Hot Topics

Politicians and Blackface

Recently, Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel resigned after photos of him dressed in blackface as a Hurricane Katrina victim surfaced. Ertel was appointed as Florida Secretary of State by first-term governor Ron DeSantis. Governor DeSantis, a Republican, defeated Andrew Gillum – the first African American democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida – last November in the election. Ironically, (perhaps not), DeSantis is the same man who told Floridians just days before the election: “the last thing we need to do is monkey this up…” This was a clear reference to Mr. Gillum’s race, and a message to Floridians not to elect the state’s first Black governor. Apparently, Governor DeSantis’s Secretary of State shared some of the same racial sentiments as the man who appointed him. 

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Image from Orlando Weekly

Blackface was one of the most notable features of minstrelsy. What, ironically, started off as African American slaves mimicking slave masters and owners turned into white people putting burnt cork or shoe polish on their faces and acting as Black caricatures.

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Books, Books, and Books: A Social Justice Reading List

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

Throughout my time working with the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, I’ve been exposed to amazing concepts that reflect on issues affecting our society.

I personally love researching for fun, but not everyone shares that love … or the same views I do. If you want to engage your mind, then I recommend the following books:

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Dean Verna Williams and Michelle Obama (image from Cincinnati.com)

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, the former First Lady takes us on a journey to the White House. Mrs. Obama debunks many false rumors by sharing her life story. She elegantly describes every hurdle, obstacle, failure, mistake, and success she has encountered thus far. And, while describing her White House years, Mrs. Obama gives special thanks to our very own Interim Dean, Verna L. Williams. Check it out!

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The Hamilton County Domestic Violence Summit: Collaborating for Safer Communities

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Guest Contributor: Professor Kristin Kalsem

Intimate partner abuse is a priority issue for the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice.  Its Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic has served more than 1400 survivors and its research and work with community partners has resulted in more than 375 judges and magistrates being trained on best practices in these cases.

Intimate partner abuse is a fact of life in too many homes.  The statistics are staggering.  Domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive more than 20,000 calls on a typical day.  Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime and one in three female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. The cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is between $5.8 and $12.6 billion each year.  (Stats provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).  In Ohio, between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, there were ninety-one domestic-violence related fatalities.   In 22 percent of those cases, children were involved at the scene and in more than 46 percent of the cases, the victim had ended or was in the process of ending the relationship.  (Ohio stats provided by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.)

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T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E: Tupac’s Message Manifested Through a Fictitious Reality of America in 2018

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Khalil and Starr in The Hate U Give. Image from 20th Century Fox

The Hate U G[a]ve Little Infants F**ks Everybody, meaning What you feed us as seeds grows and blows up in your face”

– Tupac Shakurpac.jpg

The Hate U Give is a powerful, must-see-drama/thriller. While the film is heart-wrenching, its message leaves its viewers with much optimism. The film was inspired by a phrase coined by the late, iconic rapper Tupac Shakur: “T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.” Throughout his 25-year life, Tupac revolutionized the music industry with hits like “Dear Mama,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Changes,” and dozens more that would inspire generations to come. ‘Pac also used his platform to shed light on how racism was the catalyst for social and political issues facing the Black community, such as poverty and police brutality. These are constant themes present in The Hate U Give.

In The Hate U Give, director George Tillman, Jr. highlights one of American society’s most sensitive topics: racism. Particularly, it examines racism manifested through police brutality, microaggressions, implicit bias, and cultural appropriation. The plot emanates from the shooting death of an unarmed Black teen, Khalil, at the hands of a white policer officer. Starr Carter, the main character in the movie and Khalil’s lifelong best friend, witnesses the shooting.

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Issue One: Light At The End of the Tunnel or a Risky Gamble?

Everyone agrees that we need to fight drug addiction in Ohio. The Cincinnati area has had some of the highest opioid overdoses and deaths in the country. There aren’t many local families that haven’t been touched by the opioid crisis in some manner, my own family included.On the ballot in 2018 in Ohio, there is a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would reduce the crime of possession of personal amounts of illegal substances to misdemeanors not resulting in jail terms. Additionally, the amendment would make it harder to incarcerate drug users on probation or parole for failing drug tests. This proposed amendment on the ballot is known as Issue One, and it has strong proponents and opponents.

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Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation: The Dangerous New Narrative.

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994We’re all told at some point the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. A young boy would repeatedly and continuously cry wolf when no wolf was present. His village would panic and run to his rescue but found the boy with no wolf. The villagers always ran to his rescue when no wolf was present. Eventually, the villagers collectively decided that when the boy cried wolf, they would not come to the boy’s rescue. One day, the boy saw a wolf. Scared and alone, he cried wolf – no one showed up. The boy died, eaten by a wolf.

The moral of the story: don’t lie or you’ll die. Women were treated like the boy who cried wolf. When women scream “sexual assault,” they were met with disbelief.  However, after the confirmation hearing for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that narrative changed significantly. Women are no longer met with disbelief, but rather ignorance of their experience. John Oliver said it best on his show Last Week Tonight: “it is not that women aren’t believed, [society] simply does not care.” The narrative now changed to not caring about a woman’s harassment/abuse/assault. Ultimately, this dangerous new narrative will cause more harm to women. By not caring, society will accept that women face sexual harassment, or have been assaulted, but won’t take action against it. By taking this stance, we are basically saying to women, “hey, you got harassed/assaulted/abused? Well, you’re going have to deal with that because you’re a woman. No one is going to help you. Your abuser won’t get punished or reprimanded for it.”

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The Real Problem With Snitches: How Snitch Testimony Leads to Wrongful Convictions

The Karl and Wayne Story

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Karl Willis

Honest, kind, and passionate. These are only a few words I can use to describe Karl Willis and Wayne Braddy. Karl is a spiritual man who started a mentoring program called “Leave the Streets Behind.” The goal of this program is to help misguided young adults become healthy and productive citizens. Wayne, on the other hand, is a creative man who performs live music whenever he gets the chance. Both of these men jump at any opportunities to expand their education and help others. Karl and Wayne are warm, humble men who care about their families and communities. They share their joy with their loved ones; they want to help others; but, more importantly, they care about making a difference in their community. Where are they today?

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Wayne Braddy

Karl is currently housed at Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, and Wayne is housed at North Central Correctional Complex in Marion, Ohio. Both are serving 23 years to life sentence for a murder they did not commit.

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