Reaction and Thoughts on "Girlhood: Growing Up On The Inside"

This post is on an unique documentary that followed the lives two young women who became incarcerated in their teenage years... and how each of them changed and 'grew' through that process. Both individuals had open ended sentences which meant they would be released based on their behavior and family circumstances. The young women were named Shanae Owens and Megan Jensen.

Shanae was incarcerated because she got into a fight with another girl and the other individual died. She has some amazing family who really care about her and just want to really help her improve, to love herself and to have the best life that she can. I can feel their support in every moment with them and its obvious that she feels their love and support too. Even though she has done something really bad, she feels secure in their love and caring for her. Her family also really openly talks about their flaws and problems- her father admits to a shady past and her mother states, “I've been there.” One of the questions that her social workers and probation officers look at is whether the family is growing as well, and I see so much of that in these clips. Even at such a young age, Shanae is learning about critical thinking and in counseling sessions makes comments such as “That might be effective for her.” I listened to that comment and compared it with some of the individuals around her and thought of her as an older woman inhabiting a young body with a brain wise and thoughtful beyond her years. She has had circumstances that in many ways I can not fathom; raped by several men at age eleven, becoming pregnant at age eleven (not sure if they were from the same circumstance, but I suspect they might be), getting into a fight and not even remembering what happened during it, etc... When she is moved to a group home, she reminds herself, “I started at the bottom there, I can do it here”. She reminds herself of her flaws but also focuses on her blessings “They never gave up on me, my parents, my family, nobody...” She finds her strength in her family and their love for her, so much so that she is able to continue to draw from that strength even when her mother passes away. She seems to see how to grow even within tight limitations and how to use the limitations in many ways to her own advantage.

Megan is an interesting young lady. I am not sure what she was incarcerated for as if it was mentioned I missed it... she doesn't seem to talk about it at all. She states that she is in trouble ever day at her facility and that she doesn't care. I watch her and realize that she almost never looks at the person she is talking to or the camera... almost like she doesn't notice that they are there. Megan states several times that she 'doesn't care', but that isn't what I feel as I watch her. It feels like she cares so much her heart would bleed with the showing of it, she looks away to hide herself, her bravado and anger are her masks. I sense her fear of relationships and hurt, but I also feel her strength and resilience... her desire to be better and to have better is just as apparent as her defense mechanisms.

“You're going to end up just like your mother and unconsciously I have been doing that”

“I regret so much... I feel like an old woman trapped in a young girl's body”

“I'm never going to change anything in my life cause this was what's supposed to happen”

I see parallels between her and her mother and the ways that they think as well as differences in their views. Both of them seem to state at different times that they have nowhere to go and you can see how this view of their lives and positions can shape a negative vision of their lives and possible choices going forward. Her mother states that they need to go to counseling together and Megan refuses- a struggle that I can see in two lights. Counseling would be helpful for Megan for her own problems and learning to deal positively with her anger, but at least at this point I am not sure that family counseling would be beneficial for her. Her mother complains that Megan states that her mother was never there for her – is a 'stranger' to her in fact – and then state that she had custody of Megan until Megan was seven. You see her mother try to count out how many years she had with Megan and the use of words like custody, she had her grandmother, etc... suggests that Megan may have a valid viewpoint... her mother wasn't there even when she wasn't in jail. I watch Megan tell social workers and probation officers that she will not avoid undesirables because her mother would be considered an undesirable and as time goes by to cut her mother out of her life, recognizing the danger and stress that it causes her in her life. Megan has more options than her mother... mainly because she sees that she has more choices than her mother. In so many ways, their viewpoints are similar but Megan's are beginning to evolve as she heads out on own and starts to try and live on her own and with friends. She doesn't have the strong support of much family at all... you do not see her grandmother much at all and only hear about things she might do, etc... (In her grandmother's defense, it sounds like she is overwhelmed trying to deal with all the problems she faces between herself, her daughter, and all her grandchildren.)

