Many people are calling for us to give Trump a chance; to not condemn him for what he said on the campaign trail, and for what he’s done since he won the election: for the Twitter rants and for the nominations he’s made, appointing people who seem both unqualified for the office assigned, and who in many cases have long espoused views in direct contradiction to the roles of the departments they have been proposed to head.
But I, and many others, cannot overlook either his words or his actions. For so many of us it is not about politics, as some have suggested; it is about what his administration brings to our country. The misogyny, the racism, the discrimination of immigrants (Muslims and others), anti-semitic views, and the general bigotry he prescribes to. We are one country, but if we descend into hating people we go against the very principles that our Founding Fathers crafted in our great constitution.
If we don’t take a stand to protect others in our country, we will lose the fundamental precepts that we were founded upon. That is why many of us are resisting Trump, his views and words go against all we believe in. To care about others and to act on that care is vital to what our democracy stands for and what the Founding Fathers dreamed of.
In reality, hate crimes have gone up since the election, synagogues are being threatened,the poor are being disparaged, the disabled are being mocked, immigrants are being threatened (the country was founded by Europeans and they killed the indigenous people which makes us great hypocrites). Immigrants are the richness that has fed America through the centuries. They brought to America their skills, dreams and hard work and are part of the reason America is great.
Yes, I realize that this isn’t what Trump says, but based upon my beliefs and others, America is still great. America gives everyone the ability to dream and work hard and move up in our society. America, because of the influence of many immigrants, is still the place that you can work to make yourself rise above where you were born in the social structure of your country of their birth. America is also the country where others care about your education, health, losses, accomplishments and ability to work for yourself and your family, The desire for our children to become more than what we are is paramount to the American dream.
America is not perfect. Hatred is a great deal of the reason why. For instance, because the Founding Fathers could not come to any type of a decision on slavery, they postponed that decision until a future generation would be able to come to a moral and ethical solution. We ended up freeing the slaves during the Civil War. Has America provided minorities equality and the same opportunities that white people have? No. The racism that stumped The Founding Fathers and that crippled the South for many years is still a problem.
As Americans, we must look at the bigotry, racism, and sexism that dwells within our hearts and souls. We need to be honest with ourselves, face it head on, and overcome the desire to blame others for what is not right in our lives. Black people, Jews, and women are not the reason you find your life lacking. They are not the reason you lost your job or don’t have health insurance, or don’t have the family you always dreamed of. But other caring Americans can help and give you support. Often, others can and would advise you, give you a hand, or just assist in ways you can determine.
America has never been perfect but we have continued to try. We haven’t tried hard enough and there are people whose lives can testify to that. Education, hard work and being honest with ourselves will take us to what we desire. By being responsible for all of our actions we negate the habit to blame others for our losses and disappointments.
America must realize that while we are great, we each need to love our fellow citizens despite their religion, color, gender, education level, and socio-economic place in our society. Only then we can rise together to fulfill our dreams and to make America the best it can possibly be.
The sun sets behind the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.
America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:
“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”
I hunt for that affirming flame.
This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.
We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.
If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.
This country has survived a civil war, two world wars and a Great Depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more-or-less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.
The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.
Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.
Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.
The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.
Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so they could fill the vacuum.
Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.
With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information — a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the white nationalist “alt-right.” For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.
This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.
For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.
But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.
We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.
Me, in Washington D. C. for art exhibit circa 1980’s.
I often went to Washington for art and protests.
I believe that Progressives and Liberals all had independent wakes for our country beginning the morning after the election. I remember my mind all a-swirl with thoughts about what had just happened to the country I loved so much. I flashed back to 1976 and my dad grilling in the backyard with his red, white and blue apron on, that said 1776-1976. Hot dogs and hamburgers were coming off of the grill. America was not a perfect country then but we let our voices, me and the rest of the young people, be heard and the government was beginning to listen about Vietnam and Civil Rights for black people. We were doing new things like reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. It changed my life as it did the lives of millions of other women, young and old.
I helped to start a Domestic Violence shelter in Pennsylvania. It was a journey in faith, but it is still there and helping women and children. There are still women who are in violent relationships today; but more about that another day.
I became a feminist and devoted myself to helping women and children to lead better lives. It was important to me that they would be able to access the justice they needed and would not suffer because someone looked at them and decided they should have acted different or been different.
Over the years, I watched as racism raised its ugly head when a Mom had kids who were several different shades. That didn’t bother me. Once I fought Children’s Services when they tried to take the aforementioned children away from the Mother. I won and this good mother whose only “crime” was to have been beaten by a man kept her kids. They were beautiful and smart and sweet.
When I counseled for Rape Crisis, I often had to protect the victims from the misogyny of the police and even their fathers and brothers. It was no easy task but we educated people and they learned that the important thing was that the woman who was their baby girl or sister or wife had been hurt in a brutal way and we could stop it happening to other women.
We were able to stop back alley abortions and I lobbied in Harrisburg to convince legislators of the importance of keeping teen girls and young women out of the hands of questionable doctors who would perform these abortions for a lot of money with no guarantees that the woman would survive. Women were still having to cross state lines at that point.
I remember a 10 year old girl who came to an abortion clinic with her Mom. Counseling was required before all abortions and this case was no exception. The girl was seen by a counselor first and then her Mother joined them. Her Father had molested her and gotten her pregnant with his child. He was in jail, which was where he belonged. This 10 year old had been through enough. It was cruel to ask her to now ask her to remain pregnant for the entire nine months and go through labor and delivery. She carried her Mickey Mouse doll into surgery and held a nurse’s hand. She came through very well and was up and around quickly. There are so many stories where abortion is a blessing and not a convenience.
I have friends everywhere. They don’t look like me. We don’t all have the same religious beliefs. We are from both genders. Some are musicians, some are retired business people, some are artists and activists like I am. We all look different although now that some of us are aging, we do have that similarity in our looks.
What I am trying to say is that the America I am grieving is lost. It is lost as if a conquering army came and destroyed it and all we can do is look around and shake our heads. Well, I have been shaking my head for over a month now and I have begun to strengthen my resolve. The election was a disaster. The History books will discuss how this all happened. Your great-grandchildren and mine will study it in school and will feel wise because they understand.
What Progressives and Liberals must do now, whether we understand or not, is to give ourselves a good shake. We need to tell ourselves that American life isn’t over. It is different now. It includes mega racism, misogyny, anti-Muslim feelings, anti-Semitism, a distaste for both the poor and for higher education, and blatant bigotry. We have to promise ourselves, our friends, the people we go to school with, the people in our churches and synagogues and mosques that we will stand with them. We will find a lot of hassle and bigotry at work, so prepare yourselves. The people who feel they were voiceless will now want to spew their hatred over everyone frequently and in the direction of the rest of us. Don’t take the bait. Try the rubber band on your wrist if necessary; snap it when you are angry or need to stop yourself from speaking. Live your lives in the caring, helpful ways you have always done. Read what will fill you up and prepare you for the future. Keep your spiritual life healthy and filled with positive energy. Remember we are all children of the Universe. We have a responsibility to be there for each other until the nightmare is over.
I have two stories to tell you. They are not politically correct. They are however true stories. But I must tell them, because I walk my talk, and my talk is that there are bad people who get into power and that power turns them into ego-maniacs.
I love beauty, art, children, peace, music and photography. We can’t always just see the beauty. We need to be aware of the ugly and evil also. As my grandfather told me when I was nine…we can’t let it happen again. My grandfather was a Croatian immigrant who I loved and respected beyond words. He was the best man I have ever met in my sixty-five years. He wasn’t perfect, but he was bigger than life in my mind. He died when I was twenty two and I never forget anything he taught me.
Yesterday, I reblogged a superior post about black slavery. Many who are my age know that the KKK is an organization which hides behind white sheets and commits unspeakable crimes. I have known we must speak of them so these crimes won’t happen again. I had never, however, seen so much Black misery, torture, and sheer meanness in my life in once place. Some of the medical experiments I knew about from classes in nursing school. Blacks and convicts were used for many government experiments.
I had never heard about taking Black babies out to the swamps and bayous and using them for bait to catch alligators. I was horrified and sickened physically.
Human slavery has existed since the dawn of civilizations. It is by no means a civilized act. War captives were often kept as slaves for the rest of their lives. Have you ever watched the movie The Gladiator, with Russell Crowe? Does the longevity of this practice mean it is acceptable? Absolutely not. Prostitution has been around at least as long as slavery and it is also wrong. But that is another blog.
Slavery is alive and well today, and going by the name Human Trafficking. This time Caucasian people, especially women and children, are being taken and sold into work slavery or sexual slavery. Caucasians are not the only people being kidnapped and sold. It changes but it remains the same. One human being owning the body, mind and soul of at least one other human being.
In America, in the slaveholding days, Caucasian people thumped their bibles and declared that God wanted Black people to be slaves. That they were created to be animals to work endlessly and to reproduce to make the Massa richer than he all ready was. So they filled their mouths with self-righteousness and beat, worked, starved and tortured their slaves. I think it made them feel like big men. Alpha men, in charge because all they could see was given to them by God.
So American slaves had to endure illiteracy, beatings, working in cotton, cane and tobacco fields from sun up to sun down. I can’t get the images out of my mind of thousands of men, women and children working under the Southern sun picking the crops.
I can’t stop seeing the pictures of men and women lynched for some perceived law they violated. Public executions, castrations, and many other tortures I will not discuss here.
But the Alligator babies is what kept me up all night. A baby, a human life thrown into the bayous as if it were a worm on a hook. Mothers were made to watch. The baby was thrown into the water and an alligator would practically swallow it whole. Then they would catch the alligator. Sick beyond belief.
In Europe, during the Holocaust, the Nazis would skeet shoot. They would throw Jewish babies high into the air and an officer would shoot at the baby. If he got the bullet into the belly button, it was considered a bullseye. These mothers were also made to watch. And many were shot after they did watch.
Jews were not the only victims of the irrational fear Hitler had of “others”. Other victims included Gypsies, the mentally and physically disabled, the Poles, and Communists. The Gypsies were thought of as dogs, so they were not even kept in the same barracks as the Jews. In the camps, there was regular dehumanization. Often prisoners had no clothes to wear. The Nazis took whatever possessions they managed to bring with them. Food was so very scarce. Many of the detainees looked like walking skeletons with skin over the bones. Sick prisoners were often thrown into graves they dug before they were even dead.
When Yugoslavia broke from the Soviet Union, Serbia, Croatia and other Baltic Countries could no longer understand how to live without Communism. My grandfather fled Croatia before the Communists came. Eastern Europe is now a ravaged area when Communism broke the spirits of the people. They have gone through intense genocide and each country tried to eliminate the other countries which made up Communist Yugoslavia. Croatia remains in such flux that the country takes a step forward and two steps back. They are working hard though, to create the country that they want to be proud citizens of.
Rwanda and other war-torn countries are a hot mess, as the kids say. Dictators come to power and kill the millions of citizens who followed the previous leader. Human trafficking happens in these countries too. Children are captured and made into soldiers and made to kill. Women and girls are sold as sex slaves. Many women and girls are just raped and/or gang raped. Remember rape has everything to do with power and control.
Once a female is raped, no one in her village or her home wants her. They are now dirty and are considered untouchable. Their villages turn their backs upon them. They are now as low as an animal.
This litany of woes of the human experience is sickening and devastating. The UN must, in short order, bring war criminals to justice as was done after the Holocaust. There must be justice for victims and an understanding that all crimes will be punished by the International Court at The Hague.
As people who live on this planet, and have not suffered these atrocities, we must demand justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves. We must not look away, because this evil cannot be allowed to continue. We must care. We must take care of ourselves emotionally but we must not look away. In America, having a President of color, whom I respect greatly, has really shown that racism is alive and well in the United States of America. We must address each incident of bigotry and hatred with justice and no tolerance of the evil which resides here.
Yes, I believe in speaking “politically correct” language. Not because it is fashionable, or because it offends to not do so, but because using the language so often derided as “politically correct” shows respect for those spoken to and about. Caucasians in power must deliver justice with an even hand. Our local governments and police forces must serve all of their citizens, not just the Caucasians. If an officer commits a crime, he or she must pay the penalty which should be swift.
So for Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown and the hundreds of young black men who have been sacrificed to bigotry and racism, I say, I promise, we will not forget you and what you suffered.
I have not shown pictures here that would be the most graphic. These from wars are bad enough but please understand these photographs are the easiest to handle. What do we do? If there is a racist bigot within you, excise it. Write to the UN in defense of those who are being used as weapons of war. Write and donate to UNICEF to help get children out of war torn countries. Treat the Black people you meet like you would treat anyone else. Get to know them. Enjoy them and let them get to know you. Stand up for Black Lives Matter. Don’t believe everything a government tells you. Think for yourself and question. If candidates talk about rounding up Muslims, this is racism and bigotry. Speak your truth and don’t vote for bigotry.
War and Conflict. World War Two. 1945. Singapore. British women civilian Internees queue up for their food at the camp mess area.
Rwanda Mass Grave. So many Tutsis are murdered they can’t be bothered burying each one.
American Senator John McCain in hospital after is years of being a POW during the Vietnam War
Syrians are suffering from loss of family and needing to flee for their own safety
Fueled by Superstition, People Are Violently Attacking Albinos in Tanzania
By Samuel Oakford originally posted at Vice.com
August 27, 2014 | 6:15 pm
In the past month, a spate of violent attacks in Tanzania targeting people with albinism for their body parts has highlighted a morbid practice linked to witchcraft.
People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue. The condition generally results from recessive genes carried by parents. Albinism in Africa brings with it an increased chance of developing fatal skin cancer, and the lack of pigment to protect eyes against the bright sun can cause sight problems.
Africans with the condition can suffer alienating social stigma in communities where their neighbors and relatives believe them to be ghosts, cursed, or intellectually incapacitated. In some regions, they face a near-constant threat of violence.
UN officials and rights groups reported at least five assaults on albinos that occurred in Tanzania in less than two weeks in August.
On August 5, three men armed with machetes hacked a 15-year-old girl’s right arm off below the elbow in the western region of Tabora. Her family was threatened with death and could not scream for help. Later that day, the assailants targeted her uncle, who also has albinism, though he was able to escape.
The three men were eventually arrested, including a local witch doctor who informed authorities that they had amputated her arm because buyers were willing to pay as much as $600 dollars for it.
On August 14, the mutilated body of a young albino man was found lying in a swampy area in the outskirts of Dar es Salam. Pictures of the victim shared on social media showed that a large patch of skin had been excised from his torso and a hole bored into his abdomen.
Two days later, a pair of men attacked a 35-year-old woman with albinism in a small village in Tabora. They killed her husband for attempting to defend her before severing the lower portion of her left arm and fleeing.
‘The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling.’
Though these acts of mutilation are widely abhorred and spiritual practices in the region vary greatly, in isolated areas with little access to medical information it is still believed that the body parts of people with albinism can impart mystical or magical benefits.
“In sub-Saharan Africa there’s a significant belief in witchcraft, which often involves the use of body parts,” Peter Ash, who heads the albinism-rights group Under the Same Sun, told VICE News. “That’s been the case in the region for a long time, well before colonization. It’s part of a deep-seated cultural, historical, and spiritual practice.”
In parts of the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, UN officials have seen reports of gold miners using amulets made of the bones of albinos to enhance their luck, and of fishermen weaving their hair into nets to ensure a large catch.
Since 1998, Under the Same Sun has documented 332 attacks on people with albinism in 24 African countries, including 147 in Tanzania alone. Ash said that the reported figures are only a fraction of the assaults actually taking place across the continent. Most incidents occur in rural areas, where they sometimes go unreported and are rarely investigated.
In many parts of Africa, albinism occurs at higher rates than in much of the world. In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people have the disorder — roughly 35,000 people nationwide. Globally, the rate is generally one in 20,000.
With limbs regularly selling for hundreds of dollars and entire bodies reportedly costing up to $75,000 in a country where the median annual income is less than $600, there is a widespread assumption in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa that members of the business and political elite are behind the demand. A rise in attacks has been documented in several countries ahead of elections, when candidates have reportedly employed witch doctors to increase their likelihood of victory.
“Witch doctors have long been influential in many communities, but now they’re trying to make a buck, rather than just being elder and respected practitioners,” Ash said. “Now they’re entrepreneurs.”
‘They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education. It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.’
Though Tanzania — where 93 percent of Christians and Muslims say they believe in witchcraft, according to a 2010 Pew Research report — is often portrayed as the epicenter of this grisly phenomenon, much of that perception stems from the presence in the country of non-governmental organizations like Under the Same Sun, which has an office with 20 employees who can be dispatched to document crimes.
After a 2008 BBC report on the Tanzanian trade in body parts horrified the international community, activists began paying closer attention to the plight of albinos in the country. But while closer observation has seen a greater reporting of incidents in Tanzania, the same cannot be said of the rest of Africa, where freedom of the press is weak and rates of violence against albinos remains for the most part unknown.
Because neighbors and relatives are often involved in attacks on people with albinism, police face obstacles even when they are willing to investigate. Families often bury deceased albino relatives in unmarked graves out of fear that their body parts will be harvested even in death.
Amid the increase in attacks over recent years, Tanzania’s government has increasingly housed children with albinism in schools created for children with disabilities — an ostensibly protective measure that has lately prompted concerns of segregation.
“When it was proposed, it was an emergency measure, but it has now become a long-term solution,” Alicia Londono, a UN human rights official who recently returned from a visit to the country, told VICE News. “The conditions are very bad. Many of the children already have the early stages of skin cancer, and the staff is not trained to treat this disease.”
More than half of these schools now house albino children. Londono described them as “dumping places” where families leave unwanted progeny, and noted that children in these facilities face a risk of sexual and physical abuse.
“They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.”
Ikponwosa Ero, a researcher from Nigeria who has albinism and works with Under the Same Sun, told VICE News that everyday life for children with the condition is immensely difficult.
“The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling,” she said. “Aside from physical attacks, the suffering that happens is beyond comprehension. The ejection from school, rejection from society. I wasn’t allowed to step outside at night without a relative, and I was always aware that attacks by ritualists was a possibility.”
Activists and UN officials believe that efforts to educate the public about albinism will help abate attacks on albinos and ensure that they have greater access to services and support — but Londono noted that it won’t be easy.
“Everyone from authorities who I met to the driver of my taxi referred to beliefs that are attached to the condition, that they are subhuman beings,” she said.
Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford
The Human Family has degenerated to the point where education has crumbled, and all over the world superstition and bigotry, meanness and paranoia, are what has replaced a good education for many people.
This story is horrifying because these children already have a serious health condition, and it leads them to develop melanoma because they live in Africa and their lack of coloring cannot adequately protect them. That is the problem these children should have, but because of bigotry and superstition, fueled by ignorance, they are being hunted down and cannot live with their own families. These children are aware of other children who have the same physical condition who have been murdered for no other reason than that they are different.
All around the world, prejudice is growing and spreading like the deadly disease it is, but it is not spreading through the exchange of fluids or a bug bite — it is spreading because we ae not teaching our children tolerance and understanding. We are teaching hatred and lies instead.
What are you doing to stop the spread? Are you speaking up against bigotry? Are you speaking up for education? Act out and teach the people around you that Hate Is Not The Way.
No one wants to be on food stamps. No one wants to see their children hungry. It is embarrassing to be on WIC or SNAP. Those of you in the 1% of the country that holds the wealth don’t realize what it takes to feed a family. You have servants and chefs to do this. You don’t worry about choosing between paying the gas bill to keep your children warm and healthy, or feeding them. You aren’t the ones who have to look at your children and say they can’t have a snack because you couldn’t afford one.
People will end up having to buy food and skip the winter boots because there isn’t enough money. Many people will have to make decisions you can’t even conceive of.
How can religious right wing people of good conscience not care about the lives of others? How do you look at yourselves in the mirror? How can you look past poor people and act like you see nothing amiss? How do you go to your church and stand before your god and not care about the suffering of fellow human beings? We are all equal. Your money gives you the ability to buy more stuff; it doesn’t make you better people. There are many poor and middle class people who can’t afford your Aspen vacations or the anniversary party that costs $20,000 but they will share what they have with someone who has less. They will sharebecause they believe in equality and compassion.
Now, you the people of the 1% convinced our sons and daughters to go to Iraq, an illegal war. The American people were lied to concerning weapons of mass destruction. So our children and grandchildren are still being deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. We are asking them to “serve their country” and leave their families and put themselves in harm’s way. Then they come home with PTSD or terrible wounds and missing extremities and you don’t care if they get treatment or even food. Why should they be risking their lives for people who don’t know the meaning of compassion? I suggest you take a long look in the mirror today or tomorrow. Introduce yourself to the hateful, selfish, cold, and uncaring person staring back at you. Shame on you. It doesn’t matter what color you are,if your attitude comes from racism or bigotry, or just the belief that money makes you better, you are a sad specimen of a human being.