meet the creators
Hi, I’m Mariah Bell. I’m a young black woman from Harlem, NY, creating my own major around “written and visual media with a focus on representation” at NYU. I love to write and make art, and I’m interested in creating media highlighting the depth and beauty of people of color. I also love the color blue and lasagna. Fun fact: Even though I’m from NY and go to college in NY, I went to boarding school (in CT) for high school, which is where I really started to engage more with social justice activism.
Hi my name is Alexia Leclercq! I’m French and Taiwanese, and have lived in multiple places in France, Singapore and the United States. I’m currently majoring in ‘The Politics and Economics of Inequality’ at NYU, combining traditional fields of politics, economics, and environmental studies to look at the lasting effects of colonialism and how forms of structural oppression are perpetuated in our society. I’m really passionate about social justice activism, and I love mangos, horses, and art.
Intro/Mission Statement This magazine is all about social justice - like a beginners manual of sorts. Most times, the only people who get the chance to discuss “social justice” or “activism” are scholars, students, and people who have the time and energy to research. We wanted to open the conversation beyond that. Take This With You is for anyone who has questions, but doesn’t know where to start looking for the answers- or anyone who suffers, but doesn’t have the words to describe their pain- We wanted to cater to everyone, not just people privileged enough to study these topics. We also hope that this magazine will inspire people and give people the tools to start more conversations, not just within themselves but also with other people. The more we talk about these topics, the more momentum we gain in making the world a better place. We hope that this magazine gives you a place to start, and provides helpful advice for being more conscious in your life and fight for social justice. Please note that there are (unfortunately) so many different issues and forms of oppression in society; each country and community also faces different issues. This magazine doesn’t include in-depth information about all forms of oppression and social movements -- it is simply a zine with relevant facts and information about some forms of oppression we have come across, seen, or learned about that happen every day in the United States. More than anything, we hope it works to start a conversation. Remember, no matter who you are or where you stand, you can create change.
Foreword About Mental Health Unfortunately mental unwellness and frustration are common for people facing oppression. This should be taken more seriously than it is, but often, marginalized people’s mental health issues are ignored, because people are desensitized to oppression, and mental unwellness is trivialized as “status quo” or worse, “complaining”. If you personally feel overwhelmed by the daily realities of injustice (or anything in your life, for that matter), please know that your pain is VALID, you are not alone, and you deserve peace. You don’t owe it to anyone to always be “on”, to always be ready with the perfect attitude or the perfect response to injustice. You can take however long you need to be “off” and make time to prioritize yourself. If it is putting your mental health at stake, you don’t have to “hear someone out”. Social justice is not just a debate topic, it’s real life. If someone is trivializing your livelihood for the sake of a “debate”, it is not your responsibility to engage with them. In order to make the world a better place, you also need to take care of yourself! On the other hand, if you see someone who’s mental health is being compromised, respect them! Don’t force someone to sacrifice their mental health for the sake of a debate and don’t stand by when someone is abusing someone else’s mental health. If someone can no longer handle having a certain discussion or being in a certain environment, respect that! Overall, make sure that you are keeping other people’s mental health in mind and being kind.
What is activism? The word “activism” holds a lot of weight- a lot of pressure- which usually makes people feel quite intimidated. It is easy to say that you are “someone who wants change,” but it is harder to think of yourself as an “activist”. How unfortunate! We don’t think anyone should feel excluded from activism. We would like to suggest that “activism” is simply: “TAKING ACTION TO EFFECT SOCIAL CHANGE” This can be done by anyone. Sometimes it is an individual person, but often, this is enacted by a group of people motivated by shared values. student groups have proven time and again that activism has no age (for example the “March for Our Lives” students or this group that held a Black Lives Matter march at North Division High School in Milwaukee)
If you are interested in activism, please consider: • An important part of creating social change is to make sure that your actions are accountable to the community you are supporting. • If your activism leads you to become involved with a specific community (ex. If you are working in an underprivileged neighborhood or visiting an impoverished country), make sure that you are making yourself available to that community, engaging in a dialogue with them, and allowing that community to hold you accountable. Don’t try to pop in, “save” them, and leave. Listen to the community, find out what they need, what they want, what they don’t want, and try to fill those needs instead of imposing your own version of justice on them and positioning yourself as an authority who knows what’s best for them. • Choose to do things you think are right, knowing that you could be wrong, and take responsibility for your actions. • Don’t be afraid to receive criticism. If someone is brave enough or motivated enough to tell you that they disagree with your activism, take the time to listen to them, especially if they are part of the community that you are acting in. Criticism is an opportunity to learn and grow, and even if you are doing something with good intentions, understand that “justice” for you might not be justice for someone else. • The goal is not necessarily to accomplish a perfect utopia, it’s simply about making sure that you always strive for “better” for everyone.
What strategies should I use? •
There is no one perfect method for accomplishing change. Tactics have to be evaluated depending on the situation, the people, and the risks.
Power is with the people. Communities have power. Find like-minded people to gather and organize with, and you will have more leverage to demand change.
Law is not justice, and “legal” does not equal “moral”. Law is just a tool that can be used for justice (but is also often used to justify many horrible things). Don’t let your fight for justice be limited to governmental policy and don’t let law limit your imagination of what could be possible - there are many different kinds of change that you can strive for.
Two key tools of activism are TIME and SPACE. If you can find ways to make time for the things that matter to you, and if you can find the space to meet and gather with other like-minded people, then you already have two of the most important tools of making real change. Remember to “Walk while asking questions”
People may try to undermine your push for change by asking “Well, could you do XYZ any better?”, hoping that the question will trip you up and make you doubt yourself or let an issue go. But remember: you don’t have to have the perfect solution in order to recognize when something is wrong. For example, you don’t have to know how to fix racism to know that it’s bad. Sometimes it’s enough to just call things out, to say “Things need to change!” and to figure out how to make things better as you go. Don’t let questions bring you to a stand still- keep walking, keep pushing, while you find solutions. Even if you don’t know what exactly justice might look like, it’s enough to know that your current situation is what justice doesn’t look like, and to demand that the situation be re-evaluated.
All about INTERSECTIONALITY Different people experience oppression in different levels and degrees. For example, women experience oppression because of their gender, but POC (people of color/person of color) women experience sexism and racism. And within LBGTQ+ movements, there are also disabled LGBTQ+ people who experience ableism and homophobia. Intersectionality is the idea that we must acknowledge how struggles overlap, and we need to make sure our movements pay specific attention to and cater to people with intertwining struggles. All movements need to be intersectional, because if they aren’t, they may accidentally perpetuate the kind of bigotry that they are trying to fight against. What is an ALLY? Often when there is a social justice issue, people are motivated to get involved due to their own experiences within a marginalized group. An ally, on the other hand, is someone who doesn’t belong within that specific marginalized group, but still wants to help and support the push for justice for that group. What is SOLIDARITY? To show solidarity means to stand unified with a person or group and to provide support to them. Remember, solidarity should be regarded as a verb (an action) not just a noun (a concept)- don’t just think about justice for a group, actively stand with them and speak up for them. What is PRIVILEGE? Privilege is certain unearned advantages or benefits that are inherently granted to people of a certain group and not to others. Having one kind of privilege does not mean that you aren’t disadvantaged in some other way, and it also doesn’t mean that you haven’t struggled or earned certain things. You should, however, recognize the advantages you do have, whether that be wealth, education, or not being discriminated because of your race, gender, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. What is GASLIGHTING? Gaslighting is a silencing tactic that abusers often use to make a victim question their memory or sanity. Gaslighting often involves sayings like “you’re crazy,” or “I never said/did that,”or “it didn’t happen like that” which make a victim begin to doubt their own abuse and their own credibility, making it difficult for them to call it out and/or escape an abusive situation. What is TONE POLICING? Tone policing is a silencing tactic that involves denying the truth/credibility of an argument, simply because of the tone it was presented in. It puts a limit on the emotions that a victim is “allowed” to feel, and it implies that, if you don’t use the “proper” tone, you don’t deserve to be heard. (Often times, an abuser will purposefully rile a victim up, making them angry or frustrated and then police their tone, ignoring the victims argument and saying things like “Why are you yelling?” or “You need to calm down.” instead of listening).
What is RACISM? Racism is systematic prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against a person or peoples based on their perceived race. It is the belief that certain races are inherently superior or inferior. Racism is also the actions and interactions that can happen as a result of those beliefs. What is STRUCTURAL RACISM? All racism is inherently structural and systematic, meaning that racism is reinforced by the governmental, educational, and social systems in society. This is why “reverse racism” cannot and does not exist. White people are not systematically discriminated against as a result of their whiteness, whereas people of color are systematically discriminated against as a result of their race. This does not mean that racially motivated abuse towards white people is ok - animosity against white people strictly because of their whiteness is called PREJUDICE, because it is a racial bias that is not reinforced by a systematic power. Racial prejudice against white people, however, does not compare to the oppression of people of color, as white people do not face it on the same scale. They do not face it on a structural basis. What are MICROAGGRESSIONS? A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or (maybe) unintentional discrimination against members of any marginalized group (such as a racial or ethnic minority). Why is the all lives matter “movement” problematic? The all lives matter or blue lives matter movements are problematic because there is not widespread structural/systematic racism/prejudice against all people. Black Lives Matter argues that black people should receive equal respect in society, because we currently don’t, and saying “All Lives Matter” instead, makes it sound like you disagree/don’t think black lives deserve to be respected. All lives are not constantly at stake, whereas black lives are- that is why we bring special attention to them. Please don’t try to derail that uplifting message with cries of “All Lives Matter”. Is there racism between POC (People of Color)? Yes. Being a POC does not make you immune from having racist beliefs and oppressing others. For example, chinese people can be racist against black people, and black people can be racist against chinese people. BUT (at least in America) chinese people and black people cannot be considered “racist” against white people, only “prejudiced”.
The N-WORD, why is it offensive, who can say it? Don’t ever say “nigger”/”nigga” if you aren’t black. It doesn't matter if you are latinx or Irish or Indian or if a black person frequently calls you “my nigga!” because you are their friend, or what have you. If you are not black, don’t say that word, no exceptions whatsoever. Many people wonder why, in this day and age, there should still be limitations on who can say the n-word. People argue that we are “post-slavery” and therefore the word doesn’t hold the same meaning that it used to. People also ask “why do black people say it?” and think that since black people have reclaimed the word, everyone should be able to say it. The issue of the n-word is not an issue of technicality. Sure, technically, there is freedom of speech, and maybe no one will check you if you say it, and maybe you are also from a predominantly black neighborhood, and you don’t “mean it that way”, and your friends let you say it but consider this: The n-word is a matter of history and power. Historically, this word was used by people with privilege and power over black people to put them down and make it clear that black people were powerless. No matter how far away we get from that time, that history of power is always present, and it won't go away, especially if people continue to disregard black people when we ask them not to use it, when we say it hurts us. Black people reclaiming the word was a way for us to take back some of that power, to dull the hurt of that word by diluting the power of non-black people using it. Only black people have the power to give the word a new meaning. I have no way to enforce how you use language in your own time, but I’m just going suggest that you reconsider the history of the word and think about if your “right” to say the word is more important than the violent effect of your using the word. Every time you say the n-word, even if you are alone or you don’t “mean it that way” or are with a friend who “doesn’t mind” you are enacting the violent history of the word. Don’t wait for someone to call you out- It is super scary and hard for people to speak up and say something about it, so if you were waiting for a sign to stop saying it- this is it.
for more about black life: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
search #BlackLivesMatter on social media
What is WHITE PRIVILEGE? White privilege is 1. the societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as white or associates with whiteness and 2. their exemption from racial oppression. NOTE: you do not have to self-identify as white to receive white privilege. White privilege is possible because America functions as a white supremest society. The culture of white supremacy is based on the concept of the superiority of whiteness and the inferiority of POC. White privilege provides both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white-identified people may not always recognize they have, making it different from obvious bias or prejudice. These include perpetual cultural affirmations of one's own worth, the tendency to automatically assume that white people are more educated or of a higher social class, and the freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak with more freedom in general than non-white-identified people. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also addresses the assumption that white = “normal” and anything else = a deviation from the standard, labeling others as different or exceptional while perceiving whiteness as “regular” (very over-simplified example: movies with casts of color are “POC movies” or “politically charged movies”, while movies with white casts are just “movies”). It is being able to walk into a store and find that the main displays of shampoo and panty hose are catered toward your hair type and skin tone. It is being able to turn on the television and see people of your race widely represented. It is being able to read a novel and assume that the main characters are mostly white. White priveledge DOES NOT mean that white people don’t work for and earn the things they have in their lives, and it DOES NOT mean that white people can’t face oppression of other kinds, it simply notes that society provides an institutional “leg-up”, set up with more advantages, reassurances, and opportunities in place for white people. This is not something that white people actively do, but it is something they benefit from. We also encourage you to do your own online search for “what is white privilege?” or “white privilege examples”.
WHAT IS CULTURE? Many people will make the claim that white (american) people have no culture, but that is not true, and in fact, that is just another way in which whiteness is allowed to be seen as “normal” or “default”. Instead of thinking about culture as clothes or music or food, we would recommend the definition made by the organization “Showing Up for Racial Justice”: Culture refers to the knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
many people have studied and explained white privilege, but PEGGY MCINTOSH is usually cited as someone who does a particularly good job of unpacking it. Check out videos or her book: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”
What is WHITE SUPREMACY CULTURE? White supremacy culture is the idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. White privilege upholds white supremacy culture, and white American culture is white supremacy culture. White supremacy culture is an artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system. White supremacy culture is reproduced by all the institutions of our society. Adapted from showingupforracialjustice.com P.S. No, this doesn’t mean that every (white) person is a white supremacist. Of course not! Most people aren’t. It just means that America was founded on the principles of racial hierarchy, and we are all still affected/influenced by it.
Race- Other things to keep in mind: • Say “black” rather than “African American” when describing people unless the specific black person says that they prefer to be called African American. • The term latino refers to people with Latin American origin; Hispanic commonly refers to people from countries colonized by Spain in the Americas. • Use more specific identification when possible, e.g., Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican American, but generally USE “LATINO” INSTEAD OF “HISPANIC” WHEN BEING BROAD. • Latin@ — a construction common on Tumblr and Twitter — and Latinx (pronounced la-teen-ex) are also acceptable variations, making room for multiple genders despite the restrictions of language. • When you can, avoid asking people where they are “really from”. Allow people to choose how they identify themselves. Ask what someone’s ethnicity is if you are specifically curious about their ethnic background. • Don’t lie about your race or perform a racial identity that you don’t belong to. • Don’t perform a racial identity as a costume, don’t use sacred objects from other cultures as props/decoration, do your research before you engage with another culture, and if someone expresses discomfort with how you engage in their culture, listen to them. • Question/re-consider some of the racial tropes and stereotypes that people throw around and speak up when you hear them, don’t just tolerate that kind of speech.
Gender and Sexuality What is FEMINISM? Feminism the advocacy for equality among the sexes. Feminist movements have campaigned for women to have equal rights to men, including women’s right to vote, professional opportunities, equal pay, right to own property, to receive education, to have equal rights in marriage, maternity leave, and to protect women from sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape. Feminism aims to break stereotypes regarding a woman’s traditional role and characteristics but also supports women's right in choosing their role in society, lifestyle, clothes, self-expression. Feminism is also largely about equality of the sexes and breaking all gender stereotypes, meaning that it doesn't exclusively campaign for women's rights, but also the right for men to live without the pressure of the stereotypical Male role. WHAT IS INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM? As much as feminism has done for women, the feminist movement also has a long history of being problematic. For example, the original feminist movement was often quite racist, excluding POC women and trying to align themselves more with racist, white men in order to gain favor with them and be seen as equal to them. The feminist movement is also sometimes cited as being trans-exclusionary (not taking trans women seriously as women). Feminism has also been associated with sexual liberation, which sometimes belittles Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab. White feminism is a term that has been used to describe exclusionary feminism that fails to acknowledge the additional oppression that different kinds of women experience. White feminism generally only seeks to protect the rights of white women and disregards women who face additional oppression. Intersectional feminism (see Intersectionality from earlier) is important because it asks feminists to understand that within the realm of “women” there are also so many other struggles and oppressions that need to be centered in the conversation of “equality”. At it’s core, feminism should be about choice, about a woman’s ability to express herself and to be respected in her right choose what she wants for herself, no matter what kind of woman she is. What is TOXIC MASCULINITY? Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything, while supposedly “feminine” traits (which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hyper-sexual) are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away. An important aspect of feminism is fighting for men to feel that it is ok to be vulnerable and emotional.
two cool things to check out: womenwritersofcolor.tumblr.com & The New York Womens Foundation
What does LGBTQ+ mean? LGBTQ+ is generally used as an umbrella term to address anyone who is not heterosexual and/ or not cisgender. Literally, LGBTQ stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer” with the plus standing in for the numerous other gender/sexual identities. Some people use the Q for “Questioning” and some people believe “Queer” is a slur and shouldn’t be used, especially by people outside the community. Use discretion, and if someone asks you not to say “queer”, respect them. LGBTQ+ is not (necessarily) an identity, but an umbrella term that encompasses a diverse group of identities relating to sexuality and gender.
Sexuality is NOT a “choice”, but a lived experience. Please don’t insult someone by implying that their actual, lived experience isn’t “real”, simply because you don’t understand it. ALSO, don’t belittle someone who hasn’t figured everything out yet. Every stage of sexual self-discovery should be respected.
A few basic LGBTQ+ Terms: CISGENDER - having/maintaining the gender identity associated with the sex you were assigned at birth. TRANSGENDER - An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). When speaking about someone, use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. (Source: GLAAD) Note: A transgender person who has not visibly completed transition (in your opinion) is no less valid than a fully transitioned person. Belittling someone's transition or demanding that someone be fully transitioned to “count” as transgender is invasive and offensive. TRANSMISOGYNY - misogyny that specifically affects Trans women. NONBINARY - an umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively Male or female. Basically someone who doesn't identify as Male or female. LESBIAN - A woman who is only romantically or sexually attracted to other women. GAY - A man who is only romantically or sexually attracted to other men. ASEXUAL - someone who does not experience sexual attraction. continued after artwork -->
Art by Alexia Leclercq
BI/BISEXUAL - Any person who is romantically or sexually attracted to men and women. PAN/PANSEXUAL - someone who is attracted to all genders. Since the term pansexual was introduced, “bisexual” is sometimes seen as outdated and exclusionary because it only implied interest in two (bi) genders: male or female, which potentially excludes trans people and non-binary people. Many bisexual people, however have adjusted their definition of bisexual to mean “attracted to genders like my own and unlike my own” making bi and pan nearly interchangeable. It's simply a matter of what words feels comfortable to each individual. QUEER - generally an umbrella term used to describe anyone who does not identify as cisgender or heterosexual. Originally, this word was often used as a slur against the LGBT+ community, and even though it is starting to be reclaimed by the community, there is still debate as to whether or not it is an acceptable term. Use digression and if someone tells you that word makes them uncomfortable, respect them.
Things to keep in mind: • Use the term "anti-gay" instead of "homophobic" and use the term "anti-trans" instead of "transphobic" because “-phobic” implies fear, where there is usually only ignorance and antagonism. • Use "cisgender" (rather than "non-trans") to refer to a person who is not transgender. "Cis" is also acceptable shorthand. • Unless you already know based on research, it should be standard to ask how people identify themselves: gay, bi, genderqueer, queer, trans, etc. • Always defer to the pronouns a person chooses to use for themselves. You don’t have to feel defensive or guilty if you slip up and misgender someone, but be very mindful and make sure that you don’t purposefully misgender someone. • Don’t say/imply that sexuality is a choice. It’s not. • You can’t make someone gay, just like how you can’t make someone straight. Being exposed to people who identify as LGBTQ+ can’t “turn you gay” if that wasn’t already who you were going to be. LGBTQ+ representation in the media doesn’t “brainwash” anyone, it simply shows people that who they are is not wrong. (points 1-4 adapted from Buzzfeed Style Guide)
doing good work in new york - The Ali Forney Center The organization, focused on LGBT homeless youth, is dedicated to helping at-risk young people ward off violence, neglect, self-harm, suicide and sexually transmitted diseases. Most AFC youth, who range from teens to early twenty-somethings, receive beds to sleep on in the center’s shelters, but many more are taken care of in the drop-in center, where hot meals, showers, clean clothes, and mental-health services and medical checkups are provided. Volunteer to serve meals, or become a dedicated mentor or tutor to assist AFC’s community in completing GEDs, applying for jobs and learning life skills. If you don’t have time for that, you can still make a difference by donating holiday gifts like scarves, hats and school supplies, plus gift certificates to retailers listed on the AFC website.
Social/Economic Class In modern times, there have been many progressive conversations about important social topics, such as race, gender, and sexuality that have pushed the bar of equality, opened conversations and productive dialogue, and made great strides towards greater social justice. The same, however, cannot be said about issues of class- for the most part, these conversations remain dormant or taboo. People either don’t understand how/why class matters or they don’t believe that class issues are actually relevant to social justice.
What is class separation? Class is a division of society based on economic status. It is usually separated into lower class (people with little to no financial security), middle class (also known as “working class”, people with moderate financial security, usually these people are reliant on a steady job and cannot afford to lose their employment) and upper class (people with high financial security, often not reliant on steady employment).
class separation by income lower class
lower middle class
those living below the poverty line, with limited participation in the labor force
blue collar workers, clerical work, highly routinized work,
household in$18,000 come of $18,000 to around or below $35,000
upper middle class
upper class (top 5% of US)
top 1% of US population
some working Professionals, in profesmanagers sional fields, college-educated workers
top-level executives, celebrities, heirs
$35,000 to $75,000
income of over $200,000
more than $500,000
$75,000 to around $200,000
^ adapted from 3 different class models by Dennis Gilbert, William Thompson and Joseph Hickey, Leonard Beeghley
Look at the “top 1%” section of this chart- you might think that “the 1%” would only include millionaires or billionaires, but the entry point is only a $500,000 yearly income. That’s not a lot of money, objectively speaking, compared to the Jeff Bezos’ of the world who own $131 billion, but both are part of the top 1%. So then, if not the 1%-ers, who really has the money? The real wealth gap in America isn’t between “the 99%” and “the 1%”, it’s between only the top 0.00001% and everyone else. The top 20 richest people in America own about $732 billion, that’s more than the entire bottom half of the American population (152 million people). This just goes to show that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very small elite group of people. continued on next page -->
... social/economic class continued It then makes sense that class would be an important consideration, because in a capitalist society such as America, money = power, and the richest = the most powerful, a fact which displays itself time and again. You can see that through the way that elections and candidates are influenced by the desires of big businesses, the tax cuts that have been granted to big business, which in turn demands more of the middle and lower class members of society, the people who are dying from their inability to afford expensive health services with prices that have been inflated by big business. The wealthiest people in this country and the top businesses in this country are not being held accountable for their negative actions because their money gives them enough influence, enough pull, to manipulate governmental policy and change the restrictions as to what they are and aren’t allowed to get away with. If we as a society were able to band together under the principle of class, think of how much power we would have behind us - the roughly 99.99999% versus the 0.00001%. This is the movement that “Occupy Wall Street” tried to put into place back in 2011. People were fed up with economic inequality and wanted to demonstrate the raw power of what was possible when the oppressed majority took a stand against the wealthy minority. One main criticism that many people have with OWS is that “their demands were unclear” or “they didn’t have any demands”. In fact, the lack of specific demands was actually a deliberate tool on part of OWS. They believed that OWS should be a space for all people to come together, share information, and then make their own demands from there. They believed that if they put out a specific list of demands, it would limit what issues people might feel comfortable raising within the movement. Unfortunately, this intention was obscured by the news, and many people were influenced to view the movement as unorganized, when in reality, the plan was to interest like-minded people who were fed up with their circumstances and provide them with a space to meet other people who might be able to help them in whatever fight for justice they were interested in. One fault of the movement, however, was the lack of deliberate intersectionality. Class alone is not a good enough uniting force. Issues of racism, sexism, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, etc. are still huge dividers even amongst a 99% with a shared oppression, and these issues were not present enough at the forefront of the movement, leading some participants to feel excluded and frustrated. In that way, the OWS movement is a perfect example of why intersectionality is necessary. The movement did not “die off”, however, as many people believe it did. Many effective focus groups and organizations stemmed from OWS, including Decolonize This Place, which is a more intersectional movement for social justice.
WHAT IS XENOPHOBIA? Xenophobia is “the fear of immigrants”. Often it is not necessarily “fear”, but rather an unfounded, prejudiced belief that there is something inherently wrong/bad about immigrants. How does the media manufacture and perpetuate xenophobia? The media plays an important role in providing information and shaping our biases and fears. Unfortunately, the media is also constantly creating this image that the ‘other’ is ruining and “invading” our country, especially at the border. However, just looking at official government statistics, we know that is not true. Additionally, many immigrants coming at the border are refugees who, under international law, have the right to apply for asylum. The media’s spreading of false, misinformed, and/or prejudiced information insights people to act cruelly towards immigrants without reason. The media also often portrays immigrants as criminals, and associates POC with criminality. For example, people of color who commit crimes are considered irredeemable and/or referred to as terrorists, but when a white person commits a crime, conversations are more centered around mental health, and the media tries to sympathize with the criminal. This is an example of white privilege that perpetuates racism and the belief that people of color are inherently bad compared to their white counterparts. In addition, when a person of color or Muslim individual commits a crime, their race or religion is always mentioned in the news, which makes people associate that race/religion with crime. On the other hand, when a white and/or Christian male commits a crime, race/ religion is rarely mentioned, and the blame is placed on the individual instead of the collective of white/Christian people.
Things to keep in mind: •
Don’t ask someone’s status or documentation.
Don’t make fun of or point out someone’s accent.
Don’t call people “illegal” because it criminalizes someone’s existence. Also as stated before, legality does not define what is moral, and the law has been used to justify horribly immoral things (i.e. slavery, the holocaust, etc.). Even though someone’s residence in the United States might not be legal, they deserve respect and human rights, and their existence is as valid as any other person’s.
doing good things in new york - NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION NYIC is an umbrella organization that covers more than 200 immigrant- and refugee-rights groups, organizes, fund-raises and provides general support to immigrants in New York. Among its chief goals are registering new citizens to vote, advocating for local, state and national laws protecting immigrants’ rights, and training people in immigration law. So how can you chip in? The coalition is always looking for volunteers, especially those who can tutor young English-language learners and folks to pitch in at seminars on health-care access, not to mention assist in organizing events, panels and community meetings.
Other Oppressive Global Structures
WHAT IS NEOLIBERALISM? Neoliberalism is capitalism on steroids. It is the illusion of “democracy” when nearly every governmental policy is actually motivated by capitalism, not what the people want or need. AMERICA IS A NEOLIBERAL SOCIETY. The state supports and tries to help corporations maximize profits, companies abuse workers and pay low wages to maximize profits, there is an increase in immigration due to countries exploiting other countries for resources and destabilizing local economies. Individualism is present in every aspect and all societal issues are blamed on the individual, not the messed up system. Neoliberalism, along with neo-colonialism, perpetuates inequality. It also makes sure that the rich get richer. • Right now, the richest 8 men have more wealth than the poorest half of the human population or 3.6 billion people. • 200 years ago the per capita income of the richest country was 6 times more than the poorest country, by the end of colonialism in the 1960s it was 33 higher, and today it is about 118 times higher. Why? • Multinational companies make around $486 billion each year off of globally southern countries, and those countries pay about $200 billion each year in interest payments on debt (which they got into because of colonialism). • World Trade Organization trade rules in favor of rich countries so poor countries end up losing about $700 billion per year in export revenues. Adapted from “Oxfam Report”
WHAT IS NEOCOLONIALISM? Neocolonialism is a form of indirect domination imposed by typically Western states on former colonies. Legally, the formerly colonized nation is independent, however, in reality, it is still controlled by the former colonizer, usually through economic means. This control can be seen in different forms: trade agreements, the international banking system, and institutions, foreign debt aid all continue to increase inequality and destabilize former colonies without the neo-colonizing state needing to justify its control because of its indirectness. This idea is important because neocolonialism allows for richer countries to get richer while poorer countries to get poorer. Often, individuals like to think their countries’ wealth is based entirely on hard work and better policies, however oppression plays a huge part in keeping certain countries rich. adapted from a definition by Kwame Nkrumah
WHY IS THERE AN INCREASE IN IMMIGRATION? Immigrants often come to another country to flee poverty (which is often caused by U.S and E.U foreign policy, and lasting effects of colonialism) and instability (from war, foreign coups, etc) occurring in their home country. Immigrants work hard, contribute by paying taxes and do jobs that are less appealing while having the odds against them. Many western countries depend on immigrants to fulfill jobs that are less appealing, and countries with declining populations (such as Spain) gain a population boost due to immigration.
WHAT IS THE WHITE SAVIOR COMPLEX? Refers to a person of privilege, often white, going into marginalized communities and trying to save those people, but their lack of local knowledge and understanding of social political and economic context usually hinders actual help, belittles the population they are supporting, and/or leads to more detrimental effects. Their actions do not benefit the marginalized community, instead, they are just meant to make the privileged individual feel like there are a “good person”.
Back in 2012, Teju Cole, a black writer, produced a series of tweets about what he called “the White Savior Complex”, using examples and analogies to sum up the phenomenon that hadn’t often been put into words before. Here are just three tweets from the series:
Environmental Issues / Climate Change It might seem odd to see a section about the environment in a magazine about social justice, but here’s why we’ve included it: Climate Change is the consequence of an ultimately oppressive, capitalist system. Industrialization (spurred on by capitalism) has produced detrimental results for our planet, and for the most part, ordinary citizens are blamed for what is happening instead of the big businesses that are polluting and destroying the Earth. That is not to say that ordinary people can’t affect change, however - you also have the ability to make a statement through your consumptions choices (the businesses you do or don’t support). If you refuse to support businesses that hurt the environment or if you speak out about them, you give them less leverage to make bad choices, and you hold them accountable. WHY ARE CERTAIN PEOPLE CLAIMING CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT REAL? Certain powerful individuals are making money off of fossil fuels and other environmentdestroying practices while not taking into account how the effects are hurting all of us, (especially low income and marginalized communities). These individuals deny climate change because it does not suit them to own up to the truth of what their practices play a part in creating. They aren’t concerned with environmental damage and they don’t want us to concern ourselves, because their companies benefit from the practices that are hurting the earth. WHAT ARE SOME CURRENT EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE? Here are just a few: • Increase in natural disasters. • The drought in Syria played a huge role in creating instability leading to the Syrian conflict. • We are currently in the middle of a mass extinction. • According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is the cause of death for about 4.6 million people every year. • The rising of the sea level has already inundated Islands off the coast of Australia and in the Pacific Ocean. • Citibank estimates the cost of unchecked climate change to be more than $40 trillion by 2060.
OTHER RESOURCES FOR “OTHER OPPRESSIVE GLOBAL STRUCTURES” The International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem? By David Kennedy Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy by Wendy Brown Undoing the Demos by Wendy Brown A Powerless Companion: Human Rights in the Age of Neoliberalism by Samuel Moyn Human Rights in the 21st Century: Take a Walk on the Dark Side by Ratna Kapur Orientalism by Edward Said Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon Instagram account @nowhitesaviors Instagram account @barbiesavior (this is satire, it makes fun at the white savior complex)
Social Media Activism
Social media is a very powerful tool that can be used as a platform for activism and to raise awareness about an issue, however, when not used properly social media can be used to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about marginalized groups and the so-called ‘developing’ countries.
WHEN POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA, PLEASE CONSIDER: • What is my intention with sharing this post? • If you are trying to raise awareness about an issue the post should not be about you or an attempt to make yourself look caring. Know that the post should not be centered around you and your emotions if you are not part of the marginalized group being affected by the issue. • Know your position in relation to the issue. Is your tax money contributing to the issue? Did the politicians you voted for cause the issue? Are you complicit in contributing or perpetuating this issue? • DON’T PORTRAY YOURSELF AS THE HERO OF THE STORY. • Gain informed consent from the person in the picture and/or the caretaker. If you can’t explain why you are taking the photo, find a translator. Show the individuals in the image the photograph you took. • Know the name(s) of the people portrayed. Avoid generalizations, be specific about the context and situation. • Understand the issue, specifically root cause (i.e when talking about a famine donating food is important but it is also equally important to understand the politics behind why this famine occurred). • Avoid sensitive and vulnerable situations and locations (i.e. hospitals) • Challenge the perceptions, bring down stereotypes. (list inspired by Radi-Aid)
OTHER RESOURCES FOR “SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISM” The Ironic Spectator by Chouliaraki Africa and the Digital Savior Complex by Bhakti Shringarpure Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis created by various contributors Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag Compassion Fatigue by Susan Moeller
In an effort to be transparent and hold ourselves accountable to you - the reader - we would like to acknowledge some other topics that we believe are important, but don’t feel that capable of explaining properly/fully in this context. We will include them here in this section with some (hopefully) helpful information, and we hope that this will inspire you to take initiative and look more into these topics.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES It is important to acknowledge the fact that the U.S was founded through settlercolonialism, the genocide of indigenous people, and the stealing of land from indigenous people. We would also like to acknowledge that neither of us are Native, and aren’t trying to position ourselves as authorities on Native issues. If you want to know more about these issues, please engage with work actually created by Native writers/artists/etc, because they have been blatantly ignored and erased for far too long. Now firstly, let’s note that there are multiple ways to address Native America. Native Americans, Natives, American Indians, Indians, Indigenous peoples, First Nations peoples, Aboriginal, Indian Country. The list can go on. It’s ideal to use the name of a specific tribe or nation, like Sicangu Lakota or Comanche. It’s the difference between asking a Japanese person “how’s Japan?” as opposed to “how’s Asia?” With whichever term you use, be cognizant of your relationship to whom you’re addressing, where you are, etc. Context and respect are everything. SOURCE: LANAPEPROGRAMS.INFO
WHAT IS SETTLER- COLONIALISM? Settler colonialism is a type of colonialism that replaces the indigenous population with an invasive settler society. European invaders coming to North America, genociding Native peoples, and establishing a colony here is an example of settler colonialism.
This is Layli Long Soldier. She is an Ogala Lakota poet, writer, feminist, artist, and activist. LAYLI LONG SOLDIER
We recommend her poems “Whereas” and “38”
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND: • Understand that “Native American” is a very generalized term. Each and every tribe has their own customs and ways. • You’re not “part Indian.” You either are, or you are not. • Never use the word “squaw.” It’s profane. It comes from the Algonquin word “shunksqaw,” which means “woman.” White men truncated it to describe what they desired in order to objectify Native women. So please stop using it. • Don’t ask people what their “native name” is. • Recognize that DNA does not equate to culture. Ancestry.com and 23andMe, for example, are in the business of biotechnology, not culture. Culture is the community, not your spit. • Speak out against Columbus Day. Columbus was a murderer and a rapist who set into motion one of the world's worst genocides. • Natives are not extinct, so don’t treat them/talk about them as if they are. Don’t say “Native people used to..” because they are still here, and they still maintain their cultures. • Also don’t say “Native people do XYZ…” because that implies that all Native peoples have the same culture when, in fact, there are so many different Native tribes and cultures - don’t talk about it as if there is one homogeneous “native culture” • Recognize that all of North America is on stolen native land. • Try to avoid saying “I’m a native of ___” ex. Try to avoid calling yourself a “native new yorker.” • Don’t discredit local knowledge, tradition, healing methods, culture, values as inferior. • Don't casually use terms and phrases derived from Native American cultures like a spirit animal, powwow, and low man on the totem pole. adapted from “100 Ways to Support—Not Appropriate From—Native People” by Simon Moya Smith
GENTRIFICATION What is gentrification? How does it relate to race, class, gender? Gentrification is the process of “renovating” a low/working class community and turning it to a middle/upper class neighborhood. Local stores are replaced by chain businesses, new residential complexes are put up, the culture and community of the area is replaced, and so on. This displaces lower/working class residents (often POC), and raises overall rent and cost of living in the area. Developers make profit through gentrification at the expense of lower/working class communities. Often gentrified areas are advertised as “affordable”, but if they’re not affordable for the people who already live there, then who are they affordable for? Usually, it’s artists and young people who are unaware of their role in gentrification. continued on next page -->
They are genuinely in need of “affordable” housing, but they might not realize that they are being used to “upscale” a neighborhood, because what counts as affordable to them is usually much more expensive than what the original residents of the area could pay. Understand that if you are moving into a “newly renovated” neighborhood or a “low income” neighborhood, you are likely complicit in the gentrification of that neighborhood. It is understandable that perhaps you are also struggling financially, and maybe that is all you can afford - we all have our own circumstances that dictate the actions we take - but it is important to always take note of the structures of power that are at play. Perhaps instead of remaining detached from the neighborhood you are inhabiting, get to know your neighbors, to understand their needs and wants, and learn how you can be a good neighbor to them. Don’t call the cops on them for non-criminal behavior that they were able to do before you got there (such as cookouts, playing their music, informal gatherings, “loitering”, lemonade stands and other informal market places, etc.) Try, instead, to understand how they function and to adapt to them instead of making them adapt to you.
