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This issue’s cover topic was originally proposed by Ilana Cohen, Clay Oxford, and Amir Siraj.


Campus Eats Grace Greason


Kosher Kibble Joseph Winters



Man’s Best Friend Eleonore Evans

Man’s Best Friend Eleonore Evans


12 Change and Tradition Daniel Brickhill

35 Overpoliced, Underrepresented Katie Weiner

14 Toward a Culture of Racial Literacy Winona Guo

38 Broadway Goes Mainstream (Again) Clay Oxford

17 Cambridge Days, Harlem Nights Russell Reed

41 On Pork, Beer, and Boyfriends Marian Bothner

UNITED STATES 21 The Modern Pen and the AI Sword Kendrick Foster 24 Seattle’s Radical Experiment Bridger Gordon 29 Eagle versus Dragon Rumi Khan


26 Mind the Presidency Isabel Cole


INTERVIEWS 44 Truth and Trump: Don Lemon Gisella Carpio 46 Democracy and Development in Nepal: Gagan Thapa Satish Wasti

ENDPAPER 48 Kid in a Candy Store Samuel Kessler

29 Eagle versus Dragon Rumi Khan 32 Toward Union in Africa James Bikales 48 Kid in a Candy Store Samuel Kessler Email: ISSN 0090-1032. Harvard Political Review. All rights reserved. Image Credits: Photographer: 17,19- Campbell Erickson; 20- Jules Kardish. Flickr: Cover- Internet Archive Book Images. The Noun Project: 22,23- Hea Poh Lin; 26- Artdabana@design; 28- Clockwise. Pexels: 6- Kasuma; 11- Pixabay. Public Domain Photos: 3. Unsplash: 1- Karim Manjra; 1,9- Hybrid; 1,29- Pen Tsai; 1,48- Vinicious Amano; 3- Alex Pavlyuk; 4,5- Lukas Blazek; 14,15- Marcus Spiske; 21- Gertruda Valaseviciute; 24- Ben Dutton; 35- Matthew Brodeur; 35- Emiliano Bar; 38,39- Paul Green; 41- Ilham Abkar Fauzi; 42,43- Ferdinand Stohr. Wikimedia Commons: 3- Jen Mohrs; 3- Daderot; 8- Ohiopetwatch; 12- Chensiyuan; 21- ZStoler; 26- Michael Vadon; 32- Andreas 06; 44- Fuzheado; 46- ICIMOD Kathmandu; 46,47- Wikimedia Commons. Design by: Isabel Isselbacher, Madeleine LaPuerta, Trina Lilja, Kendall Rideout, and Matthew Rossi.




Animal Farm

A Nonpartisan Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Est. 1969—Vol. L, No. 2


STAFF Alisha Ukani, Allison Piper, Amy Danoff, Amy Wang, Annelisa Kingsbury Lee, Audrey Sheehy, Bridger Gordon, Byron Hurlbut, Campbell Erickson , Carter Nakamoto, Chloe Lemmel-Hay, Chris Sun, Clara Bates, Colton Carpenter, Connor Brown, Connor Schoen, Daniel Friedman, David Gutierrez, Devon Black, DJ Kranchalk, Eliot Harrison, Elton Lossner, Emily Malpass, Erica Newman-Corre, Esha Chaudhuri, Ethan Schultz, Gabrielle Landry, Graham Walter, Hadley DeBello, Hope Kudo, Hossam Mabed, Ifedayo Famojuro, Isa Flores-Jones, Jake McIntyre, James Blanchfield, Jamie Bikales, Jamie Weisenberg, Jay Gopalan, Jennifer Horowitz, Johannes Lang, Jon Riege, Jose Larios, Jacob Kern, Joseph Minatel, Josh Berry, Katherine Ho, Kendall Rideout, Kendrick Foster, Kevin Bi, Lainey Newman, Lauren Fadiman, Lindsey Bouldin, Lu Shao, Manuel Abecasis, Matthew Hatfield, Matthew Shaw, Max Snyder, Meena Venkataramanan, Melissa Gayton, Mfundo Radebe, Michael Montella, Michael Wornow, Mikael Tessema, Mimi Alphonsus, Natalie Dabkowski, Nick Danby, Nikole Naloy, Noah Knopf, Noah Redlich, Pawel Rybacki, Peter Wright, Peyton Dunham, Rob Capodilupo, Roger Cawdette, , Ryan Chung, Samantha Frenkel-Popell, Sandy Koenig, Sanika Mahajan, Sarah Tisdall, Satish Wasti, Sebastian Reyes, Sophie Dicara, Tamara Shamir, Tom Slack, Trina Lilja, Vanessa Ruales, Victor Agbafe, Will Finigan, William Boggs, Yash Kumbhat, Yashaar Hafizka, Yuri-Grace Ohashi, Zachary Buttenwieser, Zehan Zhou SENIOR WRITERS: Akshaya Annapragada, Alicia Zhang, Andrew Zucker, Anirudh Suresh, Ari Berman, Beverly Brown, Chad Borgman, Cindy Jung, Darwin Peng, Derek Paulhus, Drew Pendergrass, Henry Brooks, Jacob Link, Marty Berger, Nicolas Yan, Perry Abdulkadir, Perry Arrasmith, Sal DeFrancesco, Sam Kessler

ADVISORY BOARD Jonathan Alter Richard L. Berke E.J. Dionne, Jr. Ron Fournier

Walter Isaacson Whitney Patton Maralee Schwartz



uman exceptionalism” is a term that refers to the apparent division between human beings — Homo sapiens — and the rest of the animal kingdom. People point to various traits that make us distinctly human, from abstract cognitive processing to environmental manipulation to complex communication. What these arguments overlook, however, is the far larger number of characteristics that make humans and nonhuman animals alike. At its core, it is a philosophical debate as much as a scientific one, but neither side can deny that, different or the same, the existences of humans and nonhuman animals remain deeply intertwined. Animals — and even more so, animal products — are part of everyday human life. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes over 200 pounds of meat and poultry each year, and despite serious declines in fur consumption, leather products remain commonplace even in the country’s most liberal enclaves. Around two thirds of Americans also own pets, and even as most industries declined dramatically during the recession, the pet care industry reached new heights. These trends vary greatly across the globe, but while treatment differs, all belief systems and governments must grapple with nonhuman inhabitants. Beyond the local, trends in the human-animal relationship can also have global consequences. There have been five mass planetary extinctions in the last half-billion years; the most recent, which marked the end of the dinosaurs’ reign, was 65 million years ago. But today, biologists believe we are undergoing the sixth mass extinction — and this time, the cause is human activity. According to the World Wildlife Fund, at least 1,000 species now go extinct every year, and one of the leading causes of this loss of biodiversity is deforestation for agricultural purposes. To many scientists, the demise of other animal species reads as a bellwether of the human consequences of climate change that are only just beginning; biodiversity is, after all, one of the main indicators of a healthy ecosystem. After generations of growing estrangement

from one another, it appears that the fates of humans and nonhuman animals may be converging once more. In the second issue published by the HPR’s 51st editorial board, three writers explore various aspects of this contentious human-animal relationship in different contexts: in our food systems, on our campuses, and even in our homes. In “Campus Eats,” Grace Greason uncovers the Harvard University Dining Services’ long journey toward food sustainability, investigating the continued presence of red meat in daily dining options. Joseph Winters explores the relationship between animals and food from a very different angle: the luxury pet food industry, which he finds to be surprisingly prominent in “Kosher Kibble.” Putting pets into a broader discourse, Eleonore Evans considers whether pet ownership may increase environmental awareness in “Man’s Best Friend.” As always, these articles are joined by a breadth of cutting-edge pieces within our recurring sections, covering issues ranging from the role of mental health specialists in determining presidential wellness to the racist legacy of the War on Drugs in the legal marijuana industry. As Daniel Brickhill recalls in “Change and Tradition,” the HPR was founded 50 years ago in 1969, a product of the radical and history-making activism that defined Harvard that year. Today, we find ourselves on a campus that has been much quieter since then. Given the state of American politics and students’ lingering dissatisfaction with the status quo in the United States and at Harvard, it seems that activism may well be on the rise again in Cambridge today. As a constitutionally nonpartisan magazine, the HPR remains dedicated to representing the great variety of student perspectives on both sides of the picket line. We invite you to follow along in this magazine and on our website, and on behalf of all of us at the HPR, I hope you enjoy our second edition!

Russell Reed President


Campus Eats Grace Greason


n act of rebellion” is how a director of Harvard University Dining Services described the student response to “less meat Mondays,” a short-lived initiative in the dining halls a few years ago. By serving only one meat-based entrée instead of the usual two or three, HUDS expected to see an obvious decrease in meat consumption across campus. But the experiment had the opposite effect according to Crista Martin, the director for strategic initiatives and communications at HUDS. “The student body ate more meat on that one night than they did on the others when they had choice,” Martin told the HPR. “The student response was, ‘You want to limit our choices, so we’ll eat more of it.’” Martin admits that students’ dietary preferences have changed significantly in the years since then, but the school has yet to revisit the idea. Instead, as Harvard lauds itself for leading the campus sustainability movement by cutting energy consumption and composting food waste, it continues to serve large quantities of meat and animal products. This still harms the environment: Livestock raised for consumption account for nearly 15 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. While the University has recently launched initiatives and set ambitious targets to reduce the environmental impact of its campus food system, a real, effective transition to sustainable eating will necessitate further top-down efforts as well as a commitment among students to reduce meat consumption.

“WE ARE NOT THE FOOD POLICE” There is little question that Harvard acknowledges the importance of sustainable eating in theory. In every dining hall, signs and pamphlets listing the health benefits of seafood and encouraging plant-based proteins are propped up by serving counters and plastered on napkin dispensers. In April 2019, as part of its five-year University-wide Sustainability Plan, Harvard released its “sustainable and healthful food standards,” which listed objectives including limiting red and processed meats, prioritizing “the purchase of plant-based products and products from suppliers who implement more humane practices,” and serving more foods that have a “smaller emissions footprint and are less resource-intensive.” If Harvard recognizes the importance of a plant-based diet, however, HUDS thus far has been reluctant to promote it at the expense of what it considers student choice and autonomy. Martin insisted, “We are not the food police. We cannot tell you what you can or cannot eat. We believe very much in your right to choose.” At HUDS, she explained, “we think it’s our responsibility to try to present a lot of varied options especially with an eye toward health and wellbeing and environmental sustainability.” HUDS could not provide information on how much or what types of meat it serves to students. According to online menus, however, meat is typically available every day in at least two en-



trées per meal and at the salad and sandwich bars, and nearly every day in a soup, chili, and culinary display. Additionally, beef hot dogs and hamburgers — as well as other freshly made turkey and chicken dishes — can be ordered from dining hall grills at any time during lunch and dinner. This protein-packed menu in part reflects HUDS’ laissezfaire attitude regarding student demand for meat. “Anything that students aren’t eating we don’t serve. So if students stopped eating hamburgers we would stop putting them on the menu,” Martin said. “We put a lot of emphasis on plant-based protein. But at every meal there will definitely be at least one, maybe multiple meat-based entrées.” Harvard has increased the amount and variety of vegetarian and vegan options over the past few years in line with rising student demand and campus health and sustainability initiatives. If there is a line between telling students what they can eat and promoting foods that they should not eat, however, Harvard is unsure where it stands. Plant-based offerings like falafel sandwiches and tofu bowls appear to be supplementing, not replacing, the meat dishes that are centered at meals and celebrated at school events, such as the HUDS-sponsored back-to-school “Beach Bash” that appeared to serve enough lobsters to feed every undergraduate student. The grill’s veggie burgers are likely a welcome sight to the school’s vegans and vegetarians. But are they winning over students who usually prefer Big Macs? Harvard cannot say, because it lacks any quantitative data on the dietary habits of its student body or the effects of its efforts to promote sustainable eating. David Havelick, a manager at Harvard’s Office for Sustainability, told the HPR that this is something the University is trying to address in its food standards. The standards, which were developed by a multi-disciplinary faculty committee with input from the OFS, include a goal to “develop a plan to track food purchases by category (e.g., red meat, cheese, beans)” to allow Harvard to better quantify the climate impact and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food it buys.

DIFFERENT DINING HALLS, DIFFERENT OPTIONS Not all colleges across the country share Harvard’s approach to sustainable eating. At the University of North Texas, meat is alive and well. But the school is also one of a few nationwide to operate a 100 percent vegan dining hall. The aptly named Mean Greens Café, as well as other campus initiatives, have earned UNT an A+ grade and “Dean’s List” ranking from PETA, which publishes a vegan report card for over 1,500 colleges nationwide. Harvard, on the other hand, lands itself a mere B. One of five cafeterias at UNT, Mean Greens Café has served exclusively vegan cuisine since it opened in 2011. Yet the dining hall is a favorite among carnivores and herbivores alike according to Alyssa Torrance, the communications manager of UNT dining services. Mean Greens serves 1,500 to 2,000 meals per weekday to students and faculty from all over campus who enjoy its plant-based offerings — which include typical cafeteria-style hot and cold lines, a dessert bar, a panini station, and even a signature grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mean Greens also harvests many of its own salad greens and vegetables organically in a converted freight container behind the cafeteria. Mean Greens has received overwhelmingly positive feedback


from students, Torrance said in an interview with the HPR. However, she denied that UNT has an unusually large vegan or vegetarian population. Instead, she said that the cafeteria is simply a campus favorite, and one that she hopes could catch on at other schools too. “We have a pretty devoted following to Mean Greens, and many of those people are not full-time vegans or vegetarians,” Torrance said. “I think other schools probably just don’t realize that students nowadays are looking for really fresh and healthy flavorful options, and you don’t necessarily need animal products to achieve that.” Around the Ivy League, initiatives to promote plant-based eating have been more modest than those at UNT, but no less successful. The main cafeteria at Dartmouth, which also received an A+ from PETA, has a dedicated vegan and vegetarian station, as well as make-your-own omelet and stir fry bars.

MEAT ME HALFWAY Philosophical arguments aside, noticeably reducing meat’s presence on Harvard’s campus could create a backlash among students accustomed to filling up on red spice chicken and fried broccoli-cheddar chicken, said Havelick. Any initiative targeting specific foods, such as red meat, could seem hypocritical while HUDS continues to serve other products from industries criticized for their environmental impact or ethical violations, like palm oil and poultry, he added. The solution, according to Havelick, is to switch the focus from controlling what dining halls serve to reducing student demand for meat. Compared to banishing bacon and burgers, “what the science has shown is the more effective thing is to serve more delicious, exciting plant-based foods that have a lower impact on climate,” Havelick said. “And to use also behavioral insights — little nudges — to push people to choose healthier, more sustainable foods … That’s going to have a better impact than if we removed red meat and that became the big news article and everyone thought [Harvard was] controlling what people ate.” These behavioral nudges are at the heart of campus initiatives that educate students about the health and environmental impacts of their food choices and promote more sustainable options. One program, VER-EAT!-AS, labels HUDS dishes as green, yellow, or red according to their carbon, nitrogen, and water “foodprints.” Another OFS effort led to the debut of the legendary vegan ‘Beyond Burger’ in dining halls last year. Students are also stepping up to promote healthy and sustainable eating among their peers. The student-run Environmental Action Committee sponsors a “Veguary” campaign every February to encourage students to sign a pledge to reduce their meat consumption for the month however they see fit. This year, a record 161 students accepted the challenge. Student representatives in the OFS-run Resource Efficiency Program and Council of Student Sustainability Leaders have also developed projects with similar goals. As a first-year college student and Resource Efficiency Program representative last year, Meaghan Townsend published a guide to plant-based eating at Harvard that quoted several student athletes who opt for plant-based diets. For vegans and vegetarians at Harvard, however, the cafeteria may always be greener on the other side. While first-year students eat at Annenberg Hall, the upperclassmen dining experi-


ence is centered around the 12 residential Houses, which each have their own dining hall and serve the same selection of foods every day. Students must eat in their assigned houses on certain days and times, but they are mostly free to grab meals in whichever dining hall they prefer. Perhaps a rotating vegetarian or vegan dining hall — Lowell on Monday, Quincy on Tuesday, and so on — would be less disruptive to those with strong loyalties to their own House’s kitchen. It could also be the key to reaching students who are ambivalent about eating meat but will continue to do so as long as it remains a central part of each meal. For some plant-based eaters at Harvard, though, sustainable eating does not require an overhaul of the entire dining system. Jacob Fortinsky, a sophomore who published an op-ed in The Crimson last January imploring Harvard to cut back on serving meat, said in an interview with the HPR, “If they just have an additional plant-based entrée, the result of that will be less meat consumption.” Fortinsky continued: “The low-hanging fruit is for them to have more alternatives. In an ideal world they’d be transitioning to a vegan diet. Obviously, that’s not possible now.” Fortinsky is right: Non-vegan favorites like the ‘veritaffle’ will remain a steady part of student life for the foreseeable future. But Harvard is no longer content with maintaining the status quo, as its new and lofty food standards prove. “The student body changes all the time,” Havelick said. “What didn’t work three years ago might make a difference three years from now. At the same time as I’m wary of these simple solutions like Meatless Mondays or getting rid of red meat, I feel much more optimistic about the future than I am about the past.” Maybe it is time to give less meat Mondays another chance. n



KOSHER KIBBLE Joseph Winters




avlov’s our family, our child,” Anthony Osuna explained emphatically in an interview with the HPR. “We just want to make sure that we’re mindful with how we approach his health.” Osuna and his girlfriend Tram Nguyen were not willing to cut corners on this one. At his young age, Pavlov could have unknown allergies or sensitivities. They had to be cautious with his food. “We don’t want the excess ingredients, the fillers,” Nguyen added. No ingredients they could not pronounce. “He’s like our son.” He is also a dog. A corgi, to be precise, with an Instagram audience of 105,000 followers. Over their two years of puppy parenthood, Osuna and Nguyen have documented their life with Pavlov on the account @pavlovthecorgi, posting photos of Pavlov wearing ugly sweaters, balancing spaghetti on his head, and frolicking on the beaches of Southern California. Pets like Pavlov are moving up in the world. A generation ago, dogs and cats may have been fed the most economical kibble. “Our parents would always buy the cheaper dog food,” said Osuna. But today’s pet owners — who are increasingly conscious of their own food choices — have different priorities. In a recent survey of American pet owners, 90 percent of respondents said they considered their pets to be “family members” — and they are feeding them accordingly. “It’s part of the humanization of the pet nutrition area,” said Lisa Freeman, a veterinary researcher at Tufts University, in an interview with the HPR. For many millennial pet owners, food is an expression of their broader belief system and an important part of their identity. Food purchases are political statements. Beautiful food is an expression of self-love and a source of pride. However, pet owners have begun to anthropomorphize the animal relationship with food in ways that might be counterproductive. If specialty foods are not objectively healthier and do not fulfill pets’ fundamental desires for human love and contact, and if food becomes a replacement for expressions of love that truly matter to dogs and cats, it is worth questioning who benefits from specialty pet food purchases: pet or person?

ROYAL TREAT-MENT Nowhere on earth do pet owners pay more for pet food than in the United States. In 2017, Americans spent 50 percent more on their pets than Western Europeans, six times more than Latin Americans, and 17 times more than Southeast Asians. The industry as a whole is “recession-proof,” growing steadfastly even during financial crises, wrote New York University nutritionist Marion Nestle in the New York Times. Although this is partly because pet ownership has increased significantly since the 1980s, the pet food industry’s growth has been bolstered by a growing demand for specialty foods with curated ingredient lists. Sales of dog food labeled as “premium” rose consistently between 2012 and 2017 due to the increasing popularity of brands like Blue Buffalo and Freshpet. These brands’ formulas include “only the finest natural ingredients” and are free of things like corn and wheat, which have fallen out of favor with many millennials. Most importantly, pet owners want ingredient lists to be short, sweet, and purposeful. “@StellaAndChewys new Limited Ingredient Diet Kibble has fewer ingredients for dogs with food sensitivities!” reads a post on Pavlov’s Instagram. “Their Cage-Free Duck recipe is Pavlov’s favorite!” Online, specialty formulas like Stella and Chewy’s may

cost as much as $38 for 18 ounces. In comparison, $38 is enough to buy almost 46 pounds of dog food from a middle-of-the-line brand. The only way Osuna and Nguyen were able to afford Stella and Chewy’s at all was by securing a sponsorship from the company at the beginning of 2019. Their post about the cage-free duck food came with a “#ad” disclaimer. Pet owners’ desire to connect with their pets serves as the justification for these spending sprees. “Food is the canine love language,” Osuna said. To well-intentioned pet owners, time spent analyzing an ingredients list reflects parental love, the kind associated with practical things like nutrition and health. However, from a nutritional perspective, “reading the ingredients is a really unreliable way to select pet food,” Freeman explained. Pet food companies recognize the ingredients list’s outsized importance to consumers, and have turned it into a marketing opportunity. “They add in kale, lentils, blueberries,” she explained, and increase the price accordingly. All of these foods sound very tasty and healthful to humans, Freeman admits, but that is precisely the point: “A lot of the ingredients may be added much more for the owners than for the pets themselves.” Many pet foods are little more than the animal iteration of a particular fad diet for humans. Gluten-free folks have grainfree foods, where ingredients like wheat and corn are either swapped for beans or omitted altogether. Paleo people have raw meat options. There are formulas made of freeze-dried meats and veggies. Some companies even make vegan pet formulas. For each individualized human health plan, there is an equivalent diet for pets. Ingredient omissions or substitutions associated with these fad diets can also be a red flag for consumers. Especially with smaller producers, limited ingredients or specialty formulas may fall short of the “complete and balanced” criteria necessary to nourish animals’ health. In fact, some research shows that many of these specialty diets actually harm pets. Freeman reported that up to 40 percent of raw meat diets are contaminated with salmonella, vegetarian diets are absolutely unsafe for cats, and home-cooked meals are “99.9 percent of the time” deficient in one or more key nutrients. Grain-free diets, which make up as much as 40 percent of the pet food market, are currently under investigation by the FDA for links to dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease in which the heart is weakened and its pumping ability is diminished. ‘Boutique’ and ‘exotic’ diets, which include ingredients as varied as garbanzo beans and kangaroo meat, may also play a part.

TRICK OR TREAT In northern Seattle, Dawn and Ben Ford run a mobile bakery for dogs called the Seattle Barkery. Since 2014, they have roamed the city’s farmer’s markets with a menu of dog-friendly treats. For a food truck, the menu is robust. There are cheesy donuts, bacon cupcakes, and even ice cream sundaes. Pet owners flock to the Barkery, tugged by pets who cannot seem to get enough. “‘He won’t let me leave without getting something!’” Dawn said, quoting one of her customers in an interview with the HPR. As a category, pet treats are the single fastest-growing sector of the pet food industry according to consumer analytics firm Euromonitor. Sales of cat treats, for example, have experienced



double-digit growth over the past five years, with increases ex-

LILIA pectedVEKSLER into the foreseeable future. In 2017, Americans spent $6.7 billion on treats, on top of the $22 billion that went into other pet food categories. At the Seattle Barkery, Dawn explained that first-time customers often choose treats that they themselves could envision eating. The gluten-free bacon cupcakes and carrot bagels made with coconut oil draw in first-timers. But according to Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, these presentation games are meaningless to pets. “What you’re panicking over is what you want,” he said in an interview with the HPR. “Dogs don’t care whether they get a pink cupcake or a yellow muffin or dog-friendly whipped cream.” Instead, they care about other standards of presentation: Does the treat come with a pat on the head? A loving word? The reason pets like treats, Bekoff said, is because they facilitate human-pet bonding. Pets have the overarching prerogative of interacting with their owners. It does not matter how many sprinkles are involved or how adorable their cupcake selfie will be on Instagram. Sandra Woien, a philosophy professor at the University of Arizona, tries to think of dog treats from a utilitarian perspective in which money buys units of pleasure. If a dog derives five units of pleasure from a $1 treat its owner has at home and five units of pleasure from a $10 treat bought elsewhere, then the cheaper treat is the better choice. The pet is just as pleased, and the owner has $9 left over to spend on its well-being. When consumers choose the expensive treats from elsewhere, they are paying for things that do not necessarily advance pets’ interests. Convenience may play a role, but Woien thinks there is a vanity component to public pet splurges; in an interview with the HPR, she likened feeding pets extravagant treats to carrying around a Louis Vuitton purse. While the purse’s logo flaunts status, pet treats signify love, or at least the appearance of love. “Look!” Freeman said, mocking social media posts showing off expensive treats, “Here’s my dog on Instagram with her $16 sundae from the hottest spot.” This does not mean that the cheapest option is always the best, but rather that it may be good practice to view treats from a pet’s eyes. Rather than projecting human food preferences onto animals, an objective perspective could result in a happier pet. At the Seattle Barkery, where customers’ first question is whether any of the bakery items are grain-free, Ford prods customers to venture beyond the “easy” items. “We have chicken hearts or chicken feet,” she points out. These kinds of foods — unappetizing ‘scrap meat’ by most Americans’ standards — are highly nutritious. The dogs love them, and a subset of the Barkery’s most devoted customers frequently buy them out.

WHAT IS A TREAT? In the United States in 2016, 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats were overweight or obese, quite possibly because of an overindulgence in high-calorie treats. Unsurprisingly, this trend mirrors the United States’ human obesity crisis; over two thirds of Americans are currently overweight or obese. To keep the pounds off, Freeman suggests that pet owners substitute high-calorie foods and treats with alternatives like apples, oranges, or even some vegetables. Pets do not see this as deprivation because they primarily value the nature of the inter-


action. “Anything can be a treat,” she said, “if you make it one.” “If it’s put in a special place and made to be a special treat, SERGEY KOTELNIKOV [pets] will get very excited about it,” Freeman said. For example, Freeman’s dogs have grown to love carrots so much that she cannot even say the word out loud. “I actually have to spell it out,” she said, laughing. Bekoff agreed: “I’ll bet if you give them something you have around your house right now, if you give it with caring and love, [your dogs] will be happy.” This is in agreement with the general consensus view that pets’ gustatory preferences are not nearly as finicky as our own. “Dogs will eat cat poop,” said Freeman simply. “They are not the most discerning eaters.” Even Pavlov the corgi fusses much less over his diet than his owners do. “Given the choice, he’d probably just eat shredded cheese,” said Nguyen lightly. “Like me.” “Pet owners love their animals. I love my animals. They’re a part of my family. I want to make sure they’re absolutely getting the best possible food,” Freeman told the HPR. She echoes virtually every pet owner’s sentiment, which shows that their dietary decisions come from a pure, well-intentioned place. But between calorie-laden treats and nutritionally inadequate diets, it is clear that human standards provide a poor lens through which to view pets’ well-being. “Some of the decisions people have made out of love may not actually be helping [pets],” Freeman said. Providing health and happiness for our pets requires more than a simple child-pet analogy. “At the end of the day, Pav is just a symbolism of our child,” Nguyen concluded. “He’s a different species from us.” Without humans to determine that they prefer specialty diets or beautifully-prepared treats, some dogs and cats may be better off eating a more traditional diet with limited human-esque treats. They might consume fewer excess calories, and avoid the effects of diet-related nutrient deficiency. Perhaps most beneficially, their owners would have more time and money to fulfill their pets’ most fundamental desire for human love and contact. This can be as cheap as a frisbee and as easy as a half hour outside — literally a walk in the park. Although food is one of Pavlov’s love languages, he has another one: “Just spending time with a toy and [his owners] is all he needs,” Nguyen explained. No cupcakes required. n


Man’s Best Friend Eleonore Evans


nterspecies relationships are complex and fascinating, and the connection between man and ‘man’s best friend’ is no exception. Humankind’s extensive history of keeping animals began nearly 12,000 years ago when people domesticated animals to perform agricultural labor, produce materials for human consumption, and provide means for transportation. Some species, such as dogs, have changed drastically as a result of their domestication. Janet Browne, a professor of the history of science and co-teacher of the course “Animals In History” at Harvard, explained this phenomenon to the HPR as an instance of “coevolution”: “We have crafted or constructed dogs to do the sorts of things we want them to do, and dogs have taken a similar advantage of us.” The intimate relationship shared between humans and animals spans thousands of years, and while animals still serve their traditional functions today, they now provide humans

with something different: companionship. Pet ownership offers returns to pets and pet owners alike. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that for everyday people, pets serve as critical sources of social support, aiding in boosting their owners’ self-esteem, conscientiousness, and wellbeing, while also helping to buffer feelings of negativity. “We use pets to do a lot of different things,” Browne remarked. “There’s a lot of love given to the pet. And if the pet is a mammal, they often give a lot of love back. That’s a very rewarding relationship for everybody concerned.” It turns out that pet ownership may reward the environment as well. An article released by Canadian Science Publishing claims that “the strong relationship owners have with their pets can influence people’s beliefs and attitudes towards wildlife.” Owning a pet can encourage people to spend time in nature and thus cultivate a greater understanding of and connection to the



outside world — and the creatures that live in it. This connection could have positive effects on wildlife and land conservation in the future. Several studies have already illustrated this fact, including one that demonstrated higher levels of “Nature Relatedness” in subjects who had affiliations with animals or owned pets. Pet ownership may prove critical in encouraging environmental stewardship and connecting people to the natural world in the future, as the need for human connection to the environment only grows more dire.

generation,” with 35 percent of pet owners being millennials while only 32 percent are baby boomers. This means that future spending on pet necessities is trending upwards; more and more young pet owners are willing to invest money in luxury pet items such as specialized pet food, grooming treatments, walking services, and, in one case, even a $300 million inheritance.


The economic prerequisites for pet ownership confine the practice, in most cases, to developed countries. As a result, radically different attitudes toward animals have developed between, and even within, nations. Meg Baldwin, a former Peace Corps member who volunteered in Mpumalanga Province in South Africa from 2008 to 2010, recalled the differences in attitudes toward animals and pet ownership between the United States and her host village. Baldwin told the HPR, “People didn’t have pets. That was not a thing.” Instead, Baldwin said that livestock were kept for utilitarian purposes, and stray cats and dogs dotted the rural community. “People did have resident dogs who stayed in their fence … and those dogs acted as a security guard for the compound,” she added. “The dog would be shouted at to go away, it wasn’t caring … there was a lot of stick-swinging at the dogs.” This relationship between canines and community members is a stark departure from the typical one observed between pets and owners in the United States and other developed countries. Despite American enthusiasm for pet ownership, some experts have spoken out about the hazards that arise as a result of the recent “pet animal population explosion.” In his 1975 paper, Robert L. Hummer presented the rising number of pets as a public health problem due to an increase in animal bites, disease transmissions, and other health problems resulting from growing animal populations. The culprits, Hummer surmised, are irresponsible pet owners. To combat the negative effects of irresponsible pet ownership, Hummer advocated for the adoption of several policies, including mandatory sterilization of all domestic animals released for adoption, differential license fees for unsprayed and unneutered animals, and strict enforcement of all existing animal control laws. Indeed, animals — even dogs and cats — can function not as loyal companions, but instead as threats to human health. Baldwin recalled that in the village she worked in, dogs were considered a hazard. “They themselves are parasites,” Baldwin remarked. “This broad population tended to not have enough resources to have entered that world of excess resources where you can then bring in animals who … are vectors for sickness, infection.”

Pet ownership is a wildly popular modern phenomenon that demonstrates the natural, possibly even intrinsic, link that exists between animal and man. According to a 2012 survey produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2012 36.5 percent of American households owned one or more dogs, 30.4 percent of households owned one or more cats, 3.1 percent owned birds, and 1.5 percent owned horses. A more recent survey published by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated that as of 2016, 44 percent of American households had a dog, whereas 35 percent had a cat. The American Pet Products Association reported that, in total, nearly 70 percent of all American households own a pet. There are now more households with pets than there are households with children. Rising rates of pet ownership are correlated with the ASPCA’s analysis showing a decline in the number of dogs and cats entering animal shelters nationwide. As pet ownership has surged throughout the years, more and more animals are being adopted from shelters — approximately 3.2 million each year — while roughly a third of all adopted dogs still come from breeders.

THE COSTS OF COMPANIONSHIP Pet ownership has, historically, been rooted in affordability. While pet ownership today is a much more commonplace activity, it still requires a strong financial foundation. The AVMA reported that the average dog-owning household spends $378 a year on veterinary expenses. Horse owners spend a similar amount — an average of $373 a year — while cat owners pay $191, nearly half as much, in medical fees. Birds are by far the cheapest, costing their owners around $33 per year. This economic flexibility exists primarily in developed countries, where many residents can afford to commit resources to pets and integrate them into the nuclear family. The United States, China, and Russia are the leading countries in dog and cat ownership, which speaks to the financial strength of the people in those countries. Despite the economic foundation necessary for pet ownership, the rising trend in adoption and pet ownership within developed countries does not show any indications of subsiding. Ninety percent of pet-owning respondents of another APPA survey said they felt their pets were like family. Viewing a non-human creature as part of the immediate nuclear family displays a strong attachment to these furry friends, and it is unlikely that these attitudes will change as time goes on. Rather, pet ownership demographics indicate a promising future for the pet industry. A recent Forbes article reported that “millennials [had] just overtaken the aging baby boomers as the biggest pet-owning



THE FUTURE OF FIDO Although a wide cross-cultural variance in attitudes toward pet ownership exists, this variance indicates positive attitudes toward both animals and environmental conservation at large. In a psychological study conducted in England, respondents who either owned pets or were sympathetic toward pets were less supportive of public strategies that prioritized human needs over wildlife. The same demographic was more supportive of strategies geared toward combating species extinction. Various


conservation organizations are developing and executing initiatives — such as National Geographic’s “Last Wild Places” program — that are geared toward wilderness preservation and management. These initiatives are part of an effort to protect and preserve the world’s last remaining expanses of undeveloped land — and the biodiversity they contain. These findings are significant because they provide conservation planners with information about a key demographic that may lend them future support. Pet ownership may be a crucial step toward increasing awareness of and empathy for other organisms that also inhabit our planet. “Keeping a pet in the home has so many valuable, absolutely crucial, reasons to help human beings understand we’re not the only living beings in the world,” Browne remarked. “We must think of us all in an ecosystem together.” Keeping pets in the home may be a first step toward facilitating this idea within future generations. For those without the means to own pets, there are other ways to reap the benefits of animal exposure. Hannah Rupert, an education manager at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, told the HPR that the positive benefits of animal exposure can be achieved through other means, such as interning or volunteering at animal organizations, shelters, or zoos. “There are programs out there for animals of all different kinds that participate in getting humans to interact and get that socialization, that mental wellness, basically, through reading programs, hospital programs, community event programs, all different things.” Moreover, visiting zoos and other similar organizations can help generate support for wildlife conservation, Rupert said, in addition to raising awareness about animal welfare and adoption agencies.

AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD While pet ownership exists as an outlet for love and affection, its power for social change is indisputable. “I think that anytime … people have compassion for the existence of another being, then it gets them closer to being empathetic with the world around them,” noted Baldwin. While there is still much work to be done about animal welfare — approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, for example, according to the ASPCA — the future global fight for environmental protection may be aided by increased interest in pet ownership. Moving into the future, Browne believes, means acknowledging that humans are only one of many beings on this planet. “We must understand we are simply a human animal. We’re all animals,” she said. Cultivating this sentiment among pet owners and non-pet owners alike is a preliminary step; mobilizing political action will require work in the years to come. In the meantime, exposing humans to animal interactions will aid in developing attitudes appropriate for an interconnected world. “Volunteering or interning at places that need the help, like shelters, is a great way to … be helpful and also help yourself,” Rupert said. In an era in which environmental issues are at the crux of social, economic, and political debate, owning pets, volunteering with animal-related organizations, or even participating in one-off animal programs may present a gentle and unified solution to conflicts around environmental justice. “It may not be something that’s always touchable,” said Rupert, “but [it is] still great to get that learning experience.” This interspecies learning and interspecies connection may be the key to a more unified, global future for humans and pets alike. n



Change and Tradition Daniel Brickhill


he Harvard Political Review was founded 50 years ago amidst student strikes at Harvard that rocked campus power structures, led to the arrests of many students, and created a legacy of activism that current student organizers seek to follow. Although the setting remains the same, many of the issues have changed — and some question whether these contemporary issues can attract as much attention and urgency as did those in the past. The issues that past activism centered around were more pressing for many students, while the current ones require persistent promotion by and exposure from activists. In the years preceding the 1969 strike on Harvard’s campus that led to a bloody encounter between law enforcement and disobedient students, issues like civil rights protests, assassinations, and Vietnam War controversies personally affected students and forced them to take sides on many issues. Those faced with the choice to register for the draft or resist found themselves in an inescapable position. The less explicit the applicability of an issue, the more work must be done by organizers to motivate potential activists. Whereas issues like the Vietnam War directly affected students who knew and were close with those required to register for the draft, in order to bear the same weight, many contemporary issues require students to consider indirect effects that might appear removed from their daily lives. Today’s activism organizers seek this introspection by facilitating internal discussion and creating a sense of urgency about climate change, labor relations, and discrimination, among other issues, through personal interactions.

DOWN IN PUSEY AND DOWN IN HISTORY A flight of stairs below the Old Yard and Tercentenary Theater lies Pusey Library, where an exhibit on the campus tensions


of 1969 is currently on display. “Through Change and Through Storm: Harvard, 1969” includes many relevant artifacts and documents from the period; together, they paint a comprehensive picture of the defiant origins of the HPR. For both former and current activists, the narrative of the exhibit shows how periods of national change offer opportunities for students to reshape society in a way that aligns more closely with their political goals. And according to the recollections of those present during the 1969 student strike, activists must also possess the level of personal conviction needed to take advantage of these opportunities for change. As presented in the Pusey exhibit, national events precipitated the chaos that descended on campus. In the heat of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated, the Vietnam War continued, and clashes between authorities and protesters turned the Democratic National Convention into a nightmare. The national turbulence made its way to Harvard in April 1969 when around 70 students took over University Hall, evicting the administrators inside in the process. Eventually, Massachusetts State Police forcibly removed the protesters. However, a much larger group convened a few days later at Harvard Stadium to reaffirm several central demands, which included an end to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Harvard, the creation of an African American Studies department, restoration of the scholarships of several protesters, and a cessation of the Vietnam War. Marshall Ganz, a senior lecturer in leadership, organizing, and civil society at the Harvard Kennedy School, began his journey as a student at the College in 1960, but left a year before graduating to work with civil rights organizers in the South. In an interview with the HPR, he explained that the opportunity for change through activism comes in periods of social flux, “when things are unstuck.” When visible rifts and debates along racial, economic, class, or environmental divides dominate na-


tional discourse, the status quo is loosened, providing an opportunity to alter its course. But the impetus for action in periods ripe for change, like the 1960s, exists not only because things are unstuck, but also because individuals are motivated to act. Ganz said that when people take action, they tell themselves that “there [is] something valued here at stake, something that I really care about. It may not be just my self interest; it may be values that I care deeply about. And so when it becomes real, in the human experiential kind of way, that’s where the motivation comes in.” That anti-war demonstrators responsible for the 1969 strike shared real conviction and deep motivation against the Vietnam War rings true with first-hand accounts. In an interview with the HPR, Miles Rapoport, senior practice fellow in American democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School, former Connecticut secretary of state, and former president of the independent grassroots organization Common Cause, recalled, “There was a powerful sense among students that the war in Vietnam was destroying Vietnamese society, was in fact a genocidal war, was being continued by a Democratic administration, which meant that there was a relatively unified establishment support for the war, and that we as students, if we opposed it strongly, needed to organize dramatically against the war.” In the case of the 1969 strike, in addition to the widespread perception of social flux, the topics of debate — civil rights, human rights, the draft — helped draw on emotions, ideals, and fierce opinions to generate support for action. The issues at hand during the time motivated students to do more than just formulate strong opinions; they organized around what they saw as moral crises. Confronted with choices about whether or not to resist becoming a part of the war and urgent feelings that the war violated their personal values, the political battle taking place in Washington, D.C. became real for them. The question facing contemporary activists is whether their causes can create the same sense of urgency.

UP TO DATE AND UP TO THE TASK The current American political climate does seem to provide the atmosphere of “unstuckness” that Ganz discussed. Investigations, polarizing politicians, and high-profile attacks and deaths provide opportunities for activists to champion a variety of important causes; however, they do not guarantee that social change will happen. Ganz believes that the urgency to act can be less explicit: “Movement organizers face the challenge of how to make the important urgent. Sometimes like the draft, [the urgency] is there. Other times, it takes a lot of imagination and organizing to figure out how to bring some urgency to something that seems remote.” Several organizations exist at Harvard to foster student activism on a variety of issues, and the HPR sat down with representatives from both undergraduate and graduate organizations to learn how they connect with potential supporters. Organizers seek to encourage students to think of their daily experiences as part of the larger political process, incubating an early form of urgency in the minds of peripheral supporters. One of those organizations is Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice. Presently, HUEJ is affiliated with a coalition protesting the nature of Harvard’s financial holdings. For example, while another member organization of the coalition

demands that Harvard divest from the prison-industrial complex, HUEJ focuses on ensuring that the University’s investments are environmentally just. Such a mission represents the pointed passion and nuanced form which activism at Harvard can take. In an interview with the HPR, sophomore Arielle Blacklow, co-president and founder of HUEJ, explained how, even though she feels most students do support divestment efforts, “getting the general students engaged and involved in activism work is challenging because students have so much on their plate already.” When trying to recruit students, providing information does not always suffice; as Ganz mentioned, there needs to be a deeper connection. Blacklow agreed: “I think social media in itself is not enough. I still think it’s really important to have person-to-person communication, face-to-face interaction, which is done through canvassing and other smaller actions at smaller events that [we] host.” Other organizations with broader missions also feel the need for acute, experiential connection. The Harvard Graduate Student Union, a fairly young organization on campus advocating for graduate student workers at the University, built their support network through direct, evocative communication with colleagues. Niharika Singh, a fifth-year PhD candidate in public policy at Harvard, has been a central member of the HGSU organizing committee for the past several years. In an interview with the HPR, she highlighted the importance of individualizing her activist approach at Harvard: “A lot of my experience at union organizing was actually asking graduate students … to think critically about how politics affect them directly … [because] for a lot of us, politics is something we do externally but not in our own workplaces.”

THROUGH THE PAST AND ONTO THE FUTURE Contemporary activists seek to foster the sort of urgency that 1969’s crises created through conversations, pensive questions, and clearly defined consequences of inaction. This is not to say that organizers from 50 years ago did not make use of personal interaction when laying grassroots foundations for their work, or to say that modern issues are less important than those of the past. Whereas activism that led to the 1969 strike centered on issues with easily felt implications for both students and society at large, personal appeals today are a necessary avenue for generating that same enhanced sense of moral urgency. As Blacklow and Singh mentioned, activism today is not just about making students aware of a problem; successful activism includes helping students feel strongly about fixing the problem. Fifty years may have passed since the 1969 strike, but the work of activists in problem-solving continues on campus today and will continue into the future. Of course, student responses to today’s issues vary. Some students will feel strongly opposed to a cause and actively fight against it. Others will join the movement based on their fierce conviction. Still more will be ideologically opposed to or in favor of the movement yet not be sufficiently inspired to take action in either direction. Change may be more difficult without conscription or riot-based violence, but the prospects for making issues real and actionable for individuals today continue to rise as activists strive to communicate the importance of personal connections and appeals. n





t seems to me,” I asked hesitantly, “that a student could go through all four years of college here without really talking about race or connecting with a person of color. Am I misunderstanding something?” Jasmine Waddell, Harvard’s dean of first-year students, nodded. “You’re right,” she said slowly. “I have not seen the leadership that is needed for people to have a different experience.” In Waddell’s office hangs a portrait of Alain Locke, a Harvard graduate and the first African American and openly gay Rhodes scholar, as well as a student-made patchwork quilt. On a table lies a laminated sheet titled “Weaving Threads: Honoring the Legacy of Native Americans in Harvard Yard.” “Other institutions have been doing intentional diversity work for a long time, and we haven’t. Like, we just got an office,” Waddell said, referencing the Office for Diversity Education and Support. “I feel like we have, in many ways, missed the 20th century. Harvard College has chosen not to participate in that movement, from what I’ve seen. That doesn’t mean we have to repeat it.” Today, people across the university undeniably work hard toward racial progress. Yet our campus is still racially divided — while many of us also lack the tools to both explain and change it. Collectively, we lack a culture of racial literacy: a historical and sociological framework to understand how oppression and privilege shape every part of our daily lives. A required racial literacy curriculum may help fill this gap.

DIVERSITY AND DIVISION For many first-year students, the diversity of this community is unlike anything they have ever been exposed to before. That diversity is racial, but also intersectional. Some students already care deeply about equity work; others are asked for their gender pronouns for the first time. In Annenberg dining hall, portraits of figures like W.E.B. Du Bois and S. Allen Counter hang on


the walls. In the classroom, topics of instruction range from Black poetry to American Sign Language to East Asian religious texts. Abundant resources, from Counseling and Mental Health Services to specialty proctors to the Harvard Foundation, are available to all students. Alongside our diversity, however, comes division. “Coming into Harvard, diversity was framed as this thing that was prioritized and supported,” first-year Aaron Abai told the HPR. “But I feel like the true value of diversity is when people with different identities are interacting.” Our divided classes, clubs, and lunch tables cannot be explained without racial literacy; they reflect both a bordered world and a United States in which the number of segregated schools, defined by a White student population of under 40 percent, approximately doubled between 1996 and 2016. Other data shows that, in the United States, three out of four White people have no friends of color. “It was surprising that, coming to this diverse community, it almost feels like you’re on your own as far as taking advantage of that experience,” Abai added. Students may know that race has impacted Harvard’s history, but often do not understand the extent of the role it has played. According to Waddell, racial literacy starts with the recognition that we live on the ancestral land of the Wampanoag people. “We have a responsibility to [them] ... If I was in charge, which I’m not, I would make sure that every public meeting started with that,” she said. “You couldn’t even articulate that you didn’t belong,” Ali Asani, a professor of Islamic studies and the chair of a working group on symbols and spaces of engagement, told the HPR about his time as a Harvard freshman in the 1970s. Working in Widener Library, he was shocked to learn that his supervisor, an African American woman, previously could not enter through Widener’s front door, sit in its main Reading Room, or work in an open, public space — instead, she worked in the stacks. “People are very focused on the present,” he said. “That presentism


OF RACIAL LITERACY is like historical amnesia.” Asani’s experience has convinced him that, today, we should “create programs and structures where people have to engage with each other, and encounter people who are very different than themselves.” Many of Harvard’s campus symbols and spaces — its colonial architecture, basement diversity-related offices, and buildings named for oppressive figures like Chester Noyes Greenough, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, John Winthrop, Louis Agassiz, and Increase and Cotton Mather — not only bear witness to the school’s history, but also serve as painful reminders of ongoing racial divisions. The students of color interviewed for this article alone reported being told to “go back to your country,” fetishized as an “alluring” East Asian female, described as a “coconut: Black on the outside, White on the inside,” pressured to “give up parts of who I am so I can blend in,” targeted with a racially insensitive remark by a teacher, and asked if they would “name their kid Jamesha.” They have been called the n-word, overheard the n-word, and felt the burden of educating other non-Black students about use of the n-word. According to a 2016 report from the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, “one-third of Harvard College seniors reported not being satisfied with the sense of community on campus, and the lack of satisfaction was stronger among those who reported belonging to minority groups.”

would go to ask something like that,” junior Sruthi Palaniappan, president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council, said in an interview with the HPR. “Creating a training that can take a few steps back and provide a more common language and understanding … is what we need.” This education continues to be necessary because undergraduates are not at any point in their four years at Harvard required to develop this racial literacy toolkit. Though valuable and necessary, the College’s existing resources are all opt-in experiences. Students who do not believe they need them can easily never engage. Even required General Education curricula such as “Histories, Societies, and the World,” for example, can be fulfilled by courses like “Pyramid Schemes: The Archeological History of Ancient Egypt.” Other schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, have a “Cultural Diversity in the U.S.” requirement, where each course option explicitly and heavily grapples with race and social inequality. Harvard College does not. Perhaps if it did, more non-Black students would, at the very least, learn that their use of the n-word is a problem. Many students, though perhaps well-intentioned, will never critically examine how the social construction of race still impacts all of their lives. Harvard College continues to graduate students unequipped with the racial and intersectional literacy lens they need to navigate our world.



Our lack of racial and intersectional literacy is not surprising. Many students come from education systems that never taught them to understand how our social identities impact who we are. And when they arrive on campus, students may want to do better, but not know exactly why or where or how. Others simply do not know what they do not know. “I think a lot of students do want to improve upon or attain [their racial literacy], but they often don’t know where they

Current diversity work often frames “the issues of people of color” — rather than White supremacy — as the central problem, failing to recognize the systematic and intergenerational domination of Whiteness from which many people still benefit today. “People say inclusion and belonging are just for minorities,” said Asani, “but that implies that the majority, if there is a White majority, is not included, that they are just exclusive terms for



minorities,” said Asani, “but that implies that the majority, if there is a White majority, is not included, that they are just exclusive terms for people that are different.” While some conveniently avoid the conversation, these framings too often place the burden on people of color to exclusively and repeatedly teach others about their experiences of oppression. “It’s actually then acknowledging the hegemonic discourse, which I think is wrong,” he added. But if some students do not have those experiences, what do they have to share? Cori Price, a dorm proctor and the director of first-year faculty initiatives, told the HPR that multiple students have approached her after Community Conversations, a required first-year program discussing identity during Opening Days, saying that “this does not apply to me.” Price observed that assigned readings for the program in previous years often focused on lowincome, queer, or otherwise marginalized students; for the Class of 2022, the only mention of privilege was a sentence regarding access to predominantly queer spaces on campus from a genderqueer Asian-Latinx student. “There’s never a reflection from students from wealthy prep schools about their identity transformation,” said Price. “So even the framing of the conversation, by leaving out particular identities, suggests that this group of people are having an issue, and we need to bend and flex to understand that, not realizing that this is a systemic problem.” Racial literacy goes beyond celebrating diversity and recognizing division; it requires further examining those structures of racial dominance. “I think admitting students who come from a particular background and then working with them from a deficit model is not the way to talk about racial education, or to inform other people about this conversation,” continued Price. “Because if you don’t understand your race in a very real way, you will feel like you’re being left out of the conversation about it, when you are actually one of the central parts of the conversation.” Price specifically clarified that she was referring mostly to “students from White, wealthy backgrounds.” If we reckon with both oppression and privilege, race always applies. To craft more open and honest relationships with others, students must recognize how they systematically benefit from the various forms of privilege they are given — not only White, wealthy students, but also those with light skin, straight hair, able bodies, loving families, access to social networks, or educational opportunities. Privilege should not be a source of guilt, but of responsibility to learn, grow, and act in solidarity with others; it should tell us that each of us is implicated in this racial reality.

Palaniappan added that a consistent focus of the UC has been to provide trainings for all hired faculty and teaching fellows. “Though we can’t mandate anything, I do think there are creative ways to convey this information, such as creating videos or supplementary resources to give people to review this information on their own time,” she said. What the administration can mandate is training for undergraduates, enforcing completion of an online racial and intersectional literacy course before students arrive on campus — as they currently do with modules about alcohol education and sexual assault prevention. In-person trainings should also take place at Marcus Trenfield the beginning of and throughout the year. Creating this sort of training could start with a simple reframing of a program like Community Conversations. “We even drew a backpack about the [identity-related] things that we carry,” Abai recalled about the programming this past year. “But I don’t think we had explicit conversations about race.” The language and substance of these sessions should explicitly unpack privilege, oppression, and other concepts like implicit bias, affirmative action, and cultural appropriation. “The way it’s designated now is to start conversations,” said Palaniappan, “but I think it doesn’t completely achieve its goal of doing so, because it’s limited in the way it’s framed and therefore how students approach the conversation.” All conversations should be led by trained proctors or other paid facilitators. Since the start of the school year is particularly packed with activities, Waddell suggested a second training halfway through the year, or, as she observed at Brown University, mandatory monthly workshops on diversity-related topics. A relevant faculty lecture could also be added during Opening Days. Analyses of survey data and other institutional models could reveal other steps — trainings and beyond — that would benefit all students. Waddell stressed that administrators bear the responsibility for this work. “The last thing I want is for a student to be doing the work of an administrator,” she said. New measures should address not just the absence of curriculum or policy, but also a culture of care for its urgency. “I think partly people have to opt in to wanting to know more, do more, and be better, [in addition to] the mandatory piece that everyone needs to go through,” Price argued. “To think that this conversation is only something that we need to have because it is part of a liberal education agenda does a disservice to students and ends up cheapening the conversation because people think, ‘Well, if I can just perform tolerance, then everything will be fine.’ That’s why many students and a lot of people at the university in different factions feel as if some things are not genuine efforts: it ends RETHINKING THE FIRST YEAR up being a requirement that has to be fulfilled.” Despite this response, university requirements do reflect the If race impacts a student’s experience as soon as they arrive on campus, racial literacy curriculum should begin then, too. education that Harvard College values for all its students. All “It’s your first time in this space, and there’s a strong community students will need to write and do math at some point in their lives; accordingly, the College has requirements in Expository element with everyone experiencing that together which goes away slightly when you become a sophomore or junior; students Writing and Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning. Because are incredibly eager to meet other students, and they’re thinking all of us will also need to interact with a diverse range of people, a lot about what the next four years of their lives are going to look and because race and intersectionality are foundational to our like,” Palaniappan said. “Having this training then could be really daily lives, we should all develop the racial and intersectional tools to effectively navigate this world, too. We should all want to pivotal.” First-year required experiences already occur in and out of the develop those tools. If, as Waddell warned, we do not want to “miss out on the classroom, and both spaces could be remodeled to require racial 21st century,” we can start by prioritizing racial literacy just as literacy training. Academically, a General Education requiremuch as any other form of literacy at Harvard. n ment could more narrowly focus on racial systems, like at UPenn.



Cambridge Days, Harlem Nights

Russell Reed


pon arrival, I wondered if I had found the right place. In the main room of the Signet Society, some 30 people were gathered on chairs and couches watching a fellow student perform jazz. Within the walls that artists from T. S. Eliot to Robert Frost to Yo-Yo Ma inhabited during their time at Harvard, this performance seemed well-situated. Looking at the ornate gold frames and false Roman columns, however, it felt odd that Harvard’s most-celebrated rappers would soon perform here. Lincoln Hart was the first on stage. By day, he is a sophomore at Harvard, but that night he was just “Lincoln,” the eponym he uses professionally. Like the earlier performers, he began seated at the piano, tapping the pedals with his white oxfords as he sang the velvety “Up Late.” As he continued down his setlist, however, the atmosphere began to transform; transitioning to the higher-intensity track “Palace” and eventually to freestyle, he moved from the piano to his Macbook to a red electric guitar. When he broke into a shutter-inducing riff over the low-fi track bumping out of his computer, one felt that they were seeing Lincoln in his truest form: defying genres, dripping with emotion, and encapsulating a near-silent audience. It was Michael Osei, who goes by “MJangles” in a nod to 20th-century African American entertainer Bojangles, who brought the crowd to its feet. After trying out a new track he had written the night before, he moved to a call-and-response: “Twelve, 12, 12, 12, call the five-o …” Three seconds passed: “No!” Then, he drew everyone close, forming a circle around him while Lincoln continued to play the beats from his computer, which rested on top of the piano. He bounced between the crowd members rapping “H.U.I.D.” in a scene that seemed better

suited to a low-lit club than to this grand room. The Signet’s walls are lined with the dried roses given to some of its most famous alumni when they were initiated into the society as undergraduates. Harvard is famed for those names on the wall — for presidents and poets and cellists, but surely not for rappers. But watching Lincoln and MJangles perform, one is forced to ask: Why shouldn’t it be?

ORIGINS Osei was born in Adukrom, Ghana, but moved to the United States after his father, a prominent pastor, found new work in The Bronx. Osei was three at the time, but he still remembers those first few years as difficult ones. “I grew up in a household dominated by domestic abuse,” he explained in an interview with the HPR. “My dad was just an extremely violent person. He beat up my brothers and my mom. Me, not as much because I was super young, but sometimes.” After several years of abuse, Osei’s mother began to speak out. Fearing the implications of her allegations, especially considering his role as a religious leader in their community, his father fled. It has been over a decade since then, and Osei has not been in contact with him. Things began to change for Osei at the age of 10, when he was accepted to Prep for Prep, an organization that offers promising young students of color in New York City access to private education in the city’s highly competitive prep school network. He enrolled at St. Bernard’s in Manhattan before moving to Groton, a boarding school in Massachusetts, for high school. For most of his life until that point, he had listened to rock music — “like Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin,” he laughed.



One day in high school, though, his friends asked him to freestyle with them. The fire was lit; before long, he was writing his own songs and working with other young musicians from school. By senior year, he had decided to pursue music professionally. Hart can relate. “When I got to high school, it was actually the white kids that were like, ‘Yo, let’s freestyle. You’re probably nice at it!’ And I was like, ‘alright,’” he told the HPR. “I was actually nice at it — I was nicer than all of them at least, not that nice. But they were all hype, because they had a friend who could freestyle now.” Hart grew up between upstate New York with his mother and New York City, where his father moved after they separated. He has always been involved with music; he recorded his first album when he was nine years old — “It was all like, acoustic guitar shit, singer-songwriter stuff” — and plays guitar, piano, drums, and bass. He also joined the jazz program at his school in the city, where he had moved full-time for high school. It was then that he began rapping and producing his own music. He cites his family history as a central inspiration for his music; his mother grew up in a poor Russian immigrant family in Brooklyn before eventually making it to the New York City Ballet, and his father — a descendant of South Carolinian slaves — grew up in the City too, eventually becoming a psychologist working on matters of race and inclusion. This background also inspired his academic success throughout high school. “I grinded to get into Harvard, because I wanted everyone to know I was smart, that my family was smart,” he explained. “My father is very brilliant, but he didn’t have the resources I had growing up to make a place like Harvard possible. Same thing with my grandfather … racism, in my mind, kept some of the most brilliant people that I know out of higher education. I just wanted to reclaim that shit. I didn’t really give a shit about Harvard in terms of what it meant to go here or be here. I wanted the Hart last name — which is a slave name — to be written in the books of admitted students.” After being admitted to Harvard, Hart was surprised at how despondent he felt. In the eyes of his peers he had made it, but he could not help but feel unsatisfied. After that, he began considering a career in music more seriously.

BIKING One verse appears in two tracks on Velox Oculus, Lincoln’s debut project: “I take my bike on the freeway/I take my bike to the store/Dodging the traffic is easy/I’m always cutting it close/ But fuck if it hits me so be it/Fuck if it hits me I’m gone/All of the tires keep spinning/All of the world moves along.” It is an ode to Corbin Carr, a fellow Harvard admit Hart met at a New York City meetup for accepted students. The two were beginning to form a friendship when Carr was hit by a truck in Hell’s Kitchen while biking home from his girlfriend’s house. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital shortly thereafter — just two months before he would have enrolled at Harvard. “This wasn’t my best friend,” Hart explained. “It was the potential for a new friend. In some way I thought that our lives were kind of parallel. Everything just kept existing, and when I got here no one else knew anything about him. It’s like I was seeing a ghost.” This event forced Hart to reflect on his own dissatisfaction


with the path that appeared to be expected of him now: an Ivy League education, a high-paying job, and the typical lifestyle of the American elite. Faced with this brutal reminder of his own mortality, it became clear to him that he needed to put his true passion, music, at the forefront of his life. One minute he could be biking, his whole life ahead of him, and the next it could all be over. “Because all of the world moves along,” he trailed off.

IVY LEAGUE Before arriving at Harvard, Osei was told to keep his eye out for Hart by a mutual friend from New York. When they met during their first few weeks at Harvard, they freestyled for one another. They had both grown accustomed to being connected to so-called ‘rappers’ who lacked real talent, but when they heard each other rap, the connection was instantaneous. When asked how their musical endeavors fit in with the rest of their Harvard experience, Osei was quick to interject: “I would probably frame it more like, how does it clash, rather than how it fits in.” “It feels like it’s in direct opposition, often,” Hart added. That Harvard is not the ideal environment to launch a rap career should come as no surprise. As undergraduates at one of the most competitive universities in the country, Osei and Hart must keep up with classes, homework, and exams — not to mention other extracurricular obligations and social commitments. “To me, it feels like there are so many responsibilities that are put on me that are specifically tailored to ‘Harvard world,’” Osei said. “And then I have my world — the world of my family, my friends, and my music.” Sometimes, however, these worlds can collide. During their first year, the duo built up a reputation around Harvard Yard as “the kids who were super nice at freestyling.” Only a month or so into the year, other students began to show up at Osei’s room in Holworthy Hall to ask the pair to rap for them. That performance would undoubtedly end up on someone’s Snapchat story, and a larger crowd would show up the next weekend. That summer, they each released their debut projects: MJangles’ “Product of Environment” and Lincoln’s “Velox Oculus.” After that, they were no longer seen as amateur freestylers; as their audience grew, their listeners began to see them as real musicians. They traded Osei’s dorm in Holworthy for bigger venues, began attracting larger crowds, and started hosting more official events. And as they have moved up in the world, their Harvard classmates and friends have been some of their biggest fans. “In February, I was hanging out with this girl, and we had a show coming up,” Osei recalled. “She [told me that our shows] have played a big part in bringing members of our class together, because it’s something we can look forward to, get hype for …” Hart interjected: “And it’s not exclusive! We purposefully want every person from every place … and we end up getting a very strange mix of people at some of these shows, which is great. It’s a lot of love that we feel and we give back — which is kind of a rare thing here.” Inclusive spaces are hard to come by at Harvard. At a university defined by its exclusivity, where students participate in months-long processes just to gain membership in social groups and parties are restricted by bouncers with lists, their shows provide a rare opportunity for students from across campus to come together. Osei and Hart appreciate the support they have


received from their peers, even if it took a while for their classmates to take them seriously. “We’ve proven to our classmates that as brilliant as they are at what they do, we’re the same with our music,” Hart said. “And I think that they’ve come to see and respect that.”

H.U.I.D As black students at a university that once owned slaves, Osei and Hart contribute to the ongoing struggle for Harvard to move on from its discriminatory past. Upon admission, their class was record-breaking: the first ever in Harvard’s history to be majority non-white. Alongside their other non-white peers, their very presence indicates a deviation from the problematic practices of an older Harvard. But despite this gradual diversification of Harvard’s student body, students of color continue to face institutional and contextual barriers. Just last year at Yardfest, the University’s annual spring concert, an event of alleged police brutality against a black undergraduate reminded students of the work that has yet to be done. This year, the duo won a competition to perform as openers at that same event. “My experience as a black person at Harvard is naturally connected to my experience as a black person in life,” Osei explained. “Race definitely plays a part in the lyrical content that I offer, but I have only written one song about my experience with race at Harvard.” That one song — “H.U.I.D.” off of “Product of Environment” — directly references the episode of police brutality. Osei uses the event as a window to reflect on his own experience as

a once-excluded minority at an Ivy League university. Overall, however, both artists agree that their experience of race at Harvard tends to mirror their larger experience of race in the United States. Being black in white-dominant spaces comes with challenges to begin with, but being black rappers in those spaces has brought unique challenges of its own. “I think there is a certain aspect of, ‘Oh, it’s the black people who are going to entertain us now,’” Hart reflected. “And that’s not just in music; we dance at parties, and we carry ourselves with a certain energy. We speak a certain way, we dress a certain way. And although it seems like people really take to it, there’s definitely an element of, ‘Oh, you have that black thing that is so poppin’ right now. Can you do it for us again?’” The attention can be positive, but it can also be problematic. The line between being appreciated as people and being enjoyed as performers is fraught, which can be isolating. Sometimes Hart wonders, “Do you genuinely care about the people we are?”

MAYBE THERE’S LIFE Along with third member Tobias Defoe, Hart and Osei formed the trio “Maybe There’s Life,” which they describe as their collective, their record label, their brand, and “the future.” “We’re trying to start Facebook,” Hart said. “Maybe There’s Life, Lincoln, MJangles. These are brands that have potential that is impossible to calculate. We really believe in what we do, and we know that this is what we’re doing with our lives.” In the long term, they hope to partner with another label that has distribution, and even to sign other artists to their own.



Their overarching goal — to create a movement within the industry that puts the power back into the hands of artists, rather than “execs” — is lofty. But they also know there can be strength in numbers. By combining their varied talents and sounds, they hope to maximize creative control when they eventually begin negotiating with labels. Considering the long legacy of chartbreaking rap groups and collectives, from N.W.A. to A Tribe Called Quest to Odd Future, it is a promising strategy. At the time of the interview, they were hesitant to give much away about their upcoming project, “Harlem Nights” — “We don’t want to jinx it.” Their excitement, however, was palpable. It came out two weeks later on April 13, showcasing their collective power as Maybe There’s Life’s first major collective project. “We had a certain kind of attitude about it,” Hart explained, “that was just like, ‘Fuck all the conventions, all the rules. Fuck everyone who thinks that their shit is the dopest, fuck all the labels.’ I had just come off of a really disappointing meeting with [the CFO of ] Atlantic Records — I thought we were all getting signed. But they were only paying attention to artists … who were doing shit that sounds like everything that’s already popping.” The result is a genre-bending product, one that Osei believes will be “a landmark in music history.” Bringing his rap prowess


together with Hart’s diverse musical abilities and producing skills, the project promises to inspire imitation. “That’s the beauty of it … we’re coming for convention, for the rules about how you have to do music,” Hart said.

IT’S OVER NOW As they do at the end of every show, Hart and Osei joined each other at the mic to finish their set. Osei rallied the crowd out of its seats, and audience members joined him at the front of the room. Hart put on the track, and the closer began: “It’s over now, it’s over now/When they both come out, oh it’s over now/ When the lights come on, ‘til they close it down/They gon’ know us now, ‘cus it’s over now.” As they traded off their final verses, the wooden floorboards of the Signet creaked beneath the audience members, who now moshed and cheered them on center-stage. There was an undeniable feeling that history was being witnessed with every verse. In a building designed for poets and classical musicians, Lincoln and MJangles delivered the soundtrack of a changing Harvard — one where students of color occupy the majority, where histories of exclusion are dismantled, and where even rappers come to study. n


Kendrick Foster


and the



hoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” The modern version of that statement, apocryphally attributed to World War II General Douglas MacArthur, might today read, “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered artificial intelligence.” Weapons incorporating AI have undeniably grown more powerful, sparking fears of what they could one day become. Experts have warned against AI’s military applications since 2007, and more than 2,000 AI researchers signed a pledge against creating robots that could make independent determinations on who to kill just last year. The researchers grimly warned, “We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

While Star Wars-esque battle droids or ‘killer bots’ have not yet entered the modern military arsenal, AI-enhanced weapons have. In fact, AI’s uses in the military sphere extend beyond weapons, from training programs to logistical support. As the United States responds to increasing AI-enhanced weapon use by countries like Russia and China, it must take precautions to avoid creating killer bots and to keep civilian leaders in control of AI-based projects.

AI: THE “ENABLER”? While AI might not be a weapon in its own right, it acts as an “enabling” technology that makes other wartime tasks easier. AI also provides a foundation for the development of fully autonomous weapons systems that could absorb data, process it, and



make decisions based on that data without human intervention. Currently, fully autonomous systems do not exist, and existing semi-autonomous systems still require human control. For now, the threat of robots killing humans by themselves remains more science fiction than reality. As detailed by the U.S. Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy, autonomous or semi-autonomous systems present numerous benefits to even the world’s most advanced militaries. Autonomous vehicles “reduce the number of warfighters in harm’s way” and “perform missions impossible for humans,” while algorithms also “increase decision speed in time-critical operations” by analyzing large amounts of data quickly and accurately. By keeping track of threats in battle, AI helps humans keep up with the rapidly changing threat atmosphere, enabling them to fire on the right targets.

TECHNOPOLISES, CENTAURS, AND NEURAL NETWORKS “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” Russian President Vladimir Putin declared in 2017. “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will be the ruler of the world.” With Russia and China making significant progress in developing their own AI technologies, it seems that the “race for AI supremacy and AI hegemony” is already on, explained Phillippe Lorenz, head of German think tank SNV’s Artificial Intelligence and Foreign Policy project, in an interview with the HPR. Indeed, these two major adversaries of the United States have taken notable steps to design technologies that will give them an edge over American defense systems; the United States is “trying to keep its military edge” against these two powers, especially China. As Sam Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Center, noted in an interview with the HPR, Russia is already developing a gamut of AI-enabled autonomous machines, from logistical vehicles and minesweepers to actual combat robots. Russia has also developed a missile that can “determine its [own] direction, altitude, and speed,” Russian General Viktor Bondarev reported to Russia’s national newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Already, the Russians have battle-tested several semi-autonomous vehicles on the Syrian battlefield, including the Uran-6 and Uran-9 vehicles. Although the two “technically failed” according to Bendett, the Russians have started “incorporating the lessons learned from that failure into the future generation of ground vehicles.” After working out the kinks in its existing AI technology, Russia will be well prepared for the next generation of conflicts. Perhaps the most dangerous result of Russia’s focus on AI development is its creation of a dedicated innovation infrastructure. Bendett noted that an AI breakthrough could come from any number of locations: military research centers, universities, or the private sector — though Bendett even mentioned the possibility of creating a “technopolis” dedicated to AI research. But even Russia’s technological progress in AI pales in com-

parison to China’s. China views AI as integral to its national defense strategy, and its military has devoted significant resources to outdoing the United States in this critical area. China has undertaken important research in artificial neural networks, which reports have indicated it intends to introduce in submarines in order to interpret sonar data more easily, reducing the mental burden on commanders. It has also taken steps to incorporate neural networks into hypersonic missiles, making these weapons, which are designed to bypass existing American defenses, even more dangerous. China has also explored the concept of the “centaur,” a weapon combining artificial and human intelligence. This concept first emerged in chess when Garry Kasparov, a human grandmaster, lost to Deep Blue, an IBM computer. Kasparov’s loss sparked a question: If a computer with AI could defeat him, what could that computer and a human brain achieve by working together? As it turns out, quite a lot. Centaurs, which combine human intuition and automated logic, beat human grandmasters and computers alike. In the military realm, humans can deal with problems like inaccurate intelligence and deception in ways that AI cannot, while AI can help commanders make decisions and analyze data more quickly. Forming a centaur in which the human asks the key questions and AI helps to answer them allows both parties to solve problems more effectively than either one could alone. Chinese scientists have also begun researching brain-computer interface technologies to allow humans to control autonomous vehicles more effectively. Much of the growth in Chinese AI capabilities stems from a uniquely Chinese regulation. As Lorenz explained, “Each and every technological development coming out of the private sector [is] subject to the military sector as well.” As a result, the Chinese military can acquire new technology quickly and cheaply.

FINDING THE AI HOLY GRAIL Partly in response to these Russian and Chinese developments, the United States has already introduced several new technologies in the AI field. The 2014 Third Offset Strategy set out the Pentagon’s plan to bolster its eroding technological advantage by acquiring more advanced autonomous vehicles, incorporating algorithms in intelligence gathering and analysis, and developing centaurs, the military’s “high-tech holy grail.” While the Pentagon simply delineates these broad goals, its component services have developed more concrete timelines for adopting AI technology. The 2017 Army Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy detailed the U.S. Army’s priorities regarding autonomous vehicles, which focus on improving support vehicles and data analytics before developing fully autonomous weapons. Building on the themes from the RAS Strategy, the 2018 Department of Defense AI strategy commits to bettering decision-making and logistics systems through partnerships with the private sector. Technologically, major defense company Lockheed Martin is currently working to develop new autonomous and semi-auton-



omous systems “because [they] recognize that the question isn’t just about who’s the best person for the job — it’s about what’s the best team for the mission,” a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin told the HPR. Their Autonomous Mobility Applique System helps armored vehicle drivers to process intelligence, while the Squad Missions Support System vehicle aims to help soldiers with logistics, freeing up troops for other tasks. The leaderfollower system, with humans driving a front vehicle followed by several autonomous vehicles, works to do the same while increasing security for drivers. Lockheed has already tested these systems and plans to implement them in the next few years. Another Lockheed innovation, the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, which has already entered service in the U.S. Navy, exemplifies the centaur concept. When humans select a target, the LRASM uses algorithms to calculate the most effective way to avoid the enemy’s defenses and sink its target. “Precision lethality against surface and land targets ensures the system will become an important addition to the U.S. warfighter’s arsenal,” the Lockheed spokesperson said. Lockheed’s competitor, Northrop Grumman, also incorporated the centaur concept in its counterrocket, artillery, and mortar system: AI performs the “essential task” of targeting incoming enemy fire while humans act as both a “fail-safe” and a “moral agent,” two key human roles within the centaur system, as Paul Scharre noted in his seminal book on autonomous weapons Army of None. Drone swarms are also a key emerging technology in the military. According to Mark Peters, the research compliance officer at Oregon State University’s drone program, OSU is currently researching “how a swarm of drones may work like a swarm of starlings or a swarm of honeybees.” First, these drone swarms could assist in precision targeting. They “will be programmed to identify a tank, and when you get a critical mass of, say, five units that identify that tank, then the military could deploy a precision-guided weapon to those exact coordinates,” Peters explained to the HPR. Second, swarms will also be useful in search-and-rescue efforts. Rescuers, Peters said, will “be able to use multi-platform aerial, land, and water drones to provide a three-dimensional map to identify where they need to go.” Already, the Air Force has tested Perdix drone swarms, which use collective intelligence to perform reconnaissance while avoiding defensive systems. Meanwhile, the Navy has tested swarm intelligence with unmanned boats to protect harbors or escort friendly ships. The military has also increasingly adopted AI technology off the battlefield. The controversial Project Maven used AI to analyze satellite images for drone targets, and AI has also been used to mimic real-world adversaries in order to help train fighter pilots and more accurately simulate enemy movements in war games. Meanwhile, the Air Force and Army have started to integrate predictive maintenance algorithms in their vehicles to anticipate mechanical breakdowns and fix them more quickly, and the military has started planning to automate tasks like warehouse management and report analysis. In the cyber realm, AI-enabled machines have proven capable of exploiting vulnerabilities in computer networks. AI can

also improve cyber defense by helping to probe for those vulnerabilities and monitor software for potential intrusions.

AI’S POLITICAL FUTURE At the moment, the military’s use of AI does not seem to be a pressing political issue. Neither major political party has a developed policy platform around autonomous weapons use. Likewise, according to a Brookings Institute online poll, one third of Americans do not know if they want AI developed for use in warfare, making it unclear which AI policies they would support. However, with the Chinese, Russian, and American militaries all rapidly integrating AI into their defense systems, AI will likely become a more salient issue in American politics. Based on Republican and Democratic positions on drone strikes, Republicans seem more likely to promote AI weapons systems, while Democrats may want to establish more controls and regulations before sanctioning autonomous systems. For now, the two parties have agreed to conduct more research on AI. In 2018, Congress passed a bipartisan measure to establish the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which will review current uses for military AI and avenues for future growth. While the NSCAI goes a long way to promote further research, the United States must develop more institutions if it aims to preserve civilian control over military AI applications. Such institutions would provide checks and balances to military AI use while reassuring the American public that humans always remain in the military decision-making process. Congress could expand the NSCAI’s mandate to develop adequate safety standards for AI and provide oversight over military AI acquisitions, while internal military institutions could be established to advocate for AI safety in bureaucratic politics. The United States could also help create international oversight organizations to develop general standards for military AI use, establish new frameworks for the interaction between AI and international humanitarian law, and ensure meaningful human certification of potential autonomous systems. Preventing AI from usurping human control also requires the military to follow through on its promises in the RAS Strategy to keep humans responsible for making the ultimate decision on military actions. A civilian institution such as an expanded NSCAI could enforce these promises and exercise oversight if the military were to exceed its limits. As the AI field sees vast developments in technical capacity, it seems that American politics will have to grapple with challenging questions around the appropriate response to such developments. Regardless of political parties’ differing views, it seems clear that to satisfy the American public, the United States must develop responsible institutions to manage its AI development, especially given the growing threats from Russia and China. In short, the institutional pen must remain mightier than the AI sword. If it does not, the world will face a future reality closer to today’s science fiction. n




Bridger Gordon


n January 2017, every resident of Seattle received a small white packet in the mail. Inside each of these packets was free money — a cumulative total of $54 million dollars — from the city of Seattle. Well, it was not exactly free money. The city had given each resident $100, not in cash but in “democracy vouchers,” with the goal of allowing every Seattleite the opportunity to donate to a political campaign of their choosing. In 2015, voters passed “Honest Elections Seattle,” a citizen-led initiative to reform campaign finance rules. As part of that initiative, the democracy vouchers program was born. Seattle’s democracy vouchers are part of the city’s experiment to increase political engagement and reduce the power of big money in politics through a system of public funding for political campaigns. Though the program was a success in 2017, only with time and expansion will it become clear if the vouchers represent a long-term solution to some of the problems plaguing American democracy.

THE MONEY PROBLEM The issue of money in politics commands rare bipartisan agreement. Politicians from Joe Biden to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to Rick Santorum have spoken out against the corrupting nature of money in politics. Given money’s importance to candidates for advertising and logistical organizing, it is unsurprising that 88 percent of 2018 U.S. House races were won by the candidate that spent the most money. Those midterms were the most expensive in history, despite the fact that less than half of 1 percent of Americans donated more than $200 to a political campaign. Instead, this money overwhelmingly came from the richest families in America, who donate millions each cycle to swing elections and influence policies. This disparity may be why 85 percent of Americans surveyed in a CBS News poll believe that the system needs “fundamental changes” or “to be completely rebuilt.” The problems created by this political financing system are not easy to fix, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo about campaign finance and freedom of speech. But Seattle’s democracy vouchers represent one potential way to reduce the power of big money: flood the city with small money. The program is an experiment in re-democratizing political campaigns. Wayne Barnett is the executive director of the program and was tasked with making democracy vouchers a reality. In an interview with the HPR, Barnett outlined three key goals for the


program, two of which he said were met in the 2017 city council races. “One [of the goals] was to increase the number of people who could mount a credible campaign for office ... One of the things you frequently hear from candidates is, ‘I can’t raise a quarter of a million dollars to mount a credible campaign for office.’ So this was intended to help campaigns for people without ample resources.” “The second goal, which I think was also met, was to engage residents more in the early stages of the political process,” Barnett said. “Even if your name appears on the ballot, if you’ve never been able to afford a mailing or if you’ve never been able to afford to run a radio or a TV ad, chances are people aren’t going to know what you stand for. So this was a way to give citizens a larger voice in who was going to be able to mount a campaign. I think we tripled our highest number of contributors we’d ever seen before, so I think that’s a success.” “The third goal, which I’m not sure is ever going to be an achievable goal, is to reduce the amount of money spent on political campaigns,” he added, “to get big money out of politics. On that front, that was not a success. We didn’t see this bring down the cost of campaigns.” However, even though the total cost of campaigns did not go down, the number of small-dollar contributions increased significantly, especially from young people, low-income communities, and people of color.

AN ACTIVIST-TURNED-CANDIDATE When Teresa Mosqueda got that small white packet in her mail, she glanced at it for a moment before tossing it into her recycling pile, unopened. She figured that it was probably just another letter from the city about recycling logistics. It was only a few days later that Mosqueda realized that it might contain the democracy vouchers she had heard about. She pulled the envelope out of her recycling pile, opened it up, and found her $100. The irony is that Mosqueda was running for Seattle City Council at the time and was one of the first six candidates to participate in the program. Mosqueda’s race for the Eighth District citywide seat against community organizer Jon Grant embodied the goals of the vouchers. Mosqueda is a lifelong activist turned first-time candidate. She is a Mexican American woman and a labor union activist. She is also a renter in a city where the skyrocketing price of housing is one of the biggest political issues on the ballot. She was exactly


the type of candidate Barnett said the vouchers program hoped to encourage. Before declaring her candidacy in 2017, Mosqueda worked at the Washington State Labor Council, where she encouraged women and people of color to run for office. In an interview with the HPR, Mosqueda recalled, “Everyone would ask, ‘Why not you?’ And when the democracy vouchers came along, it was an extra push to get over that final hurdle.” In the shadow of the 2016 election, Mosqueda wanted to run a campaign focused on engaging the many disenchanted Seattleites. Democracy vouchers allowed her to do that. “I was able to go to each of these rallies, like the Women’s March or the March for Science, with my pink hat on, a protest sign in one hand and a clipboard with my petition in the other to collect the 400 signatures I needed to qualify for the vouchers. It gave a way for people to be engaged by marching with their feet and also signing a petition to have local elections that truly represent them.” After qualifying for the program, Mosqueda would spend hours on weekends knocking on doors, talking directly with voters about the political issues that mattered to them, and ultimately asking for their democracy vouchers. “In the citywide elections, the traditional political strategy is that these citywide elected officials don’t have to do any doorknocking, which is not good,” Mosqueda said. “If you want a representative democracy, if you want policy ideas generated from the community, if you want the community to hold [officials] responsible, you want candidates to go door to door and to have conversations with people about what matters to them and their neighborhood.” “But often people were restricted from doing that because they had to spend time raising money. I was able to go door to door and say I was accepting democracy vouchers and looking for their support and they’d run and grab their vouchers and sign them over to me.” As the campaign picked up, the vouchers started flowing in, and Mosqueda’s campaign started getting checks from the city. First they received a check for $4,000 to the campaign, then one for $12,000, and then one for $40,000. Mosqueda ended up raising the maximum amount a candidate was allowed to raise through the program: a total of $300,000. In the end, Mosqueda won her race against another democracy vouchers candidate, Jon Grant. Both candidates were progressives and community activists who would have had a hard time raising as much money and canvassing the city had it not been for the program. Mosqueda said she believed the program had provided an incentive for Seattleites to be involved in the political process. “We had some of the highest turnout rates ever because I think people were committed to seeing the election through. They sent in their democracy vouchers, they stayed engaged, and they sent in their ballots. I think that this is a really powerful tool to make sure that more individuals, especially working families, women, people of color, lower income folks, and middle income folks are donating to campaigns and helping to elect people that will truly represent them.” The 2017 elections — the first elections held with the democracy vouchers program in place — witnessed a 16 percent increase in the number of ballots cast from the 2015 election. The numbers show that the vouchers program increased not only the number but also the diversity of donors.

THE EXPERIMENT AND VOTER ENGAGEMENT If the goal of campaign finance reform is to increase the involvement of the people, the program looks like a promising possible solution. Looking back, Barnett said, “I think we had really robust races for all those positions that were eligible for democracy vouchers. The open seat race had two candidates that both raised and spent more than $300,000. I think that was one of the goals of the program and I think it played out. We had a robust debate about where the city should go, and I don’t think either candidate would be able to legitimately claim that they didn’t have enough money to get their message out.” Pat Murakami agreed that the democracy vouchers program gave more of a voice to the people. Murakami also ran in 2017, for a different citywide seat on the Seattle City Council. She lost that race, but is running again for a districted seat in 2019. Murakami participated in the democracy vouchers program in 2017 and is participating again in 2019. “I think that [the program] ... empowers people to be more involved. That $100 is a significant donation, so the people that may not typically be able to afford to donate, it gives them more power in who’s elected,” Murakami said in an interview with the HPR. “I think it’s great that you don’t need wealthy connections or ties to the big developers to get elected.” The increased voter engagement accounted for Barnett’s belief that the 2017 races were a success, and he thinks that this success has led other cities to begin looking at starting similar programs. He is cautiously optimistic about the program’s prospects, but said only time will tell what the full impact of the program was. Barnett said he was “cautious of labeling the program an amazing success or a disappointment or anything because it’s the first program of its kind and has only had a few races.” He also cautioned that the program is expensive, and that other state or local governments considering similar programs have to weigh this cost alongside the anticipated benefits. To pay for the program, Seattle raised property taxes by $3 million per year. Barnett mentioned that New York City was considering a voucher-style proposal but was surprised by the amount it would cost. “These vouchers have to be mailed to everyone in the jurisdiction. To mail vouchers to every resident of New York City, for example, would not be an inexpensive undertaking,” Barnett said. The 2019 Seattle City Council elections will offer another test for the vouchers program. All seven districts already have candidates looking to participate if they receive enough qualifying signatures. Ultimately, the success or failure of democracy vouchers will be determined over the coming years as Seattle holds more elections and other cities experiment with similar public vouchers programs. But the initial signs are promising; Seattle’s vouchers experiment has increased small-dollar donations in a political system dominated by big donations from billionaires, and instead of getting rid of big money, the program reduced its impact by flooding campaigns with small money and by increasing political engagement among the people of Seattle. Though more experimentation is needed, Seattle’s democracy vouchers are a promising model for a system that could make American elections fairer and more open for all. n





n the morning of February 15, 2019, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to redirect billions in federal funds toward building a wall along the United States-Mexico border. Despite the various ethical and constitutional concerns that arose from the president’s haphazard announcement, it was his manner of delivery that seemed to dominate subsequent media coverage. His 50-minute address — riddled with contradictions, false statements, grammatical errors, and references to “winning” — was dissected by various news outlets, many of which portrayed the speech as a sign of the president’s mental instability. Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen called the announcement a “rambling mess,” while HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher deemed it a “‘call the nursing home’ rant” and CNN political commentator Van Jones proclaimed it “psychotically incoherent.” That Trump’s mental state was at the center of this political commentary should come as no surprise. The media’s reactions to this speech are only the most recent examples of the public skepticism around the president’s mental competency that has plagued Trump since his 2016 campaign. Not all of the discussion around Trump’s mental health has come from political commentators and media figureheads, however. Despite the regulatory safeguards put in place by medical associations to prevent mental health diagnoses from being used for partisan purposes, many mental health professionals have broken from precedent by speaking out about Trump’s mental state and what they perceive to be the risks it poses to the nation. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, edited by Dr. Bandy X. Lee, and the Duty to Warn association, created by Dr. John Gartner, have redefined the point at which mental health professionals feel it necessary to bring presidential mental health into the public sphere — namely, when they believe public safety is


at stake. Although these professionals have faced heavy criticism for contributing to the politically fraught conversation on Trump’s mental fitness, they maintain that their choice to do so is not ideological but rather grounded in genuine concern for the wellbeing of the American public.

HISTORICAL SCRUTINY OF PRESIDENTIAL MENTAL FITNESS Before the rise of President Trump, the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule had prevented unofficial diagnoses of public figures from its members for decades. The rule takes its name from 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, whose psychological fitness for office was questioned in a public poll published in Fact Magazine. The resulting discourse accused Goldwater of suffering from a range of afflictions, from schizophrenia to psychosis, though most of these claims are now believed to have been a response to his conservative political views rather than to his actual mental health. Goldwater’s victorious opponent, 36th U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, provides another example of unofficial diagnosing. His erratic behavior during the Vietnam War — particularly following his order to send more American troops to Vietnam in 1965 — sparked concerns of bipolar disorder, known then as manic depression. His press secretary, Bill Moyers, recalled Johnson exhibiting “paranoid” and “depressed” behavior that was almost debilitating. However, the president took intense precautions to hide any mental illnesses he may have had from the public. In 1973, the APA addressed the disconcerting political effects of this kind of unofficial speculation around public figures’ men-


tal health with an official policy stating that “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [of public figures] unless he or she has conducted an examination [of them] and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” The policy did not, however, stop the kind of public conversation around presidential mental health faced by Goldwater and Johnson. Similar questions emerged around 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004. Throughout his presidency, Reagan faced accusations of senility. Such concerns were mainly voiced by Democrats during his 1984 campaign for re-election, particularly after he appeared disoriented and confused during the first debate. Although media attention on the subject subsided after his electoral victory, many of his top White House advisers remained concerned. Some even discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows for a president to be involuntarily removed from office if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet deem him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” — though these conversations never led to any tangible results. Despite his alleged lapses in attention and judgment, most felt that the president’s mental health did not pose a great risk to the nation’s safety — a sharp contrast to the situation at present. Modern politics seem characterized by the very practice that the Goldwater Rule aimed to prevent; mental health has become ingrained in political commentary. Even former President Barack Obama has talked about his own mental capacities, remarking that he persevered through the stress of the presidency and “earned [his] gray hair.” In this climate, it might seem easy to dismiss questions around Trump’s mental health as the same kind of undue speculation leveled at Goldwater. However, many medical professionals contend that the matter of this president’s mental health is a unique one.

scandal, Dodes argued that a key difference between the two cases lies in the intent behind his diagnosis. He sincerely believes that Trump’s lack of empathy, intense need for a fan base, and villainization of dissenting views have severe implications for the safety of the American people. Already, Trump’s rhetoric has inspired white supremacists and may increase the risk for hate crimes and domestic terrorist attacks against minority groups. Dodes maintained that his remarks about Trump’s mental health are not political, but are more like those of a cardiologist warning the public of a president’s imminent heart attack. “People in the mental health field need to, as a public service — as their duty, really — speak out if they perceive a risk” in a government leader’s mental fitness, he stated. Other medical professionals have echoed these sentiments while also acknowledging the inevitable political ramifications of their comments. Dr. Gregg Henriques, director of the Combined-Integrated Doctor Program at James Madison University, was an early contributor to the psychological discourse over Trump’s mental fitness with his article in Psychology Today. While he acknowledged the dangers associated with public misconceptions about mental health disorders and the misuse of medical terminology, Henriques has identified concerning behavioral traits in Trump that he believes merit public attention. Like Dodes, Henriques sees the structural characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder in Trump’s behavioral patterns. In an interview with the HPR, he cited Trump’s “repeated attention to [his] own grandiosity,” “very competitive, edgy attitude,” and “shallow understanding of self” as the main markers. Henriques believes that these patterns can have a damaging influence on citizens. “We psychologists know that lots of narcissistic personality is associated with all sorts of distress, either inside the individual, or around them. So we really don’t want to create a culture of narcissists,” he told the HPR.



Although Trump has expressed confidence in his mental fitness in his tweets and speeches, mental health professionals have categorized Trump’s behavior as indicative of mental disorders ranging from narcissistic personality disorder to sociopathy. Dr. Lance Dodes, a training and supervising analyst emeritus with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, maintained in an interview with the HPR that Trump “meets the criteria for a diagnosis for antisocial personality disorder.” In the absence of a formal diagnosis, he continued, “it’s simpler to say that he’s a sociopath.” Evidence for this personality disorder and its characteristic lack of empathy consistently come through in Trump’s communications with the public, such as when he mocked a disabled reporter. “It’s the sort of thing that if you saw it in a five- or 10-year-old,” Dodes said, “you’d take them aside and say, ‘that’s not right’ ... But he doesn’t care, he doesn’t have any sense of the feelings of that person who is being mocked.” Although he is primarily concerned with this sociopathy, Dodes also agreed that Trump fits the pattern of behavior for narcissistic personality disorder. While Dodes’ statements and the now-colloquial use of the word ‘sociopath’ may initially feel reminiscent of the Goldwater

Henriques and Dodes are not alone in their claims. In early 2017, psychiatrist and Duty to Warn President John Gartner collected 41,000 signatures from mental health professionals: “We believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States,” the petition read. With so many mental health professionals questioning Trump’s mental fitness, the APA reaffirmed its support for the Goldwater Rule in March 2017 and warned its 37,000 members against breaking its ethical guidelines. Its ethics committee also released a statement in which APA President Dr. Maria A. Oquendo maintained that “offering a professional opinion or a diagnosis of someone they have not thoroughly examined compromises the integrity of the doctor and the profession and it has the potential to stigmatize those with mental illness.” Oquendo also claimed that issuing a professional opinion about a public figure one has not met violates the requirement of obtaining informed consent or authorization from the subject of psychiatric evaluations. Lee, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University and an international expert on violence, has been widely accused of breaking the Goldwater Rule by speaking on the state



of Trump’s mental health. As the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, and the host of a December 2017 meeting with 12 members of Congress on the subject, Lee has maintained that the president’s mental health poses a public health and security risk to the American people, citing in particular worries around his access to the nuclear codes. In an interview with the HPR, Lee asserted that despite her 20 years of experience as a forensic psychiatrist — a profession exempt from the Goldwater Rule in court-ordered evaluations of public figures — she holds the original APA guidelines in high regard and has never officially diagnosed an individual without an examination. However, she said, she disagrees with the wording of the APA’s 2017 affirmation of support for the rule’s enforcement, which she perceives as wrongly discouraging professional attention to presidential mental health. Lee resigned from the APA shortly after it released this statement. She has since emphasized that the expanded Goldwater definition is damaging to public safety; it is, in effect, creating an ethical dilemma instead of settling one by seeking to prevent mental health professionals from fulfilling their duty to warn the public about their concerns. For her, worries over the politicization of presidential mental health are secondary to Americans’ wellbeing. “When there is potential danger or harm to public health involved,” Lee stated, “it is necessary for me to speak the truth, and to communicate that truth with the intent of educating the public.”

CHANGING THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION Henriques argued that the use of mental health criticism as a partisan political tactic stems largely from public confusion over the nature of mental health disorders. The APA’s reasons for reaffirming the Goldwater Rule are indicative of the different ways in which psychologists and psychiatrists view the role of mental health diagnoses. “As a branch of medicine, psychiatry is oriented to view mental disorders as a kind of disease, or as illnesses that result from ‘broken biology,’” explained Henriques. Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists, are medical doctors, with the ability to prescribe medication. From this standpoint, the APA’s Goldwater Rule pertains to a biomedical approach to diagnosis associated with diseases like schizophrenia. In contrast, the evaluative approach of psychologists focuses on the behavioral and emotional patterns resulting from mental health disorders, which can manifest publicly in personality disorders like narcissism. Unlike the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association does not enforce a Goldwater Rule for its members. According to Henriques, changing the public’s perception of mental health disorders by clarifying the distinctions between biomedical mental diseases and behavioral disorders could help reduce ethical concerns around diagnosing public figures. Ideally, an evaluation of a president’s psychological state would only reflect broader political intentions if the related behavioral patterns were recognized by experts as endangering national security. Providing this information would help eliminate unsubstantiated regulation rather than stigmatize mental illness, as the APA suggested in its ethical guidelines. Henriques recognized that widespread misperceptions of mental health disorders and the colloquial use of mental health terminology, such as the press calling Trump’s speech “psychoti-


cally incoherent,” risk creating an association between the opinions of professionals and political conflicts. Even so, Henriques, along with Lee and Dodes, remains committed to an informed discourse around the president’s mental health. It seems clear for these experts that the dangerous case of the Donald Trump presidency has changed the conversation around ethics and unofficial diagnosing, testing the line that mental health professionals have historically used to hold themselves accountable while remaining conscious of public interest. n


C versus

Rumi Khan

hina’s rise is often discussed as inevitable, and for good reason. The country has become an economic powerhouse, with the world’s largest GDP measured in purchasing power. No country has a bigger standing army, and China, with its aggressive foreign policy, massive population, and rich culture, is rightfully regarded as second only to the United States. If China’s nominal GDP surpasses the United States’ in the next few decades, the era of American dominance could finally come to a close. The United States has expressed continuous concern about China’s fast rise as a global superpower. President Donald Trump’s stance, articulated by the administration’s official National Security Strategy, is to label China as a “revisionist” power that must be constrained. Trump has long denounced China’s currency manipulations and lax regulations as hostile to global economic interests, and has since pursued a tariff war against China, perhaps escalating conflict with the rising power. The once-unipolar world order that emerged after the Cold War is already visibly disappearing. The United States’ unambiguous position as world leader has been weakened by military quagmires in the Middle East, rapid economic advancements in the European Union, and diplomatic breakdowns associated with Trump’s election, which shook international trust in the United States and weakened its standing on the world stage. Yet despite all of this, the United States still maintains global hegemony. The Bretton Woods system created after World War II has endured: American-founded institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and the World Bank maintain global political and economic



order while an ongoing explosion in international trade remains backed by the American dollar as its reserve currency. These institutions, with their emphasis on international trade and multilateralism, represent the American ideal of a world order with itself at the helm. So how does a rising China fit into an American world? Scholars have described the current dynamic as an example of a ‘transition period.’ If one accepts the notion that China will rise and surpass the United States, that makes this a transitional phase, as the current great power falls and the new, ambitious one rises to become dominant. David Lai, a research professor at the Strategic Services Institute of the U.S. Army War College, told the HPR more about this transitional model of power. “The transitional phase [can be measured] empirically,” he explained in an interview with the HPR. For Lai, the phase began with the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which openly cemented China’s position on the world stage. When asked to make a guess about when this period will end, Lai pointed to 2049, the year President Xi Jinping has promised will be China’s year of “National Rejuvenation.” The many goals along the path to rejuvenation include modernizing China’s military, continuing to prosper economically, developing a foreign policy initiative based on hegemony in the Asia-Pacific, and leading responses to global catastrophes like climate change. It is an ambitious plan, and one that implicitly threatens American military, economic, and diplomatic powers. Faced with a rising China and a declining United States, American perspectives range from hawkish warmongering to resigned acceptance. Regardless, the United States will have to react somehow, particularly given that, as Lai put it, “it is uncomfortable to see your own power slip away.” Though it is impossible to predict what the American reaction to this shifting power balance will be, transition theory and analysis of the current political atmosphere can help us understand what such a transition of power from the United States to China might look like.

CONFLICT While the proposition that the United States and China might soon go to war seems absurd, seeds for conflict already dot the South China Sea. China’s rapid encroachment into the South China Sea against the will of American allies has sparked harsh rhetorical backlash, with open threats of war advanced by the Chinese side. The stakes are high for China, as the South China Sea is a vital source of oil and gasoline for the economic machine that keeps the government stable. Serious military threats to this crucial source of energy from American aircraft carriers could start a limited-scale military conflict. The position of Taiwan is another perpetual issue for China, representing a military and symbolic threat to China’s territorial sovereignty. One of the core principles of any Chinese superpowerdom will be an emphasis on territorial sovereignty, with this sovereignty including Taiwan. America’s policy of strategic ambiguity, its military presence in the region, and Trump’s apparent support for Taiwan signal the United States’ willingness to back an independent Taiwan. The future of the contested island thus becomes a yardstick for the power struggle more generally: As Lai explained, “whoever wins Taiwan wins the


eventual battle.” Conflict between China and the United States could only be sparked by a level of belligerence not yet exhibited by either side. But an escalation of trade tensions, serious conflict over the future of North Korea, or rising focus on the future of Taiwan could heighten tensions outside of the South China Sea. Still, the United States and China are each other’s biggest trade partners, and each is aware of the other’s immense military strength and large nuclear arsenal. An actual hot conflict would be a catastrophe. Chen Qi, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, told the HPR that both “the United States and China have made a lot of mistakes in the last years.” But the stakes are far too high for either nation to encourage open conflict. For Qi, the idea of an outright war still seems unlikely. “I don’t think there will be a war between these countries … These countries will benefit most from peace and stability,” he predicted during an interview with the HPR.

CONTAINMENT With the risks of open conflict obvious, the next logical American response would be a containment policy, which certainly fits the Trump Administration’s official National Security Strategy. This approach focuses on re-energizing alliances with countries like Indonesia and India, strengthening America’s presence and defensive capabilities in the South China Sea, and maintaining free waterways and commerce in the region. The NSS also discusses potential threats associated with Chinese development, such as artificial intelligence and an advancing surveillance state. Additionally, the NSS highlights China’s recent investments in developing nations in Asia and Africa as a potential form of Chinese expansionism. It is clear that the United States will likely work to stall China’s efforts to expand its military, economy, and foreign influence. This strategy, of countering every Chinese step, is reminiscent of the containment policy pursued by the United States during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. If China does rise as a superpower able to contest the power of the United States, then perhaps it makes sense for the United States to return to its old habits. As China expands its military presence in the South China Sea, the United States might also expand its naval presence in the Asia-Pacific. This will not halt China, but might slow its rise. The NSS does admit, however, that China is too important as a strategic partner to openly oppose. From a transitional theory perspective, there is a good reason for the United States to work to slow China rather than try to openly stop Chinese growth. Qi noted that as China slowly gains more economic and military power, its diplomatic influence will help solidify its position. Trying to openly attack this foundation from the outside would not be productive. According to Lai, “when a great power rises, nobody can stop it from the outside. Only the Chinese can defeat themselves. Slowing them down increases the chances they screw up.” A policy of containment will slow and frustrate Chinese advancement while also preventing a dangerous open conflict. It is the strategy that worked to defeat the Soviet Union, which collapsed internally rather than from explicitly antagonistic external forces. However, the comparison between the Soviet-U.S. Cold War and a potential China-U.S. cold war is an imperfect analogy. The


United States and China are more connected than the Soviets and Americans were during the Cold War, and have more shared interests. Additionally, China’s economic and investment-based expansion strategy is quite different from the clandestine Soviet expansionism model. A policy of tit-for-tat containment worked well during the Soviet-U.S. Cold War, but China’s ambitions, unlike the Soviet Union’s, are not about conquering the world. So while the military containment strategy is certainly viable, it is unclear exactly what Chinese containment would entail.

COOPERATION After World War II, the mantle of leading superpower passed from the United Kingdom to the United States. It was a transition of power that was neither violent nor unexpected; rather, it followed a negotiation between two allied nations with similar interests. The United States inherited and modified the British system, keeping elements it liked including global capitalism and international trade while removing others that did not fit its vision of modernity. Nara Dillon, a government professor and China expert at Harvard, responded to the analogy in an interview with the HPR: “It does suggest another alternative. What if the United States and China could overcome their differences to the point of being better friends?” One of the primary aims of contemporary Chinese foreign policy is securing access to global markets. The United States has historically played a major role in shaping China’s access to these markets, and has benefited greatly from China’s economic boom. Maintaining this trade-friendly relationship is key to both nations’ economic vibrancy. Lai characterized China’s approach as “trying to integrate itself into the international system, with no intention to remedy the world.” Qi concurred, explaining that China ultimately “wants to be part of the world order, rather than create the new order.” A China who simply wants to fit into the current Bretton Woods world order is a China that the United States can befriend. It is decidedly optimistic to imagine the United States and China becoming closer partners, and may be unrealistic to hope that United States would ever be willing to hand over the reins of the global order to China. Major differences between China and the United States compound the unlikeliness of this situation. The United Kingdom and the United States are both majoritywhite, English-speaking countries with a shared culture and connected histories. The United Kingdom also ended World War II significantly weakened by both the conflict effort and independence movements across the British colonies. In contrast, the American empire has not suffered an equivalent catastrophe, and its political and cultural vision is quite different from China’s. But if the American century does end, replaced by a system of Chinese leadership, there are foundations for fruitful cooperation. Qi said that “China and the United States do have a lot of shared interests.” He would ask the Trump administration “to give China a chance,” and hopes that as China rises, both China and the United States will “adapt for each other.”

is known for certain is that China seeks greater integration into world markets, and would rather become a stronger part of the current world system than invent its own. As Lai said, China has no intention to “remedy” the world. Whether or not a China-led world would be a faithful continuation of the American system is still unknown, but the Trump administration may be wrong to label China “revisionist.” Perhaps the most pressing concern then is the fear that China’s rise will result in a global order with an authoritarian, non-democratic state as its leader. It is unlikely that authoritarian China will lead existing international institutions that call for human rights and liberal democracy. Qi posited that a Chinese order would abandon these concerns, instead focusing international institutions on maintaining territorial integrity. If anything, Qi argued that “China’s model should be more accepted” in the international community. Lai, however, said he sees a future for democracy under a Chinese order: “I believe China will converge to democracy.” For Lai, authoritarianism is a necessary step on the path to economic development; democracy, he argued, can only be achieved once China has become developed. There is historical precedent for this argument: The authoritarian Asian Tigers of Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea followed similar transition paths, growing from authoritarian developing nations into developed liberal democracies. While such an outcome may seem like wishful thinking, modern Chinese politics do seem to be heading in that direction. According to Dillon, “the language of democracy is common [in China]. People there value the concept of democracy.” But they are careful in their word choice. Democracy in China is unlikely to ever perfectly mirror the liberal democracies of the West. And while some of this rhetoric, especially in the context of legislation and state politics, may be empty, China does have democratic traditions and urges of its own. Dillon explained that, “For an example, one of the most common reasons people protested against the government in the late 1990s was taxes. All across the country, hundreds of thousands of people were protesting … And the government completely eliminated agricultural taxes in 2006.” Such a rapid response to protests demonstrates the Chinese government’s awareness of and concern for public opinion, something that would not be found in a more extreme authoritarian state. Transition theory tells us that, for China to become a global hegemon, it must first win its homefront. Facing this challenge, China may democratize and grow closer to the United States — a potential solution that has been underestimated so far. If China wins its internal battles without sacrificing its standing on the global stage, it has the potential to displace the United States from its position of dominance; that being said, a global order with China at its helm may not end up looking so different from the one the United States manages today. n

THE CHINESE ORDER A major reason for this ongoing uncertainty is that China has not yet articulated a specific vision for a new world order, making it difficult for the United States to tailor its response. What





James Bikales


hile the world has been focused on the tensions within its best-known continental free trade area, the European Union, countries across Africa have come together to create their own economic union, the African Continental Free Trade Area. Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs estimated in 2015 that only 12 percent of Africa’s trade takes place between nations on the continent, compared with 70 percent within the European Union. The AfCFTA aims to close that gap, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa projects that, if fully implemented, the plan can increase intracontinental trade by over 52 percent. Under development since 2015, the AfCFTA was signed by 44 of the 55 African Union countries at a summit in March 2018. Since then, another six have signed on. On April 2, the agreement was officially approved when Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify it. Signatory countries have pledged to remove 90 percent of tariffs and other trade barriers on goods traded with other African nations. Full implementation of the AfCFTA will be key to leveraging Africa’s growth potential over the coming decades, and will allow the continent to gain a footing on the global economic stage.

UNTAPPED POTENTIAL Africa’s economy has the potential to grow much more rapidly than it has in recent years; in fact, the continent could ultimately match the economic clout of current global powers. However, this growth will require consolidation and cooperation between nations, and the common market created by the AfCFTA is an important launching point. “Africans are starting to wake up to the importance of regional economic integration as a step towards unlocking much more rapid rates of economic growth,” said Jakkie Cilliers, cofounder of the Institute for Security Studies and a professor at the University of Pretoria, in an interview with the HPR. The AfCFTA is expected to boost employment, especially for young people across the continent whose economic potential is currently being wasted. “There is a growing gap in most indicators of human wellbeing between the averages for Africa and the rest of the world,” Cilliers said. He added that trade integration is “probably the most important single factor” for closing that gap. Overall, he said, the plan is “ambitious” — it remains to be seen whether the AfCFTA will be a success, but it can at least begin to unlock some of the continent’s wasted potential. A more integrated African economy is the only way for the continent to “create large enough markets ... to be part of global value chains,” Cilliers added. “At the moment, Africa, with the limited exception of South Africa, is not part of global value chains,” he said. “Eventually, towards the second half of the century, if it manages political and economic integration, it can emerge as globally significant.” Ibrahim Mayaki, who served as prime minister of Niger from 1997 to 2000 and is now CEO of the development agency of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, told the HPR that Africa must follow the lead of other regions focused on integrating their economies. He cited efforts at in-

tegration in South America, Southeast Asia, and even India — a country that can sometimes seem to function as a region, given the diversity within its borders. “In that global context, Africa needs to also look internally, and my thinking is that we have been used to looking at solutions to our challenges from an external perspective,” he said.

EXPORTING GOODS, NOT JOBS Much of the growth that stems from the AfCFTA will come in the manufacturing sector. Landry Signé, a fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, argued in the Washington Post that by boosting African economies through trade, the AfCFTA will give countries the capital they need to “accelerate their industrial development.” “By 2030, Africa may emerge as a $2.5 trillion potential market for household consumption and [a] $4.2 trillion [market] for business-to-business consumption,” he predicted. With this growth will come jobs, and as Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, told the HPR, one of the goals of the AfCFTA will be to avoid “exporting” those jobs. “We’re hoping that with the AfCFTA, we will create regional value chains that will create more jobs,” Songwe, who was involved in crafting the agreement, said. She noted that today, African cotton goes to China for processing before being reimported to African nations, where it is produced into textiles and then sent to be sold in the United States. “What we would like to do is produce the cotton on the continent, process the cotton on the continent, produce the textiles on the continent, and then export it,” she said. “That means that we keep all the jobs on the continent.” Songwe said this will boost business opportunities for women in particular, who are the “the largest cross-border traders on the continent.” “Because of weak governance, it is always very difficult to take goods across borders on the continent,” she said. “With the continental CFTA, we believe that there will be more women empowered to run their businesses, because the cost of doing business will drop.” Songwe also believes that the AfCFTA will help get poverty rates — which she said have been “stubborn and sticky” in recent years — falling again. “We’ve been able to bring down Africa’s poverty numbers to below 50 [percent], but we haven’t done much more since then,” she said. “When you bring 1.2 billion people together in a $2.3 trillion market, we believe that the leveraging insights can be quite substantial and that that will create its own dynamic.”

A LONG HISTORY The current state of economic integration in Africa is tied to the continent’s political history. Lack of trade between African nations is largely rooted in colonialism, David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, told Al Jazeera. “Colonialism created a situation where neighbours stopped trading with each other,” Luke said. “The main trading route



was between African countries and European countries and between African countries and the [United States].” The AfCFTA is one way to correct this “historical anomaly,” according to Luke. Songwe added that this lack of trade also stems from the fact that African nations are “producing more or less the same commodities,” which means there is no benefit to trading amongst themselves. “We need to diversify our output, we need to go into manufacturing and services, and then we start trading more,” Songwe said. In recent years, the economies of some parts of Africa have become increasingly integrated, but limited expansions in trade tend to be limited to those regions and may have actually contributed to inequalities across the continent. Both Cilliers and Mayaki cited major differences in growth between regions across the continent as a challenge Africa must face in the coming decades. “Some regions are doing much better than others,” Mayaki said. “East Africa is doing much better than Central Africa, which is lagging behind, and West Africa is trying to catch up.” In his Post article, Signé claimed that the AfCFTA would help resolve those inequalities. “One of its central goals is to boost African economies by harmonizing trade liberalization across subregions and at the continental level,” he explained.

THE LARGER VISION While experts are excited about the AfCFTA’s potential impact, it is just one piece of a larger vision for the future of the continent. “When the [Organisation of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union] was formed, Haile Selassie himself did say that they would like to work towards an integrated continent,” Songwe said. “But then we went through a period on the continent when we had conflicts, when we had to get macroeconomic stability, and maybe the idea of economic integration was sort of put on the side.” Mayaki said that the agency he heads, NEPAD, was founded by the African Union in 2001 with the vision of improving economic cooperation. In 2013, the African Union nations crafted Agenda 2063, a 50-year framework for African socioeconomic development, which NEPAD — now an agency — is in charge of implementing. “The commonality between the two, Agenda 2063 and NEPAD, is that you will find that Africa will grow if it gives priority to regional solutions, which means if it gives priority to regional integration,” Mayaki said. He called Agenda 2063 “more a vision than a plan.” The AfCFTA is just one of the early continental integration programs reflecting that vision. Eventually, African leaders hope to grow the Single African Air Transport Market, an initiative launched in 2015 to reduce barriers to intra-African air transport, and implement freedom of movement across Africa’s internal borders, following the model of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen Area. In fact, in the “Call to Action” section of Agenda 2063, unification of the continent features prominently. “The speeding up of the regional integration process is a critical success factor for shared prosperity and peace,” it reads. “Political unity of Africa will be the culmination of the integration process, including the free movement of people, the establishment of the continental


institutions, and full economic integration.” Mayaki noted that the framework set down by Agenda 2063 aims to create “coherence between what you’ve done continentally, what you’ve done regionally, and what you’ve done nationally.” “The potential effects if it is well-managed and well-monitored will be to increase indicators like intra-Africa trade, like regional industrialization, like diversification of the rural economy, like exploitation of a new economy,” Mayaki said. Still, the treaty faces ongoing barriers to implementation. Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, backed out of signing at the last minute, citing concerns that joining the free trade area would result in lost jobs for Nigerian manufacturing workers. The Nigerian government is still considering whether to ratify it. In the meantime, experts have called on Nigeria — the continent’s most populous nation — as well as other countries to support the agreement. “Africa needs an engaged and proactive Nigeria,” Aloysius Uche Ordu, who served formerly as a vice president at the African Development Bank, wrote for Brookings. “To turn inward and be on the sidelines of history is clearly not a viable option for the continent’s largest economy. The time for action on [the] AfCFTA is now. Africa’s destiny depends on it.” The primary challenge for the AfCFTA is to mobilize the sort of cross-continental support and cooperation that it also ultimately hopes to create. Its potential is clear; the question now is whether African countries will embrace this vision for an integrated, unified trade system. If they do, the AfCFTA could very well begin to transform the continent. n


Overpoliced, Underrepresented Racial Inequality and Cannabis Capitalism



Katie Weiner


arijuana legalization in states like California, Colorado, and Washington represented more than a shift in American drug culture: For the black and brown communities that have been targeted and stigmatized, and particularly for the millions of people of color who have gone to jail on marijuana charges, it heralded the beginning of the end of America’s disastrous, racist War on Drugs. But an emerging cannabis market is abandoning the values of racial justice that in large part motivated those initial calls for legalization. White entrepreneurs are crowding out black and brown ones, with legislation in many parts of the country failing to provide for an inclusive, representative legal cannabis industry. With more than 80 percent of legal cannabis companies under white ownership, black and brown Americans are struggling to break in. And while the exclusion and underrepresentation of people of color are certainly characteristic of the American economy more broadly, marijuana’s historical significance makes this inequality particularly troublesome.

dealt on the campus of the University of Wisconsin as in the downtown area, but are they going to go throw the kid whose dad is a local banker in jail, or are you just gonna round up the black kids downtown?” Unequal application of the law creates a culture that vilifies black drug use while embracing white drug use, which means white cannabis entrepreneurs may face less stigmatization and mistrust when starting legal businesses. One legacy of this unequal policing, Hawkins said, is that the black Americans who have accumulated the independent wealth that would be needed to finance a cannabis startup are reluctant to do so. “Anybody who understands how the disparity has worked with respect to how the War on Drugs was waged is gonna be a little bit gun-shy about exposing the assets that they’ve spent their lives accumulating in an area where there could be discretion as to who gets targeted — and that’s not an irrational way to see it.”


Perhaps the most obvious priority here is designing racially inclusive cannabis policy. Cities like Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have developed locally tailored equity programs aimed at carving out space for black and brown participation in the industry, while places like Los Angeles and Massachusetts prioritize license requests from marginalized applicants. In Oakland, equity applicants are eligible for special trainings, workshops, and consultations aimed at supporting entrepreneurs during the difficult early phases of creating a startup. A popular proposal in Connecticut would give minority applicants a three-month head start on their cannabis company license applications. For Senter, what matters most in designing these programs is flexibility — the cities “are moving in uncharted territory, and the most important thing is that they’re pivoting along the way and they’re making changes to the programs when they see something’s not working.” But supporting entrepreneurs of color, while crucial, is only one small piece in a much larger toolkit of policies available to cities and states interested in using the cannabis industry to begin repairing racial inequalities. While the conversation has so far typically focused on ownership of these new companies, policies aimed at improving representation in rank-and-file cannabis jobs have the potential to impact millions more people than those that focus only on the executives. The high taxes imposed on cannabis products, furthermore, provide states with large sums of money that they can then commit to reinvesting in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. This money can fund programs specifically targeted at increasing black and brown participation in the cannabis industry, particularly in the areas of workforce development and mentorship. But it can also ensure that even the members of these communities who do not use or work with cannabis receive a form of restitution for a history of over-policing and discrimination. By using tax revenue to fund grants for community service organizations or more traditional workforce trainings, legislators can ensure that the benefits of legalization go to entrepreneurs of color as well as their broader communities.

For Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, fighting for representation in the cannabis industry is about both recognizing the injustices of the past and investing in a better future. Policies aimed at encouraging black participation in cannabis companies “should be seen as a form of restitution, and a recognition that poor communities of color bore the terrible brunt of this war that cut people’s lives short, limited their opportunities, limited their educational and career advancement, all of that,” he explained in an interview with the HPR. And even small gains in representation, he believes, can trigger a sort of “multiplier effect, where when a business is run by people of color, they tend to hire other people of color, and they tend to bank or do business with other people of color.” The opposite, however, is also true — and that is what is happening now. White entrepreneurs in this industry typically work with white venture capitalists and cater to white audiences, creating few entry points for people of color. Federal restrictions compound this dynamic: “Because of the federal illegality, there are no bank loans in this area, there’s no small business administration coming in, there’s no commercial banking, and so its left to venture capitalists and private asset managers, very few of whom are people of color,” Hawkins said. Federal restrictions and local regulations also make cannabis a relatively complicated industry to navigate, raising barriers to entry for anyone without significant training or legal expertise. This problem both reflects and perpetuates a fundamental dissonance in how black and white drug use are perceived in American society. “When people of color use cannabis, we’re seen as using it as an intoxicant, whereas when white people use it it’s perceived as a wellness tool, which is such a hypocrisy,” explained Amber Senter, an advocate for a more racially inclusive cannabis industry, in an interview with the HPR. This hypocrisy is what allows white cannabis users like the “marijuana moms” to go viral for the very behavior that is stigmatized and even criminalized for their black counterparts. In large part, Hawkins blames the police for this incongruity: “The Madison police know just as many drugs are being




A JOINT ENDEAVOR Private investors, too, have both the opportunity and the responsibility to make a difference here. White entrepreneurs can and should listen to these frustrations and commit themselves to fostering greater diversity and inclusion within their own companies. Particularly in places where government responses to the overwhelming whiteness of the cannabis industry have been insufficient, the burden falls on those already working in this field to lead it in a new direction. “How do we challenge every company to have a chief diversity officer, and just make this part and parcel of their movement forward?” Hawkins asked. “Because even if it’s a majority-owned company, that majorityowned company should not be operating in Chicago with 200 people on staff and have only one percent who are people of color — that’s ridiculous.” By demanding better policies from the legislature and better results from the industry, advocates can increase their impact and remind white entrepreneurs of the responsibility that accompanies working in this space. For Hawkins, private philanthropists have thus far ignored opportunities to get involved in reshaping the cannabis industry: “This is an excellent area for foundations that are willing to step up to say, ‘We’re going to create a social impact investing fund in this space’ … That’s one thing I’d like to see that is just not happening and that would hugely consequential.” Socially conscious investing firms and philanthropies can supplement well-intentioned policies to maximize impact and support the entrepreneurs trying to diversify this market. But while these wealthy philanthropists have unique resources and access, they are not the only people with the power to make a difference. In 2015, Senter, along with Sunshine Lencho and Nina Parks, watched these inequities emerging in Oakland and decided to found Supernova, an organization focused on providing skills and networks, as well as a sense of community, to women of color entering the cannabis industry. Their organization’s mission goes beyond policy advocacy; through panels, workshops, and social events, Supernova hopes to offer women of color in cannabis a space to “discuss the pain points, triumphs, pitfalls, and experiences of operating in the regulated cannabis industry,” Senter explained.

A RIGGED SYSTEM Unfortunately, in places without advocates like Senter and Hawkins, the whiteness of this emerging market has often gone unchallenged. Racial justice “has not been a major topic at the national level, or in most of the states that have legalized cannabis,” according to Rob MacCoun, a professor at Stanford Law School whose work focuses on social psychology and drug policy. “An issue like this needs ‘issue entrepreneurs’” — people like Senter, Lencho, and Parks — “to frame the problem and call attention to it, and that’s what activists did during the California rollout,” he explained in an interview with the HPR. Indeed, policies aimed at creating a legitimate and wellregulated market are often counterproductive. Every state but California currently prohibits companies from offering cannabis delivery, the lowest-barrier service in the industry. More disturbing are statutes in place across the country which bar formerly

incarcerated individuals from owning or even working at legal cannabis companies. Only Massachusetts has flipped the script, giving advantages to those who were incarcerated during the War on Drugs instead of locking them out. These exclusionary policies are both morally troubling and pragmatically counterproductive. Given pervasive racial discrepancies in the enforcement of drug laws, those affected by these restrictions are mostly people of color. The injustice of allowing white entrepreneurs to profit off of cannabis while former convicts of color are left out is particularly galling given that the plant is still criminalized at the federal level. White entrepreneurs are still breaking laws by working in this industry, but their entrepreneurship is embraced while their black counterparts are labeled as criminals and excluded from the market. The ongoing legal ambiguity of cannabis, as well as the legacies of racist drug laws, ensure that any legislation that moralizes past convictions simply produces more racial inequality. And these policies are not only unjust; according to Hawkins, “If you deny [formerly convicted people of color] an opportunity, then it becomes harder to kill off the illicit market, because people will continue to do what they’ve been doing if they’re locked out and they’re still trying to make a living.” As more states begin to decriminalize and legalize cannabis, and the proposal gains traction at the federal level, states that have already taken the leap can provide invaluable lessons about cannabis capitalism and racial equality. Places like California and Massachusetts offer a model, albeit an imperfect one, for centering racial justice in the creation of a legal cannabis market. And even those places that have legalized marijuana must continue taking steps to counteract the uneven application of existing regulations. According to MacCoun, “while cannabis legalization has reduced the number of people arrested and incarcerated for cannabis offenses, among those who still get arrested, most states are still finding that people of color are overrepresented. So legalization is only partially effective at solving problems of racial injustice.” For Hawkins, legalization is the first step in a longer process of criminal justice reform: “Police are still going to harass brown and black people on the streets, but [legalization] will hopefully force American policing to change in some ways and remove this arsenal within the police’s discretion.” But while that criminal justice reform is happening, politicians and activists cannot turn a blind eye to inequalities within the legal market. While this regulated market is still young, America has the chance to acknowledge historical injustices and create a vibrant, inclusive cannabis industry before these private-sector racial inequalities become intractably entrenched. n





n the late 1990s, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to Gregory McGuire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West with the intent to develop it into a motion picture. After reading the book, however, composer Stephen Schwartz and producer Marc Platt asked the studio to turn it into a Broadway musical instead. Universal, envious of Disney’s Broadway success, agreed, and the show that eventually became Wicked was born. The studio was the show’s largest investor, contributing $10 million of the show’s $14 million budget. Wicked’s worldwide gross to date? At least $4.6 billion — more than double Universal’s highest-earning film. Wicked is just one illustrative example of Broadway’s resurgence over the past two decades. The location — and art form — that was once at the center of American popular culture slowly faded into oblivion over the second half of the 20th century. Ticket sales declined, and most outside of the theater community lost interest. The past two decades, however, have breathed new life into Broadway, and have proven that live theater still has a magic unlike anything else. Audiences have returned, and profits — as well as ticket prices — have soared. Cast albums are topping the charts once again, and pop superstars are covering musical theater songs. Shows are even being invited to perform at the White House. In a way, Broadway has come full circle. An art form built upon using popular music to tell stories strayed from that vision and suffered because of it. Today, however, the music of the day has returned to Broadway, and groundbreaking shows like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen have pushed their way back into mainstream consciousness. Combining contemporary musical styles with an emphasis on representing today’s America, these shows are breaking boundaries and redefining musical theater, attracting massive audiences along the way. Broadway is thriving again.


HOW TO SUCCEED When the curtain in the St. James Theatre rose not on a spectacular chorus number, but on a lone cowboy singing about corn and meadows, Broadway was changed forever. So began Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s groundbreaking musical Oklahoma!, sparking the reign of the composer and lyricist duo that would rule Broadway for more than a decade. Oklahoma! was a huge hit, and its success redefined musical theater. It was the first show to integrate all the elements of a modern musical into the plot; song and dance became elements of “storytelling rather than spectacle.” With Oklahoma! as a model, Rodgers and Hammerstein led the way into a new era of prosperity for Broadway. In the 1940s and ‘50s, the Great White Way — so named for its massive marquee signs lit originally with white light bulbs — was the center of American culture. Actors and actresses were national superstars, hit shows made massive profits, and composers wrote the soundtrack for a generation of Americans. “During that time, if you look at the top 40 on the radio … the top 40 was almost all showtunes. All the major singers covered showtunes,” said Robert Viagas, founding editor of and a teacher, lecturer, and theater critic, in an interview with the HPR. Indeed, songs from Broadway’s golden age, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” are still heard on the radio today. The key to this cultural and commercial success? According to Viagas, Broadway musicals garnered their appeal by “using contemporary pop music like opera to tell stories with songs.” By writing in the musical language of the masses, composers were able to break away from opera’s traditional upper-class audience and connect with ordinary Americans. That special connection took Broadway to unprecedented heights.


YA GOT TROUBLE If Broadway’s golden age led to its remarkable success, it was equally responsible for sowing the seeds of its downfall. “Around the early- to mid-’60s, Broadway had become so successful that it kind of created its own sound … that was not connected to the popular music of the day,” said Viagas. “That was a big problem.” In the early ‘60s, Viagas explained, shows stopped “telling contemporary stories in terms of contemporary music. … In that moment, they lost the audience, and it was very hard to get it back.” Instead, Broadway “started to breathe its own air, and I think that was fatal.” The sound of the ‘60s was rock and roll, and Broadway occasionally tried to adopt it. Hair is a notable example, and that musical actually did fairly well. However, though many other shows tried to reestablish a populist connection through rock music, rock musicals always seemed “half a decade behind. [They] didn’t feel real to people,” said Viagas. Without authentic popular music to draw in the masses, shows lost their audiences. As a whole, Broadway was suffering. When a Shubert theater “was empty for a long time ... they would put up a sign that said, ‘See a show for the fun of it,’” recounted Viagas. “There were some theaters that would have ‘See a show for the fun of it’ for two or three seasons because theaters would just sit there empty. And that was a tragic, tragic time.”

A TALE AS OLD AS TIME A multinational corporation seems an unlikely hero for an industry predicated on artistry and originality, but Disney’s arrival on the Great White Way was undoubtedly a turning point. Beauty and the Beast, the company’s debut Broadway musical, premiered in April 1994 to a withering New York Times review; David Richards wrote that the show was “hardly a triumph of art, but it’ll

probably be a whale of a tourist attraction.” Despite the negative press, however, Disney had seen something Broadway — and theater critics — had missed. Like the shows of Broadway’s golden age, the secret to Beauty and the Beast’s success was its use of popular music. Disney “hired Broadway people to write scores for their movies … so the whole younger generation grew up listening to that sound, that music. And that kind of became their music,” said Viagas. That music — a new generation’s pop music — eventually made its way back to Broadway. By returning popular music to musical theater, Disney led the medium back to its roots. Though it rattled the establishment and was widely derided, a show that catered to audience’s tastes rather than reflecting theater’s traditions was exactly what Broadway needed. Disney followed up Beauty and the Beast with more successful musicals and, not coincidentally, Broadway attendance began to rise. The company’s success pushed Broadway back into the realm of popular music for good and catalyzed Broadway’s return to the winning formula of its golden age: using popular music to tell relatable stories.

DEFYING GRAVITY With Broadway firmly re-grounded in popular music, shows are now challenged to keep up with an ever-evolving genre. To stay current, Broadway has continued to evolve over the past two-and-a-half decades. In 2003, Wicked marked another major milestone, cementing the age of the ‘pop-rock’ musical. Combining orchestral instrumentation such as woodwinds, brass, and strings, with electric guitars and a drum set, Wicked popularized a sound that was expanded upon in Legally Blonde and The Book of Mormon, and the genre still resonates today in works like Frozen.



Since 2010, Broadway music has continued to grow in stature, and recent shows, such as Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s Dear Evan Hansen, have attained a popularity that was unthinkable in the 1980s. Dear Evan Hansen had the highest-charting debut for an original cast album since 1961, and a remix of the show’s hit song “You Will Be Found” reached the top spot on Billboard’s “Dance Club Songs” Chart. Stacey Mindich, the Tony Award-winning lead producer of Dear Evan Hansen, credited the show’s “contemporary and fresh” sound for its widespread appeal in an interview with the HPR. She also cited a symbiotic relationship between Dear Evan Hansen and its composing duo’s other works, noting that the score for the movie The Greatest Showman “achieved a worldwide recognition for Pasek and Paul.” Their success demonstrates a new era for Broadway: In the past few years, musical theater has not only used popular music, but helped to shape it. With Broadway music’s increased prominence has come attention from celebrities, creating a feedback loop that has helped to expand musical theater’s audience. Ariana Grande, for instance, got her start in showbiz, landing a role in 13 before she became a pop sensation. She recently returned to those roots to participate in Wicked’s 15th anniversary special. Katy Perry recorded her own version of the hit Dear Evan Hansen song “Waving Through a Window.” And a little show called Hamilton released a mixtape of its songs featuring artists as diverse as Sia, Kelly Clarkson, and Chance the Rapper.

WHO TELLS OUR STORIES It is impossible, of course, to write about Broadway today without discussing Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s mega-hit musical took audiences by storm, smashing box-office records and gaining a cultural following unmatched by any Broadway show in recent memory. The show represents an important step forward for Broadway not only through its use of musical styles uncommon on Broadway, but also for its ability to create a story that resonates with more diverse audiences. “Hamilton is a huge [show] when we think about representation for people of color and representation for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Ashley LaLonde, a Harvard junior who has acted professionally with the American Repertory Theater, in an interview with the HPR. In contrast to previous eras, today’s Broadway has “lots of different stories being told by a very diverse variety of performers … and [audience members are] drawn to stories that [they] can connect with.” Audiences connected with Hamilton because its groundbreaking casting lended an authenticity to its music; for example, Daveed Diggs, a member of Hamilton’s original cast, had established a career as a successful rapper before joining the show. Furthermore, the diversity of the performers onstage allowed a wider range of audiences to relate to the show’s material. By bringing in such a broad audience, Hamilton has helped redefine Broadway as a whole. “[Dear Evan Hansen] benefitted tremendously from Hamilton,” said Mindich. “A show that brings in people who wouldn’t traditionally see a Broadway show is good for all of us because then you’ve interested someone in theater, and they look for more.” Though Hamilton obviously broke new ground, LaLonde pointed to other shows, including Dear Evan Hansen, as examples of Broadway’s increased commitment to types of representation


that go beyond race. “Dear Evan Hansen is centered on someone who is dealing with major mental health issues … [and] that sort of dealing with mental health on stage never would have happened in the past.” Though she acknowledges that “Broadway has a long, long way to go before becoming truly inclusive,” LaLonde believes that today “we’re getting more stories of ‘non-mainstream’ American culture, which means we’re getting the opportunity to tell stories of people of color, stories of immigrant populations, stories of people with varying abilities … and we’re now able to tell those stories in a way that [they] were never told before.” These new stories have drawn in new audiences and made Broadway “much more of a reflection of society than it was in the past,” according to LaLonde. They have also contributed dramatically to Broadway’s newly rediscovered relevance and success.

YOU CAN’T STOP THE BEAT For Broadway to continue its ascent, it must also continue to evolve. Though popular music will inevitably change, and Broadway must reflect those changes, shows also have to react to new technologies and consumption patterns in order to stay relevant. “Social media and generally the internet has totally changed Broadway,” said LaLonde. In a way, it is creating a fan experience that has never been possible before: “Even if [fans] are physically distant, [they] can feel emotionally close to the performance.” Both Viagas and Mindich echoed LaLonde’s description of social media’s ability to draw in fans who might be physically far from a show, and Viagas also referenced social media’s “democratization of criticism.” He argued that the internet has reduced the role of established theater critics in favor of online reviews by audience members who have seen the show. Similarly, Mindich emphasized the importance to Dear Evan Hansen of wordof-mouth advertising, which is increasingly driven by the same online platforms cited by Viagas. As Broadway heads into the next decade and beyond, it is well-positioned to retain its status as a force in American entertainment. Theater has “a very human aspect” to it, said LaLonde. Even in a time of declining face-to-face contact and everyday Instagram perfection, there is still something riveting about “a group of people onstage in costumes under lights doing everything live.” Popular music and relatable stories are the bread and butter of the Great White Way; without them, it would almost certainly be destined to return to oblivion. To continue to grow, however, Broadway must stick with many of its newest innovations, including representation and social media. It must strive to tell the stories of all Americans. If it can do that, the shows will go on for generations to come. n






early four years after the Syrian refugee crisis began, conversations with young refugee women illustrate both the achievements and cultural clashes attached to refugee integration. They also speak to the challenges still facing refugee communities after they have arrived in their new homes. At age 10, Nimaah* travelled on foot from Greece to Germany. It was the final stretch in a journey that began when her family — her parents, four brothers, and one sister — fled from Kobane, Syria to continental Europe in 2015. Today, Nimaah lives in a refugee “campus” in East Berlin, in a Soviet-style dormitory with her family and 500 others. Nimaah is one of millions supplanted by the Syrian Civil War, in whose aftermath roughly 1.4 million refugees sought refuge in Germany alone, while millions more live scattered around Europe and the Middle East. According to the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, young women and girls like Nimaah and her peers are a particularly vulnerable subset of the broader refugee community, facing unique challenges both during transit and afterwards. Even those who find physical security in countries like Germany face a gruelling process of social and economic integration. Nimaah, her family, and her fellow classmates are still navigating the difficulties associated with assimilation. These refugees are in the thick of a years-long transition process, going to school and working alongside native Germans but still living in a separate refugee commune. Many of the 100,000 refugees residing in Berlin are in similar arrangements. The HPR spoke with Nimaah and two other girls with whom she lives and attends school to discuss the challenges these young women face years after fleeing to new homes.

