Category Archives: Social Change

Pragmatism or Self Preservation?

I’m not sure if I still know how to do this, but here goes… ūüėČ

For most of my life, I’ve battled with what seemed to be an entrenched faith in the goodness of people.

I’ve always seen that as a flaw in my character (vulnerability) which, once exposed, people attempted to exploit.

Still, I felt it better to be that way then steeped in cynicism. I’d rather put my faith in goodness than the soul sapping omnipresent forces of evil.

But, I needn’t have worried because time and experience relentlessly challenged my belief, even with people whom I’ve loved.

I’ve come to accept that human beings are gradations of grey, and that rarely, all too rarely, do the fullness of ourselves hold up to examination. Especially, against the elusive measure of goodness.

I’ve watched in the last six weeks as the torrent of sexual misconduct and criminal allegations have unfolded with horror. Which says to me that my self assessment was wrong. I’ve walked the earth for 17,549 days and still my desire to believe in the intrinsic goodness of humanity abides, intellect and experience be damned.

I’ve gone from shock, to jarring, long forgotten recollections of abuse/misconduct that I endured, escaped, and as the mind is won’t to do – buried. Self preservation is one of the strongest instincts.

I haven’t been able to help but think of how affirmation for those who’ve chosen to break their silence, lives side by side with unspeakable pain….and just how much these traumas shape the lives of women, unasked for, unwanted and often rarely healed.

Think of how, mounting lists of sexual “transgressions” must, as a matter of course, shape our interactions and relationships with men have kept me awake at night. I know they have shaped and marred mine and it’s an uneasy recognition.

How many women, I wonder, feel this resurgence of fear, shame, anxiety (or currently grappling with these issues daily), wedded to kinship with their sisters are battling a welling tide of resentment towards the men in their lives? Many of whom we see actively excusing, denying, or willingly turning a blind eye towards their own behavior and their gender, thereby enabling the sickening cycle of sexual abuse to continue.

I’ve asked myself (again), the question that preoccupied me, a fatherless daughter, for most of my life, “What is a good man?”

Do we ratchet back, or turn up, our expectations of male goodness in light of what’s being exposed now? How can we call ourselves a civilized society with this undertow of male immorality damaging our women, from childhood to adulthood?

Immolation, self examination and exposure mean nothing without a recgnition, and long overdue examination, of society’s role in the shaping of manhood. Part of this poison flows from that.

My thoughts turn back in on themselves and I examine this new thing, this anti-feeling, a deadening, as it were.

The initial stories evoked shock, left me shaken, in tears, grappling with a seismic, internal disturbance and unwanted memories.

How do I guard my heart?

Now, I take them in with grim, steadfast silence and painful recognition.

My mind trips over itself, intellectual constructions inadequate to contain feelings of numbness, sorrow, rage and vulnerability.

I wait for the next revelation…

No longer caught unawares, surprise has given way to expectation, unwelcome and unwanted.

I think I preferrred surprise, for what it signified about my beliefs, to this uneasy alliance with cynicism. Is man’s bestiality a given, and moral, principled behavior a rarely glimpsed exception?

Painting by Jason Siwe

Advertisements

Shattering Silence…

Happy New Year!

A new year, the same me with a renewed focus. I’ve been mulling over what I wanted to write because there is so much clattering about in my brain. There is a great deal that I wish to express, or expel as it were, and all of it deserves equal air time.

But often our stumbling block to success begins at the starting line and there we hover for an untold amount of time lost in contemplation. Contemplation leads to hesitation and so we wait for our inner voice to tell us that we are ready, when the truth is we ARE ready but fear has won the battle.

This is a lesson that I’ve learned very well and so these days I tend to…JUMP and trust in self that my steps will be ordered.

BREATHE.

Motivation breeds momentum which propels us to progress.

I don’t like the alternative, you see.

The alternative is silence, white noise, and every writer’s nightmare – the dreaded blank page.

This is not a time for silence.

The world does not need our silence.

The world needs our voices, raised in collective, unifying dissent.

Dissent against the status quo and those who would languish in the comfort of their ignorance and privilege while others die beneath the weight of racism, patriarchy,  poverty, White supremacy, homophobia, class war, misogyny, gun violence, militarization of our police force and the massive prison industrial complex.

The status quo thrives off our silence and complacency.

It is the unified voice, fueled by outrage, compassion and our internal moral compass that searches for truth and justice, which propels humanity forward.

___________________________________________________________________________

So, you can look forward to hearing more from me this year.  I am interested in being part of the unfolding conversation on the difficulties that we face in this country. I am compelled by the young men and women of Ferguson who, cloaked only in their anger, outrage, sadness and courage, have fearlessly given rise to a national movement, #BlackLivesMatter.

The conversation they’ve begun challenges much of what we accept, exposes the racism, corruption and machinations of government exploitation of citizens, the injustice of our judicial system and the lack of police accountability which has taken the lives of countless African Americans. Sadly, it is not a new conversation but it now has urgency and weft behind it, and it is forcing us to peel back the layers of institutional and structural inequality which is as American as apple pie.

It is an uprising against injustice whose time has come.

As I write, I look forward to feed back from each of you to have a much needed conversation on race and a myriad of topics. Some of it will be difficult to discuss, as difficult as it is for me to write about. We all have bias and operate from a place of privilege, cemented by our gender, socio-economic status, education and race – long before we even know that any of that matters. What we do about them, how we examine them, and attempt to connect with others in spite of them, as we move through our world – matters.

The willingness to engage and shatter silence, on an individual level – matters.

Conversations bring to light that which is hidden and encourage us to examine our beliefs. From our beliefs arise action and change will happen, one conversation and conscious decision at a time.

Wishing you peace, courage, consciousness and joy.

C.

 

 

And then there was Eve…

1billion-home-india

Favorite thing of the day #2. #1 is We Are Not Trayvon Martin :).

This article, Boys with Tender Hearts And Big Dreams In Their Hoodies, and video broke my heart and put it back together again.

I’ve always loved Eve Ensler. She is a phenom, scribe and agent for change, all things closest to my heart. Now, I love and respect her even more for breaking it all the way down like this and doing that thing she does so well, turning passion into purpose. Read and watch… #J4TM #StopViolenceAgainstWomen #Rising

Visit http://www.Onebillionbising.org

We Are Not Trayvon Martin…

For months, I’ve seen African Americans lead the charge on Twitter in an attempt to school White liberals (et al) on White privilege. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they scream BS and you’re pulling the race card and run tweeting in the other direction.

“Denial is the most predictable of human responses.” – The Matrix.

Indeed.

It is also the most shameful when truth is staring you in the face – if you would just remove your blinders to see it.

It changes the entire dynamic when you open your mind and listen with an open heart. It validates the other and comes from an honest place which allows for building and coalitions.

That has awesome all over it, yes?

Because, let’s face it, the racism that infects our country’s institutions, spawns racist laws and has poisoned so many minds, can’t be fixed by POC alone. Just as it was in the 60’s, we need a broad coalition to address the egregious wrongs that are being perpetrated on POC.

That’s why it did my heart good to see the diverse crowds that have been protesting against the Zimmerman verdict. And, the Youtube video below that went viral after the verdict. (Not the only one but I believe that it’s the first.)

I just found out about wearenottrayvonmartin and it blew my mind. It’s a compilation of perspectives by (mostly) White people on White privilege. Most importantly, it asks, “What will you do to change this country?”

Great article here.

Is this a sign of the beginning of a much needed dialogue on race that America needs to have? Of the change many of us would like to see? It may just be that we are witnessing an important moment.

We can only hope. *fingers crossed*

EXCERPT – I’M RAISING MY WHITE FLAG: AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL WHITE PEOPLE

I white‚Äôd out my profile pics on Facebook and Twitter. I did this to align myself with white power ‚Äď not to laud it, but to acknowledge this sad reality that me and all white people share. We who were born white are heirs to white privilege ‚Äď at least here in the USA. One very important thing this means is if I‚Äôm walking in my own neighborhood at night, I‚Äôm far less likely to be deemed suspicious and then gunned down than my black male counterparts taking the same walk.

I decided to white out my Facebook and Twitter profiles today to align myself with white power not to laud it, but to acknowledge it as my unwanted, undeserved inheritance. I see this as a first step all white people must face as our part in ending racism in America and preventing any more Trayvon Martin tragedies.

We didn‚Äôt make these rules, but they‚Äôre here and serve us quite well if you ask me. What‚Äôs more, these inherited rules also mean that if I gun down an unarmed black man who I deem suspicious, the criminal justice system will provide me every benefit of doubt the deadly privilege of being white affords me. Not a bad deal for us whites and certainly a good one for George Zimmerman. Not only was he acquitted, he gets to have his gun back ‚Äď yes the exact one he used to shoot Trayvon Martin in the chest! What really bothers me about all this is the burden I feel I carry of being, as I perceive, one of a few white people who get and readily admit my undeserved privilege. I‚Äôm sick because it seems way too easy for far too many white people to feel excused from facing who they really are because: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not racist‚ÄĚ ‚Äď as if non-racist white people have never racially profiled an innocent black person as suspicious. Holding this revelation, admittedly, leaves me feeling isolated and vulnerable. I‚Äôm tired with worry over being ostracized for sharing my opinions about white privilege.

But there’s another idea that tires me even more: Racism.

I‚Äôm tired of how it‚Äôs used as a wedge issue to divide us politically. I‚Äôm broken over the dehumanization of black skin by everyone from the media who want to sell ads, to politicians who want to win votes, to all my unconscious white friends and family who want to deny their privilege just to avoid feeling guilty. I‚Äôm indignant with white people who know better but do nothing out of fear of alienating their friends, family and neighbors. I‚Äôm aghast at the horrifying results of this white privilege, this white negligence where ideas like ‚Äúwe‚Äôre all part of the human race‚ÄĚ are used to shield us from taking responsibility for our inherited place of privilege. Yes, we should be a color-blind society by now, but a gunned-down, unarmed, hoodie-donning black teen named Trayvon and his acquitted white killer named George tell us we‚Äôre not.

