Sexism in Gaming Communities

Sexism against women is an enduring problem in video game communities, ranging from overly sexualized depictions of women in games to online harassment and threats. In June 2020, over 200 allegations of sexual misconduct were made against people in the gaming industry with many of them being streamers for Twitch, the largest game-streaming platform, as an extension of the #MeToo movement.

In addition, female streamers have described Twitch as a hostile environment as they experience harassment in the form of gender based objectifying and belittling comments.

What’s been happening in the world of live streaming can act as a looking glass to how sexism is a problem that affects women in the gaming community overall, not just public figures within.

“Misogyny is not just something that’s incidental to the gaming and streaming world, it’s inextricably linked.” -Erin Marie Hall, also known as YourStarling on Twitch while talking to Insider

The consequences

“Girls can’t play” / ‘Your aim is so bad, are you a girl?’

“Get back in the kitchen”/ ‘Put down the controller and make me a sandwich’

Women are more likely to receive harassment while playing games online. Marketing research company Bryter released a report that suggests around 40% of female gamers have experienced some form of abuse from male gamers while playing online and 28% have experienced sexual harassment from male or other gamers in the form of objectifying comments or death and rape threats. 

Sexism women experience in gaming environments may cut them off from the social benefits of playing video games, such as maintaining and making friendships, or discourage them from pursuing a career in video game development as well. 

It can also cause them to alter their behavior and how they present themselves online to avoid harassment. A survey conducted in the US, Germany and China with 900 participants found that 59% of women hide their gender to avoid abuse and sexism.

With Twitch becoming a powerful entertainment platform, it’s important to note how 41% of viewers are 16-24 and 35% of users are female because of how many young women who are on the platform, either as viewers or streamers, are exposed to sexist content and behavior. 

What has contributed to sexism in gaming exactly?

To further understand why sexism is such a problem, it’s integral to understand marketing history within video games. The video game industry experienced a recession in 1983 due to a saturation of low quality games and losing supporters they had previously as a result. 

It made the most sense for them to carve out a niche for themselves, thus narrowing your target audience in order to properly communicate with them to win them over. Companies like Nintendo at the time were researching and going to tournaments in cities to see exactly where they were playing their games. They found their audience when they saw more boys playing than girls.

For many men, their status and identity is rooted in the rejection of femininity. These patriarchal norms encourage misogynistic and sometimes violent behaviour, this will likely translate into gaming culture. With decades of gendered marketing, it has resulted in the unfortunate byproduct of men having “created the identity of the gamer as this exclusive property,” according to Kenzie Gordon, Ph.D candidate at the University of Alberta studying gaming in relation to sexual and domestic violence. This results in people who are perceived as outsiders, such as women, to experience backlash in the form of sexual abuse and harassment. The invisibility and anonymity of the internet is also considered a factor in encouraging this kind of behavior. 

It also leads to a feedback loop of video game companies catering after men since historically they’ve been their target audience and being reluctant to go against them, which is where we see common issues with how women can be portrayed in video games. 

Gaming’s Toxic Community

In this space, there is often a promoted belief that gaming and tech is naturally and biologically, the territory of men. This belief completely nullifies the fact that computer programming was originally a feminised profession. Programming was seen to be secretarial work, boring and repetitive, only in the 1960s when it was clear programmers had a lot of autonomy, it started to emphasise the fact that programming became something in demand thus men came into the picture.

Let’s take a look at the design and representation of female characters in video games, the representation of women in video games has been a debated topic for a long time. Many times, the way female characters are designed and depicted are sexualised, with exaggerated figures and tend to be visions of ‘male fantasies’; there is such a heavy fixation in making female characters ‘perfect’ or likeable by the marketed audience, whereas male characters are presented to be relatable, why is there such a double standard towards realism in characters? It is not far fetched to say that women have been DEVALUED in games and this devaluation translates to the real world. 

When enough is enough: Activism from women in gaming spaces

Even before the 200 allegations made in 2020, there have been activists in the space advocating for better treatment of women in video game communities for years now. 

Anita Sarkeesian created Feminist Frequnecy in 2009 as a way to make accessible media criticism through a feminist lens. In 2011, she went on to create the video series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which analyzes how women are portrayed in video games. In 2020, Feminist Frequency established the Games and Online Harassment Hotline. 

Those 200 allegations were able to be tracked and made public thanks to Jessica Richey who streams under the name “JessyQuil”, as she compiled and updated the spreadsheet with all of these public allegations of misconduct. 

While talking to the New York Times, she said: “I’m not casting judgment or asking anyone to witch hunt those who are named. I’m trying to give survivors of these issues a voice so they don’t feel alone or gaslit based on their experiences in this industry.”

Many female streamers have spoken candidly about the sexism and harassment they’ve experienced due to their gender while streaming, thus shedding light on important issues. 

Game designer Rosa Carbo-Mascarell created “A Woman Goes to a Private Industry Party” to shed light on misogyny she experienced while networking in the industry. 

Women have participated in organized labor movements in the industry as allegations of sexist and unfair work environments have come to light, e.g. the 150 person walkout against Riot Games’ use of forced arbitration in 2019.

What can we do? 

It’s important to call out sexist behavior and challenge it, when you see it occur. Even in your private lobbies, it helps set a precedent where sexism in gaming is not going to be tolerated. Yes, this includes that small discord server of yours. If you see a girl friend of yours being subjected to misogynistic behaviour by another friend, don’t hesitate, CALL IT OUT. 

Demand for better representation and conditions for women in video games. The over sexualization of women in video games has negatively influenced the way people perceive women in the real world. It’s also important to demand better for female streamers and game developers, as these spaces need to be better for marginalized people.

Video game developing companies and streaming platforms like Twitch hold immense power and it’s important they do their part in facilitating healthier environments in gaming through their hiring practices, projects, and public behavior. 

Encourage young girls’ interests in video games and STEM fields, especially since studies have shown that playing video games may provide easier access to STEM related fields and solve gender inequality in some of these fields, according to the paper “What is a True Gamer? The Male Gamer Stereotype and the Marginalization of Women in Video Game Culture.” By bringing in more marginalised groups into a larger male dominated space, it helps create better representation of those groups in video games. 

Some women twitch streamers to watch! (Youtube and Twitch)

  • Valkyrae
  • 39daph
  • Xminks
  • QuarterJade
  • Lilypichu
  • Kkatamina
  • Codemiko
  • Starssmitten

Sources

How Heatwaves Affect Low-Income Communities

    For the past two weeks, the northern and western United States have been facing an incapacitating heatwave. Temperatures have reached over 100°, and many people do not have access to the appropriate methods of dealing with this extreme heat.  These temperatures disproportionately affect low-income neighborhoods, BIPOC, and the homeless.

    The heatwave is murderous.  In British Columbia, Canada, over 230 deaths were reported due to the extremity of the heatwave. “Heat-related deaths have depleted front-line resources and severely delayed response times, officials said.” (CNN)  June was the hottest month on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban areas tend to experience higher temperatures than rural ones, due to infrastructure absorbing and emitting the sun’s heat. “Daytime temperatures in urban areas are about 1–7°F higher than temperatures in outlying areas.” (EPA) As cities tend to have more low-income and BIPOC residents, these communities are subject to higher temperatures due to their location. This disproportionate spread of heat changes how people experience the heatwave. As there are more low-income neighborhoods in cities, city residents will experience the greater impacts of the heatwave.

