Teach About Mike Brown. But Don't Stop There.
This time last summer, I researched articles and collected poems about police brutality, racial profiling, and the murders of black men in the United States. The George Zimmerman verdict was fresh on my mind and I wanted to talk about it with my students once school was back in session. I revised a lesson I had taught six years prior on the murder of Sean Bell that asked young people to turn their pain into poetry. And now, here I am again, swapping out the articles I used last year on Trayvon Martin with articles about Mike Brown. I have accepted that I may have to teach this lesson every school year. I am moved by the Twitter handle, #FergusonSyllabus. It gives me hope to know that educators are willing to have difficult conversations with their students, that poetry and essays will be written to honor the lives of those we've lost to senseless murder, and that healthy discussions will happen across the country between young people. But I hope we go past one lesson, one unit. I urge us to think about how our classrooms and curricula challenge or support stereotypes, how they liberate or stifle our young people. It is not enough to teach one "social justice" unit. My hope is that we move from isolated lessons and units and commit to creating classrooms that intentionally and consistently provide opportunities for learners to not just know about injustice but fight against it and begin creating a just world. As educators, we are not just teaching science, math, or English. We teach culture and norms.
Capitalism's Built-In Limitations and Anti-Stimulus Realities
Capitalism has always been sold as the best way for the greatest number of people to benefit from their own labor. I would agree that was true enough for a good number of men of European decent over most of our U.S. history. When Adam Smith, the "father of capitalism" was alive in the 1700s, the world was thought to be infinite with an unlimited supply of natural resources waiting to be discovered and forged into useful tangible consumables. As we now know the world's resources are not infinite, and we can correctly deduce that capitalism is limited by the amount of available resources. Capitalism also requires someone, or a group, to save "capital" before investing or embarking on a capitalist venture. However, saving money or "capital," whether temporarily or continuously, is actually an anti-stimulus with the given limitations in a finite capitalist economy. These realities concerning limited resources and the anti-stimulus effect of accumulating capital cannot be underestimated. The fact that capitalism has limitations due to finite resources is inarguable. The fact that saving capital equates to an anti-stimulus is one that many would argue against, but if results are the judge, they will lose that argument. Some might think these are flaws in the system, but the flaws are actually in the beliefs people have regarding how they "think" the system behaves and "should" work verses how it actually works in realty. Because the people who set economic policy have flawed beliefs..
Profits before Patriotism
Corporate Tax Evasion and the Need for International Working-Class Politics
Barack Obama has discovered that U.S. multinational corporations behave like just that--multinational. They pledge allegiance to their bottom line, not to the good old U.S.A. Obama and congressional Democrats criticized these corporations for being unpatriotic because they've parked more than $2 trillion in profits in other countries where they pay no taxes to the U.S. It's called "inversion," and it works something like this: A U.S. multinational buys a foreign company, moves its headquarters there and proclaims that it's no longer an American company. All of a sudden, it stops paying U.S. taxes and start saving billions of dollars. And it's perfectly legal. Apple has taken inversion to a whole new level. It has set up subsidiaries in Ireland to take in the proceeds from sales outside the U.S., which account for 60 percent of Apple's profits. The profits channeled through its Irish subsidiaries pay no U.S. taxes. This enabled Apple to save $7.7 billion in 2011 alone, according to figures publicized by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin. This is possible because Apple has an Irish holding company, with no operations or employees in Ireland at all, at the head of its foreign operations. This holding company doesn't pay taxes to any government, including the Irish. In fact, it hasn't paid a penny in taxes for five years. Legally, it doesn't exist in any country, anywhere in the world. Obama and other U.S. political leaders are fuming because these tax deals have already cost the U.S. government..
Experiences and Observations from an American Student in Palestine
There are a number of factors that influenced my decision to spend my summer in Palestine. Perhaps the largest and most salient reason is that I grew up in a very pro-Israel area and was raised to believe that I should defend Israel and support it no matter what. I was raised to believe that Israel could do no wrong. Somewhere along the way, I started questioning whether the so-called Israeli Defense Forces are really for defense. As I started learning more and more about the atrocities committed against Palestinians daily, continuing my studies as a Political Science student, one sentence repeated itself over and over in my head; not in my name. I consider it my duty to make sure that the Palestinians receive justice for the injustices that the state of Israel has committed against them in the name of Jews everywhere. The other reason stems from American perceptions of Arabs in general. The way that the Middle East is treated in the mainstream media, the portrayal of Arabs in pop culture, media and in general as "terrorists," "animals," or "uncivilized," always struck me as wrong. A whole civilization of people could not possibly be the demonized version we hear of in America. After spending a semester in Jordan, I knew I had to come back as soon as possible. I want to be able to go home and tell people what it's really like in Palestine; that not all Arabs, not all Palestinians are terrorists who value death and blood - that these are wonderful people, living in terrible conditions.