Archive for the ‘Multiculturalism/Social Justice’ Category

While football was originally how the world got to know him, Tim Tebow has made a bigger name for himself in the past year through his speaking arrangements at churches across the country. He has been regarded for his strength of faith, but many have also attached a target to his back and complained about his engagement with religion and its overflow into his media coverage. Tebow appears to be an honest Christian and the media is more of a side effect of his presence in the spotlight.

I believe that he takes a lot of flack for no real reason. I do not have to agree with his line of faith to respect him for his devotion to it. Now he has found himself in a situation where his speaking engagements have people questioning his faith yet again. He has gone to a number of churches that have identities for spouting out disapproval for and anger toward groups different from them. In particular, some of these churches have expressed very vocal opposition toward the LGBT community, Mormonism and the Muslim faith. When some of these concerns arose for a scheduled church appearance for April, the NFL was getting worried and Tebow had to make a tough decision. Although his speeches have focused on the qualities of being a good Christian, it was too much to continue keeping it on his schedule.

I applaud Tebow for making a good choice with how he wants to represent himself, but I think there may have also been some pressure from a couple outside sources that pushed him out of the engagement. As I said, I believe that he is honestly focused on good faith elements, but it has not stopped him from speaking at churches that have some hateful reputations. Whether he ever gets another chance to make an impact in the NFL will remain to be seen, but he has a chance to become quite the motivation speaker and just needs to take more of an effort to take better care of his reputation before he loses the innocence he has maintained up to this point.

130219093837-tebow-passes-story-top

Article & Discussion

Author and inspiration for the book The Favored Daughter, Fawzia Koofi continues to rise in the spotlight of the Muslim world. It is extremely rare for a woman to gain such notoriety and high political status, but it was not so easy for her to get their as the title of her book would recommend. When she was born and her parents realized that she was a girl, they neglected her, believing that there was no real future for a young girl in the Muslim world. Eventually, that changed and her mother showered her with love and support. Still, she has had to battle through an ultra-conservative world and has had her life threatened on multiple occasions to reach her current position as a woman’s rights advocate and a member of the Parliament. She is now running for president for the 2014 Afghan election.

Check out her recent appearance on the Daily Show here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-13-2013/fawzia-koofi?xrs=share_copy

fawzia-koofi

While there are a number of vital issues involved in this upcoming election, it is surprising to me how many people are still so strongly against the concept of human rights. GOP members have shown a recent interest on limiting or eliminating the rights of women. Arizona voted to allow doctors to have the right to withhold information from expecting mothers about possible birth defects in order to prevent women from seeking abortion. Mississippi voted to criminalize abortion as murder. Topeka, Kansas lacks provisions for domestic violence that make it non-criminal. Now GOP candidates are saying that women have fewer rights than virtually everyone else.

The first is equal pay. Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker already repealed the his state’s version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects women to earn the same pay as men. Romney already expressed his support of Pete Hoekstra, who called equal pay for women “a nuisance.” Now Paul Ryan as the VP candidate has solidified the GOP as the party that believes women are inferior to men. He has voted on numerous occasions against equal pay, including Obama’s first national bill, which happened to be the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

Next up is health care. Insurance companies are currently prohibited from gender-based discrepancies in their pricing and access. This is all supported by the Affordable Care Act. Paul Ryan is a strong opposer of the ACA, which is just the start of his issues with women’s health care. The most prevalent issue at the moment surrounds women’s rights for life versus choice. Rape is something that is truly a serious matter and causes a significant amount of trauma. One would think that a woman who may have fallen victim to such an attack would have the right to abort the child for both her physical and emotional health. The GOP has decided that not to be the case. Todd Akin, representative from Missouri, came out on record that he believes that a woman’s body has defenses that will protect a woman in the event a “legitimate rape” to prevent pregnancy. His comments also imply that he believes a woman who would become pregnant would not be a true victim of rape because they were accepting of inception.

Honestly that thought is horrible enough, but VP candidate Paul Ryan added a little extra fire to the flame with a combination of his support for HR 358, support for the Protect Life Act and lack of support for Planned Parenthood. HR 358 is a policy that would essentially cut off support for women seeking an abortion anywhere, regardless of her physical condition. Known as the “Let Women Die Bill,” even a woman who is in trauma due to her pregnancy could be denied treatment by anyone for any reason. Add to that the Protect Life Act, which is both the opposite and the same as HR 358. This act allows doctors power to make decisions about human life, including the denial of abortion care. Though only a small portion of Planned Parenthood involves abortion care, he believes that they are undeserving of any federal funding, including the support of basic women’s health care. In the end, Ryan supports the rights of an unborn fetus more than the mother.

