Afghan Independence Day

“They are asking for protection, for education, for the freedom and the future they were promised. We cannot continue to fail them. We have no time to spare.” – Malala Yousufzai

Today is Afghan Independence Day, and the irony is not lost on us. Please head to @theafghan on Instagram to learn more about what is happening in Afghanistan. You can find donation links two posts down on our page.

For more information: follow @sadafdoost @alfirdauws @omar.haidari @middleeastmatters @afghansempowered on Instagram

The Evolution of Social Movements

by Sereen Yusuf

Social movements have certainly changed over time, along with the effect of supranational organizations on the nature of such conflicts. Historical and modern social movements vary in a multitude of ways: different rights are being demanded by the protestors, they face different challenges, the individuals taking part in the protests are treated differently and different groups oppose such movements. Two such examples that highlight the similarities and differences between the historical and modern social movements are the US Civil Rights Movement and the Human Rights Movement. 

The US Civil Rights Movement is an example of a historical social movement. This movement was a struggle for social justice which took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. It was a campaign led by African Americans and their like-minded allies to end institutionalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation in the United States. In contrast, the Human Rights Movement is an example of a modern social movement. This movement began in the late 1900s and is still prevalent today. It engages in activism related to the issues of human rights and its foundationary aspects include resistance to colonialism, imperialism, slavery, racism, segregation, patriarchy and oppression of indigenous peoples. 

The Civil Rights Movement aimed to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans and secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law. The protestors demanded equality for Whites and Blacks living in the United States. Similarly, the Human Rights Movement urges the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights for all humans in the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Similar to the Civil Rights Movement, the Human Rights Movement focuses on equality for all. However, unlike the Civil Rights Movement which focused specifically on racial inequality, the Human Rights Movement encompasses all aspects of equality from gender and race to ethnicity and religion. 

Historical social movements faced various unique challenges that many modern social movements do not. As highlighted by the Civil Rights Movement, connectivity was a key issue in historical social movements. Due to the lack of international communication, the Civil Rights Movement occurred at different times around the world. Different individuals led the movement in each region/country, their persuasive techniques working best for people in their respective regions. Contrastingly, rapid globalization has allowed the international community to become more connected than ever. Due to the introduction of the internet and social media platforms, individuals can easily communicate with one another from across the world and relay messages in a matter of seconds. Thus, the Human Rights Movement is an international movement and although much of the movement is local in nature, with the protestors being concerned with human rights violations in their own countries, individuals from around the world are working towards the same goals and rely on an international network of support. There are also many leaders that lead and inspire individuals from around the world, not just the country/region they are from. 

Individuals involved in the US Civil Rights Movement often faced threats and violence. Many were stoned or beaten with baseball bats and buses were bombed while the police looked the other way. During the Birmingham March in 1963 and the Selma March in 1965, protestors faced electric cattle prods, powerful water hoses, vicious dogs, tear gas and clubs. Thousands of the marchers were arrested and faced legal obstacles as the judiciary system was dominated by White males. Furthermore, federal ruling was often ignored as evident by the Central High School, Little Rock incident in 1957. Contrastingly, such violence does not often occur now. Many peaceful protests and marches take place around the world on a daily basis. While some oppose such displays, the protestors do not usually face violence. The opposing groups are aware that if they were to react to peaceful protestors violently, they would lose support as their actions would be broadcasted to the international community. In recent times, protests are joined electronically with support from around the world. 

Many groups oppose social movements, both historical and modern. One key group that opposed the Civil Rights Movement was the Ku Klux Klan. This was a white supremacist group that aimed to maintain white supremacy over black people and immigrants. Dressed in white sheets and hoods, they carried out violence and intimidation through whipping, branding, kidnapping and lynching on both blacks and whites who were seeking to enfranchise the African American population. Some groups, such as radical or extremist nationalist or religious groups also oppose certain aspects of the Human Rights Movement. 

The key supranational organization in place during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Human Rights Movement was the United Nations, an international body that is still around today. Founded after the Second World War, the United Nations is committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and nations. This document states human rights should be protected by the rule of law and the peoples of the United Nations are determined to promote social progress, human rights and a common understanding of these rights. It goes on to say that everyone is free and should be treated equally, everyone has the right to live in freedom and safety, everyone has the right to be treated equally. Although this was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948, they did not interfere in the Civil Rights Movement when protestors were facing threats and violence. Both the Civil Rights Movement and the Human Rights Movement strive(d) to uphold the terms laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but neither received aid or support from the United Nations. 

As made evident by the examples given above, social movements have changed drastically over time. Different rights are being demanded by the protestors of historical and modern social movements, they face different challenges, the individuals taking part in the protests are treated differently and different groups oppose such movements.

Good News Monday 21.06.2021

Happy Monday everyone! We’re back with some Good News to beat your Monday blues

As vaccination rates increase, Covid-19 cases and deaths have thankfully started plummeting in the United States.

A vaccination for bees? Yes, it’s possible! James Webb, Cornell University student and founder of Beemmunity company, has developed a vaccine for bees that has proven to be extremely effective in helping bees survive pesticide contact.

Pakistani American Legal Expert Lina Khan becomes US Federal Trade Commissioner (FTC)

Good News Monday 07.06.2021

What’s the point of good news when the world seems so bleak? There’s quite a few actually.

A little bit of positive news regularly has been proven to boost one’s overall mental wellbeing and even immune system. It’s important to remember and remind oneself of good things!

The Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network has vowed to plant 18 million trees by 2031 in its new initiative by the name of Clyde Climate Forest initiative.

The declining Covid-19 infection and death rate for India, along with increasing vaccination rates, has led some Indian states to slowly start to reopen while experts still advise caution.

Joe Biden, following on his promises of better environmental legislation, has suspended the oil and gas drilling program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which had been approved by the Trump administration.  

Good News Monday 17.5.2021

Here is a little something to make your Monday a bit brighter amidst these desolate times.

The Biden Administration has vowed to reinstate protections for migratory birds in North America that had previously been revoked under the Trump Administration in a broad effort to loosen restrictions on energy development businesses.

Early data on effectiveness of vaccinations against the more transmissible Indian variant of COVID-19 suggest that current vaccines will continue to offer high protection from death and severe illness.

A regrown forest area, primarily along the coast of Mongolia, can potentially absorb one years’ worth of US carbon emissions.

The Vaccine Will Not Fix the World Without Our Help

by Hayaa Tabba

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic and people everywhere are eagerly anticipating the day it ends. However, some people’s dismissal of the virus is a major reason it has persisted for so long. While the virus continues to spread, many improvements have been made since the day the world initially locked down. A majority of the population understands the virus, how to protect themselves from it and how to treat themselves if they were to get it. Because of this, the number of people contracting the virus and dying as a result has severely dropped due to a better understanding of how to fight it. Doctors and scientists have also started producing and distributing vaccines for the virus. But will the pandemic become a global crisis again because of the population’s misinterpretation of the vaccine as a cure?

Over the last three months, 345 million COVID vaccines have been administered around the world in numerous countries. Yet some who have gotten the vaccine are confused about how they still can test positive, despite being vaccinated. This is because the vaccines are not an outright cure, but rather lower the chances of a person being able to contract it. If people are still eager to jump back into their pre-pandemic lives, they will still have to respect the SOPs put out by their respective governments as that is the only way to permanently subdue the virus, or at least contain it. If this is followed, the vaccine will act as a tool to speed up the process of controlling the spread of the disease and allow individuals to live more flexibly around others without being a major threat to anyone’s health.

The release of several vaccines has brought hope to people around the world. It has led to a drop in the graph of death and destruction caused by COVID-19. Yet, like all the drops in cases we have faced in the past year, this drop also does not mean that anything is resolved. Whenever a country’s cases start to go down, life quickly resumes as it did before, which only leads to cases rising again, possibly even higher than the initial peak. 

Of course, it is not required for people to continuously lock themselves in their homes and isolate themselves from the world indefinitely. However, when cases start to decrease, the best way to keep them from rising again is to keep following the SOPs until there are little to no cases up to the point where it isn’t a threat anymore. Countries like New Zealand have managed to follow this procedure and are now one of the few countries where life is “normal” again.

