Tag Archives: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt and My Birthday

10 Dec
Me Age 6

Me Age 6

As 50 creeps upon me and I celebrate 47 today, I am comforted  that this day also marks the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt. Here is the Preamble to the now 30 articles in the Declaration:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

I love that the goal is for this to be the “common standard of achievement.”  Sadly, we have certainly missed the mark here in 2013. I look at the structural and government mandated homophobia in Russia and Uganda.  I look at the racism we still are fighting against in our own country, as I read about Shannon Gibney, a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and am in disbelief that three white students filed a complaint because they were uncomfortable; thus Professor Gibney was reprimanded for doing her job. I can only hope those three white students will evolve and have a better understanding of structural racism.

My Birthday Wish: My birthday wish is that all of humanity take some action, no matter how small a step, to STOP racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ageism, classism, eradicate poverty, and all other forms of marginalization.  We must learn how to interrupt oppression and yet keep people engaged in conversations.  What does it mean to be an ally? I would argue that being an ally is not a status, but it is action.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and My Birthday…

10 Dec
Me Age 6

Me Age 6

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Here is just a bit of it to treasure.

We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation in 1789 [the French Declaration of the Rights of Citizens], the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the US, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.

I have felt very connected to both Eleanor Roosevelt and to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, maybe because it was on my birthday, or maybe just because I have spent most of my life working for basic human rights for all people.

Today, I am also sad at how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is just an abstract idea far removed from places like Uganda, where white, wealthy, heterosexual Americans fuel and finance hate. I find myself asking what can we do individually and collectively to make the world a better place.

My birthday wish is that all of humanity take some action, no matter how small a step, to STOP racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ageism, classism, and all other forms of marginalization.  We must learn how to have courageous conversations and how to interrupt oppression.

Black History Month 2012: Ralph Bunche

17 Feb

Today we honor a celebrated diplomat and political scientist, Nobel Laureate Ralph Bunche. In 1950, Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Palestine, the first person of color to be awarded this honor.

Ralph Bunche was born in Detroit, MI at the turn of the 20th Century. He was a brilliant student, emerging top of his class in high school and at UCLA. He earned his Master’s and PhD in Political Science from Harvard while teaching at Howard University. He chaired the Howard PoliSci department from 1928 to 1950.

During World War II, Bunche served with the OSS and parlayed that experience into a post with the State Department after the war. He was closely involved in creating the charter for the nascent United Nations and worked closely with Eleanor Roosevelt on the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Starting in 1947, he began working on the Arab-Israeli conflict and was the UN’s primary negotiator. Firm but fair, he was respected by all parties and helped craft the first major Middle-East armistice. He went on to help mediate in numerous other strife-torn regions and was eventually made UN Undersecretary-General.

Bunche was also involved in US politics, especially the civil rights movement. He helped support the 1963 March on Washington and was an outspoken advocate for racial equality. Despite his prominence, he suffered direct racism in his neighborhood, being denied membership in a local tennis club in 1959. Ralph Bunche was an amazing force for good in the world. Let us try to live up to his vision:

May there be, in our time, at long last, a world at peace in which we, the people, may for once begin to make full use of the great good that is in us.

Happy Birthday to Me: Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

10 Dec

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Here is just a bit of it to treasure.

We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation in 1789 [the French Declaration of the Rights of Citizens], the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the US, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.

I have felt very connected to both Eleanor Roosevelt and to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, maybe because it was on my birthday, or maybe just because I have spent most of my life working for basic human rights for all people.

My 45 years here have been both excruciatingly painful and at times filled with great delight.  The past six years have been some of the most difficult and some of the most rewarding.  I have a husband whom I love dearly and he loves me.  I am in school with such a tremendously wonderful group of people as my cohort works to get our MSWs to change systems and make the world a better place.  I believe Eleanor Roosevelt would be very proud.

As I write this post, I reflect that it is with a mixture of bitter acrimony and delight.  This past week, my husband and I have had to witness first hand the unethical abuse of power from certain white heterosexual men that I would easily qualify as sociopaths.  Rather than reflect on these white abusive men, I shall try to be optimistic and grateful for a loving husband and loving friends.

Call to action: My birthday wish is for all that read TSM to look to find ways to stop oppression on every level–to inject ourselves wherever and whenever we witness abuse of power, and oppression.  I shall continue to work to eradicate racism, misogyny, homophobia, and all oppression.  Let us hope my next birthday looks much better than this one.

%d bloggers like this: