Monthly Archives: October 2021

Fighting for Freedom in Oregon

Jason J. Dorsette is a Black man with a family full of civil rights activists and leaders with a rich history in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). As he described, “I was a country boy from the Jim Crow South and went to Oregon.” The NAACP of his upbringing did not exist here in Corvallis; literally, there was no collegiate branch in the Pacific Northwest when he arrived in 2014. Feeling like he didn’t belong, he helped to start the Oregon State University-NAACP branch in February of 2015 and continues to be involved in a variety of ways on campus and in the community. We briefly discussed his PhD research – Race Spaced Theory – that provides a geographical lens on Critical Race Theory. Because Jason is such a busy person, we had to keep the interview brief, but we hope to have him on the show again. As a reminder, the Corvallis-Albany NAACP branch is hosting the Freedom Fund as a fundraising event on November 6th at the Student Experience Center on Oregon State University’s campus. Hosted by Lisa Hildebrand and Adrian Gallo. 

Links & Further Reading:

  • Early in the interview, Jason mentioned how Oregon was established as an anti-Black state. Read about Oregon’s Black Exclusionary Laws, why Oregon is considered a “White Utopia”, how Portland is the whitest big city in America, or you can listen to an Oregon Public Broadcasting story titled “A racist history shows why Oregon is still so white”.  
  • Due to time limitations, we couldn’t dive too deep in his research. But because Critical Race Theory has been in the news, consider reading/listening to a couple resources below. In an article in the New Yorker titled The void that critical race theory was created to fill, the origins of CRT could be credited to Derrick Bell: “a forty-year old civil rights attorney [who] became the first Black professor to gain tenure at Harvard Law School”. He left the school in 1980, nine years after gaining tenure, because he was frustrated at the lack of additional Black professors being hired. In his absence, law students protested, noting the classes he taught needed a Black professional of his caliber. Harvard rejected the students’ requests. Two students at the time, Kimberley Crenshaw and Mari Matsuda, designed an alternative course to supplement the lost learning that Derrick Bell provided. The textbook Crenshaw and Matsuda used for their alternative course was a book produced by Bell titled: Race, Racism, and American Law. That alternative course at Harvard from the 1970’s as well as other contributions from legal scholars and theorists from around the country, led to the start of Critical Race Theory. As Lauren Michele Jacon writes: “The core premises of critical race theory—that the invention and reinvention of race enable the status quo, and that liberal solutions prove insufficient—have been applied in recent decades within fields from education to disability studies.” More colloquially, CRT uses history and law to understand why – even after the Civil Rights era laws – Black people and African-Americans continued to face ongoing discrimination enabled by the state. For a more recent understanding of how CRT has been mis-represented, consider reading the Slate Magazine article titled “This Critical Race Theory Panic is a Chip Off the Old Block”, by Gillian Frank and Adam Laats.
  • Juneteenth – The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 to free enslaved people, allowing them to fight in the civil war. The war concluded in 1865, but the Confederate states were still not freeing slaves. It was not until the 19th of June in 1865 that Union soldiers rode into a remote area of Texas to formally announce their freedom. A quarter-million enslaved people resided in the state of Texas, but they likely had no idea they were freed two years ago. Juneteenth celebrates this more well known and advertised emancipation that spread across the Confederate states. Consider reading about Juneteenth in the Atlantic Magazine pieces titled: The Quintessential Americanness of Juneteenth by Van R. Newkirk, or What the Push to Celebrate Juneteenth Conceals by Kellie Carter Jackson. 
  • NAACP Freedom Fund is being held on November 6th at the Student Experience Center at OSU’s campus. You can also watch past keynote speakers at the Corvallis/Albany NAACP Branch YouTube channel.

Did you miss the interview on Sunday night? Listen to Jason’s interview on Apple podcast (released every Monday)!

The promise and peril of new plants on Oregon’s sand dunes

In a rapid fire interview Rebecca Mostow, a PhD Candidate in the Integrative Biology Department, connects her research on beachgrass along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest and Dune, the new film adapted from a SciFi book series. The book series envisions a planet with constantly shifting sand dunes, an idea that the books’ author originally had when he visited Oregon’s sand dunes in the 1950’s. During this time period, federal and local agencies were planting a variety of plant and tree species to keep the sand dunes stable; making the lives of coastal communities less … sandy. It worked!

Some people would consider it a real-life example of terraforming. This concept is exemplified by a character in the Dune series named Pardot Kynes, a plant ecologist helping locals adapt to their sandy-desert environment through their knowledge of plants as a sand dune stabilizer. In real life, there have been trade-offs between more stable sand dunes that are helpful for local communities limiting coastal erosion, but at the detriment of two currently threatened birds who depend on sand dunes that are constantly shifting in the winds. We discuss Rebecca’s findings of a new hybridized grass as part of her PhD, an iNatiuralist community science project mapping more of these beachgrasses, and its implications for how to manage ecosystems and communities moving forward. 

Rebecca and her lab have already done lots of SciComm ’s work! See below for more links to their awesome work:

  • Oregon State University press release on Rebecca’s journal article detailing the new hybrid beachgrass.
  • GeekWire story on the overlap between the SciFi series and Rebeccas’s research.
  • A writer-hiker interviewed Rebecca as they explored one of her field sites along Oregon’s coastline. 
  • A local TV story on the implications of the hybrid grass species.

Did you miss the interview on Sunday night? Listen to Rebecca’s interview on your podcast player of choice (episodes released every Monday)!

The Science Continues

Greetings all — It’s been nearly 20 months since we’ve been back in the radio booth. Science has not stopped, but we as a team needed a break. Some of us on the Inspiration Dissemination team have graduated, some spent weeks at sea following whales, while others pivoted to research COVID-19 itself.

It has been a wild ride, but we’re happy to be back doing regular shows again, even happier to have the opportunity to continue podcasting and learning from our fellow graduate students. Want to be on the show? Fill out our form on the website and we’ll get you scheduled.

Stay curious y’all,
<3 The ID Team

You can now listen to this episode through Apple Podcasts!