WelcomeTo My World

Saturday, 30 November 2013

AWKWORD, Joell Ortiz, Slug (Atmosphere), Maya Azucena - Go!

A song about perseverance, survival and success.

FREE DOWNLOAD: http://www.audiomack.com/song/awkword...

World Premiered by Complex Magazine: http://www.complex.com/music/2013/11/...

Off AWKWORD's DJBooth-sponsored 100% For-Charity Global Hip Hop Album 'World View'.



More info: http://AWKWORDrap.com

-uploaded in HD at http://www.TunesToTube.com

Friday, 29 November 2013

Writing my wrongs: Shaka Senghor at TEDxMidwest

"Making the best out of a bad situation." Writer, mentor and motivational speaker, Shaka Senghor gives us a candid, behind the scenes peek into his life leading up to and during his incarceration for second degree murder. Witty and eloquent in his delivery, Shaka offers sobering firsthand accounts of redemption, the power of hope and how literature changed his life.

Shaka Senghor's story of redemption has inspired young adults at high schools and universities across the nation. While serving 19 years in prison, Senghor discovered his love for writing. He has written six books, including a memoir about his life in prison, Writing My Wrongs. In 2012, Senghor's Live in Peace Digital and Literary Arts Project won a Black Male Engagement Leadership Award from the Knight Foundation in partnership with the Open Society Foundation's Campaign for Black Male Achievement. Senghor has also recently been named a Director's Fellow at MIT for his work.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Israel Tortures Palestinian Women Prisoners

Report: Israel Exercises Torture Against Palestinian Female Prisoners

The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said in a report that the Israeli occupation has been exercising all forms of torture and violence against Palestinian female prisoners in its jail.
The center's report was marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that falls on November 25th.
The center said that the international institutions, which enact laws prohibiting torture and violence against women, have been turning a blind eye to the occupation's abuses and practices against Palestinian women and female prisoners.
Media spokesman for Palestinian Prisoners Center, researcher Riad al-Ashqar pointed out that Israel has arrested since the occupation of the Palestinian territories more than 10 thousand Palestinian women and since the Aqsa Intifada more than 1,100 women, 14 of whom are still held in Israeli jails, including 5 patients.
He added that the Palestinian women are held under harsh conditions in Israeli custody, as they are subjected to humiliating treatment and repeated attacks by jailers, in addition to the policy of strip searches.
The Israeli prison administration has also been holding Palestinian female prisoners in the solitary confinement, depriving them of education, and imposing heavy fines on them for trivial reasons.
Freed prisoner Muntaha Mahmoud al-Hih said she was tortured and severely beaten by the Israeli soldiers during her interrogation, which caused her bleeding in the kidney. She was also put in solitary confinement and was cuffed for long hours, she added.
For her part, recently liberated captive Inam Qalambo asserted that a number of Israeli soldiers arrested her and beat her on the face, and then transferred her to Moscobiya interrogation center where they used electricity in torturing her, during the interrogation.
Researcher Riad al-Ashqar also pointed to the suffering of the patient prisoners from the deliberate policy of medical neglect adopted in the occupation jails.
The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies appealed to the international and human rights institutions, particularly those concerned with women's issues, to immediately intervene to put an end to the worsening suffering of female prisoners, to work on releasing them from jails, and to force the occupation to commit to the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Source: Palestinian Information Center (PIC)
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org


Free All Political Prisoners!

