November 2012 Archives

Minimum Wage Crisis

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I came across this researching for my paper and I found it so interesting so I thought I would share. You cant see Hawaii so i'll quote the article for you: "map_minimumwage1.gifFor example, in Hawaii, the most expensive state, a person needs to make $31.68 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. (An apartment is considered affordable if rent and utilities cost under 30 percent of a person's income.) For someone making minimum wage, that would mean working 175 hours -- which isn't even possible (since there are only 168 hours in a week)." And just so you all know, the most affordable isn't even under 50 hours, its 55 and its not a state, its Puerto Rico.

Blog #6: Terrorism and Border Rape

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While researching for the group project, I stumbled upon a horrifying and increasingly frequent practice of illegal immigrant smugglers. In order to display the power of immigrant cartels, the 'illegal' women involved are forced to hang an undergarment on the deemed 'rape tree' after being assaulted. Smugglers are evidently terrorizing incoming immigrants and implying the requirement of rape to complete the smuggling payment. These 'rape trees' are becoming increasingly prominent; it seems as if the act of rape is not enough to satisfy the desire for power. The trees serve not only as a display of terror, but a practical marker for smuggling routes. Furthermore, the immigrant cartels must publicly display power through terrorization.

The image below displays the quote said by Representative Ted Poe (June 2006), " "Ripped from the bodies of unwilling women, undergarments cling to branches of a tree just a few feet from the lawless U.S.-Mexico border, dozens of pairs of underwear thrown there by rapists". The picture shows a horrifying amount of undergarments, symbolizing the raped women; border rapists also commonly gather bras, underwear, etc. in a central/specific location after committing the rape. Another scary thought- one garment is not equal to one rape. Many of these women are gang-raped and/or raped multiple times by one perpetrator. The injustices multiply very quickly and are still increasing.
Screen Shot 2012-11-28 at 5.09.36 PM.png

In case anyone is interested and is looking to know more, I've posted a video below. The video interviews those effected by the coyotes committing rape on illegally immigrating women, as well as a possible outsider and witness and border policeman.

http://www.examiner.com/video/rape-trees-becoming-a-frequent-sight-along-the-border

Group 6

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Jana P. Gem M. Helen P. Lindsay G. Ben B.

For our group project, we will be focusing on 3 Major U.S. Cities known for human trafficking (Las Vegas, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis). Within these cities, we will examine one case study, the statistics of human trafficking, as well as the demographic regions of the sex trafficking. We will also look at what makes these cities prone to human trafficking. We will end with an examination of how the United States has failed to achieve justice.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Our group's topic is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is important because it is a conflict that has been going on for many years and currently reaching one of its high points causing it to receive a lot of media attention. We plan to address how this conflict relates to state-sponsored violence from class discussions and GWSS. The format of our presentation will be a PowerPoint posted to the blog.

Group Members: Ashley S, Luna, Tim, Sarah N., Cassie S.

Group 2: Mail order Brides and Grooms

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We are going to focus on mail order brides and grooms coming into the United States. We decided to focus only on the people coming into the United States because it will be easier to narrow down the information. We will start with introducing what the definitions of mail order brides are from various sources. Moving onto the history of mail order brides this will clarify how and when they came to be popular. A paragraph will address laws and policies that surround mail order brides such as when it becomes trafficking. Following will be a feminist analysis on mail order brides and what organizations address this issue. Finishing up will refute that mail order marriages are not limited to females and men can be part of this practice as, male order grooms. mob.jpg

project group 4: critique of disability in institution

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Group members: Jenny C., Crystal R., Khin O., Rachel H.

For our project we are going to critique disabilities in institution. we will mainly focus on the four point of media, school, family, and work. we will discus the discrimination with in each group and the ableism of disabled people.

Group 5 - Human Trafficking in the Twin Cites

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Group Members: Jami G, Greta R, Kayla F, Megan A, Erin W

For our project, we will be mentioning specific current events of human trafficking in the Twin Cities area. After describing the background information of the event, we will talk about--based on the various authors' definitions--whether the people involved were/are victims or not . We will also mention the different roles that were played by the individuals. We're hoping to explore one case of sex trafficking and one case of domestic trafficking to see the different sides of the issue of trafficking.

Passerby

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http://www.kare11.com/rss/article/959535/14/Minnesota-A-human-trafficking-battleground

I live next to 35W. Often times, when my mind has nothing better to do, the movement of the vehicles becomes enticing. And then it starts; the day dream. Imagining the people in the vehicles and where they are going. One hundred people could go by in a few minutes, and it's impossible to grasp the amount of human interaction I'm missing out on. Who is going by? My family members, future friends, future boss, current acquaintance, the president, the love of my life? The dream can really extend into the fantastic, and it often does. However, not until recently had it drifted into the horrifying. 35W can no longer exist in the blissful haze of fantasy and ignorance.

Our readings on this unit did a wonderful job painting a new shade on the world for me. It is difficult to deal with, this new perspective. The link posted above is a link to a video posted by the local news unit, Kare 11. Although a new shade has revealed itself to my world view, this shade could not darken my beautiful city- my own backyard!

I live not in a shade, but a shadow. The FBI has listed Minneapolis as #13 on their list of cities with the highest concern of human trafficking. Local TV news stations are not really the bulwark of cutting edge journalism and Kare 11 is no exception. However, the nature of this story and overall feeling flowing from the images and the tone of the reporter begged a certain response from the viewer. We are all familiar with the stories that usually run on television; the local fair, a touching story of a caring citizen, a water skiing squirrel, and a shooting or a fire in the bad part of town. What does it mean that a local television station would run a story that challenges the bright and happy conception of the city? I try to disregard the aspirations of the reporter, and try to understand what this story has done to the flow of stories coming from Kare 11.

The answer is not much. It is important to understand the assumed or target audience member that Kare 11 is trying to reach. They are not doing this story for those who live in this reality. They are not trying to change or shift conceptions that already exist about this issue. Instead they paint a picture that is only populated by minorities, perpetuates stigmas about the Minneapolis Somali community, confine the issue to the low income neighborhoods of north Minneapolis, gender the issue to be that of only female distress, perpetuate further a hetero-normative standard for prostitution, and offer no information on how the viewer can engage this problem. To me, the last one is the most important and telling of Kare 11's intentions. The reporter interviews victims who refuse to be on camera, who only talk of the horror, and a heroin who is fighting a losing battle with no examples that challenge this narrative. No success, no way out, and no examples of a struggle- only loss, fear, and darkness.

Those are a few problems, but to only engage this story on the absolute negative level would be to make the mistake that the story itself does. This story does stand out, it begs attention (other than ratings), and demands people step outside of their fantasy world and see it for the shadows it contains. Out of frustration with this story, I found a wonderful site and organization that is based right here in the heart of the problem.

http://www.polarisproject.org/state-map/minnesota
HOTLINE: 1-888-3737-888

35W may not be as pretty as the lights may attempt to make it late at night, but at least it is more honest. It could be considered one of the few things that can serve with it's integrity intact. All the beauty- architectural, technological, functional- of the 35W is in direct response to a tragedy. To reference the collapse of the bridge is not to talk about the construction of a new bridge, but to talk about the same bridge- the same route- and the same peoples traveling across. Humanity can progress and progress to the point of human ability, but it is my hope that we never trick ourselves into thinking we are above the things that happen in the shadows.

Election Fumes and The Status Quo

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For some reason this wasn't posting earlier, so I gave it a couple hours. Hopefully it works now!

In light of the recent election, a number of my friends weren't extremely happy. This included my brother, who is fairly open about his right-wing beliefs and staunch republican party views. I got into an argument with him over facebook that got rather nasty, with both of us taking personal shots at each other and ignoring the real issues.

After awhile, I think he got tired of it because he posted a comment stating, "Geordin, just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I don't love you. :-) You aren't going to sway me, and I not you." Well... okay. Sure. I told him I loved him back and apologized for the nastier personal comments, but asserted that I stood by what I said.

The problem I have here is that if I had kept arguing, it would have made him "the bigger person," because he valued peace over asserting his beliefs.
The problem is that it's easy for people in a position of privilege (such as my brother -- a white, straight, upper-middle class cismale whose friends are to a large extent likewise) to say that we should be able to be friends or even partners with someone who holds an opposite political viewpoint from us.

It's easy because then there is no pressure or need on them to change and they are comfortable. For oppressed minorities, the only way to obtain that comfort /is/ to rock the boat a little, stand up for our/their rights, and make others acknowledge their privileges. While I understand that there is a basic level of politeness and courtesy that society agrees should be afforded most people, I have to question even that because it is also intrinsic within the status quo. What motivation do I have beyond "not rocking the boat" to make nice with people who are actively attempting to suppress my and others' rights? By being nice and letting those with the most privilege indulge their "everyone is entitled to my opinion" beliefs, we are simply enabling injustice.

The other answer to that, I suppose, is effectiveness. Taking a look at the most successful social movements (MLK Jr., Gandhi, etc.) a key theme has been nonviolence -- whether that be in word or physical action. In order to get people to agree with you, you must employ some level of empathy or sympathy which won't work if they're just as angry as you are.

Still, I remain in question of the idea that being polite and friendly to everyone is inherently good. True, it may help one obtain their goals, but self-service is not the same as morally correct. In order to really achieve justice, I think the majority is going to have to learn to be a little bit uncomfortable -- whether through willingly acknowledging their privilege, or learning to deal with hostility from oppressed minorities.

Human Trafficking in Minnesota

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This was a topic that I had to tackle while I was in high school at a Model UN conference, even then I did not fully understand the importance and impact of human trafficking. Somehow I feel that this was a very large and serious topic to handle as an underclass high schooler. Partially because we did not take Model UN very seriously, and partially because anything involving sex in high school is taboo for teachers and too mature for young students.
I wish I had paid more attention, or fully understood the topic. Honestly, I barely remember anything from the conference, or even which country I had to represent. I do remember that one person in my class got the United States of America. I remembered learning that The Mall of America was a hot spot for human trafficking. This fact was probably one that drew me into this topic this semester.
I especially enjoyed watching Invisible. And by "enjoyed" I mean I was shocked and drawn in by how much that documentary hit home. I have to admit that sometimes i did think of human trafficking as being a problem that was "not in our backyards." The fact that this was staged in Minneapolis made that a realization that you couldn't surpass. Sometimes it is easier to be ignorant to a situation, then to actually think about what it means.
The film made me so sad. I had goosebumps the ENTIRE time. It reminds me of when Professor Isoke said at the beginning of the class that you can have no idea who you are sitting next to, and what they might have to do to survive.
While thinking about the over the past week, I have realized that people are quick to judge other people. Every person has their own background story; their own reasons for why they do what they do. Every person can have an "excuse" for their actions. While in thought, (mostly related to my own personal life, and conflicts with others) I started thinking that maybe peoples excuses don't matter and that we should all just have to suck it up because each person is going through their own struggles, but then i realized that that was totally wrong. I decided that instead of dealing with things on our own and excluding excuses and reasons, that we must come together as a society and show more empathy because of the simple fact that everyone DOES struggle.
This topic puts some things in perspective for me, and I realize that I am truly blessed to have never had to deal with trafficking/prostitution, because it is more of a reality for people than I ever realized.

