Category Archives: Human Spirit

Ukraine’s women fighters reflect a cultural tradition of feminist independence

A Ukrainian soldier on March 9, 2022, waits for a train in Lviv that will take her to the front line.
Vincenzo Circosta/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mia Bloom, Georgia State University and Sophia Moskalenko, Georgia State University

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women have taken up arms during the war sparked by Russia’s invasion. According to media reports, women constitute as much as 15% to 17% of the Ukrainian fighting force.

In the first two weeks of the conflict, social media was replete with images of Ukrainian women training for combat. On March 15, CNN reported that after dropping off their parents and children in the border town of Przemysl, Poland, some Ukrainian women are turning around to go back to the fight. Continue reading

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Ukraine is benefiting from generous donations – and many other global causes need help, too

A Yemeni mother holds the tiny foot of her malnourished child in 2021.
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Jessica Eise, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Ukraine’s resistance to Russia has captivated the world, dominating social media and the news since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion. With this attention has come a massive outpouring of financial support.

Ordinary people, governments, corporations and celebrities have pledged billions to support Ukraine and have dispatched everything from missiles to cryptocurrency. Stories of sacrifice inspire courage, and photos of vulnerable victims, such as the pregnant woman on a stretcher after a bombing, have ignited rage and pain. When reports surfaced that the woman and her baby had both died, the collective sorrow only deepened.

The urge to express solidarity by making your own donation is only natural. Continue reading

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How Zelenskyy emerged as the antithesis of Putin and proved you don’t need to be a strongman to be a great leader

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been lauded for his resistance to the Russian invasion.
Photo by Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images

Michael Blake, University of Washington

Whatever happens in the coming weeks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will go down as the face of Ukrainian resilience during the Russian invasion of his country.

His response to the Russian invasion of his country has been widely praised, both at home and abroad. His speech to the European Parliament in early March received a standing ovation. Western press outlets have referred to him as a “hero,” as the “voice” of his nation, and as a “focal point” for democratic resistance to tyranny. Continue reading

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How a Black writer in 19th-century America used humor to combat white supremacy

Charles Chesnutt was one of the first widely read Black fiction writers in the U.S.
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Rodney Taylor, University of South Carolina

Any writer has to struggle with the dilemma of staying true to their vision or giving editors and readers what they want. A number of factors might influence the latter: the market, trends and sensibilities.

But in the decades after the Civil War, Black writers looking to faithfully depict the horrors of slavery had to contend with readers whose worldviews were colored by racism, as well as an entire swath of the country eager to paper over the past. Continue reading

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Red Cross Declares First-Ever Blood Shortage Crisis in US

The warning that “lifesaving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed” comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Due to problems tied to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross on Tuesday declared its first-ever national blood shortage crisis, warning that already, “doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait.”

The plea for “critically needed” blood and platelet donations comes during National Blood Donor Month and amid a surge in U.S. Covid-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. Continue reading

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Abdulrazak Gurnah: the truth-teller’s tale

Winning the Nobel Prize in literature means his work could add essential nuance to the global conversation about identity and belonging

By Rashmee Roshan Lall  Published 10-31-2021 by openDemocracy

Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. Screenshot: The Hindu

Until recently, Abdulrazak Gurnah, a professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury, had little media attention other than a brief mention in stories about refugees.

As a refugee who arrived in England from Zanzibar in 1968, and as a novelist who wrote about refugees and immigrants from east Africa, Gurnah would sometimes be mentioned in newspaper stories on asylum and migration. After the 2016 Brexit referendum and that notorious anti-immigrant UK Independence Party poster, his name was mentioned among other writers who championed a less insular worldview. And after the Windrush scandal, when the children of Caribbean migrants who had come to the UK decades ago were asked for paperwork to prove their right to live in Britain, Gurnah’s opinion was sought. He was, after all, a refugee himself. Continue reading

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McDonald’s Workers Join ‘Striketober’ and Walk Out Over Sexual Harassment

One striker participated because “McDonald’s still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-26-2021

Employees of a McDonald’s in North Charleston, South Carolina walked out with workers across the United States for a one-day strike on October 26, 2021. (Photo: NC Raise Up/Twitter)

Amid of wave of worker walkouts that supporters are collectively calling “Striketober,” McDonald’s employees in at least 12 U.S. cities took to the streets Tuesday to raise concerns about how the fast food giant has handled sexual harassment and to demand a union.

Though McDonald’s in April announced new sexual harassment training standards that all of its restaurants worldwide will be required to meet by January 2022, workers still joined the one-day walkout from Chicago and Detroit to Houston and Miami, charging that the company has not done enough to keep employees safe on the job. Continue reading

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The Palestinians and the struggle of the dispossessed

The ongoing fight of those in Palestine reveals what it means to live in struggle, to refuse defeat, to persist

By Samera Esmeir  Published 5-14-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Faraz Khan/Twitter

A struggle is unfolding in Palestine – the struggle of the dispossessed to guard their homes, land, and place in this world. The struggle of those who have been subjected to Zionist and Israeli depopulation and ethnic-cleansing practices since the 1948 Nakba. This is the struggle of those who survived the 1948 war of conquest and the 1967 war of occupation.

This struggle also belongs to those who became refugees within their homeland, but who were not allowed to return to their homes and villages because they were kept out by policies facilitating the Israeli takeover of their lands. This is now the struggle of yet another generation that has inherited the collective dispossession of its people, as in Haifa and Gaza, and is undergoing it again in such places as the Naqab and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Continue reading

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A Good Start: Minnesota’s Return of Dakota Land Makes Space for Healing

While most Native communities in Minnesota, such as the Ojibwe and others fighting pipeline projects through their land recognize that their fight for sovereignty is far from over, the land transfer to the Lower Sioux is a good, if small start in countering centuries of whitewashed history.

By Raul Diego  Published 2-22-2021 by MintPress News

 

The state of Minnesota returned 114 acres of land to the Lower Sioux tribe after the final vote of the Minnesota Historical Society completed the last step in a four-year process that capped off a long fight by the sovereign Dakota nation to recover official title to their original home.

Mni Sota Makoce is the Dakota phrase that the name for “Minnesota” is derived from, which means Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds (or Cloud-tinted Waters). Incorporated as the thirty-second state of the Union in 1858, the ancestral home of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people saw the gradual arrival of French fur traders and loggers followed by other Western Europeans looking to make their fortunes mining for iron ore and exploiting other natural resources in a place settlers would later describe in the much more banal terms “land of ten thousand lakes” in tourism brochures of the early twentieth century and embossed on the state’s license plates since the 1950s. Continue reading

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48 Years After Landmark Ruling, Advocates Push to #ReimagineRoe and Build Abortion Justice

Roe is the floor. We want an end to Hyde. We want people to access abortion care, when they need it, without discrimination, stigma, or harm.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 1-22-2021

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Pro-choice demonstration in front of SCOTUS. in June 2016. Photo: Jordan Uhl/flickr/CC

Nearly a half-century after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that access to safe, legal abortion is a constitutional right, advocates are now pushing the Biden administration and Congress to

urgently and aggressively pursue a bold reproductive justice agenda.

While advocates have fought to protect Roe v. Wade since 1973, 48 years later to the day—with a new pro-choice administration and Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress—calls are building to #ReimagineRoe and treat the high court’s landmark ruling as a floor rather than a ceiling for reproductive rights and healthcare. Continue reading

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