76 minutes | Jul 13, 2022
Unpacking the Past, Present, and Future of Safe Abortions with Dr. Allison Berry
During episode 16 of Art of Citizenry Podcast, Manpreet Kaur Kalra is joined by Dr. Allison Berry, a family physician, mother, and trained abortion provider. Together, they discuss the nuances of the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, explore the inequities that come from banning safe abortions, and unpack how religion + politics have dictated the physician-patient relationship. As a primary care physician and Public Health expert, Dr. Berry offers her personal experiences caring for patients and humanizes the fight for reproductive justice. 📌 IMPORTANT NOTE: For medical providers like Dr. Berry, coming out as an abortion provider is very risky to their safety. I want to thank her for her time, compassion, bravery, and for sharing her expertise with us because it is important that we humanize abortions and give voice to our medical experts. Topics Covered: Dr. Berry will be talking to us about reproductive justice, what getting an abortion actually means, the recent Supreme Court ruling, the way language shapes narratives around abortions, the nuances around abortion access irrespective of the state you reside in, and her own upbringing as a member of the Catholic church.Meet Our GuestDr. Allison Berry, MD MPH — Health Officer for Clallam and Jefferson Counties Dr. Allison Berry is a family physician, mother, and trained abortion provider. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and received her masters from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Most recently, her work has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic as she has served as the health officer for Clallam and Jefferson Counties, in Washington State. 📌 LISTENER NOTE FROM DR. BERRY: I work as the Health Officer for Clallam and Jefferson Counties and as a family physician for the Jamestown Tribe. My views expressed here are my own and have not been vetted by or approved by my organizations. For access to the complete show notes, please visit: artofcitizenry.com/episode-16
85 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Anti-Trafficking, Christian Supremacy and the Rescue Industry
Human trafficking is a complex issue with layers of deep seated power structures influencing the way we both understand and think about trafficking. All too often, the narratives we read and share fail to capture the nuance that makes this industry so complex. The images we see are compelling -- those of young women, mostly women of color in the Global South, looking weak and disempowered. Their stories, often told through a translator, are powerful and typically follow the same storytelling structure, subconsciously etching stereotypes of communities and cultures into our psyches. Those stories coupled with a call to action pull at our heart strings, captivating our attention and compelling us to either donate or buy a product in hopes that we too can feel like heroes, saving these poor women from modern day slavery. During the last episode, host Manpreet Kaur Kalra spoke with Madina Wardak about the ways in which the global narratives about Afghan women perpetuate harmful stereotypes that deny any form of agency. We see these same themes play out in conversations surrounding the anti-trafficking industry. From refugee resettlement efforts to anti-trafficking organizations, often “doing good” centers the “hero,” all while continuing to sideline the voices of those who are being “saved.” This puts the “savior” up on a pedestal while turning those whose stories are being used into nothing more than a metric with a marketable soundbite. The blatant stereotypes that are often perpetuated by anti-trafficking organizations reinforce the pervasive assumption that women of color are oppressed by using terms such as “rescuing” or “saving,” which take power and agency away from the individual. With a hyper-fixation on sex trafficking, anti-trafficking organizations often fail to recognize the many other forms of trafficking that exists, including forced labor. A lot of the narratives surrounding Human Trafficking upheld by the Rescue Industry are influenced deeply by the work of Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times journalist and the author of many do-gooders’ bible, “Half the Sky." His reporting, writing, and stereotypical interpretations of human trafficking have not just influenced the narratives within the industry, but have also inspired many to start social enterprises, especially those dedicated to addressing trafficking. During Episode 15 of Art of Citizenry Podcast, Manpreet Kaur Kalra is joined by Rachel Faller, the co-creator of zero-waste fashion brand, tonlé. Together, they deconstruct the ways in which the anti-trafficking industry is a perpetuation of Christian supremacy, rooted in imperialistic and colonial power structures that further the belief in Euro-American superiority. Rachel Faller is an entrepreneur by trade and a creative at heart. She dedicates most of her time to rectifying harm within the garment industry using a systemic approach- encouraging people to think about the root of systemic injustice and tackling these issues at their core rather than simply treating the symptoms. Rachel is a co-creator of tonlé – a zero waste, ethical and sustainable fashion line that is both a brand and a manufacturer. Rachel is also a co-founder at Reclaim Collaborative. Rachel’s personal and community care practices include crafting, painting, mending, gardening, and foraging. Art of Citizenry is a community supported podcast dedicated to decolonizing storytelling. Please consider supporting by visiting: patreon.com/manpreetkalra
63 minutes | Aug 30, 2021
Dismantling the Victimization of Afghan Women with Madina Wardak
White feminism is built on centering Euro-American so-called progressive views as the pinnacle of women’s liberation. It rejects intersectionality and complexity, instead manifesting in the form of white saviorism, fueled by the very system it claims to challenge: misogyny. Over the past week, much of the conversation around Afghanistan has been focused on the “liberation of Afghan women.” These calls for “liberation” are a manifestation of Euro American imperialism under the guise of white feminism. The same narratives of “women’s liberation” that were used to justify war 20 years ago continue to dominate headlines without acknowledging the ways in which war, forgein occupation, and imperialism only further exasperate harm. When it comes to Afghan women, we have equated what they wear to degrees of oppression. By doing so, we have made “freedom” synonymous with western fashion standards instead of centering what “freedom” means to Afghan women themselves which includes their self-defined priorities around access to economic, education, and political agency. By centering Euro American standards around what liberation looks like, we are sidelining the voices that we should be listening to: the voices of Afghan women who are on the grounds challenging the systems they live in. Madina Wardak is a displaced Afghan settled on Tongva Land (Los Angeles, CA). Madina studied Political Science with an emphasis on the Middle East, and Social Work. She is the founder of Burqas & Beer, a social media platform Madina that explores identity, mental health, SWANA current events, and truth-telling. She currently serves as a Youth Advocate for a transitional living program and is on track to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Art of Citizenry is a community supported podcast dedicated to decolonizing storytelling. Please consider supporting by visiting: patreon.com/manpreetkalra Take Action Make space to listen, learn from, and amplify Afghan voices Check out the show notes for resources on ways you can take action and help Afghan refugees who are having to rebuild their lives. Reach out to your local Congressional representative, ask them to increase refugee quotas and accept All Afghan asylum seekers. You can do this also by texting Crisis to 52886 And finally, avoid using oversimplified language and tropes rooted in imperialist ideologies about Afghan people.
46 minutes | May 7, 2021
India's COVID-19 Crisis and the Vaccine Apartheid
// Trigger Warning // During this episode, we discuss loss, exploitation, systemic racism, and the devastating results of healthcare inequities. If you need to at any point, pause, step away or just stop listening, I understand. Unpacking moments of profound communal trauma can be incredibly difficult.
65 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Purity Culture, American Imperialism and the Dehumanization of Asian Women
A History of Anti-Asian Racism Anti-Asian racism is systemic. From terrorizing the very Chinese immigrants who built America’s infrastructure in the 1800s to Japanese American incarceration during WWII, anti-Asian racism is baked into America’s history. It continues to manifest through harmful imperialist narratives that further the dehumanization of Asian communities - perpetuating exploitative power structures in the form of white supremacy, giving validity to hate and violence. They are furthered through stereotypes that fuel microaggressions, exotification, and sexual violence. To understand the complex intersections of hate that influenced the horrific shooting in Atlanta, Georgia that killed 8 individuals, 6 of whom were Asian women, we need to unpack white-American Imperialism and conservative Christian ideologies around sexuality. White supremacy continues to terrorize anyone outside the bounds of whiteness. Hate, however, is further compounded by various forms of systemic oppression. Religious hegemony, white supremacy and toxic masculinity are all deeply interconnected. Though, to truly understand how this reality intersects with anti-Asian hate, we must first deconstruct a history of white sexual Imperialism. Imperialism is this notion of exerting force over another community, culture, or country to expand power and control.Take Action Over the last year, over 3,800 incidents of hate against Asian Americans have been documented. Please visit StopAAPIHate.org to volunteer, donate, and access helpful resources.
