Monday, January 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Only people with hope will struggle. The people who are hopeless are grist for the fascist mill. Because they have no hope, they have nothing to build on. If people are in trouble, if people are suffering and exploited and want to get out from under the heel of oppression, if they have hope that it can be done, if they can see a path that leads to a solution, a path that makes sense to them and is consistent with their beliefs and their experience, then they'll move. But it must be a path that they've started clearing. They've got to know the direction in which they are going and have a general idea of the kind of society they'd like to have. If they don't have hope, they don't even look for a path. They look for somebody else to do it for them." ~~Myles Horton in The Long Haul (1990)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fire in the Delta

Fire in the Delta
Uploaded by Ndelta

Sokari at Black Looks tells us:

"In 2005, the High Court declared gas flaring illegal yet both the Nigerian government and oil multinationals have ignored the court ruling. Last year the Nigerian government once again promised to stop all gas flaring on the 1st January this year - a promise that goes back nearly 40 years. Companies defying the order were to be shut down. Once again the government has shown complete disregard and insensitivity to the communities in the Niger Delta and given into pressure from Shell, Chevron, Elf etc. The date has now been set for the end of the year but no one really believes that the government will once again bow to the oil multinationals.

"Inemo [Ndelta] has put together this short video [see above] which shows the environmental damage (gas flares both on the ground and those that burn up in the sky; old leaking pipes across farmlands and homes; oil filled creeks and ponds; oil fires which burn the land and people; across the region)."

So, in solidarity with the people of the Niger Delta, I just cut my Chevron gas card in half (even though that's the only local station I have a card for) and I'm mailing it back to the company with my explanation as to why. Our brothers and sisters are specifically asking us -- the heaviest users of gasoline in the world -- to bring pressure on the companies that are causing them to suffer: Shell, Exxon, Mobil and Chevron. Are you in?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Passin' It On

I'm tired from reading for the new semester and for the paper on bloggers I'm working on. I'm crabby because I'm back in the office tomorrow morning and, despite the fact that I love what I do as a teacher, it eats me alive. I mean, how am I going to accomplish all the things I want to be doing, if I'm spending fifty hours a week on the campus (the way I usually do)?

Anyway, I made my blog rounds today as I always try to do on Sundays and came across more than a few things I really should pass on. Here are the ones at the top of the list:

For starters, Sokari over at Black Looks turned me onto a film that's in the making. It's called "The Naked Option" and tells the story of a small group of African women who brought Chevron to its knees. I can hardly wait to see it in its entirety, but in the meantime, the trailer alone is electrifying.

Secondly, both Sylvia at Problem Chylde and Kai at Zuky tipped us to to the fact that former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, another extraordinarily strong woman of color, has announced that she is not going to run for President on the Green Party ticket after all and for reasons of which we need to be aware.

Maxjulian, The Free Slave, is giving us yet another election issue to re-consider, since it seems we've put it on the back burner now that campaigns are heating up on the front of the stove.

And Professor Zero has issued a Chiapas Alert related to apparent governmental threats to the people of that region in Mexico. I understand that duties on U.S. agri-products were dropped as of January 1st, so I was expecting some backlash from indigenous people with their already poverty-stricken backs pushed even harder to the wall. It seems the government has similar expectations and is preparing to respond to them as they usually do.

Finally, Theriomorph at Creek Running North initiated a truly excellent thread on being an ally to people of color, especially to women of color. It will likely inspire me to write another in my series on How To Be An Ally (see the top of the link list to the right), but until that happens, you'll have plenty to read. Because even when I'm tired and crabby, when it comes to my faithful readers, love is spoken here.
The poster above is a product of the highly respected Syracuse Cultural Workers.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Four Freedoms

The following words were Franklin Delano Roosevelt's address to the United States Congress on January 6, 1941. That was fifty-seven years ago today. Looking back over all that has come to pass since then and remembering the history of this nation from its beginning -- including the genocide of the indigenous peoples, the brutal desecration of Africa and its children through exploitation and slavery in all its forms to the present, the commitment to disproportionate wealth reserved for specific groups to and by the exclusion of others, and the relishing of the use of global warfare to amass and maintain power -- it is hard to imagine that he could have been sincere. Would that we could take these words down from their airy perch in our history and boldly implement them now. Before it is too late.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

• The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

• The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

• The third is freedom from want -- which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every ation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

• The fourth is freedom from fear -- which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions -- without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.
The above graphic was created by Nezua Limon Xolagrafik-Jonez, The Unapologetic Mexican. This post is cross-blogged at Citizen Orange.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Salutations On This New Year's Day

This is the first day of a brand new year. And in this sparkling new world of a year, I expect to stretch my wings and fly into several new arenas. For one thing, I have been invited to begin cross-blogging occasionally at Citizen Orange, a rather stunning and increasingly important blog on immigation and other related issues. I'm both honored and excited about this new alliance and anticipate it being a productive one for all concerned. I'm joining a very adept and savvy team at C.O. and will work hard to live up to their expectations as we fight together for justice for all people in the United States and around the world.

In addition to this lovely development, I just learned a couple of weeks ago that a major academic publisher wants to include one of my blog posts in a reader on social problems this spring. Needless to say, I'm very excited about this for several reasons and frankly long to dance through the doors that it may open for me.

To further complicate my already sometimes overwhelming commitments to teaching, research, and the writing I do other than blogging, there are, believe it or not, several other new projects I very much want to bring to fruition, as well. So I enter this year rather like Dorothy tip-toeing down the yellow brick road toward the Emerald City, the principle difference being that Dorothy wanted to go back to Kansas eventually and I have no idea where I'll wind up. ;^)

Everything that's happening is stuff I've wanted to see happen, so I have no complaints coming about the sheer magnitude and speed as the process of my life revs up around me. Still, I begin with my heart in my throat, even though I do, in fact, believe that I will have whatever I need to accomplish what I am assigned by the Universe to do.

As I considered what I wanted to communicate on this first day of 2008 and my first day at Citizen Orange, I came across a poem by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney that moved me so much, I couldn't imagine any better way to greet all my new friends and new endeavors. Those of you to whom I am new will learn that am committed to change, that I struggle with the monsters of oppression in all its forms on a daily basis whether that is half-way around the world or deep inside my own psyche. And so I seek to remind myself with this poem that not only is there no going back to Kansas ever again for me, but the position I have voluntarily accepted to represent the Republic of Conscience can never be abdicated. Everyone is welcome in the Republic of Conscience, no matter where they come from and no matter where they live. May we learn this year what we need to know to usher in a better, freer world and begin by receiving Seamus Heaney's words:

~~From the Republic of Conscience~~
by Seamus Heaney

When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.

At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

Fog is a dreaded omen there, but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.

Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office –

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.

The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition,
that I was now a dual citizen.

He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.
This post is cross-blogged at Citizen Orange.