Tearing Down Walls

Tearing Down Walls



Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Can Philosophy Teach Us About LGBT Discrimnation?

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that gay people have the right to marry, those upset by this ruling have shifted their strategy from denying the right to limiting its enforcement.
Even if gay people have a right to marry, they argue, people also have the liberty to practice their religion as they wish. Accordingly, they claim, they cannot be forced to “aid or abet” those seeking to marry partners of the same sex.
This argument obviously has some persuasive power, for statutes that claim to protect religious liberty in this sense have recently been proposed in 26 states.Some have even been enacted. And just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission) that brings this supposed conflict between marriage equality and religious liberty to the fore.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

When It Comes to Gay Rights, Are There Trump's 'True Colors'?

When President Donald Trump was a candidate, he pledged his support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people immediately after the mass shooting last summer at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  
“They have been through something that nobody could ever experience,” Trump said at an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, on June 13, 2016, delivering a hastily drafted speech that was originally intended to be about Hillary Clinton.  
“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?” he said. “I will tell you who the better friend is, and someday I believe that will be proven out, big-league.”  
Such proof did not come Wednesday. But the president’s words were repeated with anger and frustration by a number of gay rights advocates who were angered by Trump’s abrupt decision to bar transgender people from any military job.  
“We’re seeing the president’s true colors,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “This is who he is.”
To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Can We Make America Great for Immigrant Students Again?

We’ve received what seems to be a daily dose of misery in the form of misinformation about immigrants and immigration for well over a year now. As intended, those messages appear to have left their mark. International student enrollment is down, while at the same time hate crimes, hate speech and fear is up. Is there a connection?
I’m not here to address the relentless negative rhetoric on immigration or why it exists. Rather, I offer you facts, because facts don’t lie. Here’s one: immigrants are good for America.
Why would we think otherwise?  Our nation was built by immigrants, and if America wants to continue to be a world leader, particularly in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), we need to acknowledge the positive impact and contributions made by immigrants and continue to do what we can to attract them to our country and welcome them into our communities.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is Justice Department Really Arguing That Civil Rights Law Doesn't Protect Gay Employees?

The US Justice Department on Wednesday argued in a major federal lawsuit that a 1964 civil rights law doesn’t protect gay workers from discrimination, thereby diverging from a separate, autonomous federal agency that had supported the gay plaintiff’s case.
The Trump administration’s filing is unusual in part because the Justice Department isn’t a party in the case, and the department doesn’t typically weigh in on private employment lawsuits.
But in an amicus brief filed at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, lawyers under Attorney General Jeff Sessions contend that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination, does not cover sexual orientation.
"The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination," says the Justice Department's brief. "It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts."
To keep reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Upcoming Sci-Fi Film 'Bright' Looks at Class, Racism, and Police Brutality

Fantasy in entertainment is often seen as a means to escape harsh realities and truths. Yet fiction and the fantasy genre are also a creative way to explore controversial issues that affect our everyday lives. From the exploration of race and gender in Octavia Butler novels, to social commentary on systemic power in Night of the Living Dead, stories about monsters and the supernatural “other” have often been used to discuss the human condition. Movie superstar Will Smith’s latest film Bright, set to premiere exclusively on Netflix this December, follows in these footsteps. Using an alternative reality where the supernatural is the norm, Brightexplores racism, class dynamics, and police brutality.
The first full length trailer for the movie was shown this past weekend at the 49th annual San Diego Comic Con. A panel of the film’s stars showed up to discuss the project at the popular event. In the world of Bright, elves are at the top of the food chain – the 1 percent.
Humans are seen to be part of the working class, along with the orcs. Yet the orcs are at the bottom of the social hierarchy:  they are the most discriminated against and exploited. The racial profiling portrayed in the film isn’t based on skin tone, but on if an individual has pointy ears. The movie may take place in a world with mystical orcs and fairies, but the hierarchies, oppression, and cop drama of the inner city is reflective of the world we live in today.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Just What Is 'Racial Subordination'?

In “Stamped From the Beginning,” Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning chronicle of racist ideas, the author moves past racism and anti-racism to call out the “assimilationists” throughout the nation’s history, those who have sought to combat racial disparities but have found fault in both oppressors and oppressed. 

