Tomorrow marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

6 10 2009

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 7th, marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan.  Earlier this year, President Obama announced his 10 year plan for Afghanistan which entailed of adding 21,000 more U.S. military forces deployed in Iraq and diplomatic engagement of Pakistan.  This is misguided – the way to Peace in Afghanistan will not come through more military force.  That will only lead to more civilian casualties and inner turmoil.  The war in Afghanistan will only end if the public keeps demanding it.  It is time to tap into the political momentum for peace.

If you are in the Boston area, the United for Justice with Peace (UJP) Coalition will be having Stand Outs against the War at T stations:

Wednesday, October 7th is the 8th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan, a war which UJP was formed to oppose.

To mark this date, the Cambridge and Somerville/Medford UJP community groups will be standing out at T- stops from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. We will be distributing information about the costs of the war, for Afghans, for  US troops and for our communities, and alerting people to the Oct. 17th anti-war rally at Copley Square.    We will gather at the Central Sq., Harvard Sq., and Porter Sq. T-stops in Cambridge and at Davis Sq. in Somerville.

At Harvard Square, the Raging Grannies will sing at 5:30pm, and there will be a creative action in addition to vigiling and leafleting.    We invite all to join us there, or at one of the other T-stops, if that is more convenient.
Dorchester People for Peace will also leaflet at the Ashmont T-Stop on Wednesday morning from 7:30-9am.
Milton for Peace will stand out on Blue Hill Ave. near Mattapan Square from 7-8am.
The tide is turning away from further escalation of the war on Afghanistan.  It’s time to bring the troops home now and end this war which is bad for Afghans and bad for Americans.  It’s a time when we can make a difference.  Come stand with us on Oct. 7th.




Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Right to Decide

5 10 2009

Today was a lovely day for Mass NOW’s Counter-Protest to Mass Citizens for Life – the rain held off, it was fairly warm out, and an enthusiastic, energetic crowd showed up in solidarity to participate in the counter-protest.  Here are some images from the Boston Commons:

 

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On Inclusionary Language

30 09 2009

This is a wonderful post about Why Inclusionary Language Matters. It really gets to the heart of a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

Here’s an excerpt:

What do all of the following words or phrases have in common?

Bitch. Cripple. Grow a pair. Lame. Cunt. White trash. “He/his/him” as a generic when the gender of a subject is not known. Ballsy. Harpy. Whore. Female impersonator. Jewed. Real woman. Retarded. Slut. Dumb. Natural woman. Harridan. Witch. Idiot. Man up. Biological sex. Crazy. Tranny. Step up. Breeder. Shrew. She-male. Gay. You guys as a generic greeting to a mixed gender group. Skank. Mankind. “Man” as a generic for “people.” Gyp. Insane. Schizo/schizophrenic. “Disabled” as a noun. Women born women. Ungendering by using “he” as a pronoun for a trans woman or “she” as a pronoun for a trans man.

They’re all exclusionary. Some of these words are actively used today as insults, and some of them have a historical context of use as insults which oppress, silence, and marginalize large groups of people, some of whom happen to be women. Some of these terms are racist, some are sexist, some are classist, some are cissexist, some are heterosexist, some are ableist. (I deliberately haven’t used speciesist terms here because, while I think that there is a clear intersection between animal rights issues and feminism, others may disagree, and thus, may not think that using speciesist language is exclusionary.) Many of these words are a common part of the vernacular; I use “bitch” all the time, for example. Many are examples of subconsciously exclusionary terms, in that people use them thoughtlessly, without realizing what they are really saying.

All of them should not be used by people who claim to be feminists, if feminism for them is about advocating for all women and improving conditions for all women. I include myself in this admonition. Every time we use them, we engage in othering. We exclude The Other, and make it clear that we don’t actually care about the issues that other people may experience. We make it clear that our claims of ally status are just lip service.

