Tag Archives: human rights

Bluebirds ~

There are things happening that I care about that I’d like others to possibly care about too so I’ll post them below:

1)


” ‘In 30 minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten,’ said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller. ‘Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.’ ”

Read more about how Wisconsin GOP stripped public workers’ bargaining rights.

Terribly sad.  Why do Republicans yearn so passionately to turn this country into a Caste System?

What you can do to help: HELP GIVE WISCONSIN BACK TO ITS PEOPLE.

2)


“In September 2010, returning from Nashville where Carol Ann and Laura Stutte celebrated their anniversary, they found a pile of ashes where their dream home once stood.

Despite numerous police reports documenting a neighbor who had threatened to burn down their home and who repeatedly told them, ‘The only thing better than one dead queer is two dead queers,’ no arrests have been made.”

What you can do to help: Please read the article & then demand the insurance company pay the lesbian arson victims by taking a minute to Sign the Petition.

3)


“HRW researcher Maria Burnett reports on the funeral of Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato (who was murdered). Burnett says the funeral was disrupted when a preacher spewed anti-gay sentiments. Kato was a leading voice in the fight against Uganda’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”

Hear the report & Read the original news release on his murder.  

What you can do to help: Read about Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill & Follow these simple supportive steps.

Additional Info: Read  the In-Depth Wikipedia Article on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which outlines its dangerous, inhumane, monstrous implications for the LGBT community in Uganda.

—–



Tic Toc the alligator chimes — And Bradley Manning’s on my mind.

3:17 am or so …

I’m blogging with one finger on my annoyingly tiny android keypad. The power in the house is out, which means no computers are available to fiddle with and distract me from the ocean breeze reverberating through my ear.  It sounds as if I’ve had a concha shell pressed against it for hours.

I have SO much to do. If only I could use my computer  RIGHT now, but alas I must wait till’ morning.  The email replies, personalized query letters with accompanying press release, and book packages for mailing to reviewers will just have to wait … until well, later today.

Tic Toc the alligator chimes in the ambience of night.  My To Do list can’t be ameliorated and Bradley Manning overpowers my anxiety.  He’s become louder than the simulated concha shell reverberations.

Bradley Manning has been on my mind for the last several weeks.  Since I first read his story.

Please read it Here 1 & Here 2.

I keep replaying his quote about simply wanting to have had a normal life, to have had a nice family, help others …

All the things most of us middle-class Americans were raised to want to do and be …

I keep thinking about how his wanting this too genuinely, too purely has cost him his freedom and safety, the rest of his life.

I keep thinking about his humanity — how his humanity got the better of him, made him  susceptible to self-sacrificing heroic acts, and vulnerable to getting caught and punished for them.

I keep thinking about how Obama, one of life’s sad disappointments, gets the Nobel Peace Prize based on no real showmanship, but on Hope that he’ll show half the self-sacrifice, half the compassion, half the conscience, half the heart of Bradley Manning. Beyonce sang before millions of viewers at Obama’s inauguration while he and his wife shared a proud and tender dance.  We all hopefully celebrated that dance as one of two well-intentioned people who wanted to promote fairness — peace, freedom, equality, honesty — in the world  through their leadership and guidance. We rolled out the red carpet and handed over our futures, and the social security funds of our grandparents, to this union hoping that they’d embody the integrity and bravery of Bradley Manning.

And what do we do with the real, as opposed to symbolic, Bradley Manning?

We allow him to be charged with espionage, to be locked in a cell where he’s stripped naked, humiliated, and tortured off and on for almost a year (and counting). We allow our military to seriously consider sentencing him to either the death penalty or life in prison. We allow our elected leader of hope, our nobel prize winning Commander-in-Chief, to punish — in this 23-year old man — all the courage and compassion we profess to unitedly stand for.

I won’t lie. I get nervous posting such political rants — voicing my disappointment in the president of the US and the way he’s run his presidency (not like a Nobel Peace Prize winner), voicing my support for an “enemy of the state” —  in such a heated political climate on such a public forum.  Probably because, as I write, I wonder whether political allegiance or opposition to any person and/or party is even worth the risk?

I come from a Cuban family who supported a revolution that became the dictatorship which stripped them of all their rights. What did all their self-sacrificing support get them?  Immediately following its success, their “for the people” political party (communist) and its leader (F. Castro) turned their beloved Cuba into Alcatraz.  When they grew tired of his tyranny, disagreed, and tried to leave, that political entity quickly deemed them “enemies of the state.”  My mom would get beat up by kids at school who called her “gusano” while the teachers cheered them on. Where did my family’s risky and self-sacrificing political involvement get them?  As soon as they exercised their basic human right to disagree with the politicians they helped bring to power … harassed, robbed, and exiled.

Was it worth it? Opposing Batista, supporting Castro, disagreeing with the Castro regime … getting political at all?

I guess I could ask the same about Bradley Manning.  He’s a brilliant, beautiful, blue-eyed All-American boy from a military family who worked in a cush well-paid military intelligence job, behind the front lines — far away from harm. He had no need or obligation to sacrifice his limitless potential for prosperity, but he did anyway.

Manning joined the military to help his country because, rarely enough, I think he actually respected and believed what it stood for.  Apparently he loved its values — life, liberty, and justice for all — too sincerely because he laid everything on the line to promote them.  Manning seemed motivated in his “treasonous” actions by a genuine disturbance with the inhumane murder of civilians and the military’s hypocritical cover ups.   Manning seems to be a person with heightened empathy and an evolved conscience who cared simultaneously for the welfare of our nation and that of the nation we invaded.  It’s understandable that someone with such a unique double-edged guilt would seek relief from it by confiding in another person. In the person who ratted him out — Adrian Lamo.

I’ve compiled a couple of quotes of from Manning’s IM correspondence with Lamo:

‎”Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything…americans have so many more rights than non-americans, its awful… i guess i follow humanist values though, have custom dogtags that say “Humanist” … i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…i dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore…  only a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless”

Read most of their IM Discussion here.

Now he’s locked up, his rights trampled on, and his name dishonored in the name of our national security.

So yes, I’ve been thinking of Bradley Manning a lot lately.  About how we live and die politics, are benefitted or harmed by each other’s political actions,  whether we choose to “get all political” or not.

As an artist, I acknowledge that art usually affects its political landscape subversively.  This often gives an artist the luxury of either negating or accepting the truth that all art is innately political, and every artist responsible for the messages in their work.

As a literary artist, I’ll many times say literally exactly what I mean. Obviously, there’s nothing subversive about this blog post.  It’s political and apparently so am I. Ugh.  It runs in the blood.

Please read more about this American war hero & SIGN the petition to save his life!

Also, please “like” his facebook page to receive regular updates on his trial.

Thanks for reading!


My Granuelita & Ageism in America

I just got home from hanging with my granuelita at the hospital for a good couple of hours.  Gawd, I love that brassy-brilliant-classy-timeless-firebrand brawd.

She was feeling ill on Monday and was admitted to emergency care.  On Tuesday, before we knew what was wrong with her, I had a killer attack of those ancient Teenage/Early 20s Blues. You know those blues?  The I hate life, everything sucks, there’s no point to living, getting out of bed is a joke, I’m going to sleep for as many hours as possible today Blues …

Finally, yesterday we found out that my grandma’s faintness was resulting from a growing heart rate irregularity.  Apparently she can’t relax for too long or her heart skips too many beats a.k.a super slows down.  She must somehow always be on-the-go for her heart to beat regularly, which is ironic because that’s her favorite state of being — Think, Scheme, Talk, & Gooooooo.  The blues have calmed down since we got some answers.  Thank Baby Jesus in Da Manger!  I hate those darn blues.

Anywho, the doctors cut down the dosage of her regular meds to see if the irregularity of her heart beat was potentially being caused by over-medication or if her 79-year old heart was just finally ready for a pacemaker.  Obviously, her aging body needs different medications to keep various organs up and running so cutting down her large dosages to almost nil within a 4 day period is going to reflect in her body as signs of pain and discomfort.  Basically, her body is going to start yelling “give me the meds!” for x, y, and z ailments.

Long story short … My grandma KNOWS her body.  She reads countless medical articles and journals on the human body, studied to be a medical assistant at one point, listens to La Doctora Isabel and other spanish-language Doctors’ radio shows on a daily basis, etc.  She’ll read anything and everything on the human body. A more voracious reader, self-educator, and passionate student of well, everything, I’ve never known (except for Baby Dewds).  I mean Granuelita knows a lot about the body’s compartments and how they function — “Como una machina” a.k.a. “Like A Machine,” she says.

Granted, I’m not delusional, I know that my grandma is what we all are  — A flawed human being with a lot magnificent, astounding, and brazen qualities and a lot of hurt, horrifying, and healable ones too.  She’s not Mother Teresa or Joan Crawford — Actually, somewhere perfectly in between.  Perfect for me, anyway.  We have a blast together.  She’s not only my grandma, but also my friend.

Anywho, back to our kick back at the hospital.  My grandma may be old and talk a lot and over think every tiny detail more than the average bear, but mentally she’s sharper than a tack.  Emotionally, she’s a work in progress as we all are, but mentally — brighter than a florescent light bulb.

I say this because hanging out with my grandma in public is a strange occurrence.  Whenever she tries to reason or discuss her needs and points of view with say, the bank teller, cashier, nurse, etc. they look straight past her and address the response to me … As if her questions or requests were worth less than that of a bratty child.  Maybe it’s because of her physical handicap that many other adults try to treat her like she’s mentally handicapped too?  She’s always dressed to the 9 in her 1940s dresses, gold-rimmed glasses, and fabulous shade of red hair, but she walks with a walker because of ailing hips and knees.

I, on the other hand, think of my grandmother as A Force of Life. Her spirit is like the clenched fist of an old sea captain that releases every once in a while to play the piano.

It bothers me that adults (20 years from being where she’s at) treat her like she’s senile and the worst of it — that they try to wink 😉 me in on the condescension –which, of course, she never let’s fly.

Once she was bargaining down the price of fish at a grocery store and the seafood butchers wouldn’t reply to one of her questions. They kept directing a “you’ve got your hands full with this one” smirk my way so I stepped into the conversation to back her up, mediate between the two you know, and she whispers to me, “Meh, don’t worry. I’m just dancing.”  So I stepped back and let her do her thang.  Suffice to say she got the fish she wanted at the price she set — head, tail, and all.  I mean this woman survived poverty in the 30s, Cuba’s Batista Regime and Castro Regime, and The LA Riots — All while wearing pearl earrings!

Yet, today, it happened again — Ageism.  I was hanging out with my granuelita in her hospital room.  After 4 days of observation, the doctor ruled that to remedy her irregular heart beat she needs an old-fashioned pacemaker put in so she’s due for surgery tomorrow morning.

Consequently, they started slowly but surely easing her back onto her meds.  Still, she’d been feeling a sharp pain that reached through the right portion of her upper neck into the lower-back of her cerebrum since early morning.  When she tried to explain to the nurse about having had that same problem 4-years ago and that X medication had helped to regulate and alleviate it — of which they’d been giving her half the regular dose — the nurse SHUSHED her.

At the end of the whole hour-long debacle, it turns out my grandmother was right! Medication X apparently helped prevent possible stroke because it did y and z, and so they finally agreed to give her her regular dose.

But still, THIS is what she had to go through to be heard:

First, as my grandmother tried to explain to the nurse the pain she was feeling and how that particular medicine helped, the nurse basically kept repeating an answer that didn’t address her concerns and then told her to shush because the incessant talking was raising her blood pressure.  The nurse then turned to me and told ME to tell my grandmother to “SHUSH” because she talked too much and that was raising her blood pressure (even though her blood pressure was terribly low at that point). The whole time, she didn’t even recognize the fact that my grandma was telling her the blood pressure monitor machine wasn’t reading properly, which was true. Another helpful and compassionate nurse came in after the debate was resolved and had to change the machine chords and everything to get it properly working again. This is a nice grade-A hospital too.

Anyway, let me finish telling you what my grandmother had to go through to be taken seriously: 1) I had to explain and re-explain to the nurse what my grandmother was saying on my grandmother’s behalf because the nurse just wouldn’t give her the time of day 2) We had to call my mom — who is a phenomenal and experienced social worker — to speak to the nurse and then the nurse’s supervisor and then the doctor.  The nurse’s supervisor and the doctor were somewhat helpful, but it was that initial nurse who didn’t want to LISTEN to my grandmother — because she was too old and talked too much or spoke english with a thick Cuban accent or WHATEVER reason people feel they have the right to disregard the rights, voices, and needs of elders — that proved dangerous.  Her prejudice, her ageist attitude could have left my grandmother with a pain increasing up the right side of her skull and a blood pressure monitor that wasn’t properly monitoring her blood pressure!

My grandmother is a sly fox and figured out how to get them to give her the full dosage of that particular medication by having them give her smaller dosages every 4-hours.  I mean what a fabulous brawd!  BUT STILL, if I hadn’t been there and my mom hadn’t spoken up for her, she wouldn’t have been able to get anyone to seriously LISTEN to her needs.

My grandma is a relentless one who won’t give up until she gets what she needs and this definitely helps her, but I began thinking about all the old people in our society who aren’t strong enough to tenaciously fight for their rights anymore …

Stuck in banal senior citizen homes and suffering inhumane social security cuts … Heartbreaking.

Fight for Senior Citizen Rights!!!!

For the record, Elder-Hater, I am not on your side so don’t advise me to tell my grandma to shut up!!!!  Just remember, you’re going to wake up 79 and need a pacemaker one day too.  How would you like to be treated by your nurse on that inevitable day?


Tunisia & Egypt: Revolt. As I drive home from the LAX.

As I drove home, after picking up and dropping off my mamushka and baby sister (age 17) from the Los Angeles International airport, I lowered the window of my 2003 Ford SUV and savored the fresh winds trickling through the post-rain midday sunshine.  On the corner, I spotted an aged, tattered American Flag waving listlessly above a rusty yellowed 89-cent store sign.  I felt then, in my bones, the blessed luck life had dealt me.

How truly lucky I am to live in a country where I can work towards and for my dreams : Where I can brazenly express my sexuality and personal beliefs : Where I can live as an independent woman without obligations to a man : Where I feel free to discover myself and be wholly me.

My internal dichotomy lies in the fact that I’m simultaneously a staunch liberal and proud American citizen.  I’m grateful that my Cuban family, and by association me, aren’t stuck in Castro’s oppressive regime where material poverty and worse, lack of basic human rights drive many to madness.  An existence so overbearing my grandma has described it, “The stress overwhelms you to the point that … Every night it felt as though the sky were falling on me … ”

That being said, I’m not blind to the injustices mi querido US of A imposes on other nations and their people.  Most days I feel towards the United States like I’d imagine the daughter of a big 1930s mob boss might feel — Grateful for the protection, care, and opportunities he affords me yet heartbroken and angered by the criminal brutality, the cruelty he wields upon others that stand in his way.

As I drove closer to home, I was filled with a sense of relief that only Home can breed. Home: Where I snuggle into my bleach-stained worn soft pajamas, crawl under the warm covers of my perfect humble little bed, turn on the space heater, and write all night — If I want to.  Yes …

While basking in that relief, I began thinking about all the women my age in Tunisia and Egypt that could not do the same.

Their corrupt, oppressive, and greedy governments have created morose and hopeless living conditions, which have most likely kept them from experiencing this type of relief.  In Tunisia the Ben Ali regime for 23-years and In Egypt the Mubarack regime for 30-years.  Dictatorships financially backed by my U.S. government for reasons that are best summed up by these two articles: Tunisia & Egypt.  Long story short, we basically backed them to gain the usual: Power & Money.  NOTE:  Although I’ve linked the Tunisia & Egypt political history summaries to Liberation, which is a socialist newspaper, I do not identify as a socialist or a communist or a democrat or a republican or a capitalist or a viking.  I do not belong to any political party. I am loyal to my personal ideals and ideas, which are in constant development over time and age.  I merely referenced that paper’s summaries because I think they give a pretty accurate description of what’s been politically going on in those regions over the past 30 years.

