I am often judged before a crowd
my clothes make me a target
mama says I have to be careful
my color makes me a target
because I am black
I cannot walk the streets alone at night
because I am black and am woman
they tell me to show emotion but
not too much because I am a black woman
they say the most powerful thing I have
is between my legs because I am woman
I, they tell me, am usually
from a broken home because I’m black
I’ll never be as good as my male
counterparts because I am woman
I am often judged before a crowd
my body is a public temple repairable
by man I am to be seen like decoration
because I am woman
I am the unwanted immigrant
my contributions mean nothing
because I am black
I have to aspire to perfection.
I have to realize rarely I am
good enough because I am woman
I am the style that everyone has
everyone wants the benefits without
having to be me- cultural appropriation
they tell me, is not real
I am the minority that produces the majority
I am the flower that suffers in the winter
gallantly swaying in the wind. my history is not told
in truth I am the minority they wish was quiet I am
the roll of thunder at the crack of injustice
I am Sybrina Fulton
I stand in the puddle of my son’s blood
gazing at an unreal sight
I am the double minority, the unappreciated.
I am the black woman.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Boston Public Library/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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About the AuthorKeydra Jones is a senior at the University of New Orleans who will be graduating in December. She is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Legal Studies and a minor in English. She aspires to be a lawyer focusing her energy on helping others in anyway she can.
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Bryce Swerhun had spent most of his time in Johannesburg safely away from the sounds of explosions near the University Of The Witwatersrand (Wits).
But something drew him to the campus on October 10 as scores of angry students gathered in a large protest for the elimination of college fees across the country.
What Swerhun, a Canadian who is in South Africa doing field work for his PhD program at City University of Hong Kong, saw there was nothing short of government sanctioned violence against young people on a scale rarely seen in liberal democracies.
Student organizers of the so called #FeesMustFall movement warned private security gathered on the steps of the Great Hall at the center of Wits’ campus that some among their number may start hurling stones at them unless they opened the doors to the building.
By the time Swerhun entered through the visitor gate and walked upon the scene, some protestors were indeed throwing stones at the security guards.
Then the police got involved.
“I saw the water cannon truck shoot up and spray the students below,” Swerhun said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Swerhun said that “several hundred” student protestors were in the area around the Great Hall at the height of the clashes and that police were being very heavy-handed in the way in which they were breaking up the group.
Tear gas canisters leaving trails of smoke as they hit the ground. Rubber bullets thumping through the air. People yelling. People running.
Through the chaos in front of the Great Hall, Swerhun said that he saw one scene that reminded him of the troubling racist past of South Africa.
A white police officer had a group of black protestors cornered while allowing other students to freely pass. When a group of white students walked behind the officer without being stopped, the cornered black students started to argue how unfair it was.
This is what has become of Wits, one of the world’s top universities. Sad no? pic.twitter.com/3ja1OfCV0g
— Sure Kamhunga (@SureKamhunga) October 11, 2016
At a certain point, Swerhun decided that he had seen enough and that he wanted to get back to the safety of his hotel room.
He walked behind the Great Hall, where he spotted a church where some students seemed to be gathered.
He thought that he could escape from the campus by going through the church.
“The priest then slumped over and then the blood was pouring out. They shot him because he defied them.”
What follows sounds like it is straight out of movie.
“There was a significant moment that reminded me of Tiananmen Square,” Swerhun said.
When he reached the church, most of the students in the area where gathered in a parking lot. There he saw a priest in white robes standing in the entrance.
“He [the priest] seemed to be making a statement, that he was there and it was a place of refuge,” Swerhun said.
But then a massive armored police vehicle started racing towards the church.
“It was moving at quite a speed and everyone is running away,” Swerhun said. “When I get behind a parked car, I see the priest put his arm and the vehicle backed up and left.”
Joy swept through the crowd but it was a short-lived feeling.
“Another armored vehicle came and started shooting rubber bullets at random, Swerhun said. “The priest then slumped over and then the blood was pouring out. They shot him because he defied them.”
Swerhun said that the shooting of the priest had a profound impact on the people who witnessed it.
“Some people got really angry and I saw someone say ‘call up the people with the petrol bombs.'”
“This was nothing but a brutal show of state force,” Swerhun said. “Those police in the vehicle were not in any danger.”
The priest was then brought into the church were he was tended to by private paramedics.
Despite being shot in the face with at least one rubber bullet, he was able to walk out of the church to a waiting car.
While the violence has largely been ignored by the world’s media, it shouldn’t be.
The issue is unlikely to go away even though things are starting to calm down on the streets.
Sure Kamhunga, a political commentator who has a large Twitter following said in an interview with RISE NEWS that the government should do more to end the clashes.
“Meet the student body. Listen to their demands. Offer a solution that paves way for mutual understanding,” Kamhunga said in way of advice to President Jacob Zuma’s government. “Students have already proposed a funding model and that is a good start to reach a common understanding and solution.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.Post Views: 853
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South Florida is known for many things. Beautiful weather, multiculturalism, hot nightlife and soul crushing public transportation that literally makes you want to die. (You don’t see that last part in the Chamber of Commerce brochures.)
One group of high achieving young people are trying to revolutionize the way South Florida gets around by bringing a radical form of public transportation here.
Two brothers—Darius and Demetrius Villa—and their friend, Aleksandr Khalfin, founded the High Speed Rail America Club (HSRAC) at Florida International University last year and they have found some success in spreading their message.
The club researches and promotes high-speed rail trains, also known as bullet trains, in America. Bullet trains, which average more than 150 mph, don’t exist in our country, and it’s a fuel-efficient and quicker way to travel, Demetrius told RISE NEWS in an interview last year.
