Racial Profiling in the PNW

By: Madeleine Clow

This past June I was getting off my bus at the Greyhound Station in Boise, Idaho, to get my bag. The employee asked which bag was mine, I pointed, and he handed it to me, and as I was walking away a commotion began. The employee was sharing the handle of the bag begrudgingly with its rightful owner, a black man. The employee began shouting that the man was stealing the bag. The man protested that in fact, it was his bag and he could prove it if the employee would just release his property. The employee began thrashing the bag violently to get it away from the man while screaming that he was being harassed. After much struggle, with the man’s shirt torn off his body and one of his shoes strewn across the ground, the employee called the police. The police showed up to the scene and separately asked the men what had happened. Later the employee went back to work and the man was arrested with his bag, and his shirt was thrown away.

 

black-people-police-onyx-truth-620x398.jpg
Taken From: https://aintaboutthatlife.com/nypd-supervisor-racist-arrest-blacks/

I recorded on video the altercation that happened between the two men. I also wrote a witness statement and recorded a witness statement with the police. When I asked them, why the man was being arrested and the employee was free to go back to work they told me that it was due to a company policy technicality that the man apparently did not follow. He apparently did not have a check-in tag on his luggage. Therefore, it seemed, as though the ‘unidentified’ bag was being stolen. But, I didn’t have a tag on my luggage, and neither did other white passengers who didn’t get asked or have a second glance given to us when taking our bags.

When I watched that man be driven away in the cop car, hand cuffed and behind bars, I was frustrated. I was frustrated with the police for handling the situation poorly and giving the white guy the benefit of the doubt. I was frustrated because I knew that if that man had been white he would have been given his bag without a tag, and without a problem. I was frustrated because even though I told the truth and did the best to do the right thing, I was powerless.

Continue reading “Racial Profiling in the PNW”

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Work Place Entrapment

Not asking for it

“I did work at a mall in college- I think working retail/customer service is one of the most hideous jobs in the world.” – Jayma Mays (Actress/Singer)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have in worked in retail since high school, in almost every capacity. While I made some great connections while working at those places, the job of putting on a happy face and trying to help everyone is exhausting. And what made it worse? Even after I was at my job for two years and was trained as a manager, no one believed I, a young woman, knew anything.

They would ask to speak with the department managers, or in a few cases, ask if there was a man they could speak to. Both men and women have done this and are probably doing it somewhere right now, much to my chagrin. Most of us are familiar with this narrative, but unless you’ve worked a service job or talked intimately with someone who has faced these issues, you can’t imagine how retail employees feel trapped. I think it’s high time to shed a little light on this.

Every retailer store I’ve worked at uses the classic model “the customer is always right”. That’s not a bad way to treat people who have gotten a bum product or have questions, but it is very seldom true. The customer is not always right.

Correcting customers in the wrong is like herding cats. They could just go with it, they might realize what you’re trying to do, but most of them will go their own way or may snap at you. This creates fear of the customer, especially when they change very quickly.

You’re probably thinking, but wait, isn’t the company supposed to protect employees? Can’t management handle these situations?

Companies, say they can and managers can only handle so much and most of them aren’t even prepared to handle situations. Training videos might describe and demonstrate how to handle a grumpy customer or when to get a manager, but every situation is unique and management just can’t always be there. This creates both a feeling of independence and one of isolation.

Now for the most part there is hope—grumpy customers usually just vent or go to Customer Service or can be handed off to a department. The problem I have faced as a woman is when primarily male customers start to get to friendly, flirt, ask out, or in a few cases make blatantly sexual advancements. In my case, I’m lucky none of them have gotten physical, but that is not always the case.

I worked with a girl, we’ll call her Gene. Gene worked in a clothing store, and she was helping a man find some pants. Management was in a meeting and while we all had our radios on, we all had different projects in a fairly large store. Gene helped the man even though she could “feel his eyes wandering.” They talked for a while, because in the world of retail you want to get to know your customers to help them. He started making comments, trying to flirt. Gene felt uncomfortable but was polite, trying to keep things professional. He took this politeness as an invitation to ask her out. She declined. He got very mad and started yelling all sorts of obscenities which I heard, and I rushed over to ask the man as politely as possible to leave. He called me and the other mostly female workers other obscenities, and then management escorted him out of the building.