Risks of the Heatwave

Heatwaves can cause heat exhaustion, dehydration, muscle pain, or heat strokes. Low income neighborhoods are more prone to facing the severe effects of the heatwave as they have less access to air conditioning and other cooling methods. These neighborhoods also lack the infrastructure to protect their people. Many areas are left unshaded, exposing residents to direct harmful sunlight.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing
  • Find shaded areas, or cooling centers
  • Limit physical effort, especially when temperatures are highest.
  • Look out for your fellow residents who may be struggling under extreme heat.
    • Children, elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk of heat illness

Donate to Help Others in Need

  • Give to community fridges.
  • Donate to GoFundMe’s for those who have been displaced or whose cars have broken down.
  • Hand out supplies or offer shelter to the homeless.

The Dilution of Academic Terms in Pop Culture

An Analysis of Social Media’s Role in the Overuse of Certain Words

    Normalization, romanticization, gaslighting, toxic, trigger: all of these words have something in common.  You are likely quite familiar with them, as you have likely seen them plastered over social media, being overused and diluted to the point where you are no longer sure what they mean.  These terms are often utilized out of context, used only to make the user seem smarter.  However, the meanings of these words are often changed as this happens, as the meaning becomes twisted by social media users.  In an excerpt of 1984, George Orwell references the idea that the overuse of words depletes the meaning of and the reason for using a word.  This is precisely what is happening to many academic and mental health terms.

    Academic terms that have been overtaken by social media are often used to make someone seem like they have more credibility by using bigger words.  Terms such as normalization, glorification, romanticization, and more, have been victim to this.  By falling prey to social media overuse, these words begin to lose their meaning.  Many people have realized this, and they humorously poke fun at those who overuse these terms.  The overuse of these terms simplifies their meaning, changing their true intent as words.  Social media, especially Twitter and Tiktok, have overtaken many of these terms.  Social media holds much power, but its power to devalue certain words is dangerous.  It is necessary to be careful with language.

It is not only academic terms that social media is overtaking, it is also mental health terminology.  An example of this is gaslighting, which has begun to be used as a comical term, such as within the phrase “gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss.”  While many are likely using the phrase just to be funny, this is harmful because it depletes the weight of gaslighting as a form of abuse.  Gaslighting is a heavy topic, and it is not one to be joked about by people who have not suffered from it.  By continuing to use the phrase “gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss,” society devalues the trauma of those who have been gaslighted.  It signifies that their suffering is simply a joke to many, as it is not treated with the careful weight that it should be treated with. 

Gaslighting is not the only mental health term that has begun to be thrown around casually. The word trigger, meaning something that upsets one’s emotional state to the point of distress, began to be used in common culture around 2018.  This desensitized people to the weight of actual triggers.  Triggers have since begun to be taken more seriously.  Trigger warnings are utilized in most places, specifically for heavy topics such as suicide, violence, etc.  The resurgence of trigger as a mental health term is good, as it draws attention back to its weight as a mental health term.

    However, many also find trigger warnings to be useless, as they are often not even used correctly.  To effectively use a trigger warning, the trigger must be signified — it is not enough to simply say “trigger warning”.  The hyperspecificity of some trigger warnings also renders them useless.  It is best to keep trigger warnings simple, short, and signified, lest they continue to lose their meaning.

This is not to say that conversations surrounding mental health themselves should not be normalized. It is certainly important to normalize conversations regarding mental health struggles and mental illness, allowing for people to have a safe space to heal. However, it is necessary to be careful regarding the language being utilized, and ensuring that psychological terms are used correctly, with the correct connotations. To act otherwise is to deplete their meaning, lightening the weight that comes along with discussions of mental health.

TikTok would be nothing without Black People.

Why the “Addison Raes” of the world are considered marketable, thus gain more popularity.

Surely, we’ve all seen the video of Addison Rae, a popular content creator performing some (low-energy) dance routines on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show, many of which originated from Black creators’ choreography on TikTok. 

TikTok: Addison Rae's Jimmy Fallon clip drew backlash, Fallon responds
Addison Ray on the Jimmy Fallon show

Blonde, colorful-eyed, hourglass figure, lavish lifestyle, giggly and fun, and of course, white — in the eyes of advertisers and agencies, THIS is the girl they think everyone wants to be. And so, she’ll get the brand deals. She’ll get the exposure, the opportunities, the invitations to big Hollywood parties, and the overall spotlight, while Black dancers get paid nothing but dust. 

For centuries, white folks have established themselves as the ‘cultural baseline’ for various industries, specifically the entertainment space. They’ve paraded around and forced their lifestyles, speech mannerisms, and appearances into the mainstream media, and in turn, created the “fallacy that white culture is the only one worth emulating.” 

(words via Reddit user wasteofskin50)

On TikTok, the same notion remains. Black influencers get financially compensated at a notoriously lesser rate than White influencers. The platform’s For You Page tends to promote White creators’ content 

Despite Black people putting in valuable work throughout history, White people have erased their work in favor of White supremacist narratives and excluded them from speaking out in predominately White spaces, even in social justice movements such as feminism. This form of racism remains alive and well. While Black creators may get noticed for their efforts briefly, the press passes not long after. Meanwhile, White people have the most longevity, scoring new opportunities in media and branding.

Black Tiktokers: ON STRIKE

Black TikTok creators have opted out on choreographing the newest dance trend for white people to imitate and then skyrocket in popularity due to it.

They’re TIRED of having their movements stolen and not being given any credit for it. Black creators have chosen to NOT create dances to Megan Thee Stallion’s new single ‘Thot Shit’, previous songs by the artist garnered a lot of views from choreography made by Black TikTokers, ‘Savage’ has been used in more than 22 million TikTok, while ‘Thot Shit’ has so far only garnered 475k videos.

It’s obvious that Black creators have figured out the algorithm, the viral nature of MANY TikTok videos is built upon their hard work. The lack of Black creator’s videos on ‘Thot Shit’ have led to white TikTokers attempting to make their own, the results have been a target for ridicule with more people realising just how big of an impact Black creatives have in TikTok culture.

Black creators have to navigate white-centric society offline but the biases and prejudices also exist within social media and this proves to be a frustrating experience for Black users. One of the best known incidents of Black creativity being stolen is the Renegade dance trend started by Jalaiah Harmon, then 14, it would go on to become one of the biggest dance phenomena on the platform. However, the trend was popularised by white creators like Charli D’Amelio and others who initially DIDN’T EVEN credit Jalaiah for having choreographed the dance, showing that even having a “Black Lives Matter” profile picture doesn’t excuse you from racism. Only after the New York Times reported that Jalaiah created the dance, she began to get widespread recognition but by that time, the trend had been watered down. In that interview, Jalaiah stated, “I think I could have gotten money for it, promos for it, I could have gotten famous off of it, get noticed. I don’t think any of that stuff has happened for me because no one knows I made the dance.” The erasure of Jalaiah’s name as the creator while Charli capitalizes off of it and doesn’t pass the credit is an example of misogynoir, which is misogyny against Black girls and women. Had it not been for the criticism, the New York Times article on Jalaiah would’ve never been created. She wouldn’t have gotten to dance at the NBA All-Star game and would have remained uncredited. To this day, Jalaiah still hasn’t gotten opportunities to dance with celebrities, be featured on Youtube, and have endorsement deals like Charli has. In this case, missing out on opportunities wouldn’t have been and was not because Jalaiah was untalented. It was because of her being a Black girl and how White creators with a platform don’t give credit where credit is due to their fans, which leads to their fans not knowing who the original creator was.

“We have to remember TikTok isn’t just an algorithm. It’s not simply a platform. It’s a multibillion-dollar corporation. Like all major companies, diversity within boardrooms and offices make a difference, not only in the company culture, but the products and services created. We can’t continue to blame what’s happening on platforms on their users. It’s those creating and nurturing the platform who are to blame, and that squarely belongs to the ones who control it.”

