I thought Paulina’s presentation on lactivism was really interesting. I liked how evaluated how the two sides, one promoting breastfeeding above all else and the other advocating for choice, could be viewed from a feminist perspective. I thought this was an insightful choice for a few reasons. First, as a college student all of my feminist experiences and knowledge is removed from motherhood and my experience with the intersection of motherhood and feminism is usually about how having a baby doesn’t mean I have to stay at home. Obviously, there is a lot more to it and Paulina’s presentation made me think about how feminism interacts with motherhood. Related to the idea of motherhood, another interesting thing Paulina brought up was the idea of choice. This is a central argument in the abortion debate, but when you talk about women’s choice in motherhood, I think it’s a little different. On one hand, it is the women’s choice to breastfeed, but that choice also has to take into account what is best for the baby. Lastly, her research reminded me how the feminist movement doesn’t have the same amount of unity that I see with ethnic or racial groups, and it made me wonder if part of the reason is because of the way feminism treats motherhood. I’m pretty sure there are some people that write about feminism and motherhood, so am interested in looking into that topic.
The presentation that I feel that I learned the most from was probably Shay’s on Blaxploitation. I learned the most from that mostly because it was a topic that I felt that I was already sufficiently introduced to, which made digesting the information easier. I loved learning about the new movies and information out there about activism in this industry. I was particularly fascinated by Melvin Van Peebles and his choice to make a film about black people that would reflect the culture. Shay’s presentation made me want to watch films like Sweetback which was quoted as being able to make African-Americans stand tall and proud with each other.
I was also particularly confused about how black people were said to be represented as sub-human in film before the world war. Shay’s presentation chronicling the development of African-American in film was particular enlightening and really helped me understand how this came to be.
I thought Lena’s presentation on the alt-right was fascinating. I think living in the Bay Area has given me a distorted view of anything that is not highly liberal/progressive, and the objectivity in which she presented her topic was great. I especially appreciated the screenshots of comments that she included, as well as the entire overview of what the alt-right aims to achieve, what it celebrates, and what other groups view the alt-right as. Though I abhor most of what the alt-right stands for, as this administration continues into 2020, I look forward to further researching the alt-right (and its effects on this presidency) with a foundation of objective understanding.
Rudi’s presentation made me very curious about Native American activism, both within and outside the context of Alaska’s pebble mines. Given that Native Americans represent less than 5 percent of the American population, I’d love to learn more about what kinds of techniques activist organizers can use to encourage solidarity and make their voices heard. Moreover, given that most history textbooks focus so little on Native American history, how can Natives continue to spread cultural awareness?
Zoe’s presentation taught me a great deal about how powerful large agricultural businesses are and how much they’ve been able to shape our perceptions and habits around food. I’m glad she cleared many of my misconceptions and focused on all the ways that agricultural businesses have been suppressing food activist efforts.
I was most surprised by Neel’s presentation since I didn’t realize how unfairly Black Lives Matter was being evaluated until I began to understand the context into which this movement was born. The direct comparison with the Civil Rights Movement was very helpful in proving that unlike the 1960s, the more pessimistic BLM serves to unveil the many forms of racism that have since been swept under the rug.
Jessica’s presentation showed me that the “model minority” myth is merely a subtle means of quieting and dismissing racial activism. It’s inspired me to acknowledge that implicit biases can be just as dangerous as explicit ones, and that bringing light to these systematic injustices is the key to resolving them.
I found Renee’s presentation on internet activism under the Chinese firewall to be extremely interesting. The concept of this type of activism is extremely dynamic. Using censored social media interaction to undermine and rebel against the government is interesting as is, but the way in which the activists use the confines of government censorship to their advantage is extremely interesting. I love that these protestors often use humor in the form of visual mediums to oppose their oppressors and then claim to just be goofing around, or “having fun on the internet”.
I also loved the presenter’s use of images and graphics in the presentation. I always try to avoid putting too many words in my powerpoint, but I never really consider the use of trigger diagrams or symbols, which Renee used extremely effectively (examples include locks, trains, real and modified logos). Overall, It was a well delivered presentation with an extremely engaging visual aid.
