It ain’t Arawak Day

Hear ye, hear ye! If you are a federal employee, mailman or banker, Columbus Day is your day to kick back, crack open a cold one and pour one out for Cristoforo Columbo, the Genoese explorer who put the C in colonialism. While Kindergarten teachers still dress up their students in headbands and reenact the last supper with the pilgrims and injuns (I've seen this with my own eyes), the 1950's called and they want their lesson plans back. But if there's one thing I've been taught by my colonial benefactors, it's to be thankful. When I was FedExed from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to the United States, I was conditioned by my well meaning adoptive family to be grateful to the U.S. military for rescuing me from the Communist heathens. Sure, they left out the fact that the same military carpet bombed my homeland with more than 50,000 tons of napalm, Agent Orange and assorted dioxins but who am I to nitpick? So, I now resolve not to make the same mistake twice and take a moment to give credit where credit is due.
Uncle Sam standing over US Pacific possessions...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Columbus the indigenous people of North America, aka the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, were systematically starved, plagued, boarding schooled, treatied, reservationed and just plain white-manned to death.

Thanks to Columbus the African people were imported in chains like so many Hondas and Toyotas to make pampered and privileged land owners obscenely wealthy.

Thanks to Columbus the Japanese Americans whose ancestors helped build the infrastructure of this country were herded like cattle into internment camps without due process.

Thanks to Columbus the CIA flooded the inner cities with Colombian stamped, dirt cheap crack cocaine to fund counterinsurgencies in Central America.

Thanks to Columbus the U.S. military has fought more than 13 years of nonstop wars in predominantly brown, black and Muslim countries.

Thanks to Columbus our students are graduating with six-figure debt while other nations provide higher education for free to their citizens.

Thanks to Columbus the public schools are lab rats for neoliberal think tanks and billionaire funded foundations who view teachers as scapegoats and children as future assets or liabilities.

Thanks to Columbus our nation’s law enforcement officers are morphing into an occupying force rather than public servants entrusted to protect the public it serves.

Thanks to Columbus one of the wealthiest nations on the planet has failed to provide single payer, universal health care to it’s citizens.

Thanks to Columbus millions of Americans have lost their homes or jobs while we all get to put up with fat, white men in suits (no offense, Santa) telling us that some banks are just too big to fail.

Thanks to Columbus that stubborn, old sun just keeps on rising in the East and setting in the West. What…no love for the North or South?

English: Rossport Solidarity Camp

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, that last one might have been a stretch…peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Days gone by

“Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down”

-Talking Heads

Life is sometimes stranger than science fiction. One day I am sitting at my desk getting ready to teach 18 first graders how to become college and career ready. The next day I am working as a case manager for veterans and post-release prisoners at a nonprofit agency that provides transitional housing and substance abuse treatment for homeless men. After resigning my teaching position and a brief period of unemployment, I am back to my first love as a social worker. Like public education, I recognize that social work acts more often than not as an extension of the state rather than a counterbalancing force. However, there are rewards in helping men get their driver’s license reinstated or their last court costs paid off. The high in seeing a man celebrate six months clean and sober is immeasurable. The past month has led me to question the meaning of things not for the first time. I have been fortunate to have a supportive family and extended blogging community while I’ve wrestled with some personal, existential questions. One thing I’m learning, we may all have days when we wake up and ask ourselves…how did I get here? I have always encouraged readers to question everything, I have been reminded that I must also take the time to question myself. I don’t know fully where I’m headed yet but I do know I only have one lifetime to get there. This could get interesting…

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Marginal lines

(Photo credit: Simon Atkinson)

(Photo credit: Simon Atkinson)

Some scars

run deeper than trenches

under Southern skies

Each one has a vanishing point

where the ground meets the sky

and dreams go to lay down and cry

 

Numb hearts

heavy lidded and barely pulsed

struggle for signs of life

An incidental glance inward

a shrug of the conscience

we are not meant to love our captors.

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Jeffster Awards #34

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given on an ongoing basis to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.

Princes and Thieves at left handed church

the quiet of the night at johannisthinking

Professors on food stamps at WORDVIRUS

Restorative Justice – The Time is Now at Teach Peace Now

The Price of Law and Order at Take Heart!

