American Julian McBride Talks to TNH about Genocide and His Work in Greece
By Eleni Sakellis
Julian McBride, a forensic anthropologist and director of the ROW Initiative, at the United Nations.
NEW YORK – Julian McBride is a forensic anthropologist and director of the ROW Initiative. Over the past year, he completed a series of drawings on Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians who were slaughtered during the Ottoman genocides in the last century and had a major presentation on it. McBride visited the offices of The National Herald and spoke about his work and the important field of Genocide studies.
McBride grew up in Lawrence, NY and always wanted to do something that would leave his mark on the world and simultaneously give back. He just didn’t know how to do it as he was growing up. His family and teachers motivated him to do better and McBride excelled in the Lawrence School District, which is currently run by Dr. Ann Pederson, his childhood mentor and kindergarten teacher.
In 2009, McBride enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and did two tours under 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. He has been to many countries, including Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, and Singapore to name a few. After seeing six of his brothers killed in Afghanistan and the devastating effects it took on the local populace, McBride wanted to do something that would help the victims of war on all sides. He just didn’t know how to connect the puzzle yet, he told TNH.
Enrolling at Adelphi University, McBride took an interest in criminal justice and anthropology, under the mentorship of Dr. Stephanie Lake, Prof. Argie Agelarakis, and Dr. Anagnostis Agelarakis. It was under Prof. Argie Agelarakis that McBride not only learned how to draw, but also how to speak publicly.
Julian McBride, a forensic anthropologist and director of the ROW Initiative, in Crete.
Photo: Julian McBride
In February 2017, under the direction of Prof. Argie, McBride created the Reflections of War Initiative (ROW). The mission of the ROW Initiative is to tell the stories of the victims of war, who never have their voices heard since history has always been written by the victors. The slogan of his NGO is “this time, history will be written by the victims.” Through artwork, as well as guided, qualitative, and quantitative research, McBride shares the stories of victims of war worldwide. He told TNH, “It’s one thing if somebody sees something on TV but odds are they’ll ignore it a week later, but if they see art behind it they’re going to ask what went on in that story. The whole purpose of art is to tell a story and everyone’s going to look at it and think and talk about it and that’s my goal to get people to talk about these things that nobody wants to talk about.”
A main focus of the Initiative is Genocide studies, as he was motivated to push for recognition of unrecognized genocides through a field school in Crete, Greece, where he saw the graves and memorials of Greeks who were brutally murdered during Ottoman rule and the Nazi occupation. “The Arkadi Monastery was the most heartfelt factor. Over 1,500 Greeks were killed by self-immolation during the Cretan Revolt of 1866.”
Liberty or death was something taken literally at that time as the Cretans fought for their freedom from Ottoman oppression. What surprised McBride was that some Greeks he met did not know anything about the Arkadi Monastery and what happened during the Cretan Revolt. They appreciated that his work was shedding light on the history. In the excavations at the ancient city of Eleutherna, Crete and on a Neolithic site, McBride told
TNH that they found skeletons that were thousands of years old and he hopes to be a part of excavations in Cyprus, Corinth, and Meteora in the future.
McBride currently works at the United Nations under the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) Meaningful World which celebrated its 30th anniversary in March, and Rosa Mexicano, as he is no stranger to hard work. “In order to know the struggles of the worker, you have to partake in it.”
Julian McBride, a forensic anthropologist and director of the ROW Initiative, presenting his work.
Photo: Julian McBride
McBride credits his co-founders, Amberly Jaycox, Michelle Aslanyan, Nicholas Cosmo, John Salica, Vladyslav Verba, Rebecca Holmquist, and Jarand Dravik for helping to motivate him during his philanthropic work. He also credits Jessie Corso, Ariel Barrera, Rosina Prisco, Zachary Mazur, and the Sociology and anthropology departments at Adelphi for pushing him to become the forensic anthropologist he is today. “They were all instrumental in my development and I know as well they’ll leave their marks on this world, too,” he said.
McBride plans on leading more anthropological field expeditions around the world in the future under the ROW Initiative. He has partnerships with the Greek Genocide Resource Center- based in Australia, the Assyrian International News Agency, the
Meaningful World, and the Aletheia Artists Shedding Light organizations, along with his internship at the UN. McBride noted that “The war in Syria, seeing the Turkish military intervention is bringing up a lot of memories of what happened in Greece and Armenia under Turkish rule.”
In learning about his own family history and heritage which is Native American- Cherokee and African-American, he told TNH, that he understands what it is like to see persecution. When asked if young people are more involved in learning about genocide, McBride said he thinks that the younger generation is more involved in learning about many issues today, which is a hopeful sign for the future.
More information about the ROW Initiative is available online at: www.rowinitiative.org.