Laidlaw Summer Project 2

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Approaching this project in the summer of COVID, I thought that I would be studying racial oppression in Cuba, but the Laidlaw summer program allowed me to become intimately acquainted with the history of Black Radical thought and really the relationship between three locations of radical thought. The progression of ideas and also the historical context of those ideas were pertinent to the work I have done in the present about the actual structure of the Cuban economic structure and how inequality functions in that context.

Because I was not able to travel during the pandemic, I began documenting the stories and experiences of people within my family and community and thinking about how the world they grew up in was fundamentally different from the world now. The interconnectedness of revolutionary thought made it sensible to consult these individuals and try to think about continuities in the Black experience regardless of space or place, and think about the undercurrents and consistencies that people being oppressed by anti-Blackness express and also how they operate within their own communities. 

I learned through this project that it was okay to leave a project with more questions than answers. 

Jaala Alston

Student Researcher, Student

Jaala Alston is an Economics and Ethnic Studies at Columbia University (CC '22). She conducts interdisciplinary research within the fields of economic history, political economy, and ethnic studies. She hopes that her work will help to illuminate the nature of economic oppression in the world and how economic oppression intersects with systemic racism. Topics of interest include racial capitalism, intersectionality, geographies of oppression and structural preservation of economic injustices. She believes storytelling and the experiences of others are essential to her insight as a scholar and hopes to marry her experiences as a multi-talented artist with her scholarly work in the future.