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Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

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 U.S. Crackdown on Chinese American Researchers Endangers the Future of Science by Eileen Guo published in OneZero

“…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.”

Why the term “BIPOC” is so complicated, explained by linguists by Constance Grady published in Vox

“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.”

Improving Democracy for the Future: Why Democracy Can Handle Climate Change by Daniel J. Fiorino published in E-International Relations

“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.”

A group of men planting trees during a Civilian Conservation Corps project on the Nett Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Photo: MPI/Getty Images

How Not to Lose the Lockdown Generation by Naomi Klein published in The Intercept

“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.”

Why EFF Doesn’t Support California Proposition 24 by Lee Tien, Adam Schwartz, and Hayley Tsukayama published by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

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.

Podcast

Seen on Radio: Seeing White (14-part series)

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.

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Justice Reading

Nonviolence and Beloved Community

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. 

Healing Resistance

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

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. 
  2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. 
  3. Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. 
  4. Accept suffering for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal. 
  5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. 
  6. 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.” 

Purchase directly from Parallax Press or from Bookshop.

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Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

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.

EL PASO, TEXAS. A mother and daughter from Central America, hoping for asylum in the United States, turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

Where Will Everyone Go? By Abrahm Lustgarten published in ProPublica

ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. This is what we found.

Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech by Audrey Watters published in Hack Education

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.

We Can’t Address Climate Without Addressing Food Inequity By Evan Shamoon published in Tenderly

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.

A new intelligentsia is pushing back against wokeness by Batya Ungar-Sargon published in Forward

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.

Racial Capitalism, Climate Justice, and Climate Displacement by Carmen G. Gonzalez from Oñati Socio-Legal Series, symposium on Climate Justice in the Anthropocene

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.

Podcast Episodes

Symbols of White Supremacy from In the Thick (July 28, 2020)

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.

Anthony Pinn on Religion, Oppression, and Humanists from Point of Inquiry (July 9, 2020)

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.

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Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

This week we begin with three articles on Black liberation followed by a piece on forests as they relate to climate crisis. The final article is a fascinating read on driverless vehicles.

Racism Is Bipartisan by Marina Ruiz published in Left Voice

“In this election period, the dominant political caste is doing its best to pacify and deflect the anti-racist uprisings. They fear unity, organization, and the emergence of independent action by the masses that they will be unable to contain with the mechanisms of bourgeois democracy used historically. The capitalists count on their parties to sustain bourgeois democracy as the best shell of capital. There is no “lesser evil” when it comes to Black lives. Constructing a third party that is a tool of the working and oppressed majorities is key to the force deployed by the majorities to achieve the profound changes they propose.”

Truth-Telling Leads to Racial Healing, Studies of Other Countries Show by Benjamin Appel & Cyanne E. Loyle published in Yes Magazine

“Truth commissions are investigations into past wrongdoings by a group of authorities, such as community or church leaders, historians, or human rights experts. The truth commissions are designed in varied ways, but their missions are the same. These investigations include the voices of those who experienced the wrongdoings as well as those alleged to have done harm.”

A Former Black Panther Party Leader Reflects on Her Revolutionary Work by Christina M. Tapper published in Zora

“So, when I think of the front-line people, wherever they are in the world, whatever that front line is, I think about the breath—how important it is to pause and breathe. Even if you have an hour to sit somewhere and be in nature or walk in nature, which is very, very important.”

Will Climate Change Upend Projections of Future Forest Growth? by Gabriel Popkin published in Yale Environment 360

“Ever since global climate change was recognized as a major threat, scientists have struggled to determine how much carbon ecosystems, and forests in particular, can soak up from the atmosphere as both carbon dioxide levels and temperatures rise.”

Driving into the Wreck by Patrick McGinty published in The Baffler

“Tech journalism is trapped in the same bind as political journalism. The powerful, disreputable men in both realms avoid participating in substantive and sustained dialogues with their critics.”

Is this the end for colonial-era statues?


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Reading

Ten Books to Read

Here you will find a selection of the books I’ve read this year. The first five titles are non-fiction followed by five fiction titles. The fiction titles are predominately science fiction or fantasy but are easy crossovers for those who don’t typically read genre fiction. 

Our History is the Future Our History is the Future by Nick Estes 

The author of this book is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. We begin with the 2016 #NoDAPL movement in North Dakota but soon move through the history of settler colonialism and the hundreds of years of Native resistance that continues to this day. Estes places the reader right in the story and in the places of this long history. A very relevant read within todays environment. This book draws you to the present through the lens of history. 

