Category Archives: Interviews

Q&A with Sam Docteur

Sam_Docteur

MAJOR: Sociology

PROJECTS:
-Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) // English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Classroom Assistant
-BU Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) // Public Relations Chair and Member

ABOUT: I’m a Haitian-American who wants their voice and actions to be heard regarding issues that are happening to the underrepresented, racial and ethnic minorities in the world. I’m passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, incarceration, and civil rights issues that people of color, especially Black people, face today.


Q: You’re a part of JVS and SOCA, could you explain how you got involved and why these organizations interest you?

 Sam: Sure! So, I’ll start with JVS. I was in Paris [studying abroad] and I was looking for a legal internship because I want to be an attorney in the near future, and JVS showed up and I thought it sounded really interesting. I feel like the first step [to immigration law] is to start working with immigrants and refugees, so I decided to become an ESOL classroom assistant. I have a little experience teaching English because my parents are immigrants from Haiti. And being in Paris I also realized how hard it is to learn a different language in a different country that you’re new to, that shits hard, and I felt like I could relate to these people [ESOL students], so I interviewed in Paris and they basically gave me the job! I was an intern until COVID-19 when my internship stopped, so now I volunteer on Mondays. I call people from 12 pm to 5 pm and help with homework and interview practice. Same thing on Thursday, I just started last week, I’m in a Zoom classroom helping them with grammar. I joined SOCA freshman year spring semester. At first, I was scared because I’m not used to being around so many Black people because I went to a private white Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade in southern New Jersey. I didn’t feel in tune with people when I came to college. I joined SOCA hoping that I could spread awareness for West Indian and Caribbean culture and get to know my culture more, honestly.

 Q: How has activism influenced you and in what ways has it affected your future goals?

 Sam: Since becoming an activist, I’ve had more serious and difficult conversations with people, like family members. Before, I used to be quiet about my stances on most everything because being in the neighborhood that I am and being with the people I’m with for mostly my whole life made it difficult to fight for immigration and LGBTQ rights. It’s very difficult, but I realized that just speaking up made me more comfortable with who I am as a person and as an activist. It is hard to have difficult conversations with people you’ve been friends and family with for forever, but I think it’s really important as an activist to have it known that you are here to fight the system, discrimination, everything that’s happening in the world, especially America.

 Q: What role do you think student activists can play in terms of making change?

 Sam: Honestly, having their voice heard. Something that happened fall semester was when Ben Shapiro came to campus. Basically, Black BU and everyone against him was like we are not standing for this, and even though he ended up speaking on campus, even though we didn’t succeed in having him removed from campus, we succeeded in coming together as a community. Realizing that our voices should be heard and that you can’t just ignore us because we are here we are present and that we don’t stand for injustices, especially a person who is denying the racism and discrimination people of color, especially Black people, have faced for hundreds of years, is a real testament to what students can do on campus.

 Q:  What do you think it means to be an activist and how do you define it for yourself?

 Sam: I think being an activist means you fight for a social or political cause that you believe in and you try to take steps that will further better other people’s lives, wherever you are. I’m an activist by being in SOCA and being an ESOL classroom assistant because I want to help the transition from coming from a different country to coming to America be easier for people because I know how hard it was for my parents and I understand how hard it is to learn a different language, to come to a new place not knowing anyone, and to try to figure out your spot in life. I don’t think we should discriminate or be mean to these people who just want a better life and better opportunities than they had before. It’s wrong, honestly, that so many people are in disagreement about how people should have equal, basic human rights in America just for being from a different place.

 Q: How are you feeling about the upcoming election?

 Sam: The system has been broken since the beginning, we’ve known this, and people are surprised that this is happening with Trump against Biden, but I’m not. As a person of color, as a Black person, as a Black queer person you realize that this shit’s been happening since the beginning of time and that people are just now realizing that oh we’re fucked, but no, we’ve been fucked forever, now it’s effecting you and that’s the problem. Hopefully people realize that shit has to change. Keep speaking up because we know that speaking up helps in the long term, we get laws changed, shit happens, but right now the future of America is kind of dim. We’ve got to try and strive on.

