Week in review

January 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

illustration by Valerie Parizeault

I wasn’t going to continue doing a week in review because I am unsure how useful it is; and I also realized that as a reader I never like reading these week-in-review type stuff. But because my sister Allison, who checks this blog regularly but checks more legit news sources irregularly, found it informative, here it is again.

I’ll start with the personal. The most incredible thing that happened to me this week did not really happen to me. I dreamed it. I had dreamed that I was the caretaker of one big beautiful Black Labrador, and then later struck an immediate connection with a beautiful abandoned Great Dane. And together, we had great fun. I taught them tricks, we went running on the beach… And then I woke up to reality, where I have no dogs. My waking life is hardly as exciting, so moving on…

Good:

V magazine

  1. Beauty in diversity: In its latest issue, high-fashion magazine, V, displays beauty through body size diversity. The photo spread is elegant and smoking hot.  [Jezebel]
  2. Hope for Haiti telethon raised over 61 million dollars [Reuters]
  3. iPad sounds funny: Apple makes it easy for comedians to make fun. [MadTV skit]
  4. The Michigan Independent: My college newspaper launches a new website. It’s pretty.

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Second Homeland

January 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

(cross-posted)

A new PBS documentary will examine New Orleans’ Vietnamese immigrant community, a group that faced a battle over a toxic landfill after Hurricane Katrina.

Hai Au Huynh (left) and US Congressman-to-be Anh “Joseph” Cao (right) protestingoutside of City Hall in New Orleans, 2006. (James Dien Bui)

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Young people out of school and out of work at a record high

January 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

(cross-posted)

A new study underscores the need for a national re-enrollment strategy.

“One of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education,” said President Obama in yesterday night’s state of the union. And although Obama says he does not accept second place for the US of A, our nation’s education system falls well under that. Among industrialized nation, we hold title to having one of the highest high school dropout rates, with an estimated 7,000 students dropping out each day. But even worse, the social and economic costs and consequences of dropping out has escalated in this economic recession, according to a national study released this week.

Among those hit hardest by the recession are young high school dropouts. According to the study, this group has a record high rate of unemployment and incarceration; and black youths and young people from low-income families are at the greatest disadvantage. How this group fares has repercussions on the nation’s overall social and economic well-being. The report underscores the need for Congress and the President to get behind a national re-enrollment strategy, and expand employment opportunities for jobless youth.

Some findings from the report:

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Farewell Howard Zinn

January 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image by Ted Mathot

Howard Zinn–writer, teacher, historian, activist–died Wednesday at the age of 87. (NPR, Boston Globe, NYT, The Nation) Thank you, Zinn, for your tireless love for a sometimes unloving world. Your life was a gift.

In his own words:

“I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.” (The optimism of uncertainty)

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

“Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

Zinn’s last published piece appeared in The Nation on Jan. 13, a brief commentary on Obama’s first year as President.

Blog for choice: Abortion is a blessing

January 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last Friday marked the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and was the 5th annual Blog for Choice Day. Pro-choice bloggers were asked  to answer the question: What does  “trust women” mean to you? This year’s question is in honor of the late Dr. George Tiller who frequently wore a pin that said “trust women”.

Kay Steiger compares Blog for Choice Day as a New Year’s for the pro-choice movement, where pro-choicers re-energize and renew their resolutions on how to move forward. Yet today pro-choicers find themselves with very little reason to celebrate, and plenty to be depressed about. As pro-choice activist Reverend Katherine Ragsdale puts it,  “Abortion is a blessing, and our work is not done.”

In honor of Blog for Choice Day and in memory of Dr. Tiller, I answer what “trust women” means to me.

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Week in review: the good, bad and ambiguous

January 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

The Good

Cindy McCain is not a H8er: Cindy McCain poses for the NOH8 campaign for gay marriage, sending the message that marriage equality is not a partisan issue. Imagine- if only she went public on this while her husband, a Prop 8 supporter, was on the campaign trail. Still, props Cindy. [NoH8 Campaign]

Speaking Chinese increases in coolness: More schools around America are offering Chinese as a foreign language. Approximately 1,600 American public and private schools are teaching Chinese, up from ~300 a decade ago, and the numbers are growing exponentially. [NYT]
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Haitian feminist leader Myriam Merlet (1953-2010)

January 21, 2010 § 1 Comment

photo by Paula Allen

I regret never having heard of Myriam Merlet until her death because she sounds fabulous. Merlet, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry for Women in Haiti, died in the earthquake in Port Au Prince. She is remembered as a friend, a mother, and a fighter for Haiti, for women and social justice.

Merlet, a native to Haiti, left the country in the 1970s, fleeing from poverty and repression. She returned in 1986, and explains why in her powerful essay “The More People Dream” :

I was born in Haiti but I lived abroad until I was twenty-nine. There people tended to see Haiti through a series of clichés: Papa Doc, Baby Doc, black, illiterate, hungry. I had to always explain, “No, not Tahiti”.

I  got my degree in economics from Canada and studied women’s issues, political sociology, and feminist theory. But while I was abroad I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman. I couldn’t see myself being forever a nigger in the United States, an immigrant in Canada, or a stranger in Europe. I felt the need to be part of something. This couldn’t be the black cause in the United Sates or the immigration cause in Canada. It could only be the cause of the Haitian people. Thus, I decided to return to Haiti.

In 2001, despite riots and coups, she brought The Vagina Monologues to the women and girls of Port Au Prince, raising the issue of violence against women and girls in a region where women and girls suffer from some of the worst gender-based violence in the world, and where rape was only made a national offense in 2005. She was an integral force in creating the Haiti Sorority Safe House in Port Au Prince, a women’s shelter for domestic violence survivors. She founded Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media. And among her efforts as the Chief of Staff of the Ministry for Women, she got streets to be named after notable Haitian women who came before her. Merlet is also a published author on issues of race and gender.

Keep Merlet’s legacy alive. Natural disaster tends to hurt women and children disproportionately. Coupled with the news that Haiti has lost three of its most dynamic feminist leaders, there is reason for concern over the future well-being of women and girls in Haiti. At Campus Progress, I blogged about the importance of putting women at the center of disaster-relief organizing, and highlight the organizations that are doing just that.

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