Ramblin’ On My Mind

March 1, 2010

I’ve been following this thread on Change.org about an undocumented student and her experience in the United States. The post is in honor of the DREAM act week of action. I’ve talked about my own complicated views on immigration law and immigrant rights, and this thread is just a continuation.

The question in this thread seems to be about the law and the money. It’s sad that we can’t seem to have a discussion about basic human rights without talking about economics and taxes. I get it. While Andrea’s family paid taxes, I’m sure there are plenty of illegal families who don’t. And I hear the argument “Why don’t they become citizens?”, which is another point I used to agree with.

How easy is it to acquire citizenship? And how much does it cost? And can you apply in languages other than English? It’s not easy. It’s not cheap. And you need to know English. We don’t seem to make it easy, so how can you expect that a girl who just turned 18 would have the resources to become a citizen?

The other point that someone brought up was: “People in this country that¬†are here illegally¬†don’t have rights (except human rights)….plain and simple!” Except human rights? So which rights don’t illegal aliens have? (Someone replied to my reply to generously inform me that the UN doesn’t create laws other countries have to follow, which is, of course, something I am well aware of.) It’s just not a statement I understand, and if you do, please explain it to me.

These issues really come down to simply being American. We’re born with our citizenship. We didn’t work for it (though some of us did). We benefit from taxes because we happened to be born here. How does that make us any more worthy than the people who’ve worked and lived here as long as they can remember? We take citizenship and nationality for granted. I think this video by a girl who went to Haiti (before the earthquake) explores how spoiled we are, and how citizenship and nationality is most definitely a human right:

Tumblin Down

September 13, 2009

(Please note: I’ve been meaning to write this post since the end of August. Now that my senior year of undergrad has started, I don’t think I’ll be posting as often, but we’ll see…)

I don’t know if you’ve heard about the Doctors Without Borders most recent ad. Apparently it’s stirring up some dialogue in the NGO and health care development world. Our friends at Aid Watch talked about it, and our buddy at Transitionland wrote about it as well. I’ve decided to give my two cents, just for gits and shiggles.

The horror people feel is like what they see (or should see) in human rights and documentary photography. We are attracted to pain. This particular ad, however, plays on a different dirty desire. The image remains the same: a desolate land with a concrete building in the foreground. (Why Aid Watch takes it upon themselves to assume it’s Africa, I have no idea.) Then a soundtrack plays of a child wailing and crying. The text that appears on the screen tells the audience that militia raped his sisters and clubbed his parents to death, and then it says, in seemingly innocent white lettering “We Can’t Operate Without Your Help.”

I agree to some extent with Transitionland. This is what MSF does. If you’ve been gazing at pictures from Abu Ghraib, Vietnam, and Chernobyl, and you can watch movies like Hotel Rwanda, Inglorious Basterds, and Saving Private Ryan, and looking at goodness knows what other imagery is out there, then you can watch this ad. If the commercial makes your stomach twist, then it’s done its job, don’t you think? It sucks that making you feel that way is its job.

But it’s not the imagery that makes you a little sick – it’s the audio. And that’s what I find so amazing about this ad. Is it just as much of a violation of dignity if the audio is heard, rather than an image seen? If the image of the boy crying and having an operation played on your screen, would you be more outraged and disgusted? Or would you have accepted it as more NGO promotional imagery? And this is what I loved about Transitionland’s post. She included more ads that are clearly worse (in different ways) than the most recent MSF ad. I don’t know about the discussions surrounding those ads, but I imagine it could be similar to the ones revolving around this one.

So congratulations MSF for promoting further discussion about your work by means of a more dignifying way. I’m interested to see how NGO promotional media will progress.

I’m Surrounded By Your Embrace

August 9, 2009

I came across this multimedia project titled “The Price of Sex: Women Speak,” and I’ve wanted to write something about it for the past week or two. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova interviews and photographs multiple Eastern European women who worked as sex slaves after the collapse of the USSR. Usually I shrug off these types of projects because they’re isolated on the internet, and can only be found by those who are looking for it. But after I watched one of the pieces that illustrated Aurica’s story, I was in awe.

I wasn’t as shocked by her story of assault as I was by her story of escape. She fell off a balcony from six stories high, and broke her spine and pelvis. After spending two months in police detention, she was sent back to Moldova. U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger met her at a shelter for trafficked women, and sent her to Dallas to have surgery done on her injuries. After months of rehab, she can walk now.

I can’t imagine anything I would want to escape so badly. These multimedia pieces successfully illustrate their struggles, as well as their achievements. I always heard about sex trafficking in the newspapers, and I watched it depicted in movies and TV shows, but these photographs and interviews create a different level of intimacy and, in some ways, respect for these women. I wouldn’t say the images are all individually strong, but as a whole, I definitely recommend you take a look.

It blows my mind that there is such disregard for women’s health and rights. We make up half the population – wouldn’t you think, then, that our rights would be a priority? How can people be so disrespectful and hateful and disgusting? I can’t believe that so many crimes against women go overlooked and uninvestigated. And I don’t believe it’s because the police and governments don’t know. I believe it’s because the pigs out there wants a piece of the pie, whether it be profit from such activities, or indulgence in their perverse desires.

Some day, women will have their revenge. (muahahaha.)