doing good things in NYC Chinatown Art Brigade Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) is an intergenerational, womxn-led collective driven by the fundamental belief that our cultural, material, and aesthetic modes of production have the power to advance social change. CAB is comprised of Asian American and Asian diasporic identifying visual artists, media makers, writers, educators, and organizers with deep roots in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Together we make work that centers art and culture as a way to support community-led campaigns around issues of gentrification and displacement. Since 9/11, Chinatown has seen the loss of more than 600 garment factories and over 15,000 housing units for low income families. Over 20% of its Chinese population has been forced to relocate with a 30% rise in luxury housing and a swiftly growing white population that threatens to replace the cultural identity of the neighborhood. Small businesses, restaurants and spaces that have served the community for decades are being rampantly replaced by hotels and galleries. As New York City becomes increasingly unaffordable for long time residents, we ask who are the major players in this wholesale transformation of the city’s poor and working class neighborhoods?
DISABILITIES There are many different kinds of disabilities, both physical and mental, and about 1 in 5 people have a disability in the US. It’s quite unfortunate, then, that mental and physical disabilities are such taboo/ignored subjects. People are uncomfortable addressing these issues and ignorant about how many people’s real lives are affected by such neglect. Not having to think about the realities of living with a disability is a privilege that many people take for granted, kind of like a “If it doesn’t affect me personally, I don’t have to think about it” kind of situation, but that kind of thinking isn’t just neutral, it’s actually harmful and it perpetuates ableism. Try being more mindful and learn more about what it would take for you to be a better ally to people living with disabilities. Here are some tools that can help you to be a better ally moving forward: WHAT IS ABLEISM? Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities and/or the belief that people with disabilities are inherently “broken” or inferior, when in reality, disability is merely another way for a mind/body to be. HOW CAN I BE A GOOD ALLY TO SOMEONE WITH A DISABILITY? • Sit down, be quiet, and listen. While we can empathize with people it is important to note that those without disabilities will never understand life with a disability. Don’t speak on behalf of people with disabilities and don’t make generalizations and assumptions about an individual with a disability. • It is also important to presume competence, only help if the individual ask for help. • Don’t feel pity for that person or expect them to have an inspirational story or fulfill a particular role. • Don’t stare, whisper or make gestures towards someone who is different. If you have a question it is better to ask respectfully and know that the person with a disability has every right to not answer or share information about their lives. • Don’t use “retarded” as a slur/insult, and try to avoid “retarded” as a descriptor for someone with a learning disability- be more specific/address their specific disability instead of using “retarded” as an umbrella term. • Don’t make fun of or point someone’s speech impediment • Rather than saying “a disabled person,” say “a person with disabilities” source: How to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities, by Amy Allison on meriahnichols.com
One example of letting people with disabilities speak for themselves: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network ASAN is a nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to advance civil rights, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.
PALESTINE “A Land without people for people without land” Israel is a settler-colonial project which aims at establishing a Jewish state on land that was previously inhabited by a majority Arab population. Theoretically, Jewish people are trying to establish Israel as a safe-haven for Judaism. This concept gained popularity after WW2 and the Holocaust, when Jewish people felt that they needed/deserved a safe haven from anti-semitism. The biggest problem with the Israel project, however, is that the land that they are trying to create this colony on is not “without people” - there is a very real population of Palestinian people there. Israel occupied the area to create a nation-state and continues to occupy the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem and continues to forcibly destroy homes and displace people. Israel systematically discriminates against those of Arab descent, including Arab Jews. Palestinians are denied access to food, water, health care, mobility of people, and goods. Additionally, Israel continues to kill and bomb Palestinian civilians while portraying Palestinians as the threat to their livelihoods- as terrorist and criminals- due to their race and religion. It is important to acknowledge the human rights abuses that Israel is committing and to fight for the end of violence against Palestinians. Also note, that the United States is very much connected to the abuse and oppression against Palestinian people because the United States gives Israel $10.5 million in military aid EVERYDAY. Adapted from “Jewish Voice for Peace” & “The Human Rights Watch” For a guide on how to discuss the Israel/Palestine issue Jewish Voice for Peace has an amazing guide on their website!
NOTES/ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS/THOUGHTS ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES? USE THIS SPACE!
CLOSING REMARKS Where do you go from here? Look for existing movements/clubs/organizations in your community that are fighting for social justice. Evaluate what they stand for and if their approach is inclusive, intersectional, and accountable to the community. Be an ally. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just think bout social justice- take action, join a movement. Question whether certain non-profit organizations or for-profit organizations with philanthropic components are doing more harm or good. Another place to start is by creating a safe space. Host an event and invite friends and family to have these conversations about social justice and action. Organize actions centered around social justice issues, hold events, protests, engage with politics, create art, collaborate with student clubs and with other organizations and groups. It is also important to see how everything is connected, the fight against settler colonialism in Palestine is related to the fight against oppression for black people in the U.S and is related to the fight for womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right etc. We must fight to dismantle all forms of oppression, not just the ones that directly relate to us.
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Now it's time to go out there and make some change. WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Art by Lily Wilson