welcome to the first issue of bread and roses! read and Roses is a new, student-run publication that works to B cultivate an explicitly anti-oppression community on Cornellâ€™s campus, extending into the broader Ithaca community. Bread and Roses operates on a few simple principles:
We aim to build student empowerment and foster solidarity between students working for social and environmental justice. Bread and Roses is intended as a space within which voices from the community can be called forth and heard. As such, this space is at once open and closed: It is open to a range of Ithaca perspectives, yet it is firmly closed to racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist perspectives. If you are in solidarity with these simple principles, you are welcome at Bread and Roses.
Weâ€™re always looking for editors and contributors! Email us at email@example.com with your essays, artwork, and poetry of resistance!
table of contents in regarding the bodies of my peers
by Sophie Griswold by Keir Neuringer
communique from an absent future:
kicking nostalgiaâ€™s ass
overcome the numb
romanticizing the past:
bread and roses
on the terminus of student life by Research and Destroy by Sam Goldman by Tom Moore by Emily Wilson
a relationship with history by Daniel Marshall
from the Barton Hall Community by James Oppenheim
Front cover: Frieda at Schlumberger anti-fracking blockade. Photo by Emily Wilson Additional photos by Emily Wilson: Pages 5, 27, 28, 29 Drawings by Sophie Griswold: Page 1, Back Cover Cartoons by Zander Abranowicz: Pages 11, 18, 23 Sketches by Santi Slade: Pages 3, 7, 13, 16, 19 Editors: Tyler Lurie-Spicer, Sophie Griswold, Tom Moore, Emily Wilson, Paige Roosa, Morgan Michel-Schottman Lay-out Editor: Lanny Huang Sponsor: Yado
in regarding the bodies of my peers Sophie Griswold
n regarding the bodies of my peers- their shape, size, and stature- and, more often, my own body, I have recently found myself wondering how I would make my assessment were I making my unjustified appraisal 50, 100, or 200 years ago. Looking in the mirror I wonder if the distribution of adipose tissue on my thighs, belly, and breasts would have offended me at the turn of the century as it does today. Perhaps a greater source of consternation is whether those around me – my friends, family, and oddly, perhaps perversely, the faceless, innumerable men who I am sure appraise my form and figure every day from afar – would judge my physical being less
harshly were it not for advertising, that greater arbiter of that which we find aesthetically pleasing and desirable. When I look in the mirror or find myself judging another’s body, my mind often turns to an Italian Neorealist film by Federico Fellini titled “Amarcord” that I saw with my mother while I was in high school. The film chronicles the daily goings on of an Italian village around the turn of the century, juxtaposed with the comings of age of many of its adolescents, showcasing their teenage longings and emerging sexualities. Regarding my form in a bathroom mirror, scorning my body’s adiposity, the audacity with which it
clings to layers of fat despite hours spent at the gym, I think of the presentation of sexual and aesthetic idiosyncrasy prevalent throughout the film; the young, handsome protagonist, sent out in the evening to buy flour, beholds the owner of the shop, an enormous woman much older than himself, while the narration tells of his overwhelming desire for her. Teenage boys behold voluptuous and slight women with equal sexual rapture, and while I find the inescapable eroticization of women throughout Fellini’s film problematic, I found his presentation of diverse female forms as legitimately desirable heartening. Taking stock of my own physical nature in tandem with that of the Rubeneqsue (but apparently no less alluring) shopkeeper who is the figure of the protagonist’s erotic fixation, I wonder why I find the possibility of such desire – desire for large bodies – unthinkable.
presented as undesirable. This has led me to the conclusion that one of Capitalism’s greater crimes is an immense, media mediated failure of the imagination, imposed on our consciousness and unknowingly internalized after years of unintentional but no less insidious exposure. Contemporary mainstream film would not dare present a “non-normative” body as an object of desire. Protagonists and their romantic interests are invariably slight and waxed if female, or equally sanitized, muscled and hairless, if male. Regardless of race, their faces showcase delicate features – thin lips, high cheekbones, a small, Roman nose – that are unmistakably emblems of whiteness. Exposed to this homogenous ideal human form en masse in advertising, on television, and in film, any individual preferences for body size, facial features, or any other physical idiosyncrasy common to the wildly heterogeneous human body, is crowded and socialized out; the presentation of the enormous flour seller as a figure of erotic fixation is rendered unimaginable.
“Mainstream film would not dare present a ‘non-normative’ body as an object of desire.”
On further consideration, I have realized that the incomprehensibility of the attraction to large bodies extends to all “non-normative” modes of physical being – the short of stature, the small of breast. Anything outside the tall, willowy, high cheekboned and waifish image of ideal womanhood proscribed by the advertising and entertainment media is implicitly
Our erotic and aesthetic imaginations, bombarded from all sides by air brushed, waxed, and dieted images of the ideal human form,
are superceded by these images of beauty created by ad men in corporate offices. Individual preferences that perhaps a century ago may have allowed us to perceive the beauty of a large woman or a slight man, are crowded out by presentations of human physicality that hardly exist. Our notions of beauty no longer find their origins in our imaginations, with all of their whimsy, wonder, and brazenness, but in offices on Madison Avenue.
