The Fight to Preserve Identity: Indigenous Weavers in Guatemala

The Fight to Preserve Identity: Indigenous Weavers in Guatemala

Commodifying indigenous culture is not just insensitive, it destroys ways of life and economic opportunities.
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Think that “Navajo printed top” you bought from Urban Outfitters is just the right amount of cute and edgy? You probably don’t realize that your cultural appropriation is not only insensitive, it is also pushing indigenous people – mostly women – out of their traditional markets and threatening to completely erase aspects of a variety of cultures.

In Guatemala, women weavers have had enough of the hypocrisy. Similar to the appropriation Urban committed against the Navajo (and countless other communities), companies like Maria’s Bags will sell purses with indigenous designs for hundreds of dollars without the consent of the communities the designs come from. These multinational corporations benefit from a system that appropriates indigenous culture while discriminating against the people behind it.

High-end corporations like Maria’s Bags aren’t the only emerging market pushing indigenous women out of their livelihoods; Chinese companies are also moving in and computerizing these designs to be quickly printed onto things like your Urban Outfitters top. While this is cheaper than, you know, a product that provides its original creator with a living wage, it contributes to a system of globalization that appropriates and misuses cultural traditions while erasing their authenticity and the autonomy of the people responsible for them.

Indigenous women in Guatemala organized with the Women's Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez (AFEDES) to combat the infringement of their intellectual property on November 24 during a march to Congress to propose a bill copywriting indigenous designs to indigenous communities. With the long history of discrimination against indigenous people, the bill faces an uphill battle to passing. However, the recognition indigenous weavers are getting is the first step to a big win for cultural preservation and economic empowerment for marginalized communities in Guatemala and across the Americas.

More and more, indigenous women in Latin America are fighting to have their rights as citizens upheld and for the economic stability they have been denied since colonization. Multinational companies not only appropriate indigenous cultures, they also do not contribute any jobs or income to the communities whose ideals they steal. If you would like to nix your last-season (not to mention offensive) Urban top, consider looking into companies like Trama, Vayu, Asociación de Artesanos Andinos, and Hiptipico.

Cover Image Credit: Guillén Pérez

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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NFL Players Are Right To Protest During The National Anthem

Actions speak louder than words.

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As the 2018 NFL season gets underway, millions of fans nationwide are anticipating a fresh start for each of the 32 teams. Many of them will come to the games early to greet their team out of the tunnel.

Before we can kick off the game, the National Anthem is performed. Until recently, this was not a headline unless the performer did really well or really bad. Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the anthem in the 2016 preseason, creating a wave of debate and controversy.

Whichever side you fall on is up to you; however, I believe the First Amendment gives these players the right to kneel, as well as raise awareness to important issues on and off the field.

Kaepernick at first sat on the bench, until a discussion and compromise with former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer. Boyer suggested that instead of sitting, Kaepernick would take a knee next to Boyer during the next game. Kaepernick did so and was joined by other players, including his teammate Eric Reid. This spread throughout the league, with many players following suit. This was met immediately with criticism from the media and the fans, as well as many former or current members of the military who believed it was disrespectful to the troops and the flag.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media after that first game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

This event came after numerous innocent African Americans had been unnecessarily and brutally shot by police who were freed in court. Kaepernick, among many others, realized the importance of standing up for racial tension, inequality, police brutality, and discrimination. Instead of literally standing up, hundreds of NFL players have either sat or taken a knee.

The uproar seemed to have gone away for a bit, until President Donald Trump said at a rally, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'get that son of a b**** off the field right now - he's fired.''

Immediately after this, hundreds of NFL players kneeled or raised their fists during that week's anthem. After Trump declined to invite the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to the White House, since many players had announced they were not attending, he did the same with the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Instead of celebrating a team's success and accomplishments, he selfishly made the win about himself, turning it into a "celebration of America."

Many against the players kneeling fail to acknowledge their reasoning. Innocent lives are unfairly being taken by corrupt and unjust police officers. They claim these players do nothing else for a greater good when the opposite is true. Many of these athletes, in addition to taking a knee, are also giving back to their communities and contributing to creating change. Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins and Wide Receiver Torrey Smith, among others, has met with both police and Congress to collaborate on a solution.

Players on all 32 teams give back to their communities, helping to make the world a better place. J.J. Watt raised over $37 million or victims of Hurricane Harvey. Chris Long donated his entire 2017 salary to fund scholarships for his hometown. Activist athlete LeBron James recently opened a school providing free tuition, food, uniforms and a guaranteed scholarship to the University of Akron.

The U.S. First Amendment gives the Constitutional right to freedom of protest. Read it right from the horse's mouth:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Peacefully should be emphasized. These men are not saying anything, they are not disrupting others from participating in the anthem. They are peacefully standing up--or rather, kneeling down--for equality and justice for all.

To those who are still against it, you are entitled to your own opinion. Just remember this is not in any way meant to insult our military, anthem, flag, or country. These are brave Americans using their platform to raise awareness to an important issue and inspire change. If we could all realize this and start to collaborate, these issues could become a thing of the past. That would truly "Make America Great Again".

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