what happened last week - Colombia's first Black vice president?

what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 302

May 4 – May 8, 2022

Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. I'm currently trying to keep up with the latest podcasts to help with my news fatigue. I kind of love 9/12, a podcast about the day(s) after 9/11. Do you have a favourite slow-paced, going-beyond-the-headline podcast to recommend? Tweet me. OK, let's dive right in:
  • Mental health of LGBTQ+ youth of color in the United States
  • Contemporary African art in France
  • Colombia might have its first Black vice president
  • Hong Kong's democracy or what's left of it
  • Plus, some good news (I searched for them for a very long time) from Nepal, Somalia and Guinea.
Btw, this newsletter has its very own Spotify playlist Decolonize Weekly. Feel free to subscribe. 

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Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,

what happened last week

We need to talk about the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth of color in the United States
Last week, a new survey on mental health came out. The results are super worrying: Nearly half of all LGBTQ youth and 53 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth in the United States seriously contemplated suicide last year. It's particularly bad for LGBTQ+ youth of color.

Why this matters: LGBTQ+ youth are super vulnerable, LGBTQ+ youth of color even more. Still, all around the world, LGBTQ+ people are being discriminated against because of their sexual orientations or gender identities.

Wait, how bad is it in the U.S.?
Pretty bad. There are so many new anti-LGBTQ+ laws, such as
the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Floridaa ban on gender affirming care for people under the age of 19 in Alabama, and since 2021 more than a dozen states have passed laws banning transgender youth from playing on sports teams associated with their gender identity. We can, and should, do better.

Oof. OK, back to survey. 
Yes, The Trevor Project did it. The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, & questioning young people.

Who participated, and when was this survey taken?
33,993 people (mostly white and Latinx) aged 13 to 24 (by age: 62% 13-17, 38% 18-24) who live in the United States responded to some 140 questions between September 20 and December 31, 2021.

Give me some tweet-ables, so I can raise awareness
  • The threat of violence against LGBTQ+ people is real. 36% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that they have been physically threatened or harmed due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  • There aren't many 'Safe Spaces' for them. Fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
    • But: Social support is super important. LGBTQ+ youth who felt high social support from their family or school reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support. In general, LGBTQ+ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ+ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.
  • Mental health care is needed. Among all LGBTQ+ youth, 82% wanted mental health care and 18% did not.
    • But: Mental health care is a rare find. 60% of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it; mostly because they're afraid of discussing mental health concerns, have concerns with caregiver permission or, well, it's just not affordable.
  • There's so much we can do better. In general: "The fact that very simple things — like support from family and friends, seeing LGBTQ+ representation in media, and having your gender expression and pronouns respected — can have such a positive impact on the mental health of an LGBTQ+ young person is inspiring, and it should command more attention in conversations around suicide prevention and public debates around LGBTQ+ inclusion," said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project.
You said, the situation is pretty bad for LGBTQ+ youth of color. How so?
Well, look at the numbers. 2% of white youth attempted suicide last year, compared to 21% of Native/Indigenous, 20% "Middle Eastern" (West Asian)/Northern African, 19% of Black, 17% of Multiracial, 16% of Latinx and 12% of Asian American/Pacific Islander youth.

A lot of LGBTQ+ youth of color are experiencing physical violence, compared to white youth.

Plus, a lot of LGBTQ+ youth of color, especially Asian American/Pacific Islander or Black youth, did not feel that mental health care providers would understand their culture. 
We are finally paying more attention to contemporary African art in France
This is not my typical news curation but I figured we all need some good and let's-work-toward-a-better-future-y kind of news, so here it goes:

new gallery opened in Paris, France. It belongs to Somali-French art dealer Mariane Ibrahim. She's one of the few Black gallerists to set up shop in Paris and dedicate the space to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. 

Why this matters: Not only does France still hold onto the cultural, religious and historical artefacts it stole from its former colonies in Africa, there are few galleries dedicated to artists of African heritage.

Tell me more about Mariane Ibrahim herself
Before setting up shop in France, Ibrahim spent some time in the
United States. She's opened galleries in Seattle and Chicago before, all with a focus on African diasporic art. In this interview with Jacqui Palumbo, she says, "There are more African artists who have received museum attention...in the U.S. in the past five years than there has ever been in France in the past 50 years."

Cool! What kind of art is featured there?
Oh, so much. Art by Haitian American artist M. Florine Démosthène, Afro Latino artist Clotilde Jiménez, Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo, and so many more.
We are trying to change the racist status quo in Colombia
Francia Márquez could soon be Colombia’s first Black vice president. She's also (and that's much more interesting) started a rare discussion about race and class in the country.

Why this matters: Black, Indigenous and rural communities experience a lot of racism and discrimination in this very socially unequal Latin American country. 40 percent of the country lives in poverty. For the first time in Colombia’s history, a Black woman is close to the top of the executive branch. Colombia’s presidential election is May 29.

Tell me more about her
She's 40 years old. She became pregnant at 16, went to work in the local gold mines to support her child, and eventually sought work as a housekeeper. At age 13, she became an environmental activist in Cauca (southwestern Colombia), trying to expand a dam project that would have diverted a major river in her region. She eventually went on to law school, winning a legal campaign to stop major mining companies trying to move into the area. She has even won the Goldman Environmental Prize, sometimes called the 'environmental Nobel.' In her speeches, she calls on the country’s marginalized peoples — Indigenous, Black, rural — to unite. She's running with Gustavo Petro; he's the leading presidential candidate.

