Blog Assignment for Angela Davis event

Dear all,

Here’s the information/prompt I presented in class on Tuesday for the blog assignment follow-up to the Angela Davis event that replaced our regular class meeting on Thursday. By Sunday 9 a.m., post a blog reflection  commenting on the most important insights relevant to social justice and public education, or gender equality, or racial justice that you gleaned from the event as well as any questions or different perspectives on her ideas. Since some of you were waiting for me to put this up on the blog, you can have until Monday 6 p.m.

Enjoy the unseasonal warm weather, Liz Constable

 

 

 

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56 Responses to Blog Assignment for Angela Davis event

  1. ellkayjack says:

    Watching Angela Davis speak was, almost needless to say, moving. It was an uncanny experience of invigoration sprinkled with anxiety and depression. I know that sounds weird. But I think it makes sense that I felt those ways all at once, because the actual matters with which she deals are enormous and heavy, yet she leads in such a comforting and often inspiring manner. I found it extremely powerful that she pointed out the very need to reflect on the issue of social justice at a university is somewhat paradoxical, and should be called to attention. I also appreciated her desire to point out that the dichotomy between the 1% and 99% of America is an over-simplification. This is a really important issue because at the heart it is directly related to a problem with American culture. We like to over-simplify a lot of things, I feel. I feel that it is always quite easy (too easy) to point the finger at one category of people when problems occur. But by signaling out the 1% and claiming that we 99 are to go on scotch free of blame… well Ms. Davis made me realize essentially that we need to seek for any cause of blame within ourselves as well. We are all somewhat complicit with this system, and if occupy is about fighting said system then I think we need to be more critical of ourselves as well. I really appreciated this point. I know this post is already long, but the last message of Ms. Davis’ that I want to call attention to was her reminder that this process is continual. We always want to think that there’s a point in the future in which everything will become easy, smooth, and of course, just. But I think social justice is and will always be an ongoing process, and I was so relieved to hear her remind us all of this. In order to strive for equality and justice for all, we can not think to ourselves that any one small feat is enough. It is a continual push. And I felt that seeing Angela Davis was, at least for me, an inspiring format with which to continually renew this push.

    • Maria Salazar says:

      You are so true! I felt there was a definite loss in momentum in the movement. Personally I feel that people lost sight of the main goal of the movement, the one from the beginning, and began going off on different protesting tangents. Like you and Angela Davis said, social justice is an ongoing process; therefore I feel we must go back and reflect upon the Why, When and How we went wrong with the movement. It personally makes me feel sad at the lack of unity amongst us as students and at the idea that only 20 people are left from the huge crowd at the rally. Where are all those supporters now?

    • Kayla Wigley says:

      I agree that the Occupy movement has been almost forgotten on our campus. I admit to seeing the tents everyday and never thinking twice about the current status of the movement. When thinking over all that has occurred this year on campus, I think to the statement made by Angela Davis’ mother; “just because things are this way now doesn’t mean they’ll stay this way forever.” We need to realize that what we have now is an unbalanced system. In order to balance this system, we must find the weakness of both sides and correct them.
      I really like your arguments presented here and how you expressed your interest in Angela Davis.

    • Michelle says:

      I agree with you. What she said about the 99% really resounded with me too. I too think that it’s easy to forget about the differences among the 99% or in any group fighting against one common power. I also liked the point about having to be self critical in order to fight a larger system. I think that’s really important for any cause being fought for. As for the continual process of social justice, i agree as well. And despite setbacks and pauses I think the process is always ongoing. Maybe slowly, maybe inconspicuously , but I like to think theres always someone out there who is thinking about these things, thinking about solutions to problems, and taking action.

  2. One of the most personally impacting topics Angela Davis spoke about on Thursday was about social justice. She pointed out how since the early twentieth century unions have gone from 35% to 11.5% of the nation’s work force. A unions purpose is to benefit employees in salary, working conditions and benefits. When the percent of unions decreases with it the benefits decrease. topic she impacted me with was the most nerve wrecking topic revolved around the deterioration of the public school system and the rise of prison institutionalism. She said that in the 1980 the nation’s budget for prison institutions was a merely 3% %but correctly there has been a drastic increase and in 2011 it has reached 11%. Furthermore in the 1980 the nation’s budget for public education was about 10% and since then in 2011 that percentage has decreased to about 6.6%. There is an obvious issue taking place with the nations priorities when it seems as though we are going backwards in securing our nation’s future. Instead of increasing the budget for public education which ultimately leads to promising futures for many young people. The nation has decreases its budget by 3.4% and remarkably increased the budget for the prison institute by 7%. When the nations budgets exceeds over 2 trillion dollars annually, those percentages are significant. Who’s to say we need to spend all that money on prisons. Who’s in charge of deciding who is really bad and who is not. Most importantly Angela Davis sarcastically talked about how we assume that since they are in prison than all those people must be bad and therefore none deserve to be out amongst us in society. At the end of the day they don’t deserve to exercise amendment number one because they don’t deserve any rights since they are “bad” people. In reality we are making bad financial decision for our nation. We are spending money in unnecessary on prison institutions instead of spending on students like us who are the future of tomorrow. I find it personally disturbing that my government is okay with spending money on a prisoner but for my future education, tuition is being increased and financial aid decreased. Making it nearly impossible to aspire to the “American Dream.” Forcing many students like me to work full time while going to school to try and make a better life than what our parents had.

    • ajgutz84 says:

      Definitely agree with your Rosie, I really appreciated the comment about the industrial prison complex. The United States has the highest percentage of prisoners in the entire world. Even more intriguing is the fact that most people are convicted for non-violent crimes. I really recommend the film American Violet, its an excellent film that depicts an actual incidence in Texas, where an African American woman is wrongfully accused of drug dealing. The actual case is Regina Kelly vs. John Paschall. I also find it personally disturbing that we have more money for prisons, for military, but less money for school. We even have money to bail out greedy bankers and corporations. The United States is no longer the biggest kid on the block, we need to start putting more money into education, so that we have a better future. Currently I’m taking 19 units because I failed to complete 8 units last quarter. The reason I didn’t do well in my courses last quarter was because I had to work. My GPA went from a 3.4 in Spring 2011, to a 1.8 by the end of 2011. I spoke to my counselor and I was very close to getting dismissed, fortunately this was not the case. I’m taking 19 units and i’m working 12-16 hours a week. I feel really cheated because I have to pick and choose what classes I will attend, which days, and also have to coordinate what assignments I will complete and which ones I will have to forgo, in order to work on other big assignments for other courses. This is not fair to my professors, to my peers, nor to me. I am a 27 year old student who was readmitted after dropping out in 2004.

    • ananunez3 says:

      I agree with you in that we are getting less reasons to aspire the “American Dream” since we are being given less aid but our tuition increases. How are those students of few resources going to even try to continue their education if they are going to have to pay out of their pockets for it when they can barely pay for their living. Instead of using money for us students who like you said are the future, they are spending more and more money on prisons. Its ridiculous how many people they arrest each year and many are innocent, but of course that is not what matters, what really does is that someone is incarcerated and labelled guilty so that society feels like there is a force out there keeping us safe.

