The Butcher, the Baker, the Brewer, and the Peacebuilder

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“The Butcher, the Baker, the Brewer, and the Peacebuilder: Opportunities, Strategies, and Metrics for the Role of Business in Building Peace,” in the journal of Business, Peace, and Sustainable Development

My first journal publication is out!

This past spring I attended and presented at the conference Peace Economics, Peace Metrics, and the Role of Business, co-hosted by the Institute for Economics and Peace and the American University Kogod School of Business. A short report-back that I wrote was featured on the U.S. Institute of Peace’s International Network for Economics and Conflict blog, and now a full analysis of the conference proceedings and the trends and opportunities for peace economics is appearing in the first issue of the new journal Business, Peace and Sustainable Development.

You can purchase the first issue, including my article and the work of my colleague, Daniel Hyslop from IEP, on violence containment – another project I collaborated with IEP on a few years ago – at the link above.

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Brooklyn: Share Your Street Harassment Stories

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Brooklyn: Share Your Street Harassment Stories

Catcalls, whistles, “hey baby” – it’s not a compliment, it’s street harassment. And if you’re a woman in New York City, it’s probably happened to you.

It’s annoying to be told to “smile!” because men on the street are not entitled to our attention. It’s frightening when ignoring that “hey mama….” turns to “bitch! I’m talking to you!” and a man following you down the street… And it all amounts to a constant reminder that our bodies are not considered our own. Whistles and yells are the least of it when we carry the fear that it could be so much worse.

If this sounds familiar to you, now there’s something you can do about it. Women and men around the world are organizing to end end gender-based harassment, and we’re doing it with humor, art, music, film, activism, and safe spaces.

Stop Street Harassment is part of this global movement, and on Saturday, July 13 we’re collecting stories from Brooklyn and NYC. If you live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn or identify as a queer woman of color, come share your stories of street harassment in one of two discussion groups. Your experiences will help Stop Street Harassment and the Harlow Project in our work to make public spaces safe for everyone.  But more importantly, sharing your story in a safe space can take the edge off the fear, help you heal, and remind you that it’s not your fault.

Discussion Group 1:

Community members of the Bed-Stuy Neighborhood area are invited to share their experiences and stories with street harassment in the area, 12 – 1 p.m. EST.

Discussion Group 2:

Queer women of color from anywhere in the New York City region are invited to talk about their experiences and stories with street harassment. 2-3 p.m. EST.

Both discussions will take place at the Brooklyn Movement Center, 375 Stuyvesant Ave  Brooklyn, NY.

Click through for more details. And we look forward to hearing from you on Saturday!

“Border Violence Spillover to the U.S. Needs to Be Acknowledged”

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This article: “Border Violence Spillover to the U.S. Needs to Be Acknowledged” has me thinking.

Sylvia Longmire, the author of the article over at Fox Latino, is a former senior border security analyst for the State of California and author of Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug War. I’ve seen her around the internet in my research on the drug war, and I know two things about her work: we have different perspectives on this issue, but, as far as I can tell, she knows her stuff.

Longmire generally writes from a security perspective while I advocate a peacebuilding perspective. So when I read her article on border violence spillover, I felt compelled to point out a couple of things.

First of all, wherever we disagree, she’s likely right about this. Longmire is raising a red flag about the escalation of drug-trade related violence and our lack of a framework for addressing incidences in the U.S. She writes:

“DHS officials have even stated in Congressional testimony that the agency doesn’t keep track of crime statistics involving cartel-on-cartel attacks in the U.S. … There is no standardized definition of spillover violence, and this is part of the problem.”

It’s unacceptable that our government would send women and men in uniform and over a billion dollars in taxpayer funds to aid a militarized law enforcement effort in a neighbor state and have no framework for accounting for incidences of related violence inside our borders. Many analysts, myself included, argue that the militarized response to the drug markets is increasing violence and failing to reduce the trade in illegal drugs. And Americans have long feared that this violence would enter our own territory. But how can we know if our government doesn’t define and measure it?

This is where Longmire and I agree – definitions and data matter. We need to use them in our efforts to create a safer society.

But I also have an issue with her article. Much of her article focuses on a bombing incident in Brownsville, Texas, for which police have not yet apprehended any suspects. Presenting as evidence only the fact that the bombing victim was charged with marijuana trafficking, Longmire writes, “There’s no proof the bomb was sent by a drug trafficking organization, but all the existing evidence is definitely pointing in that direction.” She intends to take various U.S. authorities to task for failing to account for possible spillover violence, and does so with the following phrases:

  • “Heads can literally roll in the streets of El Paso or Nogales…”
  • “Mexican cartels and their minions…”
  • “an innocent five year-old was burned to within inches of her life…”
  • Etc.

This sensationalized writing style earns internet clicks and sells papers, sure, but it isn’t objective journalism and it isn’t helping us understand and manage the nuance of drug-trade related violence. It does make people scared, and fear is one of the greatest drivers of violence and conflict. Fear is why we have to take our shoes off in the airport, why we stop and frisk, and why Americans have formed militias on our southern border. None of these tactics have reduced the economic insecurity that leads people to migrate or to engage in illegal economic activity, and none of them have mitigated the fear or the violent choices of those outside our borders. Talking about “minions” and “heads rolling” doesn’t make us safer, it just makes us scared.

We do need to take border violence seriously. And we need to have a calm and honest conversation about why it’s happening. We’re spending billions of dollars each year, in the U.S. and México, shutting down businesses and prosecuting individuals for economic activity that could be legalized, taxed, and safely regulated. Approximately 70,000 people have died as a result of drug-trade related violence since 2006 – some of which comes from the U.S. and Mexican governments – but in that time no one has been directly killed by the use of marijuana. We don’t need to be afraid – we need to be smart. We need to speak responsibly about these issues.

Longmire is not a judge or a law enforcement agent, and she doesn’t know who committed that bombing or why. She does, however, have a large platform from which to speak and a responsibility to choose her words carefully. With yet another double-digit shooting in our country today, on Mother’s day, this is no time to be cavalier in how we discuss violence. This is exactly the time to put our fear, and our guns, away and to get smart about how we make this country and this region safer and more prosperous for everyone.

The Great Divide: Global Income Inequality & Its Cost

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The Great Divide: Global Income Inequality & Its Cost

Consistent with what I posted earlier in the week, more research is being published on extreme inequality, or “a trend that economists warn has dire consequences.” Check out the Global Post’s page for videos, photo galleries, and an interactive map to get a better handle on the issue.