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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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.

Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax

April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup

Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores

Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things

Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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