Archive for the 'SWP Summer 2010' Category

 

Jul 12 2010

Freedom is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle over Black Family Life, from LBJ to Obama-Brookings Institute-June 10

by at 6:57 pm

          The Moynihan Report entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action Office of Policy Planning and Research United States Department of Labor” revealed one aspect of racial disparity in this country.  The rate of illegitimacy within the African-American community the mid-1960s was one of the benchmarks that indicated the plight of their community, yet Senator Moynihan’s report on this fragile subject turned heads and eventually ostracized him in many political circles.  In this event sponsored by the Brookings Institute, intellectuals, professors, and journalists debated the societal context, impact, and lasting legacy of the Moynihan Report.  They lauded it for being ahead of its time as illegitimacy rates in today’s African American society triple that of the 1960s.  They also were chagrin at the reaction the document received during its time.  Unfortunately, the report was leaked and with the racially charged atmosphere of the time, Moynihan’s arbitrary look at the African-American community labeled him as a racist, which is not only false but took away from the terrible social problem he was trying to raise awareness on. 

            The debate not only focused on the history of the Moynihan Report but soon turned into a debate about the sanctity of marriage and the contemporary status of African-American society in the time of Obama and an apparent post-racial attitude.  The myth about the lack of marriageable young African-American men was confronted by members of the audience and the matriarchal nature of many fractured African-American households was analyzed and presented as one reason African-Americans feel a sense of “otherness” or disconnection from mainstream society.  We live in a patriarchal society, dominated by male-centric ideology, and with women leading most African-American households, we find an inherent gap in the upbringing of many young children.  While this situation is obviously not desirable in current society, many lingering effects of racism and segregation that have contributed to oppression of African-Americans in even our so-called equal society were touched upon by the incredibly intelligent panel.  These include the disproportionate incarceration rates of African-Americans and economic segregation resulting from suburbanization. References to the Cosby Show and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” were part of the optimism towards race relations that the panel eventually espoused. 

          Despite race relations improving in their minds, the idea of marriage seemed less protected.   The high rate of divorce, the lack of spirituality, and wedlock birth rates were all areas of concern expressed by the panel.  However, the idea of marriage itself (a heteronormative partnership between a man and a woman) was not promulgated.  The panel likened a Scandinavian model as a good goal for American society.  Even though their idea of marriage isn’t as traditional, non-traditional families, including long-term heterosexual and homosexual couples, are very common in the Scandinavian countries and provide a safety network for their younger generations.  This safety net is what’s lacking in many communities in America, especially minority communities.  The Scandinavian model was brought up a lot in the discussion and even though it may not be practical for America, its successes have not gone unnoticed by the Brookings Institute.

          The Moynihan Report was considered a “moment lost in history” by the panel.  It was a report that could’ve shed light on serious social problems of the time.  Unfortunately, due to the heightened racial tensions during the Civil Rights Movement, the document was taken out of context and it would be another generation before a white man would take up the issues plaguing the African-American society.  There is a crisis of the family resulting from the entanglement of race relations, which is the same problem that was occurring 40 years ago, and the Brookings Institute’s discussion sheds light on the darkened past of this piece of history.  Hopefully, the members of this panel will help improve our contemporary society and truly make our society one that embodies Obama’s ideological post-racial America.

No responses yet | Categories: SWP American Politics,SWP Summer 2010

Jul 12 2010

National Gallery of Art – Washington DC – June 8, 2010

by at 10:53 am

​I am by no means an art major or have any authority in discussing art, but it does not take an expert to notice and appreciate the extraordinary collection of gems at The National Gallery of Art. Overall, the collection of exhibits in this museum offers such diverse pieces as to offer the public a well-rounded experience of the arts. Names such as Davis, Demuth, Dove, Monet, and Picasso adorn the labels of the paintings throughout the building. It is with the echoing success of these names that the world of the arts is able to exist. It is with programs like the Georgetown University Semester in Washington Program that we students get to experience these fantastic places.
​One of my favorite exhibits of this museum was the “German Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1580-1900.” It is amazing what the human hand can do with some chalk, a pair of eyes, and a great mind. The exhibit featured works by Adam Elsheimer, Johann Rottenhammer, and Hans von Aachen among others. Additionally, the collection, which was put together by Wolfgang Ratjen, focused on the portrayal of the human figure. The level of detail put into these works is absolutely astonishing, even in small canvases where one could consider that level of intricacy impossible. Moreover, the depiction of pastoral scenes was also a common appearance. These examples illustrated panoramic views of lush countryside and forests. Aside from those fabulous works, this experience broadened my perspective in regards to the world in general. It was a great opportunity to learn about something outside the context of scholastic work.
​Ultimately, the purpose to come to Washington DC is to expand one’s points of view and to learn new things. Opportunities like these help students get out of the stressful environment that comes with schoolwork. Thus, the primary thing that one can obtain from going to The National Gallery of Art is not the further memorizing of facts, but to just escape into a new environment where one can be free from pressure and judgment. Like I said, without programs like these, this would not be possible.

No responses yet | Categories: SWP,SWP Summer 2010

Jul 11 2010

Semester in Washington Students Visit the National Press Club: A Luncheon Ashley Judd Style

by at 11:52 pm

Recently a group of students and I had the amazing opportunity of visiting the National Press Club for a luncheon with renowned actress and spokesperson Ashley Judd. I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel to DC, study here at Georgetown and take advantage of such awesome opportunities, like Press Club luncheons. From Judd and other events I have learned a lot about myself, the systems at work in our society and my individual role within a broader worldly context.

I am unabashedly Southern. I hold doors, love pastel colors to an excessive degree, grew up on biscuits with grits and have been known to say “hello” or “hey y’all” to the average passersby. But, regardless of what elements of the southern United States’ stereotype I choose to personally identify with, I am most importantly rooted in a sense of place: the south, my home. Ashley Judd and I have this in common.

Experiencing Ashley Judd speak about her Kentucky roots borders on the edge of the intersection between a scene from Steel Magnolias and a summertime front-porch bluegrass concert. The cadence of her speech is eerily reminiscent to the steady plucking of a Kentucky banjo; full of colorful inflection, rhythm, ease and bends. As charming as Judd’s dialect and humorous asides about distilleries and moonshine are, what is most striking about her is both her love of Appalachia and her relentless passionate defense of her homeland from what she says is quickly destroying all she came to love as a child: coal mine mountaintop removal.

According to Judd, this evil is tearing apart Appalachia and leaving natural and human habitats contaminated, deserted and irreversibly tarnished. Every body of water in Kentucky is under the threat of contamination because of the human search and quest for coal, she says. Not only is the dynamiting away of some of the oldest mountains in the world horrific in and of itself, the results are irreversible and are threatening a way of life in a part of the country that, according to Judd, depends on the destruction of their natural world for income.

In many parts of Appalachia, coal mining once existed as an insular industry that kept afloat hundreds of families during the first half of the twentieth century and resulted in relatively thriving mountain communities. All of this changed as our national consumption of coal decreased in return for more readily accessible and or environmentally conscious alternatives.

“The coal mining industry will never be able to sustain the entire region as it once did,” Judd says.

The people of the mountains Judd loves so dearly are caught in an economic catch-22; they are forced to weigh their love for their natural worlds and their families at home who depend on coal mining jobs to bring home food to the table. And, as Judd will tell you, the good people of Appalachia have sided with their families for the last century. Because the coal few alternative industries exist in the regions in which MTR (Mountaintop Removal) is ravaging the natural splendor of the Earth, most livelihoods depend solely on low-paying and extremely dangerous employment with several conglomerate coal companies Judd describes and “ruthless.”

“To speak out against the mines is to be unpatriotic,” Judd says. Judd says that the people of Appalachia not only have little political clout, but also rarely speak out for fear of losing their jobs. This lack of representation and this cause is what Judd has forthrightly committed herself and her spotlight of attention to.

Judd says that she wants to use her fame and spotlight to spread awareness about what is going on in her homeland. She took up this cause recently while attending the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where, she says, only one other peer there had ever heard of this travesty. She expressed her frustrations in trying to bring awareness to the topic while studying at Harvard and remarked that the corporate leaders of the numerous coal companies that dot the region refused to accept countless invitations to speak at the school and elsewhere.

Judd’s ultimate goal, besides increased dialogue and press attention, is concrete governmental action and investment in new industry throughout the region to provide the nail in the coffin for coal companies: employees with valid options of work elsewhere.

As an aspiring journalist and politician, Judd’s work and words of hope for her home are deeply moving. She is doing what I hope to do in a career in either journalism or political service: give a coherent voice to a people and a story that have no way of spreading their perspective with the world.

No responses yet | Categories: SWP,SWP Summer 2010,Uncategorized

Jul 06 2010

Communications Panel: The Message Discipline and the Impossibility to Control It

by at 12:06 pm

SWP SUM 2010 Comm Panel June 29 - 2

Last Tuesday, June the 29th, our Semester in Washington Program hosted the panel discussion “Communications Messaging and Strategies to Reporting and Governing”, held in the Mortara Building at Georgetown University. Moderated by Professor Bradley A. Blakeman, the panel featured four experts in the area: Rick Klein, ABC News Senior Washington Editor, Chris Kofinis, professor and Democratic strategist on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, James Rosen, Washington correspondent for Fox News Channel, and Scott Forza, Emmy award-winning television producer, former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush for communications and television production.

SWP SUM 2010 Comm Panel June 29 - 3

The panel addressed the current situation of the communication processes in Washington, as well as analyzed the strategies used by the government to ensure, among other things, the existence of a message discipline. The symbiotic relationship between the media and its sources led the conversation to the issue of information leaks, the ulterior motives for their existence, and the reliability of the information provided as its most relevant aspect.

The use and maximization of communications’ tools in an era of constant technological evolution and economical upheaval was another important topic on the table. To be part of a society addicted to information entails that governmental officers are having a harder time controlling that information, but have to be able to react, instead, to the different events occurring every second. Efficient communications structures are a necessity in such a demanding news cycle, and it is vital for those who intend to send a message to do it as quick and as certain as possible. The use of images plays a major role as vehicles of the message, for it is often the most effective way of achieving its successful transmission.

We were able to witness the discussion as well as participate with questions for the panelists. The event represented an invaluable opportunity for us to learn about the communications sphere in D.C., directly from the voice of the leading professionals in the field.

No responses yet | Categories: SWP,SWP American Politics,SWP International Affairs,SWP Summer 2010