All Articles Tagged "activism"
Welcome to the “Work It!” column, where we take a look at business innovation of every kind.
Being an innovator in your field can be as easy as K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sis. A singular vision focuses your efforts on becoming the best at what you do, and reduces your chances of being sidetracked or scattered. Ory Okolloh’s rise from blogger activist to policy manager for Africa for Google is a perfect example of the difference having a vision can make on your career.
Watch Vision Work
Okolloh realized early on that her true passion was using technology to ensure African voices were heard.
In 2006, Okolloh co-founded Mzalendo.com (“patriot” in Swahili) to track the Kenyan Parliament. The country’s TV and print media took weeks or months to sort through legal developments in the country. Meanwhile, Okolloh’s blog meticulously tracked the actions of political leaders and kept records of parliamentary bills in real time.
During Kenya’s controversial 2007 presidential election, which was marked by outbreaks of violence, she co-founded another site Ushahidi (“Testimony”). This time she focused on helping citizen journalists report incidents of violence and peace efforts. Before the experts dubbed the process “activist mapping, ” Okolloh’s site leveraged web, mobile, e-mail, SMS, Twitter, and Google Maps to visualize what was happening on the ground.
Ushahidi evolved from a website into a nonprofit tech company developing software platforms for citizen journalist initiatives. The organization was called on to launch humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a wildfire outbreak in Russia, and snowstorms in Washington DC.
The Perks of Being An Expert
Okolloh’s success in online activism allowed her to move on from blogging to become a spokesperson for citizen journalism, youth activism, and technology in Africa. In a world where non-experts are championed, Okolloh is an anomaly.
The trend of the moment is to know a little something about everything. It’s true; non-experts are able to pull from a variety of sources to come up with creative solutions. However, the old-fashioned approach of focusing on what you’re good at still has its benefits.
Thoroughly understanding the space where you work allows you to recognize needs others wouldn’t. Working where your passion and strengths intersects, ensures that you enjoy what you do, and won’t mind putting in the extra work required to be the best.
“One of the best pieces of advice I received while I was at the university was to get paid to do what you love to do, so that’s my philosophy, and much of the time you find it’s not mutually exclusive and your natural talents is what you end up loving to do. But passion – you spend so much time working, ideally you want to love it.”
- Ory Okolloh, “Africa’s Most Successful Women: Ory Okolloh,” Forbes
A clear vision for your career begins with looking inside. Start thinking about what you love, and how you can use your strengths to pursue it.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
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Well, 2012 certainly turned into the “Year of Kerry” and 2013 started out recognizing Kerry Washington for all that hard work. The actress picked up three awards during Friday’s 44th NAACP Image Awards: outstanding actress in a drama for Scandal, supporting actress in a film for Django Unchained and the President’s Award which is a special recognition for public service. As many may know, Kerry was very instrumental during both terms of President Obama’s campaigning.
The show was hosted by Steve Harvey and was held at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Washington noted during her first “thank you” speech for Django that the award did not belong to her, but rather to the ancestors whose shoulders they stood on while filming the movie.
Other winners during the live portion (many of the awards were given out prior to the NBC broadcast) included: Don Cheadle for outstanding actor in a comedic series for House of Lies, Loretta Devine for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for Grey’s Anatomy and Lance Gross, looking a king size chocolate bar, for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.
The legendary entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte was honored with the Spingarn Award, which honors outstanding achievements by an African-American. Common and Wyclef immediately followed with their version of Belafonte’s “Day O.”
The surprise award of the night was handed to George Lucas for Red Tails, winning for outstanding motion picture. Lucas joked on staged by saying, “Look, I beat Tarantino” who was also nominated in the category for Django Unchained.
Gladys Knight also performed “The Way We Were” during the “In Memoriam” portion of the show.
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Omar Epps were televised winners but were not present to accept their awards. While they absolutely could have been busy working, it makes you wonder if some celebrities feel that these awards shows (read: the black awards shows) aren’t as important as the so-called “major” awards. Just a thought.
Did you catch it? What did you think? Fashion reviews?
It has quickly become one of the most respected awards shows highlighting the successes of African-American women in almost any field but particularly the media and finally, we get to see what is going to unfold during the 2012 Black Girls Rock! awards show.
Hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis-Ross and Regina King, the show will air tonight on BET at 7p/ET. This year’s honorees include: singers Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae, magazine legend Susan L. Taylor, activist Dr. Hawa Abdi and actress Kerry Washington. There will also be performances by Ciara, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, India Arie and Alicia Keys. Men are allowed in on the act this year with performances from Luke James and Eric Benet.
The awards show is an extension of Black Girls Inc., founded by DJ Beverly Bond. The purpose of BGR is to foster the healthy development of young women and girls. They aim to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons and helping them to empower themselves. It has been quite amazing watching the organization grow over the last few years.
Will you be watching?
Famed Author Alice Walker is making headlines for her refusal to authorize an all-Hebrew version of the classic book The Color Purple, the 1982 novel about inhuman treatment of a poor black girl in the rural South.
The 68-year old acclaimed author and activist recently sent a letter to Yediot Books, an Israeli publishing house, politely requesting that her book not be republished “at this time” because of Israel’s inhumane treatment of its neighbors in Palestine. In the letter, which was also published on the website of the “Palestine Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel,” Walker writes:
“Thank you so much for wishing to publish my novel THE COLOR PURPLE. It isn’t possible for me to permit this at this time for the following reason: As you may know, last Fall in South Africa the Russell Tribunal on Palestine met and determined that Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories. The testimony we heard, both from Israelis and Palestinians (I was a jurist) was devastating. I grew up under American apartheid and this was far worse. Indeed, many South Africans who attended, including Desmond Tutu, felt the Israeli version of these crimes is worse even than what they suffered under the white supremacist regimes that dominated South Africa for so long.
It is my hope that the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, of which I am part, will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”
The letter also goes on to mention the personal significance of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning novel, “to rid humanity of its self-destructive habit of dehumanizing whole populations” including Walker’s insistence that the film version not be shown in apartheid South African. She writes, “I lobbied against this idea because, as with Israel today, there was a civil society movement of BDS aimed at changing South Africa’s apartheid policies and, in fact, transforming the government.”
Walker roots in the BDS movement against Israel can be traced back to her nuptials to a Jewish law student in 1967 when she started learning more about the sorted history of the country, this according to an interview with Foreign Policy magazine. Last year, she would join the flotilla of ships, which sought to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip in hopes of bringing supplies and raising awareness of the situation there. Already, pro-Israel groups are jumping on Walker, accusing her of being Anti-Semitic, including right-wing conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel, who called Walker’s act a far-left pronouncement from a “self-important Ms. Thang” and “excessively-hyped, lesbionic screedist.”
However, Walker is not the only artist willing to take a stand against the heavy-handed practices of Israel. Artists Against Apartheid, an international alliance committed to equal rights and justice, as well as the elimination of apartheid worldwide, has also called for cultural boycotts of Israel and is supported by hundreds of artists around the world, including former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello.
The Israeli conflict/occupation is now in its fifth decade. Despite international pressure for Israel to stop the of expansion of its original stated 1948 boundaries, that country continues to increase the number of settlements into Palestinian territories – often times by military force and in violation of international law. This has resulted in not only the displacement of Palestinians from their homes but also a wave of violence from both sides including suicide bombings by Palestinians within Israel and the death of thousands of civilians along the Gaza Strip.
I turn on the television and see Jesse Jackson marching with Walmart workers, Al Sharpton is doing the 24-hour news circuit, and the leader of the New Black Panthers is somewhere defending young black boys against the latest outrage de jour.
As nice as that seems, every protest is centered around the plight of black men, to address the racist penal system, or complain about government entitlements, unequal education, lack of jobs–the list goes on. There are marches and picket lines for the latest offense, but virtually none of them directly involve the mistreatment of black women through rape and sexual abuse that happens more and more often these days. Most of the offenses are perpetrated by the boys and men they love and know–many who look like them. No longer is the bogeyman without. He is within.
Alonzo Ashley, 28, died at the Denver Zoo on July 18 after several police officers responded to a domestic violence call placed by keepers at the institution. Zoo employees claim that Ashley had threatened his girlfriend (who will only identify herself to the media as “Elaina”) and attacked a security guard; therefore, he needed to be restrained.
Elaina disputes the claims of the police, saying that Ashley was attacked by up to a dozen officers and tased for merely splashing water on his face from a water fountain. After being tased Ashley stopped breathing, and was dead one hour later.
