Award-winning music writer and cultural critic Jessica Hopper gives a raw backstage look into the marginalization of women and people of color in the music industry. In her lecture at Macaulay Honors College, Hopper, the author of “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic” said: “Writing is a way that we refuse to be silent.”
Good news for everyone getting older: Aging doesn’t mean becoming debilitated, Mary Ann Rosa, a nurse and professor at Queensborough Community College tells an audience there at a talk on the future of health care. The baby boom generation that once caused the nation to build new schools is now older and impacting health care. One emerging trend, Rosa says: telehealth care. Patients and physicians will be spending more time communicating via devices, helping patients manage their medical conditions without hospitalization.
The brutal armed conflict in Syria and lack of economic opportunity are just two reasons some 5,000 people a day leave their homes in the Middle East and Africa and risk their lives to try for a new start in Europe. Smuggling the refugees and economic migrants has become a major revenue source for organized crime — second only to drug smuggling, says Inigo Lambertini, deputy permanent representative of Italy to the U.N. The causes of the crisis are well-known, but potential solutions are harder to come by. Two U.N. officials and two professors hash out ideas before an audience at The Graduate Center. Peter Schuck, professor emeritus of Yale Law School, says there is an international humanitarian duty to protect the displaced or potentially displaced people, and EU countries have to figure out a burden-sharing scheme.
The Underground Railroad was part of a struggle for freedom that goes back at least to the Revolutionary War period, when the British offered black people their freedom in return for fighting for the Crown, historian Graham Hodges tells a Black Studies lecture at his alma mater, City College. The Railroad was really its “conductors,” who enabled “self-emancipated people and their striving for freedom” and fought kidnappers who trolled places like New York and grabbed black people off the street. One unsung freedom fighter is the subject of Hodges’ book, David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and The Underground Railroad in New York City. In 1838, Ruggles brought home a man from the docks of New York who had escaped from slavery in Maryland. He sheltered the man and eventually sent him on his way to a new life. That man was Frederick Douglass.
Racism remains troubling, but it is important for the black community to acknowledge that it still exists, says Ta-Nehisi Coates, acclaimed author of “Between the World and Me,” winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. In a frank discussion at Medgar Evers College on the legacy of racial violence in the U.S., Coates said: “It is a beautiful thing when you are firm, when you can stand and say, ‘You can’t lie to me. I know what happened.’…There’s a kind of freedom in that.”
What makes us special? “Being a public university in New York with a majority population of students of color gives CUNY a very, very special mission in the context of American life, something that most other universities do not share,” says Zujaja Tauqeer, who started at Brooklyn College and Macaulay Honors College, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, England, and is now at Harvard Medical School. “In the grand scheme of American life, it is very unique…What a privileged experience it is to be a New Yorker and go to a university with the kind of student population we have.”
Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Margo Jefferson talks about her memoir on growing up in an upper middle class black family in Chicago, a place she calls “Negroland.” “I wanted to record a particular way of living as a person of color…that sense that we were bordered on one side by the larger world of blacks, on the other side by white people,” Jefferson said. In conversation with Hunter College professor Karen Hunter, Jefferson delves into pressures on the black elite to look, speak, and act in a way that would be acceptable to whites.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg put himself in charge of NYC public schools, and Bill de Blasio has continued mayoral control, but is that the best thing for students? Public Advocate Letitia James co-hosted a group of experts at CUNY School of Law to discuss it. She said parents citywide feel the school system doesn’t hear their concerns, and the group discussed how to improve the system.
The longtime New York State Senate and Assembly leaders are indicted on corruption charges, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo names the attorney general a special prosecutor to look into civilian deaths caused by police. With these upheavals in the state legal universe, is this the year lawmakers finally grapple with sentencing reform and other changes to the criminal justice system? At John Jay College, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and other experts discuss the reform proposals.
If marriage equality can become politically acceptable in the United States, so can the concept of the government promoting income equality, Paul Krugman says — but he thinks it will take a cycle of three presidential elections — “the administration of Chelsea Clinton,” he jokes. To spread the wealth around, the feds can improve the climate for labor unions and set a living wage as the minimum wage, Krugman tells Graduate Center professor Janet Gornick, in a discussion of the book “Inequality: What Can Be Done?” by Anthony B. Atkinson.