All posts by Shelini Patel


Number of Migrants Killed While Fleeing Home Countries Soars


In the article “Number of Migrants Killed while Fleeing Home Countries Soars” author Rick Gladstone outlines the issues migrants have faced this year. The International Organization for Migration stated that the migrants killed this year “while fleeing their home countries in the hope of better lives has more than doubled to nearly 5,000 from the previous year”. I think this article directly reflects upon the ideals of freedom of movement we’ve been discussing in class. Clearly these individuals are willing to risk their lives on “overloaded and unseaworthy vessels” in order to escape the turmoil of their own countries. The International Organization of Migration stated that most of the migrants were Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians that sell their belongings to pay smugglers to take them to safety. These smugglers make migrants pay obscene amounts of money to travel by insufficient methods. The smugglers are obviously taking advantage of people in horrible situations in order to capitalize on their suffering.  In 1948 when the United Nations passed Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13 included the following rights 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The deaths of these immigrants are in direct violation to their rights as humans. In other words freedom of movement in many ways leads to other basic human rights. People born in horrible political situations should not be forced to reside within a country because they did not win the first world lottery when they were born.

Protests after N.Y. cop not indicted in chokehold death


This article is incredibly relevant today (December 3rd) because a grand jury in New York decided not to indict white police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July. There is video proof of Garner, a black male, raising his hands in the air and telling police officers not to touch him. It is clear in the video that he did not become violent in any way and that there was no reason to restrain him so forcefully. The police suspected Garner of selling cigarettes illegally. While obviously his actions were illegal, they were not violent actions therefor he should not have be handled with such force. Currently around the country protests are taking place. On Emory’s campus there was a protest going on in Asbury Circle Wednesday night, which is emblematic of the unrest within the minority population of the US. Protestors around the country are chanting “I can’t breathe” as Garner stated multiple times as the officer held him down. These protests demonstrate the state of struggle within the United States currently. Minority communities struggle with their relationship with law enforcement because of issues like these that add to the schism. President Obama released a statement in which the case reflects a longtime “concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them, and dealing with them in a fair way”. The fact that the president, and the rest of his administration understand that issues of accountability exist within law enforcement begs the question as to why these issues haven’t been addressed on a grand scale. This case does not illuminate a new issue in current American society. Things like the former “stop-and-frisk” police policy made it systematically “okay” to racial profile. Policies have been set in place for years that either purposely or accidently subjugate minority communities in the United States. The issue is clearly defined, since the Obama administration has recognized it, therefor-legitimate action of reform should be paramount.

Obama’s Executive Action


The article “For Every Executive Action, There is a Reaction”, published on November 22, 2014, illuminates the implications of Obama’s immigration policies. Last week Obama announced a plan that is “to be enacted by executive order”. The plan that will affect nearly 4 million undocumented individuals caused a rift between Democrats and Republicans. His use of executive order has caused the GOP to think that this is a big abuse of power especially from a president whose party just lost the midterms. Obama claimed that the failure of the House Republicans “to bring up consideration of a Senate passed immigration bill necessitates his executive order”. The House is expected to pass a bill aimed to combat his entire plan that seeks to “provide additional resources for law enforcements to help curb illegal border crossings; make it easier for high-skilled and educated immigrants to stay; and to “deal responsibly” with undocumented immigrants who already live in this country”. The house is well aware that this bill will have no chance of passing but plan on attempting to show their unrest with his order through the bill. Most attacks on Obama have been about him utilizing his executive order powers not necessarily attacks on his proposed plan. Personally from what I know of his proposed plan, I think Obama is making incredible strides in finding practical problems attached to immigration issues. His plan “delays deportation for undocumented individuals who have already been in the United States for more than five years and meet certain other conditions”. This concept captures the fact that his administration is looking at individuals that have spent a sufficient time in the country and have positively contributed to the American economy. In this way immigration is looked at on an individual basis rather then implementing policies that group collectives with diverse situations together. In looking at each individual and their contributions whether positive/negative immigration issues take on a more subjective lens.

