Protestors march 28 blocks from Union Square to Bryant Park on January 30 to protest Trump’s ban on immigration. Photo by Brelaun Douglas
Braced against the cold of a late January night, their breath mixing with the icy air with every chant, protestors gathered at Union Square in Manhattan to rally against President Trump’s recent ban on immigrants from several countries.
Decked in scarves, gloves and with signs that read “ We are Earthlings” and “ Students in Solidarity,” they chanted “No ban. No registry. F*ck White supremacy,” and let it be known that they wouldn’t stand for the president’s executive order.
Taking a break from crying out “One solution: revolution” a student was called forward to tell her own personal story.
“When I came in on the train on the 26th, it was the day before the ban,” said the Iranian born student living in Canada who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “I was searched because they thought that I was coming and going to the U.S. too many times. They searched everything: they searched my notebooks, my writings, my phone. The Farsi and the Hebrew in my stuff alarmed them, I could tell,” said the student who is getting her PhD in politics at the New School.
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries for 90 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely and suspending refuge admissions for 120 days.
The order quickly prompted nation-wide protests as thousand flocked to airports over the weekend to protest the ban and demand that detained refugees be let free.
The PhD student went on to tell a sea of shocked faces that she was told she was only allowed to stay in the U.S. until February 3.
“The officer said that he will be on the train to make sure that I am on it and if not he will send Trump’s people after me,” she said. “Now I have to go back and I don’t know if I can return. I don’t know what’s going to happen with my PhD, and more importantly to me, I don’t now if I’m going to ever see the people or the city that I love so much again. It’s a very traumatic experience because I already went through that as a child and you work so hard to heal those wounds. You just don’t imagine this happening again in what you call a liberal democracy.”
Many of the protestors had amassed in the square following a rally at the New School. Among them was Mariel Gauger, a second year student at the New School with an undeclared major.
“I’m here to share solidarity with all the immigrant students at the New School who might be put in danger by Trump’s new policies,” she said. “I think Trump is only the tip of the iceberg with this kind of stuff.”
While in the square, protestors were joined by others who wanted to show their support, including Anthony Cartagine, a third year economic student at Baruch College.
“I’m out here to protest against Trump, and to protest the ban especially, and to support the people that are threatened by Trump,” he said. “When I first heard about it, it was very upsetting. It felt a bit shocking even though it’s what he said he was going to do.”
For many, what they wanted to result from the rallies and the protests was clear.
“With all the rallies and the protest I would like to see people mobilizing beyond just the rallies,” said Cartagine as he marched 28 blocks with the group to Bryant Park to meet up with more students from Fordham University and Columbia. “ They help inspire other forms of action and I think that probably the best thing to do is [for] people to just continue to act beyond the protest and take action whenever they can.”
But for the PhD student, it was more difficult to articulate her exact wants.
“Where I hope this goes, I have no idea,” she said. “Open borders and less wars. My hopes are too much to say right now”
Ellen McCann, 44, was held up a sign that read ” You run better than our government” to uplift every marathon runner passing by her on Sunset Park. Photo by Julie Liao
At 4th Avenue near Sunset Park in Brooklyn, Ellen McCann was hailing New York City Marathon runners with a smile and a sign that read, “You run better than our government.
Amused by McCann’s sign, a young runner shouted, “I do run better” as he gasped for breath.
“It’s just a joke about our government,” McCann said. “This means, ‘our government doesn’t run very well, but you do.’” she laughed. “While you’re running, you get very bored and the signs are funny and they make you laugh and they distract you.”
McCann was not alone. Standing beside her was her friend, Kimberly Gittines. They tracked down their friends and families on the phone who were running on the ready to cheer them on.
Around 11:00 a.m., McCann’s fiancé appeared in a group of runners. He dashed to her, kissed her hand, said,“ I love you”, and continued running.
McCann and her fiancé live in Virginia. Both of them are big fans of running.
“We work out about two hours a day, both of us together,” said McCann. “That’s how we spend time.”
Although she wanted to run in the marathon, she wasn’t chosen in the lottery.
“I like New York City,” she said. “It’s alive all day and all night. This isn’t the safest neighborhood , but it welcomes people. You don’t find that anywhere else. New York is awesome. I’ve always thought so.”
Last week, she ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Virginia with Gittines. They were next-door neighbors and knew each other for nearly three decades. The races are more like precious opportunities for them to spend time together.
“She lives in Virginia and I live in New Jersey and we don’t really get to catch up a lot,” said Gittines. “So it’s like catching up on the kids and work and our parents and all that stuff alike.”
When Gittines started to run marathons in 2011, her mother was severely ill because of cancer.
“I actually ran my first marathon two weeks before she passed away,” said Gittines. “I hadn’t trained. But I figured I’d go out and see how it was and I could push through the pain because I knew there was an end point. She didn’t have an end point and that’s what I thought when I ran. That helped me along in my run.”
After her mother died, she kept participating in marathons. Her memories with her mother always comes to her mind while she is running.
“I always think of her,” said Gittines. “When I grew up, we used to play golf with our families. And she was like, ‘here’s Kimberly! Putting for a birdie! It’s win! Yeah Kimberly!’ ”
Gittines said even though her mother had never watched her running marathons, she knew her mom would be supportive. “Whatever my brother and I did, she thought it was the best thing in the world.”
McCann’s niece, Regan Debennetto, 31, was also running in memory of her father, who died of a heart attack in 2002. After that, she began to run marathons. This time she ran for the American Heart Association and planned to raise money for them by finishing the whole course.
“For my niece, she says every five miles she runs for one person and she doesn’t want to let them down,” said McCann. “So five miles she runs for her father; five miles she runs for her grandmother and she wants to go home and tell grandma about those five miles she ran for her.”
Moderator John Davan (center) preps the debaters by outlining the evening’s structure. Debaters Timothy Carney (Left) and Ben Domenech (center left) will argue ‘For’ the motion. Debaters Jennifer Rubin (center Right) and Bret Stephens (right) will argue ‘Against’ the motion. Photo by Brandon Gomez
Laughter filled the Kaufman Music Center in the Upper West Side last night when deputy editor of the Editorial Page, Bret Stephens, posed his audience with a short list of questions.
“Who here has been to Europe in the last five years?” Stephens asked. “How many of you have graduate degrees? Generally speaking, Sancerre is white or red wine?”
His questions were first met with laughter followed by hesitantly raised hands as the majority recognized their elite status.
For the past several months, all eyes have turned to the two presidential candidates. With the first of three presidential debates right around the corner, voters are scrutinizing every part of their campaigns. Demanding medical records, tax returns and email logs, the public wants to hold these candidates accountable, same as other presidential candidates before them.
Tuesday’s mock debate was hosted by Intelligence Squared, a nonprofit organization focused on debate and public discourse. And if it was any indication of what is coming, we should all pack our plastic ponchos for the mudslinging about to take place.
The debaters faced off two-against-two. Those ‘For’ the motion sat stage right and those ‘Against’ the motion stage left. Unlike the typical liberal vs. conservative format, this group was made of four conservatives. Over the 90-minute debate the pairs argued if we should “blame the elites for the Trump phenomenon”, while the audience sat safely at an arm’s length away to keep clean.
It quickly became clear none of the debaters were Trump supporters. Stephens later brought about even more laughter when he compared Trump voters to patrons of a strip club.
“Every time he says something dirty, it turn out people want more of it,” he said.
Publisher for The Federalist and host of The Federalist Radio Hour Ben Domenech argued against Stephens, but had some comedic material as well.
“Donald Trump, a man who, as John Mulaney tells us, begins every day by asking himself, ‘What would a cartoon rich person do?’” he said.
John Donvan, a correspondent for ABC News, moderated the debate. He invited the audience to share their verdict, each person holding a small white remote attached to his or her seat by a long red cord. This device was the gavel for this pseudo judge and jury.
Linda Ross of the Upper East Side, Manhattan enjoyed the mock debate and felt that all had their arguments well placed.
“Personally, I hold the voter responsible for the mess we are in.” she said. “How does the old saying go, ‘You get the government you deserve.’’
Attendee David Brunswick of Manhattan acknowledged the tendency for the debaters to point out the many shortcomings of a certain candidate, but also the importance for the voters to do more than simple name-calling.
