Musings of a Beaverton Teen: Celebrating Universal Human Rights Month

By Emery Hanel (12th Grade)emery-hanel

Hey Beaverton teenagers,

December is here, and you know what means. Flavorful holiday drinks, jubilant winter festivities, cheery twinkling lights, joyous perennial music, the things that set December apart from the other eleven months of the year.

But December is more than just a jovial month– it’s Universal Human Rights Month. On December 10, the annual Human Rights Day will be observed. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon averred that the day serves as an opportunity to “recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.” Echoing this sentiment, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein added that “it’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity.” Human Rights Month is a call that each of us must answer, a call to defend the rights of women, children, the disabled, refugees, immigrants, members of the indigenous community, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and minority groups. Advocating on their behalf can be as simple as advising others to not make jokes that rely on racism, sexism, or homophobia to entertain. But if you’re looking for specific opportunities to make a difference, here are some local options:

  • Get involved with the Portland Solidarity Network, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to combatting sexism, racism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination by campaigning for the rights of workers and tenants.
  • Train to be a crisis line responder for Call to Safety, an organization committed to providing confidential support services, community outreach and education, and advocacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Offer to become an ambassador for Portland’s Social Justice Action Center, a center for people of color and the marginalized to organize and collaborate to engineer solidarity within the community. It is a place to appreciate one’s one culture while learning and respecting the culture of another.
  • Volunteer with The YWCA of Greater Portland, an association dedicated to eradicating racism, empowering women, and promoting basic human rights.
  • Attend a meeting held through Showing Up for Racial Justice Portland, a local chapter of a national network of Showing Up for Racial Justice groups, which consists of Caucasians who desire to be allies to people of color by supporting racial equality.
  • Contribute to community planning facilitated through the Q Center, a non-profit center that declares their mission to be providing “a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, equity, visibility and community building”.
  • Participate in a event organized by Portland Peace & Justice Works, a group devote to “promoting nonviolent conflict resolution on local, national, and international level”.

Let’s join the movement for others, Beaverton. Take advantage of this month to raise awareness for human rights.

Emery Hanel is a senior at Jesuit High School who enjoys reading, writing, and playing lacrosse.