A Prison Where the Building Becomes the Shackles - ADX Florence

Voices from Solitary: “A Prison Where the Building Becomes the Shackles”

Former political prisoner Ray Luc Levasseur was raised in Maine, born to a working-class family of Quebecois origin. He became politically radicalized at a young age, first after serving a term of duty in Vietnam, and again after spending two years in a Tennessee prison.  In 1986, Ray Luc Levasseur was convicted for militant activities conducted with the United Freedom Front.  He would ultimately spend about 15 of his 18 years in prison in solitary confinement.  First sent to the Control Unit at USP Marion, he was transferred to the federal supermax, ADX Florence, after refusing to work for the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) since it produced military equipment for the Department of Defense. Levasseur was released in 2004 and now lives in Maine. (For more on Ray Luc Levasseur, see the interview published in conjunction with this piece.)
The following is an excerpt from a larger piece that Levasseur is writing. It describes the day he arrived at ADX Florence and his initial experiences at the prison. – Aviva Stahl
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Approaching the federal prison complex, I saw majestic snow capped mountain peaks in the distance, an image to cherish when all else disappears behind closed walls.  We rode through the complex: minimum security camp, medium security prison, maximum security prison, and continued to the end of the compound of the federal prison system.
ADX, administrative maximum, a prison where the building becomes the shackles. From outside ADX look half-buried, built against an earth berm.   It wasn’t underground but might as well have been, once you’re inside. The mountains and the reminder of the outside world were erased as were entered the first door. We were led through a maze of polished hallways and bright lights, bar grills, steel doors and ubiquitous surveillance cameras. My travelling companion and I were placed in cells on an unoccupied tier. The cells were brand-spanking new, never before occupied.  I had never had a new house, a new car or a new apartment but I now had a new prison cell.
This is a boxcar cell, designed to suppress human sound and constrain the five senses.  I spoke to the walls.  “Ray Luc, present and accounted for!”  My voice echoed throughout the cell, a cough sounded like a racket ball carom.  There would be no casual conversations with my one neighbour.
When fed through a shoe-box sized slot in the door the meal looked like dog-food on noodles. We missed the regular feeding time and this tray was sitting around somewhere. I hadn’t eaten all day so despite my trepidation I pushed the dog food aside and ate the noodles with a plastic spoon. I spent most of that first night retching and vomiting into the stainless steel commode. Food poisoning.   Forty-eight years old and I’ve entered a new phase in my life – a mid life crisis embodied in a techno-fascist architectural wet dream.
Society reflects the self in a microcosm of prison. In a class based, economically driven, racially motivated life, devolved of a series of Chinese boxes. A set of boxes decreasing in size so that each box fits in the next larger one. I’m in the smallest box.
The essence of ADX is the boxcar cell.  This boxcar doesn’t move.  It is a cage within a box encased by concrete. Entry is through a solid steel door that contains a small Plexiglas observation window. And then the trap – dead space. Then a series of vertical steel bars which forms the front of the cage and a second door. I am confined to the boxcar cell 157 hours of each 168 hour week. I am allowed 11 hours a week into a barren concrete area adjacent to the cellblock between Mondays and Fridays. The rec space (i.e. recreation space) is like the deep end of a dry swimming pool with walls. I see only walls, except straight up through the wire mesh, steel cables and joists a section of sky. That’s the term, ‘outside rec’.
Other men begin occupying the cells on my tier. The boxcar cell is designed to gouge prisoner’s senses by suppressing human sound and communication with others. It puts blinders on one’s eyes and limits on touching to that which is lifeless. A boxcar cell is designed to inflict physical, psychological, and spiritual isolation.  You will feel the pain. You will not leave the boxcar cell except in restraints.  Within months it seems endless. Every morning begins with a loud grating of the steel gate opening to the tier. One at a time, each of the electronically controlled doors opens, a guard steps to the second barred door and slides the food tray through the slot, then steps back while the door is closed, with a vengeance.   On down the line, until the last tray is delivered.  A half hour later we go through the paces again until the last tray is retrieved, followed by silence.
At my first visit with a friend and lawyer from Chicago, she said, “Ray, you seem agitated.”
I had a thousand yard stare by then, and responded: “Hey, you’d be agitated too if you felt like your face was slapped every morning you get up in this shithole.”
“Okay, I understand but why don’t you sit down while you’re talking? You step left to the wall, then right to the wall, you don’t sit still.”
“You see what I got to sit on? A concrete stump – it’s a ******* post- same as in my cell. Why would I wanna sit on that?”
“But you’re unfocused at times, you’re jumping all over while you’re talking. First you talk about your kids one minute, then tell me about a prisoner in seg [segregation] who’s tearing his flesh with his teeth. Then without missing a beat you’re into Agent Orange and Vietnam.”
“Look, there’s nothing wrong with me, alright, nothing that the shining light of freedom wouldn’t fix. I know why I’m in prison in ADX, I’ll be a witness to what’s happening here. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what I’m writing about.  They’re keeping that segregation prisoner in four point restraints, you understand.  He’s four pointed to a concrete slab. They say every time they unchain him, he’s back to tearing at his flesh. Even the hacks are spooked by him. You know, what is it about this place that makes a man do that to himself. Several prisoners have already been a packed off to the pscyh ward at Springfield.”
“How do you know this?”
“I know it from prisoners rotating in and out of segregation unit, otherwise there could a major riot in the cellblock next to mine and I wouldn’t know about it, sound doesn’t travel far here. You can’t see beyond immediate walls and doors.”
“You’re in the same environment Ray, it’s got to affect you.”
“It does, it ******* enrages me, I get homicidal thoughts and migraines that begin with a spider crawling up my cervix and injecting a twelve load jolt of mind-******* pain into my skull. But you know what, in the immediate aftermath of physical pain I feel good.  It takes the absence of pain to feel good here.  It’s scary, the psychological is not always as evidence as the physical.”
“Unless you’re eating your own flesh.”
“Right, unless you’re eating your own flesh, or your own shit, I saw that in MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Center] in New York.”
I didn’t dwell on if or when I’d extricate myself from ADX because this line of thinking would drive me into deeper depression.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org


