Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

Mass Murder, Civil Rights and Constitutional Amendments

The right to keep and bear arms was given to the people of the United States to keep them safe. It is enshrined in the Bill of Rights (click here for a copy of the Bill of Rights)

It states, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
I'm all for the rights of the people. But I also know that historical documents have 'context' that apply to a particular time and place. Yes, the constitution was once about men and not about women. About whites and not about blacks nor the people that were here when the white folks came.
And though I think men shooting at rocks and whatnot in the bush or at the range is men being men (and some women being women), i dont get the need for an assault rifle when we are not living in the DRC or are a mercenary on a secret op for Shell or some other Fortune 100. 

I even love reading Soldier of Fortune magazine and watching Sons of Guns on D…

Beyond MDGs 2015: The search for new objectives, new goals and new measures.

Recently on the Humanosphere blog there was a call for comment on a paper, titled ‘How can a post-2015 agreement drive real change’, written by Duncan Green, Stephen Hale and Matthew Lockwood of Oxfam. So I took up the challenge to read the paper and I am offering up this feedback.
Defining Poverty
First, its time to stop with the global strategies, initiatives, imperatives, goals, objectives etc. Poverty, though common across the goals in its experience of inadequate resources for daily living, is by its complexity and locale-specific nature, not amenable to ‘global targets’. Any global target means that variations across locales disappear and the outcomes seems somewhat meaningless. Furthermore, and most importantly, the people setting these targets are usually not the ones who have to meet them, nor are they the ones who will be among the counted when these targets get evaluated.
Authoring Poverty
Second, it would be beyond wonderful if more of these papers get written by people in …

Good intentions, exploitation and studying 'the poor'

I am an academic and thus I am required to do research and to write. As someone who studied sociology, social welfare, public health, international health, and economics I am plenty equipped to study poverty and the lives of poor people. And in my areas of study, these are the people of whom we ask questions, whether here or abroad.Were I to do a search of any library database using poverty as a keyword, I will get hundreds of hits for journal articles published in the past month alone. But I have decided that I will no longer study 'poverty' or 'the poor' because I find it exploitative in its convenience, somewhat useless in its findings and creates a conundrum in its recommendations: how to change poverty by changing the poor.

We study how the poor shop, what they eat, what they drink, how fat they are, how (un)educated they are, how much health care they (don't) get, how they parent, and how a wide range of social, political and economic factors interact to infl…

Global Hunger, Capitalism and the Aid Business

Food and Festivities
Riding on the coattails of the London 2012 Olympics, there was a Hunger Summit - another grand meeting of officials who fly in business and first class to be put up in 5 star hotels where they eat sumptuous meals right before they meet to discuss how they are going to feed the world's hungry. They even roped in gilded Mo Farah and other Olympic-related media darlings to get some press. Seriously?? They needed Mo Farah to do this for them to take the issue seriously?

Like the Family Planning Summit which preceded the Olympics, there are grand promises made by the 'Western' countries about working together towards eliminating world hunger. Co-hosted by Cameron and Michel Temer (VP of Brazil - host of the next Olympics), it has had to fight for page space among the continued media blitz, tsunami and hurricane of Olympic-related press. Of course, this summit came out of the last G8 summit in May when Obama made promises to African leaders on the issue.


Family Planning Summit and the Voice of Poor Women

I decided to edit this piece to start with a video of Melinda Gates talking about her privilege to travel the world and meet women whose voices are not heard on the world stage and so she feels it is her obligation to speak on behalf of them. This gets at the heart of why I wrote this piece so I will let her speak in her own words before I speak mine in response:

Melinda Gates interview on her work as family planning advocate

I work in the development industry. Sometimes. I have worked in the family planning sector a long time. I have worked in safe motherhood a long time. And I have worked in AIDS. (That these are not integrated in the development sector is a topic for another post).

I came to development through childhood experiences with development workers whose ideas were formed in some office far, far away using the most recent data and information on my Jamaican community. They were talented, mulitlingual and well-intentioned. But something about the experience left an indelible…

DREAMing of a future: The politics of undocumented youth in the USA

Note: The links in this document are to primary sources of various laws proposed/implemented.

Undocumented Immigration in the USA
According to former Huffington Post editor and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas - as cited in the latestTIME magazine cover story on undocumented immigrants- there are an estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the USA. (For a short video of undocumented immigrants/immigration, click here).

Like many undocumented immigrants, Vargas came as a young child. He came with forged documents and discovered his status as a 16 year old child when he wanted to get a driver's license. Others discover their status as they try to get jobs or pursue a college education and others know from they are very young because of the tenuous nature of their parents' economic lives.

A Stay on Deportation of Undocumented Youth
As I stood in a room in London (UK) presenting on the topic titled above, on Friday June 15th, 2012, President Obama passed a 'gra…


Ye Old University
I went to the old university. A place where professors gave midterms and finals or 100% finals and you did not complain unless your case was airtight. And you only went to see the professor if you had worked on the problem for hours on end and now your headache would not go away or if you needed a signature to drop out of the class. I also saw my advisor once a year. Tops. If I had a question. Otherwise, I followed the course listing for my major and got about it.

In this old university, I was given a long list of books to read and if I did not read them I would fail because I could not answer the questions on the really challenging final. (Or if I was really on the ball I would analyze one paragraph for 12 pages so someone thought I read the whole thing. Don't think I finished reading Durkheim but got an A in my sociology class on Durkheim: Writing is a really, really useful skill:). Or at the very least I would sound stupid when I got asked a question. In my qu…

Rush Limbaugh and the reputation of women

Patriarchy and Women's Sexuality

It's an interesting artifact of patriarchy that women's sexuality is prized. Thus ruining it in any way ruins the woman. The words whore and slut  become weapons that have no equivalent in the sphere of males. In honoring a woman's 'honor' we revisit the impact that this honor has on the reputation of a family. In the most extreme cases a woman is killed in order to protect the honor of her family and rape during conflict is not just about the violation of self and person but of reputation that ruins a woman's life chances.

Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke

So Rush Limbaugh understood that there was no power in attacking Sandra Fluke's intelligence or her looks. Instead, he went for what would be the most inflammatory: an attack on her sexual 'purity'. Some anachronistic notion that should women have many sexual partners they are morally inferior and less worthy. Or that should they accept money for sexual pleasure t…

The sexual politics of board quotas

Women and Access to Executive Boards

The Brits and the EU are contemplating and implementing quotas for board representation of women. A very lofty idea that will bring women into the rooms of power where crucial business decisions are made.

The issue at hand is that women need to have more access to power and also boards and companies need the diversity that women bring. But this presumes that power is male-defined and that only male definitions of power have validity. What is it about women's power that has no validity?

The Power of Being Female

Is the power to gestate a human being and feed them from their body for months not power? What about the power to raise children that then rule the world - both male and female. Women start more small businesses and is that less power than running GM? Is the power of running a home when the head of GM is at work not power? Is the power of being the majority of the world's consumers not power? Is it not power to maintain relationships …

Brown, Southern and in-debt: IMF, ECB and the 'super' powers

The IMF and the South

There was a time not so long ago when the kind of bank induced pain being suffered by the Greeks, Irish and Portugese was only felt by those who lived in the South, in places like Jamaica. Those who at the mercy of the IMF and World Bank did what they were told if they wanted to survive economically. When the effects of globalization, the oil crisis, and markets forced open by the predecessor of the WTO meant that island states and other post-colonial economies had to absorb the state-supported production excesses of the North, the USA in particular. We were supposed to want what they had but they seemed to want nothing we had. Except in Jamaica's case: smoke, sex, sand, sea and sun.

The Case of Jamaica

In that not so long ago, I was a child growing up in Jamaica when at one time during my quite idyllic childhood, the Jamaican dollar was worth more than the US dollar. Bauxite was shipped out for aluminium production in Canada and the USA, bananas headed straig…

Hunger in a land of plenty

HUNGER IN A LAND OF PLENTY By Ruth C. White, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.W (written for December 2007).
In a country considered to be the fattest in the world, it seems oxymoronic that the US is also the only industrialized nation to still have widespread poverty. In the US, calories are cheap but nutrition is expensive. In a country with a safety-net full of holes, poor people (mostly children) suffer from hunger when there is food aplenty growing in the fields, packing the shelves of gargantuan grocery stores (unless you are one of the millions of unlucky poor who have limited access to a grocery store) and restaurant servings on the verge of nauseating.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2005, approximately 35.1 million people -- including 12.4 million children -- lived in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger each year. This represents 11 percent of households in the United States. Interestingly, the USDA does not have a measure of ‘hun…

Who are the 1%?

Why the 1% and Who are They?

Why are we fixated on the 1%? Why not the 5%? And are these people all the same? Should we be angry at a man who has worked hard for years and now his business finally makes him some serious money? Or are we only upset at CEOs of major corporations? What about the person whose grandmother left them a fortune? Or do we think that bankers are the root of all evil? (Even though we couldn't live without them if we tried). And is it all bankers??? Or just certain types?

Placing Blame for our Economic Woes

What about the 'sit-on-my-hands-and-do-nothing' group of politicians in Washington, DC. Running for office so often so justifiably spend much of their time making sure they have enough money and leverage to get reelected? What about the non-decision-making that messed up our credit rating and frequently pushes us to the brink and cuts the social safety net and protects the military budget? What about them? Are they not to blame for any of this?

Are …