“I ain't nothing like my mother”

I see a very tough life for Megan ahead of her. She tends to fight her limitations and looks at adversity in a short term way, not recognizing how her behavior and thoughts can affect her long term choices and limitations. I want to reach out and help her and also back up because her anger scares me a bit... no matter how justified it might be.

Something that interested me and I am still thinking about is that Shanae's family seems more close knit and show their love for each other better. While Shanae seems to have committed a harder crime and therefore, has more to overcome along with the lack of privilege that she has due to race, gender, etc... she is the individual that I have the most hope for after watching this film. Both of these individuals were living their lives beginning to relieve the cycles of their parents that were potentially destructive to themselves and others. Andre Lorde states, “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live simple issue lives.” Both of these individuals show us a good example of how trying to separate people into single categories isn't helpful for the individuals being classified nor really informative to those doing the classifying. It seems like the only consequences of trying to see people in these limited vision are negative... for everyone involved. Megan's mother makes a very excellent observation- “It doesn't matter what you did, it matters what you do” After the death of her mother, Megan mentions that she has so much to forget and she could get drunk or smoke to 'try and forget' but that wouldn't really be helpful in a positive way for her- a very mature observation for some her age and with her grief. I see Megan as getting some advantages that she didn't really work for... that Shanae only got through hard work and in some ways, I think that Shanae will do better for it and that some of Megan's privilege is helping to hold her back from what changes she really needs to make in her life.

I wonder how the director chose these two girls, how she found them and what about each of them drew her to them to help her express her ideas and thoughts. I wonder how these young women changed the ways that Liz Garbus viewed them and their individual situations and how all the individuals involved in this project may have modified their viewpoints on these women and incarcerated young people in general based on the work they performed for this film. I am grateful to see this small vision of what could have been my past and what so many struggle with. Thank you.

One how that came up in some reading near the end was "Orange is the New Black." I have never watched or had any interest in watching this show, however, the statistics in the readings were powerful, sad and horrifying. The fact that jails are now are largest mental health providers in our country isn't totally new to me, but adding women to that equation is. Recognizing that their families and children are affected by the states' choice to incarcerate these women instead of providing mental health services and giving them the ability to be at home seems to suggest that what society's goals really are is to provide people for private incarceration for profit, instead of helping people be productive members of their communities. The documentary asks a good question... “Is incarcerating these women worth it?” I suggest it is not.

photos from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368745/, https://woyingi.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/documentary-review-girlhood-by-liz-garbus/


So Many Blessings

I'm a bit worn out and frantic tonight with a head full of thoughts traveling a hundred miles a minute. I will confess I should be doing homework and I can't seem to. I am finding myself just thinking and wishing and trying to think good thoughts about angry people. As I realized today that I am spiraling into a bad place, I thought that I would take a moment to really count out some blessings that I have. I am sure that I will not remember enough- I take many blessings for granted, but I will admit that I am a pretty lucky lady.

I have five amazing cats! They are so happy on the days that I only work half days because we can spend time together. We eat and laugh and run on the treadmill together as they jump on and slide off. It is hard to get lost in your thoughts when you have to watch for cats underfoot on a fast moving belt. My treadmill is starting to wear out which is pretty sad but i have had it a few years and i will admit I do beat them up. :)

I have a great place to live. It's cute and small and just feels comfortable. Brock loves it as well and we spent some of today wandering in the woods looking at the birds and picking up trash from the previous tenants that had blown into woods behind the house. We filled up the trunk of my car with trash- not that much but it's bulky stuff and I'll drop it off on my way to work tomorrow.

My Boo is my joy. It is awesome that he still wants to spend so much time with me. I always imagined a teenager who was aloof and somewhat distant, but that isn't what I have. I have a young man who still loves my hugs, wants kisses on his nose and is willing to talk my ear off on walks about what's in his mind. I know that will probably change someday, but I am enjoying it while it lasts.

I have a well running car, Old but useful, and an ex who loves to fix it when it has problems. I use the car for so much between CPR and pharmacy work and school that I am constantly racking up the miles. But it rarely lets me down. That's awesome considering its 20 years old.

