Marijuana legalization and racism article published in SIF

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-11-05-16-am I recently published the article “As Marijuana Becomes Legal, the Legacy of Structural Racism Still Haunts Many,” in Sociology in Focus. This article overviews how the move to legalize marijuana still leaves many marijuana act criminalized, leaving the most vulnerable to continue suffering criminalization of usage. Most importantly, the majority of states have not applied marijuana legalization laws retroactively–thus allowing those imprisoned before the new law to remain in prison or remain with a charge on their record. Also, those with drug crimes on their record are not allowed to work in the legal industry, maintaining structural racism which benefits whites over blacks in entering the profession.

Call for Participants: Tattooists

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 9.25.54 AM.pngWe are conducting a study of regulations around professional tattooing in the United States. We are interested in speaking with tattoo artists about their experience and knowledge of regulations around their profession and how they would like to see such regulations improved. We are seeking tattooists from a diversity of states and municipalities in order to gain a perspective on the diversity of regulations, from both the local, state, and federal government (OSHA, Health Department) and industry (APT, NTA).

Researchers:

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 9.37.20 AM.pngBeverly Yuen Thompson: Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology at Siena College, in Albany, NY. Research interests include: subcultures, activism, and gender. Her recent book was published with NYU Press in 2015: Covered in Ink: Tattoos, Women and the Politics of the Body. She also made the feature documentary Covered, about women and tattooing in the United States.

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 9.41.24 AM.pngSteph Tai: Associate Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her scholarly research examines the interactions between environmental and health sciences and administrative law. These include the consideration of scientific expertise and environmental justice concerns by administrative and judicial systems, and as well as the role of scientific dialogues in food systems regulation, and the ways in which private governance incorporates scientific research.

In order to participate, email Beverly Yuen Thompson at BThompson@siena.edu and mention which state you practice in.

Road trip: Maine to Canada

28546779912_14689ab231_n[photos] “We may get detained at the Canadian border, or even denied entry,” I told mom as we were on our road trip from Albany, New York, through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and into Maine and Canada. “It’s because of a protest I tried to attend back in 2003.”

“Oh my goodness, I told you not to do that kind of stuff,” she complains, as usual, when hearing about my shenanigans.

“Look, I’m not going to play safe just to live up to your sheltered life ideals, I want to practice what I believe in and fight for social justice. If I have to suffer some consequences, it’s nothing compared to what other people have to face when fighting against injustice.”

“Oh, it is so hard to talk to you,” mom’s daily refrain.

28688497702_351ef597a8_zMaine is a huge state to drive through, and so are even the smaller of the Canadian provinces. We made it to Portland, ME for our first night, dining at J’s Oyster, a place we’ve dined at before. A few years ago I lived for a summer in Portland, and this was my first visit back to this town that I adore. At the hotel, I ran into my Jeep twin Amy, a woman with the same purple Jeep Wrangler as me, same X Games special edition, albeit she had the 4 door model. We were laughing and taking pictures together as we basked in the Jeep love. The second day, we drove Route 1 up the coast of Maine, definitely the slowest route, and bypassed the Lobster Festival in Rockland, as mom had her fill the night before. We made it all the way to the border, but not past it, for the second night. Woke in the morning to a lake view from our tiny hotel. When we did finally cross into Canada, we were asked to go inside for further questioning, and I explained my previous entry denial due to a protest, we were let through. I love Canada, and wish I could live there permanently, such a better country. The roads were beautiful, well maintained, sparsely populated, and richly green. We drove and drove through New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia, landing in Dartmouth, across the bay from Halifax.

28807102516_57f995cdff_zThe next day was another drive to Prince Edward Island, where we had an amazing hotel in Charlottetown, with a view of the waterfront, boats, and mom was happy. It was a cute town to walk around, and we also explored the nearby coast, Point Prim, a lighthouse, and ate tons of lobster the entire trip. And the next day, we were already making the long trek back to Maine, through Maine, and back to New York state.

28287224883_5b929d2637_zI was surprised that mom let us pick up a hitch hiker whom we encountered at a gas station at the base of Confederation Bridge, the only bridge out of PEI that charged the ransom of $46. JD was Chinese, spoke Mandarin, Cantonese, another dialect, and English. He was only 22, a student in Chicago, but had already lived in Washington state for school, Australia, and was hitchhiking across all of Canada, and had previously traveled across the U.S., Europe, and China. I was impressed by his lifestyle and ability to really go after what he wanted and network his way into such adventures. Had another nice lunch break for more lobster roles with JD, as he demonstrated his adventurous spirit by climbing on the rocks of the bay until security warned him away, and took pictures of the touristy sights. We dropped him at the border of Maine, as he attempted to catch another ride to Quebec, and then onward West.

Amazingly, we were detained by the US Customs and Border Protection for over two hours, as they searched the car, interrogated us about the last 40 years of existence, photographed and finger printed us. This was new treatment for mom, but something I have come to expect from agents of the US state. They interrogated mom about her citizenship states between 1975 and 1977, as she was transitioning from a student visa to earning citizenship. They asked about all of our marriages, previous addresses, arrest records, employment records, colleges attended, and why we looked different in our pictures, and why we were driving a new car. They graciously retrieved our jackets from the car, but we were not allowed to use the restroom, and hadn’t eaten, so we were not prepared for such a stop over. And it was killing our time on the road. In the end, the agent blamed the entire episode on a computer problem, yet warned that if I attempted to cross the border again, I would likely face similar treatment. It took us hours through northern rural Maine to eventually find a hotel, late at night, exhausted and hungry. Welcome back to the police state of ‘Merica. Unfortunately, the bad border treatment kinda ruined the nice memories of our beautiful but quick drive through Canada. We passed through Portland one more time for our last fill of lobster. [photos]

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RNC protests

28176289110_4f110610dc_z[RNC protest photos] I wrote my dissertation on mass demonstrations around the “anti-globalization” movement, as it was dubbed by outsiders, or the Global Justice movement, as it referred to itself. I attended most of the mass demonstrations from 1999 to 2004, including the WTO, IMF/World Bank, Republican and Democratic conventions, as well as various trade meetings. Those were exciting times, and I focus my field research on the mass arrests, over policing, the use of direct action inside the jails, the legal support offices, and so on. So this was the experience I was bringing to the streets of the RNC in Cleveland, where I expected an exciting mix based on the rumors: open carry laws, $50 million dollar police grant for fighting protesters, nazis, Trump supporters, protesters, fortress RNC, and protest zones far from the convention site. It sounded exciting.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.03.17 PMTherefore, when I arrived, especially on Monday, day 1, I was surprised to see so few people out, and wondered if I’d made a mistake in even coming here after an 8 1/2 drive from NYS. But over the next several days, the activity picked up, making it at least worthwhile. The major difference was that there were no national organizations demonstrating, no labor unions, non-profits, or grassroots groups. There were just a handful of smaller organizations: Ruckus Society, Code Pink, Stand United Against Trump, and the RCP. The RCP got the most arrests, around 21, for flag burning activities and such. Alex Jones of Infowars.com fame stopped by and caused one of the main riot situations on the second day, where the police sectioned off the crowds and contained them until Jones was arrested. Bikers for Trump showed up in a motorcycle caravan to shake hands with the police and stand on their side, but just twenty of them, at most. But with such fear of a Trump presidency, why weren’t more people in the streets, protesting such an event?

Of course, it seems that the Republicans didn’t need outside help, as they were imploding all by themselves with the various scandals of many members not showing, Melania’s speech, Cruz’ refusal to endorse Trump, and Trump’s own fascist, lengthy closing night speech. [RNC protest photos]

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