Category Archives: racism

Rough Cut Resurrected: Watsonville Peace & Unity March

Watsonville Peace MarchIt took me three years to write the first draft of my novel, Fruit of the Devil. Writing was ecstasy—the story poured out of me as if it were being channeled. The characters came alive. Then I found out the horrible truth—that “writing is rewriting”—and I embarked upon what has now become  five years of revising, editing, and rewriting hell. Almost half of my original content has been trashed because, according to my various esteemed editors and critique groups, those scenes, characters, and chapters didn’t “move the plot.” “Keep it moving” is the mantra of genre fiction writers, and rightfully so—it would be nice to write a book that people will read. (Although I will guiltily admit to a secret proclivity toward writing literary fiction.)

Whatever. I’ve found that in any medium—whether it be clay, paint, or words on a page—there comes a critical moment in the creative process when one feels oneself futzing around, putting edited bits back into the work. That’s when the artist is at risk of overworking the piece and needs to stop; must surrender to the fact that works of art are works-in-progress, and are rarely perfect. I believe I’ve come to that moment with Fruit of the Devil.

Today, I sewed four pages, which I had previously savagely chopped off, back into the body of the manuscript. When I finished doing the horrible deed, I actually heard a voice in my head saying, “Thank you.” I think the manuscript is still breathing, and the resurrected piece is more relevant today that when I wrote it five years ago. The scene describes a community’s response to gun violence.

My main character, Aurora Bourne, is in love with a Catholic priest, Father Francis, who works in the community with at-risk youth. Aurora’s fourth grade student Paloma has two brothers—fifteen-year-old Johnny and eighteen-year-old Victor. Johnny has just jumped in with a Norteño cliqué and has been arrested after trying to rob a liquor store. He sustained major injuries from being jumped in and is now in the hospital under police custody. Victor and Father Francis visited him earlier in the day . . .

    *     *     *     *     *

Valle Verde Plaza

At high noon, the fifth annual Peace and Unity March wound through town toward the Plaza. Leading the march, the Azteca Mexica Ixtatutli—the beautiful White Hawk dancers, all in feathers—blessed the barrios and the pueblo in an indigenous, ceremonial way, with smoky copal incense and the haunting tones of a conch shell horn. The blessing felt like strong medicine. Victor, wearing a brown t-shirt and brown beret, was up at the front of the march with other similarly uniformed young men and women.

The community of Valle Verde had organized and come together today, on el Día de los Muertos to honor those who had died in violence, to listen to the family members of those who had been murdered, and to pray, bless, rally, sing, dance, and support El Pueblo de Valle Verde with peace.

Victor felt very uplifted and salved in his heart to be a part of this gathering. These people, his communidad, had Ganas—they had the will, the spirit, to affirm life and peace, in the face of so much personal tragedy. That’s what he needed today, just to keep it going, to keep on believing.

The marchers wound through the city and returned to the plaza. Victor watched all the familias setting up memorials to loved ones lost to violence, placing mementos, photos, flowers, and even favorite foods and personal effects of the departed on the altars. People were remembering their muertos for all the community to see.

The rally started. A woman up on the stage spoke through a microphone. She was a small woman but her voice sounded like it could shake down mountains.

“This violencia is going to stop,” she said. “I’m here today because I lost my son at the hands of gang members. Too many of you know about the pain I am feeling. We all need to work together to end the violence and bring peace to our community. The cops try, but they can’t do it by themselves. We need the families to get out and show support. The answer isn’t just more law enforcement. It’s about parental involvement and community building, education, and faith at a time when it’s clearly hard to come by. I pray that all this violence will stop. But prayer isn’t enough. This is our community. We need to take it back, for the sake of our children.”

The crowd cheered and applauded. Another speaker took the podium—one of the founders of the Valle Verde Brown Berets, a guy named Vallejo.

“We are proud to be here today. Proud that the Brown Berets could play a part in organizing this Peace and Justice rally. We’re tired of the injustices in our community, and tired of not having a voice or political representation in our own town . . . We’re young and brown, so they don’t want to listen to us. But we will be heard.”

Victor had a lot of respect for Vallejo and his message of courage and self-determination. He’d met Vallejo at Indian Canyon with Father Francis, and had heard him speak at the weekly Brown Beret meetings in the Bike Church downtown, across the alley from the Adult School. The guy was a natural born leader.

Victor ambled around the fountain in the center of the park-like plaza. Art, tradition, and culture surrounded him. The Folklorico dancers were swirling their colorful skirts in beautiful, traditional dances of Mexico. Women and children were giving out treats for free—candies, skulls made of sugar, and pan de muertos, bread of the dead.

On the stage where the woman had spoken earlier, Teatro Campesino was getting ready to put on a performance. Victor sat on the grass to watch and drink his champurrado, a thick and delicious Mexican hot chocolate. The Father of Teatro Campesino, The Farmworkers’ Theater, introduced the play. Luis Valdez was a distinguished looking man with a silver moustache. He related the story of how Teatro Campesino had gotten its start out in the fields on flatbed trucks, among the grape and lettuce pickers, back in Cesar Chavez’s day. It had been born on the strike lines of the Great Grape Strike of 1965—Chicano Comedia Popular, revolutionary guerilla street theater.

“When I produced my film Zoot Suit, I made enough money to purchase a teatro permanente down in San Juan Bautista. If you haven’t already, I hope you will come to see us there. But we don’t forget our roots. We will always show up for the people, right out in the open air, whenever we are needed, like today. We hope you enjoy the show.”

As usual, the actors wore wonderful, crazy costumes and talked in a mixture of Spanish and English, street slang, and even a little bit of barely intelligible Azteca and Mayan. The play was an exciting and surreal story full of regular people getting mixed up with strange, supernatural characters and happenings, surprises for both the living and the dead, and very funny lines with lots of double meanings and satire that made the audience split their sides laughing. Victor’s heart was hurting real bad with worry for his little brother. But still, it felt good to laugh.

After the play, children in skeleton costumes with black and white painted faces gathered in the center of the plaza, next to the fountain. Victor’s little sister, Paloma, was not among the children. He’d insisted that she stay home with Grandpa tonight. She was too upset about Johnny.

As evening’s shadow descended, people began lighting the candles they held in their hands.

Several compañeros from the Brown Berets stepped out of the dark and surrounded Victor. “We’re here for you, hermano. We heard about Johnny,” said Pato. “He’s gonna be alright.”

A large mariachi band assembled. Wearing cleric’s collars and black robes, a couple of priests from St. Patrick’s—the big red church in town—said a blessing. Acolytes passed through the throng with smoking incense censers. Pretty soon, everybody was moving, following the children on a procession to the community arts center a few blocks away. There, they would have a grand fiesta, with elaborate altares made by community groups, more food, music and dancing until midnight, when all of the souls went home to rest.

Victor moved along with the crowd, following the eerily lit skeleton kids and the priests with their thuribles of swirling, ghostly copal smoke. The procession wove along Main Street and up toward the Galleria del Arte. The mariachi band, with its full-blown brass cacophony, sent evil spirits flying off ahead of the revelers into the night.

In the bruised, dark purple twilight, Father Francis suddenly appeared at Victor’s side.

The priest, clothed in jeans and a light nylon jacket, put his arm around Victor’s shoulders and sang to the mariachi musica at the top of his voice.

Victor joined in, lifting his voice and his heart, his spirit, up into the night.

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

Families Belong Together: A Dreamer Speaks Out!

What?

On June 30, 2018, in cities and even very small towns all across the county, tens of thousands of people turned out for Families Belong Together rallies to protest Trump’s sudden order, three months earlier, to tear all immigrant children, even breast feeding babies, from their parents’ arms at our southern border.

For a timeline of government actions leading up to the protests see https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/06/27/immigrant-children-family-separation-border-timeline/734014002/

According to this timeline, “On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces a “zero tolerance” policy at the southwest border. It directs federal prosecutors to criminally prosecute all adult migrants entering the country illegally. The policy change leads to the separation of families because children cannot be held in a detention facility with their parents.”

After Trump claimed that “the Democrats did it”, that he was powerless to stop the separations, and even that it wasn’t really happening and they didn’t know where the children were being held, on June 20th, with a stroke of his pen, Trump directed Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to stop tearing families apart after they are detained crossing the border “illegally”.The Office of Homeland Security reports 2,342 children were separated at the border from 2,206 adults from May 5 to June 9. By July, estimates of total number of children aged infant to 17  “kidnapped” by the US Government were  3,000 to 4,000.

 

I Had A Dream

In early April, shortly after the policy of separating children from their parents at the border went into effect, I had one of those “special” dreams – more vivid than usual, charged with an energy and significance beyond the usual subconscious processing of the day. I clearly remembered the dream upon waking.

In my dream I was standing outdoors in a city when suddenly an infant appeared before me, lying on its back on the cement, squalling with an out-of-the-ordinary cry, that of an utterly terrified baby. The baby’s diaper was horribly soiled, its blanket and skin filthy. It waved its hands and feet in the air in a life-or-death grasping for someone to save it. I pushed my hands out in front of my face in a gesture of revulsion. The baby disappeared and a throng of terrified people appeared before me, crowded together as if they’d been herded into a concentration camp. They reached their hands out to me, beseeching me to help them. I turned away, frightened and repulsed.

Children are being held hostage by our government

When I awoke, I felt very disturbed by the dream. I was upset with myself for, in my dream, turning away from the baby and the people in need of help. I felt disturbed that my unconscious dreaming self apparently had no compassion. I tried to go back to sleep, hoping I could find the baby, lift it up, wash, feed, and comfort it, and find a way to help the desperate, frightened people. But I was not able to go back to sleep.

On the night that I dreamed, I was not yet fully aware of the heinous crime against humanity being perpetrated by my government. But the dream, and my great disappointment toward my dreaming self for not having the instinct of compassion has continued to haunt me as this humanitarian crisis has escalated.

What To Do?

I’ve participated in social media initiatives, emailed and phoned government representatives, and attended several local marches, meetings, and rallies to demand that the separation policy be ended and the children returned to their parents.

Massive public outcry has finally resulted in a temporary halt to the government sponsored kidnapping. But not before a billion dollar private, for-profit child prison camp industry sprang up. Most of the over 2,400 taken children,  from breast feeding infants to seventeen-year-olds, are still  imprisoned in private, secret internment camps all around the country.

On June 30, a federal judge in California ordered that the government return all children to their parents within 30 days. However, the process of taking the children was chaotic and no adequate records exist to facilitate the return of the children. Although some children have been reunited with their families, the government may never achieve complete compliance with the federal order. Mental health experts are in agreementthat all of the children who were victimized by this inhumane and corrupt government, even those who eventually find their way back to their families, will be scarred for life.

I hope we will all wake up soon, and find the instinct for compassion in our hearts for all members of our human family. Families Belong Together, without Violence.

Liberty and Justice for All is the American Dream. Let’s wake up and make that dream real.

 

A Dreamer Speaks Out!

At the Families Belong Together immigration rally in Santa Cruz on June 30, I heard a speech that moved me.  24 year old Dreamer, Enrique Yarce, currently a student at the University of California, graciously granted me permission to share his words here:

“I am livid at what this country is doing to my undocumented people. Not just the so called DREAMERS like me but all my undocumented people living in the shadows fearing for their safety and that of those they love. Things are really bad right now but let’s never forget that these issues have existed since way before that man was elected. It was always difficult to be undocumented in this country with its nativist politics and addiction to human rights abuse. It’s ridiculous how much control a piece of paper or plastic can have over your entire life and It’s equally astounding to discover how often people are willing to see us as less than human because we lack it.

I’ve heard a lot of folks say that the inhumanity occurring right now during this administration “isn’t American” but that’s absolutely incorrect. The suffering happening right now to people trapped, abused, separated or raped in detention centers is as American as apple pie. This immigration issue is inextricably linked to the race and xenophobia problem that still has not been sufficiently addressed by the people of this nation. This current administration has been able to deeply connect to the racism and ignorant fear felt by many in this country.

Drumming up fear about immigrants is not a new tactic and it’s designed to scapegoat all of a society’s issues on newcomers which are typically people fleeing violence. The families and individuals embarking on the perilous journey to get to the U.S. are doing so because they have no choice. But the language is always that we are “infesting” or somehow taking over. Undocumented immigrants have been called animals by the president and compared to gang members. In all these ideas about us, the victim is always the US, which is ridiculous given the fact that the reason most people are migrating is to escape violence that is often caused by US intervention into their lands.

I think that it’s very easy for people to take for granted their privilege in being born here and not having to fight desperately to prove their humanity. My brothers and sisters from Central America escaping death are treated like foreign invaders instead of being given the compassion they deserve. I feel so awful for the children being traumatized by forced separations and the pain experienced by these families. Every day I wake up there is a new attack on immigrants and the rights of everyone in this country. Make no mistake, it starts with the easiest group to target, which are immigrants, and eventually moves to everyone else. No one is free from the depravity of fascism.

I know things look hopeless and they definitely feel that way for me at times. I’ve been undocumented for 21 out of 23 of my years on this earth and it has always felt like a cage I carry around with me. Dehumanization is a part of my daily life, hearing about what is being done to my people, but it’s imperative that we let these moments radicalize us rather than lead us to despair.

We need to be strong for the people being jailed by the same companies that make money from the mass incarceration of black and brown bodies. We must stand in solidarity with all people in the struggle because together we are stronger. I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters resisting the disgusting travel ban and all other groups facing oppression at the hands of white supremacy. I stand with the people occupying ICE offices in order to shut them down. I stand with the white people who see the danger building in their country and they use their privilege to do something about it. There’s so much still that needs to be done and so much more that needs to happen before we live in a better world but the first step to creating it is standing up for what’s right and understanding that sometimes laws need to be broken [as American patriots did in the American Revolution that brought a chance of Democracy to the U.S].  ICE MUST be abolished.

Odio  lo que este país está haciendo a mi gente indocumentada. No solo los llamados DREAMers como yo, sino todas las personas indocumentadas que viven en las sombras por temor a poner en peligro su seguridad y la de aquellos que aman.EN este momento las cosas son realmente malas, pero nunca olvidemos que estos problemas han existido desde mucho antes de que ese hombre fuera elegido. Siempre fue difícil ser indocumentado en este país con su políticas y su  abuso de los derechos humanos. Es ridículo cuánto control puede tener una hoja de papel o plástico a lo largo de toda tu vida. Es igualmente asombroso descubrir con qué frecuencia la gente está dispuesta a vernos menos que humanos porque no la tenemos.

He escuchado a mucha gente decir que la deshumanidad que ocurre ahora mismo durante esta administración “no es estadounidense”, pero eso es absolutamente incorrecto. La tragedia que estan sufriendo  las personas atrapadas, maltratadas, separadas o violadas en centros de detención es tan americano como el pay de manzana. Este problema de inmigración está completamente vinculado con el problema de la raza y la xenofobia que aún no han sido abordados lo suficiente por la gente de esta nación. Esta administración actual ha utilizado el racismo y el miedo ignorante que sienten muchos en este país. Utilizar el miedo a los inmigrantes no es una táctica nueva y está diseñada para culpar de todos los problemas del pais a los recién llegados, que generalmente  son personas que huyen de la violencia. Las familias y las personas que se embarcan en el peligroso viaje para llegar a los EE. UU. Lo hacen porque no tienen otra opción, pero sin embargo siempre proclaman que nosotros estamos “invadiendo” o de alguna manera asumiendo el control. Los inmigrantes indocumentados han sido llamados animales por el presidente y comparados con miembros de pandillas. En todas estas ideas sobre nosotros, la víctima siempre es Estados Unidos, lo que es ridículo porque la mayoría de la gente está migrando para escapar de la violencia que es causada por la intervención de los Estados Unidos en sus paises. Creo que es muy fácil para las personas dar por hecho su privilegio de nacer aquí y no tener que luchar desesperadamente para demostrar su humanidad. Mis hermanos y hermanas de América Central que escapan de la muerte son tratados como invasores extranjeros en lugar de recibir la compasión que merecen. Me siento muy mal por los niños traumatizados por las separaciones forzadas y el dolor experimentado por estas familias.

Todos los días me despierto y hay un nuevo ataque contra los inmigrantes y los derechos de todos en este país. No se equivoquen, comienzan con el grupo más vulnerable, que son los inmigrantes, y despues se mueven hacia todos los demás. Nadie está libre de la depravación del fascismo. La ciudadanía siempre se ha utilizado como una herramienta para demostrar quién pertenece, o no en este país y debemos detener esto para siempre.

Sé que no parece haber esperanza y para mí a veces se sienten de esa manera. He estado indocumentado durante 21 de mis 23 años en esta tierra y siempre me ha parecido como si llevara una jaula conmigo. La deshumanización es parte de mi vida diaria, sobre todo cuando escucho lo que  le están haciendo a mi gente, pero es imperativo que dejemos que estos momentos nos radicalicen en lugar de llevarnos a la desesperación. Necesitamos ser fuertes para las personas encarceladas por las mismas compañías que ganan dinero con la encarcelación masiva de cuerpos negros y morenos. Debemos solidarizarnos con todas las personas en la lucha porque juntos somos más fuertes. Estoy de pie con mis hermanos y hermanas musulmanes que se resisten a prohibición de viajar y a todos los otros grupos que enfrentan la opresión en manos de la supremacía blanca. Estoy de pie con los activistas que ocupan las oficinas de ICE para cerrarlas. Ven el peligro que se está acumulando en su país y usan su privilegio para hacer algo al respecto. Todavía nos queda mucho por hacer antes de que vivamos en un mundo mejor, pero el primer paso para crearlo es defender lo correcto y comprender que a veces es necesario romper las leyes y El ICE debe ser abolido.”

 

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

On the March

After the Women’s March, Women are Still Marching On

mandela

Some say the WOMEN’S MARCH, which took place world-wide the day after Trump’s inauguration, marked a global transition in the consciousness of women and in the men who love and respect women. The Spirit of Standing Rock woke many to this new consciousness, to the realization that  love, peace, and compassion are more powerful revolutionary forces than hatred, fear, and violence.

On the day of the march, women donned their pink pussy hats and owned those disparagingly sexist labels of “pussy” and “nasty woman” with pride. Our march was remarkable not only because of its historic numbers, but also because everyone that day, even the police, honored the Divine Feminine with beauty, grace, humor, peace and love.

But the Divine Feminine is not only a spirit of love, peace and beauty. She is Great Destroyer as well as Mother Creator. Sisters, now is the time to get in touch with all the power of our Divine Feminine. Wipe that pink juicy pussy couture off your face, slip on your warrior armor and rise. Treasonous Trump and his cronies must be stopped before they destroy all that is good, beautiful, innocent and sacred of Mother Earth and her children. Beyoncé said it, right?

Okay Ladies, now let’s get in Formation. Prove to me you got some coordination. Go hard. Go hard. . . I slay. We slay. Slay, Chick, or you get eliminated. ”

We cannot be emancipated by someone else. We must emancipate ourselves, to be truly free and equal. 

Are you WOKE yet? Can you hear me now? Connect the dots: The Women’s Movement, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Sustainability, Climate Change, Banking and Capitalism, Marketing, .  .  .   It’s all connected.

Have you seen that viral Pepsi ad? http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad Pepsi trying to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to sell soft drinks. That’s evil. But corporations using marketing to co-opt liberation and justice movements is nothing new.

I think women-hating misogyny in America runs even deeper, and is older, and more virulent than racism. Around a hundred years ago Edward Bernays, Father of Modern Marketing, figured out how to promote the TOBACCO industry by using the Suffragettes (Yes, R.J. Reynolds used those women who risked their very lives to win women’s right to vote, after they’d already helped to win the Black vote – big tobacco used those women’s equal rights campaign to sell cigarettes. )

These marketing corporations have been sticking it to us ever since Bernays figured out how to manipulate us through fear, lust and greed. But not a lot of people paid attention.

Check it out: Have you noticed the way the big department stores are currently selling torn blue jeans for over $100 a pair? Yes, you and your daughter can join the proletariat and sacrifice and struggle to make the world a better place, so poor you can’t afford new blue jeans, or you can pay a lot of $$$ to just look cool – like a radical protestor – in your ripped designer  jeans.

How did this happen? Watch the amazing four-part documentary The Century of Self to understand how corporate capitalism is co-opting our authentic grass-roots movements and manipulating We the Consumers. Wait. We are NOT Consumers. WE are Citizens, and PEOPLE. We are Human. Not slaves born to lift the machine’s GDP. The Century of Self : https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

Here’s the Pepsi ad with hilarious commentary by Stephen Colbert. Be sure to scroll all the way down and watch Seth Meyers’ alternative ending to the ad (it’s sick). http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad-stephen…

Stephen Colbert Rips Kendall Jenner’s Ill-Conceived Pepsi Ad
“Luckily, Ms. Jenner, a wealthy young white woman, knows exactly how to handle police at a protest.   vanityfair.com

Until we are all free, none of us will be.

So who’s #45 GOT BY THE PUSSY now? Besides poor zombie Stepford Wife Melania, he’s got  Congressional Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming and Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina selling out to SERVE the Master. These token women were photo op’ed at the signing of a Trump executive order rolling back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Trump’s order revokes the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces legislation that protected women from sexual harassment in the workplace and guaranteed fair payroll practices. http://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protect…

How did #45 get Liz and Gini to go along with screwing the women of this country? Maybe we should grab him by the balls and ask him. Snip snip.

170403-donald-trump-mn-1100_1f88b65e117f7acd35ad9b855b36d8eb-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

And now, Arch-misogynist #periods-for-PENCE and the Republicans have forced the HobbyLobby anti-contraception  Supreme Court nominee Mr. Gorsuch through, with Mitch McConnell’s democracy-destroying “nuclear option” clearing the way for repeal of Roe v. Wade and a future for American women resembling the cultural/socio/political-economic landscape of The Handmaid’s Tale.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now would be a good time, because we are no doubt in for some sci fi horror playing out in our real lives very soon. Read author Margaret Attwood’s recent illuminating and chilling INTERVIEW in the New York Times for more on this.

If you’re not in the mood to read, you may want to watch the new HULU original series based on the book, season premier April 26, 2017.

handmaid4RESIST!

Come on, Ladies. Let’s get in Formation. Time to March. We’re going to the Tax March. Going to the  People’s March for Science. Going to the Citizens Climate March.

We going to March for Liberty and Justice for All.

Join your local INDIVISIBLE group to find out about the next march, the next action, the next letter or phone call you need to make. DOWNLOAD THE INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Subscribe to Andrew’s Actions.

Slay, Chick (Pussy), Slay. or you gonna get eliminated.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell, 1984 

RESIST!  “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, 1984

LIKE & SHARE buttons: