Every Wednesday, we, at The Body is Not an Apology, will be exploring some of the current stories in the media through the lenses of radical self love and body terrorism.
Zika Outbreak: A Question of International Reproductive Rights?
Watching videos of infants possibly affected by the Zika virus is heartbreaking and terrifying, but what seems to be equally terrifying is the discussion surrounding possible resolutions.
If you are not privy to what has now been deemed a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization, let us rewind some. The Zika virus is spread by mosquito bites and was mostly known to exist in the subtropical forests of Africa, but recently Latin America – especially Brazil – has been hit hard.
Not only has there been an alarming rise of those infected by the Zika virus, but there appears to be a connection between babies born with microcephaly (smaller head and brain) and mothers infected. In 2013, there were 167 cases of microcephaly, but there have been 4,180 cases since October 2015 and active outbreaks of Zika can be found in 24 countries.
This brings us back to the conversation of what to do next? There is no official vaccine or cure. Many health officials are telling women living in highly affected areas they should hold off pregnancy for the next eight months to a year.
While this may be problematic in itself, the other issue is that the same countries telling women not to have children have strict abortion laws. In many of these countries abortion is illegal and access to birth control is few and far between. Take Brazil, for instance, where abortion carries a one to 10 year prison sentence. Abortion may be permitted to save a mother’s life or if the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest, but that is not the case here.
This is regulated body terrorism, a form we have also seen in America. The weight and responsibility should not fall on what women decide to do with their bodies.
Picket Fence Dreams?: UN Pushes For Slavery Reparations
I can vividly remember by back against the cold concrete of New York City to Washington D.C. as we shouted the names: Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd and the list continued. I was participating in one of many die-ins as the lead facilitator read off our demands; one being that the United Nations declared a state of genocide for African Americans and respond accordingly. Now, months later, the agency is reinvigorating the discussion of slavery reparations.
“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynchings in the past,” Mireille Fanon Mendes-France told reporters.
“The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” she stated.
Mendes-France is the chairwoman of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent that made the official recommendation. The group is asking Congress to pass a Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. However, these suggested reparations would not look like a big payout as many expect, instead the panel suggested the funds go towards “full implementation of special programs based on education, socioeconomic, and environmental rights.”
The trauma associated to racism is real. I know this from not only my own experience, but those of my friends and family as well. No amount of money will bring back Garner or Boyd, what must be done is a total restructure of the systems that keep us oppressed. One can simply read the comments on many of these articles to see the mindset that must shift.
“If American slavery never happened then most of the blacks who live in America today wouldn’t exist. You owe your existence to my slave owning ancestors,” read one Facebook comment.
If money is poured into programs that are not actually governed by the minority it is no different then the America at hand. It is a hope of attaining the white picket fence dream, yet having someone else structuring your home and telling you who you owe your existence to.
Reparations are not a right or wrong, at its root it is a confession of sorts of white guilt. It is an “I’m sorry,” and quite frankly I am tired of apologies that still keep my brothers and sisters’ backs on the concrete.
Does this mean reparations should not be given? Certainly not, but it does mean Congress should not have overriding govern of the possible formation.
Radical Self Love In Action: Inspiring Muslim Teen Ballerina
Can we just pause for a full force, “yasssss!” Okay, now that that is out of the way, there are times when the youth are trailblazers of self love in action and young Stephanie Kurlow is a prime example. In a time when Muslim identities are often shunned, Kurlow a 14-year-old Muslim ballerina in Sydney, Australia is pushing the envelop as she stays on pointe while wearing her hijab.
Kurlow has plans on becoming the first professional hijab-wearing ballerina in the world. After converting to Islam and not finding a safe space that catered to other identities in the dance form, Kurlow’s mother opened her own dance academy as her child refused to let her identity be limited by societal norms.
“All I want is to share the beauty of the amazing ballet art form and inspire other young people who maybe don’t feel so confident to follow their dreams due to the outfits they wear, religious beliefs or lack of opportunities,” Kurlow told the NY Daily News.
After converting to Islam, Kurtlow once stopped dancing as she was conflicted with wearing her hijab and where Islam stood on women dancing. She mentions many strict sects believe dancing is against the religion.
“I don’t want certain people who are discriminatory to hold anyone back from achieving their dreams and being unique. I believe that one day all children and young people will have an opportunity to perform and create, without sacrificing their values, beliefs or looks, and my campaign is one step closer to achieving this,” said Kurtlow.
The campaign the inspiring teen is referring to is her fundraising page on LaunchGood.com where she hopes to raise $10,000 to fund her professional training and in turn open her own studio.
Here’s to doing what you love while completely embracing who you are!
[Feature Image: A collage of two black and white images. The image on the left is of an infant with microcephaly being bathed in a bucket as the adult hand washes them off. The image on the right is on a teen ballerina wearing a white tutu, sweater and hijab. The ballerina is posing on their toes with one foot extended in the air as large windows let in light behind them.]