The CTAA article discusses different ways to evaluate moral arguments. One that stood out to me was egoism. Egoism is an argument form where any action by any person is moral as long as it creates the most possible pleasure for that individual. The article states that egoists are selfish, and selfishness is regarded as a moral flaw, therefore egoism is not moral. I think that egoism is a good argument form however.
If everyone is doing what is best for them, then each person creates their own happiness. If everyone creates happiness for themselves, then everyone will be happy. This also is less stress on each individual because they only have to be concerned with one person- themselves. If a person cannot do actions that creates the most happiness for themselves then that is their fault. Therefore, Egoism is a good moral argument form.
I went to the race talks in with Dr. Crutcher THC. They were really fascinating to hear everyone’s stories and different experiences. Though I am personally a white student and these acts don’t immediately impact me, they still shook me to my core. The fact that people on this campus had the audacity to write those actually astounds and disgusts me. I was really moved while listening to all of the stories because I realized that I have so much to learn. As a white person, I need to be an ally, and that doesn’t mean just not committing racist acts myself but standing up and speaking out. I have to learn how to be a better ally to people of color and how to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Hearing the anger and the disappointment in the stories really helped me realize that this is not just a person of color problem, this is a campus-wide problem that we all must do our part in because that is the only way that anything will ever change on this campus. All I can hope for at this moment in time is that I learn how to be better and that every other white person on this campus learns how to be better so that we can support the people on this campus who are fighting for change.
This ties into what we are talking about in class not only because we talked about these events, but also because when we think of leaders we often think of white men. Throughout my leadership and the humanities course we often came back to the same issue of societal norms. As a country we have decided that the quintessential leader is a tall, white, goodlooking, man. Which is detrimental to everyone who does not fit that mold. I want to use the advantage that I was born with to learn about and try to support people who were not born with the same advantages. I’m not sure how to do that and I am just starting to learn but I believe that if everyone just tries to learn about different experiences and use that knowledge to become an ally, then the United States may become a better place for people of color because right now we are not doing good enough.
On February 5th, I attended the One Book, One Richmond lecture where Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician responsible for leading the fight against lead in the water of Flint, Michigan presented on her work. In conversation with Dr. Karen Remley, Dr. Hanna-Attisha discussed her book, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resilience, and Hope” and explained her choice of including her history as an immigrant family. I appreciate how she chose to immediately honor her roots and that she chose to highlight that it was “impossible to tell the story without saying where [she] came from”. Her family immigrated to the United States for the American dream, the idea of freedom and the power of democracy. As someone who grew up surrounded by the Latinx community, I could share in that pride and felt even more invested into her story.
The most important part of the event was learning how what they are implementing in Flint, Michigan is beginning to gain national attention. Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s office is located on the second floor of a farmer’s market, so she began to issue “nutrition prescriptions”. This $15 coupon could be used for fruits and veggies to help encourage children to improve their nutrition. This program will soon be replicated across the U.S. They also started the Flint Kids Read program, funded by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, to overcome their previous statistic of 1 book per 300 children. In many ways, Flint is working to lift each other up and invest in their future through health, education and social justice. In the end, I was grateful to hear the words of wisdom Dr. Hanna-Attisha shared and resonated with her push for [college students] to pursue our own passions. She stated the best way to help Flint would be to find a social justice issue we are passionate about and open our eyes to the problems around us.
Tonight, February 5th, I attended the annual One Book, One Richmond Lecture in Camp Concert Hall at 7:00 PM. The lecture was with author, pediatrician, and environmental rights activist Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Mona is the author of What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resilience, and Hope in the American City and she came to the University of Richmond with Dr. Karen Remley, former CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Two empowering women with incredible expertise in the field of public health, they came to campus with the intent of discussing What the Eyes Don’t See as well as the importance of environmental justice. Dr. Hanna-Attisha came to the United States from Iraq when she was four years old, and she noted in her talk that she has always been aware of the injustices around her, so she wanted to combine her passion for social justice with medicine. As she noted, “you are always a part of history, and history repeats itself,” so entering the field of pediatrics Mona knew she wanted to make both social, environmental, and medical leaps and bounds towards equity, for children in particular during her time on this Earth.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha never knew that lead could contaminate water– as you do not physically see it as a contaminant of drinking water and the physical detriments do not appear for decades after consuming it. Residents in Flint, Michigan have an average life expectancy that is 15 years lower than that of other districts in Michigan– evidence that zip codes can predict health– and this has to do with the water crisis there. Environmental justice pertains to leadership in that the children and families living in underfunded and redlined districts– a consequence of race, class, and gender issues– and Dr. Hanna-Attisha felt that it was her civic duty to protect children among the most vulnerable communities. Environmental justice is also tied to political leadership and followership; as she pointed out, the “most essential aspect of democracy is voting,” so we can make a change in unjust environmental and climate issues pervading the United States and around the world.
