Feb 07
Her eye on the news
'Don’t forget about me'

It has been almost 4 years since 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in a Texas jail cell, after being taken into custody on suspicion of assault following a routine traffic stop.

Bland had just completed a successful job interview at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, when police pulled her over for allegedly changing lanes without signaling. At some point, authorities contend, Bland assaulted an officer and she was arrested. Apparently angered by Bland’s refusal to put out a cigarette, state trooper Brian Encinia threatened to drag her out of her car and “light [her] up” with a Taser. The pair are seen in footage from the day walking off camera, then Bland is seen with her wrists behind her back. “You’re about to break my wrist, stop,” she screams, “you’re a real man now, you just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground, I got epilepsy.”

Three days later, she was found hanged in her cell. The question of whether there was foul play involved in Bland’s apparent suicide, as suspected by many friends and family, has never been established. It has been concluded, however, that jail officials fabricated records of a check that was supposed to be made on Bland’s wellbeing. No one has ever been held criminally liable for Bland’s death, or her arrest, but in 2016, Bland’s family settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $1.9m.

Bland would have been 32 years old today, and you can listen below to a stunning version of Maimouna Youssef’s (aka Mumu Fresh) ‘Say My Name’, featuring Black Thought, recorded by NPR in 2018. The song was originally released on Youssef’s 2017 Vintage Babies album, with D.J. Dummy, and asks its audience to examine the public handling of the case and to not forget Bland, who died on July 13, 2015.

Go to 13:30 in this video for a stunning version of ‘Say My Name’ — a tribute to Sandra Bland:


If I should die tomorrow at the hands of the policeman
And the papers say
We’re going to call it a suicide, would you even question why
Would you shake your head and say this ain’t right
Or do your best and forget about me
Please, please, please don’t forget about me

Ohhhh, say my name
Say my name
Say my name
Say my name
Say my name
Don’t forget my name

Say my name
Don’t forget my name

If I should die tomorrow
At the hands of the policeman
And the papers say, we’re going to call it a suicide
Would you even question why
Would you believe in my innocence
Would you even come to my defense
Would you believe in the good I’ve done
Or will my name be smeared and my story unsung
Would you search for the answers or take what they hand us
Who’s going to stand with me
Please please please don’t forget about me

Ohhhh, Say my name
Say my name
Say my name
Say my name
Don’t forget my name

Say my name
Don’t let it be in vain

Even the sun goes down
Heroes eventually die
Shot with their hands in the sky
Your favorite revolutionaries give up and comply
And the internet will justify your reason to die
We watched a woman get dragged out and beat and filmed in the highway
and all y’all can say was black women too mouthy
I’m searching my timeline seeing people find time to criticize and villainize and call that shit a suicide
Well what if Sandra Bland was your child
I know the struggle in your heart
But we ain’t backing out
Nothing is impossible
The word alone says I’m Possible
So I’m the racehorse that I’m riding for
The audacity of hope
To believe we can succeed when everybody and their momma say nope
Well fuck ya’ll
I’m different, descendent of the fittest
I’ve been reincarnated just so I can handle business
My name, oh say my name, say my name
Don’t let her struggle be in vain
So say her name
She ain’t die in vain
Say my name, say my name


Sandra Bland’s family reaches $1.9M wrongful death settlement

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'Machismo' culture

Just days after a woman accused former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias of sexually assaulting her, three more women have come forward with their own disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct against the 78-year-old Nobel laureate.

Popular Costa Rican journalist and TV presenter Eleonora “Nono” Antillon told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Arias assaulted her three decades ago when she was a 25-year-old worker for his 1986 presidential campaign. Her decision to speak out after all this time, she said, was made in solidarity with psychiatrist and nuclear disarmament activist Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold, who on Monday filed a criminal complaint alleging that Aria groped and fingered against her will during what was supposed to be a work meeting.

Speaking separately, Human Right Watch communications director Emma Daly alleged that Arias had publicly groped her in a hotel lobby in 1990 while the then-reporter was trying to interview him. A fourth woman, a 53-year-old book editor, also told The New York Times that Arias had felt up her leg during a 2012 meeting.

Speaking to AP, Antillon said she was working for a local TV station when she was told Arias wanted her to work on his presidential campaign. Despite some trepidation, she agreed, only to be summoned to a dinner where Arias met her in a private room. Near immediately, she said, he put his hand on her thigh and began trying to kiss her neck. She pushed him away and left the restaurant as he laughed, telling her that his behavior was meant “just to gain trust.”

Four days later, she said, she was speaking with Arias and another adviser when he sent the adviser away and began “staring hard at me.”

“He grabbed my hand and put it on his penis, over his pants,” Antillon told AP. “I said to him, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘What do you think we’re doing? Look how hard I am.’”

She fled the scene, she said, and went out of her way to avoid spending any time alone with him during the rest of her time working on his campaign. ”

“He sees himself as the master of the world, that everyone has to submit to him,” said Antillon. “He sees himself as a conqueror.”

Speaking to AP, Daly said that she was trying to ask Arias a question in a packed hotel lobby in 1990 when he, “instead of answering my question put his hand on my chest and sort of pulled it down between my breasts and then said, ‘You’re not wearing a bra.’”

The incident, she said, left her furious and humiliated, but she decided not to speak out at the time due to the prevalence of “machismo” culture in Costa Rica.

“I felt I would have been laughed out of whatever office I tried to complain to,” she said.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


Former president of Costa Rica accused of sexually assaulting activist during work meeting

Harvey Weinstein hires Rose McGowan’s lawyers to represent him in sexual assault case

After years of complaints, #MeToo credited with kickstarting better safety for hotel housekeepers

Conversation starter

From next month, there will be an emoji to chat about periods, aiming to help to end the shame around menstruation, a British child rights group said on Wednesday.

Coding consortium Unicode, which distributes emojis across mobile devices, said it will include the period emoji — a drop of blood — in March, along with 58 other new symbols including ones to represent people who are deaf and mixed-race couples.

“The inclusion of an emoji … is a huge step towards normalizing periods and smashing the stigma which surrounds them,” said Lucy Russell, head of girls’ rights at Plan International UK, which has lobbied for the emoji for two years.

“An emoji isn’t going to solve this, but it can help change the conversation. Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it,” she said in a statement.

Menstruation is still taboo in many countries. In Nepal, the centuries-old Hindu practice of “chhaupadi”, where women are banished from their homes during their periods, has already led to four deaths in the past few weeks.

Women refer to periods using some 5,000 euphemisms, such as “on the rag” and “Bloody Mary”, a 2016 survey of 90,000 people in 190 countries found.

Plan said nearly half of 18- to 34-year-old women that it surveyed believed a period emoji would make it easier for them to overcome the embarrassment of talking about menstruation. Globally 1.25 billion women do not have access to a toilet during menstruation, according to the charity WaterAid.

The United Nations estimates that due to a lack of facilities, one in 10 girls in Africa will miss school during their period and will eventually drop out of school as a result.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation.)


Menstruation activists fight to end a stigmatizing — and sometimes life-threatening — taboo

Art highlighting menstruation causes controversy in Swedish subway system

A formerly homeless Harvard student is starting a conversation about menstruation

‘Still worse’

Anonymous activist-artist collective Guerrilla Girls has revived a 20-year-old campaign about the lack of women directors in Hollywood to highlight the shocking degree to which the movie industry continues to be dominated and controlled by men.

In 1999, Guerrilla Girls peppered film festivals and billboards with a bumper sticker that read, “The U.S. Senate is more progressive than Hollywood,” accompanied by statistics that showed that just nine percent of senators and four percent of directors were female. Working in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego University, Guerrilla Girls has now begun releasing an updated version of the original campaign to social media.

“Hollywood is still worse,” reads the amended image, noting that 25 percent of senators are now women, while the number of women directors for top movies has remained stagnant at 4 percent.

“The intent of the campaign is to illustrate that 20 years later, the film industry continues to lag behind even our most staid political institutions,” said Dr. Martha Lauzen, the head of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. “The side-by-side comparison offers a way of conceptualizing how little Hollywood has changed over the last two decades.”

According to Lauzen’s recent ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ report, just one percent of the past year’s top 250 highest grossing films employed 10 or more women in off-camera roles. By comparison, 74 percent of said films employed 10 or more men in such positions.

Since its founding in 1985, Guerrilla Girls has become known for bold protest art that highlights misogyny and systemic sexism in the arts — including a famous “weenie tally” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that revealed that 76 percent of nudes on display were of women, while only four percent of artists with work displayed were female.

Read the full story at Variety.


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New movie written and directed by a woman billed as 1st horror film ‘of the Time’s Up era’

‘I just froze’

Nobel laureate and former Costa Rica president Óscar Arias Sánchez, 78, has been accused of sexually assaulting a psychiatrist and nuclear disarmament activist.

Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for having brokered a plan to end civil wars in Central America. He is still regarded as Costa Rica’s most powerful statesman,having led the country twice and where he continues to promote peace and democracy.

Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold, 34, filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors on Monday over an incident four years ago at Arias’ home in which he allegedly groped her breasts, reached beneath her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers during what was supposed to be a meeting to discuss plans for nuclear disarmament.

“I just froze, and I didn’t know what to do,” said Arce, a psychiatrist at a state hospital in San José. “I was so much in shock. That had never happened to me before.” The only thing she could think to do, she recalled, was to cry out, “You’re married,” before rapidly fleeing the home.

In wake of the incident, she immediately spoke to a member of congress and her boyfriend about what had transpired — both of whom have corroborated her account. Arce said she told her family and several other people in the nuclear disarmament movement about the assault, but that she decided not to speak out until now due to risk of reprisal and fear it would harm her work for nuclear disarmament. Witnessing the #MeToo movement, and in particular the testimony of young gymnasts at the trial of serial abuser and former U.S. Olympics team doctor Larry Nassar, she said, had given her the courage to come forward.

“All the other women, that did, that helped me. So I thought maybe, maybe, I can help other people too,” said Arce, explaining that she was concerned that Arias had targeted other young activists. “It’s the right thing to do, even if it destroys me.”

Arias has denied the accusations against him.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


Olympic Committee knew about sexual abuse in gymnastics since the 1990s, according to court filings

5 Afghan soccer officials suspended amid allegations that they raped players

7 women sue Ivy League school over ‘Animal House’ atmosphere and professors who allegedly raped students


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