Kerry McBroom

Kerry McBroom (Home for Human Rights – HHR): Kerry has shown her commitment to law and justice throughout her academic career. She designed her own major in International Human Rights at Cornell University and volunteered in the New York State juvenile justice system. She also volunteered for human rights projects in Germany (post-conflict reconciliation), India (child rights), and Denmark (HIV/AIDS awareness). At the time of her fellowship, Kerry was pursuing legal degrees at American University Washington College of Law and in Paris at Université Paris X. Kerry has also worked for clients in Darfur, Cyprus, and Uganda as a research assistant for the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) at AU, and interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. After her fellowship, Kerry wrote: “I think I did everything that a human rights activist can possibly do - from writing legal briefs/reports to interviewing victims in the field to working with donors. The fellowship made me more confident and showed me that I have a lot more to learn. I know that everything I learned this summer will inform my approach to academic projects, future professional endeavors, and my day-to-day activities."

Sri Lanka Voices: From the Fairer Side

09 Sep

Being white in Sri Lanka has its perks.  For example, I can easily slip into any of Colombo’s four-star hotels to lift toilet paper from the bathrooms, read the paper, or indulge in high quality lobby coffee.

Being white in Sri Lanka also has its drawbacks.  I am often at the receiving end of assumptions, “you people” comments, and unwanted stares.  Sometimes I get all three at once: “those men are staring at you because you white people usually walk around half-naked and they’re looking for a glimpse of your legs.”

Without exception, passing young men will meow, “Hellllloooo, how are youuuuu?” and I’ve seen more than one man trip while gawking at me.  A friend of mine from India who frequently has the pleasure of witnessing these displays says that I’m treated like an animal in a zoo.

Part of me understands that this attention goes with the territory.  At other times, I want to scream, cover myself from head to toe, and explain that ignorance can go both ways.

[Street sign from Blank Noise, an Indian organization that fights street level sexual harassment.]

When children stare at me, I react differently; I say Hi, I take their picture, I ask their names.  Kids don’t bring the added baggage of colonialism or Hollywood or ingrained expectations to our interactions.  For them, I’m just a curiosity.

Yesterday, for instance, I went to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp to discuss human rights violations with residents.  After about 15 minutes, dozens of kids had stealthily slunk past the windows to get a glimpse of the white lady.  Two kids in particular thought that I was the funniest thing they’d seen.  Ever.


As always, a sense of humor conquers all.

Posted By Kerry McBroom

Posted Sep 9th, 2010

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