The less I know

We will rise

by Lowkey with Yemeni poet Sanasino

Is it just dream? Am I a fool for trying?
I stand defiant but my enemy’s the tallest giant
Will my visions be reality? They tell me never.
I wanna feel the unity that Malcolm felt in Mecca
I wonder if it made sense in his last moments
People don’t value the soul cause they can’t hold it
Find something real beyond death and misery
And understand the present in the context of history
It’s been established Sykes-Picot was a bitter marriage
Since the day Thomas Edward Lawrence tricked the Arabs
Please be loyal ’til we deep in soil
You can ask Mosadeq about BP oil
This is a battle that many better men have died fighting
But I hope to leave an insight through my writing
My pen fires at the men who defend liars
I send fire till the end of your empire.

Guess who’s back, descendant of the occupied
I represent the sentiments of many men you’ve colonized
The President is eloquent but he’s never been on my side
His melanin’s irrelevant cause everything was prophesized
There was a time when they talked about the Arab Nation
Broke our good leaders the roadmap was a fabrication
Took your Keffiyeh and changed it to a fashion statement
You sat with Satan, Camp David means assassination
Peace in your imagination, that’s not real
I’ve been where Arafat got poisoned and Sadat got killed
I’m not a martyr, I’m just a man without a masters or a master,
Runaway slave, it’s freedom I am after
This is a battle that many better men have died fighting
But I hope to leave an insight through my writing
My pen fires at the men who defend liars
I send fire till the end of your empire.

Peace and solidarity to the people of Yemen who have woken up on the wrong side of the War on Terror™.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The more I see

True to it’s word, March went out like a lamb, albeit, one dressed in lion’s clothing. Saudi Arabia has finally joined in the festivities taking place in the Middle East, as it’s military launched airstrikes in neighboring Yemen. In geographical terms, this is the equivalent of every Midwestern state in the U.S. deciding to unilaterally invade Wyoming and Colorado. Saudi Arabia has longed backed Islamic extremism which, coincidentally, serves the crusadish interests of the twin towers of global democracy. Israel must preserve the illusion that they are surrounded by Muslim infidels determined to wipe their nation off the face of the Earth. A peaceful Middle East would contrast quite starkly with the brutal, decades long occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli military. The U.S. needs it’s boogeymen to justify the never ending War on Terror™. Fortunately, there are artists who remind us that the world doesn’t have to go down in flames. In the enlightened words of Michael Franti and Spearhead, “It seems like everywhere I go, the more I see, the less I know.”

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Jeffster Awards #41

(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.

The Monsanto Story: Planting Seeds of Deception at ashiftinconsciousness

THE DOJ FACTS REGARDING THE SHOOTING OF MICHAEL BROWN ARE BASED ON MYTHS at Gronda Morin

Phonics…for your little warriors in training at Inclusivity Zone

“Modern Banking” by Carl D’Agostino at I Know I Made You Smile

Building of the week: the farming kindergarten at Make Wealth History

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No moss

(Photo credit: Sunish Sebastian)

(Photo credit: Sunish Sebastian)

The stillness of the stone
perching motionless on the grass
unmoving yet content
in its state of rest
and blissful unknowing

The force of the kick
that propels its mass forward
in perpetual acceleration
rolling like the pebble
that becomes the avalanche

The stirring of unequal
and opposing forces bent on slowing
the rolling of the rock
so it remembers its place
is to stay at rest.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Longform: The Hunting of Billie Holiday

From his first day in office in 1930, Harry Anslinger had a problem, and everybody knew it. He had just been appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics—a tiny agency, buried in the gray bowels of the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.—and it seemed to be on the brink of being abolished. This was the old Department of Prohibition, but prohibition had been abolished and his men needed a new role, fast. As he looked over his new staff—just a few years before his pursuit of Billie Holiday began—he saw a sunken army who had spent fourteen years waging war on alcohol only to see alcohol win, and win big. These men were notoriously corrupt and crooked—but now Harry was supposed to whip them into a force capable of wiping drugs from the United States forever.

Harry believed he could. He believed that the response to being dealt a weak hand should always be to dramatically raise the stakes. He pledged to eradicate all drugs, everywhere—and within thirty years, he succeeded in turning this crumbling department with these disheartened men into the headquarters for a global war that would continue for decades. He could do it because he was a bureaucratic genius—but, even more crucially, because there was a deep strain in American culture that was waiting for a man like him, with a sure and certain answer to their questions about chemicals. 

***

 Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger believed in. It is improvised, relaxed, free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Worst of all, it is a mongrel music made up of European, Caribbean and African echoes, all mating on American shores. To Anslinger, this was musical anarchy and evidence of a recurrence of the primitive impulses that lurk in black people, waiting to emerge. “It sounded,” his internal memos said, “like the jungles in the dead of night.” Another memo warned that “unbelievably ancient indecent rites of the East Indies are resurrected” in this black man’s music. The lives of the jazzmen, he said, “reek of filth.”

His agents reported back to him that “many among the jazzmen think they are playing magnificently when under the influence of marihuana but they are actually becoming hopelessly confused and playing horribly.”

Continue reading

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Hitting Bottom: Incarcerated Women in the Prison Power Hierarchy

Jeff Nguyen:

Women who are incarcerated probably didn’t get the memo that today is International Women’s Day. David Chura gives an incisive look at women in the system whose prison status really is a reflection of their true status in the general population of society.

Originally posted on Kids in the system:

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Postblog.

A prison can’t function without its pecking order. Call it what you will, chain of command, hierarchy, rank, it all comes down to power. Who’s got it, who doesn’t. Who’s on top, who’s on bottom. It’s an all-inclusive, endemic culture: wardens, top assistant wardens, captains, sergeants, and rank and file officers. Frontline correctional officers top inmates, and inmates top whomever they can.

Support staff is notched in there somewhere, just one step above inmates. These “civilians”—medical workers, teachers, social workers, chaplains—are viewed by corrections with almost as much suspicion and contempt as inmates. I know firsthand all about that suspicion and contempt from my years teaching high school offenders locked up in an adult county prison. You get the message pretty quickly when time after time you’re kept standing behind some prison gate or security door, waiting in plain…

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Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Breaking News: Bibi suits up

(Photo credit: Thomas Berg)

(Photo credit: Thomas Berg)

In late  breaking news, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, has informed his inner circle that he is tired of waiting for the United States Congress to take action against Iran. Credible sources in the Likud Party confided that Netanyahu has plans to suit up, grab a flak jacket and some Power Bars and become his very own “Army of One”. Netanyahu, who makes Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton look like a Unitarian Universalist, will stop at nothing until the nonexistent nuclear program in Tehran is dismantled. When asked why it’s acceptable for Israel to have nuclear weapons and not Iran, Netanyahu shot back, “It’s the hegemony, stupid.” Meanwhile, Americans are pulling up chairs and stocking up on Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn for what will surely be a glorious spectacle. Next, to fiery Nascar crashes and bone-snapping NFL tackles, there is nothing Americans love more than seeing the rockets red glare or the bombs bursting in air. Finally, a high-ranking U.S. Army Colonel, who wished to remain anonymous, was overheard muttering to himself, “It’s about damn time.”

Resources: Jewish Voices for Peace, Women Wage Peace

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Jeffster Awards #40

(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.

The Parable of Teaspoons & Bulldozers at A.Nzinga’s Blog

By challenging racism: could we actually be perpetuating it? at Race Reflections

Poem for My Kindred at What is the Word

Using adoption as a threat at Harlow’s Monkey

Every Mother Deserves to Raise Her Child at truthoutadoptioncollective

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Doctor is in

(Photo credit: Brandi Korte)

(Photo credit: Brandi Korte)

Yertle the Turtle

by Dr. Seuss

On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The turtles had everything turtles might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Yertle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler”, said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.
This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I see!”

So Yertle the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one’s back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see ‘most a mile!

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

“You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn’t all. I’ll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!” his royal voice thundered,
“So pile up more turtles! I want ’bout two hundred!”

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles ‘way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

Then Yertle the Turtle was perched up so high,
He could see forty miles from his throne in the sky!
“Hooray!” shouted Yertle. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! What a throne! What a wonderful chair!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Yertle. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Yertle the King?
I shall not allow it! I’ll go higher still!
I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will!
I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven!
I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”

But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!

And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Occupy Main Street

(Photo credit: Evan Lavine)

(Photo credit: Evan Lavine)

ma chère penchons sur les filons géologiques 
(my dear let us lean on geographical veins)

As February draws to a close, the long, cold winter is finally releasing it’s grasp on the sweet land of liberty. Even Punxsutawney Phil has had enough and was last seen sporting Speedos while looking for his shadow in sunny Boca Raton. Although, winter may be loosening it’s icy grip, there remains a chilling worldview that continues to remains firmly entrenched in the psyche of the American people. It is the notion that they are an exceptional people and not merely a privileged one. The colonial mindset has allowed generations of Americans to glorify the Revolutionary, Civil and World Wars, while conveniently ignoring the wars on indigenous people (genocide), black people (slavery) and brown peoples (deportation) through the years. But, at it’s core, it allows groups of people to lay their heads down at night with the sincere belief that they are a better, more honest-to-Godness, human being than another. This paradigm has taken it’s logical course into foreign policy, where the U.S. imposes it’s will and quasi-Puritanical beliefs on sovereign nations around the world. It seems you can take the people out of the British empire but you can’t take the empire out of the people.

(Photo credit: Toban B.)

(Photo credit: Toban B.)

Though many non-Native Americans have learned very little about us, over time we have had to learn everything about them. We watch their films, read their literature, worship in their churches, and attend their schools.

The colonial mindset affects every aspect of our lives as our children are taught from an early age by the public schools to venerate Presidents and captains of industry with one concessionary month allotted for black history. It is a critical notion that Brazilian educator Paulo Freire understood well, “The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom.” This cradle to grave conditioning leads us to identify with our captors rather than our fellow captives. Then, we are ripe for the plucking as we are easily convinced that the interests of the chosen few are aligned with the interests of the unwashed many. Americans would do well to look to countries such as Greece which recently elected the anti-austerity Syriza party and Venezuela whose President, Nicolas Maduro, has been fighting U.S. hegemony in the Americas. The resistance in the corporate media and entertainment outlets to embracing cultural viewpoints outside of the American fishbowl is deliberate. As long as we are an exceptional people, it is far easier to rationalize and justify our actions towards foreign citizens, no matter how grotesque or unlady liberty-like these deeds may be in reality.

(Photo credit: Jeremy hunsinger)

(Photo credit: Jeremy hunsinger)

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”

As neocolonialism adapts to the 21st century, globalization has become it’s mantra. Here, at the nexus of corporations and the state, we see their fused interests become one. British journalist Martin Jacques observed, “At the heart of globalisation is a new kind of intolerance in the West towards other cultures, traditions and values, less brutal than in the era of colonialism, but more comprehensive and totalitarian.” In Canada, the battle over the Alberta tar sands and hydraulic fracking has collided with the land rights of the indigenous First Nations peoples. The Harper government is preparing to double down on environmental and indigenous activists by painting them as “radicals” and eventually, wait for it…terrorists. Whether capitalism is the end game for neocolonialism remains to be seen but it doesn’t take a great cognitive leap of faith to see that it will take a movement unlike the world has ever seen to slow it’s roll. We can occupy Wall Street in body but as long as Main Street is occupied in heart and mind, the battle cannot be fully won. Every voice is needed and every voice counts in the struggle for a world where all people are seen as exceptional and deserving of the dream rather than the nightmare.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments