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Legalizing weed

Great article about the marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in Washington, and the racialized nature of drug arrests/incarceration.

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Black And White Vernacular In American Sign Language

This blog post seems very relevant to today's class/reading. Interesting to see the intersection between different cultural norms.

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Nixon, and later Reagan and Bush, ran highly successful media campaigns framing drug policy as being “tough on crime,” when hindsight provides incredibly compelling evidence that these policies are actually just “tough on people of color.”

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Wow! Your tax dollars at work! CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THIS IS?

I have very distinct memories of this chain email going around showing images of a new prison in Austria, which were falsely attributed to a Chicago prison.  There was complete outrage that tax dollars could pay for a prison so luxurious, and I immediately thought of the email when Jody asked to show our images of prisons.

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Transformative pedagogy

As many of you know, I missed class this past Thursday and Friday to go to the annual Peace and Justice Studies Association meeting, which was being held at Tufts.  The whole conference was really great and picked up on so many themes that we’ve been discussing in all three classes.  In particular, a session called “Living Our Way Into the Answers: A Workshop on Transformative Pedagogy” really tied in to what we’ve been doing in class.  The workshop was really interesting because out of the 30 or so participants, it ended up being split relatively evenly between students and professors.  So, while much of the conversation about what transformative pedagogy means for students echoes the things we’ve been talking about amongst ourselves, hearing the teacher-perspective was really fascinating.  Beyond the obvious conversation about how to introduce radical pedagogy in a system obsessed with learning objectives and outcomes was the emotional drainage many professors felt – like they just didn’t have the energy to be “transformative” anymore.  This is something I haven’t really thought of in terms of my own professors or my friends who aspire to be transformative teachers one day.  I also talked about our 360, and got a lot of questions from interested professors about what it’s been like.

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"I resent people who say writers write from experience. Writers don't write from experience, though many are hesitant to admit that they don't. I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy."

-Nikki Giovanni

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Since our class lunch on Friday, I've been thinking a lot about what 360-inspired activism might look like and what we might want to focus on.  I've also been thinking a lot about the skepticism expressed by some members of our class about what kind of dent a small amount of activism might make on problems as huge and systemic as the ones we’re discussing.  I don’t think that any of us are able or willing to take the kinds of risks Rigoberta Menchu did to fight against injustice this semester, even though I know some of us wish we could.  I was thinking a lot about Rigoberta Menchu today when I went to interview a former Philadelphia School District teacher who is also a peace activist for one of my other classes.  We spent the day together, from early this morning until about a half hour ago, and it was riveting to hear this 80-something woman talk about the on-the-ground activism she did in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala throughout the 80s and 90s.  It was shocking to hear about the ways she was willing to risk her life, and the fact that she made it clear she would even give one of her children’s lives if it meant stopping the mass murder she saw happening all around her.  Her other stories of fighting for water access in Mexico, being in Cuba during their revolution, doing reconciliation work in Vietnam, Cambodia and the former USSR, and going on peace missions to Palestine were incredible.  This is also someone who relates very well to our class because of her significant time spent in prison – whether after protesting Langl

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I’m having a really hard time coming terms with the Alliance program described in “Offending Women” in relation to the YASP presentation last night.  Clearly, the dependency discourse promulgated at Alliance is problematic, particularly when it is clear that these ideas don’t exist in isolation, but are shared by many important policy makers.  What strikes me as particularly strange is that there is a real focus on rejecting “dependency,” but no talk about independence.  In other words, the staff at Alliance (and I’m sure many people share this focus) discuss the ways in which state dependence, such as receiving welfare, is problematic, but don’t illustrate what being independent would look like.  The youth from YASP seemed to be incredibly independent and successful post-incarceration – they are holding part-time jobs, waging an important political campaign, and doing amazing work in both schools and prisons.  I have no idea if they’re “dependent” in the sense of receiving government benefits, but I can see their independence through their actions.  I also think this issue of viewing incarcerated or institutionalized individuals (or “criminals”) as passive, rather than active citizens, plays into larger themes in our course.  For instance, we tell drug dealers or sex workers that what they are doing is illegal – and that they need to stop doing it – but rarely explain why or provide alternative ways they can support themselves or their families. 

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