I have fallen in love with the ferrets myself. I never really imagined having such silly pets- they are weasels you know.... but they are awesome. Sometimes they will climb into bed with me and curl up under the covers like cats. They are soft and Strawberry will lie there and lick my chin as I fall asleep. It's neat. yes, they can be a pain but they are teaching me so much and Brock loves them so much I sometimes wonder if his heart would burst with feeling of it. He gives them horsey rides on his back, extra treats and just snuggles and chats with them, giggling when they kiss him. I look at them and smile... I can't help it.

I have a few really amazing friends. They watch over me and put up with my silliness, my PTSD, my fears and anxieties and more foibles that I would like to admit. They keep me smiling when things get tough and love me no matter how weird I get. Those are some of the most amazing blessings of my life. :)

I have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I have my scriptures- both large print and small- that I can use when ever I want. I have opportunities to pray, to ask questions, to love, and to talk with my Heavenly Parents. While everyone should have that opportunity, I am grateful that I do see it as an opportunity and not a must do or requirement. I am grateful for books and chat groups that help bring me closer to him, to other members, to gospel principles, to change, and to revelation.

I am grateful for opportunities to provide service for others, whether its a couple of bucks so that someone can get gas, or a hug, or laughter. I love to give others laughter. I just love to be able to serve other people and dive deep into their humanity and therefore, my own. And I am grateful for those who serve me. Thanks for my awesome home teacher and friend who gave me a blessing last month even though I live so far away. And my awesome visiting teacher who tries to keep up with me even when I am so busy I am running around in circles. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I am very blessed to know some very good people from church and from my community. We may not agree on everything, but for the most part.... we all agree on love and I can't ask for more than that!

I am grateful for my son's service dog. He always sees me and just seems so amazingly happy. He grunts with pleasure and rubs up against me until he is exhausted. If I get behind on walks, he comes back to find me and to motivate me to join the group again even if I have to push myself harder. He wags every time he sees me and will happily climb up and join me on my lap- a tough feat for a huge labrador retriever.... he does it though.

I am extremely grateful for the relationship that I have with my ex. So many people see us chatting and working together with Brock and just seems astonished. I get at least one comment from somebody a month about how they simply couldn't do it- they just couldn't be nice to someone who has hurt them so badly. It's funny but I do not see my relationship with him as that remarkable. We were always such strong friends.... I can't imagine living with just anger directed at someone I need to work with on a daily basis. I think that would kill us all. So instead, we are building a different cell... where Bug is still the nucleus and we work together to create peace and beauty in both of our lives. That both of us could come to this place is a blessing that I do not take for granted.

I am grateful for music. I have so much music that I can surround myself with to bring myself joy or to help sort difficult emotions that I am trying to deal with. I love being able to walk on the tread mill and sing to the music that I am listening to ... to be able to dance to music even though I am a terrible dancer. I enjoy making breakthroughs in both thought and writing through poetry and music. I do not want to imagine life without it. Currently Rob Thomas/ Matchbox 20 and Barenaked Ladies seem to be what keeps pulling me in. I can really accomplish things when I'm listening to them.

I am grateful for food and clean water. So many people are not blessed to have that and to have them pretty accessible to me is a great blessing indeed.

I love my Fitbit. Even when I am struggling, it helps to motivate me to keep moving and to move more. To keep moving, even when I am tired or depressed. Even when I feel lazy. heck, just the idea of it keeps me moving even when I forget to wear it or it dies because I didn't charge it. A good placebo. :)

I love my bed. It was given to me a few months ago and I have been stunned about how well i love it. I have always been a futon girl and couldn't imagine anything better. But the bed I have now with memory foam and other stuff is simply amazing. I tend to sleep quite well as long as my head lets me. And since its a king size there is plenty of room for the cats to share with me. Heck, I can sit and watch a movie with two other people on my bed and three cats and we all have room. It's pretty awesome.

I have warmth, fun and snuggly blankets and decent clothing. I tend to wear out my clothing faster than I should so I am always on the hunt for more- threw out six socks,some garments, 1 pair of PJ pants this week alone due to tears, huge holes, etc... I am really hard on socks... but I think they are my favorite form of clothing.... so I have on a new pair tonight and my feet are definitely ready for bed.