At its core, feminism should be, to my mind, about justice. Justice for all women. Not just women who fit into a very narrow set of categories. And this is why we need to use inclusionary language. This is why we need to cultivate spaces which are truly safe for everyone. This is why we need to own our actions and apologize for them if they are hurtful. We cannot repair the damage we have done to other human beings, but we can work to prevent it in the future.

Lots of people like to defend exclusionary language. They say that they like using a term, or can’t come up with a good alternative, or don’t really see why they should have to change. “The word doesn’t really mean that anymore,” or “but I’m not really [pick your poison]ist, so it’s ok.” But, here’s the thing. Even if the word doesn’t mean that anymore, that doesn’t mean that it does not carry very negative implications. Even if someone thinks that the word is being used in a positive sense, it is still loaded with negative meaning. It does not mean that the word does not have a very loaded history. It does mean that every time you use it, you are unconsciously enforcing a system of oppression. You can participate in and even perpetuate a system of oppression without actively subscribing to it.

People who dislike being told that they should not use exclusionary language are often people who have something to lose if actual justice is achieved. If we ever live in a society where trans hatred doesn’t exist, everyone who is cis gendered will lose privilege, for example. As the old saying goes, “we all like to see our friends get ahead, but not too far ahead,” and this appears to apply to social justice issues as well, though you would be hard pressed to find someone who openly admits it. Being informed that you are hurting people with your actions threatens people when they have something to lose in this fight. This is why people push back so strongly when they are informed that their word usage is hurtful. This is why people become defensive when they are asked why they failed to include different perspectives in discussions. This is why people get angry when they are called on their privilege.

You can believe with all your heart that sexism is terrible and evil, but when you call a woman a bitch, it kind of undermines your point. You can think that people with disabilities are oppressed and marginalized by society, and that this is wrong, but when you call something “lame,” you’re saying that you think it’s ok to continue oppressing people with disabilities. When you say that someone should “step up,” you are unconsciously erasing everyone in the population who cannot step, like wheelchair users and people who are bedbound. When you refer to someone or something as “insane” or “crazy,” you are using mental illness as a slur.

So stop it. Stop using exclusionary language. Start including people.

And stop trying to defend it. If you’re too lazy to find a better word or phrase to use, that’s your problem, not society’s. If you can’t be creative enough to think of a different word or phrase, a word or phrase which does not exclude or silence someone, you apparently have not heard of a thesaurus.

I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”





G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines

27 09 2009

At the G-20 Conference in Pittsburg last Friday, a lot of protesters gathered outside. Since it was a major economic conference featuring leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, there were many protesters advocating for better wages and working conditions, unemployment rate and hiking violence at the US-Mexico border, clean energy, etc. There was one group of protesters who called attention to sexual assault, establishing procedures and safe spaces for people who are assaulted at the conference or in the crowd. Furthermore, they made a clear statement that sexual harassment and sexual assault will NOT be tolerated.

The following is the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines that they disseminated to the crowd. I think it’s pretty awesome! The definitions are thorough and well-informed. Check it out for yourself:

Announcing the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines. Please disseminate widely.Perpetrators of sexual violence, assault, and harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault:

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic).

G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines: No Perpetrators Welcome!

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Harassment Are Not Welcome in G20 Resistance Spaces

Perpetrators of sexual violence/assault/harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces. This includes people who have perpetrated in the past*, people currently engaged in or running away from accountability processes, and people who refuse to respect the ResistG20 consent guidelines. People who violate consent guidelines will be directed to leave G20 organizational spaces and housing arrangements. Given the short time frame, lack of people resources, and likelihood of state repression we don’t have the ability to deal with these situations in this artificially constructed community.

Perpetrators’ presence should not hinder survivors’ participation in G20 mobilizations (Perps: You are not welcome regardless of the survivor’s plans). We are resisting the G20 in large part because the G20 acts WITHOUT accountability to or consent of the people it fucks over. Don’t replicate the same paradigm of domination and abuse that you’re claiming to want to smash.

*We understand and respect that other communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.

There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic). People staffing housing and other spaces, as well as medics and (A)-minded legal observers (note: not the ACLU kind) should also be able to put you in contact with us.

We can offer you:

*Support, caring, and listening

*Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence

*Emergency housing changes to quiet, safer space housing

*Transport to the Pittsburgh rape crisis center

*Medical, herbal, and wellness (massage, acupressure, music therapy) resources

*Resources for further support and/or action

*Support, with the legal team, to document sexual abuse by law enforcement

Consent Guidelines for G20 Resistance Spaces and Housing

Consistently asking for consent and listening to your sexual partner at every step in every sexual encounter, regardless of length, history, or specific situation, is the only way to prevent sexual assault from happening. Consent includes asking, listening, and respecting; it does not include coercion, expectations, or assumptions.

Consent: Consent is actively and voluntarily expressed agreement. Doing personal work to consistently seek consent and respect the times when it is not given helps to combat rape culture, and informed consent, sexual and otherwise, is necessary in the building of strong, healthy anti-authoritarian communities. The following do not qualify as consent: silence, passivity, and coerced acquiescence. Body movements, non-verbal responses such as moans, or the appearance of physical arousal do not, necessarily, constitute consent. Further, if someone is intoxicated, they may not be in a position to give you consent. Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity, regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity.

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual interaction. Sexual assault happens, and it happens in activist and radical communities as much as anywhere else. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, but is often perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the survivor and community. Sexual assault is a tool of domination, of taking power, and can rob someone of their self respect, self worth, and autonomy. Sexual assault is rooted in broader systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and colonialism- and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced, and dealt with.

Rape Culture: Rape culture is the culture in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion.

We are survivor centric and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made to give “benefit of the doubt” to a perpetrator or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor. State language which serves to cast doubt onto survivors experiences (eg referring to experiences as “allegations”) has zero space in radical support and communities.

Thank you G20RP, Antioch College Consent Policy, Denver on Fire, Unconventional Denver, and the RNC Welcoming Committee





Men and Feminism

21 09 2009

I just discovered a website, XY Online, which is:

a website focused on men, masculinities, and gender politics. XY is a space for the exploration of issues of gender and sexuality, the daily issues of men’s and women’s lives, and practical discussion of personal and social change.

…XY is a pro-feminist website. It is guided above all by a commitment to feminism. XY is intended to advance feminist goals of gender equality and gender justice. XY is intended therefore to encourage men to involve themselves in personal and social change towards gender equality. It inspires men to develop respectful, trusting, and egalitarian relations with women, to promote equitable and liberatory ways of living and being, and to join with women in projects of gender equality and social justice.

It’s run by pro-feminist men which is awesome because we can always use more men to help smash patriarchy! I find it interesting that the website describes itself as a “pro-feminist” website rather than a feminist one.

I’ve had several conversations with many different men who identify as pro-feminist rather than feminist, which brings up the discussion of whether men can be feminists or if they simply are allies to feminism or pro-feminist.

What are people’s thoughts on this? And definitely check out XY Online! I haven’t had much time to peruse it much yet, but my preliminary readings and first impressions have been positive.





Happy Peace Day!

21 09 2009

Today, September 21st, is International Peace Day. In 1999, filmmaker Jeremy Gilley started Peace One Day to find a starting point for peace. He was on a mission to document his efforts to establish the first ever fixed day of global ceasefire and nonviolence. Two years later, all 192 member nations of the United Nations unanimously adopted September 21st as an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence and thus September 21st became Peace Day.

Peace Day is  not just about creating and sustaining peace between nations, but it is also about creating and sustaining peace on a more local and interpersonal level. This means observing nonviolence in our homes, our friendships, our relationships, our schools, our communities, our workplaces, etc. As most peace activists already know, peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace is also the absence of structural violence.

