Photograph: Kavli Foundation
By Joyce Early
To be successful as a journalist in the United States, one must first understand the historical context of American journalism and how it has evolved over the years. One must realize that the media industry did not have the practices and privileges that it has today without individuals demanding a guarantee of their basic rights.
Printing began in England in the 1700s, but there was no press freedom. Printers needed license to publish anything they wanted. Publishers dared not question the Royal family or government officials or write and publish anything deemed negative about the Family or government officials in England. If anyone did so, he/she was likely to be jailed.
In America, everything changed in the late 1700s when the notion that newspapers were free to publish took affirmative legal forms, with Virginia taking the lead. Virginia Commonwealth wrote its constitution in 1776, proclaiming that the "Freedom of the press" is one of the great bulwarks of liberty and must never be restrained.
After Virginia’s lead, followed other states in 1779. Later, the new federal government adopted the first ten Amendments to the nation's constitution. These historic Amendment were named "The Bill of Rights", a term coined by John Adams.
But what is the first Amendment about?
The First Amendments to the U.S constitution is what guarantees the freedom of the press in the United States. It stipulates that: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievance".
The first Amendment consists of three separate clauses that guarantee not only press freedom, but freedom of religion, as well as the right of the people to assemble and petition their government. But as journalists, it is the clause about the press that is the most important: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press".
So, what is press freedom?
Press freedom means the news media (print and digital) must not be subject to censorship by the government. In other words, the government does not have the right to control or block certain things from being published by the press. Another term used in this context, which we talked about in my media law class is prior restraint.
Prior restraint means an attempt by the government to prevent the expression of ideas before they are published. Under the First Amendment, prior restraint is clearly unconstitutional, but unfortunately, other countries do not have this protection that guarantees the independence of the Press.
In the United States, we are privileged to have what is one of the freest Press in the world. In most parts of the world, journalists aren't that lucky. There are entire regions in which press freedom is severely curtailed or sometimes non-existent.
Recently I did a short independent study on journalism and freedom of the Press in Iran. I found out that the press freedom in Iran is limited. Although the country has an official clause in its constitution that is similar to the United States First Amendment, the Press is still subject to censorship. A special court has the authority to monitor the press, instead of the press having to monitor the activities of the government. The media is exclusively operated by the state. Journalists are not to question government decision or serve as watchdogs. The government engages in censoring anything divergent to the country's regulation. In fact, Iran had 48 journalists in prison, making it the third largest prison for media in the world.
For the most part, journalism is what every person, individual and society needs to exist. I have included another evidence from my JOR 115 course, in which I discussed the role of a journalist and what it means when people say that journalism is the lifeblood of democracy. I stated in that evidence that without journalists being there to monitor power, uncover injustices, sustaining communities, and telling compelling stories, the world would contain nothing, have none of the usual or appropriate content. The information journalists provide helps citizens become of what is happening.
Through reporting, monitoring, revealing and telling stories, journalism serves as a nervous system of the people and society. And America must continue to maintain the freedom of the Press.
Failure Must Not Be Stigmatized
By Komlan Aloysh
In this meritocratic society of ours, it is difficult to convince people that failure must not be stigmatized. The word failure has never had a good connotation or chance to better be understood. Of course, nobody likes failure; in fact, nobody should, but we need to try to understand how to overcome it, and that would require understanding what is it and de-stigmatize it for the good of society and creativity.
The understanding of failure varies by societies and even regions. In some societies, failure brings unforgettable shame to the family or community; thus, community members, even kids, dare not fail in anything they pursue. They must be perfect in order to avoid “bringing shame” onto their family or community. In this case, however, failure becomes the end of the road for them, and that hinders their sense of innovation or even creativity that requires constant trial and error. That also affects their sense of adaptation to difficult and changing situation.
In other societies, failure is embraced and considered as a way to learn, create, and experience in developing whatever one focuses on or pursues. In other words, it inspires creativity and innovation, and it encourages self-evaluation, adaptation, and constant growth and transformation. In those societies, entrepreneurship and innovation blossom, because society members are allowed to fail and learn their failures.
If we stigmatize failure and understand it as a roadblock, we stifle innovation and creativity in our society. If people cannot, in a slightest way, be allowed to fail and learn from it, we kill dreams that could solve many of our societal problems.
Why is Silicon Valley considered the hub of American entrepreneurship? It is not because of the size of companies created there, nor because it is different in any way from other places. How did technology giants like Steve Jobs and Evan Speigel become so successful despite their many failures? The reason is that failure is not stigmatize and they were willing to start over; failure is considered as an experience to do better. Most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs see failure as an experience to learn great lessons, not a roadblock. You fail the first time or even many times to do better. Failure is part of the process of creativity and innovation.
Why am I so focused on failure? I have come to understand that failure is considered as the end of the road, and unfortunately, many great ideas that could have transformed societies have died on this road. I want to change that. I want to peel off the stigma that perceives failure as a roadblock not as a lesson that must be learnt. I want to let people see failure as an experience, which one can learn from and develop to become even better. Let it be an inspiration, not a roadblock!
QuincyB and Traffic Safety in Liberia
By Komlan Aloysh
Liberia sits in grief as it mourns one of its rising stars, #QuincyB, whose untimely death in a car accident on March 3, 2017 in Monrovia took the country by surprise. Social media exploded with shock and grief in remembrance of this young and talented artist. His smiling face splashes across social media with #RIPQuincyB. Liberians on Facebook and Instagrams are expressing deep shock about the story circulating on their newsfeeds. And some are sharing stories of their affinity for his work in Liberian music, while others have resulted to using his photos as their profile pictures as remembrance of him and his music that touched them. QuincyB is being remembered across Liberia and the diaspora as humble and talented, one who dedicated his talent to moving the nation beyond its wretched past. Indeed he accomplished that. Liberians across the world have turned inward to their music – the Liberian music filled with Liberian English. However, the cause of his death [in a tragic car accident] raises important questions about the state of traffic safety and regulations in Liberia.
When I read about this young man's death as a car accident, I was quickly reminded of my short experience with motor vehicle safety in Liberia. Certainly, mine was not anything near fatal as QuincyB's sadly was, but it struck me deeply how driving in the country was and still is dangerous - especially at night and during rush hours.
I had just landed in the country from Accra, Ghana, and my [ex]-girlfriend lifted me from the airport on a cloudy mid-evening. My travel from Accra was longer than anticipated, for it came with a few delays due to technical issues. We spent much of the evening trying to find a place to dine. She was driving, and I was deeply concerned and nervous about the way she was driving; it appeared too reckless to me. And those who drove pass us were not better either. It seemed like a complete chaos.
It was just a few minutes after 21:00 hours, and we were headed home after dinner. I couldn’t recognize where we were because I was not quite familiar with the city, having arrived just few hours before. But I was quite certain that it must have been one of the major streets in the city. I didn't think it was Broad Street.
She had just turned right on a green at the traffic light when a car ran the red light and struck the driver side of our vehicle and nearly took off the view mirror. She quickly pulled over, so did the other car. The damage was not severe. She tried to rush out of the car, but I held her back trying to calm her down, for I was aware of road rages and their deadly outcomes. I wanted her to be calm before we got out of the car, but surprisingly, the gentleman had gotten out of his car, completely intoxicated with gibberish speech as he tried walking towards us. He could barely stand nor move away from his car that protected his wobbly standing. His aggressiveness and shouting enraged my [ex]-girlfriend, and they both began to scream at each other uncontrollably. No one could make up anything he was saying; he was too drunk, and sadly he was driving with three others in the car - all of whom I suspected were drunk and sound asleep. I tried calming my [ex]-girlfriend, and at least try to make the conversation more civil -- get to make sure that the gentleman understood what he had done. I guess I was wrong. One can never talk sense into a drunken man. The shouting was too strong enough. All I did was stand in a position that was better enough for me to protect her if he attempted to reach her. But he was too drunk to understand what he was saying.
Realizing that the conversation was going nowhere, I asked my [ex]-girl to put an end to the meaningless altercation. It certainly was a road rage but the gentleman couldn't make up a complete sentence. In the car, she said something that deeply struck me. She said, "The reason he got out of his car was to make sharp mouth, knowing that he was wrong. I know you're too diplomatic and want to fix things and have civil conversations, but in Liberia, sharp mouth wins even if it is wrong and not saying anything logical."
The details of QuincyB's death are yet to emerge, but with the information that we have now which seems to be a tragic car accident, I am very concerned about the traffic safety in the country. The lack of traffic regulations related to drunk driving and other issues should be of major concerns to everyone and must be addressed.
QuincyB will always be remembered in our hearts. He will be remembered for leading a fledgling nation into a new era -- drawing a bright spotlight on its untapped talents and creativity.
We all mourn QuincyB with heavy hearts, and we should, but the question that lingers is how do you prevent losing another QuincyB? If Liberia truly wants to mourn and honour QuincyB and others, it has an easy decision to make, which I believe QuincyB too would appreciate as a memorial, and that must be taking traffic safety and regulations very seriously. That will prevent untimely and fatal accidents that claim young and creativity lives in Liberia. Let’s love and thank QuincyB for his talent and melodious voice that put hearts and minds quietly at peace, but we must also act as an honor to prevent his untimely tragedy from visiting anyone else in Liberia. To honor QuincyB, we must save ourselves.
This one is from our friends from http://sorry4theblog.com/a-conditioned-mind/
A woman’s conditioned mind is hard to escape. Being a woman, I’ve learned that the idea of “love” was deeply engraved in my subconscious as a young girl and as a woman today it is still part of me. Although, I continue to beam my light of consciousness and awareness on it, it continues to run and live within me. For most women, the idea of wearing a white dress and walking down the aisle as the prince charming awaits with a smile on his face is somewhat a dream instilled in us from a very young age.
Marriage is a word women begin to learn about from as young as 8 years old. We are programmed to feel the need to be loved, the need to feel we are special and the need to be wanted by a man and ultimately, to become the end all be all of his kingdom.
Being on this self-discovery journey is exactly that….a journey. As a search to feel whole, I sometimes struggle with my feelings. I’ve realized although, I am confident and know my worth, I am still a woman with a conditioned mind. A conditioned mind that I continue to unfold and untangle in hopes of finding my true self. I am aware that the word “woman” and “love” have an undeniable common denominator that we as woman need to further understand. No matter where we come from, what country, economic background or education level, somehow our attachment to the idea of love is very similar.
As I grow and continue to find myself, I want to be able to decipher when the need for love is just a human instinct and me in my natural nurturing self versus when it feels like a void that is unhealthy and can only be satisfied by a man’s love. I want to be as sure and clear about my idea of “love” as I am about every other area of my life.
I profoundly believe in love and true pure love. A connection that is genuine, kind, gentle but also has its hardships that ultimately lead to beautiful growth and bond between two beings. I have learned that for two souls to align in a way that it sustains all of life’s obstacles, both souls need to be clear. Clear on what a companionship is outside of what we see on TV, Novelas, Disney movies and reality television. I am lover, and the percentage of divorces in the US was a disheartening fact until I began to understand that we as the human race aren’t doing enough inner work. If you aren’t aware of who you truly are, how can I really know who I am marrying? How is that a sustainable relationship when I don’t own or understand my flaws? How can I know the being I am in love with isn’t a false projection of who you are? Am I in love with you or just a mirror of what society has taught you to be?
Becoming clear on love has been my focus for a couple months now. I am learning to be clear in a way that I am wholeheartedly who I was intended to be by my creator. I am learning to align my personality with my divine powerful self (soul).
& I suggest you do the same. Both males and females. But most importantly, my queens, who are lovers. Please start understanding what love means to you vs. what society has told you it is and has to be. Love passionately but first understand what love is. Not that fairy tale love, or the love that hurts you. If you want love, learn more about yourself, your worth and your being. Love starts with you.
This was the first stage of my love journey and boy have I learned a lot. Social constructs were created by humans but we’re more than just humans, we are soul. Listen to your core and ask it the right questions. Continue to grow into yourself and most importantly learn to LOVE that person un-conditionally.
Peace & Love
Listed below are some questions that I have answered that has shed light on a lot.
What is love? Your definition; spend time on this one.
What does love mean to you?
Where and from whom have you received the purest truest feeling of what you believe love to be?
Is that what you have received in your previous or current companionship?
Why or why not? Have you demanded it, or have you only continuously given unlimited amount of it expecting it back?
What does the man that deserves you, look, smell, talk, dress and feel like? Settling is bullshit, don’t do it
Do you deserve that amazing man you described above? Keep growing and make sure of it
By Randell Z. Dauda
Let me introduce you to another side of a society trying to rebuild itself after years of civil wars. An era where degrees means absolutely nothing when you have a look to accompany it You walk into an office with all the right credentials and you're asked "who's taking care of you" Sitting there, you start to think ‘Am I sick? Why do I need care?’
This is the normal way of asking who is your significant other, love interest or sponsor. In Liberia, a sponsor is usually someone giving you financial contributions that is significantly older than you and therefore does not meet the requirement for a boyfriend. I guess one can call the man-friend. These are the equivalent of sugar daddies in the West. To be sitting in front of a government official hoping you can land a position in Civil Service only to be asked about your personal life can be such a drawback. There were no talks about my experiences or job expectations. He did not inquire about areas of study or specializations. He did not even flip the pages of the resume. Instead, he commented on your "beautiful long legs" and his intention to take you to lunch. How could you continue this conversation with a degree of respect for his office without allowing him to harass you? The African culture reminds you to always be respectful to your elder, but right there in that room, was he even considered anything less than a poor excuse for a man? He continued to diverge the conversation with a focus on your personal wellbeing.