I love books and I have no shortage of them. I have spiritual and religious books, history, self help, children's, literature, mystery, novels, comic books... some of everything. I love reading and can't imagine life without books either. I have a book with me everywhere I go... even if I know that the chances of having time to read are slim. I just feel like my bag is empty until I have a book in it. What a blessing to live in a country where I can get books everywhere. I probably spent too much on books, but I figure there are worse hobbies. ;)

There is so much more, but I am headed to bed. I am grateful to be home early so that I can go to sleep and prepare for the morning... for work and friends and food and love. What are you grateful for? What means the most to you tonight as it gets cold and the sky turns dark...?


Thoughts and Musings on "Black Feminism in Everyday Life" by Siobhan Brooks

I just finished really a long essay titled “Black Feminism in Everyday Life: Race, Mental Illness, Poverty and Motherhood and was written by Siobhan Brooks. This is one of the most powerful and painful readings that I have ever picked up. Schizophrenia is a very touchy topic for me on a few different levels. To read the original essay that I am reacting too, here is a link. This post is a bit convoluted and a bit personal to boot, but I certainly found lots to think about and comment on... :)

"They didn't deal with the issues of poverty and lack of education, the realities of infanticide and racism or making abortion accessible for all women"

"I think... rarely considered issues of class regarding motherhood"

I grew up very sheltered from feminists issues. In fact, a general authority of my church named "feminists" as one of the three most dangerous enemies to the church. The idea of individuals calling themselves feminists and being activists was (and still is a little) frightening to me. Contention and anger scare me a lot and activism and feminism come with both- mostly appropriately contentious, etc... as change doesn't come with silence demurring - it comes with struggle, with raised voices, and activity. It has taken over two decades for me to not only embrace many of the ideals that feminism embodies, but to feel comfortable calling myself a feminist and trying to learn to be comfortable with activism. I grew up relatively lower middle class I think and didn't really understand the idea of racism at all- to some extent I still do not ever though I do recognize some racism in myself and those around me. I understood that poverty was caused either by yourself or that God was testing you with it... but most likely a bit of both. I have heard that the US has a very high rate of infant mortality and I have never really understood that in the guise that I also here we have the best health system in the world. I also recognize that the women's movement has managed to make abortion legal, however, the reality is that abortion is for the most part only available to a small percentage of women especially as laws are passed creating more and more hurdles to obtaining it. When I read these lines I thought about how race and poverty/ class really do intersect a lot in our societies and for individuals without health insurance, so too do the problems of infanticide, fewer educational opportunities, and fewer successful ways to raise productive, happy, successful children. When I was getting divorced I discovered that women who divorce are more likely to become impoverished and adding children to the mix only increased the chances. I do struggle a lot with finances and paying the bills even though I work like mad and long enough hours that some days I come home and I am just too tired to even make anything for my dinner.

In many ways, I do not think that the feminist movement has ever fully dealt with the "realities of infanticides and racism or making abortion available for all women." I say this for many reasons. One reason is that no matter where you live in this country (and in many places in the world), abortions are simply not feasible or available to those who need them. While abortions are technically legal in this country, so many 'minor' restrictions and so much societal/ political pressure. In so many ways, It appears to me that to be able to be an activist, you must have steady financial support and stability in your life to return to... and so it makes an unfortunately amount of sense that feminism as a movement can literally not see important and needful distinctions in their work because these individuals for the most part have not lived or witnessed these particular struggles. For someone who is always able to afford and get healthcare whenever they need it, it is really hard to imagine the woman sitting crying on the couch after a fall praying that her leg isn't broken and after an hour of intense pain, begging a regular doctor's office to get her in to avoid the costly emergency room... and to go back to work two days later against doctor's advice because the financial needs are even greater now with the injury. For a stay at home mother with a well to do and fairly stable home and relationship, it is challenging to even comprehend how someone can give birth and be back behind a cash register or teaching a class two days later due to financial motivations. It is so easy to not see or even understand that these situations not only exist, but are way too common for comfort and even one significant change in their life can bring them to the same point of struggle. I watch many people who need feminism fight it because they can not see how it is helping them... and for the most part they are absolutely right- having the right to get an abortion but the inability or lack or resources to make it possible feels much the same as no right at all.  Having the right to legally take a few weeks off after child birth but not the resources or support to do so again doesn't feel much different to the woman who has the right and struggles back to work so that she can feed herself and her child. I have sometimes wondered in the feminist movement and motherhood have rarely noticed each other at all. After a child is born, the mother will work and struggle through the best she can with whatever resources she has and its seems to me (might not be true, just my thoughts from the readings and my own experience) and the woman is a mother, there is so little to help her at all. Many of the same people that I know who are against abortion only want to adopt white wee babies, not children with pasts or children with phenotypes different from their own. There are lots of organizations to help you adopt out your baby, but not to help set you up in such a way to learn, understand and really take care of it- in this sense the child becomes a commodity which doesn't feel comfortable to me either. The government has programs that can help and do help, but depending on your circumstances is isn't hard for me to see how people and children fit through the cracks all the time and very little in resources or even thought seems to be brought to the table by either feminist groups or those who are "anti abortion / pro life." And now I am one of those people.... where I think about it and want to change it and feel strong emotions about all of this and yet... I do not see any way to change it very much at all and so after a few weeks, these thought might too simply drift off into my memories as the weight of daily living, work and needs overwhelm and slowly push them to the deep of the subconscious mind. (In a separate reading titled Alaza', "My oldest sister .... she's married and lives with her husband, she doesn't have any babies (so you know she's going somewhere!" Strong words indeed.)

"They never said I was being abused and never made me feel as if there was something obviously wrong with the way we lived."

"In fact, I never saw my mother as having a mental illness at all because she was functional"

"I feared that my survival would be at risk if I were ever taken away from her."

Ouch. This hit hard. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was twelve (this was in the 1980's where so many mental health disorders including bi-polar and autism were called schizophrenia- with age, time and more knowledge I suspect that my mother is actually bi polar or had borderline personality disorder, but that is only a guess on my part. For six months, she used medication and I remember that six months as a fairly quiet and peaceful time. As one of five children, things were never truly quiet but even my mother seemed calm and didn't seem so manic and ragged and ready to fight. Then, she decided that the doctor was wrong, threw away the meds and has studiously avoided doctors, counselors, anyone who could potentially be a threat to her since then. The fear of people understanding what happened at home and then rejecting me for it was very real and it was only during my teenage years that the war of openness and hiding all broke into my conscious life. When I couldn't take it any more, I would try to run away and being a relatively unintelligent person, I ran to the homes of church members who would tell me to stop being rebellious, to honor my mother and father and would then return me home where I would be seriously punished. Nothing I ever told anyone that was happening in my home was every really believed until after my sister and I were old enough to leave without legal recourse. This quote makes me smile and cry for the child that this young woman once was- not having the best help at home but also some support and love to help her continue on. I want more for her and I feel I think some of the pain that she might have felt and confusion from the different examples of families in society around her. Did her mother love her? Yes it sure seems so. So together they both fought or dealt with her mental demons. I have not chosen to do that as I do not feel like I can... so I recognize that my mother does love me and did the very best job she knew how, but I avoid all contact to protect myself from the violent anger and words that are hurled through the air when she is crossed... and it is so hard to know what will make her feel crossed. Many of my siblings have moved far enough away that visits with her require preparation and one sibling has moved his family and not passed out the address. Its a bit of a cluster mess really.... Sometimes I think that the feminist movement has done so much good with focusing on domestic abuse, etc... but these movements tend to focus on the men as perpetrators and women as victims - while stereotypically and usually true, it leaves the victims of women doubly silenced. Also, mental health is something that both feminism and society tend to shy away from. Its difficult, messy and very individual and unique... it is also quietly feared. I am grateful to have read this story, to learn that she had no idea that medication even existed and to recognize that this happens to many people. I am sad that it does, but listening to other people who have successfully and even compassionately survived these situations is a beautiful and precious thing. (In a separate reading titled 'Jaminica', she suggests the same idea that gripped my heart- "...I immediately felt like if she could go through that sort of thing and come out on top, then I could too."