â€œOur notions of beauty no longer find their origins in our imaginations.â€? Thus, when I consider my own body with its layers of exuberant fat and hair curling extravagantly from crevasses and across tracts of skin, unacceptable to the aesthetic
standard set by larger culture, I lament my inability to see the beauty in the riotous machinations of it. I wonder how much more joy I would find in my own form and the forms of others were my con-
cept of beauty not conceived under such conditions of imaginative duress. Fellini conceptualized his rubinesque flour seller as having an aesthetic legitimacy and possessing desirability equal to his slighter female characters. The imagination retains its potency in his presentation of life in an Italian village at the turn of the century, free from the burden of prepackaged notions of human beauty that are inescapable in the west today. Standing before myself in the mirror and beholding the diversity of bodies of my friends, I make a valiant, but perhaps futile attempt to view them without reference to the insidious and increasingly homogenous ideals sold to us by institutions that have more regard for money than true beauty. Nonetheless, I cannot help the revulsion at my own adiposity that
has become instinct, which I parry with defiant, self-constructed notions of beauty. My dissent is aesthetic. My imagination revolts.
on identity W
We don’t drop bombs on the brave, embattled people of Afghanistan. We don’t drop them on Yemeni boys whose first beards only they and their mothers can see. We don’t drop them on weddings and funerals and search parties in Pakistan. We don’t give them, as gifts, to the persecutors of Palestinians. We don’t commission, design, or make the bombs, and we don’t order others to drop them.
Keir Neuringer tion, or your passport, or your visa, or your working papers, or your student ID, or your rental agreement. We don’t set up checkpoints, we don’t stop and frisk. We are not racial profilers. And we are not colorblind. We make beautiful music together. We know how to dance. We know when to dance, when to party, when to run, and with whom. And we know when to stand up, backs
“We are not constituents. We are not citizens. We are not consumers. We are not products.” We don’t manufacture the guns that cops use to kill one person of color in the United States every thirty-six hours. We don’t sell the guns, we don’t profit from the gun sales, we don’t fight for the right to own them with the same money we fight against the reproductive autonomy of women. We don’t enshrine the legality of white folks killing black folks under “Stand Your Ground” laws drawn up by the American Legislative Exchange Council. We don’t wear badges. We don’t wear uniforms. We don’t demand to see your license and registra-
straight, facing the State, meeting its hatred of itself with our love of each other. We hold hands, we lock arms. We feed each other, we clothe each other, we keep each other warm. We don’t hoard food. We don’t waste food. We don’t shame you if you’re hungry. We’re not embarrassed when our stomachs rumble. We don’t eat first. We don’t build walls, we smash them. We cut holes in wire fences. We tear down advertisements. We cover walls with art and messages. We don’t build jails. We don’t kid
nap people, we don’t kidnap animals. We don’t pour chemicals into the eyes of rabbits and mice, we liberate them from the labs where they’re held captive and tortured. We don’t torture. We aren’t torturers who say we don’t torture. We don’t distinguish between human rights and civil rights and animal rights. Every species is endangered. The world is a wildlife preserve.
We don’t hold elections hostage. We don’t hold elections. We don’t represent anyone but ourselves. We don’t pledge allegiance to flags. We don’t wave them, we don’t wrap ourselves in them. We
don’t salute them. We have no nation, and it is not great, and it never was. We don’t govern. We are not governable. We are not constituents. We are not citizens. We are not consumers. We are not products. We don’t yammer on about renewable this and sustainable that. We are not a science experiment. We know that ethical shopping is still shopping. We don’t take instructions from strange old men in strange robes with monopolies on God’s will. We don’t pray at the altar of oil. Or gas. Or coal. Or uranium. Or money. Or technology.
We know that the bed and the bank of every river and stream is a sacred site. We understand consent, we honor it and we insist on it. We don’t rape. We don’t rape women, or men, or
motherless. We don’t teach them to love their country. We don’t teach them to hate their bodies.
children. Or oceans. Or economies. We lash ourselves to trees and stand up to bulldozers and knock the teeth out of the mouths of racists. We bash back.
We hold hands, we lock arms.
We feed each other, we clothe each other, we keep each other warm.
“We don’t take instructions from strange old men in strange robes with monopolies on God’s will.”
We respect autonomy, not authority. We offer solidarity, not charity. We don’t do business. We don’t make deals. We are not our jobs. We are not our debts. We are not our illnesses. We are not our educations. We are not our parents, or their mistakes, or their failures, or their fears. We don’t owe them. We are not our children. We don’t own them. We don’t indoctrinate children. We don’t fire their teachers, we don’t close their schools. We don’t lie to them about the world. We don’t feed them poison, we don’t rob their bellies of food. We don’t round up their fathers and then blame them for being fatherless. We don’t work their mothers to death and then blame them for being
We know when to dance, when to party, when to stand up, backs straight, facing the State, meeting its hatred of itself with our love of each other. We know when to run, and with whom. We know how to dance. We make beautiful music together. We don’t target whole cultures for eradication. We don’t target whole forests for eradication. We don’t build zoos, or museums, or glass and steel towers. We don’t close libraries, we don’t destroy them, we don’t burn books. We don’t fire plutonium-powered rockets through the stratosphere. We don’t insist on cooking the atmosphere. We don’t casually calculate the risk, we don’t prepare environmental impact assessments and then, fuck it, drill anyway.
“We offer solidarity, not charity.” 8
“Being held captive, for days or decades or centuries, does not make one a slave.” We are not all of the above. We are not multiple-choice. We are not either/or. We are not census data. We are not statistics. We are not metrics. We are not the general populace, the American people, a concerned citizenry, a nation divided. We are not a movement. We are not united. We are not the People. We don’t petition the king, there is no king. We hold hands, we lock arms. We don’t reach across the aisle. We don’t lend bipartisan support. We don’t legislate. We don’t segregate our concern. We don’t say that progress is being made when you stick a knife in our backs nine inches and pull it out six inches. We never thank a politician, for
casual, drive-by, fashionable outrage at our situations. We do want the boots off our backs.
We are not slaves, because being held captive, for days or decades or centuries, does not make one a slave. We are not, nor have we ever been, nor will we ever be, wretched refuse. We are not a melting pot. We are not overpopulation. We are not illegal. We are not here to breed. We are not addicts, even when we are addicted. We are not welfare mothers, even when we are mothers on welfare. We are not what you say we are. Whatever you say we are, we are not that. We know when to run, and with whom. We hold hands, we lock arms. We make beautiful music together. We know how to dance. We know when to dance, when
“We don’t build walls, we smash them... We cover walls with art and messages.” anything, ever. We don’t ask what we can do for our country, because we don’t have one, we don’t want one, and we don’t want to know what it can do for us either.
We don’t ask for handouts. We don’t ask for tears. We don’t want
to party, when to stand up, backs straight, facing the State, meeting its hatred of itself with our love of each other, meeting its hatred of itself with our love of each other, backs straight, facing the State, meeting its hatred of itself with our love of each other.
The following is a selection from a 2009 manifesto by the anonymous collective “Research and Destroy.”
communique from an absent future: on the terminus of student life
Like the society to which it has played the faithful servant, the university is bankrupt. This bankruptcy is not only financial. It is the index of a more fundamental insolvency, one both political and economic, which has been a long time in the making. No one knows what the university is for anymore. We feel this intuitively. Gone is the old project of creating a cultured and educated citizenry; gone, too, the special advantage the degree-holder once held on the job market. These are now fantasies, spectral residues that cling to the poorly maintained halls. Incongruous architecture, the ghosts of vanished ideals, the vista of a dead future: these are the remains of the university. Among these remains, most of us are little more than a collection of querulous habits and duties. We go through the motions of our tests and assignments with a kind of thoughtless and immutable obedience propped up by subvocalized resentments. Nothing is interesting, nothing can make itself felt. The world-historical with its pageant of catastrophe is no more
real than the windows in which it appears. For those whose adolescence was poisoned by the nationalist hysteria following September 11th, public speech is nothing but a series of lies and public space a place where things might explode (though they never do). Afflicted by the vague desire for something to happen—without ever imagining we could make it happen ourselves—we were rescued by the bland homogeneity of the internet, finding refuge among friends we never see, whose entire existence is a series of exclamations and silly pictures, whose only discourse is the gossip of commodities. Safety, then, and comfort have been our watchwords. We slide through the flesh world without being touched or moved. We shepherd our emptiness from place to place. But we can be grateful for our destitution: demystification is now a condition, not a project. University life finally appears as just what it has always been: a machine for producing compliant producers and consumers. Even leisure is a
form of job training. The idiot crew of the frat houses drink themselves into a stupor with all the dedication of lawyers working late at the office. Kids who smoked weed and cut class in high-school now pop Adderall and get to work. We power the diploma factory on the treadmills in the gym. We run tirelessly in elliptical circles. It makes little sense, then, to think of the university as an ivory tower in Arcadia, as either idyllic or idle. “Work hard, play hard” has been the over-eager motto of a generation in training for.... what?— drawing hearts in cappuccino foam or plugging names and numbers into databases. The gleaming techno-future of American capitalism was long ago packed up and sold to China for a few more years of borrowed junk. A university diploma is now worth no more than a share in General Motors.
