Friday, April 28, 2006

We Can Save Darfur Right From Our Living Rooms

Or, at least we can start there.

I don't deal with politics on my blog, but the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is
beyond politics and I think it's time for more regular folks like myself to make some noise about the first true genocide of the 21st century.

I've been keeping my eye on it through the news and various blogs and web sites and lately, the issue finally seems to be gaining some traction. This Sunday, April 30th, there will be a Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington D.C. (and across the country) to draw increased attention to the tragedy in Darfur. In D.C., the rally will be between 2 pm and 4pm in front of the Capital.

Senator Barack Obama and George Clooney held a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday, along with Sam Brownback, the Republican senator who has been working with Obama on this issue. Clooney mentioned an interesting exchange he had with a little Sudanese girl who came to check on him after he became ill after eating some goat. She asked the Oscar winner when he was going to "come back and stop the violence." He told her, "Soon," and she laughed and said, "That's what you always say." I wonder where that little girl is right now.

There are several resources regarding Darfur on Obama's official Senate website and he has devoted several podcasts and blog posts to it as well. One of the sites listed is for the International Crisis Group, which describes itself as an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization with staff on over five continents. They have a list of practical steps that regular people like us can take including:

1. Contact your elected representative - You can write a letter or email the President, your Congress person or Senator. They didn't suggest it on their site, but I don't think it would hurt to drop Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a line. If you live outside of the United States, here's the international contact list. And here's another link with a ready-made note to President Bush.

2. Write to your newspaper - You can write a letter to the editor urging your support for increased international pressure in Darfur (not to mention more news coverage.) Once again, the ICG is ready with a list of international newspapers, complete with email addresses.

3. Write a blog post about Darfur - You can post something on your own blog of course, and you can comment on other blogs talking about Darfur, especially widely read political ones. Of course, several bloggers have been on this for a while. Here's a particularly trenchant post by a blogger that calls himself Field Negro on Black Americans and our response (or rather the lack thereof) on Sudan.

The key is to increase the pressure and continually gain heat for this issue. If it takes George Clooney and a little Hollywood to help, then so be it. However, it should be noted that even before the senators and Clooney became involved, there were others working on the issue, including Sudanese model Alek Wek, of the Dinka tribe, who fled her country as a teenager. She has been doing her part, for several years now, to draw attention to not only the atrocities that have been taking place, but also to the practical and medical needs of the people. She has also been working with Doctors Without Borders on Sudan related programs. Here is an interesting profile of Alek being interviewed by Iman from Iman's website.

I'm shocked that there is no rally in New York this weekend (although I'll bet anything somebody will be doing something in Union Square.) Dining for Darfur is going on though. Here's a list of participating restaurants.



Anonymous Jorg said...

Thanks for drawing attention to Darfur!!!

I am in Europe and can't attend the Darfur rallies across the U.S. on April 30th. Therefore I am organizing an online rally for Darfur together with many other German Bloggers.

April 28, 2006 at 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i saw a special ann curry did on dateline. it damn near brought me to tears what they're doing to those people. it hurts to see my people being kicked off their land and killed. hasnt africa in general been robbed enough? when will it stop? i hear alek wek. her efforts are real and sincere. not just a celeb attaching their names to a cause for personal publicity.

April 28, 2006 at 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's ann curry's commentary on the subject just in case you havent seen it. (check out mar. 16th, 10th, and 6th)


April 28, 2006 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Cocoa Girl said...

"Dining for Darfur" that's a hot concept for the NYC activist but not really types.

Nicholas Kristoff, columnist for the New York Times, has been dedicating columns to this crisis for some time now...well over a year. It's scary how uninterested our nation has become with what matters...this is truly the land of milk and honey.

Thanks for the attention for the cause...

April 28, 2006 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Jorg: Thanks for the heads up! (a little US slang for "thanks for the info.") I've added the badge to my page and I will definitely be participating.

Dareal: Thanks for the link. I missed Ann Curry's commentary. I am much more interested in seeing her in Darfur than in Namibia with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. And I feel you on Alek Wek. She's been talking about this since the day she became a model more than 10 years ago!

Cocoa: Kristoff has been on this -- and he's been very alone. Scary. I hope Americans wake up to Darfur the way we woke up to South Africa in the 1980s.

April 28, 2006 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats sad is in america you have to make some really dramatic movie in order to garner interest in certain issues. and even then our interest doesnt last that long. reporting on cnn, etc just doesnt do it anymore. such a shame!

and its very likely ppl will tune into ann curry's interview w/ angelina just to hear her answer a few questions about her personal life.


April 28, 2006 at 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Jorg said...

Great that you joined us!
And Rosemary did use the German badge as well:

This is now a truly transatlantic project!

I have linked back to you.

April 28, 2006 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Thanks Jorg!

April 28, 2006 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Sangindiva said...

I love the fact that you are bringing attention to this.
It is a sad situation. I pray for Africa and the state of our people :(

April 29, 2006 at 4:04 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

Thank you for supporting Bloggers for Darfur! I was at the rally in Portland, OR (I was there on other business). Kristoff's mother, Jane, spoke briefly (long-time activist)...she lives out in the country there...introduced some young girls from her area who are mobilizing their schoolmates to help. From a Holocaust survivor who detailed the horrors of his experience to two 10th graders who'd gone to DC to lobby their representatives about Darfur, I was very inspired by the speakers I heard.

May 2, 2006 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Wow, that sounds great Marilyn. Thank you too!

May 2, 2006 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger field negro said...

Thanks for the love and your contribution to the struggle.


May 4, 2006 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Thanks FN - Peace right back atcha!

May 4, 2006 at 6:53 PM  

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