Current Events: Resources

United States Senate

Senate Passes Keystone Pipeline bill

Senate pushes sanction against Iran

Senate votes on Climate Change

Harry Reid will return to Senate next week

Senate continues deliberating AG nominee

U.S. Cuba relations

Lawmakers seek to end travel restrictions  

Raul Castro commands for return of Guantanamo Bay

Cuba’s predicted benefits from mending ties with U.S

Raul Castro warns U.S. on inferring with their affairs

2016 Presidential Election

Chris Christie prepares for 2016 with PAC

Koch Brothers set 2016 campaign spending budget to $889 million

Sen. Lindsey Graham consider running for GOP 

Bush vs. Clinton…again

Clinton vs. Warren, dream match for Republicans


ISIS and Boko Haram

People vs. Boko Haram

Is U.S. aid to Nigeria limited to a hashtag? 

20 people dead in militant attack on Egypt 

History of Feminism: First-Wave

By Alice Barrett

The history of feminism is long, nuanced, often unrepresentative, and misrepresented.  In this series, we will look at the popularized conception of feminism in the United States.  By no means will the posts following this topic be detailed enough, fully appropriate in perspective, or historically superior to the many articles and histories online.  This is, however, an attempt to introduce our readers to what most historians generally categorize as the three waves of feminism.

Feminism today is a word associated with controversy and unease.  People think of the radicalism of the 1960s and 70s and begin to fear a world where women treat men as men currently treat women.  This thought process is dumb, of course, ignoring very basic definitions of equality and submitting itself to availability heuristic.  Feminism seeks the economic, political, and social equality of women.  The end goal is not to be rid of men.  People who do believe this, while definitely responsible for the outlandishness of their perspective, hold these views almost understandably.  A movement possesses less merit and credibility when written off as extremist, unnecessary, and foolish. Popular culture and people with power want to tell us that feminism embodies those three characteristics wholly.

Later posts will discuss how feminism became associated with radicalism and absurdity.  For now, I will discuss the first-wave of feminism, during which suffrage was sought.

Most historians mark the beginning of feminism in the United States as the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention.  During this convention, some 300 women and men discussed the role of women in society and debated and perfected the ideas of two prepared documents, one of which was the Declaration of Sentiments, a shocking yet reasonable compilation of the ways men held/hold irrational power over women.  Some of the sentiments include:

  • “He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.”
  • “He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of the women – the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of a man, and giving all power into his hands.”
  • “He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.”

This convention, in addition to making actual progress, also symbolizes the dynamics of early feminism.  Much of what women believed they deserved–the right to speak in public, to vote, to choose their own futures and beings–was viewed, even by other women, as too radical.

While these demands for equality appeared extreme at the time, in reality early feminists were typically conservative or moderate.  Many, including most of the members of the American Women Suffrage Association (AWSA), felt that they would need to use the political system in order to make gains; additionally, they believed that they must focus on the concrete, realistic goal of suffrage.  While suffrage and abolition coincided ideologically in many important ways, criticism of first-wave feminism centers on its limited definition of women.  Early feminists sought suffrage for white women and often, although generally supportive of abolition, ignored the plight of black women.  Still, many black women, including Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, made important philosophical and tangible contributions to early feminism.  In Sojourner Truth’s 1851 “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech–during which, according to my Women and Gender Studies professor and relating to the delayed written transcription of the speech, Truth actually said “Aren’t I a woman?”, only to have her words changed to suit how leaders wanted her presented (uneloquent, charming)–Truth challenged conceptions of women’s place with her rousing, unrecoverable elocution.

“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, because Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him…. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they are asking to do it, the men better let them.”

First-wave feminism is most basically associated with the suffrage movement.  It contained different ideological groups: the AWSA, which was more conservative, and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which was more radical and resembled the future second wave of feminism.  The NWSA focused on gaining a federal amendment for women’s suffrage and had broad, societally-implicative goals, while AWSA worked to gain suffrage on a state-by-state level and employed as its strategy lobbying, delivering speeches, applying political pressure and gathering signatures for petitions.  Many historians cite the first wave of feminism’s end with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 which gave white women the right to vote.

Discussion Recap: 1/25/15

By Amanda Ahadizadeh

Our second weekly meeting was a smashing success. I know this because we were passionate enough to annoy the other people in the Community Room at the good old Biz. We’re not wholeheartedly sorry–it’s called the Collaborative Learning Center for a reason. 🙂

This week’s topic was white privilege. We read, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” by Peggy McIntosh. Interestingly, this was one of the first published works on white privilege. Now, why is that interesting? Because it was published in 1989.

1989, in addition to being the name of Taylor Swift’s most recent album, is also not that long ago. Most of our parents were born before 1989. The Civil Rights Movement was allegedly all wrapped up in the late ’60s, right? Wrong. 1989. Blondie. Perms. Grunge. White privilege? I feel like sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we’ve come a lot farther than we really have, especially concerning white privilege. Today it’s something we read about every week, something that we can quickly identify.

26 years ago, Peggy McIntosh was astute enough to use her perspective as a woman, a socially marginalized and oppressed person, and relate her feminist philosophy to race. In her article, she opens by commenting on her experiences with males. Apparently, the men she had encountered had no problem recognizing that women were indeed disadvantaged by society. However, they were rather unwilling to acknowledge their own privilege, especially as a benefit of female oppression.

“I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are over-privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to improve women’s status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s.”

At our meeting yesterday, we discussed the average privileged perspective. In agreement with McIntosh, we too were taught in school that racism is categorized by explicit acts of violence. In school, the slaveholders were racist. Racism is mean. Racism is bad. Racism is over because the Union won. With this mindset, a mindset of sympathetic observance, a sense of “Gosh, I’m sorry that happened to your people, but I didn’t do it,” we fail to realize how privileged we are. McIntosh listed twenty-six daily effects of white privilege in her life. Some of these we the privileged take for granted. For example, number ten: “Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.” Or, “I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.” These are things which we can all agree EVERYONE should be entitled to. The fact is, people take their privilege for granted most of the time, and revealing it to them destroys the “myth of meritocracy.” It’s not pleasant feeling like the oppression of a whole group of people is your fault. It’s not pleasant feeling like you didn’t earn your place in society. But I’ll bet you can guess what’s even less pleasant…

The myth of meritocracy is so incorporated within the American culture that it uncomfortable and inconvenient to identify. As McIntosh discusses in her article, men were very offended when she pointed out that they received advantages not because they deserved them, but because these advantages were reserved for them. Our hierarchical social system, unfortunately, is based on dominance masked as merit.

“Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege which was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.”

How might your privileges affect others? Take a look at McIntosh’s essay. It’s only five pages long. Cross reference her list of privileges with a list of your own. See what happens.

Meet Our Members: Audra Brulc

Ongoing series focusing on giving our members a platform to voice their experiences and opinions

Hello! I’m Audra, and I’ll be one of the officers and bloggers for Sooners for Social Justice.

I’m not really sure I can identify an exact date or event when I truly became passionate about social issues. “Social justice” was a phrase that I was fortunate enough to grow up hearing. My mother has always been active in social justice causes, and has spent time working with the children of migrant farm workers, the homeless, and immigrant families. She is a devout Roman Catholic, and while I no longer consider myself part of that particular religious tradition, I will always be thankful for the values that my mother’s practice of her faith helped to instill in me. However, as I reached adolescence, I quickly realized that my experience was not universal.

I grew up in Arizona, a child of mixed ethnicity and lower middle-class income masked by my pale skin and scholarship, which paid for the Catholic school I attended. As I’m sure you know, Arizona is a state sharply divided along several intersecting economic and racial lines. My childhood was my first indication of the condescending attitude that many held towards people of color and those from lower income brackets, especially immigrants. When we moved to Oklahoma after my freshman year of high school, I was once again jarred by the derisive comments that my peers openly made about “those Hispanics.” They didn’t realize it, but those were the exact types of remarks that almost certainly had been directed at my grandmother, visibly of Mexican descent, some sixty years earlier. Thankfully, with the help of some passionately informed speech and debate coaches and teammates, I was able to find others who shared similar viewpoints.