Until we are truly color-blind, until we live in a world where it‚Äôs safe for black parents to allow their black teens to be pedestrians in their own neighborhoods, I am raising my white flag to acknowledge my own ugly, inheritance and how little I deserve it. I‚Äôm raising my flag to tell the world that I understand that I hold this oppressive power by simply being born and that I‚Äôve often obliviously exercised it over my black brothers and sisters, to my shame. I‚Äôm raising my flag against the implicit violence of media who report black crime while failing to cover the poverty that often causes it. I‚Äôm raising my flag against politicians who violently lie to divide us with race-baiting, pitting ideas like gov‚Äôt assistance recipients as lazy, greedy, and black. I‚Äôm putting these elected leaders on notice that I‚Äôm white and know the truth that the majority demographic who receives gov‚Äôt assistance are white women. I‚Äôm raising my white flag because I‚Äôm tired of the many of the white people I know, people who are friends on Facebook, getting so defensive at the slightest indication that they‚Äôre more privileged, safer, looked at more favorably in America than black people. I‚Äôm raising my flag to point out that a white person with a hoodie walking through George Zimmerman‚Äôs neighborhod watch would not have been suspicious, would not have been pursued, would not have been provoked to ‚Äústand his ground,‚ÄĚ and would not have been killed with a concealed weapon. I‚Äôm raising my flag at all the white people who share their obscene memes, their insensitive flippant remarks, their simple-minded ideas about the trial and it‚Äôs verdict so they can shield themselves from their own responsibility in this tragedy. I‚Äôm raising my flag to make all my white friends aware of just how white I am, just how white they are, and how dangerously that idea divides, how tragically it dehumanizes. I‚Äôm raising my flag because, whether we asked to be white or not, even though we didn‚Äôt create the notion ‚Äď we inherited it. I‚Äôm raising my flag to call on all fellow white people to shake their obliviousness and finally own the high status our white privilege affords us in the USA. I‚Äôm raising my flag in hopes that fellow white people will join me in finally settling the sordid accounts of our forefathers so we can end this violent, dehumanizing power of white-skin privilege once and for all!!

On the Sandy Hook tragedy: The God we know

http://thegrio.com/2012/12/19/on-the-sandy-hook-tragedy-the-god-we-know/#like-134071

Updated: Gun Violence in America – Take Action

March And Vigil Remember Chicago Student Beaten To Death Near Community Ctr

I’ve been sitting glued to my TV and tweeting for two hours as I’ve watched the unfolding tragedy of the Newtown, CT shooting. I had to come write and expel some of the horror and outrage that is sitting in my gut. I keep telling myself that it will do no good to cry, yet the tears leak out anyway as my soul will not be quiet.

As necessary as those tears are, they will not bring back the lives of the 18 children and 9 adults, so far reported, who died needlessly today. The wrongness and evilness of human actions sits on my chest like a weight.

Imagine the families who’ve lost children going home to their empty houses tonight, greeted by a void of silence where there children’s voice should be, or standing in the doorway of their empty children’s rooms. Think of the Christmas presents that will never be opened, the lost potential of human lives and the dreams and hopes of their parents lost in a tidal wave of grief. I can and my heart breaks a little more every time I think of it.

Yet for all my imaginings and empathy, I am not a parent. My heart is not walking around outside my body and some lunatic has not just changed my life, irrevocably, in the space of minutes. Whatever I might imagine, the reality of it is likely to be many, many times worse.

People have glibly and conveniently stated that this is not the time for talking politics, that it is a time to grieve and heal. There is truth in that but, as so often is the case, it is not the whole truth. It is more a convenient lie meant to silence us and run from the issue. These acts of mass violence are preventable and we have failed in our collective responsibility as a society to take what steps we can to minimize gun violence. The best time to talk about it is NOW while the tragedy is staring us in the face.

These escalating acts of violence are made all the easier by lax gun laws. We do our children and ourselves a great disservice by being complicit in the silence that has allowed the NRA to proliferate guns to any moron with an itchy finger. I don’t believe that more rigorous background checks are the sole answer to this problem. Automatic weapons should be banned, as a federal measure. The cost of ammunition should be prohibitively expensive and strict regulatory control is desperately needed. However, I will take anything as a starting point over where we are now.

As quiet as it’s kept, the reality of gun violence is not limited to mass killings. Murder happens every day in our cities, particularly in urban communities of color. Look at the epidemic of violence in Chicago. The sheer number of posts on the Huffington Post is sure to blow your mind. It has been happening for such a long time that it is now de facto and unchallenged. Cause, you know, Blacks are just violent and perpetrating this madness all on their own. bullshit. How wrong is that?

Politicians have considered it political suicide to tackle the issue of gun violence. Either that, or they are in the pockets of the NRA. Between the complicity, corruption and gun advocates raving about their 2nd amendment rights… We’ve landed HERE. STOP. Do not pass Go as your life may be forfeit.

This speaks volumes about the state of our so called civilized society. Is this epidemic of violence civilized? Must we continue to debate about the responsibilities of the individual when the collective is suffering heavy casualties, the loss of human life?

We’re not doing it right.

Something must be done and it is our responsibility to demand change. It can not be that the corporations have taken hold of this country and continually screw the masses out of decent wages, affordable food, safe drinking water, affordable utilities, housing and our very lives. Not if we stand together and call for change. They said the corporations would win the elections with the billions donated by special interests and they were wrong. Let’s make them wrong again.

Take heart, save someone’s life and make your voice heard. If you take action, you’ll not only feel better but you will honor the victims.

**Updated: Please read the following piece by Golide Taylor. I admire her tremendously for her veracity and courage. Gun violence affects in so many ways and her story is one of many.**

1. Facts about US gun violence

2. Who’s in the NRA’s pocket?

3. The Brady Campaign

Go to http://www.bradycampaign.org to see how you can help.

4. Sign a White House Petition

There are a bunch of petitions on the White House site. I chose this one: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/immediately-address-issue-gun-control-through-introduction-legislation-congress/2tgcXzQC?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl

The Burden of a Black President – Atlantic Mobile

http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/the-weight-of-a-black-president/263775/

It Will Not Stand: The War on Women’s Choice

I’ve had many discussions with older African Americans about what we call the apathy of the younger generation. They seem to be incredibly distant from the struggles of Civil Rights Era. To hear them tell it, it has little to do with them and I can only hypothesize that this mental “distance” is part ignorance, part self defense and partly the right of those who benefit but do not get bloodied in the fight.