We work and we borrow in order to work and to borrow. And the jobs we work toward are the jobs we already have. Close to three quarters of students work while in school, many full-time; for most, the level of employment we obtain while students is the same that awaits after graduation. Meanwhile, what we acquire isn’t education; it’s debt. We work to make money we have already spent, and our future labor has already been sold on the worst market around. Average student loan debt rose 20 percent in the first five years of the twenty-first century—80-100 percent for students of color. Student
loan volume—a figure inversely proportional to state funding for education—rose by nearly 800 percent from 1977 to 2003. What our borrowed tuition buys is the privilege of making monthly payments for the rest of our lives. What we learn is the choreography of credit: you can’t walk to class without being offered another piece of plastic charging 20 percent interest. Yesterday’s finance majors buy their summer homes with the bleak futures of today’s humanities majors. This is the prospect for which we have been preparing since gradeschool. Those of us who came here to have our privilege notarized surrendered our youth to a barrage of tutors, a battery of psychological tests, obligatory public service ops—the cynical compilation of half-truths toward a well-rounded application profile. No wonder we set about destroying ourselves the second we escape the cattle prod of parental admonition. On the other hand, those of us who came here to transcend the economic and social disadvantages of our families know that for every one of us who “makes it,” ten more take our place—that the logic here is zero-sum. And
anyway, socioeconomic status remains the best predictor of student achievement. Those of us the demographics call “immigrants,” “minorities,” and “people of color” have been told to believe in the aristocracy of merit. But we know we are hated not despite our achievements, but precisely because of them. And we know that the circuits through which we might free ourselves from the violence of our origins only reproduce the misery of the past in the present for others, elsewhere.
the system itself which one obeys, the cold buildings that enforce subservience. Those who teach are treated with all the respect of an automated messaging system. Only the logic of customer satisfaction obtains here: was the course easy? Was the teacher hot? Could any stupid asshole get an A? What’s the point of acquiring knowledge when it can be called up with a few keystrokes? Who needs memory when we have the internet? A training in thought? You can’t be serious. A moral preparation? There are anti-depressants for that.
“Education is a commodity like everything else that we want without caring for.”
If the university teaches us primarily how to be in debt, how to waste our labor power, how to fall prey to petty anxieties, it thereby teaches us how to be consumers. Education is a commodity like everything else that we want without caring for. It is a thing, and it makes its purchasers into things. One’s future position in the system, one’s relation to others, is purchased first with money and then with the demonstration of obedience. First we pay, then we “work hard.” And there is the split: one is both the commander and the commanded, consumer and consumed. It is
Meanwhile the graduate students, supposedly the most politically enlightened among us, are also the most obedient. The “vocation” for which they labor is nothing other than a fantasy of falling off the grid, or out of the labor market. Every grad student is a would be Robinson Crusoe, dreaming of an island economy subtracted from the exigencies of the market. But this fantasy is itself sustained through an unremitting submission to the market. There is no longer the least felt contradiction in teaching a totalizing critique of capitalism by day and polishing one’s job talk by night. That our pleasure is our labor only makes our symptoms more manageable. Aesthetics and politics collapse courtesy of the substitution of ideology for history: booze and beaux
arts and another seminar on the question of being, the steady blur of typeface, each pixel paid for by somebody somewhere, some notme, not-here, where all that appears is good and all goods appear attainable by credit. Graduate school is simply the faded remnant of a feudal system adapted to the logic of capitalism—from the commanding heights of the star professors to the serried ranks of teaching assistants and adjuncts paid mostly in bad faith. A kind of monasticism predominates here, with all the Gothic rituals of a Benedictine abbey, and all the strange theological claims for the nobility of this work, its essential altruism. The underlings are only too happy to play apprentice to the masters, unable to do the math indicating that ninetenths of us will teach 4 courses every semester to pad the paychecks of the one-tenth who sustain the fiction that we can all be the one. Of course I will be the star, I will get the tenure-track job in a large city and move into a newly gentrified neighborhood. We end up interpreting Marx’s 11th
thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” At best, we learn the phoenix-like skill of coming to the very limits of critique and perishing there, only to begin again at the seemingly ineradicable root. We admire the first part of this performance: it lights our way. But we want the tools to break through that point of suicidal thought, its hinge in practice. The same people who practice “critique” are also the most susceptible to cynicism. But if cynicism is simply the inverted form of enthusiasm, then beneath every frustrated leftist academic is a latent radical. The shoulder shrug, the dulled face, the squirm of embarrassment when discussing the fact that the US murdered a million Iraqis between 2003 and 2006, that every last dime squeezed from America’s poorest citizens is fed to the banking industry, that the seas will rise, billions will die and there’s nothing we can do about it—this discomfited posture comes from feeling oneself pulled between the is and the ought of current left thought. One feels that there is no alternative, and yet, on the other hand, that another world is possible. We will not be so petulant. The synthesis of these positions is right in front of us: another world is not possible; it is necessary. The ought and the is are one. The collapse of the global economy is here and now.
