The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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Anonymous: Our Jewish Ahava

On October 27, the Jewish community lost 11 of our own. In mourning the tragedy that took place at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, it’s more important than ever that we understand what it means to be Jewish and what makes the Jewish connection so strong.  It’s natural to assume that religion is the common thread that runs within each member of the Jewish community; however Jews express their faith in many different ways.   Even with a common set of ethics and values, there are three distinct levels of religious devotion.  Some Jews refrain from using their cell phones on Shabbat, while many Jews rarely—if ever—attend synagogue.  Others believe that the Jewish people are bound to one another through culture.  While many Jews express their Jewish identity through holiday traditions, a shared sense of humor, and an appreciation for matzah ball soup, the ways in which Jews express culture also differs drastically between communities.  A Jewish sense of culture and religion surly creates a bond between us, but there is much more to being Jewish.  What is it that truly makes someone Jewish?

The relationship that I have with other Jews is the same relationship that I have with my family. Like all families, we often argue and bicker with one another.  When one member of the family accomplishes something special, we all feel proud.  When a member of the family does something immoral, their shame is reflected upon all of us.  Above all else, when one member of the Jewish family feels pain, their pain is felt in Jewish hearts all across the world.  So when I think about the 11 congregants murdered last week, I think not of strangers but of brothers, sisters, and cousins.

The shooting that occurred last month not only reminds me of my Jewish identity but also of the Jewish story. Most people read the Jewish story and see oppression and prejudice.  While suffering and marginalization are inextricably linked to the Jewish story, there also rests resilience and strength.  Even when the darkest chapters seemed like they may be our last, Jews refused to let others decide their fate.  When Jews wandered the desert as strangers for 40 years, the miracle of Israel was on the other side.  When Goliath threatened to expunge Maccabee’s troops, little David slayed the giant against all odds.  When 2/3 of Europe’s Jews were shipped in crates to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and exterminated, we mourned and continue to remember, but we survived.  The Jewish story is one of underdogs and survivors.

The next chapter of Jewish history will not be written by people who deny Jews the right to exist and worship in peace.  The next chapter will be written by those who continue to pray on Shabbat, cook, and come together as a family.  That’s what it means to be Jewish, that’s ahava.  That’s our story.

Anonymous: Where are the Jewish Allies at Bates?

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, I found myself shocked, saddened, and angry. Not solely by the event itself, but by the lack of reaction from the non-Jewish community at Bates.

Talking to my Jewish friends, they expressed similar sentiments; it was only fellow Jews who were talking about the attack. Why is it that we are only finding solidarity within our own community? Where is the support from the college? Where are the Jewish allies on the Bates campus? From this experience I find myself asking, does our college community support other groups on campus facing tragedy and fear?

In the future, I hope we all will.

Anonymous: For Jews, Wisdom has Always been Central

I was initially asked to write a long piece for the Student reflecting on this event as a Jew. I encouraged Bates Hillel to submit individual reflections. For me, representing the Jewish experience at Bates through a singular lens feeds into the harmful concept of Semitic-sameness. In our faith and culture, dissent is valued above accord. If you know me, you’ll know that that’s what I love the most about my faith.

Wisdom has always been central to my relationship with Judaism. Three-hour dinner debates were the norm in my household. Nightly we’d discuss everything from public policy to Friday Night Lights. This wisdom included an acknowledgment of my family’s immense privilege. I have been lucky to avoid facing the antisemitism that my ancestors have fought against, and I have fully embraced the understanding that I hold both white privilege and economic privilege. I am afraid in the wake of this shooting of being too afraid AND of not being afraid enough. I must walk through this world with the weight of intersecting privilege and marginalization as we all should.

Being an American under this administration means acknowledging the multitudes of affinity groups under attack, and working to end all forms of bias and discrimination in this country. I own my great people’s history of suffering and strength, and I pledge to work towards a peaceful future for all people, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, or faith.

Anonymous: Unacceptable Silence in the Wake of the Tree of Life

Something terrible happened in my 100’s-level politics class. Going over news stories from the weekend, the professor asked for a student to give the headline, the impact, and how we felt about it. Silence followed. In a class of 40, no one stuck their neck out to give voice to what happened. The students in the class knew what happened, but collectively made a decision towards silence. This scenario is what allows for the rhetoric which invites violence to continue– when the educated choose not to speak out. If willed ignorance is what happens in a politics class which demands discussion, then silence is what rules outside of class. This is not an issue that Jewish students must speak out against– Pittsburgh is not a Jewish lesson to learn. It’s the burden of our community to break that silence, and that is not happening now.

Motivation with Maru: An Introduction

Hello hello my feisty friends! My name is Mary Richardson, but y’all can call me Maru, I am a first-year here at Bates. I have an Instagram account called @motivationwithmaru that preaches all things positivity, healthy body-image, nourishing food, fitness, and self-care.

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Skin Care Routine of the Week: For the Skin Care Rookie

Although I now indulge in an abundance of face masks per week, adhering to a regimented (or, even planned) skin care routine is still relatively new for me. For the last seven years, I’ve mainly used the same two products on my skin: CeraVe hydrating facial cleanser and CeraVe facial moisturizing lotion. Both were recommended to me by my dermatologist and are fabulous, affordable drugstore products. I’ve since swapped out the lotion for a rotating cycle of multiple products, but the cleanser, which I will lovingly refer to as Old Faithful, is still with me.

It was a slow burn to change my routine. My sophomore year at Bates, I added in an eye cream. My junior year, I began toning daily and masking frequently. After I returned home for the summer, my skin care routine became no-holds-barred: I had unlimited access (and browsing time) in all of the Sephora’s and department stores in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. My skin care routine quickly became a multifaceted outlet for my self-care.

After a joyous and fortuitous trial and error period, I’ve narrowed it down to a small sum of products that work for me. Nowadays, I still get the skin care rodeo started with Old Faithful. After lathering the cleanser into my skin, I splash it off lightly with water. I no longer use a washcloth to scrub off any sort of face wash because I’ve learned doing so is too harsh for my skin. From there, each successive step is seasonally dependent.

In the summer months, I tone or exfoliate my face using Pixi products. The Pixi Glow Tonic toner (available at Target) sloughs away dead skin and, in my experience, leaves a natural-looking glow. I also highly recommend Pixi’s Glow Peel Pads: they’re an efficient and low maintenance way to chemically exfoliate your skin and, like Pixi’s toner, they encourage my glow. Next, I use Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Multivitamin Booster, followed by their Hydro Boost Water Gel with SPF 15 (both available at drugstores).

When I’m feeling particularly existential with regard to the life expectancy of my skin, I wear Shiseido’s Ultimate Sun Protection WetForce SPF 50+, carried by Sephora, Ulta, and most department stores. I encourage both myself and anyone reading this to wear sunscreen each and every day. Doing so is paramount to you and your skin’s longevity.

I finish off the whole summer-skin-care-shebang with Ole Henrikson’s Banana Bright Eye Créme, which I picked up at Sephora this past summer. It’s definitely on the pricey side, but I personally feel it’s worth the investment. I see an immediate difference in the skin underneath my eyes; it moisturizes and combats the dark circles that have inevitably signed a lifelong lease above my cheeks.

In the winter, I use Old Faithful and put my Pixi products away for safekeeping. Because I find toning and over-exfoliating dries out my skin, I avoid doing so when my skin begins to be ambushed by Maine temperatures and dryness. After cleansing, I usually douse my face with Bio Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil. This product is also available at drugstores and is, as advertised, multiuse. I use it on my face as a moisturizer and all over the rest of my body, particularly for stretch marks and scars. I do so because I love the skin I’m in, and those marks deserve some love, too.

If I’m extra dry, I use Neutrogena’s Hydroboost Hydrating Overnight Gel Mask. It works wonders by morning, but it’s very goopy. Only for this mask will I utilize the removal powers of a washcloth. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I use Clarin’s Double Serum and their Multi-Active Day Cream with SPF 20. Both are incredibly moisturizing and quite luxurious. Because I received the set as a gift, I apply them sparingly. I highly recommend both, but acknowledge that they are out of most people’s (and my own) price range.

My skin care routine is a way for me to focus on myself each and every day. Regardless of what my day has in store for me, I take time to pamper myself before doing anything else. And no matter what has transpired, I’m able to wash away my day, physically and metaphorically, before going to bed. Amidst all the cleansing, moisturizing, and dark-circle-combatting, I’m able to slow down, breathe, and relax.

 

Women’s Rowing Q & A: Liza Folsom ‘22 of women’s rowing discusses her experience on the water

Elizabeth “Liza” Folsom ‘21 is a geology major and spanish minor from Can Mateo, CA. She is a member of the women’s rowing team at Bates and was the coxswain for the team that won the Division II National Championship last year. I had the opportunity to speak with Liza about her experience as a member of the Bates rowing team. This article has been edited for grammar and clarity.

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History of Muslims Lecture: A Step in the Right Direction

Students would not make the trek to Muskie Archives on a rainy Thursday night for just anything. But on November 1, they did just that for a talk by Edward E. Curtis IV titled “The Long History of Muslims in the United States.”

