VOLUME VII, ISSUE IV
SUMMER 2015 FREE
FIRST IN HIS CLASS The tenacity of UF’s African American Studies program p.30
COVER STORY A Guide to Gainesville’s local trails p. 34
this issue Leading Ladies
(pictured left) A local girl scout troop sews menstrual pads for women in Africa.
Published independently with local support.
Erica Sterling Steven Longmire
Creative Writing Editor
Erick Edwing Vanessa Kinsey Sara Nettle
Isabel Branstrom Mark Disselkoen Marisa Panzarella
An abandoned warehouse was converted into a community craftspace.
p. 18 Cover art by Samantha Schuyler.
COLUMNS A Person’s A Person, p. 06 The importance of treating the homeless with dignity. Homestead Instead, p. 14 We’ve got the dirt on how to make your own compost.
SPOTLIGHTS Heart to Heart, p. 20 A group visits detained immigrants in a local jail. Institutional Lies, p. 22 A task force fights to bring attention to the importance of Black history.
FEATURES A Private Affair, p. 24 Gainesville’s trans community objects to a local art gallery. Fight For Your Right to Potty, p. 28 The infamous “Bathroom Bill” was rejected by a subcommittee.
Our mission is to serve the Gainesville community by providing an independent outlet for political, social and arts coverage through local, in-depth reporting.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fine Print accepts freelance writing, photography and illustration. Submissions should be sent to email@example.com.
The Fine Print distributes 5,000 copies of each bimonthly issue and is currently looking for advertisers. For more information, email editors@ thefineprintuf.org.
The Fine Print accepts letters from readers. Submit letters via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The editorial board will decide which letters will be published, and writers will be notified before publication.
The Fine Print reserves the right to deny or accept the publication of articles or advertisements according to the decisions of its editorial board. The views of our writers do not necessarily express those of The Fine Print.
from THE FINE PRINT’S
5 SPRING 201 FREE ISSUE III VOLUME VII,
Parting ways has never been a challenge for me. I moved around quite a bit over the course of my life, so I made an active effort to never get too comfortable in any one place. I feared attachment; I feared losing something dear to me. Something that I could very easily come to cherish. Having struggled to find my voice for T MUS the greater part of my life, I always felt as though my opinions weren’t of worth. This publication was the first indication that I could be a part of something substantial at a time in my life when I needed it most. But my departure from The Fine Print is only the first of many. As I enter my last year as an undergraduate student, I’ll be departing from both the University of Florida and Gainesville in a year’s time. The uncertainty of what lies ahead has been an active part of my day-to-day life these past few years. Am I stretching myself too thin? Do I even fit the qualifications to do this job? The most difficult part of putting my love into something is realizing that I will one day have to let it go. And hard as I may try to keep myself from experiencing attachment, I can’t help but acknowledge my love affair with The Fine Print these past two years. The amount of time and responsibility to get just one issue on the stands can seem overwhelming at times. From the moment I was offered the editorial position, I have been plagued with a sense of self-doubt. But looking back, the one thing I never failed to question was the mission behind this publication: cast a light on the inhumanities still prevalent in our community and country. To call out the media’s blatant inconsistencies and the dehumanizing ways in which marginalized people are portrayed in a culture that validates unjustified deaths. Inciting change takes more than just being involved. It starts by leaving your comfort zone behind and seeking out spaces that you might be unfamiliar with. Reminding yourself that intersectionality not only matters, but deserves to be promoted. We are not the one-dimensional caricatures the media paints us as. We are a generation of leaders who acknowledge injustice, stare it directly in the face and shout, “Enough!” More than anything, I leave this editorial board with an overwhelming sense of pride. I have no doubt in my mind that the next generation of editors will continue the mission that carries The Fine Print forward. To have been a part of this journey has been a blessing. Amidst all the emotions and sleepless nights, I wouldn’t change anything. Not a damn thing. — Damian Gonzalez
H THE S
Y CO VE R STt OR a national ts suppor Local activis p. 28 movement,
N GO O
EDWING OLA ng BY ERICK BY ROSE VAST ’ toweri ilities House. IDED nal Ut 911 OS PROV the Regio
f Outaodows h S the
lle sat the dents, PHOT inesvi iage, stu s of Ga es and fol ke college g and white tskirt tre rial ou ll of palm out to bro en panelin indust gre wa ted and on the behind a houses ren ed seafoam door, its red Situatedds, nestled e of subdu ough ltitud gri th its p. ss thr pa power y of the mu faded, wi d n. with tar ps an of its ow an and ed up eboding Like rch ste rld patch was old urs, for letal po 1 was a wo eone had outside ter ho life. re, ske 91 som rd. Af to use the ba t number ay, which e ya ck up trim. ba lk 1 cam 911 Ho tha aw But wa ly realize crumbled ramp in the s when 91 cades, the and across wa d ick de te y s o ha qu cit d the s. The scene you’d of the roof ne and a ska house; thi er past tw aroun oli the Ov e, Part crowd nt of dienc s from tramp e out. was a the fro punks cam with band y, teeming polished au s, oded There eat ty. un flo ow the sw sh l, to hts an ually ividuali red lig n the sun fel t for punk ssy music and eq ty and ind down from spo me sound mi Whe ed denly a local ing heavy, its raw nconfor use burn , were sud come ed had be n perform tastes with ativity, no of the ho erview l cre lf tio the na nventiona celebrating January, ha not be int co t to defied s all abou ht in early preferred wa o nig it e wh t lat bu ants, , one Then fire. Its ten ical electr
ols cho lic s r pub fo da’s afe Flori are uns youth, TQ+ LGB p.22
Multimedia, more stories, blogs and a community calendar. PLUS! Comment on stories, see photos from the printed issue (and more!) IN COLOR, flip through a digital version of the printed edition and much, much more, all updated throughout the month.
facebook.com/thefineprintuf @thefineprintuf thefineprintgainesville.tumblr.com
IN E PR
finepr T | the
FEATURED STAFFER Ashley Yo
Ashley Yo is a born Alachua County resident who left and swore she’d never come back, but she did. Gainesville is her home and hub; she’ll leave again but always come back. She likes bike touring and beer. She asks that if you haven’t been to El Indio, please go.
Summer 2015 | T H E
COLUMN / PAPER CUTS Ouch! That hurt s doesn’t it? Paper Cuts are our short, er ratic and slightly pain ful updates on curr ent local and nation al events. See our w ebsite for previous Pap er Cuts at thefineprintuf .org
Paper Cuts WHY INTERCEPT? Following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, the Black Lives Matter movement has only strengthened in numbers since its inception. The movement itself, often described as “leaderless,” has led to protests across the globe in cities such as Paris and Tokyo. What’s hardly addressed, however, is that the hashtag that launched the movement was started by three queer Black women. The hashtag was co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in July 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Since then, the trio has made an active effort to call out the blatant erasure of their narrative as queer Black women. According to Garza in an article written for The Feminist Wire, focusing on the straight, cis Black men of the movement only further invalidates the lives of Black women as well as queer, trans and disabled Black folk who face the same injustice. According to Elephrame, an idea-sharing network based out of Chicago, almost 900 Black Lives Matter presentations have been held worldwide since Garz, Cullors and Tometi coined the hashtag. For Garza, emphasizing intersectionality is not only necessary, but dire. Lives lost like Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd, Tarika Wilson and so many others serve as a reminder that the criminalization of Blackness is not reserved for Black men. 04 | T H E
F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
Social media efforts like #BlackOutDay have made sure not only to commemorate the lives of those lost as a result of police brutality, but to celebrate the solidarity among Black people through selfies, GIFs and videos. With the goal of celebrating Black beauty and fighting against negative stigma, the hashtag has become another tool to emphasize the strength inherent in community. The longevity of movements embracing diversity within the Black community is a constant reminder of the mainstream media’s erasure of Black excellence. Being mindful of how the media focuses on riots instead of efforts started by influential Black women and men alike helps to demonstrate a systemic problem that news outlets continue to exacerbate. By Damian Gonzalez
COF FEE ROA STE D I imagine it went like this: a board room, midday. Executives in business-wear steeple their fingers over a glossy conference table. They’re spitballing in the wake of a lucrative but scathingly documented Pumpkin Spice Latte season, where Starbucks became closely associated with a quality that the media calls “basic.” Which, from what they can gather, is an unsavory combination of unflinching privilege and pack mentality. Just think of where we began! A young executive cries, recalling the days when Starbucks was a scrappy, independent café
in the Pacific Northwest. Once, we stood for something. Social awareness; community. What do we stand for anymore? Well-groomed heads nod in agreement. An executive takes a sip from his Ethos-brand water. Then, someone brings up the Black Lives Matter movement. Kids on Twitter have been going bananas about that, he says. What if they let America know that they also see the struggle? That Starbucks™ is sensitive to serious social issues? Purchase their product and show you drink coffee from a company that wants to change the country’s social landscape. A purchase in solidarity, someone says, geniusly. So they decided it would be in their best interest to start a conversation. They’d do this by foisting onto their already minimally paid workers the task of writing “#RaceTogether” on every drink, in hopes of prompting people to — I guess? — talk about America’s complex and deeply rooted racial inequality. Explosive applause. Starbucks cut the campaign two weeks in, after receiving a wave of backlash so severe it forced a senior executive to deactivate his Twitter account. People said it was devoid of meaning. Others said it was a nice gesture. A lot more people pointed out that, in its vagueness, its essential emptiness of meaning, it was offensive to those staging real action against injustice. Starbucks issued an apology. All of this, ironically, was a pretty basic move. By Samantha Schuyler
COLUMN / MONTHLY MANIFESTO
FG LD O ROW R O IN W
OP BY BRETT BUELL, EMPLOYMENT COORDINATOR
In order to help their adult children living with severe and persistent mental illness, a group of parents got together and founded the Gainesville Opportunity Center (GOC) eight years ago. The founding principle is simple: people with mental illness can and do lead fulfilling and independent lives. With vision and determination, the GOC grew from a concept into a community. The GOC is a 503-c3 charitable organization founded on the Clubhouse Model program. Clubhouses are communities through Recovery for Adults, a program for those who are living with a mental illness. We are not a medical facility and do not charge for our services. Therefore, we donâ€™t have patients or clients. Instead, we have members who work side by side with our staff to create the clubhouse experience. By orchestrating a social and vocational experience, our members and staff work together in the office and through social functions. Members help with everything from marketing and fundraising to making lunch and cleaning our office. There are no member-only or staff-only tasks. Instead, members and staff work together to run the clubhouse. The recovery happens when members realize that every person who contributes has a lot to offer, including themselves! The next component for many of our members is employment. Due to their illnesses, many members have lost their jobs or remain unemployed for prolonged periods of time. Members can work with our executive director Pam Demers or our employment coordinator to find work. We
offer everything from writing resumes to job coaching. And since our members work so closely with our staff, we are able to help evaluate and guide them toward a suitable career path. The next step for the GOC is to offer transitional employment. Many of the over 300 clubhouses worldwide partner with local businesses to help place members hoping to return to work into suitable places of employment. For the transitional employment program, a company will hold part-time jobs open for GOC members to perform. Typically, transitional jobs are high turnover entry-level jobs such as reception and greeting; data entry; and office cleaning. The advantage for members is that they are able to work in a supportive environment for a period of timing before rejoining the regular workforce. The GOC recruits and trains the individuals and provides backup in case the employee cannot come to work, all to the benefit of the businesses. The GOC is a unique service in our North Central Florida community. Along with new member referrals and fundraising, we also need help from the community, such as businesses who are interested in partnering with us under the Clubhouse Model. We can make a difference! For more information, please contact our offices at 352224-5523. You may email Executive Director Pam Demers at Pamela.Demers@goclubhouse.org or Employment Coordinator Brett Buell at Brett@goclubhouse.org.
You can reach Gainesville Opportunity Center at: goclubhouse.org
Summer 2015 | T H E
COLUMN /FRANKLY SPEAKING
A PERSON’S A PERSON The homeless deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and we should organize relief efforts with this mindset.
BY ABBY DOUPNIK The summer after my freshman year of college, I interned at a homeless shelter. I’d grown up volunteering there, but whether it was my collegiate-level mind or simply understanding more with daily exposure, I found myself realizing that this organization was different from many other homeless relief efforts I had seen. One of the things that resonated with me the most was the organization’s focus on dignity. Through every service they provided, they thought not only about the logistics it takes to run a large-scale homeless relief organization, but about the thoughts and feelings of every person who would receive those services. A big portion of this was based on the kind of attitude the shelter encouraged. In volunteer summer camps, we created a classroom setting to teach our volunteers, mostly upper-middle-class suburban kids and their parents, about empathy and what it is like to be homeless. We would have residents tell stories about their experiences and answer common ques-
06 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
tions such as, “Why do so many homeless people have cell phones?” Which, by the way, if you were faced to choose between limited resources, wouldn’t you also choose the one that provides storage for your photos and memories, lets you apply for jobs, contact police or medical care if necessary and stay in touch with family and friends? They also focused on creating a positive, familiar experience for people who may not be used to asking for assistance. Both clothing and food donations were sorted, organized and presented in a retail-like setting, so clients could come and shop for whatever specific clothes or food they wanted. This organization was, in my opinion, doing a lot of things right. But what can other groups hoping to help the homeless populations in their own cities do to maintain this same focus on dignity? We often start with the basics when giving people immediate assistance. When people are struggling to access basic necessities such as food and water, it makes sense to prioritize this above all else. But one of the greatest stigmas for those faced with homelessness
COLUMN /FRANKLY SPEAKING
comes from the idea that theyâ€™re not competent enough to make their own decisions--as if they do not have the right to make choices or have opinions like everyone else. So when organizations sort donations by size, pre-screening them to make sure that nothing unwearable is being given away, they are reminding the person who receives them that they are worthy of choice. By providing more sustainable donations, these items will actually be used in the way they were originally intended. When you see the recipient as a person with a sense of style and innate preferences, that T-shirt you are donating no longer becomes a handout. You remind another human being, despite the situation they are in, that they still have the ability to make a choice. For someone who is surviving from meal to meal, packing an extra lunch to share with them or providing a small gift card to a restaurant allows someone to focus, even for one meal, on something other than hunger. This time can be valuable. Being the stepping stone to other resources could ultimately provide them with greater opportunities in the long run. Homeless assistance organizations that provide services such as resume workshops give people the idea that they can be active participants in their situation. These organizations remind them that someone believes they have the right to improve their current situation. By creating communities within assistance programs in which they are given responsibilities, everyone can feel like a cherished member of the community. Despite their circumstances, every member of the homeless community can carry responsibility and be relied upon. They have strengths and value like anyone else. When we associate those who are homeless as lazy, we actively dehumanize and further stigmatize them. It should come as no surprise when they do not have the confidence to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.
Organizations such as Grace Marketplace have been working to address homelessness in Gainesville for years. By supplying a variety of resources, it has considered the difficulties and cost of transportation for homeless individuals. By providing land for Tent City to exist on, the folks at Grace Marketplace have listened to the opinions of the community. They have provided what the community wants, rather than what they think it needs. As a community, we are taking steps in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. We can look at Utahâ€™s Housing First program, for example, which provides government-funded housing to individuals who are chronically homeless. Gainesville may be considered a liberal city, but what does it say when one of the most progressive responses to homelessness in the country is happening in Utah? We need to reassess how we think about helping others. Instead of planning a trip to a developing nation, spending thousands of dollars to travel for a short period of time, what if we were to spend that same time and resources giving back to our own communities? What if instead of spending money on plane tickets, we used it to create jobs, paying members of international, developing communities to do the same labor we would?
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 07
READ UP, CHOW DOWN
STORY, ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTO BY SARAH SENFELD
here are only so many places in Gainesville to cycle through for Sunday brunch without getting bored. There needs to be a line, so you can feel you’ve accomplished something that day besides bingeing on Netflix and making MyIdol characters of your entire family. It needs to be cheap -- but not too cheap -because this is supposed to be your one bourgey day out of the week. There needs to be delicious carafes of refreshing alcohol that’s not just a mimosas. And, most importantly, there needs to be ambience, so you can rack up those Instagram likes of your food selfie. Just north of downtown, enshrouded by so much lush greenery that you’d miss it if it weren’t for its bright blue and yellow sign, Civilization serves up all those requirements, if not more. Civilization opened in 2009, after John Prosser, one of the eight founding worker-members of the co-op gathered local friends in the restaurant industry into a co-ownership. At the time, Civilization was the only co-op restaurant in the southeast. The renovated historic depot, originally built in 1929 as a distributing center for the Gulf Oil Company, is now home to international comfort food and an atmosphere of packed with so much vivid color and style Solange would proudly feature it on her Instagram. From a classic breakfast croissant that’s flakey and buttery with eggs, fresh tomatoes and white cheddar stuffed 08 | T H E
F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
in between, to a cajun frittata of grilled andouille sausage, roasted red peppers, potatoes and Gruyere cheese, Civilization knows how to create the perfect blend of spice and savory. With select but effective menu items, brunch on the weekends can easily garner a line of hungry people out the door. But it wasn’t always that way. Ann Murray, a worker-member of the co-op since its inception, said this is a fairly new phenomenon. “We used to be really busy at dinner and brunch took a little while to catch on,” Murray said. “This past fall [the brunch crowd] kind of exploded. Since then, almost every brunch we’re pretty busy, with a long waiting line.” While brunch seems to cater to a larger crowd, dinner showcases the romance of the restored depot that becomes subdued in the daylight. Lights are dimmed, tables are set for two, the music is at just the right volume, all making for a quintessential date spot. The dinner menu also serves up diverse and authentic dishes, ranging from South Indian crepes to West African gumbos. The collective effort in creating a truly co-operative restaurant has made an impression on not only the community, but also the staff, Murray said. “It is our belief that when we the workers are in control of our own destiny, the result will be a workplace that is healthier, more efficient and more profitable,” she said. “We’re working to show this is true.”
vegan sourdough french toast 30 minutes Serves 3 to 4
+ 16 oz. cashew butter -Soak 2 cups cashews in water for one hour, drain and put in food processor. Process until smooth while adding 2 to 3 tbsp of coconut oil. +1/2 cup maple syrup +1 tsp allspice +1 tsp cinnamon +1/4 cup of canola oil +2 cups almond milk
IN SEASON A N D F R E SH potato cantaloupe carrot eggplant guava mango radish papaya watermelon blueberry and more!
+ 4 cups organic raspberries +1 cup sugar + juice of two lemons +1/2 tsp of salt + water
INSTRUCTIONS 1. Combine mix in big bowl and whisk fer-
2. Slice 5 pieces of Vine Bread & Pastaâ€™s or-
1517 NW 2 N D S T 352-380-0544
ganic sourdough baguette, about an inch think and at angle.
Dip and saturate in mixture. Drain excess mixture.
4. On medium heat, place saturated slices
of toast on a griddle or pan until golden brown.
5. Combine raspberry sauce ingredients in a blender while adding water until desired consistency.
6. Serve with confectioners sugar and 1 oz.
W W W . W E L C O M E T O C I V I L I Z AT I O N . C O M
C L O S E D M O N D AY LUNCH T U E S D AY - F R I D AY 11:00 AM T O 2:00 PM DINNER T U E S D AY - T H U R S D AY F R O M 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM F R I D AY & S AT U R D AY F R O M 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM BRUNCH S AT U R D AY & S U N D AY 10:00 AM T O 2:00 PM
raspberry sauce per order of French toast.
Summer 2015 | T H E
FOR THE RECORD
Showcasing local bands, the next big thing, and all your friends. Zach Totta, lead singer and guitarist of Telomeres, reflects on what he had for lunch earlier. Photo by Samantha Schuyler
>> TELOMERES ARROW
acoustic confessional Released / March 2015 Recorded at / Zach’s parents’ guest room, his bedroom, Sounds like / Rocky Votolato, Denison Witmer, Asobi Seksu, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Jeff Buckley Inspiration / Ben Howard, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead Key tracks / “Thick Woods,” “Older,” “Circles” Where to get it / www.telomeresmusic.co Upcoming shows / May 15 @ The Midnight
Acoustic guitar, banjo, viola, bass, drums, synth / Zach Totta
Like most bite-sized things -- books, movies, literal food — short albums invite a depth of scrutiny their briefness affords. Digesting everything in one sitting is tempting and feasible. And with only five songs, Telomeres’ first EP, “Arrow” — what Zach Totta, the main force behind the debut, calls “a mini album” — was made for this kind of quick fellowship. In fact, Totta intended for the EP to have multiple, consecutive listens; you can even hear the faint beginnings of the first track, “Thick Woods,” as the final track, “Circles,” ends. The album is meant to follow the emotional progression of love: infatuation, realization, decline, the end, letting go. Though, Totta points out, the cycle isn’t exclusive to romantic love. “Not just wanting to be in a relationship with a person, but wanting to be alive,” Totta said. “Wanting to be in a relationship with living.” “Arrow” begins in dreamy slowness, with Totta’s voice submerged in a howling choral wind that buffets and warps, making for a ghostly introduction. But when he breaks from the typhoon into jangling, crisp guitar, the album accelerates. Totta’s voice, yanked to the forefront, summons a bevy of brisk drum tapping, snaps and acoustic plucks from both banjo and guitar. “Older,” the second track and one of the strongest,
10 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
If you’d like to see your band reviewed in For The Record or if you want to be considered to play at our next benefit show, email email@example.com and let us know.
is the best example of the play between brightness and fullness that is the underlying tension of the album. Peppering lissome twangs and bell-like string plucking with the runaway gallop of drumrolls, Totta skillfully evokes not only the giddiness and the thrill, but also the gratitude of co-existing in confidence with someone, or something, else. Totta’s voice is ambidextrous, managing to strike a combo of earthy warmth and ethereal weightlessness, which makes for a compelling instrument to follow through the album. It is emotionally transparent; it plummets, soars and swerves in the same way a flutter in a friend’s voice can betray an undercurrent of feeling. But deft maneuvering is necessary to express the heartache, longing and bliss that runs through the album without coming off as cheesy. Totta, in his voice’s sincerity, manages to not. “I would hope that when people are listening to this, that they were closing their eyes and just being in it,” he said. “I’m not sure if it does much for people as background noise. But I would hope that if they sit and listen, they could get lost in it.”