Discussion on HIV/AIDS

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When reading Esther Njiro's article, "Intersections of Gender, Race, and HIV/AIDS in Africa," I found one particular thing interesting. I found it interesting that something like HIV/AIDS that some people discuss so lightly, has such deep roots. I've never been one to joke about anything as serious as HIV/AIDS, but I've heard many people do so. Not only have I heard many people joke about this issue, but many people misunderstand it as well. Many people think that unprotected sex or sexual activity between homosexuals are the reasons for the existence of HIV/AIDS. Because it is such an abstract issue to some people, they make it a casual laughing matter. However, Njiro points out the reality and seriousness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic by explaining how HIV/AIDS is rooted in the institutions of development that are in place in most African countries. I found Njiro's detailed explanation - of how colonial racism forced many Africans into the environments and situations that have caused HIV/AIDS to be a pandemic - shocking. It's so unfair that many of the people suffering from this disease were forced into their situations. I found this statistic the most shocking of all, "A region that has only 10 percent of the planet's population has 72 percent of the people infected with HIV and an estimated 4,500 new infections occurring daily." How can you make a joke about HIV or AIDS after reading that?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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It's amazing how subtly erasure of indigenous history permeates our culture.  I stumbled upon an article from The Times entitled "Top 10 things you didn't know about Thanksgiving".

I saw titles like "There's Debate Over Which President First Pardoned a Turkey", "There Are Three Towns Named Turkey", and "The Detroit Lions Always Play on Thanksgiving".

One section even blamed the Wampanoag People for breaking the "devout settlers" abstinence from food.

Thanksgiving was initially meant to be a fast, not a feast. The devout settlers at Plymouth Rock mostly recognized "giving of thanks" in the form of prayer and abstaining from food. But the Wampanoag Indians, who joined the pilgrims for their 3-day celebration, contributed their own harvest traditions -- dancing, games and feasting -- from their ancient festival, Nickommoh, meaning "to give away" or "exchange."

This article points a finger at Wampanoag People for giving starving settlers food, and suggests that it somehow disrupts the settlers purity. Then the article fails to mention that after many Indigenous Nations extended the hand of friendship in similar ways, the white invaders began the mass genocide and systematic cultural destruction of indigenous peoples.

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sex trafficking in the city

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Last week we discussed and read articles on human trafficking in the United states. Many of us were shocked to find out not only how prevailant sex trafficking is in the US, but that Minneapolis has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking within the US. After iur very detailed conversation last week about how many young women girls and boys are tricked, coerced, forced, and even sold into sex work by their own parents has completely changed my perspective of how I view the women and men?, boys and girls that I see living, working,and begging on the streets of North Minneapolis, where I was born and raised, and currently live. Just. Yesterday. I was on Broadway avenue in mpls which as we discussed is a high traffic area for sex work. I was coming out oc the store when a woman asked me if I could spare. Any money. So that. She could eat because shw said ahe was. Starving. I said I'm sorry. I don't. Have. Any money and walked. Away. However. Thinking about our class disscussion I knew that I had to find a way to help her dispite the fact
That I really didn't have any money. So I walked. Bae and offered to buy her som food. With my food stamps, she happily accepted. I bought her abou. $15 worth of food. And we went our separate ways. I didn't. Feel. Like. A goir Samaritan, but like I was someone helping out another human being, and possibly preventing a young woman from having to risk her health and safety to eat, or forget about her hunger.

Sex Trafficking

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It's weird to know that there is the trafficking of women and men going on in our own backyards. Whenever I thought of human trafficking, or sex trafficking to be specific I envision somewhere in Europe. I think this can be attributed to the Hollywood productions like "Taken". American's often like to believe that bad things don't happen here, when it fact bad things happen everywhere and the North America is the leader in modern day slavery (http://www.slaverymap.org). I think the United States is attractive to 'pimps' or 'madams' because of the amount of money here. If they can slide their slaves(for the lack of a better word) in to America, it is quite easy from there. Growing up in the Twin Cities, I have witnessed prostitution on multiple accounts on both black and white standpoints. America is supposedly the land of the free and home of the brave, but how can a country still live by a motto that is utterly false. We need to come to acknowledgement that sex trafficking is real, it is happening, and it's happening all around us. In order to decrease the number of sex traffickers, we must make persons accountable. The people who trick women to America by broken promises, and the people who finance the lies. People must be held accountable.

I found this article, in my research on human trafficking; if you get the chance I suggest reading it, strong words on an even stronger topic: Human trafficking: Freedom's broken promise

Woman Charged for Sex Trafficking

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http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/07/31/woman-charged-for-sex-trafficking-promoting-prostitution/

This is an article about a 29-year-old woman who was charged in July of this year for sex trafficking in her Minneapolis home. She housed 2 young, runaway teens in her home while they engaged in sexual acts for money. The 29-year-old woman received money from the teens for letting them stay with her and used it to buy drugs. She knew there were sexual acts happening in her home, and was buying ads to feature the teens. She was arrested and charged on multiple accounts and faces up to 20 years in prison or a $50,000 fine.
I think it is unbelievable that one would even think about housing runaways for prostitution. For what price? A couple extra bucks to pay for your drugs. I find it sickening this is happening so close to us and it seems no one is doing anything to stop it. Law enforcement should be working harder to try to stop the lives of young, innocent girls.

sex trafficking

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Before this class I never understood the fact that there was such a large sex trafficking market here in the United States. Even right here, home, in Minneapolis. I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and to be honest, if my parents knew that Minneapolis was ranked 13th in sex trafficking in the United States, they would probably think differently of me moving here. I think it is interesting that this information isn't more widely known. Also, between the articles, videos and blog we've read about I have learned what sex trafficking really is. This article that I read is about a woman named Kim. It was a very interesting read because it showed that some of these girls that are being bough and sold in the sex trade have absolutely no idea what they are getting into. They also have no where else to turn. Kim had her identification papers burned right in front of her and she was from a different country. She could not find any other work other than this sex trade. To be honest, I always thought that people in the sex trade were taken from their family, and some are, however I was never aware that people resorted to the sex trade because they had nothing else to do. I am fortunate enough to be able to get a job and have supportive parents. The sex trade is something that needs to be stopped, and I wish that the priority level was higher for things like this.

Human Trafficking in North Minneapolis

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Being from the twin cities and doing ministry in North Minneapolis, I was shocked when I saw the video about Sex Trafficking in North Minneapolis in class. I guess you can say I was naive, but I had no idea that there was sex trafficking going on in North Minneapolis. It is sad to me that it is happening right under my nose. I don't think I would have ever come to this knowledge if it weren't brought up in this class. Personally, it is news to me, and it is sad to know that the high school kids I work with over north are at risk for human trafficking. Now I think of the streets that I walk at night over north and what is happening right in front of my eyes. This course continues to make me look at things very differently than before, including my neighborhood and community. Not only am I in fear of the youth that I work with, but am in fear of my own safety, walking alone at night. I have never really been fearful of walking alone over north because to me, it's home. Learning this has made me re-evaluate places, particular buildings now, wondering what is happening inside of them, like we discussed in class. We also talked about why Minneapolis would be ranked number 13 for biggest hubs for human trafficking. The two highways downtown that runs through so many states is a central location for a lot of visitors and people leaving the state. I went to school downtown Minneapolis at DeLaSalle High School. I was and still am downtown very frequently, taking the bus and would not have guessed this is where some of the sex trafficking occurs. This awareness had prompted me to learn more about local centers for helping these women and children, specifically in North Minneapolis and possibly volunteer at one of them.

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Sex trafficking and HIV/AIDS in Africa

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Compton-Prostitution-Arrests.jpgAfter reading some of the blogs posted and taking a quick glance at other one's I have decided to complete this blog in two parts. First, I would like to address the issues involving sex trafficking and the last part will be focused on the article we read for class entitled "Intersections of Gender, Race and HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Women and men (boy/girls) involved in sex trafficking often times take to the streets knowing that there is a risk of being arrested for their work. Under the current prison industrial complex people who involve themselves with sex work are criminals. Those women and men who prostitute themselves can face jail time if caught and have a permanent record of that arrest. To me this seems unfair, since we all know that the majority of people who are prostitutes need help that does not exist within a prison. The people who purchase sex acts and those who act as "pimps" are the people who should be facing real jail time. I understand that when a person is caught purchasing sex by law enforcement they too are arrested, but the real question here is who is this really hurting? The prostitute, the man/woman who is purchasing a sex act, or the people/person who act as a "pimp" or overseer. I believe the person who needs the most help are the prostitutes or the person forced in to committing a sex act. The courts should punish the people who coerce and act as enforcers involved in sex trafficking.
I have known for a very long time now the role that men play in society and the control they have over their sex life that women are not granted unless they are highly scrutinized by the public. Before, reading the article I never knew how the privilege that men have over their bodies and sex life relates to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Women who engage in sex outside of their marriage are often times more scrutinized then men who engage in sex with another person whom they are not married to. I couldn't believe that if a woman asked her husband to wear a condom to protect herself her husband would then believe that she was cheating on him. This is bizarre, because the article mentioned that the men often times cheat on their wives so to speak when they leave the home. It seems to me that the women in Africa have to be empowered in order to take control over their sex lives, because there it can make the difference between life and death.

Victorian Era: There are Two Kinds of Women....

