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Motherboard VICE

“It’s time to take our future into our own hands,” Roya Mahboob told me.

A year ago, the Afghan entrepreneur represented a four-strong girl’s Robotics team from Afghanistan to present a robot prototype for a competition held in Washington DC. Mahboob, who lives in New York and was the first woman CEO of a tech company in Afghanistan, found herself in a difficult situation when the girls were denied a visa to the US. President Donald Trump had just signed his “Muslim Ban” executive order, which barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, from entering the US.

When she saw that the ban had prevented the girl’s’ participation to the competition, Sarah Porter, founder of Inspired Minds, a tech and science strategy group focused on building communities around emerging technology, felt she had to intervene.

She contacted Mahboob and spent six months trying to raise awareness about the girls’ situation—they were eventually given a visa, and when they returned home, a movement started.

“We started this with inspiration from the girls,” Mahboob said. “They brought a huge sense of pride, hope and unity to the Afghan community.” This weekend, the Afghan Dreamers won the Rookie Inspiration Award at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Detroit.

Not only did they inspire people at home, the girls also opened the eyes of many artificial intelligence field experts who saw the team’s ban as a blatant example of exclusion in tech.

From Porter and Mahboob’s encounter, the idea of building a tech school in Afghanistan was born, and so was Ada-AI.

Read the whole article here

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Blog Post

This is the moment women speak up.

This is the moment women express themselves.

This is the moment women march for women.

This is the moment men march for women.

This is the moment women reinvent relations with men.

This is the moment women become pilots.

This is the moment women become presidents.

This is the moment women are not just mothers.

This is the moment white women admit privilege.

This is the moment impunity for vile powerful sexual abusers ends.

This is the moment women stop competing with each other.

This is the moment women stop making excuses for men.

This is the moment we rise up, insist, and persist.

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Blog Post

Last night I woke up at 4am and checked my phone to know what the hell was happening with the US election. I don’t know why I was so anxious, I am not from the United States, but I have grown up in a society that considered US the greatest and most powerful country in the world. So wanting to know whether the ‘most powerful individual in the world’ was going to be a masochistic, racist buffoon was well justified. The alternative was a woman who did not represent any major change in the country’s political nature, except maybe the fact that she was a woman.

This morning I woke up with the news that Mr GrabYourPussy had won. I was shocked, but I was not that surprised. What I was surprised about was a recurring phrase I was seeing on social media comments and posts: “America is the greatest country in the world”. Whether it was to reassure sad people who wanted to leave the country after the result, or in support of the new President-elect (“America will now be the greatest country in the world”) , it made no difference.


American exceptionalism
, essentially the thought of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty, rages through the country, and it has spread all over the world as a consequence. The thought that USA is the land of freedom and opportunity, economic prosperity and equal rights, is intrinsic in American society. Politicians use it to convince voters that they should vote for them, everyone has done it, left and right.

What has been deemed as ‘patriotism’, looks more like putting your country and your people on a pedestal higher than everyone else, and that constant need to repeat that phrase becomes redundant.

The result of this rhetoric being intrinsic in politics and society? A massive brainwash of a people that in reality live in what essentially is the biggest hypocrisy of the 21st century.

To quote Ian Tyrrell, “Many aspects of American history may be left out or distorted in the traditional narratives–particularly the histories of Amerindian peoples and the contribution of other ethnic groups that preceded the Anglo-Americans, e.g. Hispanics. Race and slavery are seen as tragic exceptions, and the abolition of the latter was viewed as a partial resolution, encompassed in Lincoln’s idea of a “new birth of freedom” in the Gettysburg Address.”

USA is a country driven by political and economic interests. It is a country where black people receive 10% longer sentences than whites, where black mothers have to give “the speech” to their children to avoid them getting killed by the police. It is a country where gun laws make it possible for a 20-year-old to walk into an elementary school and massacre 20 children (yes, fucking kids) and 6 teachers, and this happens over and over again. A country where lobbies control politics and politicians, essentially transferring the power to rich corporations, and narrowing the space for smaller businesses to have any influence. And again, a country that has made of interventionism a way forward, bringing the white savior complex to a whole other level. This does not look to me like “ The greatest country in the world”.

The United States alone contributes to large percentage of the world’s carbon emission, leading to global warming, perhaps the greatest problem of our time.

So maybe it is time to look at the big picture and step back a little bit, and get real. There is no more hiding behind that phrase anymore, because shit just got real.

Maybe, some people had already woken up to the idea that US is not the greatest country in the world, and were tired of politicians playing that card over and over again. A while ago Trump said about American exceptionalism: “I don’t like the term, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think it’s a very nice term, we’re exceptional, you’re not … I never liked the term.”.

I am more than sure that this election has woken many people up. Who thought that the greatest country in the world would vote their president, the most important person in the world, to be a buffoon who said this at one of his rallies: “Its freezing here, and they talk about global warming, its freezing”.

You get what you deserve, always.

note: This piece is not meant to say that other countries are better than the US, nor is it an attack on the myriad of people who believe in change and truth. It is meant to be a point of reflection, and it is my own and personal opinion.

originally published on Medium

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