Free All Political Prisoners!

Pelican Bay - Being normal is not OK

Being normal is not OK

by Mutope Duguma
We prisoners are being told that as long as we are mentally healthy or not succumbing to CDCr’s debriefing policy, we will not be eligible for release from solitary confinement. Despite all the hype promising change, CDCr is still claiming that our placement inside solitary confinement is justified, despite the clear injustice of holding us here indefinitely, to no end, for nothing.
Because many of us have maintained our mental stability under such a barbaric system, we do not meet the criteria for release, but as soon as we begin to exemplify any signs of mental illness, we immediately qualify for release. Does this not suggest that our placement inside solitary confinement is for the sole purpose of driving us to become mentally ill patients?
CDCr simply waits for us to begin to suffer from the effects of mental illness like so many before us. They’re looking for us to put fecal matter all over our bodies, talk to ourselves, beat on the cell door, holler at the top of our lungs until we fall asleep from exhaustion, throw urine and fecal matter on staff and prisoners, commit suicide or attempt suicide, become anti-social etc., only to be taken out of our cell by force and placed in four corner restraints and heavily sedated and neutralized into a zombie state.
This has been the pattern for all of those we have seen driven into mental illness, due directly to their placement in solitary confinement. Why does CDCr even wait for any of us to succumb to mental illness when we are, for the most part, normal – unless being normal is not OK.

Hasn’t CDCr created enough mentally ill prisoners through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr caused enough suicides through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr emasculated enough prisoners through its de-briefing policy? Why can’t we – normal, functioning human beings – remain as such?

Many of us have kept our mental stability or capacity to some degree throughout all the years we’ve been in solitary confinement. Wouldn’t it be only right for the state – for CDCr – to prevent prisoners from eventually succumbing to such a fate, because we all know the longer you’re here, the greater your mental and physical deterioration.
Hasn’t CDCr created enough mentally ill prisoners through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr caused enough suicides through the use of solitary confinement? Hasn’t CDCr emasculated enough prisoners through its de-briefing policy? Why can’t we – normal, functioning human beings – remain as such?
Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05996, PBSP SHU D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org


Free All Political Prisoners!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