Now if you’re wondering why Gene didn’t radio for back-up initially, let me remind you. In retail/customer service positions, politeness is key. Presentation is key. You cannot be rude to a customer unless it is a last resort, because bad behavior on your part reflects poorly on the store, and in many places can get you into trouble. We had a good management team but it’s hard to call for back-up when your customer is standing right there watching your every move. In some cases, it’s genuinely terrifying. So radioing for back-up vaguely usually results in “What do you need?” “Is it a question I can answer?”, and when you don’t have a radio, you can’t just hand a customer off to someone else in the same way at all.

I can tell you that after this, we developed phrases, we had signals, and for a while we tried to help customers in pairs because it was so scary. There is no one you protect more than your friends at work, because they really do become your family.

The worst thing is though, while not to this extreme those little microaggressions that have made me as a woman uncomfortable happen every day, and retail workers have to put up with them. Eyes will look everywhere they shouldn’t, people will get asked if they have significant others, what they’re doing later, when they get off, etc. Certain regulars will pick you and go only through your line and say “See you later” in an all-too-familiar tone. The worst things that happened to me were verbal, but I refused to interact with those customers again, and I told my management so. Did I still have to interact with them if there was no one else around? Yes. Did I plan my quickest escape route as soon as I registered they were in the store? Yes. Did I smile and do my job despite my skin crawling? Yes.

Is politeness while someone working a reason to flirt with that person?

No, it is not. It never is. They’re doing their jobs and their job should not include compromising themselves so that you leave happy.

Or at least that’s what every retail handbook says.

Excited to Share Our Voices

a fav
The author at the Idaho state capital.

By Vicky Diloné

Hi! I’m Vicky, an aspiring journalist and student here at UI. Ever since I was a young teen, I’ve felt a special calling to help women and children. One of the biggest vices in society today is the devaluation of women and the gifts they uniquely bring to the world. With these gifts come unique struggles, especially regarding women’s health and pregnancy. I believe it is helpful to have a community of women helping women. By listening to all women’s voices, the values that come from our different cultures, the common goals we share, and even the differences we have, we are able to support and build each other up. This is why I decided to write for the Women’s Center, not only to share my opinion, but to share the voices of all women at UI.

Here’s a bit of my personal history and like all Latinos, it starts with family. My parents were both immigrants to this country. My mom came to L.A. from Mexico when she was two. My dad arrived in New York City from the Dominican Republic at the age of fourteen. They both joined the Navy, were stationed in Virginia, met at a salsa club, and had my brother and I. They are some of the strongest people I know, especially my mom. They fought to make their dreams a reality and in turn helped build a future for their children. They are my everything and they continue to teach me how to love with truth and compassion.

Being a Navy brat, I was given the opportunity to travel across the country and abroad. My favorite childhood moments are from when I lived in Japan–walking through the city, visiting temples, and meeting people from everywhere! I’m most happy when I am travelling and learning new cultures and I could not imagine living in one place for more than five years. Even though it’s sad leaving a place where I’ve spent time with a great community, I have been able to meet so many people from all walks of life.

Continue reading “Excited to Share Our Voices”

Setting a Moral Social Standard

By Sierra Rothermich

 

AHHHHHH
There Is No Excuse

The University of Idaho athletics department failed to take proper action when three female students reported sexual harassment and assault complaints against a football player, Jahrie Level. It took five years for the athletics department to admit it.

On November 14, 2012, police cited Level for providing alcohol to two underage females. According to the Idaho Statesman, the police report said one of the female students was taken to the hospital with a 0.36 blood alcohol content, bruising on her neck and knees, and scratches on her back. The police investigated the situation as a possible assault, but only pursued alcohol charges for Level and the female student. She told police she didn’t remember what happened and, her mother said she reported the incident to the University of Idaho Dean of Students office. Athletic Director, Rob Spear, said he didn’t know what happened until 2018.

According to the Idaho Statesman, six instances of harassment from Level were reported by female student athletes, Mairin Jameson and Maggie Miller. On April 8, 2013, Miller reported verbal harassment to the police and head football coach, Paul Petrino, after Level told her to come over so he could “slap the sh** out of her.” Although it’s reflected in the police report, Petrino claims he doesn’t remember. Spear said he was never informed.

Continue reading “Setting a Moral Social Standard”

Choosing Not to Report

By Makayla Sundquist

Trigger Warning: This post discusses multiple survivors’ sexual assault experiences and may be triggering for others who have also experienced sexual assault. 

A woman holds a sign that depicts the words "#MeToo"
The #MeToo movement created more awareness about the presence of sexual assault. Photo from Poynter.com

If you have been keeping up with the University of Idaho news lately, you will notice the attention a 2013 sexual assault case is getting. The Idaho Statesman recently discovered a survivor’s testimony on a blog site, and ran a story that covered the investigation. (Read here). Long story short, the survivors did not receive the help from the athletic department they needed. Both people involved were athletes at UI, but the athletic department only protected the assaulter. The survivors then went to the Women’s Center, and the staff there took the case to the Dean of Students for an investigation. The assaulter was no longer allowed to play football at UI. However,  he is now playing for a team in New York (which I do not agree with, but that is a conversation for another day).

Throughout all of this buzz, I have heard some comments questioning why the survivor did not go directly to the Dean of Students. Some of these comments were in poor taste. Others were genuinely curious. Even though the two women who were sexually assaulted at UI chose to report their assault to the police and the athletic department, it is common for survivors to never report. But why?

Continue reading “Choosing Not to Report”

Pro Planned Parenthood

By Makayla Sundquist

Let’s talk about Planned Parenthood.

“Abortion Clinic!” you scream.

“Murderers!” you cry.

“They sell fetal tissue!” you claim.

(That last one has been proven false, read here).

Sign reading "I stand with Planned Parenthood" on a pink background
Common signed used to support Planned Parenthood.

There are many myths about Planned Parenthood, and there are people who believe their clinics should not be established because they perform abortions. Before we continue, abortion is legal in the United States. It has been since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. Planned Parenthood provides women with legal abortions. Do you want women to die from coat hanger abortions? No? Neither do I, let’s move on. Some of the clinics only provide a medication abortion, a pill taken up to 10 weeks that blocks progesterone and causes the fetus to detach from the uterine wall, but other clinics provide surgical abortions. In case you were wondering, the Planned Parenthood in Pullman only provides a medication abortion. However, abortions are only a small piece of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. The most common reason people access Planned Parenthood is to receive STI testing/treatment. 

What makes Planned Parenthood so amazing is that it provides a wide variety of health-related services, and not all of them are related to sexual health. Fun Fact: you can go receive a sports physical at the Planned Parenthood in Pullman, WA. Then again, if you do need some “down there” assistance, Planned Parenthood is a fantastic resource. They provide STI tests, pap smears, pregnancy tests, UTI treatment, and even vasectomies. That’s right, men, Planned Parenthood can be your health center as well! And it is starting to be. In 2014, PP clinics served 250,000 men, which is a 76% increase from a decade ago. The Pullman Planned Parenthood helps men with erectile dysfunction, male infertility, premature ejaculation, and routine physicals. Other Planned Parenthood Clinics can screen men for testicular and prostate cancer.

Continue reading “Pro Planned Parenthood”

Truth is Power

Women's rights activist Tarana Burke wearing a "Me too" shirt
Activist Tarana Burke

By Sierra Rothermich

“I don’t watch the news, it’s all negative.” Comments like these are said every day to justify society’s apathetic attitude towards the press. But if everything on the news is negative, shouldn’t that spark our passion for combating these horrifying issues? Why would we choose to neglect the social injustice we see in media? We cannot afford to be ignorant of what’s going on in the world.

According to Sasa Vucinic’s TedTalk, 83-percent of the population on this planet lives in societies without independent press. This means 83-percent of the world doesn’t truly know what’s going on in their countries. These people are deprived of knowing their own reality. In the United States, the press and media give us the power to tell the truth. Continue reading “Truth is Power”