And Carol Anderson’s “White Rage,” which received the National Book Critics Circle prize for criticism, contends that, since emancipation, black breakthroughs have been followed by white backlashes, usually with the imprimatur of courts and legislatures.

I don’t foresee Roy L. Brooks’s “The Racial Glass Ceiling” receiving similar attention, nor should it; this is a less gripping or ambitious work, and its prose is often dense and meandering. But the book offers a provocative counterpoint to the country’s current debates over race. 

To keep reading this article, click here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Could Reality TV Actually Increase Empathy?

THERE’S a popular theory that people watch reality TV to see others humiliated — by sarcastic judges, malicious contestants, cheating partners and challenges designed to defeat them.
But that is not the reason record numbers of Australians are tuning into the phenomenon that is Ninja Warrior.
Sure, we gasp, laugh or scream when an elite athlete face-plants in the water — and we quietly reassure ourselves that everyone is human, even these finest specimens of fitness — but that’s only part of a broader allure.
At a time when some reality TV programs are being punted out of prime-time slots — Channel 7’s Little Big Shots and Channel 9’s The Last Resort spring to mind — Ninja Warrior is rating its sports socks off for Nine.
Sister shows in the US, UK and its birthplace of Japan have done the same.
Why? Aside from the sheer athleticism that astounds, it’s because we are empathetic.
To keep reading this story, click here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Yes, It's Bad Now But Is This Really the Most Uncivil Politics Has Ever Been?

Between the Russia scandal and the legislative impotence, I keep hearing from people who are demoralized and exhausted from the mind-numbing whirlwind of news and controversy confronting us each day.
It feels like America is going through a very difficult time, but we already have been through a lot in our history. From time to time, it’s important to reflect on our past, lest we indulgently believe that these times are uniquely bad
To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Would An Alternate History Show About a South Now Still with Slavery Be Racist?

No scripts have been written, not even an outline.
But HBO's announcement on Wednesday that the creator-showrunners of "Game of Thrones" will follow up that massive hit with an HBO series in which slavery remains legal in the modern-day South drew fire on social media from those who fear that telling that story will glorify racism.
The series, "Confederate," will take place in an alternate timeline where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union and formed a nation in which legalized slavery has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows "a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone," HBO said — "freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall."
To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Is It Fair and Just That CEO Pay Has Soared 937% In the Past 40 Years?

Wages for most American workers have remained basically stagnant for decades, but a new report published on Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that the CEOs of America's largest firms have seen their pay soar at a consistent and "outrageous" clip.

Between 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose by 937 percent, EPI's Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder found. By contrast, the typical worker saw "painfully slow" compensation growth—11.2 percent over the same period.
"Simply put, money that goes to the executive class is money that does not go to other people." —Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute
To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Do Empathetic Students Do Better Academically?

Students who feel better about themselves, their relationships, and their ability to constructively contribute to their community perform better academically and socially at school. 

This data, collected by a review of over 300 studies, would surprise no educator, anywhere. 
As global educators, we observe firsthand the qualitative impact that a sense of wellbeing and a positive mindset can have on educational outcomes. Fortunately, recent attention to the quantitative research on social-emotional learning (SEL) has provided many schools with a framework to help.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Is Your Older Age Really Your Superpower?

Let’s say you’re 60 — but as far away from behaving like a codger as you were at 40.
Let’s say you see people your age in advertisements — maybe they’re holding hands in clawfoot bathtubs, hoping that the sex-performance drug kicks in, or they’re waiting sadly on the sidelines tending to their arthritis while their grandkids play.
David Harry Stewart, founder of Ageist — a publishing and marketing movement with the motto “Live Fast Die Old” — says it’s time to think about time, specifically how much we have left.
“We’re servicing an emerging group of people,” says Stewart, 58. “This is the first time in human history that we have this group of people who are in their 50s and halfway through their lives.”
To keep reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Does Stress of Poverty, Racism Raise Risk of Alzheimer's for African-Americans?

A new group of studies into racial disparities among people with Alzheimer’s disease suggests that social conditions, including the stress of poverty and racism, substantially raise the risks of dementia for African Americans.
In four separate studies, researchers found that conditions that affect blacks disproportionately compared with other groups – such as poor living conditions and stressful events such as the loss of a sibling, the divorce of one’s parents, or chronic unemployment –have severe consequences for brain health later on.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why Aren't the Rights of the Disabled Treated Like Those of Other Groups?

When you talk about disability rights with people, they just look at you like they didn’t think such a thing existed,” says Dr George Taleporos. “People don’t like talking about, hearing or watching disability. It’s not as sexy as gay rights or climate change. It’s just not.” 
Taleporos is a disability rights activist, and a wheelchair user. He appeared in the first season of ABC TV’s You Can’t Ask Me That and now in the feature film documentary Defiant Lives. Director Sarah Barton tells a largely untold story, charting the history of the disability rights movement in Australia, the US and the UK. “As someone with a disability, it’s really novel to see a film about your people,” Taleporos says.
“Disability is never represented from a human rights perspective. It’s represented through a lens of pity, or stories about overcoming the odds. The hero who, despite their hideous impairment, was able to get into the Paralympics. It’s all about the hero and pity narrative. Never about the disability rights narrative.”
To keep reading, click here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why Is Institutional Racism So Insidious?

In March 2015, an individual’s outraged protest against the display of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT) led to a tsunami of angry protests and expressions of pain, mostly from black students and some staff, though white students and staff were readily persuaded of the offensiveness of Rhodes’ presiding position on campus. 
The explosive response signalled that the #RhodesMustFall movement was not just about the statue. It was testimony to a growing sense of anger and alienation with “the system” among many students – mostly black – who live with a sense of being outsiders who are just tolerated at UCT.
How did this happen on a campus that for decades has been aspiring to nonracialism or, at the very least, to racial equity and redress? Was it down to the racism of white lecturers and students? I don’t think so – although, no doubt, some of that exists.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Do TV Shows and Movies Promote Ageism?

Old people get a raw deal in television and in the movies. We don’t make a fuss about this, because as we age, we become conditioned to the themes and images that flood the media, and bombard us with their messages. That’s just entertainment, we think—it’s not meant to depict real life.
But if we stop for a minute, and analyze the performances in front of us, we may become aware that there is rarely anyone in these presentations that vaguely resembles us.
If you wonder why this is important, researchers say that we are influenced by media, and respond to how it portrays us. Older characters don’t show up very much in the media we view, and when they do, they are shown in ageist or stereotypical roles, frequently ridiculed.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was the Call for a National Day of Civility Met with a Civil Response?

On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan made an impassioned plea with Americans to “improve the tone of debate.” Critics on the breeding ground of civil discourse known as Twitter used the opportunity to air concerns about Ryan and the GOP.
Lawmakers introduced legislation last month to make July 12 the National Day of Civility — a day to remind people “to be more respectful and polite to others in daily life,” according to the resolution. Although it has yet to clear the House, Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted a promotional video Wednesday about how we should be more civil.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Does the Trump Administration Want to Half All Immigration?

The most public components of Donald Trump’s nativist agenda are also, somewhat reassuringly, the most symbolic. Yes, the president wants to build an expensive wall along the southern border to keep “rapists” and “criminals” from Mexico from illegally entering the country, but as even Republicans have pointed out, building a wall is just about the least effective way to secure the border. Life will go on, regardless of whether the president adds an extra foot or two of barbed wire to the eyesore that already stretches across several hundred miles of Texas, Arizona, and California. 

Trump also wants a figurative fence around the country, in the form of his executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority countries, but said ban was always designed to be temporary. The president’s long-term ambitions to curtail immigration, meanwhile, have mostly flown under the radar: a plan dreamt up by the White House’s resident nationalists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller to crack down on legalimmigration.

Now, Trump’s endgame appears to be moving into public view. According to a new reportfrom Politico, Miller and Bannon—the latter of whom apparently keeps reminders to himself to restrict immigration “scribbled on the walls of his office” like other people keep reminders to order more ink for the printer—have been working on a bill with Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would cut the number of legal immigrants coming into the U.S. by half, to 500,000, as of 2027. 

The bill is said to be a “revised and expanded” version of the RAISE Act that Cotton and Perdue presented in February and discussed with the president in March.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Have Racism and Hatred Increased with the Coming of Trump?

Since the election of Donald Trump in November, media reports show a spike in incidents of racism and hatred around the country. Many say that Trump’s victory gave free license to those who harbor racist attitudes, and that his presidency allowed them to express views they might otherwise have kept to themselves.
This reporter put the question to followers on Facebook: “Have you or anyone you know experienced any incidents of racism or hatred since the beginning of the year, and/or do you think or perceive that hatred in the country has increased since Pres. Trump took office or not?” 
Participants were asked to respond either yes or no, but were not required to cite any specific incidents or experiences. Of the 36 responses – from a group that included teachers, social workers, law enforcement, stay-at-home moms, artists, and students – the answer was a resounding yes.
“Yes.”  “YES.” “Yes yes yes,” read some of the replies.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Are Female Stars Really Expected to Take Hollywood Meetings with 'Blowjob Eyes'?

The conversation is changing. With each passing week, more and more female stars have shared their experiences with rampant Hollywood sexism, from horrifying stories about giving “blowjob eyes” at auditions to tales of pay inequality and pushing for more female-led stories. 
While the sheer scale of the stories is upsetting — it seems like every actress has their own tale to tell — that these stars feel comfortable speaking out on the subject is heartening, one step closer to an industry that doesn’t have this kind of discrimination seemingly baked into its everyday operations.
While there have certainly been misfires along the way — actress and director Elizabeth Banks was recently taken to task for (incorrectly) calling out Steven Spielberg for never directing films with female leads, and “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke compared sexism to racism in an ill-concieved statement to Rolling Stone — the recent uptick in discussion is proof that the, while change might not be happening quickly, the more we talk about, the more we can learn and grow.
Here are 11 stars who have recently shared their stories, with plenty of lessons to take away from each.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Is It Even Tougher Being LGBTQ in a Retirement Home?

At the New Jewish Home, a retirement community with affordable apartments in separate locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester, a male resident has won the right to wear the silky nightgowns he favors, and another, once denied the privilege of painting his fingernails, is being supplied with nail polish and help applying it.
Neither achievement is what Audrey Weiner, the chief executive of the New Jewish Home, would call earth-shattering. But they would not have happened 10 years ago, never mind a few decades ago, she said.
These changes, Ms. Weiner added, represent real progress in what she described as a sad situation for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including early pioneers in the pride movement who are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
To keep reading, click here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Can Parents Help Their Daughters Call Out Sexism?

Your daughter is vulnerable in middle and high school. The Canadian Women's Foundation cites many research-based statistics worthy of concern, including that "as girls enter adolescence, from ages nine to 13, their confidence declines sharply." This makes them easy prey for sexist comments. Effective strategies to deal with sexism is necessary to help combat the negative effect those words and actions will have on her.
Sexism in schools is part of the bullying lexicon assimilated into relationship issues. And indeed, sexism is not limited to school. Your daughter will find it in the workplace as well. For your daughter, these skills will have broad application in her life.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Do We Still Believe in Free Speech?

After a century of building free speech rights into our laws and culture, Americans are backing away from one of the country’s defining principles.
Set off by the nation’s increasingly short fuse, students, politicians, teachers and parents are not just refusing to hear each other out, we’re coming up with all sorts of ways of blocking ideas we don’t agree with.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Can a Baker Refuse to Make a Gay Wedding Cake?

One of the most contentious cases the Supreme Court will hear in its term beginning October 2nd is the enticingly named Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Division, Charlie Craig, and David Mullins. 

It’s not every day that the justices hear a conflict between a sweets purveyor and both a gay couple and a government agency charged with policing discrimination. But the clash was inevitable. 

Two years ago, in Obergefell v Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy inserted a caveat into his otherwise sweeping majority opinion opening marriage laws nationwide to gays and lesbians. “[T]hose who adhere to religious doctrines”, he wrote, “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned” and they are protected in this mission by the First Amendment. The court will now clarify how far this umbrella extends.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, July 7, 2017

How Do We Help Stamp Out the Stigma of Grey Hair and Wrinkles?

A totally adorable child asked me how old I am. His mother was quick to admonish him not to ask women their age. Why not? What makes a mere statistic like age so shame-worthy that it can’t be mentioned?
In 1963, Betty Friedan introduced us to “the problem that had no name”: sexism. Since then we have come to realize how entwined elements such as language and customs make sexism far more insidious than a focus on discriminatory laws alone would reveal. Fifty-four years later, our awareness of ageism is in need of a similar epiphany.
All prejudice involves binaries that divide the world of people into “us” and “other.” Other devolves into deviant or lesser than. Ageism fits this most basic, universal criterion. Although age is a continuum with the exception of specific legalities — such as the eligibility to consume alcohol — we act as though there are two categories: young and old.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Is Marriage Equality in Supreme Peril?

Will marriage equality remain the law of the land in the United States? 

When the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects same-sex couples’ right to wed, its thundering decision seemed enduring and irrevocable. Yet just two years later, gay Americans’ marriage rights are once again under attack in conservative states—with the encouragement of some Supreme Court justices. 

It’s now clear that not all states, and certainly not all courts, view same-sex marriage as a settled issue. In fact, it’s increasingly apparent that marriage equality opponents have a long-term plan to roll back, and eventually reverse, the signature achievement of the U.S. gay rights movement.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What Will It Take for the US to Eradicate Racist Ideas?

In his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on 27 July 2004, before 9 million viewers, Barack Obama presented himself as the embodiment of racial reconciliation and American exceptionalism. 

He had humble beginnings and a lofty ascent, and in him both native and immigrant ancestry and African and European ancestry came together. “I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story … and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible,” he declared. “America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country … the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president.”

To keep reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What Happens When Uncivil Speech Emanates from The Oval Office?

Our constitution does not demand that our speech be civil. The constitution protects uncivil speech – hate speech, even. 
But it does so not because our democracy approves of such speech, but because we believe that truth will expose lies and the evil of government censorship is greater than the perils posed by untoward speakers. 
But what happens when the source of uncivil speech is not some fringe hate group, but the occupant of the Oval Office? And what happens when the lies target the very organs designed to ferret them out? 
We have never faced such questions before. Which explains why, on the 241st anniversary of our independence, American democracy finds itself in peril.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Has Civility Worsened Under Trump?

As Americans prepare to celebrate the country's 241st birthday, they believe the overall tone and level of civility between Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capital has gotten worse since the election of President Trump last year, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds. The same survey also shows distrust of many of the nation's fundamental democratic institutions amongst the public.
Seven in 10 Americans say the level of civility in Washington has gotten worse since President Trump was elected, while just 6 percent say the overall tone has improved. Twenty percent say it's stayed the same. For comparison, 35 percent in 2009 said civility in the country had declined in the U.S. following President Obama's election, per a Gallup survey. Eight years ago, 21 percent of Americans in that poll thought civility and the tone of discourse in the country had improved.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Is Trump a National Spokesperson for Sexism?

You have to hand it to Donald Trump: Just when you think he can’t go any lower, he lowers the bar further still. 

And this week, he demonstrated that he’s the human embodiment of the double-edged sword of American sexism: The man who coats his chauvinism in benevolence if you play by the feminine rules, and cuts you down with hostile misogyny if you don’t.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is NRA Silence Over Castile Killing Racism?

Amid outrage over the acquittal of the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile, many activists and some gun owners seem to agree on one thing: The National Rifle Association should not remain silent.
In a Wednesday letter addressed to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, activist Tamika Mallory -- one of the founders of the progressive Women's March -- slammed the NRA for demonstrating "a complete disregard for the lives of black and brown people in America" for failing to "make any statement defending the civil rights of Mr. Castile."
The letter also slammed an April anti-protester, pro-police NRA ad featuring conservative commentator Dana Loesch, which Mallory characterized as a "vicious and incendiary video calling for armed conflict."
To keep reading this article, click here.