[cw: Uvalde, Roe v. Wade, gun violence, police officer abuse, racism]
In the time that I have been writing this piece, significant global events have occurred. One, in particular, occurred on September 16. On that day, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, died after being subjected to violence by the morality police, who arrested her for wearing her hijab “loosely.”
Her death has led to worldwide uprisings with a focus on prioritizing “women, life, and freedom.” In a time of quick rage, the protests are a sign of continued efforts to raise the voices of those who are calling for global change.
These Iranian protests echo the current fight for reproductive freedoms in America. Together, they have brought a bigger voice to these issues.
Meanwhile, Italy elected far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Since the U.S. election of That Man in 2016, similar elections have occurred globally. France only narrowly re-elected Emmanuel Macron. Many Americans, in the midst of their own pivotal midterm election, have not been aware of the election in France, nor of its implications. It is a privilege to not be aware of what is happening outside of your purview and a mistake that only leads to stagnation and to the continued degradation of democracy. It is when we bring our voices together that true change can happen.
America Under the Global Microscope
America is a country that lives all of its mistakes under intense scrutiny. It is regarded as a beacon of democracy and freedom. When a devastating event happens in America, the world responds immediately with shock, condolences, and — yes — judgment.
The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, for one, elicited all of the familiar responses. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, for example, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to share her own response to a mass shooting that occurred in Christchurch. The implication, of course, was that in contrast to America, New Zealand was doing it right.
Meanwhile, numerous graphs and charts — ones that show how gun violence in most other countries is much more infrequent than it is in America — circulated.
Responses like this are nothing new. Much is expected of us, thanks to American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S. is inherently different from other countries. However, it’s impossible for anyone to stand up under such pressure.
“[I] frankly do not want anyone not American speaking on the matter to say anything other than show solidarity,” wrote @bribrisimps in a tweet that resonated with me, “because if these last few weeks taught me anything you will treat our government-sanctioned warfare against its citizens as a shady af comeback and I’m fucking over it lol.”
She tweeted this on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned, but it could just as easily refer to the worldwide response to anything that’s occurred in the recent past.
Of course, the judgment goes both ways. Think about the articles that pop up across the internet when films are banned in Saudi Arabia and other countries because they do not align with that country’s values. When a movie has LGBTQIA+ themes, for example — as with Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and Lightyear — numerous articles appear from traditional Hollywood news outlets about the film being banned across the globe. The smug tone of these articles is strange, seeing as there are numerous laws across America suppressing these communities. How can Americans judge what happens in other parts of the world when laws that suppress human rights are being passed at lightspeed in America, too?
America Is Not the Only Place Where Injustices Exist
I think about Child Q, a Black 15-year-old girl in Hackney, London, who was strip-searched at her school and even forced to remove her menstrual pad because her teacher thought she smelled like cannabis. No adult was present at the time. Reading the egregious atrocities against Child Q is disappointing, but it’s also not surprising. The degradation of Black children’s humanity is far too common across the globe.
And I think of the instances of racism happening across the world. Back in 2020, during the Black Lives Matter uprisings here in the states, I remember several professional basketball players sharing parallels to abuse in their own countries. Luka Doncic, for example, a prominent player in the NBA who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, wore “Equality” on the back of his basketball jersey. Being Slovenian, he also wore the word in Slovenian: enakopravnost. In fact, the entire team decided to wear the word “equality” on their jerseys, each in their native tongue.
And I think about Canada, whose citizens love to share that they support their American neighbors. We saw this during the 2020 presidential election, as they spoke out in support of getting That Man out of office. And we saw it again after Roe v. Wade was overturned, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (among others) called the decision “horrific.”
Yet access to abortion in Canada is itself uneven and remains an ongoing point of contention among the Conservative party.
America’s Mistakes Are Echoing Out Across the World
Countries around the world have become increasingly aggressive in their pursuit of power and wealth. Particularly after That Man became president, people became emboldened to speak out loud their previously taboo thoughts and respond to opposition with violence. Obvious examples of this include world leaders like Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, and Boris Johnson, who recently stepped down from his seat as British Prime Minister. Both have created unrest in their countries similar to that which occurred in the U.S.
We Can All Learn from Each Other’s Mistakes
It seems that whenever something egregious happens here, other world leaders work harder to protect the rights of their own citizens. In the aftermath of the fall of Roe v. Wade, for example, several nations shored up abortion rights almost immediately. Chile, for example, became the first country in the Americas to protect abortion rights in its constitution.
In the realm of white supremacy, New Zealand and Canada declared the Proud Boys a terrorist organization. This is in contrast to President Biden’s own response to the issue, which has been merely to state that “white supremacy is a poison,” rather than to call out specific hate groups. These other countries are setting a precedent that terrorist groups hold incredible harm.
There are strong parallels between what is happening in America and what is happening globally. We share a responsibility to each other to inform, amplify, and act.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was recently elected as president of Brazil. Social media posts about the importance of youth voting in Brazil were shared in the lead-up to the election. People expressed hope and excitement that Brazil would have democratic leadership, particularly to protect the Amazon rainforest.
This is just one example of how utilizing the power of social media to bring awareness to domestic and global efforts for change also brings out our commonalities and brings us together.
America has its own systemic issues. This is true. But the country is not alone in that, and we can all do a better job of amplifying each other’s voices and concerns. Without judgment, but with curiosity. Because what empowers one, empowers all.
What news outlets do you follow that build community and bring global perspectives? Who is sharing information that informs without overwhelming? How do your conversations bridge awareness and change?