– Tia C.M Tyree, a communications professor at Howard Uni 

Back in March 2021, Addison Rae performed several TikTok dances on The Jimmy Fallon Show, which raised controversy due to not crediting any of the original creators. A few of the dances performed and their original creators: Mya Johnson and Chris Cotter- “Up”, Dorien Scott- “Corvette Corvette”, Camyra Franklin- “Laffy Taffy”, Keara Wilson, “Savage.” To TMZ, Addison stated following the segment, “Was kind of hard to credit during the show. It was never my intention and they definitely deserve all the credit, because they came up with these amazing trends.” It is easy to say that this is just an excuse, because it is. 

It would not have taken but an extra second per dance to mention the original creators and even feature their TikToks with permission. If White creators like Addison truly cared about Black lives and thought that they mattered, they would give up some of their power to the Black creators. They would tell the press and their fans, “I did not create this dance, so and so created this dance, go follow their account.” They would allow Black creators to garner the press and gain different opportunities to further their careers however they please. The White creators have the power to turn attention to Black creators, but their refusal to even credit them from the jump proves their complicity to White supremacy, no matter how much they say “Black Lives Matter” on their platform. Good intentions are not good enough, and those like Addision should go beyond intentions and take actions.

It’s no secret that the TikTok algorithm favors White, cisgender, thin, and non-disabled people. In fact, the TikTok policy even stated that moderators suppress overweight, disabled, and people considered having non-attractive features from front page features. Creators and users have also observed that a non-White and/or queer creator can create one type of content and have their TikTok deleted for “violating the rules,” while White creators can do the same thing and get away with it. In fact, Lizzo fell victim to this when she noticed the videos of her wearing bathing suits being removed while videos of White women with bathing suits stayed up. She posted a clip on TikTok saying, “Tiktok keeps taking down my videos of me in my bathing suits. But allows other videos with girls in bathing suits. I wonder why? Tiktok… we need to talk.” 

The Source |Lizzo Slams TikTok For Removing Her Bathing Suit Photos
via Lizzo’s TikTok account

A TikTok spokesperson cited that “sexual gratification” was one of the reasons it was taken down, as well as the revealing of undergarments and insisted that Lizzo’s videos were not taken down due to bathing suits. Though make no mistake, Lizzo not being thin and light-skinned totally influenced the decision to take down her videos from the platform. It’s highly likely that had Lizzo been thin and light-skinned, moderators wouldn’t have deleted her TikToks. Considering that Lizzo has been body-shamed for her shape and slut-shamed for wearing revealing clothes, what TikTok did was damaging, regardless of intentions.

While this is not the first time Black creators have spoken out about TikTok’s lack of diversity and cultural sensitivity, this time around proved that very little things have changed. Black creators have been flagged or had videos removed for speaking out against racism and the disparities between BIPOC and White creators. Although TikTok made a whole apology saying that they hear and see the Black community and that they “stand shoulder to shoulder with the Black community,” it was not enough and words without action are empty calories. They claimed to be donating $4 million to help non-profits and contribute to combating racial inequity, but with their actions, it raises the question on if the money has really been used as advertised. The apology also stated about Black creators, “Without them, TikTok would not be the joyful and creative community we aspire to be.” If they truly stand by that statement, they need to start acting like it. Looks like they should’ve spent Blackout Tuesday writing a long-term plan to help Black creators earn the credit they deserve. And this doesn’t just go for dancers or activists, but for Black creators of all categories.

It’s especially important to #SupportBlackCreators.

Danessy Auguste
Danessy Auguste (specialg220) - Profile | Pinterest
Keara Wilson
Savage” TikTok Dance Creator Keara Wilson: Interview
Veondre Mitchell
Veondre Mitchell (Tiktok Star) Wiki, Biography, Age, BoyFriend, Family,  Facts and More - Wikifamouspeople
Gigi
u better believe me when I tell u #theseglasses @theseglasses
Sydney Mcrae
Skaibeauty - Bio, Family, Trivia | Famous Birthdays
Cat James
Robert Lucas
The Sweet Impact Cake Decorating TikTok Videos | POPSUGAR Food
Danni Rose
Cookbooks by Danni Rose - Stovetop Kisses
Abena
Travelling Tuesdays TV by Abena - YouTube

SOURCES

Resources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/months-after-tiktok-apologized-black-creators-many-say-little-has-n1256726

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2021/07/02/tik-tok-black-creators

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2021/6/29/22554596/digital-blackface-megan-thee-stallion-song-tiktok-first-strike

https://www.businessinsider.com/tiktok-censorship-users-deemed-ugly-overweight-or-disabled-2020-3

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/05/lizzo-tiktok-body-shaming-censorship-social-media

https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/a-message-to-our-black-community

No, mass imprisonment doesn’t actually improve society. in fact, it’s a public health crisis, and it targets POC.

Black and Brown individuals are being jailed for life while Derek Chauvin only got a 22.5 year sentence.

The Myth of Incarceration 

Most of us would expect that removing criminals from a community would result in an overall improvement and better development of the community. However, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that this may not necessarily be the case due to the effects incarceration and imprisonment has on individuals and their communities. 

Not only is incarceration an expensive way to achieve less public safety, there are reports stating that it may in turn increase crime instead. It does so by breaking down the social bonds that guide individuals away from crime, depriving communities of income, limiting economic opportunities, decreasing future income potential and causing the cultivation of a deep resentment towards the legal system.

empty room

Mass Incarceration by the numbers:  

Over the last 40 years, the US prison population increased by 500% due to changes in law and policy that led to an outstanding number of people being sent to prison, this is based on research done by the National Research Council. 

At least 1 in 4 people who went to jail will be arrested again within the same year. This demographic typically includes individuals dealing with poverty, mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. These problems that they face are only worsened and exacerbated by incarceration.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated as white men and Latinos are 2.5 times more likely. 

The Vera Institute of Justice found that the U.S spends roughly $33 billion on incarceration in 2000 for roughly the same level of public safety achieved in 1975 for $7.4 billion. 

How it become a Public Health crisis: 

The criminal justice system is a contributing factor of health inequity. Its impacts are far-reaching, not only does it affect the wellbeing of those incarcerated, but their loved ones too.

Prisons house many people who are in poor health, with around 40 percent of people in custody having at least one chronic health condition. The unsatisfactory prison environment only makes these conditions worse.

Overcrowding is a main contributing factor of the prison’s poor living conditions. These overpopulated correctional facilities create significant risks to the health and safety of those living and working in these institutions. The problems and impacts of overcrowding are particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, prisoners lack access to vaccines despite the fact that many outbreaks occur in prisons. 

The effects of this could spread beyond prison walls. There is growing evidence that outbreaks in prisons can fuel community spread due to constant traffic of detainees, staff, visitors, vendors and law enforcement in and out of these facilities, as reported by Rod McCullom. These wider outbreaks may especially harm Black communities which are disproportionately affected by mass incarceration. 

Moreover, the detrimental effects of incarceration are further extended from physical health to mental health, as mental illnesses are much higher among incarcerated populations as compared to the general population.

Privatisation of Mass Incarceration 

Private prisons in the US privatize necessary services such as medical care, phone calls and commissary.

Despite less than 9% of incarcerated people being held in private prisons, prisons are unloading the costs of incarceration onto incarcerated families. Profit motives should have no place in decisions about incarceration. 

Privatisation of incarceration has also caused the privatisation of healthcare provision. This is concerning, since the needs of the prison population, regarding their physical and mental health, are seen as inferior to those of ordinary citizens. This means that they are less prioritised and can be easily overlooked and neglected, posing a dire risk to their overall health. 

A paper written by Washington State University researchers entitled “Do privately-owned prisons increase incarceration rates?” found that private prisons lead to an average increase of 178 new prisoners per million population per year. The length of sentences also increases when states turn to private prisons, especially non-violent crimes that would allow more leeway in sentencing guidelines. 

The ‘Kids for Cash’ scandal in Pennsylvania, where two judges were bribed by a private prison company to slap a harsher sentence to juvenile offenders instead of probation, helped the company increase occupancy at for-profit detention centres. 

We’ve got more work to do

Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 years and six months for the murder of George Floyd. The average first-time offender convicted of second-degree murder in Minnesota is sentence 12 and a half years in prison. 

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, an associate professor of sociology at Brown University, agrees that long prison terms generally do more harm than good but in the absence of meaningful police reform, more innocent lives will be lost at the hands of law enforcement. 

Recently, lawmakers in Washington, DC, have reached a bipartisan agreement on police reform. The issue of reforming qualified immunity was a sticking point in negotiations. 

Racial Disparities in Sentencing

Despite the sentencing of Derek Chauvin to be ‘appropriate’ in the eyes of some advocates, it is hard to ignore the difference of sentencing for him and non-violent offenders. 

Timothy Jackson and Ronald Washington as examples of non-violent offenders being served life sentence without parole (add on: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/us-prisoners-sentences-life-non-violent-crimes )

The warden of Angola prison, Burl Cain, has spoken out in forthright terms against a system that mandates punishment without any chance of rehabilitation. “It’s ridiculous, because the name of our business is ‘corrections’ – to correct deviant behaviour. If I’m a successful warden and I do my job and we correct the deviant behaviour, then we should have a parole hearing. I need to keep predators in these big old prisons, not dying old men.”

Further reading 

The impacts of mass incarceration is a broad topic of discussion. We encourage you to read further into this topic to educate yourself beyond the scope of this instagram post!

  • Incarceration and Health: A Family Medicine Perspective (Position Paper) by AAFP
  • Prison Policy Initiative Publications by multiple authors 
  • A Multilevel Approach to Understanding Mass Incarceration and Health by Jaquelyn L. Jahn (American Journal of Public Health)
  • Incarceration and Social Inequality by Bruce Western and Becky Petit 
  • The Benefits of Rehabilitative Incarceration by Gordon B. Dahel and Magne Mogstad

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555719/

https://undark.org/2021/04/09/abstracts-prison-vaccination-lag/

https://www.pih.org/article/why-decarceration-vital-public-health-amid-covid-19

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html

https://news.wsu.edu/2020/09/15/privatized-prisons-lead-inmates-longer-sentences-s

tudy-finds/ 

https://www.alternet.org/2013/11/man-was-sentenced-die-prison-shoplifting-159-jacket-happens-more-you-think/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/us-prisoners-sentences-life-non-violent-crimes

JUNETEENTH

Pay reparations. Honor the flag + history. Attend rallies. Advocate for laws and bills. Celebrate Black culture and life.
Malcolm X - Wikipedia

“The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories rather than economic equity and real justice.”

Malcom X

On Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden signed a bill establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day a US federal holiday commemorating the historic end of slavery in the United States.

Yet, what does recognizing Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday do, if we cannot teach about it in schools? If Black people are not paid reparations for slavery? If bills like the George Floyd Act and For the People acts are not being passed?

Pay reparations to Black People.

In 2020, the average white family roughly has 10 times the amount of wealth compared to the average Black family, this racial wealth gap is similar to the gap in 1968.

Making the American Dream an equitable reality requires the same U.S Government that denied wealth to Black people to restore this delayed wealth in the form of reparations. The government should provide capital and resources to help Black individuals be less vulnerable to economic shocks and help them to build inheritable wealth over the generations.

If you have the money to pay for brunch, to go shopping, and more, you should also try to fulfill community requests and help Black people survive.

You can send money to Black people’s Cashapps, GoFundMes, & Venmos. These can be found through your local community request and mutual aid IG accounts.

Call or write your representatives and Senators in Congress about H.R. 40 (116th): Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.

Rallies + Events

New York:

  • Juneteenth NY Celebration: Herbert Von King Park, Brooklyn @ 9am
  • “Summer of Soul Screening”: Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem @ 5pm

Los Angeles:

  • Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth Commemoration: Leimert Park Village @ 12pm
  • Freedom day Walk & Celebration: Loma Alta Park, Altadena @ 9am

Washington D.C.:

  • Juneteenth Bike Ride: Sadnlot Southeast @ 10:30am
  • Million Moe March: Black Lives Matter Plaza @ 2pm

Houston:

  • Concert in the Park: Hunters Glen Park @ 6:30pm
  • 42nd Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration: front lawn of Ashton Villa @ 10am

The Juneteenth Flag & History

On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to announce that over 250,000 were free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. A year later, freed people in Texas celebrated ‘Jubilee Day’ on June 19th.

In 1997, the flag was created by activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundations (NJCF). Illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf refined the design and in 2000, the flag was first hoisted at the Roxbury Heritage State park in Boston by Haith.

Juneteenth Events 2021

The white star represents Texas, the Lone Star State, the place where Union Army Major General Gordon Granger read out loud: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Additionally, the star represents the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states today.

The burst surrounding the star is inspired by a nova, an astronomical event that causes the appearance of a bright, new star. This represents a new beginning for the African Americans of Galveston, Texas and throughout the country.

The arc represents a horizon, promising new opportunities for Black Americans.

The colors of the flag: red, white and blue, echo the colors of the American flag, this symbolizes that all former slaves and their descendants became American citizens under the law

Opal Lee

The ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’

94 year old Opal Lee has been advocating for years to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday. Lee, who is a retired educator, makes a symbolic two and a half mile walk each year on Juneteenth, this distance honors the two and a half years it took for news of freedom to reach all enslaved people in the U.S.

“You know, what I want those celebrating in other states to understand is that Juneteenth, in my estimation, should be a unifier. First of all, slaves did not free themselves. It took abolitionists and Quakers and all kinds of folks to help and lobby to get the slaves freed. … I truly believe that we can do so much more together rather than apart.” Lee said in an interview with Dianca London for Shondaland.

Advocate for these Laws + Bills in Circulation.

Contact your representatives to advocate for these bills through direct lobbying; educate, inform, and communicate your reasoning to your representative after you’ve done thorough Research.

John Lewis Voting Rights Act prohibits discriminatory voting practices and voter suppression by ensuring equal minority voting rights and removing many barrier to voting.

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a police reform bill aiming to combat systemic racism and police brutality by banning certain police techniques such as chokeholds, and improving police training.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act makes lynching a federal hate crime, the first time in U.S. history.

For the People Act: expands voting rights, changes campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders.

Here’s how you can take action in your school against the laws banning critical race theory.

Check out Diversify Our Narrative for petitions to sign and other resources to push for reform within school curriculum.

Learn the key principles of Critical Race Theory and help educate your peers.

Find Critical Race Theory toolkits to incorporate into your school’s curriculum.

Email your teachers and administrators to make Race Studies more visible in your learning community.

Celebrate Juneteenth by DONATING AND LEARNING!

ORGANIZATIONS FOCUSING ON REPARATIONS AND H.R. 40

  • @NATIONALNCOBRA: National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America
  • @REPARATIONSFUND: “Building out the white lane of the reparations movement”
  • @MVMNT4BLKLIVES: Boosting reparations initiatives, link to collective fund called REPARATIONS MONDAY

BOOKS TO read:

  • Four Hundred Souls – Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • The Autobiography of Malcom X – as told my Alex Haley
  • Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Huston
  • Dear Martin – Nic Stone
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker

Support Black owned businesses by using EatOkra to find black-owned restaurants or go to supportblackowned.com to find businesses near you.


SOURCES

A Deeper Look Into India’s COVID-19 Crisis

VACCINES/RESOURCES

Multiple vaccines have been approved in India so far. Sputnik V, Covishield and Covaxin  As of this writing, just under 9% of the population has received at least 1 dose and just under 2% are fully vaccinated. Beginning on May 1, 2021, all Indians ages 18 and over will be eligible for vaccinations at some sites.

VACCINE APARTHEID 

The US refused to export raw materials for weeks despite criticism, and only recently lifted the export ban. 

Debate is emerging over the role of wealthy nations in creating an inequitable vaccine rollout, including restrictions on exports of vaccines, raw materials used to make them, and intellectual property held by vaccine companies, and the stockpiling of vaccines, all leading to a shortage of vaccines in developing countries. Globally, around 75% of the vaccines have gone to only 10 countries. In addition to pointing out how unjust this hoarding of vaccines is, people have highlighted how it may prevent the end of the pandemic. Rapid community spread in developing countries without sufficient vaccines can lead to new mutations of the virus that may become resistant to existing vaccines. To see an end to this pandemic there must be global cooperation and accountability for wealthy nations who choose to act selfishly. 

India has chosen to curtail their exports of COVID-19 vaccines due to their own coronavirus situation worsening. This has triggered setbacks for vaccination drives in other countries, more than 70 countries from Djibouti to Britain received a total of more than 60 million doses of vaccines from India. At a time when most richer countries are criticised for hoarding vaccine doses, India stands out for sending millions to poorer countries that wealthier countries are failing to supply for. They have adopted a ‘vaccine diplomacy’, allowing foreign ambassadors to visit pharmaceutical factories in Pune and Hyderabad and providing doses to poorer countries. Wealthier countries have chosen an alternative route of ‘vaccine nationalism’ in which they prioritise the vaccination of their own citizens before giving away vaccine doses to other countries, this is despite the fact that those wealthier countries having 60 percent of the global vaccine supplies for themselves and have enough supplies to vaccinate their populations several times over. The contrast in behaviour is definitely striking. 


https://www.fairobserver.com/region/central_south_asia/heya-shah-india-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine-news-distribution-exports-world-news-today-12879/ 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/india-vaccine-diplomacy-serum-astra-zeneca-oxford-covax-china-14392598 


Bill gates doesn’t want to open “intellectual property” of vaccines

Bill Gates has voiced out in a recent interview that he disagrees with the idea of sharing vaccine formulas with developing nations around the world due to the complex manufacturing and quality assurance process of making sure that the vaccine is safe. He then continues to say that once developed nations are fully vaccinated, then the vaccines can be distributed to the developing nations. This is problematic, this is the main reason why the world is lagging behind on the global vaccination drive – supplies have been limited by design. The world is clearly not the developed nations priority despite the current problem being GLOBAL.. The ‘vaccine nationalism’ many wealthy countries have embraced will prolong the global pandemic, if it doesn’t end in poor countries, it won’t end in rich ones either.


https://www.wionews.com/world/will-rich-countries-share-vaccines-or-patents-380945    

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-27/vaccine-hoarding-set-to-backfire-on-rich-nations-as-india-reels 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/covid19-vaccine-apartheid-us-coronavirus-b1837039.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-55825559


Take Action against vaccine apartheid:

EXTENDED CAUSES

A multitude of factors contributed to the increase in cases.

Rich people can flee while the middle class and lower class suffer

https://www.businessinsider.com/super-rich-fleeing-india-country-records-new-daily-global-record-2021-4


Upper class has more access to vaccines. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/indias-covid-19-agonies-highlight-growing-rich-poor-gap-in-vaccinations-11619542171


Religious gatherings: Kumbh Mela,  (which the government encouraged), Iftar celebrations for Ramadan, Gudi Padwa, Navratri, and more

People are not wearing masks

B.1.617 Variant of covid is spreading, particularly in the province of Maharashtra and the large city of Mumbai.

The president of the Public Health Foundation of India, K. Srinath Reddy, stated himself that they had “completely let down [their] guard and assumed in January that the pandemic was over—and COVID surveillance and control took a back seat”, after the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, ignored the warnings of a new COVID variant. 

Political rallies and campaigns are still being carried out despite the devastating number of COVID-19 cases. Akhilesh Jha, the data head of the federal Department of Science and Technology wrote in Hindi on LinkedIn, “You hold rallies as people head to funerals”. 

The undertaking the project of reconstructing central Delhi, a massive project with an estimated cost of about $2.7 billion, has attracted controversy as India’s citizens have questioned the need for spending on new government structures at a time when the nation is dealing with a large number of cases. 

The Indian government has requested Twitter to take down 52 tweets criticising the government’s failure to deal with Covid-19 in India. Twitter complied, making said tweets inaccessible to the Indian population. By doing so, it downplays the severity of India’s Covid-19 situation by restricting awareness amongst the Indian population.

WHY KERALA ISN’T FACING OXYGEN CRISIS IN THE SECOND WAVE

GOVERNMENT

It was reported that when the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, was made aware of the new Covid variant, he ignored the warnings that this variant could lead to a second wave – which it did. Because of the decline in cases from September 2020 to mid-February 2021, experts and authorities believed that the worst was behind them. The president of the Public Health Foundation of India, K. Srinath Reddy, stated himself that they had “completely let down [their] guard and assumed in January that the pandemic was over—and COVID surveillance and control took a back seat”. 

To make matters worse, political rallies and campaigns are still being heavily carried out ahead of state elections in West Bengal. This is despite India recording more new cases of Covid-19 than any other country, and was done even by the leaders of the country – Prime Minister Modi and his ministers. Akhilesh Jha, the data head of the federal Department of Science and Technology wrote in Hindi on LinkedIn, “You hold rallies as people head to funerals”. He is also undertaking the project of reconstructing central Delhi, a massive project with an estimated cost of about $2.7 billion. This project has grown to be controversial as India’s citizens have questioned the need for spending on new government structures at a time when the nation is dealing with a devastating number of COVID-19 cases. 

The people of India are disappointed and angry at Prime Minister Modi and their government; they have continually acted on self-interest instead of the people. A culmination of this are hashtags such as #ResignModi and #SuperSpreaderModi trending on Twitter.

But Prime Minister Modi is problematic on Twitter for other reasons too – By censoring tweets about the Covid-19 situation in India. This was first reported by MediaNama, a website providing information and analysis on technology policy in India. The Indian government has requested Twitter to take down 52 tweets criticising the government’s failure to deal with Covid-19 in India. Twitter complied, making said tweets, which were written by Members of Parliaments, filmmakers, an actor, journalists, etc inaccessible to the Indian population. By doing so, it will downplay the severity of India’s Covid-19 situation by restricting awareness amongst the Indian population.

In March 2020, Prime Minister Modi had set up a care fund to combat Covid-19 in India, urging all citizens to donate. He appealed that “This will go a long way in creating a healthier India”. Everyone donated, ranging from the rich to the poor, totalling to over 100 billion rupees. But since then, where has all the money gone? Because of the government’s lack of transparency with its people and unwillingness to spend these funds publicly, this care plan has since been renamed as the “PM does not really care”; with concerns, controversy and doubts arising as the trust and integrity of the government is being questioned.


https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/how-indias-second-wave-became-the-worst-covid-19-surge-in-the-world 

https://www.medianama.com/2021/04/223-twitter-mp-minister-censor/ 

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/pranavdixit/twitter-blocking-tweets-india?origin=thum 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53151308 


MEDIA SENSATIONALISM

Foreign media has always had a past of inflating news in developing countries. This is no different with the Covid-19 outbreak in India, in which media outlets seemed to have disregarded journalist ethics and integrity in their coverage of it.  For example, the New York Post used a misleading image in an article on India’s Covid-19 situation. It was titled “Covid-19 surge ‘swallowing’ people in India, the footage shows people dead in streets”. An image of a woman lying unconscious on the road with someone trying to wake her up was used. However, this image was from May 2020 on a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam. Moreover, there are no other images in the article supporting its claim that “people [are] dead in streets”. The pandemic has thus revealed the western media’s unhealthy obsession, for instance with linking India’s outbreak with funeral pyres. Media organisations such as the Washington Post and Reuters posted pictures of funeral pyres from India to highlight the severity of the pandemic, yet when the pandemic took its devastating poll on the US and other western countries, images of burials were hardly used to symbolise the outbreak.


https://www.opindia.com/2021/04/nypost-fake-news-people-dying-streets-covid-19-india-retracts-funeral-pyre-details/ 


Perhaps this is all linked to a normalisation and sensationalism of suffering in developing countries. Western media have been accused of using ‘poverty porn’ to gain traction. Images used to highlight the COVID outbreak in India often include private moments of suffering and mourning of losing a loved one or at cremations, etc. As consumers of media, we need to ask ourselves why it is necessary for graphic images of suffering to be the pushing force for action. We have become so desensitised to suffering, especially in developing countries. This is because that is all we are fed by the western medias – when all we are shown about developing countries are suffering, all we expect is suffering, making us slow to action. We would also like to disclaim that this is in no way a critique of Indian journalists who are doing everything they can to support India’s battle against COVID. But rather, this is a critique of western media in enabling ‘poverty porn’, and us as media consumers for buying into that one-sided, flawed narrative. 

We in no way mean to downplay the seriousness of the covid outbreak in India. It is devastating and needs immediate action and help. Coverage of India’s covid outbreak also requires the discussion of the role of western countries. The hoarding of vaccines has contributed to the poor distribution of vaccines in India, but western media predominantly focuses on the local government’s bad management. Again, this one-sided storytelling leaves western consumers of media feeling desensitized and isolated from the reality in India, when in reality their own easy access to vaccines, and voting decisions directly impact Indians.  

THE UNDER-APPRECIATED WARRIORS OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS IN INDIA

“I used to cremate three to five bodies everyday before the second wave and now, I am cremating more than 15 bodies a day alone”

Ashu Rai, one of the dozens of cremators trying to manage the Covid surge in New Delhi’s largest crematorium, Nigambodh Ghat

Cremators at the cremation site, work 12-hour shifts, earning only Rs 10,000 ($134.43) a month, and they rarely wear PPE kits since it causes difficulty in breathing.

We need to appreciate the countless other front-liners, including doctors, nurses, cleaners, cremators, journalists, security personnels, activists, etc.

Whether it be spreading awareness or donating, we need to be recognising their hard work and showing our support for them.

Mental health during covid resources: 

For those living in India and Indians around the world with family and friends in the country, please take care of your mental health. This is tough, but keep hope. Here are some excellent resources to help you with caring for your mental health:

https://www.vogue.in/wellness/content/verified-mental-health-helplines-and-services-pan-india-suicide-helplines-therapists-counsellors

https://www.ourdemocracy.in/Campaign/covid19mentalhealth

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1I-90ogSH3S8hZHVCZ8T6BPzh8cB9XT-ykSLgZNytpH8/edit#gid=0

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNuhnsPJrET/?igshid=1flq3bm40z7lr

How to Help

Publicly Sourced Document for Mutual Aid

Sources

The Rise of Youth Led Media Organizations

POV: It’s a regular day. You’re scrolling through Instagram casually, as most of us do, when a post comes up on your explore page. An infographic from an Instagram account you’ve never seen before, explaining an issue you’ve heard about briefly during lunch with your friends, or from somebody else’s device in a passing fleet. It’s interesting! It really is. You tap the ‘heart’ icon to like it, even going to the extent of saving the post. As a reminder, you tell yourself. 

You leave Instagram for a while but upon returning, your explore page refreshes, revealing an array of even more infographics and text-filled posts, replacing the previously filled rows of memes, fashion tips, and influencers, containing information on issues and news you’ve never heard of. You click on a few of the Instagram accounts and come to realize they just all seem to have one similarity. They are seemingly run by… teenagers?

What Is Youth-Led Media?

According to Wikipedia, “Youth-led Media is any effort created, planned, and reflected upon by young people in the form of media, such as websites, newspapers, television shows and publications.” Youth-led media organisations have been particularly prominent on Instagram and other social media apps this past year in response to injustices, the want for youth voices to be heard, or even pure boredom from lockdown. 

A common misconception, however, it that youth-led media is something that is  “new-age” or has been present only in recent years, when that’s actually far from the truth. Let’s dive into a brief summary of the beginnings of youth-led media, shall we?  

History Of Youth-Led Media. 

One of the earliest youth-led media organisations can be traced back to the 1970s in Michigan, when a left-wing teen organisation called the ‘Youth Liberation of Ann Arbor’ established itself, their first article having been published the year before in 1969, titled “How to Start a High School Underground Newspaper.” Its primary goals were for student control of education, free development of youth culture, and an end of discrimination against youth, with emphasis on equal rights for all youth, environmentalism, and for an end to the Vietnam War.

In Spring of 1971, members of the organisation successfully persuaded the Ann Arbor city council to drop it’s curfew laws. During the academic year of 1971-1972, many other student unions were started in several schools around Ann Arbor due to its influence. 

Blunt Youth Radio Project | Current

In the 1990s, the movement of youth-led media gained further attention in the United States due to the worsening media bias against youth. The first online youth-led media organisation, ‘The Tattoo’, was established in 1994 and went online in 1996 with the promise of giving youth a voice. Some other organisations early in the movement include the ‘Blunt Youth Radio Project’, ‘Nang!’, and more. 

The Importance Of Youth-Led Media. 

From current affairs, to pop culture, to politics, youth-led media gives the younger generation a chance to express their concerns, their views, and their opinions; a reflection of what the future will look like when the young grow old and eventually step into positions of power. 

Youth-led media is also important as it allows news to be more accessible and relatable to the younger generation. As it can be found on common social media apps (such as Instagram), many youth-led media sites allow for people of all walks of life to be able to read about news, without regards to social class, education level, and other factors that may prevent easy access to news. 

The rise of youth-led media today has seen results of many youth becoming more socially aware on topics that might have previously been viewed as something that was not of our concern. However, the past year has shown that many deep-rooted issues in systems and societies are still as ubiquitous as ever and will likely still be around when it’s our turn to take on roles as fully functioning, working members of society. This has created a ripple-like effect, almost like a silent collective agreement that we should educate ourselves on these wrongs and do our best to ensure they do not prevail. 

However…  

With the rise of youth-led media, and the pressure to stay actively informed, also comes a wide range of negative impacts such as harmful effects on one’s mental health, the presence of performative activism, saviour complex, and more. 

Important articles to read as a follow up after this:

  • “The Youth Can Save Us, But Gen Z’s Saviour Complex Can’t”, Dylan Follmer for Zenerations, 1st December  2020
  • “Activism In The Digital Age Of Social Distancing”, Priyasha Chakravarti for Zenerations, 10th November 2020
  • “Is Constantly Reading The News Bad For You?”, Markham Heid for TIME Magazine,

 31st January 2018

  • “The Problem Of Performative Activism”, John Metta for ALJAZEERA, 20th July 2020
  • “Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag”, Ashley Reid and Katie Sehl for Hootsuite, 7th July 2020

Conclusion. 

