Blog Archive

Monday, December 8

Support Republic Windows And Doors' Former Workers! + Interesting Tidbit

Bank of America claimed to the press that "Neither Bank of America nor any other third-party lender to the company has the right to control" whether or not Republic Windows and Doors pays its former employees severance pay and vacation pay.

Republic Windows and Doors, however, seems to have told the former employees' union, or them--not sure which--that it was largely Bank of America which, in practice, even if they didn't have the "right," told them to pony up to Bank of America and cheat their workers out of their funds.

Not that that makes Republic Windows and Doors owners & managers morally better people for doing it.

But it is interesting.

Source. Seen on p. 3 of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Either way, SUPPORT THE FORMER WORKERS OF REPUBLIC WINDOWS AND DOORS!!! Write more press. Write and call more politicians. Send your friends in Chicago food/gas/El oney if they're wiling to cook and take food to the factory!

"People of Color Don’t Go Outside"

On the lack of portrayal of people of color doing outdoor recreational activity in American imagery, BFP said:

erasure or denial of people of color using public outdoor land has many effects–first, and most importantly, it criminalizes our presence on these lands. It criminalizes people of color for being outside.

I need more explanations of the connection between denial of phenomena existing and what activists mean by the word "criminalization," I think.

On my "things to find literature about" list now.

Wednesday, November 5

Organizing agenda

I want to either help organize, or partipate in organization:

  • Against the rise in hate crimes that's been going on lately

  • Against inhumane border & immigration policies

  • Against the Central Corridor light rail train's placement on University Avenue

  • For grassroots labor organization rights and mobilization actions (not to mention mobilization rights...freaking Taft-Hartley)

  • Against overthrow, or assistance of overthrow, of other countries' governments for the reason that our government/populace disagrees with the politics of those countries' governments

  • Against policies that make it hard for poor women to raise their kids to their full God-given abilities

  • For policies that help poor women raise their kids to their full God-given abilities, despite being poor
I'll add to this list later, and it will become a place I return whenever I need to remind myself what my 2009 priorities are.

It's Time To Start Community Organizing

The outpouring of open, virulent racism that many feared would arise during the campaign -- and in the secrecy of the voting booth -- never really manifested itself. But I think that it will emerge much more strongly now, in the aftermath, as part of a carefully cultivated dolchstosslegende even now being perpetrated by the rightwing media machine. Fox News and Karl Rove are already pushing stories about "Black Panthers" intimidating voters and widespread vote fraud among the worthless darkies whose votes have propelled Obama to victory. (These would be the same worthless darkies whom the rightwingers also blame for the global economic catastrophe.) There will be much, much more of this in the days and weeks to come.

It will not hurt Obama, of course; he will have the power he has sought, and the upsurge of ugly, unrepentant racism on the Right will only make his "progressive" allies far less willing to criticize his actions -- especially those mysterious "highly unpopular policies" that Joe Biden has promised Obama will adopt in the face of a guaranteed foreign policy crisis sometime next year. (Not to mention the promised escalation of the quagmire in Afghanistan.) But ordinary African-Americans will bear the painful brunt of this pouring of old hatreds into new wineskins. As always, black people will be blamed for all the nation's ills by the overclass that actually controls the machinery of power, and has been grinding its bootheel on the neck of black Americans for centuries.
-Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque
Beware that Obama, even if he had any liberal inclinations, is going to be under strict surveillance and pressure to 'govern from the centre', because practically every commentator on the box as well as the Democratic Leadership Council is demanding that Obama do just that and resist pressure from his constituents.
the Democrats control all three branches of government, with expanded majorities in the Congress and Senate. They have moved deep into Republican territory...When Obama 'reaches out' to Republicans and starts blustering about bipartisanship, and when he appoints someone like Robert Gates as his secretary of defense, there will be no excuse. If he fails to carry out even his most limited reforms, he has no scope for blaming the Right. If he doesn't close Guantanamo and restore habeus corpus, he has no one else to blame.

All I'm saying is, to those hundreds of thousands of people marching and dancing in the streets, be prepared to be back on the streets soon. The system is designed to lock you out as quickly and quietly as possible.
-Richard Seymour, Lenin's Tomb

Maybe this is why it's okay that I took such a severe break from political and policy organizing since May.

It's just about time to begin.
For fantastic persuasive writing about the importance of community organizing and about good examples of community organizing done well, please see posts written throughout the years at Brownfemipower's blog.

(I don't know where to start. I don't have friends in terribly lousy economic situations in real life, and I don't have leftist friends in real life. I can't really figure out how to get them excited about hustling to dismantle the prison-industrial complex.)
(For online life, I did, by the way, just purchase a good domain name that I'd love to give to the cause of influencing the new White House's policy stances. Contact influenceobama -at- gmail -dot- com if you think it sounds like a good idea. Honestly, I have no idea how to get a comunity web site going. I just bought the domain name to hold onto!)

Thursday, October 23

"A Woman...Should...Because Your Relationship Is Going To Be..."

Ultimately when a woman meets a man for the first time the first thing that she should make sure of is that he is aware of her physicality, because your relationship is going to be dependent on his sexual desire for you, and not on any kind of common interests or kinship. Whether or not he is attractive is certainly not important, a heartbeat and a functioning dick will do.
-Renee at Womanist Musings, mocking the message behind an advertisement

You know, when I was a teenager, I never wanted a revealing swimsuit. I did end up explaining that to some friends, family, babysitters, etc. My words at the time were, "I want a guy to be attracted to my face, not my body."

At the time, I knew that I wasn't interested in physical intimacy beyond kissing for years to come (perhaps not even until marriage). I knew that big breasts were associated with desireability for physical intimacy beyond kissing. I knew that I had big breasts.

I thought the most efficient path to weeding out people whose desires in a relationship would be incompatible with mine (see first sentence, above paragraph) would be to make sure that my breasts' visibility was always secondary to the visibility of parts of my body that, in my culture, don't scream out "desireable for physical intimacy beyond kissing."

That got me through my teen years pretty well.
(Pretty happily, that is. There were really sad times that more friendships would've staved off, but there's no way more courtship would've done that.)

I'm grown up now and know more deeply that attracting no guys but ones who find your face highly attractive can also lead to a lot of courtship from guys you're incompatible with.

So now I like Renee's comment a bit better.

I'll post it again, because it's just such a great piece of sardonic wit to remember and to share.
Ultimately when a woman meets a man for the first time the first thing that she should make sure of is that he is aware of her physicality, because your relationship is going to be dependent on his sexual desire for you, and not on any kind of common interests or kinship. Whether or not he is attractive is certainly not important, a heartbeat and a functioning dick will do.
-Renee at Womanist Musings, mocking the message behind an advertisement

Wednesday, October 22

Next Passports Issue: Denying People in the South The Right To Vote?

Maybe "it's just wrong" or "I'm a feminist" doesn't move you.

But perhaps disenfranchisement of people who, on the whole, tend to vote similarly, does.

In that case, here's another point I had not thought of:

"Denying the validity of midwife-signed birth certificates could be used to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Black people in the South if voter ID laws are enacted."
-Workers World

They've got a point.

(In fact, I'd say it's a much more likely "next up" guess than AngryWhiteFemale's prediction. Not that her guess couldn't happen. But I wager the disenfranchisement of large swaths of people whose parents couldn't get hospital births would come first.)

Why Passports are a Feminist Issue

I knew the State Department's actions over passports were wrong, but I'm aware that not all people consider that type of "wrong" something they want to devote their energy to combating.

I didn't know what to say to encourage them to fight the State Department's actions.

I had not thought of this:

"The decision of the State Department to further devalue midwives credentials - ie their ability to certify births - on the basis of a few individual misdeeds, puts this female dominated profession at risk once again."
-Professor Black Woman

Feminists of the blogosphere, PLEASE!

Take action!

Also, pertaining to taking action:
The name of the lawsuit I linked to in "Passports" is "Castelano, et al. v. Rice, et al."

In "Passports," I asked everyone to "support the issue behind this lawsuit."

Now, if you're interested, you can name the lawsuit itself while writing supporting letters and taking other actions.

Sunday, October 19

Help Requested: McKinney Issue Statements Needed 4 T-Shirt

Geez Louise, it's hard to find publications in an "Issues" format from the McKinney campaign.