"Misgivings:" An Afrikan-Centered, Indigenous-centered View

A group of European beasts, many had been imprisoned or homeless in England, arrived in New England in 1620. They first lived on Turtle Island. 
Half of them died within the first few months. Squanto, of the Pequot people, who had been enslaved by the Europeans and taken to England, spoke English and formed a "close" relationship with these "pitiful" migrants. He taught them how to grow corn and to fish, how to put together certain foods, and other survival skills. 
The white people "saw Squanto as a tool of their god to help his chosen people." 
In other words, they used him. To them, he and his people were "heathens" and "savages". 
The world view of the indigenous peoples, much like the Afrikan world view, taught them "to give freely to those who had nothing.
Squanto is said to have negotiated a false "treaty" between the
nearby Wampanoag and the "pilgrims". The leader of the Wampanoag Nation, Massasoit, donated food stores to the struggling colony of Europeans. 
In 1621, having survived a hard winter, due to the help of the Wampanoag, the Europeans celebrated, as was their custom to have "thanksgivings" to their god. 
No Wampanoag or members of any other indigenous nations were invited. And yet, they came and supplied most of the food. In return for helping them to survive, the "pilgrims" decimated the Wampanoag through disease, treachery and slaughter in the years which followed. 
By 1637, as the Europeans were feeling successful, more powerful and in control of their newly taken over territory, an crew was sent to Connecticut, near Groton. 
Over 700 Indigenous peoples (Pequot) were celebrating their yearly harvest (Annual Green Corn Festival), when they were taken by surprise by the white invaders. 
Their men were shot and clubbed to death, while their women and children were burned alive. Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, proclaimed a "day of thanksgiving," saying that they should thank god for destroying the savages to make way for "a better growth" (quoted in the work of Cotton Mather). 
What followed shows a most vicious record of continuing slaughters of the indigenous people of this land now known as "america." 
It became the custom of the white destroyers to follow each massacre with a "thanksgiving." 
Rewards would be given to those who returned with the skulls of indigenous people to encourage their slaughter. In 1863, it was decided to "celebrate" only one annual day of "thanksgiving," proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln. 
At a later period, the 4th Thursday of November was chosen by the capitalists, calculated to dramatize the shopping days until christmas. It became a marketing scheme.
In 1970, at the 350th anniversary of the landing of the pilgrims, a leader of Indigenous peoples prepared a speech in which he told the true history of Plymouth, and berated the white people for robbing the graves of the Wampanoag. The officials of Massachusetts did not allow him to make the speech. 
Every year since then, Indigenous people of this land have looked upon the 4th Thursday of November as a day of mourning. (See Russell Means, Susan Bates, and Jaqueline Keeler, and other sources for more information.)
We, Black people in America, are victims of the same process that resulted in the murder of millions of Indigenous people and the decimation of their Nations. "america was built by stolen labor on stolen land!"
That is the legacy of white folk on this continent. That is what this country represents.
Taking without thanks!
Change is not easy. We are used to celebrating with our families on this day. 
It is always so good to come together and share a meal with each other, But we do have other choices. And we always need to be in the process of growth. Growth makes change necessary. 
We can change a little at a time, remembering that our goal is Afrikan Freedom.
1. When you are with your family on Thursday, November 22, take a moment to remember and talk about the true meaning of this "holy day"
2. We don't have to contribute to the profit-making mania organized by the large conglomerates, encouraging us to spend money that we don't have during the weekend following that day. Don't shop!
3. Make the sacrifice of fasting on that day. Yes, it will be a challenge, but you can still enjoy your family and at the same time identify with those who were exploited, murdered, and raped of
their resources, as we have been. (This is not a cause for celebration.)
4. Let us choose a day on which the Pan-Afrikan World Nation gives thanks together for the gift of Afrikan Ancestry, and the sacrifices that have been made for us by our Ancestors! We can
start small, with the Afrikans that we know. 
In Afrikan Sovereignty, Mama Marimba Ani 
For further Study Click Links Below: 

Visit Our Website ====> BlackPowerProductions 

Bro Kweku

Oscar Lopez Rivera and the Struggle for Puerto Rican Independence

An Indomitable Spirit of Resistance


This past Saturday, thousands of people marched from San Juan to Brooklyn demanding the release of Oscar López Rivera.  Oscar López Rivera has served 32 years in the dungeons of imperialism for the crime of fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico as a member of the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN).  At 70 years of age, López Rivera is
recognized as one of the longest held political prisoners in the world.