Sol’s presentation about extremism in animal rights activism was really interesting. I learnt a lot about the extreme steps taken by the animal rights activists and how they have lowered the effectiveness of the overall movement. It was really interesting to learn about the internal divisions between animal rights groups and how that needs to addressed in order to increase people’s awareness about cruel situations animal live in.
I really enjoyed David’s presentation about how money has influences the politics in the United States. Coming from India, I always thought that my country is the only democracy with a corrupted and a rigged political system. But it was really interesting to know that the situation here in the USA is not extremely different. This made me think about how regardless of the location, money and power has been the reason why people have resorted to unethical practices.
All presentations have been extremely informative, and it was great to learn more about the problems different activist groups face while challenging some of the existing policies! Before this class, I hadn’t thought much about how social issues are addressed and how such rallies have influenced and transformed the society we live in.
Renee’s presentation about censorship in China was particularly interesting to me due to the fact that I still can’t wrap my head around the topic in general. It amazes me how an entire country filled with an Internet using population of over 700 million is so successfully censored by the government. After this presentation it came to my attention that I have taken my freedom of speech and internet/social media usage for granted here in America. I can’t begin to imagine American millennial culture without freedom of speech, especially in our current political situation.
One specific moment in the presentation that haunts my thoughts is China’s attempt to bury the story of the train wreck by literally burying the entire scene and those still trapped in the train. This is truly frightening because it makes me wonder what other tragic stories they have successfully erased from the world/their citizens by censoring articles and reports in the news. It was nice learning that internet-using activist in China have found loopholes to take advantage of in their insanely censored world. Their use of art and word play is brilliant and opens up the door to a whole new range of discussions through social media, blogs, and other websites.
Reflecting on the actions of these activists, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to risk being sent to jail for a period of time to discuss what the government wants to keep quiet. Although Renee mentioned lawyers often defend these activists by claiming they weren’t trying to make any political statements, just be humorous on the internet, I would still be too afraid the possible consequences. It will be interesting to see what new loopholes activists will get away with next.
Paulina’s presentation on lactivism made me want to more about it. Sure, the “scandal” of breastfeeding in public pops up on news media outlets every once in awhile, but prior to learning about lactivism, I hadn’t realized there was an entire movement devoted to the whole breast or no breast debate. What’s more, I hadn’t realized that there was a rather dark history to infant formula. By examining both sides of the argument, as well as bringing in the past, the presentation really brought attention to the movement. It’s also strange, that something so obviously necessary to debate is not as covered in the media as it should be. I’d love to know more about lactivism, because child nutrition is incredibly important.
I think Abhinav’s presentation on sports activism and media presentation taught me the most. As somebody who has a rather adverse allergy to anything “sport”, it was interesting to see that moves like Colin Kaepernick were not just isolated events throughout history. While I had known a little bit about people like Mohammed Ali and Magic Johnson, I had never fathomed the idea that athletes had developed such a role in modern day times. While I may never understand sports, Abhinav’s presentation taught me that high profile sports stars are more than just media darlings, and that they have the potential to influence the perception of social activist movements.
Richard’s presentation on water activism surprised me a lot. Last year, my roommate may have gone on a complete diatribe about my extensive showers (that lasted an eternity of 10 minutes…) and how California was in a drought. My argument, coming from somebody who didn’t grow up in California, at the time was that agriculture was already taking up a large proportion of the water anyways, so why should I bother, and that if Stanford really wanted to cut back on water usage, it would stop watering its grass, and use better watering techniques. But after learning about how much farmers are already cutting back on water-hungry crops, as well as the pressure said local farmers are facing, it’s made me do a complete about face on my stance on water conservation in California.
Amit’s argument about using religious arguments as a progressive, however, I felt was the most inspiring. A lot of the arguments back where I’m from stem from the Christian Bible. It reminds me of the phrase “if you can’t beat them, join them.” With regards to an older society that sometimes refers to people under 30 as “special snowflakes”, to argue on their level using their rhetoric makes sense from a logical perspective.
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.