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Dr. Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford University. You don’t have to be a racist to be biased. This is a book about unconscious bias and how it plays out in the lives of all people. Grounded in scientific and investigative work, we also read from the personal experiences of the author–a black woman in America. We discover the “tragic consequences of prejudice” and that’s not the fault of a few “bad apples.” A very readable and informative title. 

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing by Dr. David Treleaven

The author is an educator and psychotherapist whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma, mindfulness, and social justice. Rooted in research and scholarship, combined with personal stories and clinical methods, we are taken on a journal of trauma healing. The book is based around five principles – window of tolerance, shift attention to support stability, keep the body in mind, practice in relationship, and understand social context. It is in this last one where we take a deep dive into trauma events experienced by marginalized social groups. Get out your highlighter for this one. 

Between Earth and Empire: From the Necrocene to the Beloved Community Between Earth and Empire: From the Necrocene to the Beloved Community by John P. Clark 

Mr. Clark is an eco-communitarian anarchist writer, activist, and educator from New Orleans. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Loyola University. This book is a collection of essays that explores empire, earth justice, indigenous struggles, and awakening our consciousness. His essays on Chiapas and Black Panthers are particularly enlightening. And as a resident of New Orleans, his insights into the racial aspects of Hurricane Katrina are clear and direct. For the awakening, we take a dive into Buddhism, Solstice, and Rumi. “The books shows that conventional approaches to global crisis on both the right and the left have succumbed to processes of denial and disavowal.” We need large-scale regeneration “rooted in communities of liberation and solidarity.” There is much here to ponder and also be inspired by. 

Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz 

New Yorker staff writer, he spends several years in and out of extremist groups in the United States. All about the alt-right ‘news’ creators. The bulk of the story takes place leading up to the election of Trump. As a journalist, the story is engaging and easy to read even if we may be uncomfortable with some of the disclosures. Deeply researched through getting to know the people putting out the propaganda. At times you could tell the author was very uncomfortable with the work. Here you will learn about white supremacy, manipulation of social media, and about unregulated big tech. This book is disturbing. 

Agency Agency by William Gibson

Gibson is a well-established speculative fiction writer. Agency “is a ‘sequel and a prequel’ to his previous novel The Peripheral, reusing the technology from the novel to explore an alternative 2017 where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election.” There are two different plots lines, one set in 2017 and a second set in the post-apocalyptic 22nd century (where they are meddling in 2017). We also have a well-evolved AI system.

This is How You Lose the Time War This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Blue and Red are on opposite sides of war. A war fought through time. It is a story of treachery, of love, and of poetry. Written in the form of letters between to the two characters. It is a book to read slowly and savor the words, the imagery, and the tragedy of love and war. The book is a Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novella (2020), a Nebula Award for Best Novella (2019), and a Locus Award Nominee for Best Novella (2020). 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This story primarily takes place in the early 1900s in the northeast. The young January Scaller is growing up in a mansion while her father travels the world looking for curiosities. It is about her looking to find out who she is and what her place is in the world. The book evolves as a mystery as we learn more about her parents and the man she lives with in the mansion. We learn of secret doors that lead to love, adventure, and danger. A strange and beautiful tale. The book is a Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), a Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019), and a Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2020). 

A Memory Called Empire A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Political intrigue. Buried and exposed memory. A powerful empire and a small society with secret technology. All told through the voice of a young and skilled ambassador – Mahit Dmare. But there is more than one voice inside Mahit as we learn about a hidden technology secret. It is all at once a mystery, a story of empire, and also of love. Who will be saved? It is an “interstellar mystery adventure.” The book is a Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), a. Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019), and a Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2020).

Gideon the Ninth Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 

The book tells the story of a snarky young Gideon and her childhood rival, the Reverend Daughter of The Ninth House. Technically there is space travel in this book, but 99% of the book takes place on one planet where members of each of the nine houses are put into play in a test of wits and skill. A true mystery and whodunit. If you don’t care for teenage snark, it might be a rough read. But it’s a fun book. The book is a Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), a Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019) and a Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2020). 

Categories
Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

Five articles this week covering climate, surveillance, big data, and racism.

Revolution or Ruin by Kai Heron and Jodi Dean in e-flux

Climate: “The state is a ready-made apparatus for responding to the climate crisis. It can operate at the scales necessary to develop and implement plans for reorganizing agriculture, transportation, housing, and production. It has the capacity to transform the energy sector. It is backed by a standing army. What if all that power were channeled by the many against the few on behalf of a just response to the climate crisis?”