Curtis was this year’s speaker for the Bertha May Bell Andrews Lecture, an annual talk sponsored by the Multifaith Chaplaincy that was first established in 1975 by Dr. Carl Andrews. His aim was to honor his mother, who not only created the first physical education program for women at Bates, but also had a deep conviction that education without morality was useless.

The lecture highlighted this conviction of involving morality in teaching, discussing the misconception that Muslim heritage can only be traced back to as recently as 1965, and the effect this has both on Muslim families and on the recent rise of Islamophobia. Curtis described this phenomenon through the language of misremembering; he said, “There has been a forgetting, a forgetting that is useful to those who say that Muslims are foreign to America.” His goal of the lecture was to correct this misconception and emphasize the various contributions of Muslims, who have been in this country from its very beginning.

Muslims have served in legislatures, saved corporations, played for sports teams, won a Nobel Prize, held the Olympic Torch, and built skyscrapers. Probably most commonly known to students would be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a retired professional basketball player who still remains the all-time leader in points scored and career wins, and Muhammad Ali, a professional boxer and activist. As described by Curtis, “Muslims have changed the way America looks, the way it plays, the way it is heard.”

Perhaps less famous but just as important are Muslim politicians, who are becoming increasingly numerous in today’s political environment. Ninety Muslim candidates are running for federal, state, and local office in this year’s midterm elections, significantly more than in any other year.

Although Curtis focused primarily on the history of Muslims, when asked about how to have conversations about Islamophobia, he responded with the necessity of people respecting the dead. He called for Muslims to put their differences behind them and stop focusing on their disagreements over past activists, a lesson relevant to everyone regardless of religion. In approaching religious discussion, he also offered the advice for students to move past preaching – attempting to convince others that Muslims are peaceful and hate terrorists – and into deeper conversation.

Nahida Moradi ’22, a member of the Muslim Student Association and an attendant of the lecture, described the importance of students being educated about this history and having conversations about Islamophobia, explaining, “At a school like Bates, where religion is generally not very present in students’ lives, Islam is often seen as strange and maybe even threatening. You could see that level of threat by looking at the vandalism of the Muslim prayer room in Chase Hall. Inviting Dr. Curtis to talk about the History of Muslims in America is a step in the right direction for Bates to do its job right.”

Curtis’ lecture on the history of Muslims in the United States was especially relevant in today’s world of Islamophobia. His talk helped to identify the misconceptions in Muslim history and to offer guidance on how Bates students can approach difficult religious conversations.

 

Searching for a Home in Lewiston

Lewiston’s diverse population is what makes the city a vibrant and dynamic community. Many of these same Lewiston residents, though, struggle to find and maintain stable and safe housing.

On Nov. 1, as part of the Harward Center’s “Theory into Practice” series, the Bates community and public were addressed by three prominent women on the forefront of solving housing issues in Lewiston and beyond. The panel discussion was titled; “Housing Matters: Challenges to Housing Security for Low-Income Families,” and sought to unbox some of the problems and pose solutions for housing concerns in Maine communities.

The first remarks of the afternoon came from Bettyann Sheats. Sheats is serving her first term in the Maine House of Representatives and is currently seeking re-election. Sheats has brought her experience as a landlord and community member to the Maine State Legislature to advocate for safer and more affordable housing options.

During her remarks, Sheats stressed the need for reliable housing. She cited statistics claiming that the best predictor of childhood success in school is access to reliable housing, with the same concept applying to recently released prisoners. When individuals are in a stable living environment they can become more productive workers and active members of their communities.

A plethora of factors are required for people to keep steady housing. Often times, the problems people face with their housing stem from external factors. “It’s not about the tenants, and the landlords, and the housing; it’s about losing their housing because of economics, job insecurity, low wages, not enough affordable access to health care,” said Sheats. Fixing the toilets and touching up the paint on the walls isn’t what makes a good landlord, but rather being able to actively listen to the greater needs of your tenants. According to Sheats, in order to cultivate a working relationship between landlords and tenants, communication is a necessity.

As far as solutions go, Sheats says, “It’s not one issue that got people into a problem, it’s not one fix that is going to get them out.” For Sheats, throwing money at only one area like healthcare or education won’t do anything to solve housing predicaments. It’s going to take a system-wide reform before the community will see improvements. In her opinion, collaboration between community members and policy makers will be key to procuring safe, affordable housing alternatives for Maine residents.

Amy Smith discussed her experiences as a landlord and founder of Healthy Homeworks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building healthy homes and relationships between low income tenants and landlords. Smith is committed to providing safe and healthy living conditions for her tenants, but notes that it isn’t always easy. “It is really hard to create and maintain safe and affordable housing,” says Smith, “The health and safety of thousands of Lewiston residents relies on the health and safety of very, very old housing stock.” The real estate in Lewiston is dated, and inadequate conditions can lead to serious health complications.