    With the rise of youth activism, is the rise of youth-led media. Youth-led media has proven to be important in the rise of social awareness and accessibility to news, and provides a creative space for youth to harness their talents and hobbies. As long as everyone involved is responsible, as are readers and people who keep up with news from youth-led media sites, it can continue to be a vital part of activism and delivering news to many. 


Sources

  1. Azar, T., By, Azar, T., Lozano-Strickland, Z., Lozano-Strickland, Z., Shaw, A., & Shaw, A. (2019, November 22). Youth Activism in the Age of Social Media. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.nupoliticalreview.com/2019/11/22/youth-activism-in-the-age-of-social-media/
  1. Hefner, K. (n.d.). The Evolution of Youth Empowerment at a Youth Newspaper. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://web.archive.org/web/20001003102423/http://www.youthcomm.org/Documents/Evolution.ht
  1. The Tattoo. (2020, April 05). Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://youthjournalism.org/ensuring-the-future-of-news/the-tattoo/

Casey Grace

Casey Grace Lai is a 14-year-old of Chinese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese descent currently based in Singapore. Although she enjoys a bit of everything under the sun, she’s extremely passionate about activism, Literature / History, and musical theatre. A huge fan of about any music genre out there, music is an integral part of her daily life, as are her instruments. She is highly competitive, although her proudest achievement to date is that she can sing the entirety of several Broadway musical soundtracks.

greenwashing: are companies really being eco-friendly?

Have you ever purchased an item from your favorite store’s ‘eco-collection’? Ever praised shops like H&M for having an environmentally friendly Conscious collection, or saw a click-baity promo message in your email inbox saying they’re ‘going green’? 


Greenwashing 

/ɡrēn/ˈwäSHiNG

Greenwashing is a tactic utilized by businesses in which they create the illusion that their company is environmentally friendly.

Greenwashing is essentially a form of deception, as it conveys an illusion to consumers that they are purchasing economically sound products, when in reality, that is not the case.

*Literally* Using the Color GREEN

Brands Utilizing Nature Imagery as a Social-Impact Marketing Tool

Many big brand names and major companies are marketing their products with “sustainable” guarantees and “green” badges. These logos are often placed onto products manufactured without any kind of “sustainable” regulation.

  • Nestle’s “sustainably sourced” cocoa beans
  • Blueland’s non recyclable and non compostable “100% recyclable” cleaning products
  • All MSC “sustainable fishing” labels

These labels are extremely misleading, yet influential, to the public.

  • The companies that “assess” products develop falsely advertised standards
    • MSC’s “sustainable fish stocks standard,” which ignores that fact that the fishing industry as a whole is impossibly sustainable
    • Apple’s “world’s greenest lineup of notebooks”
  • Consumers are constantly mislead by these labels of “certification,” no matter how vague they appear (also look at the company/corporation who owns the company)
    • Seventh Generation’s “eco friendly” laundry detergent bottle with a recyclable container shell. The inside is still plastic.
    • Burt’s Bees’s “natural” makeup brand packaging, even though the company was actually bought by Clorox in 2007

“Hello, I’m Paper” – Goodbye, you’re actually PLASTIC. 

Innisfree is a beauty company that focuses on creating “all natural” products, one of which recently received backlash from consumers for its misleading language. The company’s Green Tea Seed Serum packaging states “Hello, I’m Paper Bottle”.

However, it was revealed that this “paper bottle” was actually plastic covered in a thick layer of paper. The company issued an apology for their utilization of greenwashing to mislead customers. 

An Example of Greenwashing: H&M’s Conscious Connection

H&M has attempted to brand themselves as a company that prioritizes the environment and utilizes eco-friendly practices. They have even launched a clothing line called the Conscious Collection. H&M states that they use clothing in recycling bins to create their clothing for Conscious Collective. However, this information provided by H&M is misleading; the company that sends recycled clothing to H&M states that only 35% of the recycled clothing that H&M receives is actually used for their Conscious Collective. The rest remains in the bins, meaning that 65% of the waste is unaccounted for.

Volkswagen released an ad campaign to debunk the fact that diesel was bad, and that it used a certain technology where their cars emitted lesser pollutants. The truth was revealed that Volkswagen had rigged 11 million of its diesel cars with ‘defeat devices’, which is technology designed to cheat emission tests. Federal agencies made the company pay $14.7 billion to settle those allegations, turns out the cars were emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times the legal limit. 

The Six Sins of Greenwashing

  1. Sin of Vagueness

The eco-friendly labels on products are sometimes so vague they have virtually no meaning. A common example of this would be products labelled as “all natural”; the lack of specific information  makes this claim meaningless. 

  1. Sin of Hidden Trade-off

In an effort to divert consumers’ attention from the detrimental environmental impact of their products, companies often emphasize how their products are eco-friendly in other manners. For example, a product may be labelled as “recyclable” to defer attention from gas emissions required to make the product. 

  1. Sin of No Proof

Companies often give eco-friendly labels to their products but provide no evidence to substantiate their claims. For example, many companies in the beauty industry label their products as “all-natural” but have no certifiable sources to confirm whether this is true. 

  1. Sin of Irrelevance

Companies tend to promote their product by claiming that their product is “environmentally friendly” but in reality it misleads consumers that are looking for eco-friendly alternatives and distracts them from finding a truly greener option

  1. Sin of Fibbing

Oftentimes, companies state that their products labelled as eco-friendly are approved by certifying organizations. However, some companies lie about this in order to mislead consumers. For example, various shampoo and face scrubs state they are “certified as organic”, when in reality, this is not the case.

  1. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils 

Products that claim to be ‘green’ and are true within the category but it distracts the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of said product. For example, organic cigarettes or ‘green’ insecticides and herbicides. 

Did you know one cotton t-shirt requires 859 gallons of water to produce, which is nearly three years’ worth of drinking water?

The fashion industry is one of the most notorious culprits of greenwashing and is seen in almost every large fashion corporation. As common as greenwashing is in fashion, it is one of the hardest forms of greenwashing to identify.

Consumers rarely see clothing explicitly labelled as “eco-friendly”. Instead, companies use more subtle tactics that range from “100% cotton” labels on a t-shirt or “made from natural materials” tag on a sweater. These details are so miniscule that consumers rarely think twice about an article of clothing’s environmental soundness, which is exactly what the clothing company wants.

How to Spot Greenwashing and make Smart, Conscious Choices as Consumer

Spotting greenwashing takes a maximum of five minutes; a simple Google search about a company provides a clear indication as to whether their products are environmentally sound.

When consumers first see a label on a product claiming that it is eco-friendly, they should do deeper research on it to learn whether the company is putting on a facade or truly committed to making environmentally sound products.

A quick glance at a company’s website or social media indicates whether or not they prioritize green policies. 

sources


https://earth911.com/business-policy/how-to-spot-greenwashing/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp

https://zerowastecalifornia.org/2020/01/15/is-every-green-company-greenwashing/

https://www.ecowatch.com/7-sins-of-greenwashing-and-5-ways-to-keep-it-out-of-your-life-1881898598.html

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16754919

https://www.feedough.com/what-is-greenwashing-types-examples/#:~:text=An%20example%20of%20greenwashing%20is,while%20they%20were%20actually%20increasing.

https://www.theconsciouschallenge.org/ecologicalfootprintbibleoverview/water-clothing

Earth Day 2021: Origin, Gen Z’s Take, and Future Conservation Efforts

Earth Day Origin and Aims

Earth Day takes place on April 22. It is a day intended to inspire people to act to conserve and protect the environment. The 2021 Earth Day theme is “Restore our Earth.” This theme emphasizes the damage humans have inflicted on Earth, and hopes to move them to amend that damage. 