Q&A with Bruna D’Amore Giampietro

MAJOR: Public Relations, minoring in Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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PROJECTS:
Man Eater Radio Show // Creator & DJ
The Vagina Monologues // Co-Director
Yoni Ki Baat // Co-Director

ABOUT:
I am a student activist from Brazil who is passionate about intersectional feminism and gender equality. I strive to empower womxn and uplift marginalized voices through radio and fundraiser spoken-word performances. Through femme-focused projects, I aim to create safe spaces that highlight womxn while attempting to rebel against patriarchal ideologies.


Q: You’re a part of VAGMO+, could you explain what that is and how you got involved?

 Bruna: I got involved in the Vagina Monologues my sophomore year when one of last year’s directors, Ina Joseph, encouraged me to join. I got cast and then three years later I was chosen to direct with Christina Bissereth. Me and Christina co-directed the two performances this year (the Vagina Monologues and Yoni Ki Baat) and it was so wonderful and I’m so proud of it. VAGMO+ is an umbrella term encompassing two feminist productions, the Vagina Monologues and Yoni Ki Baat. The Vagina Monologues was a play written in the nineties by Eve Ensler. It was considered to be a radical piece of feminist literature at the time. But at the same time, since it was really in the nineties, it can be very, very outdated at points and problematic as well. We do acknowledge it’s great benefits but also that it is problematic. To make up for the lack of inclusivity and to add another dimension and another layer of perspectives, last year’s directors, Ina and Alina added a second performance, a sister performance, called Yoni Ki Baat or commonly known as YKB. This is a platform that attempts to create a space for women of color, queer women and non-binary folks to share their own experiences with intersectionality through storytelling. These performances were a bit like spoken word. This year, even though we didn’t have the opportunity to do the in-person performance, we came up with an alternative plan, the YKB podcasts, now available on Spotify. The best part about this whole community and about the performances themselves is that 100 percent of the proceeds go towards nonprofit organizations in the greater Boston community that support women in need. This year we partnered with Women’s Lunch Place, a nonprofit that supports women who are currently facing homelessness, and we were able to donate about $4,000 from fundraising. 

  Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about your feminist radio show and how it has added to your experience at BU?

 Bruna: I co-created Maneater, which is my radio show on WTBU in the fall semester of my sophomore year with Emily Roe. After we interned together freshman year in an alternative rock radio show on the WTBU called Brain Drain, we decided that we both wanted to create a radio show together because we’re both minoring in women’s studies and we saw that WTBU was oversaturated with Indie and alt-rock radio shows––and there is nothing wrong with that, but a lot of them primarily featured male artists. We saw a real lack of female representation, not only in WTBU but also lack of spotlighting of women artists in the music industry, so together we created what is now Maneater. Maneater became WTBU’s first and only feminist radio show that exclusively highlights women and centers itself around femme-based topics and current events like body positivity, sexuality, sexual empowerment, gender roles, ad stereotypes, politics and abortion. Maneater has also allowed me and the other DJs to dive deeper into the music industry and focus on women artists that don’t often get the highlights that they deserve. This is currently Maneater’s sixth semester on WTBU. I’m graduating this year so I will be leaving it, but I’m really, really proud that it will stay at BU as my legacy.

 Q: What was your favorite theme/topic that you have done on Maneater? 

 Bruna: My favorite theme is Black History Month. For the four episodes that compose February, we do it entirely dedicated to different aspects of the Black identity, such as Black love, Black female artists, and Black female rappers. We always like to come up with different things and then we have different discussions. This year, right before the pandemic broke out, we had a cool discussion about Black love, the portrayal of love in the media, why films are always whitewashed, and why content and media are whitewashed but also wealth related. 

 Q: What does inclusive feminism mean to you?

 Bruna: I love intersectional feminism, inclusive feminism, however you would want to call it. I am drawn towards intersectional feminism because I come from a family of predominantly women and a very strong line of women. And that whole narrative that women are meant to be submissive, that women are weak, that women are secondary to men, all these stereotypes that are perpetuated by patriarchal ideals, that are deeply ingrained in our society are honestly just fabricated bullshit that was made to create a hierarchy of genders. I think that it’s really important that we work towards flipping that script and advocating for gender equality, advocating for women’s rights, advocating for the protection of minority communities. And I think that only through that will we be able to flip the script and make women included and make minorities included in the greater dialogue. I think that work through student activism is really, really important because you’re starting from your classroom and then you can dive into the greater world.

 Q: What do you think it means to be an activist or an advocate?

