Digital Activism and the African American Community #BlackLivesMatter

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HarrassMap

HarrassMap’s, located in Cairo, has a goal to put an end to the harassment and assault of women in Egypt. Changing attitudes are needed to spark an end to the violence. HarrassMap wants to get people involved so that they do not just stand by and let the violence happen, they aim to denormalize this harassment. “Take it, share it and let’s start a global conversation to end violence against girls”. I found this group consisting of 12 women extremely interesting. The campaign was launched with self-funding to target bystanders and witnesses of this harassment. Their audience is the general public, which in my opinion is an extremely difficult audience to reach out to and attract attention. Luckily the group is getting help from funders such as the Global Fund For Human Rights, but I cannot imagine how difficult it was when the group initially launched their campaign. Encouraging everyone to create a movement that fights against sexual harassment and violence is an extremely difficult task, especilaly in a place like Cairo, Egypt. I can assume that half of the population (most men) do not care for this movement as it is not affecting them or day to day lives. I can also assume that women who have not experience sexual harassment and abuse do not have the mind set to actively support the women who have been harmed. I wish that we lived in a world where we could ask our neighbors to be watchful guardians and speak up when there is anything suspicious going on, but we do not. I think HarassMap’s goal is excellent, but it a bit unrealistic. Out of fear, many people probably do not want to speak up about the harassers actions against their victims. I do believe that in order for Egypt to put an end to this problem the government needs to become involved to create an atmosphere where harassers face consequences (jail time, social consequences) when they harm women. I am amazed that the country has tolerated this type of abuse, and has not built safe areas for people of all genders. Harassment and sexual abuse is clearly an issue that has been under established and forgotten. I do hope that this organization has made progress with their campaign.

Is this real?

In Oklahoma a state representative wanted to enact a law that would make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion without her sexual partner’s consent. Is this real? A woman has the right to her own body! PERIOD. I do not agree with this state representative and find it extremely ridiculous. Although there are exception if the woman was a victim of rape or incest it is still completely unfair. A woman should not have to carry a fetus in her body if she does not want it. A woman should not have to go through the extreme pains and discomforts of holding a fetus in her body if she does not want to. A woman should federally have the right to abortion without any legal action, a woman should not have to question or answer to anyone if she chooses to not have the baby in her body. Planned Parenthood is an amazing program that provides woman and men the ability to save their lives. Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health services that can insure a quality life for a person. I thank organizations like Planned Parenthood for the many times it has helped me and helped the people that I love. Without the organization I have friends that would have has to undergo unwanted pregnancies, most likely drop out of school and would not be able to fulfill their life goals. Planned Parenthood also does an excellent job at helping our community become more aware of STD’s, and they also give away free condoms and educational pamphlets. It has been a big debate and fight to whether Planned Parenthood should exist or not, and I believe this debate is flat out stupid. If our government decided to eradicate programs like Planned Parenthood we are going to see an increase in STD’s, teen pregnancy, and people performing unsafe abortions which could lead to death among young woman.

Free Speech

Through the web groups can expand their organizations and get in touch with the outside world. Activists have a much greater audience with sites such as “Digiactive” and Global Voices”. I went onto the sites that were mentioned in “Arab Bloggers Meet to Discuss Free speech, Reject ‘Journalist Label” and noticed that there were stories important things that I had no idea about. For example, I was able to read a story on Marcell Shehwaro, a young girl who dispatches on Syria and describes her like in Aleppo, the heart of Syria’s conflict. I was able to learn that the conditions of the people in Aleppo are much worse than I had imagined. Stories like these impact people more than the news, it has a way of connecting the reader to the person in the situation. I found it amazing that bloggers are coming together to share a common written language, as it develops solidarity. There is a difference between activists and bloggers that I had not realized, bloggers do not get the same type of security as activists. “Bloggers on the other hand don’t want to be victims or prisoners any longer than they have to be and emphasize that it shouldn’t matter what they say, only that they be allowed to say it” (Dheere 2008). Although many bloggers and journalists have things in common, bloggers do not want to be called journalists. Bloggers feel like they take a more active role in the news than reporting it. I agree, journalists seem to report news, whereas bloggers report deeper emotions and acts. Many times this blogger state of mind gets people in deep trouble, for example in Morocco Mohammad Erraji was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail for “criticizing the king’s policy of free gifts to citizens” (Dheere 2008). With the lack of security and support many bloggers, in my opinion, do not boundaries or as high of boundaries regarding the information they report. This is great as the world needs to know what is happening, but it is negative because it leads to further conflict. “The more they write, challenge, and get around the official clampdown on using blogs and other social media tools, the more sites like DigiActive can document and distribute their acts of speaking truth to power” (Dheere 2008).

#YouStink

The Lebanon’s #YouStink Anti-Government Protest got way out of hand, and the pictures are very disturbing. From a devil’s advocate point of view, I believe that the organization was not structured well and the group members were unaware that such intense protesting would cause so much violence. It is the organization’s job to promote peaceful protesting. “Organizers of the #YouStink campaign expressed frustration with the violent protesters, blaming “infiltrators” for the escalation of a peaceful demonstration” (Taylor 2015). Infiltrators could have escalated the protests, but it the organizations responsibility to take the blame for the uproar. Through social media organizations can express the importance of peaceful protesting. Many of us our angry with our government but there are boundaries that we all must be aware of. Due to the lack of communication and the disorganization of #YouStink “dozens of police and citizens were hurt in the clashes, and #YouStink organizers have now postponed further demonstrations planned for Monday” (Taylor 2015). I believe that the protestors are fighting for a good cause, the amount of trash and corruption in the country is unheard of but there are better ways of expressing anger. In some of the photos it does look like the government is unrightfully attacking the citizens of Lebanon by spraying water, using water cannons and beating civilians… this is a part of the corruption and why #YouStink continues to fight and protest. We are lucky to live in a country, that although is not perfect, is less corrupt and clean because of our government. Above I state that the organization might have no been structured well enough and that is why riots broke out, but I believe (not being devil’s advocate) people are rightfully angry and I am disgusted by Lebanon’s government, human should be living in such disgusting circumstances. I wonder if this anti-trash violence will spark change? I also wonder if the violence will continue until there is chance? Hopefully people come up with alternative ways of expressing anger.

Understanding #Blacklivesmatter

Black Lives Matter is an amazing organization that was created after the murder of Trayvon Martin. The organization goes beyond this murder, and beyond the killings of Black people by police and authority. The organization declares the lives of all Black lives along the gender spectrum, and is a tactic to rebuild the Black liberation movement. “Yet, although the movement initially addressed the killing of unarmed young black men, the women were equally committed to the rights of working people and to gender and sexual equality” (Cobb 2016). This organization, #Blacklivesmatter, uses social media to promote it’s ideas and gain followers. The organization calls attention to the way Black people are intentionally left powerless. Unfortunately, with the inauguration of President Trump, this movement and many more will have to stand up and fight for freedom and equality. “Black activists have organized in response to police brutality for decades, but part of the reason for the visibility of the current movement is the fact that such problems have persisted—and, from the public’s perspective, at least, have seemed to escalate—during the first African-American Presidency” (Cobb 2016). It is very unfortunate that these problems are more likely to get much worse with President Trump’s election into office. I am personally very scared, not just for American’s but for humanity as a whole. The organization asserts that all lives matter, not just Black lives. Black lives matter is working to combat racism, it is so important that we support movements and groups like this! In addition, we must solve our gun law problems in America. I have little hope that things will get better, but I am hoping we can fight together and stay strong.

The Digital Age & Youth

With the Digital Age, youth is becoming more powerful in the sense that their opinions and problems are being spread globally. This global spread is creating a strong basis for youth in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. With social media the youth can speak on political issues and humans rights. People living in repression have the ability to express their views on their unjust conditions regarding politics and economics. According to Linda Herrera it is important to understand the youth connectivity and unemployment in places such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) compared to that of North America and Europe. It is vital to get a global perspective and take into account the third-world countries that are suffering the most. By looking at the Digital Age from a global stand point an individual can achieve more and possibly help spread equality. When we look at areas such as the Middle East and North Africa we can see a large distinction between the Digital age in comparison countries such as North America. I think that our problems in America are minimal to those in places such as Egypt. For example, in 2011 students in Egypt used social media to vocalize the dissatisfaction with corrupt teachers and administrators.  The SCAF (government) in Egypt created most of this uproar that caused a revolution because the people were unhappy with the “ruling regime”. During this revolution youth communicated using media such as Facebook to protest and disagree with their government. “Compared to previous generations, youth coming to age in the digital era are learning and exercising citizenship in fundamentally different ways” (Herrea 334). These different ways include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. What I find remarkable about the digital age is the youth, students in particular, can learn and connect with each other to create a more fitting global society. Through social media students can understand each other in ways like never before. Although there may be difference in class, ideology, geography and gender, the digital age is bringing our youth together like never before. “…as youth around the globe develop common behaviors and attitudes stemming form their interaction with new media and communication tools, we can speak at some levels of global youth culture” (Castells 2007). This phenomena is amazing and will shape our world positively for a brighter future.