There are a number of issues that Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan may have good discourse on, but the issues listed above should be clearly in favor of the incumbents. Anyone who supports equal rights and even the women of the GOP should be appalled by the stances of some of the GOP’s significant leaders. Though I am skeptical about Romney’s business record, he may have some ideas that would be beneficial to listen to regarding ways to support the economy. To be honest though, I still struggle with Romney’s failure to stick to a position and Ryan serving as his significantly polarizing running mate. This should be an interesting next couple of months.

As someone who once lived in the state of North Carolina, I have been very troubled by the political decision made on Tuesday to increase the level of oppression against same-sex couples. The people have spoken and voted to ban same-sex marriage in the state, though additional provisions include a ban of civil union rights for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Reasons behind this decision have ranged from the slippery slope argument to protecting the traditional “definition” of marriage to religious contradictions to cultural beliefs of different racial backgrounds. It does not really matter what excuses are used to justify this decision. It is simply just a wrong call.

Any political decision that limits the rights of people is a step backwards in human rights. When it comes to marriage, who said that heterosexual couples have it right? What is the divorce rate again? How many of those marriages involve same-sex couple? Oh wait! We would not know because more states have banned gay marriage than have even thought of possibly supporting it. Considering all of the “evils” that are out there looking to damage traditional marriage or the traditional family, there is no definable threat that same-sex couples would create by being supported by the state to engage in legal marriage.

So if its not the defense of the definition of marriage, it has to be the concern for access to rights and services. When did we decide that some people should not be afford the same rights and privileges as the rest of the population? Oh wait again! We do that with women in terms of wages, cost of health care and access to services. We do that with black Americans in terms of providing an atmosphere free of discrimination and bigotry. We do that with the LGBT community in almost every area of life. It is as if we are trying to moonwalk back to a time before we landed on the moon, when people were not afforded equal rights prior to the civil rights movement. If I were married and my partner was in poor health, I would have rights to go see them in the hospital and make decision on their treatment. If some of my friends found themselves in a similar situation with their same-sex partners, they would be denied the opportunity to even go see their partners in the hospital. Their relationships could be deeper and more meaningful, but they would still be denied. Is this right?

The immediate issue may be marriage, but this simply adds onto the list of existing problems in affording equal rights for the LGBT community. Hopefully the state of North Carolina can back up Obama’s statement (finally…) and get this thing repealed. It is a seemingly impossible task but not actually impossible.

To see more details on the state to state difference in LGBT right: http://gu.com/p/37c4m

In the current political landscape, the economy serves as the most significant issue for the upcoming fall election. About 2 weeks ago, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law. When questioned, explanations included the need for young men to feel like they could grow up to be breadwinners. How is this not seen as blatant sexism? This is a clear movement backwards in the concept of equal pay for equal work.When did women become second-class citizens? Oh wait, that has been the unfortunate reality for all of human existence.

Hilary Rosen, a democratic political consultant, came out with a statement against Ann Romney regarding her lack of experience to talk about the economy. Rosen’s statement included a belief that Ann’s stay-at-home mother status negated her ability to give feedback on the concerns of women regarding the economy, being as she has not worked during her adult life in a paying job. This statement came out after Mitt Romney referenced his advisement of women’s beliefs came from his wife. While being a full-time parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, there is a difference between what makes parenting difficult and experience with the economy when your husband makes my yearly salary in less than 14 hours.

The Daily Show decided to do a piece on this, with Jon Stewart highlighting the absurdity of FOX News saying the attacks against women did not rise to the level of “war.” While he focused more on the media’s attention to women’s electoral issues over the actual issues themselves, he did a great job at highlighting the disparity between men and women in today’s world. While most of the conversation right now is surround birth control and health care, specifically whether it should be covered or not, each of the issues highlight the problems with men making decisions on women’s rights with their own bodies. Here are some of the recent specifics around the country:

  • Women in Arizona will have to prove that they are using birth control through their health care for medical (not personal) reasons.
  • In Mississippi, abortion is now criminalized as murder.
  • Also in Arizona, doctors have no obligation to tell women if their child(ren) will be born with any birth defects, preventing any ability for a woman to choose to continue the pregnancy fully informed.
  • In Pennsylvania, sonograms will be required before abortions, to reinforce the “living” concept of the unborn fetus.
  • Virginia will require a transvaginal ultrasound before seeking an abortion, similar to the reasons for Pennsylvania.
  • New opposition has risen against the violence against women act, seemingly due to provisions that would extend its protections to same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants.
  • In Texas, legislators are seeking to block Planned Parenthood from receiving any state planning money.
  • In Wisconsin, there is a push to make single-parenting get labeled as child abuse.
  • In Topeka, KS, there are no provisions for domestic violence, making it non-criminal (at least in comparison to other states).

