Tag Archives: Voices

OPINION: The Palestinian Uprisings in Jerusalem Hit Close To Home In Seattle

by Alia Taqieddin

(This is one of three essays from local community members that the Emerald will be publishing on this topic.)

Last week, the world watched as 22-year-old Muna El Kurd — in a viral video from her family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem — confronted Yacoub, a Brooklyn-raised Zionist settler who has forcibly taken residence in the El Kurd family’s garage since 2009. 

“If I don’t steal your home, someone else will,” Yacoub said, gesturing matter-of-factly at Muna and her family members. 

As disturbing as this justification is, it reflects the reality that, since 1948, Zionist settlers have been stealing Palestinian’s homes and land. Forced expulsions have been commonplace across Occupied Palestine since the expulsion of 750,000 Indigenous Palestinians from our homes during the 1948 Nakba, which established the settler state of Israel. They continue this project of ethnic cleansing today in Sheikh Jarrah, in the neighboring villages of Silwan and the South Hebron Hills, and across Palestine.

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The Key to a Refugee Community’s Success

by Julie Pham

(This article previously appeared on Người Việt Tây Bắc and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

“Một cây làm chẳng nên non. Ba cây chụm lại thành hòn núi cao.” This Vietnamese proverb means that a single tree doesn’t matter much. Three trees together look like a mountain. 

How does a refugee community like the Vietnamese achieve so much when we came with so little? My father, Kim Phạm, always stressed that the success of our community is rooted in a willingness to support and uplift one another so that we can achieve our dreams. We have been able to do so much more with what little we have because we have each other’s backs. 

Many of these dreams started in Vietnam. Like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese who fought against the communists during the Vietnam War, my father was forced into a communist prison camp to be reeducated in the years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Inside the camp, he dreamed of starting a newspaper in the U.S. The dream was realized in Seattle, where my parents and I managed to find refuge after fleeing Vietnam as boat people. My parents named the newspaper Người Việt Tây Bắc (NVTB), which translates to “Vietnamese people of the Northwest.” 

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OPINION: Kinship Care Can Help Transform The Child Welfare System

by Trey Rabun

(This article originally appeared on Amara’s website and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

I’ve had the privilege of working within child welfare for almost 12 years now. My professional journey started in our state agency (now called the Department of Children, Youth and Families — DCYF) supporting children who were “legally free,” meaning children who the state has decided cannot safely return home and are now seeking to find forever families, typically through adoption or guardianship.

As a social work practicum student, I was able to immerse myself in the work of all aspects of child welfare including doing “ride arounds” with Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators and sitting in on intense family decision meetings. Throughout my career, I have always looked for the best ways to support kids and families in foster care, including looking at how best to support Black families caring for kids and youth in our immediate and extended families.

There will always be one family from that time who has stuck with me even after all these years.

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Ramadan 2021: Reflections On A Year of Sacrifice, Loss, and Hope

by Amina Ibrahim

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of deep reflection, devotion, and worship. It is also a time where friends and family gather to eat, pray, and be together in community. The pandemic changed Ramadan for Muslims around the world in 2020. Many of us did not expect that one year later, Ramadan 2021 would be welcomed in circumstances that look very similar to the previous year. 

Yet despite all the challenges of the past year, there is hope. As more Americans get vaccinated, families are able to open their homes up to loved ones again. Friends have started to host socially distant outdoor iftar, the nightly meal when families break their fast, gatherings. Being fully vaccinated has allowed for indoor gatherings to safely occur. A refreshing escape from last year’s isolated iftars.  

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A Highly Compelling Session: An Evaluation of the 2021 Washington State Legislature

by John Stafford

“The Legislature has just wrapped up an historic and truly extraordinary session. It has been the most innovative, having produced unprecedented and legacy making advances as all-encompassing as any session in the last 25 years.”

— Governor Jay Inslee, April 25, 2021

The Washington State Legislature has just completed its 2021 session — a 105-day event charged with passing three state budgets (operating, transportation and capital) and hundreds of policy bills, conducted exclusively online. From a liberal perspective, this has been an exciting and momentous session, with major legislative achievements in a wide range of areas.

I’ll evaluate the 2021 Legislative Session in 14 different areas: state budgets, tax reform, pandemic response, economic relief, housing and homelessness, K–12 education, health care, racial justice, criminal justice, gun control, labor, climate change, growth management act, and other, and give the session an overall grade. 

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Why the NAACP Youth Council Is Demanding the Dismantling of HCC

by Nhi Tran, Foziya Reshid, Thao-Mi Le

Advanced learning programs first made an appearance in Seattle schools during the 1960s with the adoption of the “Policy for the Education of Able Learners.” The program was created with the intent of providing every student with an education that would “challenge [their] maximum ability and meet [their] individual needs.” However, after introducing school busing in the 1970s, the district used this program as an incentive to keep white parents who opposed racial integration from pulling their children out of Seattle schools. This program provided select white students with an education separate from their Black and Brown peers, perpetuating a segregated school system. 

Throughout Washington state, schools are required to provide “highly capable programs” for students they deem “gifted.” The state defines gifted as “students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments.” The state allocates funds for each school district and, in return, school districts must abide by the state Legislature’s policies regarding basic education, which were redefined in 2011 to include programs for highly capable students. However, as you will see, these programs are built upon a foundation of white supremacy and constructed with the intent to perpetuate the segregation of schools on the basis of race and socioeconomic status. 

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Ask a Therapist: Finding ‘Flow’ Amid the Stressors of a Slow Re-Opening

by Liz Covey, LMHC

Question: I am going crazy trying to figure out what I am allowed to do right now, versus last month. And being recently fully vaccinated makes it all the harder to figure out. Especially with others who may or may not be, such as strangers in the park. How on earth am I supposed to cope with all this stress of not knowing??

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OPINION: Representation Matters

Why an economic recovery agenda shaped by those who have relied on government programs prioritizes investing in people

by Senator Joe Nguyen, 34th Legislative District

The headlines after several of us first-term legislators took office in 2019 proclaimed we were the “most diverse in state history,” and we should all be proud that we broke that record again after last year’s election. What hasn’t made the headlines, however, is the power of the advocacy we’ve witnessed from these legislators in conversations about how we should respond to the dire need felt by people in our communities. 

That powerful advocacy is what’s responsible for the progress we’ve made this session in crafting a budget that reflects our values. Budget policy isn’t academic; the decisions we make about how to spend the state’s resources can be the difference between whether someone eats or starves, or whether they keep a roof over their head or end up homeless during a global pandemic. 

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OPINION: Community Members and Advocates Achieved a Big Victory for Inclusive Cash Support

by Margaret Babayan and Emily Vyhnanek

Last week, in a historic win for Washingtonians, the legislature passed House Bill 1297, an updated version of our state’s long-unfunded Working Families Tax Credit, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This targeted tax credit, which will provide an annual cash rebate to nearly 1 in 6 households with low and moderate incomes, will soon be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. 

An earlier version of the credit initially passed the legislature in 2008 thanks to the efforts of many anti-poverty advocates, but amid state budget cuts during the Great Recession, it was never funded. 

In the past few years however, a statewide coalition of more than 45 organizations formed to rekindle and strengthen advocacy efforts to get direct, flexible cash to Washingtonians and to expand eligibility to include more immigrants. The diverse coalition represents economic and racial justice groups, immigrant rights advocates, small business incubators, labor organizations, direct service providers, domestic violence advocates, research organizations (like the one we work for: the Washington State Budget & Policy Center), and more. 

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Seedcast: Protecting Mother Earth, Standing Up for #MMIWG

by Rachel Heaton

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.

I’m Rachel Heaton. I am a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe in Auburn, Washington. I’m also a descendant of the Duwamish peoples, the original inhabitants of Seattle, and do hold descendancy with European folks, mostly Welsh, German, and Irish. I’m a mother to three children, ages 22, 14, and 2. I work as a cultural educator for the Muckleshoot Tribe, and I’m a co-founder of Mazaska Talks

Inspired by our learnings from Standing Rock, specifically finding out which banks funded the pipeline and learning about the coalition work done by organizers to get the City of Seattle to divest their money from Wells Fargo, co-founder Matt Remle and I formed Mazaska Talks. We use it as a way to educate people on issues related to the harming of Mother Earth and repression of Indigenous rights, then to organize action. For example, because we see the harm brought by the fossil fuel industry, we organize divestment campaigns.

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