BY SAMANTHA SCHUYLER
>> EUGLOSSINE COMPLEX PLAYGROUND
experimental Released / Feb. 24, 2015 Recorded at / Tristan’s old apartment Sounds Like / El Huervo, SOPHIE, Chrome Sparks Inspiration / Zadri & Mo, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ashra Key Tracks / “Welcome!” “Prairie,” “Silver Knot” Where to get it / beerontherug.bandcamp.com/ album/complex-playground Upcoming Shows / TBA
With the rise of streaming culture, music has become more accessible than at any previous point in human history. Between YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and other online services, music aficionados and artists have access to a wider array of sounds, styles and genres than ever before. Gainesville-based musician Tristan Whitehill views the music he composes as a direct reflection of how music is digested in the information age. Whitehill’s primary musical project, Euglossine, is a menagerie of textures and moods, including, but not limited to, conventional pop, smooth jazz and new-age ambient music. Euglossine’s most recent release, “Complex Playground,” embodies the various influences Whitehill has absorbed over the years. “I just listen to all kinds of music all the time, and I’m not afraid to be inspired by all of it simultaneously,” said Whitehill. Aforementioned influences run the gamut of forgotten experimental electronic artists from the ‘80s such as Zadri & Mo, to beloved progressive rock titans King Crimson. It is no wonder then that one of his recent releases, last December’s 19-minute tropical house opus, “DD2: Foliage Systems,” operates in a different vein of electronic music then “Complex Playground.” Given the manifold nature of his work, Whitehill prides himself on his multi-faceted musical identity. “I think personalities are more complex than some sort
>> DIRTY SPOONS QUEEN TRASH II
gothic trash rock Released / June or July 2015 Recorded at / A friend’s house in Gainesville Sounds like / Teen Suicide Inspiration / If Black Sabbath and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs shared a garage together and argued over whose music sucked more until they got evicted. Key tracks / “Project Lucifer,” “Witch Machine,” “I Wish You Would” Where to get it / soundcloud. com/dirty-spoons Upcoming shows / TBA.
Synthesizer, guitar, bass, sampling / Tristan Whitehill
of artistic movement,” Whitehill said. “The most important thing to me is to just be myself when I play music.” So far, sticking to his guns has worked for the Euglossine project. In addition to his working relationship with Florida-based experimental record label Elestial Sound, Whitehill released “Complex Playground” via Beer on the Rug, a record label out of Los Angeles that specializes in experimental electronic music. Like his sound, Whitehill chalks up his myriad creative partnerships, both past and forthcoming, to the Internet. “I am talking to some Japanese artists, people in Portland, Ore.,” Whitehill said. “I’m networking with people all over the globe.” “Complex Playground” has earned Whitehill more acclaim and exposure than ever before. The album has been featured on numerous online music publications, including Tiny Mix Tapes and Impose Magazine. Not one to rest on his laurels, Whitehill has a number of follow-up projects in the works, such as his work with the band Zazzo Air; three Euglossine albums he is working on simultaneously; and a summer tour under the Euglossine moniker with “soul brother” drummer Ryan O’Malley. To Whitehill, Euglossine is his definitive musical statement. “I want, over the years, to see my body of work be diverse,” he said. “I don’t want to pigeonhole myself.”
BY ZACH SCHLEIN Guitar, Vocals / John Stoltz Drums / Ellen McHugh Bass Guitar / Jordan House
Turn up the track Witch Machine and you’ll get an earful of lo-fi fuzz. It’s not someone having a Rock ‘N’ Roll-induced seizure, it’s just the Dirty Spoons jamming the best way they know how — with turbulent guitar riffs, energetic drumming and howling, emotiondrenched lyrics. Drawing from a musical influence that ranges from The Smashing Pumpkins to The Cure to Sonic Youth, the group rips out songs that are fast-paced, crash-andbang anthems played with heaving sentiments of selfdeprecation, tongue-in-cheek humor and exaggerated expressions of sadness. “It’s like teenage angst, but I’m 25,” said guitarist and vocalist John Stoltz. Dirty Spoons started when Stoltz and drummer Ellen Mchugh (or Hell-en as Stoltz affectionately calls her) were both co-workers at the local coffee shop Karma Cream. There, they’d often discuss their musical tastes, which turned into informal jam sessions. After they went to a concert together at The Wooly it occurred to them to do something with their musical compatibility. “We realized, ‘Oh, we can do that,’” McHugh said. “‘What we’re doing in our garage, people will actually want to hear.” Originally starting out as a two-piece band, Dirty Spoons recently welcomed their new bass player, Jordan
House, to the group. “He was attractive enough to join,” McHugh said. On stage, Dirty Spoons comes to life through Stoltz’s and McHugh’s dynamic, which is a blistering exchange of sharp and tangy remarks. Their terse banter and escalating tension makes for a stage presence that the audience eats up. “On stage we’re like two bratty kids;” Stoltz said, “a little bit of nerves, a little bit of drunk.” Despite the salt-and-vinegar rapport, McHugh and Stoltz have produced work that combines both of their feelings and tastes. Their music is a cathartic way to work through heavy emotions and past experiences, covering themes both personal and serious, but peppered with wry wit: a little scary, a little sad and a little goofy. “It’s not pick-me-up-music,” Stoltz said. “You kinda wanna laugh so you don’t cry,” Their forthcoming releases, which are currently in the works, promise to be true-to-character additions that will meld with their morbid style — so be prepared to buckle yourself in for a bumpy, dark, and oddly upbeat ride. And as for their next show? “You can hire us for your Bar Mitzvahs, funerals, government auctions;” Stoltz said. “We’ll do anything.”
BY TRISTAN WORTHINGTON Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 11
NUTRITION: IMPOSSIBLE Gainesville is one of the many cities across the country plagued by food deserts, which force those in low-income areas to rely on food empty of nutrients.
BY ANNIE BRADSHAW ILLUSTRATION BY SARA NETTLE It’s getting to be that time of year when children sit at their desks in school, glancing at the clock, waiting for it to tick down to the final minutes before summer break. And when the bell chimes and the kids make a bolt for the door, some will go home to a snack while others will have to wait until much later, maybe the next day, for a meal. Meanwhile, university students sit behind their computers, studying or browsing Facebook, snacking on the chips they grabbed from a vending machine to hold them over. Some will scramble to make ends meet by the end of the semester, hoping their scholarship and federal aid will stretch far enough for them to shop at Publix or Walmart before their exams. Both scenarios are classic examples of food insecurity, but when either happens in an area devoid of places to find affordable fresh food, people on a limited budget are forced to choose fast food over healthier options. The consequences for their health can be life-threatening. These kinds of areas, which exist all over the United States — including Gainesville — are called food deserts.
12 | T H E
F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
They’re prevalent for a myriad of reasons, but a lot of the time it boils down to zoning restrictions and lack of monetary incentive by grocery companies. A grocery store may turn up its nose at a low-income area of town, but a gas station or convenience store might gladly take the same place, filling the bellies of the neighborhood with bags of prepackaged food instead of produce and other nutritious goods. Gainesville has a few food deserts, including the Linton Oaks neighborhood west of the University of Florida, past Interstate 75 and south of Oaks Mall. Within the neighborhood, a solitary convenience store stands guard, providing minimal food and provisions while the oasis of Publix is almost half an hour away by bus. At the same time, fast food chains dot the interstate exits that lead into the neighborhood, all with menus that can feed a family for less than $10. In this situation, the tricky calculus is weighing how much you can stretch your dollar while also staying within a reasonable distance — without a lot of money, owning a car is sometimes out of reach, or not a priority over food or electricity.
COLUMN / SIMPLY SCIENCE
And if a person is hungry, often the only choices are calorie-dense but nutrient-poor choices like McDonald’s or Burger King. Well aware of this, the Southwest Advocacy Group Family Resource Center has been working with the city of Gainesville to build a road directly connecting the neighborhood to its facilities. The center has a clinic and cooking classes that provide food for participants as well as a food bank. Despite their best efforts, though, the road won’t be built for quite a while. According to the Alachua Country Public Works database, the project has been in the works since 2013. Between community hearings and permits, the progress has taken several years to get to 90 percent. The Public Works Department was unable to give an exact end date. Closer to the center of town lies the university, and with it students living paycheck-to-paycheck. A 2013 survey conducted by the university’s Gatorwell program showed that a little over 20 percent of students on campus claim to skip a meal occasionally, often due to financial constraints. In response to this staggering number, the school has begun an initiative to try and curb the bite of hunger in its students. As of this spring, the university built The Field and Fork Food Pantry on the campus, Fairly anonymous (they ask only for a Gator ID), the service provides toiletries and food
without implicating the students who need it. This service is intended for students only, however, and so it doesn’t address the larger midtown and downtown area, or anyone who isn’t subsumed under the university’s care. And even still, both of these measures only affect those already housed, leaving out a large population in the city: those who cannot afford adequate housing. It probably comes as no surprise, but food insecurity is a major problem with the homeless, regardless of circumstance. Because their housing is tenuous, other basic needs like food falls by the wayside. And if a person is hungry, often the only choices are calorie-dense but nutrient-poor choices like McDonald’s or Burger King. Kathleen Saren is a registered dietitian working with the HONORS program, a local facility funded by the Veteran’s Association that provides beds and food for homeless veteran soldiers. At the program, Kathleen teaches cooking classes alongside the nutrition assessments she provides for the veterans. Using produce from the center’s community garden in her class recipes, Saren tries to show that the very greens that seemed illusory
before can actually grow in small, apartment friendly pots. Her goal is to make the recipes she demonstrates for the class under $2 a serving, and she has been fairly successful so far. Regardless of whether a veteran decides to take Saren’s class, the HONORS program helps those who have fallen get back on their feet and transition to a new, and hopefully better, place. Despite the good that the program provides, it also faces an unclear future. President Obama declared that he intended to end homelessness in veteran soldiers by 2015. Such a high-order demand is hard to meet, but programs like HONORS have actually been fairly successful in turning the tide. That being said, the year is now 2015, and the money provided to the programs may no longer be available. Whether this will lead to shifts in how programs like HONORS run is hard to say, but Saren said she is hopeful that the successes will continue despite the change in federal aid. At the end of the day, Saren believes that to address the problems associated with food insecurity obesity, diabetes, heart disease - we must treat the problem as something else. “I think the challenge now is that you can eat food. People of low income level, at the poverty level, they have access to food. It’s empty calories, though,” she said. “I no longer think that food insecurity is main problem, it’s nutrient insecurity.”
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 13
HOMESTEAD INSTEAD: We’ve got the dirt on how to set up a compost bin in your own home. STORY AND ILLUSTRATION BY SHANNON NEHILEY
ONE MAN’S TRASH
What are your neighbors doing with the smelly pile of trash in their backyard? If the pile seems to be organized into a purposeful structure, chances are your neighbor is composting. A compost pile helps turn your organic food waste and yard clippings into healthy, usable gardening soil. Good soil can be expensive, and whether you are looking to grow veggies and herbs at home, or if you have several succulents you treat as your pride and joy, you might want to consider building a compost pile of your own. Alternatively, if you live in a cohousing complex and don’t have the space to compost on your own, you can still help out the environment by saving any waste that would take up room in a landfill and compost through local programs like Gainesville Compost. If you recall the article “Soil Food” from The
Fine Print’s Fall 2011 issue, Gainesville Compost is a local bike-powered program geared towards the collection of the community’s food waste and distribution of the nutrient-rich soil it produces. Gainesville Compost initially started up by receiving local restaurants’ food waste, and has now expanded to include in-range residents. For a low monthly fee, you will receive a composting Green Bucket and starter kit, a weekly pickup of your Green Bucket contents, a small monthly amount of nutrient-rich soil from the compost, and discounted prices on additional amounts of this soil, also known as Soil Food. Composting is simple, environmentally friendly, does not take up much of your time, and if you are one to spend money on gardening soil and fertilizer, composting will very easily pay for itself.
Handy gardening books and the Internet offer infinite ways to build a compost bin. Materials for these range from wood to recycled plastic bins, and prices range from zero dollars to a couple hundred. With a student budget and a limited schedule, the least complicated and less expensive the bin the better. Here is the breakdown for a cheap bin that only requires minimal time for installation:
14 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
COLUMN / HOMESTEAD INSTEAD
GET BUILDING 1.
Gather supplies: The smallest roll of chicken wire you can find, 6 to 8 wooden stakes, a staple gun, wire cutters
2. Setting it up: Place stakes in the ground depending on how large you want the compost bin to be, cut and wrap the wire around the stakes, attach with a staple gun.
3. Filling the bins: Compost scientists of the world have deemed the Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio of a compost pile 25:30. This means that in
order for the matter to decompose you will need to fill your bins with 46 percent high-carbon materials: newspaper, wood, cardboard, fruit waste, leaves and pinecones; and 54 percent high nitrogen materials: coffee grounds, vegetable waste, weeds, grass clippings, and other food waste. Eyeballing these amounts is fine too; all organic matter will decompose regardless!
4. Rotating: While your compost is blossoming from organic waste into healthy soil, you will need to aid the process. Compost needs to aerate every week in order to decompose correctly and distribute moisture, which means being moved around with a shovel like a tossed salad.
5. Sorting: Once one section of your compost pile is full, you may move it to the next bin space and start filling up the empty one. Creating a compost pile with separate sections gives you more space to fill up, and allows your compost a longer decomposition timeline. In the long run, this will allow you more soil, and save even more space in your local landfill.
6care,. Turning out soil: With proper and tender loving your compost pile will turn out rich, healthy soil in only a few months. You can then use this soil to garden, grow more food to be eaten and compost the scraps.
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 15
Troop 733, a local Girl Scout troop of 23 high-school aged feminists, harnesses their passion to educate the community about social justice issues. BY ASHLEY YO PHOTO BY STEVEN LONGMIRE The atmosphere at Santa Fe’s Perry Center was focused yet relaxed on the morning of the Sewathon, sustained by the steady whir of several sewing machines. About 15 women of all ages – from young teens to over 70 years old – spent the day sewing linens into reusable menstrual pads while chatting casually about human trafficking, domestic violence, gluten allergies and what to do after high school. For Troop 733 – the local Girl Scout troop that organized the project – this kind of setting is altogether normal. The project is called “Mission: Possible,” and through it, the troop aims to provide reusable menstrual pads to women in South Sudan. And it’s just one of a slew of projects the troop has put together to help women across the world. Troop 733 consists of 26 passionate and active young women led by troop leader Radha Selvester, and together she and the troop have cultivated an environment that encourages and teaches the importance of education, advocacy and empowerment. Selvester said that she, as a leader, focuses on making sure that all of the girls’ voices are respected and given a chance to influence the group, instead of approaching troop matters by a majority-rules method. “Synergy,” Radha said. “We all feel supported; they are all heard and affirmed.” Selvester took over the troop two and a half years ago, when it only had two members. Since then, they’ve grown to 26. Joni Perkins, president of the troop, and member Lilian Jones are both highschool seniors with no plans to leave Girl Scouts after graduating. In fact, they’ve 2 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
convinced most of their school friends to join their troop. Most members joined by word-of-mouth this way, either invited by Selvester or by other members. Although these young women joined voluntarily, a study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute estimates that only 4 percent of 14 million girls ages 11 to 17 are members of Girl Scouts in the United States. “When I tell [my friends] I’m at Girl Scouts, they are like, ‘What are you doing?’” Perkins said. “People don’t usually join Girl Scouts when they’re old. I think it’s part of the fact that we’re so active, and our friends hear about it, and they want to join.” According to Selvester, their troop’s mission is clear: How can we help our sisters around the world? To fulfil its mission, Troop 733 is action-oriented, regularly participating in the community Perkins credits their bustling activity to its large membership numbers. There are so many troops that don’t really do much,” she said. “They go camping that one time in the year, and that’s pretty much it. This troop is really active, we do a lot in the community, and we do a lot of awareness projects.” Jones, who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, said her last troop had only seven members. She said that she is happy to now be in a troop that constantly comes up with new projects that reach out to the community. Her old troop, she said, only focused on one trip. “And after that, it was done,” she said. “It wasn’t even in the community. We went to London, and we didn’t do much.” The group disbanded shortly after she left, she added. The troop works toward “journeys” instead of patches, which are essentially “super patches,” according to Perkins.
Troop 733 all put their hands in at the end of one of their weekly meetings. Together, the girls have chosen to work on projects that focus on issues ranging from environmental movements to women’s health. Their projects are synergy-based; everyone’s input counts. For example, said vice president Jaya Maduri, the troop loves to talk about their GirlTopia journey, a recent project where the troop brainstormed what a utopia would look like for girls and had to present their ideas to the community in some way. Some wanted to build a tree made out of recycled materials, Maduri said, and the others wanted to put on a play for the community. “We ended up doing both of them,” she said. “The tree was part of the skit,” The troop is working on two projects now. Their first focuses on researching animal agriculture and its effects on the environment, and they plan to share their findings with the community. Their second project
is called “Mission Possible: Keep Girls in School. Period.” The troop, along with the help of experienced sewing guild members, are working to sew reusable and washable sanitary pads for female students in South Sudan. The troop discovered that young women in South Sudan are unable to attend school due
these reusable supplies to give to young South Sudanese women for free. They call their supplies “comfort kits” and provide a drawstring bag for privacy, different sized panties, waterproof zip lock bags and the washable pads themselves. The young women in this troop are well aware of the
“I feel like since we do so much in the community, it empowers you – and you work with all of these amazing girls.” to menstruation. Because of this, they often fall behind, and eventually drop out of school. Disposable sanitary supplies are expensive and hard to come by when food and shelter are the primary focus of the girls’ families. With this in mind, Troop 733 uses donated materials and labor to sew hundreds to thousands of
adversities that face women in other countries as well as the United States. “In the process of doing the GirlTopia, we also had to learn about all of the adversities that women face,” Perkins said. “We learned about human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and all these terrible things that girls go through around the world.”
In fact, Jones said that the troop recently found out that the Super Bowl is one of the worst places for human trafficking, which they discovered when one of Jones’ friends projects was to protest at the Super Bowl against human trafficking. “I feel like since we do so much in the community, it empowers you – and you work with all of these amazing girls,” Maduri said. “We are helping girls halfway across the world. How many high school girls can say that?” Despite the statistical odds of growing a troop from two members to 26 in two and a half years, the troop continues to thrive and grow. Young women are joining as late as their senior year of high school and are excited to participate. As for their long-term plans, Perkins said she was excited for the future. “You can be a Girl Scout for life,” she said, “and I’m going to be that!”
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 3
A local craft space provides the place and the means for artists to create. PHOTO STORY BY ERICA STERLING This March, local artists Samantha Kirkland and Jen Duerden opened up “Thick as Thieves,” a collective art/craft space located down depot avenue in an abandoned warehouse. The building is filled with tools, tables and other resources that they and other artists can use at any time. Kirkland and Duerden aim to open 18 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
the place up the community, making the space available for other artists to work on anything from jewelry, to sculpture, to photography. They’ve even built a small lofted bed using wood from the Repurpose Project for people to sleep in as they work on their projects. Currently, Kirkland and Duerden live in
the space with Kirkland’s young daughter. “We have worked so hard for this,” Kirkland said. “It’s been a dream of mine my entire life to have this space and raise my youngblood in a space where she can learn work ethic and passion firsthand.”
Current page: (bottom, right) Jen Duerden, co-owner of Thick as Thieves, works on the text of a sign for a local bar. (bottom, left) One of the walls of Thick as Thieves, a new local art/craft space that opened this March, is filled with tools and crafts of all kinds. The space, and the wall of tools, is open for any local artist to come and use. (top)
Kirkland sits at one of her workspaces, where she makes her own jewelry. An assortment of tools hangs behind her, available for artists to use. Opposite page: (top, right) Kirland and Duerden built a cozy, lofted room in the space out of repurposed wood for friends and artists to stay the night when working or hanging out at the space. (bottom)
Samantha Kirkland and Steve Spence work together to set up a new welder for the space, also available for local artists to use. (top, left) Kirkland sits at one of her workspaces, where she makes her own jewelry. An assortment of tools hangs behind her, available for artists to use.
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 19
HEART TO HEART
Joan Anderson, of the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, at the rural woman’s health project.
STORY AND PHOTO BY CAROLINE NICKERSON
hen Joan Anderson, a member of the Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, first visited the Baker County Detention Center in Macclenny, Fla., in January, she couldn’t help but notice the starkness of the yellow walls. “It’s blank,” she recalled. “Everything is blank, sterile.” She and five others who joined in the two-hour tour noticed even more. For one, as Paul Parker, another IAIJ member, observed: immigrants are treated like criminals. “These are nonviolent, undocumented individuals who may [overstay] their visas,” he said, “who may have been picked up for any minor offense.” The only time that the detained, undocumented immigrants get to glimpse sunlight is through a solitary
20 | T H E
F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
window in the rec room, limited to one hour a day. They are granted no time outdoors, though after three months, they may be offered a transfer to another facility with outdoor recreation. “They never get to see the sky,” Anderson said. “Your initial impression is this shroud of sadness and an aura of uncertainty that surrounds everything.” Anderson and a growing group of volunteers representing IAIJ and various member churches has this year begun to organize regular visits to the Baker County Jail. They speak with men and women detained there while awaiting deportation hearings. The goal, Anderson said, is to provide a compassionate presence to people isolated from family and the outside world. “We had the sense that a lot were really traumatized and fearful,” she said.
