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Human Rights Day, 2016: Let’s recommit to act in love and fairness

December 10 is the international Human Rights Day. I believe that it should be a day for societies and individuals all around the world, to resolve to uphold justice, freedom and equality. Acknowledging human rights and acting in respect of human rights is not a task meant for governments, only. It is, very importantly, a task for members of the public, also.

Remember that as a human being, you are born of dignity and no individual and/or government should have the free will to do as they like with your inherent right to be treated with fairness.

It is becoming more common to see violence take priority over having dialogue. Governments enforcing institutional imperialism over protesters. Religious extremists using arms to kill innocent people in the name of God (blasphemy).

The girl child has just as much value as the male child. Give her good education not early marriage, and she will set the world ablaze with greatness, kindness and positive change. A woman’s voice matters. When she says “No”, do not take her voice for granted – her consent is needed. The woman’s body is her property – do not take her voice for granted.

A person’s sexuality is theirs to realize and keep. People should not fear for their life for being who they are – as is the case in many countries. All human beings are born with dignity, no matter our sexuality, and that dignity must be upheld.

Indigenous people’s lands in  the United States and Canada must be respected. When Indigenous groups protest against something that could potentially contaminate their lands and waters, they should not be ignored. They matter. Their voices should be heard, they should be consulted and there should be no man-made hinderance to access to clean water for Indigenous populations in the United States and Canada. All human beings have a right to clean water.

Black lives matter – this should be understood and acknowledged universally. A person should not be treated with disrespect, denied opportunity or killed because he or she is non-white. Black Lives Matter. No human being was created to be more superior than the other. All races are beautiful and if we come together in love, without prejudice and hate, this world will be a much much better place.

Happy Human Rights Day … in advance!!! Show love. Give respect. Don’t be quick to judge.

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Community, Uncategorized

Why we need a communal approach to equality and justice

A thought just clicked in my mind today, about selfishness as it correlates with injustice. Corruption is selfishness, racism is selfishness, promoting ‘gender inequality’ is selfishness etc. Injustice is very much centred around the idea of ‘the self’ which includes a person’s likes and dislikes, as well as his or her beliefs.

To really tackle injustice from the crux, we must constantly remind ourselves and society that there is usually room for more. Ever gone late to a class or a meeting that was being held in a small room, around a long but limited-capacity table? Well, what happens is that people start to make space and a space for at least one chair comes up. If there is no space at the table, the person who came late, will take a seat behind those seating at the table but still gets to hear what is being spoken. To me, that person is still considered to be at the table – and is benefiting from the same information that everyone else in the room is hearing.

There is usually room for more.

Again, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. It is often puzzling as to why someone will take the effort run to be a political leader in a nation and end up looting the treasury and/or oppressing the people through wars or dictatorship. Some organizations aim to have diversity in race and ethnicity but do not care to make a plan that will sustain the diversity and make all feel welcome.

The marginalized must also not behave like the oppressors, in their defense for the self …

As a Nigerian, I try to keep myself in the loop of things trending in Nigeria. I noticed that it is problematic to some Nigerians (not all), when they see other Nigerians rooting for the Black Lives Matter movement. To such people, their anger is essentially – How about the injustices in Nigeria? Why not focus on Nigeria instead?

I can understand where they are coming from, as there is a lot of inequality in Nigeria. There is injustice. Also, I know the anger of feeling left out because your tragedy doesn’t make world news. But, we must remember that there is room for more. Injustice against me should not blind me against oppression that others are facing. I think that as a citizen of the world, it is my duty as it is every other person’s, to care about people no matter what part of the world they are in, especially when they are facing oppression.

Remember, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. Even when the oppressed person takes on that notion of the self against others, it is wrong. It is just like acting in the manner of the oppressor.

In our collective strive for a just world, we must remember that there is room for more. A communal mindset sets the pace for just societies and hence, a just world.

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Community

The new generation and compulsory tasks

The expectation is usually that with age, there should be progress; with education, there should be progress; with experience, there should be progress. It is easy to understand why such expectations abide in different societies. This is because each of those things – age, education, experience symbolize growth in and of a person.

A new generation symbolizes growth and people in different societies put a lot of their faith in this particular kind of growth. I too put a lot of my faith in this new/young generation which I am a part of (I am looking at from age 35 and downward). For Nigeria, I have faith that at some point, more young people will be able to get involved in politics, so that they can change some of the usual norms of governance that have been operating in different government systems in Nigeria. Corruption in Nigeria dates back to decades before I was born but it is still in effect in this 21st century. So, in Nigeria, corruption is like a norm of ancient times (mainly since after Independence). Since that is so, I am hoping on a new, younger generation that will at some point come in and lead with compassion, accountability, fairness and a commitment to the public.

In North America, the common ideology is that racism mostly abides with people of older generations – people who lived through a time when racism was at the crux of their specific society’s social and political sphere. However, I wonder if it is possible that it is mainly members of the older generation that have been sending racially-motivated insults at Leslie Jones, via Twitter (a popular ‘new generation’ social media network). I used the word “wonder”, because I am not stating that I know for a fact, the generational groups of most of the bullies who targeted Leslie Jones. However, note that, with growth, there should be progress. The problem arises when the new generation does not unlearn the prejudices and hurtful ideologies that could be found in a past generation.

There are encouraging occurrences, however, which make me have unwavering faith in the young generation. Continually, I come across stories of young people who are challenging and shattering barriers to their group or society’s progress. Barriers that were once a norm. Black Lives Matter groups, associations in different countries that mark Pride (LGBTQ+ pride) through outdoor events, girls saying no to child marriage in Zimbabwe etc.

So yes, I see many of the younger generation taking up the mantle of change but I want to use this post to remind all young people that you and I have a task and hold the power to lead a prosperous, freer and a more just tomorrow.

Love,

Chiamaka

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Community

Why do I have to write a think piece on why Black lives matter?

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Photo obtained from Kirk Franklin’s Facebook page

Here I am again, about to go into details on why the Black Lives Matter movement is very important. Frankly, I am tired of trying to plead with the world that my life matters. I feel exhausted writing all these think pieces on why Black lives matter because it should be common sense right? But it’s not. In just this week, at least 3 Black men have been murdered.

This is not just an American problem, it is a problem of Western societies, in general. A Nigerian man, Emmanuel Chidi Namdi who fled Nigeria because of Boko Haram was very recently, beaten to death in Italy, for defending his wife over a man who called her a monkey. In America, this week also, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were unfairly and senselessly murdered by people of the uniform who are supposed to protect the public against injustice. For over a decade, the Toronto Police has used a carding system that has been problematic in that African-Canadian persons have been very commonly racially profiled under this system.

What is it with Western societies and Black skin? If a nation cannot manage its diverse society, why then is it called a developed nation? Is economic development supposed to be more important than respect for human rights? The world should be tired of the high rates of murder of Black people in Western societies and these societies should be tired of treating Black people unfairly. No one human was created to have more value than the other. If you are reading this and believe that Black people are not supposed to be equal in value to people of other races, you may not be a shooter or even own a gun but you are our silent killer.

To the individuals that feel that “Black Lives Matter” is a divisive phrase, please understand that it is not. I believe that all human lives matter. Everyone should believe that, however if you look at the world we live in today and truly examine it without bias, you will understand that Black lives don’t matter to many. This reality needs to change not  just because it is 2016, but because racism even in the 1850s or 1950s should never have happened. The reality needs to change because it is injustice to be automatically deemed a criminal upon sighting and killed because of the colour of your skin.

So, I am using this think piece as a reminder to those who are reluctant to speak up about the senseless violence, the constant unjust killings and the reasons for why these modern day Black Lives Matter movements are needed, welcomed and appreciated. I want to see more Caucasians, more Aboriginals, more Asians, more Indian people and so on, advocate because if it was any other group of people being killed so frequently, the world ought to be provoked too.

I want to also extend my heartfelt condolence to the families of the officers who lost their lives and those who were injured in the unfair and heartbreaking shootings that took place in Dallas, this week.

Love & peace,

Chiamaka

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Uncategorized

Priorities and the human purpose

The human experience is something that is in some aspects, different for everyone and this experience is fundamental in shaping the kinds of people that we are (personality-wise, in terms of attitude, ideas, beliefs, socio-economic status etc). So, to understand the unique human experience of each person, communication is needed. It is better to ask questions and learn than rush to pass judgement.

I believe that trying to tap into the human experience of individual persons is something that is very important in dealing with issues of social injustice. In many cases, social justice issues are left unattended to because those who have the power (the elite, politicians etc) to address the issues are making judgements from a ‘throne’ that seemingly blinds their judgement. Privilege of any kind can blind one’s judgement.

For example, there are people who believe that poverty is a choice and so, for someone to be poor, he or she is just lazy. This kind of idea is problematic because it is sometimes woven from the position of privilege and one is blinded to the fact that people fall on bad times and in some cases, there could be systemic barriers to someone’s ability to succeed in a society. Or when people write – “Black Lives Matter” to show their solidarity with African Americans against the constant unjustified killing of Blacks, there are others who surface and say: well, “All Lives Matter”. The latter are totally straying away from the point. It is disrespectful. People do this from a point of privilege, probably never having faced the challenges of being a Black person in America and the fact that you can easily be killed by those who are supposed to protect you, because of the colour of your skin.

These are just a few examples of how a lack of willingness to communicate and understand the other person’s perspective, affects the way people see social justice issues. It is important that when you see people struggling or suffering in your society, you try to learn about their circumstance and perhaps in that way, you may derive a solution. The truth is that no one problem is limited to one person or one society. In trying to solve a problem that you saw in one household, you are probably setting the pace for that problem to be solved in many households in that society.

Communication is key.

Peace & Love,

Chiamaka

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