Peper Langhout

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Peper is a sophomore staff writer with interests in linguistics, global politics, academic and social intersectionality, as well as educational reform. They're an Honors Scholar and a World Literature and Russian major from Sarasota, Florida.

The promise of free and compulsory public education in the United States is the basis for an equal and educated citizenry and the foundation of our democracy. According to most, equal access to education levels the playing field and is the ultimate provider of social mobility and economic opportunity; therefore, we have the duty to inspect what threatens this access.

"Police Officer Making Arrest" by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikipedia)

In the face of President Donald Trump’s threats for an immigration overhaul, as well as increased U.S. immigration enforcement across the country, undocumented individuals will undoubtedly face greater threats of deportation, raids, and discrimination in the coming months. Despite the fact that, yes, the Obama administration set a record high for deportation of immigrants and therefore a precedent for future Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity, President Trump’s usage of executive orders has particularly targeted legislation designed to protect immigrants.

"No Loitering" by nathanmac87 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Food Not Bombs, a grassroots organization focused on food justice, are facing their second round of legal battles this month after their demonstration in Tampa, Florida, that led to the arrests of seven activists. Other organizations in Tampa have faced similar action or threats by the local authorities over their illegal behavior – feeding homeless people in a public place without a permit.

" Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker during a PTL broadcast (circa 1986)" by Peter K. Levy via Flickr (Public Domain)

What if I told you that you’d have a miracle at this time tomorrow if you shouted “Fear not!” three times, counted down from ten and then called and sent money to a television network?

These were the exact instructions of one of the ministers during this year’s Praise-A-Thon, one of the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s many fundraising efforts that elicits donations across the country annually; the television network is one of the leaders in televised ministry and has provided an outlet for recorded and live services. Stakes are usually much higher, however, for contemporary televangelists; though their heyday has undoubtedly passed, these ministers still make millions in their pursuit of televised salvation.

"Steve Bannon" by Don Irvine is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Americans on both side of the aisle were inflamed after Richard Spencer’s racist, nationalist speech to his think tank, the National Policy Institute, seemed to mirror the rhetoric of fascism that shrouded Donald Trump’s campaign. Following the November 19th speech at NPI’s conference, Spencer’s supporters responded with Nazi salutes, and President-elect Trump disavowed this endorsement, but most notably, media coverage of the event gave undivided attention to Trump’s supporters on the “alt-right.”

"Fremantle Prison" is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikipedia)

It is now common knowledge that education, whether prior or during a prison inmate’s sentence, is one of the most impactful factors in reducing recidivism, a revolving door phenomenon that sees two-thirds of prisoners return to prison. This phenomenon exacerbates the state of the largest prison population in the world, and locks away more than one in six of America’s Black men.

"Red Light District" by Petr Kratochvil is licensed under Public Domain (via Public Domain Pictures)

Liberal ideas of women’s rights and conservative perspectives on sexuality and sexual violence have come to a head in India following the infamous 2012 Delhi gang rape case that made international news. On October 12th, India’s Supreme Court ruled on a twenty-year-old case to acquit three men of the rape of a woman who was allegedly engaged in sex work. According to the Times of India, the “vengeful attitude” of the victim to recover money from the suspects after history of working for the men constituted a compelling reason to forge a fake accusation against the men. Ultimately, the acquittal keeps us asking questions about the nature of sex work as legitimate work, in relation to rape as sexualized violence — mutually exclusive actions with separate motives and disastrous effects on workers and victims.

"Police" by Victoria Pickering via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

What does it take to make people feel “safe” in their communities? Proponents of police reform have struggled to find a middle ground between the legal and physical protection of the implicated and the interests of communities with high crime rates. Policies like New York City’s infamous “stop and frisk” laws have been proven to both increase arrests that become convictions as well as target people of color, while independent policing models implemented in Native American, First Nation and other Indigenous populations have enabled these people’s legal sovereignty but left internal populations at serious risk.

Continuing police reform efforts all seem to beg the question: just what do we expect of the police?

"Hundreds stand with Standing Rock at New York City rally" by Joe Catron via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Making America more independent in its energy supply has long been a goal for politicians, environmentalists and the oil industry alike. However, debates over the safety and efficacy of interstate crude oil pipelines will only continue over the recent events surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline.