Zara Cadoux Takes on Amazon

Zara Cadoux has been a rabble-rouser from the start.

“I began thinking about power and justice as a kid,” Zara said. “I was one of three siblings growing up in a suburban household in Westchester, and although we were quite different from each other, we all had a similar critical lens on the world. We got that from our mom.  She is from Sweden and has more of a socialist outlook. She was always questioning things, saying ‘Why is this happening? This seems very unfair.’ I remember her saying, ‘Your health care is tied to your job? How is that not exploitation?’ She taught us to ask questions and not accept the first answer we got.”

Growing up in the affluent village of Hastings-on-Hudson, Zara began to realize that her public school was better-resourced than schools in nearby Yonkers and the Bronx. So like her mother taught her, she started asking questions. “I asked a number of adults about what I saw as inequities and inequalities between the education I was getting compared to kids who lived in the Bronx. And they would say, ‘Don’t think about that. You’re a hard worker, you deserve to be in this school.’ And I would reply, ‘I know that I’m a good student. What I’m asking is why does my school have this but that school doesn’t have it? Why do I go to a school that is predominantly white, and other schools are mostly Black and Brown and don’t have the same resources? Can someone please explain that to me?’ And overall, adults could not explain it to me in a way that satisfied me.”

“When I went to college at Vassar I kept trying to understand the world through a racial lens, looking at race and white supremacy,” Zara continued. “I got a degree in geography and anthropology—I never realized the connection before, but I think I went into geography because I was trying to understand the world spatially. I was doing human geography.”

“I graduated in 2009 and like a lot of my peers, I had to scramble for a job due to the recession. I was offered a job with Americorps in Baltimore so I moved there, but they lost their grant funding before I could start work. I decided to stay, however, and started building relationships and community. I love Baltimore—it’s where a lot of things crystallized for me with regard to social justice issues.”

During her ten years in Baltimore, Zara continued to explore issues of power and justice. “I started a business with several other anti-oppression facilitators, doing trainings and workshops. A lot of my focus was on organizing white women in the nonprofit sector to make racial justice demands, taking collective action to make changes in those programs. That was based on my experience in the nonprofit sector, where I saw myself reflected as a white woman in a majority Black city. I knew we needed to take collective action.”

Continue reading Zara Cadoux Takes on Amazon

Partnerships Expand Education for Worker Cooperatives!

 The semester has taken off with some strong partnership with the Community and Worker Ownership Project.

In early September we presented at the US Federation of Worker Coops at an in-person conference in Philadelphia where we partnered with many to explore the ways and reasons to pursue unionized cooperatives. Speakers included Richard Wolff from Democracy @ Work along with SEIU 1199, Cooperative Home Care Associates, United Food and Commercial Workers, Coop Cincy and  SEIU United Healthcare West! We were joined by Kafui Attoh, another faculty member from SLU.  Continue reading Partnerships Expand Education for Worker Cooperatives!

California DREAMer: Pedro Freire Heads West with an M.A. from SLU (and a lot of ideas!)

For Pedro Freire (Class of 2022, MALS) the journey has been long from South America to Connecticut to CUNY to California—and often arduous. But now he can see how all his experiences, good and bad, have brought him here, to the University of California Riverside Ph.D. program in ethnic studies.

“I came to the US with my parents when I was four, from Ecuador. My father was an aviation technician and my mother was a cook for the Ecuadorian embassy. Back in the ‘80s there was a neoliberal restructuring of the economy and the airlines got privatized. Austerity and privatization, typical appendages of neoliberal capitalism, worsened the economy and my parents decided to emigrate to the United States. We made the huge move first to Queens, NY, then my father got hired by a printing press and we moved to Connecticut.”

“Growing up undocumented was tough,” Pedro admitted. “I’ve met a lot of people who are undocumented and are struggling—not being able to get IDs or a driver’s license—so I can understand what they are going through. There’s a lot of anxiety, bordering on depression. But at the same time, I feel kind of privileged to have the opportunity to have DACA status and not be fearful of ICE or deportation. Of course, DACA folks also lack access to certain social services and aid such as food stamps or financial aid for students for instance.”

Pedro paused. “On second thought, maybe privilege isn’t the best choice of words. There is a bit of dystopic irony here, that one would resort to calling the prospect of not being detained and deported by ICE a privilege. Maybe I’m just jumbling words, but what I’m trying to say is that even though I’m in a more privileged position than fellow undocumented folks, DACA still serves no long-term pathway to citizenship and those without DACA are in an even more precarious predicament. If it were up to me, militarized borders wouldn’t be a thing and the free flow of migration would not be restricted, but the imperialist capitalist world system won’t allow that.”

“Many immigrants must deal with the fears of being separated from their friends, families and loved ones. This shouldn’t be happening, but sadly, the reality is that borders exist to restrict the movement of people and goods for the benefit of capitalists, and no solid reforms or a pathway to citizenship have been won so far.” Continue reading California DREAMer: Pedro Freire Heads West with an M.A. from SLU (and a lot of ideas!)

Changing Workers’ Lives through Education

(This article originally appeared on Queens College website https://www.qc.cuny.edu/communications/changing-workers-lives-through-education/)

Changing Workers’ Lives through Education

Gregory Mantsios’s appointment in January 2018 as founding dean of the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU), following his 34 years of service to CUNY that began at Queens College, signifies the better part of a lifetime dedicated to using the tools of education to help working people get ahead.

The programs he established at CUNY, and before that at Empire State College/SUNY, have provided thousands of union members and adult learners—many of them non-traditional students from poor and working-class backgrounds—with the means to better their station in life by earning college degrees.

As Mantsios freely observes, but for an historic event, he might not have completed a college degree himself, given the challenging circumstances of his early life.

“I grew up in Jamaica, Queens,” he explains. “I was raised by a single mother. My father had died when I was an infant. It was a rather poor area: I lived on a block with single-room occupancy housing and a lot of alcoholism that later went over to drugs.”

“I was kind of a street kid,” he continues, “but I managed to do well enough in Jamaica High School that I got myself into Queens College’s evening program, which was at that time called the School of General Studies.”

Continue reading Changing Workers’ Lives through Education

2022 Commencement

VALEDICTORIAN
INDEEVARI KUMARASINGHE

Indeevari Kumarasinghe, B.A. Urban & Community Studies, is a Principal Administrative Associate II at New York City HRA, Office of Quality Assurance & Fiscal Integrity. During her 12 year career with the City of New York, she has also served as an Eligibility Specialist at Medical Insurance and Community Service Administration. She also worked as a Certified Application Counselor for the New York State of Health Market Place and as a Clerical Associates III at New York City HRA, SNAP Fair Hearing. Continue reading 2022 Commencement

Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

Marlon Bailey doesn’t plan to retire. Ever.

“I’ve got too many things to do,” he said. “I just plan on evolving and seeing where the journey takes me.”

Marlon grew up in Jamaica and says he caught the political bug from his mom, Ruby. “She was what you call here a district leader, for the Jamaica Labor Party. She believed that the government must protect and make conditions better for its citizens, she was very outspoken about it. Our family was complicated, some supported the opposition People’s National Party, so there were some pretty lively conversations. But politics never interfered with our family relationships. Love and loyalty always came first.” Continue reading Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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