SAFETY AND SETTLEMENT Huda* spent her earliest days in Germany living in a school gymnasium. When she was 12 years old, Huda made a journey similar to Nimaah’s, leaving Iraq and then travelling from Turkey to Austria before finally trekking north to Berlin — all on foot. For a time, Huda spent her days in a makeshift camp. While some slept in gyms like her, other refugees lived in large, empty shipping containers that housed entire families. “Those were awful conditions,” Huda recalled. Her immediate family members were the only people she knew in Europe, having left many relatives and friends behind in Iraq. She did not speak a word of German when she arrived, and she strongly disliked German food. Still, she felt a sense of relief coming to her host country: “Here, my family is safe,” she explained. Nimaah, too, has found refuge in her new home. “I love Germany” the 13-year-old exclaimed, “because I live in safety with my family.” When the violent protest broke out in Daraa, Syria that would later envelop the nation, Nimaah was just six years old. She can barely remember a time of peace in her home country. Now, her life in Berlin is dotted with markers of normalcy.


In her free time, she goes to local museums, movie theaters, and the Berlin Zoological Garden. At the refugee center, she and other girls participate in modern dance classes and choreograph their own performances. Along with the other refugees in the center, she attends a local German school where she is part of a wilkommensklasse, or “welcome class,” through which recently immigrated children learn the German language. Refugee children are integrated into the larger school as they share a handful of non-intensive classes, as well as lunch and recess, with their German peers — a common arrangement throughout the country. All three girls enjoy the simple ritual of going to school, playing pick-up football with their male classmates in the afternoon, and returning home — always before dark, at their parents’ insistence.

NEW WORLD, OLD RULES If she had remained in her home back in Syria, Fatema* suspects she would have been married off years ago. Today, almost 15 percent of young Syrian women are married before the age of 18. Meanwhile, Fatema is finishing her final years of high school and plans to attend university soon. At 17, she has spent most of her teen years bouncing between European countries and, eventually, making a new home alongside the other girls in Berlin. Fatema and her family fled from Herad, Syria over four years ago, and found themselves stranded first in Bulgaria, and then in Slovenia, for months at a time when their funds were depleted. Eventually, she made it to East Germany. Like many of the girls, she has newfound vocational aspirations: She plans on becoming a doctor, a goal borne out of a desire “to help other people” given her own experiences in transit. The younger girls noted the novelty of their educational upbringing in Germany. Huda told the HPR of her plans to complete an apprenticeship and continue with more advanced studies when she finishes high school. “I have so much to learn here … Back in Syria, I would be expected to stop going to school and get married.” Now, she said, “being a young adult woman means that I can form my own opinions and decide on my career.” Her friend added that the most most notable difference in the German education system is sharing a classroom with a group she would otherwise barely associate with: boys. One of her mixed-gender classes is led by Abdel Hadded, an instructor at the center responsible for organizing the youth and teaching refugee children the German language. Hadded, who is of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, has lived in Berlin since his family migrated in his youth. With many of his Lebanese relatives living in refugee camps today, Hadded was inspired to work with the refugee community in Berlin. In conversation with the HPR, Hadded explained that “most of the girls did not attend school at all or went to school until the sixth grade and then stopped. Most of them are expected to marry by 14 or 16, so their education was seen as a dead end. They had no hope.” For


many of the teenagers at the campus, Hadded’s class is their first exposure to a learning environment that incorporates young women.

CULTURE CLASHES REVERBERATE While the girls express enthusiasm about these genderinclusive classrooms, there are differing ideas about the role of girls and women within the camp, according to Hadded. He recalled times when boys have claimed, for example, that “the woman is only there to be a wife and mother” in an attempt to exclude the girls from their academic activities. Hadded said that when it comes to the adults, “Some live in the West. Others believe they are still in Afghanistan or Syria.” While some families have “westernized,” a large fraction operate according to more “strict” rules of behavior, which include sheltering their daughters from some elements of German society. Because of these cultural differences, many of the refugee girls remain detached from their Berlin-born peers. Although they interact with their German peers at school, the language barrier continues to make forming strong relationships difficult. In addition, the girls’ parents often forbid them from attending parties or going out with friends. In Hadded’s words, “Most of the refugees girls are not allowed to have a boyfriend. They don’t eat pork. And they don’t drink beer ... and those are big parts of German culture.” For girls like Huda, it can be difficult to reconcile these clashes in culture. While she said that, in Germany, “women’s worth is more respected” than in her birthplace, she refuses to abandon many of the traditions Syrian women adopt. Her Muslim faith is of great importance and, like many women from the Islamic world, she wears the hijab. But in Germany, the hijab is controversial, with some lawmakers calling to criminalize it in public spaces. Although the German parliament has not enacted any national restrictions on such clothing, Berlin recently joined several other German states in barring teachers from wearing the hijab in schools. Such developments exacerbate the challenge of upholding religious commitments while also attempting to integrate into a distinctly secular society. Huda explained some of her own uncertainty about adjusting to the expectations for women in Western society. In Iraq, she said, few women were expected to have professional jobs. Having grown up with those assumptions, she now finds herself at something of a loss: “I don’t know what I want to do later. I have no plan,” she said. Although nearly one out of every five refugees in Germany is employed today, of the 300,000 employed refugees, only a small fraction are women. While the majority of male refugees have the German-language skills necessary for the job market, only 30 percent of their female counterparts can say the same. These statistics speak to the added challenges female refugees face. Furthermore, the girls also discussed feelings of stagnancy

and uncertainty about the future. Learning the German language continues to be difficult for all three. Huda notes that after three years in Berlin, her family still cannot move out into their own apartment; for the indefinite future, they share two rooms and a bath between six people in the dormitory. In the same vein, at just age 13, Nimaah expressed her dislike for the “German bureaucracy,” which she noted consists of “countless papers.” According to Hadded, their families “are disappointed. They don’t know what will happen after three or four years. They don’t understand when or if they will be citizens.”

A PRECARIOUS PEACE The uncertainty the girls sense is made more palpable within a political climate that increasingly discourages refugee integration. While Chancellor Angela Merkel and her party have been steadfast supporters of refugee integration, the far-right Alternative for Germany party has openly used anti-refugee rhetoric and continues to be one of the most popular political parties in Germany. Members of the party have criticized refugee integration using Nazi-era terms like umvolkung, which refers to the dilution of the Aryan race. Additionally, broader swathes of German society believe that certain cultural differences may be irreconcilable. A recently published study found that 47 percent of Germans surveyed believe that Islam “fundamentally clashes” with German values. Thus, Nimaah, Huda, and Fatema delicately balance divergent cultures which often come into conflict. The girls are nonetheless staunch in their appreciation for their adoptive home. Fatema explained her enthusiasm, saying “I love the different cultures, mutual respect, and freedom in Germany.” All three of them look forward to the day that they are fully at home in Berlin. As time goes on, they will spend more of their time in German-speaking contexts, integrate more fully into their schools, and eventually live more closely alongside their German neighbors, if all goes as planned. In the meantime, as the girls noted, uncertainty abounds within the refugee community about the time frame and implications of this integration. No one is certain how full integration will affect the integrity of their faith, values, and customs. Nonetheless, their teacher reminds them to resist fear and isolation. Whenever question arise, Heddad emphasizes the same mantra: “Why did you leave the country? Because of the war. You want peace. To have peace we need to have relationships,” within the refugee community but also with these German hosts. n *Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the individuals interviewed. Interviews were conducted in Arabic with Hadded’s translation.







with Gisella Carpio Don Lemon is the host of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. He has received numerous awards for his coverage, including an Emmy for his special report on the real estate market in Chicago. Prior to his work at CNN, Lemon reported for NBC News and was a correspondent for Today and NBC Nightly News. In addition to his career as a journalist, Don Lemon is an author, having published a memoir titled Transparent in 2011.

What do you think is the most significant role of the press and media in maintaining American democracy? Don Lemon: To seek out the truth, distribute information, and inform the electorate through informing the public, because they are our electorate.

What has been the biggest challenge in reporting news during this administration? DL: The biggest challenge in reporting news in this current administration has been the alternative facts and alternative reality. We have come to a time in American democracy where we can all agree on a common set of facts and a common set of truths. The current administration does not believe that, and that has been tough.

How do you think the president’s speeches or tweets, where he has referred to the media and press as “enemies of the people,” will impact the public’s relationship with the media beyond his time in office? DL: They erode credibility because if you say something often enough, some people will tend to believe it even when it is not true. Beyond that, safety-wise, it is not good for journalists because journalists are now targets domestically. It used to be that journalists would face danger when they would be sent to war zones and things like that, and then you would be concerned for their safety. Now, domestically, journalists are sadly under attack for what I believe is the president’s rhetoric.

In your recent interview with Extra, you stated that you would like to see someone in office who is both experienced and representative of America. In your opinion, what do you feel would make a candidate representative of America? DL: Someone who can agree upon a common set of facts, someone who is knowledgeable about the issues, someone who is a good leader and listener. I think it should also be someone who has empathy. I think it is high time that we have a woman as president. I think the country should be ready for that. We need a change. I am not endorsing anyone, but it would be really nice to have a woman as president of the United States.

With the 2020 election on the horizon, where do you see the Democratic Party’s ideology moving forward? DL: Well, I’m not a Democratic strategist, but from what I have observed in the news, there are a lot of people fighting for the left, far-left end of the party. There are very few people fighting the middle ground or to be moderate liberals. I think the strategy is way left but I think the person that may surprise everyone is the one who can pick up some purple votes in this election.

What do you expect to be the defining factors of the 2020 election? DL: Defining factors will be what happens with Russia’s influence in our election and the investigation into that. I think defining factors will be racism and immigration, but it will also be the truth. Ultimately, you can only lie to people for so long before they decide to stop believing you.

You have been outspoken on your program as well as in other interviews against the “colorblind ideology” shared by some politicians and likened it to a “genderblind ideology.” As we begin to see more candidates enter the Democratic primary who identify as women and people of color, what do you think is a more productive and conducive way of addressing issues surrounding gender, race, and equality? DL: We need to approach them with candor, with mostly listening, and with a lot less talking. I think you have to be open to allowing people to make mistakes in those types of conversations, and you can’t castigate them for making mistakes or not understanding. No one wants to be colorblind, or at least I do not want to be; I want people to notice who I am. But, in spite of that, I want to be seen as a person and use my qualities as a person to determine whether I should be a candidate for a job, or for the highest office, or any other position. We can’t make progress until we begin to recognize the differences in people rather than trying to whitewash them.

What issue would you like to see Americans unite around? DL: Personally? Race. I think it is the thing that has defined our country, and until we deal with it in a real way it will continue to define us — but not in a good way. n This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.




with Satish Wasti

Gagan Thapa is a current member of the House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament of Nepal and former Minister of Health and Population. As a youth leader, Thapa was at the forefront of the 2006 pro-democracy movement in Nepal that culminated in the establishment of a federal democratic republic. As minister, he has pushed for universal, high-quality health care in Nepal.

Let’s start with geopolitics. Historically, Nepal has been close to India politically, economically, and even culturally. But in recent years, China has been increasing its presence not just in Nepal, but across South Asia. How is Nepal dealing with this rising Indo-China strategic rivalry in the region? Do you see any opportunities or challenges for Nepal? Gagan Thapa: It is undeniable that Nepal has had a level of proximity with New Delhi historically. For example, New Delhi was overtly involved in the 1951, 1990, and 2006 pro-democracy movements in Nepal. The presence of China in Nepal, however, has been widely misunderstood as a new phenomenon. During the decades of 1960s through 1990s, India and China actually competed in providing economic and technical support for infrastructure development in Nepal. Of course, with the rise in China’s ability and ambition, we should not be surprised that the scope and level of Chinese engagements in Nepal are increasing. Nepal is cognizant of the undergoing shift in the global balance of power toward Asia. We are also aware that, for all their disagreements, the economic interdependence between China and India is stronger now than ever. We strongly feel that this is an opportune time for our economic progress. The challenge for us, however, is to build adequate capacity in our institutions that


will allow us to reap the benefits of this situation where our two neighbors … are becoming important global players.

China is an authoritarian state that has shown spectacular economic development in the past few decades, whereas democratic India’s development and poverty reduction has not been as impressive. As a country located between India and China, how big of a challenge does Nepali democracy face from the idea of authoritarian growth? GT: I do not think economic growth at the expense of freedom and democracy is palatable to the Nepali people. This is partly because of our historical experience. From 1960 to 1990, Nepal experienced authoritarian rule under the then-monarchy. This is the same time period when Nepal suffered from sluggish economic growth. Moreover, Nepal also has a vibrant civil society and critical intelligentsia that have a strong faith in democracy. Perhaps due [to] our numerous struggles for democracy, I feel like Nepali society in general leans more toward freedom than order. But I would not say that we are completely immune to the challenges to democracy. I think no society ever is. I am particularly worried that the global wave of populism might manifest itself in Nepal in the form of illiberal democracy. I find ourselves vulnerable to a slide into illiberal democracy in the name of religion and nationalism, given our history as a Hindu monarchy. To stave off this danger, we should focus on building strong and inclusive institutions that deliver shared prosperity. Nepali society is dynamic and open, but much work is needed in creating institutions that channel our dynamism.


DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT IN NEPAL Nepal has been lauded by international organizations like the World Health Organization for its achievements in the sector of public health. What lessons do Nepal’s experience in public health hold for other countries in the emerging world? GT: Nepal embraced an approach that combined a willingness to learn from global knowledge with an ability to innovate locally. From the get-go, we were not reluctant to implement what had been learned in other parts of the world. But we also put a strong emphasis on local innovations. The Female Community Health Volunteers program was one such innovation. The program was started in 1998 with an objective to increase the efficacy of community-based health interventions. In retrospect, the FCHV program also contributed to rural women empowerment in addition to achieving its intended goal. The government, international donors, private sector, and households all contributed from their own level. As a result, we have been able to ensure an access to basic health services to a great majority of our population. Inspired by this success, we have now guaranteed a free access to basic health services in our constitution. In my time as minister of health and population, I tried to shift the discourse on public health from quantity to quality. Among other things, we were able to create a legal framework that ensures both universality and quality in health care.

GT: One of the first things I realized as a minister was that the international community is not a monolithic unit. Like any other group, it consists of members with diverse preferences for policies and approaches. While it might not come as obvious to an outside observer, I found that the mindset of the members of the international community was more competitive than collaborative. And I don’t want to put all the blame on them for this. I think the government actually has a crucial role to play in this regard. Before creating space for the international community to contribute, the government should set clear goals for the country. A partnership between the international community and government cannot deliver best results if the government lacks a clear sense of direction. n This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Will you comment on the role of the international community in helping an emerging country like Nepal achieve its developmental goals?





y story begins with a cliché. On a road trip with my family when I was 10 years old, my parents brought my two younger brothers and I into a candy shop. They gave us little paper bags and told us to fill them up halfway. Since my father was a dentist, I rarely had opportunities like this; I was not going to waste this one. I was surrounded by endless choices: Baby Bottle Pops, sugar-coated gummy belts, and an ocean of Tootsie Rolls of every variety — yes, even the gross fruity ones. I was, quite literally, a kid in a candy shop. But I did not enjoy my moment of should-have-been glory. I panicked. I put candies in the bag, and then quickly poured them out once I found better options. My awe soon turned to ire, as my bag kept emptying and re-emptying until all that remained was a pack of mints — mints? — and a handful of Jolly Ranchers. Once time ran out, I filled the rest of my bag at random. I wanted the perfect bag of candy, but what I left with resembled what you would find sitting in a hotel lobby bowl. I have always been indecisive, but never more so than in college. Sophomore year, I declared a concentration in the social sciences. After a semester, I switched to computer science. Two weeks later, after deciding I was not cut out for some of the more theoretical computer science courses, I decided to switch back to social studies. No dice. They told me I would have to wait another semester to switch again, so I opted to stick with computer science. My indecision continued into this past semester. One day before the add/drop deadline and four weeks into the semester, I took a quiz in a Chinese history course I had been attending since the first day of classes. When I handed my exam to the professor at the end of class, I told him I was not technically in his course. As he raised his eyebrows in confusion, I explained that I would be dropping my abnormal psychology course and enrolling in his class later that day. The professor was accommodating. After all, who studies for a quiz in a class they don’t even plan on taking? Apparently, I do. I didn’t enroll in Chinese history. Sometimes, I still wonder what I got on that quiz. Semester after semester, I’m stuck ruminating over countless little choices. Yet the amount of planning I do seems not to matter in the end. No matter what, the results are always impossible to anticipate. Getting stuck in my computer science concentration was a blessing in disguise, as I enjoyed my much-feared theory courses much more than I expected. By letting the add/ drop deadline go by and defaulting into my abnormal psychology class, I came away with a new understanding of, and appreciation for, the human mind — and, as an added bonus, the recognition that my indecision is probably symptomatic of a more generalized anxiety! This sense of anxiety, far from unique to myself, is deeply


Samuel Kessler

ingrained within Harvard’s culture. We all try to take the perfect courses — sampling dozens of classes at the start of every shopping week and using quantitative student ratings to find the perfect mix of professor, syllabus, and workload. We look for the perfect clubs — visiting extracurricular fairs year after year, and packing our schedules with commitments that reflect our carefully curated passions and personal goals. We even craft the perfect social lives, slotting meals and hangouts with friends into our calendars like we would meetings or job interviews. And what about those interviews? Don’t even get me started on finding the perfect career. With so many resources at our disposal, an obsession with optimization becomes the norm. We recognize the incredible privilege that comes with going to a school like Harvard, and we rightly interpret that privilege as a responsibility to make the most of our time here. But this self-imposed sense of responsibility can easily warp into a burden. Since we can do anything, we think we should do everything. Once we realize that we cannot do everything, we decide that we must do the perfect thing. For many like myself, this leads to an unhealthy paralysis. Rather than make decisions, we often wait for those decisions to be made for us — letting deadlines pass, relying too much on the advice of friends, or, in the most extreme cases, flipping coins. In a place where rejection is constant, being rejected from jobs and courses can even feel like a relief — “At least I won’t have to make that decision.” The problem with this mentality is that it takes the focus away from the experience of college itself. Every moment spent ruminating is one less moment doing and learning. It also pushes a disproportionate number of people into a few predefined paths. Rather than find or pursue unique passions and interests, we follow one-size-fits-all tracks which allow us to move mindlessly from one stepping stone to the next. For most, I am probably preaching to the choir. At a certain point, most of us who fall into this unhealthy mentality recognize that it is counterproductive. Yet we continue to optimize. Semester after semester, we continue to endeavor toward perfection. And after college, it is no coincidence that most of us will go on to climb single mindedly through the same cookiecutter career ladders. If I have learned anything in four years, it is that there is no right way to go about experiencing Harvard, just as there is no right way to experience life. To have choices is a gift, not a burden, but choices only count if we make them. And the only way to be comfortable making choices is to be comfortable losing control — to be comfortable knowing that there are some things we just cannot anticipate. You cannot plan for serendipity, but it is half the fun. n







Profile for The Harvard Political Review

Summer 2019: Animal Farm  

In the HPR's Summer 2019 edition, writers explore various aspects of the sometimes contentious human-animal relationship in different contex...

Summer 2019: Animal Farm  

In the HPR's Summer 2019 edition, writers explore various aspects of the sometimes contentious human-animal relationship in different contex...