Blog for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at University of Cincinnati
Nikita Srivastava graduated from University of Cincinnati College of Law in May 2019. Nikita's goals include fighting for indigent people by becoming a public defender and working hard to promote positive change. Through her research and writing, Nikita hopes to provide insightful thoughts on issues pertaining to race, gender, and social justice.
Over the past weeks, plenty of people have spoken and written in condemnation of the racist, homophobic chants from Elder’s cheering section at a recent basketball game against rival St. Xavier. They have a right to do so. I have no intention of piling on any more judgment, finger-pointing, or shaming. I am offering what I believe is a unique perspective, and an important request.
I am a graduate of Elder High School and a student at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. One of the St. Xavier students who was the target of the vicious chants was the son of Mina Jefferson, Associate Dean and Director of the Center for Professional Development at the law school, and all-around amazing person. In a bizarre way, I felt like one side of my family was hurling slurs at the other side. I read the account of the events with a sense of sadness and shame, but absolutely no surprise.
The most touching viral videos I’ve seen recently are the ones of children who are colorblind who see color for the first time. These children often only see the world in muted colors or no color at all. But they are given a gift of special lenses that allow them to see all the vibrant shades of their surroundings. These videos are beautiful in and of themselves, but recently they’ve taken on a new meaning for me.
Growing up, I was colorblind in how I saw the world. Though I knew other races, religions, and cultures existed, I had limited exposure to them. My family never really spoke about race because there was never a reason to do so. I grew up in a primarily white neighborhood, went to primarily white schools, watched television shows and movies that mostly starred white characters. Throughout my childhood I only knew a small handful of students who were of a different race and religion than me limiting my view of the world.
For many non-Hindus, Diwali is known as the festival of lights. Diwali celebrations focus on bringing the family together and enjoying festive activities such as: making rangoli, lighting diyas, and dancing to latest Hindi Film songs. However, the religious meaning of Diwali is incorporated in all these activities.
After several years, this was my first Diwali without my entire family. Usually, we make rangoli in front of each entry way into our home so the goddess Lakshmi will bless our home. Then we light diyas everywhere symbolizing light and guidance in the darkest of times. After our prayer ceremonies, we feast on the delicious food my mother spends all day making while I dance (horribly) to the trendiest Hindi songs. If the weather is nice, we end the night with fireworks and sparklers. Continue reading “Diwali Recap”
At a time when many are asking why race remains such a potent force in our society, it’s important to explore the impact of persistent residential segregation. Mark Treskon of the Urban Institute reports that inclusive communities are more economically prosperous. Published in 2017, this article focuses on segregation in Chicago from 1990-2010 and trends seen in Chicago appear in other major cities as well. City actors could break down barriers to local inclusion, the entire region could benefit from the higher incomes and education levels. The Urban Institute investigates how policy can break down these barriers. Click here to learn more.
The University of Cincinnati was one of the first law schools to develop a joint degree in Women’s Studies and Law. In addition, the number of women applicants and law students has steadily increased over the years; women now comprise about half of every entering class. Despite these rising numbers, women in the law continue to face issues that merit special attention – issues such as pay equity, networking, promotions, etc. Fortunately, the College of Law has several centers and student groups that address issues faced by women in the law. These include the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Out and Allies, and If/When/How. However, over the past several years, a student group devoted solely to women in the law was non-existent.
UC Law Women, a student group formed in the 1980s, was founded to raise awareness of the unique issues faced by women in the legal community but, for a variety of reasons, faded away in the mid-2000s. Then, in the fall of 2016, Maria Catrina Castro, a current 2L, saw Law Women listed on UC’s organization page; she asked how to join and discovered the organization did not exist anymore. Disappointed, Maria made a mental note to reboot the organization. She knew it would not be possible in her first semester to create a student organization, so Maria waited until Spring 2017 to start the process. She approached students who took active roles in social and gender issues – and sought out a variety of perspectives to ensure that the club would be an inclusive group.
OJ Simpson’s parole hearing provides another opportunity to consider race in the criminal justice system.
Nikita Srivastava (’19)
Former football player and Hollywood star, OJ Simpson will have a parole hearing on Thursday, July 20th, 2017. In December 2008, Simpson was convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 6 years. This, of course, was not Simpson’s first encounter with the law. In 1994, a jury acquitted Simpson of the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman. His high profile case sparked a division on race relations in this nation.
Simpson’s parole hearing will occur when race remains a highly contested and hotly debated topic in this nation. As a result, it’s fitting to examine Joe’s Feagin concept of the white racial frame (WRF) helps us understand why Simpson and his legal issues embody issues of race. And, to watch the Oscar-winning documentary, OJ: Made in America, which brings these complicated issues to life. Continue reading “OJ Simpson Revisited”