Assault and Allies, The Release of a Dreamer, and Hopes for Black Feminism

March 13, 2017

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Here’s our pick of news, writing, and research this week that investigates political questions at the intersections of gender, race, and region. 

1. Mississippi ‘Dreamer’ Daniela Vargas released from detention but deportation order stands
Jenny Jarvie for the Los Angeles Times: “Immigrant and civil rights advocates celebrated Friday as Daniela Vargas, a Mississippi ‘Dreamer’ who was detained by federal agents minutes after speaking at a news conference about her plight, was released from custody. The 22-year-old, who was brought to the United States from Argentina when she was 7, spent more than a week at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., following her arrest in Jackson, Miss. […] Vargas’ case drew nationwide attention in part because she had been accepted for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama administration measure that allows so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, to obtain work permits and protects them from deportation. She also won publicity because her attorneys claimed she was targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in retaliation for speaking to the media about her hopes for immigration reform and the effect of enforcement raids on her family. […] ‘This is a moment for celebration in what has been a terrifying set of months for the immigrant community and their families,’ said Karen Tumlin, legal director for the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles. ‘Today shows you what happens when a brave young woman stands up — stands up and expresses her rights, the rights of her family and community — and fights back.’ […] The deportation order against her has not been rescinded, however, and she is required to check in with her local ICE office in April, her attorneys said.”

2. Women of Standing Rock aren’t backing down
For USA Today, John Hult profiles four indigenous women leaders, Faith Spotted Eagle, Loretta Bad Heart Bull, Marcella LeBeau and Bobbi Jean Three Legs: “As thousands of Native Americans brought the Dakota Access pipeline protests to the Trump International Hotel’s front door on Friday, indigenous women were there, leading the way, just as they have been for generations. The Native Nations Rise march in Washington, D.C., is a continuation of a year-long battle between the Standing Rock Sioux and environmentalists against the government and pipeline corporations. Protesters held signs including, ‘Honor Our Treaties,’ ‘Water is Life,’ ‘Stand With Standing Rock’ — and ‘Indigenous Women Rise.’ Indigenous women across the U.S. have pushed boundaries and served as guiding voices in struggles for land rights, cultural restoration and environmental justice – often quietly, in service of their own communities. Their voices grew louder last year. In the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American women played key roles in drawing global attention and inspiring action. […] But pipeline protests are a continuation of traditional teachings, Spotted Eagle said, which have been hard-fought to maintain. […] She was raised by her grandmother, who lived to 104 and passed along the teachings she now offers young Native American girls through annual womanhood ceremonies.”

3. New Study Finds White Women Are Unlikely To Help Black Women At Risk Of Sexual Assault
Amelia Edelman for Refinery29: “[A] new study found that white female college students are less likely to help their Black peers who are at risk of rape. The study was recently published in The Psychology Of Women Quarterly, and it involved a group of white undergraduate women. According to psychology news site PsyPost, 160 white female undergraduates were given a story about a potential rape scenario — a sober male escorting an obviously drunk woman into a bedroom at a party.The only difference in the way the stories were related each time was the woman character’s name: Sometimes it was Laura, and sometimes it was LaToya. The verdict? When the intoxicated woman in the study story was presented as having a supposedly Black-sounding name, the white women participants said they would be less likely to intervene and help. This may be the worst of all the many blatant racial inequalities to which the phrase ‘disappointed but not surprised‘ still, appallingly, applies. […] Both Merrilees and Katz said there was a caveat to their study: The ‘participants were responding to scenarios rather than actual events in which they witnessed risk for sexual assault.’ Even still, the main conclusion her, they explained, was that colleges need to “explicitly address the role of race and ethnicity in bystander intervention because a failure to do so disadvantages students of color on predominantly white campuses.”

4. What a World Without Female Migrant Workers Would Look Like
Sirin Kale for Broadly: “[For] these female migrant workers, the labor they do is often invisible—hidden behind residential walls or in anonymous hotels and offices. And, as a result of their lack of visibility, these women are often vulnerable to financial and physical abuse. Female migrant workers (who overwhelmingly find employment in the domestic service or hospitality industries, which are reliant on their labor) support entire economies in their native countries and help educate whole generations of youth. Countries like the Philippines are the world’s largest exporter of women—over 70 percent of Filipino migrant workers are female. But despite this, female migrant workers are often at the bottom of the socio-economic pile. In Gulf states like the UAE, an exploitative Kafala system (where visas are tied to the migrant’s employment status—effectively trapping them in their jobs) means that many domestic workers are unable to leave abusive employers. Passports are often confiscated, wages withheld, and women forced to contend with the sexual advances or physical abuses of their employers with barely any legal protections. Meanwhile, thousands of Haitian and Central American women are vulnerable to sexual exploitation at the hands of people smugglers or locked up indefinitely in detention facilities.”

5. Black Feminism Should Serve the Women Who Aren’t at the Table, Too
Janelle Harris for The Root: “High-level concepts like intersectionality and agency have their place. But they mean nothing if they can’t translate to the hood to help women who have never heard of bell hooks and wouldn’t know Patricia Hill Collins if she greeted them on the stoop they congregate on. If they fail to trickle down from the upper echelons of academia to the basement-level apartment of a struggling single mother with no diploma and four babies to raise in Southeast D.C., have they really done their job? If the work that we’re doing isn’t wholly empowering to make life better for her, is it elitist? It’s a question I ask but am waiting to answer. There’s a quote from the awesome Gwendolyn Brooks that goes, ‘What I’m fighting for now in my work [is] an expression relevant to all manner of blacks, poems I could take into a tavern, into the street, into the halls of a housing project. I don’t want to say these poems have to be simple, but I want to clarify my language.’ That’s what I want for black feminism and womanism: to be relative, inviting and comprehensible to every woman.”