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Articles by Elizabeth Chin

Elizabeth Chin is associate professor in the department of critical theory and social justice at Occidental College in Los Angeles. In 2005, her course "The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie" was named No. 2 on the Young America's Foundation "Dirty Dozen" list as a "bizarre and disturbing example of leftist activism in the classroom."

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I am heartened, challenged, and stimulated by the interesting and engaged discussion that has emerged around my short piece, “I Will Simply Survive.” It’s always so interesting to see the ways in which I have managed (or not) to be clear in what I am trying to say.

My aim was not to cast blame on anybody (except mostly myself, I think), but rather to encourage critical self-examination of what spurs each of us to attempt simplicity, simplifying, eco-whatever. Furthermore, my aim was to expand thinking to embrace those whose choices are constrained by poverty. Of course pro-environmental choices aren’t bad: I have a worm box, I buy organic, and my child has virtually never worn a piece of clothing that came new from a store. Even so, despite whatever environmentally friendly and thrifty things I do — consciously and with enthusiasm — the bald truth is that I, like most people in the U.S., have a ridiculously outsized environmental footprint compared to the rest of the world’s population. The worm box isn’t bad at all, but there’s no doubt it’s a drop in the bucket.

Because of my research and politica... Read more

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