Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From Erica: June in the news

I've got a few entries swimming around in my head, but since I haven't made the effort to translate them from head to paper yet, I've decided to bring some news stories to the blog that I think highlight some concerning, interesting, and cool issues and events impacting the anti-oppression paradigms we're bringing to light here and in other blogs.

The first one is a story about a woman named Betty Makoni, who was raped at age six as part of the "virgin myth" that's been circulating in countries like Zimbabwe since HIV/AIDS became an issue. The myth, for those who've never heard of it, is that having sex with or raping a virgin will cure HIV. Makoni is an incredible survivor who uses her experience to assist and empower other survivors of "virgin rape," and to draw attention to the issue to put an end to it. The full story can be found at

In less appetizing news, the Supreme Court's decision to rule in favour of the white firefighters of New Haven, CT constitutes, as one editorial puts it, "a blow to diversity in the American workplace." The majority's opinion in the 5-4 ruling argues that the decision on the part of the town of New Haven to throw out a firefighting exam that caused racially disparate results was a "race-based decision" that deprived the white firefighters of their civil rights. Racism, whether conscious or unconscious, is still a major problem in our country and in everything from our hiring practices to our housing options. The ruling of the Supreme Court fails to acknowledge this, and thus gives legal support to discrimination against people of colour. An editorial on the subject can be found at, and a news article using the term "reverse discrimination," which is a pretty stupid term in my opinion, can be found at

In related news, analysts are picking apart the rulings of the Supreme Court to get an idea of how each justice tends to rule. In a New York Times article (, analysts concluded that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is conservative, which should come as no surprise to anyone. What the article concludes, however, is that Roberts' opinions have a right-winging effect on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who tends to be an unpredictable judge. The article notes that, with such an alliance, "the Court appears poised to move to the right in the Obama era." Let's see what the addition of Judge Sonya Sotomayor does to that balance.

On the LGBT2QI front, the Obama administration is hoping to make the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law (DADT) "less draconian" in its effects by only selectively enforcing it. While the situations the administration cites include individuals who have been outed against their will (i.e. through blackmail or by "a jilted lover"), I think it's important to remember that selective enforcement of a law, at least in this country, tends to end very badly. Rather than attempting to achieve "flexibility" in the law's application by applying it only to certain groups of people, it needs to be achieved through an actual revision (or, better yet, a retraction) of the law itself. For the full story, check out

Finally, I'm linking you all to a speech by Jonathan E. McCoy, a ten-year-old African-American boy with unbelieveable oratory skills. This is a speech he wrote himself, calling for the deletion of "the n-word" from our language. While the goal is high, McCoy's speech is brilliant in its outlining of the history of the word, its effects on the consciousness of people of all colours in this country, and is incredibly persuasive. Watch it here:

That's all for now. I hope the next time I post news, there are fewer stories that have me cranky!


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