Archive for February, 2009

On Sensitivity and Censorship

February 22, 2009

Perhaps we’re too sensitive. Or, we’re not sensitive enough. Likely your perspective on the nation’s collective sensitivity level has influenced your opinion about the now infamous New York Post chimp cartoon. That is, if you have an opinion on it.

On one hand we have the historical references to Blacks (and let’s not forget the Irish) as monkeys or apes. We also have a history of racial profiling and incidents of White policemen shooting and killing Black suspects. New York City, in particular, has had its share of alleged police misconduct involving largely White policemen and Black residents (who have often been guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong area at the wrong time).

On the other hand, we’ve historically used images of monkeys and chimps doing human tasks as satire to imply that any idiot could accomplish those tasks. (Geico put another spin on this with their ads involving cavemen, one step up on the primate chain.) We’ve often referred to members of Congress as idiots (not to mention a certain former President). Also, in the New York metro area (in CT) days before the Post cartoon, police shot a chimp dead. Perhaps the artist only intended to refer to idiot politicians and a dead chimp.

Perhaps. Perhaps he only intended to offend Democrats or liberals or Congressmen and women responsible for the bill, along with the President. Instead of boycotts how about simple conversation?

Our problem is that we like to shoot first and ask questions later. Just like those cops in the cartoon.
What a perfect opportunity to actually talk about this in a civil manner. (By the way, wouldn’t it have been
funny if the guy was actually using racist symbolism to parody racists?) This was an opportunity to discuss
the impact that the cartoon had on people who have been, or whose ancestors have been, referred to as
inferior–as apes or monkeys because of their racial or ethnic background. And let’s not ignore the cartoon’s impact on others who have never been targeted with these racial stereotypes, but are aware of this history.
This was also an opportunity to discuss the artist’s intentions. Perhaps we all would have come away more enlightened. Education should always
be preferable to censorship.

SJI

Donate to Social Justice Organizations

February 18, 2009

At Social Justice Ink, we believe in the importance of spreading the message of social justice. 10% of proceeds from the purchase of the first 100 of these buttons and / or magnets will go to a social justice organization.

Racism Sux Square Button button
Racism Sux Square Button by socialjusticeink
Racism Sux Keychain keychain
Racism Sux Keychain by socialjusticeink

10% of proceeds from the first 100 of these buttons, magnets, or keychains (any combination, any style) will go to a social justice organization fighting to end racism.

Homophobia Sux Square Button button
Homophobia Sux Square Button by socialjusticeink
Homophobia Sux Square Magnet magnet
Homophobia Sux Square Magnet by socialjusticeink
Homophobia Sux Keychain keychain
Homophobia Sux Keychain by socialjusticeink

10% of the first 100 of these buttons, magnets, or keychains (any style and combination) will go to a social justice organization fighting for GLBT rights.

sexism sux Round Magnet magnet
sexism sux Round Magnet by socialjusticeink
sexism sux Button button
sexism sux Button by socialjusticeink
sexism sux Keychain keychain
sexism sux Keychain by socialjusticeink

10% of the first 100 of these buttons, magnets, or keychains (any style and combination) will go to a social justice organization fighting to end sexism.

Peace Is Relative

February 11, 2009

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word peace I think of something desired and very positive. I wish peace for everyone living within this world. How ironic then that an entity with peace in the title is instrumental in perpetrating gross human rights violations.

I’m writing about the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar (Burma). This is the official name of the country’s military regime that’s been in power for over two decades. The SPDC is responsible for murdering political dissidents, torture, restricting the freedom to worship as one sees fit, stealing property, and countless other abuses.

No, none of this is new news. The SPDC has been doing this since they took power. For a while it was even trendy in parts of the Western world to talk about the atrocities in Burma and protest it. I don’t hear much about Burma these days, but the abuses are no less real, no less severe.

Human Rights Watch issued a report last month about the SPDC’s abuses of the Chin. The Chin live in the western part of Burma along the border with India. Many Chin are mired in poverty, forced to work in low-wage (or no-wage) jobs. It is not unusual for farmers to be forced to work the land for the benefit of the government, while they struggle to feed themselves.

Sadly, good times are often out of the reach for Chin who manage to flee to India. In India’s Mizoram State, where approximately 100,000 Chin refugees reside, discrimination abounds. Chin there face religious persecution and other forms of oppression. The institutional bias in the region hampers Chin from securing housing and finding employment.

Anti-immigrant protests have also flourished and authorities and citizen groups have literally forced thousands of Chin out of India and back to Burma. These authorities and locals probably tell themselves they are helping to keep the peace by driving out the foreigners in their region. Of course, holding bigoted protests to drive victims of human rights abuses back to the place where the grossest of the abuses take place is not what I consider peaceful. Peace, then, I guess is relative and people can twist it into what ever mishappen shape they want. As for me, I plan to retain my definition of peace as something desired. I will continue to wish this peace for all beings and do my part to help it become a reality.

Joe/SJI

Cool art on t-shirts and stuff

February 11, 2009

This is about other people’s art. Stuff I like. It’s not all about justice and stuff but hey if we can help draw attention to somebody’s work and that leads to sales then that’s gotta connect to our mission right?

Here goes.

Kindred Gear – cool designs and messages check out the tees

BarackObamaGear – you might find something in this galley you want BUT ask them about the other merchandise shown on their home page that’s only available if you contact them directly because that is where the best stuff is.

Jolly Rocket Conservation Tee – buy it and you’ll be donating $ to the Conservation Fund.

Other favorites

More at another time.

PS

We Are Social Justice Ink

February 9, 2009

Hey, welcome. We are SocialJusticeInk.We think the world’s f’d up and want to do our part to make it better. So we decided to write about stuff that got our attention. And make stuff and sell it to raise awareness and money for good causes. We don’t know where we’ll go with all this. We started with an online store. We have regular jobs but work on this when we can.

We’re a couple of individuals who are committed to social justice. We don’t fit the stereotype of a bunch of p.c. people who live in some fantasy world, though. We see injustice every day in a variety of forms and work to do something about it. Don’t worry, we don’t try to hit people over the head with our message, we just try to teach and learn. Our name refers to our products: we create social justice merchandise (t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, magnets) with ink to spread awareness and make a positive difference. One day we hope to have our own tat business and continue to spread the message of injustice on shirts and skin.