by: Andrew Lam on June 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
There came a startling moment when everything shifted. A man carrying two plastic bags, one in each hand, stood directly in the path of a column of armored tanks, effectively preventing them from proceeding down the avenue toward Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The day before, on June 4, 1989, hundreds of pro-democracy students and workers had been gunned down in and near the square. The image of “Tank Man,” as he’s now called, stays indelibly in the mind. Some have said his name is Wang Weilin, a 19-year-old student, whereabouts unknown. There is speculation that he either was executed or is living in exile in Taiwan. Whoever he is, wherever he is now, dead or alive, it is certain that for a brief moment he managed to stop the machines with just his body. This unknown rebel, unarmed, stood up against the awesome power of the state and, as the world watched, gained something priceless in return: He liberated his body from the collective, from being subservient to the ideological machine, and opened the floodgates to a next world.
Although direct political confrontation failed, a new sideways rebellion began in the cultural and economic sphere, one that has succeeded. If Mao launched the cultural revolution in 1966 to be rid of “liberal bourgeois” and to continue the revolutionary class struggle, the bourgeois liberals have struck back. The real cultural revolution, stoked by individual desires and ambitions, is happening now. “The level of societal openness and individual freedom now enjoyed by the people in China was unthinkable to the protesters at the Tiananmen Square,” says Ling-chi Wang, professor emeritus of Asian American Studies at Berkeley.
by: Valeria Fernández on May 22nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »
(Cross-posted from New America Media)
Daniel Rodriguez has been a part of the immigrant rights movement for as long as he can remember. He is gay, 27 and a law school student who hopes to become an immigration attorney one day.
Rodriguez has no doubt that LGBT rights should be part of comprehensive immigration reform. But these days he finds himself in an uncomfortable position.
“This is one of those times in which our community has to sacrifice something to have a win,” said Rodriguez.
In the coming days, the Senate could consider an amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill that would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners to get a green card.
Jason Collins today became the first active NBA player to reveal his gay identity in the league’s history. And he did so on the pages of Sports Illustrated with the grace and stoicism befitting an accidental activist, which indeed is what Collins has become: a brave activist determined to combat the homophobia and hatred rife in American sports.
Not because he set out for this to be his mission. But because nobody else has done so.
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.
Courtesy: Huffington Post UK
It seems that controversy over the hijab – the Islamic tradition of covering a woman’s hair and body – will not die down anytime soon. Governments such as France and Germany seem to be dead set against it, while theocracies such as Saudi Arabia go the other extreme by forcing women to cover. But ask the average Muslim woman, and she will probably wonder what the fuss is all about. Since when is dress a political statement, even a weapon? FEMEN – a feminist Ukrainian protest group – seems to think it is, and is up in arms over the hijab, declaring April 4 as International Topless Jihad Day. What FEMEN activists perhaps did not expect was that Muslim women who wear the hijab are a tad possessive about their right to wear it, and don’t take lightly to a declaration of jihad (Arabic for struggle) against it.
Marriage equality is an emerging story useful to both same sex and the “one man/one woman” kind of marriage. It is even helpful to families who are single parented. By story I mean the tale we tell ourselves about ourselves. The big word for it is narrative – and what the nation is missing right now is a narrator in chief about gender. Without a commanding narrative about what it means to have a gender, we are each and all lost in the woods of personal confusion, which results in national confusion, which results in many long dark nights of the soul, for those with any kind of sexual equipment. Marriage equality is helping, not hurting, this gender confusion. It helps by allowing for experiments it what it means to be married, what it means to be a person with a gender, and what it means to cling to each other, in the world beyond consumerism. We promise richer/poorer; better/worse; sickness and in health when we get married. Our word is our word here. Multiple attention dissolves into singular attention, the kind we want from a lover. We stop “shopping” and start living.
Perhaps no other country of the world has received so much censure about its treatment of women in recent years than Afghanistan. First the cold war, then the civil war, then the oppressive rule of the Taliban, and finally the American war on terror – Afghanistan’s female population has been continually left in poverty, danger, and tragedy as long as memory serves. In recent years, however, with the help of American troops in some cases, and as a result of more education and awareness in others, Afghani women have made great strides in their standard of living, from serving in the police force to hopefuls in politics, and it looks like their luck may finally be changing.
by: Gina Athena Ulysse on March 12th, 2013 | Comments Off
Members of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa Inc's Board of Directors. Credit: OWWA.