28 minutes | Mar 11, 2021
Dissent in India: Intersections of Oppression and Human Rights
The unfortunate reality is that human rights violations are part of the fabric of India’s history. From police brutality to unlawful arrests and disappearances, genocide has become normalized. Which is why, if you are a minority, your rights are constantly under threat. As has been the case throughout history, protestors are being painted as terrorists by state-owned news outlets and are being met with government-sanctioned police brutality, tear gas, and water cannons. Citizen journalists are being unlawfully arrested and detained. The police have attempted to cut off access to food and water at protest sites to starve the protestors away. The Internet has been cut off in the area surrounding protest sites and social media is being heavily regulated to make communication amongst protestors and access to outside information more difficult. The United Nations has made it clear that cutting internet connections as a means to stifle dissent is a violation of human rights. A Note to Impact-Driven Brands + Organizations: The farmer’s protest is about worker rights, it’s about land rights, it’s about equity, and it’s about justice amongst so much more. If your goal as a business is to advocate for global justice and fair living wages, then standing in solidarity with India’s small farmers and farmworkers is critical because that is exactly what they are standing up for. They are advocating for themselves against a government that is built on systemic oppression rooted in exploiting those who have historically been and continue to be marginalized. Join in Solidarity: A Statement Championed in Collaboration with Fair World Project If you are a brand or organization working in the intersection of social, climate, and economic justice, please consider adding your name alongside many others: https://www.artofcitizenry.com/solidarity-statement
9 minutes | Jan 13, 2021
The Autocratization of Democracies
Nationalism in Trump’s America and Modi’s India Over the past week, I took some time to reflect on last Wednesday’s white supremacy insurrection. From Modi’s India to Trump’s America, there is no arguing that nationalism thrives on the polarization of the other. Two of the world’s largest democracies are currently grappling with the realities of autocratic leaders who have managed to create deep divides within their countries through nationalist appeals. From the farmers' protest to BLM protests, neither Modi nor Trump are strangers to protests, but both have managed to disregard democratic norms to strengthen and test the extent of their executive power. Polarization + Islamophobia Trump’s Muslim Ban Executive Order, which now feels forever ago but really wasn’t, blocked the entry of individuals from several Islamic countries, especially Syrian refugees seeking protection in the United States. The Trump administration cited terrorism as a reason for the Muslim Ban, giving validity to white America’s inability to think a terrorist can be anyone other than a brown skinned, Arabic-speaking Muslim or anyone that “looks Muslim.” The events at Capitol Hill would certainly counter that narrative. On the other side of the world, Trump’s dear friend Modi, played his own page from the Islamophobia for World Leaders playbook. Earlier last year, Modi pushed into effect the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which authorized the use of religion as a criteria for determining whether undocumented migrants in India can be granted citizenship. What’s interesting is that Islam was specifically not included as a fast-tracked religion while other religions were. Islamophobia at its finest. While on the surface the simple notion of granting citizenship to the country’s undoucmented population sounds like a move towards creating a more equitable society, this layer of religious hegemony feeds into India’s push towards a Hindu-centric nation. Nationalism Exists because of Systemic Oppression Nationalism at its core, creates dangerous divisions that can easily be stoked through false narratives. It builds on fear, giving hate the fuel it needs to thrive. So, why do we keep saying things like “America is better than this” or “This isn’t who we are” when America was built on the genocide and exploitation of Indigenous and Black people? My fear with many of the conversations currently happening in light of last week's events is this notion that Nationalism is somehow a new construct. It is not. It has always existed, it is now just planting its flag at the nation’s capital. India and America might be called democracies, but both are currently navigating the result of an autocratic government, which thrives on the consolidation of power, oppression of dissent, and nationalism. This consolidation of power is built on the existence of structural oppression and its exploitation. There will always be people who wield power and those who yield it. Where do we go from here? We are seeing the realities of polarization -- with hate running through the veins of nation states and dripping off the tongues of their leaders. So where do we go from here? Understand that uprisings are not the problem, in fact they are a necessity in any healthy system because they challenge the consolidation of power. However, motivations when rooted in hate must be addressed by unpacking the systemic structures breathing life into hate. De-bias language. Address why we use “softer words” to describe white people who terrorize the nation’s capitol by simply calling them armed protestors instead of what they really are: terrorists. Language has power and using the right term leads to more accountability. Recognize how we benefit from and at many times reinforce systems of oppression. By reflecting on where we stand in relation to power and challenging the systems we operate in, we are not accepting the status quo at face value and naming our privilege. For example, if it wasn’t for the Civil Rights movement led by Black Americans, my family would have not been able to move to the United States under the Immigration Act of 1924, which was overturned in 1965 after the Civil Rights movement challenged white-America’s racist systems. Looking back at Nazi Germany, we might tell ourselves how obvious it must have been to identify fascism, but that’s the thing. History repeats itself because in any given moment we struggle to name moments what they are. Throughout Trump and Modi’s term, there have been countless policies driven by hate, but it took one of the most outrageous events in American history and the world’s largest protest for us to finally recognize the ways in which we are letting history repeat itself. Thank You! Thank you for listening! This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. To amplify and continue these conversations, please subscribe, download, share and leave a review for the Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support! Follow me and share your thoughts on Instagram @manpreetkalra + @artofcitizenry. To learn more about Art of Citizenry and for information on future webinars and workshops, please visit artofcitizenry.com.