kicking nostalgia’s ass
very time I boot up my laptop, five of my favorite Ithaca activists smile confidently at me from my desktop screen, and I smile back. We all look elated—even the Ithaca College Environmental Society (ICES) president, who had fallen ill working relentlessly to organize her club’s most important outreach week of the year, Earth Week. This photo was taken by a Syracuse industrial hemp activist who had come to town solely to attend Hempstravaganza, the main event for my coinciding outreach week. This series of educational seminars and activities, sponsored by ICES and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), brought awareness to our community about industrial hemp prohibition in the U.S. and the potential environmental, economic, and health benefits we could reap if hemp growth were to be re-legalized. This photo captured me and some of my team members in our collective state of bliss after two powerful hours of insight from key leaders in the movement. We were tired and we were proud. Up until last week, when I logged in I was greeted by a photo of my partner and me looking very much
in love, on a stroll down South Hill Recreation Way on the first warm spring afternoon of the year. I had made it my wallpaper back in August when my partner, Matt, returned home to Australia after his extended study abroad adventure in Ithaca. I wasn’t going to see him for two months. At this point in time, when I would normally be preparing to head back to Ithaca to revel in another gorgeous autumn with my friends and fellow activists, I was temporarily living back home in New Jersey with family and pets as my only company. The photo was a reminder of what I was working forty-hour weeks for, what I came home smelling like bagels and scallion cream cheese for, what I felt I had abandoned my home and purpose in Ithaca for. I had wanted to travel to Australia for at least a decade before it became feasible. When I met Matt this past January, I immediately knew that he was going to be a very important person in my life. Eventually, he invited me to stay with him in Australia, if I decided to make my way there after I graduated. I wasn’t sure if I would actually go to the other side of the world with him until the semester
ended, and I realized how much I had accomplished during our short time together. With his support and encouragement, I had coordinated all of these amazing events for Hempstravaganza, pooling all of my resources and contacts with every ounce of energy I had to make it work. And with an incredible team, it did.
Obviously, I could have organized Hempstravaganza without being in a relationship. I’m a strong, educated young woman with so much ambition it hurts sometimes. I had almost four years of networking in the city to gather most of what, and whom, I needed to make it happen. But my success would not have felt as rewarding without someone to cheer me on the way and offer me back rubs, Purity ice cream, advice, Breaking Bad breaks, and admiration. I had fulfilled the same role for him as he tackled his own goals, except I assisted with latkes. I wasn’t ready for our victorious streak to end, and neither was he, but he had to return home to complete his degree program. My lease was up on my apartment and I couldn’t find a place to sublet without signing a long-term contact. So after two months of counter service at my favorite bagel shop back home (sorry CTB), I hopped on a plane to Chicago, then one to Hong Kong, and finally one to Perth, my residual guilt over air miles slowly dissipating as I came to terms with all of the environmental work I had done, and was yet to do. The feeling was entirely gone once I’d
woken up halfway to my final destination, listening to Supreme Dicks and witnessing the sun setting under cerulean and tangerine Alaskan skies, over dense, billowing, seemingly-frozen clouds. I felt at home before I even touched the ground, staring out at the brilliant rainbow sunrise visible across the aisle, and the endless suburbs in the hazy morning light spread in my own window. After thirty-four hours straight of travel, anywhere could have felt like home, but Perth still feels this way a month and a half later. My love of this isolated city on the West Coast of Australia grows every day as I explore and think about my place in it. I’m alone, literally as far away as I can get from everyone I know, aside from my partner and two friends from Perth whom I met while in Ithaca. My activist network is physically inaccessible, and with the thirteen hour time difference, it is sometimes frightening how lonely I feel thinking about my friends going to bed, to rest for another day of planning important events without me there. Every day is a struggle not to live in the past, but thankfully this city is full of opportunities to live in the now, and plan for the future. Matt and I still go through moments of Ithaca withdrawal, but we help each other through it, remembering the good times and making new ones. It’s nice to live with someone who appreciates the city for the same reasons I do, someone who also cultivated meaningful
relationships with professors and community leaders because he valued their insight. Matt understands that when I long for a slice of Sammy’s eggplant parm pizza, it’s not just the pizza I’m missing. It’s him meeting me on my lunch break as he goes to interview my incredible boss at the Alternatives Library for a local publication. And it’s not just the Waffle Frolic buttermilk waffles with chocolate chips and maple syrup that he misses. It’s showing me that there’s a killer music culture that I never tapped into in my four years in Ithaca, and taking to me an Ithaca Underground show after I am full of hemp and buckwheat waffles with honey, banana, and peanut butter (a.k.a “The Elvis”). It’s knowing the best people the city has to offer, but not only knowing them. It’s working with them. It’s the work that we miss most, and the daily flow in between. Today we went to the second an-
nual Cruelty Free Festival in Perth and sampled some vegan treats with a couple of our friends. I broke away from the group to survey the non-food section of the festival after eating a tasty fake sausage roll, the spices still tingling on my tongue. Overwhelmed by the seemingly endless tables of life-friendly organizations recruiting new members or selling wholesome products, I immediately made a beeline toward the anti-fracking booth. Fracking is something I know and despise. It is something I educated my peers about and fought against during my time in Ithaca, right behind industrial hemp prohibition and the War on Drugs. I was aware that the state of Western Australia was being fracked before I arrived and took it as a personal challenge to investigate and get involved once I’d settled. I finally felt ready to engage in this effort after several weeks of adjusting to my new way of life.
