To my friends who live outside of Turkey:
I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.
Four days ago a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.
They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.
No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.
But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.
In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.
Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.
They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:
The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.
They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return. Two young people were run over by the panzers and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.
These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.
On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.
People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.
What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.
Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.
No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.
Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.
People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.
Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”. ***
I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.
As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:
«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»
This blog is my answer to her.
By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:
Freedom of expression and speech,
Respect for human rights,
Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,
The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.
But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!
Please spread the word and share this blog.
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Thank you and welcome aboard.
“White House Down”- Great Action Film, but Why Won’t Jamie Foxx Stop Smoking…?
Jamie Foxx, as president, was a questionable choice and his performance is fairly wooden and non-threatening and I can almost forgive the racial stereotypes (i.e. Foxx running through the White House in Air Jordans instead of black leather oxfords.)
But what is it going to take for young black actors to grow up? Jamie showed moxy by wearing the Trayvon Martin tshirt to the BET awards. He appeared introspective after Harry Belafonte’s invigorating manifesto at the NAACP awards. Is it all an act?
Foxx is an uber-talented actor, singer, dancer, comedian, performer. There is one ironic line in “White House Down” where Foxx quips, “I don’t smoke” after opening a drawer filled with Nicorette gum. I didn’t laugh because it appears that is all he is doing.
Some may say I am expecting too much. I don’t think we can expect enough of anyone who plays the President of this nation.
The social media stoning of Rachel Jeantel
When Rachel Jeantel testified in her friend Trayvon Martin’s murder trial yesterday she was called fat, ignorant, sassy, ugly and manly.
Jeantel was called everything except what she is, a witness in one of the most significant criminal trials in recent history – a young woman who heard her friend fight for his life.
Social media users called Jeantel a thug, an embarrassment to humanity and to black America. Some joked that she is worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit, a living stereotype, an example of America’s failing education system. Here’s a Storify of some of the tweets.
Those tweets reveal some of the things that some Americans believe is wrong with this country, but more deeply, what’s wrong with young black women. Attacks on Jeantel’s hair, body, speech, grammar and attitude all seemed to be proof for social media users that young black women are fools.
Social media empowers users to mobilize quickly and spread information about a common cause to raise awareness and provoke change. But it also allows users to express ugly thoughts at lightening speed and with anonymity. Social media enables users to throw digital rocks and hide their hands. After Jeantel’s testimony Twitter users’ insults grew into a social media stoning.
One of the most common criticisms about Jeantel was that she looked like Precious, the overweight, undereducated character with a deep brown complexion portrayed by actress Gabourey Sidibe. That criticism was particularly troubling because social media users assaulted her appearance because she lives in a body that this society finds repugnant – one that is large, black and female. Jeantel’s is a body that holds no value in this society so she is perceived as a person who is not valuable or credible. So for some people anything that came out of her mouth, even in the most perfect English grammar and diction, would be meaningless.
Black folks had their share of criticism for Jeantel too. The black respectability police on Twitter pondered if her father is in her life. They said if George Zimmerman is acquitted it would be her fault because of her sassy attitude. Black folks said girls like Jeantel are the type to keep away from their children.
Social media users mocked the fact that Jeantel testified that she doesn’t watch the news. How many people in their late teens and early 20s do watch the news, especially young people of color? Part of the reason why they don’t watch the news is because they only see reflections of themselves that are stigmatized, mocked and ridiculed much like the discourse about Jeantel on social media and mainstream media after the first day of her testimony.
The ugly comments that circulated through social media about Jeantel’s speech, looks, mannerisms, race and education reveal the deep-rooted classism, racism, sexism and lookism in America and our inability to focus on what was important yesterday – justice. Yesterday young black womanhood seemed to be on trial instead of Zimmerman.
Last year Trayvon Martin’s murder was thrust into the spotlight by social media and black media. Mainstream media ignored the story until they were forced to start paying attention to online activism on social networks. Social media activism helped push law enforcement to investigate Trayvon’s murder and not just brush it off as another nameless, faceless dead black boy. Now social media is dissecting and devouring the last person who spoke with him.
Rachel Jeantel will return to the witness stand today. More sarcastic gifs, memes and comments about her will surely be created. But I hope social media users will invest more time into listening to her testimony and think before they post another mean photo or comment about a girl who is testifying in her friend’s murder trial.
Posted by Sherri Williams
CALLING ALL SAINTS! CALLING ALL SAINTS! for this Sept 13th, not for a show, but for the kingdom of God. I implore you to come, i am expecting an alter call like no other…im expecting a gathering of all denominations, all people for the City of Hartford, and the state of CT…we’ve seen enough killing, divorce, poverty, drug infested communities, corruption, lack of leadership, etc
Its time for us to come together as Gods people in solidarity and worship and as one, to go before the throne so that the heavens will not be like brass and the grass will yield the Lord’s dew, and the people of God can show the world that through the power of Gods love, we can bring a message of hope and deliverance… — with Bruce L. Carter and 17 others.
Photo: CALLING ALL SAINTS! CALLING ALL SAINTS! for this Sept 13th, not for a show, but for the kingdom of God. I implore you to come, i am expecting an alter call like no other…im expecting a gathering of all denominations, all people for the City of Hartford, and the state of CT…we’ve seen enough killing, divorce, poverty, drug infested communities, corruption, lack of leadership, etc
Its time for us to come together as Gods people in solidarity and worship and as one, to go before the throne so that the heavens will not be like brass and the grass will yield the Lord’s dew, and the people of God can show the world that through the power of Gods love, we can bring a message of hope and deliverance…
A controversial subject: In the city of Hartford, predominately in the north end, we have a church on every corner, yet the crime rate has not changed or should i say dropped in three generations. The situation has only gotten worse. To wit: There are a host of pastor, most i dare say, who do not live in the community they “Pastor/serve”. There was a time when nothing moved in the “black” community unless it was approved across the pulpit and on a unified level regardless of denomination and theological differences. This included the electing or support of political figures. Well election time is fast approaching and I think or we should at least all agree that the present administration does not represent the church as a whole in accordance with sound doctrine the moral and economic fiber of we “The People”. Your thoughts Hartford.
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