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 International Women's Day, Show Your Support for the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in MassachusettsBy Kate Zen, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
Nannies and housekeepers are some of the lowest paid workers in the U.S., facing high rates of exploitation, poor working conditions, and harassment from employers. This is because domestic workers perform "feminine" work, which has historically been done for free in the private household, and is still undervalued, if accounted for at all, in the market. Yet they are the backbone of our economy, tending to our elderly and our children, performing the necessary care work that sometimes gets neglected in busy two-earner homes.
In the United States, immigrant women make up for a majority of domestic workers, accounting for the "feminization of migration" in the last few decades, as they leave their own families behind to earn an income in wealthier countries. Their movement out of their own homes enables women in receiving countries to do the same and to participate in greater numbers in the work force.
"President Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy," an indignant Washington Post editorial headline exclaims -- as if there were any other possibility. Of course Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy. So is every president's, just as every criticism of a president's foreign policy is based on fantasy.
When we're talking about foreign affairs no one escapes the grip of fantasy, though I prefer to call it myth, since our fantasies always turn out to be based (consciously or unconsciously) on some story we embrace about how the world works. We all interpret the facts through our own mythic lens.
In the past couple of years a disturbing political phenomenon has arisen. To put it simply, groups espousing democracy have caused their countries to politically self-destruct by violently turning against the results of free and fair elections. Apparently, they act this way because the elections did not go their way and/or the elected officials adopted policies they oppose. They do so even when there is a possibility that changes in policy, and even changes in constitutions, can be had peacefully through legal means.
Admittedly this is happening in states both new to democratic politics and deeply divided along ideological lines. A tradition of compromise and sensitivity to minority rights are not yet manifest.
Psychotherapy is an art. The best psychotherapists are energy healers, skilled in transforming the energy of hopelessness, anxiety and despair to the energy of possibility, creativity, and growth. And the best psychotherapists teach their clients practices that allow them to keep doing the transforming work on their own.
Psychiatry pretends to be a science. Psychiatrists prescribe combinations of powerful drugs that affect the brain chemistry of people in pain. Too often, it appears that these psychiatrists are rolling the dice, hoping for a lucky result. Some people do experience relief of their symptoms, and are able to resume productive, normal lives. Unfortunately, many people experience symptoms becoming worse, leading to years of suffering. Family members of young adults who commit suicide sometimes blame the tragedies on what one survivor calls "pharmaceutical poison" for the loss of their loved ones.
As spring begins to bloom, the sharing economy movement is ramping up its activities with a series of events being planned in different cities and world regions. Pioneered by Shareable along with several partners – including OuiShare, the New Economy Coalition, the New American Dream, Peers, The People Who Share and others – many big sharing events will be hosted throughout the spring months from San Francisco to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Bristol in the UK. And come June 1st, these collaborative events will culminate in Global Sharing Day 2014 which will bring communities together to demonstrate the power of neighbourhood sharing, in everything from local skills swaps and street sharing jamborees to time banking, carpooling, community gardening and the collective purchasing of food or energy.
I recently received a spoken word piece called "The New Jim Crows" from an unlikely source – a public defender in North Carolina named Danny Spiegel. The title pays tribute to Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking book: "The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."
Spiegel's poem is an outpouring of the heartache and frustrations of his occupation – how he is forced to bear witness to, and at times feel complicit in, the damage of mass incarceration. Through rhyme, Spiegel passionately tells the story of his clients – the young teen Melissa, who is tracked from foster care into jail, the schizophrenic who ends up locked in a cell rather than in treatment, the broken families of the failed war on drugs.
"Dear Marissa" is my apology to Marissa Alexander, a black woman who was sentenced in Florida to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Her retrial starts in July, and incredibly, she is now facing 60 years in prison.
Prosecutor AngelaCorey announced she is seeking the maximum sentence of 20 years for 3 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Please contribute to Marissa Alexander's legal defense fund by going to Marissa Alexander Freedom Fundraiser. The lyrics to "Dear Marissa" are below.
The government owns the narrative. They own the courtroom. They own the story being told: America is fair, honest, good. Police don't lie. Prosecutors are only interested in justice. There is no system, but if there were a system, then the system would treat all people the same regardless of income or resources. Trust us.
Inside was a wall-to-wall brawl: death rockers, bikers, skinheads, junkies, punks. A huge punk rocker fell through the pit like a mohawked skyscraper in an earthquake. The cave of normal blown apart in disbelieving joy. I dove in arms flailing, churning in the catharsis of forgetting: my family struggling, the cops who harassed us, a father in prison. A hand reached down and picked me up by my shirt.
CHICAGO – In a strong show of support, small business owners, workers, health care practitioners, parents and Chicago Aldermen rallied today at City Council for paid sick days legislation. The group, organized by the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, is calling on City Council to pass an earned sick time ordinance that would guarantee that the nearly half million Chicago workers who do not have access to paid sick days are able to take time off when they or their families are ill. A recent survey found that 82% of Chicago voters support paid sick days legislation.
"In this economy, it's more important than ever that people can afford to stay home when they or loved ones are sick, without fear of falling behind on bills or losing their job," said Alderman Moreno, co-sponsor of the Chicago Earned Sick Time Ordinance. "No working person in Chicago should be forced to choose between their family's economic security and their family's health."
There is a dense fog of suspicion surrounding the final round of El Salvador's presidential elections on March 9th. There have been social media reports of bankers and business owners forcing employees to vote for the right wing ARENA party and stories of gang members bullying communities into voting for the left.
In February, President Mauricio Funes was publically accused of drunk driving and crashing a Ferrari worth over two hundred thousand dollars in the early hours of the night in San Salvador. While the President denies involvement in the crash, many suspect that his role in the accident was covered up. The President has argued that the Ferrari story was fabricated by ARENA supporters and has threated to file a claim of defamation against his accusers.