Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday's Thoughts: Genocide

Welcome to my new Thursday's Thoughts! I will use Thursdays to blog about my opinion on a popular media event, inform you about a social justice-y topic, blog a much needed rant, or just ramble about a topic I am interested in. I am not a political analyst, super smart consumer, blah blah. However, I am one passionate son of a gun - that has to count for something, right? If I need to be schooled on a topic, please do so - in a respectful manner.


You may or may not know this about me, but I was a serious anti-genocide advocate in my undergrad. I was the president of the USF chapter of STAND, which is an amazing student-led anti-genocide org under the Genocide Prevention Network. What led me to this work? Well, I have to hand that award to Don Cheadle and his fabulous performance as Paul Rusesabagina (who I've met!) in Hotel Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda tells the story of one man's courage to save as many people as he could when genocide broke out in his country in 1994. (If you don't believe that one person can make a difference, you must watch this movie!) I walked out of the theater crying so hard that I could barely see. I was severely overcome with emotion, and that set me on the path to use my passion for good. Rwanda still holds a dear place in my heart, and I hope that one day, Todd and I can adopt a child from this country.

During my time with STAND, I was able to work with local refugees, educate our student body on the cause, and I learned a HELL of a lot about advocacy. Change will never occur unless there is NOISE surrounding the topic/event. WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP!

What is Genocide, and better yet, what is the Anti-Genocide movement?

I want to use this blog post to EDUCATE, because that is the first step. I figured the best way I can do this is share a paper I wrote for my Macro-level social work class. We had to choose a social movement and give the spiel. I was proud of this paper.

Other Resources


A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Powers: Samantha Powers is a personal hero for me and is one hell of a font of knowledge on genocide. This book educates us on all of the world's genocides from one of the world's best advocates for ending genocide.

Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle and John Predenrgast: This book is quite powerful, as it discusses genocide from the view of 2 different people, and actor who has become invested in the cause (Don Cheadle) and a powerhouse in the anti-genocide arena (John Predergast). It also gives great ideas for advocacy!


Hotel Rwanda

The Devil Came on Horseback

Sometimes in April

Dafur Now

Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda


Areas of Concern

Afterthought: Most people in the U.S. probably pass over these news stories and say "this doesn't effect me, why should I care?" I have a real problem with this. No, you don't have to dedicate your life to saving these people, or even dedicate time to an anti-genocide cause, but to not care that thousands upon thousands of innocent people are dying because of a tyrannical government is unacceptable. We've completely lost touch with the outside world and it breaks my heart to see so many young people with no direction, no passion, no life in them other than clothes, sex and video games. But then you have all the other young people who do care, and who have used their passion to seek change, like the youth I worked with. It's always a double-edged sword and we can't win them all. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cause of the Month: Break the Cycle

So the lovely SocialWrkr24/7 gave me this awesome idea. I am blatantly stealing it from her, but something tells me she won't mind. We are both social workers and therefore want to rid the world of injustice. Ok, maybe I sound a bit idealistic, but my ideals are what keep me going. SocialWrkr24/7 started a monthly meme featuring a Cause a Month, where she speaks about a cause that represents her work in the field (child welfare) or something she is passionate about, so be sure to check out her blog! I've learned a lot from her.

While I'm still a student, I do know that children, adolescents and women are my focus (big focus, right!) and I have lots of different interests, job-wise. I experienced the field during my first field placement in private adoptions, and look forward to my next field placement in domestic violence. Because of that, and my interest in working with adolescents, my first Cause of the Month is Break The Cycle. I've even put a little blog button on the top right of my blog to house the Cause of the Month. >:)

Break the Cycle is the leading, national non-profit agency that focus on dating violence among teenagers. As sad as it is to admit, violence in adolescent relationships is raising at a rapid rate. And it is a silent epidemic. According to Break the Cycle, "One in three teens will experience abuse in a dating relationship and more than two-thirds of them will never report it to anyone."

Break the Cycle works toward this endeavor in a myriad of ways. They realize that education is the key to empowerment, and empowering adolescents to stand up for their rights and well-being is the best way to end dating violence. They work with schools to provide teens with the tools and knowledge necessary to develop essential life skills and transition successfully into adulthood. Let's face it: not all children receive this knowledge at home.

Break the Cycle has developed specific curriculum to be used in school settings. They also provide in-person education through the Girl Scouts and the Boys & Girls Clubs.They're also dedicated to empowering youth to become advocates for the cause, which I just love! They've created Speak. Act. Change., a special advocacy project aimed at adolescents and includes service learning activities, such as legislative advocacy and community involvement.

Not all teenagers have access to these programs and/or specialists, so Break the Cycle has created an online network called The Safe Space. This website is a comprehensive resource center on dating violence. There is an "Ask Anything" page, which allows teens to ask questions anonymously. If you know anything about relationship violence, we definitely understand the important of anonymity.

As if that wasn't enough (and sadly, it will never be enough), Break the Cycle provides training and support for adults who want to work in a variety of professional fields that work with adolescents (social workers, school professionals, lawyers, health care professionals, etc). All in all, this is a fantastic national agency that really has a grasp on the problem of teen dating violence and is working very efficiently to stop it.

How can you help?

There are always ways to help, and this agency actually offers some really awesome opportunities for all types of lifestyles and time requirements.

  • Take Action: Join HOPE, Break the Cycle's national membership program comprised of people all over the country united to take action against teen dating violence.

  • Intern with Break the Cycle: Become an intern and gain valuable, hands-on experience. Opportunities engage a range of skills and are available in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

  • Help Teens in Crisis: Become an Ask Anything Volunteer and respond to help emails from teens in need.

  • Join our Young Professionals Committee: Take on a leadership role as a part of this auxiliary group that raises friends and funds for Break the Cycle.

  • Spread the Word: Become a trained speaker on dating violence and table at community fairs.

  • Lend Us Your Expertise: Join a committee, improve our services and learn new skills.

  • Host a Party: Find out how you can have Valentine’s Anytime and raise awareness about teen dating violence.

  • Youth in Action: Visit if you are a teen who wants to take action
I hope you've enjoyed my first Cause of the Month!