Just Lucky or a Witch? + Detroit Teacher's Protest

  • 'Remember, you're on trial for witchcraft so try not to cackle... and lose the hat.'
  • What do we mean by “witch” in the west versus ideas on witchcraft in Africa?

In the west, the word “witch” has different connotations. It connotes an old, haggard woman with warts and wrinkles who goes around town in a black hat and long baggy dress. This the witch children dress up as on Halloween and that is portrayed in many television shows and Halloween movies. There is, of course, all the image of the witches and wizards in fantasy novels like Harry Potter. Though these two images have very different connotations, one usually old and grumpy, the other younger and considered wise in their community, they have permeated the Western culture. The word can be considered an insult, but also can be considered an empowering role model for women (usually in the Harry Potter instance).

In Africa, there is a very different view of witches. There it is more a view of a woman who, in times of economic and social hardship has somehow managed to stay housed, fed, and even successful, despite others’ inability to keep the simplest of necessities. As it is described in Performing Democracy, witchcraft in African culture is seen as the following: “If you live in an impoverishment and a neighbor accumulates great wealth, there is a sinking suspicion that blood has been spilt to acquire such disproportionate income” (176). Though sometimes seen as healers and aids in the community (sangomas), witchcraft is mostly seen as the supernatural ability to keep oneself well despite social and economic barriers.

  • “‘Sickout’ by Detroit Teachers Closes Most Public Schools” – Example of Protest

This Monday, many teachers in Detroit forced the schools in their district to close a majority of schools. They are protesting the failing infrastructure that they teach in daily. What could become a full-fledged strike, comes from not just from failing school buildings, but from a failing system. The school district is horribly in debt and considering the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, says the article. With money so tight and practically non-existent in this case, it isn’t hard to image the types of shortcuts that have been happening in school keep-up. The interim president of the union claims “[t]here are rats, there’s rodents, there’s dripping water, there’s holes… black mold.” Not only are teachers tired of having to work in this place, but they are concerned for the well-being of their students, who are having to learn in these buildings. There is also concern over class size. Because of the tight budget, positions are being left empty and classrooms have begun to consist of 40-50 students. In protesting, teachers are attempting to have the district fulfill the seemingly least of its responsibilities: not having holes and rodents in the classrooms and filling empty teaching positions.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/us/sickout-by-detroit-teachers-closes-most-public-schools.html?_r=0)

Acacia Protsman

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