Minhee Lee is a junior studying Applied Psychology and minoring in American Sign Language. She is interested in advocacy for marginalized and minority groups, particularly the Deaf Community. She hopes to work closely with the Deaf Community and plans to conduct her own research to break down the stigma against and increase access to mental health. Minhee is fascinated by the human mind and human interaction and hopes to channel this passion towards building a brighter, more innovative future – within, and outside of the mental health sphere. Her stay in Florence has ignited her interest in the differences and commonalities between cultures, and intends on continuing her pursuit for cultural breadth back in New York.
On March 8, Italy celebrated International Women’s Day alongside many other countries. I was shocked to see how much emphasis was placed on this day, from the exchange of the yellow mimosas (a flower that has become “an emblem of Women’s Day”), to the discounted aperitivos, to women’s free admission into museums. The most memorable for me was the Women’s March which took place in and around the center of Florence. Here I witnessed people from all backgrounds and walks of life come together for the collective motivation to celebrate women’s achievements, and continue the fight for equality. Within the sea of people, you could see highlights of pink (a color that signifies femininity but has now become a symbol of the Women’s Movement, especially with the pink “pussy hats”), and bright flags that represented people’s identities — nationally, sexually, or socially. Young girls stood at the forefront of the march, fearlessly chanting and holding up the sign “NOT ONE LESS,” and I couldn’t help but feel comforted that these girls are our future. The boys and men behind these girls understood what it meant to support them. Their subsequent positions did not mean subservience to the females, but solidarity withthe females. In the middle of the march, a group of predominantly male performers put the march to a halt to perform with their unconventional drums. I looked around at the entertained spectators and noticed the expression of the participants’ faces. They were uplifted and liberated as they danced and marched together. This march reminded me of the power that comes from solidarity, unity, and love.
Born in 1961, Jack Halberstam, formerly known as Judith Halberstam, is Visiting Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at University of Southern California (USC). As the author of The Queer Art of Failure and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal, Halberstam is well known for his Queer philosophy and works in the areas of queer theory, gender studies, feminist theory, popular and visual culture, and Gothic literature and the horror film, with an emphasis on subculture. Halberstam’s is currently conducting several projects including a book titled WILD THING on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human, and the environment.
On March 15, Halberstam will give a talk with La Pietra Dialogues on the topics of trans and gender variance, where students will have an opportunity to learn more about the current status and future developments of transgender rights, transgender visibility, and transgender recognition. All students are highly encouraged to join our dialogue!
By Minhee Lee and Yimin Wang, NYU Florence students
An Act of Violence
On April 26, a police officer was caught on a security camera beating a young Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in uniform in the suburbs of Tel Aviv. In response, 1,000 Ethiopian-Israelis took part in an anti-police protest on May 4, 2015 on Rabin Square. What started off as a peaceful protest, with demonstrators blocking the main thoroughfares of Tel Aviv, later turned violent as protesters began to throw objects and confront the police. Chants of “A violent cop should be in jail!” and “Enough of racism, enough of violence!” grew louder and louder. The officers responded with smoke, stun grenades, and water cannons. According to the police, about 46 people were slightly injured, half of them police officers, and at least 26 protesters had been arrested by midnight.
This protest was not only in response to the isolated event of the police officer caught on tape, but also to demonstrate the outcry of injustice and unfair treatment that Ethiopian immigrants have faced since the 1980s during their first wave of immigration to Israel. Since then, Ethiopian-Israelis have made up about 135,500 of the Israeli population. However over half of them are impoverished and only half graduate from high school. They are treated as second class citizens, and experience discrimination and racism.