Tag Archives: oppression

Celebration, Culture, Community

by Hiroshi Ishii-Adajar, ’16

I was recently working on homework amidst the rush of preparation of Pilipino Cultural Night (a showcase of Filipino culture through theatre and dance), and I read Sammie Wills’ stance on why cultural shows make her cry.  Her thoughts prompted me think about the evolution of my take on culture, especially after entering college.

As a high school, I despised what I perceived as “culture.”  This dislike was partially fueled by the way it tempered the lens through which people viewed me, a.k.a the stereotype.  Even deeper than that, however, the word “culture” seemed to imply to me that everyone belonged to one; as a man of mixed descent whose “cultures” have little in common, and one of which has oppressed the other, I could not identify strongly with any established culture.  “So create your own,” one might say.  But what is a culture that only you belong to?  Most people just call that a personality.  So I festered in my moral relativistic distaste of my cultural heritage. Continue reading

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Why Culture Shows Make Me Cry

by Sammie Wills, ’16

There are few things I find more beautiful than the ability to resist oppression through happiness. There is a certain strength and grace in creating joy despite aggressors’ attempts to diminish hope.  This joy can be embodied through the dance and song and art of a culture, passed down to remember and celebrate the resistance engendered by a people.

This very mode of resistance demonstrates why I love culture shows.

First, I must be careful to note that there are indeed multiple problematic aspects of culture shows. The culture show itself is, and will always be, a highly-romanticized, typically-westernized performance of native cultures and traditions. Continue reading

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Gandhi the Activist, Gandhi the Pacifist

by Anand Venkatkrishnan, ’10

The recent flurry of articles and subsequent commentary on this and other sites about Stanford and South Asia, India and Israel, casteism and nationalism, disrespect and denigration, have made me think about the relationship of these conversations to my own social location as a scholar in the field of religious studies. In one sense, these debates fall along the spectrum of a thematic which we might call “Hinduism and its Culture Wars,” to invoke the title of a recent online essay (and to which I have responded elsewhere). In another sense, they raise larger issues of political commitment, moral self-criticism, and religious sentiment. I want to take a step back and consider these issues with reference to M.K. Gandhi, whose voluminous writings reveal a nexus between religion, politics, and public discourse that frequently confounds the ways we have been conditioned to think about them. Continue reading

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On the Merit of Blurred Lines

by Surabhi Nirkhe, ’13

I am tired of discourse that divides brown from white, the oppressed from the oppressors, students of color from white students, and the underprivileged from the privileged. Tracing and retracing these lines prevents us from creating identities that are much more complex, often in the spaces where these lines blur.

In her recent STATIC article, Holly Fetter ended with a powerful statement that resonated with me: “unless we confront our fears and make active changes to educate ourselves about the perspectives and experiences of those in other communities, we’ll never be able to see past the illusion of isolation”. To me, the recent mixer held between Sanskriti, the South Asian student organization, and the Stanford Israel Alliance represents just that. I did not attend the mixer, but I have been a part of similar events at Stanford, and I can honestly say that experiences which have pushed me to interact with individuals from outside my community have been some of the most valuable.

I do not mean to say that I don’t hold opinions; I do and I hold on to them very strongly. Continue reading

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Sexual Politics of Meat: Race, Gender and Food

by Rohisha Adke, ’15 

How does what we eat relate to gender issues that persist today? 
What does it mean for women to be turned into “meat,” as in the Carl’s Jr. advertisement?
How do both women and animals become “meat”?
How does this relate to racism and violence against women?
Why would someone write a book called Fifty Shades of Chicken?
Answer these questions and more this Thursday with Carol J. Adams at “Sexual Politics of Meat: Race, Gender and Food” in Toyon LoungeDinner and dessert will be served. Click here to RSVP
Carol J. Adams has written around twenty books on the links between the oppression of women and that of animals, domestic violence, sexual assault, and the ethics of diets. Continue reading
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Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation: A Discussion with Deepa Kumar

by Emma Wilde Botta, ’14

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 12.07.33 AM

Stanford has a lot of events about women. Conferences on women’s empowerment, discrimination in the workplace, women in research, increasing women’s participation in politics, the list goes on. All these events address ways in which women are marginalized in society.

However, missing from these discussions is a careful examination of the root cause of women’s oppression today.

Are men just naturally superior to women? Will equality before the law guarantee the liberation of all women within society? Will more women in leadership lead to women’s liberation?

