Category Archives: Social Change

My Black Is

My Black Is is a sound project created by Ayana Powell, a recent graduate of Pomona College who majored in sociology. For her senior thesis, Ayana interviewed black students at the Claremont Colleges about their identities and lives. Her goal was to challenge media representations of black people and blackness, by allowing black people to define themselves and their race. Doing so also challenges the idea that there is one black identity or experience.

 

ayanna powell headshotAyana Powell is a recent college graduate on the quest to find a job. She is especially fond of all things colorful and YouTube web series. Find her on Linkedin.

To the Little Girl Who Wished for Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes

A Guest Post by Kimberley Africa

This is for all those who once wished, or still wish, to be someone they are not.

Huwag ka magpapa-araw. Iitim ka. “Don’t go into the sun; you’ll get dark.” For years, I heard this phrase again and again, urging me to protect my skin. It was white, like the inside of a coconut, they told me.

By the time I was five, I knew exactly why. I held my daddy’s hand as we waited in line for a ride at an amusement park. Two men standing next us turned to the couple on our other side and commented that their little girl was beautiful. It was then that I realized that I, too, had to have light skin—in addition to blonde hair and blue eyes—so that strangers wouldn’t skip us in the line, and would tell my dad that I also was beautiful. I didn’t know how I was going to get the blonde hair and blue eyes, but I knew that I was definitely not going to go into the sun. I could at least have one of the three attributes.

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Critiquing Culture from the Sidelines, a Conversation on Football, Cultural Critique, Ethics, and Collective Action

Hot on the heels of the Super Bowl, the Nomad, along with Drs. Jenny Dyck Brian and Mary Ingram-Waters, discusses the ethics of watching football and playing fantasy football, given the rates of long-term brain injuries sustained by players, among other conundrums. Originally published by Culture in Conversation.

Culture in Conversation

Organizer: Dr. Jenny Dyck Brian
Curator: Dr. Mary Ingram-Waters
Conversationalists: Dr. Mary Ingram-Waters, Dr. Jenny Dyck Brian, and Dr. Nicki Lisa Cole
Download a PDF Version of this Conversation: Culture in Conversation February 2014

Mary Ingram-Waters: Curator’s Introduction
In their statement of purpose, Culture in Conservation (CIC) editors, Brian M. Creech, Evan L. Kropp, and Mark C. Lashley, write that, “It is our hope to make public one of the more fundamental truths of our own education: in the life of a scholar, there are few experiences more exciting than the moment when ideas begin rubbing against one another and turn into something else entirely.” For Dr. Jenny Dyck Brian, Dr. Nicki Lisa Cole, and I, these moments of collaboration — some as quick and informal as hallway chats — are invaluable not only for the trajectories of our research but also for our development as scholars. Personally, I…

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Understanding Radical Peer-to-Peer Consumption: An Interview with Emilie Dubois

 “I have one chance at a career, and I want one with an impact for people that I really care about.”

Emilie-Duboiscopy-239x300Emilie Dubois is destined to be a change-maker. Driven by her working class roots and experience growing up in the post-industrial community of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, she is revolutionizing how sociologists approach and understand the phenomenon of “connected consumption.”

Emilie, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Boston College who works closely with Juliet Schor, was driven to our field by class inequities. She took her first sociology class at Columbia University while working in admissions at Columbia Business School. Appalled by the directive to give preference to wealthy candidates, Emilie sought conceptual tools to help her understand the situation she found herself in. She enrolled in “Power and Politics in Organizations,” experienced in her words a “massive consciousness shift,” quit her job, and applied to graduate programs in sociology.

Now, Emilie is in the midst of her dissertation research and works on Schor’s research team for the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network. The team is studying the phenomenon of “connected consumption,” which Emilie explains is a new system of exchange premised on “economic connections that are not mediated by an organization in a demonstrative way.”

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Fair Trade & Ethical Consumption in Global Context: A Short Film

A guest post by Manya Janowitz

fair-trade-shopperI was raised in a liberal, progressive community, and my parents and friends were aware of the issues surrounding globalization. My family shopped primarily Fair Trade when possible, bought produce from the CSA farm right next door, and my mom even took part in the Seattle WTO protests when I was young. Yet, while I was very familiar with the Fair Trade logo, I didn’t actually understand what fair trade was: I didn’t look past the label.

My lack of real understanding of an alter-globalization movement prompted me to study Fair Trade and more personally, my role as a consumer of ethical products. I wanted to understand what fair trade really means, and I was curious if other people too had only a surface understanding of the movement. In my research, conducted for the class Sociology of Globalization taught by Dr. Nicki Lisa Cole at Pomona College last spring, I found that this was largely the case. Most people knew that Fair Trade was “fair”, “ethical”, perhaps that it “guaranteed farmers a living wage.” But, few people had any deeper knowledge of the fair trade movement or the many Fair Trade organizations that compose it.

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A Panel Discussion of Consumer Ethics & Labels Featuring the Nomad

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 2.14.03 PMOn November 29, 2012, the Nomad, in her role as Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, participated in a panel discussion titled “Ethics and Labels: Considering Consumer Activism” hosted by the Pomona Student Union at Pomona College. Other panelists included Mayra Orellana-Powell, owner of Catracha Coffee; Matt Warning, Professor of Economics at University of Puget Sound; and Mike Perry, owner and roastmaster of Klatch Coffee. The panel was moderated by Charlotte Dohrn, a student at Pomona College.

Laws to Protect Domestic Workers Move Forward

Editor’s note: Since publication Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In celebration of this victory for the labor movement and immigrant rights movement, we proudly revisit this piece by Gabriela Hybel, originally posted in July 2012. If you want to know the history behind the bill, give this thoughtful post a read.

A guest post by Gabriela Hybel

On November 29th, 2010 New York passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, making it the first state to enact laws specifically protecting those who provide cleaning and caring labor in the homes of others. A recent report by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment explains that this bill guarantees workers a maximum eight-hour work day, one day off per week, three paid days off per year, overtime pay, and temporary disability benefits provided by the employer. It also protects workers from discrimination, sexual harassment, and harassment based on gender, race, national origin, and religion.

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I Am Thankful

For the second year in a row, I find myself outside of the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday. Feeling that you should be celebrating something that doesn’t register to anyone around you is a strange experience. Here in Paris, today is just another Thursday. There is no scent of roasting turkey, nor aroma of cinnamonny pumpkin pie wafting through the halls of the building where I have rented a studio, and there is no run on cranberries at the grocer. I did not cook an elaborate meal. Apart from picking up my favorite food–potato chips–an extra large beer, and a dessert I have been eyeing for weeks at my corner patisserie, I hadn’t planned on marking the day in any special way. But, as I smoked a cigarette while gazing down at the busy Rue Bobillot last night, I realized I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I wanted to take the time, absent a feast and holiday cocktails, to express that. Here goes.

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The Tales We Tell: Development

In November 2011 I went to Hôtel de Ville in Paris to see an exhibit titled “A New Perspective on the South.” It was organized by Agence Française de Developpement (AFD), a non-profit French development agency, to showcase the results of projects with partner organizations throughout the global south. I had seen it promoted in newspapers, on the Métro, and in public spaces around town, and was curious about it because the tales we tell ourselves about the world are deeply important, sociologically speaking. Whether we encounter them in textbooks, museums, televisions shows and films, in church sermons, in conversation with our families, in theater and literature, or increasingly, in the digital world via sites like Facebook and Twitter, narratives give us a script that we use to make sense of the world. They provide logics for fitting people into roles; they teach us about heroes and villains, victims and saviors, and right and wrong. They help us understand who we are as people, and how we fit into the greater scheme of things. In short, narratives play a big and important role in our lives. So, armed with an umbrella on a rainy afternoon, I arrived at the open-air exhibit to see what the French narrative of development looks like.

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Let’s Talk About Socialism, Baby

French leftists and socialists protest during the recent G20 meeting in Nice. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Though it is a taboo topic in the United States, socialism is everywhere in Paris. At least, aspirations toward it abound. The city as I see it is awash in advertisements for socialist party candidates and those of “Front de Gauche,” a coalition of leftist and workers parties in France. Not limited to contemporary politics, the city wears its socialist history on its sleeve. Historical markers that explain the relevance of places to the revolution of 1789-99, and to the events of the Paris Commune of 1871 remind Parisians and visitors that the history of France is one of cyclical struggle for radical social, economic, and political change. Far from the derogatory intonation “socialist” has in the U.S., its ideals are infused into everyday life, and are mainstream influences in the political terrain of France. Though the word is hurled about rather liberally in the U.S., many do not know what it actually means. This post addresses one simple question: What is socialism?

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