That’s what Martha from Colón, Honduras, said to a reporter in November 2018. If you turned on any U.S. news channel in the Fall of 2018, you likely saw a lot of people like Martha—people who left their homes in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in search of a better life in the United States.
When large numbers of people arrive en masse to seek asylum at the U.S. border, it’s a newsworthy story. But what kind of story is it? Who decides how to tell it?
Mientras que los embates entre grupos de supremacistas blancos y opositores en Charlottesville, Virginia, en agosto 12 y 13 de 2017 demuestran que el racismo en Estados Unidos es un fenómeno generalizado que persigue a las minorías raciales, se vuelve más y más evidente que nuestra tarea como sociedad para eliminar este mal y liberar a las minorías de sus garras no está completa. A decir verdad, el racismo en ambas formas, tanto extrínseco como intrínseco, afecta a las minorías de todas las etnicidades y colores en Estados Unidos. Hoy en día, las instituciones educativas en todo Estados Unidos usan el racismo para impactar de manera desfavorable el desempeño educativo de los estudiantes negros. Las cortes y organismos policiales son liderados por reconocidos supremacistas blancos que fallan a favor de los suyos. Los hombres negros se vuelven injustamente sospechosos en encuentros con la policía, y los reclusos negros superan en números de proporciones incomprensibles a los blancos. Los profesionales negros en el gobierno y el mundo corporativo se encuentran con casos sutiles de comportamientos prejuiciosos debido al color de su piel y herencia. Todos estos ejemplos sugieren que el racismo es un problema social que actúa como un obstáculo para el desarrollo socioeconómico de la comunidad afroamericana.
Imagine waking up one day to the news that your land, which you and your tribe have subsisted on for generations, has been sold by the government to someone else. In return, you will be moved to a small plot of land without the same kinds of resources as before. This loss of land creates a domino effect of loss in other areas such as income, traditional environmental knowledge, and general stability. Through green grabbing, government entities or private investors use their power over Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups to confiscate land under the guise of environmental conservation.
Trinidad and Tobago is an insular state of Caribbean America, a nation that, along with Suriname and Guyana, possesses a historical tradition of religious pluralism that includes a substantial Islamic community. A 2011 census of the population describes a multi-faith panorama composed of Catholics (21.6%), Hindus (18.2%), Pentecostals (12.0%), Anglicans (5.7%), Baptists (5.7), Muslims (5%), and a number of other faith groups.
This International Women’s Day, as we applaud the political, economic, cultural, and social advancements of half the population, there is much to celebrate in the Americas.
In the past decade, there has been a striking increase in political and economic participation of women. Promisingly, government and NGO agendas alike are increasingly prioritizing gender equity as a cross-cutting, pressing issue, and slowly, collaboration is leading to progress. In Bolivia, approximately half of the legislative body is female. Paraguay recently passed Act 5777, providing protection against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), outlawing femicide, and providing services to survivors of sexual violence. Originating in Argentina, the #NiUnaMenos movement against sexual harassment and assault has made great headway across several countries, and has been followed by the US-rooted #MeToo movement.
This is not to say that women do not struggle every day to feel safe, be heard, be recognized for their contributions, and be valued in government and society. Indeed, experts maintain that the global gender gap will close in 79 years for Latin America and the Caribbean and 168 in North America.
Despite this, change makers are pushing forward, inspiring us to join them in their pursuits or to honor their legacies. Without further ado, here are some of the many she-roes that have confronted challenges to advance the status of women in the Western hemisphere.
While the clashes between white supremacist groups and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th and August 13th 2017 prove that racism is still a widespread phenomenon in America that haunts racial minorities, it becomes more and more evident that our task as a society to uproot this evil and pull minorities from its grips is not complete. Truth be told, racism in both forms, extrinsic as well as intrinsic, affects minorities of all ethnicities and colors in the United States. Today, educational institutions all across the United States use racism and unfavorably impact the educational performance of black students. Courthouses and law-enforcement agencies are led by well-known white supremacists who rule out in favor of plaintiffs. Black men are unfairly suspected during police encounters, black inmates outnumber white inmates by incomprehensible proportions, and black professionals in the government and corporate world face subtle instances of prejudiced behavior due to their skin color and heritage. All of these examples suggest that racism is a social problem that acts as an obstacle to the socioeconomic development of the African American community.
The creation of order through military suppression—what critical theorist Mark Neocleous calls, “war as peace [and] peace as pacification”—is designed to provide security for bourgeois social order. Pacification in Rio de Janeiro can thus be viewed as a militaristic, politically-crafted response to social insecurity felt by Rio’s upper classes, magnified by forthcoming mega event preparations that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Nonetheless, social inequality and public insecurity have long inhibited the effective governance of Rio de Janeiro. Following Brazil’s belated abolition of slavery in 1888, informal housing settlements—known as favelas—began to form. These communities, which now accommodate about a quarter of Rio’s population, have endured a history of state abandonment and marginalization of the poor. This, coupled with the consequences of being the territorial domain of armed criminal groups, has led to nearly complete disenfranchisement of more than 1.5 million favela residents. In 2008, to curb notoriously high levels of violence and to rebrand the city for its bid to host upcoming mega events, Rio de Janeiro launched the “Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora” (UPP) program. This program aimed to increase security in the favelas by reinstating state control, and to finally integrate their residents into the formal city. Although the UPP program initially decreased homicide rates, its success has been dismantled by increasing frequency of police perpetrated violence, the persistence of drug trafficking and unmet promises of social benefits, thus facilitating the UPP’s post-Olympic fall.