New York CityMalaysia Goodson, a 22-year-old African-American mother, fell down the stairs in a New York City subway station while carrying her baby in a stroller on Jan. 28, 2019. Her baby survived. She did not.Left, Terrea Mitchell of the People’s Power Assembly-NYC speaks at the Jan. 28 protest honoring Malaysia Goodson and demanding full transit accessibility. Right, PPA-NYC protesters at the Jan. 31 anti-racist Fxxk The Police 3 (FTP3) day of MTA protests.The hearts of millions of New Yorkers went out to Malaysia Goodson and her family. Anyone who has taken the city’s subways for over a month has either been in the same situation or witnessed or helped others struggling with steep, sometimes wet and icy stairs. This subway system is notorious for its lack of accessibility, with less than a quarter of its stations equipped with elevators and chronic breakdowns of the existing elevators. Within 48 hours of Malaysia Goodson’s fatal fall, the hardest fighters for the installation of elevators — leaders in the disability rights community, many of them wheelchair users — acted. They mobilized for a vigil and protest at the station where the young mother fell. People with disabilities have been the most consistent force to remember Malaysia Goodson and show solidarity with her family. Public sentiment for Goodson was massive following her death. However, it has been those daily oppressed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority — wheelchair users and others with disabilities who refuse to accept being locked out of the subways — who have been among the vanguard, along with her relatives, in keeping the young mother’s name alive.One year after Malaysia Goodson’s death This year, the same forces who organized last year’s vigil and protest, held a demonstration outside the New York State Supreme Court building on Jan. 28, in recognition of the one-year anniversary of Malaysia Goodson’s death. The action was held there because the date coincided with a hearing on the historic subway elevator class-action lawsuit. The suit calls out the MTA for its lack of accessibility as a violation of the city’s Human Rights Law and demands the installation of elevators in every subway station. These activists used the date to crystallize their demand that the MTA “put it in writing.” In other words, the agency can’t just announce plans and promises for accessible subway stations, it must sign a legally binding agreement with a timeline that mandates the installation of elevators.The Jan. 28 action was called by The People’s MTA, Rise & Resist, People’s Power Assembly-NYC, the Straphangers Campaign and the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled. Members of Disabled In Action, TransitCenter, UP-STAND, an advocacy group for pregnant women and families, and other organizations, participated. The protest attracted union support, including Alicia Smith, of Communication Workers (CWA) Local 1180’s Committee on People with Disabilities, who spoke. Melissa Enama Bair, a parent representing UP-STAND spoke, as did NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal. PPA-NYC activist Judith Haider brought her toddler in a stroller. ‘Fund elevators, not more cops!’Placards at the Jan. 28 action read: “We did not forget Malaysia Goodson” “MTA: Put it in writing” and “Elevators are for everybody!” Many sign slogans also reflected the growing anger at racist police terror on the trains, including “Our subways need $ for elevators, not more cops!” After the demonstration, 50 protesters packed the courtroom. Ten wheelchair users lined one end of the room. As determined as the MTA is to drown this case in lawyers and legal-wrangling, mobility impaired fighters for accessible public transportation are equally determined. They have shown up for every hearing to protest outside the courthouse and then pack the courtroom.Anger at the racist cops who serve Wall Street and corporate interests, and terrorize subway riders, boiled over into mass rebellions throughout the city on Jan. 31 for the third time since November. The media dismiss the “FTP” protests as “vandalism.” But protesters’ militant tactics stand in stark contrast to going through “proper channels” in the courts. Now in its third year, the legal case presents a just demand, yet it is crawling through the legal system. The Wall Street-backed MTA is stalling and delaying the provision of this vital public need by paying millions of dollars to the high-priced law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The Goodson case is an example of how public transportation — supposed to be a public service — becomes transformed under capitalism into an oppressive institution that is used to serve the rich and foster racist disregard for oppressed and working people. One injustice after anotherThe MTA, a profit-making corporation, has lied, obfuscated and done everything to avoid providing working elevators in the subway system for years.When Malaysia Goodson’s death resulted from their inaction, the MTA refused to even contact her family to offer sympathy or compensation. The officials hid behind a bogus medical examiners’ report that claimed she had a thyroid condition that made her fall. The report took five months to complete, but it was used to explain away the cause of the death in media headlines a mere two days after the needless tragedy occurred.Even the local coverage of the Jan. 28 action referred to Malaysia Goodson as a rider “with medical problems.” Activist Colin Wright of TransitCenter answered this slander at the rally, covered by NBC’s local news that day: “No person with a ‘medical issue’ should be forced to use the stairs. If the subway system had been accessible, we think Malaysia Goodson would be alive today.”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
“One thing about me is that I’m a self-avowed scholar-activist,” Gibson said. “I consider myself an environmentalist, and I am a participant in a number of environmental NGOs.” “This spring series is looking at big problems or hot-button issues in bringing together scholars from different methodologies and training for a conversation,” McPherson said. “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth … these are one and the same fight,” Gibson said. “Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” Approximately 50 students attended an interdisciplinary discussion on climate change and its impact hosted by the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study Wednesday. At the event, which is the third installation of the Spring 2019 Polymathic Pizza series, assistant professor of international relations Shannon Gibson, and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering George Ban-Weiss spoke about how each of their fields is impacted by climate change. “The Academy was created to give the very inquisitive, intellectually-curious students of USC a way to operate outside the confines of their discipline and think about how problems might be tackled across disciplinary divides using polymathic methods,” McPherson said. Following Ban-Weiss’ presentation, McPherson led a discussion about societal indifference toward climate change. Gibson said the indifference stems from the fact that western communities often don’t experience the effects of global warming firsthand. Ban-Weiss said his polymathic endeavors include performing songs about the environment on bass in order to impact broader communities. “A lot of these groups are already vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” Gibson said. “It was these groups that tend to suffer disproportionately from climate change who are often denied access to environmental benefits — things like clean water, sanitation — and are historically denied access to decision making.” The event was moderated by Sidney Harman Academy Director Tara McPherson. Hana Craft, a junior majoring in psychology, said she found the event to be thought-provoking. “It was really so profound to hear from people who have been working for years, even decades, toward understanding this topic and the ways that solutions may have negative impacts and positive impacts,” Craft said. McPherson said she observed a distinction between two “societies” — civil and uncivil — which demonstrate the uneven effects of climate change on groups that suffer socially and economically. “Materials in cities, like asphalt pavements and rooftops, historically are very dark and absorb a lot of sunlight,” Ban-Weiss said. “Part of the research that I do is [explore], ‘In what ways can we brighten up materials?’” Gibson’s research studies the role societal participation plays in politics, primarily from her perspective as an environmentalist and activist. Gibson spoke about the effects of climate change on international politics. Citing Ban Ki-moon, the former secretary general of the United Nations, Gibson said that many issues facing the world are interconnected. “The research that I do looks at climate change and air pollution but at a more local level — at the urban scale,” Ban-Weiss said. “The question is what can be done at a local level to actually affect the climate of your city.” According to the academy’s website, polymathy is utilizing a variety of interests and skills to innovate and solve problems. The Polymathic Pizza series pairs two professors from different fields in a discussion of critical issues facing society to highlight how various approaches and perspectives can come together to reach a solution. “In the United States, in Europe, in certain places, we don’t necessarily see or feel the tangible effects of climate change because we are, [for the most part], very much disconnected from the ecosystem,” Gibson said. Professors George Ban-Weiss (above) and Shannon Gibson discussed the intersection of international relations and environmental engineering during a panel Wednesday. (Dimple Sarnaaik/Daily Trojan) “It’s a musical concert that has a song cycle, —[the band] refers to it as a ‘Love Letter to the Ocean,’” Ban-Weiss said. “It goes through different parts that are environmentally related.” Ban-Weiss’ research uses field observations and quantitative models to study air pollution and climate change. Ban-Weiss said he tackles issues practically and locally rather than globally, since change on a massive scale is much harder to accomplish. One aspect of Ban-Weiss’ research focuses on how materials used to construct urban buildings contribute to climate change. His team has proposed adopting “cool roofs,” which reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it and could reduce Los Angeles’ average temperature by one or two degrees Fahrenheit. Gibson and Ban-Weiss each gave 10-minute presentations on their research and approaches toward proposing solutions to climate change.