ST. HILAIRE | When Will Our Hard Work and Credentials Be Enough

I don’t know if it’s my personal TikTok algorithm or whether all of you seem to be on the Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson side of Tiktok too. Not that far removed from Tiktok’s normal M.O., I’ve found this portion of my “For You” page to be as unpredictable as the rest of what the algorithm has tried to convince me is for me. 

Now that we have settled that, there is one video that seems to be a recurring theme lately, and it’s the one we all know. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Harvard Law educated United States Senator, with a straight face asked Jackson if she thought babies were racist. Now, you, like me, might have wondered what this question could possibly have to do with the role of Supreme Court justice — the role that he and the other 99 United States senators were supposed to be vetting her for. But, after I picked my jaw up from the ground and rolled my eyes, I settled on the fact that it was completely unrelated.

Justice for Black Farmers Act: A Quantum Leap Forward or a Misguided Step Back?

On Nov. 19, 2020, Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Md., and Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act. This ambituous legislation aims to “address the history of discrimination against Black farmers” and to “prevent future discrimination” within the United States Department of Agriculture, among other objectives. The act has since been endorsed by over 100 organizations, including the National Farmers Union, a century-old union of over 200,000 family farms, and Soul Fire Farm Inc., a New York farm at the focal point of the food sovereignty and justice movement. 

The legislation has five distinct titles, arguing for broad civil rights reform within the USDA, the establishment of a land grant program, increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities, sweeping credit assistance and land retention programs and systemic agricultural reforms that prioritize socially disadvantaged farmers. Title II, Section 203 of the Justice for Black Farmers Act has perhaps the most immediate implications for not just Black farmers, but any eligible Black individual across the country.

Food Stamps on the Ballot: What Does This Election Mean for Those Facing Food Insecurity During the Pandemic?

As the U.S. faces a third wave of coronavirus cases and some cities and states prepare for another round of shutdowns, thousands of households are continuing to face economic hardship and food insecurity. Earlier this year, the Trump administration finalized a proposed rule change that would have blocked nearly 700,000 people from getting essential food assistance, one of three of the administration’s efforts to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
The new rule would have affected the eligibility criteria for able-bodied adults with no dependents, limiting states’ ability to waive existing work mandates and requiring individuals to be employed to receive benefits. It was struck down last week by a federal judge after Pennsylvania and California residents sued Trump’s Agricultural Department. Critics say that this proposal is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to continue its deregulatory war on existing safety net programs, even as businesses struggle and the number of newly unemployed households remains high as a result of the pandemic. “The Final Rule at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans,” explained D.C Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, in a 67-page opinion.

Smart People: What We Talk About When We Talk About Race

“Maybe it’s a fact we all should face / everyone makes judgments based on race”. This lyric, from the musical Avenue Q, was one of the first things that popped into my mind as I walked out of Smart People at the Kitchen Theatre — a play that delves unreservedly into the difficult, yet ever so relevant conversation of race, prejudice and, most importantly, our fear of that conversation itself. Written by the award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond and directed by the talented Summer L. Williams from Company One Theatre in Boston, Smart People is wildly funny, gripping and remarkably thought-provoking at its core. It dares us into the daunting task of thoroughly reevaluating ourselves and the world around us. With an innovative opening sequence involving projections of various news headlines and the voice recording of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign announcement, the play unfolds around four main characters: Brian, a white neuroscience professor at Harvard who has dedicated himself to finding a neurological explanation for racism and prejudice; Ginny, Brian’s fellow psychology professor at Harvard who studies and counsels Asian American women suffering from anxiety and depression; Jackson, Brian’s best friend, a black surgeon in residency; And Valerie, a young black actress who participates in Brian’s study and later works for him as a research assistant.

BANKS | The Truth, Part Two

In my last column, I wrote at length about the truth. Operating with the definition used there, I would like to expand on what it can actually look like to talk about the truth. Since I am a cynical realist at heart, I am not going to elaborate on the bright side of this endeavor: those resplendent moments of success and growth, which are bound to happen because of how elegantly they perpetuate themselves. Rather, I will focus today on the moments when truth-sharing seems to fail. Sometimes, the talks I have with others about the truth of the world don’t go the way I had hoped.