 Bruna: I think that being an activist is very, very crucial. I always liked the phrase if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention and if you’re not angry, you’re not creating change and you’re not fighting for things that are negative to then benefit people. So I think that being an activist is someone who actively strives to create change in their environment, not only, or not entirely, or not at all in their benefit, but for the greater good of others and to uplift marginalized voices who don’t often get the platform to talk about their experiences and don’t often get the rights and the recognition that they need.

Harry Styles and the Fine Line Between Journalism and Intrusion

By Avery Serven

 About a month ago, I saw an interview with Harry Styles in The Guardian. In the interview, the writer was incessantly asking Styles about his sexual orientation and all the details surrounding it. They pointed out that the cover of his latest album, Fine Line, features the bisexual pride flag colors: pink, purple and blue. Styles responded by saying that he chooses colors and aesthetics based on the fact that he wants things to look a certain way, not because of their meaning or implication.

 The interviewer also directly asked Styles about his sexuality, to which Styles asked why that would be a question in the interview. He went on to say that it shouldn’t matter, stating “‘It’s just: who cares?’”.

 By the end, the interviewer had probably got the hint that Styles was a bit confused by his questions, so he asked if any of the questions had bothered Styles. He replied with: “‘What I would say, about the whole being-asked-about-my-sexuality thing – this is a job where you might get asked. And to complain about it, to say you hate it, and still do the job, that’s just silly. You respect that someone’s gonna ask. And you hope that they respect they might not get an answer.’”

 This interview really bothered me, and I thought about it for a while after I read it. I was not only bothered by the interviewer grilling Styles about his sexuality (because he’s right- it’s nobody’s business), but also by the fact that Styles said he knew he would be asked because of his job. Why is that? In my mind, it is so intrusive to ask that question of anyone, celebrity or not. He’s right that it is nobody’s business, but it also shouldn’t matter. I believe we ought to live in a world where sexuality is not something that should be labeled or questioned, but just accepted. It is what it is, and it should only matter to each individual- not the media, nor the tabloids, nor one’s fans.

 I believe Styles took this interview in stride and handled the situation quite well considering the fact that the interviewer was clearly crossing a line. For the future, I urge fellow writers as well as those in the media to stop forcing celebrities to label their sexuality. It is the business of no one except the celebrity, and it endorses a culture of outing, labelling, and confining sexuality. Allow everybody to make their own private decisions about their life and way of living, free of labels. Once we start endorsing a culture that does this, the world will be a better place for all human beings.

 Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/dec/14/harry-styles-sexual-ambiguity-dating-normals-rocking-a-dress

A Long Road for Women in Politics: How 25-Year-Old Kinn Badger is Paving the Way

By Sabrina Schnurr

“You’re saying no because you’re bitchy.”

Most high school students spend their weekends sleeping in, catching up on homework or spending time with friends. Kinn Badger, however, spent her weekends in Illinois and Georgia knocking on doors and walking in parades with senators.

After graduating from American University, Badger immediately hopped onto the campaign for Jon Ossoff for Congress; her efforts in the special election hoped to disrupt the long-safe Republican seat in Georgia’s 6th District. Although Ossoff was later defeated in a runoff election, the campaign broke national fundraising records for a U.S. House candidate (according to the New York Times), and it was the closest a Democrat had come to winning the 6th District since 1992.

Despite the loss, Badger drove 600 miles from Georgia to New Jersey to work on Vin Gopal’s 2017 campaign for New Jersey Senate. Months later, Gopal became the first Indian American to be elected to the New Jersey Senate, and his victory was described by NJ.com as “perhaps the biggest upset of the night.”

Badger, 25 and also Indian American, now serves as the executive director of the Monmouth County Democrats, where she is responsible for organizing all Democrat candidates and fundraising across the county’s 53 municipalities, 4th and 6th Congressional Districts, and four districts in the New Jersey Legislature.

Below is a segment of my interview with Badger, in which we discussed being a woman in politics and other issues she’s interested in pursuing.

Sabrina Schnurr: Do you think being a young woman has affected your experience in this position?

Kinn Badger: 100 percent. Definitely. I mean, people are sexist. Even within the Democratic Party. You feel it anywhere.

SS: How has that [sexism] been manifested?

