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May 1, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Black Lives Matter March

Black Lives Matter March today, Friday, 5/1 at 3:30 pm. Meet at Wilson Foundation Academy: 200 Genesee Street (Rochester) at Samuel McCree Way. Support Baltimore, Freddy Gray, and ALL lives brutalized by systemic racism.

Black Lives Matter

April 30, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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French Muslim student banned from school for wearing long black skirt

a long black skirt – michel houellebecq’s worst nightmare, the end of french civilization as we know it.

A 15-year-old Muslim girl has been banned from class twice for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious for secular France, in a casethat has sparked an outcry. The girl was stopped from going to class earlier this month by the headteacher who reportedly felt the long skirt “conspicuously” showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France’s strict secularity laws. More here.

April 30, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Nonviolence As Compliance in Baltimore

TA-NEHISI COATES: When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves. More here.

April 30, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award – The Intercept

wonderful letters by writer deborah eisenberg to PEN’s executive director suzanne nossel. pls read. also, contrast eisenberg’s well-reasoned, eloquent and nuanced explanation of her objections to the CH award with salman rushdie’s huffy tantrum and name-calling on twitter – a mark of “character” in his bland, privileged world of feckless sloganeering.

“Charlie Hebdo is undeniably courageous in that it has continued irrepressibly to ridicule Islam and its adherents, who include a conspicuously and ruthlessly dangerous faction. But ridicule of Islam and Muslims cannot in itself be considered courageous at this moment, because ridicule of Islam and Muslims is now increasingly considered acceptable in the West. However its staff and friends see it, Charlie Hebdo could well be providing many, many people with an opportunity to comfortably assume a position that they were formerly ashamed to admit. This is not a voice of dissent, this is the voice of a mob.” More here.

April 30, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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These are the most striking pictures of the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore

On April 12, Freddie Gray got into a Baltimore police van, after being chased down and arrested by police. Thirty minutes later, he emerged with severe injuries that led to his death a week later. There are many unanswered questions in the case, like why police chased him down and arrested him, when there is no indication that Gray was in the process of or had committed a crime or why they didn’t belt him into the van, as required by their own internal regulations. The Baltimore Sun has reported that Gray is not the only arrestee to have suffered serious injuries from a ride in a police van. Like the police-involved killings of Oscar Grant and Eric Garner and Michael Brown—all young, black men—Gray’s death touched off a series of protests seeking justice and reform of police practices. Baltimore native and self-taught photographer Devin Allen hit the streets to document the deep pain and righteous anger of his city. The photos he produced are searing, intimate, and remarkable. More here.

April 30, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje boycotts PEN gala over Charlie Hebdo award

Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose and at least four other writers have withdrawn from next month’s PEN American gala, citing objections to the literary and human rights organization’s honouring the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. […] “I was quite upset as soon as I heard about [the award],” Prose, a former PEN American president, told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Sunday night. Prose said she was in favour of “freedom of speech without limitations” and that she “deplored” the January shootings, but added that giving an award signified “admiration and respect” for the honoree’s work. “I couldn’t imagine being in the audience when they have a standing ovation for Charlie Hebdo,” Prose said. […] Prose and Ondaatje were among more than 60 writers scheduled to serve as hosts. According to PEN, the other hosts who decided not to attend were Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Taiye Selasi and Peter Carey. More here.

April 28, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Grace and Hope Found Amid the Destruction of Nepal Quake

DONATELLA LORCH: In the evening, Lucas and I walked down our street and into a village, the oldest community of ethnic Newars in the Katmandu Valley, a place where goats often live on the ground floor of homes and women wash their pots and their hair on the stoops. Making our way along the town’s narrow, medieval paths, we passed building after building that had collapsed. Residents, police officers and Nepal Scouts were digging through the debris with their hands, trying to rescue those who had been buried. Others were setting up temporary shelters in any open space. Blankets and cushions were laid out in the middle of roads. Neighbors were helping neighbors. Those with motorcycles were ferrying cheap plastic canvas for tents from the shops that remained open. Many people stopped us and asked if we needed food or water. Several invited us to spend the night with them. This is why I love Nepal. People here help one another because they know the government often cannot. They reach out to one another, and they persevere. They open their shops, because what else can one do when the world is upside down? More here.