Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
I have been observing how farmers raise food for several decades because I am convinced agriculture is civilization. I inherited this virtue from the ancient Greeks. They had several gods protecting nature and agriculture (Zeus, Poseidon, Artemis, Demeter, Athena, Dionysos, and Pan). I love Athena for gifting the olive tree to Athens. I grew up among olive trees. Olive oil is so important I cannot imagine life without it. Demeter gave the Greeks wheat and taught them how to cultivate the land. Wheat, like olive oil, is the stuff of life. Zeus was a weather god, blessing humans and the Earth with rain. Artemis protected animals and the natural world. Poseidon was the god of the seas. Dionysos introduced the grapevine and wine to the Greeks. Tragedy and the dramatic theater arose from thecelebration of Dionysos. Pan was associated with flocks of sheep, goats and cattle. The Greeks even had god Aristaios protecting honeybees.
On September 26, 2016, activists and allies gathered in front of the United Nations in New York City to commemorate two years since the disappearance of 43 college students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. The group marched from One UN Plaza to the Consulate General of Mexico in New York and then on to Times Square, led by New York residents Antonio Tizapa, father of the disappeared student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, and Amado Tlatempa, the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa.
Sometimes when I get really down, I just write. Not for anyone but me. Not to share (but my wife encouraged me to share this), but to get out my feelings and emotions. I write because as a woman of color, we aren't allowed to lose it. We have to keep it together. I'm successful and doing well professionally. I'm not naïve. I know that my ability to make a joke, flash a dimple, and be laid back and chill helps. What if I wasn't into jokes, didn't smile as much, and was angry all the time?
Over the summer, I finally had the time for some much needed restitute and reflection over my recent cooperative living experience. Since September 2015, until this past June, I had been living in a "radical" collective co-op in the ever-changing Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Coming from a similar working-class, migrant area in Passaic County, New Jersey, I was looking forward to continuing my academic career in the culturally-rich and historical neighborhood of BedStuy. As an activist and organizer of color embracing the traditions of cultural roots in horizontalism, community and challenging power structures, I felt that living in a radical co-op was an easy decision to make. But what I soon came to realize through my naïvety that the dominant culture of liberal color-blindness and overemphasis on hollow "democratic" structures had obfuscated and further marginalized the experiences of the oppressed while serving as yet another tool of gentrification. All hip buzzwords aside, what I found was a toxic environment patched up by self-righteous, superficial white liberal gentrifiers -- una cagada.
Who actually benefits from American-led wars across the globe? The aftermath of American-led conflicts shows it is not the common people, though the military and politicians vow they are liberating and protecting them. The Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe's "leading family newspaper," has published accounts of a number of Libyans who expressed regret over Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011, despite the fact some of them even took up arms against him.
This was not a typical festive "first world" outing, as its need and idea arose not from leisure, but from trauma. Recently, Hadisa was broken after an 'endless' night of crouching nervously in the dark of her University dormitory, while bomb blasts and gunshots were ending precious lives only a hair's breath away. Nemat, in a safe space which softened Hadisa's distress, remembered looking at a heavily-breathing comatose father in a bare Afghan government hospital ward with no monitoring devices.
A recycled political season that does not represent the interests of everyday people is one reason why populism is the answer to overcoming average folks not being served by the current system. The continued political cycle that renders mainstream population with two highly unpopular candidates is precisely why the democratic system is unsatisfactory. Pay-to-play politics always results in governmental oppression to the masses, amongst a slew of other negativities.
Last year, President Obama went to North Carolina to pitch the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He exhorted folks to understand the "free-trade" deal would "lead to more Made in America exports and more higher-paying American jobs here at home ... That means more jobs and higher salaries for the people of North Carolina." Writer and philosopher George Santayana said that those who don't remember history are the first to repeat it. Others opine that history doesn't exactly repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
A few months ago, post office lobbies carried a small, blue brochure reminding "MEN, 18 through 25 [to] REGISTER" for the Selective Service System ("It's Quick -- It's Easy -- It's The Law"). By January 1, 2018, a new brochure may take its place, calling also for the registration of the 20 million women who would be eligible to serve. Indeed, the House-Senate conference committee is currently mulling the provision -- passed 85-13 by the Senate -- in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization bill to mandate women's SSS registration. That the bills got this far indicates sufficient bipartisan support for them to become law if President Obama -- the father of an 18-year-old daughter -- doesn't veto it.
In recent months, officials in the Obama administration have disclosed disturbing new details about their ongoing war against ISIS (also known as Daesh). Essentially, officials have acknowledged that they are waging an increasingly deadly war that they expect will result in more terrorism throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.