I highly recommend What the Eyes Don’t See to anyone interested not only in the Flint, MI water crisis but environmental issues in general and their relationship to social justice.
On Wednesday, January 29th, I attended the Eco-Corridor Mini Symposium, which was a presentation of the senior capstone projects of several Environmental Studies and Geography majors followed by breakout discussion groups. If you don’t know, the Eco-Corridor/Gambles Mill Corridor is the patch of land behind the Print Shop that the Office for Sustainability has been working on for the last year. It was often used as a running path and there were a few community gardens in the middle, but nothing significant had been done with it. Hearing these projects were especially relevant for me, because the spring project for my SSIR is to present proposals for more projects for the Eco-Corridor. The projects presented ranged from introducing a freshwater mussel population to regulate the water quality of Westham Creek which runs through the Corridor, to taking drone images of the land before and after construction to use for advertising and possibly to create LIDAR data. My group is focused on the physical restoration of the area. Our project idea right now is to 3D print a topographical map of the Corridor to put at the entrance. Some other group’s ideas are a pollinator meadow (which is actually already in effect), a farmer’s market/5k to achieve community outreach, and signage throughout the Corridor.
I’m very excited for the official opening on Earth Day, because the purpose of the Eco-Corridor is so students can have an outdoor/green space to retreat to on campus. There will be a newly renovated path that leads right to the river (which I think a lot of students miss out on), outdoor classrooms, community gardens, picnic tables, and an area by the creek called Little Westham Beach for general recreational use. Although the Office for Sustainability is the main driver behind this project, many of the ideas and actions came from students. It gives me some hope that the University sees value in spaces that are created by and for students.
On Thursday, January 30th, I attended the Community Meeting held to hear students express their concerns and feelings about the racist acts of last weekend. I had also attended the open mic event held on the Forum that Tuesday, and the stories and messages I heard at both were some of the most powerful. I cried at both, because although I was aware of the racism on campus beforehand, I had no idea of the awful walls and prejudice some students have to face. The story that particularly stuck with me was told by a senior girl from China (I don’t remember anyone’s names, I’m awful at names) about how she never felt comfortable in the business school, as the atmosphere is dominated by white people in Greek life. Even the professors are mostly white old men. I also avoid B-school if I can, but then she revealed that she was a B-school major. I was absolutely floored; imagine not feeling welcome in your home school for four! years! And the tour guides who are POC who talked about how they now feel conflicted when they give tours, because what are they supposed to say if a POC family asks them what their child can expect? Racist slurs written on doors? Immediate segregation dependent on whether or not they participate in Greek life?
There are so many problems on this campus that sit at the University’s core, and although it took way too long to have these conversations become campus-wide, I desperately hope they continue. I hope the University listens to the student voices that need to be heard, and as someone who benefits from white privilege, I will put in more effort in supporting my fellow students so that Richmond can actually one day feel like one big community.
On January 27th, I attended Pure Performance by George Mumford, a mindfulness and performance expert. Despite the event beginning with a video montage of Mumford giving televised interviews, speeches and other professional settings, his entire lecture was unplanned. He repeatedly stated that he doesn’t plan his speeches and lets “the moment” dictate where the conversation will go. He started the night guiding the full Ukrop auditorium through breathing exercises and then spoke in a storytelling manner for about forty-five minutes. His overall message was to be loving to one another and several of his mantras were rooted in religion such as, “Be still, and know…” and seeing “self in other, other in self”.
He did not use a presentation, which at times made it difficult to follow along, but my favorite part of the event was the Q&A. This is where his wisdom and expertise shined, and where I learned to think of the world around me in different ways. For example, a student asked for advice on how college students can be kinder to themselves and Mumford responded by saying, “Treat yourself the way you treat others…realize you’re a masterpiece…believe who you want to be (i.e. generous, patient) is who you already are.” In the end, I felt it was a refreshing message given the state of the campus community and appreciated his emphasis on how we should treat others.