Cool! And what kind of discussion has she started?
About structural racism. It's pretty huge. In an
interview with Julie Turkewitz in the New York Times, Santiago Arboleda, a professor of Afro-Andean history at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, (basically) said, 'Colombian society doesn't really talk about structural racism. And if they do, they deny it or say it's not that big of a deal.' Francia Márquez says she has chosen to run for office, "because our governments have turned their backs on the people, and on justice and on peace."

Damn. How has people reacted to her?
One part, with a lot of support. Another part, with racism. 

Racism?! But she's running for vice president!
Well, that doesn't protect her very much. In fact, it puts her at a lot more risk even. A famous singer and television host has called her "King Kong", the head of the senate has called her the candidate of the National Liberation Army (a violent rebel group that claims to defend the poor), and, and, and. She's also received death threats. Yeah... it's that bad.
We are, slowly but surely, watching China take full control over Hong Kong
It's official: John Lee is elected as the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Why this matters: Hong Kong is losing the fight for democracy. After the 2019 protests, and since 2020 when China adopted a National Security Law in Hong Kong, most of the city’s prominent democracy activists are either in jail or have fled overseas. Overall, it's become less equal and less free under the leadership of the city's first female Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Who's John Lee? 
He's 64 years old, an ex-police officer and chief secretary. He has been working really closely with current Chief Executive Carrie Lam who had said that she will not be running for another term. His first day on the job? July 1. Oh, and no one else was competing with Lee for the job. China said, '
good job. Cool that we have a patriot governing Hong Kong.' 

How come he was elected?
Well, the 1,428-member Election Committee elected him. He received
1,416 supporting votes. There is a lot of criticism. For example, Hong Kong Free Press calls the Election Committee an "all-patriots committee that was vetted by Lee himself back when he was the city's No. 2 official." Also, The League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of Hong Kong's pro-democracy political parties, staged a brief demonstration in Wan Chai on Sunday morning while he was being elected, saying that more than 4.47 million voters in Hong Kong were “deprived” of their right to choose the city’s leader. 'The Chief Executive should elected by one person, one vote,' they say.

What are his plans? 
LSD says, 'ugh, uninspiring'. He wants to push for the controversial Article 23 of the Basic Law and the so-called fake news law – plans that,
according to LSD, look like they're going to "supress the freedom of speech and press freedom in Hong Kong."

How is press freedom in Hong Kong at the moment? 
Oh, so bad. Hong Kong used to be a very safe place for journalists until 2014. However, Reporters Without Borders recently published their press freedom chart, and Hong Kong went from
80th to 148th. More and more online news publications get shut down, like Stand News or Citizen News.

For German speakers: I talked about press freedom in Hong Kong in last week's episode of
Die Wochendämmerung with Katrin Rönicke and Holger Klein. 

First, the bad news

Afghanistan: The Taliban passed a law telling all women in Afghanistan to cover their faces in public with a burqa (not surprised). In the same week, floods in twelve provinces in the country killed at least 22 people, injured 40 others and have destroyed hundreds of homes.

Iran: Bread has become 200% more expensive in the country. There are protests against this in Khuzestan province. In response, Iran has now shut down the internet. 

Italy: A boat carrying migrants to Europe ran aground in southern Italy. At least two people died and over 100 were rescued.

Sri Lanka: A lot of people have been protesting against the government for a few weeks now. In response, the government has now declared a 'state of emergency'

Ethiopia: 'They're destroying evidence of genocide of the Tigrayan people,' many recent reports say. Eyewitnesses have come forward, saying that they have seen soldiers, who look like they're from the Amhara region (they're occupying western Tigray at the moment), digging up fresh mass graves, exhuming hundreds of bodies, burning and then transporting them out of the region.

Mexico: Another journalist was killed in Sinaloa state (north). His name is Luis Enrique Ramirez Ramos. He's the ninth journalist to be murdered in 2022 in Mexico alone.

Brazil: They're still killing trees in the Brazilian Amazon. We have reached a new record for the month of April: 1,012.5sq km or 140,000 football fields.

The kind-of-neutral

Northern Ireland: For the first time, a nationalist party has become the strongest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly: Sinn Féin

And now, the good news

Somalia: Finally, the date is set. Lawmakers are expected to pick the country’s new president on May 15. This was a looong-overdue step.

Guinea: The country said last week that it would prosecute ex-president Alpha Conde (the military toppled the 84-year-old last September) for murder and other very serious crimes that were committed while he was president. He was the first democratically elected president in the history of the West African country in 2010.

United States: President Joe Biden said he has chosen Karine Jean-Pierre to be White House press secretary. She will be the first Black and openly gay person to serve as the public face of a U.S. government. (I know, representation is not everything.)

Nepal: Kami Rita, a super experienced Sherpa, climbed Mount Everest for the 26th time, breaking his own record for the most climbs of the world's highest peak. (Memo to Sham: If Kami Rita can do this, you can work out first thing in the morning.)

England: The Church of England (basically) said 'sorry for our anti-Jewish laws 800 years ago. That was shameful.' Some 3,000 Jews were expelled under an edict in 1290 by King Edward I. They were not allowed to return for more than 360 years. (I'm not Jewish, so I cannot accept this apology. Jewish followers, what do you think?)
On a funny note

A pastor in Nigeria is telling people that he knows about a gate leading to heaven he can show them – for US$750.

That's it from me for this week. If you want to stay connected on social media, follow me on Twitter or on Instagram.

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