2015 in Review - Top 5 Issues

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Continuing my year in review - the top 5 issues that drew my attention this year:

Refugees – I knew about refugee issues, of course. I work in international development. I read the news. I know about violence from gangs, wars, and extra-judicial killings. But like many of the world, the image of little Aylan lying on the beach really punched me in the gut and the reality of what refugees go through –not as a people, “the refugees”, but as individuals- became clear. So I read a lot about refugees, those in the news and those who fled in previous decades. At work I have asked to add that topic to my portfolio. I’ll probably take a course on that as well. And I’ll do whatever I can to help refugees in Europe and here –those from Central America and all parts of the world in my community. You can also contribute through the Guardian, TogertHer Rising, and other NGOs (World Vision, the IRC, Save the Children, World Relief)

Guns – That one has been bothering me since I moved to the US. What in the world? Why do people think it’s ok to own semi-automatic weapons? Why are people so opposed to background checks? I just can’t understand the love and passion people have for guns, period. I contribute to Every Town for Gun Safety and I hope the next president will take steps to decrease the number of guns people own and can buy.

Racial inequality – I am ashamed to say that I have been color blind for too long. I lived in a world where everyone should get along and forget about their differences. And then came the killings of young African American men and women by the police. And I woke up! I saw the systemic issues, the way we / I perpetuate inequalities, the way we refuse to acknowledge our privilege because of guilt and decades of historical revisions and willingness to portray the US in a good light. We have the same issue in France with our former colonies. I’m not saying this is something only the US has to grapple with. But I live here, so I am more aware of what is happening here. 

Paris – Obviously. The killings in January and November were terribly sad. While I agree that there was too much media attention to Paris as opposed to other world crisis, I grieved with my city and my people. I am afraid the French people are becoming more racist and afraid of foreigners, refugees, and migrants. I hope we can wake up and become a nation that is welcoming to others.

Elections in the US – That’s a big one for me even though I cannot vote because I am not a citizen. I will be blunt: I do not think any of the Republican candidates are good for the US. They’re ignorant, racist, completely focused on topics that please their crowds and forget about inequalities (racial, socio-economic, gender-related) in the country. I am hopeful but careful. And worst come to worst, we’ll move to Canada or England!

What about you? What did you focus on this year?

(Next up: Top 5 of 2015 and a look ahead)

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