor households have borne a disproportionate share of the pandemic’s hardship. We need to urgently fight for a more just society.
The title pretty much says it all. “As generational cohorts, millennials and Generation Z are overwhelmingly more supportive than our parents of efforts to protect the environment and to address the impacts of climate change. These generations skew more progressive, yet this trend holds regardless of ideology.”
Learn about secretive big data software company Palantir. “Techie Software Soldier Spy Palantir, Big Data’s scariest, most secretive unicorn, is going public. But is its crystal ball just smoke and mirrors?”
Mannesplaining by Oliver Traldi. Published in Arc Digital on September 28, 2020.
A book review of Cornell philosopher Kate Manne’s book Entitled. “Does a tendency to reflexively empathize with the feelings and failures of men explain the structure of society?”
This week the primary focus is on climate justice. We begin with a working paper on transformative climate justice and end with a report on Extinction Rebellion. In between is a piece on COVID-19 the reopening of colleges and universities and an essay on squad wealth. Don’t know what that means, then definitely read that essay. I leave you with a podcast series recommendation on Indigenous languages in California.
It’s a long paper, but recommend reading the first 13-pages. “Mainstream discourses are increasingly framed around the recognition that climate change is fundamentally a question of justice, in terms of the responsibility for the problem and its mitigation; that vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change are both a reflection of, and exacerbate, structural injustices; and that there will be residual impacts beyond the capacity to mitigate and adapt or what might be deemed ‘tolerable’ impacts.”
“COVID-19 forced many colleges and universities to suspend in-person operations in spring 2020. Students and instructors abruptly shifted to virtual learning and teaching, and most employees began working remotely during the global pandemic. Presented in this article are 12 racial equity implications for federal and state policy makers, as well as higher education leaders, as they consider reopening campuses across the United States.”
Squad Wealth by Sam Hart, Toby Shorin, Laura Lotti and published by Other Internet, August 2020
“Squads have existed for thousands of years as vital forms of social and economic organization. Thanks to group chats and a wave of private online social platforms, squads are reemerging today as a potent cultural force that rejects a strictly individualist market philosophy. Squads play a key role not only in internet community dynamics but in emerging economic networks. Hawala, chit funds, chamas and other forms of P2P savings or credit associations are notable precursors to the kinds of financial relationships we anticipate decentralized cryptocurrency protocols will soon enable.”
Polluters and their agents in government want to finalize as many environmental rollbacks as possible before the presidential election. This article covers a review of the last four years and highlighting what is taking place today.
“Extinction Rebellion set out to mobilise a new generation of activists. As our data shows, they have in part succeeded: participants in Extinction Rebellion’s two major actions in London in 2019 had notably little prior experience of protest action, and we encountered many first- time activists. At the same time, however, our socio-demographic profile of XR’s activists in the UK reveals a broadly familiar kind of environmentalist: XR’s activists are typically highly-educated and middle- class (and though our survey did not explicitly ask this, white); they identify politically on the Left; and they consciously adopt multiple pro- environmental behaviours in the course of their everyday lives.”
Language Keepers created by Emergence Magazine. Series was launched on September 1, 2020.
Three episodes have been released so far in this 6-part podcast series. “Adapted from our award-winning multimedia story, “Language Keepers,” this six-part podcast series explores the struggle for Indigenous language survival in California. Two centuries ago, as many as ninety languages and three hundred dialects were spoken in California; today, only half of these languages remain. In this series, we delve into the current state of four Indigenous languages which are among the most vulnerable in the world: Tolowa Dee-ni’, Karuk, Wukchumni, and Kawaiisu. Along this journey, we meet and learn from dedicated families and communities across the state who are working to revitalize their Native languages and cultures in order to pass them on to the next generation.”
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This week’s reading covers TikTok, surveillance capitalism, California farmworks, California prisoners as firefighters, and facial recognition in the schools. Settle in a pick these pieces up in the coming week.
“Minstrelsy thrives on TikTok, but the phenomenon goes back a long way. The earliest American iterations emerged in the 1840s as a form of entertainment and endured for more than a century. White people would darken their skin with burnt cork, greasepaint, or shoe polish and perform in variety shows. The musical acts, comedy sketches, and dances relied on stock characters, like Sambo and Zip Coon, to parade Blackness as laughably uneducated or as a target of humiliation.”
Totally worth the 109-minutes of reading! A great writer and skilled writer about technology, copyright, and civil liberties. A sample, “Facebook is heralded as the origin of all of our modern plagues, and it’s not hard to see why. Some tech companies want to lock their users in but make their money by monopolizing access to the market for apps for their devices and gouging them on prices rather than by spying on them (like Apple). Some companies don’t care about locking in users because they’ve figured out how to spy on them no matter where they are and what they’re doing and can turn that surveillance into money (Google). Facebook alone among the Western tech giants has built a business based on locking in its users and spying on them all the time.”
“On the first day of the smoke, Villegas got a headache after a day working without an N95—with just her cloth mask and a cotton face covering she’d sewed from an old embroidered pillowcase, its bright flowers encircling her brow. On the second, her boss showed up with a box of N95s for the crew but said a single mask would have to last for four days. “Take it home and wash it,” Villegas recalls being advised. Everyone had laughed, knowing the masks wouldn’t hold up to water.”
This is a very long report (115-pages), so if you only have a little time then Executive Summary is only 6-pages. They write, “On the basis of this analysis, we strongly recommend that use of FR be banned in schools. However, we have offered some recommendations for its development, deployment, and regulation if schools proceed to use the technology.”
Can California’s Prison Firefighter Program Be Reformed from Rattling the Bars. California’s Conservation Camps put prisoners to work fighting climate change-fueled fires for pennies on the dollar.
This week I include topics such as the First Amendment in the context of booksellers, racism in Germany, online court hearings, the intersection of pollution, white supremacy, and the coronavirus, and last liberation theory in social justice education.
This article piqued my interest because it explores the First Amendment in the context of booksellers along with a reference to libraries (my field). Spring writes, “As bookstores across the country field an unprecedented number of orders for anti-racism books, it’s time for the bookstore industry to face its own reckoning with white supremacy.” An important read for readers and librarians.
An international perspective on white supremacy. In this case, the author is looking at comparisons between Germany and the United States. If you don’t know anything about circumstances in Germany, then this is the read for you. For example, Bruce-Jones writes, “Making a comparison to the German context seems absurd to some, given that the scale of police killings is much smaller in Germany. However, scale is not the most interesting point of comparison between the United States and Germany. In Germany, if a person is killed in a policing altercation, there is no ability by the family to bring a private (civil) action on behalf of that person.”
Learned something new with this one. For example, video bail hearings have occurred in some places for over 30-years. But what is the impact on those being charged? And what about the dehumanizing aspect of video hearings? Kirchner writes, “some courts have reacted to the pandemic by putting almost all operations on hold for now — and with it, defendants’ right to a speedy trial. There’s an enormous pressure for courts to start back up again, and the safest way to do that is either by video or phone. What technological substitutes courts allow vary from state to state and are changing every day.”
What happens when you cross white supremacy, climate crisis, and the coronavirus? We truly have a moment of interbeing with these three topics. They are interconnected and people are dying. Britt writes, “While we might believe that the pandemic lowered pollution everywhere, that in fact has not been true, and in some places pollution increased substantially because of this rollback.”
I recently had the privilege of attending a East Point Peace Academy webinar with Victor Lee Lewis and I really appreciated what he had to share of teach. Much of his topic is covered in this article. It’s a short article and Lewis is looking to redefine social justice education. The foundation of which is the question: “Is this liberating?”
For this week’s long reads, we explore the topics of racism against Chinese scientists, linguistics and race, applying democracy to climate change, the lockdown and public works (by Naomi Klein!), and California’s privacy ballot measure. Plus one recommended podcast. I hope you enjoy.
“…the already strained relationship between the U.S. and China continued to deteriorate, worsening as the Obama era gave way to the Trump administration. Hundreds more Chinese American scientists have been scrutinized as a result. The U.S. maintains that it is doing so to protect against the threat of Chinese espionage, an argument it has maintained for decades. But a growing network of advocates and scientists fear that the FBI is targeting scientists based on racial discrimination, and that is not only destroying the livelihoods of Chinese American scientists but also damaging American science output as well.”
“There’s this anxiety over saying the wrong thing,” says deandre miles-hercules, a PhD linguistics student who focuses on sociocultural linguistic research on race, gender, and sexuality. “And so instead of maybe doing a little research, understanding the history and the different semantic valences of a particular term to decide for yourself, or to understand the appropriateness of a use in a particular context, people generally go, ‘Tell me the word, and I will use the word.’ They’re not interested in learning things about the history of the term, or the context in which it’s appropriate.”
“Climate change is a complex challenge, the largest collective action problem in history, and a classic illustration of the concept of a wicked problem. It is distinctive in many ways: unlike most forms of air or water pollution, the effects are not immediately obvious; harms occur mostly in the future, with a perceived temporal mismatch of costs and benefits. There is good reason to believe, however, that democracies overall are more suited to handling climate change than their authoritarian counterparts.”
“As in the 1930s, this generation is already being referred to as a “lost generation” — but compared to the Great Depression, almost nothing is being done to find them, certainly not at the governmental level in the U.S. There are no ambitious and creative programs being designed to offer steady income beyond expanded summer job programs, and nothing designed to arm them with useful skills for the Covid and climate change era. All Washington has offered is a temporary break on student loan repayments, set to expire this fall.”
California voters need to read this article. This November, Californians will be called upon to vote on a ballot initiative called the California Privacy Rights Act, or Proposition 24. EFF does not support it; nor does EFF oppose it.
Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017. The series editor is Loretta Williams.
As a long-time student of nonviolence, I was excited to pickup the book Healing Resistance by Kazu Haga. Not only was it published by Parallax Press, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, but the jacket quotes from Michelle Alexander, Joanna Macy, and Larry Yang said this was a book for me to read.
Kazu writes in a very friendly, personable, and real style. We are brought right into the stories as he explores the intricacies of Kingian Nonviolence. We begin with some basic definitions of violence, nonviolence, and conflict.
As Kazu writes, “nonviolence is about action, not inaction.” This is an important concept to understand about nonviolence. He continues, “Nonviolence gives us an alternative way of responding: to face. Facing means looking your assailant in the eye, not backing down, not giving into fear, and not reacting in kind.” And perhaps most importantly, nonviolence allows us to heal.
Both Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King speak of Beloved Community. As I read the Six Principles of Nonviolence, I can’t help but draw parallels with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. Like the Trainings, the Principles are interconnected. They inter-are. And practicing one we can practice all the other ones.
The Six Principles of Nonviolence
Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
The Beloved Community is the framework for the future.
Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil.
Accept suffering for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal.
Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.
The universe is on the side of justice.
These were first articulated by Dr. King in his 1960 essay, “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence.” These are now the Six Principles of Kingian Nonviolence. Kazu has been a trainer and teacher of these since 2009 and form the heart of this book. Each are looked into with greater detail.
The last third of the book explores the Six Steps of Nonviolence. Namely, information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action, and reconciliation. It is this last one, reconciliation, that can be seen as the goal of nonviolent action. In this section of the book, we see how to apply these steps in the social justice movement. How to organize and to get things changed. To build and create the Beloved Community. To experience reconciliation.
It’s not all about external action. We learn that the internal work is just as important as the external work. Maybe even more important. If you want to learn more about what nonviolence means and how it can be applied in our lives today, then look no further than this book.
As Michelle Alexander wrote, “Kazu Haga’s deep, nuanced, and principled commitment to nonviolence has challenges and inspired me and many others.”
This week I offer five long reads and two podcast episodes. Topics include climate refugees, surveillance in education, food inequity, wokeness and cancel culture, racial capitalism, climate justice, white supremacy, religion and oppression.
Surveillance in schools reflects the values that schools have (unfortunately) prioritized: control, compulsion, distrust, efficiency. Surveillance is necessary, or so we’ve been told, because students cheat, because students lie, because students fight, because students disobey, because students struggle.
Communities of color are at the center of balance for bringing our species back into harmony with the planet. we must listen to the voices of Black and indigenous vegans and activists, and other people of color. There are countless Black thinkers and activists in this space. Sisters and authors Aph and Syl Ko have been incredibly important voices in discussing issues around veganism and communities of color.
Today we are having a new national debate about whether the United States is redeemable, about the nature of its founding figures and documents – even the date of its founding — and what to do with those who dissent. But one side is winning. Since George Floyd’s horrifying murder, an anti-racist discourse that insists on the primacy of race is swiftly becoming the norm in newsrooms and corporate boardrooms across America. But as in Douglass’s day, the sides are not clearly divided along racial lines. A small group of Black intellectuals are leading a counter-culture against the newly hegemonic wokeness.
This article expands our understanding of climate justice by demonstrating how racial subordination, environmental degradation, and the fossil fuel-based capitalist world economy are interrelated. It uses these insights to critique the emerging legal and policy responses to climate change-induced displacement and to examine alternative approaches emerging from climate-vulnerable states and peoples. The article argues that racialized communities all over the world have borne the brunt of carbon capitalism from cradle (extraction of fossil fuels) to grave (climate change) and that a race-conscious analysis of climate change and climate displacement can reveal the commonalities among seemingly distinct forms of oppression in order to forge the alliances necessary to achieve just and emancipatory outcomes.
Maria and Julio take on the national conversation about racist Confederate monuments and the push to take them down. They talk with Dr. Keisha Blain, an author and associate professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, and Rebecca Keel, the Virginia Statewide Organizer with Southerners on New Ground (or SONG), about what it means to be honest about our country’s racist past and to reimagine how it is taught and remembered.
Lord and Pinn discuss the power and persistence of magical thinking as we face the current pandemic, the role of the church at a time when science is so important, Black Lives Matter and Pinn’s opinion on struggle and progress, how women of color deal with oppression based on race, gender, and class, and the issue with respectability politics. Pinn also proposes the question, “What does our nontheistic perspective offer folks at this moment? What do we offer them beyond the critique of religion?” as we face the pandemic and the ever growing need for honest discussions and action on the issues of race.