Xenophobia: the West’s fear of Change and Diversity

In recent years xenophobia seems to becoming more common in both the United States and Europe.   I started noticing xenophobia becoming more prominent in the United States around the time Barrack Obama became elected.  I feel that many European Americans began fearing that the benefits that they received through systemic racism and white privilege would be taken away.  Since a person of color became president, many European-Americans began saying that they want to “Take the Country Back.”  In reality no one stole the country, but many European Americans were threatened by an African-American president.  People were even demanding to see Barrack Obama’s birth certificate to prove he is American, like freed slaves had to show their papers in the 1800’s.  More recently with the election of Donald Trump, many Latin Americans who have lives and families in the United States have been deported.  Donald Trump is fueling xenophobia through hateful and divisive rhetoric toward immigrants.  I feel that Donald Trump is normalizing xenophobia and making people feel that it is ok to be racist.  It is important for those to stand in solidarity with immigrants in their communities to protect their neighbors from deportation.  The government should support immigrants, instead the government is demonizing minorities through xenophobic and racist policies such as the Muslim ban and border wall.

Housing: A Human Right

Water, food and shelter are essential for one to feel secure.  Food, shelter and water should be provided for all people.  People around the world view the United States as  a very wealthy country.  Many of these people would be astonished to know that homelessness and lack of food are common in the United States.  There are some areas of Philadelphia where poverty and lack of food,  water and shelter are more pertinent than other areas.  Kensington, which recently cleared an encampment along the train tracks forcing many people who had been living homeless by the tracks out into the open.  There are now people living in tents along Kensington Avenue near Lehigh Avenue.  Many of the homeless in this area are addicted to drugs, particularly heroin.  There are housing programs, such as, PROJECT H.O.M.E. and the Bridge program which help people obtain housing but it can take years to receive the subsidy.  It’s unacceptable to have such a large population of homeless in the United States.homeless

Healthcare for Children

Among all the human rights issues effecting children, I chose to focus on healthcare.  Quality healthcare is essential to ensure children have better health outcomes later in life.  Healthcare should be a human right for all people, especially children.  No matter what country or culture a child is raised in, healthcare is important.  Many countries have universal healthcare, including: Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, France, United Kingdom and many others.  This means that all children in these countries have access to doctors and healthcare.  In the United States there is not universal healthcare.  Therefore, not all children have access to the medical care they need.  The United States does have the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CHIP puts health coverage within reach for all uninsured kids and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance.  On January 22, 2018, Congress passed a six-year extension of CHIP funding.  In the United States the percentage of uninsured children was 5% in 2015 down from 9% in 2009.  I think Philadelphia should guarantee all children under 18 have healthcare.  Currently CHIP helps many, but not all.  We should ensure that all children in Philadelphia  have healthcare.

Historical Trauma

The United States, thought of as the birthplace of freedom for many, is built on a legacy of oppressing and enslaving minority populations.  For generations, Africans were stolen from west Africa, in order to be brought to the United States and sold as a commodity.  America grew its great wealth through the enslavement of generations of Africans.  If it were not for centuries of free labor, the United States would not be nearly as wealthy as it currently is.  American slave owners stole not only the freedom from Africans, but also their rich African culture.  Many Americans today view slavery as a dark part of their countries past, but often do not speak about the historical effects of slavery and the systemic racism which continues to thrive in the United States.  In the city of Philadelphia, oppression and racism continue to be an evident part of life.  Many areas of Philadelphia are racially segregated.  In the 1930’s, the federal government began contributing to racial housing segregation by encouraging banks to withhold credit from areas where people of color live.  The historical trauma of racism and slavery experienced by African-Americans is evident by the necessity of the black lives matter movement.  Every day African American’s living in Philadelphia are the targets of racist policing policies.  Due to the color of their skin, African-Americans are more often the subject of unnecessary, and sometimes lethal force by police.  This is evident through the murders of African-Americans, such as, Freddy Grey, Eric Garner and Philando Castile.histoeical trauma

