Activism, Ghostbusters, and Outer Space

Top 3 talks at Lakehead University

By Sam Mathers, News Editor

 

  1. “A Voice for the Voiceless” – Robert King and Albert Woodfox, surviving members of the Angola 3

 

Robert King and Albert Woodfox visited Lakehead University on March 2nd to discuss solitary confinement. The two surviving members of the Angola 3, King and Woodfox spent a collective 72 years in solitary confinement for a crime they did not commit. King, Woodfox, and Herman Wallace were sent to Angola in 1971 for armed robbery. They joined the Black Panther Party from prison, seeking to improve the conditions of Angola through organization and resistance. The three were placed in solitary confinement for the murder of a guard, despite there being no physical evidence to link them to the crime.

 

Memorable Quote: “They used to put used to put our food on the floor and slide it underneath the door. That was the manner in which they fed us. And you often hear the term ‘level of consciousness.’ And what the means is that in order for you to know something is wrong, you have to develop a level of consciousness. You have to develop a moral indignation as to what’s being done to you as an individual or you as a member of humanity. At some point, we realized the indignity of having to bend down and pull our food underneath a cell door… so, we petitioned the administration and asked them to cut food slots in the bars so that we could be fed in a more humane and dignified way…we didn’t have any idea that this ordeal would last eighteen months and that it would take a forty-five day hunger strike just to allow us to hold our tray and eat through the bars rather than putting it underneath the door.”

 

  1. “Did Ghostbusters 2016 Lead to Trump?” – Dr. Monica Flegel and Dr. Judith Leggatt, Associate Professors, Lakehead University English Department

 

On January 20th, Dr. Flegel and Dr. Leggatt gave a highly attended talk discussing the connections between discourse around the 2016 American election and the backlash surrounding the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. They say the criticism was undoubtedly rooted in gender bias and misogyny. Many people cited nostalgia as the reason for their discontentment with the Ghostbusters film, with some male critics having difficulty connecting with the new faces of the franchise. Drs. Flegel and Leggatt relate this to Hillary Clinton and the criticism surrounding her inability to connect with the American people and her apparent lack of authenticity.

 

Memorable Quote: “Again and again we are urged not to see the election of Trump as motivated by sexism, racism, and ethnocentrism – this is too simple, we are told, too dismissive of the complicated reasons why Trump won. What we have to ask ourselves is: when does a desire for complexity let people off the hook for the hatred and fear they express, which are perhaps, not that complicated at all… We don’t want to give anyone an out for misogyny or racism, or to allow them a refuge in nostalgia as an explanation for behaviour as though nostalgia is somehow divorced from misogyny and racism.”

 

 

  1. “The Search for Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time” – Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science, NASA

 

As a part of Research and Innovation Week, Dr. James Green visited Lakehead University on March 8th to discuss past and future possibilities for life beyond Earth. The talk was extremely well received, requiring two overflow rooms, people taking seats in the aisles, and more than 100,000 people watching online. Dr. Green says that planetary scientists believe Venus used to be in the habitable zone, and could have contained life in the past, and while Mars once looked like Earth it could enter the habitable zone in the future. He discussed the possibility for life on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and stated that we will know for certain whether or not we are alone within the next ten years.

 

Memorable quote: “What we’ve learned in studying the solar system in the last fifty years – I’ve actually only concentrated perhaps on the discoveries in the last ten – gives us the indication that life could have indeed existed in the solar system well beyond Earth and our planets in the past, and perhaps in the outer part of the solar system on moons. Completely unimaginable to us fifteen or twenty years ago. I believe in the next ten years we will answer the question: are we alone in the solar system. And so hang on to your seats, this is going to be a bumpy ride but its going to be exciting.”

 

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