To Keep the Poor Poor…and Working

 

 

Fuck!

FUCK

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK

The Supreme Court’s ruling, effectively dismantling Roe v. Wade and setting precedence that will roll back hard-won rights for minorities, women, and LGBTQ people was not a surprise. Documents that leaked before the ruling all but insured that Roe would not make it to the end of my lifetime, but still, the decision was read with the same emotions and feelings…

FUCK.

 

FUCK YOU.

 

FUCK EVERY DECISION YOU’VE MADE AND WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE.

 

FUCK YOU FOR TAKING AWAY THE RIGHTS THAT MY MOTHER, MY GRANDMOTHER HAD, FROM ME.

 

I am tired. I’m so tired. And I know, that organizing is a long and arduous process, full of losses and set back-with the endgame being victory. But I am tired. And I’M PISSED

 

This has never been about protecting the sanctity of life. Historically abortion bans have never been about being pro-life, or about morality, or about anything that pertains to protecting the unborn or whatever a fetus is called in the eyes of hypocrites.

 

Abortion bans started in this country because of an influx of Catholic immigrants, striking fears about a Protestant minority (Comstock Laws). Abortion bans and controlling women’s sexuality have been about chattel slavery, creating an influx of enslaved black people when the slave trade was shut down.

 

Abortion and contraceptive bans were NOT stringently enforced when women had to replace men as laborers in the World Wars.

 

I wonder why?

 

And lastly, abortion bans pre-Roe were about a return of those men from war, and a forcing of women out of the workforce and back into where America thinks they belong-in the home, under patriarchal power.

 

We all know banning abortion doesn’t stop abortions. We know that abortion bans are one next step to beginning to ban contraceptive. And Covid highlighted the reason abortion bans and contraceptive bans are being reintroduced. FUCK, even those assholes in positions of power know. They’re not stupid-they’re pure evil.

 

It’s all about creating and sustaining an influx of those in positions of poverty.

 

Childbirth for people is about a descent into poverty. Raising children is expensive. Forcing people to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth without any insurance (a more than $20,000 bill), raise them without universal childcare, with no living wage, almost guarantees a pool of workers that can be exploited.

 

And given that poor people and workers were hardest hit during Covid-19 (they DIED), it’s more necessary to make sure there are people that can work low wage jobs. We do not have enough labor power to replace the aging population.

 

AND I AM SICK AND TIRED OF DEMOCRATS DOING NOTHING BUT SENDING ME FUNDRAISING EMAILS.   

 

The mistresses and wives of the people who struck down Roe—and are stamping on its ashes—will still be able to get abortions. They’ll be able to afford a ticket out of the state or, if a national ban is implemented (which it sure as fuck sounds like), a plane ride first class to another country.

 

Poor people, people of color, and queer people will be harmed the most from this loss.

 

But really, isn’t that what the Supreme Court wanted?

 

FUCK.

 

 

(By Nichole Smith)

(Image Credit 1: Simone Noronha / NBC) (Image Credit 2: by Raffaele Ciotola: Saatchi Art)

While Rittenhouse walks free, Chrystul Kizer awaits justice

Chrystul Kizer

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all counts of murder Friday, after moving across state lines and shooting three victims, killing two: Gaige Grosskreutz, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber. His release raises questions about who the justice system is built for-when someone with an AR-15 purposefully shows his weapon, and shoots people with abandon is freed, while in Kenosha another 17-year-old is facing murder charges, for killing her sexual abuser. Rittenhouse is a white boy, Chrystul Kizer a black girl.

She is still facing first degree homicide charges in the city of Kenosha, which carries an automatic life sentence, for killing Randall Phillip Volar III, a man who had been sexually abusing her for two years, when Kizer was a homeless teenager. She is still awaiting justice.

Volar III, a white man, had had prior evidence of abuse of young girls, already known to Kenosha police. He was arrested in February of 2018, after drugging and attempting to harm another 15-year-old. Police arrested him and then released him without bail. He remained free for weeks, while investigators found multiple videos of child abuse. On the day that Kizer acted in self-defense, Volar had drugged her and attempted to rape her. She killed him to get away.

