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The Ancestors, Africanism, and Democracy

Nyonsuabeleah Kollue

My mother begins every important discussion with the phrase "the old people used to say", first, for the purpose of showing respect for the ancestors, and second, to give a sense of legitimacy to the knowledge that she intends to pass on to me. However, as I have become older and more in tune with the reality of an African legacy that is equal parts beautiful and gruesome, I've often wondered, why is it that African peoples only seem to incorporate knowledge passed down from our ancestors into the private and domestic aspects of our lives? Why isn't this knowledge applicable to the political and economic structures in independent African countries today? After all, the old peoples managed to establish complex trade systems, educational facilities and working governmental institutions. Some political pundits would like to credit this phenomenon to the influence of Western powers on fledgling African democracies. While I agree with this idea to some extent, I believe that the explanation put forth is too simplistic for a topic so intricate and multifarious. Therefore, in an effort to present an exhaustive response as to why modern African nations lack the capacity to establish governmental facets that are essentially African, I have set forth an analysis of the aftermath of counter-cultural movements as it affects the power component of communication in intercultural relations between African countries and their former European colonizers. Dr. Gary Weaver describes counter-cultural identity movements as a challenge of dominant culture and the refutation of traditional cultural norms. He references the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the hippie movement of the 1970s as perfect illustrations of counter-cultural conflict in American society. These were periods in history whereby, young, university educated Americans directly and...

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Why I Don't Believe in Self-Care

(and How to Make it Obsolete)

Liz Kessler

There's a problem that happens when we confuse "coping" with "self care". Consider a person with severe depression who is just trying to survive. Maybe they have a lot of trouble eating properly. So they eat a lot of pizza, because it's the thing that they can get easily and convince themselves to eat. That's coping. (And again, there's no judgement here. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get through your day). Coping is, unfortunately, a part of life under capitalism. Our basic needs are not being met, and we have to do what we have to do to get through life, hoping that someday, things will be better. Eating a lot of pizza might be a good way for that person to get through their day. But nobody would argue that eating a lot of pizza is a healthy dietary choice. Using the word coping implies a recognition that the strategy should be a temporary measure. Coping is what you do until you find a way to be healthy in a sustainable way. The term "self care" gets thrown around all the time when what we are really talking about is coping. Sometimes this idea is disguised by using terms like "retail therapy" or a "girls day". Advertisements use phrases like "you deserve it" to remind people (and especially women) that they've worked hard and could use a break. Using the term "self care" instead of "coping" justifies the ongoing nature of it. Calling it "self care" or saying "I deserve it" makes it sound like it's as natural and necessary to life as making dinner. But what if it's not necessary? What if we've just been duped by capitalism into believing that it is? This doesn't only happen in mainstream consumer culture. I've witnessed activists who claim to be pro-labour and pro-environment spend lots of money on dresses and unnecessary clothing made in sweatshops, all in the name of "self care". When it's not disposable clothing, it is expensive but unethical pieces of furniture, gadgets, and trendy decor for their homes. I'm guilty of this too.

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The Game Metaphor

How To Teach Racists That There Is No Such Thing As Reverse Racism

David I. Backer

Imagine two people who play a game every day of their lives for ten years. The game has rules, but just by virtue of who the players are, one of them always loses and the other always wins. Even if the loser technically wins according to the rules of the game, still, in this world, this same person loses the game. The two play everyday and the loser always loses and the winner always wins, period. Then, after ten years of always losing and winning, something weird happens. The one who always loses wins a game. The one who always wins says "wow, losing is hard." The one who always loses says, "you don't know what loss is." Even though the one who always wins has lost, their loss is different than the loss that the one who always loses has experienced. Saying that there is reverse racism is like saying that the loss the one who always wins experiences that one time is the same thing as the loss that the one who always loses has experienced for ten years. They are very different losses, almost to the point where we cannot use the same word to describe them. Even though the person who always wins loses, that loss is very different than the loss the loser has experienced for ten years. What it means for the person who always wins to 'lose' is a categorically different kind of 'loss' then the 'loss' which the one who always lost experiences. A perpetual winner's loss is a different kind of loss than the perpetual loser's loss. The loser's loss is Loss whereas the winner's loss is just loss. Why? Because of history. The loser has lost systematically, by virtue of who they are, not the rules of the game they're playing, for years and years.

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"Enough Is Enough"

Prisoners Across The Country Band Together To End Slavery For Good

Carimah Townes

Siddique Hasan, a self-described revolutionary from Savannah, Georgia, has been waiting for a moment like this one, when prisoners across the country band together and say "enough is enough" when it comes to being treated like a slave. "It's time for a broader struggle," he told ThinkProgress during his daily phone time in Ohio's supermax prison. "People have to lift up their voice with force and determination, and let them know that they're dissatisfied with the way things are actually being run." So far this year, prisoners have been doing just that. In a growing movement largely going unnoticed by the national media, inmates all over the country are starting to stand up against the brutal conditions and abuses they have faced for decades. Beginning in March, thousands of people locked away in Michigan prisons launched a hunger strike over the amount and quality of food they were served by a private food vendor. That vendor should have been an improvement from its predecessor, which fed inmates refrigerated meat, trash, and rodent saliva. Instead, the new food provider served small portions of watery food. And what started as a seemingly isolated protest at one facility quickly spread to two others in the state. In April, inmates in seven Texas facilities refused to go to work in protest of astronomical health care costs, their inability to use work time as credit for their parole, and having to live and labor in extreme heat with minimal compensation. In lieu of producing "mattresses, shoes, garments, brooms, license plates, printed materials, janitorial supplies, soaps, detergents, furniture...

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