Tag Archives: oppression

“I am a man”

In 1879, Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca people successfully argued that Native Americans are “persons within the meaning of the law” with the right of habeas corpus. The result of case, held in a U.S. District Court in Omaha, meant that Chief Standing Bear became the first Native American judicially granted civil rights under U.S. law. 

Nebraska recently unveiled a statue of Chief Standing Bear in the U.S. Capitol. A recent story about the statue and Standing Bear in The Washington Post story quotes Standing Bear’s affirmation of common humanity during his trial:

On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so. He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man.”

“I am a man.” – Sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennesse.

“Ain’t I a woman,” – Sojourner Truth.

“I am a person. I am a human being.” – Countless people in countless situations.

Again and again, people have had to make that assertion as they struggle for civil rights and human rights in the face of oppression, discrimination, and prejudice.  The struggle continues today. It is shared across all social identities as structures grant privilege to some but  not to all. Key to creating and maintaining that privilege is denying the humanity of other people. When will we ever learn that everyone – everyone – is a human being entitled to basic human rights? When will we ever learn to treat one another with respect and love?

For Chief Standing Bear and Sojourner Truth and the sanitation workers of Memphis, may we renew our efforts to eviscerate, in the word of the CoInspire Conference, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, and all systems of privilege and oppression.

Learn more about Chief Standing Bear:

The Trial of Standing Bear – a PBS film

Chief Standing Bear: The Trail Ahead

The Story of Chief Standing Bear (.pdf)

“I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, National Park

All people have voices

I posted the first version of this a bit over two years ago after I spoke about the work of advocacy at the orientation for the Presbyterians attending the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. This is edited a bit to reflect additional insights gleaned since then. The phenomena happens every day. Every day. I post this today, October 5, 2018, because in the public forum of the United States Senate, the voices of survivors of sexual assault – female, male, trans, people of every sexual orientation and gender identity were ignored, forced to the margins, oppressed, repressed, suppressed, and silenced. 

All people have voices.
There are no voiceless people
all people have voices.
Some people have voices we choose not to hear.
Some people have voices we ignore.
Some people have voices we force to the margins.
Some people have voices we oppress, repress, suppress.
Some people have voices we have silenced, sometimes for a long time,
all people have voices.

Our task is
to uncover the voices of people
whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to hear their voices
to listen, truly listen, passionately listen to their voices
to heed their voices
and then to work with the people whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to amplify their voices
to bring their voices to the halls of privilege and the tables of power
to invite and call and challenge all people,
particularly privileged and powerful people,
to hear the voices of those whose voices we ignore, drive to the margin, silence
and to demand that all people,
particularly privileged and powerful people,
listen, truly listen, passionately listen
and heed those whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, or silence
all people have voices.

Yes. We can her and listen and truly seek to understand what someone says without agreeing with what that person says or doing what they ask. But to refer to someone as “credible” or “sincere, painful, and compelling” and then accept a truncated, orchestrated investigation, demonstrates, to me at least, a lack of hearing and listening.

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends

The color of the day is green

IMG_1708Friday Prince. Today Ireland.

Friday purple.Today green.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising of Irish men and women against the occupation and oppression of England. More civilians were killed during the rising than were combatants on both sides. Guerrilla warfare followed that resulted in England leaving Ireland. The agreement to end that war partitioned the country: 26 counties became the Irish Free State; 6 counties in the north remained part of the United Kingdom. Civil war ensued but did not change that configuration. The Troubles convulsed Northern Ireland; progress has been made toward peace, the journey is not complete.

In remembrance and prayer, green was today’s color.

Note April 24 also marks the day the Armenian genocide began in 2015.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Ireland

Teach your children

If you see
your parents

if you watch
your grandparents

if you witness
your siblingsbeaten,

if you view
your friends

if you observe
your people

what can you learn
from a teacher,
from a textbook

24 October 2013
Livonia, Michigan

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Filed under Current Events, Human Rights