In my opinion, the view that the world is so different today that they don’t need to actively engage and fight for change in the Black community is sadly way too prevalent.

As a a child born the year that Dr. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X were assassinated, great granddaughter of a slave and Native American Indian and the daughter of a woman who lived through Jim Crow, the struggle is an ingrained part of who I am. I see myself, individually and collectively, connected to a legacy of strife and ascension of which I am the beneficiary and guardian. I do not feel the disconnection but the continuum of The Dream.

Regardless of what this generation might believe, this shift towards individualism and away from a collective sense of struggle, which were the glue of the Black community, is only possible because they are beneficiaries of the Civil Rights era.

That is where we differ.

The past few weeks have shown me where we connect. The assaults on women’s rights have left me stunned only because I’ve spent my life in the same protective bubble of inherited blind confidence, assurance and disconnectedness. I am moved by tales of women having back alley abortions, disturbed by old movies where women were so clearly lacking any real autonomy but that’s just so yesterday. How could they have stood such a thing? I just never got it. Women have fought for their rights as equal citizens and made tremendous, unassailable strides, or so I thought.

I was wrong.

Women’s rights are under attack. Our right to our bodies, to self-determination and actualization is what’s on the chopping block. I had no doubt that we remain second class citizens in the eyes of many men and that we live in a world whose limitations are defined by patriarchy but those rights which women marched for, died for, and laws which had already been passed…I never imagined that they would be challenged. Not in the 21st century.

Beneath the skin of our nation, ideological warfare is being waged. Religious zealotry has infected politics under the guise of the GOP, threatening to undo 40 years of progress. The separation of church and state is guaranteed by the first amendment and yet that seems to hold little sway in the political arena TODAY. You only have to listen to Santorum to get the lay of the land. The Right wing agenda is actively and insidiously pushing legislation based on their religious beliefs, challenging and undermining women’s reproductive choice. Transvaginal ultrasound my ass. If you think that’s an exaggeration, read this article from the Daily Kos. You can also read the excellent article, The GOP War on birth control by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

Historically, women vote in greater numbers than men and I’m betting that the 2012 election will be nothing short of historic.

In a society where women are still struggling for equal representation, still not earning the same pay for the same work as their male colleagues, still make up less than 15% of congress, never mind be president, and comprise less than 10% of media executives, which stops us from telling our own stories and combating embedded stereotypes, lack of reproductive choice is a death sentence.

Every woman I know is outraged at the dismissiveness of elected officials and their intrusion, legally mandated, on our personal choice. Women need to send a resounding message that we will not go back. I will never in my lifetime support a candidate who espouses the rhetoric and policies coming from the GOP candidates seeking presidential nomination.

It will not stand.

The call has gone out for a National March against the War on Women to be held in Washington on 4/28/12. I plan to be there with every person I can wrangle to show that our voice matters, ensure my rights and those of future generations. Just to ensure that they get their chance to glide along in the protective bubble and take for granted, as long as they can, that their rights are guaranteed. ūüôā

Go to http://www.facebook.com/UniteWomen for more information.

Income Inequality & The New Poor: Who Speaks For Them?

In the daily spin cycle of political madness, it is rare to hear the GOP nominees talk about their plan for improving life for average Americans. Instead, what you hear is vitriolic attacks against their contenders, talk of trips to the moon, tax plan proposals that are proven to benefit the 1%, war, more war, ways to secure the border against the massive waves of immigrants stealing American jobs (not patriotic outsourcing corporations), and an ongoing barrage of negativity aimed at President Obama.

Strip away the rhetoric and one can only surmise that they are not in touch with the average American whom they so desperately wish to represent. This is underscored by small things like the fact that Romney, the lead contender for the GOP nomination, receives the most votes from those making over $200,000.

If they had a clue, they could speak more persuasively and authentically about issues which matter to a larger section of the country, not just the moneyed elite, the bigots, the Tea Party and the like. You know, like President Barack Obama did so beautifully in his State Of The Union address. So, beautifully that 91% of those surveyed, regardless of party affiliation, agreed with the direction and umm progressive plan that he proposed.

Just for your edification, the middle class is loosely defined as:

  • Individuals whose role in society is “conceptualizing, creating or consulting”
  • College educated
  • Salary ranging from $25,000 upwards to $100,000

For a fuller definition, see Wikipedia source here

Stories of The New Poor

They are doing their best to talk around the realities that many of us are facing and so I thought it would be germane to share some real stories of what the middle class, better defined as the New Poor, are going through.

1. A friend of mine, who is a single mother and has an MBA in Business, was gainfully employed until 2009.¬† In her early 40’s she finally attained her piece of the American dream which allowed her to buy her own home, provide an excellent education for her daughter and have a modest savings.

She was out of work for one year and in that time, ran through her savings and 401K. Unemployment not being sufficient, she began living off her credit and was dogged by the prospect of losing her new home. Tenaciously, she treated her job search like a job, spending three hours a day working her contacts, calling and submitting resumes and spending one day a week at the library.

Going on interviews was an exercise in terror,  as she ran headfirst into the stereotype most educated Black people endure all their lives. Interviewers love you in print, love your articulation and intelligence via the phone but once they meet you the story changes. First to be fired, last to be rehired in a bad economy. Lest we forget, that the African American employment rate is double that of Caucasians historically.

Finally, she found a job through a temp agency, which required that she take a 1/3rd pay cut with no health benefits. Her blood pressure medication costs her a whopping $150 a month and of course, with the stress of her finances, she’s had intermittent health problems ever since her layoff. Yet, despite her qualifications, three years later, she can’t find a job in her former salary range and now only makes enough money to pay her basic bills. She’s thankful that her sister lives with her to share the load and lives in fear of an emergency that she will not have the funds to deal with.

Her daughter, now in public school, straight A and brilliant, is now one year away from college and she’s been told that the cost of her education will now be solely on her. These are the hard choices we make in spite of years of planning and preparation.

2. Another friend of mine, in her 50’s, bought a co-op during the good old days in 2007. She had lived in her one bedroom apt. for 20 years when she sold it at a considerable profit to buy a really nice 1 bedroom condo in NY. Since 2008 she has changed jobs three times. She’s a nice Jewish girl but the reality is that salaries have declined and when companies discover they can do more with less, the people get shafted.

During her bouts of unemployment, her parents helped her because her available income and 30 years of savings quickly evaporated. Her current job doesn’t cover the cost of her basic living expenses anymore so she lives off a combination of credit and her¬†home equity line of credit.

3. My boss retired in early 2008 at 62. He had already lost¬†50% of his savings¬†when the stock market began it’s course correction in 2007. Thankfully, his home is paid off and in great shape but he too has no discretionary equity to work with so any emergency or extra expense is covered by his home equity which is now $5,000.

He and his wife pay approx. $1,200 a month in health care coverage which eats up a huge chunk of his savings. I won’t tell you about the co-pay because you might get ill. So much for your golden years.

4. And then there is me. You can read my story here.

This is the reality for those who have not been foreclosed on, who are not “welfare queens”, and for those who have been educated to compete and contribute in a free-market society. How much personal meaning does that have these days?

In many cases, this the reality of working people who had already managed to elevate themselves from blue collar working class backgrounds, regardless of race. They are struggling and suffering, mostly in silence.

This contrasted against the greediest amongst our society whom continue to flourish and fight against paying higher taxes as generational poverty becomes a stark and frightening reality. If this trend continues what will it mean to the future of our country? Or, doesn’t that matter?

Who speaks for them? I will give you a hint, the name does not include the letters GOP. Amongst many other frightening realities, it is the spectre of reactionary and regressive policies that do not benefit the masses, or reflect 21st century progressive values, homelessness, lack of medical coverage, hunger and poverty which make this a critical election year.

The Archives – The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change

What a fantastic find! I just had to share it because the principles of MLK day should be thought of for more than one day…

DigIn' the Humanities!

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , here is a link to a digital archive of letters and documents associated with Dr. King. This is a fascinating trove!

The Archive | The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

 

View original post

Videos of The Week #2: President Obama Calls For New Nationalism & Historic LGBT Human Rights Speech by Secretary Clinton

I know, I know. I said that I would put our my favorite videos of the week. Well, Monday’s post was really last week’s lol. In any case, you should forgive me because these videos really are a must see. They speak so eloquently for themselves that no commentary is necessary.

Is it just me or is it totally amazing just how many historic things have happened in the last three months alone? I feel god awful for those folks who are doing 2011 lists. It’s been a humdinger for sure ūüėČ

SECRETARY CLINTON – 12/6/11

Videos Of The Week #1

Happy Monday all,

I have decided to add some excitement to your lives by posting my favorite videos of the week. I’m going to give myself some leeway as to subject matter since you know how broad my interests are. This week’s are relating to social ills and civil disobedience, amongst other pertinent and heady subjects. Nothing like a little multimedia to brighten your day ūüôā

Harry Belafonte on Occupy Wall Street

The Usury States Of America – Bill Maher & Elizabeth Warren

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?

If you’ve been paying attention, you must be wondering the very same thing. OWS is everywhere these days it seems and they have done what formerly seemed impossible, they have put our economic woes and highlighted some of the social ills of our society, more on this later, front and center in the national conversation. As laudable as that is, that’s not enough and it seems they have begun to work on a Vision statement and will soon be formulating a list, according to Michael Moore. Click here to go to Mike’s website. The statement below was released last night.

I think the list is great but feel that it falls short in terms of addressing many of the social ills which effect our society. Specifically, the judicial system and prison industrial complex. Click here for an extremely informative article on this very issue.

I am very curious to know what your opinions are re: the list and matters at hand so feel free to comment. Have a wonderful thanksgiving and don’t forget to count your blessings! ūüôā

____________________________________________________________________________________________

November 22nd, 2011 1:51 PM

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?

 By Michael Moore

This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

                                                                 10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company‚Äôs workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world‚Äôs leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at¬†OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

What Does It Mean To Be A Human Being?

An excellent question. What does it mean to you and what do you stand for?

I’ve been writing frantically all day and have no energy to write my intended post :(. In it’s place, I leave the next best thing, two must see videos that are sure to inspire you and make you think. Kudos to Angela Davis and Danny Glover. I thought I loved Danny before but now… I have no words.

I have always respected and loved Angela for her sacrifice and commitment. Watch for the link at the end of the video, which will appear at the top in white text, that takes you to the Q&A section.

One of the most beautiful things that has come out of OWS is the spiritual, selfless and passionate articulation of humans, from all walks of life, across the spectrum, who have chosen to join the movement. It has gone along way towards renewing my faith in mankind.

Power To The People!

My Breaking News: Activist Archive – Educate, Empower & Challenge

Some of you have already noticed that I have added a new page to my blog, Activist Archive РEducate, Empower & Challenge. Please visit the link at top of my Home page.

I have added this page for those who are disgusted with the current state of American politics, our failing economy and various social issues. The time is ripe to raise your voice and make change.

The page will contain those causes that are close to my heart but I am, as always, open to suggestions. If you would like to contribute, feel free to email me at dreamingnwords@gmail.com.

Spread The Word!

An Activist Is Born…

What is a nactivist? A new activist, duh. Ok, so it’s not incredibly snazzy but in a world rich with made up words, I felt it was my God given right to give it a try. I will stick with stories in the future lol.

All my life I have regretted not being alive during some past era so that I could get behind some¬†humane¬†cause and do my part in changing the world. I missed the Women’s Movement, African Americans¬†Civil Rights Movement or Ooh la la la¬†The Sexual Revolution.¬†A tragedy of ginourmous¬†proportions. I would have been a bra burner for sure!¬†Of course, the flip side to that would be experiencing the injustice, racism, sexism,¬†misogyny¬†and puritanical boundaries of¬†misguided American society that strangled it’s citizenry. Right.

Still, I would give my left arm, rhetorically speaking, to have been witness to the brilliance of Dr. King, Malcolm X or Angela Davis. We have no great leaders today and it breaks my heart. I am drawn like a flame to the passion, commitment and dedication of activism and yet I am a member of a generation, as has been stated ad nauseum, that is incredibly self-indulgent and stands for NOTHING.

I take the blame¬†that¬†I have done nothing but chatter about social injustice up to this point. It wasn’t because I didn’t have passionate beliefs, or was blind to injustice, but because there has always been something more pressing to do, like living my life. That’s a big thing all by itself and it is frequently out of hand lol. But I would lie if I didn’t say that I always felt a nagging guilt that while I was verbally committed a corresponding action never arose.

This weekend was cataclysmic for me, as well as many others. I can say quite unequivocally that I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! I have the time and I am deeply committed, for once, to something outside of myself and it feels fine.

I was not looking for a cause to champion but the death of Troy Davis and The Occupy Wall Street Movement have captured my attention and seem worthy causes to stand behind.

Ironically, I am, in a sense, a victim of my own words. After my last post, I thought about just how disturbed I am that people are sitting around doing nothing while the world falls apart around them. I do not like the idea of being included in that club. I thought about how disgusted I am that privilege, wealth and class are robbing people of their constitutional rights, civil liberties and is the cause of spiritual death and actual loss of life, in some cases. I thought about me and how blessed I feel (yes, I am a living contradiction lol) to be alive NOW. For all the difficulties that we labor under, what are the odds that I would have been the person that I am had I been born 60 years ago? It never leaves my mind and I know the answer is Рnot f*cking likely. Which led me to humbly thank once again all who had gone before and a wonderful thing happened Рcommitment crystallized.

I don’t have children and am not sure I ever will so I can’t hope that they will have some fantastic impact on the world and pick up where I left off. The footsteps I leave behind will be all mine…

In keeping with this I am now a member of Amnesty International & the NAACP. I have donated to Occupy Wall Street and will be in the next march and the next. Send bail money if I get arrested! I have been working on spreading the word to my friends in the hopes that they too will be nactivists and I have volunteered, egads, to help with articles for Occupy The Nation whose purpose is to bring attention to the national movement which is growing at a phenomenally fast rate. Very cool.

There are detractors out there who say that¬†#OWS¬†is doomed¬†to fail because it lacks structure, lacks a leader, is disorganized, blah blah¬†blah. I would like to ask them what they are doing to make a change and ask them to acknowledge¬†what it does have…a growing chorus of voices joined in the BELIEF that we can right the morally corrupt yoke that is strangling the heart of present and future generations. Not all, just some would satisfy me.¬†As Michael Moore said, “It has to start somewhere…”

I have been thinking of all of you as I have been Tweeting like mad instead of writing Blog entries lol. I love my Blog community, each and every one of you, for the huge bite of humanity that I ingest each time I read¬†your poetry, joys, triumphs and perspectives.¬†Thank you for sharing in my journey. ūüôā

Here are some links to articles and videos underscoring the need for change.

– The Guardian on The Occupy Wall Street Movement

РNY Times article on the Death Penalty РAn Indefensible Punishment 

NYPD Police Brutality – Occupy Wall Street 9/24/11

Troy Davis Execution Protests Georgia – 9/21/11

Things Fall Apart…Belief & The Power of Change

Yesterday was a heavy day for me as I was psychologically burdened¬†by the weight of my frustrations about the Troy Davis case and the state of things.¬†I actually felt disconnected from myself, because all the things that are usually on the forefront of my mind vanished into the mist – so I did nothing. Nothing but feel clouded and muffled….it was a stormy day.

Not content to wallow in hopelessness, I took my angst to the Net. I was looking for information on the movement to stop the death penalty and was overcome with a burning compulsion to find out what I could do. 

When I talk to people so often what I hear is not that they don’t care about politics or injustice, but that they do not believe that¬†caring means anything. What point is there to caring if there is nothing you can do about it? The polls call them the Undecided¬†but it would be more accurate to call them the¬†Unbelievers. The general feeling is that they are just one person against a mountain of money, corporations, politicians and a system¬†rife with¬†corruption, racism, greed and indifference.