KB: A lot of that is because there has only been male executive directors for a very long time. There was one woman over 10 or 15 years ago. Obviously ,the way I look has impacted me greatly. I’ve been called an intern, or told that I have no experience because I’m not from New Jersey.  Maybe people are intimidated? I mean, that’s a baseline of why I think someone would say those things to me. I’ve been called many names on the job—names that I know men would not be called. It’s because a lot of times I tell them no, and the easiest way for them to deal with that is to say “Oh, you’re saying no because you’re bitchy.” Bitchy is the classic one I get. Or when I say something, they respond, “Why is your attitude like that?” And my attitude is fine. I don’t know what they’re referring to. Sometimes, they call me aggressive—oh, that’s a classic! “You’re so aggressive.” No, I’m being assertive.

SS: How do you deal with getting called names?

KB: Well, it depends on the situation. Sometimes I’ll say something back. But most of the time—I hate that I have to say this—I just let it go. It makes my job a whole lot easier when I don’t have these hiccups. And it sucks because as a young woman—and a young minority, democratic female—a lot of the times I’m like, “This just makes my job 10 times harder.” Because it’s not going to go away. We’ve normalized this in the workforce no matter what career you’re in. It’s unfortunate.

SS: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t working in politics?

KB: That’s a tough question for me because this is my life, and it’s been my life for a very, very long time. I know this is probably a cop-out answer, but I would probably be more into advocacy work. I think politics and advocacy work well together, they go hand in hand. So that’s why I said it was kind of a cop-out answer. I’ve always had an interest in Planned Parenthood, being a young woman. And especially with the change of climate right now regarding women’s reproductive rights, I think that’s a huge initiative that I would like to be a part of. It’s a part of my current career, but I don’t get to spend as much time on it as I’d like.

SS: There’s a Planned Parenthood at the end of our campus in Boston, and there are protests out there that people have to walk through on their way to class, and it’s not something you generally expect in Boston.

KB: Boston is a little more progressive than most areas. I’ve seen it, too, though. I’ve volunteered as one of those people that help bring other people into Planned Parenthood through the protests a couple of times before. It’s really hard because Planned Parenthood has so many services besides abortion services, and most of the time women are coming for other services, but are judged for the former.

SS: What do your family and friends think of your job? I can assume your family’s very supportive because it’s been your life, but what do your friends think?

KB: It’s really weird because a lot of my friends are in politics. So of course, they’re really supportive. My friends who are not into politics or who have been my childhood friends for so long, they’re just like, “Well, this is you. This is just what you love to do.” They say, “When I think of Kinn, I think of her trying to elect all these Democrats. That’s just what she’s always done her whole life.” My friends have always been super supportive. Since 2016, I think my friends have changed in the sense that I don’t interact with the ones that I don’t align with politically. I think this has happened because of my job and because it’s hard to argue with them when this is what I do for a living. And they’re like, “Well, but that’s just not true.” And I’m like, “But I do this for a living, and here are the facts to prove it.” And they’re like, “See, you’re so into MSNBC and CNN.” And I’m like, “Oh my goodness, that’s not what this is at all.” Right? I’ve definitely shifted towards having friends that align with me politically, maybe because of convenience or maybe it’s because I know I’m going to be supported by them.

SS: Do you plan on running for office in the future?

KB: If I ran for office, I would want to run within my community. The Board of Ed[ucation] is something I’ve been looking into. I would not run for any sort of higher office because I work with candidates every single day, and I always say staffers make the worst candidates because you know everything that’s happening behind the scenes. You’re worried and focusing on all these things that are supposed to be happening behind the scenes when your main concern should be talking to voters and going door-knocking or making phone calls. So I would make a terrible candidate because I focus on all these other things, like how much money is in our bank account, or what’s the theme of our next direct mail, or what’s the opposition doing and all this other stuff rather than focusing on just trying to talk to my constituents. So I really, really like being behind the scenes.

We need more people supporting candidates and people running for office becoming staffers. It really isn’t for everyone. I also say that I cuss way too much to be an elected official, but I really do like supporting people. Being an elected official is hard. You’re constantly “on” all the time. I see this a lot, especially with [New Jersey Senator] Vin [Gopal]. He is just “on” everywhere he goes, whether it’s just a quick bite to eat with his wife and someone spots him or just walking outside and constantly being “on.” That’s so exhausting, and I know for myself, I just couldn’t do that. I love people, but sometimes I’m also like, “All right, I’m done for the day.”

Badger has no plans to run for office herself. Staffers make the worst candidates, she says, because they focus too much on logistics when their main focus should be talking to voters.

