Activist urges students to think critically

Focus turns from the Women’s History Month quilt behind the podium and the crowed hushes, prepared to soak up knowledge from a woman ready to share her complex ideas and views to eager ears. M. Jacqui Alexander, a professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto and author and editor of multiple books, then began speaking about the theme “Building Solidarity – A Politics of Hope at a Time of War,” in honor of Women’s History Month.

“Dr. M. Jacqui Alexander is one of the most important and influential theorists of transnational feminism,” professor Sanjukta Ghosh said in her introduction speech at the March 16 event.

“She reminds us to examine our lives of privilege .” Ghosh continued, talking about Alexander’s newest book ‘Pedagogies of Crossing.’

Alexander’s left hand was constantly in the air as she spoke, but her right hand joined it and her eyes widened as the topic of the speech intensified. She gave many questions for the audience to ponder with the main one asking “what it means to live a life of privilege in a time of war?”

Alexander went on to explain that for most people in the U.S., the normalcy of their lives are not interrupted by the war. They have the privilege of not hearing bombs, not having to wait in long ration lines for food, and have the privilege to obtain an education.

“Solidarity, it requires work. It is not easy to move from segregation into solidarity,” Alexander said, hoping for the audience to rethink the segregation of the first world and third world saying “our lives are fundamentally intertwined.”

She emphasized the use of analysis, demystification, and critical thinking to build understanding, to realize that there isn’t a separate war at home and a war abroad. The U.S. is constantly involved in the international market and the things Americans rely upon in this country like computers, clothing and tires are all made possible by the labor of people in other countries, she said.

“Living in the U.S. means that we rely on the labor and actually exploitation of the vast numbers of people in the world to make the standard of living in this country what it is,” Alexander said.

She gave an example of when a blouse is on sale and the buyer is happy about the low price, to remember the labor and exploitation that took place to have that privilege.

When a student in the audience asked Alexander, “How do we as students become new revolutionaries?” she responded with the slogan from past activist campaigns

“Think Globally, Act Locally,” she said, continuing that that “Vision will keep us attuned to where it is we want to go.”

Amy Goodman is next

Controversial journalist Amy Goodman, host of the critically acclaimed radio and TV program Democracy Now!, will deliver the keynote address at the 10th Annual Vermont Women’s Studies Conference hosted by Castleton State College on Saturday, April 15, 2006.

Goodman, author of The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them, will speak about women’s rights in times of war. Her book is an expose of the transgressions of the United States government in the ongoing Iraq war, the government’s violations of civil rights, and the blindfold media places over the eyes of Americans. Goodman will speak at 4:00 p.m. in the college’s Fine Arts Center Auditorium.

Goodman is a reporter for Pacifica Radio, the only independent radio network in the United States. She won the George Polk Award in 1998 for the documentary “Drilling & Killing Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship,” which revealed Chevron’s role in the murders of Nigerian environmental activists.

The state-wide Women’s Studies conference has for the past 10 years attracted works from students and faculty from colleges and universities all over Vermont. This year the conference organizers received submissions from nine schools including Marlboro College, Burlington College, Norwich University, Bennington College, Green Mountain College, University of Vermont, Castleton State College, Middlebury College and Lyndon State College.

“It feels good to see the gathering of different students and faculty from all over the state, sharing their ideas and thoughts over controversial women’s issues,” said conference organizer Marsy Tellier. The papers selected for presentation were chosen through a blind-review process, Tellier said.

The presentations will be held at Herrick auditorium in the Stafford Academic Center and the Goodman speech will be held in the Fine Art Center at the C.S.C. campus. The day-long conference will begin at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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