77 minutes | Jan 8, 2021
Peeling Back the Layers of Punjab's Green Revolution
Deconstructing India’s Agricultural IndustryAt this moment, the largest protest in human history is happening. 250 million farmers and workers across India, many from the states of Punjab and Haryana, have taken to the streets in protest of three new agricultural bills that threaten to obliterate their livelihood. On the surface, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has claimed that these bills promote a “free market,” but like everything we cover in this podcast, we know that not everything is always the way it seems.Punjab: A Land DividedWe can’t begin this episode without understanding the history of a land divided. What is now considered the state of “Punjab” is just but a fraction of what used to be the land of lush green fields and flowing five rivers. In 1947, as the British left India, they divided Punjab between what is present day Pakistan and India. What followed was the world’s largest mass migration, resulting in the bloody displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Families were uprooted from their homes, forced to leave the land they had lived on for generations. During the journey, many lost loved ones due to violence caused by the displacement.Post 1947, Punjab was even further reduced in size from 58,000 square miles to 19,000 square miles. However, despite its relatively small size, it produces a disproportionately high ratio of India’s crops.Why India’s Push for a Free Market is ExploitativeIn most “developed” countries with a free market system, farmers have protections, farm subsidies, that essentially help reduce any financial risk related to weather, commodities brokers, and disruption in demands. But as with any capitalist system, these systems usually only benefit larger producers, but still, they exist, discouraging the complete monopolization of the agricultural industry by corporations.“The world farmers protest currently underway in India opens up a pandora’s box of questions that humanity is going to face in next few years. What is the future of sustainable growth, food diversity, ethnic cultures, urban migration in a profit-driven economy? Should our heroes be the next billionaires or farmers fighting on ground to retain food diversity - something that makes this world worth living? These are the questions we all need to ask.” - Arvinder SinghCapitalism at its core is built on the existence of inequities. The goal of any business operating in a capitalist society is to maximize profits for shareholders, prioritizing profits over people. This notion leaves those at the bottom, the workers and small farmers, with only a small share of the wealth, if that. Addressing these layers of complexities when understanding any issue is critical.In India, the main security blanket that exists for small farmers in particular is the Minimum Support Price (MSP), which has not been included in writing under the new ordinances. Without significant subsidies and a MSP, India’s small farmers are likely to be priced out and unable to compete. As is the case with free markets, when corporations get involved, the marketplace becomes competitive, allowing corporations to undercut prices to the point at which small farmers are unable to compete, left with no farm, and no land. This in turn, only feeds into an already volatile situation with India’s farmers experiencing an exorbitantly high suicide rate.“My family went into a lot of debt to try to purchase the supplies and the agrochemicals that they needed to keep up with the changes of the Green Revolution. And that debt got passed down. So it started with my grandfather, went to my dad, from my dad it went down to my Chacha. And so my Chacha, who's still in Punjab and still farming he's still dealing with that debt… For a lot of folks, it seems so insurmountable, and they don't see an opportunity to get out of it just through farming, and suicide becomes the only option or the only option that they see.” - Amrit SinghIt also then allows for corporations to hoard large amounts of crops, increasing demand, and therefore, the market value of the crop. They can, in turn, sell the crops at a much higher price than what the farmer was paid to begin with. This allows for unfair pricing -- hurting both farmers and consumers while lining the pockets of those who already hold most of the country’s wealth.Global Economic Development“The economics of a particular country has to be grown there. If you try to import it directly from another country, those models sometimes fall flat.” - Arvinder SinghThe issue with a cookie cutter approach, we fail to acknowledge the complexity of layers that exist in any given society. We see this with social entrepreneurship as well. To assume the same approach to economic development can work in any country is naive. We must recognize that sustainable development and change requires understanding the nuance surrounding why a society exists the way it does. That requires deconstructing the layers of deep seated cultural and often even religious influences. While capitalism on paper has its pros, the way modern day capitalism is built, it not only furthers, but benefits from societal inequities. Capitalism as we see it currently centers corporate profits.The Environmental Impact of AgribusinessWhat is wheat and paddy in India is corn in the United States. Let’s take a moment to step back and reflect on the environmental factors at play when we think about agribusiness.In the United States, when driving through the Midwest and Great Plains, you cannot miss the sprawling corn farms. Corn has become a staple of the US farming industry because of its versatility. While it can be used to make food like corn meal, it’s primary use in the United States is for ethanol, animal feed and high-fructose corn syrup. Corn receives more subsides from the federal government than any other crop. It also consumes a large amount of freshwater resources and 5.6 million tons of nitrogen in the form of chemical fertilizer which gets washed into lakes, rivers, and the ocean -- hurting the ecosystem.What has happened in regions such as Ohio is that the farming industry is no longer working to feed people, instead it is working to simply sustain in whatever way possible. Agricultural diversity of fruits and vegetables has been sidelined for the safer pick: corn. In an article published by Scientific American, the author sums up the problem with this key point:“It would be simply wrong to blame farmers for any of these issues. In this economic and political landscape, they would be crazy not to grow corn; farmers are simply delivering what markets and policies are demanding. What needs to change here is the system, not the farmers.”Looking at economics alone is just not enough.Unpacking the Green RevolutionTo understand the impact of the Green Revolution on Punjab, we first need to understand all that led to the infiltration of chemicals depleting the nutrients of Punjab’s soil. The thing about the Green Revolution is that it promised self-sustainability to India as a nation. Instead of having to import crops to feed India’s exponentially increasing population, India would be able to produce enough crops for the masses. This led to farmers being forced to use specific high yielding seeds, which they were forced to purchase along with all the necessary chemical fertilizers at retail price, not wholesale. So what we saw during the Green Revolution is that the agriculture economy of Punjab was co-opted by the central government. “The old way of farming, it was very much community-centered. The farmers had a role to play in the functioning of their society, but so did everybody else, whether you were a seamstress, or whether you were an ironsmith, everybody had an important role to play to the functioning of everybody else. So you're responsible to each other and for each other.” - Amrit SinghOne of the biggest costs of the Green Revolution was that it was no longer possible for Punjab to self-sustain itself agriculturally with the emphasis on wheat and rice farming. Even the varieties of wheat and rice that were grown were now limited to the ones that satisfied the goals of the Green Revolution, tremendously reducing biodiversity.Punjab’s Contentious Relationship with the Central GovernmentSince 1947, India’s Central government has had an unstable relationship with Punjab, especially Punjabi Sikhs. One of the issues that remains at the heart of State versus Central government tension is access to river water, especially after Punjab was further split to form the state of Haryana and Himachal in 1966.The partition of Punjab between India and Pakistan, left Punjab with only 3 of its 5 rivers. The further divide of Punjab made the rivers inter-state rivers, meaning Punjab lost not just land, but was choked of its water resources. By creating artificial boundaries that split Punjab’s rivers between states, they suddenly fell within the purview of the central government. In reality, under India’s constitution, river management falls under the purview of the state government.“It's quite common for developing countries to face these sorts of injustices, especially when you have such a dominant government structure that basically just tramples on every single person.” - Phavanjit KaurReligion, Nationalism + Politics“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” - Toni MorrisonFrom the partition of Punjab in the Sikh massacres in 1984, Sikhs have been consistently persecuted by the Indian state. One of the most tried and tested ways to erase a culture or community is by erasing its history.“Every facet of this movement is related to religion, and to try to create a divide and separate those two is a disservice
71 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
Thanksgiving or Thankstaking?