Structural violence can often be invisible and harder to detect because it is so normalized and ingrained in society. It is a term that was coined by Johan Galtung to denote violence that is perpetuated by the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution oppress people and violate their basic humanity. Examples of structural violence include racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ethnocentrism, etc. Structural violence is linked to and interdependent with direct violence because it creates the foundation from which direct violence can manifest seemingly justifiably.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said, “We must make every effort for the promotion of peace and inner values.” Peace One Day has suggestions for how you can take action on Peace Day. One simple way is to make a commitment to take action on Peace Day. Go throughout the day with this elevated intention. Taking action does not have to be a grand gesture. It can be small (afterall, the personal is political), like apologizing to someone who you may have wronged, making a donation to a nonprofit organization that you support, taking some time out of your day to volunteer, etc.

Gilley, the Chair and Founder of Peace One Day, says:

We want to reach 3 billion people with the message of Peace Day by 2012, and we are working with governments, the UN system, non-governmental organisations, schools and corporations to achieve that; but ultimately it is your support that will help make it a reality. As Ahmad Fawzi (now Director of News Media at the UN) said at our launch in 1999, “It is the peoples of this world who can create peace.”





Feminist Reader

19 09 2009

Here’s some stuff that’s out there on the interwebs right now.  Check it out.

A piece by Ann at Feministing about the Hofstra case and rape culture.

All female trains in India.

Rush Limbaugh once again being a jackass, says that we should return to racially segregated buses.

Cara at The Curvature does an excellent job explaining why we should not pressure rape survivors into naming their attackers.

Stuff white people do-  feel entitled to touch black women’s hair.

Marvel writer has rape in storyline, then responds to criticism with rape-culture apologism.

Katrina’s lessons are as important as 9/11′s.

In upcoming stuff:  “Sex, Lies, and Gender” will appear on the National Geographic channel Tuesday Sept. 22 at 6 PM.  Check out the airing times near you.  I have seen it.  I will watch it again.  You should definitely watch it too.

ACORN pimp sting, child prostitution, and accountability” by Atlasien at Racialicious

Tenured Radical goes to Washington D.C., offers some thoughts on the Tea Party rally.





Join Mass. NOW in Counter-Protesting Citizens for Life March!

19 09 2009

Got this in an email from Boston Now.  I know I will be there.  Will you?

“It’s time to once again gather our pro-choice posters, t-shirts, and rally cries to show that they’re not the only voice and that women must have a CHOICE – and we need YOU there!

Every year, Massachusetts Citizens for Life holds an anti-choice march.

Every year, Boston NOW organizes a counter-protest to represent a pro-choice voice and message to the public.

Please join us in showing your pro-choice pride. It is very important that all pro-choice people and organizations are out voicing their opposition to this march – especially now – as it becomes clear that reproductive freedom is being used as a bargaining chip in the national health care debate. We encourage you to invite colleagues, friends, and members, and to place this event on your organization’s calendar!

Date: Sunday, October 4, 2009

Time: 1:30 pm

Where: Meet on the corner of Charles St. and Beacon St.

(in front of Starbucks, across from Boston Common)

walk to the meeting spot from public transportation the Red line (Park St./Charles/MGH), Green line (Park St.), or Orange line (Downtown Crossing)

Who: Boston NOW, pro-choice supporters, and YOU!

Please email Boston NOW at info@bostonnow.org to RSVP or for more information.”






Coalition for Choice Lobby Day 2009

16 09 2009

Got this info from NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and from Planned Parenthood.

On October 6, the Mass Coalition for Choice is having a lobby day in support of the Comprehensive Health Education Bill and the Repeal Bill.  Come out and demonstrate your support for real health ed. and repeal of archaic public health laws!

You can help out by urging legislators to support:

1.  An Act Relative to Providing Health Education in Schools (Senate Bill 218/House Bill 3434)-  requires that schools provide age appropriate health ed grades K-12.

