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.
On the border of the Standing Rock Sioux Native American reservation in North Dakota, people have gathered from all over the world to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. If completed, the pipeline will transport roughly 500,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil field to Illinois, traversing over sacred burial sites and threatening the tribe's drinking water sources. The future operator of the pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, tops US charts for crude oil spills, according to a Reuters investigation. The Standing Rock Sioux's struggle to stop the pipeline has transformed into a global environmental and Indigenous rights movement.
I'm angered, exhausted and drained. As a formerly undocumented but now a US Citizen, Mexican-American queer woman. However, I'm young, and I know that for others this fight for dignity has been for much longer and that for some it has only just begun. I'm also afraid. But I'm not willing to let someone think that they have the right to dehumanize me by removing my rights as a human. Now more than ever, I am willing to fight. I understand it's easier to be said than to be done because there is some risk into it.
The Port Huron Statement was written as the Black Freedom Movement rose up. Tom Hayden had the vision to help write that document in 1962, which became a spark, an igniter of the new left, the white left, the radical student and youth movements. "We are," he wrote, "people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort … looking uneasily at the world we inherit." I'm still looking, more uneasily than ever, at the world we -- our children and grandchildren -- inherit.
Recently, when asked about whether he felt connected to the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM), prominent African-American rapper Lil Wayne stated, in essence, that he did not feel connected to the movement at all and that it had nothing to do with him. Though he did notexplicitly disparage the movement itself, many conservative critics of BLM have leaned on this interview in much the same way as the white bar hoped to lean on Thurgood Marshall in the early part of the 20th century: they hope Lil Wayne -- a person who, in their view, is representative -- will help convince the skeptical Black community that "the legal system treat[s] them fairly."
Even before a Clinton concession speech, Pharma stocks were hopping and Wall Street saluting over a Trump administration. No pesky price regulation over drugs like EpiPen! No pesky safety regulation over blood thinning drugs like drug Xarelto, linked to 500 deaths. No speed bumps when Pfizer et al seeks to dodge US taxes by incorporating overseas -- the same taxes that fund their drugs in Medicare, TRICARE and other US programs.
As I observe the fractious political debate consuming the Republican Party I can't help but try to place the clash in historical context. Of course there are many examples in the development of the American party system when there were seismic shifts when parties split and evolved in new directions. The Federalist Party self-destructing in the aftermath of the War of 1812 and the eventual split in the Jeffersonian Republicans into the National Republicans of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay on one side and the Democratic Republicans of Andrew Jackson on the other.
Here in Russia, where I have been traveling as part of a small delegation organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the people with whom we have spoken have no illusions about war and its effects. "We remember what war is like," Nikolay, a scientist and businessman, told us. "We have a genetic memory," referring to close relatives -- parents, grandparents -- who passed on their experience of the Great Purge and/or the siege of Leningrad, when nearly a million Russians died of starvation and disease because Germany cut off all imports and exports.
Yesterday, November 10, was the birthday of the US Marine Corps. Today is Veteran's Day. These back-to-back days are filling me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, there is a sense of pride and a continuing sense of loyalty to the Corps. On the other hand, there is the knowledge that the Marine Corps mostly works for the corporations and always has, just like the National Guard is now working for Energy Transfer Partners here at Standing Rock. General Smedley Butler, the late Marine Corps Commandant and two-time congressional medal of honor winner, documents this in his book War is a Racket.
Merriam-Webster, the successor to the first US dictionary published by Noah Webster in 1806, defines a coup d'etat as "a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics." Translated from French, it means "blow to the state." This is what the United States experienced last night. Now we, too, can add Donald Trump to the list of despicable leaders such as Benito Mussolini, Leopold II, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Mobutu Sese Seko and Rafael Trujillo. In fact, if I were following this definition correctly, this technically would not be the first "blow to the state." Let's envision the white settlers who invaded the land of the Arawak, Cree, Navajo and so many other groups.
In 2008, in response to what were called the "xenophobic riots" in the townships, we argued that only complete reform of the economy can provide solutions to the despair and desperation of the majority black population who have been living in horrific poverty. At that time, we called for a Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which Professor Mahmood Mamdani and myself [Sampie Terreblanche], had already argued in 1998 was absolutely necessary for a full review of the supply-side capitalist economics that had already come to dominate the economic policy in South Africa.