“I also cuss way too much to be an elected official,” Badger said.

Over the past 18 months, she has learned to embrace the responsibilities of a job she once found intimidating.

“I don’t think I’m a person who needs to have a gold star every time, but it’s the little things, such as when people come up to thank me,” said Badger. “That’s why I do it.”

WMN EMPWRMNT: MARINA GATINHO

By: Melissa Hurtado

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Women supporting other women. Encouraging each other. Lifting each other up. Pure kindness and positivity. It should never be about rising above men. Nor should it be about demeaning those who think differently. Anybody can partake in this movement for as long as they respect those principles.

 

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: Being a woman… being a woman is… I could only think of my mom. She is a woman. My mom did it all on her own with four children; not to prove that she didn’t need a man in her life to help her become as successful as she is today, but to prove to herself that she is capable of getting shit done despite being a single mom. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that… it’s okay for women to be sensitive, empathetic, nurturing, etc…those are all beautiful qualities that should always be embraced (this applies to men as well)—we can still be CEO’s or Presidents because we are just THAT worthy…what, like it’s hard? (Yes, she quoted Elle Woods).

 

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: I bring compassion. Compassion, period. We’re all going through the same shit and just trying to be the best versions of ourselves. I think it’s so important for both women and men to understand that concept…and, yeah, like… have some compassion. man, and all else will flow.

WMN EMPWRMNT: ISABEL PAILLERE

 

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Personally, women empowerment seems to only exist in Dove commercials, rather than an element incorporated into daily life. However, to me, women empowerment is a unification of the female species, wherein our independence and equality are celebrated. I only hope that woman empowerment will become a theme prevalent in daily life and not only existent in commercials. 

 

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: In my perspective, being a woman means being a leader. The fact that we bear novel life with our bodies barely scrapes the surface of what we women have the power to do. Yet, I feel like many people forget that factor, leaving women to be considered as less than. I think individuals will always underestimate us. But as a woman, I believe our duty is to ultimately prove them wrong.

 

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: When it comes to women empowerment, I make my own contribution by uplifting women. I am not afraid to positively “hype” someone up if I see a fellow female living their best life. For example, if I see one of my girlfriends working hard and doing well, you must believe that I will applaud her. I think it’s important to support one another because a sweet gesture like that can make someone’s day and as females, I believe we all need to be more proud of each other

WMN EMPWRMNT: GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

By Melissa Hurtado

GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Women empowerment means sisterhood and solidarity.

Every woman on this planet is fighting the same fight each and every day. No matter how different two women are, they likely share similar experiences when it comes to gender-based oppression. These experiences connect women in a unique way- it makes us sisters and sisters stand together.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: Womanhood means freedom and possibility, but when it doesn’t, it means stoicism and strength.

Being a woman allows me to safely explore what it means to be pretty. Femininity and prettiness are intertwined, and as a woman, I get to have fun with both. I also get to be vulnerable and sensitive with those I trust. I have deep, meaningful friendships with men and women. Men are not as safe doing the same.

However, as a woman, I have faced danger and limitations. My parents raised me with fear, afraid of how the world could hurt me so they did their best to control and shelter me for as long as they could. It came with love “but a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.”

I can’t blame them- I have felt fear when I would walk home and strange men would yell at me, or when I would get stared at on the metro, or when I got followed to my car, or when I was flashed in a university parking lot, or when a faculty member at university tried to force me into an embrace.
In these events, as a woman, I have to stand my ground and be strong.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: I bring vegan, love filled donuts, an open mind, a big heart, and loads of La Croix.

WMN EMPWRMNT: Alexandra Marie Vargas

Photography and Interview by Melissa Hurtado

ALEXANDRA MARIE VARGAS

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Woman empowerment is what allows us, women, to comfortably have a mind of our own. It’s what allows us to express how we feel and do what we love. It is freedom. It is a step closer to being equal to one another as it should be.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: To be a woman is to be brave. to be bold. to be strong. to be love. I believe it isn’t the easiest role, but one of the most beautiful ones.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: What I bring to the table in focus of woman empowerment is knowledge, ingenuity, and kindness. I feel that they play such a big role in woman empowerment for individuality. Knowledge binds us with ourselves and allows us to open our mind to know more than what we’ve been told to do or feel. Bringing out our own ingenuity that differentiates one from another. With kindness, we accept and love one another.