I pored over "Barack Obama's stances on _____________" documents I got (mostly off the internet) to make this t-shirt that says, "Barack Obama for President - Turn Me Around For Policies and lists policy statements I thought would be persuasive to the public on the back.

But now that the primaries are way over and I want to start pushing McKinney hard to my hobby communities, rather than just voting for her, I can't find her policy statements!

Just platform drafts.

Which aren't really stated the same way.


Any other McKinney fans able to help me look?


P.S. Help a sister out and get the t-shirt sooner if you're thinking about buying one! I always get compliments on my Obama t-shirt, and that's before people even see the back.

I'll sell the t-shirt at cost...but first it has to get made.

Monday, October 13


Did you know that the State Department is currently getting away with requesting a neverending stream of documents from some people requesting U.S. passports?

They are withholding passports from people (don't forget--you can't safely leave the U.S. w/o a passport) by being allowed to say, "Y'know, that document doesn't look verifiable enough. We need more evidence that you were born in the U.S." over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over without stop.

Please act to support the issue behind this lawsuit and encourage others, especially who live in D.C. or the areas in question and can write local letters to the editor or organize marches or have who have ins w/ congresspeople or something, to act, too.

After all, if the State Department continues to get away w/ requesting a neverending stream of documents as a way of denying a passport, the next pool of people at risk could be all of those people who should've taken action while it's "just happening to Hispanics" in the first place.

Tuesday, September 30

Not Eating and Not Going to School

We are going to be paying for this for generations, y’all, and some of your children and grandchildren will pay by not eating and not going to school.
-Professor Zero

What a huge thing to try to wrap my mind around.

Thank you for writing those words the way you did, Profacero.


Sunday, September 21

8 out of 10 female Central American migrants are raped on their journeys

Oh my Lord...

8 out of 10 Central American female migrants to countries further north are raped. (Sources: here via this post.)
8 out of 10.

I was going to shower up & go to bed. I was thinking about blogging some other things--like a connection I made between bystander culture (which SAFER often mentions, lately) bystanders mentioned in a video published recently by the Blank Noise Project. (In short, a man thought the women in his town had better responses to street harassment than women in many other parts of India, but I wonder if their actions might be caused more by them intuitively counting on a culture of bystanders acting helpfully in their city than by, say, "tips & tricks" they picked up from their moms & grandmas.)

But shit.

Now who can think and try to make connections about things read and experienced?

8 out of 10 female Central Americans who try to come here to live here, too, get raped.


Saturday, September 20

Cheap late September healthy food prices

Today, I asked farmers to sell me fractions of produce portions for fractions of the price they'd set and did well getting healthy food cheaply.

I bought:
1 small bunch of parsley, $0.25
1 small bunch of cilantro, $0.25
2 green onions, $0.25
2 carrots, $0.25
1 bell pepper, $0.50
a pint? of fancy potatoes, $1.00
Plus a bitter ball and Thai eggplant for free from the same person

$2.50 for just the right amounts of 6 (+2) kinds of vegetable/herb.

Here's to crossing my fingers I can cook them all.

Tonight is mustard greens & cabbage ($1.50 together) I bought earlier this week, chopped, boiled a bit, & thrown into lentils, w/ chopped green onion & cilantro mixed in.

I don't think I'm going to get around to much spreading healthy cheap eating tips around town to those who could use it this year, but I'm thinking about illustrating packets for some of my extra heirloom tomato seeds and giving them to all the farmers who've given me healthy, affordable bargains. Especially the ones growing only conventional tomatoes. I hope that's worth something.

Sunday, September 14

(Non-Statist-Communism) Alternatives and Capitalism

I had my first conversation with a vocal pro-capitalist in a social setting last night. I don't think I was terribly eloquent or knowledgeable or necessarily even persuasive, but I'm proud of myself because I think I managed to do it w/o doing any damage--and might have gotten a single seed of something that will later persuade her in there. If not, well, again, at least I did it, and did it w/o doing any damage.

I have Brownfemipower to thank.

Credit also goes to Benjamin Dangl's The Price of Fire, though I only ended up reading that because bloggers kept recommending a book that, in the hunt for more, led me to that one.

Nevertheless, without Djangl's description of how things work in many different countries, and his chapter on the city of El Alto, I could not have furnished the kinds of descriptions of non-free-market and yet non-command-and-control methods of conducting economic activity that I was able to (however poorly) last night.

She simply didn't know that there were third, fourth, heck, twentieth, ways of conducting economic activity in the world at a scale larger than a small tribe.

I'm proud of myself for listening--I haven't been very good at that much of my life. Otherwise, I wouldn't have found out that she didn't know that anything had ever existed on significant scales besides "our way" and "the Soviet Union's way."

I'm proud of myself for making myself listen to everything she had to say. She said that she wasn't going to judge what people did elsewhere, as long as they didn't mess with our ways of conducting economic activity. Because I listened, I had my fair chance to clarify that actually, I wanted to know if she thought what I'd described could work well for parts of the United States. And I didn't get a kneejerk response to that question. So I'm glad I wasn't kneejerk or interruptive to her, as I can sometimes be.

Last but not least, she gave me a huge shove towards doing more to find a candidate with my set of dream policies and vote for that candidate.

She believed that our political system currently gives people all the power they need to change our way of conducting economic affairs if they don't like it.

I said, "Then how come the few politicians in Roosevelt's presidential era--if I'm correct that that's whom the author was talking about--were able to override the will of the many poor people and farmers who supported alternative forms of economic activity?

She retorted, "They kept voting for him, didn't they?"

She's probably right. They probably did vote for someone who implemented some economic policies that helped them but also implemented a lot of economic policies that hurt them. (Or, more specifically, vote without flooding the streets, creating roadblocks, and giving that politician all sorts of hell over his harmful policies.)

I nodded and said she had a really interesting point. And that she'd probably just convinced me to vote my favorite candidate, no matter what party, this November, so I wouldn't be "a 30's co-op organizer voting for Roosevelt."
*Maybe she'll do the same. Right now she's voting for McCain. She believes government expenditures will be lower under him than they will under Obama (I don't, by the way), but she isn't happy with how high they'd be under him, either. Maybe, if America is lucky, both of us will end up voting and working hard for our true beliefs by November.)

Obama/Biden vs. McKinney/Clemente

Well, well, well.

I thought I was pretty much out of the Obama efforts.


the majority of white people regularly vote against their own best economic interests

My vote's definitely going to McKinney, and eventually, once I have some, some money & time. (Heh--I update so often, you can tell I've got oodles of time, right?)

But maybe I need to use my identity to "relate" to voters and swing them leftwards from the middle-right towards Obama again, just like I tried to from the middle-left during the primaries. Maybe I need to phone bank for both candidates.

It does sound like there are a lot of people like the ones I grew up with who probably need prodding from someone "like them" to vote for Obama.

And I do like a lot of Obama's policies, even if I dislike a lot of the ones he's adopted over the last year or so.


Thursday, September 4

RNC Sexual Assault Hotline

Sorry I didn't get on the ball and get this earlier. *sigh*

The Republican National Convention-specific sexual assault peer advocate line, set up through Arise Bookstore, is 651-434-2265. It is open 24 hours a day, but it is only open through Sept. 5 (tomorrow).


So, ummm, if anyone's waiting in frustration because they haven't heard the # yet...there it is...good for another 24 hours or so.


(This line is available and intends to be truly helpful no matter who assaulted you or someone you know. They are very aware that the assaulter could be a liberal protestor and are not afraid to confront that. They want to provide support, healing, and accountability no matter what.)

Sunday, August 24

Way cool anti-sexual-assault activism

I just found out that anti-sexual-assault activists had the foresight to think, "Hey--there are thousands of protesters coming to St. Paul who probably aren't too keen on talking to police departments. If any of them get sexually assaulted while they're in the Twin Cities, they could feel really, really stuck!"

So they've organized a Republican National Convention -specific sexual assault peer advocate phone line and wellness center in case anyone wants to seek support, healing, and accountability in an alternative way.

Go liberals-who-had-truly-wise-foresight! (Whoever you are.) :-D You make me proud.

Thursday, August 21

T. Boone Pickens, Water, & Wind

Eeeeek! Will SOMEBODY with a bigger audience than me PLEASE shout from the mountaintops how badly we need to mobilize against T. Boone Pickens getting anything he wants passed in Congress?"

Water thief! Water thief! Water thief! Water thief!

"Pickens Plan" as a good idea, my ass.

