Democracy Now: Live From the Egyptian Revolution

Here’s an excerpt of a powerful account of the revolution in Egypt from the senior producer of Democracy Now, Sharif Abdel Kouddous:

At one point, a rumor spread through Tahrir Square that Mubarak had fled the country. A massive cheer rippled through the crowd. People began jumping up and down in joy. One man wept uncontrollably. When it turned out not to be true, the cheers quickly ended but it provided a brief glimpse of the sheer raw desire for Mubarak’s ouster. Reports now indicate that Mubarak’s two sons and his wife, Suzanne, have fled Egypt, as have some of his closest business cronies. Many people believe that is a sign that Hosni will not be far behind.

There is a great sense of pride that this is a leaderless movement organized by the people. A genuine popular revolt. It was not organized by opposition movements, though they have now joined the protesters in Tahrir. The Muslim Brotherhood was out in full force today. At one point they began chanting “Allah Akbar” only to be drowned out by much louder chants of “Muslim, Christian, we are all Egyptian.”

….Meanwhile, across Cairo there is not a policeman in sight and there are reports of looting and violence. People worry that Mubarak is intentionally trying to create chaos to somehow convince people that he is needed. The strategy is failing. Residents have taken matters into their own hands, helping to direct traffic and forming armed neighborhood watches, complete with checkpoints and shift changes, in districts across the city.

This is the Egypt I arrived in today. Fearless and determined. It cannot go back to what it was. It will never be the same.

Read Kouddous’s full piece at here at Democracy Now.

This Week: Republicans defining rape, Gay activist slain, & more

The House GOP’s Plan to Redefine Rape
Mother Jones: “Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.”

Ugandan gay activist slain after photo published
Associated Press: “A prominent Ugandan gay rights activist whose picture was published by an anti-gay newspaper next to the words “Hang Them” was bludgeoned to death.”

Mad Women
New York Times: “Halfway through ‘A Strange Stirring,’ the social historian Stephanie Coontz — parsing the reception of ‘The Feminine Mystique,’ Betty Friedan’s 1963 examination of middle-class female repression and despair — confesses to feeling some ambivalence over Friedan’s project, and hence her own.”

Why Did They Seek Abortions There? How Abortion Bans Threaten Women’s Lives
RH Reality Check: “Stories highlighted through Gosnell’s grand jury report and the coverage of his West Philadelphia office of horrors should be a clarion call to all of us that poor women deserve better.”

Planned Parenthood: FBI Investigation Underway Over Potential Sex Ring Hoax
TPM: “The organization says they believe they’ve identified the man who made the visits and, they say, believe he’s connected to Live Action — a group that uses James O’Keefe-esque hidden camera “stings” in an attempt to dismantle Planned Parenthood.”

For Women, Sundance is Sunnier Than Hollywood
New York Times: “Somewhere in the 600 or so miles between this mountain town, host to the Sundance Film Festival, and the movie factories of Hollywood, female filmmakers seem to vanish.”

What Tunisia Needs Now

Western countries that sat on their hands while Ben Ali and his family strangled the country could show more enthusiasm for Tunisia’s peaceful revolution, says Zouhair Ouakaa.

Demonstrators at the government palace in Tunis on Jan. 23, 2011 - Fethi Belaid, Getty Images

After living abroad for 20 years, I returned home to start a new life in Tunis. A sense of fin de régime hung in the air, though I never expected to get caught up in the amazing experience that will mark my county forever: the toppling of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the “ghoul” of Tunisia.

As the revolution unfolded over the past few days, I walked the streets of the capital, exhilarated by the protests, startled at times by sniper fire. Still, I can’t help celebrating the achievement: My unarmed countrymen have ejected a strongman who had an iron grip on this nation of 10.5 million on the north coast of Africa.

It makes me proud to be a Tunisian.

After 23 years of brutal dictatorship, Tunisians staged a peaceful revolution that is quite miraculous in these times, for this part of the world. The ouster of Ben Ali ended a regime that confiscated all the basic civil rights of its people. No freedom of speech was allowed; wide censorship of the media and the Internet was the rule; persecution of human rights activists was common. Some say that Ben Ali’s rule was gentler than most in the Arab world, but for me it had all the strains of a police state, not unlike that of North Korea, reminiscent even of the Stalinist era.

Ben Ali dominated with the tacit support of major Western powers and the implicit good will of other Arab states in the region. He positioned himself as the last shield against Islamism, especially after Sept. 11, when a lot of countries in the West saw in him a secular president who needed their full support in his fight against terrorism.

As the world turned a blind eye, his autocratic regime busied itself with rampant corruption that reached all levels of the administration. Some 35 percent of the economy was in the hands of Ben Ali and his clan; unemployment was 30 percent among youths, who saw no future in Tunisia. They faced a bleak choice between immigrating illegally to the north border of the Mediterranean and resorting to the most backward interpretation of Islam.

Read the full article at The Root.

Petition to Pardon Kelley Williams-Bolar

Please consider signing this petition at Change.org calling on Governor Kasich of Ohio to pardon Williams-Bolar for unfair sentencing.

I was infuriated yesterday when I visited The Boyce Blog (via Racialicious’s daily link roundup) to learn about a black woman in Ohio, Kelley Williams-Bolar, who is being sent to jail for sending her children to the wrong school district.  Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse writes, “She was convicted on two counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with Williams-Bolar’s father when they actually lived with her. The family lived in the housing projects in Akron, Ohio, and the father’s address was in nearby Copley Township. Additionally, Williams-Bolar’s father, Edward L. Williams, was charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which he and his daughter are charged with defrauding the school system for two years of educational services for their girls. The court determined that sending their children to the wrong school was worth $30,500 in tuition.”

Dr. Boyce offered further analysis:

[I]t’s interesting how courts find it convenient to make someone into an example when they happen to be poor and black. I’d love to see how they prosecute wealthy white women who commit the same offense. Oh, I forgot: Most wealthy white women don’t have to send their kids to the schools located near the projects.

I’m not sure why the court is treating this law-abiding mom like a thug who ran into a building with a shotgun and robbed the district of $30,000. Instead, they could simply subtract the amount it costs for her kids to go to the second school from the amount that would be spent for them to attend the first one. I’m sure the difference would still be substantial, since American educational apartheid dictates that schools in poorer neighborhoods are of significantly less quality than other schools. The racial divisions within American schools are nothing less than a blatant and consistent human rights violation and should certainly be treated as such.

The article on Change.org points out that Ms. Williams-Bolar had nearly completed educational requirements to become a teacher in Ohio, and now will be unable to do so as a convicted felon.  What’s horrifying is that the judge, Patricia Cosgrove, was well aware of this at sentencing, saying, “Because of the felony conviction, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today. The court’s taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve.”

Please remember to sign the petition at Change.org! And spread the word.

–Rosamund Hunter

The History Blogging Project

via The History Blogging Project.

Blogging technology has created new opportunities for postgraduate historians to engage with specialist and non-specialist audiences, and to demonstrate the impact of their work by creating and informing new, virtual, public spheres and spaces. While there are a number of for-profit blog training courses in the private sector, there is no training provision in blogging as a method of public engagement for postgraduate historians.

The History Blogging Project aims to fill this gap by developing a set of training resources that will enable postgraduate historians to create, maintain and publicise a blog on their research. The Project tackles issues specific to writing about historical research on a blog, but also includes themes relevant to any postgraduate student in the arts and humanities. Through the development of an online collection of how-to guides, advice and examples taken from current history blogs, the Project aims both to inspire postgraduate historians to blog and to challenge existing bloggers to think about the ways in which they share their research with a range of different audiences.

At the same time, the Project aims to create a forum in which postgraduate historians can network and publicise their blogs.

read more at The History Blogging Project.

This Week: Kanye West, Healthcare, Gay Parents, & more

Black Monsters/White Corpses: Kanye’s Racialized Gender Politics
Racialicious: “I’m not surprised that no one has looked at the very specific positioning of white women in the video as opposed to black women, which dives deeply into the history and construction of black women as beast-like and fearsome, the sexualization of violence, and how the video is a win for both normalized misogyny and upholding the ideals of white supremacy.”

Maybe Jared Loughner Was A Bigot, After All
Slate’s Scocca Blog: “But his membership in the anti-woman wing seems clear. Or is misogyny—even homicidal misogyny—too unremarkable for anyone to dwell on it?”

Healthcare Reform’s Unintended Queer Upside
The Nation: “While this is all great news, it’s just a happy accident of unhappy circumstance: LGBT people inadvertently benefit because we’re a subset of a larger group of low-income, uninsured people.”

Parenting By Gays More Common in South, Census Shows
New York Times: “The pattern, identified by Mr. Gates, is also notable because the families in this region defy the stereotype of a mainstream gay America that is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast.”

Gov.-elect Robert Bentley intends to be governor over all, but says only Christians are his ‘brothers and sisters’
Birmingham News: “Gov.-elect Robert Bentley in a speech at a Baptist church this afternoon said he plans to be the governor of all Alabamians and be color-blind, but he also said people who aren’t ‘saved’ Christians aren’t his brothers and sisters.”

With House debate set, up to half of people under 65 have pre-existing conditions
Washington Post: “The secretary of health and human services released the study on Tuesday, hours before the House began considering a Republican bill that would repeal the new law to overhaul the health-care system. “

EVENT: Ladies First: Beyond 28 Days

Fellow Sarah Lawrence Women’s History student Alexandria Lust has co-curated an upcoming art show at the Brecht Forum, located at 451 West Street in Manhattan.  Here’s the release:

Ladies First: Beyond 28 Days
An Exhibition Celebrating Black Female Expression
Co-Curated by Lehna Huie and Alexandria Lust in association with the Brecht Forum

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 3, 2011, 6:00 – 11:00 pm
…Exhibition Running From Thursday, February 3rd – Thursday, March 3, 2011

The “Ladies First: Beyond 28 Days” art exhibition at the Brecht Forum is a celebration of Black female expression through a visual and vocal dialogue surrounding the diversity of experiences and journeys of Black Women. Our stories are linked in time as our journeys are mapped in history. These are our footprints. Ladies First is a unique opportunity to share, reflect and identify ourselves within the Black Diaspora.

As you know, AmeriKKKa celebrates Black History Month annually during the month of February. Our history is deeply rooted far beyond 28 days. We believe that February is our time of bridging the past with the present. We believe in the power of art as resistance, art as consciousness, art as social commentary of our time. As creatively conscious thinkers, we bear witness to our world and respond in powerful ways. Ladies First is a momentum in creating awareness within a revolutionary space by celebrating and honoring Black women within the Diaspora.

Artist Lineup:
Lehna Huie: Painting/Sculpture
Alexandria Lust: Painting/Sculpture
Miatta Kawinzi: Painting
Leticia Contreras: Photography
Amber Adams: Sculpture
Ruth Vargas: Painting/Performance
Uni. Q. Mical: Poetry
Charmaine Bee: Photography
A.J. Hamilton: Photography
Jessica Valores: Painting/Collage/Poetry
Sophia Dawson: Photography
Samantha Lust: Film
Jova Vargas: Video
ShaNeia Siigh: Sculpture

….and more to come soon. Stay tuned.