by Cindy Levin | Mar 21, 2018 | 2018, Activist, Inspirational, USA, World Moms Blog Writer Interview, World Moms Network, World Voice
We are compelled to action. One year after President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the women who protested his inauguration in the United States still hadn’t forgotten a thing. In January of 2018 we took to the streets for a second time to lift our voices together after living through a year of pretty much what we expected when Trump took office. We accurately predicted that protections for most vulnerable Americans (people in poverty, immigrants, disabled persons, and children to name a few) would be under attack. Some foresaw that we might hear hate-filled vulgarities coming from the president, but I think few expected they would be so frequent. I knew that varieties of racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, Islam-phobic, xenophobic hate crimes would rise, but I naively never thought we’d see white nationalists openly chanting Nazi slogans and marching with flaming torches in the U.S.A.
Yet last year saw a positive change as people banded together to support each other. The “Me, Too” movement showed the world through social media how common it is for women to experience sexual harassment and/or abuse. Danica Roem became the first transgender candidate elected to a U.S. state legislature through a smart, local, issue-based campaign in Virginia. We saw judges push back against attempts to ban Muslims from entering our country.
I believe all of these events – the good and the bad – resulted in the energy of the marchers being both undiminished and better organized as we rallied around the theme of “March, Act, Vote!” While the enthusiasm of the women around me in St. Louis was still strong, I sensed a difference in tone this time around. Last year, everywhere I looked (including in the mirror) there were women attending their first major protests ever. Their giddy energy was palpable and contagious. Just about everyone I knew who stayed at home in St. Louis knew at least one person who was flying out to D.C. to protest the inauguration. A feeling of novelty and joy in the event came with the solidarity of so many women expressing their disappointment, anxiety, and downright fear about what the future would hold with a confessed sexual predator like Donald Trump in the White House. It was a transformation of epic proportions.
This year, the marchers around me were just as enthusiastic, but instead of novelty, I sensed an overall air of resolve. Snippets of conversations around me revealed that many marchers had not been idle in the last year. Those involved in Black Lives Matter (a movement to stand against violence and systemic racism towards black people) carried their signs as seasoned veterans after months of tensions with the St. Louis Police Department. Organized advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters and Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America were visibly out to harness this precious protest energy and direct it into registering more voters and taking more actions beyond the event. For me, this was incredibly heartening. My two big fears in 2017 were that all of the energy of mass protests would blow away in the wind without organization OR that the constant shenanigans from the White House would eventually wear down everyone to the point that people were simply accepting a new and horrible normal.
Did 2017 wear us down? Somewhat. Over and over, I hear the word “demoralizing” from my friends, colleagues, and group leaders to describe the past year. But an event highlighting positivity, like the Women’s March in January, goes far to beat back the darkness. An environment like that allows a space for us to draw energy from each other. The night before the march, Rabbi Andrea Goldstein of Shaare Emeth Congregation offered these words in her sermon:
“Ever look toward one another. Look for each other and find there – in community – comfort and inspiration in the collective power and strength that we have together to create the world we long to see. The world we know that God is waiting for. The world we owe our children.” The night before the march, she urged us to: “Look, look, look, look…look around. It will be the day we yearn for. Not soon maybe, but it will be.”
I chose to participate in the second Women’s March, but skip the speakers in favor of getting my daughters to their Saturday activities. As I was leaving on the train, I met a woman who was doing exactly the opposite…she skipped the march, but was headed in to hear the speakers. I asked if she wanted to take my sign that said, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” with her. She enthusiastically agreed and as she headed off downtown, I thought about how in that brief interaction with a stranger, two women supported each other to literally carry our message farther. Maybe that’s the way it has to be in real life for moms who are changing the world. We carry the banners for a time and when we need to step back to tend to our kids, we lend our support to those who will carry them for us until we can come back.
On March 24th protesters will once again be out in force in Washington, DC as they participate in the March For Our Lives. Spearheaded by our country’s youth, the march on Washington DC demands that the lives of our children take priority over guns and that legislators ensure that the epidemic of mass shootings in our country be put to an end.
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Cindy Levin
Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.
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by World Moms Blog | Mar 10, 2014 | 2014, Awareness, Bilingual, Communication, Cultural Differences, Culture, Elections, Eye on Culture, Guest Post, Human Rights, Humanity, International, Language, Life Lesson, Living Abroad, Media, Multicultural, Politics, Tragedy, USA, World Events, World Interviews, World Motherhood, World Tour, World Voice
Today, we have a special guest post by a Ukranian mother living in the United States, Olena Centeno, of Bilingual Kids Rock. Olena opens the window and lends us her personal perspective to the current events in Ukraine…
Protest in Kiev, November 2013
What’s it like growing up in Ukraine?
As a Ukrainian, I grew up speaking two languages: Russian and Ukrainian. I ate Ukrainian borsht for lunch and Russian pelmeni for dinner. I love Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Carols of the Bells by Leontovych. I am raising my own children trilingual in English, Russian and Ukrainian. In fact, the two cultures (Russian and Ukranian) are considered so close, that if an Ukrainian abroad says s/he is from Ukraine people often say “Oh, so you are from Russia?”
What’s going on between Russia and Ukraine?
With Russian troops moving across the sea into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a lot of Westerners are starting to ask this question.
The current conflict in Ukraine is more than three months old. It began with a peaceful demonstration on November 21 at Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, when the (now ousted) Ukrainian president (Yanukovich) hesitated to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. This had been one of his major election promises and in breaking it he ignored the desire of millions of Ukrainians.
During the past three months, the “EuroMaidan” demonstration has grown into a much bigger movement. It started as a response to the failed EU deal but then truly turned into a movement against the corrupt government of president Yanukovich, who moved to keep Ukraine in long-lasting and very painful economical ties with Russia.
Then, after the government passed harsh, anti-assembly laws, it became about the basic human right to be able speak and think freely without being punished for it.
More than a hundred lives were lost and thousands injured during violent attempts to remove the demonstrators but people did not leave the cold streets of Kiev. More freedom fighters came from all over Ukraine to support them. Many other Ukrainian cities stood up as well. After three months of struggle, Mr. Yanukovich was impeached and left Ukraine (he refused to sign a resignation; he just ran away). His presidency was considered illegitimate and a new, temporary government was elected.
As Ukrainians were mourning over lives lost and looking into the future with great hope to build their country on principles of trust and freedom, a new enemy emerged: Informational War.
Along with Russia, Eastern Ukraine—where the majority is Russian speaking—is dominated by Russian-language news from the Russian media. Unfortunately, the Russian media coverage of events that have happened over the past three months is falsified [and full of propaganda].
Now, after the armed occupation of Ukrainian territory in Crimea by Russian troops, the reason for their untruthful reporting is understood: Creating social opinion in Russia and Russian-speaking Ukraine justifies military intervention into Ukrainian territories.
Personally, I think Mr. Putin has an imperialistic plan to be the most powerful ruler in modern history—politically and financially—and he will stop at nothing to add Ukraine to his control.
Russian Media Propaganda Uncovered
The following are all lies that have been spread by the Russian media leading up to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops:
1. FALSE: Kiev was Overrun by Violent Riots
Despite violent clashes, most of Kiev stayed peaceful throughout the demonstrations. The day-to-day lives of residents were largely unaffected outside of Independence Square and the areas immediately surrounding it. Very little of Kiev or the surrounding countryside was damaged or disturbed by the protests.
I know this because I called my family and friends every day. My nephews were going to school as usual, most of the people attended work on a daily basis, and all shopping malls and grocery stores were working (except for a few in the middle of the protest areas downtown).
2. FALSE: Anti-Russia Fascists Led the Ukrainian Protests
The vast majority of protesters were ordinary citizens tired of a government that they viewed as corrupt and unwilling to listen to the people. There were no fascist elements leading the demonstrations, and there are none leading the new government.
Many of the people I know personally were in Maidan: teachers, IT professionals, doctors, stay-at-home moms, businessmen, university professors, hair stylists and many others. People I worked with and went to school with. And no one will ever convince me that they are fascists. My daughter’s god-father is a surgeon and worked days and nights protecting the health and saving the lives of many.
3. FALSE: The New Government Will Force All Ukrainians to Speak Ukrainian
This is a particularly effective myth for Russian-language media, since it appeals directly to the people who would be most affected. Language has long been a contentious issue in Ukraine. Claims that Russian will be abolished are being used to generate anger against the new government.
The Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal a 2012 law allowing the establishment of minority languages as official state languages in individual provinces on February 23, 2014 but acting President Oleksandr Turchynov vetoed the move. Russian is currently recognized as an official language, is legal for state use in several Ukrainian provinces, and is guaranteed state protection “in all spheres of public life” in Crimea specifically.
I speak Russian and Ukrainian to my children here in the USA. I see language first and foremost as a tool for communication — and shame on any politicians who use it as a reason for war.
4. FALSE: Ukrainian Demonstrators Have Been Attacking Russians or Russian-Speakers
Another unproven and untrue claim widely circulated in Russian-language media is that the Euromaidan protesters were deliberately attacking Russian speakers.
The cruel result is that ordinary Russians – good, wholehearted, educated people – are now eager to help a Ukraine that they think is swamped by fascists! I have family in eastern Ukraine and my god-mother lives in Moscow. They have called multiple times, scared for the lives of my parents in Kiev. They really think Ukraine is in danger.
There is no evidence to support the claim, and nearly all cases of violence during the protest were perpetrated against civilians by security forces. The Euromaidan protests had very little to do with cultural or language issues in general.
While Yanukovych’s perceived obedience to the Russian government was certainly a source of anger in Ukraine, this anger was directed at the President and the actions of the Russian and Ukrainian governments, not to the Russian people or culture.
5. FALSE: The Berkut and Other Security Forces Fought in Self-Defense
Russian news broadcasts have shown extensive footage of the Berkut and other riot police under attack but nearly none of their attacks on civilians. The reality is that security forces attempted to crush peaceful protests with deadly force, and were barely driven back with improvised weapons like clubs and Molotov cocktails. The superior force and aggression were always on the side of the Berkut.
6. FALSE: The Independence Square/Euromaidan Protests Were Organized by Americans
We joke that EuroMaidan is now supported by Americans because my American husband and I made donations to help supply people with warm clothing and blankets during cold winter months.
I am not claiming that on a political level there is no lobbying of interests from outside countries and unions but once again: the politics of the country and the people of the country are two different things.
The vast majority of protesters were native Ukrainians and ordinary residents of Kiev and the surrounding country.
7. FALSE: Fascism Will Spread from Ukraine to Russia
This is another falsehood dependent on the idea that the Euromaidan demonstrators were fascist extremists. It is being used as a justification for Russian invasion. The Russian government claims it is defending Russian-speakers in Ukraine and its own borders from Ukrainian fascists but in reality those fascists do not exist.
What is next?
The military intervention is not over. It is hard to say what is going to happen next. There is a lot of talk going on at a very high, political level involving the EU and the US.
But Ukrainians have already had the biggest win in this struggle: themselves.
They proved to themselves that they care:
- They care about all of our people (amazing examples of collaboration happened during the civil unrest!);
- they care about the future of their country;
- they care about their freedom;
- they care enough to recognize the differences among themselves and to stay united anyway.
The revolution was heartbreaking and tearful but as a result, Ukrainians became true patriotic citizens of their country:
Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes!
слава Україні, слава героїв
(slava Ukrayini, slava heroyiv)
For me, personally, it has been a life lesson in how to raise my own children. I have a clear goal to raise multicultural and multilingual children, who respect other languages and cultures and can see our shared humanity no matter how politicians try to divide us.
This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Olena Centeno.
Olena Centeno is a Ukrainian who lives in USA, a happy mom of three wonderful kids ages 2-9 and a wife to the great. She speaks three languages herself and is raising her kids to be multilingual in English, Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish. She founded Bilingual Kids Rock, where she helps families on their bilingual journey. She also enjoys photography and video making as a way to preserve precious moments of life.
You can connect with her at Bilingual Kids Rock.
Photo credit to Oxlaey. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
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by Natalia Rankine-Galloway (Morocco) | Feb 19, 2013 | Motherhood, Religion, Safety, Tunisia, USA, World Motherhood
Natalia and her son in Tunis.
As I sat in the Embassy listening to the rocks and chants hitting the wall outside, I couldn’t help but feel as though my maternal instincts had failed me. Why didn’t I know to leave? Why did I stand on the second floor, flippantly observing the gathering crowds, and assume it would just be your standard protest? Shouldn’t I have had some sixth sense, some feeling in my gut that things were going to go from bad to worse?
I knew that the baby was far from danger, picked up by family friends from his daycare miles from the Embassy. The staff had in fact been quite at a loss to understand why I couldn’t pick him up at 2pm. “Protests you say?”
The events of September 14th at the U.S Embassy in Tunis took many people by surprise. Not least of which the Tunisians who were even more taken aback when the order was given to evacuate all non-essential Embassy personnel and all families. (more…)
Natalia was born a stone's throw from the Queen's racetrack in Ascot, UK and has been trying to get a ticket to the races and a fabulous hat to go with it ever since. She was born to a Peruvian mother and an Irish father who kept her on her toes, moving her to Spain, Ireland and back to the UK before settling her in New York for the length of middle and high school. She is still uncertain of what she did to deserve that.
She fled to Boston for college and then Washington, D.C. to marry her wonderful husband, who she met in her freshman year at college. As a military man, he was able to keep her in the migratory lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Within 5 months of marriage, they were off to Japan where they stayed for a wonderful 2 and one half years before coming home to roost. Baby Xavier was born in New York in 2011 and has not slept since.
A joy and an inspiration, it was Xavier who moved Natalia to entrepreneurship and the launch of CultureBaby. She has loved forging her own path and is excited for the next step for her family and CultureBaby.
Natalia believes in the potential for peace that all children carry within them and the importance of raising them as global citizens. She loves language, history, art and culture as well as Vietnamese Pho, Argentinian Malbec, English winters, Spanish summers and Japanese department stores...and she still hopes one day to catch the number 9 race with Queen Liz.
You can find her personal blog, The Culture Mum Chronicles.