Category Archives: Class + Socioeconomics

South Africa Feature | Black Youth

The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education

Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.

Read

Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)

Additional

The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)

(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

South Africa Feature | Low-Income & Working-Class Black

The Entrenched Legacy of Housing Segregation in Cape Town

Like many global metropolises, Cape Town faces conflicts over how to secure housing rights for low- and middle-income households inflected by histories of racist social engineering. Cape Town’s situation is complicated by the legacy of housing apartheid in South Africa, which continues to render historically white-only neighborhoods financially inaccessible for many black households and threatens to uproot others as the high tide of gentrification approaches. A number of media outlets have recently examined the persistence of housing segregation in the city and political and guerrilla efforts to promote inclusive urban planning and secure affordable housing rights for black Capetonians.

Read

‘End spatial apartheid’: why housing activists are occupying Cape Town” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Profile: How gentrification is creating a new apartheid in South Africa” (The National | May 2017)

We must end Cape Town’s housing ‘apartheid’ – think-tank” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp, via The Guardian)

Pakistan Feature | Women & Girls

The Endless Labors of Pakistan’s Debt-Bound Women

A form of indentured servitude persists in the vast fields of Pakistan’s poorest regions, where families labor on lands to pay off debts whose balance never seems to decrease. But while men may find their “payments” limited to hard labor, women and girls find themselves vulnerable not only to physical labor, but to domestic, sexual, and even marital labor forced under conditions of extreme duress.  Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls trafficked as a result of these debts, sold off to predatory landowners and forced to convert to Islam. The Associated Press examines the conditions faced by the more than 2 million Pakistanis living in what human rights organizations have called modern-day slavery and the particular indignities to which women and girls are subjected.

Read:
A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)

(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)

India News | Women

Indian state strengthens property rights for slum-dwelling women
  • Women living in slums in the state of Maharashtra will now hold ownership rights equal to men thanks to a new land title plan.
  • The plan comes as the government seeks to regularize slums in the state, giving families land titles with joint ownership between marital partners.
  • Though the development has been lauded, advocates warn that women continue to struggle to exercise equal rights once gained, with lack of education and intimidation perpetuating gender-based legal inequalities.

Read more:
India’s Maharashtra state to give women slum dwellers joint ownership rights” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Image Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Iran News | Class

Executive pay leaks stir outrage in Iran
  • Leaks of executive compensation at state-owned firms led to controversy when local media revealed some business leaders were receiving dozens of times the amount of pay the average Iranian household received.
  • Iranian law dictates that the top government salary should not exceed seven times the amount of the lowest paid, but bonuses and additional incentives have at times been used to skirt that requirement.
  • Four public bank chiefs have been fired in the wake of the revelations as Iranians continue to wait for the economic benefits of the lifting of international sanctions in 2015.

Read more:
Executive pay stirs outrage, becomes political issue in Iran” (Reuters)
Iran sacks bank chiefs amid uproar over high salaries” (BBC)
Four Iranian Bank Chiefs Fired Over Salaries Scandal” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

U.S. Feature | Homeless Seniors

The Changing Face of American Homelessness

A bulge of homeless baby-boomers has been making its way through the nation’s aging pipeline, with more than 300,000 homeless people in the U.S. now over the age of 50. From the recessions and zero-tolerance drug policies of the ’70s and ’80s to contemporary wage stagnation and affordable housing shortages exacerbated by unchecked urban gentrification, many who came of age during the social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s have struggled to maintain their footing in the nation’s rapidly evolving cities. For many, chronic illness and disability have led to homelessness or struck as a result of it, prematurely introducing aging issues into an already vulnerable population. As a result, homeless seniors have found themselves at the center of an epidemic that is increasingly understood to intersect with other national problems, including weak safety nets for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

As national conversations framed through the lens of personal responsibility, urban threat, and moral failings compound the shame many experience in precarious situations, the aging homeless community has found itself not only marginalized on the streets, but within the discourse of homelessness in general, framed as it too often is in terms of workforce reintegration and social re-engagement. With the elderly homeless population expected to more than double by 2050, The New York Times recently examined the structural problems facing the aging homeless population and challenges affecting the development of effective long-term solutions.

Read:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless” (The New York Times)

Additional coverage:
Fast-aging homeless population may lead to public health crisis” (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2016)
Solving The Growing Health Needs Of America’s Elderly Homeless” (ThinkProgress, February 2016)
‘We Shouldn’t Have To Live Like This’” (NPR, March 2013)

Reports:
Aging and Housing Instability: Homelessness among Older and Elderly Adults (National HCH Council, September 2013)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless, September 2009)

Connect:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council

(Image Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

France News | Workers & Police

Massive protests against French labor reform bring about violence, arrests, strikes
  • Demonstrations have been ongoing since March, when labor and student unions organized against government proposals perceived as decreasing job security and negotiating power for workers.
  • More than 1,000 have been arrested during clashes with police in cities like Paris and Nantes that have seen more than 300 officers injured as protesters have alleged instances of police brutality, with police unions organizing counter-protests against anti-police violence.
  • After President François Hollande’s government survived a no-confidence vote, union leaders planned rolling strikes and continuing demonstrations across the country.

Read more:
Une semaine de grèves et manifestations pour relancer le mouvement contre la loi travail” (Le Monde, in French)
French police hit back at ‘anti-cop hatred’ after protest violence” (The Guardian)
French government shrugs off no-confidence vote, faces new strikes” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)