SPOTLIGHT Because of this, Anderson said, simply being a benevolent presence is important, along with reassurance that they are not alone or forgotten. When the first group of visitors arrived at the jail, they were given a preliminary tour followed by a one-hour visitation session with any detainees willing to sign up. Before they could do that, the visitors had to empty their pockets of everything: car keys, paper, pencils. Then the group split up, with the men visiting the 28 male detainees eight at a time, and the women attending to the lone two female detainees who signed up. “They’re allowed three hours a week of visitation,” Anderson said. “But the sad thing is, there’s no face-to-face visitation with their families and friends. It’s all through video, telecomm video.” This is mostly due to where Baker County Jail is located, 55 miles outside of Gainesville and in a rural part of North Central Florida that lacks strong immigrant communities. This leaves the detained men and women isolated from family, friends and even people who understand their culture, only able to contact them for a limited time through phone or video chat. The visitors met people from a variety of places, including Central America, Africa, Turkey, Israel and Palestine. Each story was different, but a common complaint was a lack of access to legal representation and uncertainty as to when they would be released. Though attorney numbers are posted throughout the facility, contact is difficult and phone time is limited, leading to, as Anderson commented, an aura of uncertainty. A Palestinian man feared indefinite detention, as he was, by definition “stateless,” and had no home to return to. One woman Anderson spoke to said she no longer called her children because they weep when they hear her voice. Parker said that access to legal representation appeared to be limited. Joan pointed out that the facility itself did not receive any complaints. The Baker County Detention Center follows national regulations; the problems that plague the detainees are federal and systemic, she said, rather than caused by the facility itself. Immigrant detention has become a business, Anderson said, with Congressional mandates requiring a 34,000 bed quota. According to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, known as CIVIC, a national network of detention center visitation groups, corporations and counties make $164 per immigrant in detention per day. As a result, the quota creates a climate of fear, with immigrants being transported across the country without warning to satisfy these demands. In the state of Florida, there are three detention centers for undocumented immigrants, with Baker County Jail being the closest to Gainesville. There are about 250 in the United States, with now close to 40 established visiting groups making intentional visits to the detained. The group of IAIJ detention center visitors, which IAIJ leader Richard MacMaster
affectionately dubbed the “Baker Interfaith Friends,” hopes to engage in two visits a month under the umbrella of CIVIC. With more than 84 percent of immigrants lacking legal representation, the difficulties they have contacting their families, as well as the poor financial conditions, can keep a single immigrant in detention, sometimes shuffled from center to center, for years. Last November, Pam Bondi signed the state onto a lawsuit contesting President Obama’s decision to extend the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, as well as his decision not to deport undocumented parents of citizens and legal residents. In an official press release, her office argued that “this lawsuit is not about immigration,” and instead “about President Obama — yet again — overstepping the power granted to him by our United States Constitution.” Her critics argue that she ignored the best interests of the state to support a partisan cause, signing Florida on the suit with states like Arizona. Noami Tsu, an attorney from the Southern Poverty Legal Center, acknowledged that striving towards human dignity and decency is imperative. “We, as a country, are torn between the idea of everyone deserving human dignity and equal rights, and the idea of exploiting immigrants,” Tsu said. “We have a checkered history of treating people poorly.”
“If I remain silent, I am complicit in injustice.” One of the IAIJ’s most recent projects, led by Sam Trickey, is to establish Gainesville as Florida’s first “Welcoming City.” If the initiative passes City Hall, Gainesville will be nationally and internationally recognized as a city that does not persecute immigrants and instead works for their success. According to Trickey, Gainesville residents need to speak up about issues directly affecting undocumented immigrants. Improving immigration processes will benefit everyone. “The people who aren’t being paid proper wages, farm workers and immigrants: These are not people of privilege,” he said. “The question comes -- who is going to be their voice?” But at the end of the day, said IAIJ member Sam Trickey, these visits are fueled by compassion. “If I remain silent … I am complicit in injustice,” Trickey said. “I am besmirching the memory of my first father- and mother-in-law, immigrants from Mexico, and I simply cannot do that.” The Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice meets at the Mennonite meeting house, 1236 NW 18th Avenue, 6-7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. For more information, call 352-371-6772 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Summer 2015 | T H E
A local task force advocates for public schools to more thoroughly teach African American history in their curricula.
BY NATHALIE CHYBIK ILLUSTRATION BY JOSEPH GARLAND
Alachua County has been fighting to infuse African American history throughout the public school system for over 25 years, resisting a system in which only 10 out of 67 Florida counties have successfully implemented a school curriculum that thoroughly teaches African American History. The Alachua County Black History Task Force is a local advocacy and grassroots movement that was started October 2013 that has spearheaded this cause. It is the most recent in a long string of groups that have aimed to hold individual counties accountable for implementing the Florida Statute 1003.42, a state ordinance mandating the teaching of African American history in public schools. The group also holds meetings and events at the downtown Sweetwater Branch Library to educate the public about African American history. Though the statute is a state requirement, counties face little to no repercussion for not following it. This is because though the mandate passed in the ‘80s, a resolution giving the School Board power to hold individual counties accountable has never been made. Instead, the law exists only as a suggestion for how things should be. “It can be in the books; it can be in the Florida statutes and look pretty” said Kali Blount, one of the leaders of the task force and a
FEATURE Gainesville human rights activist. “That’s what I call a ‘showcase — as head of the task force, this all seemed like a form of aplaw.’” peasement. If the law does not have a resolution in the State Code of Ad“If they’d been real back then, a member of the board would ministration, he said, then the statute is only as effective as a coun- have chaired that committee,” he said. “If you’re talking about ty wants it to be. Usually only the counties with the political will or something that’s going to do vast, sweeping curriculum change, with enough community support are the ones that implement the you would have somebody from the top of the system.” law. A resolution in the code of administration tells every person Blount said that for him, the hardest part has not been the rewith authority to carry out the law what they must do, when they sistance of the school board and Good-Old-Boys Southern culture, must do it, when there will be an evaluation, and how it will be but the resistance from the black community itself. measured. “In other words,” he said, “failure within the black community “And most of all,” Blount said, “What’s going to happen if you to be aware of the amount of history that was gone and what its don’t do it.” importance is.” Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, a women’s studies professor Africans were brought here stripped of their culture, robbed at the University of Florida and active member of the task force, of their names, food, clothing, religion, music — essentially everysaid that the group has struggled to implement the mandate in a thing familiar — and have struggled to develop an identity ever way that doesn’t simply include Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks since, Blount said. or other well-known figures, but also how African Americans have “Black people were acculturated,” he said. “This was done to been involved since 1619 in all aspects of developing our society make self-determining humans into the stock and farm machinery and country. of someone else’s prosperity.” Various efforts have been made in participation with the school This meant treating other human beings in a way that seemed board superintendent to educate teachers around the county, to at odds with ordinary ethics, and it meant classifying African peodiscuss curriculums and to make sure all texts meet the criteria of ple as less than fully human in order to suit an economic need. the mandate. “Mass incarceration is a problem, and police brutality is a prob“We want to see this embedded not only in social studies, but lem. The first thing that Rick Scott did was to forbid convicted in everything,” Simmons said, felons from voting,” Simmons “Black history is American hissaid. “Well, when you have “When you can get 60 million black folks in America tory, and it deserves to be intemass incarceration of black moving together, that’s more powerful than anything grated.” and brown people, that’s a While there is also a statelarge percentage of the poputhat could affect this country from the outside.” wide task force headquartered lation that can’t vote.” in Tallahassee that focuses on But even in post-segregation maintaining the cause, Simmons said that one of the biggest prob- America, Southern states are not the only ones ignoring the signifilems has been the lack of money to enforce the ordinance. With cance of immersing black history studies into the public education Republicans at the helm, Simmons said it’s amazing that the group system. gets any money at all. “It’s not just Florida; it’s the whole country,” Simmons said. “It’s a real struggle because I think it’s basically white suprem- “From what I can gather, it seems to be a big problem everywhere acy,” Simmons said. “And there’s been a pushback, they’re com- Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Chicago. I’ve seen a ing at us from all directions - from trying to put women back in real retrenchment on the progressive agenda.” the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, to subtly limiting our voting Blount and the task force mean to make people conscious, at rights.” an individual and collective level, that white men are not the only Back in 1993, when the statute was revised to include topics contributors to our history. that garnered more public support — including women’s rights “History is a rolling creature, it’s cause and effect, it all ties toand Hispanic contributions to the U.S. — the task force at the gether, and we need to learn that,” Blount said. time, called the African Studies Association of Alachua County, If we pull black history out of history itself, a significant piece of petitioned the school board with over 700 signatures asking them the puzzle is missing to understand why the insanity that is racism to reinforce the statute. continues to exist today, Blount said. The purest way out of this In response, the board gave the group $25,000 to create a mul- self-destructive quandary is through education. ticultural curriculum task force that included several teachers and The government will only change its ways if the people demand community members. The money went to buying books and giv- change, and it needs to start at a local level. We need to understand ing grants to teachers, but it only ended up helping four classrooms ourselves as part of an organism, and not as a separate individual for one year. entity if we want to begin constructing a just world. Because of this, and the fact that they put someone without “When you can get 60 million black folks in America moving board authority — whose desk was already overflowing, Blount together, that’s more powerful than anything that could affect this said country,” Blount said.
A PRIVATE AFFAIR
An art gallery featuring local women’s vulvas sparks backlash from Gainesville’s trans community. BY SAMANTHA SCHUYLER ILLUSTRATIONS BY EMMA ROULETTE
n a sunny room in the back of a clean, well-kept house, a woman named Angela lies on a bed with her knees wide apart and her hand placed at an artistic angle beside her vulva. Her other hand rests in a tightened fist at her solar plexus, and she has decided to close her eyes. She breathes slowly and with focused meditation. Above her a 22-year-old photographer, Alex, stands on the bed and points the business end of a camera at her crotch. Alex is not unkind; empathetic to Angela’s nerves, she gently coaches her through specific leg and arm positions while asking breezy, uncomplicated questions about work as a Zumba instructor. The camera makes a series of tiny mechanical noises. “This feels so crazy all of a sudden,” Angela says and opens her eyes. She peers down her stomach into the camera’s unblinking lens, which has been recording her vulva in hyper-focused detail for the past quarter of an hour. Alex laughs and tests a new angle. Alex’s life, at this point, had organized itself around a continual cycle of nether-regions. She and Nina Plocek, a 22-year-old women studies major at the University of Florida with whom she has partnered to document in vivid
24 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
detail local vulvas, had issued an open call for models in February and received a pleasantly strong response. Angela was Alex’s 31st model. Over the course of three months, she asked 31 locals, with increasing efficiency, to disrobe to their comfort level, climb onto a surface and open their legs. Not unlike a gynecological exam, Angela notes early in their session. Alex and Nina compiled the pictures into a public art gallery, which opened in mid-April at the local feminist bookstore Wild Iris. Though it was made in an effort to create an open, inclusive and progressive space, it took a heated online debate — peppered with drop-outs, accusations of trans-misogyny and hurt feelings — that pit two parts of the local activist community against each other to actually happen. But now, in this sunny room nestled among the treedense cottages of Gainesville’s downtown, Alex and Nina could only put the dispute, which was still active on the Facebook event page, on the backburner. The three women, deep in the couches of Nina’s living room, floated through cursory interview topics with comfortable chattiness, which they record to be played during the gallery showing.
