Posts tagged with "VOX"

Rainbow Washing + Slacktivism During Pride Month for use by 360 Magazine

RAINBOW WASHING + SLACKTIVISM DURING PRIDE MONTH

By: Clara Guthrie

June is Pride Month, although many Americans may be more familiar with it as the month where big corporations drench their logos, merchandise and window displays in rainbow colors. This predictable phenomenon has been coined as “rainbow washing”—the act of using rainbow imagery to effectively advertise and signal allyship to a more diverse audience of consumers, with little genuine support of the LGBTQ+ community behind it.

The heart of the controversy surrounding rainbow washing and businesses’ celebrations of Pride Month lies in inconsistency. Many big-name brands—ranging from Bloomingdale’s to Amazon—brandish themselves in rainbow flags for the 30 glorious days of June, but then fall seemingly silent on LGBTQ+ issues for the remaining 12 months of the year. There is something about this kind of activism that is inherently performative. Sadly, this half-hearted performance almost makes sense when one considers that, according to LGBT Capital, the LGBTQ+ community holds roughly 3.9 trillion dollars of purchasing power globally. Rainbow washing during Pride Month is an effective capitalist strategy to garner more profit, while also looking like you care.

Let’s first consider McDonald’s as an example (among countless others) of this inconsistency…

According to Forbes, for Pride Month this year, McDonald’s has formed an unlikely alliance with Revry, “the world’s first global queer streaming network.” Their content is curated for the LGBTQ+ community and is boundlessly inclusive, highlighting both queer characters and queer content creators. The unlikely collaboration between a mega-fast food joint and a queer streaming platform has taken the form of a variety show, “House of Pride,” which is sponsored by McDonald’s and streamed via Revry. The show premiered June 6th, and you can watch it HERE.

This partnership is revolutionary and undeniably exciting; however, McDonald’s is not quite unified when it comes to its actions towards and support of the LGBTQ+ community. According to Business Insider, the fast food corporation has its own political action committee (PAC) through which it donates money to a wide array of politicians’ campaigns in the hopes of eventually influencing how these bipartisan lawmakers vote on issues that have a more direct impact on McDonald’s business (like working wages). Thus, McDonald’s has donations on opposing sides of key issues, LGBTQ+ rights being one of them. Most recently, McDonald’s PAC—and the PACs of other big corporations, including aforementioned Amazon—had a portion of their donations operating behind Republican representatives in the House who voted against the Equality Act, a bill with an overarching goal to protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination. Between 2019 and 2020, according to the same Business Insider article, “McDonald’s PAC donated a total of $213,000 to lawmakers who voted against the bill.” These donations have very real repercussions in the world of legislation and in the intimate worlds of LGBTQ+ individuals who are consistently at risk of discrimination in their everyday lives. A sparkly new partnership with a queer streaming service may be more attractive and easily marketable, but it has far less real-world impact. 

This fact is especially true when one takes into account the rates of workplace discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ+ employees. CNBC recently reported on a survey of working LGBTQ+ individuals conducted by Linkedin in which “25% of respondents [said] they have been intentionally denied career advancement opportunities (such as promotions and raises) because of their identity.” Another 31% of people from the study said they have been the target of “blatant discrimination and microaggressions in the workplace.” So while businesses may change their logo to the colors of the rainbow for the month of June, current legislation and inner-company culture is ignoring the lived experiences of queer workers.

Other examples of rainbow washing and inconsistent activism include J.Crew’s new “Love First” merchandise campaign—from which only 50% of the proceeds are going to an LGBTQ+ organization, PFLAG—and Nike’s “BETRUE” campaign. As with the McDonald’s case study, these Pride efforts are not to be singularly praised or criticized; they are far too complicated for that sort of a response.

In support of these campaigns, one could argue that heightening queer visibility by emblazing shirts and sneakers with rainbow logos and then donating at lease some proceeds to organizations that support LGBTQ+ individuals is doing some good. Going even further, many companies are using Pride Month and their colorful campaigns to amplify queer voices, which is another positive outcome. For example, J.Crew asked a handful of queer individuals “what it means to support and be supported in their community,” and then published their answers and photos online. Similarly, fast fashion company H&M recently launched their “Beyond the Rainbow” campaign, an interactive web app on which people can scan any rainbow flag to read others’ or share their own Pride stories.

