Current Event: Another Man Killed in St. Louis

Ten days after the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO – there has been another death in a town only four miles away. On August 19, a young black man – twenty three or twenty five years old – was shot multiple times by police officers. His story is a little different from Mike Brown’s though. Though witnesses and the police accounts differ in some ways, the general chain of events are as such. Kajieme Powell lived in a community where everyone knew that he suffered some form of mental illness. He walked into a store Tuesday and walked out with two drinks he had not paid for. The store owners who knew him let him leave. But then he came back in and took some pastries without paying for them. On being asked to pay for the pastries, he threw them away. The police was then involved. The rest of this story was caught on tape, so if you’d like to see how it all happened, consult the links below. He was pacing up and down in the street when the officers arrived. He walked leisurely towards them daring them to kill him. The police, on seeing a knife in one of his hands, shot and killed him. He had not charged at them.

Some witnesses described the incident as “suicide by cop” — a situation in which someone with a death wish engages in activity that may prompt a law enforcement officer to shoot at them — but Dotson said he did not agree.

The St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has released a statement explaining the officers’  actions. For him, they were put in a tough position and reacted the best way they knew how. There have been many thoughtful reactions to this tragedy, but I agree with the many people who have said: given the young man’s mental illness and his slow walking pace, the police had enough time and reason to choose a less violent course of action. They were too quick to use lethal force. May Kajieme Powell rest in peace, and may we no longer have to fight for the right to black life.

To find more information about this event, or see a video of the shooting, please consult these sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/19/st-louis-officer-shooting/14295137/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/kajieme-powell-shooting_n_5696546.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2014/08/19/dnt-skateboarders-video-park-ranger-beating.kyw.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/the-killing-of-kajieme-powell/378899/

Post submitted by Kanyin

Summer Reading Suggestion: One More Thing (by B.J. Novak)

onemorething-readinglist-584

I admit: I am partial to comedy writer (best known for The Office) and now over-night literary star B.J. Novak because of his “soup snake” (soul-mate) relationship with Mindy Kaling. In fact, the only reason I read One More Thing is because the trailer (Yes, the book has a trailer, if you haven’t already seen it) features the woman after my own heart Ms. Kaling, first pretending to be a French new wave writer and then breaking out of character to talk about another woman after my heart -Rihanna. Book trailer aside, One More Thing is a collection of short stories that merits all the attention it’s been getting since it was published in April.

B.J. Novak is very aware of our cultural moment. I have read no one else who can write about meeting someone at Trader Joe’s and wondering what would have happened if you had gotten their name and number, and make it seem like an existential problem. Each story has within it a line or several that will cause you to simultaneously laugh out loud and ponder the meaning of those everyday happenings that we take for granted.

If you’re looking to read something that will crack you up and make you think – but not too hard, you should read One More Thing this summer.

Summary from Amazon.com:

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover that claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook.  Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just . . . down.

Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element just that might make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.

Post submitted by Kanyin

Current Event: NCAA to pay student athletes

The NCAA voted Thursday to allow 65 teams from the so-called Big 5 power conferences—the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC, plus Notre Dame, a football independent that is now a member of the ACC in other sports—to make their own rules.

For many years now, college sports have been recognized in the popular imaginary as a cash cow. The schools and corporations involved in the business of organizing them receive incredibly substantial gains from them. The student athletes however, whose labor much of this depends on, have not been able to share in this bounty. Now that the power conferences have more autonomy, they can remedy the situation. Student athletes will now be eligible to receive stipends in addition to scholarships that cover their full cost of attendance.

For many this move is only a step in the right direction, while others worry about the consequences it might have on the ‘amateur’ status of these athletes. They believe that treating athletes as employees is incompatible with education.

“The NCAA cannot fall prey to phony arguments about student welfare when the real goal of some of these so-called reformers is create a plutocracy,” Boise State president Bob Kustra wrote in statement in May, “that serves no useful purpose in American higher education.”

Whatever the case may be, I am glad that the NCAA is thinking about and taking steps to ensure the welfare of these students.

For more information, consult Time magazine: http://time.com/3089288/ncaa-college-athletes-pay/

Post submitted by Kanyin

Summer Reading: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (by Lola Shoneyin)

secret lives of baba segi's wives

“WHEN BABA SEGI AWOKE with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife’s childlessness. He was sure the pain wasn’t caused by hunger or trapped gas; it was from the buildup of months and months of worry. ”

I’m currently taking a Jane Austen class, and one of the things that scholars find most appealing about her is that her works hold both popular and academic appeal. Lola Shoneyin is similar. If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud, you should read this. If you’re looking for a fast-paced book that will consume your hot summer day without your knowing, this is the book for you. If you enjoy reading books that remind you of the limitlessness of language, you’ll enjoy this. If you would like to read something that gives an extremely nuanced portrayal of polygamy in contemporary Nigeria, go no further. If you’d simply like to read a book whose author is Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s daughter-in-law, go right ahead.

I remember liking this book because of the way it told such a heavy story – one tackling African gender politics – without itself making any value-based judgments. It is the first popular text in African literature that I have come across that deals with same-sex desire. Its honest portrayal of desire in all its forms is enough to make it a masterpiece. Soon into the story, you realize that there are no villains – only people who are trying to make the best of their own lives. I came for the humor and stayed for the keen social commentary. For you, it could be vice versa. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives.

Summary from Amazon.com

Meet Baba Segi . . .

A plump, vain, and prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, Baba Segi is the patriarch of a large household that includes a quartet of wives and seven children. But his desire to possess more just might be his undoing.

And his wives . . .

Iya Segi—the bride of Baba Segi’s youth, a powerful, vindictive woman who will stop at nothing to protect her favored position as ruler of her husband’s home.

Iya Tope—Baba Segi’s second wife, a shy, timid woman whose decency and lust for life are overshadowed by fear.

Iya Femi—the third wife, a scheming woman with crimson lips and expensive tastes who is determined to attain all that she desires, no matter what the cost.

Bolanle—Babi Segi’s fourth and youngest wife, an educated woman wise to life’s misfortunes who inspires jealousy in her fellow wives . . . and who harbors a secret that will expose shocking truths about them all.

Post submitted by Kanyin

Ask yourself: Do you code-switch?

Wikipedia defines code-switching as when a speaker alternates between languages or language-varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Informally though, we conceive of code-switching as being more than speaking in different dialects in one conversation. It could entail speaking one way around people in your community and speaking another way around people outside of it. It is a lot more than just language; it also involves mannerisms, the kinds of jokes you’re making etc. In the United States, code switching is very common among people of color.

I, because of my hybridity – growing up in Nigeria, but now being through-and-through Americanized, having chosen into an innocuous assimilation – am accused of code-switching to the max. Basically when I’m in a space where both my Nigerian and American friends are present, I can in the space of ten seconds go from a thick, slang-infused Nigerian accent to a laid-back American one and back. I find that even outside of accents and slang, when I’m with a group of friends, I act differently towards each and every one of them.

I’m curious: does anyone else find that they’re switching codes depending on the context and on the people they’re with. If so, why? What causes you to adapt and re-adapt your language and manner? Do you find it advantageous or not so?

Post Submitted by Kanyin

Current Event: Uganda court overturns anti-gay law

02uganda-1-articleLarge-v2

Judge Stephen Kavuma read the verdict. (Associated Press)


“The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court – it’s now dead as a door nail,” said Andrew Mwenda, one of 10 petitioners.

In December 2013, the Ugandan Parliament passed a bill that made homosexuality punishable by life in prison. Although this bill generated much resistance in the international sphere, the President Yoweri Museveni signed it into law in February 2014. Now, the constitutional court of Uganda has declared the law “null and void” because it was passed in Parliament without the necessary number of legislators. 

Many who were against the law, like Mwenda (quoted above), have cause to celebrate. But some are weary because the law is not dead as a door nail. The court’s verdict does not prevent it from being drafted and passed again. Since the law had many supporters, there could be efforts made in the future to bring it back to life. 

Nevertheless, the court’s ruling is indicative of a respect for the rule of law and for human rights. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded Friday’s court ruling, describing the decision as a “step forward” and a “victory for the rule of law”.

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/08/uganda-court-overturns-anti-gay-law-2014811844898239.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-law-struck-down-by-court.html?_r=0

Post Submitted by Kanyin