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Diverging from sex trafficking, here is something a little different about the purity and cleanliness that women in the Victorian Era were expected to uphold.
We have been talking a little about the separate spheres between men and women, and the how cleanliness and purity are held to the highest level in religion, which really brought me back to something I learned in my Love, Sex, and Relationships class. I was fascinated and appalled to learn that in the Victorian Era women where seen as no more than a piece of furniture within a household, mere property to a man: bare children, keep up the house, and make their husbands happy. Men dominated the public sphere while women were stuck in their small private sphere. It was said that there were two kinds of women: the wife and mother, and the prostitute. A man was defined by his mind, but a woman was defined by her sexuality. To be a wife and mother required absolute purity and innocence on the woman's part. It was the woman's role to control the amount of sex that her and her husband would have, to maintain her wifely purity and be the "moral guide" to the family. Since sex was very limited between husband and wife, mostly for precreation, the men would seek prostitutes to fulfill his "uncontrollable" urges. Along with the skewed separate spheres of men and women was the favoring of men in adultery situations. Because the wife was the "moral guide" of the family she was forbidden to commit adultery, and if she did so it would result in an unquestionable divorce, but adultery on the man's part was excused because he had urges that needed to be met. In order for a woman to be considered for a divorce from her husband she would have to prove his adultery, and that she was either neglected or deserted.
Men looked at prostitution with disgust in the Victorian Era, but yet they partook in it routinely. There was no work for a woman outside of the home, unless it was prostitution and that was the last resort in cases of divorce or never being married. The most important thing for most women was finding a husband. A women's role was to be pure, innocent, and "clean", unless she was a prostitute. A wife and mother was seen as a mere piece of furniture, which is bad enough, but a prostitute was a sex object that was solely there to satisfy a man. In an essay I was recently reading about the Victorian Era it stated that, "Many men regarded prostitutes as "the necessary evil to protect the pure, who otherwise might unwittingly provoke the male to rape them". This was all in the name of "a higher power" to keep "their" women pure. With the rampant spread of venereal disease in the Victorian Era I think the men are the ones that needed a little help with their purity and cleanliness. Regardless, if women were in the home maintaining the role of wife and mother, or out satisfying a man's urge as a prostitute they were both considered property to a man.

And now that my rant on the Victorian Era is over, here is a little humor....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO5AuYNWQGA&feature=related

Thoughts on Trafficking

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My sister and I are similar in many ways, including the fact that we both want to help women. While I have decided to dedicate my life to reproductive justice and public policy, Sarah wants to combat human trafficking (page 19). From what all she has told me from her internship at the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking in Denver, there is much more to know about prostitution and trafficking than we really know. The past week of class readings and lectures wasn't very new to me. Something that did spark my interest was how trafficking takes place in Minneapolis during the day. This might sound like a strange epiphany, but it was more like something that's not real until it hits closer to home. Sarah has told me about the struggles prostituted women face after she had the opportunity to speak with these women. Although Denver is still just another city, her words were far off because I wasn't there. Minneapolis is a large city, but it seems so strange that people can get away with trafficking and prostitution during the day: don't others notice?

One of the concepts I still have a problem understanding is the difference between prostitution and trafficking. Some of it makes sense in my head: both involve exploitation, but trafficking can be more than sex work and revolves around force and coercion. Still, we (myself included) sometimes use the two interchangeably. When the term "sex work" gets thrown into the mix, it gets even more confusing. Who does it for themselves and who does it because they are forced into it? Is that force from society (e.g. lack of money and resources) or from an actual person or group? Is there any autonomy? Simply listing these questions adds confusion, but it's necessary. We need discourse to help determine what steps of action we must take. We need to combat trafficking issues, but, as said in the Peach reading, we can't impose policies on those who do not want or need it or where it may conflict with cultures.

Trafficking in America

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I am ashamed to say that before this class, I was one of those people who said, "Oh, human trafficking isn't a problem here. That is somewhere else, somewhere far away." Naive as I was, I was missing the fact that the "other's problem" was not so far away. In fact, every night sex trafficking happens within a 10 mile radius of where I live. That thought horrifies me. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the "American Dream" kind of life where situations like prostitution and human trafficking seem so distant, but if you look at the stats, a lot of these incidences are taking place in major cities across America, including Minneapolis. The information from class is making me look closer when I walk around downtown. I caught myself glancing at girls and women standing on the street. Are they part of this underground trade? Who knows? But, it is a possibility. And that is something I never thought about before.

Child Sex Trafficking on the Internet

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If any of you have some time to spare, I'd highly recommend watching this 40 minute documentary about child sex trafficking over the internet.

After we had our discussion and lecture about human trafficking, I was curious as to how often it occurred over the web since the internet is an incredibly growing beacon for all different kinds of commerce (be it legal or illegal). I was shocked to find that sex offenders that are "buying" these children over the internet range from all different ages. These "buyers" ranged in age from their 20's all the way to 80's. There definitely is no shortage of people that are interested in paying for "services" from a child. These services could be any sexual acts or any other task that the buyers want their human to do. Because, in essence, they consider these children to be their property, and as such, they can make them do whatever they want for them because they paid for it.

There are many different websites that are used and have been used for child sex trafficking. Sites such as craigslist and backpage have been widely used. I find it mind-boggling that an actual child's life can be purchased with the click of a button on your computer. The internet is making child sex trafficking easier, and crackdown efforts may not be as frequent or effective as they are in real life.

Regarding the discussion in class, there may exist a great number of children that are being trafficking over the internet whose families are the ones that are directly involved with trafficking them. I also find that absolutely crazy that children's parents are the ones that are trafficking their own children for money. However, their parents may not have any other choice because they could be stuck working for an organization that traffics humans. Either way, I hope that the fight against this tragedy continues and these kinds of activities cease to exist.

Blog #5 - Human trafficking/prostitutions in Minneapolis

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After watching the clip in class about human trafficking in Minneapolis I was really surprised to find out that Minneapolis is the 13th place for human trafficking and child prostitutions in the USA. I was not surprised to learn how innocent people become victims of this business. I come from East Europe where human trafficking and child prostitution has a high rate. I have heard a lot of stories from different victims how they get involved in this traffic or the factors that lead them to become part of this business. But where I come from, I was aware of these facts and I knew which parts of the city where safe or not for me to walk or spend my time, I knew how to protect myself. But after watching the clip about Minneapolis and his high rate of human trafficking really surprised how different or fake Minneapolis has seemed to me so far. The city of night life which I always attend in the weekend, the city of every well known company is located in, the city where you can walk and enjoy a great day of sight seen, has a high rate of human trafficking? It has been four years that I spend my time in Minneapolis and I have not been aware of what goes around or how good it is hidden.

Sex Trafficking in Minneapolis

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When we started talking about human trafficking in Minneapolis, the first thing that popped into my mind was the sex trafficking ring that happened about two years ago. Men and women from three different Somali gangs were charged in a sex trafficking ring that was active in Minnesota, as well as Tennessee and Ohio. These men and women ranged in age from 19 to 38 years old. Some of the charges against them include sex trafficking of juveniles, conspiring to sex traffic juveniles, obstruction of justice, perjury, auto theft and credit card fraud. The victims of this ring were young Somali and African American girls, some as young as 13 years old. The gang members forced the girls to engage in prostitution in multiple states and multiple settings, including hotel rooms, abandoned buildings, and in one case, the bathroom at Northtown mall in Blaine. Outsiders had to pay for sex with the girls, while gang members were allowed to have sex with them for free. It is estimated that this ring has been active in Minneapolis for at least ten years. Each victim was "worth" an estimated $400,000 a year to the gangs.

This was probably the most bizarre thing I had heard in a while and am astonished on how nothing had been investigated for TEN years. Hopefully the police and government officials will start to be more aware of the prostitution and human trafficking in Minneapolis. If everyone knows it is ranked 13th in the country for human trafficking, then it is time to fix things.


http://www.examiner.com/article/somali-sex-trafficking-ring-busted-twin-cities

Are all trafficked women only 'victims?'

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This song reminded me of the question, "are all trafficked women only 'victims?'" The song describes a woman who sells herself in an effort to provide for her son. The song continuously asks the question, "What would you do?" This implies that anyone would do the same thing if they were dealt the same cards in life. It shows that there are times that society fails women as opposed to her failing herself. For example, the woman in the song went through a bad childhood (being raped by her father) and faces poverty. It saddens me that some people are born into such awful situations through no fault of their own. I would love to hear more of what other people think of trafficked women being victims (or not). It would interest me to hear a story about a woman who doesn't view herself as a victim, and chooses prostitution not out of necessity.

Sex Workers in Minneapolis

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I was very aware of the fact that prostitution and sex workers weren't just problems from "over there" and that they are problems that affect the United States. However, I didn't know that these problems could be so close to home. I found it unbelievably shocking when I heard that the Twin Cities is the 13th largest center for child prostitution. I've lived around here all my life and I just find it unnerving that something so serious and morally wrong could happen in our very own Twin Cities. It's sad because many of the times, the sex workers were forced to get into this line of work for survival and they get stuck in this line of work. After we watched the video clip, "Invisible", I ran into an article online about the Kwanzaa Community Church. It basically went through the same information as the video clip but it has more information on how it got started and some research information. Here is the link for the article.

Human Trafficking in Minneapolis

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I can honestly say that learning about the amount of human trafficking in Minneapolis amazed me. I was so shocked to hear that the Twin Cities is the 13th largest center for child prostitution in the nation. As we learned, one of the biggest myths that people believe is that trafficking only happens "over there". When in truth, this type of activity goes on right under our noses here where we live our lives. The most saddening part was to learn that of all the prostitution that happens in Minneapolis is "survival sex". I'm fortunate enough to be able to (with the help of my family) afford to go to school, pay for my food, and have most of my other extra expenses taken care of. These women and children need to sell their bodies just to make ends meet. I couldn't even imagine the physically and emotional damage they have to endure.trafficking.jpg

Human Trafficking

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This past week has been extremely eye opening and surprising to me. Learning about Human Trafficking in general is extremely disturbing and sad to begin with, but it was especially shocking to find out that it's happening so close to us. I really appreciated the film "Invisible" by TVbyGirls because it gave information that needs to be known, and I appreciate how it's coming from a source that's so close, it makes me trust the information more. Ever since I watched the video in class I've been sharing it with people I know and I've been working to inform everyone around me. It's even surprising to me how little people know about this issue, specifically in his area. In order to gain more perspective on this issue I did a little bit more searching on the internet and I found some videos from different news stations about events that have happened in Minnesota. For instance, last spring the organizations Men Against the Trafficking of Others and Breaking Free stood out on a Saturday in order to get the word out about human trafficking in Minnesota. Learning about things like this makes me more hopeful for problems such as human trafficking that are happening right before our eyes.

Minneapolis Sex Workers

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Since we have been discussing human trafficking and sex work so much in class recently I have really begun to think about how this type of work is existing around me, here, in the Twin Cities. After a quick search on Craigslist I found more than a few posting that communicated an exchange of sex work for money or other assorted goods. I noticed that an overwhelming majority of the girls posting on Craigslist were members of a racial minority. I think that if these girls are engaging in "Survival Sex" are primarily members of racial or ethnic minorities it really speaks to the ways in which white supremacy is still existing in a way that continually pushes down those who are already disadvantaged.
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Human Trafficking

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The information listed below came from the US Governments Report on Human Trafficking. It examines what the US is doing and what others countries are doing in relation to them. It is really informative and I will provide a link I think you guys should check out. The following points show the underlying costs of being trafficked.

  • In the Middle East, the cost might be imprisonment because the employer fails to properly renew a worker's visa.

  • For a Guatemalan, the cost of a job could include becoming an undocumented worker in the United States when he or she is forced by traffickers to perform labor that is not covered by the visa provided by his or her labor broker. He or she would then have to repay the broker and travel fees, all while working nearly 80 hours a week for less than minimum wage.

  • The cost of a job for Vietnamese migrant workers seeking work abroad may be the equivalent of $4,250 or three times Vietnam's per capita income. When they go abroad, some of these workers have debts that exceed the earnings they expect in the first year of typical three-year contracts.

    I think these points are just interesting to look at. When a victim chooses to go with traffickers that promise them money they may not be aware of the other costs associated with that choice. Even some individuals that feel as though they have chosen this "profession" may have done so under false impressions. No one really knows what it is like until they have been through it.

    I know we talked in class about victims not coming forward if they are illegal immigrants. While I was reading through this report they discussed how the Trafficking Victims Protection Act had put in place that if you were trafficked you would be eligible for full citizenship. They put a cap on this of giving out 5000 what they refer to as TVisas, because they didn't want everyone claim this status. However, they don't even give out half these visas a year. My question for the class would be why don't you guys think more people take advantage of this opportunity? With full citizenship individuals and entire families would receive more protection. I can think of a couple underlying reasons, but I would really like to here what you guys think about this policy. Should the US continue this policy or should they modify it so that they no longer have these "eligibility requirements."

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192587.pdf

  • The Rabbit Proof Fence/ Eugenics

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    When I first came to class last week and begun watching the movie, I could not help but think of how sad that story was. I thought, "wow, this writer really made up some sad stuff". By the end of the movie, I realized just how naive I had been to think that this was something that was fabricated. As I continued to watch the movie, unable to pull myself away from the story, even staying late just to see the ending I googled to see if this was true. When I found out that it was I way appalled. I could not believe that this was something that had happened and that had continued to happen until the 1970's. As I thought back to the movie, I could not help but remember how the main male lead would constantly comment on how what he was doing for the aboriginal people was for their own good. How is it even possible for someone to think that wanting to wipe out a group of people is okay? This took me back to a class I took last semester when we learned about how the Nazis were practicing eugenics. It seems that situations like this happen and have happened more often than people wound think and are never really presented into mainstream society. I had never even heard of eugenics until I came to college and I never believed that people thought their race was so "superior" that they would essentially breed out different races. This cartoon really reminded me of how ridiculous it is to try to make a "perfect person". Eugenics.jpg

    Journal 5: The Rabbit Proof Fence

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    While watching the Rabbit Proof Fence, I noticed that a lot of the assimilation of the aboriginals in Australia to the assimilation of the Native Americans here in America. A lot of the assimilation tactics were the same, such as sending children off to schools to learn about religions other than their own. The children were not allowed to speak their native language and were stripped of their clothing from home and given new clothes to wear. I noticed a lot of these things, but wondered what would happen to the children when they grew older. Would they just be allowed to go back to their villages or were the expected to live a "civilized" life? Were they expected to further have children who were more "white" than aboriginal?

    Human Trafficking

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    Reading about sex trafficking in Minneapolis,Mn really shocked me. I was aware of sex trafficking around the world and how it was prevalent in some countries than others. However, I never thought about sex trafficking in Minnesota. After class, I decided to do more research on human trafficking in Minnesota and I found that Minnesota has become one of the most heavily targeted as a spot for labor and sexual trafficking due to large immigrant population(TC Daily Planet). A lot of these immigrants are not informed of their legal rights. The article addressed the signs of someone is trafficking victim and one signs is that they are isolated from the community and are not allowed to form relationships with neighbors or friends by their traffickers.One of the ways that traffickers find victims is through Craiglist and social networking sites. Although laws have been passed to protect victims, some of the main obstacles in reducing human trafficking in Minnesota are that victims are scared to come forward and tell their stories and lack of training in law enforcement, medical and social providers,etc to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

    Blog 5 Trafficking

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    This week in class we have been talking about trafficking. I always knew it was a problem in the United States as well as other countries "over there", however, I had no idea how high the rates of trafficking was in Minneapolis. It's something that you don't see on a daily basis so it's to forget about the problem of trafficking. For this reason, I really enjoyed the article we read titled "Human Trafficking: Why is it such an important issue?" by Louise Shelley. I liked this article because Shelley lays out the facts of trafficking in an easy to understand cohesive manner. Reading this article really helped me to understand the injustice and impunity associated with trafficking. It laid out exactly how many people are victims of this crime too.
    One quote I found to be particularly interesting was when Shelley was talking about how sometimes women are the traffickers. She says "Women become socialized into the culture of exploitation and seek to strive to achieve the status of a trafficker" (42). This quote was shocking to me because it shows the importance of dominance of trafficking in certain cultures. The fact that culture is dominated by trafficking is appalling to me. I cannot imagine living in a society where being a trafficker is valued and considered a better lifestyle.
    Finally, I really believe that further action needs to be taken to stop trafficking because many traffickers do not get punished. There are not enough laws and law enforcement to stop this trafficking at all.

    Reading about women and disabilities really shocked me. I think it was because growing up in a wealthy community, there were always plenty of special education classes and extra aids and just the idea of shunning people with disabilities really just seemed barbaric to me. It wasn't something I had ever thought about but when it hit me really personally when I read, "children with conditions such as epilepsy...would endure odd treatments or potions to be cured." I myself was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 15 and really thought it was fine (other than not being able to go to concerts, a small price to pay) I always thought it was weird when doctors told me I actually had to be honest with the people around me that I had epilepsy. They were assuming I'd hide it, but I was always really open, not ashamed at all. But reading this article makes me realize epilepsy is definitely considered a disability in some parts of the world and I'm assuming it was looked down upon for many years here in the US as well. I'm lucky to be seeing a neurologist periodically and get the correct medication so that people don't even notice; yet someone in another country could have a very affected life without the correct treatment.
    The other major thing that shocked me was the idea that families shunned the disabled and were more likely to give them less help and resources because they were less likely to become successful. That seemed so foreign to me. In privileged families, most of the time all the attention goes to the disabled. Trying to find the right school, tutor, physical therapist, doctors, ect. Through my own personal experience I have seen that it is the kids with the disabilities need more help and guidance from the family and trained professionals. Like the article mentioned, the problem is that these resources for disabled people are usually very expensive, time consuming and are not all over. So it is the wealthy people who have a non-working parent, close to an urban area, with access to transportation. Unfortunately, this is not the situation for majority of the population of disabled people.

    Tracy Chapman, Half the Sky, and the Rabbit-Proof Fence

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    First off, here is the link to a YouTube clip of the song "Material World" by Tracy Chapman. It's a great song, and the lyrics really resonate with some of the topics we've discussed in class recently - modern day slavery, white supremacy, the prevalence of religion in colonialism. Check it out. :):)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqcCb8AtTrY

    Secondly, earlier this week, I mentioned the book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - it's also a film. (Topics that come up are education for women, education, trafficking, etc!) I haven't finished the book yet, but I saw Kristof speak earlier this semester, and I know a documentary has also been made about their research. Here's the link to the website!

    http://www.halftheskymovement.org

    Finally, I did a little bit of research on the Rabbit-Proof Fence. When it was first mentioned in the movie, I had a sinking suspicion that the fence had actually been built to control and suppress native peoples (and was being called rabbit-proof to cover it up). But it was, in fact, built because of rabbits.

    It does relate in a way to colonialism, though. In fact, colonialism is what caused the initial problem.

    Apparently, rabbits were introduced into Australia to help European settlers feel more at home (they were a pursuit activity, like the fox hunts Europeans were used to - how ridiculous!)

    So the rabbits flourished and grew as a species - they started eating and messing up a bunch of land and crops. (Haha - assuring Anglo-Saxon comfort backfired!!!) It was an environmental problem.

    More than one fence was built to protect the Western Australian lands. It took 6 years - and it kind of worked.

    I guess it's a good thing that the fence was built, though, because it served to be an effective point of reference for Aborigines returning to their homelands (like Molly, Daisy, and Gracie).

    Human Trafficking

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    Our class discussion on human trafficking was really enlightening to me. As far as the sex trafficking goes I knew that it was not only a problem "over there" in poor countries but I had no clue our large of a port the twin cities was for human sex trafficking. I was shocked at some of the statistics we covered, such as 83% of people trafficked here are U.S. citizens and 76% of those are controlled by a pimp. I also found our discussion on domestic slavery as a form of human trafficking very enlightening as well. I guess I had never really heard to much about this, as I am sure it is hushed, but now that I do know I really don't find it that surprising- which is sad. Regular Americans are using their privilege to lure others over here by paying for their visa and giving them a place to live and paying them less than minimum wage. Once they get here they are completely dependent on the person who brought them here. They are socially dependent, dependent in means of transportation and living, etc. I'm sure that these people try to justify their actions by using excuses like "They chose to come here, it's not like I kidnapped them and brought them here by force." or "They can leave whenever they want, they just choose to stay." When really these people cannot leave whenever they want. They have to other friends, family, money, means of living. When you make this person solely dependent on you to the point where they have no other options that is domestic slavery!
    I find that a lot of the topics in this class are really intense and difficult to talk about. It makes me feel as though I don't even want to know these things because it leaves me feeling so depressed and hopeless but I know that staying ignorant only perpetuates ignorance and being informed is half the battle.

    Human Trafficking: Minneapolis, Minnesota

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    Minneapolis is the 13th largest city in the nation for child sex-trafficking. I was completely unaware of situation and wanted to learn about the injustice being done in my home, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I watched a seven minute video from KARE 11 in hopes to gain a better understanding of problem and how it's being fought. The video can be found at the link listed below:

    http://www.kare11.com/rss/article/959535/14/Minnesota-A-human-trafficking-battleground

    The crew followed a former prostitute of twenty years, Joy Friedman, through her typical night on duty as part of the "Breaking Free" program. Ms. Friedman drives through Lake Street Minneapolis looking for known and new girls in the prostitution industry. Joy provides them with condoms and other hygienic needs as well as moral support by offering escape routes when the girls are ready to leave the business. The media claims that prostitution becomes 'trafficking' when someone else forces a person into the lifestyle. The police patrol websites with 'sex ads' in hopes of discovering trafficking, but because the ads are endless the mission is nearly impossible. Duluth is a major trafficking site considering its location. Surprisingly, not only men and women have been found guilty for trafficking children, but children have been charged for selling other children. Julie talks about how she started working at a strip club; the strip club travelled frequently, and she soon discovered she was a victim of the trade. Thankfully, she escaped; however, her situation calls to attention how victims are easily manipulated. In hopes to end this injustice, Saint Paul, although the only city in Minnesota, has hired police specifically for human trafficking. Other current groups working towards a solution in Minnesota are The Women's Foundation, Institute for the Trafficked, Exploited, and Missing Persons, and the Family Partnership. Juvenile delinquents classified as criminals under their practice of prostitution have now been deemed victims.