FEATURE After a few introductory questions, Nina shepherded the conversation into choppier waters. “So, OK,” she began, her gentle, trembly voice in glaring contrast to the gravity of her next question. “When did you first learn about masturbation?” Despite the interview’s sensitive questions, Nina and Alex coaxed frank, unguarded responses from their subjects with sororal gentleness, touching on topics from body image to sexual history to abuse. They switched from pointed, scavenging questions to lighthearted smalltalk in easy turns, sharing their own personal experiences and remaining constantly aware of their interviewee’s comfort. It’s this level of sensitivity, which they maintain consistently through each session, that has brought many of the subjects to thank them before leaving. Alex has found herself receiving parting hugs by any number of models who stripped down with apprehension and spread their legs jumpy with nervous energy. Back in the sunny room, Alex takes shot after shot of Angela’s vulva. She has migrated from the bed and into a patch of afternoon light that has pooled under one of the windows. They finish here, with Angela pinning the edge of her skirt to her stomach, looking out into the backyard and quiet street. After, they mill in Nina’s kitchen, taking their time saying goodbye, basking in the warmth of having become so suddenly and consensually intimate. A flurry of hugs follows, and Angela waves goodbye. The door shuts. Alex and Nina turn to each other. The giddy, bright afterglow fades into worried distraction. They furrow their brows and lower their voices, an uncanny imitation of the final scene in The Graduate. For what seems like the thousandth time, they start to talk about the Facebook conversation.
t happened the morning after the event page went up. First one commenter, then two, then a stream of likes that, because of Facebook’s activity-favoring algorithm, shoved it all into the public eye. Over the course of the day, members of Gainesville’s trans community ripped into the event, calling it out as exclusionary and trans-misogynistic. Music groups who had agreed to play dropped out; people threatened to protest; a few people suggested creating rival events that would be done on their terms. Two models asked that they not be included in the gallery anymore. By the end, the conversation tallied 37 comments with 355 likes among them, with even more people following everything in digital silence, afraid to be sucked into the flame spiral. The event page, where all of this happened, went up a month after Nina initially came up with the project in late January. She spent an hour crafting the first draft of the description. She and Erica Merrell, co-owner of Wild Iris, wanted to be careful; they deeply respected the importance
of this tiny corner of the Internet that they were staking out. And at this point, Nina was mostly concerned about provoking the conservative and squeamish. The office manager of the women’s studies department had already complained about the posters calling for models she had put up, which was a sketch of a vulva. She asked for them to be taken down. “Do you realize,” the manager had asked Nina when she called her into the office, “that there are…” she lowered her voice, “vaginas on your poster?” Yes, Nina said. She was aware. But she and Erica also wanted their language to be painstakingly inclusive. They had spoken privately with a few members of the trans community, asking how they could describe the event in a way that would not exclude them. All of this was nail-bitingly important. They would send this description through the Wild Iris and UF women’s studies listservs. The National Women’s Liberation website would use it to promote the event. As Facebook events always do, it took awhile to gather momentum. The first comment came two hours later, after people had already begun to show that they were going. It read like most responses to upcoming events: anticipatory and — literally — breathless. “YO,” it read. “I’m so excited for this I can’t breathe.” It was awarded seven likes. In the wee hours of the next morning — 1:22 a.m. — the second response came in. It was from a local trans woman, Scout Ashtyn. It was lengthier than the first and extremely provocative. It called out the event for not being trans affirmative and inclusive, despite the event description saying it was. “maybe if u wanted to make a TRULY ‘trans* affirmative and inclusive’ [event] u would do more to insure the safety of transwomen who are the ones being MURDERED because of their genitalia,” the message read. “Are there gonna be representations of transwomen who haven’t had SRS [sex realignment surgery]? is there gonna be any representation of transwomen at all?” Meanwhile, the number of people going hit the 80s. Scout posted a follow-up six minutes later, writing that a member of one of the bands was a TERF, which has a long history of meaning both “Trans Eradicatory Radical Feminist” and “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” “That’s just a slap in the face,” the message said. “fuck this event” a trans woman added underneath. “Tell ‘em,” another trans local replied. “Fuck terfs.” TERFS are a remnant of second-wave feminism, which is notorious for focusing on those who were born a woman with internal genitalia. Ironically, this is the kind of feminism that Erica, upon taking up co-ownership of Wild Iris, has been working for the past four years to root out, phasing out
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 25
events like the womenonly dance parties for more trans-inclusive, and focused, programming. At the same time, Radical Feminism has a documented — though lesser known — history of including trans women, said Yocheved Zenaida-Cohen, trans affairs coordinator at Wild Iris, with intentional womanhood being viewed an empowered identity. “Contrary to popular belief within young activist circles, second-wave feminism is no more transmisogynist as a movement than any faction in which womanhood is assigned,” she said. “Many of Gainesville’s own trans women are radical feminists. Ours is the issue of biological essentialism.” It’s important to note that sex— not just gender — is socially constructed, ZenaidaCohen said. Biological maleness is no more an objective category than manness. Rather, she said, trans women use the term “Male Assigned at Birth” to evoke how trans women are assigned maleness rather than having an innate (albeit disagreeable) maleness. The trans community wanted to know where women who had external genitalia fit into the equation — their genitals, they argued, were as much vulva as anything else, if a person identifies them that way. The concept has been analyzed extensively by academics like Gayle Salamon, a queer theorist at Princeton University, in her work, “Assuming the Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materialist.” In it, Salamon explains that the body can, and does, “exceed the confines of its own skin.” Those who identify as trans have to come to terms with this phenomenon from an early age. But no matter your identity, she says, sometimes the way we perceive our body does not match the way others perceive it, but a person’s personal perception is still valid. Gainesville’s trans community was calling out Nina, Alex and Erica for challenging the personal certainty trans folks have that their genitals are the gender they have assigned them. They were arguing, Scout later said, that the oversight infringed on many women’s sense of personal identity. These are concerns that have preoccupied feminist thought for over a decade, but have only recently been addressed outside the academic realm. Nina, even as a women’s studies major, said that this kind of conversation felt like uncharted territory within her field of study. Combining transgender and feminist issues in a practical and efficient way has been
26 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
hardly addressed or studied in its application, she said, meaning that she and Erica had walked into something they could only realize, as the comments publicly shamed them, that they didn’t fully understand. Transfeminism, the cross-section of trans rights and feminism, was born in the late ‘90s and has only really been unpacked extensively in the past 15 years. Transfeminist academics and activists argue that trans women face specific problems that must be addressed in their own way. Their mantra is simple and adds to a common assertion among women of color and other female minorities: Women are oppressed, but not all women are oppressed equally. But most significantly, trans women have had to argue for their inclusion and recognition as women at all. They face a resistant patriarchy and exclusionary second-wave feminists. Supposedly enlightened third-wave feminists’ ignorance of a trans woman’s struggle to socially reify her identity seemed par for the course, Scout explained. For this reason, many members of the trans community are wary of feminists, no matter their wave. But Nina and Erica felt bewildered and misunderstood; at the end of the day, they agreed with the trans community. “From the beginning, we were all in agreement that woman does not equal vulva,” Nina said, “and vulva does not equal woman.” Scout, who was one of the trans women Erica and Nina spoke to, had been disappointed by the application of all that they had talked about. It had seemed like her community had spoken but were not really heard. Their voices had just been a nominal step toward being inclusive. Where were the bodies to prove that they had really been understood? “It’s especially hard because my sisters are dying on the
“ Their genitals, they argued, were
as much vulva as anything else, if a person identifies them that way. “
street every day,” she said. “So when you insist that over and over and it doesn’t seem to be heard, it’s really hard. “We were criticized for being too harsh and using inflammatory language, yeah, but when in every other way you’ve been told that you are ineffectual, sometimes language is the only defense that you have.” After the comment thread, Erica and Nina debated calling the whole event off. They were emotionally and intellectually exhausted, having spent two days formulating an apology post to set the record straight. “But I just kept thinking about how the patriarchy does everything it can to keep us silent about our bodies,” Nina said. “And I realized...we can’t erase ourselves. We have a much bigger responsibility.’”
iva La Vulva took place on a rainy April evening at Wild Iris, which was cleared of its bookshelves and familiar clutter to allow for maximum browsing room. Only 15 people could come into the gallery at a time for the span of the audio portion: a 17-minute long mashup of all 31 interviews. The setup was meant to keep the gallery intimate, which matched the moody, black-and-white photos of the gallery. The models were able to title their own photos. Some were funny (“The Chosen One,” “Bajingo,” “Yep, That’s Mine”) others serious, (“Power,” “Consent,” “Comfort”) and many poetic (“Milk and Honey,” “The Wild,” “Not a Vagina”). The way the interview was edited gave it the impression of an audio documentary, with all of the emotional qualities of a movie. There were 31 characters; the plot dipped and twisted. One moment the interviewees spoke about their terminology for vagina and vulva, the next they recounted the first time they felt empowered enough to ask what they wanted out of sex. “The first time I told my partner exactly what I wanted, he called me ‘picky.’” One interviewee said. “And I just got up and walked out.” A few people gave a small cheer. “I never really had the language to feel good about my body,” another said. “Tumblr helped me a lot.” This produced a large, collective laugh. Then, one after the other, a string of interviewees revealed that they had been raped or abused. The atmosphere dipped considerably. A few people, all women, gently touched their hands to their chests in sympathy. Someone let out a small sigh. When it was over, the room filled with the sound of applause. For three hours, 15 people at a time came to listen to the audio and look at the photos. About 200 people came out in total, Nina said, with some experiencing the gallery more than once. People cried, she said. They gave and accepted hugs. She was on the receiving end of a number of them.
he tension between the trans and feminist community in Gainesville has mostly healed. It took a barbecue, which Erica had scheduled long before Viva La Vulva was an idea, to work out the final kinks. Over barbecued tempeh and ribs, members of the trans community vented their frustration in person to those in the feminist community who decided to come. “It became a space for people to get all that crap out,” Erica said. “I think it was good to have that, to be back together again and make ribs for everyone, and eat up, and send them all home with happy hearts and full stomachs. Those are real things that I can do to actually change day-to-day lives.” And then, as though to finalize the truce, the barbecue and conversation turned into a dance party. “Once the first big bottle of wine is done,” Erica said, “it’s usually time for Beyoncé.”
Unbeknownst to anyone, one of the owners of Charis Books, Atlanta’s own feminist bookstore — one that has been historically integrated with its local trans community — had been in Gainesville at the same time by chance, visiting a friend. She went to the gallery, and afterward approached Nina to suggest that they bring Viva La Vulva to Charis in the fall. The morning after the event, Nina and Erica unlatched the box where they had told everyone to submit their comments. They removed from it a ream of paper, which included responses that ranged from a few sentences to whole paragraphs squashed on the front and back sides. On the rainbow-colored lawn chairs outside Wild Iris’ doors, Nina and Erica split the stack and read through them. At one point, they both looked up to see the other crying. Neither really knew when the tears had hit. Somewhere between seeing for the fifth time the phrase “I’m not alone!!” or maybe when a woman wrote that she felt like she had made 30 new friends. They set the comments aside. They might compile them into a book at a later time, but not now. They have work to do.