  3. kimcmull says:

    I think the most important thing that Angela Davis said was about democracy not being a spectator sport. This embodied all that she talked about and how people need to act in order to implement change. She talked about so many problems in society, but her overall positive attitude made things not seem dire enough to give up hope for things ever being different. When she talked about the increasing privatization of the UC system through high prices I thought it was interesting that she pointed out that this was a cause of an “established corporate culture at the heart of the university. I also liked her thoughts on the prison system. I personally have never thought much about it, but I liked her point about the assumptions that if you are in prison you are automatically a bad person and how this idea is what is creating problems. I also had some questions about some of the things she was talking about. For some reason I had never heard of the term neoliberalism. From the way she was referring to it in a negative way I figured it was something I should look into. When I got home I looked up what it meant and am confused about how she was using it. She said what happened at Davis with the pepper spray incident was an example of a “confrontation with a neoliberal police state.”(What does this mean?) I also really liked all the panelist’s comments, they definitely gave me a lot more to think about. One of their comments was on the the term “Occupy.” I agree with the panelists and how words and their connotations are important. I overall definitely enjoyed what she had to say, but it left me feeling really ignorant about all that is going on in the world.

    • Lisa says:

      While I can’t really answer your question on the term neoliberal, (I hope someone else can maybe) I definitely agree with you that her singling out democracy as not a spectator sport was profound. The past few months I have seen many people at various protests shouting this and that about everything wrong with the university system. I agree with them, but I always wonder if they do anything else other than cry out indignantly. Whenever I go home and discuss these experiences with my family, I find that my dad’s input is really inspiring. And one thing my father brought up that really stuck with me was the question of whether these angry students vote. I mean, really. I say this because college students are known to not vote. And I know for myself that I can be extremely bad at getting out to the polls and taking my part. Here’s the thing, as Angela Davis noted, we need to participate in our democracy. We can’t just sit back, watch it happen, and then be upset when it doesn’t turn out as we’d planned. And while voting is only the simplest of ways to act, it is also at the root of our problems because I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one of us who forgets to take part in this process. I was brimming with happiness when she said what she did because hopefully it reminded others as it reminded me that at the VERY least, we can still do something that people in other countries are still fighting for the right to do, which is use the tiny little slip of paper that gives us a voice.

  4. Maria Salazar says:

    Thursday’s social justice teach-in with Angela Davis was to say the least, inspiring. I felt her speech was the inspiration the student body needed to regroup as a whole and reevaluate the reason we decided to join the Occupy Movement. I felt that this teach-in was much needed after the student movement lost its momentum towards the end of the fall quarter and over winter break. The ideas Angel Davis presented were truly relevant to the climate of the campus last quarter. I felt she opened the eyes of many who were unaware to the details of today’s university system. The idea of privatization and corporatization of the public university system is down hearting for many students. I mean our dinning commons are supplied by a company which has ties to prisons and military programs! What does this have to say about our university? If we allow further corporatization of our university system, then are we as student only to become pawns in corporate America’s games? Will our education become another commodity we must purchase? Are we going to have to take out a mortgage and develop a good credit before we are allowed to enter a university? This being tied to what Ms. Davis said about the corporate gain that the university gets from these corporations. Universities across the nation are succumbing to this “corporate culture” which only further turns public education into another thing to sell to the highest bidder for profit.
    Another very interesting topic that I felt Ms. Davis spoke about was the very idealistic “University of Social Justice.” I loved the fact that it would have to be a feminist, non- hierarchical university that would be based on community through intersectionality. And as Ms. Angela Davis put it, one that would “question the limits of common sense.” Although it seems only an ideal, with today’s progressive movements across the world I hope to soon see this as more of a possibility.

    • xxxjo says:

      Maria, thanks, for summarizing/underlining Ms. Davis concept of the “University of Social Justice” and thank you for expressing your hopes. It feels good to get an idea of how other people think about the ongoing privatization/corporatization. I agree that it was important for students to hear about the changes of the public university system.
      I love how Angela Davis is again and again pointing to solutions and utopian ideas, while keeping the problems in mind. It think every movement needs utopian ideas to change something. We have to keep in mind that all what is, is made by people. That does not mean it is easy to change something, but if one not even tries then for sure nothing changes.
      As an international exchange student it was very inspiring for what Ms. Davis had to say, because the changes of the public universities are also ongoing in germany. Also the “occupy-movement” became an international movement. When I hear Angela Davis (and other US social activists) talk I can see many similarities between problems in germany and the US since both countries are capitalist economies. I think it is very important that Ms. Davis cited Audre Lorde (recognize our difference to relate across them), because in doing that she showed how people can go on and work towards social justice, when differences and problem seem to divide and stop from acting.

  5. GwynSims says:

    The part of the speech I found most interesting was probably only a sidenote to everyone else. But Angela mentioned the company Sodexo, which intrigued me because I actually work for Sodexo (they of course run the DC’s, Tercero, Segundo, and Cuarto). I was disappointed that she didn’t spend more time on the topic because I would have liked to have heard more. However, I mentioned it to someone at work today and they pointed out that all the other UC campuses have gotten rid of Sodexo as their dining service provider, except for UCD. I’d be interested to hear the reasons as to why this is the case. I plan on researching this topic a bit more.

    For the record, I’ve always suspected the company was evil and trying to take over the world. I know for a fact they exploit the student workers–the pay all of us way less than they pay the full-time chefs, even though we usually do more work. They even pay the Student Managers less than the chefs, although the SM’s are their bosses.

    But I digress. I also liked what Angela said about questioning what we have learned in society, and that “just because things are this way now doesn’t mean they’ll stay this way forever.” I think that’s very important to remember for the people who don’t think that any of the bad things happening in the world can change, because they certainly can! In my humble opinion.

  6. ajgutz84 says:

    In thinking about social justice and Ms. Angela Davis’ address to the UC Davis students- the topic that most resonated with me was also when she talked about Sodexho. My mother and father work for Stanford Hospital and Clinics, but my parents are part of the union. My mother has spoken to me about her fears for the future of the unionized housekeeping employees. Sodexho has been contracted by the hospital to provide the supervisory workforce and the plan is to get rid of the unionized workers. What I find to be very interesting is that the CEO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Ms. Martha Marsh came to Stanford from the University of California at Davis. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital and Clinics at the Davis Medical Center and the Chief Operating Officer of the U.C. Davis Health System. She was responsible for the overall management of the UC Davis health system. But aside from this issue back home, I feel that UCD students need to realize that their money has power. With our money we have the power to demand goods and also to demand sustainable and ethical practices. We need to understand that our money is supporting negative and unethical practices by big corporations, not just here in the U.S. but also in other countries. This could all be also very relevant to the subject of Senorita Extraviada and the maquiladoras–owned by American and other foreign countries.

    • dluoo says:

      That was quite an interesting snippet/anecdote you have there. I completely agree with you that money is power. Money IS power and with that, there comes a long line of benefits, but also burdens. I think that if we as a community attempted to reason with Sodexho’s role and influence on UCD’s campus, then we should really find the time. It’s a bit sad eating food can even be a sign of collecitiveness, but it’s where the money was spent, therefore the buck stops there.

    • GwynSims says:

      I find the story you told extremely interesting, I was unaware of just how Sodexho is taking over the world. This kind of behavior is totallly immoral. It’s difficult to understand how this sort of behavior could even be legal–how can companies get away with union busting like this? A lot of fast food companies are the exact same way.

      I also agree that our money has power and that we have the ability to make a difference by choosing to spend wisely. However, part of the problem is that students, in general, don’t have much money to choose how to spend. It’s a matter of constant struggle between choosing to buy a product that you know was produced by the sweat, blood, and tears of poor women and children from other countries, or spending money you don’t have on fair trade items. Angela mentioned something about this that made me feel a lot better. I forgot her exact words but she said something like since it’s impossible to do all the right things all the time (compost, buy fair trade, recycle, etc), it’s important to be aware of the impact of one’s purchasing.

      Thus, although I agree that we students do have a lot of power, I would disagree and say that that power is less through purchasing and more through knowledge. For instance, we have the ability to inform our families, which have more money than us, on the unfairness of these labor practices, and make change THAT way.

  7. Kayla Wigley says:

    I felt naive and embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Angela Davis before this year. After reading articles and passages about her life, I am truly inspired by her passion and drive. The part of her speech that really caught my ear was her quick mention about Sodexo. I had no idea that the company controlling our food distribution also controlled such evil operations. I researched the company after leaving the event. It seems that I cannot stop finding interesting information about them. I wish that Angela had extra time to talk about it because the tone of her voice made it seem like she had a very strong opinion.
    After reading about her childhood and upbringing I feel a strong connection to Angela. I look up to her efforts and her heart that drives her decisions forward. She appeared humble, understanding, and aware of all current issues. With her focus of discussion about the 1%, it was clear how she saw herself at the middle class level and courageously represents it.
    I plan to keep up with her actions and interests in the future. She opened my eyes to need for social justice in our systems along with increasing my interest in the subject.

    • Steph. says:

      I feel the same way about Sodexo. That topic caught my attention, even though I don’t eat on campus. I had food from Dining Commons on my orientation and I thought it wasn’t bad. Now I question if it is even good to eat at school and how powerful of a company it is (A company that I’ve never even heard of until now!). It operates prisons, provides food to UCD, and etc etc.

    • Damien says:

      I had no idea too that Sodexo was so important on campus for food distribution. Besides, when you know that this company is present in more than 120prisons in the world, you realize how important it is to pay attention to every details and not only to appearances. I think it was a good example of how privatization can directly affects the public university system.

  8. xxxjo says:

    Angela Davis made many important and for me personally also very touching points about social justice and public education in the context of a thru neoliberal economy structured society.
    In the following I will basically try to summarize what I understood from what Angela Davis was saying and then conclude with some of my own thoughts.

    1) How can „minorities“ participate and stay/become/fight for a place at public universities?
    Situation: Public Universities become more and more privatized. This is highly problematic, because it endangers the diversity of studies (studies which are not „only“ profit oriented but rather teach critical thinking are at risk: e.g. women´s studies) and the diversity of students. Public Universities „become“ oppressive institutions. Authorities/administration only pretends to responds to the demands of the most vulnerable people on campus.
    Therefore social justice work includes to be always one step beyond. It is more needed than „multicultural centers.“ Radical concepts were acquired from the corporate world. „Diversity“ became an empty term. The administration of the University is not working in the interest of the students and particular not in the interest of the most vulnerable students.
    An important aspect: Who really wants to work towards social justice (which includes to „fight“ for a less hierarchical and exclusive public University) has to recognize difference (see Audre Lorde). Feminism teaches us how „we“ can negotiate difference.
    Another very important and inspiring aspect which is related to that: On an individual level „we“ need to work towards the creation of egalitarian relationships in order to create social justice. This includes the inclusion of people who are outside the „norm“ (including homeless people, poor people, people who have been in prison …). „We“ should not think that these people know less then „us“ academics. We can learn from each other. “Their” minds e.g. are not shaped by powerful institutions (university). Relate to each other thru our differences.
    No change without problems!
    → I think it is beautiful and I totally agree with the idea that I can learn something from a homeless person. I love that she pointed that out, because it shows that the it is worth it to overcome the concept of hierarchy and superior/subordinated. This is anyway one of those ideas which reinforces social injustice. On an individual level to not act with the idea of hierarchy in our mind is one of the most powerful things we can do to work social justice. However at the same time it is important to stay/become aware that structurally there are differences between people.

    2) The concept of multiculturalism became exclusive. To work towards social justice requires a reflection of the meaning of concepts and words/language.
    Multiculturalism today is used as a weapon of imperialism. The inclusion of people now depends on a exclusion of Muslim and Arab people. They are stigmatized as the other, the terrorist (Anti-Islamism).
    → I would like to know more about the history and meaning of the concept of „multiculturalism.“

    3) Animal rights feminism (see film Food Inc.)
    Social Justice includes justice for every living being inclusive plants and animals….
    Capitalism disconnects us from commodities. People become unaware of how animals are treated. „We“ need to recognize the food „we“ eat makes so much cruelty (industrial production). The people who are part of the lowest classes of the society are treated „the same way“ like animals in a capitalism: Violence against animals and poor people…
    → I loved that Davis did not stay human-centric and included plants and animals into the concept of social justice. I think human-centrism is another “relative” of euro-centrism … I want to listen to animals and plants. How? A tree sick thru acid rain and a pig tortured by factory farming – this is a language which can be understand by a human being too I think.

    4) Communities (local and global) are the real challenge of this time. For social justice communities play a key role.
    → In my eyes people in capitalist societies need to find alternative ways to relate to each other. What is mine and yours? Is there something like mine and yours? Can we imagine other ways of achieving happiness beyond the concept of money related work? Communities are a good way to try to develop another world – “buen vivir.” They provide networks of help, so that it is possible to escape a little more out of a society where the pressure to be successful and making money governs our lives and our days, hours, minutes, seconds. Especially when economy declines like right now, it becomes more and more important that people help each other if the government does not provide social security.
    → I want to know more about the concept of “Neo-individualism.”

  9. ananunez3 says:

    The thing that most struck me that Angela Davis said was about the decrease in budget for public education and increase in budget for prisons. In education there was a decrease from 10% to 6.6% while in prisons, an increase from 3% to 11%! This although it did not surprise me much it did enrage me because it is true as Angela Davis said that not all the prisoners are more bad than we are. I mean how many innocent people get put in jail because evidence points at them or just because they are the closest person they could find associating to the actually guilty one. Also there are many actual criminals out there who are never even reported or found guilty needless to say those who are able to just pay themselves out of jail. It is ridiculous how there are just so many prisons built because there is no more room for all the people they are sending to jail some unjustly. I believe this is because instead of focusing on major crimes, the police is better at focusing on little things they see on the road. There have been times when people have called the police and no one answers or even worse they are put on hold! Where are these people and what are they doing when we really need them? Arresting people for the smallest crime? For downloading music only “illegally”? This just makes me reflect back to the film on the Juarez killings of young women. It is surprising how the police could find no evidence on who the killers were like if the crime was perfectly planned out leaving no fingerprints or evidence. Even more surprising was how the police themselves were criminals when they put in jail people for being scandalous and raped them. If the police themselves are the “bad guys” then who do we run to when we are in need? Going back to Angela Davis’ point, incarcerating people like this will of course fill up prisons. Instead the real criminals are much fewer but are out there continuing their crimes. On the other hand our education has decreased in budget this affecting many students but specially those of low resources. How are students to feel encouraged to continue in college when the financial aid is becoming less while the cost of education is increasing. Many students do not have sufficient money to pay the cost that FAFSA does not cover so they either pause their education to earn money or get a part time job which I believe can be a distraction in their studies. I myself as I know many others have been impacted with these budget changes since I now have to pay for the remainder of my fees plus the cost of my books and gas since I commute. I believe the government should really make a change in this matter or there will be more innocent people in jail and less teens wanting or being able to go to college.

