International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, I saluted my mom, a good representative of all the women who struggle to raise and educate healthy children and provide them with the tools needed to deal with racism and other obstacles in life. She was one of the countless women who cook, clean, and iron; care for elders; help raise neighborhood children in need, as well as helping with their grandchildren. The neighborhood women who garden for food & beauty; pick, pickle & can what they grow for winter meals; cook from scratch, every single day; work outside the house to pay for “extras” like art supplies, swimming & piano lessons, sports gear, etc.

Women who believed that love was shown, not spoken, but sometimes spoke it just for our sakes. A woman who loved music but only shyly sang; who baked for pleasure and to express love, a true homebody, yet my mother also boldly fought for us, privately and publicly. She would fight police for our sakes but made it clear that if we ever wound up in jail, she’d only visit if we were serious political prisoners “on the level of MLK and Malcolm, honey, or else you’d better stay out of trouble!” Still, when I was involved in protests, she sent food. She worried for the occupiers on Alcatraz like they were her own children, but her eyes watered with pride that The People were standing up in that way again.

She read constantly, mostly for pleasure and to better understand how to maneuver around the systems that oppressed her and threatened her loved ones. She supported other women who struggled, taught me the history of unions and suffrage, and honored the likes of folk like Harriet Tubman,Paul Robeson, Helen Keller, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, Marian Anderson, and for her, “St.” Fannie Lou Hamer. I grew up knowing the real stories of Native America, and what we were being told at school was supplemented with the stories of her people. We were taught to be respectful, but question outside authority, especially institutions. She was an introvert who cared about people and showed up for them and made herself fierce on behalf of what was right. She was also humble enough to apologize when wrong and try to step outside of her comfort zone to “walk a mile in another person’s moccasins.”

Mom was one of those millions upon millions of women who go unrecognized outside of their families: women who did not gladly suffer fools, were seldom “sweet”, but were always “good.” That legion of women who always tried to do what they thought was right for their families and the world. Women who understood at the core of their beings that we are all related.

She is the spirit of a billion women we honor today and should honor every day. We aspire to their strength and love and devotion.

ᎪᎯᏳᎯ

Pẹlu ọlá ati ọwọ: às̩e̩

Barbuda Is Us

Please listen and then WRITE to António Guterres, UN Sec. General.

The podcast below (link at the page bottom) explains exactly how the people of Barbuda are being cheated of their land and birthrights. This is part a new colonialist assault that employs the same rule (terranullius) that was invoked to seize Indigenous Peoples’ lands and dehumanize them. (It is a pattern that is frighteningly similar to what’s being done to Puerto Rico right now.)

If unchecked, this de facto coup, on a tiny, otherwise unknown island, helps to solidify an international pattern threatening the idea of independence around the world.

Barbuda is one of the few remaining places in the world where citizens hold the land in common. Certainly the local government has been short sighted in some decisions and it is not a perfect democracy, yet the people of this island, most of whom are the descendants of enslaved Africans, have enacted enviable democratic principals that should be respected and protected.

Please listen, learn, and then take action. In this case, the United Nations (and you!) may be able to help.

http://www.earthsharing.org.au/2018/02/de-niros-island-paradise-coup/

We Remember and Give Thanks

I’m all about family, friends, and food, and am always glad to have time off from the daily grind. I have much to be grateful for and I appreciate the many gifts in my life, past and present.

But I never forget that this holiday was born of the blood of Native Americans and that the real story was whitewashed and Disneyfied to cover up the crimes of colonialist genocide and ethnocide. It’s a day for paying respects to those whose names have been lost to us, a day to give thanks to the ancestors who persevered to bring us through, in spite of the almost unfathomable hardships of the Middle Passage and all that came after. And we remember to show gratitude to those whose lands, bounty, and generous humanity provided us with the riches we all enjoy. We bless those who clean and cook and share themselves and their love through their efforts. We eat with love, knowing that the circle is unbroken.

It is a day of mourning, remembrance, gratitude, joy, companionship, and love. I give thanks.

A Caribbean Inspired Rant

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As my heart alternately breaks and inflames with rage, I find myself anxiously begging our representatives to hurry to rescue the US citizens of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. To do what all we can for the VICTIMS of ravaging storms, in and around the Caribbean. This is what my heart is screaming.

But then my knowledge of history and the current political climate and economic priorities kicks in and I know that the point is not to “save” Puerto Rico, it’s to let as many die or give up as possible. The point is for the capitalist vultures to finish what they’ve been doing: wresting complete control over the land and all resources, including the remaining workforce. The point is to let 45’s friends and their ilk denigrate the people for being poor after taking away their ability to thrive at home. For a man who declared bankruptcy multiple times to dare to disparage victims of colonialism and hurricanes while allowing, no, encouraging his disaster capitalist buddies to steal all they can.
The pattern can also be seen in the current attempts to disenfranchise the stricken people of Barbuda by the government of Antigua, whose members have vested interests in development that will do little to profit the people of Barbuda, but will certainly take away their inherited rights to the land they hold in trust.
If these uber/hyper capitalists have their way, you won’t be able to subsist on your own land, grow your own food, use solar, fish, or pluck an avocado from a tree. Remember the 2020 Plan to eliminate agriculture in Puerto Rico? Then also remember that, as a Barbudan elder often said to me, “A people who cannot feed themselves are bound to become slaves.”
Look around the US as unions are decimated, water is polluted and your rights to it are handed over to those who pollute and sell it back to you. Look at the outlawing of your right to collect rainwater or go off grid in states like Florida. Look at the destruction of a once internationally envied, free education system. Look at the ways in which you’re stimulated to buy what you don’t need but are dissuaded from being active participants in your own governance. Look at the millions who are a paycheck away from devastating medical debt, the millions of Americans imprisoned, often because they can’t afford bail or good representation.
Look around and know that you are all being colonized and enslaved. You are Puerto Rico on a three second delay. Wake Up and ACT.

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Barbuda 2010. “The Light.”

This is a photo I took in Barbuda in 2010. I was trying to capture “The Light” that many believe to be the spirit of the island. It is my most heartfelt and sincere hope that The Light will restore the Caribbean and return the land to the true people.

The ‘ville

The reason I had no words for what happened in Charlottesville is because this is completely tragic, but not at all surprising. If you remember from lit, the flaw/seeds are always inherent in the character leading to the ultimate manifestation of the tragedy. People thought a host of folks I knew were “just being negative” or “too angry” when they spoke out against racism in Charlottesville. Some people actually said to me that they didn’t understand my rage, that I should be “used to it” and “ignore it” thus showing me that they only wished to diminish my humanity, to try to make me carry the burden of other people’s evil. Uh uh: my father might have called me “pixilated” but my mother never raised a complete fool! I know when I’m being discriminated against, singlely or intersectionally. So:
People who act shocked and wonder why we don’t share our personal reality when you make it abundantly clear after centuries of the same old same that you are not listening? People who blast and blacklist a guy for respectfully refusing to honor the symbols and songs of national racism? People who blame victims of police brutality for their own deaths? People who label children of colour as “thugs” but bestow innocence on shady, corrupt middle aged white men and refer to them as “kids/children”? Who damned thousands of black/Latino/Native folk to incarceration but now pity and protect white addicts? Who disrespect our bodies, psyches, traditions & histories every single day? I have no patience with you or with those who normalize you.

Whiteness is a political choice, not merely a decrease in melanin. Choosing not to see or change injustices, choosing destructive forms of tribalism/jingoism/ to ignore or negate the realities imposed upon people outside of your group, etc. are choices. Someone is now thinking/saying/writing: “but Black/Native/Latino people do some of those things!” And indeed, some do. But here’s the difference and here’s why we say that racism is a white problem: WE do not have power over your lives. I can’t keep you out of my neighborhood or from voting. I don’t determine your value or standing in society. This country and its multinational corporations are run by white people. Our Constitution, systems- including Race-were constructed by and for white people, most particularly land owning white males. So while not every white person is in that club, aspires to, or can join, whiteness still gives you a leg up over others. In constructing disadvantage for PoC, our racial hierarchy creates advantages for others. Not rocket science, yet millions of advantaged, “I’m not racist/I’m not rich/I never owned slaves” white people  adamantly refuse to connect the dots. Or they do so from their own fear-based frames of reference and assume that we want to destroy them in revenge, so they spout or buy into Nazi, KKK, alt-right beliefs, rhetoric, and actions. Like yesterday in a town where I spent 16 years, with people I still love.

So stop saying “This isn’t America.” Please! This IS the US, always has been, and your selfish adherence to a mythical origin and denial of the genocide, exploitation, and oppression of millions for your own comfort upholds these injustices and perpetuates oppression. It’s the blue pill of a very dangerous, self negating illusion. Unless and until white people -every single one of you- demand that it be otherwise and take hold of their rabid relatives, it will continue, under the radar or in attention getting flames. If people really want 45 out, they wouldn’t be wringing their hands and waiting for 2020. There are legal, Constitutional means for ousting him and his cohort. The electoral college can be dismantled or amended. It doesn’t change because that IS the will of the spineless, willfully ignorant, greedy, stupid, superficial people who support this regime, actively or passively. IMHO if you are not antiracist, antifascist, anti-misogynist, anti-discrimination against LGBT+ yes, you are complicit. It’s not enough just to be a “nice” person. And while I’m at it, let me just say that to my knowledge, Black Lives Matter has never dragged anybody behind a car or otherwise killed or maimed anyone. They haven’t burned down houses, shot at people, or terrorized them in any other way. There are no reports of burning Black Power fists on anyone’s lawns, so stop comparing them to the KKK/Alt Right/Nazis or other actually violent terrorist groups. If you have the ability to think you might ask   yourself why you see people demanding justice in the face of violence against their people to be a threat to you. Why do you fear ordinary, unarmed PoC who simply aren’t servile? What are you projecting and how might you get help for this problem?What I’m talking about are Systems of injustice, and unless and until they are dismantled, they will continue to oppress people you say you care about: relatives, neighbors, friends, innocent strangers that your moral codes & ethics tell you to protect and support. Unless you work against injustice and oppression, yes, you are guilty of complicity. Charlottesville is your call to humanity: choose.

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A Secret Garden

I actually attended a garden tea party yesterday. Devised by my gardening neighbor pal and her daughter in law who lives across the street, their original idea was to entice a new neighbor who’d expressed an interest in the possibility of creating a small garden. This is a shy and possibly introverted woman (I’ve yet to see her) and my neighbor thought it would be nice for her to meet a few gardeners in the neighborhood and tour each other’s yards. As a confirmed introvert, I knew that this was probably not a great idea and sure enough, the new neighbor demurred and sent her apologies two days before the event. I was now stuck, but at least managed to have legit reasons to come late.

By way of explanation: not only am I an introvert, I have some curmudgeonly ways. I’m friendly, but small talk doesn’t come easily nor is it a pastime in which I care to engage. I’m also not your typical suburban housewife and am pretty adverse to a large number of things that the supposedly “typical American” wants or likes. We’ve also been in a heat & humidity wave that’s left everybody miserable and angry and drenched in sweat before you can towel off after your multiple daily showers. Topping it all off, I’m also a melanin rich woman of colour with a Latino last name. Eleven years on Long Island have exposed me to some of the worst racism and class biases I’ve experienced in my six decades on the planet, including 16 years in the South, so excursions into new areas or among people I don’t know here are entered into with caution. I knew that everyone else invited would be white and that our hostess would not have considered the possibility that they might be less welcoming than she. I always consider such things, but having agreed that they could tour my new, very incomplete garden and meet my new chickens (the most exciting event on the block this week) I forced myself to show up. And yes, it was awkward. What saved it was the attendance of one of the happiest, friendliest, and decidedly cutest little two year olds I’ve met. We bonded and her escapades provided a mutual focus, distraction and source of amusement.

After the ladies and little “Rose” enjoyed tea, lemonaid, and a fluffy lemon cake, we toured each others’ gardens. We started with the hosts, who have created lovely spaces, one with a long double lot that allows for a woodsy feel, then mine, the youngest & least complete. We ended with this 30+ year old beauty, a cottage gardener’s dream. It has “secret” paths, lovely enclaves to sit, fountains, mini waterfalls, and a hidden space where one can sit behind a tall, graceful wall of bushes without being seen. 

 The English born owner- a sweetly ancient, retired teacher who drives like a bat out of hell- leaves the gate unlocked so that neighbors can enjoy its peace and beauty when she’s not at home. It was a special and inspiring surprise I view as a kind of karmic reward for being sociable. It was worth the trip.   💚