Category Archives: Activism

Fast Fashion and its Environmental Effects

By: Mylene Oyarzabal

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From H&M to Zara, fast fashion is defined as inexpensive clothing rapidly created as a result of demand for contemporary trends. Targeted primarily to women between the ages of 18 to 24, these clothes are typically categorized as “trendy,” only to be of low quality and never to be seen again following the initial wave of demand. While we’re surrounded by it every day, a majority of Americans are not familiar with the consequences that surround this phenomenon. Although these items tend to be beneficial for the large companies that produce them, the amount of unused and discarded clothing that often results from this has contributed to the pollution of our planet, and is continuing at an alarming rate.      

Since the year 2000, the production of clothing is believed to have doubled in size, and has in turn damaged the state of our planet dramatically. Fast fashion has been at the forefront of this spectacle, encouraging mass market stores to appeal to what is commonly known as “seasonal collections.” Starting with Zara’s bi-weekly collection releases, many brands from Forever 21 to Wet Seal have replicated the practice: redesigning and releasing new clothes at every major location on a weekly or monthly schedule. These enormous shipments and mass productions have in turn taken a toll Picture1on natural resources affecting the environment more than ever before.

And while the amount of clothing produced may seem balanced by the continuing growth of the human population, studies have found that clothing is discarded even quicker than ever before. A majority of Americans own 60% more clothing than they did in the year 2000,Picture1 but only keep hold of them for half as long. The amount of discarded clothes tends to be baffling; on average, 5800 pounds of clothing are burned or landfilled per second. As a result, this amounts to around 182 billion pounds of clothing a year, with the United States alone contributing 26 billion pounds to this obscene number. Taking over 200 years to decompose, our actions are causing clothes to pile up for an indeterminate amount in these landfills and are causing great damage.

The question that we must ask ourselves is how do we resolve this growing issue? An important component to preventing the curse of fast fashion lies in simple inaction. Maintaining our clothes for longer periods of time and refraining from purchasing “hip” new clothing not only saves money, but also helps save the environment. Donating clothing, instead of simply throwing it away, allows clothes to remain in use for longer periods of time and directly maintains them out of landfills. Conscious thinking on our part is essential to breaking the cycle of pollutant clothing, and is becoming a necessity in our consumer-run world.

 

Surviving R Kelly: Black Girls’ Lives Matter

By: Moriah Mikhail

The Play-book of a master manipulator:

Lure, charm, ensnare, lie, coerce, abuse, lie some more, compliment, abuse again, threaten, control, cover up, and then lie again. repeat.

After watching the Surviving R Kelly Lifetime documentary, it seems Kelly has not only mastered this play-book but may have written it himself. The disturbing reports of pedophilia, sexual and physical abuse, as well as manipulation the girls recounted from their experience with the R&B pied piper were enough to make any viewer physically ill. And yet the most disturbing component of Kelly’s systematic manipulation is how he specifically chooses the girls he preys on. This once idolized Black artist utilizes the oppression experienced by Black women and girls to his advantage, successfully (until now), silencing his victims. One Survivor featured in the Lifetime series, Asante McGee, alleges that the singer preys on super fans specifically, employing his power as an R&B superstar to sexually manipulate vulnerable fans. McGee became involved with R Kelly at the age of 32, but she describes that regardless of age; “if you are vulnerable and he knows he can control you, that’s who he’s gonna go for.” The significance of that tendency is this—the R&B molester’s main goal with these girls is to seek control and exploit them with little threat of repercussions. He preys on the very community that has helped him achieve stardom, and worse, many young girls from that community. Because of this, survivors have been hushed by their own community and their reports against him have evoked little outrage. As Chance The Rapper described, and an opinion many unfortunately hold: “I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women.”Kelly is utilizing a racist societal ill to his advantage, and it cannot be stressed enough how problematic that is, especially for a black artist idolized by the black community.

For those that have not been able to tune into the series, I will summarize a few critical points. Disclaimer: some of the stories mentioned below may be triggering for certain viewers that have experienced sexual or domestic abuse; please use discretion as you read and prioritize your mental health.