Similarly, the vaccine will allow people to go out more comfortably and meet smaller groups normally. But the second SOPs are discarded because of the belief that we are now protected through the vaccine and big gatherings restart without people wearing masks or social distancing, then despite the vaccine, the cases will begin to rise again.

I believe that if one does get the vaccine, one can travel or go out, but always with precautions. The second people start acting irresponsibly, attending big events where SOPs are not followed, it will only help push the world further away from the normality everyone longs for. When things start to go in the right direction and the numbers start going down, why stop doing those actions that are working until it’s completely better? We should keep helping our world until the cases are completely gone and we can go back to the life we crave.

The Joe Biden Series: Deb Haaland

  • Party: Democratic
  • Education: University of New Mexico (BA, JD)
  • Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party (2015-2017)
  • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Mexico’s 1st District (2019-2021)

On Monday, the 15th of March, Debra Haaland was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Interior. Haaland brings a solid history of political service into the administration, along with an impressive record of bipartisanship.

Haaland is the former chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party and a former U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district. As a political progress, Haaland supports The Green New Deal and the Medicare For All programme. She is the second Native American and first Native American woman ever to serve in a Presidential U.S. Cabinet.

Haaland’s career in New Mexico politics was extremely successful. She was credited with rebuilding the state party after large defeats for Democrats in New Mexico in 2014. During her two years as chair, Haaland raised enough capital to pay off seven years’ worth of debt which was built up under previous chairs.

As Secretary of the Interior, Haaland will be responsible for overseeing the lands, seas, and natural resources of the United States, as well as its tribal affairs. Haaland is a Native American and a member of the Laguna Pueblo Indigenous American tribe, which makes her the most senior Indigenous American in the U.S. government in nearly a century. The only other Indigenous person to hold an office higher than Interior Secretary was Charles Curtis, Republican vice president to Herbert Hoover and a Kaw nation citizen.

Reportedly, Haaland has an extremely good record of bipartisanship in Congress, though only four Republicans voted to confirm her as Interior Secretary. She said: “I’ve gotten more Republicans to sign on to my bills than any other Democrat. It’s important for all of us – county commissioners, governors and mayors, not just Congress – to make sure we’re working together for the greater good. We want to pass laws that will help people across the country, and we need to make sure these messages are getting out … I’m going to continue to reach across the aisle, to protect our environment and make sure that vulnerable communities have a say in what our country is doing moving forward.” This sentiment is proving to be vital in the post-Trump era, with Republicans and Democrats just as vitriolic towards each other than ever before.

Haaland intends to uphold and respect tribal communities more so than her predecessors, who attempted to develop projects on tribal land with little regard for the ecological and cultural significance of such land. Her predecessor, David Bernhardt, was not a politician, but an oil and energy lobbyist.

We think this is a good choice. Deb Haaland has a good track record of navigating difficult economic situations and a desire to help combat climate change extensively. Earlier in 2021, she proposed a bill that set out a national goal of protecting 30% of of US lands and oceans by the year 2030 – this bill has since been adopted by the Biden Administration for its environmental agenda.

“This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ [Native Americans]. I’m a living testimate to the failure of that horrific ideology.” – Deb Haaland

Women’s History Month 21.3.21

On this day in 1986, Debi Thomas became the first African American to win the World Figure Skating Championships. She continued to establish herself as an important personality in the world of figure skating, becoming the first black athlete to win any medal at the Winter Olympics, in 1988. Despite competing in U.S. National titles, Thomas was completing a pre-med degree from Stanford University at the same time.

This Day in Women’s History

Let’s learn about women’s history! On this day in 1903, the Martha Washington Hotel opened in New York City, the first hotel in the city exclusively for women. It was almost fully occupied immediately! The hotel was a choice of residence for a number of notable women, and was typically frequented by “teachers, bookkeepers, musicians, artists, burses, and physicians.” It also served s the headquarters of the Interurban Women’s Suffrage Council from 1907. The hotel continued to cater solely to women until 1998.