International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Author: Ashley Benedict

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela

Today is the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination put forth by the United Nations Human Rights Office in response to the event on 21 March 1960, when police opened fire and killed 69 people during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville (South Africa), against the apartheid “pass laws.” In remembrance of the victims, in 1966 the UN General Assembly proclaimed that day the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

This day is dedicated to recognizing the ever-present issue of racial and ethnic profiling across the globe, which often leads to discrimination and hate crimes. In our country’s current climate, it’s important to recognize discriminatory practices when we see them and to help stop the cycle of violence that many individuals face on the basis of race, immigration status, religion, and ethnicity. This daily reality for individuals of various identities often hinders progress in personal and professional aspects of their lives.

Other Campaigns

The Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016 also sparked “Together,” a United Nations initiative to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. “Together” is a global initiative led by the Secretary-General that aims to change negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, in partnership with Member States, civil society and the private sector.

Another campaign, Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today, was launched on Human Rights Day 2016, and aims to encourage people to defend and stand up for the rights of other human beings.

Other related UN initiatives include Let’s Fight Racism!, and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

#jointogether #standup4humanrights #fightracism #AfricanDescent

So how can you Stand Up against racism?

  • #FightRacism and make a difference wherever you are to break down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.
  • Get involved and learn more at UN.org’s Let’s fight racism site.
  • Read and share the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Help make the UDHR more accessible, by recording it in your native language for a collection of audio recordings in as many languages as possible.
  • Make a video of yourself with a friend talking about why you believe human rights matter (e.g. non-discrimination, gender equality or freedom of expression).
  • Promote stories on your social media about people that you know have stood up for rights.
  • Speak up/out when you see someone’s rights at risk or under attack
    • If you see someone being harassed, bullied or ridiculed on the street, on public transportation, while shopping or at school, stand with them.
    • Use social media to stand with people who are facing reprisals for defending human rights e.g. activists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists, etc.
    • At work, in school, around the dinner table, help someone whose voice is rarely heard to share their views.
  • Donate to organizations that support victims of human rights abuses.
  • Join public events in support of human rights – online and/or in the street.
  • Volunteer with a group that promotes human rights defenders.
  • Lobby your government to uphold rights: sign related petitions; lobby your legislators to pass human-rights friendly laws and to repeal unfriendly ones.
  • Urge your employer to sign up to the Global Compact on Business and Human Rights; promote celebration of human rights in the work place (e.g. non discrimination, family friendly policies, decent working conditions, equal pay for equal work).
  • Urge your community’s leaders (e.g. religious, local, sporting, cultural leaders) to make public commitments to human rights.
  • Combat myths with facts: in online and daily conversations, challenge harmful stereotypes.
  • Speak up for tolerance and against prejudice. Keep yourself in check, challenge your own views and prejudices.
  • Consider the human rights track record of companies before doing your shopping.
  • Talk to your children about human rights and point out positive and diverse role models. We have a variety of materials about teaching human rights to the young.

Every day, #FightRacism and make a difference wherever you are to break down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.

“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.” – Wangari Maathai

All information found on Stand Up for Human Rights and United Nations websites.

How do you plan to stand up against racism and discriminatory acts? Let us know! Send in any work, questions, or comments to gvsufeministvoices@gmail.com

Question of the Day

How often do you volunteer? Do you wish you volunteered more? How often do you think we should spend our time volunteering? Let us know!

Question of the Day

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

Author: Ashley Benedict

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Though we should engage in acts of kindness 365 days a year, the reality is that most of us don’t. We don’t buy lunch for our friends, donate blood, or donate to charity every day. Today, however, is a day we can use as an excuse to show some kindness towards the people in our life (or, even better, those who aren’t). It’s always nice to be on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness, but it also feels good to be the one giving. Here are some things you can do to brighten someone’s day and show some kindness today (and every day):

1. Smile at a stranger.

This is the simplest – and perhaps most awkward – thing you can do. But hey, you never know if they’ll smile back, or if your smile will end up making their day just a little bit better.

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2. Give a genuine compliment.

Tell someone you like their shirt, or pants, or shoes. Tell your friends how great they look. Tell your coworkers how rockin’ they look every day. Shower your significant other with compliments. I know I always feel good when people compliment me. Spread the love.

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3. Offer to buy lunch for a friend

Obviously, if you’re tight on cash, don’t feel obligated to show kindness through purchases. But if you have plans with a friend today, perhaps offer to cover them, and maybe they’ll return the favor someday. Kindness is contagious. Even better, reach out to your local homeless community and buy hot meal or two. Even a small coffee would likely be appreciated.

