Berkeley Alumni

Transitioning with Grace: Coming Out in Academia

For Grace Lavery, coming out as a trans woman was nerve-racking at first. A professor in Berkeley’s Department of English, she was afraid of how her colleagues and students would react. As she explains, a certain amount of criticism comes with the territory of being in academia, adding that, “in my profession, there’s always some degree of anxiety.”

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

As A Young Scientist, Angela Little Battled Sexism at Every Turn

I didn’t realize there was a kind of basic prejudice against women during the field trips in my second semester at Berkeley. There were two women and 26 guys on the trips. The T.A. always tried to make it too tough for the women. It was like, “Well, the girls couldn’t keep up, just go back and forget about it.”

It was only later that I analyzed the T.A.’s actions and realized how unwelcoming they were.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

A War Veteran Held a Silent Vigil Among the Redwoods

On May 16, 1992, Armed Forces Day, veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the segregated Japanese American World War II unit that was the most decorated in American history, planted a redwood sapling in Oakland’s Roberts Regional Recreation Area to honor their buddies who never made it back. And they’ve returned every year since then to hold a memorial service under that sapling, which has grown into a towering tree.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

He Grew Up Illiterate. Now His Sights Are Set On the Supreme Court.

One of the casualties of the pandemic was UC Berkeley grad Esteem Brumfield’s Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa, where he was researching the country’s prison system. It was canceled. But don’t worry about him; he’s already falling back on Plan B: going to grad school this fall at Brown, where he’ll be studying the connection between health care and incarceration.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: Navigating A Triple Crisis

I have always said that I like hard problems, but the current set of crises we are facing is challenging even my taste for the difficult. As a nation, we are facing three complexly inter-related series of events—the pandemic, the economic disruption resulting from it, and urgent self-questioning about social justice and systemic racism.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Editor’s Note: Rewriting History

History has been written by the victors—and also by the men, it seems. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed firsthand in the annals of this very magazine, which started in 1897 as the University of California Magazine and operated for many decades as the California Monthly before becoming simply California, in 2006.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Will Distance Learning Make Education Inequality Worse?

Ever since Bay Area school districts announced they would begin the fall 2020 school year with distance learning due to the still-increasing rate of COVID-19 infection across the region, parents have been scrambling to figure out how to manage their children’s schooling.

Is DNA Testing of Immigrants a Threat to Us All?

In May 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented a program called Rapid DNA testing—subjecting families crossing the Mexican border to cheek swab tests, which produce extensive DNA profiles in less than two hours that are entered into a national criminal database. The initial pilot program, begun this summer, was ostensibly rolled out to identify “fraudulent family units”—groups of children and adults who are not blood-related but were trying to achieve special immigration status—and prosecute them for fraud.

Why Moms 4 Housing Is Such A Big Deal

On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim moved with their children into an unlocked, vacant house on Magnolia Street in West Oakland. They had been housing insecure for months, moving from place to place, often in hotels which one of the Moms, Misty Cross, described as “Very unsafe for young girls, which I have three of.” But it was also an occupation meant to draw attention to the city’s failure to combat the growing housing crisis.

“We knew that from the beginning this was bigger than us. This is about building a movement.”

In the Age of Information, Can We Weed Out the Fake News?

In mid-April, the United Nations Secretary-General formally identified a parallel “pandemic” to COVID-19: a “misinfo-demic” or false news about the virus. Conspiracy theories, dangerous fake health advice, and discrimination and stigma related to the virus—from its origin to how it can be prevented or cured—have all spread like wildfire.

Biased Algorithms Exacerbate Racial Inequality in Health Care

From the beginning, it was an ambitious idea. Computer automation would remove the taint of human emotion or prejudice from everyday life. Algorithms—the series of instructions that tell computers what to do—would make important decisions about everything from hiring to health care.

The reality, as Ziad Obermeyer discovered, is not quite that simple.

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