Author: Lily Cichanowicz

© Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Understanding the Foundations of Trump’s America

This post was originally published on Deuxième Page. You can find it here.  Pour lire la version française de l’article, clique ici ! I have to admit, like too many of us I had been sure that Hillary Clinton would win. In fact, I even wrote a cautionary, critical article a couple of days before the election about what those who align themselves with the left need to do following her victory, working out the last fine details so it would be poised for release shortly after the winning results came in. Now that a few days have passed, I too recognize how truly out of touch I’ve allowed myself to be about the realities of the demographics in my country. I, like Clinton and the DNC, also assumed that the establishment would have its will one way or another and I had no idea how many people—even in my own family—would turn out to vote for Trump. There is a lot being said right now as people make sense of what is going on, but I want …

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The Refugee Crisis Exposes Our Civil Rights as Privileges

This post was originally published on the Social Science Works blog. You can find it here.  The current shift in Europe’s demographic composition towards a more diverse populace comprised of non-whites and higher proportions of Arab people has left lasting impacts on the continent’s social and political climates. There is no doubt that the magnitude of these effects can be attributed in equal measure to our society’s reactions against the influx of newcomers. For one, many fear that the abrupt introduction of so many people from different cultures could have detrimental impacts on the preservation of European values and resources across future generations. These fears exist so widely that they have resulted in the significant aggregation of support for rightwing political agendas. Yet, whether or not we choose to seize it, the shifting demography of Europe offers us an excellent opportunity to reflect more candidly on the true state of western society. Examining our responses to the influx of refugees on ‘our’ continent, for instance, will also help us to understand the kind and degree of threat that such newcomers actually …

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The Unbearable Lightness of Budapest

Budapest has accumulated its own sense of vibrant mystique over the years. It has had a tumultuous past that’s set it on its own distinct trajectory compared to other major cities in Europe like Paris, London, Rome, or even nearby Prague. When I went in mid-April, spring was just beginning to emerge. The weather was warm, and the trees were beginning to blossom. The many iconic buildings and sights were brought to life amidst tender pink blooms and budding leaves in shades of vivid green. Even walking around without spending a dime is enough reason to visit this place. Budapest speaks for itself. Getting the lay of the land Budapest straddles the Danube River. The Pest (pronounced “pesht”) side is the flatter half of the city where the Jewish Quarter is situated. Perched on a hill at the western bank of the Danube you will find the Buda side. From the vantage point of the Szechenyi Bridge, which connects the two halves of the city, you can see the historic Romanesque buildings standing with dignity against the …

Still Image from They Live, dir. John Carpenter (Universal, 1988), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ezRf4Zn4.

In the Weeks That Follow: Media Literacy and the Identity Politics of Terror

This post was originally published on Tangents USA. You can find it here.  The Need for Media Literacy To contextualize my thoughts on the way we form our perceptions of humanity at large, I have a confession to make. I tend to watch the people through the windows of the apartments across from mine. I know that’s pretty much the definition of voyeurism, but hear me out. I do it because their mundaneness is comforting. It reminds me that what I’m seeing is a far more accurate depiction of the daily goings-on of the people in my own world and beyond. It is a relief to know that the guy cooking a quick dinner and the couple watching television are perhaps more common occurrences than the overwhelming amount of horrific events that my TV, computer, radio, and social media accounts report as the norm. It causes me to wonder whether our worldviews and the ways that we shape our understandings of humanity have become increasingly informed by the media rather than by the daily goings-on …

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Venezia!

Conventional wisdom stands that in order get the most out of your trip to Venice, you have to let yourself get lost on its narrow streets. Come marvel at the dazzling contrast of its blue-green waters and the fading multicolored edifices whose foundations plunge directly into the Venetian Lagoon. You’ll find that there’s really no other place in Europe like this city with the sea pumping through its veins. Yes, almost every metropolitan area on the continent is steeped in a rich past, but in Venice this legacy is preserved most pristinely. Its buildings have aged elegantly, and not much else has been constructed in their place. It’s as if the spirit of Venice’s past is its present. Due to a dramatic push towards gentrification in the 80s, the historic areas of Venice only contain about 60,000 inhabitants. Since its real estate has become much too expensive for most of us, lots of buildings remain uninhabited. The result is that when you meander through Venice’s small side streets, linger over stone bridges, and take in its romantic ambiance you’ll be doing so essentially …

Cover Photo: The now-iconic photo accompanying so many “First World Problem” memes. Sources: http://bit.ly/1WqUNxi, http://bit.ly/1iUpFbu.

What’s the Real Problem with “First World Problems”?

This post was originally published on Tangents USA. You can find it here.  According to urbandictionary.com, “first world problems” are defined as “[p]roblems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” There is even an entire website dedicated to highlighting the petty complaints and struggles faced by people in the first world. The people I hear using this phrase are usually relatively socially conscious. I think the intentions behind this term are probably genuine and rooted in the desire to check their privilege. Still, this term is half-baked in its intentions, and I think we can do better in this realm of social consciousness. We need to examine the rhetoric involved in conversations surrounding privilege, the distribution of wealth, industrialized societies, and the global South. Specifically, I want to take this opportunity to consider the sorts of things that the phrase “first world problems” implies. As feminist and writer Laurie Penny recently wrote in her article, “Gender Neutral Language is Coming Here’s Why It Matters,” the terminology we use has …

Spokeswoman from a well-intentioned UNICEF commercial. Source: http://bit.ly/1EaQyRU

Altruism in the Midst of a Global Epidemic of Economic Exploitation

This post was originally published on Tangents USA. You can find it here.  Remember those commercials that used to be on TV in the 90s which played depressing montages of languid sub-Saharan African children with swollen bellies? Then some white lady would come on the screen and promise that for only fifty cents a day you could help solve poverty? Chances are you probably never signed up to save one of these sorrowful African children from hunger. Why is it that? Under the assumption that you’re still a decent human being that possesses some level of altruism, you were probably experiencing a combination things. Maybe you were too absorbed in your own daily problems to research the root causes of prevailing social issues and consciously act. Perhaps your budget was restricted. Possibly it was that commercials like these failed to fit within the bounds of our human capacity to feel empathy, as these distant faces appeared for fleeting seconds on TV screens. There are, no doubt, numerous factors that kept you from picking up your phone and calling the 1-800 number on behalf of someone thousands of miles away. …