Month: March 2015

Race And Technology: A Discussion With Dr. Bruce Hoskins

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As a part of their “Tech N’ Color” race discussion series, Ithaca College’s Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity invited Dr. Bruce Hoskins to give a lecture on his own experiences regarding race and technology.

The event offered Ithaca College students a chance to get an inside look into Hoskins’ journey as an educator and an activist. Mainly with the help of his own students, Hoskins was able to branch out across various technological mediums and “amplify the activist voice in [his] scholarship and teaching.” Through the use of slam poetry and a discussion of his own research on multi-ethnicity, Hoskins challenged Ithaca College students to think about what it really means to be a minority in today’s society.

Hoskins, who is a professor of Sociology at MiraCosta Community College in Oceanside, California, also emphasized the importance of starting from home. Being from Oceanside himself, Hoskins believes that the only way to induce change is to start from the roots, which is why he chose to become a community college professor in his hometown.

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‘Freedom Of Speech’ Is An Excuse To Allow Racist Comments To Exist

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The disturbing video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity members singing a racist chant has gone viral within the past few weeks, shedding light on the ever-growing issue of race and diversity in universities.

Since the viral outbreak, the Oklahoma chapter of SAE has expelled two of its members seen in the video and has banned the fraternity from the university. The fraternity also issued a national apology and has announced that it will begin a mandatory diversity and education program in addition to appointing a national advisory committee on diversity and inclusion.

In light of this recent scandal, however, a recent CNN op-ed piece brought up a different angle to this story.

The post, entitled “What we risk when we ban racist speech”, talks about the importance of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The theory here is, essentially, that it’s unfair for the SAE brothers to receive punishment for saying what they wanted to say. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

“Forget whether you like the speech or not. That is not relevant. These boys got kicked out of a public school for singing a song, on their own time, in a privately rented bus, simply because the government didn’t like the content of their song. Censors overstepping their bounds is no surprise. What surprises me is how readily the public supported the expulsions, and how many supposedly intelligent people were willing to turn the First Amendment on its head, because of nine seconds of video.”

Is the content of the speech relevant? Does it matter that a bunch of students were alluding to lynching in a “harmless” song?

What needs to be focused on is the fact that these students thought this was merely a fun act. The perpetuation of racist ideologies is seen constantly within social media and our society’s culture. Rape culture, racism, sexism…it’s all clearly there, yet there are people willing to turn a blind eye rather than accept the fact that it’s really happening.

Bottom line is that these things are learned behaviors. How can we expect to change the future if we won’t take the time to educate ourselves and reflect on what we are perpetuating?

UVA Student Left Beaten And Bloodied 3 Blocks From Campus

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Earlier this week, University of Virginia student Martese Johnson was violently beaten and left bloodied by agents of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) unit near the campus. Johnson’s arrest was captured by onlookers of the incident and posted online, going viral in a matter of days.

The video shows the 20-year-old being beaten to the ground by the state agents as blood gushes down his face. An onlooker is also heard yelling at the state agents, pleading them to stop.

“What are y’all doing? Yo, his head is bleeding,” can be heard throughout the video.

Johnson himself is also heard repeatedly screaming at the police officers, seemingly shocked and in disbelief that this is even happening to him.

“I go to UVA! I go to UVA!” he says. “How did this happen, you f–cking racists? How does this happen?”

Johnson’s roommate, Joshua Kinlaw, believes the dispute started when the ABC officers checked his ID as he was attempting to enter one of the bars.

“I am aware that Martese does not own a fake ID,” Kinlaw said. “So the ID that he actually showed to both the bouncer and to the ABC officers was his real ID. Now because the age on that ID shows him to be 20 years old, I think that’s when dispute and discrepancies came in.”

The incident has caused an uproar throughout the school, resulting in various protests by UVA students. The Twitter hashtag #JusticeForMartese has also gone viral, with many users accusing the police officers’ intentions as yet another racist brutality case.

Virginia’s governor has ordered an investigation into Johnson’s arrest.

Featured Topic: Solutions Grassroots Really Gives A Frack About The Environment

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What do banjo playing, slam poetry and solar energy all have in common? On their own, not a lot. But when you put them together, you get The Solutions Grassroots Tour.