I was introduced to their present members and we briefly shared stories about our experiences with hydrofracking activism. They were so eager for my input, to hear my experiences fighting this destructive industry in New York State, that I realized I do have some power here, even though I was by no means at the forefront of the Ithaca movement. With hemp and drug policy always at the top of my agenda, fracking was more of a spread the word, write letters to the Governor, attend forums to show solidarity with my community, help out in small ways type of activism for me. Being a full-time student and a part-time worker, I found it impossible to effectively champion three causes at once, as much as I wanted to put what little energy I had left into the anti-fracking movement. Fracking is a new industry to this gigantic state and it is currently happening near the region’s major aquifers. Many citizens are eager to be rid of it as quickly as it came, having heard Pennsylvania’s horror stories through the documentary Gasland and its relevant press coverage.
for conversations that will lead to positive action. I was surrounded by people who valued life and their community in the same way I did again, people who just might become members of my activist network, who inspire me to give everything I can to protect my new community. It was that Ithaca feeling all over again, but with a Perth twist. They invited me to their next meeting. This week, I am having tea with a hemp activist I read about in the local paper who is a civil engineering student at a local university, aiming to write his thesis on hempcrete construction next year. I can’t wait to tell him about my plans to strengthen my global hemp network on the East Coast, where most of the Australian hemp action is happening, and make plans to work with him to establish a hemp club at his school, coordinate some educational events in Perth, and eventually organize a screening of the in-progress American-produced hemp documentary I’m currently writing grant proposals for. I also want to help another activist he knows navigate the political environment to make it possible to create a hemp farming industry in the state. All the while, I am on the search for a well-paying job to keep me here on my work visa and fund this networking trip to the other
“I am no longer going to live my life in fear of being a has-been, a lonely, ineffective activist, down and out in Perth.” 17
I come from the frack capital of the world to these activists, who were friendly and genuinely ready
coast. The good news is that I have many options that will give me the freedom to engage with these important issues in my spare time while earning more than a living wage, even if I can only find work at a minimum wage job. Once I am employed, I won’t have to worry about working two or three jobs at once or pushing through forty plus hour weeks, like I would
when I know I am supported by Matt’s loving and generous family and surrounded by motivated activists in a slightly different political climate. I am moving forward with the confidence I gained through my position as Educational Coordinator for SSDP and through my coordination of Hempstravaganza to better know and change the world.
have back in America. I will continue my life’s work that I began in the college bubble without getting bogged down by poverty due to inadequate wages and exorbitant city rent, on top of college loan repayment.
Ithaca will always be my home and I can continue to work with activists there in small ways from wherever I am. I already do, every now and then. But I’ve realized that I need to be where I want to be, and while I love Ithaca, the work I accomplished there, and the network I built there, it’s not where I want to be at this very moment. I want to be here, working on achieving the next steps of my goals alongside my partner, finding balance and joy in my life, and I am. The photo I’ve just set as my wallpaper proves it.
My experiences in Ithaca empowered me to understand that my strength and determination come with me wherever I go, that I am the leader I seek. I am no longer going to live my life in fear of being a has-been, a lonely, ineffective activist, down and out in Perth,
s17 Tom Moore On Monday morning, down in Battery Park, I wander past the War Memorial to see that Lady standing on her mark; across the street, the cops defend the Bull. An hour ago, we danced down Nassau Street, anticapitalista on our lips, apocalyptic booming to our beat: the Cracked Concrete, the Fall, the Sinking Ship. I’d never seen the Lady till today, and, to be honest, I hate New York City; but, when the anarchists come out to play, I make the trip; I visit Liberty. And as I watch the land around her sink, She’s beautiful. She’s beautiful, I think.
overcome the numb Emily Wilson Once my nerves were severed A la surrealist time, traveling Gravitationally downwards Into unsuspecting flesh
Yet my physique trembles, Wholly numb to the external And this shift in sentience Breeds a rebel, metaphysical
The paralysis began Of mind, suddenly ill-equipped To handle blood flowing, wound gaping At surrounding circumstance
I exist, uncertain of the state Its material instinct to procreate, Engorge my womb, a toxic waste Of spillage over earth, unchaste
As thoughts shift Via fright to insight, Who’s to say a governing body Can’t patch my plight?
