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While ICE Tries to Deport My Father, My Family Stays Strong

By | August 9, 2017

My life has drastically changed since February 28, 2017, when my father was arrested by ICE agents as part of President Trump’s effort to fulfill his campaign promise to deport immigrants with criminal records. While my dad sits in a detention center, I wake up every morning with an upset stomach and a nervous, worrisome feeling. I describe it as like getting knocked down by …

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words like heat rose #poem

By | August 4, 2017

Oscar Mancinas is a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University.

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to know how to call myself beautiful #poem

By | July 28, 2017

Because I could not pull the homesickness
from my clothes with all my teeth,
the skins of foreign cloth dead in my mouth,
I am the savage who tried to sew
a skirt for herself in another man’s english
and wore his eyes, like daisies, in my hair.
A jury of hands to tell me the weight of hair,
to measure my blood and its red homesickness.
Blue eyes and vomit …

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Hawaii’s Identity Is Powerful–and Endangered

By | July 26, 2017

America’s youngest state, Hawaii, isn’t known for making Texas-sized boasts about its greatness, or for aggressively pushing its brand on its neighbors, the way that, say, Florida and California do.
Yet Hawaii may have the strongest sense of identity of any U.S. state—a fierce cultural pride and feeling of exceptionalism that flow from its unique island heritage.
That was the premise of a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It …

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Sorry, Reading Jane Austen Doesn’t Make You a Better Person

By | July 20, 2017

In 2013, Science published a study with the intriguing title, “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” The authors (David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano) claimed to have proven that literary fiction—not “genre” fiction, not well-written nonfiction, but literary fiction—develops our “theory of mind,” which means our ability to recognize other peoples’ thoughts and feelings. This ability, in the words of the authors, “allows successful …

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Is Our Culture of Empathy Perpetuating Inequality?

By | July 19, 2017

We desperately need more empathy. At least, that’s what we are told—in political rhetoric, in bestselling popular science books, in international development discourse, in feminist and anti-racist activism. Among current political antagonisms, especially the rise of Trumpism, many are worried about the deleterious effects of “empathy erosion.”
Empathy has been touted as a necessary quality in leadership, the solution to a wide range of social …

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No, Empathy Isn’t a Universal Value

By | July 19, 2017

Empathy varies a lot among people, psychological research has found. But it also varies widely among countries and cultures. When my colleagues and I set out to analyze the largest study on empathy ever done—104,365 people from 63 countries—we expected to learn whether the extent to which we tune into others’ emotional cues clearly differs by culture. Instead, we were left with a number of …

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How Our Evolving Understanding of Individual Autonomy Led to Human Rights for All

In Inventing Human Rights: A History, UCLA historian Lynn Hunt traces the modern concept of Human Rights to a series of mid-18th century epistolary novels with a strong first person perspective, including Julie by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa. Male and female readers got passionately engrossed in the experience of being “in” the body and position of the heroines of these novels. …

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Empathy’s Evolution in the Human Imagination

By | July 18, 2017

Empathy seems to be one of the most “natural” emotions, but before 1908, no one in the English-speaking world had heard of it.
And when it did appear, “empathy” was a translation from the German Einfühlung, literally “in-feeling,” with the surprising meaning of projecting one’s own feelings into nature and objects of art.
This meaning is strange to us now. But the feeling we call …

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The Weaponization of Empathy in a Hyper-Connected World

By | July 17, 2017

Every time I go on Facebook I end up staring into the eyes of a puppy. Sometimes it has been mistreated, has a bad case of mange, or worse. Sometimes it’s looking for a home. I feel a tug on my heartstrings: What if I were that homeless puppy? It also makes me feel very important: Only I can save this puppy!
But in real …