2017 Essay Winners
First Place – Corlun Ceraban
Unfair treatment of people in America
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American civil-rights activist. He played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States during the mid 1950s and 60s He made speeches and lead peaceful protests against the unfair treatment of black men, women, and children. He also headed the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. He was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspirational African-American leaders in his time. (Brainy Quotes,2001-2016) Yet today, 67 years from when MLK started his civil-rights movement, still all around the world including the United States, “The Home of The Free,” there are many unjust laws and discrimination against groups of people and their beliefs.
The Standing Rock Sioux are a group of Native Americans living on a reservation in North Dakota since 1868. In 2014, a project was proposed by the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to build a 1200 mile long crude oil pipeline to transport as many as 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline would run under the Missouri River, very close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation of 10,000 people. Since early 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux have opposed and protested against the pipeline because they say that a leak could poison their main drinking water source. The pipeline builders say that this pipeline is designed not to leak. However, experts say that any pipeline can leak and have reported more than 3,300 leaks since 2010. Additionally, the sioux say that the project will go through sacred burial ground and they are suing the federal government because they did not adequately engage the Standing Rock Sioux, which is required by federal law. (Time, 2016)
Protests started in early 2016 with only a few hundred but now have grown into thousands; many who stayed through the 0 degree fahrenheit winter. On September 3, several protesters were attacked by dogs and received serious bites and were later sprayed with mace by the police. In October, the protesters blocked the construction route and soon the national guard and riot police arrived. Later that month the police launched a water cannon attack against the protestors in 28 degree weather, as well as tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades. This injured 167 and more than 268 people were arrested. Now the pipeline progress has been delayed and the Sioux leader is telling protestors to go home. However, the battle is not over. President Donald J. Trump has ordered the pipeline construction to move forward, and the future of the project and the Standing Rock Sioux is uncertain.(Sammon,2016)
Imagine what Martin Luther King Jr. would have thought if he saw how we are treating the Standing Rock Sioux unfortunately similar to the way people treated him and his peaceful protesting groups. But instead of just thinking about this problem do something about it! You can write about it online or even organize groups to tell people about what is happening and show your support for The Standing Rock Sioux and Martin Luther King Jr.
Second Place – Emma Barrieau
Religious Discrimination in the United States
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”-Martin Luther King Jr. In our country, there is a divide between people with different or contrasting views. Instead of being loving toward others with different views, we despise and hate them. To many people, their religion is the ultimate truth. People with views that differ often have conflict, which can lead to discrimination.
Religious discrimination is one of the largest problems in our nation. Some people view certain religions as hateful, close-minded, or cruel. They treat each other unfairly because they have different opinions. Immigrants from other countries bring with them different cultures and practices. As Americans living in the land of the free, we should welcome others into our country. According to the Huffington Post, there have been roughly 100 hate crimes against Muslim Americans between the Paris Terror Attacks in 2015 and September of 2016. Hate crimes are a dangerous, scary, and daunting problem in our country.
Words are a way for us to express our thoughts and struggles easily. Some people can get carried away and say rude, hurtful comments against people with opposing religions. On the internet or social media, people feel as though they can say whatever they feel with a mask of protection. Egged on by others with similar views, they continue the behavior. Hateful words can lead to hateful actions. While it may sound harmless and in popular belief, it doesn’t always mean it is the right thing to do. In preschool and kindergarten, kids are taught how to generally act toward others. As adults, it seems some have forgotten.
Bullying in schools is a continuing problem in our nation. Discrimination in the workplace is similar but in a less obvious way. It would be pretty hard to imagine grown adults giving the less popular people wedgies or embarrassing them in front of everyone. Discrimination in the workplace can range from requiring certain clothing to being fired. In some religions, people are required to dress modestly or wear specific articles of clothing. If they are required to wear different articles for their jobs, it can become extremely hard to honor their beliefs and their work. Work times can also be a problem. There may be times people are unavailable for work due to religious meetings or practices. They can additionally be fired for their beliefs.
In our country today, it seems people have forgotten what equality really means. It doesn’t mean one religion is worse than another, or one religion should be put above others. Equality is togetherness. We should all make an effort to be loving and accepting toward all religions, not just some. With love toward each other instead of hate, equality can be not just an idea, but a reality.
Blumberg, A. (2016, December 9). Religious Discrimination – huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=2D7FE5A48771478F962E7395495AE455&CID=08387C08869969C7092C762B87A8684F&rd=1&h=nvVUOUm6yqh3JBOEjYdWpjc9nO6zGDP8emuyWXUv_hA&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2fnews%2freligious-discrimination%2f&p=DevEx,5105.1
Third Place – Abby LePape
Martin Luther King Jr. and LGBT+ Rights
A lot of LGBT youth are bullied, abused, assaulted, or kicked out of the house for expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT teens are 8.4 times more likely to commit suicide because of rejection and discrimination. Some people are against LGBT because of the AIDs crisis, religion, riots, and how they were taught by their parents. I personally think it is wrong to discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity, and the people who do are very close minded and not willing to learn anything because they have a set view on how the world should look. LGBT people are still executed and arrested in some countries for showing their identity and sexuality. In American history states use to make sexual orientation illegal and execute homosexuals. Eventually, America stopped executing gays, but homosexuality was still illegal and you could get arrested for it. Some very famous riots and speeches happened around this time.
Some of the most famous riots were the Stonewall Riots. These riots were a giant kickoff to LGBT support groups and are a very important moment in LGBT history. Many police arrived at the scene because homosexuality was illegal to show in public. The riot reached over 1’000 people. We are lucky that LGBT marriage has been legalized, but that doesn’t prevent the abuse that comes towards LGBT people everyday. At least 21 transgender people were murdered in 2016, and transgender suicide cases are reaching alarming rates. A recent march was the women’s march, which is mainly for women’s rights, but also supports trans women, lesbians, and colored women. I don’t think the LGBT movement would’ve made it this far without Martin Luther King Jr.’s human rights speech and movement.
One popular quote from Martin Luther King Jr, that helps this movement is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that”. Martin Luther King Jr. helped many human rights groups with his speech that impacted the country. It impacted women’s rights, POC rights, LGBT rights, immigration rights, and rights against abuse. Time is slowly making things better, sometimes we go back, sometimes we go forward, but the public is slowly getting more accepting and demanding of rights. I hope that in the future everyone gets the rights they deserve. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen or if I’ll ever live to see it happen, but everyone deserves happiness and no oppression.
“About LGBT Human Rights.” Amnesty International USA. Amnesty International USA, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/lgbt-rights/about-lgbt-human-rights>.
“LGBT Rights.” Human Rights Watch. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <https://www.hrw.org/topic/lgbt-rights>.
“PFLAG NYC – Statistics You Should Know About Gay & Transgender Students.” PFLAG NYC – Statistics You Should Know About Gay & Transgender Students. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.pflagnyc.org/safeschools/statistics>.
The Leadership Conference. “Stonewall Riots: The Beginning of the LGBT Movement.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Leadership Conference, 22 June 2009. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/06/449-stonewall.html?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F%3Freferrer>.
“Martin Luther King Jr.” Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html>.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes (Author of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.).” Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes (Author of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/23924.Martin_Luther_King_Jr_>.
Campaign, Human Rights. “Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2016.” Human Rights Campaign. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. <http://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2016>.