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.

As a journalist and political activist I've often wondered which secret government databases might include my name. I am certainly not a secessionist or a political extremist (although I was once accused of being a "big government liberal"), but like many of my independent and alternative media colleagues, I sometimes worry that the stories I choose to cover or my outspoken editorials might be interpreted by the wrong people as "anti-government" in nature.

I am, of course, not opposed to my own government since I believe that, as per the preamble to the US Constitution, "We The People" are the government! This has been the basis of my activism and journalism throughout my entire life.

...I looked at the future as a path of infinite possibilities, and I felt big feelings, thought big thoughts, and dreamed big dreams. Blessed with an endless imagination, I daydreamed about all that I could be when I grew up— a marine biologist, or an architect, or an orthopedic surgeon, or the first professional female ice hockey player. I was given space to bumble about in my childhood, making mistakes and learning along the way. Even in my most painful moments, later on, when I was desperately uncomfortable in my skin, confused about my identity, and feeling isolated from family and friends, I intuitively knew that I belonged in the world, and to the world. I didn't know it in my mind— indeed, as I reached puberty, my thoughts often made me feel more alone— but I felt it in my heart, and it emanated from me, driving me forward with clumsy, awkward childhood determination. You see, until the age of fourteen, I had a right to all of these things: to feel my human spirit, to own my body, my emotions, and my mind. To own the right to define myself.

As we come upon both the day commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and with Black History Month just around the corner, I imagine (hopefully) that many of us will be reflecting on our history, progress, and shared collective responsibility in the midst of many ongoing injustices. The difficulty of celebrating civil rights achievements lies in the fact that we are simultaneously reminded of how far we must go to improve the conditions all marginalized people in this country. In this moment, many of us might feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it may seem as if we can do little to fight the chronic disease of disparity afflicting this country. And as we listen to speakers, watch documentaries, and read articles, the inevitable question will arise—but what can I do?

A $61 million dollar, eight-year World Bank community development project implemented across half of Haiti has successfully repaired roads, built schools and distributed livestock.

But is also helped undermine an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s social fabric, carried out what could be called “social and political reengineering,” and raised questions of waste and corruption and contributed to Haiti’s growing status as an “NGO Republic” by creating new non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Read the three-part series

Teachers across America show up to their classrooms every morning to make a difference in the lives of millions of children. Despite amazing challenges, they remain committed to realizing positive impact tapping into their students' learning potential, guiding them to explore, to dream, and to reach their goals of becoming doctors, scientists, and even teachers. According to a study conducted by the Center for Teaching Quality on Teachers' Workdays, educators spend on average 12 hours daily to ensure adequate time for lesson planning, instruction, after school tutoring, checking papers, parent outreach, and staff meetings. Coupled with their individual family commitments, this leaves little time or interest for being directly engaged in understanding the constant changes on America's educational landscape.

Jan 24

Sticking to their Glocks

By Danny Katch, Socialist Worker | Op-Ed

ANYBODY STILL hoping for a sensitive and serious national debate in the wake of the Newtown elementary school shootings probably hasn't heard that January 19 is Gun Appreciation Day.

Is it just me, or does it seem early this year? I've barely recovered from New Year's, and it's already time for making homemade, hollow-tipped ammo and gathering around the family firearm for carols (my personal favorite is "There's Nothing Semi-Automatic About Our Love").

Actually, Gun Appreciation Day is a right-wing media stunt to protest the new momentum for gun control laws that has followed Adam Lanza's massacre in Newtown with a semiautomatic Bushmaster XM-15 rifle.

Jan 24

The "All of the Above" President

By Zachary Norris, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to come up with a 'comprehensive' plan to address gun violence and school safety. Putting aside the gun control recommendations as that would require a separate rant, the school safety portion of the plan mirrors other 'comprehensive' plans supported by the president. These plans have helped keep the president in office but worked out less well for everyday people.

Jan 23

Mr. President, Put Our Spending Priorities in Order

By R. Aura Kanegis and Mary Zerkel, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Dear Mr. President,

As you begin your second term in office this week, we hope you will let the US public in on one of Washington's best-kept open secrets: We're not broke.

Of course, you – along with many on Capitol Hill – know full well that the dire warnings of disaster if we do not drastically cut safety net programs, enforcement of environmental protections, or job creation and training initiatives are patently false. We are a wealthy nation with the means to secure the common good for generations to come. But like a family blowing our money on luxury vehicles – such as the $610 million-per-plane F-35 – while failing to feed our children, we urgently need to reexamine our priorities.

This. Is. Awesome.

In a public ceremony yesterday at the Wisconsin Capitol, Dr. Margaret Rozga accepted the MLK 2013 Heritage Award for her husband, the late Father James Groppi. She used her acceptance speech to deliver a pointed attack on Governor Scott Walker as he sat just feet from her

While the US celebrates the re-election of its first African American President and the successes of numerous African Americans in all walks of life, there remain troubling challenges.

While remembering how far this nation has come since Dr. King was alive, we cannot forget how far we have still to go to combat the oppressions of racism, materialism and militarism.