San Quentin Inmates learning how to Code


This article talks about San Quentin offering classes in coding to prison inmates. San Quentin has enrolled 18 inmates into the program and they hope that within 6 months the inmates will have sufficient knowledge in order to land them jobs. I think this is such a fantastic idea because “many inmates have missed the internet revolution.” As in, some of these inmates have been incarcerated for such a long time that once released they would have no idea how to assimilate back into society. The Internet dictates most of our lives, including our social lives, and how we get/transfer information. Life has basically been cultivated around a need for technology. The couple that founded the program, Chris Redlitz and Beverely Parenti, also started a nonprofit program called the Last Mile. The Last Mile is an intensive business boot camp where inmates brainstorm a start up idea and pitch it to investors. Honestly, I think every institutionalized facility should have some sort of program like this because it helps fosters a sense of ambition in inmates as opposed to simply “corrective punishment”. It gives them the opportunity to plan for a life outside of prison and it could help lower recidivism rates. Coding is a in demand practical skill and would definitely make it easier for inmates to find work after being released.

The Racial Contract

This is a video of Charles Mills talking about if race exists. Last year I took a philosophy class and we read Charles Mills’ “The Racial Contract.” He basically delves into the complex nature of racial inequality. Obviously I know no one really has time to read the entire book but it was incredibly interesting and challenges the philosophy of racial inequality in society.  He begins by explaining that, “White supremacy is the unnamed political system which has made the modern world what it is today.” Current society exists within these preconceived notions that the white race is meant to control and delegate the lives of the other races. Since this idea has become so deeply and almost intangibly rooted into the nature of society much of this underlining racism has become the norm. Mills describes how the social, economic, and political contract sets expectations in society, which dictate social norms in general. People look to these norms in order to know how to act both on a local and global scale. I think this relates to how American society views racial inequality as a natural process.  Norms exist and command all modern societies. These social norms act as a standard in society that commands basic social interaction as well as the social hierarchy. Mills explains that this idea of white supremacy acts as an umbrella over established cultural norms. He denounces white privilege because in order to establish the white “norm” society first had to fight and dominate those outside the “norm.” This idea directly introduces social contract theory. Social contract theory tackles the legitimacy of the informal contract between people and their governing bodies as well as their moral ideologies. This contract in many ways subjugates certain races while elevating others because of these societal norms. An example of this would be the concept of police power in general that we’ve talked about in class. It’s the basic idea that there is an us, and a them. In this way those in power (governing officials, police officers, guards) set up their norm and those that don’t follow the norm are considered a deviation.

Colorblindness in a “post-racial society”

Niyah White, author of “ A Reminder that America Is Not Colorblind, But It Can Be”, views racial “colorblindness” as a goal of a “post-racial society.” Colorblindness is the racial ideal that insists the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible without regard to race, culture or ethnicity. While this idea seems great, it fails to take into account the shortcomings of society where things like race, culture, and ethnicity play a strong role in establishing identity. Those that don’t face backlash because of race don’t notice discrimination.  They can ignore underprivileged races because their own privilege blinds them from seeing anything else but the world they live in. White’s goal for a “gray” and equal population is an admirable idea however; we should question the true ideals behind colorblindness. Our differences are always going to play a part in our interactions with each other. Ignoring these differences aren’t going to solve the problem, but learning to understand and appreciate our differences will help to create a cohesive and sympathetic society. Racial issues are difficult to discuss because they’re inherently controversial and cause a sense of awkwardness.  She claims if we choose to expand “the gray area” that “we would diminish ethnic division by focusing on what connects us and opposing what divides us.” The problem however, isn’t focusing on our differences but not respecting our differences. A colorblind world doesn’t notice that racial discrimination is a problem at all because a colorblind world pretends not to see race.