What to Do in the Wake of the Ferguson Decision

by MSC Student Life Intern, Hiwot

Those who have been deeply following the events in Missouri since Mike Brown’s death in August and those like me (who have only been reading blurbs via Twitter and Tumblr and attempting some self preservation through disconnection) found ourselves in a single space, all somber, disappointed, unsurprised, and in pain.

What do we do? What can we do?

Immediately, cities across the nation had protests springing up in response to the verdict. Here in Madison, folks gathered in the Multicultural Student Center to await the verdict and commiserate about it afterwards.

Today in Madison, at 3:30PM, there will be a rally at the Jail on 115 W Doty.

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Click the Photo to reach the “Ferguson to Madison” Facebook Event Page.

And in response to this death, and the unfortunate deaths of numerous Black people, the gnawing, nagging question of, “Do we matter?” arose. The response was #blacklivesmatter, the response was organizing, rallying, protesting, and discussing the deeply rooted problems that allow so many Black lives to end violently without finding them proper justice. With the organization of the Gender & Women’s Studies Department of the University of Arizona and other sponsors like The Feminist Wire, there will be a Black Life Matters Conference from January 15th to January 17th. Registration for the conference is now open.

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From the “Black Lives Matter” Facebook page.

Remember, the MSC is a resource for students across campus. Check out hours listings and feel free to come into the space to use our facilities and resources, to borrow books from or social justice library to become more informed, or to talk to our interns and staff. We’re here.

Whether your response to the verdict is to organize, whether it is to sleep, to write, to cry, to pray, to sing, or to run into the arms of a loved one may you all stay safe, stay connected to the people who care about you the most, and stay alert.

A post on Bobby Shmurda and Respectability Politics

Last Monday, UW-Madison senior journalism student Michael Penn II gave us this piece on Bobby Shmurda and more specifically a response to the dehumanizing criticisms of the young rapper from Brooklyn.

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This open letter to Bobby Shmurda by blogger Imani Brammer had been circling the internet for days before Penn’s own article dropped. Brammer’s piece relied on condemnation of the rapper, his past, his lifestyle, and his lyrics.

Penn’s article looks into the appeal of Shmurda’s music, the possible trajectory of the young man’s career, his backstory, and the implications of respectability politics within the Black community.

Click here to Read Penn’s full article…

For more from Michael Penn II look here…

Native November

November is Native American Heritage month

Check out this video on Indigenous music makers and activists from the Rebel Music Project.

Learn more about Native November here on campus by lookin flier below or contacting the office of American Indian Student Services at aisas@ls.wisc.edu

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Click the Photo to see the American Indian Student Academic Services’ Facebook page.

How do we start living the Wisconsin Idea?

by MSC Student Life Intern, Kathleen

Wisconsin Idea Banner on Bascom Hall via University Communications

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students are recognized contributors to the Wisconsin Idea through their work “beyond the boundaries of campus to benefit the state, nation, and world.”

I have a feeling that we don’t all completely live up to the Wisconsin Idea 100% of the time. I believe we have room for growth. Amidst stories about Beyonce, Facebook posts pleading for another Candy Crush life, there are so many things happening in the world. For example, have you heard about what is happening right now with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? ISIS is targeting Christian indigenous groups, one being the group I belong to, the Assyrians.

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To help those affected by ISIS, please visit assyrianaid.org

I know that when people on campus don’t know about ISIS or who Assyrians are, I get a little disappointed. I try to explain to them Assyrians are one of the oldest civilizations known to mankind. In Wisconsin we have a large Hmong population, so sometimes it helps to talk about the similarities of the Assyrian experience and the Hmong experience. We are both a nation. The legal definition of a nation being a distinct group of people that speak the same language and have the same customs that possess historic continuity and are distinguished from other similar groups by their origins and characteristics.

That was a lot of information thrown at you, but don’t you feel like you learned something new? Don’t you feel well informed? Aren’t you curious about other ways you can learn more? Here are three suggestions to help us all get closer to achieving the Wisconsin Idea:

  1. Learning other people’s history can help you understand your own. Before I came to Wisconsin, I had no idea who the Hmong people were. When I found out, I invested my time in learning more by taking Asian American Studies classes. While in these classes, I learned a great deal about similar historical experiences of the Assyrian and Hmong people including statelessness.
  2. There are always multiple sides to a story. What I usually do is Google search “world news” or if I want to know more about a specific country or nation I substitute the word “world” with the country or nation’s name. Because there are so many sides to a story, I like to get as many perspectives as I can, and I find that Google searching “world news” provides me with an array of sources. What works for me may not work for you, so I encourage you all to find the news sources that you enjoy and use that as a place for reference when you’re feeling uninformed or just bored. There are many ways to gain information within our technologically advanced world like Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed, Instagram, and so on. If you’re always on Facebook, feel free to check out the United Nations Facebook page to see what’s going on in the world. Or if you’re bored and just taking up time taking BuzzFeed quizzes to get to know yourself better, you can check out the BuzzFeed news section to get to know the world a little better.
  3. Even though we could know a lot about what’s going on in the world, we can’t know everything. Just because I took an intro to Asian American Studies class doesn’t mean I understand the full history or experience of Asian American people. Similarly, just because my parents tell me what my family in Iraq is going through in the Middle East, doesn’t mean that I have the complete picture.  There will always be more information and more to learn.

What we can do is try to inform ourselves to the best of our abilities, and luckily we have the beauty of living in the age of technology to help us do that! Happy reading!

Doggy Using Computer

 

 

Check out The Ways: An Interactive Educational Experience

The Ways is more than an ethnic studies fulfillment and more than a simple website, it is an online home where stories from Native American communities all around the central Great Lakes area are gathered and shared. This ongoing series is produced by the Wisconsin Media Lab. The Ways offers access to educational media centered on incorporating Native American cultures, histories and contemporary narratives into curriculums in accordance to Wisconsin Act 31. This resource is described as being specifically geared towards 6-12 graders as a way to enrich their Social Studies learning experiences but the content is free, online, and available for people of all ages.

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Lady Thunderhawks is one of the stories featured on The Ways. The video follows Jessica House, a member of the Oneida Nation and the captain of The Lady Thunderhawks. The varsity basketball team is the first in Oneida Nation High School’s history to win a regional championship; the team’s success is a source of pride for the community and is also a source of inspiration for younger girls. The Thunderhawks’ dedication to culture and tradition mirrors the philosophies of the Oneida Nation school system which works to provide a common education while weaving Oneida cultural practices, concepts, and traditions into the general coursework.

Along with each video there is text, giving the viewer a more in depth look at the story being featured. In this case you can read more about the Oneida Nation school system, Jessica’s first experience with basketball, and the traditions that make the Lady Thunderhawks such an inspiration to those around them.

Outside of the beautifully composed videos, the site includes interactive maps where you can compare tribal lands to state lines. There are links available to related research and writings on the historical background of the land, relationships with the United States government, and options to share the maps on Facebook and Twitter.

For updates on The Ways make sure to follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

To access more content from The Ways visit the website.