In such a world, isn’t it better to keep your head down? Better to worry about your own life because¬†nothing you¬†do will ultimately matter?

I have never been a person who accepted that way of thinking. It’s comfortable and familiar for many but it’s not the way I choose to live my life. Not just because caring about others comes naturally to me, but because¬†such¬† acceptance is¬†a¬†kind of spiritual death. That’s¬†what arises when you feel powerless and at the mercy of your environment.

I am positive that my resistance is¬†spiritually and¬†historically based. Think of all the people who have gone before who have manged to effect¬†real change in the world and where we would be if they too were Unbelievers. Thoughts of my¬†ancestors, what they sacrificed, and how they struggled,¬†is all that’s required to inject me with a passionate belief that change is possible.

Our world mirrors the imperfections of the human race and I have no doubt that it always will. But one of the key differences between us and animals is our ability, at any given point in time, to reject our teachings, surroundings and harness the power of mental and spiritual evolution which is the impetus for change. Without it, we would be dead already.

I will admit that this train of thought was not uppermost in my mind yesterday but being on the Net changed all that. What began as a simple foray into finding out about the death penalty movement ended with me bleary eyed at 2:45 AM. I found a trail of bread crumbs and it led me from one site to another and another and another.

I read about the history of the death penalty and found organizations like Amnesty International, Color Of Change, Campaign To End The Death Penalty and Democracy Now. I found the website for Troy Davis, read articles from tons of newspapers and Opinion Blogs. I also watched The Egyptian Revolution video (below) which brought me to tears. Many thanks to my Twitter Community for their uplifting and insightful comments and leading the way.

I ended the day on the Occupy Wall Street site and what I saw amazed me. The movement, now in it’s sixth day, is receiving little or no mainstream media coverage which of course reminded me of Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” It is¬†largely made up of college students, so they say, and has engendered international support. The world is watching and cheering us on.

I read through 172 comments last night, which were remarkably free of hate messages, containing advice from every quarter, lawyers, older activists who understand the politics of revolution, and everyday folks. They gave REAL advice, legal and otherwise. It was uplifting and empowering and reminded me of just what can be done when we stand together to right a wrong. Better yet, they reminded me of the beauty, diversity and power of the human race. They gave me hope and a renewed belief which I so sorely needed.

The power of the Internet is not routers, servers, fiber optics or the cloud. It is the power of connection that allows human beings to connect with one another and draw strength from one another and celebrate our humanity.

Note: The title of this post is humbly borrowed from the book entitled “Things Fall Apart” by famed author Chinua Achebe.

A Stain Upon Our Nation – RIP Troy Davis

Troy Anthony Davis

October 9, 1968 – September 21, 2011

Funeral Donations

When the announcement came through last night that the U.S. Supreme Court would not grant a stay of execution for Troy Anthony Davis I was inconsolable. I cried and fought against my feelings of anger and hopelessness and when I woke up this morning it was the first thing that came to mind.

It makes NO sense to me that with the preponderance of¬†doubt in this case that the justice¬†system proceeded, mercilessly and inexorably,¬†while¬†a potentially¬†innocent man was led¬†to his death. If a case where 7 of 9 eyewitnesses recanted¬†partial,¬†or in some cases, complete reversal of their original testimonies, doesn’t deserve a retrial – what does?

You must ask yourself what kind of system is at work that in the face of such glaring discrepancies would allow the harshest possible punishment and call it JUSTICE. I have asked and do not like the answer. When the innocent are executed in the name of capital justice we should call it what it is Рmurder. It is a stain upon our nation that should be eradicated. America has enough blood to bear.

Consider just how many prominent people and organizations expressed their outrage to no avail: Pope Benedict XVI; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; President Jimmy Carter; Harry Belafonte; NAACP; Amnesty International, to name a few. Yet, it did nothing to turn the tide of what was viewed by hundreds of thousands as a miscarriage of justice. Do our voices not carry weight?

African-Americans, of course, feel that this is yet another statement about the social injustices that are in integral part of our history,¬†stretching back endlessly. We know that in the minds of many a Black man’s life holds no weight when shored up against a White¬†police officer. The system has shown repeatedly that such offenders, regardless of circumstance, evidence or¬†public outcry are not innocent until proven guilty which is a constitutional outrage.

It broke my heart reading the¬†Tweets by people of all races who were similarly¬†enraged and disgusted but I was completely unmanned by the¬†articulation¬†of¬†feelings by Black folks which underscored¬†our implied worthlessness, hopelessness¬†and dehumanization.¬†The overwhelming outcry “Still it continues…” Troy Davis is one of too many to face a similar fate and this is one more tragic example. It is¬†evident that¬†because African-Americans are jailed¬†at a disproportionately higher rate that they are more likely to be affected by capital punishment so our feelings are not unfounded.

“African Americans¬†are 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 42 percent of prisoners on death row. In Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Maryland, and in the U.S. military and federal system, more than 60 percent of those on death row are Black; Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio all have death rows where more than 50 percent are African American. Although Blacks constitute approximately 50 percent of murder victims each year, 80 percent of the victims in death penalty cases were white, and only 14 percent were Black.

Of the over 18,000 executions that have taken place in this country’s history, only 42 involved a white person being punished for killing a Black person.

According to Amnesty International, more than 20 percent of Black defendants executed since 1976 were convicted by all-white juries.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death penalty laws in the U.S. were unconstitutional, in part because capital punishment was rife with racial disparities.”

Campaign To End The Death Penalty www.nodeathpenalty.org

The world isn’t fair and many injustices roll out on a daily basis and some will argue that this is just one more example being played out,¬†regrettable, disturbing¬†but unavoidable. But this was not a natural disaster or some fickle¬†happenstance¬†event – it was done at the hands of men and is preventable.

I can’t, now or ever, stand behind the death penalty as a means of punishment because it is senseless to¬†tell people it is wrong to kill and then use the same¬†methods to punish them.¬†There is no such thing as a humane¬†death and we are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise. In my heart, I believe that the death penalty is¬†inhumane and dangerous in the hands of a system that is all too often ineffective, inaccurate and mired in institutional racism.

I have made jokes about being an armchair activist but this has motivated me beyond words and in my conscience will not stand. I hope that enough people will take this for a wake up call and do something more than rant and rave. I am incredibly weary of being screwed over by the systems we put in place to protect us. In the grander scale, this is a human issue which should be important to all people of conscience.

Rashad Robinson of The Huffington Post put it beautifully, “There is no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.”

There are myriad resources on-line to raise your voice and join the fight Рexercise your rights as a citizen and do something with your outrage. Check out Campaign Against The Death Penalty. Today, has been declared a day against outrage and there will be events held nationally.

Dark Days Indeed – London Race Riots

It was only last night that I finally heard about the Riots in London. It was the weekend so I was off doing my own thing. I was¬†completely caught off guard¬†because¬†we watch Channel 4 News and the Today show religiously and yet¬†there was NO mention of the London Riots.¬†That speaks volumes about the role of mass media¬†and just what is considered newsworthy. If asked, I am sure the ubiquitous they would say¬†that the¬†declining stock market and ongoing debt debate pushed this out of the limelight but I think that’s a bunch of BS. People matter more. Under it all, I think the powers that be consider¬†the uprising of the disenfranchised right across the pond to be¬†incredibly alarming and would like nothing better than to downplay it for fear of inciting a similar response here at home. Considering the ongoing foolishness coming out of DC they are right to be afraid.

It was only when I got on Twitter that I actually saw the multitude of comments and immediately began following commentary by UK residents and went to YouTube and @RT_com (Russia Today News Source) which was tweeting continuous live updates.

What I saw was horrifying and sobering. The video coverage shows how bad it has gotten in a very short period of time in a way words could never convey.

For the intelligent few, the reason to riot encompasses Mark Duggan and many other social injustices.

And in spite of my horror, I am a firm believer in the right and effectiveness of public dissent.

For the faceless masses of the disenfranchised there is little choice but to strike with a bludgeon at the heart of those in control, they will not listen otherwise. People will disagree with this and say that it is an uncivilized response and I agree wholeheartedly that hurting innocent people and tearing down your community is not the way forward. However, rallies don’t¬†do much¬†because as one person so succinctly stated on Twitter, “500,000 people marched against the gov’t cuts in the UK (of all races I might add) but they went through anyway.”

It really is a no brainer to see that once the wealthy and powerful are in control their consideration for the less fortunate is negligible. Who willingly gives up power? Right.

I believe in¬†MLK and¬†Malcolm X’s philosophy and have great admiration for both of them. If peace will not work then “By any means necessary” becomes your only choice.

It is very easy for people of non-color to point the finger at minorities and say they should only use legal channels to invoke change. It’s easy because they are not the ones who live a life marred by the effects of racism, institutional and societal. They don’t live under a constant cloud of suspicion. They probably also don’t notice that while¬†rates on unemployment continue to climb the highest rate is among minorities directly affecting their quality of life. Nor,¬†do they¬†have to live with the fear that their brothers, fathers or other male family members will at some point be arrested and possibly terrorized and beaten by the people we pay taxes to protect us. I live with that feeling everyday and am a law abiding citizen for whatever weight that carries which is none.

All the people who sit quietly by while social injustices continue unchallenged are, in my opinion, just as guilty as the abusers. What reason do they have to stir themselves to participate in what is at its base a public outcry? They have a moral obligation.

This is not the first time we have heard of a black, unarmed man being shot while under suspicion. Need I mention Amadou Diallo?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo_shooting

As quoted from¬†Wikipedia on Amadou¬†Diallo, “The event spurred subsequent social psychology research. Eberhard and colleagues (2004) conducted experiments with police officers which revealed that they were quicker to decide to shoot an unarmed black target than an unarmed white target, and were quicker to decide to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target.” Absolutely and that is not exclusive to NY,¬†LA, UK or Africa…

It’s such a common occurrence, this pattern of abuse and harassment, that most minorities harbor a deep fear and hatred of police officers. We are convinced¬†by their actions, not anomalous but commonplace,¬†that they devalue¬†us as human beings and the natural response to that is RAGE.

Apparently, the rioters are mostly young people and that is also understandable. Young people do not have the advantage of maturity in order to channel their anger productively. In a society which glorifies violence in movies and video games and the like, coupled with the recent example of Egypt would you really expect them to take any other course of action? What they really need is a leader to unify and direct their efforts not rabblerousers and mindless criminals polluting the message that needs to be sent.

Of course, the opportunistic have landed and criminality is raging out of control. Sadly, it is par for the course. Mark Duggan is lost among the din and that is truly horrible but the underlying causes should be considered.

I am praying for a cessation to the violence and I am hoping, perhaps naively, that something good will come out of so much pain and horror but I know the likelihood is slim.

All in all, my heart is heavy today and I am saddened that things have come to such a sorry pass. Will it ever change?