Out of Time: The Case for Nationalizing the Fossil Fuel Industry by People’s Policy Institute

Climate: This is a very long report, but well worth the read. “Nationalization is one of the more straightforward ways to overcome many of the systemic hurdles that prevent meaningful action, allowing us to move towards decarbonization in a way that is planned, provides for workers, and supports communities. Leaving decisions about the life and death of current and future generations up to private enterprises beholden to shareholders has never been a viable option.”

The Loss Of Public Goods To Big Tech by Safiya Noble in Noema

Surveillance Capitalism: “Calls by Black Lives Matter and others to defund the police must include dismantling and outlawing the technologies of governments and law enforcement that exacerbate the conditions of racial and economic injustice. Investments in anti-democratic technologies come at an incredible cost to the public at a time when deeper investments should be made in public health, education, public media and abolitionist approaches in the tech sector.”

Police Surveilled George Floyd Protests With Help From Twitter-Affiliated Startup Dataminr by Sam Bittle in The Intercept

Surveillance: “But to some surveillance scholars, legal experts, and activists, there’s little doubt about what Dataminr is up to, and what Twitter is enabling, no matter what careful terminology they use. According to Brandi Collins-Dexter, a campaign director with the civil rights group Color of Change, Dataminr’s practices are an example of “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck,” with regards to surveillance.”

When Proof Is Not Enough by Mimi Onuoha in FiveThirtyEight

Racism: “Data showing racism might be useful in clarifying the things we already know to be true, but it is far more limited in terms of shifting them. To those who have not experienced the ever more creative forms that structural racism can take, even when presented with evidence of racism, the world may still appear to be full of regular playing cards.”

Climate Lenin intervenes in Mann and Wainright’s Climate Leviathan diagram, from the eponymous 2018 book.
Categories
Environment Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

Four long reads worth your time. This week we begin with a discussion on being Asian American by Pulitzer Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen. This is followed by a long essay on politics, nature, and the coronavirus. The next two uncover climate change issues in Ethiopia and Southwest United States. And we conclude with a short opinion piece on the relationship between climate change and dismantling white supremacy.

Asian Americans Are Still Caught in the Trap of the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype. And It Creates Inequality for All by Viet Thanh Nguyen in Time

Throughout Asian-American history, Asian immigrants and their descendants have been offered the opportunity by both Black people and white people to choose sides in the Black-white racial divide, and we have far too often chosen the white side. And yet there have been vocal Asian Americans who have called for solidarity with Black people and other people of color, from the activist Yuri Kochiyama, who cradled a dying Malcolm X, to the activist Grace Lee Boggs, who settled in Detroit and engaged in serious, radical organizing and theorizing with her Black husband James Boggs.

From The Anthropocene To The Microbiocene by Tobias Rees in Noema

If you read only the first few paragraphs, you will be treated to a story of the pangolin. And then, “A key feature of nature according to the virus is interconnectedness: All organisms are inseparably interwoven with one another — and with the biosphere.” And lastly, “looked at from the perspective opened up by COVID-19, it appears that modern politics has been a tool invented to defend the illusion of the free-standing human as such. Essentially, modern politics has been a differentiation machine.”

Inside Ethiopia’s Endangered Wild-Coffee Forests by Jeff Koehler in Atlas Obscura

Solid story and beautiful pictures. “Today, wild Arabica’s greatest threat is climate change. Highly sensitive, it can only survive within a narrow band of conditions. Aaron Davis, a senior research leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the world’s foremost authority of coffee and climate change, has forecasted that the places where wild coffee can grow will decrease by 65 percent by 2080. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case showed a 99.7 percent reduction, with wild Arabica tree populations dropping by 40 to 99 percent.”

‘Megadrought’ and ‘Aridification’ — Understanding the New Language of a Warming World by Tara Lohan in The Revelator

“New research reveals a creeping, permanent dryness expanding across the United States. It’s much more than “drought,” and researchers hope more accurate descriptions will spur critical action. The current megadrought in the Southwest is defined not so much by declining precipitation — although that did have an effect too — but by increasing temperatures from climate change. That’s going to continue to climb as long as we keep burning greenhouse gases.”

If you care about the planet, you must dismantle white supremacy By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin in Grist

This one is a short read. “The reality is that the communities being battered by both the coronavirus and climate are also epicenters of over-policing, incarceration, and state-sanctioned violence. In every aspect of our lives, starting in our mothers’ wombs, we are systematically devalued. Black communities face the long-term effects of environmental racism, intentionally zoned into neighborhoods surrounded by factories, highways, pipelines, and compressor stations.”

Freshly picked coffee (the beans are inside these fruits) in the Mankira Forest, Kafa. Photo sourced from Atlas Obscura