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 27
FIGHT FOR YOUR
POTTY The infamous “Bathroom Bill,” which punished those who entered a bathroom not matching their birth sex, was shot down after passing through two state subcommittees.
BY DAMIAN GONZALEZ ILLUSTRATION BY SIDNEY HOWARD
28 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
n the morning of April 6, a group of 15 protesters nestled their way along the steps of Gainesville City Hall. Their signs, which read, “Flush the Bathroom Bill” and “We Just Need 2 Pee,” were a battle cry following the introduction of House Bill 583. For Harmony Cole, this public display of action was dire if she ever hoped to maintain even a semblance of security when using public restrooms. Known as the Transgender Bathroom Bill, HB 583 would have banned Floridians like Cole from using singlesex restrooms if they failed to match the sex listed on their driver’s license or passport. The bill, proposed by Rep. Frank Artiles (R-Miami), was a direct response to a Miami-Dade County ordinance intended to protect the transgender community. Artiles said the ordinance posed a risk by allowing men to enter women’s facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms. As a 25-year-old trans woman and one of the leaders behind the rally, using the restroom is still uncomfortable for Cole due to the stigma eschewed by such legislation. Cole made sure to point out that the language inherent in the bill was a blatant erasure of gender identity within the trans community. “We are more afraid to be in your bathroom than you should be to have us in there,” she said. “Hearing about it for the first time really prompted a righteous fury within me.” While the controversial bill faced a legislative death as of April 28, the journey up until this point has been fraught with struggle for local trans activists and allies. Having been filed in February, the bill managed to pass numerous House subcommittees with approval from a Republican majority. While the bill was based out of MiamiDade County, the bills passage would have invalidated local gender identity and expression protections established in August 2013 with the Alachua County Human Rights Ordinance. Lucas DeMonte, a trans man from Gainesville, emphasized just how difficult it was to incorporate gender identity and gender expression into the ordinance in the first place. To have rendered it null would have negated the extensive efforts of local transgender activists who fought to prompt such inclusivity for years. The bill, which would have ultimately affected the everyday lives of trans people, was just another way in which legislation was used as a guise for protection when it instead would have furthered the criminalization of a marginalized community. DeMonte said medical transitions are often not economically feasible for many trans folk, which is why the transgender community lobbied so extensively over the past several years for the inclusion of gender identity and gender
expression. He also made sure to emphasize the time it takes to change your legal sex on forms of identification. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey’s most recent report, only 21 percent of transgender people who have transitioned have been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender. The other 79 percent have either been able to update only certain records or none at all. “On a personal level, if this bill were to pass, my anxiety would be through the roof,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to even leave my house. All of my deepest and darkest fears would come true.” People who are transgender would ultimately have been fined up to $1,000 with a one-year jail sentence for using a bathroom that did not match their assigned sex at birth. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the public policy specialist for Equality Florida said this would have discredited the very gender with which they identify. Equality Florida, a civil rights organization dedicated to securing equal opportunities for Florida’s LGBT community, led two days of lobbying against the bill in Tallahassee on March 16 and 17. Smith said activists chanted “trans lives matter” during protests held outside after the legislation was approved. “The bill would have a devastating impact on transgender Floridians,” Smith said. “It would turn everyday trans folk into criminals. That is simply the reality.” While a majority of Republicans were in support of the bill, Rep. Ken Roberson
(R-Port Charlotte) was the only Republican to vote “no” on the bill before it died. Connor Corzine, secretary of the Alachua County Young Republicans, said the opinions regarding LGBT issues are often varied among
older and younger Republicans. “The Republican party is diverse on this (LGBT) issue,” Corzine said. “Being an active Republican my whole life, there is definitely a split between Libertarian and more traditional conservatives.” Hiram Martinez-Cabrera, the Pride Awareness Month 2015 executive director at the University of Florida, said prompting an increase in online activism was a vital part of promoting lobbying efforts among allies while the bill was still active. “Even though Alachua County isn’t huge, there is a certain level of solidarity among the queer community here,” Martinez-Cabrera said. “To maintain our ordinance, we have to mobilize and lobby in Tallahassee.” Promoting a safe and inviting environment for the local trans community is another major
factor, according to Erica Merrell, co-owner of Wild Iris Books, “Florida’s only feminist and LGBTQ+ bookstore.” Wild Iris Books, located in downtown Gainesville, has made an active effort to create a trans-inclusive space. Since launching a trans-affairs program at Wild Iris Books, Merrell has made sure to provide clothing, medical referrals to specialists who can help with their transition, general support and other trans resources. Merrell said the recent events have left her outraged by the bill, as it puts trans folk on a schedule of fear and punishment. “Systems of oppression like this work by stripping you of those things that really shape the quality of your dayto-day life,” she said. For Zot Lynn Szurgot, another prominent leader behind the Gainesville rally, the chance of another bill similar to HB 583 sprouting again is likely. Martinez-Cabrera said he therefore believes it is imperative for LGBT constituents in Alachua County and their allies to make their voices are heard even after the death of the bill. Rallying efforts like the one put together by Cole, Szurgot and many others in Gainesville emphasized the importance of solidarity on a local level. “This type of discrimination does nothing to protect anyone, and puts vulnerable innocents at greater risk,” Szurgot said. “Those who experience multiple overlapping intersectional oppressions deserve inclusion and our protection, not additional risks and burdens.”
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 29
BY ASHLEY LOMBARDO ILLUSTRATIONS BY SAMANTHA SCHUYLER
30 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
hen John Johnson approached Dr. Ronald Foreman’s office on a late Monday afternoon in 1987, he knew what to expect. As usual, the beige sofa outside Foreman’s office was filled with University of Florida students perched like birds on a wire, waiting patiently to pick his brain. Johnson knew Foreman’s designated office hours would end, but was confident that “Doc,” as his students affectionately called him, wouldn’t leave until everyone had their chance to confide. It was impossible to give adequate time to all the students who stuck around to see him, so Doc almost always stayed late. Johnson took the last seat at the small, worn couch, sandwiching himself between a green-eyed blonde girl and a tall black boy with dreaded locks. Johnson watched as more students flocked to Foreman’s unmanned doorway, left with no choice but to lean against
the couch’s armrests. When it was Johnson’s turn, he passed through the door and into Doc’s office, his warm smile peeking through the towering stacks of books that filled the desk. A dictionary sat an armlength away for easy perusal. Johnson knew that if he was unsure about the meaning of a word, Doc would simply slide the book across the table and tell him to look it up. That was just Doc’s style; he was a man of words. “What can I do for you, John?” Foreman asked. Foreman’s most recent assignment, an analysis of Albert Race’s novel “Racehoss: Big Emma’s Boy,” had left Johnson feeling perplexed. A short explanation cleared the fog. But after they finished, Johnson remained in the chair, tapping his foot. Foreman’s tie, neatly knotted as usual, had caught his attention. “Doc, I really like your tie,” Johnson said. Foreman thanked Johnson
and told him that it was a gift from his wife, Ann. Johnson nodded, letting the silence widen. Finally, he started again, saying that he admired how pristine and small he made the knot, despite the tie’s shapeless knit material. He knew that if he wanted to look professional, knit was the way to go. But, he admitted to Doc, when he tried to tie a knot himself, it looked huge and clumsy and awkward. Foreman didn’t hesitate. Despite the three other students waiting outside his door and the end of his office hours rapidly approaching, Foreman gently unknotted his tie. He started from the beginning. The real trick, Foreman said, was to stick your pointer finger in the top front loop and pull it down very tight, which would help make the knot smaller and neater. He removed his tie and rested it on Johnson’s neck. It took Johnson a couple of tries, and a few corrections from Foreman, but he finally got it. “In like Flynn!” Johnson exclaimed. “That’s super, John,” Foreman said, laughing. “Great job.” As Johnson stood to leave, Foreman told him, as he told all his students when they parted ways: Take care. As one of the first three
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 31
African-American faculty members at the University of Florida, Foreman began at the school in 1970 with one mission: to launched the Afro-American studies program. He was committed to its prosperity, and he intended to see its success come hell or high water, with or without the resources it deserved. The program lives on today, though Foreman passed away in November 2014. In recent years, it has grown from offering only two majors in 2012 to about 70 in 2015. But despite its rapid growth, the African-American studies program has yet to become a full-fledged department. A memo written by Foreman in the 1970s, which was read aloud at his memorial service on Feb. 18., outlined his wishes for the
32 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
future of the program, including achieving departmental status and an increase in the number of paid faculty positions. “One of those goals was to create and fund six faculty positions for the African-American studies program,” his son, Everett Foreman, said. “When he retired in 2000 and even today in 2015, he would still be waiting for that.” Under Sharon Austin, its current director and an associate professor of political science, the program has been expanding. During Foreman’s time as director, students who took courses in the program could only receive a program certificate. UF now allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree after declaring it as a major. In the last academic year, the program taught about 800 students. For the 2015-2016
semester cycle, it plans to reach over 1,000 students. The obvious spike in enrollment has prompted Austin to submit a proposal to improve the program and finally elevate it to departmental status. She is currently working to hire three new faculty members, develop a graduate certificate in race and ethnicity and create a mentorship-training program that would provide individualized attention to students pursuing a research career in the field. “We expected to have 50 majors during the fifth year we offered it, but already have more than that,” Austin said. “We also have more majors than some departments that have offered majors for several years.” Austin has discussed departmental status with faculty, affiliates and the advisory board. The proposal will highlight some of the recent accomplishments of the program and compare them to other departments in the college of liberal arts and sciences. It will be submitted for consideration no later than August 1. But it all started with Doc.
hen Foreman left Illinois State in 1970 and set his sights on Gainesville, the city was still smoldering in the wake of segregation. The Jim-Crow era racial tension, which had existed
FEATURE since before Reconstruction, was still part of daily life. It was only a few years before that black men and women were expected to step off the sidewalk when a white woman passed. Discrimination as a standard had started to dwindle, but the city could not escape the reality of the racially unbalanced infrastructure it was built on. Over the 20th Century, Gainesville’s black community became centralized to a few different areas. When Foreman relocated his family, the majority of the black population was situated near the former all-black Lincoln High School in southeast Gainesville, east of Waldo Road and south of Northeast Eighth Avenue. According to Foreman’s son, Everett, black spaces were deemed “the other side of the tracks,” which also included Northwest Fifth Avenue and a third area near Depot Avenue called Porters Quarters. There was no
designated black suburb. Everett’s parents decided to find a place outside these areas, he said. But to do so, they had to seek help from UF faculty in order to find an apartment complex that would take them as tenants. “Any black person coming into what was still a southern city — even given Gainesville’s more ‘liberal’ reputation — in 1970 to teach at an almost allwhite university was taking a leap of faith,” he said. Vivian Filer, a 76-yearold storyteller and civil rights activist, has lived in Gainesville’s east side her entire life. But Filer never saw the area as bad; it was her home. “People there weren’t bad,” she said. “They just weren’t affluent.” Filer added that if drug trafficking was an issue in the east side, it was partly because people from the predominantly white north side would come to take part in it. The area’s negative reputation shouldn’t be
“We also have more majors than some departments that have offered majors for several years.”
attributed to the character of its residents, Filer said. It should be attributed to a system that disadvantaged an entire community. This sort of dynamic was widespread all over the south, Filer said. “When I tell my story, it’s not just my story,” Filer said. “It’s the story.” When advocating for the area to a board of city commissioners, Filer had said, “We need to talk about the east side of town not as something that is going to be to be rehabilitated, because it was never habilitated in the first place.”
he University of Florida had integrated by the ‘70s, but it still lacked an equal black presence. On April 26, 1971, black students occupied the office of the then UF President Stephen C. O’Connell, demanding more funding for the Black Cultural Center, respect for black faculty and the active recruitment of black students. The atmosphere of the time was riddled with arrests, protests and sitins, according to an article published in The Alligator on Feb. 26, 1997. Though the program was
Story continued on p. 36
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 33
H I T BY MARISA PAPENFUSS
Summer in Gainesville have you feeling restless? Have no fear dear reader. Nature trails of all sorts can be found weaving through hushed forests, urban spaces and maybe even your own neighborhood. We have gathered some basic information of some local favorites, all within a 20-minute drive from the University of Florida. So whether you choose to bike, skate, blade or hike your way through these trails, take your time and donâ€™t forget to appreciate all this amazing town has to offer.
T H E
T R A I L
Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail (16.5 miles) ~ Six minute drive from campus ~ Fee: None One of the most popular trails in town, the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail begins just south of Downtown and continues through Boulware Springs and Paynes Prairie. Keep your eyes open for the bison, wild horses and alligators native to the prairie as you bike, skate or meander your way down the wide paved trail.
4 San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park (30 miles)
~19 minute drive from campus ~Fee: $4 per car San Felasco holds claim to one of the few mature hardwood forests in the mostly tropical Florida, with looming trees and lush foliage creating the peaceful solitude characteristic of a Gainesville summer. In addition to this, the park is home to a variety of local wildlife, including turkeys, bobcats, gray foxes, deer and songbirds.
1 Sweetwater Preserve (4 miles) ~Seven minute drive from campus ~Fee: None The 125 acre preserve serves as a buffer zone along the north rim of Paynes Prairie and includes varying geographical features such as floodplain forests, pastures, sinkholes and mixed forests. Popular among mountain bikers, the Sweetwater trails wind through a variety of terrain and along a stream known for its reptilian inhabitants.
Newmanâ€™s Lake Conservation Area (2 miles) ~17 minute drive from campus ~Fee: None Covering the bank of Newnans Lake and its two major tributaries, this area consists mostly of floodplain wetlands that are intrinsically linked to the water supply draining into Paynes Prairie. Bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss lace the shoreline, providing a natural beauty that only makes you love this town more.
Loblolly Woods Trail (3 miles)
Archer Braid Trail (6 miles) ~15 minute drive from campus ~Fee: None This asphalt bicycle path runs along SW Archer through Haile Plantation. It will eventually connect to the University of Florida campus via an overpass across I-75 and government-funded trail expansions. Enjoy the open trail as you wander through this residential area and forget about all that scanning you have to do for your internship.
~Six minute drive from campus ~Fee: None The Hogtown Creek Greenway runs through Loblolly Woods and along its namesake creek that feeds Gainesvilleâ€™s water supply. Dogwoods, magnolia trees and loblolly pines are scattered alongside the babbling creek and observation deck, setting the scene for an afternoon of quiet exploration.
FEATURE Continued from p. 33 in its infancy, Foreman took on the difficult and demanding role of director. Until he retired in 2000, Foreman spent 30 years juggling an underfunded, understaffed program, all while the university struggled with creating an equal campus for black students. Despite these hurdles, Foreman managed to leave a lasting impact on his students. What set him apart was not his passion or wealth of knowledge, Johnson said. It was his openness with the young minds he adored, who were more important to him than anything else. Many of Foreman’s students were the first in their families to attend a university. Often, they were disadvantaged by an educational system that had historically provided for white children first. It was understood that if you were in a black school you wouldn’t get to see the new, up-to-date books that the city used its tax money to order, Filer said. They would be going to the white schools. “We never had books that were brand new,” Filer said. “Our books always had someone else’s name in them.” Despite separate-but-equal schools being unconstitutional under the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the Supreme Court revisited Alachua County in 1970, claiming that the county’s public schools were “racially identifiable.” That January, under order of the Supreme Court, all county public
36 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
schools closed, only to reopen a week later, integrated. In the process, the city’s black high school, Lincoln High, was shut down. When the entire student body migrated to white schools, there was a wide educational disparity. Not only had black students been receiving older materials, white students were required to take the SAT to qualify for white colleges and were taught a curriculum that would prepare them for it. Black students, on the other hand, were only required to
take a 12th grade equivalency test to qualify for a black college. “We threw black kids into white schools, and all of a sudden they were supposed to be equal,” Filer said. “We want for AfricanAmericans to rise up to the level of white Americans, but without giving any catchup time.” Since her elementary and high school days, Filer said she remembers teachers using their own money to buy supplies for even the most basic subjects. These teachers
would go above the call of duty, Filer said, staying after school to answer questions or making house calls to show how much they genuinely cared about their students’ success. The extra effort made all the difference, Filer said. It showed students that there was someone who believed they could accomplish anything. Although Foreman’s primary goal was to expose his students to African-American art, history and culture, he often had to focus on assisting with fundamental academic skills. Because of the different expectations for students at all-black schools, he often had to first teach skills like how to study efficiently and write at a college level. Foreman was also known for his ability to intertwine the essence of a southern gentleman into everything he did, and teaching was no exception. For example, a true southern gentleman like Ronald Foreman would never fail to respectfully remove his driver’s cap when he entered a room. He was always well groomed, Johnson recalled, parting his wavy hair to the left and keeping his gray-black beard neatly trimmed. Clad in a corduroy jacket, knit tie and a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, Foreman was the picture of a university professor. And he did not shy away from the hardheaded, troublemaking students. When some teachers would get frustrated, Foreman would respond to disruptions by offering students the chance to
FEATURE share what was on their minds. His wealth of knowledge was never used to belittle others; he never made people feel like they weren’t good enough. Instead, Foreman shared his intellectual riches, using them as tentacles to reach out and make a connection. “He never made his students feel disrespected,” Johnson said. “That way of operating endeared everyone to him.” “It was] the confidence that he instilled in me and other kids like me,” Johnson added. “He said, ‘You’re good enough; you can make it.’” Foreman taught in classrooms without air conditioning and maintained
between infant programs at the time was fierce, and although the progress seemed to move slowly, Shaw and Johnson both said that Foreman never showed defeat, and maintained a sense of pride in the AfricanAmerican studies program. “I never had to think twice about joining the battle because he was earnest,” Shaw said. “His motives were just about as pure as you could get.” “The great hope and the great effort was always to argue for why these programs should have a more prominent place and status, because the need for what it provided for AfricanAmerican students,” Shaw said. “And for the the general
when he slapped legendary blues singer Ma Rainey’s “Black Bottom” record on an old, boxy portable turntable, he closed his eyes and bobbed his head to the beat. “On a more individual level, dad was able to expose students, primarily black but certainly encompassing students of all races, to areas in black music and literature beyond what was typically known or taught in public schools post-1970,” Everett said. Johnson left Foreman’s office knowing how to tie a tie and much more, and he went on to become a senior analyst at the U.S. accountability office. He was Foreman’s student from
“Any black person coming into what was still a southern city…to teach at an almost all-white university was taking a leap of faith,” the program without a staff, relying on students and the secretary of his good friend and colleague Harry Shaw, the former associate dean of minority affairs, to assist him. “He had an optimistic positive spirit, even when he was deep in the struggle,” Shaw said. Foreman’s program was allocated little funding for supplies, and he seemed to be constantly arguing for the betterment of the program, Shaw said. First, it was to have an advanced typewriter, then a boombox, and an IBM Personal Computer, which the program did not receive until after the majority of other disciplines. The competition
university population, because African-American students weren’t the only ones who could benefit from what the program had to offer.” In the classroom, Foreman went beyond African-American political histories and delved into artistic and cultural creations, showcasing musical styles of opera, blues, bluegrass and country. He was a connoisseur of art; he collected musical memorabilia, and his home was filled with paintings from famous masters and his students alike. He paired elegance with approachability and an elevated mindset with a down-to-earth disposition. His interests spread beyond academics, and
1987 until the day he passed in 2014. The two kept in contact even after he graduated, extending their friendship for over 30 years. Johnson said that he never stopped learning from Doc. Johnson was Foreman’s student from 1987 until the day he passed in 2014. The two kept in contact even after he graduated, extending their friendship for over 30 years. Johnson said that he never stopped learning from Doc. “You meet people in this world who make an impact on you, and it’s a blessing that you come into contact with them,” Johnson said. “I’m not the only one who feels that it was a blessing to meet someone like him.” Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 37
PROSE + POETRY
BY KELENA KLIPPEL ILLUSTRATION BY MARISA PAPENFUSS
DIVINE PUPETEER Sometimes I forget to breathe. It takes three commercials of crying babies to make me aware I’m holding my breath.
The pleather wheel singes the arches and whorls trying to get me home while my drained sense of self comfortably reclines in mesh. Let’s play that game to pass the time or prevent star-crossed eyelids from meeting in dark.
Sometimes I walk so close to the edge of the sidewalk. It takes a scooter’s revving to vibrate through my marrow for me to wake from a trance.
Blue Buick, white Mercury— God Bless America. On to the plates:
Most of the time, I feel the dust collecting on the strings attached to each of my scapula.
temporary tag numbers, a peach, an alma mater. All incomparable to cycling sideshows, those urban tumbleweeds fearlessly hugging the white tightrope. Road bikers chimed their hymnal bells in remembrance of the expired girl who was once entertained by passerby. A deer carcass is unhinged across wildflowers. We are more unique once torn apart. The abyss of pupils dart around, alert, amidst the white and black residue— nature’s bubble wrap on the windshield. Connect the dots to find the image of the past deer, prior to the fateful confetti explosion that left a legacy on a bland bumper. A jolt. My knuckles whiten and a sharp intake. I’m back home to the original dot, complemented with a dented garage door.
38 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | thefineprintuf.org
PROSE + POETRY
“NO, EVERYTHING I heard her stifled heaves. I imagined her crumpled face, ten-thousand fold, staring back at her like a translucent insect eye. I pressed my ear to the cold door, hearing the tears luging down the moldy grout toward the drain. I tell her I’m sorry even though I wasn’t sure why. I guess I didn’t want him to blame her, for him to yell, to make her face into failed origami, facedown on a pillow
ISN’T YOUR FAULT”
in a dark room.
Summer 2015 | T H E F I N E P R I N T | 39
To read more or join our staff, visit thefineprintuf.org
The Summer 2015 print edition of The Fine Print in Gainesville, Florida.