Deconstructing America's History of GenocideThis special podcast episode features a panel conversation hosted on November 20th by Reclaim Collaborative in collaboration with ESJ and Art of Citizenry as part of Reclaim Black Friday, a campaign calling on brands to redistribute a percentage of their sales to Indigenous and Black land-based organizations instead of running sales during Black Friday weekend.A Deeper Look into Indigenous + Black ErasureWhen having conversations about Thanksgiving, it is important to acknowledge the first people to encounter the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag Tribe. It is unfortunate that while most of us know so much about the Pilgrims’ journey because of the way we have been taught history, most of us don’t know the name of the community that was first colonized in what is now known as the United States of America. This is one simple example of how Indigenous people, or Native Americans, have experienced centuries of dehumanization, genocide, and erasure.“Land back is rooted in this idea of literally getting to stewardship and restoring that ancestral relationship with the land, and letting Black and Native people lead that conversation around that movement.”- Charlie Amáyá ScottAddressing histories of exploitation takes deconstructing the systems we operate in. One simple step we can each take is acknowledge the people on whose land we reside.“My family has always taken it as a day of resistance and resilience. It's been much more from an aspect of this is what we do traditionally, as Diné people, which is coming together and celebrating each other.”- Emma Robbins on ThanksgivingThis year marks 400 years since the Mayflower arrived on Plymouth Rock. We must critically analyze the story we have been told and by who. It is time we deconstruct, rethink, and rebuild a more just future. Reclaim Black Friday is a campaign focused on redistributing to Indigenous and Black land-based organizations because it is important to acknowledge the original stewards of this land and return it to those who have historically cultivated regenerative and healing relationships with the Earth.“Reparations as a whole isn’t just a racial justice issue, it’s also a climate justice issue.”- Kai RameyIt is important to hold space for reclaiming and healing, recognizing the trauma and genocide that is widely celebrated through what has been painted as an endearing holiday of gratitude. Black Americans, descendants of American Chattel Slavery, were taken captive and brought here to America for textile and agricultural work—building the wealth of this country. The dehumanization, exploitation, and abuse that Black people have had to endure for centuries continues today as Black Americans still face injustices and inequities in most spaces.“As a Black person, or as an Indigenous person, we're always in the position where we're having to do the work to undo the things that we never had any part in to begin with.“- Katie PruettDespite directly contributing to the wealth of this country, when enslaved Black Americans were freed, they did not receive reparations. Today, Black Americans collectively experience one of the highest poverty rates of any group in the United States. Our acknowledgement of this horrific truth and examination of how we can provide support without causing further damage, is a necessary step if we are to be part of creating real systemic change.How can non-Black + non-Indigenous people help dismantle the systems we operate within without falling into the trap of white saviorism?Redistributing wealth is a small way we can give back the stolen wealth and land we have all benefited from. It is by no means the only way nor is it a panacea. White individuals in America have directly and indirectly contributed to harmful cycles of exploitation by the nature of this country’s history. It is therefore, the responsibility of white and white passing individuals to help dismantle the systems that cause harm.There is a lot of power that white folks do have in the world we live in today, but I think it’s more important to cede power in very silent ways and by that I mean not taking up space.- Kai RameySo what is white saviorism?It’s a little bit of guilt and a little bit of “Hey, look at what I’m doing. I’m doing good, but I want you to know I’m doing good.” But let me tell you something -- when you’re really about that life and you really are here for change, you don’t get to donate $10 here and there. You have to give up some power and some wealth and you get to be uncomfortable and you get to feel how we’ve been feeling for centuries.”- Katie PruettReclaim Black FridayThanksgiving is steeped in America’s history of genocide and theft from Indigenous people. The weekend of frenzied consumerism that follows further contributes to issues of racism and classism in this country. Reclaim Black Friday is dedicated to amplifying the work and voices of Indigenous and Black leaders, and a call to action for redistributing wealth to those who have suffered the most because of historic and continual exploitation in America.Join Reclaim Collaborative November 27th - 30th for Reclaim Black Friday, a campaign calling on businesses to not offer discounts, and instead redistribute a percentage of total sales to Black and Indigenous led land-based organizations. This campaign aims to address the problematic history of Thanksgiving. Learn more and take the Redistribution Pledge!Reclaim CollaborativeThis episode of Art of Citizenry Podcast is brought to you in collaboration with Reclaim Collaborative, a values-aligned affiliate network. We are on a mission to build and foster an inclusive community of brands, content creators, and industry experts dedicated to dismantling systems of oppression across all aspects of the fashion and lifestyle ecosystem. We believe an intersectional and collaborative approach, one rooted in trust and respect, is necessary to create widespread systems change. Learn more!Additional Resources + LinksInterested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out the links below curated with support from Charlie Amáyá Scott + Katie Pruett:Pre-order ESJ Issue 7 about Reclaiming SpaceArt of Citizenry Podcast Episode 6: Voluntourism, Mission Trips + Dismantling the Savior ComplexRacism and the Logic of CapitalismFrom Capitalism and Racism: Conjoined TwinsTruthsgiving: The True History of ThanksgivingDecolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in SchoolsCNN Visits Tribe for National Day of MourningMashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomed Pilgrims, but loses land on eve of ThanksgivingA Collection of Treaties published by the Oklahoma State UniversityThe Henceforeward PodcastEricka Hart’s podcast: Hoodrat to Headwrap[Book] An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the US by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz[Book] Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel TatumThanksgiving-specific Resources:The Thanksgiving Tale We Tell Is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I’ve Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday by Sean Sherma via Time MagazineDo American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? by Dennis Zotigh via Smithsonian Magazine.The Invention of Thanksgiving by Philip Deloria via The New YorkerThe Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story by Michelle Tirado via Indian Country Today.The True, Indigenous History of Thanksgiving by Alexis Bunten via BioneersAs A Native American, Here’s What I Want My Fellow Americans To Know About Thanksgiving by Corinne Oestreich via Huffpost.Thanksgiving | Native Americans | One Word by The Cut via YoutubeThe Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony Draws on the 1969 Occupation to Inform Native Resistance by Ray Levy-Uyeda via TeenVogueNational Day of Mourning ResourcesUnited American Indians of New EnglandThanksgiving 'National Day Of Mourning' For Some by AJ+ via YoutubeFor many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning by Pamela Kirkland via CNNNative Americans host ‘National Day of Mourning’ on Thanksgiving via Al JazeeraThanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning by Allen Salway via Paper MagazineWhat is National Day of Mourning? How Anti-Thanksgiving Day Started and Everything To Know About It by Kelly Wynne via NewsweekMashpee Wampanoag Tribal Status RemovalTrump administration revokes reservation status for Mashpee Wampanoag tribe amid coronavirus crisis by Rory Taylor via VoxU.S. Appeals Ruling In Mashpee Wampanoag Land Case by the AP via WBUR NewsThe ‘Thanksgiving Tribe’ Is Still Fighting for Food Sovereignty by Alexandra Talty via Civil EatsConnect with Our Guests_“There needs to be an intention to build with others. We can't have this future that we're dreaming of if it's just by ourselves.” _- Charlie Amáyá ScottCharlie Amáyá Scott is a Diné (Navajo) scholar born and raised within the central part of the Navajo Nation. Charlie reflects, analyzes, and critiques what it means to be Queer, Trans, and Diné in the 21st century on their personal blog, dineaesthetics.com, while inspiring joy and justice to thousands of their followers on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Their English pronouns are they/them and she/her.Kai Ramey is a community organizer, poet, land steward, & dog dad in Yanawana / Somi'Sek formerly known as San Antonio, TX. They work with Roots of Change community garden and Trans Lifeline, a trans-led resource organization. He has a passion for BIPOC connection to the land as well as Black & Indigenous rest as resistance. Follow Kai on Instagram.Katie Pruett is the founder and editor-in-chief of ESJ Magazine and has been working to make sure representation exists within the sustainable fashion space, and that real conversations that lead to accountability and action are happening in fashion. Over the past year, her work with the magazine has expanded to create a bigger platform for Black women and femmes, and women of color to take up space in ethical and sustainable fashion. Follow ESJ on Instagram.Emma Robbins is a Diné artist, activist, and environmentalist with a passion for empowering Indigenous women. As Director of the Navajo Water Project, part of the DigDeep Right to Water Project, she is wor
39 minutes | Oct 30, 2020
Colonization, Language & the Role of Visual Storytelling