Friday, August 15

Help for Italy's Roma / Stinti / Zigane

I know a lot of people who like to go out dancing to "gypsy jazz."

I think I'm going to solicit some of their favorite area musicians to donate time and see if I can put on some sort of "all gypsy jazz music" dance for them--that is, if they pay up. Want another song? Pay up!

I'm not quite sure if Opera Nomadi is the right organization to send the money to.

But with Italian gypsies having to get fingerprinted, citizen or not, when other Italian citizens and non-citizens don't, and with non-citizen Italian gypsies having to face 133% the sentence length an Italian citizen would, and with all the violence being committed by non-gypsies against gypsies (again, citizen or not) in Italy...I want to send a big chunk of change to help Italian gypsies fight for due process and a decent life where they live.

It takes money to buy printer ink, A4 paper, envelopes, stamps, and motorcycle gas (I imagine many gypsies don't have mailing addresses, and that lots of organization for direct action would happen by going to camps and telling people). (See the paragraph w/ the text, "the uninspiring, boring, tedious, and nerve wracking work of building a community" in it here.)

The fundraiser might be crazy and might not work. But what if it does? I'll bet I could convince dozens of gypsy jazz bands to do the same thing all around the continent.

That'd be so cool.

I just hope I can find an organization that's into the stamps-and-letters-and-motorcycle-visits type of organizing.

Opera Nomadi is the biggest in Italy, but I don't know if it's the best.

Monday, August 4

Recognition of violence

P.S. I'm so sorry for everyone hurt by all the hate crimes and hate-rooted activism going on lately.

My writing about the various incidents has mostly been going on in comments and in my life. Need to get making some of the phone calls, still, but, yeah...

Amazing people, some alive still needing to be supported, some dead now, but amazing people I would've liked to have known.

The Soil and Health: Mid-Reading Review

I'm having a hard time reading The Soil and Health. The other library book I got is amazing, and I don't know where to begin when it comes to describing it.

But The Soil and Health is so sick in the way it describes other parts of the world, I'm having trouble continuing to read the words to try to get the organic soil science information out of it.

Saturday, July 19

Voting for Cynthia McKinney

Oh, just so y'all know, I'm voting for Cynthia McKinney in November unless Barack Obama swings me back to him based on policy.

I helped draft and support the guy for the Democratic primary process because I wanted one of the top 2 parties in America to have the person I most agreed with whom I could get to run (Russ Feingold refused drafters' begging).

But, that said, I never did intend to commit to voting for my top Democratic pick in the general, even if I participated in the Democratic primary process.

Obama earned my support among Democratic contenders throughout most of the primary process.

But he hasn't earned my support among all contenders--and especially not in this run-up to the general election.

And you darned well better bet he hasn't earned it enough to get me to vote for him in an "electoral college" election system when I vote in a state that's going to go blue this election. My vote's going towards getting Rep. McKinney and her party a high percentage of the general vote (although 15% would be AWESOME, I'd settle for 5%).

Based on what I've seen so far (though I will be reading her policies more closely now that she's won her nomination--I still can't believe that--happy daaaaaance!), she's just got so much better policy stances than Obama.

Wednesday, July 16

2008's "Hope" Is Gone For Me

After the failure of 3 of my efforts to turn a leftward swing in my milieu into something that would swing far enough left to truly undermine my milieu's culture of valuing "taking"...

...I've settled back into believing again that the Takers will continue to win the war--now and until the end of human life on earth.

Even "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded"--the 3 pages I've skimmed--is feeding into that worldview. The good people of the earth win a battle against Takers by offering incontrovertible evidence to taking-valuers that "taking" has to involve brutal violence? (Bashing of demonstrators, etc. in the 60's?) Well, the Takers have enough resources to change their enforcement of cultural esteem of taking to ways that are just about impossible to show to taking-valuers (in this book, the actions of the NPIC). They have the resources to keep winning the war after every battle they lose, I've come to believe.

I really do feel that way tonight, and most of the time.

That said...

...I'd be da**ed if I'm going to live comfortably with the privilege Takers give taking-valuers (and those who look like them) without fighting like hell against the Takers' perpetuation of valuing taking.

I believe we'll lose...but I know I'm not omniscient. I could be wrong, and if I'm wrong, there's no way on earth I'm going to turn my pessimistic belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy by not lending a hand to the good people of the world.

(Even if I can't do it with the optimist's smile I did for a few months.)

In other words, I, myself, do not "hope" anymore.

I merely act against my hopeless beliefs "just in case."

Tuesday, July 15

Library Books

I'm so excited! The Soil and Health and The Revolution Will Not Be Funded just arrived in my name at the library!

Wednesday, July 2

Citizenship & Crime

Holy ****.

As a citizen of a country where citizenship can't be taken away--benefits of it can, but citizenship itself can't--at least for people who're born citizens--no matter what kind of criminal act...

...what a mind-blower, to read about a government deciding to take away citizenship of relatives of people who commit certain crimes.

That just.......
........can't be done.

Where I live.

What a trip to see that it can, elsewhere.

Monday, June 30

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's campaigners

I am so impressed with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's campaigners.

Yesterday I attended a post-campaign event so I could attempt to explain to Mr. Nelson-Pallmeyer the source of my frustration.
(Click to read the details.)

I'm mathematical and calculating enough that I can't stomach the idea of putting my time and labor into preaching to the choir. I joined his campaign when it seemed like it was going to be a chance to get thousands of mainstream Americans who don't read "liberal fringe magazines" exposed to sound policy proposals that use phrases like "militarized empire."
(Something Mr. Nelson-Pallmeyer slipped into a sentence yesterday without thinking, bless his heart.)

Mainstream Americans will show up and listen to such talk if what they're doing is "learning a political candidate's views before voting." They won't show up to places where policy and action proposals include that kind of language under any old circumstances.

That's what makes them not "the choir."

I told Mr. Nelson-Pallmeyer that I needed guidance towards other arenas--arenas besides campaigns for public office--where I could direct my labor if I was going to feel my heart calling me towards his proposed "citizen movement."

Since I didn't have the heart to stick with the part of hte movement that's reaching, at best, 1 new mainstream person a week by waving "No Blood for Oil" signs, I asked him if through his mailing list or his next book he could provide guidance for people like me.

He said he was searching for answers to such a question and would continue to do so so--and address them as he figured out how to.

But it turns out I didn't need to worry about Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer campaigners turning his message's mainstream momentum into a bunch of choir-preaching.

A large chunk of Nelson-Pallmeyer's contact structure in CD 1 has turned into an opposition movement to construction of a corn ethanol plant.

Let me reemphasize that.

JNP campaigners are keeping one of his "liberal fringe magazine" messages--that almost all biofuels do more harm than good--in the mainstream down there.


What the heck was I worried about?

heart heart heart heart heart heart heart

(Click here and scroll to the end of the post to read a wonderful University Ave. light rail fight story, too.)

Beyond that, the "Hopeful Thursdays" meeting in someone's back yard that I rolled my eyes at when I first heard about it... pretty much a mirror image of the meetings in the same person's back yard out of which SPRUNG this candidacy (which I do not roll my eyes at).

After that news, I'm excited to hear what people come up with at "Hopeful Thursdays" meetings.

And, last but not least, a Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer supporter or two really touched me yesterday by surprising me with support for my University Avenue activities I hadn't asked for:

Attached to my clipboard, on top of the flyers, flapping in the wind, were two dollar bills.

What confidence in people's "do good" projects exists in the Nelson-Pallmeyer world. Running both ways.

Friday, June 27

You Couldn't Find A Few Hundred Non-Killers Out Of 12,000 Detainees, Hamas?

I read that the ratio of prisoners being talked about exchanging with Israel & Palestine is something like several hundred : 3.

Now, that sorta makes sense, once you factor in that the number of people held by the two sides is something like 12,000 : ... is it less than 10?

But here's what BUGS me.

Dumb*** officials on the Palestinian side aren't asking for a list that's 100% people who shouldn't be imprisoned in the first place.

According to this article, some of the hundreds they're asking for have committed actions that resulted in deaths.

Now, I'm not for keeping all people whose actions have resulted in deaths locked up forever, but for crying out loud, can they at least ask for them to be let out SECOND?

Can they at least ask for them to be let out after letting out a few hundred of the Palestinians who were locked up for throwing a rock at a tank or spitting at a soldier who let a bully beat them up?

