“I didn’t choose to be straight, white and male”: Blinding privilege

The Pew Research Center found in July that while 63% of women surveyed found gender still posed obstacles for women’s progress, 56% of men said such challenges were mostly history.  Then, this week, a headline in The Guardian put a human face on that divide with this: “’I didn’t choose to be straight, white and male’: Are Modern Men the Suffering Sex?”

Uh, no.  Continue reading ““I didn’t choose to be straight, white and male”: Blinding privilege”

Capital Punishment and Race: Join the Conversation

Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rachel Lyon’s “Race to Execution” comes to Cincinnati Law on September 21.

I no longer ask, “Do these people who committed these crimes deserve the death penalty?” I ask, “Does society deserve to kill people, when they’re so unwilling to engage in an honest conversation about the impact of race?”

Bryan Stevenson’s blunt question is at the heart of the provocative documentary Race to Execution. Cincinnati Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati will screen the film and host a panel discussion including filmmaker Rachel Lyon on September 21, 2016. Continue reading “Capital Punishment and Race: Join the Conversation”

Breaking the Debt Cycle: CFPB Targets Payday Lending

Get involved in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to reform payday lending.

I need[ed] some money ASAP.  So I called my Mom.

“Mom, I need some money!”

And, she’s like, “No, why don’t you just go ahead and get a pay day loan?”

“What’s that”? 

“You just borrow some money from them and then you pay them back once you get your money on payday.”

I said, “Oh, okay sure.” So I do it, I get my little pay day loan.

This excerpt from a community-based research project involving UC Law Professors Emily Houh and Kristin Kalsem, and Public Allies Cincinnati shows how easy borrowing money can be.  The dialogue is from a “zine,” a small black and white publication that graphically depicted interviews about payday lending, a financial resource relied upon primarily by low-income communities of color.

Almost 30% of Americans don’t have banks, or, if they have them, rely heavily on alternative financial systems like payday loans, rent-to-to-own, or car title loans to make ends meet. Most do so because they don’t believe they have enough money to open a bank account. In addition, these banking alternatives are easy to use and conveniently located.

But these pluses come with significant minuses.

Continue reading “Breaking the Debt Cycle: CFPB Targets Payday Lending”

Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Addressing Sexual Assault on Campuses

The new focus on sexual assault is an opportunity to make real change on campus.

557b8ee85d17a-imageGuest Contributor:  Ellen Eardley, University of Missouri
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civil Rights and Title IX; Title IX Administrator; Cincinnati Law (’03)

Now more than ever, colleges and universities face new challenges addressing campus sexual assault.

Recently, and not without controversy, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 has been used to address sexual violence – an extreme form of sex discrimination.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made clear that Title IX requires schools to have policies and procedures for responding to sexual violence. This requires careful attention to the rights and needs of students, faculty, and staff who experience and who are accused of sexual violence.

Some commentators have suggested that OCR has asked higher education to undertake a burdensome, and potentially impossible, balancing act. But rather than a burden, these guidelines present an opportunity to make meaningful shifts in addressing and preventing sexual violence.  Continue reading “Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Addressing Sexual Assault on Campuses”

Title IX, Transgender Students, and Bathroom Battles

School districts challenge the Obama Administration’s reading of Title IX.

When Gavin Grimm starts his senior year on August 30, he’ll have to use the girls’ bathroom.  Or a repurposed broom closet.

Gavin is a transgender boy.  Last year, when he and his mom told school officials about his transition, the school agreed to treat him like the boy Gavin always knew he was.  But the School Board objected, ultimately passing a regulation forbidding him from using the boys’ bathroom.  Gavin sued and successfully got an injunction from the Fourth Circuit that prevent the Board from enforcing its new policy.  But the U.S. Supreme Court, in turn, granted the Board’s request to keep the status quo in place until the Court decides whether to hear the Board’s appeal.  So, while the Board works on its petition for review, Gavin’s got to use the girls’ room.  Or that bathroom formerly known as a broom closet.

Gavin’s case is just one of several lawsuits in which transgender students’ rights are at stake. A district court recently put on hold the Obama Administration’s anti-discrimination policies for these students, which means Gavin’s predicament won’t be unique. Continue reading “Title IX, Transgender Students, and Bathroom Battles”

Spelman College: Leading at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Spelman considers admitting transgender students.

Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell welcomed students and staff alike to the new academic year with a news-breaking short letter.  Tucked among paragraphs about strategic planning and enrollment figures, was an announcement about a new task force—one that would recommend whether the storied historically black college for women should admit transgender students.

If Spelman changes its admissions policy, it would join the so-called “Seven Sisters” colleges in opening its doors to trans women.

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But even more importantly, breaking down this barrier would strike at the heart of racial and gender hierarchies limiting African Americans.

 

 

Continue reading “Spelman College: Leading at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality”

Linking Theory to Practice–Social Justice Practice, that is…

Social justice requires voting. Make sure you are registered.

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

Pope Paul VI’s words take on extra meaning as Election Day gets closer.  Consider President Obama’s recent spin on that adage:

“If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators.” 

Voting is essential to our work for social justice.  And, as President Obama suggested, all politics are local.  That means showing up at the polls in every election, not just for President, but also in off years to elect officials to serve on city councils, school boards, state legislatures, and more because there’s a political connection to virtually every social justice issue. Continue reading “Linking Theory to Practice–Social Justice Practice, that is…”