Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Stories are a powerful mechanism for social change; entire nations are built and maintained by stories and sharing stories is a way of building community, of shaping identity and constructing meaning. However, the stories and voices of people directly impacted by the criminal punishment system, are routinely excluded from policy and reform efforts. This exclusion is the opening to create alternative sites to bridge understanding, knowledge production and impact public and penal policy.
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are yet another set of names we won't forget. The consequent polarity of media representation regarding isolated events threatens to intercept an honest conversation about the institutional bias of law enforcement. The pattern is at once endemic and global. Here is a list of 14 movies that have sought to illuminate the deeper problem with police, racism and systemic abuse -- on a global scale.
Two former Guantánamo prisoners were convicted in Belgium by the Brussels Criminal Court on Monday, July 18, 2016, one on terrorism-related charges. The two men, Moussa Zemmouri, 38, a Belgian national, and Soufiane Abbar Huwari, 46, an Algerian national, were arrested on July 23, 2015. Huwari was arrested with three other men during an attempted armed burglary in Hoboken, near the city of Antwerp, where Zemmouri lives.
The current attempt to remove President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil bears many resemblances to the Clinton impeachment episode. It is led by a group of politicians who seek to overturn the results of national elections and steer the nation in a different, right-wing direction; and the elected president has not committed an impeachable offense. Missing, of course, is the sex scandal -- and the charges are so unsexy that most people don't even know what the president is being impeached for, and it's not that easy to figure it out.
Tweeting as @xychelsea, her Twitter bio describes her as a "Former Intelligence Analyst. Trans Woman. Prisoner." Chelsea Manning became the most famous prisoner on social media after she was sentenced to 35 years in Leavenworth military prison for leaking some 750,000 classified documents. Manning tweets by proxy -- meaning she relays her thoughts via voice phone to representatives who maintain her Twitter account from beyond prison walls.
For many Dallasites, the murder of five police officers in downtown Dallas brought about memories of JFK's assassination just blocks from where a lone gunman shot 11 officers. This tragedy brings to mind another violent event from the city's history, the 1910 public lynching of Allen Brooks at the Old Red Courthouse. Brooks was pulled from a second-story courtroom with a rope around his neck, his dead body dragged down Main Street to be hung for display at the Elks Arch, a symbolic gateway to the city. It was a gruesome path across the same streets trod in a July 7 protest. You see, Dallas is plagued by racial injustice. Our ability to collectively suppress the memory of injustice leaves us confused and searching for answers when racism confronts us in disturbing and violent ways.
In her essay, "The Myths of Black Lives Matter," published in The Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald writes that "fatal police shootings make up a much larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black homicide deaths." Citing The Washington Post database of police shootings, Mac Donald reports that "officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics and 258 blacks" in 2015. That means that 28 percent of those killed by the police in 2015 were Black.
In June, the Supreme Court sided with anti-immigrant states and shattered millions of immigrants' hopes. The court's tied decision continued to freeze programs that would have provided some sort of relief from deportation to many undocumented immigrants. Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision, the Obama administration's deportation machine continues to tear communities apart. Through Obama's programs, about 2.5 million people have been deported, more than the last 19 presidents combined who governed from 1892 -2000.
Conservative Republicans are certainly correct about one thing and that is: "don't trust the 'liberal media.'" Of course, they are right for all of the wrong reasons, but CNN's moderate-liberal Fareed Zakaria recently hosted a special segment called "Why They Hate Us" and in a manner of speaking, it was based on prejudice, conjecture, ignorance and ahistorical findings."They," of course, are Muslims. Zakaria stated that, "The next time you hear of a terror attack -- no matter where it is, no matter what the circumstances -- you will likely think to yourself, 'It's Muslims again.' And you will probably be right."Zakaria would be even more accurate if he honestly put forth the rest of the sentence to say, "... and you will probably be right that it had Western or US backing."
There are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States; of those, about 70 percent were born in Mexico or the countries of Central America. It is being sparsely reported that US immigration officials have began executing raids on the homes of Central American mothers and children who crossed the border "illegally." Most people take borders for granted, but unlike mountains or rivers, they are not natural. Borders are first imagined, and then drawn, entrenched and legitimized by people. Like all constructs, they tell us a lot about the creators.