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The issues with birth control and abortion are ridiculous, in that they take away the right to choose from women. Certainly I am a pro-choice advocate, as I do not see it as my right or responsibility to make decisions for women about their bodies or give that power to legislators. I certainly value life, but many of these pro-life agenda items would force rape survivors to keep children conceived during their attack or keep levels of teenage mothers high as it would force all of these unprepared young girls to go through pregnancy and either choose to keep the child (which significantly limits the likelihood for the young girl to pursue her aspirations) or put the child up for adoption (which could result in significant psychological stress and strain due to separation from their offspring). I could dive into the entire pro-life/pro-choice debate, but the significant point is that women have the right to choose for themselves, as we would not put federal or state  regulations on men’s ability to engage in sexual activities.

Granting doctors the ability to withhold information that should be provided to expecting mothers regarding the health of their children is outright ludicrous. It is clear that this is also an underhanded ploy to encourage the pro-life agenda, as is the sonogram and ultrasound in Pennsylvania and Virginia, respectively. And no funding for Planned Parenthood? Sure it is Texas, but there is no excuse for withholding services to women that are not exclusive to abortion. Planned Parenthood provides services across the board with support for women and pregnancy, even though they are best know for their abortion services. Again, this is an attack on a woman’s right to choose.

How about the issue with violence against women? The protections against violence have been a partisan issue since the act’s initial inception. Now because there is an effort to protect same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants, conservatives wants to claim that the act is no longer in line with partisan politics. I know that both of these groups have significantly less or minimal rights in the US but this goes to a larger human rights issue that is much larger than extending rights to traditionally discriminated groups of people. The world could certainly be looking to us for guidance on this one and we are saying that we do not care about you unless you are a US citizen and heterosexual.

This is particularly a tough time to be an undocumented woman from a lesbian relationship, as there are virtually no protections in this country for you to choose what happens to your body. The conservative media sources want to escalate Christmas, sugars, fossil fuels, constitution and ladies night to war status, but true rights to choose for women is just not that important, at least as long as you are not a conservative.

Now if only our male congressmen would step aside to allow women to actually speak for themselves…

One of the biggest political topics at the moment is not the economy or resources or war. It is birth control. Over the course of the past several weeks, a number of “men” have been debating in Congress about whether birth control should be covered by health care coverage. The keyword is MEN. It is true that almost all issues regarding regulation have been decided by white men, but do these policymakers actually have the right to dictate what appropriate measures women can take to practice safe sex and birth control?

The arguments that currently exist against it are flimsy at best. There is a fear that coverage of birth control would mean that women would have their sexual exploits partially funded by health care coverage. Do our policymakers really think that women are going to take advantage of their access to birth control and all decide to turn to prostitution? The government  has been against Planned Parenthood for some time but have only limited its ability to function as a resource to women, couples and families regarding safe and mindful practices. What is the problem with an organization that seems to have a great support on the local level and is just misunderstood when taken at a national perspective?

One of the most significant debates is a religious one. Extremists want to ban birth control pills completely but religion is being used to support a general anti-contraceptive movement. Individual freedoms do not apparently factor into this debate, according to these religious republicans. Neither does the concept of the separation of church and state. A California lobbying group is actually trying to ban circumcisions, which is an infringement on Jewish and Muslim culture who believe this is a mandate of their religion.

While that last example is one involving men, the vast majority of the issues directly effect women and women are being left out of the conversation. If someone can explain to me how this is right, I would be more than happy to listen.

So I know that I generally do not comment on larger, worldly issues on this blog, but something at the end of last week really got to me. I do not follow the NBA that closely but, like most of the nation, I got a little wrapped up in Jeremy Lin and his rise to stardom with the New York Knicks. For a guy I had never heard of, his numbers were looking so good that he immediately became a candidate for MVP. Starting with his first game on February 4th, Lin won 7 straight games and averaged over 20 PPG. With Carmelo Anthony back from injury, he may not be able to keep the numbers up but has certainly gotten the attention of the league.

What got me steamed was an analyst with ESPN and the web developer who thought it was okay to use a racial slur for their headline story after the Knicks lost to the Hornets. The article was up for about 30 minutes before other news organizations caught the issue, reported on it and ESPN finally took it down. While the first comments were that ESPN was going to discover what happened and discipline the involved individuals, the reality is that more than a retraction and a discipling needed to happen. ESPN would rather not draw too much attention to the mistake/misjudgment, but either the sports organization or other news organizations need to use this issue as a teaching moment for the general public. There is some disagreement about the intentions of the writer and the issue of political correctness, but it sounded inappropriate (and my opinion is that it was WRONG). News organizations do less useful education and more sensationalized storytelling, but this was a prime opportunity to take positive step toward social and community development.

Let’s hope that ESPN and other commentators use more appropriate wording for their future headlines and stories and that people actually learn from this mistake/misjudgment about the real issues with discriminatory commentary.

This also occurred on the air…