    • rsicilekira says:

      I completely agree with your comment. While it is important to have a strong legal system and a place such as jails for the people who have actually committed significant crimes, there is no need for the amount of money and resources that are being spent on the system today. There are far more dangerous crimes that illegally downloading music, which is not what the resources should be spent on catching. The money spent on expanding the jails could easily be used for education, which could in turn help decrease the amount of people in jail. Sometimes people just need a path such as higher education to stop them from a life on the streets or in dangerous circumstances. It is hard to feel encouraged to attend higher education when the tuition just keeps increasing over and over again.

    • michelley says:

      I totally agree with you. Many innocent people are put into jail because it’s convenient to convict these people, even if the evidence may only slightly put the judge in that direction. Many people are wrongfully convicted, and many others are never convicted, but for worse crimes! In addition, relating to the Juarez killings of young women, how are the citizens supposed to trust their police system now? Moreover, who can they trust? Furthermore, I agree with your point about the difficulties with lowering the higher education budget. This makes it more difficult for less fortunate students to afford and even attend university. It’s difficult to juggle work and school, especially if you’re depending on that work to pay for your education. I think it would be better if there was more funding for higher education so that students can focus on their school and less on their work. It would be better for students to get good grades in school than to have mediocre grades while trying pay for college.

  10. rsicilekira says:

    I very much enjoyed hearing her speak, as well as the student panel that followed afterwards. I found it particularly interesting how she spoke about how there is more to our society than the 1% and 99%, and that within those boundaries there is still inequality and issues that need to be looked at and solved. While her speech was very inspiring and informative, it’s hard not to feel a sense of sadness. The student panel expressed many concerns even though some were very involved in student activism. While some of the topics were grave, she did a great job inspiring the audience and expressing that the change will come over time. I particularly enjoyed her comment about not buying into all corporations. She said something along the lines that although we can’t always completely separate ourselves from all negative companies or corporations (we could die otherwise), it is important we be informed. That really struck with me. I have taken multiple sociology classes and have oftentimes been informed about corporations and how they should be avoided, but can’t always commit to separating myself from a company or product due to the resources around me and what I need in order to survive. I definitely agree that it is important to be informed, and inform others on these issues even if we can’t take certain action ourselves.

    • kimcmull says:

      I also thought it was interesting that she pointed out the oversimplification of the 1% and the 99%. This is one of the reasons I have never really understood the occupy movement. Her point about being informed being the best way to live I thought was very insightful. It made me feel sort of bad though because I had no idea about half the things she was talking about. I also thought her sense of humor about society’s problems made me feel that things are bad, but not bad enough to believe they won’t change.

  11. Nikki Mahmoudi says:

    I really enjoyed the teach in and I felt that after the teach in, I left with many thoughts to reflect on. There were two things that Angela Davis said that really struck me. One was that “democracy is not a spectator sport” and the other was “just because things are this way now doesn’t mean they’ll stay this way forever.” Unfortunately, prior to mentioning Angela Davis’s name in class, I had never heard of her. However, after the teach in, I was truly inspired. She is such an amazing speaker and she truly motivated me with her words. One of the topics that she presented was in regards to Sodexo. Although I had heard in the past from my friends that in the dining commons we were eating prison food, I always thought they were joking. After the teach in, I learned that we are being served food from a food service corporation that not only operates in 120 prisons around the world but also that they are suppliers of weapons and ammunition storage. It’s unfortunate to think that we are being served food from a company that engages in such activity. What also was really striking to me was the fact that since 1980, the percentage of the stage budget that is being spent on corrections in US prisons was 3% and now it has rised to 11%. On the other hand, the percentage of the stage budget spent in higher education dropped from 10% to 6.6%. It’s sad to think that the state is more concerned with correctional facilites rather than education that can develop the minds of our young and prevent people from ending up in prison. Personally, I feel that the money spent on US prisons should drop and the money spend on education should increase. On that note, Angela Davis also mentioned that we assume that people in prison must be really bad and I think that’s why our society feels the need to increase the funding of prisons when in reality we should really be decreasing our funding. I also appreciated the fact that Angela Davis redrew attention on the fact that prisoners are requesting to be entitled to a retirement account, health insurance, as well as other benefits. Personally, I feel that these are benefits that every human, in prison or not, deserve. Overall, the teach in was truly inspiring and it made me reflect on a lot of things that I had never thought about before.

    • kjg07 says:

      I agree with what you said in your post, in fact I had a very similar experience during this teach-in. I didn’t know who Angela Davis was until I took this class and I was also very much unaware of the information presented on Sodexo. I wish she had more time to explain more things about the prison system because I rarely hear anything about that. It is very sad that the state is more concerned with correction facilities rather than education. I completely agree that education will increase awareness and help people avoid prison. With the way things are going and the increase in fees it is getting harder to afford school. I am a senior and I have noticed a huge increase in tuition fees when I compare my freshmen year to my senior year. I’m hoping that things change soon, because our public universities are becoming more and more privatized every year. The teach-in was thought provoking and it would be great to hear Angela Davis speak again.

  12. michelley says:

    Hearing Angela Davis on Thursday was very informative and eye opening. She revealed somethings I had never heard of, like Sodexo not only being a national university food service but also having a private prison business. That was very surprising to me because first of all, having a food business, providing food for universities all across America, and owning and managing prisons are totally different occupations!! These two jobs do not seem like they would ever cross paths or be owned under the same company. In addition, I am a UC Davis tour guide and during our tours, we’re supposed to say that our Dining Commons are supplied and managed by Sodexo. That was the first time I had heard of this company, so when Ms. Davis mentioned the name on Thursday, it shocked me to learn that Sodexo also owned private prisons. This made me reconsider if I even wanted to mention that our Dinging Commons are supplied by Sodexo. What if a prospective student’s parent knew about the Sodexo’s history? Wouldn’t that cause some negative ideas about the university’s choice in food suppliers? I don’t want to cause any controversy or be put on the spot on my tour if I’m not even the one making the decision to have this specific food service company supply our Dining Commons with delicious food!