As International Women’s Day celebrations continue, the Organization of Women Writers of Africa Inc (OWWA) seeks to bring Black women writers to Ghana. Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue is the theme of OWWA’s conference scheduled to be held in Accra on May 16-19. The word yari, from the Kuranko language of Sierra Leone means future while ntoaso from the Akan language of Ghana translates as understanding and agreement. According to Conference Director, Brooklyn College Assistant Professor and poet, Rosamond King, “this Yari Yari will extend the dialogue of the first two Yari Yaris, which put hundreds of women writers and scholars in discussion with thousands of people”.
As stated on their website, OWWA is a nonprofit literary organization concerned with the development and advancement of literature of women writers from Africa and its Diaspora. It is associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information In 1991, the legendary activist-poet Jayne Cortez together with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo founded OWWA. The Founding Board members of the organization are: J.e Franklin, Cheryll Y. Greene, Rashidah Ismaili, Renee Larrier and Louise Meriwether.
As a woman, I welcome the month of March – Women’s History Month – each year as an opportunity to pay tribute to women who have made significant contributions to our world. As a Muslim woman, I also look forward to this month as a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions Muslim women have made to the sciences, literature, honorable struggles such as the French Resistance, and so much more. During a time when women in Islam are viewed as dependent, covered up, and oppressed, I look forward to the narratives of strong, independent, and intelligent Muslim women of the past as a much-needed boost to the generally negative and (incorrectly) chauvinistic paintbrush that Islam has been painted with over the last few centuries. This month I will write a series of posts about several little-known Muslim women from whom I personally am honored to learn, and who can demonstrate what Islam really offers to women in terms of freedom, creativity, and authority.
My first historical profile is someone from the recent past. Noor Inayat Khan (1914 – 1944) was an Indian Muslim descended from Tipu Sultan, but more importantly the first female radio operator sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Interested in music, poetry and writing from a young age, Noor decided to set aside her pacifist Sufi upbringing and participate in the war in order to help change Western perceptions about Indians and Muslims. According to Ayahs, Lascars and Princes: The Story of Indians in Britain 1700-1947, she once said: “I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. If one or two could do something in the Allied service which was very brave and which everybody admired it would help to make a bridge between the English people and the Indians.”
There is much media attention on the 50 year Anniversary of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique published in 1963. Friedan’s book is touted as the beginning of the “Feminist Movement.” However in the 1960s when second wave feminism was born there were two branches of Feminism. One, has been repressed. The other celebrated. One was Friedan’s and later Gloria Steinem’s. It was a gender only movement fighting for gender equality within the United States as it was, with its racial and class hierarchy. It was dominated by privileged educated women. The other branch of the women’s movement was the class conscious “Women’s Liberation Movement” which emerged from the radical Anti- War and Civil Rights movements.
The original Women’s Liberation Movement was a movement of both race and class integration, a vision of justice for all. It saw female liberation as the basis for social revolution. In fact, an article called “Female Liberation as the Basis for Social Revolution” appeared in one of the earliest publications of The Women’s Liberation Movement, “Notes From the Second Year,” issued by its founding group “Red Stockings” in 1970. Other statements of that period stressing the unity of race, class and gender oppression were issued by The Third World Women’s Alliance in 1969, and The Third World Gay Revolution (1969). These original documents are reprinted in Dear Sisters: Dispatches From The Women’s Liberation Movement (Baxandall & Gordon, Eds. 2000).
Until today, American Muslim women have been fighting an uphill battle for their right to cover their heads in the traditional hijab. Whether at school, work, even government offices, we have stood unflinching as the debate about Islamophobia, creeping Shariah and all the other ugly words associated with being Muslim in America have swirled about us. Hearing negative comments, facing discrimination in hiring, being marginalized in social groups or treated with sympathy for assumed oppression, we have faced it all while defending our right to express our faith through our dress. Until today.
A little known six-year litigation between a Muslim woman and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department ended in a landmark case today in the Muslim’s favor, awarding damages to Souhair Khatib of Anaheim for the indignity she faced at the hands of law enforcement officials. The case revolved around police holding cell procedures, which demand that articles of clothing deemed dangerous be removed from those taken into custody. While admirable in theory, the procedure failed to take into account religious clothing that the person taken into custody may be wearing – such as the hijab. Those who know Muslim women who wear the hijab (be it in the form of a head scarf, coat, burka or anything else), will also be aware of the importance they award this article of clothing. Most of us are fiercely protective of it – and ourselves in it – and will resist ardently in case of removal in the company of men. For Souhair Khatib, who was not a criminal, having her hijab forcibly removed in front of men despite her pleadings, was a real nightmare, one that I cannot imagine undergoing myself.