They say that they are the leading high-speed advocacy group for millennials.
The group believes that Miami should build up an ambitious system of Maglev transportation that would eventually connect the Magic City to Miami Beach and FIU.
With a healthy amount of grassroots support now at their back, the HSRAC wants to get some political muscle on their side.
They plan to do this by presenting a Miami Maglev Forum on April 7th from 10 AM-12 PM on the FIU campus. And they hope that local political leaders will show up to learn about the proposed idea and to interact with young transportation activists.
They tried and failed at this once before.
“Last September, the group partnered with American Maglev Technology, the FIU Honors College, and All Aboard Florida to host the first Miami Maglev forum,” a press release from the HSRAC read. “While the forum itself had students and FIU community leaders in attendance, a grand total of zero representatives came from the leadership of Miami, Miami-Dade, and Miami Beach. Students were highly upset of the lack of leadership from their elected officials, and grew further disenchanted with the infrastructural direction of the community.”
The release goes on to say that transportation directors, commissioners, and mayors of all three municipalities (Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, Miami Beach) were emailed, and no responses were received from them.
“To make amends to both the citizens and their elected officials, we are hosting a 2nd Maglev Forum to be able to discuss ideas, the direction of the community, and towards finding a solution that the populace agrees with,” the release reads.
If you want to learn more about the group or the event, you can follow them on Facebook.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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“Dry Katrina”: In Memphis, Hundreds Of Families Are Being Forced Out Of The City’s Last Public Housing UnitsBy Contributor
By Courtney Anderson
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE- More than 700 families in the city of Memphis are at risk of losing their homes due to a mandatory relocation that some are equating to a manmade disaster.
This displacement comes from the mandatory relocation of residents from apartment buildings that were found to have housing code enforcement violations.
The residents were living in government subsidized housing units- the last such project in the city until the owner of the buildings lost HUD funding according to local paper The Commercial Appeal.
If they are made to relocate, many residents say that they will have nowhere to go.
But one organization in Memphis is working to provide assistance to residents in need.
For the better part of a year, The Mid South Peace and Justice Center (MSPJC), in Memphis, has been working on a renter’s rights collective to addresses the issues that led to the possible relocation of hundreds of Memphis citizens.
MSPJC director Bradley Watkins describes the collective as an effort to “engage in renter’s rights and training workshops on how tenants can form their own tenant associations,” in order to eventually create a network of organizations in Memphis—or “Memphis Tenant’s Union—” that work to protect the rights of tenants in the city.
In short, they are trying to stop what Watkins has dubbed as Memphis’s “Dry Katrina.” The nickname makes reference to the New Orleans housing crisis that followed Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
Watkins said there is no other organizations in Memphis of its kind and that tenants have been taking a “great risk standing up for their rights,” and that the residents who speak out “need more support than is often available.”
The Mid South Peace and Justice center began the collective by working with residents of low-income apartments Warren Apartments and Serenity Towers.
Both apartment complexes are owned by Rev. Richard Hamlet of Global Ministries Foundation in Memphis and subsidized by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
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Watkins said he and members of the MSPJC saw many violations in both Warren Apartments, Serenity Towers and an apartment called Tulane, also owned by Hamlet.
Two weeks later, HUD notified Hamlet that Global Ministries Foundation had failed to correct the violations and that the tenants would have to be moved.
Recently, an inspection of Serenity Towers found massive bug infestations. Residents were told they would have to be moved, as well.
Watkins said that he felt the relocation was inevitable and that they were the result of “decades of systemic neglect on the part of the landlords.” To Watkins, it was only a matter of time.
“Honestly, we all have to ask: What did we expect to happen? Now our collective chickens have come home to roost,” Watkins said in a blog post.
Watkins said that these relocations have created a serious dilemma in the city of Memphis.
“The relocation of residents at Warren and Tulane, if not properly handled, could lead to a massive crisis in housing here in Memphis,” Watkins said. “This will affect thousands of families and they will need this community and this organization to stand with them in this.”
Jessica Johnson-Peterson was one of the residents who spoke up about the housing violations. She said some of her closest associates had come to her with complaints for years and that she felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to “be a voice for the community.”
Johnson-Peterson said that after a conversation with her husband and a resident named Cynthia Crawford, she typed a letter to Hamlet and then contacted Watkins at the MSPJC.
Johnson-Peterson said there are still many concerns not being addressed by HUD or by Global Ministries Foundation. She also said the new appointed receiver has expressed that he has no interest in working with tenants.
“It seems that being a criminal has more benefits than being a law-abiding citizen. The citizens that do their best with the resources, they are forced to live impoverished and the ones that compromise and give into the corruption more than thrive,” Johnson-Peterson said.
On March 11, 2016, Watkins posted an email he sent to Memphis city councilman Worth Morgan, members of the administration of Memphis mayor Jim Strickland and management at Memphis Code Enforcement onto the MSPJC Facebook page.
The post detailed a proposal that would create two initiatives between MSPJC and Memphis Code Enforcement. Both initiatives would have used Serenity Towers as a “pilot program.”
The initiatives listed included the creation of tenants associations that would be recognized by HUD and a program in which college interns who work with MSPJC would be paired with residents of Serenity Towers who have mobility issues.
In the meantime, the MSPJC is keeping track of HUD’s responses to the violations in Serenity Towers and Warren and Tulane Apartments.
The MSPJC Facebook page is consistently updated with local news articles about the apartment buildings and the tenants who called them home.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Guillaume Capron/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 794
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