Who will mend this patchwork planet? All seem prone to disenchantment Numbness chokes prowess Unless, we elect to rebuild sense
Cells congeal to seal my love Letter to a local politician The moderate Miss Happenstance, Perchance she’ll fight
Realist in time, we may find Such restoration, human in kind, A jarring, crucial catalyst For sustainable design
romanticizing the past: a relationship with history Daniel Waid Marshall
f a historian were to write about my first date with my girlfriend of almost two years, it would be a fairly boring story: On a chilly November evening, two high school students met in downtown Santa Barbara, California, and proceeded to attend a movie called “The Social Network,” which they both enjoyed. However, this sentiment did not reflect the feelings of everyone in the audience, who thought it anything from too unrealistic to a caricature of elite college life. The high school couple talked about the movie afterwards over dinner at a Mexican restaurant. They enjoyed their food, but some clients in attendance felt the service to be insufficient. Subsequently, the couple walked to Borders and drank hot apple cider while continuing to converse. Finally, the self-identifying male drove the self-identifying female home where they said good night with a kiss.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I would tell the story quite differently. It would involve the feeling of vague “connections,” a mutual wish to make each other happy, and an unprovable claim that what was felt was love or the profound beginnings of it. In one word, it was magical, and just thinking about the breeze or the sweater I was wearing or the shitty haircut that she insisted she liked makes me nostalgic. In fact, writing the above version made me sort of uncomfortable. Over the past semester, a lot of the organizing work I have been doing has had to do with the revival of the story of the Barton Hall Community. Essentially, the story is that during the takeover of Willard Straight Hall by the Afro-American Society (AAS) in 1969, thousands of students congregated for an ad hoc teach-in at Barton Hall. The
spontaneous democratic assembly that arose not only played an important role in ending the crisis by backing the AAS, but continued to meet over the next few weeks to restructure the University. The resuscitation of this particular story was meant to both recover a piece of forgotten or marginalized Cornell history and to directly engage with current students’ notions of what is possible through the transformative power of solidarity. Part of reviving this story has been both learning about and dealing with its problems. Several of the critiques have centered on issues of power and gender, as there is no evidence of a woman chairing any of the assemblies. This is a fair and necessary critique. However, the way that critiques have most often been framed is that there is something inherently bad or problematic with “romanticizing the past.”
does not speculate too much, incorporates multiple perspectives, and above all, does not romanticize what took place. Yes, this may have been a romantic night for the couple, but seeing it as such surely obscures our true understanding of the events that night and prohibits an accurate picture of what happened. Of course, to romanticize this first date would mean romanticizing the context of that date as well. It wouldn’t tell us about the privilege of heterosexuality and heteronormativity in a public setting. It wouldn’t tell us about the dishwashers in the back of the restaurant on minimum wage. Finally, romanticizing the date would silence the power dynamics at work when he offered to pay for dinner.
“Why does it make So how does one respond when me uncomfortable to critiqued for romanticizing the de-romanticize my story of a first date? For most own history?” of us, it would
This critique really gets at the core of how we, as ostensible organizers and intellectuals, conceive of history. If romanticization does anything, it personalizes a narrative. So what is the alternative? Why does it make me uncomfortable to de-romanticize my own history? Let me start by saying that the historian’s version of my first date is “good history.” It is descriptive,
come out something like: “Fuck you, it was romantic.”
This outburst would not be saying that the critiques made earlier were entirely inaccurate. It would be saying that they miss the entire point of the story. Narratives are powerful and are rarely, if ever, completely accurate. From an academic perspective of rigor, narratives exist to be problematized and deconstructed through the many lenses of theory.
That can be useful, but to say that those are the only lenses through which to see a story is not only ultimately hegemonic, it also misses the point of storytelling. Stories do not just exist to convey information. That can be done in lists, bullet points, and all sorts of other things that made you fall asleep in school. Stories exist to convey emotions, to evoke empathy, and to give meaning to our lives. If the objection to a romanticization of history is that we are bringing emotional haze into our perception of the past, it must also be conceded that such an emotional haze inescapably stains our present. Emotions constantly tinge our everyday perception of reality to the point that, in a certain sense, the present moment is always “romantic.” To walk around and see the world without romanticizing it would mean becoming numb to it.
“Storytelling and romanticization are completely inseparable and interdependent.” 23
So really, the operative term should not be “romanticizing the past;” it should be “de-romanticizing” it. History, like the present, is fed to us with a constant dose of emotion. In order to get a rigorous history, we must scrub away the emotional aura until it is numb enough to be analyzed. Storytelling simply recreates that emotion. For that reason, storytelling and romanticization are completely inseparable and interdependent. As someone who grew up disgusted with the constant glorification of the Founding Fathers, I need to check myself here. The romanticization of the founding period in U.S. history has been one of the most hegemonic instruments of internalized racism around. A romanticization of the past has often simply served to silence voices.
ticizing the past is not only to condemn the working class voices of my family, it is to condemn the Diné Bahané, the Navajo creation story.
In this particular example, it erases the terror of slavery and wipes away the Trail of Tears. However, I would challenge people on whether or not the problem was the romanticization of the period in and of itself or the way in which it was done. If you think about it, the Cherokee are telling stories too. In fact, for many indigenous cultures, storytelling is the main form of teaching. Perhaps my own attachment to romanticization comes from my own bit of Creek blood. My mother, who grew up a working class Appalachian girl in Alabama, practically breathes stories. Her father, Poppa, a retired fireman, still commands a presence well into his eighties. These are not the hegemonic voices in the room. As far as I’m concerned, to condemn roman-
The problem with that, as I now understand it, is that romanticization always comes with a perspective. That perspective can be hegemonic when it is Thomas Jefferson, but when it is his slave mistress Sally Hemmings, it’s literally a whole new story. It can be oppressive or empowering. I don’t mean to say that distinction shouldn’t be made. Perhaps what I am arguing is that de-romanticization also always represents a perspective. It represents detachment and numbness, but more importantly it represents the dual assumption that experience can be stripped of its romance and that it should be. As organizers, we are community storytellers, reviving the voices of our ancestors to bring about the world we want to see. Their world was not necessarily it; their world was as ripe with problems as it is with lessons. The point is that our story, like the Diné Bahané, is an emergence narrative. We can only create new worlds when we remember it being done before.
The following is an open letter from the Barton Hall Community, a solidarity-building organization new to Cornell this semester.
ear Cornell University, the People’s School held on the Arts Quad almost one month ago was organized by an ad hoc group of student organizers from all over Cornell, rallying together under the name of “The Barton Hall Community.” We used this name to invoke the seizure of Barton Hall by thousands of students during the Willard Straight Takeover in 1969 and the spontaneous manifestation of community solidarity against oppression which that event represented. Since then, some of the students who came together at the People’s School have been meeting to try to determine the identity and goals of the Barton Hall Community. This has been a difficult process, and has involved continued confrontation with dynamics of power and privilege – including how they have manifested themselves within our own group. Through these difficult conversations, we have identified three potential functions which the Barton Hall Community may serve:
The People’s School
The People’s School was an opportunity for the Cornell community to gather for open discourse around questions of social and environmental justice. This event was by no means perfect; despite participation from a diverse range of communities, it remained, at
times, a largely white space. Many issues of vital importance to the community remained undiscussed. That being said, we’re excited by the potential of this sort of event, and we’re looking forward to integrating these critiques as we hold more People’s Schools in the future. We see the claiming of public space for public discourse as essential to building a community of solidarity on Cornell’s campus.
Solidarity means shared struggle. As an organization dedicated specifically to building solidarity between students working for social and environmental justice, the Barton Hall Community hopes to facilitate a series of Solidarity Circles next semester. These would be events co-hosted by the Barton Hall Community and another organization working against oppression, bringing students together to learn about that organization’s work. These Circles would serve not only to build our understanding of the diverse range of struggles being fought on this campus, but also to build alliances across difference and find possibilities for joint action.
Coalition for Action
We recognize that both talk and action are vital forces for change, and we hope that, with time, the Barton Hall Community can bring together students from all over
Cornell for the purpose of both educating and acting in solidarity with one another. We want the Barton Hall Community to be a safe and inclusive space within which confluence of interests can be identified and concrete alliances for action forged. We emphasize that a truly inclusive coalition of this sort has yet to be built and that our organization has not yet been successful in bringing all parties to the table. Ensuring that the hierarchical power structures we fight to resist are not reproduced within our own community requires persistent self-critique and deconstruction of privilege. Such work is often uncomfortable, frustrating, and exhausting. But we take this work to be central to the project of coalition building. Our ability to facilitate coalitions for action is entirely contingent upon our ability to create an inclusive and safe space where all voices of the community can be heard. We look forward to continue working towards such a community through People’s Schools, Solidarity Circles, and informal gatherings to come.
In the last year, we’ve seen some remarkable displays of strength from the Cornell community: we’ve seen Cornell Students Against Sweatshops succeed in their demand that Cornell cut ties with Adidas; we’ve seen the Assembly for Justice make huge strides towards combating sexual violence and racist attacks on campus; we’ve seen the DREAM team rally Cornell around the plight of undocumented students; we’ve seen KyotoNow! launch a groundbreaking campaign to divest Cornell’s endowment from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy. These campaigns, like the original Barton Hall Community, give us glimpses of what a Cornell community could be capable of. In this letter, we’ve briefly laid out a blueprint of the role that the Barton Hall Community could play in building a community of solidarity at Cornell. Whether this vision is realized is up to you. If you’d like to help build the community, email us at thebartonhallcommunity@ gmail.com. We’ll be in touch.
“This body was the most incredible meeting and coalition of every type of person you could think of—from long hair to fraternity athletes....There were six thousand kids, a stage, a microphone, and a purpose…I’m sure the University would have been blown sky high were it not for this thing.” -Account of original Barton Hall Community
Bread and Roses owes its name to this poem, popularized during the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike by the women of the Industrial Workers of the World (a.k.a. “The Wobblies”).
bread and roses
As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day, A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses, For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.” As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men-For they are women’s children and we mother them again. Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes-Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses! As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread; Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew-Yes, bread we fight for--but we fight for Roses, too. As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days-The rising of the women means the rising of the race-No more the drudge and idler--ten that toil where one reposes-But sharing of life’s glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses!