Monday, July 4, 2016

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? by Frederick Douglass

Those of us at the PJS Blog feel fortunate to have the U.S. be our home country, but blind patriotism is at the core of the many modern day issues strewn across America. In this eloquent speech, Fredrick Douglass attacks, "the land of the free, and home of the brave" as it should. Imagine, if you or your ancestors were legally the property of another human being as a tool to increase wealth? And then in 2016, people told you to 'get over it'-there's no connection to the disproportionate amount of Black folks currently incarcerated, ongoing police brutality, and the BLM movement.

Never forget that these lands where english is forced as the only language, where white men are still given disproportionate benefits for simply their race and gender, where slavery built the economy, and the founding of the country is grounded in the genocide of Indigenous peoples, that there is always hope so long as you are willing to fight.

In Solidarity.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On June 17th, 2016 at 6:05 pm pst, Take a Moment of Silence Against Hate ,and for all Victims of Hate

From the NAACP: 

Forty-nine people were viciously slain last weekend because of their sexual orientation—during Pride Month, no less—in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. 

And now I'm on my way to Charleston, South Carolina, where nearly one year ago, 9 of our brothers and sisters were murdered during Bible study simply because they were black. 

It is morally incomprehensible that this keeps happening.

It's been a trying week for our country: the grief is palpable. But out of this pain, we must rise up and take action. Silence can't protect us, but speaking out against hate and limiting access to weapons that can so easily destroy so many lives—that can turn things around.

The ignorance that moves terrorists to take so many lives is fueled by the hateful rhetoric we hear every day on talk radio, cable news, and even from our own elected officials and someone seeking to be our nation's next president. This rhetoric seeks to paint minority groups as "other," or "the problem with this country today."

The real problem with this country today is too much hate.

The NAACP has always stood against hate. We have consistently called for responsible gun control, and today we'll raise our voices even louder. 

We are angry, we are heartbroken, we are tired. But in times like these, we have to come together to heal. 

In solidarity, 

Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

From an LGBT Massacre, to more Xenophobic Rhetoric, White Privilege, and Anti-Activism, the US is Primed for a Revolution

Let us all take a moment to send our deepest condolences, and the greatest amount of love possible to the victims of the Orlando attack.

For all of those who swear behind second amendment rights, get over yourselves! That law was written over 250 years ago at a time when women weren't allowed to vote, slavery was just starting to boom, and Indigenous people were not considered people. There is a very real problem in the US when is comes to gun control, among other things, and people need to stop perpetuating fear that in order to be "safe" one must be armed.

As mentioned previously on this blog, our collective takes the stance that the rise of Donald Trump is what will incite necessary revolution across this land. It will have global outreach. The xenophobic remarks he's made in the wake of the Orlando tragedy is but another instance of how heavily he is bringing out the worst of the worst. Yes, it's both scary and sad that he is in the position he is in, but think about how this might be the act that truly gets false "progressives" (Democrats and the like) to truly see the inherent flaws in the systems that support US Empire and move to make actual change. Some thing has to give, and perhaps this is it!

Among the many other beyond unfortunate news feeds as of late has been the padding of white privilege with regards to the sentence handed down to rapist Brock Turner, while Jasmine Richards is handed down years in jail for trying to take a person out of police custody. The term, "felony lynching" is no coincidence, and in all accounts, from blaming the total Islamic faith for terrorism in the US, to the outright denial that this country continues to enforce a system of power that supports white, heterosexual, christian, men, the US seems it could catch a fire at any moment.

What can you do? Anything you can that ultimately supports peace, sustainability, and justice.

In Solidarity.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

#NativeJusticeNow: Police Violence, Colonialism, & #JusticeForLoreal by Indigenous Action Media

Klee Benally is the definition of an inspiring activist. Steady in his word and action, Klee has been working to bring justice to Native people, the U.S. and the world for many years. Recently,  he offered this well researched, critical piece on police violence. Read his words, follow the resources at the end for further education. In Solidarity.

From Indigenous Action Media:

According to The Guardian’s “The Counted” database, there have been 1,403 people’s lives taken by police terrorism in the US since 2015.

We’re not addressing a few “bad apple” cops here though, this whole system is rotten to the core. This reality was brought close to home on Sunday, March 27, 2016 when 27-year-old Diné woman Loreal
Loreal Juana Barnell Tsinijini (Photo courtesy of Adam James)
Loreal Juana Barnell Tsingine (Photo courtesy of Adam James)
Juana Barnell Tsingine was gunned down by a Winslow, Arizona police officer who was responding to an alleged act of shoplifting.

Loreal was shot 5 times by the white officer who was reportedly wearing a body camera. Apparently the officer felt threatened because she had scissors.
There have been 53 people killed by cops in AZ since 2015. 0 people have been killed by scissors.

Police violence is systemically rooted in white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism. 

According to Eastern Kentucky University professor Victor E. Kappeler, “New England settlers appointed Indian Constables to police Native Americans (National Constable Association, 1995), the St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols. In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered property.”

According to a 2010 census more than 25% of the 10,000 people who live in Winslow are Indigenous. Although Winslow is considered a “border town” to the Navajo Nation; like Farmington, NM, Durango, CO, and nearby Flagstaff, it’s occupied stolen lands steeped in a legacy of settler colonial violence and class war with resounding impacts of historical trauma and a range of associated social disorders (i.e. poverty) that impact power relations to this day. The City of Flagstaff, which has sanctioneddesecration of the San Francisco Peaks (held holy by more than 13 Indigenous Nations), arrests an average of more than 3,000 Indigenous People every year yet only 7,000 Native people call Flagstaff their home. Disproportionate arrests due to racial profiling are not the exception but appear to be the expectation in these hostile environments.

Piecemeal policy adjustments within police institutions such as body cams, cultural sensitivity training, and so-called “less-than-lethal” options, demonstrate no critical change of the power that cops have to kill those who pose no significant threat (not to legitimize cops killing armed folks either). Unless of course we recognize that brown and black bodies are also a factor in what constitutes a “threat.”

Keep reading Here

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's Not About Trump, It's About What He Symbolizes

If you have any ounce of hope for the well being of planet earth then you are as surprised as anyone that Donald Trump has made the headway he has in mainstream American politics. Is it scary? Yes. However, is this what is needed for a revolution? Perhaps.

The truth is Mr. Trump doesn't matter. What he symbolizes does. Back in December he called for barring all Muslims from entering the U.S. He has also supported action to spy on mosques, and create a database of all Muslims living in the country. He was quoted as saying, "until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat is poses [ISIS], our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad".

The mans ignorance is clear. So all Muslims must face persecution because of one group of extremists?

On women, follow this link and check out his views for yourself.

On Latinos, follow this link and again, check out his views for yourself.

The truth is the country and our world continues to try and heal from the brutal past of colonization and slavery, exacerbated in the past 200+ years by unfettered capitalism and hegemony. With Trump, don't let anyone get away with saying he's confident, good for business, and even better for politics. Look at what he stands for, look at what he symbolizes, understand who truly supports him. As disgusting as it might sound, as he continues to rise into mainstream American political prominence, perhaps this is exactly what soft "progressives" and the like need to get activated, to be pushed to the edge, to revolt for the better of people and the planet. Affinity across diversity, for peace, justice and sustainability has never been more necessary than right now.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Tool for Educator's, Food for Thought for All

If you're a student, or in educational fields, you're most likely (hopefully) concerned about supporting diversity across all humans and all species. In this piece by Samduzi an argument is made for decolonizing education as opposed to merely diversifying education. It's a great read, enjoy! (retrieved from here)

We Need A Decolonized, Not A "Diverse", Education

Black History Month has passed; the pushback of white supremacy through critical education resumes its daily, hourly, minute-to-minute work. 
In A Case for Whiteness History Month, I make a short case for the introduction of Whiteness History Month, a month dedicated to kyriarchy: the overlapping and interconnected oppressions around gender, sexuality, race, class, and physical ability that are made invisible by violent normativities. Inherent to this case for this history month is a case for critical pedagogy. 
Critical pedagogy is a kind of instruction that challenges dominant structures (such as whiteness) through dialogue and ultimately seeks to create a social and political consciousness that empowers individuals and communities to name and identify oppressions. Brazilian educator Paulo Freire named this “critical consciousness,” and the process of consciousness-raising was called “conscientization.”
In his book Education, Power, and Personal Biography, Argentinian sociologist and educator Carlos Alberto Torres challenged mythologies of liberal education and its “notion that education is a neutral activity, and that education is an apolitical activity.” It is impossible for American education to be neutral and/or apolitical when lesson plans of all educational levels are sites of historical revisionism. One of my favorite quotes is an Ewe-Mina (peoples from Benin, Ghana and Togo) proverb: “Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Until indigenous communities can tell the story of America’s “discovery” by European explorers, until the African diaspora can write the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, until marginalized communities are the storytellers of their experiences, history will be rendered partially complete but wholly privilege the knowledges and perspectives of colonizers.
In this context, diversity agendas are hindrances rather than stepping stones to justice and equity. Diversity might be the inclusion of a lesson about Chinese-American contributions to American infrastructure within a lesson about westward expansion. It might also be learning about traditional Native American garments during November lessons about the observation of Thanksgiving at Plymouth colony. In both cases, diversity signifies the inclusion of communities on the margins in ways that do not decenter dominance, but actually insulate it. 
The inclusion of marginalized identities and experiences without decentering dominant narratives is an understanding of diversity that leaves oppressive structures intact, and in fact, insulates them from criticism. Diversity is very frequently the linchpin of liberal racism in education, and inclusivity becomes functionally useless if we do not also exclude via decentering violent normativities positioned as normal:
"Through a white-writing of history (and history textbooks) that erases and minimizes all of the revolts that were necessary for change, liberals are able to demand that protesters remain totally peaceful, pacifist, and nonviolent (by which they mean non-destructive of property) in the face of dehumanization, degradation, and absolute repressive violence (the actual destruction of human life). White liberals and their sympathizers take ideas and quotes from Martin Luther King out of context and use them to shame disruptive protesters as rioters and looters, dismiss more militant activists as spiteful and vengeful, blaming them all for their own conditions.”
Many professors are taking the initiative to subvert the normative values imposed by certain curriculum and educational requirements, and I’d like to highlight two wonderful women I know: Dr. Terri Coleman a first year composition professor at Dillard University in New Orleans, and Dr. Charity Clay, a sociology professor at Merritt College in Oakland. Terri draws on black feminist, womanist, and postcolonial theorists like Victor Villanueva, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Gloria Anzaldúa, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Edward Said, and Julius Lester. As an critical race sociologist and symbolic interactionism, Charity’s work also centers black womanhood and similarly draws on the black feminist scholarship of Dorothy Roberts, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, as well as Joe Fegin, Eduardo Bonilla Silva, Stuart Hall, and others.
Terri refers to her teaching as “unteaching” because she wants “[her] students to unlearn the ideas they’ve internalized about language” and the idea “that there’s ‘good’ English and ‘bad’ English…If you believe there’s ‘good’ English and ‘bad’ English, then you’re going to think that using ‘bad’ English is a sign of cognitive deficiency. If your identity aligns with ‘good’ English, that’ll make you an entitled jerk. But if your identity aligns with ‘bad’ English, that sets you up to believe you’re inferior, you’re stupid, that you are inherently unworthy and unable.”

As a sociologist, Charity prefaces her teaching by “deconstructing dominant narratives” because “many students are not aware of how intentionally structures of domination work.” She tries to link classroom teaches to students’ real life experiences by ensuring that all groups in her class are represented in the concepts taught. 
“If I have Black, Indigenous, Asian and pacific islander, queer, women, immigrant, parents, etc. as students, I try to make sure that I make connections to them with the examples, with the authors we read, with the work they are assigned.  And this is not only for the inclusion of these students but it is also to provide an understanding to other students.  This inclusion encourages students to share, and that sharing can create a very powerful learning environment where students are listening to and learning from each other.”

Dr. Charity Clay
Diversity is antithetical to critical education, to any politics that ultimately seek to dismantle oppressive systems. The real problem with diversity in Terri’s eyes is that “because it is based on difference, [it] almost always includes whiteness,” which isn’t useful for anybody. 
Because we are constantly taught that our lives, understandings, and experiences are invalid: 
“people of color…need to see our own worlds centered; we need to be able to assume our validity. White people need practice recognizing and accepting the validity or traditions that have nothing to do with them; they need to practice inhabiting marginal spaces. Diversity doesn’t allow that, because it makes different groups (including whites) share the center.”

Dr. Terri Coleman
Charity’s understanding of diversity in education is a “surface diversity,” i.e. “the presence of different ‘looking’ people, without a sincere acknowledgement of different ideologies or perspectives.”

She ultimately seeks to instill her students with the understanding that their “experiences and realities are important."
Not seeing themselves represented in the textbooks they read often discourages them in school. 

Dr. Charity Clay 
There is demonstrable evidence that students perform better when their curriculum is representative and instills within them a sense of pride in their identities. Otherwise schools become yet another site in which students of color are repeatedly taught and begin to internalize their own degradation.
Diversity alone is not enough to redress centuries of hegemonic understandings and socialization via education. We need campaigns like Dismantling the Master’s House, Rhodes Must Fall in Britain, and Fees Must Fall and Open Stellenbosch’s Luister in South Africa, among other movements and initiatives around the world. We must support students and faculty members at institutions like San Francisco State University where the College of Ethnic Studies is facing huge funding cuts, at least in part because most American institutions devalue whiteness de-centered cultural programming. We’ve got to fight for the non-violence education and knowledge we deserve.

If you'd like to support this writer and help HARLOT MAGAZINE continue paying marginalized writers for their work, you can buy a "DECOLONIZE EDUCATION" t-shirt inspired by this article.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

If you don't know what environmental injustice looks like, check out the Clean Up The Mines Project

Danika Worthington/Cronkite News
Navajo protesters like Klee Benally, above, were joined by members of several other tribes from around the country at the EPA protest.

Environmental racism targets people of color, and other disenfranchised communities by fostering unequal amounts of burdens to these folks through their environment. Dirtier air, more polluted land, and heavily impacted water sources are just a few examples of environmental injustices faced by predominately Black, Latino and Indigenous communities in the U.S.

This recent piece by Indian Country speaks to an ongoing issue faced by Native American communities and others through abandoned uranium mines.  Read it, check out the Clean Up The Mines Project, and understand how alleviating environmental justice issues is central to the attainment of a sustainable way of life for all.