The Kenosha police still want her in prison for life.

Volar should not have been freed when investigations found hundreds of videos of child abuse, including the ones he had filmed of Chrystul. Under federal law, Chrystul’s case should have been reviewed with her as a victim of trafficking (she was seventeen), and while it would be unclear whether she is entitled to the use of affirmative defense, the parallels with how the justice system is treating her-a victim of child sex-trafficking at the hands of an abuser-and Rittenhouse-a white boy who had clear intentions of going to shoot someone when he crossed state lines-is telling.

Her case is also revealing of a-hopeful-shift in how we discuss victims of child rape victims, “How her case is decided could shape how future crimes involving victims of trafficking are litigated—particularly those in which child victims of trafficking have killed their alleged abusers. In the past decades, those teenagers were painted by prosecutors as ‘child prostitutes’ who were out to rob their clients.

“But in recent years, courts, governors and state legislators have been reexamining such cases with a new understanding of the unique trauma child trafficking victims endure. Most of those cases have involved children of color.”

Chrystul won an appeal this past June, and instead of dropping the case, the state has requested that the Wisconsin Supreme Court review her case. Her ruling could have important implications for those survivors of child sexual abuse-and trafficking-who have killed their abusers in self-defense. If she loses, she faces, at minimum, a sixty-year prison sentence.

Whether she is successful, though, it remains clear that the criminal justice system was not built to be Chrystul’s advocate and would rather imprison her for life. And would defend Rittenhouse’s freedom tooth and nail.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Photo Credit: Washington Post / Sarah L. Voisin)

Farmers in India have been protesting for a year: Friday they won

After a year of protests by farmers in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that he would repeal the infamous agricultural laws, which had sparked the protests last November.

Most of the farmers in the demonstrations hailed from the northern Punjab and Haryana states-two of the biggest agricultural producers in the country. The farmers raised major concerns that the law-which was signed September of 2021, introduced market reforms to the farming sector, a move that the smallholder farmers argued would favor large corporate farms, devastate the earnings of many of the poorer farmers, and leave those who, “hold small plots of land behind as big corporations win out.”

The fear is that the new legislation will leave the farmers poorer, at a time where Modi had attempted to reinvent India as a “hub for global corporations.” The bill is also not clear on whether the government will continue to guarantee prices for certain essential crops, which would leave small farmers open to large agrobusiness competition; farmers had already voiced concerns as the government attempted to liberalize the farming markets and move away from a system of farmers selling only to a government-sanctioned marketplace, which would have left them at the mercy of corporations without any legal obligation to pay them the guaranteed price. Clauses in the legislation almost guaranteed that the farmers were on their own-including one that would have prevented them from taking contract disputes to court, thus having no means of redress apart from bureaucrats.

The subsequent protest had been the biggest since Modi claimed power in 2014 and erupted at a time of economy and social insecurity, with laws that were deemed discriminatory and a botched COVID-19 response. Dozens of farmers have died during the process, one from the police during a demonstration in January when protestors stormed the Red Fort in the capital’s center, and others from either suicide, bad weather from the demonstrations, or COVID-19.

While Modi has promised a repeal of the law, farmers and their unions are not backing down. Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the group of farm unions organizing the protests, said, “It welcomed the government’s announcement but that the protests would continue until the government recommits to the system of guaranteed prices. The protesters had long rejected a government offer to suspend the laws for 18 months.”

The announcement came on the day of the Guru Purab festival, where Sikhs celebrate their founder Guru Nanak’s birthday. The laws have been particularly alienating to the Sikh community and come after Modi attempted to discredit the protesters as being motivated by religious nationalism. The move to repeal the law on Guru Purab, amidst an important election cycle, while most definitely Modi’s government attempting to do damage control, is nonetheless a decisive win for poor farmers whose annual income is 20,000 rupees or $271.

 

(By Nichole Smith)

(Photo Credit: Altaf Qadri / AP)

The Elections Are Proving One Thing: Democrats Need to do Better – It’s Unlikely They Will

An Election Entertainment

Tuesday’s election should come as a warning sign for Democrats attempting to maintain power over the federal government. A full year of broken promises that have led to no positive changes in the lives of poorer Americans, and further disillusioning their left-leaning base. While Joe Manchin and other news pundits would blame those progressives for the losses, it is instead the fault of a Democratic Agenda that has been derailed by moderate and conservative Democrats funded by corporate donors that have stalled legislation that would have helped everyday people-it is a party with no sound policy base and victory that consistently cries Trump whenever a Republican attempts to seize power.

Now, it is true that Trump is a dangerous person-the riots and the calls to violence and a fascist overthrow of an entire country would obviously prove that-Democrats cannot blame Trump and Republicans for not being able to enact a progressive(ish) agenda that they campaigned on-that they went from state-to-state promising action on.

Elect Biden and receive $2000 immediately? A promise broken by semantics.

Cancel some student loan debt? No, create an extra repayment tier and use the return of the payments to bolster the idea that the economy is doing better. Even the $10,000 cancellation looks less likely from the Biden Administration.

Enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Act? Stalled twice in the Senate because of a filibuster that can be abolished, but unable to without the help of Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. So, voting rights is tabled.

An infrastructure bill that promises to deliver on paid parental leave, expanding Medicare to include dental and vision, while also working to lower drug costs? Stalled because of its price tag, with no such hesitation on spending when the military and the Pentagon need more money.

Police reform? No.

Comprehensive marijuana legalization reform? No.

A pathway to citizens for Dreamers and undocumented peoples in this country? Another broken promise.

A $15 minimum wage? Ironically voted down by the same senator whose hometown voted to raise their minimum wage.

These lists should not be allowed to continue. They represent every broken promise to people that were energized to vote for Biden and end the possibility of another four years of Trump, and violence from him and the Republican party. But complacency and campaigning on “at least we’re not Trump” will not help when you’re doing nothing to better the lives of the people that voted for you. Tuesday’s elections have proven it.

Terry McAuliffe was soundly defeated by Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, with the state’s House of Delegates moving to the full control of the Republicans. A campaign that was promoted by Biden, Obama, Harris, and every powerful democrat in the country. Lost spectacularly even though polls gave them a tie days before.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy narrowly eked out a win from Jack Ciattarelli, in a election that should not have been as close as it was-a Monmouth University poll had Murphy leading Ciatterelli by 10 points prior to election day. Even more powerful members of the state legislature lost their seats. Long-time Senate President Stephen Sweeney lost his seat to a Republican truck driver that spent a measly $153 on his campaign. A powerful state senator, which had amassed massive resources being a Norcross Democrat, lost so spectacularly to a Republican that is known for having racist messages on his Facebook page. He will now be a member of the state government, in the most diverse state in the country.

And while we should blame ignorant voters, the blame needs to also be placed at the hands of the Democrats, who for an entire year have down nothing with an agenda that is widely popular with both Republicans and Democrats; that have broken every single promise (or at least half-assed it) and spent more time campaigning on well, at least aren’t those other guys, right? Because that will not end will for Democrats in 2022, and then in 2024. And it will be the poor, and the oppressed, that must handle the fallout.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Image Credit: William Hogarth / Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Child labor never ended in America. It just waited for the right moment to strike back

The massive labor shortage has been something that’s eclipsed the national spotlight for the past six months. As COVID restrictions end, and people are leaving their homes more, shops have been desperate to employ people needed to meet demand.

Unfortunately, they aren’t doing much in the way of incentives to get people to work, or to handle the abuse customers will inevitably heap on them. During one of my classes discussing poverty in the United States, some of my students-mainly women who worked as servers-detailed uncounted levels of abuse, sexual harassment, and terrible management that they had had to contend with every shift.

During my own time as a grocery store worker, the entitlement from vacation goers, believing that I was constantly at the store 24/7 to service their needs was unbearable. And I, a 29-year-old, couldn’t handle it. So, I had to leave-I acknowledge that I was privileged to do so. Now I gleefully sing when I see Boomers complain because they must wait an extra ten minutes to check out since there aren’t enough cashiers. I know workers aren’t putting up with the “customer is always right” mentality that has rotted the minds of so many consumers in the US, and it puts a smile on my face.

Now, amidst a labor shortage that has both Democrats and Republicans-at least, those who care about the economy and not the millions of workers working for poverty wages-wringing their hands because with a labor shortage comes rich people not able to exploit more workers to make more money. It seems cutting people off from lifesaving unemployment benefits hasn’t been successful in incentivizing people to take on those exploitative jobs, huh?

The solution? Bring back child labor in the US!

Now, to be clear, child labor is still practiced inside and outside of the United States-and practiced outside of the country mostly because of the United States. The cocoa we eat in our chocolate bars is harvested from child labor. Children work within the garment industry to mass produce our cheap clothing. The farms we have our food grow on in America is cultivated by children. I can literally google child labor and x industry and more than likely, outsourced corporations will be gleefully using young children as workers to meet profit margins.

It would very well make great-and really horrible-sense to start easing up on federal child labor laws to create more workers to keep more businesses afloat. The fast-food chain McDonald’s in Oregon has been advertising their jobs to 14- & 15-year-olds to work at the restaurant, to plug up their shortage. And Wisconsin, despite the fact that their messaging is comedically villainous, has approved a standard allowing under-16 year old workers to work shifts past 9 pm, which is banned under federal guideline standards, and actively allowing later shifts on school nights so that “small businesses” can stay open to offset any lost revenue. Which means that employers can gently encourage(threaten) students to stay later, on school nights; I’m sure that that wouldn’t interfere with their classwork or grades, at all.

Child labor was never ended from the benevolence of politicians or robber barons. Workers fought for the right to keep their children home, and facing uprising, those in power folded. Now, in the face of providing living wages, better benefits, and allowing workers to organize, those same politicians and elites would rather exploit children in abusive jobs making poverty wages. And it will be the poorest youths who, desperate to help their families, will be burdened by the need to work. And they’ll be harmed by the system.

Maybe, if your business relies on exploitation to stay afloat, it shouldn’t be open. Maybe, if your profit and revenue is contingent on child labor, it should be burned to the ground along with the system that allowed you to profit for so long. Maybe children should not be burdened by a system of poverty and workers should be making a living wage, with health insurance and every benefit that their labor produces. If that’s not going to happen, the labor shortage should kill off every industry it touches. And I can’t wait for the day that happens.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Photo Credit: Business Insider / AP / Mary Altaffer)

No, It Is Totally Acceptable to Confront Politicians

The entire point of organizing and direct action is to confront people and power, disrupting their everyday lives-or their paths of least resistance-to make sure to hold those people accountable and to reclaim power of those who normally feel powerless. So, when there is consistent criticism of an immigration activist who followed Senator Sinema into the bathroom of ASU, I am fascinated to ask what organizing and disrupting state power means to those who are voicing that criticism?

Is it not an act of violence and dismissiveness when Sinema, using her position as a Senator of the United States Congress, dramatically girl-bossed her rejection of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour? A provision that would have lifted millions in this country out of poverty.

It is not violence, worthy of a faceoff in the bathroom, on an airport, in a airplane, when Sinema rejected an infrastructuredeal agreed upon in August, demanding a smaller bill from $3.5 trillion to $1 trillion, erasing the potential for universal childcare, free community college, and investing in cleaner energies that would combat a disastrous climate crisis?

Then if it is, what does it matter if Sinema is asked some questions about her vote, in the only places that constituents can get to her? She hasn’t had a town hall in three years! So what if they get her at a university-where she ran away from them into a bathroom stall. So what if they catch her at the gate of an airport? Is she doing any outreach herself?

But it’s inappropriate!

So is delaying a bill that has the potential to help people.

But you wouldn’t want to be accosted in the bathroom!

 Goodness I hope not. That would mean I’m a terrible politician that would deny her constituents the means to be uplifted out of poverty, comprehension immigration reform, and cleaner infrastructure. And I’m not Kyrsten Sinema, who is doing just that.

But you need to be polite! This distracts from your goal of getting the bill passed!

This is exactly what activists should be doing. Disrupting a person’s path of least resistance. If those students and activists did nothing, then she would have easily gone back to Arizona and spent the entire time fundraising and thinking it was ok. This is putting her shady habits into the spotlight. Why the hell are activists blocking traffic? Or occupying spaces? It’s so those in power don’t ignore them. Which politicians have a surprising habit of doing.

Sinema should be prepared for more questions in inconvenient places. So should Manchin too, while we’re at it, because it seems a little too spot on the nose that he is lecturing about fiscal responsibility atop his yacht.

You can’t respectability politics your way out of this one.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Photo Credit: NY Post / Twitter)

Instacart Workers Are Going on Strike: Fighting Against the Precarious Gig Economy

Instacart is facing a nationwide strike, happening October 16th.

Its workers will log off the grocery delivery app until the company agrees to a series of demands, the priority being higher pay. Instacart became a vital source during the pandemic, while customers and people in general limited their going out in the face of COVID-19, increasing the demand for food delivery services, grocery shopping applications, and online shopping. But with the conveniences of such types of services, comes the ultimate issue in these quick shopping trips: the workers are usually underpaid, overworked, and given virtually no benefits.

That comes with a whole slew of problems when it comes to workers in the gig economy. Yes, the job is flexible, where you can make your own hours or choose your own customers, but the pay and the work equal to what amounts to poverty wages, with some employees complaining (via New York City) that they are unable to access bathrooms and often cannot see or access the tips that customers add to orders. This has prompted legislative changes, including provisions to put the hourly wages of the gig workers (averaged at $7.90/hour) on par with the state’s minimum wage provisions. I have had conversations with Instacart workers before. They are a vital part of the grocery industry but are not given the stability of a good wage and health benefits. One worker complained that they take the job because of the high tips on the app, which can be reduced any time as the customer sees fit. There is no promise of the original tip available to them.

Most notoriously, in California, gig companies like Uber counteracted bills which entitled drivers to benefits and better pay with Prop 22, allowing gig workers to be exempt from the requirement. In August Prop 22 was found to be unconstitutional.

These issues continue to amass as more people look for easier ways to access goods and services, mostly through gig companies (like Uber Eats, Instacart, Lyft, and Shipt), and the precariousness within the economy itself increases. Workers are at very high risk of injury as well and are not able to access any healthcare benefits and workers’ compensation.

Considering the failures of the company to help the workers, or the legislation going to slow to help in anyway, workers have been on their own, to strike for better working conditions. In June, Uber and Lyft drivers participated in a day long strike to demand the right to organize, DoorDash workers protested outside the CEO’s house in California to demand better pay, tip transparency and PPE.

Notwithstanding the massive labor uprising happening in all sectors of the industry, the gig economy is ready for workers to organize and demand better wages and working conditions. On October 16th, customers can join the strike by deleting their Instacart app to demand the company take care of its workers. Because we have nothing to lose but our chains.

(By Nichole Smith)

(Photo Credit: Vice / Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

No, Actually, This is Exactly Who We Are

Tuesday, a 21-year-old white man went on a killing spree, murdering 8 people in Georgia. His targets were mostly Asian American women, working in massage parlors across Cherokee County and in Atlanta.

He was arrested, alive. He was called a kid. He had had a bad day and was mentally ill with a sexual addiction. Apparently, the Captain decided to buy a shirt a year ago telling everyone that COVID came from “Chy-na”. 

Funny how, for men who have committed violent acts can use the mentally ill excuse. If we were really using violence as an indicator of mental illness and trauma women would have burned this entire country to the ground centuries ago. 

There must be something else to this story. 

Maybe the deaths of these women were a culmination of nearly two centuries of anti-Asian racism, policies that were designed to bar them from citizenship and deported them when they finished laboring out in the west. 

Maybe it was the continuing fetishization of Asian women, because it is not lost on me that massage parlors and happy endings are still somehow a joke that is acceptable to be shared. Maybe it’s the over-sexualization of Asian bodies, while simultaneously infantilizing them, fantasizing of raping Asian women, and seeing them as nothing more than objectified pieces for white male pleasure. 

Maybe it was the coronavirus, and an entire year of the president calling COVID-19 the China Virus, The China Flu, disparaging Chinese citizens as dirty, diseased, disgusting. 

I wonder, why the English virus hasn’t caught on (because of the COVID variant, and not the bubonic plague, or syphilis, or the many diseases that the English brought to America and wiped-out indigenous populations with) the same way all those amazing slogans above caught on. 

So, when I hear politicians or White Americans tell us this isn’t who we are…I’d like to remind them that this is exactly who we are. We spent a year blaming a group of people for “creating” a virus, when viruses do not have a race, an ethnicity, a nationality. We spent the Second World War interning Japanese Americans because of anti-Japanese racism; we’ve denied citizenship to Chinese because of anti-Chinese sentiment when they built the west; and we continue to other Asian Americans into the model minority to create tensions between other groups of people in this country. 

This is exactly who we are. This is how white supremacy works. The next shooter will still be a white man, and will be called a boy, and we’ll told he was mentally ill and just “snapped”. We’re not going to do much better until we reckon with our history. 

By Nichole Smith

(Photo Credit: AlJazeera)

University Administrators Promised Their Students Would be Safe: They Lied.

I work at a university, and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for students. As COVID-19 cases are rising across the country and multiple universities, professors are having to contend with the fallout, the students are suffering, both emotionally, physically, and financially. And administration, which has promised to keep students safe, to get them testing and a way back to college life, has failed.

It didn’t have to be like this. 

Firstly, students were promised a clear path back to the university campus—that included aggressive testing, aggressive social distancing measures, and mask mandates. The reality, however, seems to massively different than the expectation. “The first six weeks of the semester has taught colleges an important lesson: ‘It’s not simply testing—it’s testing, testing, testing,’ says Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education, a national group of college presidents, ‘but it’s an expensive undertaking.’” And the expensiveness of the tests—of more than $100 per test—is showing how difficult it is for universities to do the rapid testing that is required to keep faculty and students safe. “Of colleges with in-person classes and more than 5,000 undergraduates, only 25% are conducting mass screening or random ‘surveillance’ testing of students. Only 6% are routinely testing all of their students. Most, instead are relying on only diagnostic testing of symptomatic students, which many experts say comes too late to control outbreaks and understates the true number of cases.”

All this has contributed to universities becoming hotspots and contributing to the large increase in coronavirus cases across the country—up to a 55% nationally increase among adults by August and early September, when colleges opened for the Fall semester. In-person classes have contributed to about a 3,000 increase in cases a day in the United States. 

But testing is not the only issue at hand when it comes to the university desperately trying to maintain a safe environment for workers and students. It didn’t have to be that students were made to come back to campus to do in-person classes, or hybrid classes, or even a cacophony of one class online, one class in person, one hybrid, that would make it mandatory to be on campus to begin with. 

All classes should have been online. 

Unfortunately, that would require universities to do something that no university, structured by a corporatist model, would have to do—cut tuition. And I don’t mean a paltry cut to tuition, that would mean administration acknowledging that the model currently makes it impossible to maintain the level of safety and health for their students than they originally thought. That means university presidents taking substantiated salary cuts and other higher administration cutting their salaries as well, so that the faculty are kept safe from lay-offs and austerity measures and tuition reimbursements can be issued. 

The consequences cannot be overstated: universities are closing doors for two weeks to stop the spread of COVID, leaving students in the dark about their futures on campus. Others are staying closed and refusing to offer tuition refunds to students should they have to leave. Students already had to sue for refunds after universities refused refunds in the Spring semester, after closing and leaving students in out on their own.  

Yet others, at the complete detriment to the student body, are trying to open once again. “Just days after classes resumed, Wisconsin recorded its highest number of coronavirus hospitalizations yet. This left many puzzled by the return to in-person instruction when the situation in the area was only worsening. Moreover, continued the decision to stay open conflicts with the county leadership’s request for the university to move online. The university’s choice demonstrates behavior that contradicts both public health and politics, with a heavy focus on its consumers, the students.” 

And students that do test positive for the coronavirus are experiencing an ever-worsening lack of support from the university. Isolation in a specific dorm, no contact with anyone, and half-hazard meals prepared that cost students thousands of dollars extra in their tuition. One student that tested positive and was quarantined experienced isolation and a lack of care, “Besides my test at campus health, every one of my interactions was held over the phone. Students in quarantine were given one bag meal a day, which mostly consisted of snack foods, but we also had three bottles of water and one hot meal.” 

All the testing, the contact tracing, the quarantines, and isolation make it clear that online learning was the optimal solution for students this semester. But because online learning wouldn’t have been a justifiable learning apparatus for students that costs tens of thousands of dollars each year, or the extra money that it costs for students to live and eat on campus as well. We have to acknowledge the corporate model of university life—increasing profit margins, increasing costs—has not and will not work during an epidemic. It’s time to prioritize the health of the students and faculty, move the students to online learning. 

And cut tuition rates. 

I Mourn for the 3,000 Lives Lost, and the 500,000 Iraqis that Died with Them

Everyone has a 9/11 story. 

Each person has a 9/11 story. A story of what they were doing that day. What they felt, what they saw. I have a 9/11 story, you do too. That’s been what is solidified in our grief and collectivized our trauma.

My mother was on day four of her first year of teaching. The schools surrounding the city had been called with bomb threats and they evacuated; bridges were blocked so full of traffic that she had to leave her car to walk to my father on the other side. They hugged and managed to make it home, while my sister and I were picked up early from school (I thought my sister had a doctor’s appointment—we both go home on doctor appointments). We ate dinner that night with smoke from the towers visible as far down as Central Jersey (at least, I think that’s what it was). I didn’t think she was going to make it home. My grandmother thought it was the end of the world.

Everyone has a story. And each year we mourn the loss of 3,000 people. 

Now I am older and have grown in a world that has faced the consequences of that attack. The battles and the endless war against an invisible terrorist that has only a menacing brown face. The WMDs that never seem to be where they were supposed to be. I learned of the increase of islamophobia and hatred for others that was excused because it was our grief. I, as a white child, did not have to lose my innocence to learn this lesson. 

The violence done for the sake of retribution when it was just hateful people with more of a “reason” to mobilize violence. The Patriot Act and the constant surveillance of black and brown people that was passed under the guise of freedom—of safety. Of law and order. The violent legacy passed from Bush to Obama to Trump, all for them to continue unabashed and unashamed. Airstrikes that kill mothers and fathers and radicalize young orphans. If you only see the murderous rampage of a country that has taken away so much, wouldn’t you hate that country too? 

I know of the half a million Iraqis that died (at least—because there could be more, we just don’t know about them) because elites weaponized our grief, spiraling it into a patriotism that justified a rich man’s war for oil. Of a military’s need for more resources and profit. Of a country’s need to destabilize the Middle East and expand its imperialistic thirst for blood. There is still more of that blood on our hands, we just won’t acknowledge it. Which country is the enemy today? Do you know? I don’t. 

Everyone has a 9/11 story. But we got to heal, and many will never get that chance, caught in the crosshairs of a resource war. 

We mourn the 3,000 souls lost. Now we must mourn 500,000 more. 

(Photo Credit: PRI / Reuters / Deanna Dent)