Stand Up For Human Rights

Thursday, December 7, 2017

For the last 69 years, the U.N. and global community have recognized Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day, the date the Universal Declaration of Rights was formally ratified. The Declaration, which is transcribed in more than 500 languages and dialects, is one of the most accessible documents in the world. It seeks to promote and profess, “the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” The theme for 2017, “StandUp4HumanRights,” will serve as the lead-in towards a yearlong campaign which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Declaration. Contrarily, there are many human rights issues before us today.

One major issue is human trafficking. Groups such as the International Labour Organization and End Slavery Now define trafficking as forced, child and bonded labour; sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. The most recent Global Estimates of Modern Slavery Report (2017) estimates that as many as 40 million persons are subjected to trafficking each day. In addition, The Global Estimates of Child Labour: Results and Trends, 2012-2016 report (2017) suggests that 150 million children worldwide have fallen victim to various types of exploitation and forced labour. A revival of the infamous Sub-Saharan slave trade in Libya has developed that is witnessing tens of thousands of young migrants being forcibly detained and sold on auction blocks for $400.  Notwithstanding, the work of universal emancipation continues. 

Many organizations such as the BOJ, Sentencing Project, Brennan Center, and ACLU have compiled data on mass incarceration and criminal justice. There are currently over 2.2 million persons incarcerated in U.S. prisons; 95 percent are non-violent offenders. Nearly 70 percent of inmates  are persons of color, and women represent the fastest growing demographic of the prison population, and as a result, more than 2,000 infants will be born behind prison walls this year. The ACLU in the report In for a Penny :The Rise of America’s New Debtors’ Prisons (2010) has detailed the alarming economic cost that has adversely effected U.S. citizens because of excessive fines, penalties, restitution, and other levies that slant towards revenue generation.  Retributive justice polices, the War on Drugs and the rise of the prison industrial complex has created a $70 billion a year industry that has saddled millions with criminal records, has been racially disproportionate, has failed to address needed societal interventions like Ban the Box, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and  has cost municipalities hundreds of billions of dollars.  

On this year, Americans from all sectors of life have lent their voices in order to advance other human rights causes. Women have stood for equal treatment; Moms have demanded action in order to curtail gun violence, from the schoolhouse to the church-house; environmental advocates have stood for protecting the environment and addressing climate change; DACA students have stood for education and immigrant rights; Repairers of the Breach have called for a revival of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign; and at a time where events in Chancellorsville, VA. and Murfreesboro, TN. have arisen, the Southern Poverty Law Center continues to document the rise in hate crimes and acts of violence.  

There are many reasons why we should StandUp4HumanRights today. We must address these pressing societal calamities, and work towards the great charge of American society, forming a more perfect world and union that is indivisible, and planting atop solid ground what Dr.  King called, “the Beloved Community."

Eric A.Atkins



Mental Health Patients Are Crying Out For Help

First and foremost, my heart and prayers go out to all the victims and family in the horrific and brutal Florida school shooting. Hearts and minds of all U.S. citizens will always have a special place for these innocent people who were ruthlessly gunned down. The first conclusion that people want to jump to is gun control and point fingers at our government and law makers who ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It wasn’t lost on me that during Valentine Week, when we most remember those we love, this first story was included in my weekly email. As has become my habit, every Saturday I try to come up with a new edition of The Saturday Funnies because I get some delightful ones that are shared by my friends during the week. We must never waste a giggle. So in keeping with my ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In Accident Involving 18-Wheeler On Ochs Highway

One person was killed Saturday morning on Ochs Highway. Another person in the same vehicle was taken to the hospital. An 18-wheeler was coming down the mountain, and hit three cars traveling up the mountain. Ochs Highway was closed in both directions, and HAZMAT crews were at the scene. The wreck happened at mid-morning. (click for more)

Hixson Home Destroyed By Fire Early Saturday Morning

A home was destroyed by fire early Saturday morning in Hixson. Around  2:30 a.m. , the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded to a possible house fire at  904 Wesley Drive  in Hixson. When the first unit arrived on the scene, they reported the second floor of the home was completely engulfed with fire. Firefighters conducted a defensive ... (click for more)

Cleveland Wins AAA State Mat Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Chattanooga-area wrestling teams didn’t dominate the TSSAA traditional state tournament this weekend like they have in the past, but they were better than average and still had a lot to celebrate. All three teams that won titles in the State Duals here at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park came back to win again this time, including Cleveland ... (click for more)

District 5-3A: Blue Raiders, Mustangs Advance To Boys' Final

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – For the most part, seedings for postseason high school basketball tournaments hold up well. There are upsets, at times. Some mild. Some more stunning. On “Semifinal Saturday” in District 5-3A at Walker Valley High School, three favorites won, including both higher seeded girls’ teams. Second-ranked Bradley Central, unbeaten at 27-0 and the No. ... (click for more)