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Dear America,

(Photo credit: freewestradio.com)

(Photo credit: freewestradio.com)

I am writing this letter to the American people to let each and every one of you know how much your contributions and sacrifices have meant to global peace efforts. Your sons and daughters have provided the cannon fodder, er, ammunition needed to wage nonviolent campaigns in volatile regions for the past thirteen years, without pause. Thanks to you, the U.S. military is the Cal Ripken, Jr. of the nominally free world. As your Commander-In-Chief, I have steadfastly resolved never to forge alliances with countries that are guilty of gross human rights violations in order to achieve our ambiguously stated objectives. While some of the Coalition of the Willing 2.0 may have a checkered past, at least none of their citizens have been churlish enough to launch unguided rockets at their thermonuclear benefactors. It is my fervent desire that the United States continue to be seen as a beacon for democracy or capitalism, whichever comes first. While other lesser countries might have fabricated enemies in order to justify bottomless war profiteering, that is a road this nation will never meander down. As the first biracial President, you can rest assured that I would never tap into the deeply racist underpinnings of American society to target black, brown and Muslim populations across the globe, lest our aims be viewed as subservient to America’s beautiful people. In conclusion, if you have a problem and if no one else can help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…The Xe Team.

Signed, sealed and delivered,

The POTUS

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A collective sigh

Radical simply means “grasping things at the root.”
-Angela Davis

It’s rapidly approaching the autumn season in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The time of year when the leaves change colors, the air gets a little crisper and NFL wives breathe a sigh of relief that their husbands are back at work. During my brief hiatus from blogging, the POTUS has promised yet another bombing campaign, law enforcement has given us another sneak peek at the encroaching paramilitarized state and Apple has unveiled another new iPhone. In other words, the big wheels of global capitalism and accompanying state repression keep on turning. The ever revolving cast of characters on the global stage may change but the songs they croon remain the same. Men and women who have been told all of their lives they are special snowflakes, now play judge and jury to the lives of millions of people while hiding behind their corporate sneers and haughty disdain for anything that moves. In this rarified, elite world, loyalties are not to parties or to nations but to, and only to, their fellow class occupiers. For in the end, the sleek shall inherit the Earth and the rest of us can eat genetically modified cake. Events in the homeland and abroad belie an increasingly insecure and paranoid state apparatus. When the people you govern are your biggest source of unease, fascism becomes the only viable option to not losing your head over it all. The hydra of state and corporate power has reared it’s ugly heads in the sweet land of liberty.

After nearly two months, the indiscriminate shelling by Israeli Defense Forces of the Gaza Strip has finally subsided. Shortly after the ceasefire began, I heard a reporter lead with the statement, “Now that the war in Gaza has ended…” This sentiment was widely echoed across mainstream media outlets and served as a reminder that once oppression is out of sight, it is effectively out of mind. It’s as if the war and brutal occupation are over now that Western reporters have moved on to other topics. The only positive side effect of Operation Whatever is that it brought global attention and scrutiny to the Palestinian movement. Now, it’s back to business as usual for the people of Gaza who must revert from a constant state of terror at the hands of the IDF back to the merely soul crushing grind of day to day life under the iron dome of Israeli subjugation. Meanwhile, the homeland security industry has continued to show off it’s bright and shiny toys. There have been reports of public school districts stockpiling surplus military hardware. The grenade launchers should come in handy for those classrooms that think a substitute is a free pass to stop getting college and career ready. The MRAP could be used to visit the homes of any parents or teachers who even think about opting out of the barrage of end-of-year, standardized tests. The tactical teams could help extract unruly students from classrooms, giving Principals much needed time to observe recalcitrant teachers whose lesson plans are not in Times New Roman 12-font.
An irrepressible woman who has long been in the struggle for "certain unalienable rights" for all people, not just the pampered and privileged ones, is Angela Davis. She has been an outspoken critic of the prison industrial complex and the American government's policies towards minorities as well as a supporter of the Palestinian right to self-determination. In a recent interview, she spoke on the importance of collective action, "Even as Nelson Mandela always insisted that his accomplishments were collective—also achieved by the men and women who were his comrades—the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic individual. A similar process has attempted to dissociate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the vast numbers of women and men who constituted the very heart of the mid-twentieth-century US freedom movement. It is essential to resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle." It is within this context of systemic abuse of power and privilege that individuals must strive to become greater than the sum of their parts. Davis concluded, "I would say that as our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues and new terrain on which we engage in the quest for freedom. Like Nelson Mandela, we must be willing to embrace the long walk toward freedom." Walk on, dear readers, walk on. 
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Jeffster Awards #33

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given on an ongoing basis to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.

