Be the Evidence Project

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welcome to the Human Rights and Social Justice Blog Spot!

This space is to discuss and share about what is happening in the world of human rights and social justice.  Feel free to post about what is going on in the local and global world and the many ways in which people show evidence, including yourself, in advancing human rights and social justice.


  1. A16.
    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection
    by society and the State.

    Nowhere within this article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights do I see a specification that men and women together are the only combination of sexes that have the humane right to marry and have a family. With Prop. 8 being struck down today in California (, and with same-sex marriage at the forefront of our country’s social agenda, I’d like to take this opportunity to voice my own opinions on the matter…

    This social issue is one of particular importance to me as I have many homosexual family members and friends, and am close with the child of a homosexual couple. I’ve had conversations with my sister-in-law in which she has divulged that she’s terrified that she won’t be able to marry in her state of South Carolina. A friend who has been with her partner of 15 years and desperately wanted to wait for New York to pass same sex marriage, had to finally drive to Connecticut to marry because they had a baby on the way and they wanted they baby born into a married home. My close friend, a lawyer in Manhattan, often talks about his upbringing in a home with two Dads and how he feels that the way he was raised is the sole reason that he is the remarkable young man that he is today.

    Two people in love deserve to legally have that love be recognized. The fourteenth amendment of our Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause, states, “no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It is a basic human right that we all be treated with respect and fairness, so why do we, as a global entity, struggle so much in this area? We, as individuals, want to be treated with this respect and fairness, so why do we discriminate against others and oppress them into submission? “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” is our golden rule taught to us in grade school, yet as a society, we have such a difficult time abiding by this grade school theory.

    About a year ago my friend who is the lawyer sent me a youtube clip of a young man named, Zach Whals. Zach is a Iowan college student who was raised by two women and he spoke during a public discussion on House Joint Resolution 6, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman in Iowa. Zach is a well spoken, moving young man and his message is eloquent and powerful. I cry every time I re-watch this video as I think of the impact this social issue has on so many people I would consider family. Please watch this video and I hope it sparks a fire in you that it did in me.

    Alana Burke


  2. I have heard many claims especially since the election of Barack Obama regarding the United States as achieving a “post racist society.” Since half a century since Jim Crowe as well, it is easy especially as a New Yorker to assume that could be accurate. Long gone are the violent civil rights riots and racial abuses of systemic power. Though the most famous examples of these may have occurred decades ago, we are unfortunately nowhere close. While reading about the current abuses of police power in south Africa, it became incredibly obvious to me that side by side these two countries are experiencing horrifyingly similar incidents, further showing that despite the years between 2015 and Jim Crowe South, we are in many cases just as close as South Africa and apartheid when comparing the situations. Here we are claiming to be so many years far displaced from Jim Crowe, when situationally-speaking we might as well be as close as the 25 years between South Africa and apartheid. Police abuses of power are closely related to Article 1, 2, and 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1. Innate freedom and equality: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood; 2. Ban on discrimination: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional, or intentional status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty; 6. The right to recognition as a person before the law.
    Other current examples of abuses of police and political power in South Africa can be found here:

    Additionally, while the United States is frequently addressing the rise of the diagnoses of developmental disabilities in children and how to handle them. South Africa is still dealing with the exclusion of these children from the rights to education in a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article number 26: Right to Education. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

  3. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 26, “1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care… 2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance…”

    Human Rights are given to us at birth because we are human. There is no one who can take away our rights. However, every day there are violations against humanity at the local and global level that threaten individual rights to these God given rights and social justices. Although issues like starvation in children, persons in prison for speaking his/her mind, illiteracy, and slavery still happens around the world, I’m choosing to look at the small place that is my New York City home and the issue of homelessness. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, “In July 2017, there were 60,856 homeless people including 15,173 homeless families and 22,789 homeless children sleeping in the NYC municipal shelter system”. Studies go further to show that the homeless man or the homeless mother and child we pass everyday on NYC streets are people living with mental illness or other severe health issues. Although it further states that only a small percentage of homeless suffer mental illness. With this noted, many of those living in the streets suffer mood disorders where they find it difficult to live in the close quarters of homeless shelters. On the other hand, about 40% of the people living in shelters are children. Unfortunately, the long list of myths of homelessness fills the minds of many New Yorkers as they walk past the human on the platform asking for money, or the woman carrying the sign begging for change to feed her child. Although many people benefit from the shelter system in NYC, sadly many mentally ill patients do not find shelter and the health care they need. According to Article 26 in the UDHR, “food and shelter for all” with protection and need of force of law, does help many NYC families and individuals in need of shelter. However, it saddens me that many with medical needs cannot find their basic needs met in the shelters of NYC.