    This graph shows where states are in the process of working towards a solution of human trafficking. The states are ranked as Tier 1 (green) being the most progressive to Tier 4 (red) lacking an effort towards the solution.


    Screen Shot 2012-11-12 at 11.05.07 PM.png

    Sex Trafficking in Minnesota

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    After learning about human trafficking in class today, I really wanted to learn more about the situation in Minnesota. I stumbled upon an article that states the Minnesota law about sex trafficking. The anti-trafficking statue was passed in 2005 and amended in 2009. According to the statue, sex trafficking is defined as "receiving, recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing or obtaining by any means an individual to aid in the prostitution of an individual" or "receiving profit or anything of value, knowing or having reason to know it is derived from [sex trafficking]". Prostitution in this case "means" engaging or offering or agreeing to engage for hire in sexual penetration or sexual contact. "In any means" in this case means that an individual may not give consent for sex trafficking. The article states after this that "consent or mistake as to age shall be no defense to prosecutions". In this statue, victim means two things. One is that a victim is someone who "incurs loss or harm as a result of a crime, including a good faith effort to prevent a crime". In this statue, a victim is not someone who has been accused or charged with committing the crime. The punishment in Minnesota for sex trafficking varies. For an adult, the maximum is 15 years. For anyone under the age of 18, the maximum is 20 years. When an aggravated factor is involved, the maximum is 25 years. I thought it was very interesting that this statue includes prostitution right in the definition of sex trafficking because all of us had different opinions about what sex trafficking and prostitution is, especially if they are the same thing. This really made me question whether this should be included in the definition of sex trafficking and including prostitution into this statue. I think it is slightly confusing. Personally, I think it is good that it is included in the statue but if it was phrased in a different way. Also, the punishments really shocked me. I found it very interesting that someone under the age of 18 could have a longer maximum sentence than an adult. I feel this should be the other way around because anyone under the age of 18 may not entirely know what they are doing if they are being forced by someone else to recruit people into trafficking. But adults are clearly aware of their actions and intentions. What do you think? Should prostitution be included in the definition of sex trafficking? Do you agree with the punishments of this crime?


    Here is the article: http://www.mncasa.org/Documents/svji_facts_17_3570942294.pdf

    Women's Sexual Violence

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    The scandal of Abu Ghraib came out when I was only in the fifth grade, but I still remember some of the images very clearly. The image of the women smiling with the naked prisoners was ingrained in my memory and I knew exactly what the article was talking about when they brought up Lynndie England. She became infamous for her pictures looking so excited over sexually torturing these prisoners. It was so shocking to me at a young because I had always seen men as the "bad guys". I would never ever think a woman could do something like that. The sexual violence from a woman I think is what shocked me, like so many others, so much. We read about this in "Women and the Genocidal Rape of Women: The Gender Dynamics of Gendered War Crimes". It is something that most people like myself have always overlooked because men commit most violent and sexual crimes, but that doesn't mean women are always innocent. I was shocked as a very influential 5th grader and I was never able to forget. Learning the facts behind women's need for power in Laura Sjoberg's article really helped me understand how things like this happen.

    The Rabbit Proof Fence

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    Watching the film the rabbit proof fence has really helped me understand some some of of the imperialistic reasoning that went into eugenics and the divide and conquer theory. Although it wasn't directly touched on in the film, it appeared that the colonialist used rape as a means to "purify" the aboriginal people. They also separated the new generation of mixed raced children so that they had no ties to their aboriginal heritage, language, culture, or food. It seems that the colonialist seemed to understand that DNA "purification" is not the only component to assimilation.

    Terrorism

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    I was stricken with guilt after reading about Abu Ghraib. The thorough planning of the torture on the detainees was disturbing; torture is painful, but when the methods are so specifically customized to instill terror I can't even begin to imagine the horror. Almost more unnerving than the knowledge of these practices is the fact that many, including myself, are unaware of most of the terroristic violence used in Iraq. Although the topic of terrorism is painful, knowledge of the matter could bring about inspiration of the people to change. To end my own ignorance, I did some research of my own and stumbled upon this website.

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/28yxuW/:b.jRMaFl:TdVLKt_T/www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFPFTLbmt3s/

    As I listened to Michael Savage talk about Islamic terrorism, I realized his perspective of Islamic terrorism was very different than my own. He talked of racial profiling and the Western ideology of terrorists. According to Michael Savage, the American views the 'typical terrorist' as an extreme radical, marginalized and existing on the outskirts of society. Savage challenges this view by claiming that there are thousands of Muslims who view the United States as 'bad' and although they may not be terrorists, we cannot be blinded of the possibility of danger. He believes that the root cause of terrorism is the Islamic ideology that has commanded the adherence of tens of millions of people to enforce their laws wherever practiced, and wherever they are not practiced. Savage states that not matter the branch of Islam, whether it's fundamentalist, political, etc., all branches stem from the same source of fourteen centuries ago. He states that a country cannot be defended by the criminal justice system alone; furthermore, continuous trials will not suffice in the end for terrorism. He claims that through nine trials of terrorism, twenty-nine have been incarcerated proving that there far more terroristic Islamics at work.
    Although I had never considered this view, I can see the point he is trying to make; however, I believe there are many faults in his theory. First of all, I disagree because you cannot predict terrorism solely from attempting to expand religion. Christianity itself strives to expand and 'enforce' its rule in foreign places as well. Just because the Islamic practitioners want to preach their word does not require them to reject all basic moral principles in order to achieve their goal. Secondly, the fact that all branches of Islam have the same roots only emphasizes the fact that all religions have grown and are connected in various ways. Also, just because twenty-nine terrorists were incarcerated from nine trials does not prove an abundance of hostility. Rather, the question of innocence should be taken into consideration. I do not agree with Michael Savage's perspective, but overall it was beneficial to look at the situation from another point of view in order to further my own understanding.

    Reactions to Injustice

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    Since I have been at the University, I've taken a few classes with a focus on justice. Often times I am shocked by, or appalled at, the new injustices I learn of. However, what I am even more shocked at is the how some people, ranging from every day civilians to government officials, seem to have such a nonchalant reaction to these same injustices.

    One example of this is some people's responses to the terror and tragedies that occurred at Abu Ghraib. When we watched the videos of some of the occurrence at Abu Ghraib during class, I was so shocked and upset, almost to the point of tears. I felt a strong desire to do something to "change," or "fix" what had happened to these prisoners. I couldn't imagine reacting any other way.

    After reading something like this . . .
    'Do you pray to Allah?' one asked. I said yes. They said, '[Expletive] you. And [expletive] him.' One of them said, 'You are not getting out of here health[y], you are getting out of here handicapped. And he said to me, 'Are you married?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'If your wife saw you like this, she will be disappointed.' One of them said, 'But if I saw her now she would not be disappointed now because I would rape her.' " [...] "They ordered me to thank Jesus that I'm alive." [...] "I said to him, 'I believe in Allah.' So he said, 'But I believe in torture and I will torture you.'
    --Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik
    . . . I'm not sure how anyone can feel anything but upset, shocked, concerned, motivated, etc.

    Yet as I continued to do some research of my own about Abu Ghraib, I found that some people had some fairly nonchalant reactions, as I previously mentioned . . .
    "These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility. It is my obligation to evaluate what happened, to make sure those who have committed wrongdoing are brought to justice, and to make changes as needed to see that it doesn't happen again. I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees. They are human beings. They were in U.S. custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't do that. That was wrong. To those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was un-American. And it was inconsistent with the values of our nation."
    --Donald Rumsfeld

    In my experiences of sharing what I know about certain injustices, or confronting people who have committed injustice, I have often experienced responses similar to Donald Rumsfeld's. I find that so many people simply want to apologize for injustices that occur or sympathize with the victim of the injustices, but follow with some sort of excuse or reason to continue to ignore the injustice.

    Tying in a personal experience, I've found that my father is somebody who does this. My father is a very traditional, conservative, small-town family man. I've been making an effort to talk to him about certain injustices that I have been learning about and bothered by lately. Whenever we talk about these topics, he always starts out saying how he feels bad for these people who experience injustice or apologizes for their suffering, but then he continues with some sort of a "but." For example, we just recently had a conversation about the racial wealth divide. My dad listened and seemed to care, but then mentioned that he thinks people are where they are in life based on their own merit. Dealing with people who react this way is so frustrating. I get the impression that because the injustice doesn't affect them specifically, they think that "feeling bad" is enough and don't feel the need to educate themselves or fight against injustice.

    I understand that not all people, even myself, can care about or act against every injustice in the world. However, if I want to learn anything in this class, it's how to deal with people like my father, who chose to ignore or make excuses for certain injustices. How can a person influence or teach people to react differently to injustice? Or is that even possible?

    Abu Ghraib

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    I remember the videos in the news about how American soldiers were treating prisoners of war overseas. I was so young, so seeing and reading about this now is just astonishing. The part that makes me so angry is that it is possible for people to disregard the humanity of another HUMAN being.
    I feel that this type of treatment parallels issues that will be voted on tomorrow.
    It makes me so sad that we differentiate between other people. It makes me sad that we allow ourselves to make up so many reasons why people are not like them; make up reasons are different and do not deserve the same type of treatment.

    Last week for my Holistic Health class, we were assigned a TED video to watch for homework. I find that this does a great job at showing why all humans are the same.
    The video is on spirituality, but I really think that the beginning of explains my point.
    The first couple minutes explains how if you look closer and closer you realize that we are all made up of the same thing. He starts at human being, and moves to cells and then to atoms and ends with energy.