How Visual Storytelling Transcends the Impact of Colonization on Language In Episode 08 of Art of Citizenry Podcast, Manpreet Kalra is joined by Eunice Pais in a conversation exploring the ways in which colonial legacies led to the dominance of the English language, creating barriers rooted in power. They discuss the ways in which photography conveys stories and builds connections at a raw, humanistic level, transcending linguistic barriers. Together, they explore the role of photographers as visual storytellers with Eunice sharing her experience as a Black-Portuguese photographer.Colonial Barriers Through Language Throughout this podcast we have explored the power of language and words. As many of you know, I strongly believe that words have the ability to shape perceptions and are an important part of how we share not only our stories, but shape the way others understand our experiences. Unfortunately, the conversation of language is often approached from a subconscious place of dominance. We don't necessarily realize how language itself can play into how we experience and navigate power. "Most narratives about the Black experience are American centric, or very British centric, which, again, it's not something that is probably conscious collectively, but it does happen. And sometimes I feel like I in a way, I'm privileged because I speak English fluently, so I can convey my experience and my messages clearly in two languages. But if someone doesn't, then their experience as a person of color, who doesn't speak English, is not included in the conversation." - Eunice Pais English is the most spoken language in the world with Mandarin following as a close second. The thing that is important to note as a difference between the two is that while the majority of Mandarin speakers are concentrated by region, English is much more spread out. This is, of course, the result of colonization of communities around the world by the British Empire. After all, it was "the empire on which the sun never sets." This idea of English being the language of dominance continued to manifest with the spread of American culture. With English being the primary language of the original colonizers of what is now the United States, the association of English and whiteness became stamped. The persistent idolization of whiteness, as evidenced through the tragic history of slavery in the US, further cemented the roots of internalized racism leading to English taking a dominant hold. English is the de facto language of 70 countries and is the official languages of the skies. It has more non-native speakers than any other language in the world. Historically, power, specifically political and social power, is intrinsically tied to the ability to speak the dominant language. It has resulted in the loss of culture, which is very much dependent on the survival of languages, many of which are now endangered. The drift away from a language often starts for understandable reasons like a desire to assimilate or even survive. This is something I've seen in my own community. Punjabi, being the language of my ancestors, has become increasingly endangered after years of ridicule as the language of uneducated villagers. Many in Punjab itself choose not to speak Punjabi out of a desire to assimilate and be treated with respect by India’s elite, who speak Hindi and hold power and prestige. Even schools in Punjab that once taught in Punjabi now teach in Hindi. It is important to understand this context especially as I speak to you right now in English, my second language, a fact I have often shied away from sharing out of fear of being considered less than. So how do you tell a story that transcends the barriers of power that language often creates within society? Over the years, I have come to recognize the power that art has as a universal language. No matter what culture or community you belong to, art, particularly photography, has the ability to communicate the nuances that often language fails to when navigating across cultures.The Legacy of Colonization: Mozambican War of Independence One of the things many people don't realize is that colonization also resulted in forced migration. It was as much about power through expansion as it was about the annihilation of communities and cultures. This meant that many people were forced to move to countries where they continued to live in endangerment. People were forced to assimilate, abandoning their identities for the sake of survival. My family had to flee their own country because they didn't choose their nationality. They have no agency to choose, they were under strict dictatorship. They came to Portugal in '74 with a nationality that wasn't well received here, so they came to the country that colonized them and yet did not accept them as Portuguese. - Eunice Pais About Eunice Pais During this episode, we speak with Eunice Pais, the founder of Pais Ethical Image Making. Eunice is a self-taught ethical fashion photographer based in Portugal. Her journey in photography started three years ago with a question: “Can photography be responsible ?” Partnering with ethical fashion brands, Eunice was able to develop and implement environmentally and socially positive methods of work in her fashion productions. This year, she decided to elevate the initial personal project even further by creating an agency that champions ethics in image-making while pushing for a more equitable industry. She shares her experience with her Black-Portuguese identity, the impact of colonialism on her identity, and together, we explore the role of photography in storytelling. That even with singular stories and different backgrounds from those who lead the conversation, we are still participating in a common goal: an equitable system. - Eunice Pais CONNECT WITH OUR GUESTS Support Eunice’s work via GoFundMe + follow @pais.agency on Instagram.THANK YOU This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Eunice for joining me today and sharing her valuable insights. Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
35 minutes | Oct 1, 2020
Episode 07: Representation or Tokenism?
Exploring Intersectional IdentitiesOne of the things I have found to be most impactful in my work is unpacking the complexity and layers to how we identify. No single person has a single identity. We are multidimensional, with each layer of our identity shaping how we see ourselves and hope to be seen.It is not controversial to say that our identities are about more than just our race. And yet, when we think about representation, the web of experiences that shape our intersectional identities often melds together into one singular identifier of difference: race.Representation cannot be about individual characteristics that make up any given person, it's about how those characteristics intersect and influence a person's experiences. This is why concepts like intersectionality, which was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw are important, which essentially looks at how multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage compound themselves.Our advantages and disadvantages as we navigate an unequal world change, they are fluid and shift as the circumstances around us change. And so, our experiences are a result of a hierarchy of factors that influence the privileges and oppressions that we encounter. Privileges and oppressions compound each other, influencing how they shape our experiences.Let me share a story…While in school, my husband traveled to Cuba for a medical education trip. At the immigration counter, the person on the other end was confused by him. Before him stood a brown man with a beard wearing a turban who appeared to be Indian, but was born in Canada, was an American citizen with an American passport, and spoke fluent Spanish without a hint of a distorting American accent. The officer stood confused, eventually summoning a second officer to verify everything was up to snuff. In that moment, why it took longer for my husband to pass through screening cannot be pinpointed to any one aspect of his identity. Sure, some factors, like race in many cases, weigh heavier than others, but the way these aspects of our identity intersect and sometimes contradict each other requires nuance that many of us fail to recognize when talking about representation. We are more than any one aspect of our identity.Over the past few months, conversations around representation have become a core response for businesses on how they plan to foster a more anti-racist culture within the work place. Across industries, representation has become all about putting more black bodies in front of the camera and in Instagram feeds. Which, don't get me wrong, is fantastic, but this approach to representation can be hollow and easily falls short.Representation normalizes difference and builds up those who are otherwise left unheard and unseen. Brands need to recognize that their marketing and branding should not just show what their current customer base looks like, but rather strive to represent the customer base they hope to have, one built on inclusion, not exclusion.Representation + Black Lives MatterRacism has historically and continues to fuel the way we navigate difference. It is reinforced by the systems and policies we navigate. These differences are what define how others see us, what boxes we are put in.What happened with Breonna Taylor and her case, represents our current climate, it represents a lack of value for black and brown lives. It represents a lack of caring.- Chloe JackmanOne of the things I have noticed over the last few months is an increase in representation of black bodies in brand marketing, especially on social media. I remember right after the murder of George Floyd, brands started to post photos and run ads with black models on Instagram. It is amazing to have more people of color in front of the camera, but we must be cautious not to fall into the realm of tokenism and performative allyship. If you are really trying to make change, if this is something you really want to. do, what are you doing on the backend? What are you doing that nobody is going to give you a pat on the back or high five for? What are you doing that is not front facing or forward facing to the world? What are you doing to work on yourself, and your business and challenge your ideas of racism because we all got them…For me representation in the world of social media especially goes deeper than. what. you see on the surface. I want to. know you are doing the work behind. the. scenes. - Chloe JackmanAt this moment in history, it is in vogue to have people of color in your marketing, but that must be intrinsically tied to doing the work of unpacking power structures at play within your business. Power structures that might mean your business is not truly representing a diversity of voices, a diversity of identities.Representation matters from diversity of ethnicity and cultural background to sex to LGBTQ to accessibility…all of that matters. - Chloe JackmanRepresentation in Brand MarketingA lot of times people say, how do I look authentic, instead of actually saying, how. do I be authentic?…in order to have a company that effectively tackles, climate change, climate justice, and social justice, in order to have a company that does that, well, our business needs to be made up of people who know how to fix those problems, and who have been affected by those problems. And that will naturally lead to having a business that's more diverse.- Rachel FallerInclusivity has to be about more than customer facing photography and marketing campaigns. It has to be about incorporating a diversity of experiences in all aspects of your business.“…having that representation of people who are deeply embedded in the problems and the solution across your whole business model, not just in the people that you're supposedly trying to ‘save,’ is representation to me.” - Rachel FallerIn the fair trade, ethical, sustainability space, we often see brands that claim to be diverse because all the artisans making their products are people of color, but that is not representation. Representation is about inclusivity in leadership, including the people you hire to be part of your team, may they be full time employees or consultants in the Global North.I don’t think the goal should be diversity itself. The goal should be that if we really want to create models that promote equity and justice, our businesses must be inclusive and representative. A business that is not inclusive and representative, is fundamentally not a justice focused business. - Rachel FallerReclaim CollaborativeReclaim Collaborative is a community dedicated to building a better, more just fashion and lifestyle ecosystem. We believe no one person or brand alone can address systemic injustices. We are a community of brands, content creators and industry experts dedicated to creating widespread system change. We are both an affiliate marketing platform, but also a community dedicated to fostering healthy and equitable relationships built on respect for everyone's work and talents. We believe in challenging the systems we operate in by supporting brands to address inclusion in all aspects of their business. Learn more!Reclaim Black FridayAs you know the Black Friday weekend is quite problematic, so we've designed a campaign to reclaim Black Friday weekend and redistribute funds from sales to Black and Indigenous operated environmental organizations. Our goals with Reclaim Black Friday are twofold: to challenge the colonialist, capitalist, consumerist mindset that drives Black Friday, and to put money directly in the hands of Black and Indigenous folks who are working to heal the land and support their communities. If you are brand looking to participate, learn more and register your interest here.Additional Resources + LinksInterested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out these links:[Instagram Live] Where are you really from? featuring Manpreet Kalra + Neha Sharma[Podcast] Art of Citizenry Podcast Episode 6: Voluntourism, Mission Trips + Dismantling the Savior Complex[BLOG POST] Revisiting Our Branding: Treating Symptoms vs Systemic Change by Rachel Faller[BLOG POST] Co-creating an Equitable and Just Future with Manpreet Kalra, published on tonlé[TED TALK] The Urgency of Intersectionality by Kimberlé Williams CrenshawReclaim Community ValuesConnect with Our GuestsChloe Jackman is a professional photographer based in San Francisco and co-founder of Reclaim Collaborative. Follow @chloejackmanphotos on Instagram.Rachel Faller is the founder + creative director of tonlé and co-founder of Reclaim Collaborative. Follow @tonledesign on Instagram.And of course, don’t forget to follow @reclaimcollaborative on Instagram too!Thank YouThis podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Neha, Lindsay, and Austin for joining me today and sharing their valuable insights.Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
76 minutes | Sep 10, 2020
Episode 06: Voluntourism, Mission Trips + Dismantling the Savior Complex
In Episode 06 of Art of Citizenry Podcast, Manpreet Kalra is joined by Neha Sharma, Lindsay Woodruff, and Austin Miller in a conversation deconstructing the complexities of doing good in an unequal world. They explore ways in which voluntourism, may it be faith based or not, is a manifestation of colonization, reinforced by power structures rooted in imperialism. Together, they break down what sustainable change looks like, dive into elements of the savior complex, and critically analyze ways in which do-good travel can be sustainable.Exploring Guilt TripsWhy does helping people who live far away feel different than helping those who are closer to home? From mission trips to building homes in remote villages, at what point does volunteering abroad do more harm than good? Anu Taranath says it best in her book Beyond Guilt Trips when she writes:"Our travels to culturally and economically different locations often turn into guilt trips precisely because we have little practice navigating the unequal power dynamics and different-than-me-ness we find. We're not always sure how to think or speak about the differences we notice, even though these differences might have fueled our desire to travel in the first place. Those of us with more privileges and social advantages, in particular, might be even less practiced in recognizing and saying aloud what it is we are noticing and feeling about identity, race, power, and hierarchy. Simmering in our guilt and discomforting feelings about systems we have not created but continue to participate in and perhaps benefit from does nothing for justice."I recently spoke to a group of business school students about anti-racism and social impact. During the conversation, I noticed how most of them thought about addressing issues abroad when thinking about incorporating "social good" into their business models. This idea that those abroad are more in need of help than those living nearby stems from colonial power dynamics rooted in systemic racism.Episode 6 comes out of an Instagram Live conversation I recently co-hosted with Neha Sharma, an embroidery artist who creates South Asian and social justice-inspired art with a background in economics and public health. During the live, we discussed how voluntourism is built on a white savior complex and how it truly isn't as altruistic as it seems, which sparked some interesting conversations with our listeners.The Global North vs Global SouthThe term "Global South" is the new acceptable term used to describe "third-world or developing" countries. However, by nature, it implies a problematic top-down power structure to the way we approach difference on the global stage. In 1980, former German Chancellor Willy Brandt proposed the "Brandt Line" which is an imaginary line that divides the world map into the "Global North and "Global South" based on GDP per capita. The visual of the map is almost comical as it goes across the map and then loops down to include Australia and New Zealand.When looking at the countries that make up the Global North, they are almost all countries that we historically consider to be "white" majority, ignoring indigenous communities on whose land we reside. Global South countries, on the other hand, are often tied to "people of color."All too often, “do-good travelers” from the Global North travel to previously colonized countries in the Global South that are still struggling to rebuild as a result of years of extraction, which continues today in the form of capitalism and self-serving guilt trips. There's a lot to be gained that is oftentimes one sided and not two sided, keeping power in the hands of those who have it and taking advantage of those who don't.Ask yourself: "Why are you coming into a community that are completely unfamiliar with, to a culture you have no ties to, and taking over whatever it is that they are doing? Any sort of initiative to improve a community needs to be led by that community." - Neha SharmaColonization, Mission Trips + Heropreneurship"I went on a three month trip, and it was sort of exploratory to see if I'd want to work in Bangladesh. And I was very inexperienced…I was not in any way educationally prepared to offer anything that to Bangladesh, except Jesus." - Austin MillerColonization historically was built on the idea to conquer and convert. You conquer a country and then impose your understanding of religion, culture, and living. And we see these similar ideologies manifest in the way many approach voluntourism may it be faith based or not."Essentially, this approach is coming from a time where, you know, Europeans and North Americans generally, either generally white people believed that they had the so called duty to bring civilization and God to these, you know, so called poor people or people of color who supposedly needed Western culture to become fulfilled human beings. And it's really it's coming from a place of superiority where you think somebody could not possibly live in a different way that I do, and I need to impose my values on them." - Neha SharmaThe reality is many social enterprises or mission-driven businesses stem from these trips as well. Unfortunately, no form of economic exchange could possibly every reverse the history of colonialism. While you might be able to create jobs, you cannot bring back communities that were annihilated, you cannot un-burn documentation of community histories, and you cannot bring back languages that are spoken no more.Unless we have an intersectional approach to how we think about economic development and how we think about building just economies, we can't really create sustainable change. Sustainable change is about more than you, which is hard for many to fathom."More people need to start doing their due diligence to understand the impact of their actions." - Neha SharmaWe need to ask ourselves one key question: "What makes me the right person to address this problem?” This want to be the hero leads to issues like heropreneurship.Tom’s Shoes founder created a business model built on white saviorism and did more economic damage in the countries he set out to “help” than good.Sustainable VoluntourismBreaking cycles of racism is about giving up power, "...giving up power of being the one that distributes the money or the funds, of being the spokesperson, and saying how things are done." - Austin MillerWe need to recognize we are usually not the first person to see a problem or trying to solve it. We need to think about what are the alliances I need to build and how can I best support the work already happening, versus going in and trying to impose my own solutions. The truth is good intention alone is not good enough. Sometimes good intention can do so much more harm when executed without a thorough understanding of the issue we are trying to help address."Sustainable voluntourism always has to have elements of expertise, and invitation, if I'm not there at the invitation of the community, then I should not be there." - Lindsay WoodruffWhen thinking about how to make voluntourism more sustainable, it is also important to think about longevity. Going into a community and expecting to make sustainable change in the span of two to three weeks is naïve. We have to give ourselves the time and space to first understand the community and society we are entering, approaching those conversations with empathy and humility.Case Study: Renee BachOne of the most notable examples of voluntourism going horribly wrong is the case of Renee Bach, an American Christian missionary, who traveled to Uganda after graduating from high school. After coming back from spending a few months volunteering with an orphanage, she decided to return to Uganda and start a treatment center dedicated to taking in malnourished children with extremely complicated medical conditions . She named her charity Serving His Children and had absolutely no medical training or qualifications. In the process we know at least 105 children died in her charity's care.Why does society value the lives of white children more than children of color? Why can someone get away with this for so long before she is ever charged or shut down? What makes us think that a high schooler can provide medical care in Uganda when people struggle to trust medical professionals who look too young in the United States? This is what a savior mindset looks like, at its worst.Resources + LinksInterested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out these links:[Instagram Live] Guilt Trips + the Savior Complex featuring Manpreet Kalra + Neha Sharma[Podcast] Art of Citizenry Podcast Episode 2: Tanja Cesh of Mulxiply on Empathy[Donate] No White Saviors’ Revolutionary Library & Cafe in Uganda[Book] Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World by Anu Taranath[Book] Questions of Travel: Postmodern Discourses of Displacement by Caren Kaplan[Article] African Children Need to be Saved from White Saviors | Afropunk[Instagram Account] @NoWhiteSaviors[Blog] The Very Worst Missionary[Article] Buying TOMS shoes is a terrible way to help poor people | VOX[Image] Brandt Line of Global North and Global SouthConnect with Our GuestsNeha Sharma, @nehaxstitch on Instagram (be sure to follow her!), is an embroidery artist who creates South Asian and social justice-inspired art with a background in economics and public health.Lindsay Woodruff is the founder and owner of Pachamama Market, a neighborhood marketplace for fair trade, handmade, and eco-friendly goods in Troy, Ohio. Lindsay holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and 15+ years of experience in learning lessons the hard way. Follow Pachamama Market on Instagram.Austin Miller is the co-founder of Kahiniwalla, a brand built on the belief that children and families deserve to play with and use items that are thoughtfully designed, made to last, and produced ethically. Austin and his partner, Marita work closely with Pebble Child, a fair trade enterprise in Bangladesh that creates hand crochet baby toys and accessories. Follow Kahiniwalla on Instagram.Thank YouThis podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics s
43 minutes | Aug 20, 2020
Episode 05: Consent, Power + Trauma in Ethical Storytelling with Joy McBrien
From saviorism to poverty porn, for decades, storytelling has become part and parcel of marketing and fundraising efforts. For social enterprises, stories about the lives of the artisans who design and create products are shared often in the name of transparency. With storytelling a core part of many brands' marketing strategy, the conversation around consent is often overlooked. “Mission-driven products are often sold using some level of someone's trauma and it ultimately makes you feel like you're just being valued for your traumas and nothing else." Both the biggest strength and failure of a social entrepreneur is storytelling. Where light otherwise remains unshone, social entrepreneurs share stories of hardship, poverty, and inequality. As an unintended consequence, these stories often further deep-seated racial power dynamics first introduced with colonialism. In episode 5, I am joined by Joy McBrien, the founder and CEO of Fair Anita, a fair trade social enterprise that strives to build a more inclusive economy for women. Fair Anita works with 8,000 women across 9 different countries to create fashion accessories ranging from jewelry to handbags. Their vision is to design a world in which women and girls can grow up feeling safe, respected, and valued no matter their geography. Language in Storytelling Language has the power to break and also reinforce stereotypes. I found it interesting to hear Joy talk about "agency" instead of "empowerment." Empowerment is a very loaded word and one I see often used by social enterprises to describe the impact of their work on the artisans they work with. Personally, I find the word empowerment quite problematic because it reinforces the idea that the person on the other end has no power to begin with, essentially discounting any form of agency. “What does it mean as a white woman working with almost exclusively women of color? What am I then saying with that word because ultimately the word empowerment means to give power and I don't really feel like that's what it is. I think there's a mutual giving of power — like there's power in our combined relationship our shared experiences, but I don't feel like it's one-sided as the word empower suggests.” Why is knowing the maker's name not good enough? Why is it that instead of sharing professional bios like most companies do of their employees, fair trade and ethical brands choose to share intimate details about the personal lives and trauma of makers? Informed Consent There is a difference between saying, “Sure you can tell people about my personal trauma” and knowing exactly the extent to which someone's photo and narrative will be used, on swing tags, in shops, on social media, on your website, and so forth. It is important for markers to understand what exactly they are giving consent to, and what that might mean for them, their families, and ultimately, their privacy. "Remember that storytelling takes place not just on social media, but when we're talking to customers and building those relationships. Even if it's not trackable, it's still really important …and necessary that we're sharing those stories with consent and and in a way makers would want to be portrayed." Consent in Photography We tend to take photos and share them without really thinking much about consent or compensating the person like we would a model in the Global North if we were using their photo to sell our products. “If you're walking on the street and you think it's fine to take a picture of somebody doing something over there. They're still in the picture — you still have to get their consent. If you don't feel comfortable getting their consent, that probably means you shouldn't be taking their picture.” The classic example I like to share is that of the "Afghan Girl,” an iconic photo that was published on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. The woman who was photographed, Sharbat Gula, was pulled out of class without her consent or parental consent by the photographer, a white male, who took her to a nondescript location, posed her, and photographed her. What that photo is most known for is the fear in her eyes. When you read interviews with her in recent years, she talks about how that one photograph derailed her life while giving the photographer global recognition. What you see is her genuine fear of a stranger. It truly blows my mind how we don't apply the same principles around consent in photography with those living in the Global South as we do with those living in the Global North. Where do we go from here as social enterprises? No one is perfect, this is a process and the purpose of conversations like this is to get us thinking about how we can reflect on the systems we operate in and address some of those issues around making social enterprises more inclusive and giving each member of the business a seat at the table or an equal voice. All too often brands share photos of models who are white and place those next to photos of makers who are of color. Diversity can't just be the artisan partners you work with. It has to be in every aspect of your business. Resources + Links Interested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out these links: [Blog Post] It's Time to Expand the Conversation About Consent by Joy McBrien [Article] Why Language is Important when Navigating Inequity by Manpreet Kalra [Resource Page]Crafting Inclusive Brand Narratives [Article] You'll Never See the Iconic Photo of the 'Afghan Girl' the Same Way Again Connect with Fair Anita Please make the effort to support small businesses — you can follow Fair Anita on Instagram and shop their collection online. Thank You This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Joy for joining me and sharing her experiences and valuable insights. Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! To learn more about Art of Citizenry and for information on future webinars and workshops, please visit artofcitizenry.com. Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
37 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
Episode 04: Tatiana Ordoñez on Colorism, Colonization, and Textiles of Colombia
“Craft has a lot to tell about a person’s country and identity.” It is often said that you can learn a lot about the history of a community or culture through their textiles. However, that is only possible if those textiles have survived the human experience of war and conflict. In many countries, cultures have been erased by colonial homogenization or appropriated by selective extraction. During this episode, we explore the impact of Colonization on indigenous communities in Colombia, how the legacy of colonization continues to dictate social structures, and its impact on traditional art forms. “The nostalgia of not knowing if I may be, a part of my ancestry is Muisca, I don’t know…we don’t see much culture left. Maybe some people have heritage of the Muisca people, but as a culture, it’s completely gone.” In episode 4, I am joined by Tatiana Andrea Ordoñez Casallas of Zuahaza, a home textile studio based in Bogota, Colombia. Following an era of intense conflict, which continues to shape and affect Colombia today, Zuahaza seeks to participate in the peacemaking efforts to reunite and heal the country through art. Tatiana will be sharing her journey with rediscovering the rich history of her country, and how that has influenced the way she approaches her business. The Single Narrative Colombia is more than the single story you have heard time after time about drugs and war. As a society, we often feel this need, at least in the United States, to put people in a box. But that can be really dehumanizing. It rejects how within a country people have different experiences based on a variety of factors including region, religion, social economic status, and so much more. “We have a lot of problems like a lot of other countries, but there is another story to tell.” We also see this often in the social impact space, where we create these single stories of people from countries and sometimes even continents, erasing historical context and the rich heritage of the various communities that reside within any given country or continent. This single narrative then reinforces harmful stereotypes. What does racism look like in Colombia? “There is not an easy way to describe racism in Colombia, but is not just a matter of skin color, it is also a matter of wealth distribution. The poorest regions of our country are either majority black or majority indigenous. In parallel these happen to be regions that are most affected by guerrilla conflicts. With this long history of conflict fueled by the drug trade (which is another article for another time), we have become a separated people. We made fences. We hired security guards. We built walls around our neighborhoods, and in all this, we prolonged the separation and discrimination against our fellow black and indigenous Colombians.” Colorism + Whiteness The National Museum of African American History & Culture has an excellent article on their website exploring the concept of whiteness, which they thoughtfully define as the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups of are compared. In my understanding, this normalization then manifests itself in form of cultural hegemony, power dynamics, and racist power structures that have then been internalized by marginalized communities themselves. This makes whiteness something to strive for, often putting what is considered "global north" countries on a pedestal. Unlike many of her peers who used education as an excuse to leave Colombia, Tatiana used the skills she built while studying textile design in the States to reconnect with her ancestral roots in Colombia. She moved back and began using her talents as a weaver to connect with other weavers and work to revive textile traditions lost to colonial destruction. Resources + Links Interested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out these links: [Resource Page] Whiteness by The National Museum of African American History & Culture [Article] Black Lives Matter Movement: What does it look like in Colombia? by Tatiana Ordoñez [Resource Page] Learn more about the Muisca civilization that was completely erased by Spanish colonizers in Colombia [Podcast] Which is it? Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation Connect with Zuahaza Please make the effort to support small businesses — you can follow Zuahaza on Instagram and shop their textile collection online. Thank You This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Tatiana for joining me and sharing her experiences and valuable insights. Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! Interested in attending a future webinar or workshop? Keep an eye on Art of Citizenry! Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
67 minutes | Jul 20, 2020
Episode 03: Which is it? Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation
Ever ordered a chai tea latte or purchased a jacket marketed as a kimono? When it comes to mobilizing for an anti-racist economy, it is important to first address the ways in which we reinforce systems of oppression in our every day life. During this episode, we explore at what point cultural appreciation becomes appropriation. I had the opportunity to host this conversation earlier this month in collaboration with Chicago Fair Trade, NYC Fair Trade Coalition and Iowa City Fair Trade Coalition. I am excited to bring it to you now through this special episode featuring webinar highlights. Interested in attending a future webinar? Keep an eye on Art of Citizenry! My favorite part of hosting these conversations is of course the discussion. So, if you are interested, tune in till the end for the webinar Q&A led by Zachary Rochester as an added bonus. Before we dive in, I want to welcome everyone to the conversation -- from the social entrepreneurs out there to fair trade advocates, thank you for taking the time to have these important conversations. Navigating Cultural Appropriation in Social Impact In the social impact world may it be fair trade home goods or sustainable fashion, cultural appropriation often furthers the very hegemonies brands, organizations, and consumers are seeking to address. This episode explores ways in which we appropriate cultures and communities and what we can do to address the problematic impact of appropriation, especially in the fair trade and social impact space. We focus the conversation on language, symbols and fashion through the lens of power and profit. Resources about Cultural Appropriation Interested in reading some of the resources I reference during the episode? Check out these links: [Reference Slides] Which is it? Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation by Manpreet Kalra [Resource Page] Crafting Inclusive Narratives by Manpreet Kalra [Book] So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo [Article] How 'Namaste' Flew Away from Us by Kumari Devarajan [Article] An Open Letter to White Makers & Designer Who are Inspired by the Kimono and Japanese Culture by Emi Ito [Book] Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law by Susan Scafidi Thank You This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Katherine Bissell Cordova and Andrea Dennis from Chicago Fair Trade along with Zachary Rochester from Iowa City Fair Trade Coalition for moderating. I also want to thank everyone who attended the live webinar and the many of you who continue to support my work, I appreciate you and your dedication to keep learning. Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
20 minutes | May 27, 2020
Episode 02: Tanja Cesh of Mulxiply on Empathy
There are approximately 28 million people living in Nepal. Half of the population lives below the poverty line, earning less that $1.25 per day. With unemployment high, many leave the country as migrant workers. There are a lot of social enterprises and non-profits that go into countries wanting to make a difference. Doing good in an unequal world takes listening and being able to understand the nuance of why a society is the way it is.Navigating Impact with Cultural Humility In this episode, Tanja talks about her journey from working in fast fashion to slow fashion. She shares her personal reflections on what led her to start Mulxiply, and the challenges she both experienced and observed along the way. Tanja talks about the role of empathy when navigating within a culture other than your own and ways in which social enterprises can use empathy to build relationships and address colonial power dynamics. In fast fashion, orders are given to the maker with set expectation and limited communication, but slow fashion is much more collaborative. For socially conscious designers like Tanja, the design process is as much about her vision as it is about the maker's.Impact During a Pandemic Global inequities are staring us right in the face. At a time like this, the systemic inequities of society are magnified by the ways in which each country and community navigate crisis. Each individual experience is unique, but it has been especially difficult for those who are economically disadvantaged globally. “It’s heart-breaking and gut-wrenching to see what’s happening on the borders right now in Nepal. Citizens who have been working abroad are trying to get home. It’s their right! Thousands have been on foot for days and are now stuck with no process for entering or quarantine, no water or food, etc. Thousands of men, women and children are stranded.” — Tanja Cesh [read the full post here] Connect with Mulxiply Please make the effort to support small businesses — you can follow Mulxiply on Instagram and shop Mulxiply’s contemporary collection online.Thank You This podcast is dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss and challenge topics surrounding how we each navigate our personal advantages and disadvantages. I want to thank Tanja for being one of the first individuals I interviewed for this podcast — her energy and dedication is truly an inspiration! Finally, thank you for listening! Please subscribe, download, and leave a review for Art of Citizenry Podcast on iTunes — I appreciate your love and support on this exciting journey! Also, if you want to connect, please feel free to follow me and share your thoughts with me on Instagram @manpreetkalra.
4 minutes | May 27, 2020
Welcome to Art of Citizenry
Welcome and thank you for listening to Art of Citizenry podcast. This podcast explores the intersection of social justice, personal journeys, and power dynamics. I am Manpreet Kaur Kalra, your host and in-house storyteller. I want to take a moment to share with you the inspiration behind this podcast. Over the years, I've traveled across six continents, spending extended periods of time in cities and villages around the world. As the stamps in my 52 page passport continued to multiply, so did my passion to do something impactful. My travels left me with a deep rooted desire to “do good” and be a part of a bigger change in how we create, sell and consume products. I started a small retail business. I wanted to better understand supply chains and how a sustainable business can do good. During that journey, I realized two things: the first, that impact does not scale like a business and secondly that sometimes doing good does more harm. Like so many other social entrepreneurs, what I failed to recognize at that moment was that my small business alone could not solve generations of structural inequity. This podcast comes out of my experience as a social entrepreneur and advocate for inclusive brand narratives. Over the past few years, I have worked with purpose-driven businesses dedicated to producing things ethically. Through my work, I have seen the many ways in which doing good can create great impact, but I have also discovered the ways in which it can reinforce cultural stereotypes and colonial power dynamics. Over the course of each episode, we will explore topics of social justice through the lens of identity and impact. This podcast is dedicated to creating a space for listeners to reflect and challenge themselves. Talking about difference is uncomfortable, but true change in the way you navigate through life can only happen if you are willing to navigate through discomfort. Doing good in an unequal world requires giving ourselves the space to reflect and approach inequity with humility. Whether you are an aspiring social entrepreneur, an academic or social justice warrior, I hope this podcast gives you the opportunity to learn something new. I look forward to you joining me as we explore the art of citizenry.