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Yes! Impact

Decolonize Issue

Colleges make it required reading

The Decolonize Issue

YES! offers complimentary boxes of magazines to various organizations, universities, and activists to use in their work. This is a donor-funded program. The Spring 2018 Decolonize Issue was requested by organizations in 18 different states. It is required reading at The University of Victoria, Yale University, Institute of American Indian Arts, Leech Lake Tribal College, University of Idaho, and UNC Asheville.

Skyping in, issue contributor Kyle Powys Whyte joined a class at Yale on “Epistemic Oppression” to discuss his work, including his YES! essay, “White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization.”

Kristie Dotson, philosophy professor, said the course is made up of students from multiple majors, ranging from African American studies to history and philosophy. “The first half of the course focused on developing a robust idea of what knowledge-related oppression and harms look like. The second half of class we focus on strategies for addressing it that are emerging from indigenous scholars, who have very sophisticated understandings of epistemic oppression and have developed sophisticated strategies for addressing it,” Dotson says. “The entire issue is relevant to this class, so I am certain they will learn a lot from it.”

We were sad to hear the news that Melba Appawora, the Northern Ute Tribe grandmother on the cover of the Decolonize Issue, died on April 3. We are honored to have been able to feature her on our cover.

Librarians petition Library of Congress

The Solidarity Economy

Sanford Berman read the Winter 2018 Solidarity Issue and says it was a conscious awakening for him to the term “solidarity economy.” He is a librarian in Minnesota who sent a letter to the Library of Congress asking it to add the heading “Solidarity Economy” to its catalog database. Most libraries in the United States follow the Library of Congress subject headings — if the Library of Congress doesn’t make a change, none of the libraries will.

Subject headings can become political. For example, there is no heading for Native American “genocide.” And there is a heading for “illegal aliens.” Sanford says he’s been a YES! subscriber for a few years and that reading the Solidarity Economy issue was the “trigger” for him to have libraries acknowledge the term solidarity economy.

An impact on national conversations

Community Bail Funds

In Portland, Oregon, reader Paul Brown was inspired by a story in the Winter 2018 issue, “When Communities Say No One Should Stay in Jail Just Because They’re Poor” by Amy Roe. The story highlighted the problems with a cash bail system, and Brown was motivated to make a change in his community. Brown met with people who are actively working on criminal justice reform in Oregon and a local public defender who helped start a community bailout fund in New York.

“I’ve determined that while I might be helpful as a concerned citizen at a committee hearing, there is already a lot of good work around criminal justice reform, pre-trial reform, [and] ideally the elimination of cash bail. Multiple sources shared a concern with me that if we ‘solve’ this problem as citizens, we could hurt efforts to pass reform legislation in our next state legislative session. While I was initially skeptical of this, I also learned that instead of fixing pre-trial bail issues in New York, after seeing how successful the bail funds were in NYC, the mayor just created his own bail fund instead of actually trying for real reform,” he says.

Brown says that was enough to convince him that he should move on to other ways he can help in the community. “I do still feel that this story was very motivating, and I learned a lot in the process and made some interesting contacts, but I think there are many other areas that I can add value, so I’m going to hold off on any more bail fund-related activities,” Brown says.

Send your updates and responses to Bailey Williams, audience relations coordinator: [email protected]

Imagine you’re about to celebrate a special holiday, milestone, or birthday. If you could ask for any nonmaterial gift, what would you ask for? What would make this gift so special to you?

Student Essay

To Walk the World on Trembling Legs

If I were to ask for any nonmaterial gift, it would be for the truly accessible ability to travel the world. I am a disabled person with a chronic illness that limits the mobility of my arms and legs, causes me to be more susceptible to catching infectious diseases, and contributes to overall pain and fatigue. My dream gift would be the utmost security that despite my health limitations I would be able to travel to wherever my heart desires.

First would be the process through the airport. I would be able to walk through crowds of people and board the plane without fear of falling ill. Medical masks would not be stigmatized as they are in many Western countries. I would be able to bring mobility devices on flights and be comfortable using them wherever I go. I would be able to use assisted transit services whenever my legs become too wobbly. If the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro called me, there would be a road paved for those without the same strength to scale it. If the subway through Tokyo would be my mode of transport, I would always have a seat available and people would believe that I am disabled if I requested one. If I wanted to swim in the Great Barrier Reef, I would have confidence that my needs would be met as I dived into the ocean blue.

There is so much with traveling that I feel able-bodied people take for granted. The limitations of my physical being are only half the battle. There is also how the world meets the needs of a disabled traveler. We are not the norm in the space of adventure and exploration. One does not think of a person with a mobility impairment, contending with psychopathology, or suffering from a chronic illness as someone leading the charge to the ends of the earth. Such assumptions must be challenged, but being the pioneer to break these barriers is no easy task. The question always lingers: “What could possibly go wrong?” Not just in the sense of missing a flight or getting lost in an unfamiliar place, but what will happen if you cannot walk any farther, if you fall ill, or can't even bear the pain of not being able to experience what you truly desire.

In his YES! article “Less Stuff, More Heart,” Christopher Zumski Finke observes that the presents that many of us crave go beyond the realm of objects and expenditures. However, it’s essential to consider that what many individuals from marginalized backgrounds may distantly long for is often what those in power normally receive. I know that many people dream to travel the world. My aspiration lies beyond the usual limitations, and I may go so far as to say that a goal’s greater inaccessibility for me makes it all the more appealing.

For my nonmaterial gift, I ask for your willingness to stretch out your hand and be an accomplice for the disabled who pursue their own adventures. Confront those who gawk at us and ostracize us when we dare to walk outside our comfort zones — and into public squares — on broken legs. Do not push us beyond what we are able to do, but also do not shirk from taking the extra steps that allow us to partake in the same activities as able-bodied individuals. Understand that for us, this dream is all the sweeter in a world that was never built with us in mind. Your kindness and advocacy would be the most treasured present I could ever receive.

This essay was the university winner of the Winter 2018 YES! National Student Writing Competition. The competition is part of the “YES! for Teachers” program, bringing classroom resources on justice and sustainability to schools nationwide.
Read more student essays: yesmagazine.org/for-teachers. You can help YES! reach young people: yesmagazine.org/donate
Issue Contributors

The Affordable Housing Issue

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins Make Them Pay: The Global Wealth-Hiding, Ultra-Rich Elites

Collins is a director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org. He is author of several books, including 99 to 1 and Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good. His latest is Is Inequality in America Irreversible? (Polity Press).

Alexa Strabuk

Alexa Strabuk The Upside of Crowded Living

Strabuk is a journalist, illustrator, and community advocate, committed to telling narratives of resistance and liberation. She graduated last year from Pitzer College with a B.A. in media studies and a minor in Asian American studies. Her post-graduate search for a place to rent in Seattle brought her face to face with the nation’s housing affordability crisis and the precarious position of young people.

Craig Santos Perez

Korsha Wilson How Cooking Is Stirring the Pot for Social Change

Wilson is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and host of A Hungry Society, a podcast on Heritage Radio Network that takes a more inclusive look at the food world. She’s held a number of jobs in restaurants and was a cheesemaker at an Italian cheese shop in New England. If you want to see her geek out, ask her about the role of restaurants in modern society or “real” crab cakes — she grew up in Maryland. @KorshaWilson

From the Executive Director

Dear readers,

Christine Hanna

About a month ago, my 10-year-old son made my heart skip a few beats. We were talking about some articles he had been reading for class during Black History Month.

We talked of the horror and sorrow of slavery. We talked about the police shootings of Black people, and the stubborn line that connects the past to the present. Then we talked about privilege, including his privilege as a White boy. A boy who, like his parents, will enjoy the unearned benefits of owning land passed through generations of White ancestors. I assured him that whatever negative impacts his privilege has are no fault of his — that he is a good boy, and a good person.

And then, as I struggled to explain that his privilege comes with something else, he finished my sentence for me, saying, “I know, mom. It comes with a responsibility. I can help change it.”

Heart skipping.

I like to think he’s special — and he is! — but in this regard, he’s not. The kids just get it. They get that all people are worthy. They get that we all need the Earth. For them, ideas of fairness, justice, and sustainability are so simple, so obvious. They’re not yet burdened with a lifetime of privilege or oppression to warp their sense of what’s possible, or easy, or hard.

Friends, that is something to celebrate, and to work with.

Since 2011 YES! has been helping young people connect with their deep sense of justice and find their voice through our National Student Writing Competition. Three times a year, thousands of middle school, high school, and college students write essays in response to YES! articles. We publish all the winning student essays on our website. Starting this year, we are publishing one standout essay in each issue of the magazine (see page 53 for this issue’s selected essay by Remy Stewart).

The National Student Writing Competition, and the other powerful classroom tools we offer to teachers, are entirely supported by our donors. These transformative experiences for students simply wouldn’t happen without our readers’ support.

I encourage you to read the other winning essays on our website at yesmagazine.org/for-teachers/writing-competition, and experience for yourself the emerging better world through the hearts of young people.

You will be inspired.

Christine Hanna

Christine Hanna, Executive Director

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Editorial advisers and contributing editors

Colin Beavan, adrienne maree brown, Mark Engler, Dallas Goldtooth, Robert Jensen, Peter Kalmus, Fran Korten, Winona LaDuke, Frances Moore Lappé, Annie Leonard, Penn Loh, Bill McKibben, Madeline Ostrander, Raj Patel, Mary Annette Pember, Madhu Suri Prakash, Nathan Schneider, Vandana Shiva, Jay Walljasper

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