    I wish that people realized this, because it could help stop terrible actions and mistreatment like that at Abu Ghraib

    Here is the video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0--_R6xThs

    Journal 4: Abu Ghraib

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    After watching the video about the interrogation at Abu Ghraib, I had a lot of mixed feelings. Part of me was absolutely disgusted with Americans soldiers because they were able to treat prisoners like this and then go back to their families as if they hadn't. However, I'm sure there was some speculation from the families, yet words were never spoken. I only say this because a lot of my family members were in the military and though they never directly told me things about what happened to them when they were overseas, I understood that they had shot and possibly killed people.

    The other part of me was disgusted because somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that these things were happening, yet I did not like to discuss it. This goes hand-in-hand with rape as well; I know it happens, yet it makes my stomach churn so much that I choose not to speak about it though I know that it does happen. So, watching the video about Abu Ghraib merely forced me to face the fact that American soldiers do mistreat their prisoners. The documentary also helped me learn just exactly how American soldiers mistreat prisoners, such as going so far to make them strip and even sodomizing them. It honestly made me feel incredibly sick to my stomach. I believe that American soldiers should try a new tactic in attempting to get information out; I feel as though terrorizing, humiliating and dehumanizing them is definitely not the correct approach. I do not have any ideas for new tactics, but I simply believe that the current one is not it.

    Sexual Violence as a Tool for Genocide

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    One topic we have recently read about that really stood out to me was found in Sexual Violence as a Tool for Genocide. Before reading the article, I assumed that rape of Native American women occurred in colonial times, but I had no idea to what extent. I also had no idea how common it still was in today's society, especially in the instance of white men raping Native American women. Not only is it extremely prevalent on Native American reservations, but the white man has a found a loop hole to avoid being punished for this disgusting act. According to law, the council on a reservation cannot punish someone for committing a crime unless the said perpetrator commits the crime on the land of the reservation (Smith). Rapes done by Native American men to Native American women often go unpunished, as well, although they are not as common as rape by white men. According to an article I read on the website for the National Public Radio, there aren't enough police to investigate sexual assaults, so few of the cases are prosecuted.To me, that is just ridiculous. How are these women supposed to get any type of justice if there is no legal way to seek it out? It just seems really unfair to me that after centuries of putting down Native American people and taking their land, we still have not found a way to make them equal to whites.

    Because this topic really interested me, I looked up some articles online about the subject and several different instances of Native American rape. I have listed them below.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12203114

    http://alabamacivilrights.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/native-american-sexual-assault-amendments-to-the-violence-against-womens-act/

    Food Justice

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    food2.jpg food3.jpg food4.jpg
    Although we have discussed a huge array of topics so far in class for us to blog about, I recently just learned in one of my other classes a new type of justice that I would like to mention. Up until a few days ago, I had never heard of this, but I found it to be very interesting. Food deserts and Food Justice are two new trending topics that are happening all over the country - here in Minnesota, as well. The definition of a food desert is as follows: "a commonly used term to describe communities with little or no access to healthy food, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and diary products". Unfortunately, we are currently living in one of the top nine food deserts in America. Think about it, how far does one have to walk in order to get to the nearest grocery store? Well, for me personally, living just outside of Dinkytown, the closest "grocery store" to me is House of Hanson. There, you'll find that the number of sodas and processed foods largely outweighs the number of "fresh" meat and produce--shall I also mention, that I would NEVER want to purchase any of the "fresh" meat and produce anyway. I'm sorry, rotten fruit is just not my thing. Just to put the concept of the food desert into prospective, on my walk to House of Hanson to pick up bread and lunch meat to make myself a sandwich, I would pass (or at least see) Subway, Potbelly, Jimmy John's, Erbert and Gerbert's, McDonald's, Five Guys, and Annie's (just to name a few). Or, who knows, I just might change my mind and decide that I'm too lazy to make the sandwich, and stop at one of those places. The food deserts are just another way to enable the ever increasing obesity rates, and also what leads to me to the concept of food justice.
    Many of the food deserts tend to be in urban areas, were the income of families is very low. How fair is it that children in these food deserts end up eating diets consisting McDonald's and drinking Kool-Aid? They and their parents can't help that basic groceries cost way more than the trip to the closest fast food restaurant. Neither can they help the fact that the closest food mart to them only has mainly pre-packaged foods and sugary drinks. There are many individuals and groups that are trying to gain more awareness of the need for food justice. These individuals and groups are promoting growing, selling, and eating their own grown fruits and vegetables in their communities. All in an effort to try to make it easier to obtain healthy foods at lower costs.
    I had never really though about this "Food Justice" before. But I really think it makes sense. It was also really surprising to me that over half of the areas in Minneapolis are considered food deserts and over one-third of the areas in St. Paul are food deserts. It's pretty sad to think about, but hopefully these food justice groups and activists help to make a change in our communities.

    Blog 4: excuses to dehumanize Native Americans

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    In the article by Andrea Smith, Natives Americans were violated in many ways by colonial settlers in the U.S. Two main reasons, was because they were "dirty" and "immanently polluted with sexual sin" (smith 10). the way of life of natives were also judged in a degrading manor by how they dressed and their cultural practices. The link to Native american being sexual was from the settles associating native american with Canaanites from the bible.

    with these excuses, Native Americans were seen "rapable" and violable because "they" are to entitled to bodily integrity. Some of the stories said how the bodies were dug up and put on show, their (human) skin was used in a way we would use animal hide, a females genitals were cut off to be used as commodities. native Americans were not seen as humans but things or animals. Their bones and skulls were used for science with out permission, and their bodies put on show or mutilated and killed off.

    The suffering of Native Americans became internalized and they don't want to be native american anymore. Their people, culture, pride, and land was taken with out recognition. They are still suffering today and it still doesn't get noticed or corrected by society. It is still legally ok for for native american women to get raped and abused.

    Here is 2 picture for thought:
    hawkrape2.jpg

    pmw-cartoon-rape.jpg

    Torture in Abu Ghraib

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    Before reading the article about the torture that happened in Abu Ghraib, I only knew a little bit of the happenings that occurred there, because I was so young when it happened. However, now after reading this article, I realize how horrible we were to these prisoners and how little respect we had for themselves and even ourselves. One thing I really took out of this article and the various class discussions and video clips, along side how terrible our country treated others, but also how our country was treating our own soldiers. I wonder if our own were not put in that situation if they would have done something along those lines, still. I learned in AP Psychology in high school and again here at the U in my Sociology class about an obedience test, that shows that almost everyone will obey someone of higher authority even if what they are telling them to do is wrong, and they know it is wrong and realize that it is causing grief to the person whom they are told to punish. I think Abu Ghraib is a expanded version of this little experiment. I do not believe any of our soldiers would have done such torture to these people if it weren't for higher authority pushing and pushing them to do so. They had no choice, they had trained in the military to serve their country and they were being told that what they were doing, in the long run, was going to benefit the safety and people of their country. I'm not trying to make excuses for what happened in Abu Ghraib, but I am trying to point out that maybe, just maybe, there were a few victims here.

    Blog 4- The "Others"

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    So election day is tomorrow, and it brings up a few interesting things in my mind. The one I'd like to blog about is the idea of the out group or the "others". Right now in Minnesota there are two amendments being voted on, both highly controversial.
    While I am voting NO on the marriage amendment, I tend to be very upset with my fellow NO voters. Daily I see facebook posts about the stupid, ignorant yes voters who are bigots and evil. By saying these things, you have essentially made yes voters an out group in your mind, and that's something that we should prevent doing.
    Now, when I first expressed this idea to my friends, they were immediately upset at me. "How could you say that?", they would ask. They thought I was supporting the other side as equally valid in this situation.
    While I completely disagree with yes voters because it harms my political ideals, they disagree with me because it harms their viewpoints. In reality, those with differing opinions are the same as us. They're going to vote for what suits their best interests and serves their beliefs. While I disagree and think their view point is hateful and intolerant, the fact that everyone gets to vote is important.
    I'm happy that I live in a country where I can vote and speak how I want to. If I get those rights though, so does everyone else. Intolerant speech is protected under freedom of speech. So if I want to ban the other viewpoint, I must also be willing to give up my own right to express my views. Before you want to try to silence the opposing viewpoint, please try to remember your own rights.
    So no matter what happens tomorrow, by othering the yes voters your are continuing the divide. They are not evil, just people doing the same thing you are, voting or speaking out about thier interests.
    So get out to the polls and vote no!

    Blog #4: Reaction to Abu Ghraib

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    I was quite young when this occurred but do remember some slight details about it. Reading about it now at an older age has opened my eyes more to this issue. Upon watching the video clip during class, I was instantly reminded of the Stanford Prison Experiment which I learned about in high school psychology. This was an experiment of male students, where some were prisoners and some were guards. The men in the experiment quickly got so caught up in their authoritative role that the experiment had to be cut short. This is similar to the soldiers at Abu Ghraib because they seemed to get so caught up in their duty to learn more about the weapons of mass destruction that their logic about ethical treatment of humans seemed to go out the window. It seemed that they began to act less and less like themselves. They no longer cared about the treatment of the prisoners because they had become so engulfed with their hunger for power over them. I think that the mental health of soldiers needs to be more closely watched because many get too caught up in their role as a solider and the power that being in the position allows them to have. Another point that I thought was interesting about the video was the people that they interviewed. A couple of the people interviewed where soldiers that were there during the events but did not agree with them. This made me question why these people did not stand up to the others that were treating the prisoners in such a horrific manner if they knew about it and did not agree with it. If they had stood up to the other soldiers would anything have been done or would the actions towards the prisoners still continue to occur?

    Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide

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    As I read this article, there were several things that came into my head. One of the interesting parts of the article was when the author was discussing women of color who suffer violence not only more issues than white women but also experience differently. When you look at media and notice that in regards to sexual violence against women, white women are given more coverage than women of color. Another interesting point in the article is when the report that author brings that involve how natives are portayed by the dominant culture.Natives were portrayed as violent and dysfunctional making it easy to exploit and marginalize them.As we have discussed in class, when you othered someone else because of they are from different culture,or have different ideologies it is easy to label them dehumanize them.

    Thoughts on Abu Ghraib

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    I found this article to be very interesting because I did not know anything about the prison before I read it. I had no idea what was going on inside of the prison and it is very disturbing knowing these facts now. It is difficult to believe something like that could have actually been committed by American soldiers to innocent people. Also, I did not know this was going on at the time, or even many years after. Who knew it was happening? And why was it not being stopped? If the acts committed by the soldiers were committed by men in other countries, it would no doubt be considered a crime. I would have not been justified. So why was it justified when Americans did it? I think it goes back to white privilege and white supremacy. White people, especially white men, believe they have power over any other race. According to them, they are the best; they can do no wrong. In my opinion, what was happening at Abu Ghraib was completely wrong and should never be justified.

    Gendercide: Women as Witches

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    Being labeled a witch was not always a bad thing for women. Before the rapid social, economic, and religious transformation that took place in Europe, women were know as the healers because of their abilities to cultivate healing herbs and potions. These women were midwives, they also would come into houses to rid them of ill memories, and also took part in healing bad marriages, and this is to name just a few things that they were known for. Among many villages it was believed that a baby could not be born without one of these "witches" present. As Europe made a religious transformation the label of witch took a turn for the worst. No longer were these women seen as healers, or the birthers of children. In the 14th century attitudes towards witchcraft changed and these women were seen as something demonic, something that threatened, the now widespread, belief in Christianity. After the bubonic plague (1347-49) "witches" were blamed as the "plague-spreaders". Of course this was just a crazy fallacy to make sense of a devastating disaster, but it caused widespread hysteria, nevertheless. When a woman was accused of witchcraft she was forced to strip, the accusers would then examine her body for any "mark of the devil"; this could be a mole, cut, or birthmark, anything would do. Woman who were targeted for witchcraft were the women most independent of patriarchal norms, most likely healers, widows, or single-women. After the mark of the devil was found they would be victims of horrendous torture (what was called, interrogation), and many would confess to witchcraft. Although it is known that with enough pain and torment a person will confess to almost anything, the accusers still used this as concrete evidence. Many of these women were sentenced to execution. All interrogation and marching to their executions were done nude, to maximize humiliation. Of the forms of execution used, burning and drowning were the most barbaric. For example, it was established that by tying a woman's feet and arms and throwing her into water it would prove if she was a witch or not; If she were to float and live it proved she was a witch, and her innocence was proved if she were to drown. That sounds like a lose-lose situation, to me. It was almost impossible for the accused women to prove their innocence.
    Because of patriarchal authority and the religious transformation of Europe about 35,000 lives were claimed from various executions during the witch-hunt. With the majority (75-80%) of victims being women it begs the question to why women were the main targets of the witch-hunt. Was it a way of establishing male domination, or was it widespread hysteria gone to far? Throughout the witch-hunt independent women would be met with accusations of being a "witch", something demonic. It brings me to my compare and contrast to today's society. Independent women are obviously not met with accusations of witch craft and burned at the stake, but they face ridicule; some go like this: She is 30, lives alone, has a career and a cat, and is single she must be, A) a crazy cat lady B) A lesbian C) Frigid and hates men or C) Damaged in some shape or form. What is wrong with this picture? Why is it normal if a man is single with a career and a woman is somehow damaged if she is single and focused on a career?
    witchjury.jpg
    A "witch" was never to be looked in the eyes, so she did not cast a spell upon the looker or was it really to avoid empathy for the beaten and tortured woman?

    Torture Tactics in Abu Ghraib

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    Before reading the Abu Ghraib article and watching the videos, I had never heard of this prison and what really goes on inside the buildings. It was a challenge reading this terrible information because I didn't want to believe any of it. Nevertheless, my reaction to the article is I don't find any of the actions done by the U.S. soldiers or government such as holding them in prison, interrogating, and forcing them to perform sexual acts, justifiable in any way. Trying to get information out of people that you are sure of like Saddam Hussein or another powerful man (not by torture) who might know anything is one thing, but to violate and invade innocent men through sexual torture is downright despicable and unacceptable. The soldiers didn't even have any evidence. The fact that the U.S. purposely chose sexual and bodily torture because "Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation" (p. 83) because of their culture. They did their research to find the worse way to dehumanize the Arabians. I know the U.S. soldiers were under a lot of pressure to find answers, but in the end, this wasn't even a useful tactic. They were not successful in finding what they wanted using the torture tactic. Overall, I beleive the way the soldiers and government went about finding information was NOT justifiable and it is sad that the soldiers found joy from it. I really hope this was the end to such a terrible tactice to get information; sexual torture

    "Interrogation"

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    After we viewed the portion of the television special that informed us about the atrocities that were being committed at the Iraqi prison Abu Ghraib, I really started to wonder what exactly this concept of interrogation actually is. What reasoning did we have behind the suspected "prisoners of war" that the U.S. army was keeping in Abu Ghraib? Did we have evidence that these people were not simply civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? I simply do not agree with the tactics that the U.S used to attempt to get information out of these people.

    I can completely understand wanting to get information about Saddam or other intelligence that would be beneficial to the defense of the United States, but when the U.S. army is hauling in random Iraqi people, holding them prisoners, and claiming that they have information that would help us against the war on terror, then it blurs everything.

    Simply asking Iraqi people questions about what they know about the war or terrorists could be easy enough in an attempt to gain intelligence. But dragging them into a prison, holding them there, and interrogating them violently is a completely different story. No matter what the circumstances are, I firmly believe that torture is NEVER justifiable. However, the U.S. army decided that torture was a decisive tactic in an attempt to gain information from the Iraqi people. Sexually embarrassing, physical violence, any many other torture methods were utilized. This concept of vicious interrogation simply is not what anybody deserves. I believe that in dire circumstances, interrogation should be done, but never with means such as the ones that were carried out at Abu Ghraib. Asking questions to multiple people may yield better results than torturing a select few of individuals. I truly hope that tragic events such as this do not transpire in future conflicts.

    'Murica!

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    So often we're told we're the greatest country in the world, but I'd argue that what we really excel in is ego. Will McAvoy explains it very well:


    Some of the statistics Will brings up are dated and/or slightly incorrect, but the point stands that we are significantly behind in several aspects. Yes, the United States is innovative and can still be seen as a land of opportunity. However, I don't understand how we put our military spending ahead of education and health care. It's also disheartening to know that Americans ignore institutional issues--including racism, sexism, and violence--so that they can maintain an image of being "freedom fighters."

    I was very intrigued to read about Elshtain's four criteria for just war. Each of these is extremely subjective and arguably offer that most wars the U.S. was involved in weren't exactly "just." This American Exceptionalism interprets colonialism as freedom. The U.S. is not inherently good simply because it helped defeat Nazism and Fascism in WWII. The U.S. cannot justify that there are several battles to be won because there are supposed threats to democracy. We must hold ourselves accountable to understand what we truly stand for when we pledge allegiance to a country that so often denies "liberty and justice for all."

    For more statistics and discussion of American Exceptionalism, here are a couple interesting articles:

    Blog 4 - Black Ice Def Poetry

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xv61lqRdnA

    Many of you have possibly come across this Poet, but I was recently watching this specific performance and it made me think of a lot that we have talked about in this class. The first thing that he says is "When you look at my brothers, what's your first impression? Does the sight of us leave you guessing or do you understand the stressing?". This jumped out at me because it points to the basic principle of judgements that people make based on external things. Another thing that comes to mind is privilege. When we discussed privilege in class, I discovered that I am more privileged than I thought. In the poem he says, "the TV tells us to aim high make all goals lateral, but that takes paper that we don't have so they take our souls up as collateral". I like this part because it shows that society and all the whole system of our country expects people to do well, but that's not possible because not everyone is given an equal opportunity. I mostly like this video because it touches on many aspects of the unfairness and corruptness of our society, and it's presented in a cool and intriguing way.

    War and terror

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    After reading the article about the Abu Ghraib and watching the video in class made me think "what are the real terrorists". In my opinion I will define the term terrorist as "someone who does violent things to the others to get what they want and not respect their human rights". I have read other articles in my other classes about the ways that American soldiers torture prisoners in the Iraq or Afghanistan. Neither I support what the soldiers do; neither I disagree with the terror that they use to get what they want from the prisoners. In my opinion, if there is war included, everything is expected to happen to win the war. Both the parties in the war will lose people, resources etc. I am against of starting a war between countries and avoiding the start of a war. But when the war is started, everything is acceptable to win the war. I am against of torturing other people and watching the videos of the Abu Ghraid put me in shock how those people are being treated. But the American soldiers have to do whatever it takes to get the information that they need from the prisoners to protect their country. American soldiers are there in a mission to win the war and protect America, protect us and make sure that there wont be another 9/11.

    American Exceptionalism

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    Ever since we discussed this concept in lecture I have been fascinated by it and continue to think about the implications of subscribing to this type of belief. First of all, I wonder what the psychological incentive consists of that it is so readily and unwaveringly subscribed to? Does it perhaps fulfill a type of superiority complex? Or does it merely fit the status quo and remain unquestioned by the popular majority? If one were to objectively analyze the United States' military tactics, political corruption, discriminatory legislature or our prison industrial complexes they would be able to clearly illuminate just some of the many pitfalls of our nation, however unpopular. I'm fascinated by the fact that so many Americans neglect to recognize or take issue with these pitfalls and continue to take such great pride in their American identity. Has our "American identity" promoted a type of 'group think' that stands to compromised our conscientiousness or ability to independently make moral judgments? Or, is it possible that we have become so jaded by politics that we just assume that the government is acting with complete beneficence?

    One of the things that has shocked me most about our class is that I have been learning about events that have been in practice for a long while, yet I have only begun to learn about them now. Years after the fact. There is a communications theory called "Agenda-setting media" which states that the discretion given to news reporters on deciding what is 'newsworthy' and what is not dictates the public's perception of what is important. By underreporting, or neglecting to report, the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border or the racial inequality that persists within our prison industrial systems, Americans don't perceive these issues as relevant or important. When, in contrast, the national news covered the assassination of Osama Bin Laden for more than a full month. americ-try-and-stop-us.jpeg

    Exceptionalism

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    When I think about torture, I think about other countries torturing members of the United States military rather than thinking the United States taking advantage of other societies. Prior to reading the article on Abu Ghraib I remember hearing about it when I was in middle school. At that time I was just as shocked as I was this year. It's hard to believe that US military agents take advantage and in some cases kill prisoners of war for no apparent reason. It's understandable that many of the men who partook in these disturbing instances didn't stand up to the others, because they were scared of being an outcast and perhaps being harassed in the way that they harassed the Muslim prisoners. The influence that one person can have on another is large, it can make people do things that they never saw imaginable. It rages me even more that they choose to use sexual exceptionalism to torture the men, especially because the belief that Muslim's are shamed of nudity. I think it should NEVER be acceptable to use someones religious beliefs against them, even in the case of trying to get intel out of them. Religion is something that is extremely special to many people, and perhaps if the US looked at it from opposing sides. I could never imagine someone making a jewish person break their Kosher laws as torture, or making a religious catholic man partake in sexual activity prior to marriage. These kind of things are seen as sacred to the Western world, and perhaps are not taking into account as being similar to the sexual exceptionalism the military uses on insurgents.