    It also surprised me when she said that funding for higher education was getting cut, but the budget for managing prisons was going up. What kind of logic is that?!?! First of all, some entirely innocent people are put into prison, just so that a case can be settled and someone can have “justice,” even if the guilty was framed or the evidence is only slightly pointing toward the convicted. The problem with our justice system is that they breeze through cases, just so that they can blame someone and close the case. They don’t care if they have the right man, as long as they have someone to blame the crime on, then they’re happy and will move on. Secondly, I remember a couple years ago, there was a high school around my area that could not afford to pay for all their after school sports, so they were cutting teams like the cross country and track teams. This caused controversy because these after school programs and sports kept these kids off the streets and out of trouble. Without something to keep these teenagers out of trouble, they were more likely to be involved with gangs and possibly get arrested for dumb decisions they did because they were “bored” or “had nothing else to do.” In the same way, that’s what cutting the funding of higher education will do. If people can’t afford to go to higher education, there is a possibility of one getting involved in something because they simply cannot attend or afford university. These people have the potential to do wrong-doings and get in trouble for things they wouldn’t do if they were at university. This could put more people in prison. In a way, I guess the shift in money is still going to the people, it’s just going to the people in a different way. But this shift in funding is in a negative way. If there was more funding for higher education, then more people could afford university and they could stay out of trouble. Ms. Davis’ visit was very informational and eye opening, as I learned many things I would not have if she had not spoken.

    • jane go says:

      I don’t think a lot of students here would have been familiar with Sodexo’s prison business if Angela Davis had not mentioned it. It’s interesting to read how you thought completely different about something you knew, after Angela Davis’s speech. You said that you mention Sodexo’s sponsorship of our dining commons, and didn’t usually think much of it, just something you have to mention while giving tours. Ms. Davis opened your eyes, though, and it even shocked you to find out this information about the prisons. I think this proves how moving and informative a person such as Angela Davis is in society. She inspires us to think more about even the little things–the things that we didn’t think were so important, but that actually make a difference–and to provoke our own thoughts about them.

  13. kjg07 says:

    Sad to say I had never heard of Angela Davis before I took this class. Seeing her for the first time was quite an experience. She is a very powerful speaker and I very much appreciated her talking about insights to social justice and public education. I completely agreed with her when she said that social justice is an on going process. Relating to our campus it seems like after the occupy movement there are very few people still involved in making change occur on our campus. The information she presented about the labor unions really shocked me. I couldn’t believe that the amount of labor unions had dropped from about 35% to about 11% now. I would have thought the amount of unions would have gone up since we are trying to improve society, but instead it has gone down which is limiting the power of the work force.
    One of the most powerful things she said was that “democracy is not a spectator sport”. In order to bring change and to unite to make a difference many people have to be involved and not just stand and watch. Relating back to the occupy movement, I noticed that there were many people involved initially but soon the amount of people involved reduced. Because of the lack of people involved, the movement will not challenge the system and help protect the public university system. Instead public universities will be run in a privatized matter.
    One of the biggest shocks I had from her presentation was of Sodexo. I had no idea that the company operated so many prisons. Also, I would have never thought that a company that provided food for students also helped in weapon and ammunition storage. I know that she was limited in time but I wish she had talked more about Sodexo because it is here on our campus feeding a vast majority of students.
    I appreciated her emphasis on unity among students. I agree that in order to make a difference the students should disregard all the differences amongst each other and strive for a common goal to protect public education. I believe one of the people from the panel also asked her about how to unify the student body but because of the lack of time to answer all the question, I don’t believe Angela Davis had the chance to give a thorough answer.
    Overall I learned a lot about things I had never thought about. The funding for public education verses the prisons, the unions, Sodexo and much more that she talked about in her speech. I am very grateful that I actually go to witness such an inspirational person.

    • Nikki Mahmoudi says:

      I totally agree with many of the points that you mentioned in your blog post. I really appreciate how you mentioned that Angela Davis talked about how social justice is an on going process. I feel like this point can also be related to the Occupy movement and what you mentioned in your blogpost regarding the support that the occupy movement is getting. As you mentioned, the numbers of people who are actively protesting in the occupy movement have decreased. As Angela Davis mentioned, social justice is an on going process and thus, there should be more people taking part in the occupy movement. I feel that a big problem with movements like this is after a time when people do not see change they give up and that is not the way to go. The larger the numbers the occupy movement has, the more publicity the movement can get, and then maybe we can see some changes being done. I also agree with what you mentioned about a need for the unity of students. This goes well with the discussion we had in class regarding the problems with our campus’s Occupy Movement. If our occupy movement was united, then maybe we could see more changes going on.

  14. Steph. says:

    Social justice vs public education was something that caught my attention during the speech. I was glad that Angela Davis gave a piece of her mind on the pepper spray incident because it had caused a huge commotion last quarter. She emphasized that students were peaceful protestors and how violence was used upon them. Angela reminded us that we can develop an awareness and recognize that we are all implicated. I think that can be applied to a lot of the issues she brought up. I have never heard of Sodexho, or even been to dining commons. I live off campus and don’t eat on campus ever. It was interesting to know that our food from school is supplied by Sodexho. I believe I heard that UCD is the only school that is being supplied by Sodexo?! I googled the company, but didn’t seem to find anything interesting about this company except that we are eating prison food? It costs so much to eat at school too according to my friends, which I don’t understand. Angela Davis has brought awareness to this topic, but I guess Sodexo includes private corporations, government agencies, schools from elementary through university, hospitals and clinics, assisted-living facilities, military bases, and correctional facilities. I wouldn’t have known about Sodex at all or how big of a company it was if it was not for Ms. Davis.

    • Steph. says:

      It was also unbelievable that Sodexo also operates 120 prisons all around the world. I looked at its website again, and it is very confusing. ^

  15. pamnonga says:

    Angela Davis was great. It was so interesting to watch her speak and see everyone light up in her presence. I loved that she was smiling the whole time, even as she talked about today’s major issues in society. Although I didn’t agree with everything she said, she did make some points that I love. 1) Black History is everyone’s history, because it’s the story of the fight for freedom and equality. i thought that was a great statement to make during Black History Month which many people see as exclusively for people of African Descent, but I think many oppressed groups can relate to the Black struggle. 2) That the issue w/ the privatization of public education is not only the profit-seeking motivations behind the phenomenon but the establishment of a corporate culture. I had never thought about this aspect. The idea of a corporate culture with its hegemony, hierarchical structure, and competitive environment taking over the university atmosphere is very evident. 3) That fake multiculturalism can be seen as a victory b/c it shows that the oppressors are adapting our terms and the key to combating social injustice is to stay two steps ahead by inventing new terms. I thought those were some great and enlightening points to make.

    • Christina says:

      I also really like the fact how she said Black History month was for everyone and not just for people of African American decent however it is really relevant to anyone who is struggling. During this time she thinks it is important for these struggling people to be able to come together and stand in solidarity for what they believe in regarding their struggles in cultural, racial, educational, gender – etc. struggles. I also agree with the importance of bringing up he privatizing of public education. It frightens me how this is happening so quickly in front of us and yet it seems there is little if anything being done at all to stop it.

  16. Michelle says:

    Listening to Angela Davis speak was great. She is such an intelligent, eloquent, and inspiring person. One point that she made that I had not thought about before and stuck with me was the one about the disparities within the 99% itself. She said it was important to recognize this and I agree. Even though they’re fighting for similar reasons, the situation does not affect everyone within that 99% equally. It reminded me of the discussions we have had in class about feminism and intersectionality and the necessity of an understanding of those intersections. I also found interesting the part about Sodexo. I didn’t know that they had so much power and that they even owned prisons! It just reiterated for me the fact that corporate power is so vastly expanded that the same corporation who provide alimentation for students also run prisons.

    • pamnonga says:

      I forgot about that point, but I’m glad you brought it up again. You’re absolutely right, that noting that the 99% is a diverse group is crucial. Intersectionality, like you said plays a huge part in this debate/conversation that is happening in the US and around the world. It makes the issues a little more complex and potential solutions a little more nuanced. The part about Sodexo surprised me as well; its hard to make a connection between lunch and food. But yes, Angela Davis was an amazing speaker.

  17. cschoeon101 says:

    I was thoroughly inspired by Angela Davis’s speech last Thursday. There are various reasons why I found her speech relatable for everyone on various levels. The fact that she incorporated faculty and students as a unified learning institution and haven made me, as a student feel more proud of the fact that I go to a public university that brands a strong sense of community. The privatization of public education has spoken to everyone on so many levels and I felt the need to find a resolution for a pursuit in social justice. Everyone deserves a high caliber education and an institution that rightfully serves those who are passionate about the subject. The November 18 incident at UC Davis has not only expressed a certain struggle between government security and the inhabitants here at Davis, but also an unfortunate resort that the authority must take in order to end all student related protests. Professor Angela Davis has done such an eloquent job of expressing the sadness that the whole community has endured and I respect her for that. Also, on a different note, she discussed that Black History Month is not only a history of struggle for African Americans, but a struggle for all freedom, and I praise her highly for those thoughts. Overall, I was moved and felt proud that I was affiliated with such a resilient and audacious learning community.

  18. gayathriwms says:

    Angela Davis’s speech brought a lot of insight into our prison system as well as the racial barriers we face in today’s so-called non-racist society. As Davis said, racism continues to shape our society, and the media has a huge influence on this. What we perceive and understand about a certain race is largely derived from the media. In addition, Davis’s statement on creating a more positive schooling system is definitely a vision for the future. Having schools that promote positive teaching and learning will enhance the students’ abilities to perform well in the future. Many universities today practice environmental conservation and this again, entails to how we can see our future, because these same students are the building blocks of tomorrow. In terms of the prison complex, more minority students are targeted by prisons, and as Davis said, Sodexo operates several prisons around the world, so it has become more of a business than something that monitors security. 

    • hahn chiu says:

      I don’t remember Angela Davis saying much about this, but I think it’s clear that media most greatly shapes or perpetuates our ideologies of gender (and other qualities, like race). I just watched the film “Children of Men” with a friend who is taking Intro to Women’s Studies; he commented on how the pregnant black girl character exemplifies common Western attitudes toward minority women- how they are there for the sexual taking. Whether or not that fits the context of the story, it was obvious his class also emphasizes the intersectional approach to identity. Moreover, the pregnant black girl in the movie is predictably protected by a courageous white man, similar to the standard Oedipal narrative. The film also happened to have elements of orientalism; I rolled my eyes when a group of Arab men appeared on screen, firing guns into the air and chanting “Allahu Akbar.” Immediately I thought of the orientalism we’ve been discussing in class, and how accurate Professor Said’s observation is about the media’s one-dimensional portrayal of Muslims. There is virtually always an implication of weapon usage or other violence tied to Muslim characters. I wanted to unwind and just watch a film for entertainment, but it didn’t surprise me to see many of the gender and racial stereotypes standard in western media.

      I too appreciate Angela Davis for making the point about better quality schooling. American kids are no more or less intelligent and capable than those in other wealthy nations; I think the problem we have is largely with accountability, of esp. high school teachers. Davis’s focus was on public universities, but I think at least as important is ensuring our compulsory school teachers are qualified and truly care about their students’ progress.

  19. elaaaineee says:

    One of things that stood out to me was when Angela Davis talked about Sodexo. Like Gywn, I also work in the Dining Commons, and I hear bad things about this company all the time at work. However, I didn’t know that they also operate prisons in foreign countries, or that there have been protests and boycotts towards this company for over a decade. It was something new I learned, and it is also making me think twice before I consider eating on-campus.

    Another thing that stood out to me was when Angela Davis mentioned her mother and the importance of higher education. When Ms. Davis talked about how her mother knew at the age of 13 that she wanted to pursue a higher education, it made me think of how I thought the same way when I was younger. Even when I was in elementary school, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to go to college later. After watching my immigrant parents struggle to support our family, I knew the importance of obtaining that college degree to be able to have more opportunities later in life.

  20. Damien says:

    Angela Davis’s speech was very inspiring for me. I have to admit that I barely knew her first, only her main fights an ideas. She gave a great talk on which she was always trying to link history and actuality. I found every subjects interesting: her remarks about “black history”, the on-going fight from freedom in Palestine, the relation between public university and privatization, “animal dignity” but also about the prisoner movements.

    What was more relevant for me was the way she has to always challenge everything. The idea that the world as it is today won’t always be the same but also that everyone can make a difference somehow by being/staying active to promote change.

    Moreover, what struck me was the correlation between the education and prison systems. The state’s budget for prisons increased from 3% in 1980 to 11% in 2010 while the education budget decreased by more than 4% during the same period. Being not an American, I hardly understand how voters can accept that whenever they have the possibility to elect their representatives. I believe that education has to be a priority for every governments and that, as A.Davis said, “education is the only sure path to liberation”.

  21. Audrey says:

    Truth to be told, I had absolutely no knowledge of who Angela Davis was prior to this event. Boy, do I feel grateful to be introduced to such an inspirational writer, activist and person.

    I love that Angela cited our recent Occupy movement when she talked about the increasing privatization of behind it and greatly respect the strong-minded, brave protestors who went out every single day and put themselves in harm’s way for the good of society. I do agree with everything Angela Davis said as it’s incredibly frustrating to see tuition increase every single year while simultaneously seeing the decrease in the difference between public and private universities.

    I also appreciated that she stated that universal healthcare is a human right. Because it IS. As Article 25 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) clearly states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” So to be denied healthcare coverage is ridiculous.

    Finally, I agreed with Angela when she said that Black History, like Pam mentioned, is everyone’s history. Black History Month is the month to bring awareness to the oppression against ALL minorities in the history of time and to celebrate the steps our society has taken to correct and end these oppressions. African Americans aren’t the only group of people to fight for freedom and equality, and to say Black History Month is solely geared towards people of African descent would be to belittle and/or disregard the hardships of everyone else.

    Needless to say, Angela Davis is an incredibly inspirational orator and it was an honor to hear her speak last Thursday.

  22. hahn chiu says:

    Within an hour, Angela Davis eloquently illuminated how severe and widespread social injustice remains. She began by praising how peaceful the Occupy demonstration on campus was last November, comparing its national importance to that of the Bakke Supreme Court decision. Some protestors from the pepper spraying incident seem to be loving the spotlight, but Davis is right to commend how maturely the students handled the situation. Though they made a statement regarding First Amendment rights, the few tents still scattered on the quad keep me wondering if their original goals will ever be achieved. Davis continued to skillfully balance acknowledging progress and the long road ahead- for example, the Nigerian legislature recently enacted a bill banning homosexual marriage- despite that, we know states in the U.S. (e.g. Washington and Maryland) are taking steps to enact laws for equality.