Solutions Grassroots, created by Oscar-nominated director and environmental activist Josh Fox, is an educational workshop whose goal is to motivate people across the country to adopt renewable energy solutions. With the help of the International WOW Company, Fox and his team of environmentalists travel from town to town in order to produce an “interactive music, theater and film event” that helps “develop renewable energy through culture and grassroots democracy” and “campaign for pro-renewable energy legislation.” Previous guest hosts have included Mark Ruffalo and Phylicia Rashad.

The tour swung by Ithaca College this weekend, giving environmental activist groups from Tompkins county the opportunity to participate in the ongoing discussion of environmental safety.

One of the main groups present at the tour was GoGreenNY, the state’s leading organization working toward a sustainable future. The organization, which hosted the event, started out as an effort to protest against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking“, but has since expanded to advocate for innovative strategies for renewable energy.

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Teaching Moment: The Benefits (And Setbacks) Of Citizen Journalism

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In January of 2009, a picture of the US Airways airplane that landed in the Hudson River went viral after Janis Krums posted it on his Twitter. It was the first shot of the incident recorded, and soon enough Krums was getting phone calls from news station after news station to ask him about his first hand experience witnessing the crash.

Later that same year, an Iranian philosophy student named Neda Agha-Soltan was fatally shot during the Iranian protests against the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. An anonymous video (WARNING: extremely graphic) recorded by a cell phone went viral online, eventually becoming one of the most-watched deaths in the world. Her death became iconic in the struggle of Iranian protesters of the opposition, and the video earned the George Polk award for videography.

Along with the prevalence of mobile devices that can record videos and pictures, the rise of social media sites have allowed for people to produce and share information at a remarkable rate. Now more than ever, citizen journalists are reporting their personal experiences and sharing it as hyperlocal news.

Revolutionary technology, especially, has changed the way we look at user generated content (UGC). Montreal television director Jean-Francois Desmarais captured the 2012 student tuition riots using a mobile Wi-Fi connection to broadcast the protests via Google Hangouts using Google Glass.

But when looking at UGC, it is important to be cautious of what’s really out there. For one, citizen journalists don’t have proper training. The ethics of the newsroom don’t apply when Harry from down the street decides to share a picture of a local car accident. What’s real, and what’s fabricated? Most importantly, what’s newsworthy?

News broadcasting companies have opened up citizen journalism sites that allow users to report hyperlocal news, such as the CNN iReport. This way, UGC can be used as a supplement to traditional news reporting in order to get all aspects of a story.

For more information on citizen journalism, check out this video by The Digital Journal.

Learning To Recognize Microaggression

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Earlier this week, Ithaca College’s student run newspaper, The Ithacan, published a special opinion piece written by a student. The commentary, which was in response to the release of the school’s 2012 campus climate survey results, primarily focused on the issue of microaggressions still being perpetuated throughout the campus.

According to Psychology Today, microaggressions are defined by the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. A racial microaggression, therefore, would be if a white woman clutched her purse as a person of color walked by on the street, suggesting that their minority group can be dehumanized to merely a bunch of criminals

Perhaps the bigger issue here, however, is that there aren’t a lot of people in our society who are able to recognize them.

A while back, I wrote a piece talking about the various microaggressions I’ve personally had directed toward me. Looking back on it, what struck me the most about writing this piece is the fact that I myself wasn’t able to be conscious of the microaggressive comments I was hearing on a daily basis.

“Where are you really from? You look kind of exotic. You speak English so well for an immigrant! You don’t even act Hispanic.” These were meant to be compliments.

What most–let’s be frank–white people don’t realize is that microaggressions have been hardwired into our culture, allowing those in the majority to sincerely believe that they are not doing anything offensive. An article published in the American Psychological Association suggests that microaggressive comments are made by “well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them”.

There are times where jokes can be made and certain questions can be asked. But we need to educate ourselves on what exactly we are perpetuating when we comment on a specific racial group. Race, in general, is meant to act as a political categorization technique derived as far back as the 15th century. How can we progress as a society if we aren’t able to be aware of racializations?

Maybe we should have paid more attention in elementary school when our teachers taught us to “think before we speak”…