Pittsburgh's Peace & Social Justice Activist Newspaper
NewPeople is the social justice newspaper of Pittsburgh and Tri-State area. It fills the voids left by the mainstream media reflecting the reality of progressive, alternative politics locally, nationally and globally. It focuses on topics of the neglected, omitted, and censored.
As a publication of the Thomas Merton Center, NewPeople reports on the issues of war, poverty, racism and oppression, and raises the moral questions involved in the non-violent struggle to bring about a more equitable world.
On August 14th, Donald Trump unleashed a series of tweets in which he set about blaming the “disgusting and corrupt media” for his dismal poll numbers. This is an old trick, of course, in which the “media,” short-hand for a huge number of digital, broadcast and print outlets located on a broad and diverse spectrum of perspectives and ideological orientations, are lumped together as a single adversary, allowing the “us” to feel embattled and aggrieved by the “them,” which may or may not encompass everybody who sees things differently.
“It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false,” Trump tweeted early in the afternoon, which brought a grim smile to my face, since he so obviously has the freedom to say and write many things I might regard as completely false. The short answer to his claim is that permission to say and write what he might argue is false is as good a definition of the freedom of the press as any other.
I’m a firm believer that people are born with their sexual identity. It could be gay, straight, or somewhere in between, but it’s something that can’t be changed. Unfortunately, if you have even a doubt in your mind that you could be attracted to the same sex, our heteronormative society sends you on this mystical journey to find yourself in this complex, complicated world of sexuality. Call it what you want – bisexuality, “experimenting,” or whatever else – but bisexuality can be a waystation for some people who are coming into their sexuality. The key thing to understand, however, is that it does not delegitimize bisexuality as a true sexual identity.
This past Friday, the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, marking the beginning of the 30th Summer Olympic event since the international multi-sport event first began in 1896. The event has already made history for hosting the most lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes in Olympic history. This event will also go down in history as one of the most trans-inclusive sporting events to date, although it is being hosted in a country that is less-than-accepting of LGBT folks.
Introducing the Brazilian team at the opening ceremony was transgender Brazilian supermodel, Leandra Medeidros Cereza. Known as Lea T to the fashion and modeling industry, she’s the first transgender woman to take part in any Olympic ceremony. According to Huffington Post, Cerezo spoke about her involvement in the ceremony to BBC Brazil, “We are all human beings and we are part of society,” Cerezo told BBC Brazil. “At this time, in which Rio de Janeiro and Brazil will be presented to the world, it’s essential that diversity is present. Brazil is a vast country and all its diversity should be somehow represented in this event.”
When a United Nations panel of experts recommended the US government pay out cash reparations for slavery last February, most saw it as a pie-in-the-sky idea. Even Bernie Sanders, who claimed to be in favor of reparations, planned on giving it in the form of jobs, welfare, and education programs targeted towards black communities.
“I think [cash reparations] would be very divisive,” said Sanders. Clinton agreed. With so much of white America actively fighting against the welfare programs we already have in place, how could we ever convince them to directly fund reparations payments?
Natasha Marin, a black artist from Seattle, had another idea. She knew that despite the majority of white America being against reparations, there were still many willing and able white folks out there wondering what they could do to help people of color. She reached out to white people that wanted to “offset their privilege” and launched Reparations.me, a new website where white people can offer up gifts and services to people of color in need.
A transplant to the Pittsburgh area, Paul Kruse of Hatch Arts Collective has quickly immersed himself into the local community. With its first play, Chickens in the Yard, Hatch Arts Collective realized the importance of addressing social justice issues in art. When Paul’s younger brother, Joe, who works as an environmental activist, was arrested while protesting the extraction of sand for fracking in Minneapolis, Hatch Arts decided to create a play that focused on environmental justice and activism. This decision resulted in the creation of the first phase of Driftless, which is a fictional narrative play based on Joe’s experience. After finishing Driftless phase two, Hatch Arts decided to take the issue even further and create a full-length play about hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. What really stands out about Paul’s work on Driftless is his emergence into the fracking community.
When the lights dimmed at the New Hazlett Theater on Friday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remembered what my high school musicals were like – mildly entertaining but usually forgettable (sorry Mr. Richey). When the company emerged for the first number – full of rage and raw emotion, sporting t-shirts with phrases like “I Can’t Breathe” and “Unapologetically Black” – I knew I was in for a powerful, unforgettable show.
The show was American Idiot, a stage adaptation of punk rock band Green Day’s rock opera by the same name. From beginning to end, the all-black cast from Pittsburgh’s Alumni Theater Company, whose mission is “to create bold theatrical work that gives fresh voice to the experience of young urban artists and highlights their rich contribution to our community,” captivated the audience with powerful vocals and an even more powerful message about struggling to find yourself when you’re constantly barraged with social media and useless information.
As a young girl growing up in the 90s, I was not immune to the feverish love everyone had of the Spice Girls. They wore outrageous clothing (even by 90s standards), were the original group of independent women, and somehow had an anthem for everything. One of my favorite films as a kid was Spice World, their A Hard Day’s Night-esque film, which followed the Spice Girls as they encountered stalker documentarians, aliens, and everything else on the way to perform at Royal Albert Hall. Aside from the overall content of the film, a message constantly appeared: girl power. The phrase appeared as early as the opening sequence in which Ginger Spice/ Geri Halliwell is wearing a white dress with the slogan emblazoned across the front. As a young girl, seeing a group of women spout girl power and feminism helped spark the flames of feminism in me before I even knew what the term meant.
Fast forward nearly two decades to 2016. About a month ago, I ran across a bookstore selling a book which deplored girl power. Another feminist I was with praised the book for criticizing such a plasticine notion of what feminism means. I, however, was disgusted. We all have a right to express opinions, and by no means did I want the author or the girl I was with to feel as though their opinion was not valid. However, there is a problem when people start arguing about what constitutes as acceptable/ unacceptable feminism, and this has to stop. Continue reading →
Last week, Pennsylvania became the twelfth state to explicitly cover gender transition-related care in their Medicaid program. This exciting policy change marks a huge step in protecting transgender Pennsylvanians across the state. After Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive action announcing the new coverage, his office released a statement criticizing North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom laws and declared, “the governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”
Earlier this year, singer-songwriter Kesha Sebert (a.k.a. Ke$ha) made headlines with an ongoing legal battle against her producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke. Several months after a New York courtroom left her in contract limbo with Dr. Luke and his business subsidiaries, she is back with a new project and tour that is sure to make a statement to those who thought they could silence her.
In the past decade, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have become the fastest growing racial group in the United States. Comprising around 5.8% of the total population, there are 18 million (and rising) people of API descent in the United States right now; this number is expected to grow even larger in the coming years with a projected growth of around 134%. AAPIs are also the most educated (49% have at least a bachelor’s degree, more than 20% higher than the national average) and have the highest median income of any group ($66,000 vs $49,000 for everyone). [1 / 2]
This narrative of success has led to the image of AAPIs as a “Model Minority.” While it is seemingly idyllic, and some may even argue that it’s a prime example of the American Dream being actualized, the data does not actually provide a wholly accurate image of the AAPI community. This blanket assumption that all Asians are skilled and prosperous also erases the diversity of the experiences found in the community and replaces it with the idea of a more monolithic identity.