Why are we so silent? at The Truth Shall Set You Free

Word of the Moment #1 at Shit’s Gotta Stop

PALESTINE by Joe Sacco & Edward W. Said at AWESTRUCK WANDERER

Why Must All the Bright Lights Be Extinguished? at Random Thoughts from a Thirty-Something White Girl

As a Child at Kitt O’Malley

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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All the difference

Well, it looks like my self-imposed hiatus is drawing to a close. Recently, the road I was traveling on diverged in some unexpected ways as I resigned my high school teaching position a week ago. Needless to say, it was a decision that did not come easily. My health has not been as good as it should be and I think some of it was related to the job stress. The classes I was assigned to had all special education students but I was expected to teach like a general education teacher and, to make a long story short, I got tired of being a performing monkey for administrators. I loved teaching and felt like I was turning my back on the students I was leaving but I realized the educational system turned their backs on them long ago. My own kids, who are now in 10th and 11th grades, have spent their entire school careers inferring that the high-stakes standardized tests at the end of the year are the ultimate measure of learning.

So many students have internalized the message that they are Level 1 or Level 2 learners who will be relegated to remedial classes until the day they (hopefully) graduate. Meanwhile, the pipeline is waiting for all those round-shaped students who don’t fit into the square-shaped schools. I’m down but definitely not out and, in many ways, I’m looking forward to the possibilities of walking down some roads less traveled. I am grateful for the messages of support and solidarity from  my fellow bloggers. Your words have served as a reminder that Deconstructing Myths must continue. On that note, I am here to let readers know that the blog will be returning to it’s regularly scheduled programming in the very near future, albeit, at a slightly lessened pace. On that (hopefully) uplifting note, I leave you with poetry/spoken word performances from high school students at Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, CA.

(One of my favorite performances is at the 48:00 mark.)

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Loss Can Lead to Happiness

Jeff Nguyen:

Skywalker is a gifted storyteller, poet and artist whose insights on fear and loss speak to me on so many levels. Letting go of the need to seek validation from my captors has been a lifelong struggle for me. I encourage readers to visit the link to SACRED and participate in the community that Skywalker is building. Here is a link to Skywalker’s Facebook page: Sacred community. Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Originally posted on Skywalker Storyteller is Rigzenchomo:

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Loss opens vistas/Attachment limits new movement/Freedom is empty

The word loss sends shivers down our spines. We are you afraid of losing our jobs, our spouse, our health, our good looks, our memory, our home, our children. And most of us harbor the unspoken fear of the ultimate loss – death?

How can loss lead to happiness?

Recognize when fear of loss controls our lives.

How many of us move through life motivated by Fear?

We enter unsatisfying relationships because we fear being alone.

We go to college because we fear disappointing our parents.

We take jobs we hate because we fear going into debt.

We wear the latest fashions because we fear being ridiculed.

At the base of all of these fears is one overriding fear, the fear of loss.

We fear the loss of a relationship.

We fear the loss of our parent’s approval.

We fear the…

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The concrete roots of capitalism’s magical thinking

Jeff Nguyen:

If I had any say in the Pulitzer Prize, a nomination for Systemic Disorder would be forthcoming. I highly recommend this exhaustive analysis of the cradle to the grave conditioning, state repression and controlling of the narratives that capitalism engenders. This read is time well spent.

Originally posted on Systemic Disorder:

Most people don’t actually like capitalism. Dislike of the jobs we head to each day is quite the norm. Resentment of the power of the corporations we deal with in our daily lives crosses all social lines. Loathing of banks is nearly universal, across the political spectrum.

A sullen resignation to the continual unfairness of the world is pervasive. And yet, “there is no alternative.” Mercenary scribblers furiously tell us so. That this barrage of propaganda ceaselessly flows from the corporate media and other institutions speaks for itself as to the necessity of reinforcing this message; but it doesn’t in itself account for the widespread acceptance of “there is no alternative.”

There is the argument that if we simply ceased to cooperate, it would grind to a halt. Tempting though that argument is — and, in theory, it holds much truth — the puzzle of capitalism’s continued acceptance is a good…

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