As I transitioned from high school to the University of Oklahoma, I’ve been able to maintain a peer group of educated, talented, and thoughtful individuals. It can sometimes be discouraging to hear all the ignorance around us at such a large and predominantly white institution, but I made the conscious choice from day one to be very public about my viewpoints on social and political issues, and would encourage everyone to do the same. I went to Sooner Ally events. I took Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies. I wrote spoken word poetry about gender-based oppression. I joined this cool group my friends started called Sooners for Social Justice. Now, partly because of my own experiences and struggles, economic justice and LGBTQ+ equality form the center of the network of issues about which I am deeply passionate and outspoken.

When we examine social justice issues, it can be easy to talk the talk, but hard to walk the walk. Telling a close friend (or a new acquaintance) that something they have said or done is offensive is uncomfortable. So is examining our own privilege and ingrained biases. But our discomfort is nothing compared to the liberation and love that comes out of community building and activism. Promise. And that’s why I’m here. Welcome to the family.

Meet Our Members: Ivey Dyson

Ongoing series focusing on giving our members a platform to voice their experiences and opinions

My journey to caring about social justice has been a long and (honestly) boring journey.

When I was 6 years old, my father abandoned me and my family. Although this ultimately led to psychological issues that I would have to deal with later on, it gave me the opportunity to understand the social problems that exist in our society today.

In The Beginning

Although my mom had her Bachelors degree, her little experience caused her to have a difficult time to get back into the workforce with a job that she deserved. She resorted to waiting tables day and night to feed and clothe me. I quickly learned THE WORLD IS HARD ON SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES. I attended a very good elementary school way back when, but I never truly fit in. My clothes never fit right and were from thrift store shelves, and I didn’t have a dad which alienated me from EVERY kid I wanted to be friends with. (Daddy Donut Day would have been a disaster if it weren’t for my papa.) Even parents had predisposed ideas about my situation. I didn’t realize these things when I was young, but looking back on that time, I am upset and hurt at how hard my mom had to struggle to make ends meet just to be judged by those around us. The stigma needs to end.

In The Middle

My life did a complete turn around when my mom married my wonderful step dad who brought with him two sisters. I was no longer an only child! I changed schools and moved out to a cute rural town. This is when my incline to the privileged middle class began. Things got easier. My parents could now afford to splurge. We were normal. But, as many of you may know, we see the world through our own lense, whether that be a socioeconomic lense, a racial lense, or a gender lense. Our background and experiences shape how we perceive others.  Being a middle class, fairly white-looking mixed girl in Oklahoma opens the door to a lot of opportunity but it also opens your eyes to how other less fortunate (or even wealthier) people are treated. (A note on using the words “less fortunate” to describe people with less money: others may have fewer material items than I do, but that doesn’t mean that their “fortune” is really less than mine. They may see fortune as relationships or experiences.) As I grew into middle school and high school, I noticed how cliques formed. I’m going to be blunt. The wealthy kids stuck together, the artsy kids stuck together, the stoners stuck together, minorities stuck together, overachievers stuck together–basically it was as if a cliché high school movie was my life. I don’t blame these people whatsoever. It is more comfortable for us to stick with people who understand our background. What really worried me was how different groups treated each other. Yes, there were moments when everyone coexisted and the world was in harmony, but there were other times when groups were generalized and laughed at. Racism was a prominent issue. We didn’t think that we were racist, but the jokes we slipped into casual conversation proved enough. These thoughts have even permeated into college which brings us to…

In The Present

Although not as bad as the past, this idea that we know someone’s story based on their nationality, the color of their skin, their income, the type of car they drive, the clothes they wear, their sexual orientation, or their gender still exists even in higher education. I plan on being a successful person. I work hard in the classroom and in daily life because I would like to be a lawyer that will one day fight against the social problems we’re talking about, but the backlash I receive is more than I could’ve imagined. It’s amazing how scared people are of a strong female. (You should see the looks I get when I tell people that I’m minoring in Women and Gender Studies. It’s hilarious.) The point is that, in the present, I want to eradicate stereotypes and social issues because I can see

In The Future

My children should be able to be confident with who they are and not have to fight the same issues that we are currently fighting.

I should be able to achieve whatever goals I work towards and, when the time comes, I should be paid the same as a man for the same job because I DESERVE it and deserve to be treated with respect.

These are the things that I have been through that brought me to Sooners for Social Justice. Each person has a different reasons for reading this post, but, whatever your reason, I encourage you to think about social issues that affect you in your life and how you can change those for the better.



Ivey Dyson is a freshman double-majoring in International Security Studies and Arabic Pre-Law with a minor in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She loves on-campus leadership, watching The Mindy Project, and running (when her foot isn’t broken).


Current Events: State of the Union

By Brittany Plange

This year’s State of the Union address was filled with lots of applause, slight shade, and promises for future. President Obama touched on various issues, ranging from net neutrality to advances in western medicine, and access to higher education. Obama spent a large portion of his time talking about the economic gains that have been made since he was elected into office and the strides his administration will be taking to ensure this success continues. President Obama also made it very clear to Congress that he plans to veto any bill that attempts to undermine the work done to healthcare, rules on Wall Street, any sanctions on Iran, and immigration. Ultimately the majority of what was said in the speech was expected, except for the historic mention of transgender people: “As Americans, we respect human dignity…and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” (source). What was unexpected was what was not mentioned in the president’s speech. President Obama neglected to mention Boko Haram and the recent tragic events in Nigeria when discussing his administration’s plans to address terrorism on our planet. This left me wondering if the U.S. would intervene or continue to stay silent while thousands of Nigerians and citizens of Africa are being massacred. Immigration was also seemingly left out of the speech in comparison to last year’s speech when the president called for a comprehensive reform bill by this year. This may be due to the president’s recent executive order on the topic; nonetheless, we are are still entering the new year with no sign of a partisan comprehensive immigration reform bill coming out of congress.

The lack of bipartisanship is still very much present in Washington. With republican control of both the House and Senate, we may actually see a more productive congress than last year. Ultimately we will just have to wait to see what this year will hold and hope our future will be bright.

Current Events: Resources

2015 State of the Union

Transcript: Obama’s State of the Union address 2015

Republican Responses: Republicans reject Obama’s economic proposals

Republican Responses: Four republicans rebut Obama’s State of the Union speech – and expose their own internal divisions

What didn’t make the SOTU: Obama avoided immigration, ObamaCare, gun control, and campaign finance reforms

What didn’t make the SOTU: Obama makes no mention of Boko Haram 

What didn’t make the SOTU: Obama discusses Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan far less than in previous speeches

SOTU and the economy: Obama’s proposals add to growing 2016 debate

SOTU and the economy: A view of the economy from ground level

SOTU and the economy: But is the economy fixed?

On terrorism, the State of the Union is strangely quiet

Obama warns against terrorist fear factor

Obama confronts race relations and Ferguson

Obama mentions policing in address, but no Ferguson-related guests in audience

Police brutality activists angry Obama glossed over Ferguson ‘events’


U.S. not expected to fault Darren Wilson

Judge rejects request for new Ferguson grand jury

Push in Ferguson for criminal justice reform draws comparisons to 60’s fight for civil rights

Climate Change

Senate votes 98-1 that climate change is real and not a hoax

Obama: No greater threat to future than climate change

Everyday climate change in photos

Op Ed: Dangerously in denial on climate change

Pope’s climate-change stance deepens conservatives’ distrust

Boko Haram

Boko Haram boasts of slaughter as it rampages in Cameroon and Nigeria

Freed German hostage calls Boko Haram captivity ‘total darkness’

Boastful Boko Haram leader throws down gauntlet to ‘kings of Africa,’ saying ‘come and get me’ 

Boko Haram leader claims Baga raid

As Nigerian election nears, Boko Haram looms large

United States intervention in Nigeria is complicated, officials say

U.S. Secretary of State says Boko Haram attacks are threat to humanity

Hillary Clinton’s refusal to put Boko Haram on terrorist list will hurt her in 2016

U.S. says Nigeria vote a factor in Boko Haram attacks

Boko Haram affects west Africa in its entirety because the Nigerian government isn’t doing enough to stop it

With schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram still missing, U.S.-Nigeria ties falter

Discussion Recap: 1/18/15

By Amanda Ahadizadeh

In addition to our blog, another aspect of this organization is a weekly discussion group over academic articles, essays, and/or current events relating to social justice. Last Sunday we discussed an article by Maxine Baca Zinn and Bonnie Thornton Dill entitled “Theorizing Difference from Multiracial Feminism.” The authors offered a rather critical perspective on feminism as an all-inclusive group. According to the article, race transcends gender.

“So much feminist scholarship assumes that when we cut through all of the diversity among women created by differences of racial classification, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation, a ‘universal truth’ concerning women and gender lies buried underneath.”

Zinn and Dill make the argument that race affects everybody, while differences based on gender vary according to race, class, nationality, etc. There is no “singular or unified feminism.” For example, though I am a woman, all I truly understand is what it’s like to be a middle-class Iranian American women, and nothing further. During our discussion on Sunday, we wholeheartedly agreed that race and gender, and other factors, importantly interact and that their intertwining is often overlooked.  We challenged, however, the idea that race totally transcends gender, that there is no universal aspect of feminism. Feminism, defined most simply, is the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. More particularly, feminists fight for the right to choose.

We came to this conclusion after a brief debate between two female students. On one hand, we as Americans tend to assume our way is the best way. Our nationality affects every aspect of our opinions. We see things like genital mutilation as completely and entirely wrong. However, in some cultures mutilation is involved in a highly respected ritual. On the other hand, undoubtedly it is wrong if a girl is subjected to mutilation against her will. This, we all agreed, was an anti-feminist phenomenon. The “we” I’m referring to included both men and women, white Americans, black Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, one Indian American, one Hispanic American, and two international students, one from Uganda and the other from Burundi. Although we were of entirely different racial backgrounds and even nationalities, we concluded that there is a singular feminism. It may be broad and it may be relative, but it exists.

We also discussed cross-cultural feminism and debated whether or not our “western” feminism differs (and to what extent) from other regions around the world. There is something to be said of the differences in every day trials when discussing cross-cultural feminism. While we are fighting for equal pay in the U.S., mothers in poor villages are struggling to find food for their children. What is feminism like there? While we question the demonization of female sexuality, women in some countries of the Middle East are forced to cover their heads with hejabs. And still, many women chose to cover themselves, receive hatred for their choice, and deserve the right to do what they want and not be disrespected or submitted to violence for it. The problems of women elsewhere in the world should be recognized–not because we plan to pull a George Bush and go over there and fix it–but because we all need some perspective. That being said, we can certainly aim to fix what’s right in front of us. Although our problems here in Norman are far less severe, that does not make them any less worth fighting for. The discrepancies in oppression across the world are significant, but the same power structure is used to dominate them. Attempts at controlling women’s clothing is certainly different than domestic, radical violence. However, both contribute to the devaluation of women cross-culturally.

Within the demographic of American females, race certainly has major effects. Female black Americans have the lowest unemployment rate of record. A black woman is paid 55 cents for each white man’s dollar. Race and gender interconnect, and the experiences of people from different backgrounds will differ. But when we fight for equal pay, we’re fighting for the equal pay of ALL WOMEN. When we fight for the right to choose, we’re fighting for ALL WOMEN. While each individual does and should identify as more than just a women, whether it be a white woman, a black woman, or a poor woman, their similarities lie in gender. And although they don’t match up identically, their commonality matters. Our discussion concluded that while race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality are all hugely important within feminism, they do not transcend its definition. Instead, we must ask ourselves to recognize women for their many facets, understand that different groups of women face different issues, and work toward a good that doesn’t exclude select groups of people.

The discussed article is posted below! Please read it and let us know what you think. Does race force wedges between women, or is gender the trump card?

“Theorizing Differences from Multiracial Feminism”

Meet Our Members: Shreya Patel

Ongoing series focusing on giving our members a platform to voice their experiences and opinions

Hello, hello! I’m Shreya Patel and I am a Sociology/Pre-Medicine sophomore at the University of Oklahoma. One day during finals week in December, I ran into Alice Barrett in the library. She told me that she and a group of people had put up informative posters around campus after the recent Ferguson decision to raise awareness about police brutality. I thought this was very important, not to get people to think one way or another, but rather to have an opinion that is informed. In today’s society, we are much too quick to make judgments based on very little information or stereotypes. I was appalled when Alice told me about reactions students had when reading the posters being put up – many of them alarmingly disrespectful. What frustrated me was that many students preferred to reject these social problems as nonexistent rather than acknowledge them. Our conversation in the library went from police brutality to racial stereotypes to gender inequalities, earning icy glares from passing students. I quickly realized that though I find it important to acknowledge such problems, keeping it to myself is not enough. Discussing social issues almost a taboo on campus. Those who express their opinions are harshly judged, disregarded, or even asked to tone it down. I don’t think everyone should or will have the same opinions on every issue, but it’s important that we feel comfortable enough to share them in a respectable manner. It’s a conversation that needs to be started, and that conversation starts here.

Meet Our Members: Alice Barrett

Ongoing series focusing on giving our members a platform to voice their experiences and opinions

Hello, everyone!  My name is Alice Barrett, and I am a Letters sophomore here at OU.  I am from Edmond, Oklahoma, I’m white, I’m female, and I receive many privileges daily because of these characteristics.  This series is intended mostly to give students who don’t receive these privileges–and in fact receive discrimination–a platform, so perhaps my introduction will be shorter and less compelling.

I get really sad when I read the news and hear about all of the inequalities and oppression that most people choose to ignore.  I feel so, so overwhelmed by how little some people care about the things that don’t immediately affect them.  When my brother spews sexist or subtly racist remarks–“white people are killed too!”–and ultimately ignores the reality that young black men are 21 times more likely to get shot than their white counterparts, I feel sad, and feel even sadder when his behavior is excused because he’s a young boy discovering the world and is able to hold harmful views for now.

(Perhaps I should explain why I find changing “#blacklivesmatter” to “all lives matter” so thoughtless and irrelevant.  This unnecessary change directs a necessary conversation about the devaluation of black lives in the United States to a blanket statement that is easily true and important.  As one person on twitter has famously said, we do not go to cancer support group and try to change the conversation to the fact that there are other diseases, and that these diseases are more important. Further, “black lives matter” does NOT say that white lives don’t.  It is simply focusing on the inequalities black people face.)

“Really sad” feels bad but doesn’t actually compare to how the people feel who are less privileged, or who grew up in poverty, or who have to work 30 hours a week to pay for school, or who are black and feel betrayed by the justice system and threatened by the cops.  “Really sad,” though, is important for gaining awareness and a dedication to attaining equality.  Many people are not really sad or slightly sad or even remotely affected by the oppression that others experience.  But I do think that if these people heard unbiased news or saw the multitudes of injustices, they would maybe begin to feel sad, then mad, and then would want to change things.  I feel overwhelmed by the misrepresentation of minorities in the media; I feel horrified by the lack of women in politics; I feel terribly saddened by the continued violence against minorities.  I also feel like change is possible, and that this generation is new, and that small steps are most important when facing enormous and misguided power.