A Hero In A City Of Crisis

A Hero In A City Of Crisis

Mindanao deserves more coverage.

This week, I read a headline titled: “Filipino Muslim Saves 64 Christians From Execution by Islamist Militants.” Google it. It’ll be a story hosted by one or two major news outlets.

Here's the short version:

A group called the Islamic State of Lanao, reportedly backed by Isis, entered the city of Marawi during the week of June 9th and began combat with the Filipino army. The group seeks to occupy a Filipino island, Mindanao, where the population is largely Muslim. They’ve long attempted to form an enclave on the island, and have thus targeted Christians in doing so. Reportedly, 90% of the population has managed to escape.

The hero of this headline is Norodin Alonto Lucman. He provided refuge for 71 citizens, 64 of whom were Christian, and was quoted as saying that militants would get to them “over my dead body.” Within a few days, under the threat of starvation, Lucman led the group out of the city waving white flags, and when questioned of their religion, the group responded “Allahu akbar,” thus granting their safety.

This escape is no major reassurance; the city is still very much in danger. Since the initial attacks in early June, 290 civilians have died; there is only so much that people like Lucman can do. The government declared martial law as a means of heightening safety against insurgents, but the tension encountered in doing so may prompt repeal of that law. American troops have entered Marawi, but are reportedly prevented from engaging in combat. Their role, as the spokesperson for Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte claims, “does not involve any boots on the ground.” Marawi, according to the The New York Times, is no longer home to 200,000, but is a ghost town.

This story, like so many others, is another list of facts. We have a few numbers, a name mentioned halfway through, and a sense of detachment. The 71 people that escaped are described as walking through streets filled with rotting corpses and debris. Their situation is largely framed as helpless; there is neither a sense of hope nor of change given to the people there.

Mindanao is in a state of crisis, and though their situation can’t be helped as easily, it is important that we be aware of their plight. As aforementioned, only one or two major news outlets have covered this; why are they treated with lesser attention? Spread information as it is found, and recall that they are not the “other.” Irrespective of class, color, and creed, this story is about a man helping his fellow citizens survive.

Do not forget Marawi.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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Winfrey's Words On Sexual Assault Touch The Hearts Of Men And Women

The speech that has the nation talking.

For those of you who missed the Golden Globes on Sunday, January 7, Oprah Winfrey, the first black female recipient of the Cecil B. deMille Award delivered a rather ground-breaking speech on behalf of African Americans and women at large leaving many speculating her potential candidacy in the election of 2020.

In 1952, the annual tradition of presenting the Cecil B. deMille Award began when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association resolved to institute an honor that would recognize an individual's "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."

It may have come as a surprise that Winfrey's acceptance speech did not touch on any of her previous achievements as many recipients of the award have in the past. Rather, she took this opportunity to share a movingly vivid recollection of a historical event involving the rape of a young African American woman by the name of Recy Taylor.

As Winfrey shared, one evening in 1944, Taylor was returning home from church when she was seized and blindfolded by six white men who raped and left her on the side of the road. She lived to be 97 years old and drew her last breath in her sleep at a nursing home located in Abbeville, Alabama on December 28, 2017.

Winfrey's speech reflected heavily on sexual harassment and the Me Too Movement. Me Too, or #MeToo, sparked recently in October among several other social media hashtags designed to encourage women to speak out and share their stories of sexual violence.

However, what remains undoubtedly most commendable about Winfrey's speech is the fact that while she clearly stands for women, their rights, and the stand against abuse, she continues to remain an equalist. This is seen through her careful and brilliant use of language. While she spoke of our ever-growing strong feminine power, she did not use concrete words. Words that would suggest men as the inferior. In fact at the end of her speech, she did just the opposite. She brought the viewer's attention to men as well resulting in the crowd—comprised of thousands of women and men—rising to their feet for a standing ovation.

Cover Image Credit: abc NEWS

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