I really hate the way people w/ power behave. **shakes a fist at Hamas elected & appointed officials**

(I wish I knew of some group who'd agree w/ me who could communicate with and influence Hamas officials. Something like Avaaz, only they don't get that narrow, so that wouldn't really work...da**it.)

Farmer's Market food

Grocery stores in my area:
Salad bar: $8/lb
Bread: $2/lb

Farmer's Markets in my area:
Salad fixins: $0.50/lb - $4/lb (mostly $1/lb - $2/lb)
Bread: $4/lb - $8/lb

Why on earth some people go to farmer's markets for the bread and other prepared goods and seem not to care much about the beans, greens, and other salad fixins is beyond me.

(P.S. Make sure to take a close look at the produce of people of color. The bread-lovers are probably passing them over for $32/lb artisinal oregano or something, so they could use your business to stay on the farm.

The more you shop at stalls with cheap food marketed based on traditional-yet-wise approaches to safety and health (and no more), the better they can stay afloat despite the non-traditional rules set up by modern bureaucracy.

If you worry about them not being "organic," which is a crock, anyway, talk to them.

My favorite experience: I said I was so hungry, I'd like something I could eat right now, without access to water for washing. Did the farmer-vendor have any ideas? She showed me some greens with holes in them, and when I expressed skepticism about the holes, she answered: "If the bugs won't eat it, neither should you!"

Lesson: there are always old tricks and farm wisdom that can help you pick out safe food for you and your family at low prices.)

Wednesday, June 25

Minnesota senate race

Blogger Penigma wrote:

Franken...obviously wouldn't...utter political pomposity and economic boondoggle for the benefit of corporations (summer gas-tax break).

Excuse me?

Do you really think that?

I would LOVE it if that were true.

If I could believe that about him, I would definitely vote for him (right now, uninformed about 3rd-party alternatives, I would...but of course, I'll see if there's anyone I like better come November. 3rd-party voting is useful here--5% in a statewide election gets them automatic entrance to debates) and possibly even campaign for him.


I wish Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer had won.

Monday, June 23

Two Buck Chuck, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, UFW

Well I'll be darned.
My favorite of ProfBW's action suggestions, which she asked me to subordinate to promoting the UFW's actions (which were more relevant to the immediately deceased victim), is now a UFW action.

Good thinkin' 99.

(On the other hand, now I wish I HAD gotten around to getting my conservative buddy who shops at Trader Joe's all the time to call them about Two Buck Chuck and voice his opinion as a consumer before the UFW got behind it. Now he'll think I'm just bugging him about my "UFW mailing list" stuff when he Googles the issue and sees the UFW come up!)

Female Dentist of Color

Click here to read why I'm looking for a female dentist of color.

Yesterday, I read Dr. Weems write:

Who can say for sure whether it’s blackness or femaleness that’s despised most in this country? Meaning, there’s probably no way to parse out which part of you is under attack when as a black woman professor you sit reading the vicious evaluations of your students
I'd searched for her after seeing her leave this comment:
Have you ever considered the possibility that your students' reactions hav more to do with You than they do with the material you are asking them to reflect upon there in the classroom?

Could it be that it's not only their own unexamined racism, but their own internalized sexism that makes them resent and resist the race discussion their black Female professor is trying to get them to engage?

Sure, the Obamas of the world faced their share of racism as they traversed through the halls of places like Harvard and Princeton. But the experiences of the black women students in class with Obama and other black males would tell that there's a very unique reaction academics reserve for black women in the classroom.

I wonder if a significant part of white (and black) students' revolt against and resistance to the material you and I present isn't also motivated by their
deep suspicions about our right and competence to teach them.

As black women in academia we all have a rather sophisticated grasp of race and racism in the classroom, media, and in this country. But sexism, especially when it's directed at us, we aren't always astute at naming and addressing.

I don't know if the reaction I'm having is a helpful one or if it's a well-intentioned yet "*headsmack*" one...but my reaction, after thinking:
Geez Louise, that must be hard. I don't know if I could survive being in their shoes.
was to think,
By gum, since I do my darndest NOT to be like the students described over there (who give bad reviews of a teacher simply because the teacher is bringing coverage of women of color to their rightful proportional representation in studies about women), maybe I, just by going into someone's professional world and being a good human being, can be a bright spot in someone's day.

Although I'm not a student any more, I do have other ways in which I need to interact with professionals and support them. And this would be with my dollars, not my "review" words.

See, I need a dentist.

So I'm thinking about looking for a female dentist of color. Particularly of a racial/ethnic background that gets practically NO respect in the health fields.

Of course, my mom being in the health field, I've heard nightmare stories about incompetent treatment. Stories that make me very much want to avoid incompetent treatment.

So it'll be quite a challenge to filter out truly incompetent people from people who're very competent but not racially/ethnically mainstream enough to get the reviews they deserve.

But, the good news is, once I FIND a dentist of color who knows what she's doing with teeth, the rest of it isn't any more complicated than being who I strive to be anyway. A good person. (Who actually bothers to get dental checkups.)


Boy is it hard to find a list of female dentists of color in Minnesota! 2 hours on the internet and nothing.

Can any readers help me?

Wednesday, June 18

I'm Going To Continue Protesting The Central Corridor LRT Plans

Well, today didn't go as badly as I thought.

My mobilization efforts did--I only managed to mobilize 4 people, thanks to my lousy organization.

But luck connected me to proper organizers who, although previously not 100% against light rail trains going down University Avenue, are now 100% against it. They've changed their minds about not fighting the route because they've decided that they're not going to be able to win a fight for any other means to their end (true economic justice for the people currently on & around University Ave..)

I have hope that even as a lazy, half-assed runner, I've nevertheless looked up, wishing for someone to hand my baton off to while I walk off the track and coddle my ego for a while, and, miraculously, found a whole team reaching back to me.

I don't deserve it, of course...but I got it. It's what luck delivered today.

And I'll take it.

And keep fighting. I ain't quitting today.

Tuesday, June 17

Protesting the Central Corridor LRT Plans

I'm about ready to give up the fight against light rail trains on University Avenue.

I don't like why, either.

The thought of how badly I've failed--both through lack of time investment and lack of skill--at organizing makes me sick at my stomach.

I suck at getting people to follow up.
I suck at following up and doing work myself (like getting my damned flyers and calls to action translated into Hmong, Cambodian, Lao, & Vietnamese).

And now it's mobilizing time and I've got no one standing beside me because I failed at organizing.

That's no reason to give up fighting the good fight.

But it sure makes me feel like doing so.

Thursday, May 29

Contact Google; Boycott If They Don't Respond

I wrote:

Please change the mouseover text of your front page graphic ASAP. It is HIGHLY offensive and makes me want to avoid Google for the day and go use Yahoo or something. And makes me want to spread the boycott via blog if the caption lasts. It reads, "Anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest." That is ridiculous and erases people of color's history by implying that the only things that the entire world bothers to count when it says "First," etc. are first-world Westerners' history. Please change it to, "Anniversary of the first outsider ascent of Mount Everest" or "Anniversary of the first Western ascent of Mount Everest." Thank you.

Write what you like, but submit a comment to them, then change your home page, hide your toolbar, and search with something else until the word gets out that they've changed the "mouseover" text of that image on the front page of

I'm not sure if the above comment link is better or if this one is. I sent my comment to both.

Wednesday, May 28

Teaching Different Consent Rules ->->-> Society Judging Breach Of Consent Differently?

I don't know how to get our entire judicial/legal culture changed so things like this don't happen.


Best I can come up with as my own plan of action is to work on getting our entire mainstream culture changed in the ways BetaCandy suggests here and let the changes seep from there into our judicial/legal culture.

My current guess is that actions like BetaCandy's are the fastest way to get to the point where most mainstream-acculturated people would answer a dialogue like the one Marcella had with a commenter ("Anna C") exactly the way Marcella did:

Anna C:
So basically, his actions (from his point of view) come down to [3-point list]
I disagree with your assessment of his actions from his POV. That assessment at most matches the rationalizations and excuses he would give for his actions if he faced a criminal investigation. Someone's rationalizations which support the decisions they make are not the same thing as the situation from their perspective.

Do White Male Vegans Think Of Themselves As "Vegans," Not "White Male Vegans?"

Johanna at Vegans of Color asked:

Do (white, male) vegans see themselves as my ally automatically when they learn that I, too, am vegan? Do they assume we’re on the same side? (Is it even a conscious thought?) Such vegans divide the world into two parts: people who are vegan, & thus allies, & those who are not vegan.
I'm not vegan, but Johanna, I can tell you that the answer for me, as a white woman raised with a lot of privilege, is "Yes."

Nerdishness, sci-fi lovers, fellow students and enthusiasts of my favorite high school subject...YES.

That's exactly how I felt 80% of the time. And I don't have any stand-out memories I can think of as I type this about the likely 20% of the time that I didn't feel that way.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally got exposed to enough words like yours:
Some of us don’t have the luxury of seeing things that simply. Some of us will never, ever have the privilege of ignoring, if we want to, the rest of who we are in favor of focusing solely on our diets. Why?

Oh yeah, because the world won’t let us.

Because being who we are — completely aside from veganism — can be very dangerous sometimes. Some of us are getting raped or fired for being gay or pulled over ... or losing our homes ... or being harassed on the street or getting deported or being tortured or having the franchise taken away from us or struggling to get health care or ...
and Sly Civilian's on figuring out how to make whiteness something as prominent in my sense of identity as my "interests" or B.D. Tatum's book and started doing my damndest to think of myself as "colored" the color white.

Rachel Moss needs to know what she did

So here's a link to the post that I think lets her know.

Hopefully, Rachel Moss see that post whenever she Googles her own name and never forget AngryBlackWoman's take on what she did.

Monday, May 19

Working on this University Ave. thing

Just in case it isn't clear, like Macon D, I hope I'm being a different kind of helper.

I hope I'm being a true ally.

Though I'll appropriate "do-gooder" language when people who understand it have power and I'm trying to convince them, I do hope I'm not a do-gooder.

I did start this whole "stop the train on University" thing because of the answers to questions I got from people who live and work there. If I hadn't met so many people who share my opinions, I wouldn't be doing this, and I don't try to convert people who live and work in area to sharing my opinions. (Converting people with power--politicians and such from out of the area--is a different matter.) I don't even explain why I'm against LRT on University unless they ask.

I hope I'm doing a good job of being an ally.

Back to the Drawing Board: Keeping train transit off University Avenue


The MN legislature re-introduced bonding legislation that funds the "Central Corridor" University Avenue light rail train, the legislature passed it, and Gov. Pawlenty promised, as part of budget negotiations, not to veto it.

I don't even know whether to call the governor and ask him to veto that line of the budget bill or not.

I mean, it probably wouldn't help if he was working all weekend and, as a result of a whole week's/weekend's work, said he'd sign the bill, including that part.


I THINK my time--and especially the time of the people I'm trying to organize--would be better spent calling those who have yet to make any decisions about whether or not to fund the University Ave. train plan.

Still, it's really hard to imagine trying to convince all the people I'm organizing to move on to the next stage. I think half of them signed on because the questionable status of state funding gave them hope that they could do something.

I don't even know how to get myself up out and at 'em enough to get as many of my 130 contacts as possible writing letters (which is what it's going to take at the next level of funding decisions, I think).



I could use some advice about how to further organize the people on my petition.

I think we have to write the next organization that'll be making a funding decision now. I don't know if calling that organization will work.

I mean, I'll write a letter, and I'll tell the organization that my petition has about 130 people of the University Ave. area on it so far, but I doubt that'd be nearly as effective as 50 of those petitioners EACH writing a letter. A good swarm.

Thing is, I'm no experienced activist! And a ridiculous number of people of my race and social class (that is, the people I actually strike up conversations with easily) are for this stupid train because they're upper-middle-class privileged people who just don't happen to see what a poverty-creating clusterfuck this thing is. Everybody makes mistakes, but theirs are particularly frustrating to me right now.

I only have phone numbers for most of the people I've gotten contact info of who're against putting light rail on University Avenue (sometimes addresses, sometimes not--almost never e-mail addresses). So getting sample text to them is either going to be hard & slow (going door-to-door) or super expensive.

I'll bite the bullet & choose one of those two ways of trying to motivate them to get a letter written and get it off to next organization making a funding decision if I have to...but are there better ways than providing sample text to get working people to write letters?

Wednesday, May 7

Central Corridor - 24 signatures against University Avenue trains in 2.5 hours

I got 24 signatures against putting Central Corridor light rail trains on University Avenue in one night!

Considering my petition was only at about 110 when I set out this afternoon, that is AWESOME.

I hope I can really get this going. If I could keep up at this evening's rate, I'd actually reach my first goal of getting more signatures on my petition than there are policymakers who have backed the current plan. (State legislators, the Metro Council, nonprofits, big businesses, etc.)

People of the Central -> Charles / Lexington -> Western area, you rock. You're probably not reading this, but thanks for talking to me today. There IS strength in numbers--glad you believed it.

Tuesday, May 6

Poll: Twin Cities Couldn't Care Less If Current Central Corridor LRT Dies

I do believe that the good people of the Twin Cities know that Light Rail would kill University Avenue and drive minorities into an even worse wealth gap!

Although the overall Minnesota poll wasn't so good, when asked, "Governor Pawlenty vetoed funding for the Central Corridor light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Should the Central Corridor funding be re-considered as part of a budget deal at the end of the legislative session?" Twin Cities residents (who were 64% of poll respondents) answered:

No: 45%
Not sure: 9%
Yes: 45%

Not all hope that Twin Cities liberals care about the poor is lost.

Friday, April 25

Suburbs poor, transitless, & bad schools; Cities rich, transit-full, & good schools

Oh dear heavens.

We (people who care about justice) need to WATCH OUT and make sure action gets taken about bad policy in the next decade or three.

Without good, deliberately anti-racist policies everywhere and in every aspect possible, there could be a lot of people of color stuck taking external assistance (because they can't afford gas for a commute, and that's the only way to survive staying at home) while living in shoddily built houses in the middle of nowhere.

And their kids could be in just as bad of schools as they are now in the cities, if, say, upper-middle-class (mostly white) people crowding the cities cry for schools to stop letting kids attend whatever school they started at (in other words, not letting kids whose parents have had to move to the middle of nowhere at least get to stay at their old in-the-city school as its quality of education improves).

S***, s***, s***, s***, s***.

I'd just been thinking about this over the last few days--wondering if low-wealth people of color would ever get locked out. Wondering if high-wealth (mostly white) people would ever legislate seriously just and fair rules whenever they find themselves having a mixed claim on social goods with low-wealth people of color.

And then I see this article.


P.S. How offensive, calling poor people moving to suburbs "decline" of those suburbs. Geez Louise, the suburbs are important enough entities that we personify them and say they "decline?" Even though the cause of our word choice is individual people making real life decisions in their very real lives? The f***? How about their LIVES declining? Can we forget about the f***ing suburb's "decline" in our press and acknowledge that their LIVES are "declining" if they're having to relocate away from family and friends over money concerns? Cripes!

P.P.S. If you are upper-middle-class, and low-wealth people live near you, get to know them and introduce them to neighbors you know. Knowing neighbors is how they fought to keep their neighborhoods "decent" all these decades. Want to be an anti-racist, anti-class-warfare ally? Fight side-by-side with your low-income neighbors against crime; don't write entire households off and try to run.

Sunday, April 13

Let's End Mass Rape & Mutilation In The Congo: Part 2

Naming names

See also ABW's/Elaine's list and Lisa's list.
Series part 1 of 2 is here.

(Click here to expand to the full post.)

The "mineral" you hear about in the mainstream media. It's actually 2 minerals chemically attached as found in the ground.
One is "columbium" and the other is "tantalum."
Keith Harmon Snow refers to "columbium" as "niobium"--another name for it.

A special kind of coltan.

You're gonna love this. Where do I start? Mixed into:

  • Stainless steel
  • Heat-resistant steel for construction
  • Steel for oil pipelines
  • Glass for corrective eyeglasses
  • Jet engine ferroniobium
  • Rocket assembly ferroniobium
  • Furnace part ferroniobium
  • Automobile & truck body ferroniobium
  • Railroad track ferroniobium
  • Ship hull ferroniobium
  • Turbine ferroniobium
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Airframes
  • Jewelry
  • Chemical processing equipment
  • MRI machines
  • Superconducting magnets
  • "Nanotechnology" of various kinds
Another lovely list.
  • Electronic capacitors
  • Cell phones (not sure which part)
  • Laptops (not sure which part)
  • Video game systems (not sure which part)
  • Pacemakers (not sure which part)
  • Surgical instruments
  • Pagers (not sure which part)
  • Automotive electronics
  • Camera lenses
  • Digital cameras (not sure which part)
  • GPS
  • Lithium ion batteries
  • Prosthetics
  • Surgical implants
  • Fiberoptics
  • Heat-resistant jet-engine materials
  • Heat-resistant nuclear reactor materials
  • Heat-resistant missle parts
You want tin? You'd better get yourself some cassiterite. There's tin in it, and it's easy to extract--just smelt the stuff.
You can also coat automotive metal in it and the metal won't corrode very easily.

