A forum for Reynolds fellows, scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of academic and foundation based social entrepreneurial programs to share updates on their work and their thinking on trends and developments across sectors that impact the world of changemakers. Please also visit the Reynolds Reader at http://www.nyu.edu/reynolds/resources/reader.html for a compilation of blogs by Reynolds members.
I’m interested personally and professionally in health promotion and disease prevention, as I said during the retreat and all. My latest thoughts on the issue were spent in trying to figure out how can we effectively generate behavioral changes in a given individual/population, without coercion of any source.
Today I came around with the notion of Technology as a powerful creator of new niches of culture and behavior. Take Twitter for instance. Or even Youtube; Facebook, cell phones. Even Personal Computers and the Internet! The behaviors people have nowadays, that we can observe anywhere, is linked with those advances. People sending text messages obsessively. Checking their emails every minute; engaging in virtual sex; whatever you can think of. 30-40 years ago this was unconceivable. And now the question is, how can we make use of technology to create new niches of culture and behavior that are favorable to Health?
post is by Yul-san Liem (am posting Alexandre’s email re witnessing police
harassment and my response to it together since he said he was having trouble
posting to the blog. His original email is below.)
my response, which I feel compelled to write, because I have been doing
anti-police violence work for a little while now (really since 07), though
folks I work with are far more knowledgeable …
said, the first thing I will post are a few websites in case folks want more
info about police accountability and anti-pv work that’s going on in the city
http://mxgm.org/web/ (particularly see the know
your rights info and the peoples self-defense campaign under Programs and
list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t deal with the incarceration side of
the coin (with the exception of CCR). It’s just what comes quickly out of
by head based on who I work with.
as those of us who live in NYC know, what Alexandre witnesses is an upsetting,
but not unusual scene. Young, low-income folks of color are often
targeted by the NYPD for very minor crimes (jumping turnstiles, riding bikes on
the side walk, even spitting.) More and more, cops are making arrests
rather than giving young folks violations (tickets.) While its is my
understanding that there is no official quota system, cops are assessed for
promotion based on the number of arrests they make, among other factors.
As a side note, young folks get handcuffed all the time (recently a 6 year-old
was cuffed in a public school for throwing a tantrum.) Additionally,
partially in response of racial profiling, the recent years, the NYPD has made
a concerted effort to recruit young people of color into their ranks.
You’ll notice very few of the higher-ups are people of color (surprise
surprise.) Cops and anti-pv organizers alike often say that, first and
foremost, the race of officers is blue – referring to the training and loyalty
that makes cops ally with each other rather than their community members, and
often cover up each other’s abusive actions.
Some basic things you can do if you witness an instance of police violence:
1. Stop and
observe. It’s legal. It may not deter an unlawful or unjust arrest,
but it’s possible that it will deter an escalated level of verbal, physical or
sexual abuse. (Of course, it also may not, thinking about Oscar Grant,
where there were tons of folks watching.)
2. If you have a
camera on your phone or with you, document. Police don’t like this, but
it’s legal. If the police tell you you’re obstructing, tell them you will
step back, but continue filming. Tell them you are observing your legal right
to document police activity.
3. If the person
being targeted appears hurt or distraught, ask them about their
condition. If they feel comfortable talking to you, ask them if they want
you to make a phone call for them and get the number.
4. Write down the
badge/car number of the cops involved and any other iding info.
5. File a CCRB
complaint (as Alexandre did.) The more info you have about the event, the
more likely it is that it will stick. But it’s still pretty unlikely (I
think I have stats somewhere, if folks want.)
6. If you actually
want to do something more organized, get involved with a local Cop Watch
team. Some orgs. which do Cop Watch include the Justice Committee,
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Make the Road New York, but there are more.
(You can get in touch with me for more info.)
I have lot’s of resourses/analysis about the who, what, why, when and where of
police violence. So if folks are interested, let me know.
about the long post.
Peoples’ Justice (a city-wide coalition) recently commissioned Know Your Rights
murals in Bushwick and Washington Heights and posted
anti-pv billboards in those neighborhoods and Bed-Stuy. If you’re in
those neighborhoods, look out for them.
Thursday Night… I Failed a 13 Year Old Boy
of all, I‘d like to say to everyone that I am
sorry. Sorry for me being so infuriated and to some extent radical today. Usually
I have strong positions, but normally express them in a kind and calm way; always
looking to ground them on good arguments and evidence. But my heart was inflamed
for something that I saw at the subway, while rushing to be on time for class. Me
and two other colleagues were coming back from Peter Singer‘s lecture about the “Moral Obligation to End Poverty“. We escaped in the middle of it so to arrive precisely at the right
time for our first class. We were 5 minutes late. When the train stopped at W 4th
st., we stormed out of the train and saw this rather strange scene.
year old African-American was being arrested by this rough Latino policeman‘ the cause we couldn‘t figure out why and everyone just kept starring. I looked around
and some were indifferent, some were angry (don‘t know
if towards the police officer or the kid) and many, the majority, didn‘t hesitate for a second and just went on minding their business. I
wanted to stop and do something, but I was simply paralyzed. Not literally, because
I kept going towards the exit, but in terms of will and ethical reasoning. To make
matters worse, the kid looked 9 and the officer said the following words: “You think that only because you are 13, you won‘t be handcuffed?“ and handcuffs him then in front of
everybody, while the kid bursts into tears. “You should
be ashamed of yourself!“. And by this time, we reach the stairs
and lose sight of the story.
was terribly wrong in all that, couldn‘t stop
thinking about it. I wanted to go back and stand for the kid, to say to the policeman ‘What did he do that is so serious
that you need to harass him and humiliate him ‘ and worse,
cause an irreversible damage on his psyche, by handcuffing him? You should be ashamed
of yourself. I don‘t know what he did, but I certainly
know that this is unnecessary. He might have failed to abide by the law, but we
as a society have failed HIM too.‘
And by this
time, I arrived to class. But even though John‘s a great
professor (could notice it already!), GHPM a great subject to study, and even though
I read all the articles and was ready to contribute a lot, I simply couldn‘t stop thinking on how wrong was I in not standing out for him against
the police officer.
I had to leave class to think this through. And so I did. The first thoughts that
crossed my mind were an attempt to identify the reasons that made me such an indifferent
person. Ha. I was afraid. Afraid to get into trouble with the NYPD and lose my F-1
Status, and thus my dream to acquire a MPH in NYC/NYU. Were I willing to risk my
skin in order to do what is right? Apparently not. And this realization stung me.
I felt terrible. So, all this education that I have, all the Foucault‘s, all the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, means nothing, because I can‘t make the connection of all that towards a clearly absurd situation.
Of course the law would be on my side. But I was weak and not fast enough.
I had to
redeem myself somehow. I ran back to the subway station. When I reached the platform
where the incident happened, the police and the kid weren‘t there. They took him. The subway surveillance office, where I went
to ask for help, didn‘t know anything about it. So I went
up the stairs and started to go back to Bobst‘ and got
completely lost in the way. Know the region well enough by now, but for 20 minutes
I kept going back and fourth in the streets without knowing the right way. Maybe
me losing myself completely was an expression of how I was inside. Lost. With no
P.S.: I placed
a complaint in 311 and they will investigate, and try to set up a personal appointment;
will it work? Don’t know. Have to hope for the best.
Liem, a 2009 fellow, found a very interesting article that also
included a definition of social entrepreneurship that I like…and it’s
also concrete enough to make sense to those who do not like buzz words
or abstract vocabulary.
The definition is: Social
entrepreneurship is the use of business to achieve social gain, as well
as financial gain.
It was great to hear from you, to know a little more about your story, and observe that you too are a passionate one. It’s through passion that one can measure the size of the human spirit, not through grades or Gross Domestic Product. But this is another discussion! I wish you good luck in Indonesia, a place where HIV is hitting hard. Please send me info about what you’re doing. I’d like to follow.
Attached in this, is the Pew report. The Kaiser family and the Pew foundation made this report on the views of people worldwide concerning health issues. HIV, TB, Malaria, Healthcare costs and difficulties to afford them, it’s all there. Also, they make some interesting comparisons and draw some curious conclusions that maybe worth to take a peep. Some back that interesting historical perspective Joshua pointed out; some show that we still have a lot to do until avoidable deaths (tragedies, in my view) could be completely stopped from happening. A huge report, I know, but if you read the first pages, it sums it all! The rest is just methodology and the actual responses people in each country gave.
Free Health care in a profit-oriented economy is a great challenge. Some countries that have experience on this – Brazil, yeah! – still have miles and miles to go. The public health system in Rio de Janeiro, for instance, has an “endemic” infra-structure problem. We lack meds, we lack exams, we even lack doctors and nurses. But is it because it’s free? Is it because we have no market forces to drive it forward? No competition? Or is it corruption, bad political decisions, a passive culture that yelds too much? Etc etc etc…?
The Scandinavian countries, that have free health care systems, have a MUCH BETTER AND WORKING SYSTEM. It’s not perfect, but no system is. Looking at their example, we observe that it goes beyond mere economics.
interviewed Nathaniel Loewentheil (NL, pictured left) about the Roosevelt
Institute, a student run policy organization he founded that now has over 7,000
students on 70 campuses. I think it represents a unique kind of social
entrepreneurship, a type of which we have not heard much about in the NYU
Reynolds Program-policy entrepreneurship. The Roosevelt Institute started as a
national student-run think tank to inject young people’s voices into the
national policy debate and brought it to DC, where they have earned a place at
the table on many progressive issues. I hope you enjoy the interview.