Local leaders are pressuring city officials to end what they see as a pattern of deadly violence emanating from Denver’s police force cutting deeply into the black community. A year previously, Rev. Marvin Booker was accidentally killed while in police custody. Activists, such as ACLU spokesman Rosemary Harris Lytle, are crying out for an end to these injustices:
“Should the police have used a taser at all? Was there a way to diffuse the situation so that the force of more than a dozen police officers and security personnel would not have to be used? Could the police have utilized tactics that would have prevented the worst possible outcome: The death of another Denver resident after an encounter with the police? These are questions that must be answered. They must be answered by police leaders and by the city’s leader,” Harris Lytle insisted.
“This is why the ACLU has called on Mayor Michael Hancock to make ending police brutality and the excessive use of police force the No. 1 priority of his administration,” she added. “And this is why we’ve asked the Department of Justice to launch an independent investigation of police practices in Denver.”
The recently-inaugurated African-American mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, has told the community that the incident is being investigated.
This pattern of black men being “accidentally” killed by cops is a sorrowful national trend, with stories appearing again and again, year after year. Amadou Diallo. Oscar Grant. Sean Bell. Alonzo Ashley is yet another victim of over-zealous cops destroying life in the name of protection.
Few people in power want to address the internalized racism and poor training of police that lead to cruel deaths affecting only black men. They fall prey to “accidental” killings at an overwhelming rate compared to any other group. If that fact alone is not enough indication of a crisis, it is unclear what could be more compelling.
Police organizations nationwide must be revamped to protect African-American males from the dangers of trigger-happy police — even if that trigger fires a taser. Otherwise, all government leaders will continue to be complicit in these ongoing crimes.
(Chicago News Cooperative) — By day, Palmer Park in Roseland hums with life: children splashing in the pool, teenagers shooting baskets and politicians holding news conferences with television crews in tow. That all changes when the sun goes down. Residents of this struggling neighborhood on the far South Side say that when night falls, the prudent hurry home, leaving the bold and the reckless to roam the dark. On a recent steamy evening, the park was emptying out except for 10 young men in baggy pants, white T-shirts and ball caps cocked to the side. They were perched on the top of a bench when out of the deepening dusk emerged an even larger pack of men. The two groups warily regarded each other. No one said a word until a big man with a deep voice stepped forward to break the tense silence.
(BET) — It’s been about 35 years since South Africa’s youth revolt against apartheid, the racial segregation system that served to oppress the nation’s Black majority. But now, South Africa could be facing another uprising, this time due to high levels of youth unemployment, according to one of South Africa’s top union officials. In fact, during the recent interview with CNN, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African trade unions, also likened such a rebellion to the Arab spring from earlier this year (which saw longtime leaders from Egypt and Tunisia get booted), warning that the nation could stand to become the “new Egypt.” “If we don’t do something urgent enough with the crisis of youth unemployment in South Africa we will be in Tunisia and Egypt very soon,” he said during the interview.
By Eric L. Hinton
They are ghastly images seared into the public consciousness. Much like the horror of witnessing innocent victims leaping to their deaths before the towers fell on September 11th, the images of countless blacks wading through floodwaters and clinging to rooftops with hand-scrawled “Help Me” signs, shook the nation to its core. The disaster that killed nearly 1,900 people, mostly poor black residents of New Orleans, and caused over $81 billion in property damage, prompted many across the nation to shake their heads in disbelief. Could this really be happening here? In the United States? In 2005?
At the time James Rucker was serving as a director of grassroots mobilization for MoveOn.org. The organization, which serves a largely white base, develops and executes fundraising, technology, and campaign strategies for progressive causes. Prior to Katrina he and Color of Change co-founder, Van Jones, had been kicking around ideas for something like MoveOn for black people. As Rucker sat in his living room watching alarming footage from Katrina stream across his television, he felt compelled to act.
“When Katrina happened it became this very clear moment around the country when you saw black people effectively had no political power. The level of disservice and neglect that happened in the aftermath was unacceptable. And it wasn’t as if the White House was reacting ‘Oh my goodness Black America is going to have our heads for this.’ It spoke to a political impotence on the part of Black America,” said Rucker.
A few days later Color of Change was born. It started out focusing on Katrina, fighting for everything from housing rights, to FEMA payments, to the protection of displaced survivors’ voting rights. In the six years since the web-based, African-American political advocacy group launched, 800,000 members have contributed to or taken part in various lobbying and public education campaigns.
Today the work is focused on an eclectic mix of targets ranging from the obvious — Glenn Beck and Fox News — to the unexpected, such as the Congressional Black Caucus. The fledgling organization has morphed and grown into a force that investigates claims of police brutality, insists on criminal justice reform, examines media misrepresentation of blacks and demands accountability from elected officials.
Among its victories Color of Change counts raising public awareness and money for the legal defense of the Jena Six, six black boys who initially were charged with attempted murder in the 2005 beating of a white student in Louisiana.
As of late, the Left end of the political blogosphere has been all abuzz about a grassroots group started by Van Jones. Jones is most remembered as a former activist, Green Czar, and the second (Rev. Jeremiah Wright being the first) in a long line of black and brown people thrown under the bus by Obama. I haven’t heard this much hoopla about an organization since another black man, equally as vacuous, promised change we could believe in back in 2008.
Seeing as how there’s been no substantive change in the status quo since Obama took office, thus ripping open a gaping leadership chasm on the Left, I’m not surprised that liberals have chosen another black man as the embodiment of their political ambitions. The problem is that, yet again, they’ve got the wrong black man. At this point, I’m unsure if those on the Left who supported Obama and now support Van Jones are activists or L.A.P.D. patrol squads.
I mean, how many times can they pick the wrong black guy based on a murky, but generally agreed upon, standard that he fit the description? In the lead-up to the kick-off of Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream launch, Jones tweaked his predecessor’s motto a bit, boldly announcing that “it’s not ‘Yes He Can’, it’s ‘Yes We Can’, thereby shifting the responsibility of governance from Obama to the American people. This was the first Van Jones assertion to get my spidey senses tingling. Because no matter which side of the aisle you come out on, we should all agree that the responsibility of governing rests with the people we elected; members of Congress and the President.
The people made their choice at the ballot box, now it’s up to our elected officials to carry out their end of the bargain. If not, then what are they doing on Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue anyway? If they are not responsible for translating their campaign promises into legislation, then we’d all be better off setting up tent cities in Washington D.C. and coalescing around a direct democratic model.
Van Jones’ call to action – that we are responsible for our own governance – is weak. It’s weak because it is a thinly veiled ruse to drum up support for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Only a week after NetRoots attendees voiced their displeasure with Obama’s tepid approach at executive leadership, Van Jones kicks off his “we’re the problem and the solution” outfit and expects us to believe that it’s the natural outgrowth of activism? I don’t buy it. I think Van Jones’ leadership role in this organization is payback from the White House for his willingness to exit without incident after he was summarily fired without cause. I know one thing for certain: The role of Van Jones is that of gatekeeper, not activist. He’s part of the power ecosystem now.
In exchange for bowing to Glenn Beck, he’s been awarded a platform. A platform that allows him to redirect the broad dissatisfaction that liberals have with Obama to the Tea Party.Van Jones doesn’t desire to usher in real transformation of our political system anymore than our President does. They have power. Why would they seek to alter or diminish it? And our battle is not with ourselves but those with real power. Our battle is not with a handful of Tea Partiers who hold seats in the House and Senate, but with a group of Democrats who hold a majority in the Senate and one Democrat who occupies the Oval Office.
These are the people we voted for and these are the people who abandoned us. Someone should tell Mr. Jones that most Democrats didn’t vote for the Tea Party in 2008 or 2010 and thus, aren’t looking to hold Tea Partiers responsible for pushing the progressive agenda.
But since our vote is our currency in this transactional enterprise known as politics, and since we did vote for Obama and a slew of other anemic Democrats, we are looking to Democrats to hold up their end of the bargain. If Rebuild the Dream aims to hold real people with real power accountable for real failures, then I’m game. But if the aim of the organization is to jedi mind trick us into believing that the Tea Party is the reason for our season of discontent, then spare me. And most certainly don’t insult me.
The democrats don’t need us to rally in order to get the job done. They need them. And until Van Jones and others can get onboard with that idea, I’ll pass on rebuilding the dream and opt instead for tearing down the status quo. This, of course, is the real job of activists.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and BreakingBrown.com.