    I particularly liked how Angela Davis promoted humility, emphasizing that we are not intellectually elite because of our education; it no longer surprises me how much “uneducated” people know more than I do. Despite that, attending college has great benefits and the option should be available for all who want it.

    The French student’s question regarding depression in acknowledging the pervasiveness of social injustice didn’t get much agreement, but I thought he raised a great point. People in general treat each other poorly; the panelist named Chelsea, for example, shared how she encountered racism even from fellow Occupy Protestors. Angela Davis’ solution is that community can keep us from falling into hopelessness, but experiences like Chelsea’s exemplify how community can be hard to find.

    By the middle of the lecture I had acquired a sense of hopelessness due to the volume of serious problems mentioned that plague society. By the end of it though, Angela Davis’ emphasis on progress made and my renewed sense of awareness gave me hope. I can see the spirit and passion that won the support of John Lennon and the Rolling Stones as Davis was imprisoned in the 60’s. She has the eloquence and social awareness to inform and inspire; to encourage while staying realistic.

    On a podium, it’s easy to get carried away and impose one’s perspectives on the audience, but I felt Angela Davis humbly shared her own, while inspiring me to look deeper into each issue myself and formulate my own opinion. We can’t quit feeding corporate interest cold turkey, for example, but we owe it to ourselves to be aware and increase awareness in others. I thought this speech was heuristic and philosophical in that she evokes questions- the best way to teach. With knowledge and reason we can discover the root of each problem- the first step in solving them.

    • bjvanhorn says:

      I think part of the reason the French student’s question was left essentially unanswered is because of the nature of “depression”. Many emotional illnesses are caused more or less by a negative perception of one’s actions. So, a depression caused by seeing all the world’s problems would likely be caused by one feeling some great onus to change all of the world’s problems. We only have the responsibility to change what we can. Join a rally, a petition, an activist group; those are all things we CAN do. However, we can’t, individually, stop big business from committing is negative actions, for example. It’s something we can only do once we’ve come together and stood up for what’s right.

      Though I think part why people might seem so glum concerning the world’s negative sides is because they use the world ‘depressed’. Make no mistake, depression is, primarily, an illness. One is not simply depressed because view humanity’s negative contributions to the world. One is usually depressed because they view things as worse then they are, or, put another way, depressed because they only really see the negative things, or have a hard time accepting the positive, despite wanting to. It could even be as simple as one having a literal chemical depression, as in there is an imbalance in their brain chemicals, be at the hands of nature or nurture. Because of this, it’s important for us as a people to not use the term depression so liberally. Let’s be creative and crack open that Thesaurus that’s lined with dust on our shelf!

      Thankfully, as you said, Angela Davis left everyone on a positive note and attempted to heal us of out “depression”.

    • katherynevu says:

      I really agree with most of your comments. I really felt that Angela Davis was trying to find an even ground to address the Pepper Spray incident in Davis, while reminding everyone that we must retain humility. Davis became a teacher and someone who wanted to share her wisdom with the students who are in need of advice how to approach their battles. There is so much we can learn from someone with so much experience and her words will not go unheard.

  23. Christina says:

    After hearing Angela Davis speak I was very impressed with her ability to intertwine so many important issues and address so many topics so eloquently while not going off on tangents. A topic I felt was very intriguing was her mentioning of the company Sodexo. Seeing as how this company operates so many facilities on our campus, I feel it is important to educate ourselves about how this is affecting our campus and our students. I had no idea this corporation was so large and find it quite mind boggling how they run 240 prisons around the world in addition to dealing with weapons and ammunition storage. This whole time as a student here in Davis I had no idea a corporation like that was the same one allowing me to eat my occasional Taco Bell or fruit parfait. I find it not only frightening but quite disconcerting that this isn’t common knowledge among students. Although this is what stood out to me most, I found her overall speech to be very inspiring and really appreciate how she has such a free spirit and open mind wanting us students to question and challenge everything, and not to be taken advantage of.

    • daniellelong90 says:

      I agree with the comments about sodexo. I really appreciated her acknowledgement of the atrocities associated with the company because it gave me new insight about big corporations and their impact on everything down to the commercialized fast food we eat. I really took note of Ms. Davis’s comment of, ” We cannot refuse to be a part of ALL the oppressive entities around us (Sodexo) or we will die. But we must be AWARE.” I think this point is really important. It is impossible to protest everything oppressive because the majority of things in our daily lives are oppressive to SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE. So we need to take her advice and educate ourselves about the oppressiveness and re-adjust our attitudes towards things we take for granted.

    • Audrey says:

      I agree with your comments on Sodexo. To be honest, I had next to zero knowledge about the company. In fact, I didn’t even know it was the corporation in charge of our dining commons, the Silo, etc. (which just goes to show how ignorant I was). So I definitely was just as shocked as you were (if not more so) when Ms. Davis started talking about Sodexo and it’s involvement in prisons.

      I also agree with Danielle in that I feel I’m a prime example of someone who was completely clueless and unaware of Sodexo and it’s effect. Ignorance is most definitely not bliss and it only feeds the flames of oppression. This was a personal wake-up call to be more educated.

  24. Iris says:

    The most important insight that I received, is that we have a long way to go on educating people about identity politics and how to use them in a way that is not discriminatory against other participants in other protests. I was very disappointed with how Angela Davis did not answer the question about an Occupy UC Davis member’s plea to understand that a panelist’s labeling of the Occupy movement as ‘white men’ only was reverse erasure, erasing the visible people-of-color and lgbt within the movement. It was a very important question, because I have seen several examples of people within Occupy debate over identity politics, but refuse to provide solutions about how to have ‘inclusive’ protesting, when there are already groups, commitees, and meetings underway to address the issue.

    That said, I thought it was great that Angela Davis made the connection between the prison-industrial complex, the education system, and the food production system. As someone who is already well versed in these ideas, it was good to see her introduce them to an audience who have may not considered these connections before, and how they reflect on the truth within our society. (I’m a little tired so this is nowhere near eloquent enough for how I would usually write, but it’s my very rough two cents.)

  25. jane go says:

    I really wish I took good notes while listening to Angela Davis speak. While writing this comment, I have to go off of the topics that I remember, and I apologize that I probably will not be able to go into too much detail about my reflection. First of all, I feel like she emphasized the need for both humans and non-humans to be able to share equal ground a few times during her speech (also when she answered a woman’s question later on). I’ve been well aware of the movements towards eliminating animal abuse and PETA and Food Inc. and all that, but I never would have thought that those issues would come up in Angela Davis’s speech. I didn’t even know that she doesn’t eat meat. Whenever she brought up “humans and non-humans alike,” it just made me think about how universal the fight for equality and nurture SHOULD be; it’s important to be aware of all living these things and to respect them because they are all parts that exist together on this planet. It also makes me think about all the choices we make and the thoughts that we are exposed to in life: how we decide to treat other people, how we see them, how we think of ourselves in relation to others, what we eat, how we feel about our food, where it comes from, etc.