Contrary to the false image of passive acceptance of colonial rule
promoted by imperialism, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence has
continued for more than 115 years.  At times openly combative while at
others primarily in more muted forms, the struggle for independence in the
colonial world is a peculiar expression of class struggle.  As such, it is
important to view the campaign for the release of López Rivera, an
important symbol of that struggle in Puerto Rico, from that perspective.

In recent years there has been increased awareness and activism around the case of Oscar.  However, it is impossible to truly understand the growing support for Oscar without putting the campaign for his release in the current social and economic context of Puerto Rican society.  That is to say, the renewed popular support of a militant jailed for waging armed
struggle against imperialism coincides with and reflects a general disgust
with a colonial system in irreversible decline.  Massive, structural
unemployment, as well as unprecedented levels of public and private debt
have come to characterize Puerto Rican society just as the rest of the
capitalist world.  A decaying infrastructure, inadequate public services
in the areas of public health and education, and endemic violence complete
the picture of a territory once hailed by US imperialism as the “showcase
of the Caribbean” during the cold war era.  The result has been a constant
stream of people forced to abandon the country in an attempt to secure a
better life for themselves and their families.  As a direct colony of the
United States, the responsibility for what happens in Puerto Rico falls
directly on the US ruling class and its political representatives,
notwithstanding the incompetence and corruption of the colonial lackeys
that administer the daily operations of the colonial-state apparatus.

It is certainly true that the expansion of the campaign to release Lopez
Rivera, which includes a significant number of people that do not identify
as independentistas or progressives, and much less socialists or
communists, has been accompanied by a growing tendency to separate the man from the cause for which he is imprisoned.  This is a deliberate strategy often used by the ruling classes to dull the militant edge of popular
manifestations with the potential to radicalize consciousness.  Among the
35 thousand that marched in San Juan on November 23rd, the media, as is
custom, highlighted the appearance and statements of a few opportunist
politicians and “celebrities” to reinforce this tendency.

Notwithstanding, the fact that the bulk of those that marched consisted of
labor, both organized and non-organized members, unemployed, students,
etc. proves the growing connection between the daily concerns of working
people and questions of justice and the right to political independence in
the collective consciousness.  Over the past couple of years, Puerto Rico
has been the scene of violent protests of university students that
resulted in the occupation of the campus of the University of Puerto Rico,
massive mobilizations against the efforts of capital to loot public
pension funds, and a recent march demanding the creation of a jobs
program.  Although these struggles are by no means evidence of a
widespread revolutionary consciousness capable of radically transforming
society in the near term, they do highlight the will to fight back, to
resist, to not passively accept the conditions imposed by capital in one
of the oldest colonies in the world.  They are the germs without which
higher forms of consciousness are impossible.

The continued militancy of Oscar López Rivera, after more than three
decades of imprisonment, is a living testimony of the indomitable will to
resist all attempts to break the combative spirit of a man, who has become
a symbol of his people, yearning for freedom.

Carlos Borrero is a New York based writer.



Free All Political Prisoners!