Navajo, Others Press Feds to Clean Up 15,000 Water-Poisoning Uranium Mines


Longtime Sanders, Arizona, resident Wayne Lynch was told in July that the water on his ranch contained dangerously high amounts of uranium, yet he is still using it.
“There’s no other water source we have,” Lynch said in late January. “There’s no other well that they could tap in to.”
Lynch said the problem extends to the Sanders community, including nearby schools, which have no choice but to use contaminated wells.
“People are always getting cancer,” he said, naming his mother, an aunt and a grandmother among those who have been diagnosed with the disease.
Lynch’s case was just one of the stories brought to Washington last week by Clean Up the Mines,a group that highlights the detrimental effects of abandoned uranium mines, especially those on and near reservations.
According to government data, there are about 15,000 uranium minesin the West, with 75 percent of those on federal or tribal lands.
Clean Up the Mines was in the District for a week, working to spread awareness of what it calls an environmental crisis. That included a Thursday, January 28 protest outside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) building.
The group demanded that the federal agency conduct studies on radiation levels in water supplies and move to clean up uranium waste. Group members met with about 10 EPA officials after their protest.
“They listened to our frustrations,” said Tommy Rock, a Navajo and member of Diné No Nukes who was in Washington D.C. for the protests.
“They didn’t really say much—they just listened to us,” he said.
It was Rock, a doctoral candidate in environmental sciences at Northern Arizona University, who tested the water near Sanders and found uranium levels of 47 parts per billion—well above the legal limit of 30 parts per billion.
The Sanders Unified School District draws water from wells where uranium levels have been tested at 37 parts per billion—forcing the district to rely on bottled water for its offices, schools and teacher housing, said interim Superintendent Dan Hute.
“There is uranium. It is over the limit. It’s been a mess,” Hute said.
Except for the occasional donation, bottled water costs come out of the district’s budget. Hute said the district drilled a new well, but it tested at about the same level of uranium as the old one. He said the school facilities board is considering a filtration system or a deeper well—but that could cause more problems because of arsenic levels in the area.
Hute is frustrated by what he sees as a lack of response by government agencies.
“All they’re doing is talking about this,” he said, “but nobody is bothering to call my office. It’s all being dumped in our laps.”
Apache County Director of Public Health Chris Sexton said the state health department conducted a risk analysis for personal health effects from water contamination in the Sanders community, which he said has been an issue for the last year.
“They advised small children not to drink the water or mix it with formula,” he said, but the department concluded that adults were not at risk.
An Arizona Department of Health Services spokesman confirmed Tuesday that children under age 1 should use an alternative water source for drinking and for formula, but adults are not at risk if they drink the tap water.
In a written statement Tuesday, an EPA spokesman said the agency has already spent more than copy00 million to address the highest-risk areas under a multiyear plan developed in 2007 to address uranium contamination at mining sites.
“The federal effort has focused on identifying the most imminent risks first by addressing contaminated structures, water supplies, mills, dumps, and mines with the highest levels of radiation,” said the statement, which added that the agency continues to work on the issue.
A statement from the EPA’s regional office, meanwhile, said it has been working since last year to fix the problem of tainted water that is being delivered in Sanders by the Arizona Windsong Water System.
It said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has given the water system until April 1 to bring quality into compliance with the 30 parts per billion standard, while the Arizona Corporation Commission last month terminated the system’s certification, clearing the way for another supplier.
“Efforts are underway with various stakeholder agencies to facilitate a change in water supplier for the residents of Sanders, Arizona,” the statement from the regional EPA said.
In the protesters’ meeting with EPA officials in Washington last week, Rock said he presented some of his research, urged the agency to include Sanders in its next five-year plan, and asked that provisions protecting communities from uranium waste be included in the Clean Water Act.
Charmaine White Face, a scientist and member of Clean Up the Mines, said her Oglala Sioux community also experiences high cancer rates, and that she has found water supplies on her chapter’s land with dangerous uranium levels.
Charmaine White Face of the Oglala Sioux tribe speaks at the Clean Up the Mines protest outside of the EPA. (Photo: Danika Worthington/Cronkite News)
Charmaine White Face of the Oglala Sioux tribe speaks at the Clean Up the Mines protest outside of the EPA. (Photo: Danika Worthington/Cronkite News)

White Face said her father died of cancer, and both she and her daughter have battled the disease. She said her son is dying of lupus, another disease linked to radioactivity.
But, she said, the federal government has failed to respond to what she sees as a health crisis.
“I’ve been dying to wake everybody up,” she said. “I can’t get anybody to listen.”
She said part of the problem are laws that do not hold mining companies responsible for cleaning up their sites when they abandon them.
The Clean Up the Mines protesters said they delivered a letter to the EPA from Lynch, who hopes it will convince the agency to do more testing in his community and consider drilling new, deeper wells that would bypass the aquifer that holds the contaminated water.
White Face said they will continue to spread awareness of the problem and press for change.
“We are not just victims,” she said, “we are survivors. And we are still resisting.