The Poverty + Racial Injustice Stories Project

Welcome to the Poverty + Racial Injustice Stories Project. Our nation is experiencing an awakening, and for some, an introduction to the injustices that Black people have been facing in this country for decades.

We are dedicating this project to the stories of AmeriCorps VISTA members whose work goes beyond the VISTA mission to eradicate poverty. These stories will show how their work in tackling this mission intersects with combatting racial injustices in the communities they serve.

Our hope is that 1. VISTA members will be seen and celebrated for their work, 2. The stories will provide a blueprint for others to follow, and 3. By sharing stories from areas including housing, literacy, and nutrition, readers will get a glimpse into just how far reaching the effects of racial injustice can be.

Kurtis Edwards can’t recall how he found the AmeriCorps VISTA program, but after almost two years of service, he feels lucky that he did. In addition to serving in communities and combating poverty, Kurtis joined AmeriCorps because he wanted to build his management and leadership skills. As a “white person, who is also male, who is also gay,” he wanted to have legitimacy in the mission he felt called to: to talk to other white people about the systemic racism steeped in this country.

As a Navy brat, born on a Hawaiian base, and having lived in a number of different places, these experiences informed Kurtis’ desire for a career in antiracism, working in interracial dialogue, specifically speaking to white people about white power structures. As he completes his second year of service, he is even more resolute in his determination to “work tirelessly at a career in human service and community building.”

Kurtis Edwards Washtenaw Literacy Ypsilanti, Michigan. Position: Program Coordinator from Aug 2018 – Aug 2020

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Blackwater (PMSC) Remembered: Abu Ghraib Human Rights

Expert from: Coutnerterrorism and its Affronts to Human Rights by. Kurtis Edwards

**Eric Prince, Blackwater founder, is the brother of Betsy DeVos, current US Secretary of Education.

One of the more sinister parts of detaining terrorists and the subject that brings PMSC back in the conversation is the torture and humiliation of prisoners at the hands of PMSCs and military personal in clandestine prisons. Mentioned above was the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal of 2003. What were the causes of that scandal and what does it mean for PMSCs in general? Scholars like Kristine Huskey (2012), George Mastroianni (2011), and Bernardo Zacka (2016) find the cause to be in multidimensional causalities. They look at the organizational attributes of the operating staff and employer, the chain of command along the division lines of military and contractor, as well as the personal sexual deficiency of particular PMSC workers at Abu Ghraib.

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Counterterrorism and its Affronts to Human Rights

Counterterrorism and its Affronts to Human Rights

Since the 21st century, there has been a sharp rise in terrorism and counterterrorism measures that are an insult to both international and domestic human rights. This essay will attempt to define the intersection of counterterrorism and human rights and why it is important to either adapt existing norms or adopt new conceptions on the constraints to armed conflict. Global interconnectedness also called globalization is not only a phenomenon felt in the realms of economics and culture but is also keenly evident in armed conflict. Modern national security, non-state actors, and detention methods represent the cogs of conflict interconnectedness in the 21st century. Focusing on these three areas will show how counterterrorism is eroding the protection of human rights from outside and within, specifically in the United States of America (US), but also many other nations. Just as the arguments around regulating the effects of globalization are rather heated, so too is the discourse surrounding adaptation and innovation in the methods of counterterrorism. In referencing the current political climate in the US, this essay will conclude that the status quo for human rights will prevail if not become worse in time.

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Illegal but Lawful: The Responsibility to Protect

The responsibility to protect (R2P) is an illegal but legitimate conception that faces numerous challenges to becoming international law and a customary norm. The past misuse of R2P by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) creates challenges to R2P that might be insurmountable; clarion calls of R2P being an arm of colonialism, and a tactic of self-interest are valid. So too are the methods at which we address intra-state conflict and combat global terrorism.  The dynamics between sovereignty, R2P, and global terrorism allow a nation to discount sovereignty in order to attack another country but claim sovereign rights when asked to protect another country’s population. R2P, if separated from those dynamics, can protect a population within an intra-state conflict, and a community invaded by an outside nation fighting terrorism. As such, R2P is a critical post-Cold War norm. Using the crisis in Syria, the argument that globalization causes any conflict, international or intra-state, to threaten international peace and security is made to support the validity to R2P.

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