Before we answer these questions, we must first identity the root cause of women’s oppression and then turn to strategies for women’s liberation. Continue reading

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Our Challenge

by K. Blaqk, ’14


The title of this piece is “Our Challenge.” Over fall quarter I discovered the “Nu Rainbow,” which replaces the traditional ROYGBIV spectrum with one representing the variety of colors  of human beings. This move felt especially important to me, as I was starting to see the urgency in queer politics taking on an explicitly anti-racist agenda as well. Lumped into queer issues and racism are also structural class inequality, problems of imperialism and militarism. So, “Our Challenge” is first to build a coalition of marginalized and oppressed peoples and then to channel that organization into a form of resistance and way of remaking the world around us. Continue reading

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Why You Should Take CSRE 26SI

by Holly Fetter, ’13

One of the most distinctive factors that sets Stanford apart from other universities is its diversity — diversity of perspectives, experiences, identities, origins, beliefs. It’s a word that’s used so often that it almost lacks meaning, like “multicultural” or “entrepreneurial.” Even the Dictionary.com definition is wack — “Diversity: the state of being diverse.” Roughly half of Stanford students self-identify as people of color. Unlike certain East Coast institutions of higher learning, this campus has been open to all genders since its founding. 15% of Stanford students are the first in their families to attend college, and 75% students receive some form of financial aid. Yes, our student population represents a variety of different identities. We coexist in residence halls, student groups, frat parties. We’re a very “multicultural” mix.

But are we really equipped to handle our differences? What do we do when it gets messy? How do we deal when we’re not sure if our words are accidentally transphobic, or that our actions make students from different class backgrounds feel uncomfortable? It’s super important that we each go beyond being best friends or “colorblind” classmates, and make the effort to educate ourselves on how to be active allies in the face of prejudices, both subtle and overt. An “ally” is someone who supports members of community/ies to which they do not personally belong, through interrupting injustice at a personal and/or institutional level. Learning how to be an ally can help us through those awkward encounters with -isms and -phobias that might otherwise leave us feeling powerless and uncomfortable. Continue reading

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Mourning Our Murders

by K. Blaqk, ’14

This piece originally appeared on K. Blaqk’s personal blog, Blaqkliberation.

Pakistani children light candles to pay tribute to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

Mourning and demanding a new system do not need to be – nor should they be – separate.

At issue today (more publicly than most days) are multiple layers of violence in our world:

the violence of a political system that treats each new shooting as an isolated incident and tells us we are jumping the gun when we talk reform—
the violence of an economic system that produces guns and missiles knowing the destruction they bring to individual and collective lives—
the violence of a cultural system where the radio plays on blaring top 40s, stocks and scores, as though nothing is happening as our wars kill on.

There are also the violences of a world where so many feel so alienated as to commit the ultimate violence against others – and themselves—

and, most immediately, of being told during the moment of rawest pain that “this isn’t the day to demand change, this is a day to mourn.”

If today is the day of mourning and a mourner cannot make demands, what do we do tomorrow? Continue reading

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Faster, Higher, Stronger: A History of Olympic Oppression

By Erika Kreeger, ’15

On December 4th, Erika published a piece entitled “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” about the human right’s violations occurring in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in preparation for the Olympic Games. This is a follow up to that piece.

Beijing Olympic Torch, cristyli.blogspot.com

Beijing Olympic Torch, cristyli.blogspot.com

Any conversation about the problems in Rio de Janeiro surrounding the World Cup and the Olympic Games would be strikingly inadequate without a critical look at past events to place these current tournaments in better context. Forced removals were completely commonplace in preparation for many Olympics. Some (unfortunately, I am not one of them) may have been old enough or aware enough to read about the controversy surrounding the Beijing Games in 2008, in which 1.25 million people were dislocated in the years prior to the Games, dwarfing the previous record of 720,000 for the Seoul Olympics in 1988. By these numbers, Brazil’s heinous 170,000 seems rather measly and insignificant.

Beyond forced removals, there are ‘anti-crime’ crackdowns and roundups in the months and days prior to the Opening Ceremonies arguably to make the city safer, but which overwhelmingly unreasonably and excessively target poor, geographically disadvantaged, oppressed communities. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, while generally viewed as an amazing success, was also marked by extreme police brutality and crackdowns in the South Central and East parts of the city. Continue reading

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