1994 marks the start of R Kelly’s apparent trail of pedophilia with his illegal marriage to the then 15 year old, Aaliyah, considered the princess of R&B. As described in the docuseries, those in his inner circle considered his relationship with Aaliyah to be an anomaly in Kelly’s sexual history. They believed he loved her and that he thought she was “different,” “mature,” and “beyond her years.” I use quotes not to say she could not have exhibited those characteristics but that coming from Rob it sounds more like a cover-up to convince his peers that their relationship was an exception and not an obvious red flag that he was (and still is) a pedophile. Recently, Kelly’s lawyers have come to his defense claiming Aaliyah lied about her age saying she was 18 but recently a video clip resurfaced, proving R Kelly was in fact aware she was 15 at the time of their marriage. He was 27.

Sparkle (Stephanie Edwards)describes a different side of a familiar scandal in Surviving R Kelly. The trending upcoming singer introduced her niece to R Kelly when the young girl was just 12 years old. Her hopes were that Rob could do for her niece what he did for her—help her achieve stardom, as the girl (whose identity has been kept confidential), was an aspiring young female rapper. This same girl that Sparkle clearly holds a sister-like protective love for is more widely known as “the girl R Kelly peed on.” Yes, a girl introduced to Rob at the mere and vulnerable age of 12 is the same girl from the “sex tape” (filmed rape) that Kelly faced child pornagraphy charges for in 2002. When the tape was taken Sparkle confirmed her niece had to be 14 years old because she recalls her hairstyle in the tape was the same she wore when she was around that age. Kelly was 35. The girl and her family, paid off and embarrassed, did not testify against the girl’s rapist. Sparkle, even after overwhelming discouragement from people in the music industry, spoke out against R Kelly and all that came from the trial was the ruin of Sparkle’s music career and charting songs for R Kelly. The Jury found him not guilty.

During the course of the 2002 trial, R Kelly’s superfans display their support from outside the courtroom. One young female supporter catches his eye—an underage Jerhonda Pace. He exchanges numbers with her outside the very courtroom he is entering to face child pornography charges. The two begin communicating via text and phone call immediately. The young girl is swept into Kelly’s house where he harbors his cult of underage sex slaves. We watch the once star-struck superfan walk off the set, crying, as she recalls the abuse she experienced from him. Lisette Martinez meets Kelly in the mall at the age of 17 and is pulled into his cycle of manipulation and abuse. Dominique Gardner connects with R Kelly through her fellow superfan friend, Jheronda, and remains a prisoner to the house for 9 years after. Countless women describe eerily similar experiences of being star struck, flattered, charmed, built up, tore down, coerced, threatened, controlled, abused, and emotionally drained in their abuser’s sick cycle of manipulation. The survivors that ended up in “the house” describe his harsh control of degrading rules where the women would have to knock or stomp to ask permission to enter parts of the house, perform sex acts he requested for himself or on others, call him ‘Daddy’ and relieve themselves in buckets in their rooms. Some names mentioned like Jocelyn Savage and Azriel Clary are still prisoners under his control, along with countless other women and girls.

Surprisingly, there is even more disturbing accounts that the documentary covers but in summary Kelly displays a 20 year long track record of pedophilia, abuse and manipulation. Not to mention he hints at admitting to these accusations in his songs and even released a 19 minute song titled “I admit” where he mentions his cult, sex slaves, and having sex with “the younger ladies.”

The #MuteRKelly movement is stronger than ever with the emergence of this unveiling docuseries, and I stand behind this movement 100%. We cannot conveniently “separate the art from the artist” as the money this man makes from music royalties on the radio and streaming platforms, and ticket sales from concerts go directly towards his cause of covering up his trail of pedophilia, molestation, and abuse. Predator Kelly is not an “artist;” he is a professional serial rapist and abuser, R&B is simply his means to support his true demented career. When you Mute R Kelly, you contribute to the cause of supporting these survivors, freeing his current victims, and achieving some sort of justice for every life broken by this man. Stop playing his music at your BBQ’s for the ‘nostalgia’ and wake up—stand for these survivors that have been neglected for too long by their own community.

8 Feminist Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following

By: Naomi Gewirtzman

Recently, I decided to reassess the way I use social media. I found that, like all of my peers, I was wasting countless hours a day mindlessly scrolling through feeds that largely consisted of fashion and fitness “influencers,” and it was getting exhausting. Studies show that social media is detrimental to mental health, especially in girls, largely due to the tendency for women to compare themselves to what they see on social media. This toxic Instagram culture advertizes unattainable lifestyles and promotes unrealistic and unrepresentative beauty standards; and the pressure of comparison promotes unhealthy competition between women. I decided to make a change. I wanted to be more mindful and intentional with the media I was consuming, so I went through every account I was following, and considered whether it was benefiting me and reflective of my values. If it wasn’t, I unfollowed and replaced it with accounts belonging to an array of diverse women with positive messages. Now, my time spent on social media is informative, intersectional, and empowering. Here are some of my favorite feminist Instagram accounts.

 

  1. @liberaljane

 Caitlin Blunnie is a feminist activist who makes gorgeous pieces related to feminism. Her feed is filled with drawings of diverse women, and she educates her followers about feminist issues through her art.

  1. @ocasio2018

Alexandria Ocasio Cortes is not only killing it in our House of Representatives, but she’s also killing it on Instagram. Known for her livestreams in which she interacts with her followers and explains current events and the duties of congress members, this New York representative is the perfect example of a politically engaged, empowered woman.

  1. @bopo_blossom

Jillian Leigh is a Columbia student on a mission to tear down diet culture. Through her posts, she educates her followers about body positivity, building a healthy relationship with food, and how every woman of every shape, size, and color is beautiful.

  1. @nowthisher

NowThis Her is a media company that posts videos highlighting stories relevant to women from all over the world. Following this account is a great way to stay up to date on global women’s issues that are underrepresented in other news sources.

  1. @the_tinder_queen

The Tinder Queen posts submissions of some of women’s worst experiences on Tinder. She educates men on the app about feminism and consent, and teaches her followers how to use dating apps safely and respectfully.

  1. @sheratesdogs

SheRateDogs is “like WeRateDogs but the dogs are your exes.” She exposes toxic ex boyfriends through followers’ submissions, and encourages women to leave unhealthy relationships and to acknowledge their worth.

 

  1. @catcallsofnyc

 CatCallsOfNYC takes submissions of her followers’ experiences with street harassment and in New York City. She then goes to the place where the harassment occurred and writes the quote in chalk to bring attention to the issue of catcalling. 

  1. @florencegiven

Florence is another artist who empowers women through her pieces. I love the use of color and sass in her artwork while she brings important feminist issues to attention.

Lost Latina Leaders: Luisa Moreno and the Labor Movement

By Samantha Delgado

Despite being overlooked by a large portion of historians, Latinas played a huge part within the American labor movement. The Latinx community faced higher percentages of living on poverty-level wages than white women, and they were more likely to work in farm work, blue-collar work, and temporary work. These jobs left little for moving up or into other higher paying occupations, and contained harsh working condition. Latinas specifically had the lowest rate of unionization amongst all other groups. Thus, when the chance arose to combat the disparities and disadvantages facing them, Latinas took it and shaped it to fit the needs of their communities.

Latinas took the labor movement as a way to organize their community and uplift themselves from some of the issues that affected them and their community most. In the early to mid 1900s, Mexican and Mexican-American women in the seasonal canning industry in California were able to form one of the largest, most effective labor unions: The United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA). As half of the total UCAPAWA’s total membership, numbers showed that Mexican women had the highest percentages of executive board-trustee posts, negotiating-organizing posts, and social and community service positions in UCAPAWA, even compared to their male counterparts. Latinas used the labor movement to heighten their consciousness as females and ethnic minorities facing inequalities in the workplace, and develop organizing strategies of their own.

UCAPAWA also produced one of the most influential Latina leaders of the time: Luisa Moreno. Moreno has been noted as one of the unknown heroes of the labor movement, due to the lack of depth and recognition she receives outside of Latinx history. Her work in the labor movement paved the path for Linda Chavez-Thompson and other Latina labor leaders alike. From Tampa cigar-rolling plants, New York City garment shops, and canneries in Los Angeles, she organized in various communities for workers across the country. Moreno would go on to become the Vice President of UCAPAWA, making her the first-ever female V.P. of a major union. Using her power as a leader in several communities, Moreno organized the first national Latino civil rights assembly, as well as a Mexican Civil Rights committee in San Diego. She spoke out on racial profiling and police brutality against Mexican-Americans as well as other ethnic minorities. Sadly, she was deported due to a major operation against Mexican and Mexican-Americans. It is devastating not just to the Latinx community, but to the history of the labor movement that her story and work has often gone overlooked. Moreno is not the only Latina who has been ignored by historians, and it is crucial that as scholars, we dig deeper into history and give light to the unsung heroes of the Latinx community.

UCAPAWA was just one example of the many ways Latinas used the labor movement to understand their own concerns as both women and Latina (and what those two parts of their identity mean). It showed how they came together collectively to organize for their issues, negotiate their benefits as workers, and take active leadership roles both within and outside the unions.

Despite being ignored by historians, Latina union membership grew from 500,000 to 3.5 million in a span of 7 years during the early to mid 1900s. Our history–– Latinx history–– has been repeatedly ignored, and therefore, young Latinx people lack the encouragement to get involved with their communities, like Moreno did. Latinas like Moreno deserve their work and contribution to be recognized. By telling others about Moreno’s work, and getting involved in our own communities, we can give her and other Latina leaders the recognition they deserve.

Dysfunctional Mitten

By Marie Cantor

With the end of the semester fast-approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about home.  The breezy air from the Great Lakes, the bustling sounds of Ford Road, and the ruthless certainty that the Detroit Lions will never make it to the Super Bowl. I’ve lived in Michigan

Williams, Izzie. My Detroit. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. My Detroit. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit 

an my whole life. I’ve gone through the lows of Kwame Kilpatrickand the highs of the slow revival of the automotive companies. My whole life I was told Detroit is good, bad, and ugly. Currently, domestic violence in Wayne County–– the most populous county in Michigan, within which Detroit is included–– is on the rise.

Wayne County’s population is approximately 1.8 million, and Detroit accounts for roughly 37% of that population, according to the 2017 census. By comparison, twenty-eight Bostons can fit in one Detroit. Wayne County’s prosecutor, Kym Worthy, reports a noticeable increase in domestic violence in 2017. She explains that in 2017, the cases neared 9,000––thats about 2,000 more cases than average.[1]

Williams, Izzie. Unnamed. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. Unnamed. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.

There are 72 organizations in Michigan that provide services to people experiencing domestic violence.[2]Recently, Wayne State University created a new program to help survivors in the Metro Detroit area. Of the 11,341 rape kits found in 2009, those that were tested by the Detroit Police convicted 152 rapists.[1]Pursuits to combat domestic violence in Michigan are all in full force and taken seriously. So why this sudden influx of abuse in Metro Detroit?

Worthy notes a trend she calls, “the CSI effect.” Alluding to the overtly dramatic television show by the same name, this effect makes clear the phenomenon that jurors in the Wayne courtrooms expect theatrics. Jurors want lawyers screaming, and eye-witnesses crying; the jury expects the courtroom to reflect entertainment from television shows.  Prosecutor Worthy says this causes difficulties in performing due process.[1]In our culture, there is a thin line between reality and what we see in the media.We watch shows like CSI and Law & Order, and expect to have the same experience in the real world.

The aforementioned theory still doesn’t explain the increase in cases of domestic abuse. The Detroit Police has not given any formal statements or information on the matter. Frankly, there isn’t much talk in general, except for casual slips of information regarding the increase in Wayne County. Even Prosecutor Worthy gave a small statement with no new information, and claims that the police department is  ameliorating such situations. Despite this statement, all I personally see is useless talk and little action.  I realize that feminist programs continue fighting to help survivors every day, but officials still shirk from solving issues sprouting from lack of communication.    

Williams, Izzie. The Beauty of the Broken. 2017. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. The Beauty of the Broken. 2017. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.

Detroit is not an outlier in this issue. In our society, there is an abundance of programs to help survivors, which is fantastic, but there is no education on how to prevent violence in the first place. The question still stands–how can you tell someone not to be an abuser?

Relationship education is not stated in the sex education obligations providing by Michigan Department of Education.[3]In early education, there needs to be a standard of instructing what a healthy relationship looks like. Instead teachers are instructed to stressabstinence from sex.

Where are the statements? Why are there no questions? Why is there more domestic violence? We claim “Detroit vs Everybody” but it seems we are only fighting ourselves. There is no point of promoting strength when we are still crumbling through the cracks. Detroit is trying to rebuild its economy with fancy bars and cute decorations. But the people of Detroit are being forgotten. 

      

 

 

 

[1]Jachman, Matt. “Wayne County Prosecutor Talks CSI Effect, School Threats, Domestic Violence in Town Hall Meeting.” HometownLife, 5 Dec. 2018, www.hometownlife.com/story/news/2018/12/05/kym-worthy-talks-csi-effect-school-threats-more-town-hall-meeting/2161061002/.

 

[2]“Michigan Domestic Violence Help, Programs and Statistics.” DomesticShelters.org, www.domesticshelters.org/mi/michigan-domestic-violence-help-statistics.

 

[3]“HIV/STD and Sex Education in Michigan Public Schools: A Summary of Legal Obligations and Best Practices.” SOM – State of Michigan, Department of Education, www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Michigans_Sex_Education_Laws_Summary_303019_7.pdf

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Force to be Reckoned With

Amid all the horrible things currently tearing apart our nation, we sometimes forget to appreciate everything beautiful in our lives. Let’s take a minute to bask in the glory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shall we?

Ms. Bader Ginsburg’s parents worked as a furrier and as a garment factory employee in the height of the Great Depression. Her parents emphasized the significance of education, although they themselves have not received university degrees. Unfortunately, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mother died from cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation. Despite this drawback, Bader Ginsburg completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University. She met her husband, who was a Cornell Law School student, and started a family with him after she completed her undergraduate degree. Soon afterwards, Ruth Bader Ginsburg received her law degree from Harvard Law School. Upon graduating, despite her high qualifications, Bader Ginsburg was constantly faced with inequalities; she would always receive a much lower salary than her male counterparts and felt pressured to hide her pregnancy in fear that she would be fired.

Despite the countless sexist hurdles Ruth Bader Ginsburg faced, she still persisted. Ruth pursued civil procedure and then became a law professor at Rutgers University until she was hired by Columbia University, where she was the first woman to receive tenure. Former President Bill Clinton then appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Supreme Court Justice, where she continued her passion for advocating. She fiercely fights for women’s rights, and even wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, which argued that women should not be prohibited from joining the Virginia Military Institute.

The moral of the story is, know your female role models. Know what you want in life, and persistently fight for it. Understand female role models’ history, the struggles that they lived through, and appreciate their accomplishments. Internalize their strategies that allowed them to climb to success. After all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not grow up in a wealthy household, but she is now a Supreme Court Justice. Despite the immense amount of personal hurdles and academic hurdles that Bader Ginsburg faced—including when she battled both pancreatic and colon cancer—she never faltered. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has never missed a day of oral arguments, and proudly represents the feminist movement. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my female role model, and I hope she is yours too.

 

Source: https://www.oyez.org/justices/ruth_bader_ginsburg

 

By: Eleni Constantinou

 

I’m angry. You should be too.

By Matthew Segalla

I’m angry at the state of our country. Angry at the decisions of those who hold authority. Angry for survivors who are not getting the justice they deserve. Angry that our country views minorities as “less than.” Angry that we live in a country where men are valued more than women. We are not just repeating history, we are moving backwards. A third of the men now serving on the highest court in our country have been accused of sexual assault. This is an issue that transcends party and politics, it is an issue of humanity and morality. Our country has never been perfect, nor will it ever be. In the same sense, those who run our country are not perfect and never will be, regardless of who they are or what they stand for. Nevertheless, sexual assaulters do not belong in our government, neither do those who have no respect for women. They don’t belong on our supreme court. They do not represent us or how we feel. They are sending a message to women. It’s not a good one. Women deserve so much more and so much better. This must change. We cannot stand for this. Keep fighting. Speak up. Keep fighting. Take a stand. Keep fighting. Make that change happen. Brett Kavanaugh does not belong on our supreme court, regardless of your political preference or beliefs. While I face challenges and prejudices of my own, I will never face or be able to fully understand the challenges that women are forced to overcome every single day. His victory is a loss for them. One day, we will get the justice that they deserve. Until then, all I can say is women, I am with you, I support you, I will do my best to defend you and fight for you, and without exception, I believe you. I believe all survivors. I believe women. I believe Anita Hill. And I believe Christine Blasey Ford. You should too.

Ocean’s 8 Review

By Annie Jonas

Who knew that alcohol-scamming, jewelry-stealing, and the power of criminal sisterhood could be so inspiring?!

A few days ago, I saw Ocean’s 8, and let me tell you, I have never wanted to be a pick-pocket more in my life. Seriously, Awkwafina convinced the shit out of me. There is one scene where she’s in line at Subway with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, and she manages to steal not just one, but BOTH of their watches. Two watches! While ordering a turkey sandwich! That’s multi-tasking at its finest, if you ask me.

After re-reading my previous article on Ocean’s 8, I began to think a lot about the things that made this movie different from it’s older brothers (I am referring to the Ocean’s trilogy here). I realized that while there were differences, those differences did not necessarily mean “good” or “bad.” They just meant “different.”

To begin, I was surprised by the complete lack of violence in the film. I contemplated this for a long time because I wondered if the predominantly female cast dictated the extent of violence– or lack thereof. I thought about other female-lead films such as Atomic Blonde or Wonder Woman and the differences were striking. But then I began to think about the lack of violence as a statement, as a breach of what heist films are and can be. These women did not need guns or tanks to get their message across. All they needed was their intellect and careful planning (and the occasional Halal food truck turned computer hacking headquarters). Coming to that realization was refreshing, especially in a time where guns and violence infiltrate almost every aspect of our modern lives.

I spoke with Anto, our editor-in-chief, about the film and she made a good point about her hesitation towards the feminization of the film, specifically stating “I didn’t like the fact that the robbery had to be so ‘feminine,’” a.k.a., at the Met Gala. This was the second major difference I noted between Ocean’s 8 and the Ocean’s trilogy.

While the trilogy focuses on the grit and sleaze of casino culture in Las Vegas, Ocean’s 8 presents a more cosmopolitan, upscale, and glamorous culture of the elite. Sandra Bullock even emerges from prison in an evening gown, and then proceeds to shoplift expensive makeup from an upscale store (this was actually a very cool scene, especially for a wannabe-pick-pocketer). I agree with Anto that the film did take on an exaggerated feminization of sorts by making the heist a jewelry heist at the Met Gala. But, the film also emphasized the remarkable position women play within the world of the elite.

Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, and Kim Kardashian were just a few of the many cameos in the film. Regardless of the elitism, “feminization,” or superficiality of the world the film presents, we cannot forget that these women are leaders of empires, queens of the fashion, social, and sports industries.

Ocean’s 8 presents a “woman’s world,” so to speak, a world that is female-centric and female-dominated. The definition of “pussy power” sums up the film’s feminine energy nicely: “power as held by women, especially seen as coming from inherently feminine qualities or from female sexual allure.” It is important to see the femininity in the film as a source of power, not as a source of powerlessness.

Immigration and Family Separation: Hoochie’s Hoot

By Daniela Tellechea, Annie Jonas and Anto Rondón

I’m sure you’ve already heard about it. Families have been discriminated against, detached, and detained because of their immigrant status. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “more than 2,300 children have been forcibly taken from their parents.”

The vast majority of these children were brought to the U.S. by their parents in search of protection from the peril of their native countries. “Eighty-eight percent of detained families have demonstrated to a DHS asylum officer that they have a credible fear of persecution if deported,” reports the ACLU.

President Trump has never been a fan of immigrants — he has consistently shown apathy, disapproval and repudiation of people of color. He has attacked Latinos, Muslims, Black women and men, and other POCs. We cannot forget that a large part of his campaign to “Make America Great Again” included building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Then, it is not surprising to see stricter measures being taken at the border. When Attorney General Sessions announced the “zero-tolerance policy” — which presumed that every person coming into the border would be seen first as a criminal, and second as an asylum seeker/refugee — this led to the separation of children from their parents, and the administration gained immediate rejection worldwide, as well as immense national backlash.

At the time, President Trump blamed the Democrats’ unwillingness to approve the wall for the separation of families. On June 15th, 2018 he tweeted, “The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda.” He continued, “Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!” These tweets foreshadowed the changes that would alter the course of many lives and change the face of American enactments.

After being pressed and criticized for days, President Trump issued an Executive Order on June 20th, stating he no longer mandated the separation of families; however, he is still pushing for stricter immigration laws and continues to make references to his beloved wall. Additionally, he has not addressed family reunification issues.

The order reads, “It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws. Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at an appropriate time. When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment…”

He has posted various tweets since then, condemning Democrats for interfering with his plan. His plan being to “cut the number of legal immigrants [entering] to the U.S. by 50% over the next 10 years” based on the proposals he’s backed, according to an article on BBC News posted on June 21st. Recently he jabbed at Democrats saying, “It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

Measures have already been taken to make room for even more detention camps for immigrants, now on military bases. A report by BBC News published on June 23rd presents that the U.S. military “had been asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children.” These efforts actually add to the expenses that relate to immigration. The report stated, “The Navy memo estimates the force would spend $233 million (£175m) to run a facility for 25,000 people for six-months.”