Gender-Based Violence

violence against womenViolence against women is, unfortunately prevalent throughout many parts of the world.  For centuries women have been fighting for their right for equality and ability to live a life free from gender based violence.  The image above was taken in Philadelphia at the One Billion Rising rally.  One Billion Rising began in February 2012 and continues holding rally’s with the theme of 2018 being “Solidarity.”  One Billion Rising is fighting to end  violence and injustices against women and in support of women’s equality, safety and freedom.   Since the birth of the United States, women have been fighting for equality and against gender-based violence.  It is estimated that, globally,  one out of every three females will be beaten or raped in their lifetime.  In the United States one in five women have been raped in their lifetime, and, one in three women have been the victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.  The laws in the United States which address violence against women, are relatively new laws.  In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act passed through Congress with bi-partisan support.  The Violence Against Women Act, which was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, provides services for victims of rape and domestic violence.  The re-authorizations of the act in 2000 and 2005 expanded the mandate  to address sexual assault and stalking along with domestic violence.  The United States is one of only seven countries, out of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, who have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).  Member States who have ratified CEDAW committed to ending gender discrimination and establishing equality in all areas Including: health care, education, political participation, employment and marriage.  The United States is one of only nine countries who do not have guaranteed paid leave for the mothers of newborns.  According to the World Economic Forum, the United States ranks 65th out of 142 countries surveyed in wage equality between genders for similar work.  Based on current statistics for gender-based violence, governments in all countries need to do more to address the issue of gender-based violece.



Justice: Fighting Discriminatory Immigration Policies


The New Sanctuary Movement promotes justice and dignity for all immigrants. The New Sanctuary Movement also advocates for policy change in immigration policies.  The organization’s goals are decided by immigrants who are affected by immigration laws.  However, the organization relies heavily on the support of allies in the community.  Allies are those who may not be immigrants themselves but, support immigrants and the New Sanctuary Movement in its mission of  ending injustices against immigrants regardless of status.  Immigrants and allies of the New Sanctuary Movement are supportive of the New Sanctuary Movement’s values of: Dignity, Community, Mutuality and Spiritual Nonviolence.  Members of the Philadelphia community come together to support the right of all immigrants to reside at a place of their choosing without persecution from the authorities and community.  A recent victory for justice by the New Sanctuary Movement, in partnership with the Philadelphia Family Unity Network, has ended all collaboration between Philadelphia city officials and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This victory  has the potential to keep many immigrant families intact, by protecting immigrants from deportation by the federal government.  Along with pushing for justice for the entire immigrant community, the New Sanctuary Movement also promotes the rights of individuals.  On December 13th, 2017, Carmela Libre and her children sought sanctuary at the Church of the Advocate, a member church of the New Sanctuary Movement.  It was from here, in the protection of the church, that Carmela is fighting her deportation order and injustices in immigration policy.

You can sign a petition in support of Carmela Libre and her children: https://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/carmela-libre-grant-asylum-to-her-her-children-in-sanctuary-at-church-of-the-advocate.

The American Legal System: Actively supporting and contributing to systemic racism

Arrested in 1981 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, Mumia Abu Jamal has become a national and international symbol for protests against the death penalty.  When Mumia Abu Jamal was arrested in 1982, he was a well known writer, radio host,  former Black Panther Party member and supporter of the MOVE movement in Philadelphia.  Mumia Abu Jamal was subject to surveillance by the FBI’s COINTELPRO surveillance program while he was an acitive member of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  The purpose of the COINTELPRO surveillance was to infiltrate black radical groups and create disorder and  skepticism between members of the black radical groups.  After Mumia was arrested, Judge Sabo was overseeing Mumia Abu Jamal’s trial.  Mumia Abu Jamal wanted to represent himself but, Judge Sabo ruled that due to Mumia Abu Jamal’s interruptions, Mumi forfeited his right to represent himself.  Mumia Abui Jamal was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death row.  As seen in the image, many people feel that Mumia Abu Jamal is innocent and was unjustly charged with the murder of Daniel Faulkner as a result of Mumia’s active role in the African American Community.  Article 11 of the United Declaration of Human Rights states that each person has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, for those arrested in America, many people think a person is guilty as soon as they are arrested instead of withholding judgement until the facts are known and both sides are heard from.  After 30 years on death row, in 2011, Mumia Abu Jamal’s saentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.  Mumia Abu Jamal continues to be an active member of the black community from his cell where Mumia has voiced his support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  According to Article 8 of the United Declaration of Human Rights each person on trial should be treated equally between the courts and tribunals.  However, in America, people of color are often viewed differently than their white counterparts, as a result of systemic racism and the prejudices that are socially ingrained in many Americans.  Unjust laws were created to disproportionality effect the black community.  Crack cocaine, which people of color are disproportionately arrested for, carries much harsher sentences than powder cocaine which is more often used by Caucasians.  It has also become evident that in America, many police officers use unjust and sometimes deadly force against members of the African American Community, such as Feddy Grey, Eric Garner and Philando Castile.  The for-profit prison system in America profits on a daily basis from each prisoner housed in their prison.  Due to the massive profits that for-profit prisons earn from each prisoner, it is in their interests to keep the jails full, even if it is a nonviolent offender.  The American legal system, leans in the favor of the prosecution, even when the person on trial is innocent.  This is a result of the stigma that is carried with being arrested for a crime.  Many people presume a person guilty as soon as they are arrested for a crime instead of viewing the person as innocent until proven guilty.mumia