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin made Earth Day an official day on April 22, 1970 because he wanted the issues within the environment to be addressed in politics, or at least by the media. 

Today, Earth Day is the largest observance in the world that one billion people every year participate in, to move humans to care about the earth, and change local, national, and international policies to better protect the environment.

Step up for Earth Day 2020 | GreenbizOn major Earth Day milestone, much of planet is on lockdown | Star Tribune

Mother Earth is in critical condition.

Mother Earth is suffering from global warming and climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, among other threats.

Chart: 2016 Marks the Warmest Year on Record | Statista

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, the global temperature has risen 1° C (1.8° F). The warmest years globally (thus far) were 2016 and 2020. There is an urgency to stay under 1.5° C, as this point marks when glaciers in the Arctic will melt and submerge people’s homes. Other climate risks include water and food scarcity, insect outbreaks, and widespread poverty. The United Nations states that we have just 9 YEARS to prevent “irreversible damage.”

This warming results from people burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels causes more carbon dioxide (CO2) to be emitted into the atmosphere. Thus, fossil fuel emissions today will determine the future state of the climate, leading to the earth warming anywhere from 0.2° C to 4° C in the next two decades.

An unhealthy environment devastatingly impacts everyone, especially Generation Z and the future generations, who will have to solve the problems older generations have created and ignored.

Therefore, WE NEED CLIMATE ACTION NOW.

Gen Z in the Climate Movement

Gen Z grew up with climate change, and as of 2019, 57% of Gen Z believes global warming is the greatest issue of our time, according to Amnesty International. Gen Z directly tackles climate change through spreading awareness of the issue, striking online and on the streets to pressure governments to act, and individually working to reduce their carbon footprints. 

The first Global Day of Action took place in 2005. However, in 2018, Greta Thunberg, a 15 year-old climate activist from Sweden, transformed the climate movement by creating “a global attitudinal shift,” said Time editors. She skipped school every Friday to strike for climate action (and continues to today), which led to the Fridays For Future movement. Fridays for Future Digital strikes in the same way, just online for climate action.

The first climate strike and largest day of action was on Sept. 20 of 2018. 4 million people showed. In a week of protests in 2019, from Sept. 20-26, 11 million people from 150 countries took to the streets. The first Global Climate Strike in 2021 was on March 19, with the theme #NoMoreEmptyPromises.

Global Climate Strike could make history: What you need to know - Los  Angeles Times

What climate strikes accomplish is demand that governments act to mitigate climate change, such as by declaring a climate emergency. They have had impacts, such as forcing political parties to address climate change in their campaigns for elections. They also offer agency and hope to youth.

Other organizations that organize climate strikes include School Strike for Climate, Future Coalition, Zero Hour, Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, among many others.

Social Media’s Role and Actions Within it

Social media plays a prominent role in spreading information about the climate movement. It is the reason that people know about events and can join together to act for the climate. Along with striking, there are influential opportunities you can take part in:

  • You can lobby Congress through the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a volunteer-led organization focused on the advocacy and policy fields of environmental activism. Opportunities include calling, writing, and tweeting Congress, training for climate advocacy, and volunteering as a caller for the monthly calling campaign. 
  • Emailing officials for climate action, combined with your personal concerns about the environment, makes a difference. For example, you can send a letter to your local representatives, senators, and governor to fund research to protect and restore blue ecosystems.
  • Sign and/or create petitions that advocate to make climate change a core curriculum requirement, protect rainforests, and ban environmentally harmful products such as fireworks, single-use plastics, etc. Currently, you can sign a petition at hsi.org/SaveRalph that is working to ban cosmetic testing on animals in the US, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries.

Youth Climate Justice Activists and Organizations to Know

  • Isra Hirsi (she/her): An activist from the U.S who co-founded and is the executive director of U.S. Youth Climate Strike. She works to represent everyone and especially highlight communities most impacted by climate change, such as black and brown communities.
  • Vanessa Nakate (she/her): An activist from Uganda who founded Youth for Future Africa and the Africa-based Rise Up Movement. She raises awareness of climate change and has led various projects, such as a campaign to save Congo’s rainforest that is undergoing deforestation.
  • Jerome Foster II (he/him): An activist from the U.S who serves as the executive director of OneMillionOfUs, which unites youth coalitions between racial equality, gender equality, immigration reform, gun violence, and climate change movements, and mobilizes young people to vote in their national elections. He is also the co-editor-in-chief of the Climate Reporter, a blog speaking environmental truths.
  • Mitzi Jonelle Tan (she/her): An activist from the Philippines who is a leader and spokesperson for the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. She advocates and works to amplify the voices of Most Affected Peoples and Areas strikers.
  • John Paul Jose (he/him): An activist from India for Greenpeace and Fridays For Future India. He has collaborated with organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and often speaks to how global warming impacts forests and ecosystems in India.

EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS 

  • Learn further about the causes and effects of climate change, and what short and long-term solutions there are. FutureLearn and edX are some sites that offer (mostly free) environmental science courses.
  • Keep up with current events. You can begin by following @cnnclimate, @intersectionalenvironmentalist, and @unclimatechange on Instagram.
  • Join a youth climate group to learn, connect, and act. 

REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE

  • Reduce your consumption, and when you shop for wants, shop sustainably. Good on You is an app that rates stores or companies based on how environmentally friendly they are.
  • Use less energy (or even better, at home, switch to using renewable energy), such as by streaming on devices less. Energysage has a list of influential and efficient ways to conserve energy at home.
  • Reduce your food waste, and eat more plant-based options. There are many vegan and vegetarian blogs across the web managed by nutrition experts, such as Fresh Is Real, Planted and Picked, and Pickles ‘N Honey

DONATE to or spread the word about climate justice organizations such as The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, 350.org, and Direct Relief International. Moreover, indeginous communities from the Amazon are currently battling COVID-19 and floods that the pandemic has worsened the impacts of. Floods have destroyed crop fields, leaving families to suffer food shortages. You can donate at https://gofund.me/e980439e.

Other Resources

Resource for coping with Eco-Anxiety: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#overview 

Articles: How to Stop Global Warming (NRDC), Why the Fight for Climate Justice is a Fight for Justice Itself (Landscape News)

Documentaries: How the Climate Crisis and Systemic Racism are Deeply Connected (Youtube), Environmental Racism Explained (Youtube) A Life on our Planet (Netflix), Kiss the Ground (Netflix)

Intersectionality in the Climate Movement

The climate movement has become increasingly whitewashed. However, it is necessary that BIPOC voices are centered in environmentalism, as it is often Black and Brown or low-income communities who are most affected by lack of environmental protection.

Environmental Justice

ensures that socioeconomic status, race, and location are taken into account when fighting for improved climate polices.

Indigenous people have cultivated the land for centuries, and it is in their footsteps we must follow in order to heal the land.


Sources

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_earthday_1.html 

https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day#:~:text=In%20spring%201970%2C%20Senator%20Gaylord,U.S.%20cities%2C%20and%20it%20worked

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/step-earth-day-2020

https://www.startribune.com/on-major-earth-day-milestone-much-of-planet-is-on-lockdown/569840532/

http://www.beachapedia.org/Plastic%27s_Impact_on_Climate_Change 

https://www.statista.com/chart/7744/average-global-temperature-since-1880/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/emanuelabarbiroglio/2019/12/09/generation-z-fears-climate-change-more-than-anything-else/?sh=724fc02501ba

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/

https://www.businessinsider.com/greta-thunberg-bio-climate-change-activist-2019-9

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-generation-z-fight-cbsn-originals/

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/question-1/

https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12131.doc.htm


Written by: Jackie Vandermel