ONEWORLD Washington University ● Issue 6 ● Spring 2010
table of Spring 2010
C o- P re sid e nts an d Edi to r s-i n -C h i ef JOHN DROLLINGER Zoe Madigan
C re ative D ire c to r CHRISTINE WEI
Tre a sure r Rachel Folkerts
Se nior E d itor s Alina Kutsenko Olga Lozovskaya JOHN DELUREY RACHEL SACKS
Wr ite r s, E d itor s, an d Desi gn er s DIONE DREW BRYNE HADNOTT Michelle Ho PREETHI Kembaiyan DEBBIE LEWIS DE ANDREA NICHOLS AKHILA NARLA SHIRA SACKS Daniel Starosta DEREK TURNBULL Jordan WagneR
C r e at i v e C ataly s t N e t wo r k
T h e G r e at F i r e wall o f C h i n a
how The Catalyst Paradigm engages a creative community of activists, artists, and leaders
Google confronts China’s censorship and opens questions on corporate responsbility
Stop Being Rude
a quirky showcase of different cultural practices from around the world
a snapshot of the modern and ancient in Jerusalem’s Old City
The Conscious Reader
a critical look at Amnesty International and its reporting on the Israel/Palestine conflict
P e rs u as i o n 1 0 1
L e t t e rs f r o m Germany
six techniques on how to rally others around your cause
insight into the discimination in mordern Germany through the lens of a pen pal
i l o o k ar o u n d m y b o dy
a poem relating globalization and the individual
contents Is s u e 6 15
I n t e rra c i al R e lat i o n s h i p s
A rt i n o u r Community
a reflection on personal experience and an exploration of why we date within our race
a feature on the various ways art is impacting all aspects of the St. Louis community
C ra f t s
a story about the formation of the non-profit and its impact on the town of Iganga, Uganda
Modernity T wo A c t s
Among the Rockets
a poem exposing contemporary disconnectedness through the lens of a painting
rubble-filled Sderot, Israel from the perspective of an outsider
E n v i r o n m e n tal Refugees
a different type of refugee gains spotlight at Copenhagen
an examination of the effects a unique fashion show has on the garment workers of South Africa
the Urba n S tu d io Ca fĂŠ, p a ge 2 0
dear readers, When our staff began planning the feature for this semester, we started thinking about awareness and community. The title “Art in our Community” connotes culture, creativity, change, and togetherness. The title inspires imagery of art projects, murals, sculptures, art initiatives, community centers, and group learning. A single title has the power to awaken some of the most incredible images and stirring thoughts. But a title is not all encompassing, and neither are those images. we realized that art in our community does not have to be so alluring; perhaps, the imagery is not always so grand. Though long forgotten, that little doodle on your lecture neighbor’s notebook had meaning at the time, and no matter how simple it may have been (an expression of sheer boredom, for example), it is art. Along the path from campus to the loop are little graffiti tags, and whether you believe graffitti is street art or vandalism, it is undeniably a form of self-expression. When you text an emoticon, perhaps the simplest of all images, you convey your feelings in a symbolic way— viola! art. On a typical day, we frequent the same hangouts, take the same paths, and see the same people, but this is not a critique of the ordinary, nor an attempt to find meaning in nothingness. Instead, we ask each of us to look for the art we so often encounter, but so quickly dismiss. We are all artists, observers, collectors. We are a part of this community; our contributions add depth and beauty. Doodle on!
sincerely, Zoe Madigan John Drollinger
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Creati v e Catal y st Network
by D e A n d r e a N i c h o l s
The Catalyst Paradigm is a handbook that proposes resources and strategies through seven intuitive steps that we, as innovative and passionate students and leaders, can utilize in efforts to help implement progress and change both on campus and within our local and larger communities. The seven steps are as follows:
1. Find a void. 2. Feel something. 3. Conceive a vision. 4. Find allies. 5. Take action. 6. Tell people. 7. Keep going. The most immediate way to understand the application and success of this process is through some of the innovative and successful initiatives that student leaders at Wash. U. have developed within the last couple of years. Though none of them directly or deliberately applied The Catalyst Paradigm process, one can definitely notice how many of its steps have yielded sustainable success for each. In 2008, two students, frustrated by the lack of a strong poetry community within the Wash. U. student body, connected to host weekly poetry workshops that students could attend to share their experiences and stories. WUSLAM has now become a nationally competitive slam poetry team and has allowed numerous students to share creatively during their weekly meetings. Another student, motivated by occurrences of racial discrimination on campus, organized a t-shirt campaign and town hall with friends to directly confront the issue within the Wash. U. community.
This effort has developed into the student group, Connect 4, which continues to strive for increased advocacy and dialogue about diversity on campus today. These are just a microcosm of the many creative endeavors that individuals within the Wash. U. community have utilized their unique gifts to engage as creative catalysts on our campus. Numerous WU student initiatives can be seen under this same lens for how they have used innovative thinking, passion, and creativity to strive for progress, action, unity, and change. With this understanding of how The Catalyst Paradigm can be seen within the Wash. U. student community, I have embarked upon the task of creating a network of such creative leaders and thinkers in an attempt to continuously share our efforts and actively engage in what it means to be a creative catalyst in our local and larger community. The Creative Catalysts Network (CCN) aims to serve as a place whereby visionaries at Wash. U. (and soon beyond) can exchange
ideas, share inspiration, showcase and receive feedback on their efforts, and engage their passions in a structured online community. In a time where creative innovation in professional fields has become increasingly steered by interdisciplinary strategy and nontraditional approaches, we students have reached a point where we must also embrace our gifts, passions, and interests beyond the traditional lens. By engaging with others in a context like the CCN, we can receive new insight by which to effectively share our gifts with the world as creative catalysts. To share in this creative community, one does not have to be an artist, designer or radical activist, nor is every individual obligated to be actively involved in leading a campus or world-changing endeavor. The sole obligation is to be personally committed to living a life with passion and using your unique gifts to do more than simply exist within our community.
Please join us.
“ He wh o ha s i m a g i n at i o n w i t ho u t l e a r n i n g ha s w i n g s bu t n o f e e t .” — J OSEP H JOUB ERT
Bringing down the great firewall of China by Miche lle Ho
On January 12, 2010, Google published on its official blog an article addressing a recent security breach of Google’s email service, Gmail, that targeted several human rights activists. The hacking originated in China, where internet activity is closely monitored and officials censor sensitive materials like pornography and government dissidence. Four years ago, when Google launched its operations in China, the search engine giant agreed to abide by local laws and filter its content. At the time, Google faced criticism
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for compromising its informal philosophy and company motto “Don’t Be Evil.” Google’s rationale was that “the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open internet outweighed [their] discomfort in agreeing to censor some results.” However, their stance changed in light of the recent hacking. In the blog post “A New Approach to China,” Google announced its plans to cease censoring its search engine google.cn. This move is Google’s call to the Chinese government to bring down the socalled “Great Firewall of China.” On March 22, Google announced it had begun redirecting google.cn to google.com.hk, its uncensored Hong Kongbased search engine. Google has been posting daily updates on the accessibility of
google.com.hk to mainlanders. As of yet, the Chinese government has not blocked uncensored web search. In the coming months, people across the world will be watching closely to see how the Chinese government reacts to Google’s move. Freedom of speech is a basic human right. Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution states that “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.” The truth is different. Human activists and reporters are in prison for merely exercising their rights. In 2005, journalist Shi Tao was imprisoned in China for releasing a Chinese government document to a foreign website. The document in question warned journalists to refrain from publishing stories about the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. Yahoo! gave the Chinese government access to Tao’s email account that provided evidence used to incriminate him. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for trying to alert the world of China’s blatant censorship. US Congress found Yahoo’s
handling of Tao’s case “inexcusably negligent behavior at best and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst.” Shi Tao is just one of many political dissidents being jailed in China. However, his case is of special interest because it involves a multinational corporation like Google. The Yahoo! incident brings to light the transgressions of other companies that may be unknowingly or even knowingly assisting China’s censorship. Amnesty International has implicated Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Websense and Sun Microsystems. Ironically, the very technology that China uses to censor American websites originates from American companies. Cisco Systems, for example, has been criticized for selling routers and switches to China to monitor and censor internet activity. Furthermore, confidential Cisco Systems documents were leaked in 2008 that acknowledged and even agreed to support China’s censorship system known as the “Golden Shield.” It is irresponsible for companies like Cisco to do business in China while turning a blind eye to transgressions on human rights. Google is the first multinational company to outright oppose the Chinese government’s internet policy. Others would do well to follow its lead and further bring international attention to China’s violation of human rights. China has more internet users than there are United States citizens, and that number is growing daily. While this may seem like a new market opportunity, these companies must remember that the people of China are being denied their basic rights. Whether other companies choose to take Google’s cue and move out remains to be seen. Even if Google fails to loosen Chinese censorship, the search engine giant is blazing new ground in internet freedom.
“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” — ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY
Stop being rude “Strange” cultural practices around the world
by D e bora h Lew i s With the entire world connected, our international cultures and acceptable practices are becoming more integrated and interactive. Committing cultural faux pas are more likely to occur during vacations and business deals as globe trotting is becoming more of a norm. Thanks to the internet, the cultural practices of the places we visit are at our fingertips, and yet we keep acting rude and forget that we are guests in other cultures with different norms. How would you feel if a tourist pointed at you with her middle finger? You would feel just as offended as someone would in Africa if you extended your five fingers with your palm facing towards them (like the US version of a high five); it means “eat sh**.” In Spain, the “Rock and Roll” hand gesture means “your wife is a hooker.” In Italy, the backwards peace sign means “f*** off,” or as the UK interprets it, “piss off.” And the list continues to the “okay” sign in Brazil and Germany, the closed fist in Pakistan, and the thumbs up in Greece meaning things too obscene to translate in this article. There are so many different meanings we have attached to gestures and so many bizarre ways that we distinguish appropriate and inappropriate behaviors that it is hard to keep up. The lesson to take away is to make sure you check a guidebook before your visit anywhere to learn how to act appropriately. Never forget that our cultural norms are just as ridiculous as the next. We shouldn’t snub our noses at other practices. So, the grand finale: Here’s a list of some of the most absurd things that I’ve found. But just remember, we appear just as bizarre in our practices as others do to us.
Inuit women in the beginning of the 20th century saved their urine to wash their hair. Keep in mind, the liquid is 95% water and if you are low on water…
In China, belching and slurping soup is a compliment, telling the chef that you are enjoying the meal. If you keep clearing your plate in China, it means you are still hungry, so they will keep feeding you.
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Caterpillars are delicious and nutritious in central African countries and deep fried tarantulas are tasty snacks in Cambodia. Meanwhile, scorpions taste like lobsters to the Vietnamese.
In Switzerland, if you don’t hold constant eye contact with the person you are toasting, you will both have bad luck.
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In many parts of Asia (including China), it is inappropriate to stroke a child's head as you will be defiling the seat of his or her soul.
To close, insects are a great source of protein. Maybe in 50 years your kids will be snacking away on bugs like nobody’s business. So in case that happens, here’s a great recipe:
Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies 2 1/4 cup flour 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 1 cup butter, softened 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 tsp. vanilla 2 eggs 12-ounce chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
“ C u l t u re i s t he w i d e n i n g o f t he m i n d a n d o f t he sp i r i t .” — J AWA H A R L AL NEHRU
Arcade The room was empty except for the two of us of and a handful of decadeold arcade games. We channeled our inner fifth graders as the owner looked on, curious as to how exactly we had found his tiny business. And the truth was we nearly hadn’t, had it not been for the glare of mischief shining through the dark windows. The dirty linoleum floor of this hidden gem squeaked as a giggling toddler was chased out of the backroom by a slightly older boy, and the owner yelled something in Arabic. Outside of his establishment lay the worn limestone of Jerusalem’s Old City. Shadows crept down the walls of the nearby buildings, alleviating the restlessness of the worn, winding paths. In the back-alley of a side street, I’d found this place completely by mistake after getting lost for the umpteenth time. The plastic threshold in the doorway marked the line between anachronistic worlds: the ancient Muslim Quarter and the (almost) modern arcade. Out of the way of the tourist centers and religious sites, the narrow streets were all but abandoned and the scent of coffee and falafel floated in with the morning breeze. The ayatollahs arched their eyebrows in concern as absurdist characters fought on the screen. Having beat my friend a few times already, the owner asked to try his luck. After beating him a few times too, I felt bad, especially because he was getting visibly frustrated. The next game I lost on purpose because, after all, I was still lost in the Arab quarter and wanted to leave on good terms. Stealing curious glances through a door, the children watched us as we made our way back into the endless turns of ancient Jerusalem. But at least I’d found repose for my ten-cent coins, the bane of Israeli finance, deep in the bowels of a relic of the American eighties no less. I asked the owner, leaning against the doorframe and still amused at our presence, for a good place to eat around there, assuming he might know some tiny local awesome place, and he gave us where to go. And it was just a big cafeteria with bad shawarma. As I sipped my cup of water to wash down the food, enjoying the irony, I could still see the arcade screen flickering in the back of my mind. I stood up to a bitter gust of wind blowing through the alley and into my face, but after I rubbed my red eyes of the limestone dust, I smiled. The arcade and the Old City, it seemed, wanted to mingle just a little longer.
by Da n i e l Sta ro s ta
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The conscious reader:
Amnesty and its treatment of Israel by De re k Tu r n bu l l
Amnesty International holds a prominent place on the list of worthy, independent humanitarian organizations in the world today. In a world full of violence and oppression, Amnesty International’s representatives and members work tirelessly to combat injustice and state-sponsored violence worldwide. Their principles include a staunch opposition to human rights abuses of all kinds, from politically-motivated imprisonment to torture of prisoners and violence against women. As it works to free jailed journalists or prevent the execution of women accused of adultery, calling Amnesty “righteous” would be an
understatement. To be sure, few of their positions qualify as controversial in a free and democratic society such as ours. But every so often, the organization oversteps its bounds and ends up portraying a charged situation from just one, biased angle. For example, consider the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Amnesty International has a lot to say about this conflict. On their website, you will find an entire section devoted to articles and Amnesty press releases on issues in the region. These pieces, dating back to 2007, raise some interesting points about human
rights concerns and alleged international law violations in the decades-old conflict between the Palestinians and the state of Israel. Some, like discussions of the recent UN-submitted “Goldstone Report” on Israel’s December 2008 to January 2009 military operation in Gaza, touch on many of the same issues being discussed in the Israeli media today. The “Goldstone Report” alleged numerous human rights abuses and even war crimes on the parts of Israeli soldiers involved in the operation. English-language publications from Israel, like the left-ofcenter newspaper, Haaretz, routinely run
“ L e t u s n o t l o o k b a c k i n a n g e r o r f o r wa r d i n f e a r, bu t a ro u n d i n awa re n e ssi s.” — J A MES T H URB ER
editorials calling for the Israeli government to launch internal but transparent probes of its military’s conduct in Gaza. Even more rightist publications, like The Jerusalem Post, feature Israeli responses to Goldstone’s accusations almost daily. While many of The Jerusalem Post’s columnists issue vehement denials and outraged counter-accusations of anti-Semitism, some actually offer tentative acceptance of the fact that the Israeli military, like any modern army, is fallible. Amnesty’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in some ways, actually mirror a large portion of Israeli public opinion. But Amnesty International’s bias—and the double-standard to which it holds the state of Israel and the Palestinians’ various nominal leadership organizations—becomes clear in the character of Amnesty’s coverage of the conflict. Take, for instance, the title of the section devoted to Israel and the Palestinians: “Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories.” This title, in fact, has been a misnomer since 2005. The last Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew from the territory in August of that year, so to include Gaza under the heading of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is inaccurate and
misleading. Since the disengagement of August 2005, the entire Gaza Strip has been nearly free of Israeli soldiers, settlers and citizens. The distinction between “nearly” and “entirely,” though, remains a clear one: since June of 2006, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been held hostage in Gaza by the Palestinian militant organization, Hamas, which functions as the de facto, if fractious, government of Gaza. As you peruse Amnesty International’s online section entitled “Crisis in Gaza— Background,” bear in mind the schoolchildren in the southern border town of Sderot, who live in constant fear of the sirens that warn of rockets fired indiscriminately across the border by Palestinian terrorists. Do not forget the victims of bus bombings who lie buried in Israel while the men who ordered their deaths serve in administrative posts in Gaza. Consider the plight of Gilad Shalit, imagining the grief his family must feel every day. You will find, as of March 3, 2010, 36 articles addressing human rights concerns in the Gaza Strip. Exactly 33 of them criticize Israeli policy, focusing on alleged Israeli violence against civilians and other violations of international law. How many articles deal
with Palestinian violations of international law? Exactly four—though only three mention Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians. So, Amnesty’s online section on “Israel/ Palestinian Occupied Territories” has an entire list of articles dealing with a territory not actually occupied, unless you count Hamas as an occupier. Many do, since the terrorist organization admittedly took over the Strip in an armed coup in 2007. Amnesty’s articles deal almost entirely with Israeli government and military actions, focusing on the 1.5 million civilians who live in Gaza—as opposed to the more than one million Israeli civilians who live within range of the rockets Hamas has spent much of the last four years firing at Israel, or the hostage Gilad Shalit. The organization’s incredible disparity in coverage does a disservice to the Middle East’s freest democracy, and demonstrates an unfair treatment of one of the world’s most constrained militaries. An informed reader must always remember that even a humanitarian organization with Amnesty International’s credentials can occasionally suffer from skewed priorities and standards.
“Do not forget the victims of bus bombings who lie buried in Israel while the men who ordered their deaths serve in administrative posts in Gaza.”
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persuasion 101 how to rally your fellow students around your cause
To most of us, “propaganda” is probably a dirty word. But let’s face it—propaganda is everywhere. I was made aware of this fact when I read “Age of Propaganda” in my Education Capstone seminar, about the endless and pervasive persuasion tricks in mass media. And then I thought of the OneWorld readers. Most of you probably have several causes you hold near and dear to your heart—but you probably can’t save the world all by yourself. So I’m now sharing some key points from Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson’s book to help you garner the manpower and passion you need.
GET THEIR ATTENTION: BUZZWORDS AND IMAGES PEOPLE LIKE
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by C h r i s ti n e We i
This might seem like a no-brainer, but statistics show that advertisements with seductive or suggestive images as well as images of babies and puppies sell better. Words that catch people’s attention include “new,” “easy,” “simple,” “quick,” “now,” and “amazing” (though not all of these might apply to campus recruitment). Still don’t have enough to say? Distract the crowd and improve their general mood with some entertainment, like a jingle.
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The norm of reciprocity operates on the social expectation that when someone gives something to you, you give something back. Marketers find that samples, trial subscriptions, and free gifts can greatly increase sales. In other words, stickers, pens, and other freebies with your group’s name or slogan are not useless and cheesy.
RECIPROCITY #2: LET’S BOTH GIVE IN SOME AND REACH A COMPROMISE
RECIPROCITY #1: I GIVE YOU SOMETHING, YOU GIVE ME SOMETHING
The norm of reciprocity technique has several variations. The foot-in-the-door variation involves making an extreme request, like asking for 30 volunteer hours a week, before making a more reasonable one, like asking for three hours. The person who refuses the extreme request will then feel obligated to reciprocate the apparent compromise, from 30 to three hours. The time that they commit to will also seem more feasible in comparison.
This technique partly draws on the norm of reciprocity and partly draws on the fact that people are proud and do not like to appear stingy. If someone doesn’t want to make a donation, for example, try the “even a penny will help” line. After all, would you want to be known as the person who wouldn’t even spare a penny? According to the rationalization trap, you’ll do anything to avoid feeling bad about yourself, including giving money (or time).
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE PROUD
People are social beings. According to the minimum group paradigm, people like others they share a label with
MAKE THEM better and treat them more warmly, even if the association is completely meaningless—like owning blue-framed FEEL LOVED: THE glasses. These granfalloons are ways to organize the world but are also ways to forge alliances. Are ice-breakers GRANFALLOON TECHNIQUE and bonding sessions cheesy? Perhaps. Should you be exclusive? No. But does feeling special and feeling like you belong increase loyalty and commitment? Absolutely. So never understimate the power of a club hoodie.
We all know commitment is scary. It might be hard to get people to sign up for 100 hours of magazine layout, but it’s easier to agree to escalating commitments. Just come to the info session (with free food—think norm of reciprocity), then just check out the staff meeting, then just attend the software tutorial for fun, then try your hand at this small page...and that’s how you’ll found yourself producing 48-page magazines each semester.
TAKING ONE STEP AT A TIME WITH ESCALATING COMMITMENTS
“ L e t u s n o t l o o k ba c k i n a n g e r o r f o r wa r d i n f e a r, bu t a ro u n d i n awa re n e ssi s.” — J A MES T H URBER
Letters from Germany t e xt a n d p h o t o s by Jo rdan Wagn er
It started out as a class project in 7th grade. Each student paid $5, filled out a short biographical page, and selected their pen pal’s country. Almost fully of German heritage (my last name is Wagner!), I decided I wanted a pen pal from Germany. A few weeks later I received a slip in the mail informing me of my pairing. Her name was Rabea Niggemeyer; she was a month younger than me and lived in the northern city of Essen. Over time, I have learned so much more than just her favorite color or favorite food. Through Rabea, I have been introduced to the prejudices still facing Germany. What started out as a casual correspondence between the two of us evolved into a deep friendship. Between
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the summer of my sophomore and junior year of high school, I participated in a study abroad program in Germany for four weeks. My host family lived in Mainz, Germany, and I attended an art school for a few weeks. The rest of the time I spent traveling with my host family to the Bavaria region in southern Germany. Afterwards, I spent an additional two weeks visiting Rabea in her hometown of Essen. While I was there, I witnessed firsthand the social and political issues affecting Germany due to the former division between East and West Germany. Furthermore, I was personally taunted and harassed due to my olive complexion and dark features. Because of my appearance, some Germans automatically assumed I was of Turkish descent. After World War II, Germany was split into two countries: West Germany and East Germany. West Germany was under the rule
of the Allies but flourished as a democratic and capitalist society. Meanwhile, East Germany was under the communist rule of the Soviet Union and, in effect, was confined to the “Soviet Block.” Due to this split, West Germany faced a major labor shortage. To offset this problem, a large influx of Turkish citizens migrated to Germany to compensate for the loss of workers. At first, West Germany welcomed these immigrants. But over time, the tension between the native Germans and Turkish immigrants increased. This drastic shift from welcoming the Turkish immigrants to looking down on them stemmed from the ongoing political changes in Germany between World War II and the present day. As West Germany became a more stabilized country, the need for foreign help decreased. Unfortunately, these Turkish citizens already had established lives in Germany and were unwilling to leave the country. Moreover, after the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990, native Germans could have met most of the labor needs. Yet many Turkish citizens held the jobs wanted by these citizens and animosity grew from the lack of jobs for
native Germans. Due to the current, global recession, Germany has lost 200,000 jobs in the past year. This has forced even more competition for jobs between the native Germans and Turkish immigrants. Currently, the tension between these two groups is at an all-time high. Many people of Turkish nationality living in Germany today are second or third generation German citizens. Currently, there are around two million people in Germany that are Turkish immigrants with another two million people of Turkish descent living within Germany’s border. Although I had heard about the discrimination of Turkish citizens from Rabea in some of her letters, it was hard for me to believe that the native Germans inflicted violence and psychological abuse upon these citizens. Although most of my ancestry is German, part of my mom’s side of the family immigrated to the United States from present day Croatia (formerly Yugoslavia). Therefore, I have many physical
characteristics typical of people living in this region, such as a more olive skin complexion with dark hair and dark brown eyes. As I was waiting at a bus stop one day with Rabea, a group of native Germans started yelling at me. With my limited amount of German, I turned to Rabea and asked her what they were yelling. She said that they assumed I was Turkish and were hurling insults at me. I was shocked. Due to my physical appearance, these individuals made an assumption about my heritage, my citizenship status, and my life. I was tempted to yell back to these immature teenagers that they could yell at me for being a citizen of the United States, but not a citizen of Turkey! I was hit with the realization that racism is still present and evident in the ever-evolving country of Germany. I assumed
that a country that has seen firsthand the horrifying consequences of prejudices and racial superiority would be more tolerant of immigrants and people of all races and cultures. Through the exchanges of letters with Rabea and my visit to Germany, I have realized a striking similarity between the United States and Germany: both our countries continue to struggle with issues of racism and racial superiority. It is false to believe that industrialized nations such as Germany and the United States are immune to racism, stereotyping, and prejudices. The current global recession has only exacerbated the competition for jobs in Germany between these two racial groups. As Germany continues to grow, it will face even more immigration and diversity issues.
“ Do n o t p ro t e c t yo u r se l f by a f e n c e, bu t r at he r by yo u r f r i e n d s.” — C Z EC H P ROVERB
I look around my body, see remnants of the world on my fingers, wrists, neck legs feet— smelly feet. The shoes on these feet are probably from China (a label confirms my assumption). With my smelly tights, and boots I walk, long days around campus: Asleep by four am, naps between classes— my dad tells me that globalization is the worst thing to ever happen to the American middle class. I feel screwed… but by whom? By the families who labor— the mobility drip, dripping from the Mississippi to the Yangtze? By the women and men sitting, heads leering, poised pens arching, submerging protective tariffs? By my father who cries Money! and demands that I make it? Make it. I retreat to a couch and sleep to forget it. To avoid another day. by Sh i ra Sa ck s
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THE GRAYAREA: onegirl’smusingson
inter racial RELATIONSHIPS by D i o n e D re w
MY STORY My mother is a short white woman from Skidmore, Missouri. My father is a tall black man from Houston, Texas. Though both of my parents are American, I fall between two racial categories—two that have long been polarized in this country. To be quite honest, I try not to identify myself along racial lines. Before I am black or white, I am Dione. I am a human, I am a woman, I am a Texan, and I am a student. I am also a daughter, a friend, and an oldest sibling. I usually only think about my race when I find myself in one of two situations: when I am with a group of people who are all one race, or when I have to fill out a form that requests I “check one” ethnicity. However, there is one other area in my life where I am confronted with my multicultural identity: dating. Over the last few years, as both dating and race have become
more relevant to my young adult life, I have found myself fascinated with the concept of interracial dating. Dating is a hard topic to navigate; race is, to say the least, similarly difficult. My aim here is to explore how race fits into dating, mostly through personal experiences and primary research gathered from peers. Since my first (white) crush in second grade, I have been attracted to males of every race. However, with the exception of my first (Hispanic) boyfriend, I have only dated African-American boys. I find this surprising, because the number of non-black crushes I have accumulated over the years far outweighs the number of black guys I have liked. If I am attracted to boys of so many races, then why don’t I date them? Well, as they say, it takes two to tango; my lack of dating diversity is not due to any lack of interest on my part. And readers, please excuse me if I sound immodest here, but I consider myself to
“Bl e s s e d a re th ey wh o s e e be a u ti fu l t hi n g s i n hu m bl e p l a c e s w he re o t he r p e o p l e se e n o t hi n g.” — C A MIL L E P I S S ARRO
IF I AM ATTRACTED ensure personal survival. However, in our increasingly globalized world, this premise folds. New cultural realities, such as the ease with which one could potentially overcome geographic or exclusive racial barriers, should challenge the norms of racial exclusivity.
be fairly attractive, intelligent, outgoing, and funny. So when I began to notice that boys of other ethnicities did not respond to me in the same way that black guys did, I wondered if race had anything to do with my dating success. NUTS AND BOLTS Note: Though I realize the terms “race” and “ethnicity” can be very nuanced, for convenience, I use them interchangeably here. Interracial dating can be difficult; the social obstacles to dating outside of your racial, ethnic, or culture group include pressure from parents, other family members, friends, and even the media. While Americans generally consider a romantic relationship to be a bond between two people, peer and parental pressures can strain this connection. I have female Korean friends whose mothers expect them to “end up with a nice Korean boy” and black male friends whose families expect them to find and settle down with “a strong black woman.” In these cases, my friends are hesitant to bring home significant others who do not meet family or cultural standards. Formally, the terms endogamy and ethnic nepotism explain our tendency toward same-race partner selection. Endogamy is the practice of purposely marrying others who share some social affiliation with you, based on culture, religion, or class. Pure endogamists are isolationists, and in their attempts to maintain a culture, they usually destroy it through a shrinking gene pool and increased likelihood of genetic diseases in offspring. While endogamy describes the isolationist actions of certain groups of people, ethnic nepotism is a related theory that seeks instead to explain why people generally select in-group interactions. Ethnic nepotism is related to the notion of kin selection—it seems logical that you would assist those closest biologically to you, granting fewer supportive resources to those who are decreasingly related to you. The premise behind these theories is hoarding of resources to
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INTERRACIAL DATING TRENDS IN POPUAR CULTURE I have observed that within many races, one gender is protective of the other. For instance, I commonly hear black women say, “white women are stealing our men,” and, based on conversations with Asian females, Asian males wonder why Asian girls often date white males. While I am sure this feeling of protectiveness is mutual between each gender in a particular race, there seem to be certain racial and gendered trends when it comes to interracial relationships. The most salient interracial image for me is that of the black man with the white woman. Looking to celebrity couples, we see Seal and Heidi Klum, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie Presley, Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus, Dr. Dre and Nicole Threatt, Ice-T and Coco, and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sara Kapfer, to name a few of the more popular couples. In all of these couples, the male is the celebrity (though in a few, the wife is also famous of her own accord). Perhaps these relationships are acceptable because females practice hypergamy; that is, they intend to “marry up,” which means any male (even a racial “other”) can be acceptable if he has power, fame, and wealth. Noticeably less popular in the celebrity world, though still available, is the image of the black woman with a white man: Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton, Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower, and David Bowie and Iman. These couples do not have the visibility of the ones on the previous list; unless the correlation has something to do with age, I have no personal theories as to why couples consisting of a black man and a white woman seem to have higher visibility. The relationship between white men and black women began during times of slavery, when the black female slaves could be used—raped—to produce more slaves. Unfortunately, the negative view of this particular racial coupling is still with us today. A recent young (though unromantic) coupling in popular culture was the “Love, Sex, and Magic” video with singers Justin Timberlake and Ciara—a video which opponents say hyper-sexualizes the black female for the pleasure of the white male. Finding clear examples of other famous interracial relationships was difficult; when non-white, non-African American cultures are portrayed in Hollywood, the actors portrayed are often homogenous and whitewashed. Discussing the scarcity of Asian, Indian, and Hispanic men in Hollywood (who are rarely portrayed but are nearly always marginalized and subsequently heavily stereotyped) would merit a separate article, but let us keep exploring.
TO BOYS OF SO MANY RACES... From discussions with Asian female friends (and one particularly helpful Asian male friend), an in-group dating exodus occurs because Asian women are increasingly scorning Asian men. The women are choosing to date white males, because Asian females perceive white men as more masculine, assertive, and socially comfortable; Asian females may also connect with Western ideals of beauty. Asian girls who seek the “All-American” physical ideal in place of specific personality characteristics will end up disappointed. Like with black female/white male pairings, to some extent, white males exoticize Asian women, and this cultural “yellow fever” is often trivialized into a joke: “Asian Girls” are number 11 on the list of “Stuff white People Like” (http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/). THE BIGGER PICTURE Interpersonal barriers that are separate from (but can be quite connected with) race, such as religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, language differences, political leaning, and educational differences have the ability to cause as much distress in relationships as differing ethnicities. However, since religion, politics, and financial situations are taboo discussion points in American society, particularly with people you do not know well, their impact on relationships is much less available for scrutiny. Also, to some extent, religion, political views, and financial status may be flexible variables, where race is fundamentally rigid. While working on this article, I spoke with several male friends about interracial dating, and got their perspectives on the issues I’ve just outlined. For those who had dated outside of their race at least once, the personality traits of the girl were most important to them. When considering potential partners, my male friends sought girls who were attractive, a good friends, humorous, understanding, compatible, and had dynamic personalities. For guys who had not dated outside of their race, the reasons were lack of diversity from their background (so they just never had the chance), attraction to a very specific “type” of girl and a lack of attraction to females who did not meet the physical criteria, and feeling more comfortable in samerace relationships—they said that it was just easier to date in-group females. I neglected to inform a couple of my friends that I was writing an anonymously-quoted article, so their original responses seemed cautious and measured, which led to some funny exchanges. When I
asked one white male if he’d dated outside of his race, he responded, “an Asian…but if you mean African American girls, then no.” At the end of this article, you, reader, might ask, “Who cares?” Well, I do. And you do, too, because you agreed to explore this issue with me when you sat down to read this article. But what’s the point? I do not expect everyone to run out and seek an interracial relationship, and I especially do not mean to make anyone feel guilty or judged about his or her dating preferences. Also, please do not think I mean to glorify individuals who date outside of their race; I do not think these couples are poster-children for love, tolerance, respect, curiosity, et cetera. I simply wanted to collect and ponder the experiences, observations, research, and conversations I’ve had on the topic of interracial dating, and share some of it with you. There are, however, many benefits to come from interracial couples. To me, the most important potential benefit is that increased interracial dating would help break down the racial barriers that still exist in our country. We all use race as one of the first identifying characteristics about other people; anyone who suggests that America is post-racial is, well, wrong. And as a good friend of mine suggests, the first and easiest way to blur racial lines is to mingle sexually. For me, as a multicultural individual, this stuff just comes up. I think about things like the fact that when my parents were born, there were laws in this country preventing them from getting married. I ask myself questions like, “Why do I think dating a white guy would make us an interracial couple, but dating a black guy does not?” These thoughts and questions are not easily answered, but I believe that asking and reflecting are still important steps. If “this stuff” has not yet come up in your life, take a few minutes to reflect on why—and if you ever get the chance, be open and consider trying something new. ***This article is based on my personal experiences and conversations, not on statistics or figures. Because of my background, I am most familiar with black and white America, and references to other races or cultures are based on observations and conversations with friends. I understand very deeply that “Asian,” “Indian,” “Hispanic,” and even “black” and “white” are terribly unspecific, generalizing, perhaps misleading terms, which encompass infinite peoples, languages, and cultures; because of my space limitations, please forgive my lack of nuance. Lastly, because of my sexual preferences, I realize this article is very hetero-normative. If you have any insights or opinions on same-sex interracial dating, or any other aspect of dating I’ve touched upon, please feel free to continue the conversation with me. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
then why don’t i date them? 17
Art in our community ...a collection of articles, musings, photographs, and a painting inspired by the art and art initiatives that touch our everyday lives p h o to s by Z o e M a d i ga n
From one “artmaker” to another... ar ti s t’s s tate m e n t by Ra c h e l Sa ck s I was inspired to paint “Artmaking in St. Louis” during my visit to the Urban Studio Café and my interactions with the kids there. Watching them work with so much focus and interest made me want others to reconsider the event of children making art. I chose this scene for my class assignment to paint an interior with two figures. While others may
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have chosen to mimic Pierre Bonnard, Jan Vermeer, or Edward Hopper, I wanted to forge a new aesthetic from something commonly perceived as less “painterly” and “artistic.” The dramatic angle and shadows emphasize the artistic nature of the setting. The art of artmaking, and the experience of these children, is just as valuable as art. This is my new aesthetic.
p h o to by a n n a q u i n n “A r tm a k i n g i n St. Lo u i s ” by R a c h e l3 S a c h s
“ I t i s b e t t e r t o d i e o n yo u r f e e t t ha n l i ve o n yo u r kn e e s.” — D OL OR ES I B ARRURI
Cup by cup
brewing social change in Old North
by Zoe Ma d iga n The historic neighborhood of Old North St. Louis, just west of downtown, is known for its unique brick architecture and award-winning gardens. Population decline and suburban migration, however, have deteriorated a community once known for its dense population. In recent years, however, the community-led Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has taken great steps toward revitalizing and rebuilding the area by attracting new businesses and other non-profits to the quaint business district on 14th street. Lined with wooden frontage signs, open doors, and friendly patrons, a stroll down 14th street feels like a journey down the idealized main streets of the notso-distant past. On my visit to the neighborhood, I was greeted by the waves of warm passersby, a melting pot of local writers, families, friendly couples, and dog walkers. As I continued my
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saunter through this up and coming hangout, I felt at home among those strolling with lattes from the Urban Studio Café—a non-profit café and art studio that opened in September of 2009—and those sipping strawberry shakes and chocolate malts, staples from the Crown Candy Kitchen—a local landmark and family-owned restaurant since 1913. It’s no wonder this neighborhood has a place on three different national registries of historic districts. Old North St. Louis may be historic, but I can feel the change. Buzzing with culture, positive outlook, and spirit, this neighborhood is a rich celebration of St. Louis’s depth and diversity. As I continued my exploration of the neighborhood, I found the wooden hanging sign for the Urban Studio emblazoned with an old-school, point and shoot 35 mm camera, and entered the open door. Immediately, I was struck by the robust smell of freshly brewed coffee and the background track of blender buzz and casual conversation. As I scanned the small space, my eyes met with hospitable smile of Claire Wolff, the assistant director of the Urban Studio Café. Dressed in a casual heather grey t-shirt, hair tucked behind her visor, she finished blending an iced mocha and came over to meet me. We had arranged to meet at 1:00, and I was just
a smidge early. Three OneWorld staffers joined me on this excursion, and we opted to order drinks before meeting with Claire. One even opted to blend his own drink, using the stationary bicycle-powered blender in the corner of the room. Paying for each coffee is a pleasure. Yes, the drinks are fresh, made with care, and delicious, but each purchase helps keep the Urban Studio and all of its efforts alive. The Urban Studio feels more like a community art center than a typical café. 100% of the profit generated by the café goes to fund projects, and it employs local residents, each with a unique and touching story. Student artwork lines the walls, and the skill level is remarkable. Claire shares the story of one student: A troubled youth who disliked school, Claire took him under her wing. Teaching him how to use an SLR camera, he found an immediate passion for photography. A natural, with an eye for composition and lighting, he had finally found away to express his feelings, hopes, desires, and most importantly, himself. As students, we are all familiar with the pressures of school and at this point, most of us realize that finding a way to release our pent up animosities and frustrations is fundamental to our success. However the hurdles of
poverty and difficult family situations can feel insurmountably high. Then, like icing on an already over-complicated cake, St. Louis public school budgets are tightening. These cost-cutting measures drastically reduce or eliminate art programs altogether and leave students without a means to learn to express themselves. But fortunately for the school-aged children and adolescents of Old North St. Louis, the Urban Studio Café steps in where school leaves off. The Café’s community outreach program is broad and generally art-focused. Much of the programming emphasizes crafts but encourages learning. At Urban Studio, the art is more about the process and less about final product—a philosophy that encourages understanding, learning, and acquiring new skills without the pressures or the connotations that standard classroom instruction provides. For example, the Grasshead Project aimed to teach children where plants come from, while simultaneously fostering creativity and fine motor skill development. Students were given empty coffee cups and encouraged to express themselves by drawing faces on the cup. After they completed their designs, the students filled each cup with soil and grass seeds. In another project this past October, students were encouraged to embrace the
“L i ke e m o t i o n s, c o l o r s a re a re f l e c t i o n o f l i f e.” — J A N IC E GL ENNAWAY
joys of Halloween beyond candy and costumes. They designed and carved jack-o-lanterns that were used as the decorations for the community Halloween party held at the Urban Studio. As the café’s patronage grows, so will the remarkable impacts that this non-profit has on its community. With summer weather around the corner, the cool lattes and iced mochas will not only indulge your senses, but help build up Old North St. Louis’s incredible neighborhood. The Urban Studio Café is an admirable concept: the patrons enjoy the art, the coffee, and the community, but every dime you spend funds programs that make the current revitalization of Old North possible. Urban Studio Café doesn’t just make coffee; it brews social change.
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Student action community art by R a c h e l S a ck s
picture the future... At first glance, you might think it is about kids taking photos. Picture the Future works with students from Lift for Life, a charter school that was established 14 years ago to serve low-income students. Each semester, PTF works with a different group of kids at the school, teaching them to use digital cameras to capture objects, each other, and themselves, and culminating in an exciting show on Wash. U.’s campus. PTF turns a fun activity for kids into a compelling means of community engagement. The project, which started several years ago through the Campus Y, emphasizes the future. How can kids, without role models or an environment that emphasize a sense of work or pride, be helped by us, the volunteers, to imagine a brighter future? In PTF, students try to engage low-income youth through photography and creative writing, helping them see themselves in a new, transformed perspective. Sheera Langbaum, one of two Project Leaders this semester, has been doing PTF for several years, and believes deeply in the work of the program. According to Sheera, the goal of PTF lies in its process and the work ethic behind it—“to have them develop pride in something, and complete something.” The photography is merely the means for their personal projects, just something they can do and see from start to finish. More important than self-expression,
according to Sheera, is the chance to get to know and relate to college students. The example of college that Picture the Future provides for youth extends the program beyond the typical art project. One of Sheera’s favorite parts of the program is when the kids visit the WashU campus. During their first campus visit—the first time on a college campus for some of the kids—one of the girls, Brandi, stated she was going to get good grades so she could go to college. Brandi is only in middle school. Moments like this show how much the on-campus experience inspires the youth academically. The kids visited campus two more times this semester, culminating with a final showcase of their work that exhibits the tangible product of their efforts. The creative and expressive qualities promoted through the program contribute to the positive environment for the youth. Other methods of student empowerment, like tutoring or mentoring, might seem more direct, but they can also turn a lot of kids off. The fun, playful, expressive component of art allows for a subtler yet still powerful means of providing kids with a role model and gearing them towards college. Cortez, 12, is really excited about the work that he is doing. As one of the few boys in the class, he comes even when everyone else forgets or has a parentteacher conference. What was once just a
camera now appeals to him in a new way: he says that it’s a lot more fun than he once thought. But more than as mere pleasure, Cortez seems to appreciate photography as an art form. When we take photos on the grass field behind the school building on a particularly sunny day—the theme of the day is portraits—Cortez photographs with great artistic sensibility. Weeks earlier, when the theme was objects, I suggested to Cortez to try a different angle, maybe from below, or as part of a narrative scene. Today, Cortez leads the photo shoot. The other volunteer, Brittany, and I are his models, and if he says we look happy, we look happy. He takes candid shots, posed shots, shots of shadows as figures, and even has me pose as a fisherman holding a stick in the pond. Along with an interest in photography, Cortez’s creativity and comfort with the medium blossomed as well. The sense of responsibility that a personal project requires underlies the success of youth and civic art. Art, unlike more conventional academic work, often feels tied to a person’s identity. Your art says something about you. The personal and individual nature of art therefore heightens the standard of the creator—in this case, the child behind the lens.
on a larger scale: civic art We don’t usually think of art as a social tool or remedy. But art possesses potential outside of the studio and the museum. Art is being applied on and off campus for social causes. Local projects like Picture the Future and those from Urban Studio Café both demonstrate the potential for art to engage youth in the St. Louis community. More so, they demonstrate how art can challenge social issues in St. Louis, such as low college and high school graduation rates and the stagnation of communities. Community art is a growing phenomenon in areas of community development, therapy, and social change. With a brush in her hand, a child gains power: the power to create, to express her ideas and feelings, and to make something that she knows is her work alone. In “Art and Community Development: the Role the Arts have in Regenerating Communities,” Alan Kay demonstrates the potential for art
to engage people in run-down communities to work together and develop social and economic skills. Kay highlights the role of “participatory arts projects” as a tool of engagement. The medium of art can engage individuals and groups to be more active, confident, and involved. In difficult and impoverished home environments, life can feel predetermined and unsolvable. Rough circumstances out of a person’s control—especially for a child, who inherently lacks power—can render somebody hopeless, without a sense of the possibility for change. Put a paintbrush (a pencil, a camera—whatever medium you choose) in that child’s hand. This may seem frivolous to some—don’t they have more important things to worry about?—but don’t be fooled by the innocuous appearance of a youth art project. Each stroke represents an action, a new opportunity to create.
community art at the Urban Studio Café in Old North Engagement through art is also a goal of Kristen’s, a student at Southern Illinois University art therapy program, whose thesis touches on the use of art for community development. I met Kristen at the Urban Studio Café, where she was working with a group from the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. A vibrant social context underlies the project and others like it occurring throughout the community. In the midst of Old North’s restoration efforts, Kristen hopes to involve the children of this community by creating a moveable mural—a visible, transportable work of public art. These kids can thus play an active role in the dynamic and exciting changes transforming their community. When I asked Kristen the effect that art had on the children, her answer was strikingly similar to Sheera’s. Art raises their self-esteem and inspires the kids to take ownership of their own work. Kristen described the transformation that occurs in kids that she has worked with. The experience of art can be scary at first—the
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ownership of the artist is a little daunting, and Kristen notes the reluctance of kids at first, especially in signing their work. This is especially true for the kids who come from a more unstable environment, where art is foreign, and the idea of creating something that reflects you as a person in some way can be overwhelming. But the experience is ultimately rewarding for many kids who try, especially those who were initially intimidated by the prospect of making art. Over time, they become proud of their work and are excited to put their name on their masterpieces. The students that Kristen was working with on the day that I met her ranged in age from six to thirteen. They are part of an after school program and arrived there on a bus from Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. Their group leader, Sevin, was a youth counselor until 2007, when he became an art instructor. Sevin’s group does all kinds of art, including music and photo, but particularly painting and drawing. Janai is one of the kids in the program,
and has been in it for one year. What kind of art does she do? She draws and paints—on the walls, she says. A self-assured ten-yearold, Janai proclaims her love for art proudly. She says she likes to do landscapes, and that she recently drew a picture of slavery. She likes Rosa Parks, and as we talk, she makes a picture with the words “Black History” in a large, sturdy font. When I ask her what she wants to do when she grows up, she says wants to make art. Janai’s self-awareness and sense of identity and history surprised me for someone her age. Since when did tenyear-olds have such a keen sense of self? Janai expresses a sense of herself as well as her culture, including her place within it. Her assuredness is also meaningful: she is confident of her interests, in art and in life. Unlike PTF, which only lasts one semester, programs like the art program at the Boys and Girls Club continue for years, and have produced a sustained impact on the kids. The effect of the art programs is more visible in this group, which some children have been
involved in for years. I talk with Brianna, too, who is also ten years old. Brianna possesses a similar vibrancy and is very definite in her love for art. She says she’s been drawing since she was four. She used to get in trouble for drawing on the walls, but now she can do it with murals at the youth center. Today, she draws a picture of Missouri: a star next to Jefferson City, and an arch representing St. Louis. Like Janai, Brianna demonstrates an understanding of her community and her place within it. Perhaps the medium of art is instrumental to this sense of self: through material symbols and concrete images, kids can gain a better understanding of ideas normally too abstract for the psychological state of a child’s mind. The spirited, self-aware kids I interact with don’t pay too much attention to me for long—they are too busy with their artwork. How does art have such power to engage and empower? In both PTF and at the Urban Studio, I have witnessed the self-reliance that the kids experience when working on a project. The creative process is an exciting one, daunting but also rewarding. In the social context, art provides a means for selffulfillment. Before I leave the Urban Studio and say goodbye, I notice that Janai has written, “It’s too good to be true” in her picture. I ask her what she means: “What’s too good to be true?” “That pigs can fly,” she responds, perhaps not totally related to the paper in front of her. Why? “Because then we couldn’t cook them!” She replies. “But is art too good to be true?” I ask, knowing what she might say. “No, art is not.”
Crafts by Youth
by Akhila Na rla , Preeth i Kemb ai yan p hotos by Akhila Narl a Our whole lives we have been told that we are the generation that will change the world. We have been told that it is up to us to seize opportunities, to break the status quo and, to create a reality in which we eliminate injustices of the past. Imagine waking up in the morning and walking miles to a gather five liters of water. After taking it home, it’s time to think of how you are going to find your next meal. You consider any job you can get because it will allow you to buy food, but with an unemployment rate at 57%, finding anything beyond an odd job that can cover a meal or two would be a stroke of luck. You didn’t go to school because you couldn’t afford the school fees and while you have dreams of going to a university someday and having a steady job, all you think about is the hunger, along with how you’re going to get medication for preventable illnesses, and where you’ll spend the night… This may seem like a distant, dramatized story, but it is the reality that confronts our generation. We can no longer say we are unaware or that we don’t have the tools to be agents of change. That is why we, from Crafts By Youth (the non-profit we created to market the jewelry), want to share with you
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a transformative experience from this past summer that demonstrates that action can be taken. The previous description outlines just another day in the life of the youth we met this summer while working with Uganda Development and Health Associates (UDHA) in Iganga, Uganda. Poverty has disabled these highly motivated, brilliant, and inspiring youth from pursuing their dreams of going to school, becoming nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and businessmen. It has barred
them from access to their basic needs such as safe water, adequate nutrition, clothing, housing, and elementary education. As students pursuing careers in global health and sustainable community development, we dove into the summer’s work with hopes of
collaborating directly with the community to implement a grassroots solution to improve health. This project focused on designing an income generating activity to provide a means for young women to earn money. UDHA, our partner NGO, had a local artisan train the youth to make environmentally-friendly paper bead jewelry from recycled paper. We were thrilled to see such hard working youth, fully committed to empowering themselves. Although they did not have access to a market, as UDHA was unable to connect them to consistent buyers, the positive attitudes of the youth were contagious. We tried hard to connect them to existing avenues selling similar products, but we found that nothing existed to meet the needs of the youth. Moved by their stories, we decided to take on the task ourselves. Compelling life stories, such as that of Teddy Namaganda, a 19-year-old young woman who was orphaned at age eight when her parents died in a motor vehicle accident, motivated us. Teddy’s church community cared for her as a child, and she would stay with different families that agreed to house and feed her. She currently lives with her aunt in Iganga who is HIV positive, and perhaps due to
her sickness, mistreats Teddy. Teddy thus spends many nights in the streets, finding refuge in a church prayer facility. Through a church member, she found out about the Youth Center and faithfully goes whenever she can to participate in the center’s activities. Without money to finish her secondary education, Teddy spends her time at the Youth Center or helping with church activities. Every morning, Teddy voluntarily sweeps the floors of the UDHA center with an always smiling face, selflessly serving those around her. Paying for food is a struggle, so the volunteer Youth Coordinator often gives a few coins of her personal money to Teddy so she can buy a Rolex (egg wrapped in flour tortilla made in stands on the street) for lunch. She sings, dances, and acts along with the other youth in the music, dance, and drama productions at rehearsals and school outreaches and learns computer skills to help increase her chance of securing a job. When she initially mapped out her financial needs, she calculated how much she would need to pay for school fees for a year and shelter, food, clothing, and medicine for a month. Written faintly in pencil on a torn piece of notebook paper, her financial goal became an affirmation to herself and the
universe. Eagerly training in the paper bead jewelry handcraft, Teddy set the standard for the other youth through her dedication and hard work. She did not expect much for her efforts, and she continued working with
steady faith that she would be able to pull herself out of poverty. When we made our initial purchase of inventory to bring back with us to sell through Crafts By Youth, it turned out that that Teddy received exactly
(to the very Ugandan Shilling) the amount she had previously written privately as her financial goal. As we prepared to leave on the last day, Teddy thanked us for connecting the youth to a market with purchasing power. We assured her we would spread the word of her new endevor. Teddy had gone from “fearing leadership” to emerging as a shining example of resilience to the rest of the world through her patience, perseverance, and purity of heart. We hope that we can unite together and engage our passion for social justice through empowering youth to become agents of change. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said: “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.” Hearing the newfound sense of confidence and determination resounding from the Ugandan youth as we sell their jewelry gives us hope that we are one world after all.
“ We can no longer say we are unaware or that we don’t have the tools to be agents of change. ” “ It i s p ove r ty to d e c i d e t hat a c hi l d mu st d i e so t hat yo u m ay l i ve a s yo u w i sh.” — M OT HER TERES A
Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’
I DREAM of things that never were and say,
- George Bernard Shaw
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by Jo h n Dro l l i n ge r
“Yo u c a n ’t d o i t u n l e ss yo u o r g a n i z e.” — SA MU EL GOMP ERS
“Few countries take beauty pageants quite as seriously as South Africa,” noted The New York Times on the eve of the country’s first democratic elections. With the country’s new government and increased participation in the global economy, it is no surprise that the South African clothing industry entered the global market. The Western Cape province of South Africa aims to elevate the country’s position in the fashion world by incorporating the global with the local. Each year, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) puts on the Spring Queen beauty pageant in Cape Town. The pageant is run largely by the black female clothing, textile, and footwear factory workers, and to make it even more
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interesting, these factory workers double as the contestants for the competition, possibly even modeling clothes that come from their own factories or that are of their own design. The competition also strengthens the economy by exclusively featuring South African produced clothing, textiles, and shoes. The purpose of this noncommercial pageant is to resist the traditional and patriarchal commercial pageants, such as Miss South Africa. The Spring Queen pageant self-empowers African women to no longer appear “passive, subordinate, unattractive, and weak,” which in more recent years has resulted in “trade union solidarity,” an initiative in reaction to the abuses of a racist and classist society according to Peter Alegi, professor of history at Michigan State University. Beauty pageants are a clearly gendered practice, with far more female beauty contests than male;
many contests such as Miss World and Miss Universe spread an unhealthy idea of global beauty, a western ideal. In contrast, the Spring Queen features the average woman in South Africa and respects the realistic beauty of the working woman. The racist system of colonial British rule and the later apartheid policies impacted the development of the clothing industry, beauty pageants, and labor movements in South Africa. The black female working-class culture began in the 1980s. Black female factory workers in the continent’s most industrialized nation remained marginalized in the historiography to the point of near invisibility. As such, these women experienced the indignity of apartheid racism and earned the lowest wages. Unionism became the popular approach to reacting to these realities. As Alegi explains, however, “profound racial, gender, organizational, and political divisions defined the history of the garment unions,” stifling women’s movements and organization. In 1989, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union
(SACTWU) was created from a merger between two separate unions. This merger brought the union under anti-apartheid leadership and dramatically increased its female membership. The Western Cape’s demographics explain why the garment industry in South Africa first became so gendered. First, the garment industry employed mainly “colored” women, who descended from either Cape slaves, the indigenous Khoisan population, or other more assimilated coloured people. They were regarded as being “mixed race” and having intermediate status in the racial hierarchy, distinct from the numerous African population. The factories hired colored women because they comprised the majority of the population in Cape Town. Second, the apartheid government’s influx control policy required area employers to hire coloured people rather than Africans. Third, factory owners could more easily exploit the coloured women for low-wage labor. According to historian Peter Alegi, “without question, the history of female garment workers in the Western Cape has been powerfully shaped by their triple oppression as people of color, workers, and women.” These oppressed women later played an important role in the labor movement in South
Africa. It was during this period of unrest, strikes, and boycotts that the Garment Workers’ Union, a primarily white organization, founded the Spring Queen beauty pageant in order to subdue and distract these working women. Initially this tactic worked, but during the mid1890s, mass resistance against apartheid and the rise of progressive unionism resulted in drastic changes to the Spring Queen that transformed it into a “political terrain for women to contest individual and collective power in their union,” states Alegi. In the 1990s, tension erupted between the male leaders of the SACTWU and the female workers when the workers refused “to remain second-class citizens in a democratic South Africa.” From these seeds of dissatisfaction, women fought to gain more leadership roles in the SACTWU and today hold one-third of the national and regional positions. These women have transformed the pageant from an effort exclusively focused on women’s empowerment to an expanded vision that strengthens the region’s economy. Noncommercial beauty pageants, such as Spring Queen, seem to be more of a celebration of feminine beauty and an effort to counter negative stereotypes of African women by featuring these everyday workers, union members, mothers, rather than the idealized Western idea of beauty. However, it would be naive to imagine that globalization
has had no effect on the Spring Queen pageant. Of course, the pageant’s clothing mainly comes from factories that export their products to other countries around the world. It is the global demand that after all fuels the local factories. Mr. Malebana-Metsing, a government organizer assigned to the more westernized Miss South Africa pageant, explained the country’s devotion to the pageants as occurring “because we have not been exposed to what is happening in the world for a long, long time.” Professor Peter Alegi differs in that he believes the cause may lie further away from a global phenomenon and more toward the significance of local beauty pageants in black communities. Anthropologists Monica Wilson and Archie Mafeje agree that the scope of leadership among Africans is very limited and therefore a source of social prestige. Grassroots beauty contests afford oppressed black women a rare opportunity for status achievement and visibility, and they also create a social space largely free of male control where “cultural sovereignty” can be exercised. In support, studies of street children in Soweto, South Africa have shown that these street beauty pageants provide important lessons in organization and solidarity which may have resulted in the trade union solidarity
fostered by women in the clothing sector of the Western Cape. The popularity of beauty pageants may very well be a mix between the global appeal and influence and the local significance and gendered sociability. The global economy also directly transformed the Spring Queen contest. With the economy in trouble, the National Economic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC) launched the “Proudly South African” campaign in 2001 to “try to reach consensus on issues of social and economic policy [and] to promote the goals of economic growth and social equity,” says Alegi. SACTWU and the NEDLAC created the Cape Town Fashion Festival and incorporated the Spring Queen into it with a new pursuit to promote consumption of South Africanmade products to save local jobs. Since 2002, the festival has grown into a yearlong event. In 2006, the festival opened in March at a recently shutdown clothing factory in the Western Cape and thanks to the event, seven months later the factory reopened under a different company and rehired 175 of the 970 “retrenched workers,” according
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to Alegi. Also, the fashion shows which take place during the festival feature local designers such as Bongiwe Walaza, Sonwabile Ndamase, and many others. But without question, the most popular event and biggest media attraction is the Spring Queen & Fashion Parade in November. The media garnered by the contest is good publicity for the labor movement in South Africa, a subject the press generally does not talk about in a good light. And because the union is so racially diverse, African women have joined coloured women competing in the contest, with still the only requirement being union membership. As one woman said in the 1980s, “some of them [the contestants] were fat, and some of them were a bit tall, and I mean, some of them weren’t nice looking. And they didn’t walk nicely.” Although it is difficult to escape the subjectivity of these contests, all women were free to enter, and it gave these women a chance to escape the mundaneness of their average workday and restore solidarity among women workers, especially when many of the dresses worn were made in their local factories or even made by them. On the local factory beauty contest stage, it was easy to implement
this idea of alternative feminine beauty where all body types, hair styles, etc. were free to enter. On the regional stage, these alternative beauty ideas were a little harder to foster, simply because of the competitive nature of the competition. “The proletarian beauty queens [in the Spring Queen pageant] regularly make their own dresses, draw their inspiration from contemporary fashion trends, as well as styles and designs on television and in popular magazines and newspapers. Dressmaking showcases workers’ skills and creativity,” according to Alegi. Although this happens more on the factory level of the Spring Queen pageant and less on the regional stage, the amount of pride this lends to the women is immense. Factory workers show up in full force to support their factory’s beautiful output. While many struggles face the women of these factories with the increasing effect of globalization, the government’s introduction of quotas on certain imported products from China has given the clothing industry some breathing space. Regardless, the women of the clothing industry will always have their pageant.
Modernity in Two Acts a r t a nd po em by R ach el Sack s
Édouard Manet painted modernity in “The Luncheon on the Grass” people at a picnic, looking past each other two men blind to the nude woman inches away detached, disinterested, disengaged even the pure white of naked flesh can’t distract them from themselves their wants their own importance I wonder how he would have painted the present— modernity plus one hundred fifty years where social networks constitute interaction and Facebook is the park and I have 2,000 friends, and none and we are so connected; and disconnected we eat our lunch, a modern sort of picnic heads turned down preoccupied with our toys, becoming them texting, not speaking tuned out to songs of silence blind to the naked world in front of us
“ T h e c h a l l e n ge o f mo d e r n i ty i s to l i ve w i t ho u t i l l u si o n s a n d w i t ho u t b e c o m i n g d i si l l u si o n e d .” — A nt o nio G rams c i
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by Da n i e l Sta ro s ta
There is the hiss of metal slicing through the air, and a few moments later an explosion. When the warning siren blares through Sderot, warning of the latest Qassam rocket to launch out of Gaza, there are fifteen seconds before it lands and destroys something, be it a building, a garden, hope. The bus stations, basement bombshelters, and reinforced cement buildings wait quietly as people hurry in from all directions, huddling masses awaiting the collective sign to return to normality. Another of the frequent meetings between the coastal migrant town of the Western Negev and the shoddy homemade missiles made a few miles away. Fifteen seconds to make it to safety. The explosion roars across town, soldiers already ready to find the rocket remains; people whisper quickly, predicting where this one fell. The siren goes quiet and residents return to their jobs, their homes, their playgrounds—to their lives. What can you do in fifteen seconds? The view from my dorm room window for almost a full year had been the limestone walls of the Old City of Jerusalem; spires, minarets, and satellite dishes poking through the empty spaces like eager students raising their hands. Every morning was an inspiring sight, the city bathed in golden light; every evening a collective sigh from the spiritual heart of three religions. Such was the memory running through my head as I sat in silence on a hill strewn with garbage and empty liquor bottles some ninety kilometers away from there. The view this afternoon was the whole of Gaza in all of its tattered glory from the edge of Sderot, in easy view of where the tangle of checkpoints and barbed wire divided the two. I’d come to Sderot with a friend because we thought it was a necessary experience to see the reality of what was going on in some of the more sensitive areas of Israel, those places most affected by the
p h o to s by Zo r i a h f r o m f l i ck r
“ I t i s b e t t e r t o d i e o n yo u r f e e t t ha n l i ve o n yo u r kn e e s.” — D OL OR ES I B ARRURI
current conflict. The abstract commentary from class and television had not quite been enough for it to mean something to us, and so we came to see and hear and feel the things we’d only heard about. To visit the city that had been seen a barrage of Hamas’ rockets for half a decade, this last bastion of Israeli society before Gaza and the Palestinian Territories, and to experience it for ourselves. Equipped with little more than a laundry list of places to see, we’d walked to the corner bus stop and waited under the clean blue metal overhang and the mustard yellow sign hanging beneath it, faded black letters telling me my destination. The bus stop I walked off at once in Sderot was a hulking mass of cement. All of them are. Every bus stop in Sderot is a bomb shelter, some pockmarked and unpainted, others covered in bright murals and colorful children’s handprints. I quickly realized that I had no idea where I was or how to find any of the places I’d been told of, and so I asked a woman at another bus stop for help. I tried to explain to her that I wanted to see the real Sderot and get something out of it, rather than come off as just another American tourist. I knew that the local government over the course of the last few years had taken all the Qassam rockets that had hit Sderot and kept them by the police station, and so I asked her where it was these rockets were or what else she thought we should see. She was a recent Russian immigrant and knew startlingly little of the national tongue, and answered me in a jumble of English and Hebrew. Russians and Ethiopians had
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emigrated en masse to Sderot because they’d come to Israel poor, and life was cheap in Sderot. She made a slow turn as she replied in a tone so even and gentle; I felt like a child being chided. “If you’re looking for qassams…one hit right there,” as she pointed to a gaping hole in the roof of what used to be the outdoor market thirty feet behind us, “and another over there,” pointing down the street to a crumbling brick structure. My heart sank: for all of my shameless haggling and easy banter with locals, I’d never felt so embarrassed. After conferring in Russian with an elderly couple, she pointed us in the direction of the police station where we might find all of the Qassams we wanted, but not before offering to give us a full tour of the city and a home-cooked meal if we waited there for her to return from work. After declining the gracious offer, we made our way across town, small enough that it took twenty minutes to walk its full width. Approaching the Sderot police station, I passed a curious garden: neatly arranged in a bed of small red flowers stood two rusted Qassam rockets, the tops peeling outwards from the explosions like daisies in bloom. Hebrew letters on the side of the rocket confused me until I read the phrase “Israeli Water Management.” These homemade rockets were made from the pipes that pump water into Gaza. So much for the perception of self-help, I thought. The police chief eyed me curiously as I entered the station, and when I asked him if we could see the rockets, he almost laughed. “Nobody is allowed to see those.” A follow up attempt was cut short with a grunt and a shake of
his head. Much quicker than anticipated, we walked out disappointed but still determined to find something interesting in the vicinity, so we decided to wander around the station grounds. Behind the building, the sidewalk turned to gravel path and half buried in the white rocks, I saw the same mustard yellow signs that hung below every Jerusalem bus stop. Bending down to grab it, I looked up and saw a wreck of metal and weeds deep in shadows behind a fence. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness beyond the corrugated tin, I realized it was the hundred some-odd bus stops, rusted blue bodies still wearing their mustard yellow crowns, that had dotted Sderot in the days before rockets fell like raindrops. They must have been there for years, the wild grass having squeezed the life out of them long ago. The old bus stops were piled on top of each at every crooked angle, the unkempt remains of safer times stalled in the limbo of a mass grave, waiting for the day when there will be use for them again. Since the outpouring of rockets had begun nearly a decade prior, all of the traditional bus stops had been replaced by fortified concrete cubes. Though children often painted them to make them look prettier than the bare materials they were made of, the hulking masses only served as reminders of quieter days. As I walked away, I saw, slowly succumbing to merciless elements, the remains of a sign for Neve Dekalim, a Gush Katif settlement that had been evicted by the military four years prior. Perhaps not all of these remnants were privileged with hope of rebirth and reuse after all.
Walking due south from the police station I passed the city’s main yeshiva, a giant menorah crafted of used Qassam rockets set up on the roof. For eight days a year, the torches that burn from the tips of those rockets can be seen all the way from Gaza, and they proudly display the solidarity and courage of the city. For the other three hundred and fifty seven, they are simply eerie, sobering reminders of daily life. Fifteen seconds, it had taken for them to make it over from the Gaza border. Coming around the bend in the road I saw a whimsical figure poking out from behind a tree. A giant yellow caterpillar, maybe eighty feet long, winding through the middle of a large playground. I ran my fingers over its concrete skin as I found the entrance into its large hollow and sat down in the cool shade. This playground decoration doubled as a bomb shelter for children playing. The fanciful colors belied the true nature of its construction, and the difficulty of picturing worried families inside was only made harder by the creature’s toothy grin. Over and over these monuments would just stun my senses and leave me helpless but to stare in wonder. Even sitting right there, inside of a colorful caterpillar bomb-shelter, it was utterly impossible for me to picture kids laughing and playing outside, ready to run to the safety of the caterpillar at moment’s notice. As I walked out of the other end, I found an old skateboard, trying to put a face to the child who had forgotten it because he was late for dinner; because he got a new one; because he couldn’t think with the siren blare tearing at his eardrums.
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We continued walking, following whatever roads would take us to the edges of the city. Little by little, houses faded away and became more interspersed with structures left unbuilt, automobile carcasses and rubble. The road became a clay path. Only the sidewalk remained pristine, perfect square slabs beset by lush grass on both sides. And eventually it just ended. The sidewalk. The town. Sderot. Israel, almost. There were no more bomb shelters this far out. I clambered up a rocky hill and sat down, panting. A single road snaked at the foot of where this hill shot up, far taller from the ground than from where I sat. In perfect panorama, the northern Gaza strip was laid out before me. I was as far from safety and as close to a target as I’d been all day. I could see the ocean, though I couldn’t smell it. The haze of industry sulked over the city that lay at my feet. Like the busstop graveyard, we waited in the in-between, neither Sderot nor Gaza. There were glass bottles and beer cans everywhere. I amused myself at the thought of Sderot teenagers coming here, of all places in the city, to get drunk and throw parties. Maybe by pushing the limits of logic and safety they showed their solidarity, or maybe it was just their recklessness. Maybe with enough rockets one becomes numb to the sensation. Maybe it’s just a way to cope. Feet dangling over the promontory at the edge of reason, I went over the day in my head and I became acutely aware of the astonishing steadfastness of the Israeli spirit, continuing daily life even in the face of such danger. To live in such a place was something I could
barely fathom. I’d given way to thoughts of my own mortality from a few hours of walking and it seemed ridiculous that I’d already come to that—this was a place where all too often life was measured in fifteen second intervals. Be it pride, recklessness, sheer necessity or something entirely different, Sderot seemed to personify the uniquely Israeli unwillingness to give way to such adversity. The strength of the community and the attitude through which they viewed their plight was one of realism tinged with hope, knowing that they’d continue to do whatever it was they needed to remain. And that was something I’d yet to find anywhere else. We sat there and talked for a while about a little bit of everything, but mostly neither of us was listening to anything, rather just staring and thinking. Having walked the length and breadth of the city a few times already, our legs ached as we finally got up to begin the walk back to the city center. The uphill trudge was slow and exhausting and there was nary a cab to be found anywhere in this forgotten corner of town. As we finally reached level land and the usual afternoon traffic, I glanced over at my friend and we both began speaking at the same time. The look of mutual understanding was strange, and the same wry smile crept across each of our lips; a rocket hadn’t hit in more than a week, but I realized that I’d been unconsciously glancing back and forth across the street the entire walk up, looking out for the nearest bomb shelter. After all, we’d only have fifteen seconds to run.
--noun 1. people who are forced to leave their traditional home due to some sort of environmental disruption, whether natural or human caused, and are in danger from that disruption.
See also: victims of global warming 40
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by Bry n e H adno tt
A sudden hush passed over the hall on day seven of the Copenhagen Climate Conference. For a short three-and-a-half minutes, the fifty-six nations participating in the conference were reminded of the harsh realities and importance of a global consensus on climate change. All eyes were turned to a short, silver-haired, bespectacled man, speaking passionately on behalf of his native country, Tuvalu. Ian Fry had made his and his country’s name known internationally for the first time. “Madam President, we are not naive to the circumstances and the political considerations that are before us. It appears that we are waiting for some senators in the U.S. Congress to conclude before we can consider this issue properly. It is an irony of the modern world that the fate of the world is being determined by some senators in the U.S. Congress…So I make a strong plea that we give proper consideration to a conclusion at this meeting that leads to two legally binding agreements. Madam President, this is not just an issue of Tuvalu. Pacific island countries…and millions of other people around this world are affected enormously by climate change…Over the last few days I’ve received calls from all over the world, offering faith and hope that we can come to a meaningful conclusion on this issue…I am just merely a humble and insignificant employee of the environment department of the government of Tuvalu. And as a humble servant of the government of Tuvalu, I have to make a strong plea to you that we consider this matter properly…We’ve had our proposal on the table for six months...I woke this morning, and I was crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit...” Fry ended his moving speech by stating: “The fate of my country rests in your hands,” driving into the minds of every person present that climate change is a larger problem than public health and developed versus undeveloped countries’ responsibilities, but is a human-caused problem with devastating human effects. In Tuvalu, the highest point of the island is sixteen feet above sea level, a spot jokingly called a “mountain.” As sea levels have risen due to increasing global temperatures—1 degree Celsius in the past 100 years—the coral outcrops that make up Tuvalu have been eroded; salt water has encroached on the “grow pits” where Tuvaluans grow taro.
“We wo n ’t have a so c i e t y i f we d e st roy t he e nv i ro n m e n t .” — M A R GARET MEAD
types of environmental refugees Disaster
Affected by natural disasters, volcanoes, accidental anthropogenic effects Dam building, ecocide in Vietnam, warfare, other anthropogenic disruptions that purposely cause migration Pollution and depletion of resources, accidental/unintended anthropogenic effects
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For safety and as an attempt to protect their livelihoods, many Tuvaluans have relocated to Auckland, New Zealand, protected by the Pacific Access Category that requires New Zealand to allow a quota of Tuvaluans every year. Despite this temporary sanctuary, the Tuvaluan culture is suffering. Rachel Morris, writer for Mother Jones magazine discovered this sad fact while visiting a Tuvaluan Christian Church in Auckland. The church resided in an industrial district, past a rubber plant, plastics factory, and a drainage company; colorful plastic bands that used to bind shipping cargo replaced the traditional frangipani blossoms on the church walls, showing the loss of tradition. Economically, too, the Tuvaluans have suffered. Only about half of the immigrant adults have found jobs and the median annual income is 17,000 dollars for men and 10,000 dollars for women. When compared to the median annual incomes of New Zealand men and women, 25,000 dollars and 14,500 dollars respectively, the disparity between the immigrants and natives is illuminated. Many are in debt, having been tricked into predicaments by unscrupulous car salesman and financial brokers. The children of Tuvaluan immigrants are left alone in the home for long periods of time while their parents work several jobs as cleaners or temporary laborers. Adjusting to the urban Auckland lifestyle has frustrated many Tuvaluans; in their home country, many citizens do not have to pay rent or buy food, but can subsist on fishing or fruit picking. The only crime, according to one Tuvaluan interviewed by Morris is “…cycling in the night without a torch [flashlight].” In effect, as the country physically degrades from climate change, the culture and livelihoods of the people follow. This is the dark undercurrent of climate change, the issue of environmental refugees. The term “environmental refugees” is nothing new. It was coined in 1985 by Essam El-Hinnawi, a researcher from the United National Environmental Programme. Environmental refugees were defined as
p h o to s by Ste fa n L i n f r o m f l i ck r
those people who were forced to leave their traditional home due to some sort of environmental disruption, whether natural or human caused, and were in danger from that disruption. It has been expanded to mean a social group lacking the political power to protect their own environment; yet, with several other notions of what constitutes an “environmental refugee,” a chief issue arises. The primary concern regarding environmental refugees is how they will be protected by international law. Many are defined as “internally displaced” persons or economic refugees, thus limiting the international resources available to them. In cases like the Tuvalu, residents must relocate to another country; in the case of Bangladesh, some residents migrate within the country, moving to large cities or slum towns. This raises significant questions: what constitutes true migration? Country to country? Region to region? Village to city? Recent definitions of environmental refugees describe them as those persons who acknowledge the degradation of their homeland and vacate it because it is no longer suitable for human occupation. Yet, there is still little distinction between what protection an environmental refugee fleeing a volcanic eruption will receive versus what others vacating an area flooded by a dam or damaged by anthropogenic climate change will receive. In order to avoid the inevitable stresses of a large influx of environmental refugees, governments may exploit gaps in the definition of and international laws for refugees. Megacities, thickly populated regions, are already experiencing problems due to an increase in population over the past fifty years. More people mean fewer resources; in areas with a high number of refugees, disease spreads more rapidly due to overcrowding, water and food shortages are more frequent, wages slump from an increase in potential employees, and shantytowns grow in size. In some situations, conflicts over resources, like “water wars,” occur, leading to greater
displacement of people. An equally important problem is the decline in the culture of refugees; with the loss of their cultural homeland, many refugees, like the Tuvaluans, are forced to conform to the culture of their new state, resulting in a loss of traditional knowledge. Currently, Tuvaluans are not the only country facing environmental hardship. In April of 1991 and again in 2007, cyclones struck Bangladesh, a floodplain area at the convergence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers. Global warming has been linked with a higher occurrence of cyclones, meaning that as global temperatures continue to increase, Bangladesh may be hit harder and more often by devastating cyclones. According to a World Meteorological Society press release (dated 23 February 2010), if twenty-first century warming continues there will likely be a worldwide increase in the maximum wind speed and rainfall rates of tropical cyclones. Although substantial evidence has led the WMO Expert Team on Climate Change Impacts on Tropical Cyclones to increase confidence levels on the subject, the team concluded that “it remains uncertain whether any past changes in tropical cyclone characteristics exceed the natural variability.” Uncertainties regarding which events are natural and which are caused by anthropocentric climate change makes determining a place for environmental refugees in international law even more difficult. Mahe Noor and her husband, Nizam Hawladar, were two of many affected by Cyclone Sidr, who were forced to migrate from the village Nandikathi to Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2009, they had not yet returned home and were renting a shanty in Korail, one of the largest slumtowns in Dhaka. Both Ms. Noor and Mr. Hawladar work in low paying jobs—Ms. Noor at a clothes factory and Mr. Hawladar in a roadside tea stall—an incredible contrast from the agrarian lifestyle they had formerly lived. Their combined daily salary is a mere three dollars a day; with little money, and little time after a fifteen-hour workday, there
seems to be no chance for an escape. Ms. Noor stays up late into the night, fearful of the inevitability of another flood that will completely destroy her home and deeply concerned about her family’s finances. For the time being, all she can do is return to the wooden plank used for the family bed and hope her true home will survive. How should the Noor family be classified? Was the cyclone and its devastating effects the result of sea surface warming from humancaused climate change, or was it merely a natural occurrence? Would they be pegged as disaster environmental refugees or deterioration environmental refugees? Despite this confusion, it is clear that protection and sanctions are necessary to prevent cases like the Noors. In order to prepare for the estimated increase in environmental refugees—150 million projected by 2050—international laws need to be restructured in order to provide security for them. The human rights principle of “non-refoulment” creates a legitimate claim for environmental refugee safety. It states: “on the basis of human rights principles, there is a ban on returning people to places that would cause risk for poor treatment”; this adequately covers environmental refugees whose homeland has been damaged to a point below the acceptable standard of living. Global temperatures are projected to rise between 2 to 11 Celsius by 2100. This will have enormous effects on the safety of those living in coastal areas, low-lying flood plains, and other climate ‘hot spots’. Areas like the Southwestern United States, Southern Africa, Southern Europe, and Mexico are at a great risk for severe drought conditions. Other South Pacific islands, coastal China and India, and flood plains
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are at an elevated risk for floods and hurricanes. Global climate change will exacerbate existing climate cycles, such as precipitation and evaporation, causing extreme effects in certain areas. Mitigation, and the practices associated with it, must be a top global priority; examples include reforestation and afforestation, more sustainable management of farmland, and construction of sea dykes, which will create natural carbon sinks and alleviate coastal erosion. Ingenious sustainable practices and redesigned living communities may also be a part of climate change adaptation. A seemingly far-fetched, but plausible response has come from FrancoBelgian architect Vincent Callebaut: his ecological project is the creation of “amphibious cities,” called “Lilypads.” These sustainable floating cities would carry 50,000 people and run entirely on solar energy, wind mills, hydroelectric power, ocean thermals, and ocean movement energies; a submerged freshwater lagoon recycles rain water for the inhabitants and acts as ballast for the city. The truly unique feature of Callebaut’s design is its imitation of natural systems, an example of the ‘biomimetics’ movement in technology. It possesses a polyester fiber and titanium dioxide double hull, mimicking the structure of the Victoria Regina, a giant Amazonian lily. Although technology is a contributing problem to climate change, perhaps it can also be part of a solution. Living with a smaller impact on the Earth now, and inventing creative solutions to do so, may reduce the natural catastrophes of the future, preventing many from losing their homelands.
RESOURCES FOR THE INSPIRED
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Help inspire youth through photography: contact the Campus Y at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the office in the basement of Umrath.
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Published on May 2, 2010