Archive for the ‘Gender and Women’s Rights’ Category

Average black girl

I was once asked by a reader of my blog about what my stance is in regards to making negative stereotypes positive; this was my answer:

To be perfectly honest with you, I have a hard time thinking of a stereotype that can be made positive. There might be some that are not as harmful as others, but still are quite negative because in their nature, stereotypes are not true depictions of people but imagined ones. And personally, I don’t know of any stereotype that truly characterizes all people of that stereotyped group, whether positive or negative, because in the end, people are individuals entitled to their own opinions, beliefs and practices. For instance, some people think I’m a musician or singer because of my hair. Now, that’s not such a bad thought, and I do enjoy playing the guitar and singing… but if someone concludes that I am something that I am not just by looking at my hair, that also implies that they can’t or are not interested in seeing me as who I really am. This issue of agency or lack of is a detrimental issue among those who come from postcolonial countries, those who have definitely been negatively affected by stereotyping as it often manifests to racism and xenophobia.

If asked this question again today, I would answer the same but thanks to Ernestine Johnson, I know how using art, such as spoken word, can be used to pronounce and reverse stereotypes by basically owning the stereotype.  “I’m not the average black girl… I can only aspire to me.”

The power of her poem is just mind boggling, and judging by the comments, shares and “likes” I received after posting the video on my Facebook wall, this power was felt beyond national, racial, ethnic, religious and gender boundaries. The video below is a MUST SEE!!

Beijing-PosterLAsked to take note of two or three commitments in the Beijing Declaration, a document that emerged from the 4th United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, and to comment on which commitments interest me, this is what I wrote up. I encourage all of those who are interested in gender equality to familiarize themselves with the Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action.

 

Being quite familiar with the Beijing Declaration, nothing in it really surprises me when I read the 1995 declaration in 2014. However, I find some of the commitments inspirational in the sense that they confirm the areas to which I advocate for gender equality today.

The issue of women’s human rights, just like the different waves of feminism, has evolved across time, changing the way people recognize those rights and the ways they struggle to ensure them. My grandmother’s struggle was different than that of my mother’s, which is also different from my own, and yet our struggles for gender equality are part and parcel of the same movement. Moreover, I cannot shake the fact that I simply wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the past struggles of women. It is both a source of anxiety for me (how can I ever live up to their legacy, and yet embrace my different approach to gender equality) and a source of great pride (yes folks, I come from a long line of very strong women!).

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Rest in Peace Maya Angelou… Thank you for being such an inspiration. You were truly a phenomenal woman!

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Heart of Africa… reviving the African dream…Heart of Africa is a radio programme dedicated to examining matters affecting Africa from a Pan-African Christian perspective, as Africa and her friends envisage the revival of the African dream. Click on picture to go to their website.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of being part of the Heart of Africa radio program where I discussed the issues that are close to my heart, the issues that I write about in this blog. I felt quite nervous about giving the interview knowing how easily people have misinterpreted my words in the past, but this interview was different. On that note, I would like to thank the host, my sister, Kudakwashe, for her professional and humble conduct.  Everything she mentions in the About page of the Heart of Africa is absolutely true. Kudakwashe indeed aims to resound the voice that calls for righteousness, justice, prosperity, peace, unity, liberty, restoration and life – for the land of Africa, her people, natural resources and wildlife. Kudakwashe indeed believes that, it is the turn for this generation to carry the mantle for the radical transformation of Africa, with her people – who are capable leaders – being the masters of their own destiny. Heart of Africa is indeed the right learning environment for young Africans!

Below is the full article written in correlation with the radio interview. Here is also the radio interview:

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Sick & Tired Of Stereotyping: ‘African Youths Are Drivers Of Their Own Future’ With Rahel Weldeab

This week on Heart of Africa Kudakwashe hosts Eritrean Pan-African Activist and Prolific Writer, Rahel Weldeab in a discussion fundamentally on Eritrea, as well as the issues she examines and advocates for emerging from this Horn Of Africa country.

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“You want respect? Do something your heroes didn’t have the courage to do. Birth the dream they let die decades ago. Be unapologetically you.” ~Rahiel Tesfamariam

Rahiel Tesfamariam

Rahiel Tesfamariam

This blog, maintained by me, the real Rahel (that is, the real Rahel Weldeab Sebhatu), loves celebrating real people. And who’s keeping it more real than another Rahiel I’ve come to learn about after reading her blog post on The Washington Post titled “‘Imagine a Future’ sheds light on black women and internalized racism”.

Rahiel Tesfamariam is a writer, social activist, public theologian and cultural critic. She is the Founder/Editorial Director of Urban Cusp, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. Check out her bio… exemplary of a young woman who never let down a golden opportunity to advance herself and help others. Born in war-torn Eritrea a decade prior to independence, Rahiel is indeed a product of her nation’s tenacious struggle for self-determination! Even better, she’s an absolutely superb writer!

Quoted from her message of success, which is indeed a MUST READ!

“A lot of people ask me “how did you do it.” They think “it” is the express lane to progress. When “it” is really daily war. I never started planning for and building Urban Cusp so that I would get interviews and panels and public attention. It came out of a desire to find peace in my own skin and help others do the same; to not conform to this world but to be transformed. I could go on about why I took the biggest leap of my life but I bring it up because I see how people focus in on the result and not the process. People often ask me for a blueprint and sometimes they straight up just try to replicate mine. They forsake their own journey.

“I didn’t chase success. I don’t believe I ever have. I have always chased purpose. And purpose has always brought me success. Always.”

Amen to that sister… AMEN!! Can you imagine how boring life would be if you’d have conformed to this world? The thought of it gives me the chills, as nothing is more mundane that stereotypes, conformity and status quo.

KEEP THE FIRE BURNING!!