2)  An Act Relative to Updating the Public Health Laws (Senate Bill 1610/ House Bill 1745)-  would repeal archaic, unconstitutional abortion and contraceptive restrictions still on the books in Mass.

The lobby day is Oct 6th from 9 am to noon, starting in the Great Hall at the State House in Boston.

NARAL is also offering a lobby day training, which they are willing to come to the classroom and conduct.  Contact organizing@prochoicemass.org to sign up for lobby day or training.  You can also contact Planned Parenthood to sign up at amooers@pplm.org.

*Also, Planned Parenthood’s Plan is having an open house Saturday, Oct. 3rd, 11AM-4PM in front of Plan in Davis Square-  260 Elm St.  There will be games, raffle, prizes, info, giveaways, and a 3 for $30 birth control promotion.  The rain date is Oct. 7th.





Angry Green Girl sexualizes women for a good cause

3 09 2009

via Sociological Images

You may already know that I have some serious issues with the way that PETA uses women’s bodies to promote vegetarianism (along with PETA’s other offenses which we have blogged about here and here and here and here and here).  Well, here’s another example of a similar situation.

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Angry Green Girl, according to her website is “shamelessly exploiting everything I got to save our world!”

The site has some mildly educational videos about environmental issues, all using scantily clad attractive women to attract heterosexual men to environmental causes.  Some of the videos include a fully clad man called “Can’t Get Laid Guy,” to whom the “hot” women are downright mean. By conforming to stereotypes of the shallow, ditzy, self-centered, and rude but attractive female, the site seems to attempt mainly to attract “geeky” heterosexual men.  With statements such as “As for you, think about turning off the lights before you leave your apartment and maybe some day a sober girl will give you her real phone number,” the site attempts to attract these men with the vague hope of one day being able to gain sexual access to beautiful women (as long as they go green).  The site also reinforces the stereotype of the smart but nerdy male who has absolutely no social life and no chance with the beautiful but cruel and shallow female.

Will watching attractive women parade around in bikinis really convince heterosexual men to care about environmental issues and change their lifestyles accordingly?  I highly doubt it.  In the videos, the environment seems less of a focus than heterosexual male access to beautiful female bodies.  Personality is treated as an unimportant factor on the site (the girls are downright mean and extremely shallow, but are still presented as the height of sexual desirability.)  So what is Angry Green Girl really selling?  Sex.  And it may be sad but true that “sex sells,” but sex sells Calvin Klein underwear and string bikinis, not causes like environmental activism.

But don’t take it from me.  Watch some of the videos from the site and decide for yourselves.

And here’s a video from an Angry Green Girl hybrid-only waterless bikini car wash.

Good cause?  Yes.  Good tactic?  In my opinion, not so much.  What do you think?





Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012 Campaign

29 08 2009

The European Transgender Network “Transgender Europe” (TGEU) has expressed its support for the Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012 (STP – 2012) campaign, which has a pretty self explanatory mission of advocating for the depathologization of trans identities and removing Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM and the World Health Organization’s CIE. A revised version of the DSM is due in 2012 and a revised version of the CIE is due in 2014.

TGEU recently released a statement calling upon their member organizations and allies worldwide to join the campaign and organize in their regions. The main demand of the STP – 2012 campaign that TGEU is endorsing as well is to remove GID from international diagnostic manuals. TGEU also has these additional demands:

- The creation of an alternative non-pathologizing category in the ICD 11, recognizing that our gender identities are not mental health disorders while still enabling hormonal and surgical medical assistance to be provided for those trans-people who seek such assistance.

- The funding of hormonal and surgical medical assistance for trans people by national health insurance.

- The creation of processes for changing legal name and gender without compulsory treatment or any form of diagnosis.

October 17, 2009 is the established date for demonstrations in cities worldwide this year, so save that date! TGEU is collecting information about planned demonstrations in cities and so far, over 80 trans organizations and allies from over 40 cities in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe have expressed their support and solidarity, and/or confirmed their participation. Hopefully that number will just soar in the next couple weeks.

