Category Archives: Civil Rights Activists

What Is The Men’s Rights Movement?

The men’s rights movement (also referred to as MRM) is referred to by some scholars as the hypermasculine response to the rise of feminism. In part, it just might be. But the movement takes on some admirable causes as well. MRM debates the legality of circumcision and conscription, or favoring women when judges determine who gets sole custody of a child. Other causes include suicide, domestic violence, social safety, and domestic violence.

However, many have rightly noted that the movement is dominated by misogynistic thinking rather than a desire to implement real change for the good of everyone.

One prominent MRM activist was Karen DeCrow, who ironically was the president of the National Organization for Women, serving from 1974 until 1977. Even so, she advocated that men should have the same rights as women do in regards to child custody, alimony, and distribution of wealth upon divorce. She even once said that domestic violence is a “two-way street.”

When an anonymous second year attorney who works at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou was asked if the firm ever took on divorce cases from the standpoint that men have the same rights as women, he said, “We take every case on a basis where the facts matter more than our opinions. Women’s rights movements, men’s rights movement — they don’t matter to us. Whether or not a person would make the best parent for a child is how we determine which cases to take.”

Other lawyers from other firms absolutely have taken cases based on the MRM beliefs. Attorney Marc Angelucci was an attorney and activist who played a large role in MRM, even serving as vice president of the National Coalition for Men (NCFM). He successfully argued for National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System, after which a federal judge ruled that the current mandate of the selective-service system — which only took men — was unconstitutional. Another case won by Angelucci was that the California State Legislature did not allow men to use the state’s domestic violence programs when they were victims.

Despite these wins — and their unquestionable effect on implementing full equality in society — there are still elements within the organization that appear to focus on white power or male dominance, which results in opponents of MRM labeling it a hate movement. 

UC Berkeley scholar Alex DiBranco called the MRM a “male-supremacist movement.” 

DiBranco believes the MRM and similar organizations are responsible for planting the seed that men undergo the same struggles as women, which has resulted in more radical movements like the misogynist incel movement. DiBranco said, “The misogynist incel movement has primarily been connected to acts of violence in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., there have been attacks motivated primarily by misogynist incel ideology, and ones in which misogynist incel ideology intertwined with other far-right and white supremacist ideologies.”

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James Cromwell Is More Activist Than Actor

Los Angeles has long been known for pumping out liberal blood. Hollywood in particular is a bastion of liberal belief. That’s not to say that conservative actors don’t exist — but they exist only in a quiet minority. Actors are proof that a person can be rich and want what’s best for the betterment of society. Imagine that! Famous actor James Cromwell is now 80 years old, but he still makes plenty of time for the causes in which he believes.

Writer Steven MacKenzie decided to ask Cromwell what the two activities could possibly have in common.

Cromwell said, “Well, you know Shakespeare? The purpose of playing, wasn’t it ‘to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure’?”

Cromwell believes that acting and activism are the very epitome of effectuating change that people can believe in. He said, “As an actor, all I can do is hold the mirror. If people will look, they will see the image of who they are. Is that the image that they want — anger, fear, grief, distrust, animus? No, I don’t think so. If in any work, we can show anything that we can call and agree on as truth, that will make a difference in the world.”

Cromwell’s dad was one of the men blacklisted during the witch hunt catalyzed by former Senator Joseph McCarthy, so he knows something about being the subject of undue persecution by the mob mentality so often found in politics today.

Cromwell is also routinely arrested for his activism. He was arrested about a year ago when he disturbed the peace at A&M University — trying to save dogs. A couple years before that, he was arrested when he failed to pay a fine imposed after protesting the construction of a gas plant. He believes that these ideals should be society’s focus. Instead, we spend all our time worrying about all the things that don’t make any difference.

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What To Do When You Are Injured During A Rally

The world is becoming a more complicated place every day. Last summer, then-president Donald Trump self-prescribed a name for himself as the “law and order” president in response to Black Lives Matter protests — some of which involved rioting while the majority remained peaceful. He called in the National Guard, intimidated protesters, and even illegally forced peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square with force so he could take a picture with an upside down Bible in front of a church across the street.

When his own supporters became violent earlier this year, the National Guard was nowhere to be seen until the pressure was so great he had no choice but to call them in.

Don’t believe it? There have been studies conducted on the gap in forceful response of authorities between the two groups. Police use more force when dealing with liberal protesters than they do conservative protesters — which is part of the reason that many conservative protesters believe that police are “on their side” (apparently rightly so).

All this begs the question: What can peaceful protesters who were injured by the police do?

The answer might scare you. For starters, let’s talk about the aforementioned Lafayette Square protest. Trump had no lawful reason to break up a peaceful protest with force. He essentially ordered the National Guard to assault and batter those protesters — and when someone commits assault and battery, you have every legal right to defend yourself. That means if every single one of those protesters who were injured began to fire on the National Guard, they would have had every legal right to do so.

But would the courts see it that way? Almost certainly not. Protesters who go to court of police brutality in situations of protest very rarely win. A personal injury attorney will still urge you to try.

You need to return to the scene of the crime, as it were. Obviously you can’t approach the police in order to obtain evidence — which is what you would normally do following an assault — but you can still go about it yourself. Many protests occur in cities where every square foot is under the watch of a camera. Find those cameras and the footage that shows you were unlawfully attacked, and you might be onto something. If you can locate additional witnesses, you have even more proof.

Negligence cases are difficult to win in general, but even more difficult where the authorities are concerned. Unfortunately, the system “works” best when police, prosecutors, and judges all work together, which makes it difficult for any of those three legs of law enforcement to attack the other.

And police sometimes have immunity from certain types of negligence. To prosecute or sue a police officer, a higher standard of proof is usually required than if you were filing suit against Joe Shmoe from Napersville, Illinois.

One last thing: it never hurts to try. Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means they only get paid when you win. And that means you’ll know you have a winnable case — if they decide to take it on.

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The Trend Of Spiritual Activism To Foster Mental Health

Most white Americans won’t understand the pressure crushing down upon our minority friends and family members. Life can be a daily struggle. Coming away from that struggle with a positive outlook can be nearly impossible — especially considering the state of American politics and partisanship. And that’s why many activists have sought spiritual rest and relaxation in order to foster their own mental health. How else can they keep fighting the good fight?

Author of Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy Rachel Ricketts says that her book is “essentially a combination of my personal and professional experiences of a lifetime of navigating white supremacist systems as a queer multiracial Black woman — and it is rooted in spiritual activism.”

Spiritual activism doesn’t mean that people have to stop fighting. To the contrary, it only means that we have to keep fighting after we attain personal inner peace. You can’t fight from a place of hatred. Your heart needs to feel content first.

Ricketts said that spiritual activism “means doing [the work] from a space, of a grounded understanding, in the way we are all involved in systemic harm in a way that ensures that we are connected to ourselves as well as each other, as well as all beings — conscious or not — including nature, and to something bigger than us.”

She adds, “Activism is really about understanding that this work has to start within us first, so that the work we do out in the world is a reflection of that. It’s grief work, it’s healing work, it’s trauma work, and if we aren’t treating it as such, then it just becomes an analytical exercise.”

The purpose, according to Ricketts, is to get to know oneself and other people in order to understand what makes people tick. Without that understanding, growth and change are impossible — and we’ll only keep hurting ourselves and the ones we want to save.

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How Can We Lift Minorities Out Of Bankruptcy?

African American farmers have been hurting for generations, and COVID-19 hasn’t done anything but depreciate family bank accounts. For them, this is about survival. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has an underlooked clause that forgives about $3.7 billion of debt owed by disadvantaged farmers all over the country. Some African American farmers believe that this is the chance of a lifetime to build their farms back up.

President of Memphis-based trade group Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association Thomas Burrell said, “It is a victory for socially disadvantaged farmers. They can forgive their debt, start over and go back to the front of the line. They’re not asking for any more than anyone has received. They’re just asking for their share.”

One farmer living in Shorter Alabama named Demetrius Hooks commented, “Ironically that money is going to dissipate through USDA and not go directly to farmers. So, we don’t know exactly how that’s going to come out.”

Another, John Coleman, said, “Right now, we’re on the bleachers. This will help us get on the playing field.”

A number of farmers aren’t sure the help will get here in time. It’s almost planting season.

One anonymous bankruptcy lawyer who works for Toronjo & Prosser Law (www.t-plaw.com) said, “Some ranchers along the outskirts of Dallas are bleeding money bad right now. We want to help everyone we can, and we point to some of the help provided by the government, but it’s not always enough. Sometimes bankruptcy ends up being the best option. No one wants to hear that.”

The American Rescue Plan also has a mandate that forces special agencies to consider equitable solutions for American minorities in order to lift them out of poverty. In order to benefit from the current debt relief, farmers need to contact their local Farm Services Agency.

Arkansas farmer Jeffery Webb said, “There just isn’t much information out there. I am at the brink of bankruptcy right now. This forgiveness could keep me from going bankrupt.” 

But Webb also commented on the typical USDA pressure on the African American community: “We’re so limited on resources — African American farmers are. They can pass a bill like this in Washington and we would never get the full benefits because it’s hard to know what the benefits are and how to find them out. We don’t know where to start.”

That means civil rights activists would do well to approach legislators about finding new ways to easily provide information to those who need it the most. Not everyone has a working computer or internet access out in the country. Farming doesn’t require a screen. 

Agriculture researcher Brennan Washington said, “It’s kind of interesting that once again it doesn’t seem like a good job is being done of communicating this to the people it’s actually going to affect. But there will be a period for comments. Especially if you’re in areas where you have Black congressional reps, call them. Because they would have information on what’s going on with this. People who are going to be affected by this, this is the time to let their concerns be known.”

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Anti-Trans Bills Sweeping The Country

A recent Supreme Court ruling guarantees certain kinds of protections for trans individuals in the workplace. The ruling says that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity from being fired simply for existing and prevents landlords from barring them from properties for the same reason. The landmark Equality Act would fortify those protections in modern law.

But those protections might not be enough to protect our trans kids.

Regional and state-sanctioned bills have been introduced in the last few months — dozens of them — which would bar trans kids from playing on the male or female sports teams aligned with their own gender identity. These bills are advocated on the basis of “fairness.” But since when do Republicans care about that? We live in America, where capitalism thrives and the super rich are rewarded simply for having more money than the rest of us. 

Eleventh grade student Eli Bundy missed class on February 23 to testify to a South Carolina House Subcommittee on one of the aforementioned bills.

They’re sixteen. Bundy said, “They didn’t want to hear from us. I think that’s part of the reason why they weren’t more accommodating — they didn’t want to sit through that.”

Senior executive adviser at GLSEN Eliza Byard said, “The incredible well of youth activism that has been at the vanguard of the LGBTQ progress for the last 30 to 40 years continues to push back in new ways…It continues today, and I feel very confident given what I’ve seen over the years that these advocates will prevail.”

Bundy says that the conservative push for discriminatory legislation demanded their response. They said, “In my case, it feels like a necessity. I feel like I can’t afford to not pay attention, because it’s my life and the life of my friends on the line, and that feels like much too high of a cost not to be paying attention to, even though it definitely can be very painful.”

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Bigotry Against Asian Americans Is Nothing New

Some were surprised to learn that hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have increased dramatically over the last year — but we weren’t. Donald Trump’s rise to power was proportional to a rise in hate crimes targeting nearly every minority as far back as 2015, when he first campaigned for president. His rhetoric has provided millions of hate-filled individuals with an excuse to use minority groups as an outlet for their own learned rage. 

Is it really all that shocking that violent crimes against Asian Americans have risen over the past 12 months? We had a president who consistently blamed China for letting the virus travel beyond its borders (there’s no guarantee the virus first appeared in China, by the way) and calls the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” the “Wuhan virus,” and even “Kung Flu.” He says he isn’t a bigot, but…does anyone really believe him?

Settling debt we must pay back to minority groups via reparations is the only path that might foster healing, but it’s not likely to happen soon if at all.

Postdoctoral fellow at the Charles Warren Center For Studies in American History Courtney Sato said, “The important thing to remember is that this is really not an exceptional moment by any means. But it’s really part of a much longer genealogy of anti-Asian violence that reaches as far back as the 19th century.”

Racially motivated stereotypes sometimes take on a confusing appearance. For example, many men fetishize Asian women — which, perhaps contrary to common thinking, only fosters an unhealthy relationship between white people and this particular minority group. 

Sato shed light on past events that most people don’t know about. For example, in 1871 a mob formed in Chinatown (in Downtown Los Angeles) to murder 19 Asian-American residents, including a young teenage boy. This event followed biased and racially motivated government legislation, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The law prevents Chinese immigrants from entering the country. A prior law had prevented only Chinese women from entering the country.

The United States was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, but its citizens have long found ways to “sidestep” this principle by simply defining certain people differently. For example, slaves were defined as personal property — they weren’t people at all as defined by law.

Sato said, “In the 1875 Act, we see the ways in which race and gender are beginning to be entangled and codified in the law, and how Asian women were deemed to be bringing in sexual deviancy. That far back, we can see how racism and sexism were being conflated.”

Harvard President Larry Bacaw responded to the recent violence: “For the past year, Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have been blamed for the pandemic — slander born of xenophobia and ignorance. Harvard must stand as a bulwark against hatred and bigotry. We welcome and embrace individuals from every background because it makes us a better community, a stronger community. An attack on any group of us is an attack on all of us — and on everything we represent as an institution.”

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Does Activism On Social Media Actually Make A Difference?

The couple of years have been different as far as activism goes: namely, we’ve seen an increase in celebrity and influencer support for certain causes with social media used as the main tool to promote awareness. For example, Black Lives Matter was thrust into the media spotlight last summer as an inflection point was reached after several police shootings left a number of African Americans dead for no reason.

Breonna Taylor was asleep when she was shot and killed by police during a strange nighttime no-knock warrant. BLM opponents will say she wasn’t asleep, and while technically true — she was awake by the time the bullets started flying — that sort of misses the point, don’t you think? She was asleep when the door was broken down. She was killed seconds later.

This event and others just like it led to a day of “blackout” on social media to show support for the minority victims of police brutality and violence. Activism always used social media as a tool to gain more traction, but this — this was something new. This was bigger than it ever was before. Anyone following celebrities or popular influencers on Instagram will know what we mean. Awareness was being promoted everywhere. And even today, many influencers haven’t toned it down. They still want us to know everything that happens to minority victims on a daily basis.

Many have asked whether social media activism works. Should we keep up the fight using these tools? The quick answer is “yes.” 

Social media might not gain the ear of everyone who sees, but the point is that almost everyone is forced to see. They can’t just turn it off their feed. Many people will share posts, many will donate to organizations that need the cash, while others will get out there for the next march or protest. The vast majority won’t. But does it even matter that most people won’t? What should matter is that more people are.

It’s true that those in medical fields have provided a great deal of support for activists during the mostly peaceful BLM protest last summer — and some of them realized first-hand that police brutality was a real problem. One story showed a medical station that had been set up to offer first aid and water to protesters, only for authorities to show up and destroy the supplies.

One of the most popular climate change activists is a teen named Greta Thunberg. She routinely makes a name for herself by attending big rallies and speaking in front of the part of the establishment that doesn’t believe it’s real or doesn’t want to invest the money into saving the world. But most of her supporters will recognize her from Instagram. And without Instagram, most of us might not even know her name.

So long as platforms like Instagram and Twitter exist, we should use them to spread the word. It’s the right thing to do — because educating the masses is more important that limiting the tools we use to inform others that wrongdoing is pervasive in our society.

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History Of Activism Around The World: Part III

So far we’ve discussed the Third Servile War and popular sentiment resulting from the dictatorial rule of Gaius Julius Caesar, which led to the beginning of the Roman Empire — which from that beginning until its end would be home to a number of revolts, civil wars, and overall large-scale civil unrest.

Anti-Semitic views and hate crimes have fluctuated throughout history for thousands of years. Even right now in New York, hate crimes are on the rise — and in 2021! But this type of hatred goes back all the way to Roman times, when many revolts led to a rise in activism in the Ancient World. 

A man named Publius Quinctilius Varus was responsible for a great deal of conflict between anti-Semites and the Jewish people. When there was a messianic revolt in Judaea when Herod the Great died there in 4 BC, Varus wasted no time in stamping it out. He occupied Jerusalem, crucified thousands of rebels, and sparked a great deal of disgust for Rome’s actions.

Josephus, who made every effort to reconcile the Jewish people to Roman rule, felt it necessary to point out how lenient this judicial massacre had been…Indeed, at precisely this moment the Jews, nearly en masse, began a full-scale boycott of Roman potter.”

Historians believe Varus’s treatment of the Jewish people resulted in a great deal of protest. He was eventually recalled to Antioch. But his brother Drusus was campaigning in Germania in an attempt to acquire new territory for Rome to rule over, who in doing so subjugated many German tribes. This was the storied career of a typical Roman military commander or politician — the subjugation of other peoples.

Even so, Rome normally allowed its conquered peoples to retain their own culture and religions — and in fact, Rome routinely adopted the gods from other religions into its own pantheon. This was likely part of the reason the empire was so successful for so long. Subjugated peoples would reap the rewards of Roman rule — like new roads — and only have to pay taxes in exchange. 

Eventually, Rome went through a period where the disparity between poor and rich became too great to bear, allowing the seeds of Christianity to take root. This was a religion that taught that being poor was not just okay, it was actually how one was supposed to live life (something that many modern-day Christiants seem to have forgotten). But the slow rise of Christianity led to a great divide in Ancient Rome — because Christians believed in only one god, which inevitably led every other god in the pantheon to be cast out. 

This caused a great deal of social strife in Rome. One could say that Christianity kept the Empire alive for a bit longer at the cost of its soul. Social conflict between those who wished to keep their gods and Christians rose for centuries, and Rome’s grip on subjugated peoples was greatly weakened as a result. Christian activism caused the emperor himself to lose power, as he was an almost god-like figure.

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History Of Activism Around The World: Part II

One of the first traces of activism was the Third Servile War in Ancient Rome, and was covered in part one of our series on the history of activism around the world. But there were many other examples of times when social activism led to upheaval in Rome. These include the 241 BC Falisci revolt, the First and Second Servile Wars in 135 and 104 BC, the 91BC Social War, and the 80 BC Sertorian War. Revolt in Rome, suffice it to say, was relatively commonplace throughout history. True peace was rare.

Only a couple decades after the Third Servile War, Gaius Julius Caesar came to power. He was a divisive political figure among those who thrived in the Senate, and many of the common rabble of Rome loved him dearly. Why wouldn’t they? He symbolized Roman power — in part by committing the Gauls to genocide during his campaigns — he was rich, and he did what he said he would do. He was eventually killed by his own colleagues in the Senate for becoming too powerful after he was proclaimed dictator in perpetuity, i.e. for life.

But this followed a great civil war in Rome due to political matters and personal differences between Caesar and other men. After Caesar’s death, yet another civil war was fought between Caesar’s own adopted son and soon-to-be crumbling factions of Opimates and Liberatores. This was actually the true beginning of the establishment of the Roman Empire, paving the way for Emperor Augustus to take power.

This period of upheaval occurred for many reasons, but the people of Ancient Rome had spent a great deal of time transitioning away from a monarchy — because they frowned down upon kings and traditional monarchies. How strange it was, then, to have a single person upon the seat of power once again. In any case, this conflict paved the way for future activism that we’ll discuss in part three.

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