Archive for September, 2008

30
Sep
08

The deserving among us

This is a yet fully formulated thought, but I wanted to throw some stuff up here…

Here’s a comment I left at NYC Weboy’s place this morning in response to this post on the bailout:

“There isn’t another magic solution, there’s nobody with a better idea… there’s this, or nothing.”

I agree generally, we have to do something. But I thought there were lots of better ideas being circulated – Sen. Clinton’s emphasis on reviving the HOLC, Galbraith had a well thought out plan in WaPo, no?

I was struck this morning by the brief remarks of 1 House GOP on BBC who voted against this bill, how it would give $$ to “undeserving” pp and that would make his constituents unhappy. It’s sort of mind boggling…remove “Wall Street tycoons” and insert “welfare queens.” (Wanda Sykes did the best riff on this on Letterman last week.) But really, it’s like this faux notion of us all being in the “middle-class” and being the only “deserving” bunch in this country has really triumphed, and that blunt concept combined with this notion that our “middle-class” lives are distinct from those at the very top as well as those at the bottom is really problematic.

Anyway, this is just the beginning of a thought that’s forming…not quite sure where I’m headed with this yet…

So yes, there’s an issue of trying to get the bailout “right.” And I’m the first to point out the problems of economic inequality and polarization in this country. Yet, I’m nonetheless surprised to see how people’s (conscious or otherwise) understanding of this plays out. I could be crediting falsely this GOP member (and his colleagues) with a responsibility to their constituents (“the voters” are always a good scapegoat), but I’m – naively, I suppose – surprised again and again with how we routinely invoke this notion of “deserving” vs. “undeserving.” Now, instead of false, racist, classist, sexist notions of lazy, immoral poor people (women and children) of color, we’re propagating less false but still stereotypical tropes of rich, ruthless white, male tycoons robbing us blind with the help of the government. Notice my use of the pronoun “we,” lest you think I’m excusing myself here.

Continue reading ‘The deserving among us’

29
Sep
08

Monday Morning Snap Out of It!

As we stare down the potential financial bailout this morning, I wanted to raise awareness of a couple other crises threatening poor women and especially poor women of color at home and abroad.

First, I don’t know how many folks have been paying attention, I certainly haven’t, and neither has the U.S. media, but there is devastation the likes we’ll hopefully never see in Haiti after four severe tropical disasters this summer.  The wire services and foreign press have all the horrific details on places like Gonaives, a city encased in mud that typifies the growing famine and crises consuming the island – the poorest country in the Western hemisphere (IIRC).  The World Food Programme has estimated US$54M is needed to feed the island; the U.S. so far has provided $1M.  For some perspective, we’ve set aside $990M for grants for analog-to-digital tv conversion here at home.  The BBC has some analysis on grassroots investments needed in Haiti, but you can also contribute in the immediate term by donating to humanitarian NGOs such as Care and Save the Children.  There’s also the newly launched Together for Haiti by the Friends of the WFP.  If anyone’s aware of more local NGOs accepting funds (if they’re technologically equipped, at this point), please let us know.

Second, a GOP State Rep in LA has proposed sterilization for poor women as a poverty-fighting measure.

Continue reading ‘Monday Morning Snap Out of It!’

11
Sep
08

9/11 Photo Essay

Showcases the recycling of World Trade Center steel in memorials around the U.S. Photos of memorials begin on slide four.

Every once in awhile in late summer/early fall the weather is so beautiful here in the Northeast that it reminds me of the picture perfect weather in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I’ve told my 9/11 story at my old blog, but the upshot is that I lived in New York but several miles (or 40 minutes by train) from the site, was waiting to start a job the following week that unknowingly turned out to be directly related to post-9/11 recovery, was awoken that day by a phone call from my soon-to-be-stepmom in Boston that my dad was ok (I didn’t know he’d been in Lower Manhattan that morning on business), ended up driving to the Amtrak station in mid afternoon to see if my dad was safe there (we knew he’d made it out of downtown but weren’t quite sure where he was), that the drive down took me an unheard of 15 minutes because the streets were so empty, that the drive home took almost an hour because what traffic existed was headed up and away from the disaster and out of town, that the line to donate blood at the blood bank near my apartment stretched around the block, and that I was in shorts and a “Minnesota” t-shirt all day because the weather was. so. beautiful. Except for the smoke curdling up into the sky several miles away. I watched coverage until the wee hours of the morning and then slept one of the deepest sleeps I can remember in my life, so much so that when I woke on September 12 it took me a minute before I remembered the world had changed the day before.

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10
Sep
08

Record Army Suicide Rates

From CNN:

The rate of suicides among-active duty soldiers is on pace to surpass both last year’s numbers and the rate of suicide in the general U.S. population for the first time since the Vietnam war, according to U.S. Army officials.

Officials attribute the rise in suicides to anxiety and stress from increased operations and more deployments.

[…]

The rise can be attributed to the increased pace of combat operations, the number of deployments and financial and family troubles connected with deployments, Army officials said.

Meanwhile, Bush tries to privatize the GI Bill before leaving office.

Related: McCain’s record on NOT funding care for vets.

Originally posted at NYC Weboy.

08
Sep
08

Day of Blogging in Support of Community Organizing

Check it out at the Afrospear/afrosphere.

UPDATE: Kevin @ Slant Truth has links galore.

I have never been an organizer, but in my field of community development, I’ve worked for years with them, and my research now focuses on organizing in post-Katrina New Orleans. Being an organizer – like social work – is a job I am not cut out for but one for which I have tremendous respect and some feelings of envy/inadequacy. It’s one of those jobs I wish I wanted, because it’s powerful and intense and transformative at a microscale and often at mezo- and macro-levels.

Community organizing can not only elevate issues into public debate and force decisions by elected officials and others who should be held accountable to communities (e.g., developers) – decisions both good and bad, remember, as the threat/impact/force of an organized community can win victories for neighborhoods as much as devastate them in the powers-that-be’s efforts to silence and defuse them.

Community organizing also offers an individual and collective benefit of empowering people to realize their own potential, their own power, and to instill a sense of purpose in people and groups. I think I appreciate this in particular because I was raised by a Capricorn nurse turned mental health administrator, who believed in the essential power of activity and work to raise people’s spirits and direct their energies. I’ve witnessed her talk people out of frustrated anger and direct their efforts towards productive endeavors, whether it be protest activities, writing, organizing others around them experiencing the same problem, or volunteer efforts meant to fill gaps in the mental health system. Etc. Not always a likable trait when you’re a kid wishing you could watch tv inside all day, but tremendously inspiring when you’re facing down seemingly insurmountable obstacles like a devastating hurricane and flood and the potential permanent displacement of 100,000 low-income New Orleanians.

Continue reading ‘Day of Blogging in Support of Community Organizing’