As well as talking about the challenges of being an effective landlord, Smith described some of the difficulties her tenants have faced with housing assistance. The Section 8 Housing Voucher is one of the best options low income families have for housing assistance, but it isn’t perfect. The waiting list is very long, and once someone reaches the point where they can pay their full rent the assistance is taken away. “After just a few months at that level, your voucher is done, and you’re left without a safety net,” says Smith. If a person loses their job, or something else goes wrong, they’re back at the end of the waiting list. Smith recommends policy reform for housing assistance.

Both Bettyann Sheats and Amy Smith are role-model landlords who strive to provide affordable and safe housing for their clients. As Patricia Ender – an Attorney for Pine Tree Legal, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to justice and fairness for low income Mainers – says, “Landlords provide an essential service, and good landlords are worth their weight in gold.” Following that statement, Ender shared some horror stories from cases she has had dealing with housing discrimination and sexual harassment. Ender said that housing insecurity creates a scenario where tenants are very vulnerable to sexual harassment from landlords, owners, and neighbors. Ender also described the prevalence of housing discrimination based on race.

Thankfully, there are many opportunities for Bates students to get involved in Lewiston housing concerns. All three speakers agree that it is important to embrace the Lewiston community. Students can attend community meetings dealing with housing issues. Students can also be on the lookout for internships at nonprofits that deal with affordable housing, and the Harward Center is always a good place to look if you want to get involved.

 

White Colonial Amnesia

This administration, and the American people at large, have time and again shown that they hate immigrants of color.

Trump’s administration has boisterously supported banning refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East and, more recently, Honduras and Central America. The president recently announced his plans to violate the 14th Amendment and cancel birthright citizenship for the children of non-citizens in the US. Earlier this year, we witnessed thousands of children locked in concentration camps after being separated from their parents by ICE, a process still happening as I write this article.

In response to this white nationalist agenda has come a strong, pro-immigrant reaction. Well-meaning white liberals across the country have rightfully denounced the fascist practices of immigration enforcement. They have tweeted and hashtagged that the United States is a nation founded, built, and sustained by immigrants, of whom we citizens are all descendants. A viral photo that circulated this 4th of July showed a white woman holding a sign that read “What’s your American heritage,” to which the only answerable options were Native Americans, slaves, refugees, and/or immigrants.

This idea is echoed by pieces of pop culture like the hit musical “Hamilton.” Its most famous line goes “immigrants, we get the job done” in an exchange between Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette, portrayed by two men of color. This narrative aims to paint the United States as a nation of immigrants, for immigrants, and by immigrants since its very beginnings in the 1700s. But these talking points omit an entirely different, much less picturesque group: colonizers.

There are still many white Americans whose ancestors came here during the 16th-17th centuries from England, France, and the Netherlands. These settlers, although often escaping adversity and poverty themselves, did not come here en masse as peaceful workers seeking to better this country. They settled and stole land previously inhabited by First Nations peoples, thousands of whom were killed by gunfire and invasive plagues. Many others were sold into slavery up and down the Atlantic.

These Europeans were extensions of a larger imperial project that continues to lead to the slaughter of indigenous communities to this day. From the perspective of First Nations people, these were not wayward immigrants pursuing the American dream. Men like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson were not “immigrants” or the “descendants” of immigrants, but colonizers on indigenous land.

I’m not saying every single European who came to colonial North America was a bloodthirsty conqueror. Furthermore, millions of white Americans do in fact have noble ancestry stories. Many of our ancestors came from Ireland, Poland, Germany, Italy, and beyond to escape poverty, religious persecution, and ethnic conflict to build a better life in the 19th century. Many Latinx communities were already living here, since much of the American West was Mexican and Spanish Territory during the same period.

Today, however, in our attempts to show solidarity with immigrants of color, we whitewash US history and do not deconstruct what being an “immigrant” really means. This idea that the Founding Fathers and the white Americans who came after them were all immigrants like today’s asylum seekers excludes the perspective and experiences of First Nations people.

This narrative about immigration absolves white liberals, myself included, of taking responsibility for the systemic benefits these conquistadores set up in their earliest stages. Worst of all, the viral picture previously mentioned tries to include First Nations people in the story of America’s heritage but excludes the colonial legacy that actively attempts to expunge them from this country.

We, white Americans, must do all we can to resist deportations, free all prisoners in immigration camps, and reunite children with their families. But we cannot turn immigration into a colorblind issue, as it is anything but. We cannot act like all our ancestors came to this land on equal moral footing.

 

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