4. Make a donation

Most organizations love and life off of donations. Check in with some local non-profits to see what kind of items they look for and often need. Here on GVSU’s campus, Replenish is a great place to start if you find yourself wanting to donate.

Replenish hours of operation: Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday 1 p.m. -3 p.m.; Kirkhof Center room 0074-lower level

Donations are accepted on site at Replenish or at the Women’s Center during open hours. Off-campus entities can request someone pick up their donations by contacting the Women’s Center at 616-331-2748 or womenctr@gvsu.edu. Donations may be in the form of perishable and non-perishable food items, gift cards to local grocery stores, or a monetary donation. Donations are tax-deductible and the donor will be provided with a receipt from University Development reflecting their contribution. Some of the items that are most popular include laundry detergent, pasta sauce, cereal, peanut butter, canned chicken/tuna, pasta, soup, granola bars, and feminine hygiene products.

5. Donate blood

If you find you have an extra few hours today, perhaps drop by a local blood bank and offer to donate blood. There is a national need for blood donations every day (every 2 seconds, actually), and knowing that you’ll be helping someone out there and potentially saving a life is as good enough a reason as any to go out and take the time to donate. Blood banks often run out of type O and B blood. Do you have one of those blood types? Your donation would be especially appreciated. Go to http://www.miblood.org/ to find some donation centers or blood drives near you. GVSU also has multiple blood drives coming up, so be sure to check those out!

6. Hold the door or elevator open for someone

For most of us, this is a common courtesy we do subconsciously every day. However, try to do it every time you open a door or ride an elevator today. Those around you will appreciate it, and it often leads to them doing the same for other people! If the person is super far away though, things may get awkward. Hold the door open at your own risk of becoming a door stop.

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7. Pay it forward.

Like previously stated, don’t feel obligated to do this if you’re tight on money. But it’s always a nice surprise to find that someone has paid for your coffee or movie, and again, it often leads to a chain of people doing the same.

8. Call a loved one

A lot of students live on campus, and may not be able to see their loved ones as often as they would like. If you’re one of those students, try to set aside some time today to call up some family members and let them know how much you care about and appreciate them. They won’t be expecting it, and I guarantee it’ll make their day to hear from you.

9. Ask if you can help

If you see someone on or off campus struggling with something, it can never hurt to ask whether or not they would like some help. Most people will probably appreciate the extended offer, and if they take it, it’ll feel nice to know that you’ve done something for another person with no external reward.

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10. Volunteer

Perhaps the most important thing you can do, if you have the time, is volunteer. Come to the Women’s Center and ask about organizations we work with, and how/when you can help. Call up some local non-profits and see when they need volunteers and the kinds of duties they complete. A lot of organizations tend to rely on volunteers, and it’s always nice for them to see people taking an interest in their work.

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The great thing about all of these ideas are that they are small things you can do any day of the year. Make a habit out of extending kindness to others and engaging in random acts of kindness. If we all tried to focus on those around us a bit more, I think our society could be a lot more empathetic and compassionate. Find more information on the website: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

What kind of random acts of kindness do you do on the daily? Which ones do you plan to do in the future? How do you feel when you do something kind for others? Or when others do something kind for you? Let us know! Submit personal stories, essays, and more to gvsufeministvoices@gmail.com.

 

Question of the Day

The feminist movement is not perfect. It is important for us to continue to strive towards intersectionality and inclusivity in our every day lives. How can we make strides towards this goal? How can we alter our objectives and goals to include those who fall outside the gender binary? Let us know!

Question of the Day

It’s On Us: Bystander Intervention Training

AUTHOR: Ashley Benedict

Presenters: Betsie Schoedel, Vawa Graduate Assistant; Draya Garrett, Women’s Center Graduate Assistant; Candace F, Women’s Center Graduate Assistant; Ashley Schult, Women’s Center Victim’s Advocate

During the Teach-In last week, I attended two events facilitated by Women’s Center staff consisting of both students and faculty. One discussion in particular focused on Bystander Intervention Training, which focuses on teaching college students how to (safely) intervene in situations where sexual violence can occur. It’s On Us was created as a way to address sexual violence on college campuses and encourage students to be active bystanders in these sort of situations. This blog post touches on the distinguishing factors between an active bystander and bystander, the realities of sexual assault, what consent is, tips and tricks on how to be an active bystander, as well as actual scenarios where active bystanders are needed.

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