Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker


TEAM HeforShe logo.

TEAM HeforShe logo.

UN Women

My first task as a board member of the US National Committee for UN Women was assigned by our new board president, Lalita Janke. At our board meeting last Sunday morning in Long Beach, Lalita asked each of us to write to our governor to invite participation in the HeForShe campaign.

A couple of days after the meeting she sent around a draft letter. I’ve now made my own modifications and will mail it to Governor Malloy tomorrow.

Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut

Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut

You can see the whole letter here. If you would like to invite someone to participate in the campaign, feel free to draw on my letter. You can find the logo and TEAM HeForShe pictures in the action kit.

Here’s part of what I said: “UN Women has launched a campaign called ‘HeForShe’ to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. UN Women and the U.S. National Committee encourage you and other men and boys to speak out and take action against inequalities faced by women and girls.

“I am inviting you to have a picture taken of you holding the enclosed sign that reads ‘#Team HeForShe.’

“The ‘HeForShe’ campaign’s goal is to spread awareness of and spark action about the responsibility that men and boys have in eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.”

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

The sign I’m sending to Malloy, for him to hold, has the words #Team HeForShe on it. I hope for a positive response from our governor.

Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, is the spokesperson for this campaign.

Speaking of Women

Hasn’t it been a fabulous week for U.S. women in sports?

Serena Williams just defeated Azarenka in the quarter finals at Wimbledon. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t win, or at least make it to the finals. I saw part of her victorious match against her sister Venus a couple of days ago. She is amazing to watch.

Then the women’s soccer, or football as it’s known in the rest of the world! The U.S. Women’s team defeated Japan in the finals on Sunday evening. This was sweet revenge for losing to Japan four years ago, the last time the Women’s World Cup was played.

We watched with our daughter Beth and her family in Philadelphia. Their now 20-year old son turned on the TV and said, “It’s over! 4-0 for the U.S.”

They were actually only 16 minutes into the match. But a score of 4 is really high for soccer at this level. And the final score was 5-2.

As we moved from the dinner table to sit in front of the TV, I said, “What a shame that the Nigerian team lost early on.”

Kasia Muoto, Nigerian Coach for Women's Football

Kasia Muoto, Nigerian Coach for Women’s Football

“One of their coaches, Kasia Muoto, went to Hillcrest,” Beth said.  “But I barely knew her.” Both Beth and Sam attended Hillcrest in Jos, northern Nigeria, for several years of junior high and high school; Beth graduated in 1985, and Sam left after 9th grade to come to the U.S. with me.

I found Kasia Muoto on Twitter. I sent a Tweet to say hello and tell her about our mutual connection to Hillcrest. She replied almost immediately! “@cathonye thank u!! I know SamO very well and BethO was a legend we all looked up too. Nice to hear frm U!”

I sent the message on to Beth and Sam. I love making connections!

Boko Haram Still on the Attack

There have been several attacks by Boko Haram in the last few days. The attack in Zaria, killing at least 25, was yesterday, according to ThisDay newspaper. Clem’s brother lives in Zaria, and I knew it was unlikely he would have been near the location. Still it caused a moment’s worry in addition to the general horror at the ongoing atrocities.

There was an attack reported in The New York Times in Jos the day before.

Perhaps these attacks are their response to President Buhari’s commitment to wipe out their insurgency. Perhaps they are retaliating for the concerted effort by Nigeria and neighboring countries to counteract their terrorist acts.

I hope Buhari’s commitment will show results soon.

White Privilege

A colleague in TEAM Westport sent a link to an article  about opposing racism. It’s from January 2015, in an online magazine everyday feminism. The writer, Wiley Reading, describes five ways we white liberals can use our privilege to speak up, show up, and be active opponents of racism.

I’m going to talk about one of his five ways for the next few posts. I hope you will follow and comment. Of course you can get ahead of me and read it all now if you like!

He says right up front that, “we do have a responsibility to do something. You see, we’ve got a leg up on being listened to. While we couldn’t help being born into a system of white supremacy, we can do something to help even the score.”

His first suggestion is to watch and record police harassment. This can be dangerous for a black person, but usually is safe for someone white. He describes a situation where he got out of the car to observe. He says, “I didn’t have the composure to grab a camera, but I hoped my presence would provide a degree of scrutiny, and I believe it did. The cops were significantly less rough with the woman after I arrived and stared at them.”

Did you have a pleasant 4th of July? Fireworks? We watched – on TV!


Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.