Weekly Link Roundup: 4/14/16

Our collection of thought-provoking, discussion-sparking reads.

  • How ‘Empowerment’ Became Something for Women to Buy: “[Sheryl] Sandberg and [Kim] Kardashian are perceived by most to be opposites, two aesthetically distinct brands fighting for our allegiance, when each has pioneered a similar, punish­ingly individualistic, market-driven understanding of women’s worth, responsibility and strength. In the world of women’s empowerment, they say the same thing differently: that our radical capability is mainly our ability to put money in the bank.”

  • Who Disrupts the Disruptors? We Need to Change the Way We Talk About Innovation: “The culture of disruption’s American Dream 2.0—where you can both be the man and claim to be sticking it to him—glosses over the fact that the type of innovation venerated by disruption culture often works to keep white men in positions of power and strengthens our relationship to instant-access consumerism. More importantly, it lacks critical engagement with the processes of disruption and the values being advanced by those we call disruptors.”
  • What ‘white folks who teach in the hood’ get wrong about education: “There’s a teacher right now in urban America who’s going to teach for exactly two years and he’s going to leave believing that these young people can’t be saved,” says Dr. Chris Emdin, associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “So he’s going to find another career as a lawyer, get a job in the Department of Education or start a charter school network, all based on a notion about these urban youth that is flawed. And we’re going to end up in the same cycle of dysfunction that we have right now. Something’s got to give.”
  • Teaching Men to be Emotionally Honest: “As men continue to fall behind women in college, while outpacing them four to one in the suicide rate, some colleges are waking up to the fact that men may need to be taught to think beyond their own stereotypes.”
  • More Than One Medical Student at UVA Believes Black People Don’t Feel Pain“The researchers found that half of the sample endorsed at least one of the false [medical] beliefs [about black patients], and those who endorsed these beliefs were more likely to report lower pain ratings for the black vs. white patient, and were less accurate in their treatment recommendations for the black vs. white patient.”

“Zootopia” Encourages Us to Examine Our Prejudice

**This post contains some spoilers**

Zootopia continues Disney’s time-honored tradition of using animated creatures to talk about something else, whether it’s covering….Hamlet with lions or depression with walking, talking emojis (I’m talking Lion King and Inside Out here, in case you couldn’t tell). But Zootopia manages to do a little more, by drawing a charmingly insightful view of the world that still manages to talk about the prejudice and stereotypes that plague us.

Are you in it for the animal puns and inventive world-building? Sure. There are little sparks of pleasure throughout the entire movie, as the animators recreate familiar technology in an “evolved” world where animals, predators and prey, live together in a modern metropolis. How would subways accommodate both giraffes and hamsters? Do rabbits facetime? Are leopards pop-star fanboys who know how to use apps? All of your questions will be answered. (Bonus: this makes the film’s address of bigotry, racism, and prejudice even more compelling, as there’s a clear parallel drawn between Zootopia’s world and ours).

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Photo from Zootopia \\ Twitter @DisneyZootopia

Its main character, Judy Hopps, is an amibitious young bunny bent on becoming the first police officer of her species. To do so, she works twice as hard as anyone else, insisting that she’s not just a “token.” She is a creative problem-solver who works collaboratively, respects her friendships, and knows when to acknowledge her own mistakes and shortcomings. She’s a great cop who got there mostly by the dint of her own hard work, but also through the love and support of her community. She is defined more by her ambitions than anything else (and thank god there was no love story in this movie, because how would that even work…?). My cynical heart swells thinking of the young girls watching this movie who will absorb this film’s subtle, but strong message about the potential and abilities of the underestimated.

But Zootopia is more than a girl-can-do film, and its address of bigotry is what makes it one of the best and most important movies Disney has put out yet. In the beginning, Judy’s naive worldview presents Zootopia as the harmonious, “race-blind” melding of two distinct classes of animal: predator and prey. Part of her journey is through the disillusionment of that idea, and toward a concrete plan of action to remedy it. There are forces at work in the city who feed off of the distrust and prejudice that still surround “predators” and their unavoidable “biological instinct”—an early lesson for young viewers in the insidious power of coded language to shape public opinion, as Judy also learns. Through Judy’s friendship with the street-hustler fox Nick Wilde, she learns what it means to confront the lingering animosity between “predator” and “prey,” and how to forge a strong friendship from this unlikely, but very effective, partnership.

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Image from Twitter @DisneyZootopia

The film is also seeded with references for the adults or particularly savvy kids—like how the “nighthowlers” drug can be seen as a parallel to the crack epidemic, or how Judy tells another animal that bunnies can call other bunnies “cute,” but if another species does it….(you can almost hear the n-word echoing in the background). Zootopia depicts how quickly people (or animals) can fall into the traps of fear-motivated thinking, how bigotry and racism feed off of misinformation and fear. It also shows how much is lost when one’s world is circumscribed by these prejudices. And it does so in terms that both children and adults can understand and use to discuss racism, bigotry, and prejudice in the real world. That is a refreshing antidote to the hate-mongering and racism being peddled by election frontrunners—and the positive reaction to Zootopia bespeaks more than just our love for cuddly animals. Is it perfect? Probably not. But it brings the problems of bigotry right to the front and center. That’s a hell of a lot more than Disney movies used to do. We need more children’s movies like this, which are driven by interesting storylines and use world-building to open up discussions about the pressing problems of our own world.

 

Plus, this movie is just really freaking cute.

 

 

“Indigenizing the Academy” without Indigenous people: who can teach our stories?

A great mind-opening piece about the possibilities, limitations, and exploitative dangers of creating indigenous curricula within historically colonial scholarship.

Source: “Indigenizing the Academy” without Indigenous people: who can teach our stories?

Big Sound Saturdays: Sonic Zoo Vol. 2!

One very great thing about crafting a “sonic zoo” of old-time Americana is the unpredictable ways that animal songs flit between hyper-realism, innuendo, religiosity, and symbology—so convoluted that you can’t even begin to pull the song apart. O what a tangled web we weave:

Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Sonic Zoo Vol. 2!”

Michelle Obama Promotes #62MillionGirls and the Let Girls Learn Initiative

Image from whitehouse.gov
Image from whitehouse.gov

Our beloved FLOTUS took the stage with Beyonce at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival to raise awareness for her new campaign, 62 Million Girls. In partnership with the initiative Let Girls Learn, 62 Million Girls seeks to empower girls around the world, helping them to continue their educations, eradicate gender-based violence, achieve economic stability, and more. The focus on education and earning potential gives girls greater bodily autonomy and control of their own futures.  Continue reading “Michelle Obama Promotes #62MillionGirls and the Let Girls Learn Initiative”

RAD AMERICAN WOMEN GIVEAWAY!!

Announcing Acro Collective’s first-ever giveaway, in celebration of our first major follower milestone. Thanks so much to everyone who has read and supported the blog so far! New readers, welcome!

Announcing Acro Collective’s first-ever giveaway, in celebration of our first major follower milestone. Thanks so much to everyone who has read and supported the blog so far! New readers, welcome!
Continue reading “RAD AMERICAN WOMEN GIVEAWAY!!”

Acro Collective’s Back2School Essentials

It’s autumn, and here at Acro that means one thing: our #ladymafia is headed back to school. Here, we’ve compiled a couple of semester essentials. Don’t be caught without.

#Ladymafia, start your coffee-makers.

Continue reading “Acro Collective’s Back2School Essentials”

Weekly Link Roundup!

This week: Teachers and unintentional racism, Claudia Rankine on Serena Williams, suffragettes who sucked, racist presidential candidates, and gun control.

Goodreads and things that caught our eye:

Continue reading “Weekly Link Roundup!”

Trigger Warnings: A Discussion

Just in time for back-to-school, three writers at ACRO who are involved in high school or college instruction unpack the rhetoric of the “trigger warning”.

Trigger warnings began as a way to tag texts that may provoke a reader’s PTSD, but they have become widely used in tagging texts that contain content that ranges from offensive to traumatic. What began in social justice forums in the blog-sphere has made its way into discourse about the academy at large, leading to a call for the re-examination of the pedagogical value of certain canonical texts, the role of the professor and student in a shifting higher-education system, and the ethics of certain kinds of representation.

Just in time for back-to-school, three writers at ACRO who are involved in high school or college instruction unpack the rhetoric of the “trigger warning”.

Trigger warnings began as a way to tag texts that may provoke a reader’s PTSD, but they have become widely used in tagging texts that contain content that ranges from offensive to traumatic. What began in social justice forums in the blog-sphere has made its way into discourse about the academy at large, leading to a call for the re-examination of the pedagogical value of certain canonical texts, the role of the professor and student in a shifting higher-education system, and the ethics of certain kinds of representation. Continue reading “Trigger Warnings: A Discussion”

Announcing our newest feature: ASK MOMO

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Ever have a question so perplexing that only a cartoon cat could properly answer it?

Now we have the perfect solution for that.

We’re not saying we’re experts by any stretch of the imagination. And this advice column, if we have to call it that, is not always going to take itself entirely seriously or ever insist that the answer given is an absolutely correct one. But if you have a question—about ice cream, sex, outfits, schoolwork, anything—we will do our earnest best to answer it like a good friend would.

Send us your trials and tribulations at write.acro@gmail.com with subject heading [Ask Momo] or fill out our handy-dandy contact form with your question by clicking the “ASK MOMO” link at the top of the homepage.