Religious Beating- Editorial I am not really sure where to begin this. How do you introduce the topic of a community failing to stand up for the most undermined group of people they have? How do you explain the horror of being restrained and lashed while innocent on all accounts? How do you justify labeling a beaten girl as not murdered, but a suicide case? All in the name of something many people would die for: their religion. Recently in the news, there was a story that caught my attention. The headline read, “When A Girl is Executed For Being Raped.” The article talks about a young woman in Bangladesh who was raped, and then charged with “sexually immortality” before marriage. One article said she was 14 years old, another 16. One said she was killed after they found her raped, the other months later upon finding out she was pregnant. Turns out, it was two different girls. In the same city. In the span of two months. The fact that these two girls were both treated like criminals is heartbreaking. The fact that both of the assailants got off with less of a punishment than both girls is sickening. The first girl, Hena, was found by her assailant’s wife in the middle of the sexual assault; she beat Hena upon discovery. After the courts mulled it over, Hena was sentenced to 100 lashes in public. After 70, she fell unconscious was taken to the hospital, where her death was deemed by doctors as a suicide. A quote from a CNN blog post based on interviews with the parents stated the following: “…the parents had no choice but to mind the imam’s [courts] order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground. Her last words were protestations of innocence.” Her assailant, also her cousin, paid the equivalent of $150 and went off to live his life. The second girl of 16 was a bit luckier by cultural standards, but not really. She was quickly married after her attack, but was then divorced after her pregnancy was discovered months later. She received 101 lashings, and her family was threatened with removal as outcasts if her father did not pay the fine. For their daughter’s rape. All of these laws and customs are so very normal in Bangladesh, where public lashing has just recently become outlawed, especially toward poor rural women. These
are not just rules- they are part of the religious culture. Those girls were not beat just because their law dictates so; they were beaten and in one case killed because that is what they believe is mandated by Godâ€™s law as the answer. Young women, girls really, victims of rape, are being beaten and out-casted in the name of a god. Do not misunderstand me. I have the utmost respect for religions, whether they are like mine or not. I love the culture, the uniqueness, the differences. However, the system in Bangladesh can only be labeled as broken when a community does not support victims and their families, but made to suffer farther. When a mother and father have to sit and watch their baby girl whipped in front of their neighbors and friends for being exploited and broken in the most violent way a woman can be, and a pregnant girl is lashed for conceiving, someone has to stand up and make things right. A rapist should not walk away just a bit poorer while a girlâ€™s reputation is forever ruined, all in the name of religion.
Black History Month: Editorial As of February 1, African American History Month will be among us. There will chapels dedicated to it, and a few discussions and seminars as well. However, after this month the likelihood of us bringing up the subject again is next to nothing. This month, like all the others, will pass us by like our Saturdays; we try and grab at it but it never seems to keep. I really do not see the point of Black History Month, or any other months dedicated to a group. Not because it is not important or relevant, but because it seems a very backwards way of celebrating a culture. While dedicating a whole month to a topic may seem to many a way of spreading the word, of giving it its fullest attention, I see this as a kind if false pretense. Here ya go, you get a month to impress us, then we go back to not caring as much…Till next year!! This goes for any month dedicated to groups, whether it be Breast Cancer, Asian History, anything. I feel those things are more important than a months worth of facts, data, chapels and discussions. Does giving subjects like that value through days make it more important because it has been picked out of the list? I do not think so. If that was the case, we would not have enough months in the year for all the important things. I feel I barley notice when something is “given” a month. Did you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? When was the last time we celebrated that? I had to look up the dates for Hispanic History Month, and I’m Hispanic! I feel that we honestly do not give value to things just because it is given a quick spotlight. Famous actor Morgan Freeman once did an interview, in which he explained that he did not like Black History Month. He called the concept, “ridiculous” saying, “You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history.” I could not agree more. Instead of restricting culture, we should give them and other groups our undivided attention, whether it be their month or not. Schools should not study African American History because it is “their” month, but because it is an important piece of our past. We should walk for breast cancer or heart disease or world hunger not because it is its month, but because it impacts the world we live in.
I like to think EMU does a fair job at keeping culture alive no matter the month. I applauded the cafeteria for having themed dinners that while can be silly, is still a great effort. We have often had many chapels about varies cultures and the people that live and work in them. I feel culture is embraced and loved here, whether it be set upon a temporary pedestal or not, and when people find a group or passion or cause, they support it till death. If we all as a community could find and keep true value in the cultures and groups in our world, we will not need temporary focus, but rather have then as an infused part of us.
Diversity At Its Best- Editorial As skeptical as I was of the effect of their efforts, Multicultural Services did a striking job of running D.O.R.D, or Dialogue On Race and Diversity week. The events were well attended, and certainly did their job of making people really think about what it means to integrate many different backgrounds and ideas to make a community. The idea of D.O.R.D week is to dedicate a time to speaking up about racial sensitivity and the differences that make us a community. The question asked often was how to create that feeling of unanimous belonging without forcing it in people’s faces and becoming fake. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about students bringing EMU’s supposed diversity into question. Many AHANA students feel unwelcome and unwanted, with stereotypes at their heels, and a lack of diversity campus wide, there is no place for them at EMU. Some, however, feel perfectly at ease here with no question as to where they belong. I fall in the second category, though that level of comfort did not come easily. It certainly did not happen overnight, and I can relate to those students who feel currently at odds with EMU. It took me having to put myself out there, and others being open to inviting me in, though I understand that is not easy for everyone. Not everyone can simply fit in, and some at EMU face barriers I certainly have not. No one has ever assumed I play sports because I live in Northlawn or because I am Hispanic. No one has ever asked me to do anything specifically because I am “diverse,” nor have I ever felt that what makes me different makes me uninvited. Yet it happens to others, and so the question is why? Why are people so quick to judge, even innocently? People do not make generalizations to be intentionally rude or insensitive, and making assumptions does not make anyone a bad person. So you thought that black girl in your economy class was on the basketball team; so you assumed that Middle Eastern guy in your religion class was an international student; so you assumed that quirky, dramatic blond girl in your gen. psych class is a theatre major; so you assume people who attend chapel are prudes. These presumptions do not make you racist, or even a bad person; they make you
ignorant, which we should all confess to being. One of the most helpful things D.O.R.D did last week was create dialogue, especially dialogue that assists in the building of community. There needs to be more space like the ones D.O.R.D generated where people can be themselves, and everyone can be welcome. To students who do not feel welcome because EMU is not “diverse” enough for them, take responsibility. No one tricked you into coming here, and if you got here and were disappointed, maybe a visit was on order before you packed your bags. You can chose to leave, or you can chose to stay and change the situation. I have an immense amount of respect for students who are unhappy about the way things are here and do something about it. Those people are making the difference here, and will make differences elsewhere. How do we create belonging while being authentic and caring? Step out of what you’re used to, walk away from what you know, because that comfortable situation will not always be here to make you feel like you belong. College is not about staying the way you are, it is about becoming who you will be. And for the rest of us, we need to make people feel welcome and loved. The fact that students are coming here and do not feel like they belong is everyone’s problem, not just the universities fault, and most definitely not the fault of Multicultural Services. We need to step up and practice what we like to say when strangers are not around. If we want community, we need to go make it. If we want it to be more “diverse,” we need to get to know the diverse students who are already here and integrate them, not clamor around to find more. It is not numbers that are important, but what we do to make all those numbers count and feel included in the equation.