Lena’s presentation made me want to know more about the alt-right. I’m interested in politics myself (as can be seen from my topic selection of the Tea Party), but I find the alt-right to be a highly complex collection of a variety of people. The alt-right is commonly thought of as a group of uneducated bigots, but Lena exposed some less-obvious traits such as willingness to have civil discussion on Internet forums. As the alt-right is such a contemporary issue, I am eager to follow future developments on the alt-right as an activist movement seeking to enact a change in society.
Renee’s presentation was the most educational for me. As a Chinese speaker and writer myself, I understood the basis for many of the ideas that Renee discussed, but I had not previously been exposed to the actual application of Chinese linguistics to activism. Renee did a good job outlining the numerous ways in which activists can take seemingly harmless phrases like “eye field” or “grass mud horse” and use them to resist oppression. Also, I learned about the Wenzhou train incident, a very poignant example of the use of social media to counteract government censorship.
Makena’s presentation had numerous surprising aspects. I was not so shocked that greenwashing is practiced – it seemed obvious that companies would promote their image by trying to appear more environmentally friendly. What was shocking was that the exact opposite of this practice also exists. Brownwashing understates environmentally friendly developments, in an attempt to appeal to shareholders looking for profitable ventures. This revealed that the issue of corporate image is not as one-dimensional as I thought and there are a number of tactics companies use to manipulate their reputation.
Chris’s presentation on love as a force for social justice was the most inspirational for me. Though a highly abstract topic, Chris was able to draw connections to the idea of love in a variety of activist leaders and movements such as the Black Power movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and the modern Black Lives Matter movement, showing how love is used by each of these groups and proposing ways in which love could further the motives of these activists. In addition, Chris was very engaging as a speaker with attractive visuals to convey feeling and imagery.