Replaces what used to be lead in solders and other things that environmentalists think lead shouldn't be in. (Solder = sticking electronics parts together!)

In the Congo. Often right at the same mine as other minerals.

In the Congo. Often right at the same mine as other minerals.

In the Congo. Often right at the same mine as other minerals.

In the Congo. Often right at the same mine as other minerals.

Companies, People, & Organizations
(Click here to expand to the full post.)
The mid-2007 "Blood Minerals" article by David Barouski where I found most of the mineral use information gave me twice as many names as I'd catalogued from Snow's "Three Cheers" article. I think I will have to do a "Part 3" to list them. This list will simply come from Snow's article and followup I did with Wikipedia, etc.

Lueshe mine
Where you get perchlorate in Central Africa.

A company set up for the sole purpose of being "in charge" of a mining concession that was about to be given to "Mettalurg Inc." by the Congolese/Zairian government in 1982.

Controls Lueshe mine somehow, according to Snow.

GfE Nuremburg
Owned 70% of SOMIKIVU.

Metallurg Inc.
US-based. Owns Arraxa & GfE Nuremburg.
Got the 1982 Lueshe mine 20-year mining concession.

Metallurg Holdings
US-based. (Pennsylvania.) Owns Mettalurg Inc.

The government of Zaire/Congo
Gave Metallurg Inc. the Lueshe mine "mining concession" for a 20-year term in 1982, but gave the operations duties to SOMIKIVU.

Hermes AG
Insured SOMIKIVU. According to Snow, this had to do with getting SOMIKIVU to not actually mine much out of Lueshe (so the price of niobium/columbium would be high).

The German government
Backed Hermes AG.

Laurent Kabila
President of Congo, 1997-2001.
A cruel man, it seems, but he did at least one great thing (or tried):
In 1999, his government dissolved SOMIKIVU, which left GfE without legal control of the Lueshe mine. Instead of giving it back to GfE somehow, his government gave the mining concession to a company they thought would actually bother to mine the mine (which would mean taxable money for the Congolese government): E. Krall Metal Congo.

E. Krall Metal Congo
From 1999-present, owns the Lueshe mining concession.

E. Krall Investment Uganda
Owns E. Krall Metal Congo

Michael Krall
Owns E. Krall. Australian. I can't imagine he's any Mother Teresa, since he owns a copper & cobalt plant in Uganda, but his company does seem to have refused to buy soldiers occupying its Lueshe mine weapons. In addition, it seems his company has refused to hire counter-militias to get control of their mine--instead they've been trying for 9 years to take their case to court with the official governments of various countries.

Karl Heinz Albers
He's been the manager of SOMIKIVU, is the man whose company GfE sold off its 70% share of SOMIKIVU to, and was affiliated with the German Embassy in Congo. (He is German.) It sounds like he had connections to pretty much every mineral-related businessperson in Rwanda.
He has personally ordered E. Krall employees killed by African soldiers (though that was thwarted).

Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda. Willing to order ANYONE killed or send troops to assist in another army's killing of ANYONE for profit or retention of his position as President of Rwanda.
He's one of the asshats who has, in the past, set his forces to raping people. (Though that was largely in Rwanda and in the 90's.)

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame's party.
Though before it was the president's party, it was the militia Kagame was leading.

Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)
The name of Rwanda's military. (As far as I can tell.)

Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD)
A Congolese political party.
Snow refers to them as militias, too, but Barouksi separates the party from its "armed wing" and refers to its armed wing as the Congolese National Army (ANC).

At first, the RCD just let Albers use the Lueshe mine despite the fact that he no longer had any rights to it. Soon, though, the RCD loaned him armed guards. Heck, some of the time, they were operating the mine instead of him or his companies.

This political party and its armed forces are supported by the Rwandan government, army, and president.

"The chief of the RCD's secret service in Goma, North Kivu"
Refused to kill E. Krall members on Karl Albers's orders and even let them go.
(Had to flee to Uganda and still had trouble escaping Albers's hit men there.)

Gen. Laurent Nkunda
With the RCD. Or at least part of it. Whoever the heck is doing his dirty work, he's got a helluva lot of power in North Kivu thanks to them. Oh, and the RPF (Rwandan government & its army) support him when he needs their help.
Apparently his invasion of Bukavu in 2004 had something to do with helping Rwanda get firmer control of Lueshe mine. (It made Congolese and UN forces head from North to South Kivu to chase him down.)
He's one of the asshats who sets his forces to raping people.

Dr. Johannes Wontka
German. Technical director of SOMIKIVU. Ordered 2 sets of murders:
1) The leader of the labor union that was on strike at Lueshe mine (they hadn't been paid in months)
2) Krall Metal employees who were on their way to check out Lueshe's mine (that they had rights to)
Foiled by the man he gave the order to, who reported his orders to the police.
Arrested and almost put on trial, but released by the Congo's national Minister of Justice when the German Embassy declared that all German businesses would pull out of Congo if this one man were not released.

"A major of the RCD army"
Got the killing orders from Johannes Wontka. Turned him in to the police instead.

Doretta Loschelder
German Ambassador to Congo.
Told Congo that if Germany didn't release Wontka, all German businesses would pull out of Congo.

Johanna König
German ambassador to Rwanda.
A member of Karl Albers's company's board.
Visited Lueshe mine in 2004, told striking workers (who were also locals to the area) that the German government owned the mine now and ordered them to get back to work, without pay, or be punished by the RPA (Rwanda's military).

H.C. Starck
Bought a lot of coltan from Albers / the RPF even when they knew they shouldn't.

Bayer AG
Owns H.C. Starck.

A&M Minerals
A British company who's purchased pyrochlore even when they knew they shouldn't.

Alfred Knight Holdings (AKH)
"Tested" a lot of pyrochlore before re-exporting it, cassiterite, and coltan to Europe.
Barouski asserts they should've known exactly what it took to get that pyrochlore out of the ground and to them, since pyrochlore only comes from Lueshe mine.

Rotterdam, Netherlands
The port lots of niobium/coltan/pyrochlore came into Europe through

They're the "black men pulling the trigger" that Snow refers to--committing a lot of the violence--but Barouski declares that it actually isn't clear exactly what chains of power their commanders are from...or even who they are.
(But as Snow says, let's start going for the ones we can figure out pretty easily.)

The United Nations Panel of Experts
Reported on raw material plunder in the Congo and named names of corporations and people and syndicates acting illegally.

The United Nations
Removed the names named on the Panel of Experts Congo report.

GTZ, Nokia, Intel, Sony, Barrick Gold Corporation, Anglo-American Corporation, Banro, Moto Gold, DeBeers, Royal/Dutch Shell, John Bredenkamp, Billy Rautenbach, George Forrest, Louis Michel, Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, James Kabarebe, Walter Kansteiner, Maurice Tempelsman, Philippe de Moerloose, Dan Gertler, Etienne Viscount Davignon, Simon Village, Ramnik Kotecha, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Romeo Dallaire...
Copmanies and people that Snow suggests we investigate and, depending on what we find, possibly demand "help the victims of sexual violence in the Congo."

Most of the names I've chronicled from Keith Harmon Snow's article relate to the Lueshe mine story. But he warns us not to zoom in and only focus our outrage on those white, Western, rich people ordering black, African, poor people to protect "their land."

He speculates that:
these activities certainly apply to...other corporations--this is how the system works, and who works it. The Lueshe Niobium mining scandal merely provides us an excellent case study where the thief has been caught red-handed...

Let's End Mass Rape & Mutilation In The Congo!

Arlene Fenton, a.k.a. "shecodes," of Black Women Vote, has started an April 13 blogswarm against mass rape and mutilation in the Congo. This is my participation (part 1 of 2).

I have a lofty aim with this post. I want all the blogswarmers to see my opinion, and I hope to change every single blogswarmer's discourse about mass rape and mutilation in the Congo.

You see, all those armies whose soldiers are raping and mutilating women have a goal, and it ain't hurting women.

Rape & mutilation of women are one of the ways those armies' commanders order their soldiers to terrorize populations.

And the reason those armies are trying to terrorize populations is because their commanders are getting paid by Westerners to depopulate (or at least demoralize the populations of) areas with minerals prized by the West.

I believe that we must get this assertion commonly accepted--at least within the blogosphere--if we're going to have any effectiveness reducing mass rape and mutilation in the Eastern Congo.

(Read The Rest of This Post.)

To introduce everyone to this concept, I'd like to highlight parts of Keith Harmon Snow's late 2007 article, "Three Cheers for Eve Ensler?"

It's not a perfect article--Snow made some tenuous connections about certain people's business activities and left it to the reader to continue the research and decide if people were innocent or guilty. But nevertheless, I owe everything about this thesis to his clear points.

Some mainstream media has been drawing attention to sexual violence against women in the East Congo lately. Eve Ensler. Glamour Magazine. Now the HBO documentary The Greatest Silence. But Snow believes that these stories are being allowed to proliferate so that better-researched stories--the ones that point to orders coming from Western, White, rich wrongdoers--won't be audible.

Not that it even takes much conspiring by media bosses, he points out. It doesn't always take conscious selection by editors to exclude stuff like Snow's work and include stuff like Ensler's work. It can happen subconsciously, too, since Ensler's work reminds people of the "hopeless African condition [of violence]" they've associated with Africa all their lives, whereas Snow's work reminds them of...well...nothing familiar.
(By the way, Snow does not name himself as someone excluded. That is my choice of an example. And he names many more voices included in media attention--referring only to Ensler is my shorthand.)

Snow wrote the following:

According to [the mainstream descriptions...African men]...are universally castigated for "rape as sport," no matter that...armed forces backed, armed, and licensed by the West to commit massive sexual atrocities...are paid in kind for services provided to maintain and insure natural resource plunder and the acquisition and control of vast tracts of Congolese territory.

From researching with Google--I'm sorry to say that I've forgotten all my sources, but an interview of Paul Ruseabagina by Snow is one--it sounds like the way things work is similar to theories I've heard about when it comes to Darfur.
(Sadly, I can't find any links, but somewhere a year or two ago, I read that the Janjaweed and others aren't settling the areas they're depopulating, which is highly unusual for a bunch of poor, rag-tag folks who could really use free land. In other words, they're getting orders not to settle the land themselves. Which means someone with power wants the land completely empty. From there, the likely guess is "mining or oil," since that's the kind of use for empty land that's easier to get access to when no one lives there.)

The multinationals don't want normal "daily life" activity going on on land with minerals under it.

So they get militias to "protect" said land.

And they know damned well that the only way that a militia can "protect" land from being lived on and used in normal "local" ways is to terrorize the locals into
  1. leaving or
  2. feeling too scared to demand that they get to use their ancestral land for normal stuff again.
But they give the orders to "protect" it for mining/drilling/etc. anyway.

Of course, they don't bother to pay the militias full wages. Just the commanders.

So terrorization of local populations happens for 2 reasons.
  1. The commanders deliberately order soldiers to do it as part of demoralizing the population or getting them to pack up and leave. (Mentioned by Snow in "Three Cheers.")
  2. The commanders don't necessarily order soldiers to terrorize people, but they do order soldiers to stay in the army or get shot...and to fend for themselves as far as pay for service is concerned out of whatever and whomever they find in the area. (Mentioned by Ruseabagina in the interview with Snow.)

Back to the mainstream media narrative.

Ensler, according to Snow, declared that "'we don't know who' is involved behind or beside" the militias actually committing the rape.

Snow contests that we have a pretty damned good start. He asks:
How does a company of white executives...from Canada gain control of such vast concessions? Through bloodshed and depopulation with black people pulling the triggers.
Snow named a few names, which I will summarize in my next post. If we Westerners would do the investigations where we ought to--into the heads of White/Western-benefitting, rich corporations--we'd know even more names.

Saturday, April 12

BFP Has Hidden Her Web Site

BrownFemiPower / "La Chola" has hidden her web site.

It was the place I sent people. Yes, there are more bloggers still out there...but she was the one who was writing both
1) prolifically
2) in a way that took time to explain concepts for white liberals and for men of color.

I'm just liberal enough to understand her. (I mean, no, she wasn't covering so many basics that even a white conservative would read what she said and come to agree with it.) But I've never quite felt like I "got it" enough to follow any of the other blogging women of color on a regular basis. Well, maybe "Black Women Vote," but she's not quite as prolific on quite as many topics as BFP was.

Now what? I can't split off into reading a gazillion different WOC blogs, much as I'd like to, I have to limit the number of minutes I spend per day on the internet. That's why anyone goes to, say, Kos or Feministing/Pandagon/Feministe. To be up-to-date yet save time for essential real-world tasks. I...I've faced some losses in the real world from the internet, so I just can't go into reading more #s of blogs.

I want to bring BFP back to writing on the internet.

I mean, not so fast that she isn't healed and ready to write.

But dammit, I want to help her heal. I wish I lived in Detroit or something or wherever she lives so I could babysit her kids...bring her extra food...

If my favorite internet writer could find strength to go back to her online writing by something I could contribute in my offline life, I'd want to do it.

But dammit, I don't live near her, and I don't even know who she is or what she could use offline.

I'm so frustrated. I want to do something that feels like it might open her up to coming back.

Tuesday, April 8

BIG MN Social Justice News + Call To Action

Big news.

Minnesota's governor line-item vetoed the Minnesota Legislature's decision to borrow money to build light rail trains along University Avenue (and other streets) in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

He's a Republican, so I'm sure he didn't do it for the reasons behind my call asking him to do so.

(But I do like to think that my call and my flyers helped! After all, he'd previously said he was not going to use his power of line-item veto on this money-borrowing bill.)

Please call or write your legislators (1-800-657-3550) if you live in MN and ask them, whatever their previous votes pertaining to light rail transit on University are, to NOT override this line-item veto.

Please tell them that you would rather see train transit between the two downtowns delayed another decade than see such a terrible social injustice committed to the minority and (currently-)low-income business owners, workers, and residents of University Avenue.

Minnesota CAN recover from canceling the University Avenue train project.
Yes, there's some sunk money and time--about 6 years' worth.
But it CAN, if it really does need trains, recover and start over, this time with the trains going somewhere else.
Somewhere less harmful. (Like the center of the highway currently connecting the two downtowns.)

Please make these calls no matter where in the state you're from. The issue will be decided by legislators all over the state, after all.

Thank you.

Write me if you have any questions.

University Avenue "Central Corridor" Light Rail: My Position

I oppose the "Central Corridor" light rail plan that's going through various levels of government right now.

I am not against urban train transit--in fact, I support all other commuter train routes proposed for building by 2030.

But I am against putting commuter trains on University Avenue in St. Paul. I believe that the small, largely minority-run and lower-middle-class-run businesses depend not only on the high traffic of University (which would stay with light rail, of course), but also on every bus being within a block of a bus stop.

In the best-case scenario, trains would only stop every 4 or 5 blocks. What few buses are left would only come by every 40 or more minutes.

Although upper-middle-class owners of new businesses on University could be profit by simply renting property close to train stops, minority and currently-low-income business owners will be priced out of property close to train stops and will not have enough customers to remain open in between train stops.

Since business ownership is tied for best way to accumulate wealth (another common one being born into a family line that was allowed to buy suburban homes in the 1940's-1970's), I strongly oppose putting trains on this street.

Since University Avenue is already highly developed in terms of the number of successful, worthwhile businesses on it, I believe that arguments claiming that trains would "develop" University Avenue are false. Trains would only shift the "prior wealth" business owners on the street have. They would not develop the street.

I believe that despite how much planning has gone into putting trains on this street, the whole plan should be scrapped.

If legislators and planners want to start over with a different route, like the middle of Interstate 94, that's fine with me.

But I want them to halt light-rail-building along University.

Help finding a post by BFP

Help! I can't find a post by BFP. It's the one where she wrote about women organizing the civil rights movement in homes and beauty shops and such. Might've mentioned Baker, but a Google search isn't turning it up by a search for "baker."