    PBS Frontline, Taking Off the Gloves- Reaction

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    While watching the PBS frontline special, Taking Off the Gloves, in class I was in absolute shock. I feel like I was so ignorant to the true crimes of war. I have always been against war and known that participants of war on both ends are guilty of war crimes and that these crimes are cruel and brutal, but I had never seen anything as graphic as this special unveiling the crimes of our own American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I feel as though we like to keep this clean vision in our heads of our American soldiers, that they are heroes out their fighting for OUR freedom and that we are the "good guys" and they are the "bad guys" when really this is not the case. In no way am I trying to disrespect the soldiers putting their lives on the line for their country and I still believe that there are many good, brave men and women out there as well but the fact that we view all these men and women as heroes and doing only good is just not the case. While watching the special I had so many emotions, I was angry, appalled, astonished. I wanted to cry and I wanted to throw up at the same time. I understand there are many pressures of war and that these people have been pushed to their breaking points and also that no matter what I will never be in their position and know how they felt or faced with their challenges, but at the same time I still cannot comprehend how any human being with an ounce of love in their hearts could commit such heinous crimes on a fellow human being.
    I had never heard of the term sexual exceptionalism before this class and I am absolutely disgusted that our government would use such ignorant excuses to sexually target and abuse an entire group of people. The torture inflicted on the prisoners at Abu Ghraib is absolutely appalling and not a single human being on earth deserves that treatment. I also don't understand how our government can even try to begin to justify themselves in letting and encouraging this behavior from their military personal.
    I really want to watch the rest of this special but I haven't had time to get around to it yet but I think specials like this need to be viewed by every American. The American people need to make themselves less ignorant to what is happening in war and what our government is promoting.

    Justice- Personalized (with a pinch of microfinance)

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    A friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail with this TED talk attached. It's relevant to our class in a few ways!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/jacqueline_novogratz_inspiring_a_life_of_immersion.html

    Because I know few of you will have time to look at this, here's some of the good that comes out of it:

    The woman speaking is Jacqueline Novogratz, and she talks about "inspiring a life of immersion". The summary next to the video begins with this: "We each want to live a life of purpose, but where to start?" This is definitely something to think about in the context of "engaging justice". Do we engage justice? Many of us want to promote justice in our lives, but it's scary to take that step! Novogratz talks about how we often hesitate to immerse ourselves in the work of justice, but how important it is to do so because social justice is the integral work of humanity.

    At one point in the talk, Novogratz shares one of her favorite quotes from Tillie Olsen:
    "It is a long baptism into the seas of humankind, my daughter. Better immersion than to live untouched... Yet how will you sustain?"

    The other reason that this TED talk is relevant to Engaging Justice is that Jacqueline Novogratz is involved in microfinance. She uses a business approach to help the poor (like we discussed in class). The part is that she founded a NON-PROFIT organization to do so - Acumen Fund. (I'll include the link below). It's wonderful that there are still individuals and organizations working for social justice without a profitable catch.

    http://www.acumenfund.org/ten/

    Abu Ghraib After the Fact

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    After we began our unit on militarized border rape and systemic dehumanization through the military in cases such as Abu Ghraib, I decided I wanted to take a look at some outside sources to get some different perspectives on the matter.

    The first article I found was a CBS News article interview of Lynndie England several years after the events of Abu Ghraib. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-5239700-503543.html)

    Amazingly, England defends her actions and decisions. I found several bits of the article interesting. First, England defends herself much as one of the proponents of Just War that was described in the Chomsky reading. That is, she explains her actions and the actions of her fellow soldiers as justified insofar as "they", or Iraqi insurgents, desecrated American corpses and tortured or killed them. This displays an alarming militaristic attitude of an othered "enemy." This is clearly an attitude that leads to injustice and dehumanization, as shown by the American soldiers' documented torture methods.

    Secondly, England stated that they were just following orders. As the article states,
    "We were just pawns," she told AP. "People were just playing us."

    I found this extremely interesting as it corroborates what I noted in class while covering Abu Ghraib -- that it seemed as though the instructions given to the soldiers, while vague, were urgent and threatening. Higher officials needed information, but even they weren't exactly sure what they were looking for. This created an air of desperation for soldiers who didn't realize their actions woud be so heavily scrutinized and may have driven them to do things they regret.

    Last, I found the analogy England drew between American hazing and the torture of the Iraqi citizens to be very interesting. I found myself questioning how accurate the analogy was, but I also wonder if some of England's experience in military boot camp (which, especially for women, can be extremely degrading) created some kind of reverse pay-it-forward attitude. However, without further interview, it is hard to know for sure.

    The events at Abu Ghraib were a huge injustice, and it's important to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again -- which is why motivations and actions must be analyzed through articles like these.

    Torture

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    Torture is never really something that I had taken the time to think about until we watched the video on Abu Ghraib in class. I had heard of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay before but I never realized how inhumane they were treating people. I guess I naively had trust that our government would only send criminals to these different prisons and didn't think that they would be sending innocent civilians there. To see the way that our soldiers were treating these people was absolutely terrible and horrifying. However, I don't only feel bad for the prisoners. I could not imagine the insane amounts of pressure that were being put on the soldiers to get information. I believe that even good people have the capabilities of doing very bad things because of circumstantial situations. When I watched the video I instantly thought of the Stanford Prison Experiment that I learned about in one of my Psychology classes. This experiment ultimately shows the tremendous influence that power has over people. Here is the link the check out information on this experiment (http://www.prisonexp.org/) When it comes down to it, I don't know how we would be able to stop these things from happening, because after watching the video, I have come to realize that our government, who is meant to protect people, is behind some of the orders to torture people. This is what to me is the scariest thought. I have attached a cartoon that I think is a good representation of why some other countries do not support the US.
    Torture.jpg

    Blog 4 National Security

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    Sylvanna Falcon argues that when the Department of Defense took over immigration and border control, immigration became a matter of national security when it previously was an issue of labor. I totally agree with this statement because the main goal of the Department of Defense is to defend the country. This is almost a natural response, however, that response has had major repercussions such as systematic rape. It can be easily argued that women crossing the border into America have to be raped as the "price" to get into America and I think this a direct affect of the Department of Defense controlling the border. Similar to Abu Grab America used sexual means to belittle people and "protect" our country. This can be seen here because all the guards have impunity, they do not have any consequences from raping these women. Since there are no consequences and the men who do get caught do not get fired from their jobs it can be said that this rape is systematic and for the security of America. However, raping someone should not make Americans feel more safe. If anything, it should make Americans feel more unsafe knowing that the people who are supposed to protect them are out there raping vulnerable, young women. Knowing about this makes me lose faith in our Department of Defense and security system in general. 6a00d8341c6a7953ef00e54f523fb78834-800wi.jpg

    Blog 4- Statutes of Limitations

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    rape.jpgPrior to the midterm we had been discussing militarized border rape and the impunity that often follows sexual violence. It became apparent to me after reading the assigned article for Monday's lecture (Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide) that each state in the US has what is called statutes of limitations. Lawyers.com defines the statutes of limitations as laws that set time limits on how long an individual has to file a "civil" lawsuit or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. The state of Minnesota has a statue of limitations on rape that falls between 3,6 and up to 9 years depending on the facts of the case. This startles me, because there is no statue of limitations on kidnapping and the statue of limitations for trespassing is 6 years. I understand that the evidence need to convict some one on rape charges can perish within 48 hours after the rape and most if not all of the evidence needed can vanish simply if the victim washes him/herself. I also have an understanding that it is hard to obtain evidence in a trespassing case as well even if the law enforcement officials showed up at the scene of the crime on the same day the crime was committed. My main concern is who is this truly benefiting? How is the judicial system fighting for women/men to come forward if under the statues of limitations they are only holding women/men prisoners to a terrible crime.Women who have been raped often times will suppress the memory , especially if they may feel guilty afterwards. This fact must hold some truth for minority women, specifically those who have been victims of militarized border rape because most times their abuser threatened to get them deported or take away their "papers". The statue of limitations for rape should be nonexistence as it is for murder and kidnapping. The website that I used to define the Statutes of Limitations is the same website that I used to find out the statues of limitations in Minnesota as well as other states. The link for that website can be found below.
    http://research.lawyers.com/Minnesota/Minnesota-Statutes-of-Limitations.html

    US Exceptionalism

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    In class we talked about US Exceptionalism, the "belief that the US has the moral authority to pursue it's own interests" as long as the actions are justified by pursuing "freedom or democracy." US Exceptionalism is also defined as US citizens believing that the US is better than other countries. This made me think of Toby Keith. Toby Keith had a rivalry with the Dixie Chicks after 9/11 over whether or not the War on Terror was justified. Keith argued that this war was necessary and released the song, "Courtesy of The Red, White and Blue." In the song he states (in reference to 9/11):
    "Justice will be served
    And the battle will rage
    This big dog will fight
    When you rattle his cage
    And you'll be sorry that you messed with
    The U.S. of A.
    `Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
    It`s the American way"
    This quote relates the the US Exceptionalist ideal that war is justifiable as long as it is in the pursuit of freedom. The song "Made in America" doesn't talk about war being justifiable, but it refers to the idea that the US is better than other countries (Toby Keith talks about his father paying more for products that are made in the USA). I don't mean for this blog to offend anyone, I enjoy many Toby Keith songs. However, the songs about the superiority of America seem very arrogant and parallel to US Exceptionalism. In my opinion, war is never justifiable. Also, no country is #1- each country has strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it is important to have peace and unity so we may utilize one another's strengths. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's my belief and I would appreciate hearing other opinions!
    Below are the music videos if you're interested.

    Blog 4- If Felons Could Vote

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    I decided that with the recent election coming our way next week, I would blog about this topic that I find to be unbelievable interesting. As this article shows, the limited voting that is put into place by convicted felons could be a big swing vote for the election. What startles me the most, is looking back at the Bush v. Gore election in 2000. The article states, "Florida's laws preventing convicted felons from voting meant that some 750,000 people, including those still in prison, on probation or parole, didn't get a say in who would be president. Since the election was decided by 537 votes, Abramsky estimates that if just 1% of the disenfranchised felon population had voted, 60% to 40% for Al Gore over George W. Bush, Gore would have won." A professor in the Sociology department here, Chris Uggen has been doing research on this topic for a very long time. And according to his research, the fact that in some states felons can't vote could definitely be missing a majority of votes in America. I find this to be amazing and at the same time concerning. Should we let convicted felons vote? Do they have the right to speak out for the country that they live in, despite their criminal record? This is something that can long be debated and looked at. Interesting stuff I must say.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/12/if-convicted-felons-could-vote.html

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