“I’m surprised that this question has morphed into another question, which is which of the two sides is most stridently anti-Trump,” said Brunswick. He was the first member of the audience to address the debaters.
Brunswick also shared his struggle with the audience’s reactions.
“The speaker or side that seemed the most anti-Trump, garnered the greatest suffrage and popularity and that was not the purpose of the debate,” he said.
Brunswick acknowledged a theme within the 2016 Election – who has the greatest punch line?
Laughter was the default reaction for the majority of Tuesday’s audience. But Donvan reminded us of something very important in his opening comments.
“Who laughed when Donald Trump set out to win the White House?” asked Donvan. “Lots of people. But who got the last laugh and the Republican nomination?”
Allison Julien and Linda Vargehse represented Hand-in-Hand, an organization helping employers of domestic workers establish best practices. Photo by Amina Srna
Victoria Ascension, 27, works as the lead line cook at a new restaurant in Brooklyn. Her job description includes everything from prepping food, to expediting orders for a team of four male line cooks, and managing the kitchen staff’s payroll.
But she offered less pay then her male co-workers and had to fight for equal pay.
“I was initially offered two dollars less than the other cooks on the line,” said Ascension. “I know how much everyone makes and I had leverage to negotiate. My boss knows this, he just maybe thought that’s what I expected, to be paid less.”
Ascension’s story is way too common for working women, who nationally make 77 cents to every dollar that men make. It’s called the gender wage gap,. Yesterday was Equal Pay Day and nearly 40 organizations, along with unions, councilmembers, and elected officials, met on the steps of City Hall in New York City as a call for action.
A day before the rally, Public Advocate Letitia James released a report highlighting the wage gap for women who work in government agencies, citing that it is three times wider than those who work in the private sector.
“The very government that is supposed to protect our equal rights is the worst culprit of them all,” said James.
James outlined solutions to the wage gap in government, stating that employers shouldn’t ask about an applicants previous salary, since it’s bound to be lower, and that a task force should be put in place to comb through each government agency to ensure equitable pay and opportunities. A big part of that would mean creating a family friendly workplace.
“We no longer work nine to five, we need non-traditional childcare 24 hours a day,” said James.
This echoes the presidential nominees’ stump speeches, which put focus on the need for protecting families. In light of Equal Pay Day, Hillary Clinton addressed the issue of paycheck inequity head on at a Glassdoor Roundtable Discussion on the topic.
“Other countries have made it easier for women to be mothers and have careers, to be caretakers, especially of their parents, and have careers,” said Clinton. “Not out of altruism but because they know it’s foolish to let half the population’s talent and energy go unused.”
Compared to national averages, women working in New York City fair better than average, earning 91 cents to every dollar men make in the private sector. According to Comptroller Scott Stringer, that’s largely a façade created by city’s booming economy.
“Here’s the undercurrent of our homeless crisis,” said Stringer in a speech at the rally. “The women who struggle raising children because often times the men are not around, when you have a 20 percent pay gap, you’re ending up in a homeless shelter with your family and you can’t get out. This is as much a financial issues as it is a civil rights issue. “
Despite recent unanimous support from politicians, some think that the wage gap continues to persist because women choose fields that pay less than men, such as early childhood-education and psychology versus STEM fields.
Public Advocate James’s report shows that while women make 18% less than men, they are also concentrated in low-paying government sectors such as the Department of Education. This is compared to their male counterparts, who are found in the higher paying fields such as the Fire and Sanitation Departments. Despite this, women who work in historically female dominated jobs, such as teachers, are required to attain higher levels of educations for their careers.
“People used to call us daycare centers but we want people to know that we are all certified teachers,” said Lois Lee, the Vice President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators.
Lee refers to the fact that preschool and daycare teachers are required to obtain levels of higher education in order to cover a range of instruction. This includes STEM, literacy, sports, and music in addition to social and emotional development. Yet these educators are undervalued and underpaid, Lee said, often earning as little as $9 per hour.
“Forty-five years of service, all my masters degrees and I’m still making 50,000 a year,” she said. “We work from seven-thirty in the morning to seven-thirty at night to provide for all the families but what do we sacrifice? Our own families.”