Truthout

Speakout

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.

In an era of corporate-state colonization of both landscape and mental real estate, when the face of one's true oppressors is, more often than not, hidden from view, thus inflicting feelings of anxiety borne of powerlessness over the criteria of one's life and the course of one's fate, often, to retain a sense of control, people will tend to displace their anger and shame. Firearms provide the illusion of being able to locate and bead down on a given target. (How often does a person without wealth, power, and influence have any contact with -- or even a glimpse of -- the financial and political elite whose decisions dictate the, day by day, criteria of one's existence?)

Beginning in childhood, carrying the noxious notions of the adult world, the viral seeds of mental enslavement to shame and the concomitant attempt to protect ego-integrity through psychological displacement are spread child to child.

Jan 08

In Immodest Proposal

By Tom H Hastings, Hastings on Non-Violence | Op-Ed

We are saved--so our politicians tell us--from a plunge off the fiscal cliff. In all reports, however, it is mentioned that President Obama settled for a slice of what he claimed to be after, which was to raise taxes on those whose income is more than a quarter million annually. Instead, the Republican bravehearts kept that rapacious goal at bay and made certain that taxes would only increase for those making more than $400,000 per year. Brilliant!

According to media reports, the only actual spending cuts contemplated were those that would affect luxuries for the average person, such as Social Security benefits or medical care for the elderly or disabled. That's the spirit, boys!

Jan 07

Unity through silence: A Tucson Story

By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, Dr. Cintli's Blog | News Analysis

Human beings are defined by the sum total of our values... what we believe in and that which guides us in our daily lives. Yet, values are virtually worthless if one preaches them, but does not adhere to them.

So too ethos?

Ethos are not what one believes per se, but what one lives by. This discussion is not abstract, but is about the footprints that have been left behind the past several years in the monumental struggle in Tucson, in defense of Ethnic/Raza or Mexican American Studies (MAS). The battle here has never really been about facts; all the relevant facts, and all the independent studies prove the success of the former department. Instead, the [external] battle has actually been about values/ethos. The internal battle has been about whether we have been living those same values/ethos.

It's one of the ironies of education reform that despite wave after wave, schools are seen by many as in worse shape as before all the changes. Here's a look at why from Marion Brady, who was a classroom teacher for years, has written history and world culture textbooks (Prentice-Hall), professional books, numerous nationally distributed columns (many are available here), and courses of study. His 2011 book "What's Worth Learning" asks and answer this question: What knowledge is absolutely essential for every learner? His course of study for secondary-level students, called Connections: Investigating Reality, is free for downloading here. Brady's website is www.marionbrady.com.

Jan 07

My Striking Vacation

By Margot Seigle, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I spoke to several workers and learned of their grievances. "We work hard," said a cook who had worked at the hotel for 12 years. "We run our own kitchen. There's no head chef. All we're asking for is fair pay." He told me: "My son asks me for money to buy books and I have to tell him no. I work at one of the most expensive hotels in the city – I shouldn't have to tell him no." While their wages are among the lowest of any high end hotel in this city, and room rates among the highest, the hotel claims it doesn't have enough money to raise workers' pay.

About one third of approximately 130 workers at the hotel have joined the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Hotel Monasterio (Hotel Monasterio Workers Union). Others wanted to join as well but were afraid of the management's intimidation tactics and threats of being fired. Justo Ccahua Llacta, the union leader, said that the hotel management refused the union's proposal to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

Haneen Zoabi is an Arab Israeli member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset. She was elected in 2009 as a member from the Balad Party. Balad is an Arab party that was formed in 1995 with the aim of "struggling to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens." In the West, this is a perfectly normal goal. But Israel's Zionist ideology disqualifies it as a "Western" nation. Thus Balad's aim is in direct opposition to the Zionist idea of Israel as a "Jewish state," a concept that Ms Zoabi labels "inherently racist."

Apparently, Haneen Zoabi is fearless. She actually lives her principles.

Jan 07

Living Your Life Honestly

By Robert Jensen, New Left Project | Op-Ed

"Good teaching is living your life honestly in front of students."

I don't recall exactly when Jim Koplin first told me that, but I know that he had to say it several times before I began to understand what he meant. Koplin was that kind of teacher—always honing in on simple, but profound, truths; fond of nudging through aphorisms that required time to understand their full depth; always aware of the connection between epistemology and ethics; and patient with slow learners.

In April 2012, music industry magazine The Music Network asked Australian hip-hop pioneer Urthboy to write about the state of hip-hop in Australia. Instead Urthboy, the boss of respected hip-hop label Elefant Traks, wrote this: "I was asked to write about the state of hip-hop in Australia. I'd prefer to shine a light on what may be the future of it: Indigenous Hip-Hop. Indigenous artists carry a profoundly engrossing and intriguing story for international audiences, yet it's barely understood by many Australians."

Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country is a free ebook that aims to be an introduction to some of the Aboriginal hip-hop artists out there. All have stories that demand to be heard, from the better-known players like The Last Kinection and Sky'high, to those who have huge online audiences but get no media coverage, such as Sesk, and those who are probably too radical for the establishment to handle, such as Darah.

Jan 04

2012: Obituary in Abstentia

By AK Thompson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In 1925, T.S. Eliot saw the writing on the wall. The world would end, he thought, "not with a bang but a whimper." In our own time, 2012 was destined to become the year of the Great Mayan Apocalypse - a centuries-old declaration of calendrical oblivion, finally come to collect. Some, determined to secure front-row seats to the greatest show on earth, stormed the Yucatan like the vile offspring of Duane Hanson and Burning Man. Time to go out with a bang, they exclaimed. But as the sun broke the horizon on December 22, it became clear that the world, in its obstinacy, would trundle on. No apocalypse this year, Yucatan reveler. Better luck next time.

A cataclysmic letdown, one might say. Then again, maybe this is what the end looks like. Maybe this unendurable persistence is the whimper that Eliot foretold.

The oft-maligned Chicago Public Schools (CPS) policy of subjecting neighborhood schools to "turnaround" discriminates against African-American teachers and staff according to a federal lawsuit filed this week by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and three public school educators. More than half of the 347 tenured teachers who were terminated by CPS as a result of the most recent turnarounds are African-American. This is the second major legal action on this matter taken by the union.

The Dec. 26 lawsuit alleges that the process for selecting schools for turnaround results in schools being selected that have a high percentage of African-American teachers, compared to schools that performed similarly but are not selected for any school action. More than 50 percent of the tenured teachers terminated as a result of the most recent turnarounds were African American...