Empowerment, Humanitarian Aid, and the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations

Photo by Gina Vergel
Photo by Gina Vergel

I am pretty excited for this event taking place at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus (inside of our Law School) on Thursday, Feb. 26. As a matter of fact, the event is in preparation for a Spring Break study tour of Havana organized for students in our Latin American and Latino Studies program. The study tour will cover “Contemporary Cuban Culture in Havana.” Now, about this talk, which is open to the public:

Empowerment, Humanitarian Aid,

and the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations
with
Margaret Crahan,
Sujatha Fernandes, and Alberto R. Tornés

Photo by Gina Vergel
Photo by Gina Vergel

In a historic broadcast on December 17, Presidents Obama and Castro simultaneously announced the normalization of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States, severed in January of 1961.  The aim of this policy change, President Obama explained, is to“unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans” to create a more democratic and prosperous social and economic system. Panelists include renowned Cuba scholars and humanitarian aid activists who will explore the impact of the normalization of US-Cuba relations on the empowerment of the Cuban people and on our humanitarian assistance to the island:

  • Margaret E. Crahan is Director of the Cuba Program at the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia University.  Watch a recent talk she gave on Cuba here.
  • Sujatha Fernandes is Associate Professor of Sociology at Queens College, CUNY, and author of Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures, which combines social theory and political economy with in-depth, engaged ethnography to explore social agency in post-Soviet Cuba through the arts.
  • Alberto R. Tornés, who holds a BA in International Relations from Fordham and an MA in Special and Bilingual Education from CUNY’s City College, is Director of Economic Empowerment at Raíces de Esperanza or Roots of Hope, an international non-profit, non-partisan network of young people who sponsor academic and cultural initiatives focused on youth empowerment in Cuba.

Thursday, February 26, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Bateman Room, Fordham Law School, 2nd Floor

 

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Bilingual children understand more about human nature: study

My nephew (in the center) needs to learn a second language. He certainly understands some Spanish, but at 5, he's at the right age to really inhale more of it!
My nephew (in the center) needs to learn a second language. He certainly understands some Spanish, but at 5, he’s at the right age to really inhale more of it!

Learning a second language could do more than help a child travel internationally: It could completely change the way they look at life-according to a new study from Concordia University in Montreal.

As psychology Professor Krista Byers-Heinlein and undergraduate student/co-author Bianca Garcia explain, most young children believe human and animal characteristics are innate, and that traits such as native language and clothing preference are intrinsic, not acquired.

Read more here via Raw Story.

Two great #race and #gender related events in #NYC: November 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.32.27 PMTwo great #race related events this weekend in New York City:

The first is happening online: STAY WOKE

To speak to events in Ferguson, MO, and the many counts of racialized violence in America, Stay Woke: Write Yourself will gather together artists from the greater community and Fordham students and faculty to create meaningful action through art. It is also a story space for testimonials of racial harmony and violence online. More info here.

The second is an event at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m.: Beyond Binaries and Boxes: Deconstructing and Re-envisioning Black Feminism(s). You’ll also be able to watch online.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.40.17 PMFor this event, panelists will ask the audience to reframe and re-envision black feminism(s) to include creativity, abundance, and collective liberation in the twenty-first century. Panelists include Fordham University professor, Aimee Meredith Cox, from the department of African and African American Studies. Cox is the author of Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship, to be published by Duke University Press next year.

It will also include my friend, community food and environment activist, Tanya Fields.

Others include: Florence Noel, Northeast Director of Girls Who Code; Jamilah Lemieux, Journalist and Editor of Ebony.com; and Aiesha Turman, Executive Director of Black Girl Project.

Women Entrepreneurship Conference in New Jersey

Screen shot 2014-10-06 at 9.37.09 PMA former assignment editor from my newspaper days is now a program manager at Montclair State University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and she’s asked me to share the following information for what seems like an excellent FREE event for the business-minded.

Women Entrepreneurship Conference
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Montclair State University
1 Normal Avenue (University Hall – Conference Center 7th Floor), Montclair, NJ
Sponsored by the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship

This daylong conference of high-energy inspiration and practical tips for entrepreneurial people. The event is for those who are looking to grow their own business, or start a new venture, or executives who want to be more entrepreneurial in their company. Students and wannabe entrepreneurs are welcome! And the event is FREE: (You should register here: http://bit.ly/1CQhr8L)

Confirmed speakers include:

Essence magazine’s Mikki Taylor, Catalyst’s Ilene H. Lang, NASDAQ OMX’s Ellyn McColgan, Golden Seeds’ Joan Zief, venture capitalist and former Time Inc. exec Fran Hauser, Tracye McDaniel of Choose NJ, Kathleen Coviello of NJ Economic Development Authority, Michelle Lee of Wells Fargo, networking guru Sally Glick, plus executives at companies ranging from startups to giants like Prudential and Horizon BCBSNJ.