Every Social Housing Tenancy Before 1/4/2013 To Be Made Exempt (Like Private Sector)

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions
We are calling for every tenant affected by The Size Criteria Rule (Bedroom Tax), with a Social Housing tenancy commencing before 1/4/2013 to be made exempt.
It would make every Social tenant equal to private tenants, who are affected by a similar rule called The Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Private Tenants were made exempt from the LHA, on the premise that they had a tenancy agreement before the rules introduction on the 7/4/2008.
As the current Govt are adamant we have the same rule for both sectors, then surely they should recognise this massive error. They need to stop misleading the Public.
Clearly it's time to bring this up to date and make the Social Sector tenants prior to 1/4/2013 EXEMPT!
Regardless of circumstances
Remember: one of the main premises for the Bedroom Tax introduction was the LHA.
So WeWillBeHeard (.org) are calling for the two sectors to be treated equally.
Exemptions for Bedroom Tax sufferers with tenancies prior to April 1st 2013

Created by:
Jessica Mccarnun
Please Sign please Repost

Captain SKA - Nothing Nothing Nothing

After watching this sign the #wowpetition http://wowpetition.com/
'Nothing Nothing Nothing' is the first single from Captain SKA's debut album, to be released January 2014.
All enquiries to captska@gmail.com

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sharing his story for justice

Noreen McNulty remembers the life of a passionate activist against the death penalty.
Delbert Tibbs 
Delbert Tibbs
WE LOST a freedom fighter, a poet, a friend and a beautiful soul a few days ago in Chicago. Delbert Tibbs passed away in his home on November 23.
Delbert was known to people around the world as a witness to the barbarism of the death penalty system in the U.S. and an activist against it. Delbert spent three years on Florida's death row until he was found innocent and exonerated.
Delbert was born in Mississippi to tenant farmer parents--when he was 12, he and his mother moved to Chicago. While traveling the country in 1974, Delbert was stopped and questioned by police in Florida about the rape of a teenaged woman and the murder of her companion, both of them white.
The description of the suspect from the surviving victim was nearly the opposite of Delbert. The suspect was described as 5-foot-6-inches, with a dark complexion. Delbert had a light complexion and was over 6 feet tall. Delbert had a solid alibi, but that didn't stop prosecutors from putting him on trial, aided by the testimony of a jailhouse snitch who later said he fabricated his claim that Delbert had confessed to him in the hopes of lenient treatment on a rape charge. An all-white jury convicted Delbert after two days of deliberations.
There was a public campaign for Delbert's freedom--folksinger Pete Seeger wrote a song about his case. The Florida Supreme Court eventually reversed his conviction and Delbert was released in 1977. Five years later, the charges against him were officially dropped.
Delbert went on to speak across the country and around the world, often on national and international tours for the anti-death penalty group Witness to Innocence. But Delbert is especially well known and loved by the abolitionist community in Chicago, where he was always ready to share his story and speak out for justice at rallies, protests, public forums and church meetings.
Delbert's fellow Chicago and fellow death row exoneree Darby Tillis remembered his friend this way:
He was just a wonderful man and a gentle giant. He touched a lot of people all across the world. He's been out there speaking for more than 30 years--constantly on the go. He had just returned from a tour. He never said anything to offend anyone. He was humble.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
BECAUSE OF what happened to him, and what he saw happening to so many other Black men caught up in the injustice system, Delbert always pointed to the issue of racism in U.S. society. The Final Call quoted him telling a gathering of several dozen people: "If you're Black and grew up in America, you know nothing else has been applied fairly. So why would the death penalty be applied fairly?"
Whenever you would see Delbert, he was ready with warm words and a strong hug. When he told his story in his deep and steady and persuasive voice, he moved people to become more committed opponents of capital punishment. If you want to see Delbert at his persuasive best, watch this segment from the series of short films about innocence and the death penalty called One for Ten.
The creators of the play The Exonerated also featured Delbert, along with five other former death row prisoners, talking about the death penalty and justice in their own words. One of Delbert's speeches goes to the heart of the tough-on-crime hysteria:
I understand why people are afraid. I mean, I do think the world itself can be quite frightening by getting up everyday. I understand, but you can't give in to that. It's like they say in those cowboy pictures: nobody's going to live forever, so if you got to go, then you might as well go being about the highest thing that you can be. And that means learning not to fear other people.
Delbert always had faith in people and thought that when they were mobilized, they could do great things. He felt uplifted when people took his words to heart--one person told him that after hearing him speak, he was inspired to go into public interest law. Delbert said, "It really makes me believe the Great Spirit laid this trip on me so that I could bear witness of this terrible thing we call the death penalty in the U.S."
Delbert's kind soul and powerful words will live on in his poetry and in all of the hearts he touched. Rest in peace, Delbert.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Social Awareness, With Darcy Delaproser On BlogTalkRadio

By Jueseppi B.