However, the most difficult cost is the psychological cost children are paying. NBC News reported on June 28th, 2018 that even after the Executive Order to no longer separate families, “immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings.” This seems inconceivable, but it “is not a new practice.”

More than 2,000 children will most likely be shuffled through court proceedings, despite the deep psychological trauma they have faced. This is especially dangerous because “the parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves.”

The trauma that these children faced in their home country, followed by a most-likely difficult journey to the U.S., then a gruesome detainment and separation from their families, and now the burden of representing themselves in court make for a situation that Dr. Bernard Dreyer of the NYU School of Medicine deems “unconscionable.”

The NBC report explains a case of an attempt at policies of unification: “A federal judge Tuesday night commanded the White House to reunify families within 14 days if the child is under 5 and 30 days if the child is older. The Justice Department has not indicated whether it will appeal. Attorneys who are involved in the cases said it’s unclear how the judge’s order will work in practice, and when and how it could take effect.”

While there is certainly efforts being made by attorneys and judges to reunify children with their families, there is nothing being done by the President.

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that they are trying to unify a child with their parent or a sponsor, but did not specify how long this would take. “More than 2,000 children who were separated from their parents at the border have been dispatched to the far corners of the nation and to care facilities and foster homes,” the NBC report explains.

Moreover, becoming a sponsor for these children is an increasingly difficult feat, which leaves children abandoned and still separated. Rachel Prandini, an attorney apart of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, explains that “finding a sponsor is more difficult now given recent fears that stepping forward to accept a child could trigger a sponsors deportation.” In April, the Department of Health and Human Services required that sponsors submit fingerprints and go through a criminal background check in order to “protect the child.”

The New York Times wrote a piece about José, a 5-year-old child whose “father had been arrested and taken away after they arrived at the United States border in El Paso.” José now stays with a foster family/sponsor.

José was “handed over” to a foster family, carrying “two small pieces of paper– one a stick-figure of his family from Honduras, the other a sketch of his father.” At the point of reunification between the child and his foster mother, Janice, “he refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride ‘home.’” Janice explains that “the first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into ‘just moaning and moaning.’”

His foster family explains that “a day has not gone by when the boy has failed to ask in Spanish, ‘When will I see my papa?’” The family “tell[s] him the truth. They do not know. No one knows.”

The foster family explains that of the 12 children they have fostered in the last two years, “José is the first child who crossed the border with a parent, rather than alone, then was forcibly separated and left with no ability to contact them.”

The article reports that earlier in the week of it’s publishing, “José spoke with his parents for the first time since their lives diverged. The phone calls were separate: His father remains in detention, and his mother is in Honduras.”

Janice explains that although the calls were much needed, “they changed everything. Somehow, it had sunk in that there was no way of knowing when he would see his family. ‘It triggered all the separation trauma again’… [when] he erupted in anger, screaming and crying at the kitchen table for almost an hour.” Janice says that after he calmed down, “the boy collapsed on the kitchen floor, still sobbing ‘Mamá, Papá’ over and over.”

The pictures he drew of his family are below.

julio

julio 2

While the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims “there was no separation policy,” there clearly is a huge separation/reunification problem for immigrants and immigrant children right now. Even after the Executive Order to end family separation, there has been “‘no evidence of any system that has been put in place by the government,’ according to Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that provides legal assistance to unaccompanied migrant children,” reports USA Today.

Moreover, there is no real system to register the children or their families in order, which makes connecting children to their families almost impossible.

The USA Today report explains, “it wasn’t until last week that the federal government began issuing identification numbers to families being separated at the Border…” Before this process of assigning identification numbers, attorneys acted as “private investigators… look[ing] for clues, such as a child’s date of birth, or their alien-registration number, and start[ed] pulling those threads to find the parents,” Wendy Young explains.


 

As feminists, it is absolutely integral to uplift and empower not only women, but people. We bleed the same blood, speak the same languages, and have the same hopes and dreams. No human being is illegal. Period.

Hoochie stands with immigrant mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We disapprove of President Trump’s severe take on immigration and the racism, xenophobia and bigotry that fuel it.

We believe in unity, inclusivity, and human rights. We hope that you will join us in taking a stand against President Trump’s prejudiced agenda.

 

Ways you can help:

  1. Organize

Grab your friends, your family, your friends of your family, anyone. Get together to talk about the issues. A more informed, communicative society is a better society.

  1. Call

Call your local senator to defund the Department of Homeland Security which supports the detainment of families and ICE. Click below to go to a site that shows you how to do that step by step: How to Call My Senator to Defund DHS

  1. Vote

You CAN make change! Do it! Vote in any and all elections. It is our civic duty! Not registered?

Click Here to Register to Vote

  1. Donate

A great organization to donate to right now is the RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) Family Reunification and Bond Fund. Their efforts are helping and contributing to the reunification of families.

Click Here for More Information and to Donate

  1. Share

Share your thoughts and share the factual information you find (after verifying it), to spread the word to those around you.

 

Images:

John Moore

 

 

John Moore’s photo of a young girl crying as her mother was detained was edited and selected for the July 2nd, 2018 cover of Time Magazine. The photo includes the blurb “Welcome to America.”

 

 

 

 

Tom Kiefer, who worked as a Customs and Border Protection janitor for close to four years, began taking pictures of everyday objects thrown away or taken from detained immigrants. The photographs are part of an ongoing project “El Sueño Americano” (“The American Dream”), as reported by the New Yorker.

discarded during intake

 

 

“This stuffed toy, slightly soiled in the midsection, may have been used by its owner as a makeshift pillow while crossing the desert. All personal property considered non-essential is discarded during intake” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

spare shoes

 

“Migrants often carry spare shoes. As with extra clothing, most personal property is considered non-essential and discarded” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

 

potentially lethal

 

“The CBP considers rosaries to be potentially lethal, non-essential personal property, and agents dispose of them during intake” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

 

sometimes essential items

 

“After being apprehended, a detainee’s belongings are either placed in a property bag or remain in the backpack that he or she travelled with. Sometimes, essential items such as wallets and personal identification are discarded” (The New Yorker”).

 

“Five Years, Eight Months, And 12 Days” Is About How Long I’m Willing To Wait Until Female Narratives Become More Than Just “Female Versions”: Musings On Ocean’s 8

By Annie Jonas

The Ocean’s trilogy is kind of like Kim Kardashian’s kids. The first one arrived and you were completely thrown for a loop, utterly flabbergasted. It was as if you had been swept away (pun intended–– that was an ocean joke, FYI). Then, the second one arrived and you couldn’t stop wondering if a better name could have been used. By the third, you were just as exhausted and frustrated as Kim’s surrogate must have been after going through a long labor and still not getting invited to the baby shower. The trilogy, like many other film series, has its pros and cons that give it a rich and robust arena for praise and criticism.

Ocean’s 8, like the trilogy, also has its pros and its cons. The film received drastically polarized views from Ocean’s and non-Ocean’s fans alike. Two areas of debate which frequented many tweets and news articles concerned the film’s originality and intersectionality–– or lack thereof. These two categories piqued my interest, and they have inspired the following musings:

#1: Sandra Bullock described the film as a “parallel story” to the Ocean’s trilogy in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. I wonder, however, what is lost when we make “female versions” or “parallel stories” of films instead of creating entirely new narratives for women? While an all-female cast is enticing to a world that is dominated by men in both cinematic and social senses, the idea of a “female version,” “parallel story,” or “spin-off,” etc. places the female narrative as the male narrative’s shadow, as always existing within the silhouette of a masculine cinematic history. A “female version” places the all-male cast as the default and the all-female cast as the exception. Furthermore, Ocean’s 8 does not give women the breadth of complexity that female narratives need in cinema. Instead of creating a “spin-off,” why not create an entirely new heroine, one with a new trajectory, one who does not live in her brother’s shadow?

#2: The theatrical release poster features all 8 women standing fiercely against a bright red background looking off to the distance. Some have praised the poster for its badassery, while others have noted its racial placement of characters. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter are larger than Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina, who are squished and much smaller than their white counterparts. Sarah Paulson is placed between Rihanna and Mindy Kaling to “make-up” for the clear racial divide.

Similarly, another photo release reveals the same racial placement.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a film that poses many important questions that are necessary to think about in an age of female resistance against sexism and androcentrism in Hollywood and beyond. I am intrigued to see the film and eagerly aw8 its release in June.