"I began to understand why most women of color were in ethnic studies, not women's studies"

"These women just assumed everyone was coming from a similar environment as theirs."

I had never really heard of the idea of ethnic studies until the last year or so and what little I heard about it suggested to me that the class was a mix of feminism and cultural studies. So I thought it sounded really interesting but not necessarily a novel idea. This reading suggested its real appeal and how it is so vital to women of color who, even in classes that would seem welcoming to them and safe, are actually not able to feel the same safety and benefits that white women are. That was an eye opening idea to me... and suggests my own skin color as a result. (In a separate reading titled "Myesha", she states - "I'm not sure how much of the way they act is about me being black, but I think it could be more about my being black than I actually know or understand. I don't even know if they understand how racist they can act." I suspect that at least for me, I would have no idea how racist I was being... for if I did I like to think I would fight to change it after getting over being appalled and ashamed at myself. Sometimes the idea of privilege is wonderful and comforting life a security blanket, but it is also like a blindfold in which I do not even recognize what I cannot see. The blanket that I carry for warmth and protection that also leaves me unable to truly understand the environment around me for others... and in essence, myself.


photos: http://temple-news.com/lifestyle/people-you-should-know-siobhan-brooks-king/


"The Poverty of Philosophy" by Immortal Technique : Lyrics and Critique

Today's song is titled "The Poverty of Philosophy" and was produced and released by Felipe Andres Coronel better known by his stage name Immortal Technique. This song is off the album titled "Revolutionary #1". These activist lyrics are challenging for some as they deal with poverty and race in America. I have a link to the song/video here and the lyrics are below.

The Poverty of Philosophy

Most of my Latino and black people who are struggling to get food, clothes and shelter in the hood are so concerned with that, that philosophising about freedom and socialist democracy is usually unfortunately beyond their rationale. They don't realize that America can't exist without separating them from their identity, because if we had some sense of who we really are, there's no way in hell we'd allow this country to push it's genocidal consensus on our homelands. This ignorance exists, but it can be destroyed.

Nigga talk about change and working within the system to achieve that. The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you. There is usually nothing wrong with compromise in a situation, but compromising yourself in a situation is another story completely, and I have seen this happen long enough in the few years that I've been alive to know that it's a serious problem. Latino America is a huge colony of countries whose presidents are cowards in the face of economic imperialism. You see, third world countries are rich places, abundant in resources, and many of these countries have the capacity to feed their starving people and the children we always see digging for food in trash on commercials. But plutocracies, in other words a government run by the rich such as this one and traditionally oppressive European states, force the third world into buying overpriced, unnecessary goods while exporting huge portions of their natural resources.

I'm quite sure that people will look upon my attitude and sentiments and look for hypocrisy and hatred in my words. My revolution is born out of love for my people, not hatred for others.

You see, most of Latinos are here because of the great inflation that was caused by American companies in Latin America. Aside from that, many are seeking a life away from the puppet democracies that were funded by the United States; places like El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Republica Dominicana, and not just Spanish-speaking countries either, but Haiti and Jamaica as well.

As different as we have been taught to look at each other by colonial society, we are in the same struggle and until we realize that, we'll be fighting for scraps from the table of a system that has kept us subservient instead of being self-determined. And that's why we have no control over when the embargo will stop in Cuba, or when the bombs will stop dropping in Vieques.

But you see, here in America the attitude that is fed to us is that outside of America there live lesser people. "Fuck them, let them fend for themselves." No, Fuck you, they are you. No matter how much you want to dye your hair blonde and put fake eyes in, or follow an anorexic standard of beauty, or no matter how many diamonds you buy from people who exploit your own brutally to get them, no matter what kind of car you drive or what kind of fancy clothes you put on, you will never be them. They're always gonna look at you as nothing but a little monkey. I'd rather be proud of what I am, rather than desperately trying to be something I'm really not, just to fit in. And whether we want to accept it or not, that's what this culture or lack of culture is feeding us.