Social Awareness, hosted by Darcy Delaproser, a/k/a Irish Green Eyes: 9 PM Pacific Standard Time/11 PM Central Standard Time.

Darcy Delaproser, a/k/a “Irish Green Eyes,” is a justice advocate headquartered in the United Kingdom. She is a tireless human rights activist who is particularly interested in juvenile justice. Delaproser champions causes of the voiceless, the powerless and the weak, particularly in North America.

She campaigns for political prisoners, petitions on behalf of the incarcerated and human trafficking victims. Delaproser uses Facebook and Google+.
She does most of her advocacy work on Twitter as @Delaproser at https://twitter.com/delaproser and
“Welcome to my World” blog at http://irishgreeneyes-welcolmtomyworld.blogspot.com . Delaproser makes her Blogtalkradio debut at NNIA1 on November 26 at 9pm Pacific and will broadcast Tuesday nights (5:00 a.m. each Wednesday in the UK). Her broadcasts can be accessed by computer.



blogger4peacelogo obamabottomheader 


Stepping up the pressure against Islamophobia

Ayyub Abdul-Alim has spent two years awaiting trial for the "crime" of refusing to be a police informant in Springfield's Muslim community, reports Vanessa Whitney Zorlu.
Supporters of Ayyub Abdul-Alim gather for a rally before a court date (Justice for Ayyub) 
Supporters of Ayyub Abdul-Alim gather for a rally before a court date (Justice for Ayyub)
THE FIGHT to free Ayyub Abdul-Alim, a Muslim man and local business owner in Springfield, Mass., has heated up in the last two weeks.
On November 15, Ayyub's defense team arrived in court for a "motion to suppress" hearing that would have challenged the use of paid informants and an illegal search by the police in his arrest. More than 60 people mobilized to the courthouse to show their support for Ayyub--and in the process got a firsthand glimpse of just how scared the courts can be of public scrutiny.
Ayyub's ordeal began after he told the FBI and Springfield police that he would not serve as an informant in his city's Muslim community. In retaliation, he was framed with an illegal firearms charge, was taken into custody and has remained there since awaiting trial. That was two years ago.
When Ayyub's supporters entered the courthouse in mid-November, they learned that the hearing date had been changed. Ayyub was not in the courthouse, and no one had been notified of the date change. Tom Robinson, Ayyub's attorney, felt that the delay would give them more time to find the informant who helped to frame Ayyub. He described her testimony as "essential to Ayyub's defense."
Inside the courthouse, Robinson asked to see the sign-up sheet for those requesting to be heard in front of the judge. He was told the sheet was lost. When he asked how it had been lost, he was told due to "inadvertence."
When the group came forward to inquire further, the flustered clerk threw up his hands and finally said, "I shredded it!" The group then went to the office of Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni to learn why the court date had been changed with no warning and to impress on him their firm resolve to see Ayyub's charges dropped.
What you can do
The Justice for Ayyub website has more information about his case. Stay updated by following the group's Facebook page.
When the secretary saw how many people were waiting to speak to Mastroianni, they brought cops into the office and then said that he was "in a meeting" and would not be able to address the group.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
DESPITE THE frustration of being blown off by the court, the group maintained its calm and moved forward with resolve. It came together to write a statement for the DA, expressing displeasure at his lack of addressing the group and reiterating solidarity with Ayyub.
"We are making history," said organizer Vira Cage. People came out to support Ayyub, but for many it was a great insight into the workings of the "justice system"--and how disorganized and disinterested the courthouse and law officials are in working with the people for justice.
"This is a great day," said Hampshire College student Marcelle French. "The suits are intimidated by the T-shirts."
Some speculated that the court date had been changed in order to demoralize Ayyub's supporters and deter them from coming back, but if this was the court's intention, they must have been disappointed. A group of more than 50 people again mobilized to the courthouse for the rescheduled hearing on November 21. The movement to free Ayyub continues to grow with spirit, energy and numbers.
First published at Peace Walks.

