Tag Archives: social justice

Stop the World – I Want to Get Off

22 Jun

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Globalization is an increasingly complicated issue, especially as our world becomes “hyperconnected” by new forms of media and technology that we use ever more frequently and intimately (WLADAWSKY-BERGER, 2014). As such, there are a number of ways of looking at it. 

It’s one serious concern that as corporations become more multinational, social injustices are committed, especially in nations that have limited protections against the working poor. They are also becoming increasingly politically influential, which is a threat to democratic societies (Collins, 2010). 

A convincing argument points that “during the most recent period of rapid growth in global trade and investment, inequality worsened” throughout the world (Collins, 2010). Meanwhile, the “economic ramifications” of a globalizing world threaten the budgets for safety nets to assist the most vulnerable people in the population (Collins, 2010). 

Of course, globalization also brings economic growth to developing countries, and may also contribute to spreading democracy (Collins, 2010). The spread of knowledge amongst societies contributes to a more enlightened world, with a more politically and civically engaged population (WLADAWSKY-BERGER, 2014). This may also spread tolerance and awareness, which may promote compassion and good neighborliness. 

Based on a Harvard poll of 18 – 24 year olds, the highest percentage of participants neither strongly oppose nor strongly favor globalization (Dolliver, 2007). I imagine this is because for this generation, globalization is merely a way of life, and it’s all we have ever known. 

I was watching the TV show “Frasier” recently, and was struck how when the characters get coffee in a cafe, everyone around them is having coffee, talking, reading a magazine, or a book. Nowadays everyone has their earbuds in, tapping away at their iPads or phones. Frasier wasn’t filmed that long ago – and globalization, by nature, is an increasingly rapid process. How have we become so insular in the face of being also, paradoxically, so hyperconnected? 

One thing is for certain – it’s a freight train, and nothing will stop it. It may also be a dangerously speeding freight train – but isn’t that how industry improves? By investigating its accidents and disasters to make changes along the way? Somebody call the NTSB!

One thing I fear about how globalization affects us all is that we don’t really contemplate its effects. People seem to want to naturally believe that we are our own social agents, and that we make choices in a vaccuum. That’s an ignorant perspective, and maybe the consequences of globalization will help us all realize that we are all products of the world we inhabit – one that is changing extremely fast. 

 

 

Collins, M. (2010, January 1). The Pros And Cons Of Globalization. Manufacturing . net. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://www.manufacturing.net/articles/2010/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-globalization

Dolliver, M. (2007). The Pros and Cons Of Globalization. Adweek,48(17), 26.

WLADAWSKY-BERGER, I. (2014, January 1). The Changing Nature of Globalization in Our Hyperconnected, Knowledge-Intensive Economy. The CIO Report RSS. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2014/06/20/the-changing-nature-of-globalization-in-our-hyperconnected-knowledge-intensive-economy/

Interview: Director of Surf Doc ‘Isolated’

6 May

ISOLATED – Documentary Film Trailer from Something Kreative Films on Vimeo.

Crossroads at the End of the World

At the imagined edge of the world, where one might envision the oceans dropping off into the universe, a ragtag team of feral surfers went on an epic quest for the wave of a lifetime. In the new surf journey film Isolated, the team found both waves of pristine waters – and the limits of humanity. Expecting only to find waves in rogue surf wilderness, the filmmakers stumbled upon an explosive human rights situation in the remote region of West Papua.

Exposing both the bounds of human cruelty, and discovering the inexhaustible human spirit, Isolated takes us on the truest surf pilgrimage yet. For if surfing is an exploration of our own existence, Isolated stands alone as the ultimate surfing adventure.

Without spoiling the story, the premise is groundbreaking; feral surfers break convention (and ignore warnings) to explore West Papua for awesome waves. They try to stay under the radar due to the volatile social and political status of the area, under Indonesian occupation. The group inevitably attracts attention and makes lots of new friends – but just as quickly, they discover that their new friends are in danger, and answer a clarion call for action. The surfers, and their new friends, will never be the same.

At the edge of the world, multinational corporate interests, surf tourism, and the decline of indigenous communities collide at the crossroads of duty and adventure. Isolated is a journey like no other, and a story that demands to be heard.

I traded words with Isolated director Justin LePera about the movie, which is in screenings across the country. Narrated and executive produced by Ryan Phillippe, Isolated is sure to leave its mark on the surf community, and possibly signal a paradigm shift in our collective consciousness.

 

 

What is the number one thing that stayed with you about your time in West Papua? 

The people and the fear they had that no one would ever know about their struggle and come to help them. They are a proud people that live off the land only using what they need and are totally content. They never asked for money, and were always so welcoming. They would do anything for us and really wanted us to be a part of their community. They love their land and are very proud of it. They respect nature and each other. Their huts, beaches and communities are immaculate because they take pride in their homes and culture. There is a lot we could learn from them. The film does an amazing job balancing its competing priorities – being a modest but transformational surf documentary about the eternal search for the perfect wave by feral surfers, and evolving into a second hand account of human rights atrocities on the same scale as Guatemala and Honduras. The film closes with a clarion call to action to raise awareness of the plight of the West Papuan people.
This central storyline is unfortunately a common theme in the narratives of many countries in the world. Multinational corporate interests hire oppressive militaries to crush the local people who stand in the way of profit. Do you think that the public and the international community will respond soon enough to combat the erosion of the way of life of West Papua, the violence against the indigenous people, and to combat the commercial development taking place?

I really do believe as more and more people get awareness of the atrocities going on in West Papua, real change can occur. It was the awareness of East Timor that caused change in that region of Indonesia. I believe one of the main reasons why there has not been much of a response to issue in West Papua is due to the lack of awareness. Indonesia prohibits journalism visas, so until the past few years there hasn’t been much documented in the area. Now with everything going viral and being able to capture video on your cell phones, more and more is being leaked out about the human rights violations in the region and the world is starting to take notice.
Many surf pilgrims travel the world to find incredible stories of suffering in the communities they learn to love. What is your advice to people who may discover their own West Papua story one day? Do you think this film will be a part of a greater paradigm shift in the context of the whole global surfing community, bringing more of a focus on the people and problems encountered, as opposed to just checking in and clocking out when their flight departs?

This is the main theme of our story not just for surfers but for travelers who encounter injustices within the regions they visit. So many people have turned their back to the issues that are occurring in the lands they travel believing they are powerless to creating an impact on the region. The fact is, we all have the power to create change by speaking out and bringing awareness through social media, writing, videos, etc. If those who are committing injustices around the world know that the world is watching, I believe they will be more hesitant to commit human rights abuses, especially if they know they will be punished. Our surfers found a world-class wave and met an amazing group of people, which could easily have been good enough for them, but instead, they decided they would go beyond thinking of only themselves and to do their part to help the people. Doing your little part to help in any way you can creates a movement, and it is that movement that can create change.
Chevron is responsible for one of the world’s worst environmental and humanitarian disasters in the world after spilling crude oil the Ecuadorian rainforest. They are now planning to drill for oil and gas in West Papua. They have spent billions preparing to exploit the resources of the region. How might this affect the people living there? Do you think it is possible to engage the community in an open dialogue one day about the interests of their own landscape?

When we met with four Papuan political figures in a secret meeting protected by guards, fearing the military’s knowledge about our meeting, we discovered that many Papuan’s are very well aware of their valuable natural resources and are very open to doing business with foreign countries. What they were most concerned about were the human rights violations. They fear for their lives constantly. This is the main issue they want to see change in. Papuans are concerned about the amount of money foreign corporations spend on the military for security. The foreign businesses enable Indonesia to have such a strong military presence in the region due to financial backing the military gets from foreign corporations. Without the financial backing, Indonesia could not afford to have such a dominant military presence in West Papua. It is within the Indonesian military where change needs to happen for there to be peace in the region.

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How do you think this will begin to change the approach of the traveling surfer community, if the regions surf pilgrims visit often end up being further developed due to such surf tourism in the first place?

First, I hope surfers will be inspired to get off the boats, on which they travel taking them to perfect breaks, and actually get to know the people of the land. Take in the full experience and engage with those who allow you to ride their perfect waves.

Second, I hope that when they encounter those being treated inhumanely or struggling to survive, they do whatever they can to help. Even if its just tweeting or facebook posting about it. One little post at least gets it out there to the world.

There are those who may often say that a ragtag group of feral surfers should either butt out or won’t be able to change anything when they encounter something of human or environmental concern. What would you say to that?

As human beings it is our obligation to look after one another. Butting out makes you a part of the problem. Those that do butt out are only empowering those who commit the crimes against humanity by allowing them to get away with it. As long as they can get away with it, they will continue to commit heinous acts.

What is the number one thing you want to resonate with people about the film?

To go out and live your adventure! There is so many amazing things this world has to offer. To take in the experience, learn from it, and give back to those that took you in. And most importantly, to know that we all have the power to create change.

This film was never intended to go in the direction it did. At first, we were like most travelers. We knew there was a conflict in the region and tried to avoid it. But when we really started to experience the people and opened ourselves up to the experience, we became better people and humanitarian in our effort.

Visit Isolated.tv now to answer the call for change, and sign a petition asking the White House to address the human rights abuses in West Papua. Like LePera said, change comes from you. You can also pre-order the DVD here.


International Day Against Victim-Blaming, Steubenville, & Steven Landsburg

3 Apr

Oh, no, he DI’INN!

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Let’s take a step back here. Roughly a month ago, University of Rochester Professor Steven Landsburg publishes a couple of blog posts. The Dean of the University, Joel Seligman, described them like this:

[Professor Landsburg praised] Rush Limbaugh for a “spot-on analogy” with respect to his offensive remarks about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke (although Landsburg parted company with Limbaugh for calling Fluke a “slut”).  Landsburg went further.  He stated that Ms. Fluke’s position deserved “only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.”  He further stated that the right word for her position was “extortionist,” characterized those who disagreed with his view as “contraceptive sponges,” and added that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex.

Further, Professor Landsburg has blogged about the Steubenville rape trial as well, defending the rapists.

From Women Organized to Resist and Defend:

In a shocking March 20 blog post titled “Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville,” University of Rochester economics professor Steven Landsburg questioned the harm of raping an unconscious woman who may not remember the attack, and wondered why rapists should not “reap the benefits” of women’s bodies. Landsburg’s hypothetical “dilemma” ignores material reality in a hateful attempt to further his sexist beliefs, and goes on to question whether rape should be against the law:

“Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm—no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. (Note: The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I’ve read, was not even aware that she’d been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later.) Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?”

Landsburg’s awful, misogynist rant continues, musing:

“Why shouldn’t the rest of the world…be allowed to reap the benefits?”

The rapists, "reaping the benefits."

The rapists, “reaping the benefits” of an underage girl.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that his role as an educator of young adults should preclude him from engaging in this kind of rhetoric, online or anywhere. Unfortunately for us, him, the college, and especially his students, he didn’t appear to know any better.

I wanted to give him some credit. He appears to be otherwise rather bright. Though the elephant in the room is really, how can you argue that rape is ever “harmless?!” That was the most glaringly obvious and telling mistake of all (keep in mind, she may have been passed out, but she is receiving DEATH threats now. Harmless my big fat feminist ass).

At first, I was furious, and then I received an email alert from Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD) to sign a petition calling for his immediate termination. Suddenly, I realized this got very real for the professor. As a veteran academic provocateur and all-around hell-raiser, I knew that if it didn’t happen now, sooner rather than later, this professor would lose his footing on the thin ice upon which he stands. Academia does not want to stand upon free speech. That is a given. But million-dollar schools don’t take too kindly to such negative publicity from the keystroke of one short-sighted, foolish, and chauvinistic man.

I felt that his doom was imminent. I signed and promoted it on twitter. But then – I had an idea. I called the college.

First, I called the Dean. Then, I had a lengthy conversation with a VP of Communications and we definitely agreed on some mutual feelings and points. Ultimately, though, colleges are spooked at the idea of intruding upon free speech. They don’t want to be sued or anything. Obvs. But what if there was something else that could be done?

Next, I reached out to the professor himself on twitter. I told him to man up, hold himself accountable, own up to his mistake, retract the articles, issue a public apology, take a sensitivity course, and enroll in the college’s introductory women’s studies class, WST 100.

The Women’s Studies Department had their own response as well. I’m glad to see people speaking up about this. They wrote up some great pieces. But Professor Misogynist was back at it, trying to pick apart points and debate people to death. No sense of ownership or accountability for his shameful statements. Needless to say, I left my own comment on the page.

Finally, there was a conference held today at the school (coincidentally) on sexual assault on college campuses. Word on the street was clear: there was no sign of him there. What a missed opportunity to educate yourself, Mr. Landsburg, and show some respect and humility. After all – an educator is, if nothing else, a seeker of knowledge – some seeker you are.

So after talking to the school representative and investigating this further, especially after learning that the Professor did not attend that conference, I can wholeheartedly endorse the petition to have him fired. It’s one thing when you admit that you were wrong. It’s another to take a hateful, dangerous stance in the name of free speech, violating the trust of the students you are charged to guide, and run like the devil with it!

Please sign, share & feel free to shame Mr Landsburg on twitter (@StevenLandsburg). He definitely needs some educating for himself!

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Happy International Day Against Victim-Blaming – read more about today, what you can do & tweet your support with #vaw, #victimblaming, #IDAVB & #endrape!

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AWESOME IWD Infographic

8 Mar

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Murder on Rt 80: The Long Road from Selma

1 Mar

First of all, put on some Jimi Hendrix. Ok, now you may continue.

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Proud sidenote: Viola was a longtime Unitarian… Go Unitarian Unversalists! (I was born ‘n’ raised, y’all!)

In an instant, teenage Penny Liuzzo was overcome with a sense of dread. While watching television in 1965, she doubled over in a fit of nausea. She knew exactly why. “Oh my God, my mother is dead.” Her mother, Viola Liuzzo, had driven to Selma, Alabama to join the civil rights protests after the Bloody Sunday march to Montgomery. After a premonition, she begged her mother not to go. But Viola, fiercely independent and determined to make a difference, carried on.

Hours later, Penny lied awake in bed, unable to sleep. Her father called. Her intuition was correct. Her mother was dead. ‘Then something happened that Penny still cannot explain 40 years later. Her 6-year-old sister, Sally, walked into the bedroom and said, “No, Mama’s not dead. I just saw her walking in the hall.”‘

…chills!!

Liuzzo’s mother was brutally murdered by the KKK for being a voice in the civil rights movement. Now, the murder that divided a generation is again in the headlines, as it symbolizes a story with a revolving narrative in our society. From FBI conspiracies to the galvanizing of a social movement, to the tragedy of a family forever traumatized by being publicly scapegoated for their tragedy, to the reaching of the point of no return in a nation divided by the murder of a white woman in the deep south of Selma, Alabama.

This story starts out with shock and continues to build upwards past outrageous, finally culminating as an unforgettable injustice made worse by public backlash and government lies. The life and death of one of America’s greatest unsung (s)heroes of the civil rights movement comes to a head as the US Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the 1965 Voting Right’s Act.

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One Billion Rising

19 Feb

Every 15 seconds in America, a woman is beaten. Every two minutes, she or another is raped. Rape is the ultimate act of sexism and patriarchy; the physical manifestation of the dehumanization and objectification of woman from personhood to the worth of her vagina, and taking away her rights, choice, and agency as an individual.

Sexism is alive, well, and killing women and girls, right here, right now. Not just halfway around the world, not just during wartime, not just in poor neighborhoods, not just in the Midwest, not just in urban areas, not just in college, not just in prisons, not just anywhere. Everywhere.

To think that sexism isn’t that bad anymore, it’s time to stop navel-gazing and hold up a mirror: 1 in 3 women in this country have been raped and/or beaten. Are you one of them? Do you know one? Maybe you do, you just don’t know it.

Personally, I am very fortunate to have never been in a situation where I ever needed to defend myself, but I am still in my early twenties. Though I feel sorry for the person who may attempt to attack me one day. They have no idea that La Capitana is really a superhero, and will absolutely kick their f**king ass.

You may have heard of it. The Huffington Post was all over it,  both in support of the campaign and also presenting some harsh criticism. But RISE we did, all around the world.

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Gang Rape Death Spurs Shifting Paradigms in India

12 Jan

It was the gang rape that got the world’s attention, though that certainly wasn’t the intention of the attackers. The story has been told a thousand times, but the family speaks out for the first time in the media in the New York Times. As the family of the victim tells their story, further levels of tragedy are spelled out. We are left scratching our heads at the cruel irony of a state in conflict, where worlds collide, serving as a microcosm of the intense complexities of the nature of globalization in a world in overdrive.

Badri Nath Singh speaks to family on the phone in Medawara Kalan, after the death of his only daughter from a gang rape so brutal, her intestines had to be removed before she finally succumbed to her injuries.

Badri Nath Singh speaks to family on the phone in Medawara Kalan, after the death of his only daughter from a gang rape so brutal, her intestines had to be removed before she finally succumbed to her injuries. Image: New York Times/ Heather Timmons & Hari Kumar

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