  26. bjvanhorn says:

    One thing I’ve never really gotten involved in during my stay at UC Davis was with the politics of being a student. Now, I don’t really mean the ASUCD political elections that happen around campus, but the political nature of what it means to be a student at a University. Who you are, what you choose to do, how you act, how you think about the University and its peoples, etc.

    In the past, I’ve always thought of myself as a lone student in a mechanical system of education, where I had not control over much of anything beyond myself; I had no influence beyond myself. However, after seeing Angela Davis and hearing the teacher panel afterward, I’ve started to see things differently. I’ve started to see the responsibility and power that the two majorities of the student population have, Whites and Asians, towards helping their fellow students get a better and more fair education. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the non-Asian “Ethnic” students seem to focus much of their efforts in the humanities, while a good portion of the Whites and Asians tend to focus on the sciences. Well, this is all fine and dandy. What is problematic, however, is the fact that those in the sciences tend to ignore the fact that humanities and the problems they’re analyzing seem to exist. We in the sciences have a nice budget, plenty of classes, plenty of teachers that represent us (as in many White and Asian faculty), and a wide variety of students to become peers with when considering our specific field of interest. There’s no incentive, besides the human incentive, to go out of our norms and safety zones and explore the academic jungle that is the humanities.

    One interesting thing I remember Professor Hanes speaking about was a qualitative poll he and his peers made concerning whether students agreed that the non-White and non-Asian ethnic representations on campus and around town were not acceptable. I believe he said that only the non-Asian ethnic groups responded positive to this question, meaning Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Native Americans, etc indeed thought there was not enough Blacks, Latinos, etc on campus and around town. Now, I in no way mean to single out Asians. I could be wrong and I most definitely don’t have the poll in my hand to verify this. Nor am I attempting to make some causal connection from this data. I remember this specific tidbit because it simply made me realize how much power the student body loses toward change if part of the majority no longer is interested. If all Whites and/or all Asians decided they didn’t care about the advancement and equality for all, then it would be quite a bit harder for things to happen.

    We’re all in this together, be us White or Black, in the Sciences or Humanities, a Freshman or Super Senior, a Teacher or a Student, an administrator or a lunch chef. Everyone can contribute to the social climate toward change, but that is a choice everyone has to make. As Professor Hanes put it, there is no incentive on behalf of teachers in the sciences to help those in the humanities; he was at the Angela Davis event out of his own pocket. And if the teachers have no incentive to help make change, then they likely won’t be imbuing their students to do so either.

    In essence, we all have a role to help one another, and we all need to try to fulfill it, despite the fact that the institution we’re under may not really be built for us to do so.

  27. katherynevu says:

    I have never been to a speech like this before and I usually don’t involve myself in active speeches, however I am actually glad I went to witness Angela Davis. She is a very moving character and her speech was really well put together. She addressed a lot of topics, but she also had some humor to make them lighter. She first addressed the pepper-spray incident that happened on campus in November and she tied the events to many others that happened in the past that were similar. She addressed other topics such as the food company that is on campus that supports the military. What I remember the most was the statement that “occupy is an economical movement” and that it was a “battle” of economics. She stated some examples how funding in the United States is shifting towards prisons and military. Funds for education have dropped from 11% to 6.6%. She finishes her speech with an idea that we should “create” and “ideal university”. An ideal university that practices equality and justice.

    I stayed a little longer for the scholar speeches. They all came from different backgrounds and they were all working on a research to further their studies. Each speech was just as moving and interesting. I was surprised that I was really moved by the speeches done by Angela Davis and by the scholars. It just really makes me think about what is happening around the world and inside my own country.

  28. dluoo says:

    Angela Davis was truly inspirational. The fact that despite her being pushed down through her trials and tribulations (being sent to jail, for example), she still proves to be a strong figure in our community. One of the most compelling things I found about her speech was her strong encouragement that “creativity/inspiration will create liberation and change”. I was intrigued by her speech, especially she mentioned the Occupy movement. I went in thinking the Occupy movement was a group of minorities, but boy was I wrong. I did not realize or even see how much “white-ness” it has and perhaps, like her and the other speakers and students mentioned, is sadly the truth, but by no means does it mean we cannot change it. I began to think alot after I left the auditorium and often I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with her ideas too. The many student speakers provided interesting perspectives about community and most importantly, how can we fight against a 1% that grows larger (more of an “elite” group) and more promiscuous each day? Also, what can we do about Sodexho?? I was shocked to hear what a “terrible” company was and Ms DAvis is correct: often we overlook everything that we take for granted and we have been brainwashed to accept rather than question.

  29. cameron says:

    At one point in her speech, Angela Davis made a statement about ‘capitalist food’ in America causing diabetes and obesity and such. She did not go further than that single mention, so I am not sure exactly to what extent she was blaming American food for diet-related problems. However, if she was implying any but the smallest of blame, I disagree. The food industry in the U.S. is not sneaking food into peoples’ mouths; these people are fully aware of what they are doing when they eat large caloric surpluses every day, with little to no exercise. At the same time, these food companies, especially fast food restaurants, are heavily advertising their products, which is very natural in a capitalist system. Also, there are often societal or economic pressures that lead to unhealthy habits, such as excessive eating, eating mostly unhealthy foods, or little exercise, but these are not necessarily the sole fault of these capitalist food systems. I’m not knowledgeable enough to make an assertion as to who is at fault, but there are certainly other entities entitled to some of that blame.

    But what if Ms. Davis was instead speaking about the system, not the participants of that system? What if she was calling for a change from capitalist food to some other food system? Perhaps communist food? Recall that the food system isn’t the only source of factors contributing to obesity and diabetes. Then, solving this problem would require changing many aspects of the U.S. from capitalist to communist, a drastic change, which would not work at all, shown by several historical examples.

    Well then what is to be done? Certainly there must be some way to help stem the rise of diet-related problems, which have been called an ‘American epidemic.’ Maybe communism would have fared better in a group of well-educated people, maybe not. It most certainly would not have fared better. Perhaps capitalism would work better in a more educated group of people. In capitalism, it is largely producer vs consumer. As of now, favor is shifting towards the producers, the marketers, the capitalist food, but maybe educating United States citizens will shift the favor back to where it should be.

    • cameron says:

      ~~~~~~EDIT:~~~~~~~~~~
      in the last paragraph, 4th sentence, I meant to say ‘It most certainly would not have fared WORSE’

  30. daniellelong90 says:

    I really enjoyed the Angela Davis talk. I’m sorry this post is coming so late, but I thought we were supposed to write on notecards. Better late than never right?

    The point that stuck the most for me was when Ms. Davis asked why institutions of higher education continue to close their doors to those not part of the “elite” whether they do so consciously or not? This question although rhetorical, is very true. By raising tuition and making classes harder to get into due to budget cuts and class sizes, universities are making it harder for many people to continue to afford college. It’s really a shame that individuals who are not considered “elite” are pushed further and further out of higher education, when in fact it is these individuals who will often appreciate the opportunity to attend a university the most. It is also unfortunate that the individuals who often cannot afford college and who are not considered part of the “elite” are minorities.

    I really enjoyed Ms. Davis’s talk about the social justices in the public university and her call for action. I appreciated that her call for action was not radical as well, showing that not all calls for action need to be stereotypically rebellious and radical.

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