On the other side of the coin, however, one could point to the lack of action taken by these companies outside of the month of June or the lazy “slacktivism” that their Pride campaigns promote. Slacktivism is the practice of supporting a social movement or cause but in a way that requires little commitment or effort. An example of slacktivism would be posting a graphic expressing protest or dissent on social media, without any further action taken. Within the context of Pride Month, slacktivism takes the form of companies commodifying the rainbow flag and mass-producing rainbow gear which then consumers can easily buy and feel validated as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. What these efforts lack is follow-through: supporting LGBTQ+ organizations, amplifying and showcasing queer creators and models and workers, lobbying for protective legislation, and informing consumers on the true meaning of Pride, all year long.

Tulsa Race Massacre

By Emmet McGeown

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there is a strip of land known as Greenwood. In the early 20th century, it was renowned as a bustling business district with a prosperous and self-sufficient economy. Such a pre-Depression boomtown, still thriving off the discovery of oil in 1901 and still harnessing the energetic drive of frontierism, was not uncommon. Yet, Greenwood was exclusively Black prompting Booker T. Washington to dub it “Black Wall Street.” 

Due to staunch segregationist sentiments, African Americans constructed “Black Wall Street” as an oasis of social and economic mobility amidst the sand dunes of bigotry. The vibrant and animated nature of the business district was a testament to the American dream; despite crippling adversity, these business owners and professionals had created an innovative community dedicated to serving their own people’s needs. Black attorneys, doctors, and businessmen formed the nucleus of Greenwood around whom a middle-class utopia was established. Black-owned newspapers and movie theaters catered to the residents’ social perspectives and colloquialisms while Black schools and real-estate agents educated and housed their fellow man. 

However, on May 30th, 1921, 19-year-old shoe shiner, Dick Rowland, shared an elevator from the 1st to the 3rd floor of the Drexel building with Sarah Page, a 17-year-old white elevator operator. Sarah Page accused Dick Rowland of assault; she later dropped the charges, but it was too late. Dick Rowland was arrested the following day. An angry white mob arrived at the courthouse and began demanding justice. Their anger was fueled by the prevalent dogma that white womanhood was a sanctimonious virtue that ought not to be violated by the savagery of the Black man.

As the mob gathered around the courthouse, a few Black men from Greenwood arrived to defend Dick Rowland, one of them being his father, a prominent Black businessman. As Black and white citizens faced off, there was a struggle over a gun and a shot rang out injuring a white man. The match was struck. The Black residents retreated and set up a barricade at the railroad tracks in an attempt to prevent the white mob from invading their district. The barricade did not hold, and violence engulfed “Black Wall Street.” 35 blocks of Black property was set aflame with “the fires becoming so hot that nearby trees and outbuildings also burst into flame.” – Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot.

Yet this massacre was not limited to flames. The white mob dropped nitroglycerine bombs from private airplanes, there were reports of decapitations and white children were armed and sent scavenging the neighborhood, told by their parents that they were at liberty to murder Black folk. The Greenwood District burned for 2 days as the Governor of Oklahoma and the federal government engaged in ambivalence. Eventually, the national guard was called in and martial law was declared but it was too little too late. The “Black” in “Black Wall Street” no longer stood for African Americans rather, proceeding the massacre, it alluded only to the dark ash that coated the wreckage left behind.

Every single insurance claim was denied as the Black community was prohibited by established financial forces from rebuilding their community. The claims totaled over $2.7 million. An opinion piece in the Tulsa Tribune Editorial condoned the violence and expressed no remorse over the barbarity unleashed upon Greenwood.

In a 2018 Vox documentary, when asked, “Do you think life is better for black folks in America?” Hazel Jones, the last living survivor of the massacre at the time replied, “Nah. Some places, it is some places it’s not.” The legacy of this horrific event lives on 99 years later. Whilst things have undoubtedly gotten better for African Americans in terms of civil rights legislation, employment opportunities, and education, why is it so that people like Ms. Jones believe that Black America is just as subjugated and abused as it was in 1921? The sentiments of Black individuals who concur with this feeling must be acknowledged and better investigated in order to begin attempting to rectify the injustices which have plagued the African American community since this nation’s inception. 

Rita Azar, 360 MAGAZINE

Defund the Police

Defund the Police: What does it mean?

By Emmet McGeown

In John Le Carré’s 1963 spy novel, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” the character Control, a prominent member of the British intelligence service, describes the duty of law enforcement as follows: “We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night.” The role of policing is often depicted in this light. There exists a prevalent view that the police exist in order to do things that civilians have neither the ability nor stomach to do, whether this be subduing suspects or dispersing delinquents. Yet, what if this didn’t have to be the role of police? What if the police were viewed more as a public service as opposed to a pseudo-military presence?

This is the idea presented by the “defund police” movement. Over the past few weeks, since the unwarranted and horrifying murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been a significant push for police forces all around the country to receive less money in municipal budgets and federal grants. It’s a controversial plan.

Law enforcement is a sacred pillar of post-9/11 American society. To be a police officer is to be part of an institution, an illustrious and insular institution where prestige and eminence are vigorously upheld in the name of justice. The lionization of American police forces has coincided with their increasing militarization. To question the splendor of law enforcement is to express doubt in the American experiment; at least that’s how many would regard it. This is evident in the fact that even leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are eager to distance themselves from the potential consequences of defunding the police. Veteran Senator, Dianne Feinstein, when asked, expressed, “I just don’t believe in that as an answer.”

Furthermore, Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, anxious to appease moderates, released a plan last year that would actually add $300 million to the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) which, since 1994, has invested over $14 billion dollars in local police departments to hire and train local police officers. There is no reason to believe that he intends on revising this plan in the wake of nationwide protests.

So, besides defunding, as its moniker quite blatantly advocates, what else is the “defund police” movement aspiring to achieve? Well, a concomitant effect of defunding would be extra money to potentially invest in other community programs. San Francisco, Portland, Denver and Nashville are among the many cities that are already debating diverting police funds to other first responders, schools, and community initiatives. The movement is gaining traction. In America’s second most populous city, Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti shifted $150 million from police budgets to education, healthcare, and housing in communities of color. Fueling such actions is the belief that poverty is a catalyst for crime thus tackling impoverishment is a way to reduce instances of police brutality. This is an interesting concept. In fact, a report by the Bureau of Justice released in 2014 revealed that from the period 2008-2012 persons in households living at or below the federal poverty line had more than double the rate of violent victimization than those in high-income households. More so, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis conducted a study that revealed that areas with higher rates of unemployment and few social services also tend to have higher crime rates. In the city of St. Louis, according to the same study, firearm assault rates per 1,000 residents are more than six times higher in high-poverty neighborhoods than in low-poverty neighborhoods. Thus, alleviating poverty through allocating more money to social services, employment schemes, and public education may have a profound effect on crime rates therefore could minimize the need for heavy-handed police tactics.

This idea doesn’t seem so radical when elaborated upon. Indeed, a 2008 Yale study of the relationship between welfare and crime rates concluded that frequent welfare payments that are sufficiently large would be associated with lower levels of crime. Yet, the slogan “defund police” lacks the syllables to encapsulate sufficient nuance. Those advocating for defunding the police may want to sacrifice their snappy maxim for detailed proposals if they wish to create meaningful change.

The third aspect of the “defund police” movement is arguably the most agreeable. Many activists in the movement have outlined that police officers respond to an overwhelming number of situations for which they are not equipped nor qualified. These include dealing with people suffering from mental health issues, domestic disputes, disobedient school children and drug addiction. Activists argue that the police have become the remedy to every societal problem regardless of the magnitude. Even ancient Rome divided the role of the city’s police force into the Vigiles, Praetorian Guard, and Urban Cohorts, each being responsible for maintaining a certain type of public order. Yet, in modern-day America, 911 can be dialed in the event of a murder or because a birdwatcher asked someone to put their dog on a leash. This imprecise prophylactic policing trivializes policing as we now rely on officers to resolve even the most miniscule of disputes. This contributes, not only to wasting police time, but also to the perpetual escalation of the insubstantial into the inexcusable. After all, George Floyd was initially interacting with the police for using a counterfeit $20 bill, a crime hardly worth an arrest never mind public suffocation.

Even so, there are still many obstacles in the path of those aspiring to defund the police: “Sixty percent specifically oppose reducing the budget for police to reallocate it to other public health and social programs, while 39 percent support that move,” said ABC News.

For many Americans, the police are untouchable. This attitude is expressed eloquently, albeit brashly, by conservative political commentator Heather MacDonald in a City Journal article titled “Why We Need the Police.” Here, Ms. MacDonald decries the notion that better-funded social services would ameliorate crime rates in cities. She argues that New York City is a prime example because “No city spent more on welfare, yet crime continued to rise.” Ms. MacDonald outlines that “fewer cops and depleted NYPD funding mean longer response times and less training.”

One must concede that there is a logic to this argument. Indeed, research by Dr. June O’Neill and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men. So, one could argue that an increased reliance upon social services in impoverished neighborhoods will actually result in an increase of crime.

