Vol. 2, Is. 1: Environmental Justice
Fall Issue 1, 2009
The YU Free Press is pleased to offer you our first issue of the 2009-10 academic year: Environmental Justice! We chose this theme in particular (notably different than simply, the Environment) to critically examine the ways in which race, gender, nationhood, sexuality, disability and class (amongst others) are embedded in environmental destruction. In doing so, we demonstrate that particular groups of people are specifically targeted by conservative governments, military regimes, and multi-national corporations (MNCs) that are responsible for social and environmental catastrophes. Such an approach situates the “Environment” within a context of on-going forms of colonialism and resistance to corporate and neoliberal expansion.
We are particularly happy to feature Shaunga Tagore’s “Violence Against her Land, Violence Against her Body”, which tackles important links between environmental degradation and sexual violence. In particular, she looks at how environmental damage and nuclear testing primarily occur on Indigenous territory, which has significant consequences for the sexual and overall health of Indigenous women. Complementary to Tagore’s piece, Nate Prier’s, “Beyond Binaries – Locating the Environmental Refugee” critiques the ways in which natural disasters are framed as “natural” when state and corporate interests reproduce social hierarchies. Prier argues that these processes become acute within contexts of environmental crises, often resulting in increased deaths and forced migration for poor and racialized communities. See also Diana Katgara’s “Bhopal 2010: How Many Years Will it Take to Get Justice”, for a look at the role that MNCs play in creating environmental damage in racialized communities while denying responsibility. As well, this article gauges the various forms of resistance and mobilization that are taking place against corporate acts of violence.
This issue of the YUFP also attracted a substantial amount of articles on Latin America in our News and Features sections. Ashley McEachern’s “The Coup in Honduras: A Tale of Resistance and Repression” gives us a narrative of this summer’s on-going events and poses important reflections for activists around the world. Chris Vance’s “What is to be Done with Blood on our Hands from Canadian Mining in El Salvador?” alerts us to the murder of an anti-mining activist while also suggesting ways in which we can act in solidarity with Latin American activists. Importantly, Michael Romandel’s “Environmental Sustainability, Socialism, and the Bolivarian Revolution” and Yuri Yarin’s “Socialism and the Environment in Cuba: A Debate to Question and Consider”, emphasize the importance of examining socialism and class as a major point of consideration within environmental movements.
Bringing our attention closer to home, Jesse Zimmerman’s “Is the Green Party of Canada Progressive or Regressive?” comments on the extent to which progressive politics (or perhaps, the lack thereof) is found in the Green Party. Ian Hussey’s “The Clothes on our Backs, the Coffee in our Cups, the Food on our Plates” examines Fair Trade policies at York, offering ways to become aware and get involved in organizations that promote better wage and working conditions for those who produce the goods that we consume.
We have also published some articles and art that reflect our social justice values even if they do not fall within the Environmental Justice theme. We would like to highlight Laurence Parent’s “Home by Midnight: A Short Story Concerning a Political and Economic Curfew at York” which outlines York University’s cutback to independent living assistance that has major consequences for students with disabilities. Parent’s article is also a call for support and action that the YUFP Editorial Collective believes that every community member at York must take very seriously.
York University continues to be an unwelcoming space for many groups of people and the YUFP Editorial Collective wants to make clear that women’s safety on campus remains an important issue. Our university is already known for several gender-based sexual assaults in the past years and two women were recently sexually assaulted at Scott library on September 15 and September 18, 2009. These incidents are extremely unfortunate and devastating reminders that we must prioritize women’s experiences and focus on how to address inequalities that lead to such violent circumstances. Although we have quickly mentioned these occurrences in the News in Brief: York section, the YUFP Editorial Collective sees Tagore’s analysis as an excellent look at systemic and intersectional factors that comprise a necessary approach when considering sexual violence. Focusing on gender (though not separate from race and class, etc.) as an important site of inquiry and activism through our summer edition, the Women’s Issue has stimulated a great deal of positive feedback. We encourage readers to write us with comments, suggestions, or critiques in order to make the YUFP a better newspaper.
The YUFP Editorial Collective worked very hard over the summer and into the fall to bring you this issue. Despite the ups and downs, we are very excited to be entering our second year of existence and we are still going strong! We would like to take a moment to recognize the new members of the Editorial Collective: Qara Clemente, Zubaira Hussaini, Jen Rinaldi, and Shaunga Tagore. We would also like to thank the many volunteers, copy-editors, writers, photographers, and artists who have made this newspaper possible. Victoria Barnett, Troy Dixon, Nathan Nun and Carmen Teeple Hopkins have stayed on since the beginning of the YUFP and look forward to working with the new team to bring a fresh perspective and energy to this work.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
YUFP Editorial Collective