If you would like to confirm the support and/or participation of your group, email research@tgeu.org with the subject JOIN STP 2012 before September 5th. Be sure to include your group/organization’s name, logo if there is one, country, city, and the message: We want to join the campaign “Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012″.





August 28th: a landmark day in Civil Rights history in America

29 08 2009

Yesterday, August 28th, was an important and historic day in Civil Rights history in the America.  It is a day that links three prominent men whose lives were and are significant contributions to fight for racial equality and justice in this country.  The three men we are talking about are Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.

On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, only 14 at the time, was kidnapped and then brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman passing by.  Till lived in Chicago’s South Side and took a trip down to Mississippi with his great uncle and cousin to visit relatives in August 1955.  On August 24th, Till and his cousin stopped at Bryant’s Grocery store to buy candy and while in the store, Till allegedly either said “bye, baby” or whistled at Carole Bryant, the white store clerk.

Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W. Milam, forcibly kidnapped Till, brutally beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, and then shot through the head.  His mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River, with a 70 pound cotton gin tied around his torso with barbed wire.  Though Bryant and Milam admitted that they were guilty, an entirely white jury acquitted them of murder on September 23, 1955.

Till’s mother, Mamie Carthan Till, chose to have an open casket funeral so that everyone could witness the racist violence that resulted in her son’s brutal murder.  Till’s murder mobilized civil rights activist in protest of the atrocious killing and the racially biased US justice system that let his murderers free.

Eight years later, August 28, 1966, was the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where over 200,000 people attended to pressure then-President Kennedy to take civil rights seriously and to advance civil rights legislation in Congress.  That day, renowned civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.  King said:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

His words resonated powerfully then as they still do now.  His speech was a resounding cry that echoed the sentiment of many like-minded civil rights activists and supporters at the time who demanded racial equality.  However, his vision of a cohesive, united nation in which there is equality and justice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or color, has yet to be realized.

Read the rest of this entry »





I Heart Nicholas Kristof

24 08 2009

Nicholas Kristof frequently writes great pieces for the New York Times about different feminist issues in a global context. This weekend’s Times featured a pretty lengthy excerpt from a book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide written by him and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, a former Times correspondent, that will be published next month. The piece is called The Women’s Crusade and it is an engrossing read that left me eagerly anticipating the book’s release.

Kristof and WuDunn make several critical points. In the second paragraph, they make the point that in order to help a country, you must first help out and elevate the most marginalized of the population. In other words, you are only as strong as your weakest link:

The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

They go on to discuss how educating women and girls and providing them with microfinance opportunities are two simple ways to uplift the status of the female population for many countries worldwide. The piece is laden with personal stories that humanize gender oppression and the plight of many women and girls worldwide. Later on, Kristof and WuDunn write:

WHAT SHOULD we make of stories like Saima’s? Traditionally, the status of women was seen as a “soft” issue — worthy but marginal. We initially reflected that view ourselves in our work as journalists. We preferred to focus instead on the “serious” international issues, like trade disputes or arms proliferation.

The mainstream media consistently dismisses gender issues as not important enough and often casts them off to the side. This is why we seldom get coverage of women and gender related issues, like how thousands of infant girls die in China because their parents didn’t think it necessary to give them quality medical care or attention simply because they are female, or bride burnings in India which occur about once every two hours, or sex trafficking. Even in the New York Times, “All the news that’s fit to print”, doesn’t feature such stories.

Kristof and WuDunn also suggest realistic foreign-aid policies to help further women’s roles in economic and societal development, such as allocating $10 billion over five years to fund education for women and girls worldwide, sponsoring a global drive to eradicate iodine deficiency across the globe, allocating $1.6 billion over twelve years to eliminate obstetric fistula and a childbirth injury that affects many women in less wealthy countries.

Read the whole thing here.








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