WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Local Commentaries

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.

Last week I led my last regular classes of the semester.  For all of my courses, whether they are introductory level or advanced seminars, I like to leave my students with a solid idea of what they have learned and how they can carry their newly acquired knowledge and skill-sets outside of the classroom and into their futures. I generally begin by asking students to reflect—both individually and in groups—on how their knowledge about anthropology and the skills associated with the discipline have grown over the course of the semester.  Where are they now versus where they started?  And what are the most important insights they have gained over the course of their studies?

Resilient WIU Students – I Salute You!

Apr 25, 2018

Working past challenges, even when you are facing failure, is tough. But I see our students do it every day on the WIU campus.

Equal Pay Day 2018

Apr 18, 2018
Rich Egger

April 10 was Equal Pay Day. This is the date representing how far into 2018 women have to work in order to catch up to what men were paid in 2017.  Equal Pay day shows the gender pay gap between men and women.   As a group, women make about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For women of color, that number drops: 63 cents for black women, whose Equal Pay Day isn’t until August 20, and 54 cents for Latinas who must work until November 1 for their Equal Pay Day. The gender pay gap exists in every profession, every occupation, at every level of education, in every country. 

Last week I spent four days in Philadelphia at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings.  I must admit, that while I don't normally lack self-confidence, these meetings always leave me feeling a bit like a charlatan.  The SFAA is a professional organization that brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds (not only anthropology) whose work seeks to make a positive effect on the quality of life in our world today. 

Why Recognize Minority Health Month

Apr 4, 2018

The U.S. is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation. It is a nation comprised of people from all walks of life, not only in terms of race and ethnicity, but also in terms of religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability levels, income levels, and experiences in the armed forces, to name a few. As such, although unfortunate, the U.S., as well as other developed and developing nations, experiences a wide disparity in terms of the disease burden among members of its population.

Building Connections

Mar 21, 2018

As a scientist, I study complex networks built by microorganisms. These connections are essential for the stability and functioning of our planet. I am continuously surprised by how we overlook the many lessons we can learn from nature to improve our own communities.

Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Me

Mar 14, 2018

I am delighted by the response to the movies Wonder Woman and Black Panther.  Both are inspiring to children. Both movies show powerful role models for women  and people of color as leaders with strength and compassion.  Both are celebrations of the importance of representation in pop culture. It really does matter to see someone just like you in the role of hero.

Values

Mar 7, 2018

Mark Manson, a blogger and NY Times best-selling author writes, "Pain in all its forms is our body's most effective means of spurring action."   There has been a lot of pain in my world lately.  The grief of discovering too late that was no farm legacy to leave to my daughters.  The agony of watching yet another school shooting while our politicians sit idly by and do nothing to ensure the safety our children.  And most recently, the visceral anger I feel after discovering that administrators in the Macomb School District appear to have blatantly violated the law and the trust of students, parents, and community members.  

Rich Egger

Last week various media sources reported on the lawsuit filed against the Macomb School District on behalf of two female students who allege they were sexually harassed, assaulted and raped at Macomb High School and that Macomb School District Administration did nothing to make the girls feel safe or have their concerns heard. This became so problematic that they both left Macomb High School, and one eventually the town and district, to remove themselves from their perpetrator.

Science Communication

Feb 21, 2018

As a PhD student at WIU studying environmental science I realize there are many skills required for one to become a successful scientist.  Graduate student and post doc training often requires the ability to learn and master extremely difficult protocols and techniques. This training tends to produce individuals who are highly specialized and extremely competent but often lack the time to communicate with the general public.

If I Were a Man

Feb 14, 2018

If I were a man, I'd be embarrassed and insulted right now. 

Over the past few months, thousands of women have spoken publicly about what's been done to them - sexual assault, physical and verbal harassment, derogatory comments -because they are women. 

The Grieving

Feb 7, 2018
Courtesy photo

Grieving; "To feel grief, or great sorrow."

Death to me is something that happens every day. Whether be a plant, or animal, people and things die all the time. My mama says that it's a part of life, so on January 20, 2018 when my grandpa Opa died, my reaction was grief.

Brett Weinstein/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

In 1965, shortly after the assassination of Malcom X, poet, writer, and artist Amiri Baraka opened the Black Arts Repertory Theater/School (BARTS) in Harlem, a move that by many is viewed as the start of the Black Arts Movement.

Being Singular Plural

Jan 17, 2018
TSPR

I’ve been influenced by educators, philosophers, NPR commentators, any number of individuals on local as well as national and international levels. They've prompted me to look at the world and at relationships from many perspectives.

Porque no veine mas mujeres a mis charlas? "Why don't more women come to my meetings?" I complained to Doña Columbina after returning from yet another sparsely attended community forestry gathering in the rural mountain village I had been placed in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was fresh out of training and ready to change the world. It was the spring of 1991 and having survived the first few months of culture shock in the Dominican Republic, I was ready to get to work.

It seems that every January my commentary focuses on something about the Star Wars franchise. It's the new year and I don't plan on changing that habit this month. Last month, my son Jack and I went on our annual mother-son movie date to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premier. It's a tradition I've truly come to enjoy. He roots for the dark side and I cheer on the Rebellion and we have a great time.

Giving Back

Dec 29, 2017

On Saturday night, I dreamed I was in the living room of an older wealthy woman. I stood next to her delivering an emphatic, tearful plea, insisting, "When you are born into privilege it is your responsibility to help others less fortunate than you." Man, I was really crying.

Rules I Try to Live By

Dec 20, 2017

Since I promised to do these commentaries, I decided to use the opportunity to organize.

"It all went just too fast." This is something I have heard over and over again these last couple of weeks.  As I told the freshmen in my classes in August: don't blink, because before you know it the fall semester will be gone. 

As I sat down to write this commentary, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor were the latest in a long line of popular and influential men in media and politics to be fired for sexual harassment.

Over Thanksgiving as I was walking with my sisters we talked about what was happening with the men in the media. They asked if I thought this was a watershed moment, one where the narrative of how women were treated would change.

How We Live with Our Enemies

Nov 29, 2017
Rich Egger

In his novel Atonement, Ian McEwan writes: "It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you."

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

A couple of weeks ago, Gloria Delany-Barmann and I returned from a short trip to Puerto Rico.  We went to check up on our colleagues we've been working with the last couple of years and to take a few supplies and funds so generously donated by members of our community to those in need.  And yes, just in case you were wondering, it is possible to take a chainsaw as part of your checked baggage. 

The Security of a Free State

Nov 12, 2017
Rich Egger

"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." – That is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

I’m not sure how many Militias we need to maintain the security of our free State, but thanks to a lack of infringement, Americans now possess 270 million guns to maintain our freedom, and that’s not counting our military, not to mention our nuclear arsenal.  I have never felt so free.

The Only Crime for which the Victim is Blamed

Nov 8, 2017
Rich Egger

Once again, we are in a news cycle where powerful, famous men's sexual assaults are being made public.  The men say the sex was consensual, meaning, of course, that no one forced them to do anything they didn't want to do.  The men say they now know their conduct was unacceptable.  Scores of courageous women disclose private, humiliating, and hurtful events. Then we have a national conversation about what women should do to avoid sexual assault and sexual harassment, because, you know, men are men.

Rich Egger

I love Halloween. For as long as I can remember, I have loved reading horror novels, watching slasher films, dressing up in costumes where no one knows who I am, and being scared about what's around the corner in the haunted house. I couldn't wait to trick or treat and attend Halloween parties.

Preserve Minima to Discourage Salary Inequities

Oct 26, 2017
Rich Egger

A recent report on Tri States Public Radio cited the current impasse in salary negotiations between the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) and the Western Illinois University (WIU) administration.  According to the report, there are several issues that have stood in the way of an agreement.  Among other issues, the administration asks to reduce compensation, increase furlough days, and eliminate the current contract use of "minima."

Meaningful Results Emerged from Humble Beginnings

Oct 25, 2017
Emily Boyer

This is the year of changes. This nation has seen a change in its leadership, and with this change, there is a new focus and direction for the country. The anticipation of what lies ahead has sent shock waves throughout the country. In counties, cities, townships, urban areas, as well as rural communities, there is no level of government so large or so small as to remain untouched by what is being proposed for the future.

The Law of the Land

Oct 18, 2017
Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

In October, most people look forward to Halloween; as a lawyer, I look forward to the start of a new United States Supreme Court term.  Starting now and working through next spring, the Court will decide over 40 cases. Some of these decisions will have significant effects on the value of our votes, our cell phone privacy, marriage equality, union membership, education for disabled kids, police use of force, transgender rights, deportation and many more issues.

ISER Caribe

I believe that optimism is a moral choice.  Lately the news has been overwhelmingly grim – hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and senseless gun violence.  It is a reminder to us all that we are living in an increasingly volatile world. And while it is easy to be discouraged, in the midst of every tragedy and disaster there are, what Mr. Rogers called, "helpers."  People who don't wait on others to take charge, they simply do it themselves.  Take the recent disaster in Puerto Rico as an example. 

As I participated in WIU's Homecoming this weekend, tailgating and watching the football game, I continued to return to the reaction to the NFL athletes, coaches, and owners kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest to the racial injustices in our country. The rhetoric that these athletes, starting with Colin Kaepernick and now the NFL, are un-American and unpatriotic shows the changes in the way we define patriotism and the fact that we refuse to listen to why these athletes are protesting.

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