Category Archives: Human Spirit

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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Labor Day celebrates earning a living, but remember what work really means

Doing a job to help other people can give greater meaning to work. Photo by Eddie Kopp for Unsplach, CC BY-ND

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. employment is dire. Economists estimate that 1 in 5 workers have lost their jobs. As a result, many people are finding it difficult to keep a roof overhead and put food on the table. Yet there can be more to work, and Labor Day provides an opportunity to see how through the writings of a woman who thought especially deeply about it, Simone Weil.

Weil looked at work as more than an exchange of money for labor. She argued that people need to work not only for income but also for the experience of labor itself. From her perspective, money does not solve the core problems of joblessness. Instead, work provides vital opportunities to live more fully by helping others. Continue reading

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Israel Defense Ministry Launches COVID-19 Voice Test for Americans

A company formed at the behest of the Israeli Ministry of Defense has begun collecting voice data from Americans to detect COVID-19 symptoms through technology with dubious diagnostic value, but highly profitable applications in law enforcement.

By Raul Diego  Published 7-2-2020 by MintPress News

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has launched a project to analyze people’s voices and breathing patterns using artificial intelligence (AI) in order to determine if they have COVID-19. The software allegedly listens for detectable “signs of distress,” ostensibly from the respiratory effects of the virus. A May 27 report in the Jerusalem Post stated that the research was already being conducted at several hospitals in Israel, where confirmed COVID-19 patients were asked to provide voice samples to be compared to those of a control group from the general population.

Results from the research were expected sometime in June. However, the study has now been expanded beyond Israel’s borders. Over one million voice recordings are currently being collected in the United States through a mobile app developed by Massachusetts-based Vocalis Health, under the auspices of the Israeli government. Continue reading

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How DC Mayor Bowser used graffiti to protect public space

Volunteers helped city workers paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street near the White House. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rebekah Modrak, University of Michigan

When President Donald Trump sent heavily armed federal law enforcement officers and unidentified officers in riot gear into Washington, D.C. during the height of protests recently, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser responded by painting “BLACK LIVES MATTER” directly on the street leading to the White House.

While many spoke of it as a daring political act, for artists like me, it was also an act of urban intervention, an artistic act intended to transform an existing structure or institution, that reclaimed public space back for the public. And she accomplished this with little physical matter at all.

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To Provide Safety and Solidarity, DC Residents Open Doors to Protesting Teens Cornered by Police Crackdown

“I hope that they go out there today, peacefully as they did yesterday, and not blink,” said Rahul Dubey, who sheltered dozens of people, “because our country needs them.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2020

Rahul Dubey, a Washington, DC resident who sheltered dozens of protesters in his home overnight, salutes neighbors and onlookers from his front door Tuesday morning. (Photo: kikivonfreaki/Twitter)

In a show of solidarity applauded as the kind of empathy and mutual aid needed in the face of brutal police crackdown, city residents in Washington, D.C. on Monday night opened their doors to protesters—mostly teenagers—fleeing police, keeping the demonstrators safe until curfew lifted Tuesday morning despite efforts from law enforcement to make arrests.

“I hope that my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” Rahul Dubey, who sheltered around 70 demonstrators in his home overnight, told WJLA. Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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