Anywho, I know that governments have been and probably always will be corrupt. That isn’t new news to me — the child of disillusioned ex-communists who fled the island of Cuba after the communist revolution THEY SUPPORTED won and turned its back on the Cuban people for … dun dun dun … Power & Money.

The futility of pointing out the obvious is creeping in on me, but I’ll do it anyway:

It hurts to have your country — a place where you enjoy so many priceless liberties, where you’re allowed to exercise most basic human rights such as freedom of speech (for the most part. okay, the USA ain’t perfect, but we’re doing better than Egypt ovah’ here!) — support the repression of millions of other peoples’ basic human rights.  Knowing that the people you helped elect to office suppress other folks’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … well, sucks.  Yeah, the gas I put in the SUV I drive (which I make up for owning because I help ALL my friends move so don’t gimme grief bout’ it’), has cost an entire country of people the special sense of relief I enjoy when I arrive home.

Government. Government’s only role is to serve the welfare of its people and represent their interests & values on a global front.  That’s IT.  To help ensure the greater good of the whole, to protect the basic human rights of every woman, child, and man within its borders, to represent their values and principles in foreign affairs, to establish a system where by its citizens can live healthy and liberated lives.  It’s not as vague as it sounds.  Really.  Affordable healthcare and quality education for all.  Tax the super rich, allocate more money away from the military and toward public education and mental health programs, stop punishing the middle class with bogus tax hikes, stop destroying and preventing democracy abroad, ETC.  You get the drill.  I’m not a politician.  I just know what makes sense and matters to me.

First and foremost, above all, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.  Secondly, the opportunity for quality healthcare and education for all.  Thirdly, the opportunity to earn a fair living for all.  Fourthly, respecting the RIGHT of every other nation to do the same for their people.

A 24-year old college-graduate set himself on fire to show his Tunisian government how BADLY its citizens needed it to change.

Inspired by the victorious Tunisian revolt, the Egyptians too protest their dictator Mubarak.  According to The Associated Press:

“This is the revolution of people of all walks of life,” read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. “Mubarak, take your son and leave,” it said.

Isn’t the role of government to serve the people?  If the people don’t want you — LEAVE!  SERVE THE PEOPLE!  Don’t shut off their bloody internet, you bloody sociopaths!!!

Other important tidbits of information about the revolt in Egypt as relayed by The Associated Press:

Egyptians were emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the ban on gatherings …

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped apart a picture of the president.

“To hell with Mubarak; We don’t serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you,” yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: “Down with Mubarak!”

An ARMY CAPTAIN ripped the picture of his own “president.”

NPR reported on January 29th:

… protesters have been receptive to the army, cheering soldiers and welcoming them “like heroes,” said NPR’s Nelson. Many are standing on top of tanks with soldiers, as if they’re on the same side though the army is still being deployed by Mubarak.

NPR reported on Jan. 28th:

“We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”

The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Cowie called “almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history.”

Yeah President Obama, it’s time to stop our cash from flowing to the Mubarak Dictatorship.  If you’re going to keep puppet governments all over the mid-east could you at least have the decency to pick ones that grant its citizens the basic human rights we enjoy here in the US of A?

Ugh. Okay, governments are going to be corrupt.  People with power and money often turn into greedy green-eyed monsters that do brutal unjust things to augment their power and money.  Politicians are notorious for being beasts of this nature. Okay, fine.  I just say: Either A) Let other Nations rule themselves & keep out (which will sadly never happen) OR AT LEAST B) Support puppet governments that watch out for our western interests WHILE implementing democratic rights for their people like the ones we Americans enjoy.

My heart goes out to the Tunisian and Egyptian people.  May the governments that rise to power in the absence of their crumbled and crumbling dictatorships serve them better. May they not end up with extremes like Fidel Castro or Mubarak.  May humanity have mercy on itself.  May politicians that actually serve in office grow A HEART and employ the principles they profess to value.

After all, everyone’s one hell of a saint on the campaign trail.  May politicians one day embody in practice what they profess to stand for on podiums.


%d bloggers like this: