THINGS THAT MATTER: STANDING UP FOR PP

•March 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The pro-choice vs pro-life argument has taken place long before our current political climate, and so has the fight for female reproductive rights. It wasn’t until the 1960s that birth control became available — and even then, it wasn’t always accessible due to states opposing the sales of birth control pills. Women like Margaret Sanger advocated for birth control and a better way for women to take charge of their own health, strongly supporting the use of birth control so that women could control unwanted pregnancies to have have better and healthier lives. Sanger opened her own birth control clinic, and fought for women’s reproductive rights through lobbying for the legality of birth control in the US. More famously, the Roe v Wade decision of 1973 famously declared that state bans on abortion were unconstitutional.

Despite all this progress, Trump and Congress have pushed more and more votes and bills in an effort to repeal Obamacare and, in effect, defund Planned Parenthood by stripping all federal funding for the organization.

There is a common misconception here. Federal tax dollars do not go to paying for abortions. Instead, it goes to reimburse Medicaid claims, preventative medicine, cancer screenings, HIV tests, as well as to birth control.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away access to health care from patients who depend on Medicaid (60% of all Planned Parenthood patients do!). This is especially important because the majority of Planned Parenthood patients are people of lower income groups. In many cases, there aren’t enough other medical care providers, especially for reproductive health services, to replace Planned Parenthood in the event of defunding.This is not the first time that disadvantaged people and communities are placed in an even more disadvantageous position. In “Nuclear Wasteland”, Valerie Kuletz describes nuclear waste affecting indigenous peoples, writing that although it is an issue that affects all people, this “price we pay for our freedom…is paid by those with disproportionately less power” (Kuletz 95).

Defunding Planned Parenthood matters because access to healthcare should be a universal and basic right.

Safe access to birth control and abortions protects women. In an article about repealing the 8th, Leslie Spillane, an Irish women, wrote “Abortions happen, everyday. Making them illegal doesn’t stop woman needing, or wanting them, or inflicting them on themselves — there will always be coat hangers, broken bottles, painkillers, stairs to fall down, fists to hit, medicines to swallow” (O’Shea). Ireland is one example of what shutting down Planned Parenthood would do (SHUTTING DOWN not defunding).

Planned Parenthood has an estimate of 2.5 million patients. This means that one in five women in the United States visits Planned Parenthood at least once. The sheer number of people they help requires us to stop and re-evaluate the importance of this organization.

Planned Parenthood EDUCATES. For teens and children growing up in this country, Planned Parenthood often works to educate the public on their reproductive rights as well as sexual education. This helps to decrease the risk of unplanned pregnancies and prevents the spreading of STD’s and HIV. In “Greetings From the Salton Sea”, Kim Stringfellow investigates the Salton Sea issue, writing that “perhaps a better understanding of these interconnected processes will allow us to make much more informed political decisions regarding the environmental and ecological concerns of today and those of the future” (35). Similarly, Planned Parenthood spreads accurate information to voters and potential voters and actively promotes access to health care.

Works Cited

Haberman, Maggie. “Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay If Abortion Goes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

“How Federal Funding Works at Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood|. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Stringfellow, Kim. Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005. Chicago: The Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2011. Web.

Blog #3 What you eat

•April 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

by Judy Ziyi Gu

My ecology’s focus is on a potential food desert in Queens. Whether the neighborhood of Maspeth hits the mark of “food desert” or not, it is important for me to look into it because inequality is so deeply ingrained in urban planning that it would indirectly control the food supply and nutritional health of the thousands of people that live in the area. We must consider why certain groups of people get to eat organic, shop local, and purchase ingredients that are foreign and exotic, instead of having to buy mass-produced, chemical foods, with additives that are equally exotic because they are not fit for consumption or are not even readable by humans.

Investigations like Food, Inc. (Kenner) and Fed Up are definitely important studies of the US food industry, they go deeply into the cruel and unsavory processes of the agroindustrial complex in the US. However they don’t always explain what happens between corporate production and consumer choices. There are numerous steps between farm and table (the purpose of the farm-to-table movement), and during these steps many things will affect what we eat and our health. Urban planning and supermarkets are just two of them, but they cannot be overlooked.

A food desert or a potential one is marked one by excess and lack. Make no mistake to think that there is a lack of food in a food desert. No, there are multitudes of bodegas, canned food, and white bread. What is missing is accessible healthy, fresh food. The produce you find in a food desert will likely have blemishes or signs that they were not the cream of the crop or a priority.

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When residents of a food desert rely on bodegas and subpar supermarkets, they have infinitely less options than those living in a more affluent, high-access area. It is not only the matter of choice that matters here; even when the residents are aware of nutritional balance and healthy diets, their limited options in the area and their limited schedule will either force them to seek food from a source far away from their neighborhood or continue to consume things that are not good for them. How is that reality fair? How could it not matter?

Why should we dig deeper into how mundane settings of streets and supermarkets play into the daily diet and health of Maspeth residents? Jane Bennett writes, “the image of… thoroughly instrumentalized matter feeds human hubris and our earth-destroying fantasies of conquest and consumption. It does so by preventing us from detecting (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling) a fuller range of nonhuman powers circulating around and within human bodies. These material powers, which can aid or destroy, enrich or disable, ennoble of degrade us…” (Bennett 5) At this point the material powers circulating around food deserts are disabling and degrading the residents of food deserts without their realization. That alone deserves attention.

The setting and mundanity of streets can move humans, shape humans, poison humans, with its affect. As Brian Massumi writes, “The body doesn’t just absorb pulses or discrete stimulations; it infolds contexts, it infolds volitions and cognitions that are nothing if not situation” (Massumi 30). The context that bodies in a food desrt absorb then are that their health does not matter as much, or that it is ok to not pay attention to what you eat, because the only things that are available are foods that are not nutritious or beneficial. It is my job investigate how this affect was constructed in two supermarkets.

 

Works Cited

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things. Durham: Duke U Press, 2010. Print.

Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Michael Pollan. Movie One, 2008. Netflix.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, no. 31, 1995, pp. 23–43.

 

Why does Assimilation effect you?

•April 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Assimilation is an issue that almost every single person in this country has faced or seen in one way or another.America is considered to be a melting pot  which is supposed to be a place where different people’s, styles, theories, etc., are mixed together. However, it usually isn’t this easy to be accepted in America sadly, especially if you are not ‘white enough’. Even though America projects this message of acceptance and integration there is still a strong underlying expectation for foreigners to assimilate to American culture as well. It seems that Americans only adopt another’s culture when it is beneficial to them, but when it is not they reject it and see it as beneath them.There are countless reports of Americans getting frustrated with foreigners because they failed to assimilate to American culture “well-enough”.  The term “if you don’t speak english go home” has gathered a ridiculous amount of popularity, exemplifying the expectations we have set for foreigners.

At this point assimilation sees inevitable, it is a part of American culture, as we assume everyone should assimilate in order to fit out needs rather than trying to find a middle ground. Assimilation also seems to be quickened with second or third generation Americans marrying those from other, longer-settled ethnic or racial groups. The children of these intermarriages are much less likely to identify ethnically with their more recent immigrant ancestors and due to that they are most likely to be more economically and educationally integrated as well. Because Americans tend to view other cultures as lesser than theirs this ideology begins to sink into immigrants minds as well, and sometimes they begin to believe it. Once these immigrants begin to have children they see no need to teach them their native language as based off of the discrimination they have faced about it, it has no real value in America.

The reason why forced assimilation matters is that it affects everyone. Whether you are the daughter of an immigrant, an immigrant, or if your ancestors signed the constitution it affects you to some degree. There is a loss of culture happening in America and that negatively affects Americans worldly understanding, and causes us to become intolerable to other cultures.

As stated in “The Transmission of Affect” nothing we do is self-contained, as everyone is affected by others’ actions and there is no distinction between the individual and the environment. In “Nuclear Wasteland” by Valerie Kuletz states how many tried to individualize the nuclear problem in order to mask how much of a systemic issue it was on a mass scale. She connects this to the broader point of when people try to blame individuals for the negative effects rather than the main issues that caused it. This directly correlates with the issue of assimilation. People have it ingrained into their ideology that foreigners should assimilate to our needs, however we continue to blame this assimilation on the few racists that intimidate foreigners. However it is important to ask stop excluding yourself from this narrative and ask yourself this question? Have you ever gotten frustrated at someone for not speaking perfect English? Ever viewed a culture as beneath yours? If you answered yes or even maybe to any of these questions the problem starts with you, but now that you are aware you also have the option to fix this. 

Protest Matters Matter

•March 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

When I was younger I remember being really inspired by Rosa Parks and her sit-in on the bus. I think listening to her story changed my life. As a young girl seeing a women of color affect her surroundings so deeply and set a course for change was extremely important to me. Her simple no made a huge difference, a simple no from a woman of color reverberated across people and decades. This was important to me because I was shown that one person can make a huge difference. Standing up for what you believe in is not futile and will change something, even if it might be small.
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I have carried this lesson with me into adulthood. Today, as always, there are injustices to fight against. Protesting allows people to create a uniform voice. A huge amount of people coming together to express their dislike and anger for an issue. Although marching might be a method of protest that does not result in any concrete changes it can change minds and encourage discussions. Protest is protest and it is important.

Art is another big method of protest. Robert Kenner made a documentary protesting the food industry for its malpractices. This documentary deeply affected a lot of people. The issues he discussed should be recognized by everyone and it is important for him to continue with his work. Protest in art is something that can really affect people and cause them to change. This sort of thing is also seen in Greetings from the Salton Sea by Kim Stringfellow and Nuclear Wasteland by Valerie Kuletz. Whether it is art or literature it is still bringing attention to and bringing forth a position on the issue at hand.
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Protest allows people to share their opinions and open dissent towards an issue. Lets take women’s rights for example, although not everyone thinks that women’s rights are an issue, 3.2 million people marched to prove to them otherwise. It only takes one person to bring about an issue that is important to them and in the end that is all that matters. When one partakes in protest all they have to keep in mind is their voice and what it stands for. Ideally, their voice will reverberate across generation, just like Rosa Parks.
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Politics of Street Art

•March 28, 2017 • 1 Comment

What matters about my ecology matters?

Introduction
Often times we neglect that every action ever made is one small infinite fraction of history, and all such actions can be compiled, organized, and analyzed in any which way that makes sense. Yet, it is a subconscious thought to many individuals that the cultures, patterns, trends and behaviors of all societies today can and will be looked back upon, as much as we have looked back at the fall of the Roman empire, or the roaring ‘20s.

Cultures in context are all inherently different, but share a very important common characteristic: that they are all bits and pieces of a history of humanity and (wo)[and]mankind. Each small detail discovered from any particular time is a sort of time machine, transporting us to an era where society could have been much different than what it is now. Hence, the importance of relishing the facts of modernity, in order for them to be just as relished upon when they are facts of antiquity.

 

Street Art
To many individuals whom find themselves in city-scaped surroundings or urban spaces, Street Art is often an overlooked act of delinquency or rebellion. On the surface, the pieces spread across the streets and walls of the city are just tuned out puzzle pieces of the city environment, like scurrying rats or urine scented atmospheres. But when looking past the surface level, one will come to understand that it is more than just an act of vandalism, but rather, an act of relaying a story, and then, a part of history.

Street art once worked to commemorate communities and individuals. Works of graffiti served to relay the history of the community and the people within them. But as city infrastructures continue to change, as do the stories of these communities. Often times, marginalized communities are pushed out of their long lived homes and business through acts of gentrification, losing ties to areas where once their roots and heritage ran deep. The Street Art in these communities relays that, and by taking a moment to admire the details, one can understand that history lies deep within the paintings on the walls.

Now, veteran street artists exist alongside artists who try to relay a new story: a fetishized version of a historical art process. Street Art in trendier and hipper areas such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Chelsea, have become commissioned works of art that more often than not serve only an aesthetic purpose. As a result, it is important to deconstruct all such art, and analyze them individually and as a collection, to really gage what New York society has been, and what New York society will be like in the future.

 

Conclusion
Much like Kim Stringfellow’s study on the Salton Sea, which provided historical analysis on a once thriving area, my ecology study on the Politics of Street art will provide a similar story on how something has evolved into what it is today. The success to failure story of the Salton Sea is in no way similar to the history of the evolution of Street Art, but both are crucial documentations that allow for a deeper understanding of cultures in context, patterns, social behaviors, and so on. They allow us to tap into an empathy relayed from the affective presentations of the projects that in turn provide legitimate evidence on fractions of history that will be looked back upon in many, many years to come.

 

Works Cited

Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004.

Stringfellow, Kim. Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005

 

What matters about protest matters?

•March 27, 2017 • 2 Comments

“What matters about protest matters?”

In trying to answer the question, first, I tried saying that three times fast

 

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Didn’t work. But it did actually make me think about the question and my ecology. What matters about protests matters? I interpreted the question as “Why protests?” “Why is it important to base an entire semester on looking into the power of protests?” “Why should people be informed and why now?” It was hard at first because I didn’t want to give you a cliche answer but in order to answer my question I looked into answering the question as if it was posed in regards the other pieces of media that we’ve seen, documentaries Gasland and Plagues and Pleasures from the Salton Sea.

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Let’s start with Plagues and Pressures from the Salton Sea. Does this picture not say enough? Well, let’s try to answer the question. What matters about Salton Sea matters?Like the documentary says the Salton Sea is a “ecological time bomb.” & Why is that?

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Remember this from your high school living environment science class. It’s the water cycle. The ecological time bomb relies right in this diagram. Evaporation. Go take a look at the picture above this one and imagine if that water evaporated into the air. Disturbing? If not, it should be, because not only is the water from the sea evaporating but the toxins that are in the water are evaporating as well. Evaporating into the air we breathe, and later into the clouds and raining back down on the ground. This is not only dangerous to the inhabitants of Salton Sea and Bombay Beach. That’s because there is one added factor not incorporated in the water cycle. That’s the outside element, good old, wind. The fabulous wind pushes the evaporated toxic water, further then the noses of those in Bombay Beach and around Salton Sea, making this an issue for the greater areas in California. Maybe like…somewhere that generates billions of dollars in tourism yearly…less than 60 miles away from the Salton Sea…somewhere like…

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PALM SPRINGS

The owners over at Palm Springs are probably well aware of the issues over at the Salton Sea, my only question to them would be, “When shit hits the fan, is you still a fan?”

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*inserts Kendrick Lamar reference*

Bigger than that, when answering “What matters about Salton Sea matters?” It’s aided in destroying our planet, ecosystems, and wildlife. Advocacy and action is needed. Moving on to Gasland…

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Wow, a fire breathing hose. Perfectly, normal. In looking at this picture and thinking about “What about fracking matters?” the answer is obviously that this should not be happening and not normal at all. You should not be able light your water supply whether it be your kitchen faucet or your watering hose on fire. No good. In answering what about fracking matters, there are so many answers, it causes cancer, pollutes the air, aids in global warming, pollutes the drinking water. Well then again this guy

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John Gorman, Vice-President of Halliburton Canada, a fracking company, says that fracking is harmless! Well look at him, I’d believe anything that comes out of us his mouth. Him and his collegues also enjoyed a cool glass of fracking water at the meeting of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association. CONVENIENT!

Halliburton Canada vice-president John Gorman (left) and Michael Binnion, President of QOGA and CEO of Questerre Energy Corp., drank fracking fluid at a Quebec industry event earlier this week.

*mmm, good*

Shifting back to the matters of fracking matters,  it is an ongoing issue in the United States that needs to be publicly known, stopped and should not be masked by the devils in suits over at the gas and oil associations.

That leads us to protests!

What matters about protest matters?

Trump Tower

Protesting matters because there is a power that ignites when people come together to resist. With the recent election of the 45th president of the United States, we haven’t been so United in some respects. It kind of feels like the Union vs the Confederates. Image result for trump gif wwe

In such a short period, former TV personality turned leader of the “free world” and his “state of the art” administration have done nothing but set the US 60 years behind. Trump and his administration are actually the “they” that DJ Khaled is talking about. They don’t wanna see us win. Anyway, Trump’s disastrous executive orders and politics have pushed those against him to unite, and fight. Why is this important though? Because there is extreme power in constant protesting and….a change is gonna come.

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*inserts Sam Cooke reference (may be before your time)*

But really changes do come out of protests, look at the civil rights movement, women’s right movement, and the temperance movement. Three major movements that impact how our (American) society works in current day. Blacks aren’t colored, women aren’t restricted to household duties and children and alcohol possession isn’t equivalent to marijuana possession. All through a series of resistance. But why do protests matter now? Because there is no greater time then now to resist, we have an administration that is literally creating constant injustices for all citizens not apart of the one percent. We need to come together now to lift our voices and resist.  PROTESTS MATTER Y’ALL! My last words to you all are…

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okay that was my last lyrical reference,

see y’all later!

-Jazira

Blog Post#3: What Matters

•March 27, 2017 • 1 Comment

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I will not be surprised if you tell me you have a friend whose family is originally from China. His or her family live and work in Flushing, or any other Chinatowns in a working-class life and have a poor English skill. Language and working opportunities are the main things that barrier the Chinese American from the mainstream society in the U.S.A. As Valerie Kuletz concluded in the “Nuclear Wasteland”, “Effort to individualize the nuclear problem effectively mask the real social nature of nuclearism and constitute a mechanism of exclusion on a mass scale”. (87). “Pressure to “individualize” the problem is great”. (87) As most of the doctors blame the sickness of people to their terrible lifestyle instead of the nuclear waste problem, most of people blame the working-class and poor life of Chinese immigrants for their individual problems for lack of motivation to learn English and fight for the opportunities instead of the overall environment they live in . After interviewing with people who work in Flushing, I found that Flushing, Queens actually provide a space for those immigrants to have a better and convenient life  in the U.S. However, the existing multiculturalism in Flushing simultaneously hinder them to truly integrate into the society.

Flushing is a safe heaven for Chinese American to breathe and embrace all the affects automatically that has no difference to in their hometown in China. As Brain Massumi concluded in The Autonomy of Affect, affects are something that operate unconsciously but filled with motion, vibratory motion and resonance.(26) The affect of Flushing moves back and forth between those Chinese American and the whole environment significantly and intangibly. Chinese American’s presence change the Flushing area in New York to a chinatown filled with Chinese characters and Chinese languages. At the same time, this safe heaven district makes those immigrants have no huge motivations to break out their Chinese circle and find jobs outside this comfy zone as they can live well without learning English or earning a lot of money. In Flushing, foods and service are cheap comparing to the price in most of the places in New York and people use Chinese as its main language. It provides a convenient but working-class life style that Chinese immigrants can settle down easily WITHOUT really integrate into the American society. They can live well in Flushing, but may Not in the rest of New York, or in the rest of the United States.

The multiculturalism for those Chinese Immigrants have further social implication for the American society. As Teresa Brenna concluded in The Transmission of Affect, we are affected by others’ actions and emotions easily and there is no distinction of individual and environment. The lives and emotions of Chinese American are not just pertained to only themselves, but also affect the lives of ours and the environment of New York as a whole. Instead of cultural integration, multiculturalism celebrate the difference in cultures and their own cultural value and laws. The maintenance of distinct Asian culture in Flushing within the New York city actually create problems to the existing laws and values of the country, as well as the single national identity and language in America. A large number of the stores and restaurants only take cash but not credit card in order to avoid tax. A lot of people worked in Flushing do not have a legal working registration. Most of the Chinese immigrants I interviewed in Flushing, especially those immigrants who had come to New York for more than 20 years, still considered themselves Chinese, instead of Chinese American.

Multiculturalism matters as it potentially hindered social integration, undermined national unity, slowed down cultural assimilation. It wears down the motivation for immigrants to learn and integrate into the mainstream society. It makes difficulties in making a complete legislation system that is fair to everyone in the country. It also leads to further fragmentation of society into different ethnic groups with different values and minds that are hard to be regulated by U.S government. 

Works Cited

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables for the Virtual (2002): 23-45.

Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004.