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(01 May) 170401 Eric Michael Dyson - White Privilege

White privilege. What's that? Some people have choices and advantages simply because of the color of their skin. Many whites are unaware of it or if they are are quick to say, Hey, I'm cool and beyond that. Yeah, right. Peggy McIntosh, a noted women's studies scholar in her classic essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack wrote: "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks."

Michael Eric Dyson is University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, teaching courses in theology, English, and African American studies. A dynamic speaker, he lectures widely. Among his many books are Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King's Death and How it Changed America, The Black Presidency and Tears We Cannot Stop.

(08 May) 170402 Arun Gupta - Changing the System

With Donald Trump in the White House we may have entered a post-truth era. As Orwell wrote in his great essay "Looking Back on the Spanish War:" "If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'It never happened'-well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five-well, two and two are five. Orwell added, "This prospect frightens me much more than bombs." Today, in a country where magical thinking is heard at the highest levels of government, facts are up for grabs. You have your narrative and I have mine. Recall Trump aide Kellyanne Conway's now infamous "alternative facts" comment. Are we sliding toward a dystopian future? Not necessarily. Informed and organized people, unafraid and willing to challenge power, can change the system.

Arun Gupta, journalist and activist, was a founding editor of The Indypendent and the Occupied Wall Street Journal. His articles appear in Alternet, Truthout, The Guardian and Z. He also appears on Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera.

(15 May) 170403 Gary Taubes - Sugar: How Sweet it Isn't

Sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium: backed by powerful lobbies, entrenched in our lives, and making some people very sick. There is growing evidence that sugar triggers chronic diseases such as diabetes that are likely to kill us, or at least hasten our deaths. In the U.S. and Canada about 30% of the population has diabetes; obesity is at epidemic proportions; heart disease is rising; nearly 10% of children are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And sugar is a leading cause of these problems. It has permeated our diet: such as its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes, and the pervasiveness of high-fructose corn syrup. Long held assumptions about sugar are being reexamined. Some communities from Oakland to Boulder are now taxing sugary drinks. In terms of health sugar can be very bitter.

Gary Taubes is co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative. An investigative science journalist, his articles appear in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine and Esquire. He is the author of Why We Get Fat and The Case Against Sugar.

(22 May) 170404 Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Gender Equality

Currently the Supreme Court hangs in the balance with a 4-4 liberal conservative split. The former tends to view the Constitution as a living document, while the latter sees it as something static and fixed document. Court decisions have huge impacts on society. One contentious issue is gender equality. Simply put it is the belief that everyone should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court made gender discrimination unconstitutional in 1972 in a case successfully argued by then-38 year old attorney Ruth Bader Ginsburg. According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland is number one in gender equality, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Rwanda, Philippines, Switzerland, Slovenia, and New Zealand. And where does the U.S. rank, overall? 28th. And Canada? 30th.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She was director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. She argued five cases before the Supreme Court, winning four of them. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for thirteen years before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993. She turned 84 in March 2017, and in her 24 years on the nation's highest court she has never missed a day on the bench.

(29 May) 170405 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - An Indigenous Economic Model

The existing economic system in most countries is a kind of state capitalism. It produces enormous inequalities. Its extraction practices are environmentally destructive. Perhaps indigenous models provide a viable alternative. Chief Seattle was a Susquamish chief in what is now Washington State. He reportedly made these observations in an 1854 letter to U.S. President Pierce: "How can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect." And he warned: "Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste."

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to social justice issues. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas, held at UN headquarters in Geneva. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award and All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans.

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