I want a better life for my family and for my children, but it doesn't have to be at the expense of millions of lives in my homeland. We're given the idea that if we didn't have these people to exploit then America wouldn't be rich enough to let us have these little petty material things in our lives and basic standards of living. No, that's wrong. It's the business giants and the government officials who make all the real money. We have whatever they kick down to us. My enemy is not the average white man, it's not the kid down the block or the kids I see on the street; my enemy is the white man I don't see: the people in the white house, the corporate monopoly owners, fake liberal politicians those are my enemies. The generals of the armies that are mostly conservatives those are the real Mother-Fuckers that I need to bring it to, not the poor, broke country-ass soldier that's too stupid to know shit about the way things are set up.

In fact, I have more in common with most working and middle-class white people than I do with most rich black and Latino people. As much as racism bleeds America, we need to understand that classism is the real issue. Many of us are in the same boat and it's sinking, while these bougie Mother-Fuckers ride on a luxury liner, and as long as we keep fighting over kicking people out of the little boat we're all in, we're gonna miss an opportunity to gain a better standard of living as a whole.
In other words, I don't want to escape the plantation I want to come back, free all my people, hang the Mother-Fucker that kept me there and burn the house to the god damn ground. I want to take over the encomienda and give it back to the people who work the land.

You cannot change the past but you can make the future, and anyone who tells you different is a Fucking lethargic devil. I don't look at a few token Latinos and black people in the public eye as some type of achievement for my people as a whole. Most of those successful individuals are sell-outs and house Negros.
But, I don't consider brothers a sell-out if they move out of the ghetto. Poverty has nothing to do with our people. It's not in our culture to be poor. That's only been the last 500 years of our history; look at the last 2000 years of our existence and what we brought to the world in terms of science, mathematics, agriculture and forms of government. You know the idea of a confederation of provinces where one federal government controls the states? The Europeans who came to this country stole that idea from the Iroquois lead. The idea of impeaching a ruler comes from an Aztec tradition. That's why Montezuma was stoned to death by his own people 'cause he represented the agenda of white Spaniards once he was captured, not the Aztec people who would become Mexicans.

So in conclusion, I'm not gonna vote for anybody just 'cause they black or Latino they have to truly represent the community and represent what's good for all of us proletariat.

Porque sino entonces te mando por el carajo cabron gusano hijo de puta, seramos libre pronto, viva la revolucion, VIVA LA REVOLUCION!


This song really tells a story... a visual song that covers many years of history and culture. The words of this song focus mainely on economic imperialism. I will admit that I do not really understand the term very well and will need to do some research to break it down. But what stands out to me from this song was the lines - "outside of America there live lesser people, "f*** them let them fend for themselves, f*** you they are you!" We human beings are entirely dependent on each other and what happens to each other whether we want to see it that way or not. All the resources we use in America that are the majority of the world's resources effect the individuals in other countries that may never see us or walk on our soil. They will fend for themselves as we also struggle to fend for ourselves and we are all dependent on this planet and each other... no matter how many ways and parts of culture that we use to blind ourselves to those facts. If you find yourself saying that it doesn't matter because it doesn't affect you.... I think that should be a wake up call to remind each of us that we need to change our thinking....



bell hooks: Links and Thoughts on "Cultural Criticism and Transformation"

I just spent some time watching some a discussion and critique by bell hooks on American media and society. I found it difficult to watch... didn't necessarily agree with everything, but here are some of my thoughts. The links for the full talk are here, here, and here.

My first thought was that this author is the first person I have heard in years who uses the word agency outside of my church /religious faith. Every Sabbath I attend church I will hear at least one mention of the word agency in discussions on choices, consequences, the Plan of Salvation, and even gossip of mild judgment directed towards another member.   So I have gotten very used to hearing that particular word in a very specific setting with very specific meanings.  When I try to have discussions with people about helping individuals with problems such as drug abuse, debt, or homelessness, the conversation is always quickly steered into finger pointing and firm testimonies that these 'people' have made bad choices, could have made different ones and should now 'reap what they have sown'. I have never felt like I have had the words and language to really explain how I feel differently - that I believe you can only make choices that you recognize as true choices and if you do not see the choice.... how can you choose it? (I have no idea if that last sentence made a lot of sense.)  bell hooks gave me the wording that I have been looking for in this quote:

"Entitlement... a sense of agency is profoundly different [and] open to embracing ... an imagination into the future." 

I have spent a bit of time pondering these thoughts and watched this particular section a few times to make sure I internalized it.  I look back at my life and see the choices that I made to focus on marriage and family and not become a marine biologist or veterinarian and I see how while I had choices... I really didn't see the choices that I had.  So at 41 years old I am attending college and I am thrilled to be doing so yet am pretty much behind the bell curve age wise.  It's great to be able to open up and see what other choices there are out there that really are choices that I can make.  It really is freeing and I do feel like I have more imagination for my future and what I can make of it.  :)

Another thing that stuck out to me through her discussion was that Darth Vader was given a 'black voice'. (I am not convinced this was a racist decision, but I digress...) I haven't seen any of the Stars Wars movies since I was a teenager, but I think I recall that when Darth Vader was unmasked at the end of one film by his son Luke Skywalker, he was pale, white... sort of bloated looking.  It's interesting that James Earl Jones did the voice (I think that was the voice I recognized from the clips, but when the character was unmasked he wasn't actually black at all.  Am I remembering that right?  Any fans out there?  As I was thinking about this I thought about J.K. Rowlings and the Harry Potter books and how in reading most books, the general rule of thumb is that the character is white until proven otherwise.  Some Harry Potter fan sites have drawings and portraits of some of the characters where Hermione is brown or black and other characters look differently that they are portrayed in the movies and possibly in our minds.  I wonder about how it feels to read books where most of the characters are not necessarily like you... I think I just discovered anew another form of white privilege... as almost all characters I read about are made in my image. To have the 'proactive sense' of agency that Ms. Hooks talks about seems to mean more than critical thinking in my mind... more than an understanding of responsibility...  it requires true focus and vigilance about all thoughts imagined, all behavior committed, recognizing where you receive favor and where others do not.  I cannot imagine a more difficult task and one that will certainly take a lifetime to even delve past the surface of for most of us.... especially me.

Intersectional analysis is such a valuable and important way to look at information because it gives the researcher or interested party a better understanding of the causes, needs, choices, and motives of those being studied.  While simple, looking at pieces of information in small bits doesn't really give us a true and clear image. A white male moves in his space and makes decisions based not only on color and privilege, but background, environment, family, education, needs and desires, etc...  A female will do the same...  We can not truly separate ourselves from the disparate parts of ourselves that, inadvertently or wonderfully, help us to determine our choices and our life paths.  No matter how much education I get, no matter how well liked I am, I will still find limits to what I can accomplish due to experience biases, gender, environment, etc...  A woman of my age with all similar information who happens to be black has even more limits to struggle against.  To truly understand and try and change a cultural and social problem, if must be truly examined.  For instance, the text mentions how people of different genders and races are more likely to be paid according to these factors and not necessarily on education, experience, etc...  So making a change to standard pay for specific jobs will not really solve the problem even if it appears to temporarily.  Only by understanding the other aspects behind unequal pay and working to change them as well gives us a real shot at true cultural change.  Understanding how historical patterns of oppression still live on in our culture today helps us to look at ourselves, our friends and our communities and that steps towards making our communities more equitable are possible for us.  If we cannot recognize how race, gender, sex, etc... create our relationships with ourselves, our families and our communities... we will find ourselves struggling to truly understand what hinders us.  Like the seven blind monks who are touching an elephant and believe that each have something different at hand than the others, the elephant can remain hidden... even when in plain sight.

photos from: http://www.nndb.com/people/593/000115248/, https://www.pinterest.com/lilyt888999/harry-%2B-ron-%2B-hermione/, http://www.jainworld.com/literature/story25.htm