Dec 27, 2016
As 2016 comes to a close we are able to reflect back upon the moments that made history, for better or worse. We saw a petulant, sexist and racist slumlord rise against all odds to win the most powerful job in America. We saw the unending humanitarian crisis in Syria and the complicated set of national powers at play in the middle eastern conflict. It would be impossible to fully capture the scope of everything that happened in these 365 days. What we can do, however, is to recall the voices that spoke to the humanity and struggle we faced and continue to face. These are some of the most memorable quotes compiled from news and social media in 2016.
"I don't know if I am courageous, but I do know that I am angry."
● Iana Matei, a psychologist who operates shelters for victims of sex-trafficking in Romania.
“I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”
● Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, then mayor of Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Duterte has since become the president of the Philippines.
“He’d always tell me: ‘I know I’ve done something wrong. We’re being punished for something I did. And I don’t know what it is. But I’m so, so sorry.’”
● A wife, describing her husband’s feelings of guilt after their son was diagnosed with an illness. From Humans of New York, 4/7
"If you would do something like this over straws and ketchup,” Salcedo said. “I'd hate to see what you would do to somebody if you were really upset."
● Eye-witness, describing the attack of a Wendy’s drive-through employee by a customer after the customer became upset over supposedly not receiving ketchup in her to-go bag.
"Kaust followed the precedent of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, which had also been shielded from clerical interference, highlighting one of the great contradictions of Saudi Arabia: Regardless of how much the royal family lauds its Islamic values, when it wants to earn money or innovate, it does not turn to the clerics for advice. It puts up a wall and locks them out."
● Ben Hubbard, for the New York Times, in the piece A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began.
"We're hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we'll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about."
● David O. Brown, Dallas Police Chief, in response to protestors of the police.
“You get old, you don’t get cold.”
● Registered Nurse Eileen Dunnion, on encouraging the elderly patients she cares for to welcome new romantic and/or sexual relationships. From the article Too Old for Sex? Not at This Nursing Home.
“For me, with a much wanted pregnancy, discovering that my daughter had a non-sustainable, terrible, brain abnormality that would have rendered her life--if she had even lived at all--something that would’ve been filled with suffering, I loved her enough to make a decision not to allow that. But that was my decision. And I made it with my clergy-member, with my family, with my doctor. I can’t imagine a lawmaker making that decision for me.”
● Former Texas Senator Wendy Davis, sharing her personal story of having the reproductive right to choose.
“In order to be officially verified you have to bed down on the streets at night. Many women are too frightened. They stay on buses or keep walking, so they are rendered invisible. They sleep in the day. It’s a system which is designed to deal with men.”
● Jen and Dagnija O’Connell (to which of the two this quote is assigned to is unclear), who work for the London-wide Female Entrenched Rough Sleeper Project which deals with chronic homelessness.
“A social media star who exposed social hypocrisy is murdered by a family vigilante created by a skewed law. Condemnable.”
● Nafisa Shah, Pakistani politician, tweeting on the “honor killing” of Qandeel Boloch by her brother after Qandeel rose to social media fame for, among other things, her selfies.
"I'm human. I'm a woman. I'm a mom. I'm a nurse. I could be your nurse. I could be taking care of you. You know? Our children could be friends. We all matter. We don't have to beg to matter. We do matter.”
● Ieshia Evans, whose image went viral, after a photographer captured a picture of Evans protesting against the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“KARAOKE SHOULD BE EQUAL PARTS SEIZURE AND CONSTIPATION.”
● Eddie Huang, author of Double Cup Love and creator of Fresh Off the Boat, via Instagram
“Instead of beating up the bad teachers, which has created morale problems all through the educational community, in particular in math and science, we focus on celebrating the good ones and giving them status.”
● Jim Simons, founder of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, who is donating $15,000 to hundreds of area teachers to supplement their state income.
“I am not delusional, so please don't be incredulous.”
● Journalist Mary C. Curtis on her piece When white friends don’t believe what blacks go through, they’re not friends.
“I saw that the only one of us who was ever going to change was me.”
● Leigh Stein, Executive Director of Out of the Binders, on being in, and leaving, an emotionally abusive relationship.
"After I was freed I thought that the world would bring justice to us. That the world would be fair to us. But nothing has happened. We still have 3,000 people in captivity.”
● Iraqi Yazidi Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who was abducted from her village in Iraq in August of 2014 and held for three months by ISIS
“This isn't a post about one person ‘saving the day.’ It is a post about someone using their voice to intervene when another is uncomfortable or unsafe. It's about actively creating communities where violence isn't tolerated. We can all do that.”
● Rachel from Seattle, Washington, in a Facebook post describing an experience of walking through her neighborhood alone, being accosted by a man, and then having another man intervene upon seeing the street/sexual harassment.
“About a year ago, I auditioned for a show called Montauk. I’ll just tell you what it is, dude. I go in and I play a teacher and I did good. And then they called me and they go, ‘Yea we’re very interested in him.’ So they put me on hold for a couple of months and then they go, ‘You know what? We don’t think that--,’ because it’s a genre piece, ‘we don't think that [there] were asians [in this town] in the 80’s so we’re going to hire Andrew Daly.’ [Andrew] is a friend of mine--he was on Mad TV--I love Andrew. But then he couldn’t do it so they called me back to see what my availability was. And I said, ‘I’m available.’ And then they go, and then another month went by, and they go “No, I think we’re going to get a white guy.’ And the show is called Stranger Things, now. I was that teacher and I didn’t get it. Because of my gookie eyes.”
● Comedian and actor Bobby Lee, describing how he got (and then didn’t get) a part for a Netflix TV series on his podcast Tiger Belly.
"My husband called me and said 'It's dangerous, please go back home.' I said, 'I'm going anyway.' For the first time ever, I didn't obey him."
● Safiye Bayat, a Turkish woman who became a viral sensation after she was seen fighting against the attempted government coup.
"Life is not always easy, especially when the city empties and the neighbors are away on holiday. Sometimes loneliness dissolves into tears."
● Police Officers in Rome, via Facebook update, who responded to reports of an elderly couple crying in an apartment. The officers checked on the couple, talked with them and cooked them a hot meal.
“I want Japanese people to cry.”
● Hiroki Terai, creator of a Tokyo-based company that employs men to cry in meetings for local businesses in an effort to prompt others to cry and, by extension, reduce the stigma of crying in front of others.
"[Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump and Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage] seek in varying degrees to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion. A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever."
● UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, at a security conference in The Hague.
“The financial rewards speak for themselves. Silicon Valley, which is 50 square miles, has created more wealth than any place in human history. In the end, it isn’t in anyone’s interest to call bullshit.”
● Writer Nick Bilton, writing for Vanity Fair, on the rise and fall of tech startup Theranos, helmed by Elizabeth Holmes
“The entire philosophy of [the Kurdish Women's Protection Units] is to fight sexism and prevent using women as a sexual object. We want to give women their rightful place in society and for them to own their own destinies. Viyan died for these ideals. In the media, no one talked about these ideals for which she gave her life, nor what Viyan achieved for women in Rojava in the past four years.”
● Kurdish soldier Choman Kanaani, on the publicity received by fellow soldier Viyan Antar (real name Asia Ramazan Antar), whose looks drew widespread attention, referring to her as the “Kurdish Angelina Jolie.” Antar died battling ISIS in northern Syria in August.
“Jack died thirty years ago. I dream about him almost every night. It always feels good to see him alive. For a moment, I don't have to blame myself for his death. I usually ask for his forgiveness. And some nights he forgives me. But other nights he doesn't.”
● Humans of New York, September 13th.
“Donald Trump isn’t losing because the election is rigged. Anyone with children knows that whining about imaginary cheating is the last refuge of the sore closer.”
● Massachusetts state Senator Elizabeth Warren, via Facebook post on October 19th.
“We want them to serve us, but we aren’t serving them.”
● Humans of New York, December 1st.
"Please tell me you're seeing this too."
● Egyptian American actor Rami Malek, upon winning an Emmy award for best leading actor in a drama series. Malek is the first "non-white" actor to win the award in this category since 1998.
"I met one girl who was married when she was 12. And another 14-year-old pregnant with triplets. These are not the experiences young people should be dealing with. They should be in their school uniforms, not wedding dresses."
● Ahmed Bayram, coordinator at Save the Children, a charity that works to provide education to at-risk women and girls from conflict regions.
"It was an assault."
● Jessica Leeds, describing how Donald Trump inappropriately touched her while they were both on a flight.
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”
● Republican presidential Nominee Donald Trump, speaking at the third presidential debate, in response to criticism about his attitudes and behavior towards women.
"During my two years in [Albania], I’d witnessed what Buba spoke about firsthand. There are numerous Muslim and Christian religious events in which practitioners of both are in attendance. The Day of the Blessed Water, for instance, is a Christian holiday celebrated by participants diving into a river in search of a cross, but it is open to all and has had many Muslim winners over the years. Likewise, Buba explained that it is not uncommon for Christians to participate in feasting during the Muslim holiday of Eid, which breaks the fast of Ramadan. By engaging with one another so frequently and in such meaningful ways, Albanian Muslims and Christians have created a strong community founded upon understanding and respect."
● Quinn Hargitai, in an article for the BBC titled What can Albania teach us about trust?
About the Column
Luke is a mental health counselor from Seattle, Washington in the United States. He moved to Suzhou in 2016 and currently works as the Psychological Counselor for international students at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. Though his current position consists of counseling students, Luke also enjoys working with couples, parents and families. Previously Luke worked in the Kurdish region of Iraq and in private practice in Seattle. In his spare time Luke enjoys cooking, meeting new people, playing board games and traveling to different countries.