Education as Resistance by Dawn Morais Webster

Dawn Morais Webster, the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”Ivy Helman’s recent commentary (((Israel))) criticizes what she sees as “a new form of anti-Semitism” from organizations such as Jewish Voices for Peace in their advocacy of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. So I begin this account of a recent visit by two Palestinian students to Hawaii with a reminder that the BDS movement is simply using the tools of nonviolent resistance to pressure Israel into giving Arab-Palestinians what Israel insists on for itself: equality, freedom, peace, justice and access to their homes and properties as stipulated by UN Resolution 194. Israel’s continuing  land grabs speak to Israel’s sense of impunity. The two Birzeit University students provided a first hand account of what life under Israeli control means to them and their families. It was the kind of  opportunity “to share and learn” that Helman says is necessary. And it only reinforced the importance of the BDS effort.

Mai Hasan and Noor Daghlas, students participating in Birzeit University’s Right to Education (R2E) Tour of American universities have stories to tell that are chilling. Stories that make you wonder why you are still in your seat, instead of running out screaming for someone to do something. To stop the madness that is the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Yet both students speak of their experiences with the matter-of-fact intensity of activists who have come to terms with the fact that their journey is long, and that they have survived, while many have not.

“I am here, not to speak about myself, but to speak for those who are no longer with us,” said Mai Hasan when asked whether she herself might face “administrative detention” after the tour. Since the year 2000, the Israeli government has imprisoned over 7,000 Palestinian youth, many for asserting their right to education. Mai, who graduated shortly after her return home, said without hesitation: “If I am arrested because of the truths I tell about the occupation, I will accept it proudly.”

Both students bear witness to the truth that Freedom is a Constant Struggle, the title of Angela Davis’ latest book. They were at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa recently, with the renowned scholar at the same table, speaking to a packed room. The panel discussion took place just a few hours before Davis delivered her keynote address as the spring 2016 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals to an overflow crowd at the Kennedy Theater. The two young Palestinian undergraduates talking about their life under siege in their own homeland, in conversation with the lifelong activist in front of an audience in Hawaiʻi, one of the places made American by occupation, was a statement of what Davis calls the “intersectionality of struggles.” As Cynthia Franklin, professor in the English department at UH Mānoa and organizer of the visit, said in introducing the panel, the event could be viewed through the lens of Davis’ own words that “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” Continue reading “Education as Resistance by Dawn Morais Webster”

The Reclamation of Culture in Reality TV By Elise Edwards

In my academic life, I spend a lot of time thinking about issues of race, gender, religion and cultural production.  In my free time, I watch a lot of tv.  At times, the two interests converge, and I’m fortunate to have this community and forum to share the thoughts that come from it.  A couple months ago, I started revising a paper I’d written a few years ago about the issue of cultural imperialism and in that process, I recognized that there had been a subtle shift in television programming that features black women.  In the wide and ever-expanding reality tv genre, there are many shows that cast a black woman as a villain (the black bitch) or sexual object.  But there are other shows that present alternative, positive images of black women as caring, capable, professional, and talented.[i]   I’ve also noticed that several shows seemed to be overtly designed to combat the lack of positive images by celebrating the passions, skills, and abilities of women of color.  I am encouraged to see black people claiming an active role in their own cultural production. The act of creating is self-affirming, and when used by marginalized peoples, it can be a source of empowerment to counter their mistreatment.   In Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, bell hooks states, “It occurred to me then that if one could make a people lose touch with their capacity to create, lose sight of their will and their power to make art, then the work of subjugation, of colonization, is complete.  Such work can only be undone by acts of concrete reclamation.” [ii] Continue reading “The Reclamation of Culture in Reality TV By Elise Edwards”

%d bloggers like this: