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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.

Faculty Organizing at the University of Pittsburgh: Why a Union, and Why Now?


By anupama jain

There’s something in the air in Pittsburgh! From Robert Morris to Point Park, Steel City-area faculty are organizing to join the ranks of unionized labor. To some, this might be little surprise: Pittsburgh, is a city with a rich history of labor organizing. At the same time, when one thinks of Pittsburgh labor history they might think of workers smelting steel or armed Pinkertons at the Homestead steel mills. This isn’t entirely off base: in fact, Pittsburgh-area faculty are organizing with the help of the United Steel Workers including faculty at the University of Pittsburgh.

But why unionization, and why now? There are many reasons, but three important ones are: 1) labor contingency and uncertainty worsens learning conditions, 2) teachers and researchers need a stronger voice in negotiations with administration, and 3) academic freedom is an increasingly valuable commodity in an age of emerging social consciousness about inequality. Continue reading

2016 is the Year of Womanhood in Music

By Tallon Kennedy

When Beyoncé dropped “Formation” back in February, it was like you could feel a seismic shift in the music industry. A shift that was both socially and politically charged, as well as deeply womanist.

The music video featured a reclamation of 18th century fashion, flipping the script and portraying black people as the ones in power. By invoking images such as a black child dancing in front of riot police, the music video also became an artistic statement in favor of the black lives matter campaign. The racist backlash against the video was almost instant, and completely expected.

Continue reading

First Transgender Child Actor to Appear on Modern Family: What This Means for Progress

By Tallon Kennedy
October 1, 2016


Image result for modern family whiteThis Wednesday, the TV show Modern Family will feature the first transgender child actor in television history. Openly transgender 8-year-old, Jackson Millarker, will appear on the next episode of the show, according to a report by Variety. “Modern Family” has already shown an openness to queer identities by having a gay couple on the show, but this marks the first time that the show will have a transgendered individual on it.

Transgendered people have been getting a lot more media recognition in the past couple of years, with shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent, but they’ve always been in adult roles. Never has a transgendered child appeared on a TV show, until now, and this is important. By exposing people who might not understand how gender works to a transgendered child, there could be some progress made in the understanding of gender and the body. Continue reading

Joyful Process With Liana Maneese

By Marni Fritz
October 1, 2016

Often in the anti-racist social movement, the work of women goes ignored.  Women work tirelessly behind the scenes, only to be represented by a man with a bull-horn. This erasure is exhausting and overwhelming.  In an effort to raise up the voices and anti-racist work of women in Pittsburgh, I am beginning a series that focuses on the fierce women who are taking ownership of their work, to discuss concepts of identity, what their work looks like, and how they make sure they are giving themselves the emotional attention they deserve.


liana-maneese“I have always wanted to work for myself my whole life. For the past three years I have been trying to figure out what that will look like.” Liana, a black woman adopted from Brazil by white parents, reflects on her life as a businesswoman navigating the nonprofit world in Pittsburgh. But her experience in Pittsburgh nonprofits and higher education has been one of tokenization, exploitation and exhaustion. Continue reading

Protest Continues in Palestine

By Leila Richards
October 1, 2016

“You won’t read about this in your newspapers,” said Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat as he showed film clips of encounters between Israeli soldiers and villagers engaged in nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bil’in. For eleven years Mr. Burnat has helped coordinate weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and the separation wall that deprived the village of 60 % of its farmland–an experience recorded by his brother Emad in the 2011 documentary “Five Broken Cameras.”

In 2004 the Israeli government undertook construction of a wall separating Israel from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The wall, 90% of which is built on West Bank land, is more than twice the length of the “Green Line” forming Israel’s 1967 border. Thousands of olive trees were uprooted and hundreds of acres of Palestinian land were seized in the process. Continue reading

Naturalization Ceremony at the Pump House

By Charles McCollester
October 1, 2016

Keynote Address: Naturalization Ceremony at the Pump House – site of the 1892 Battle of Homestead. September 7, 2016

It is truly an honor to be invited to address a naturalization ceremony creating new citizens of the United States of America. It is especially meaningful at this time when immigration has become controversial in a way that it has not been since the 1920s. It is also especially meaningful that this ceremony is being held in this place, the Pump House for the great Homestead Steel Works, the site of one of the most consequential conflicts in American labor history.

Like most Americans, I am a product of immigration: my father, Irish/Scots/ English mix; my mother, German; my wife, Polish. I am proud of my paternal ancestors who fought in the Revolution, the Civil War and World War II, and my mother’s uncle who volunteered for the ambulance corps in World War I because he wanted to show his love for America, but would not shoot at fellow Germans. I am equally proud, however, that many family members including myself actively protested and resisted the Vietnam War and our invasion of Iraq.

Who is an American? The “100% American” questions the loyalty of the immigrant, the aptitude of the descendants of slaves or natives, Orientals or “Hunkies,” Catholics or Muslims. But only Native Americans have any degree of antiquity to their claim on this land. We fought a revolution over the issue of ancestry as a determinant of political power. We fought a Civil War over slavery and the exclusion of a race of people from civil and legal rights. Continue reading

Local SOA Watch Sending 13 to Mexico Border

By Joyce Rothermel
October 1, 2016

soa-watch-convergenceThree-hundred and ninety human rights, social justice, faith-based, labor, and immigrant rights groups are calling for an International Convergence at the U.S./Mexico Border from October 7-10, 2016. Thirteen people are participating through the SW PA School of the Americas Watch chapter here at the Merton Center with the financial help of many of our members.

Activists will gather at the border in the lead-up to the November elections, to highlight U.S. foreign policy as one of the root causes of migration, and to stage protests and nonviolent direct action against racism, xenophobia and U.S. militarization at home and abroad. Continue reading

Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings: What’s Actually Going on in America’s Classrooms?

By Tallon Kennedy
October 1, 2016

Back in September of 2015, The Atlantic produced a piece entitled “The Coddling of the American Mind” about the rise of trigger warnings and safe spaces across America’s colleges and universities. The Atlantic decried this trend by calling it “vindictive protectiveness,” suggesting that safe spaces create “a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.”

This is a sentiment that President Obama echoed in a town hall event in Iowa, saying that he’s heard some college campuses alter their course material if the language of a book “is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women.”

In response to this controversy, the University of Chicago sent out a letter to its incoming students this fall semester, stating that “we do not support so-called trigger warnings…we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

It would seem that the overarching narrative of trigger warnings and safe spaces is one of babying the intellectual mind. It’s a narrative of intolerance to other viewpoints, and fostering destructive hypersensitivity within students. It’s a narrative of protecting students, rather than challenging them. But is this what’s really going on, or is the truth more nuanced and complex? Continue reading

Cooperative Principles: Framework for a Democratic Economy

By Jeff Jaeger and Ron Gaydos
October 1, 2016

This is the first article in a series of seven that will present fundamental cooperative principles. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Great Britain codified these principles in 1844. Each of them plays an important part in a successful cooperative.

We will tell you where these principles came from, how they continue into current cooperative culture, and why they’re important. But first, here are all seven:

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Members’ Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community

Principle Number One: Voluntary and Open Membership

Imagine what work was like in 1800’s Great Britain. Feudalism was giving way to industrialization. The impacts of the industrial revolution roared across society, but was hardest on people forced off of the communally used farmlands during the Enclosure. Having nowhere to go but to the new enclosed farms, mines, or factories, those who had to become wage earners were not guaranteed a living. Even skilled workers were forced into poverty. Continue reading