Visit WomenEntrepreneurshipWeek.com for speaker bios.

Everyone is invited to join the conversation. Use #WEW on social media. Tag your posts with @FelicianoCenter on Twitter.

A brilliant Latina law scholar

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Tanya Hernandez

I was writing to an editor at a magazine this evening about an opinion piece one of our law professors is going to write for them, and as I was going through her credentials, I thought, “She’s one brilliant Latina!”

An alumna of Brown University and Yale Law School, Tanya Hernandez is a professor of law at Fordham School of Law. Her expertise centers on discrimination; Latin America/Latin American law; and employment.

In 2013, she was selected by a Manhattan Federal Court judge to sit on a council that would weigh in and advise on New York City’s controversial Stop & Frisk policy.

She penned this opinion piece for the New York Times about civil rights: affirmative action, voter rights, and same sex marriage rights.

And in this piece she penned for the Huffington Post (before the Supreme Court ruled on Affirmative Action), she covered one of my favorite things to bring up when debating matters of race with friends: implicit bias.

The thing is, once I bring it up, it usually shuts the (Facebook) discussion down. The person feels I’ve insulted them, when in reality, I haven’t, because I’ve had implicit racial biases as well. We all have! And as Hernandez explains, they can be overcome:

As a decision is expected within the next two weeks, one thing I hope the Court will consider is that research in the field of cognitive psychology reveals that we all harbor biases and that affirmative action policies assist in addressing those biases.

Part of the reason for enduring social hierarchies is that individuals rely on stereotypes to process information and have biases that they don’t know they have. These implicit biases, as psychologists call them, are picked up over a lifetime, absorbed from our culture, and work automatically to color our perceptions and influence our choices.

Over a decade of testing with six million participants of the collaborative research venture between Harvard University, University of Virginia, and the University of Washington, called “Project Implicit,” demonstrates pervasive ongoing bias against non-Whites and lingering suspicion of Blacks in particular. Some 75 percent of Whites, Latinos, and Asians show a bias for Whites over Blacks. In addition, Blacks also show a preference for Whites.

In the educational context, studies of school teachers indicate that teachers generally hold differential expectations of students from different ethnic origins, and that implicit prejudiced attitudes were responsible for these differential expectations as well as the ethnic achievement gap in their classrooms. This is because teachers who hold negative prejudiced attitudes appear more predisposed to evaluate their ethnic minority students as being less intelligent and having less promising prospects for their school careers.

The pervasive existence of implicit bias in society and its manifestation in the educational setting, strongly suggests that the selection of students can be similarly affected by unexamined stereotypes and implicit biases. Bluntly stated university Admission Offices are not immune from the operation of implicit bias.

But we are not slaves to our implicit associations. The social science research indicates that biases can be overridden with concerted effort. Remaining alert to the existence of the bias and recognizing that it may intrude in an unwanted fashion into judgments and actions, can help to counter the influence of the bias. Instead of repressing one’s prejudices, if one openly acknowledges one’s biases, and directly challenges or refutes them, one can overcome them.

Read the rest of that piece here, and then check out this sampling of academic articles she’s written on a bevy of important topics:

  • Defending Affirmative Action: An International Legal Response, in vol. 29 Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook (eds. Steven Saltzman & Cheryl I. Harris 2013).
  • Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law and the New Civil Rights Response (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013) (https://sites.google.com/site/racisminlatamerica/)
  • HATE SPEECH AND THE LANGUAGE OF RACISM IN LATIN AMERICA: A LENS FOR RECONSIDERING GLOBAL HATE SPEECH RESTRICTIONS AND LEGISLATION MODELS, 32 U. Penn. J. Int’l Law 805-841 (2011) (http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1103&context=jil).
  • “What Not to Wear” — Race and Unwelcomeness in Sexual Harassment Law: The Story of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, in Women and the Law Stories 277-306 (2010 Foundation Press book chapter, Elizabeth Schneider & Stephanie Wildman eds.).
  • Afro-Latin@s and the Latino Workplace, in The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States 520-526 (2010 Duke Univ. Press book chapter, Juan Flores & Miriam Jimenez Roman, eds.).
  • Latino Anti-Black Violence in Los Angeles: Not “Made in the USA,” 13 Harvard Journal African American Public Policy 37-40 (2007).
  • A Critical Race Feminism Empirical Research Project: Sexual Harassment & The Internal Complaints Black Box, 39 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1235-1303 (2006).  Available online at: http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/Vol39/vol39_no3.html.
  • Sex in the [Foreign] City: Commodification and the Female Sex Tourist, in Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture 222-242 (Joan Williams & Martha Ertman eds., NYU Press 2005) (book chapter).
  • To Be Brown in Brazil: Education & Segregation Latin American Style, 29 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 683-717 (2004-05).   Available online at:http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/reviewoflawandsocialchange/issues/ECM_PRO_065694.

 

#PEACE IS A LIFESTYLE: #AntiViolence Conference in #NYC

PeaceIsALifestyleFLYER-2Proud to say this anti-violence conference is happening at my place of work:

The 1st Annual PEACE IS A LIFESTYLE Conference
“How we can stop the violence in our communities”
(A One-Day CITYWIDE Conference)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

9:00am – 3:00pm

Fordham University
Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street
(at the corner of 60th St. & Columbus Ave.)
Pope Auditorium
NEW YORK CITY
A, B, C, D and 1 subway trains to 59th Street/Columbus Circle

Throughout the day we will discuss issues like gun violence, hate crimes, bullying, and violence against women and girls, their causes and effects, PLUS solutions and what action steps we can take going forward.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Kevin Powell, President & Co-Founder of BK Nation (of MTV’s first even season of The Real World! Remember him?)

FREE & OPEN TO ALL

For more information email dyer@fordham.edu or call 212-636-6623

 

Facebook event page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1463910310517252/

Prison statistics: Is the increase due to drug offenses or something else?

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I’m fascinated with prison. I couldn’t tell you why, but I like to watch documentaries, television shows, and movies about it, and I’m currently reading “Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (2001, Vintage),” about a correction officer’s one year on the job at Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. It’s a dark read. That job doesn’t sound fun AT ALL.

At Fordham University, we have a professor who researches elderly prisoners (of which there are a lot of these days), and it’s very interesting. Here’s an excerpt from a piece she wrote for The Huffington Post:

When 69-year-old Betty Smithey was released from Arizona State Prison last week after serving 49 years for murdering a 15-month-old child, walking with a cane, she gave a face to a population that often goes unnoticed — the aging men and women in our prison system.

With some 246,000 men and women over 50 in America’s overly stretched prison system, should we as a society consider releasing the fragile, the ill, and the dying among these prisoners?

Read the rest here.

Earlier this month, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report about the unprecedented growth in U.S. prisons.

It found that from 1973 to 2009, the prison population grew from about 200,000 to approximately 2.2 million. With this spike, the U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population.

The report found that “although incarceration rates have risen, crime rates have followed no clear path. Violent crime rose, then fell, rose again and then declined over the 30-plus years tracked in the study.

“The best single proximate explanation of the rise in incarceration is not rising crime rates, but the policy choices made by legislators to greatly increase the use of imprisonment as a response to crime,” the authors note. Since the 1970s, these policies have come to include the war on drugs, mandatory minimums for drug crimes and violent offenses, three-strikes laws and “truth-in-sentencing” mandates that require inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. [source]

But analysis by a professor at Fordham Law finds fault with the NRC’s report. He says they shouldn’t be counting drug offenses and violent offenses separately, as the increase in “incarceration rates have always been a story about violence,” not drugs.

“Between 1980 and 2009, over 50% of prison growth is due to increases in violent inmates, and only about 22% due to increases in drug offenders,” he writes, adding:

Between 1980 and 1990, state prisons grew by 387,400 inmates, and 36% of those additional inmates were incarcerated for violent crimes. (The math is below if anyone wants to see it.*) Two things stand out here:

The NRC is right that drugs mattered more during the 1980s than after, and that violent crimes played the dominant role in the 1990s and beyond.
But even in the 1980s violent crimes mattered more. Drugs were important, but (by a slight edge) violent crimes even more so. US incarceration rates have always been a story about violence.

Interesting. Read his whole post about this over at PrawfsBlawg.