I support Abolut's original advertisement

(Ad appropriate for xenophobic mofos:)

(Original by Absolut:)

Tuesday, April 1

Please Read This Very Powerful Speech On Feminism

Please Read This Very Powerful Speech. [Boldface in the speech mine.]

Its topics:

  1. Why doesn't the majority of well-read feminist media cover gender-related wrongs to women when those wrongs are done in the context of immigration enforcement?

  2. An argument as to just how gender-related these immigration-context wrongs are (that is, a call for all feminist publications & media to cover them intensely)
BrownFemiPower said:
  • In May of 2007, a young woman imprisoned at Hutto prison in Texas was sexually assaulted by a guard. Her son was in the cell while the sexual assault took place.

    The media that reported the rape, the Taylor Daily Press, was unable to find out the woman’s name, where she was from or deported to, or how old her son was. Although she received treatment at the local hospital the night of the rape, she was sent back to prison after she was treated and was deported shortly after. There is no mention of rape crisis counseling in the article.
    (Click here for more information.)

  • Jeremy Christian Brickner admitted that Eugene Kesselman hired him to arrest Kesselman’s estranged wife and her 10-year-old daughter on the basis that an immigration judge had issued an order for their deportation.

    On May 11, 2006, Brickner falsely identified himself as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent, arrested the mother and daughter in San Francisco and detained them overnight in a hotel room in South San Francisco where they spent the night.
    (Click here for more information.)

  • The National Immigrant Justice Center created a video of testimonial of an asylum seeker from Cameroon. In the video, the asylum seeker details her interaction with an immigration official. The immigration official tells her that she is going to jail for four months and that immigration would be taking her one year old child away from her.

    I said nothing can separate me from my baby but death or my husband. Then [the immigration official] said that she’s not even sure that my husband is the father of the child. My husband had to drive back to Wisconsin to get the baby’s birth certificate to prove he is the father of the baby.
    (Click here for more information.)

  • Margo Tamez wrote the following in an open letter calling for outside help after the government sent agents out to tribal lands and demanded that land be turned over to the government so they can build a border wall:
    My mother is under great stress and crisis, unknowing if the Army soldiers and the NSA agents will be forcibly demanding that she sign documents. She reports that they are calling her at all hours, seven days a week. She has firmly told them not to call her anymore, nor to call her at all hours of the night and day, nor to call on the weekends any further. She asked them to meet with her in a public space and to tell their supervisors to come. They refuse to do so. Instead, they continue to harass and intimidate.
    (Click here for more information.)

  • Luaipou Futi traveled with her son Michael and his nurse to the U.s. Michael had severe heart problems and was coming to the U.S. for surgery.

    But immigration officials detained Michael, his mother and nurse at the airport, locking all three of them into a room even though the only one whose passport was in question was Luaipou’s. Her son died shortly after they were finally released.

    A translator for Luaipou said,
    "She was so happy — the minute she got on that plane — because she knew her baby was coming here … They were the first ones out of the plane. If they would let them come immediately, her baby would have still been here. Her son would have still been alive. She’s heartbroken. She can’t eat. She can’t sleep. … She’s traumatized."
    (Click here for more information.)

These stories detail the lives of women in the United States. Intertwined throughout these stories are experiences of gendered violence that feminists have been organizing against and writing about for decades. Rape, spousal abuse, controlling mothers through threatened loss of their children, and assumed sexual promiscuity.

And yet, there is a disturbing silence about these stories by mainstream feminist media organizations—indeed most feminist media, mainstream, radical, alternative or otherwise, simply didn’t cover these stories at all.

Even in an election year where immigration has been consistently brought up by mainstream news sources and ICE raids have been increasingly intensified, “immigration” as a topic remains "off the table" when it comes to feminist media coverage.

And when I approached different feminists about this, I’ve been consistently told “immigration is a race issue, not a feminist one”. Others have told me that feminism can not and should not fix immigratrion. Abortion rights were more pressing. Concentrating on immigration would spread feminism too thin.


But in light of the gendered experiences I have read (and that we’ve seen through the video), the question must be asked, why is there such an engulfing silence around this issue? And even more importantly, what responsibility does U.S. feminism have to those women who exist within it borders but with out the privilege of citizenship or proper documentation?


Let’s start with a little background.

The feminist movement in the U.S. has historically centered citizenship as it’s major tool in achieving gendered liberation. Susan B Anthoney fought until her last breath for the right to vote. And in the 60’s, the women’s movement centered civil rights—or the full legal recognition of constitutional rights for women as the main goals of their movement. The ERA became almost as important part of feminism as the right to vote did.

The logic behind centering citizenship as a tool to gaining liberation was that through full legal recognition as citizens, women would then have the power to claim their full personhood. Specifically, gendered empowerment would come through legal protections and the enforcement of rights granted by the constitution.

The use of citizenship the major tool in attaining gendered liberation was a conscious choice made by both the suffragettes and the ERA women.

But what these choices led to was the creation of an invisible border wall that wrapped itself entirely around the feminist movement occurring in the U.S.

This border wall made it next to impossible for those women existing in the U.S. without the benefit of citizenship papers to negotiate their way to gendered empowerment. How does a woman who is “illegal” demand the right to vote?

How does a woman that the government is actively working to deport demand that her civil rights be upheld under the law? According to the government, legally she has no civil rights, so she is not allowed to make demands.

The wall around feminism today is as impenetrable for non-U.S. citizens as it was back in the day. The bricks that crafted the wall to begin with, the right to vote and civil rights, have been sustained and reinforced by abortion rights and and our responses to domestic violence.

Again, if women in the country without proper documentation must be reported by any public service health care provider (as is required in heavily anti-immigrant states like Arizona), why does she care if Roe Versus Wade is repelled? Or, if the answer to domestic violence is to call the police, but the police are acting in the name of ICE, what are immigrant women to do when they are being beaten or assaulted?

The goals of feminism created a wall around feminism because these goals often seem unchanging, solid, and fixed. And maybe they are and were.


But I don’t necessarily believe it is feminist media’s job to change the goals of any feminist movement. I firmly feel that our goal as feminist media makers is to save the world and use a feminist analysis to do so.

And in today’s world, a post 9-11, terrorist fearing, hyper militarized world, investigating borders is an incredibly vital step to take towards saving the world. Borders and the protection of those borders is what is driving much if not most of the violence against all women today, citizen and non-citizen alike.

Now, I bet you would like to explain that statement, right? How did I connect violence against women to a post 9-11 militarized world?
Well, I’m not going to tell you. At least, not yet!
What I’m going to say is that the massive wall we have around feminism prevents us from seeing the answer. And our jobs as feminist media makers is to investigate the subjects that are actively being hidden by those in power. To uncover the truth. Our loyalty is not to a movement or an organization, but to the story. To the words that liberate the story from the bodies of people most in need of feminism.

When thinking about what to say today with my fellow panelists, we agreed it was important to leave people with ideas about what can be done.

Navigating the borders of feminism will require that we expand our understanding of them. It will also require that we recognize that we are entering into a battle that began long ago without us.

Framing is a vitally important component of the anti-immigrant movement’s agenda. They recognize that half of the battle is fought through the words that that media uses to frame the people and actions they are so against. Rightist media centerpieces...take their cue from the rightist grassroots organizations and call people in the U.S. without documentation words like “Illegal criminals” and “Illegal Aliens.” They’ve pressured mainstream news media into a “compromise” with the term “Illegal immigrant.”

What intervention can feminist media makers make into these coordinated efforts to control the words that liberate?
What does a gendered analysis bring to “framing” in immigration?

    Consider the following:
  • Are women in the country without proper documentation “illegal criminals”? Or are they women in the country without proper documentation?

  • Are the detention centers that women in the country without proper documentation held at “detention centers” or are they “prisons”?

  • Is the sex that is being demanded of women in return for immigration papers “bartering” or is it “rape”?

  • Is the intimidation and harassment by the government of native women who do not acquiesce to land seizures “business as usual” or the continued colonization of native lands through gendered violence and intimidation?
As feminist media makers, how we choose to answer these questions through our media making will have a direct impact on the national and international discourse on immigration. It will also contribute to the dismantling of nationalitic borders around U.S feminism.

But even more importantly, it will help to create a world in which no gendered body is marked “criminal,” where no woman has to climb a wall or apply for papers before she is allowed access to the tools that will liberate her.

This world is not only necessary, it is our only choice.

My fellow media makers, lets tear down these walls and let’s do it together.

Si se puede!

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