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.
Surely one of the questions that comes to mind as we read the various commentaries on the skirmish between Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson is "Why Should We [those of us who sit way up in the 'cheap seats'] Care?" Permit me to offer an answer that is both simple and a bit more involved. While, ostensibly, this debate appears to be about an ego-driven flap between two high profile Black intellectuals, it is significant to some of us because it involves our efforts to interpret some of the actions (both instrumental and symbolic) of the nation's first bi-racial President. This flap involving West and Dyson would not have occurred were the current occupant of the White House Caucasian.
As we enter the fourth quarter of our current President's second term, we will no doubt be treated with more debates around President Obama's multi-dimensional legacy. Many Black intellectuals are likely to raise the question, "What did Barack Obama do for Black people?" This question is problematic for two reasons: (a) it reflects what might be called the "fallacy of phenotypical thinking," i.e., someone who is phenotypically Black shouldchampion policy issues and causes of particular importance to many Black people; and (b) this question tends to ignore the formal-legal/institutional circumstances under which the President of the United States (POTUS) operates.
Four activists were arrested this morning at the Embassy of El Salvador where they staged a sit- in to call attention to 17 Salvadoran women currently serving extreme prison sentences for having had miscarriages. Protesters included Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of Latin America solidarity organization School of the Americas Watch; Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, NY, retired educator and nonviolent peace activist; John Honeck, a counselor and activist from Hamlin, NY; and Paki Wieland, of Northampton, MA, longtime peace and justice activist and member of Grandmothers for Peace. The group delivered a letter to the embassy to express their solidarity and to seek the release of the 17 women. Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse, NY, and Palma Ryan of Cliff Island, ME, also participated in the sit-in.
"The 17," as they are now known in the global movement advocating their release, are 17 women in El Salvador serving decades in prison for having had miscarriages. A country with deeply conservative abortion laws, El Salvador has convicted these 17 and charged as many as five more. According to Amnesty International, the charges are for aggravated homicide and receiving illegal abortions, though there is little to no evidence as to the causes of their miscarriages. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana made international headlines last month as the first of the 17 to be released.
What would you do if your loved one was struggling with an addiction? And not just struggling, but potentially dying? How much would you pay? The answer is, when you're in crisis, a lot.
When I agreed to direct THE BUSINESS OF RECOVERY, I didn't know exactly what I'd find. It's no secret that excessive alcohol accounted for 88,000 American deaths and drugs overdoses another 39,000 deaths. But the degree to which this health crisis seems to be worsening as an entire unchecked industry arose around it captured my attention. While the addiction treatment industry grew into a $34 billion a year business, overdose death rates had tripled in the past 25 years. How was this possible? I had to know what was really happening behind the veil of treatment.
Imagine, for a second, that Maryland governor Larry Hogan called for a state of emergency when Freddie Gray’s spine was broken and his voice box was smashed he arrested for no reason.
Imagine that such violence toward a black life was so out of the ordinary, so horrifying, so damning, such a sign that swift and meaningful change was necessary, that it was enough to make an elected leader say, “This has crossed the line. The police state is out of control. We need to suspend our normal operations and get some help from the National Guard. We need some outside resources to help quell these people, these actors of the state who are disturbing the peace.” Imagine that, in the absence of years of racial oppression, Baltimore ever knew peace in the first place.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al Sisi's iron grip on dissident is likely to be put to the test with the sentencing to death of 11 soccer fans for involvement in a politically loaded football brawl three years ago that left 74 militant supporters of storied Cairo club Al Ahli SC dead.
The brawl and the subsequent sentencing to death in an initial trial two years ago of 21 supporters of the Suez Canal city of Port Said's Al Masri SC sparked mass protests by Al Ahli fans demanding justice in the walk up tothe court hearings and a popular revolt in Port Said and other Suez Canal cities once the verdict was issued that forced then President Mohammed Morsi to declare an emergency and deploy military troops tothe region.
Governor Jerry Brown has finally admitted what most Californians have known all along - the "conservation" and "habitat restoration" components of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan have been nothing but window dressing for the twin tunnels water grab, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.
On April 13, Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition of anti-tunnels organizations and individuals, and theCenter for Biological Diversity responded to the governor's abandonment of the pretense of "conservation" and "restoration" and move to permit a "tunnels only" Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and other media outlets.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing at least 1,500 people and prompting the government to declare a state of emergency. The tremor caused avalanches on Mount Everest and destroyed buildings across the capital city of Kathmandu. Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 145th out of 187 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. Nepalowes $3.8 billion in debt to foreign lenders and spent $217 million repaying debt in 2013. Nepal is one of 38 countries eligible for assistance from the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) new Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCR).
"Nepal could qualify for immediate relief," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. "Nepal's earthquake is why the International Monetary Fund created a new rapid response relief fund."
This is Dan Falcone's letter to a teacher named Marilyn Zuniga. Zuniga's students apparently wanted to write Mumia Abu-Jamal "get well" letters after learning he had fallen ill. The students knew of him from a Black history lesson on the topic of civil rights. Zuniga was disciplined for the activity and suspended without pay. Since the suspension, the students' rights to be facilitated by the instructor has received support from the dean of the University of San Francisco's School of Education, Kevin Kumashiro; world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky; professor and social commentator Marc Lamont Hill; and Baruch College history professor Johanna Fernandez.
UN independent human rights experts on migrants, Francois Crépeau, and on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, react to the announcement made at the end of the emergency European Union summit on migrants yesterday.
The decision made yesterday by EUleaders overwhelmingly continues to focus on the securitization of borders. Increasing repression of survival migration has not worked in the past and will not work now.
The unique approach of Boston School Bus Union, Steelworkers Local 8751 offers a much needed new blueprint for building power within poor and working class communities. This particular union marks the spot where organized labor meets oppressed and marginalized people where they are. During my travels to Boston, it was quite inspiring to see a local union work hand in hand with neighborhood youth against police violence. It was quite encouraging to see the rank-and-file of the Boston school bus drivers work with parents and community members to organize against school closings and badly timed budget cuts to public education.