Lastly, many are weary to openly endorse defunding the police because it appears to be a tributary feeding a more radical river: abolition of the police. Abolishing the police, much like the movement to abolish ICE, is a policy idea expressed by the fringes of the left wing. The belief system undergirding this viewpoint is that the American police force is chronically racist. Its members, thus their actions, are discriminatory and perpetuate the racial inequality admonished by those calling for the abolition of the police. A NYT op-ed, written by Mariame Kaba, argues that since policing has roots in slave patrols and union busting the asphyxiation of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin is an expected and unsurprising corollary of an organization that has been marinating in a mélange of classism and racism since its genesis.

For those advocating police abolition, “reform” is viewed as insufficient. It is seen as a bromide used by moderate politicians to avoid a tangible restructuring of policing thus immortalizing the status quo. Reform is a more palatable dish in suburban dining rooms. Abolition, derived from the Latin infinitive abolere literally meaning “destroy,” makes many middle-class voters twitch as they imagine a future in which the thin blue-line restraining mayhem is snapped, unleashing a cascade of crime. Yet, the push to abolish the police may have its merits…

“Why did you have to shoot? I mean that’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?” asked William Schultz, father of Scout Schultz who was a Georgia Tech student suffering from depression shot by Georgia Tech police in 2017. In the now infamous video, Scout can be seen holding a multi-purpose tool walking toward two police officers. After Scout’s death questions were asked as to why lethal force had to be used. Contrast this with an incident in Camden, NJ, where a knife-wielding individual threatened customers of a fried-chicken joint then walked down the street refusing to obey cops demands for him to put down the knife as he thrashed erratically. For 5 minutes, over a dozen police officers formed a loose semi-circle around the suspect, following him as he walked down the street. After repeated warnings, the man was tased, disarmed, and arrested. No death. What was the difference? Advocates of abolishing the police would argue that because the latter city had disbanded their police department and rebuilt a new, community-focused county force, violence was avoided.

In May 2013, the Camden City Council approved several resolutions that eliminated the city police department and established a new one under county control. The remaining city cops were all laid off and had to reapply to work with the county, under far less generous nonunion contracts. The Camden police was now bigger. By cutting salaries, the county was able to hire more officers, increasing the size of the department from 250 to 400. Plus, the officers were no longer rewarded for the number of tickets they had written, or how many arrests they had made. No longer would officers be the “arbitrary decider of what’s right and wrong,” Camden police chief, Scott Thomson, announced but rather consider themselves as “a facilitator and a convener.” A result of this structural innovation has been a 72% drop in violent crimes over 7 years.

It is clear that something has to change. However, this change should not be limited to the police. In order to prevent more George Floyd’s, one must approach the problem of policing as though it were a rock formation consisting of multiple compressed strata, preserved in time, now requiring excavation and examination. Such attempts have been made in the past, most notably by the presidentially appointed Kerner Commission set up to analyze the cause of the civil unrest in the late 1960’s. In the Commission’s landmark 1968 report it concluded: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal…White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” It’s time we stopped ignoring the inequality which persists in this nation. Poverty and policing are inextricably linked, defunding police might feel good for the Left and defunding welfare programs may feel good for the Right but what will work?
We still don’t know.

Take Two Season Finale and Instagram Live Chat

TAKE TWO stars Rachel Bilson, Eddie Cibrian, Xavier De Guzman, Aliyah O’Brien and Alice Lee will be chatting, reacting Live and answering burning questions on Instagram

The special 1st season finale episode airs TONIGHT (9/13).

The first season’s special finale is full of shocking reveals (after last weeks hot kiss!), twists, turns, and stunning surprises.  Fans of “summer’s sexiest ride along“ will be able to chat live with all the stars – Rachel Bilson, Eddie Cibrian, Xavier De Guzman, Aliyah O’Brien and Alice Lee – on their individual Instagram pages as all the season finale moments unfold on the West Coast.

TAKE TWO – Episode 113 – “One To The Heart

Logline:  When a woman is conned out of her life savings by her fiancé, Sam and Eddie turn the tables on the con man to get the money back. But unforeseen consequences threaten to tear Sam and Eddie apart.

Synopsis: Still wrestling with the emotional reverberations of the last episode, Sam and Eddie take a case involving a serial con man who victimizes wealthy women. In order to recover their client’s money and jewelry without scaring off their suspect, the pair hatch a plan to con the con man using Sam as bait. But their plan goes awry when they discover they’re not the only ones after the con man, and they may be stepping into a trap themselves. One set by a familiar foe. As events unfold, Sam’s future and Eddie’s past collide to test their professional and their personal relationship, leading to an explosive conclusion that could change everything.