Your credential sits idly in the folder you purchased from the book store of your Alma matter in hopes of impressing your potential boss. Your mind runs through the pages of your resume with vast study abroad experiences, some volunteer work, a start-up social enterprise and a master’s degree that could serve as great conversation starters. Instead your look is the center of discussion. In what world does looks overshadow the fact that I'm a female with a master’s degree in a country where approximately 73%* of all women and girls are illiterate? So you sit and wait for the nightmare interview to be over. You keep starring at his face for a sign that this is all one big joke. Sadly, this is not a joke and you are reminded when he reaches over the desk in hopes of touching your hands. He makes shameless proposal to take you to lunch accompany with a crooked smile.
In a state of disgust, you pull your hands away and stand up to leave. In a regular interview this would have been considered rude, but this is no regular interview. Your concerns are not whether you are rude or a good candidate for the job. You leave because there has to be another way. You want to join the work force in Liberia desperately, but you will not compromise your values or join a culture where women can only become something because a man lets you. Today, you took the walk out of that office because you want to walk into a place where your merits elevate you and not your body. Today, you lost the opportunity to work towards change in Liberia, but you stumble across a motivation to strive for a better Liberia; a Liberia where you will be judge solely on your credentials. My name is Randell Z. Dauda and I am glad I took that walk in 2013. Today, I sit behind a desk at one of the only two government institutions of higher learning as the head Registrar. I got here because my education, experiences and worth ethics
By Komlan Aloysh
My fellow Americans –
I write this message because I believe we share a unique identity: being American. This unique identity infinitely bonds us together because it is greater than everything else. It is above all else, and it bonds us together because we all see greatness in this land of ours.
I know the past few months have tested this unique bond. It is not that this unique bond is breakable or fragile to the point that it can fade away, but because it has been tested to a point where we all seem to lose a sense of its meaning and who we really are as a people. No doubt that elections can sometimes bring out the strongest emotions in us, and make us see each other through the prism of political affiliation or ideological belief. They also make it hard for us to swallow the bitter pills of our defeats. They appear as though everything we believe in is zero-sum – one group of fellow citizens wins and the other group loses all. This makes times like these hard for us all, not only for those who lost in this election.
I am not here to tell whose political ideology is right or wrong for this great country that we all love so much. I am not here to preach for one side or the other, nor am I here to tell who is patriotic and who is not. I am simply here to speak of what makes this great nation of ours great and how our unique identity as American must transcend our current political and ideological divide that is in this moment bringing out the worst in us all.
I know there comes a time - every four years - when we are forced to see our fellow citizens as Republicans or Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives. Some of us try our utmost best to stay above this childish partisan fighting and name-calling, but unfortunately we find ourselves being constantly dragged into them more often, time and again. It is agonizing sometimes, I can tell you that, but that is not who we are. We are uniquely #Americans, people who wake up every morning filled with hopes and dreams to touch the sky, dreams to build the next groundbreaking technological device, dreams to start the next biggest company, or write the next greatest speech for history books; people who see the love of country and of their fellow citizens through the eyes of their beautiful daughters and sons; people who share a cup of coffee with their new neighbors; people who open their homes to strangers whom they have met for the first time. That’s who we are. That is what makes us Americans.
Despite our petty and irrelevant ideological differences, we share a bond and love this nation. Whether you are black or white, young or old, we all love this country very much. You too love this country, a place where Barack Obama served eight years as our president; a place where Donald Trump is now our president; a place where Nikki Haley, first generation Indian-American, can become our nation’s top diplomat; and a place where dreams are realized regardless of one’s background.
I am not; in anyway, ignoring your disgust of what is happening now. Nor am I downplaying the post-election chaos that we currently see around us. I am simply reminding us all that we are ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION with a COMMON DESTINY. We are not perfect people, and so is this nation, but we must work together to make it even better.
Let's embrace this unique Americanness! Let us talk to each other and find common ground for the future of our country! Certainly, we may not agree with each other, nor will we be able to find solutions to all of our problems. But let us begin! Let us continue to improve this great nation by performing our civic duties as citizens!
Whether you voted #Trump or #Hillary, let’s remember we are all Americans, and that matters more than anything. The time has come for all of us to work together to move this nation forward. Let’s begin by listening to each to find common ground! This may not be for our own sakes, but at least let that be for the stake of our beloved nation, America.
Our nation needs us now more than ever before. Let’s make it proud!
By Randell Zuleka Dauda
Yesterday I went to a local Beauty parlor to inquire about hair conditioner. As I awaited service, my eyes were fixed in the shelves: How can a little brown girl grow up to love herself when she's subjected to these images In her local "beauty" shop? We tell her to be herself and love herself, but we show her images of what beauty is and they are far from what she sees in the mirror.
Deep in the rural parts of one of Africa's oldest nation is a beauty store where these products sits. The images and Names depicts an utopia for beauty- an image out little brown babies can on strive for. Even when they think they have achieved what is advertised, they have to subject their skin to harsh chemicals. They look in the mirror everyday and we teach them to hate what they see. How can you live what is not fair or clear? With names like that, their brown skin become unfair and not clear. They see their faces as in need of repair. They try to "fix" a problem that isn't even there to begin with.
In the Liberian setting where we say things like "fine bright* geh" it only speaks down to those not so "bright" little girls. With the names of the products on that list, we are teaching our future mothers to hate their skin. There is nothing beautiful about a beauty shop that sends a message of hatred for our bodies. How can we love our children and husbands when we can't even love ourselves? Someone please tell me-
Brown skin girls are already taught to hate themselves at a very young age with the dolls we gave them. Please do not talk to me about children not understanding the concept of race. As those very same children grow into teenagers, they are again subjected to an image of beauty that does not look like them. The message here is clear- there is nothing lovable about the skin they are in. Our society sends a message that there is a problem that can be solve using these so called beauty products.
If someone will only tell them that the very solution is where the problem lies. You can not beautify what is already beautiful. Let me break this down a little bit. Dark skin does not need a product to make it glow because the very make up of dark skin dark is the pigmentation that naturally attracts sunlight! Let me repeat myself- Dark skin people naturally attracts sunlight. What light is more powerful than the sun?? How then can people try to sell a product that is suppose to make the skin glow make glow? We were created to shine! The next time you see a brown skin young woman, you better tell her to go ahead and keep shinning.
In fact, what gives anyone the right to want to perfect God's perfection? Did someone not tell these folks that the very skin that cover these young women are miracles within itself? Young brown girls do not need a miracle product when life itself is already a gift. I wish I can talk to each and every little girl that walks in and out of these "beauty" shops. Psychologically we are destroying our young people. The skin you find yourself is not a curse, but a blessing. Other women around the world spend hours and so much money trying to get darker skin in the name of tanning. Someone need to start telling our young women to keep skinning in the name of what is right! There is nothing more attractive than a woman who is happy in the skin she is in. The world does not have to tell her what perfection is. The image in the mirror is all it will take to portray perfection. White is not right, but neither is brown. When you look past the surface, there is a soul in each and every one of these young women. A soul that is corrupted with images like the one above. We need to love ourselves first and foremost. When we love ourselves, we give others no choice, but to love us. When we spread love, the whole world become a better place for all of us.
I am very disappointed and ashamed to even be writing this while residing in Africa. The fact that even deep in rural Africa the image of beauty is not a brown skin woman makes me disappointed, but I'm also motivated to change this. I hope each and every brown skin woman reading this can teach little girls that beauty is what she sees in the mirror and not what they sell on the shelves of our beauty store.
I love you brown girl.
I love you brown woman.
God loves us all.
*bright refers to a lighter skin tone.
4 Women On Instagram Changing Lives In Africa (By: @BleesNews) Credit to"sorry4theblog.com" for this content
Hamamata Africa is run by a beautiful, dark skin, Ghanaian woman called Hamamat Montia, who takes her followers with her to the rural parts of Ghana. She mainly focuses on the city of Tamale. She shares her beauty secrets, the lives of children living the the country, some of her favorite meals, the market scene and beautiful images of Ghana. She also uses her page to sell some of her skin care products and takes us behind the scenes. I started following this page earlier this year and I fell in love with it more and more every day. Her page makes you appreciate being African and all that comes with it.
The Road to Nowhere
By Randell Zuleka Dauda
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960) affirm that education is a fundamental human right for all peoples. Along these lines, however, the Liberian government, under the leadership of Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pledged its commitment to quality and affordable education in Liberia. In fact, education was one of the major goals strategically set aside by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Administration. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) presented at the United Nations Summit in 2000 served as the measuring cup for success during this peaceful post-civil war period. Although UNDP reports that Liberia has a 30% rate of achievement of these ambitious goals, there are no visible signs of significant improvement in Liberia’s education system. If we as a nation should rebuild and prepare for a prosperous future, the lack of progress in a sector that is key to nation building shows that we are certainly heading nowhere.