How do we stop anti-LGBTQ bullying?

Keegan O'Brien discusses the toll of anti-LGBTQ bullying on students and the deeper causes of such abuse, in an article written for the Nation.
A candlelight vigil in Houston memorializes a transgender murder victim (Ben Tecumseh DeSoto) 
A candlelight vigil in Houston memorializes a transgender murder victim (Ben Tecumseh DeSoto)
ACCORDING TO a nationwide study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLESN), 90 percent of LGBTQ students report hearing derogatory language or experience some type of verbal bullying, and more than 50 percent experience some kind of physical harassment or assault.
LGBTQ students are five times more likely to cut class or skip school because they feel unsafe, while 28 percent will drop out of school altogether because of bullying. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer youth are five times more likely to attempt or commit suicide than their straight peers, while trans youth are nine times more likely.
In 2011, the "It Gets Better" campaign became a national phenomenon. Thousands of people--from celebrities like Lady Gaga to ordinary high school students--produced video messages of support for LGBTQ youth struggling with bullying.
The decision of so many to show their solidarity with LGBTQ youth, and the way in which the "It Gets Better" campaign helped catapult the issue of bullying and suicide into the national spotlight, is a major advance for the LGBTQ movement. But we can't leave the responsibility of ending anti-LGBTQ bullying and youth suicide on the shoulders of the victims.
By telling LBGTQ youth who are experiencing violence and struggling with suicide that it's their responsibility alone to overcome and survive these struggles, without also highlighting the many ways in which our education system, politicians and the government are systematically failing to address these problems, we run the risk of blaming the victims and leaving the biggest bullies--politicians and school officials--off the hook.
Message of support to LGBTQ youth are a beautiful sign of solidarity, but alone, they are inadequate to deal with the depth and scale of the crisis at hand.
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CREATING SCHOOLS that are safe places for LGBTQ youth and affirming to people across the sexual and gender spectrum requires addressing the problem on multiple levels. Being a teenager is tough enough. Being a gay teenager is even tougher.
Having slurs like "faggot" hurled at you in the hallways, getting spat on after school, having your head bashed into a few lockers, and being forced to fend off upperclassmen who try to beat you up are just a few examples of what I had to put up with as a gay teen.
Homophobia took its toll on me; in my early teens, I struggled intensely with suicide, depression and low self-esteem. Thankfully, with the help and support of friends, family and supportive LGBTQ youth organization, I got through it. These are the sorts of organizations that need to be supported.
On a micro level, educators and student allies can play a role in making schools a welcoming space for LGBTQ students by calling out anti-LGBTQ bullying, taking time to discuss LGBTQ issues in the classroom, and supporting LGBTQ students when they work to address these problems.
At the same time, teachers and students are highly limited in their ability to make a difference in their schools and the lives of LGBTQ youth as long as school districts and state and federal agencies fail to take the necessary steps to address the problem on a structural, policy-wide level.
While many school districts and states refuse to adequately address anti-LGBTQ bullying, some have adopted programs to address these problems but lack the resources necessary to seriously implement the far-reaching measures required. This is especially true for schools in lower income communities, which are disproportionately made up of students of color and lack the same resources as their wealthier, whiter suburban counterparts.
Given the pervasiveness of anti-LGBTQ bullying and youth suicide, far-reaching changes are required to make schools a safe and affirming place for LGBTQ youth. This includes measures such an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, sexual health classes that address LGBTQ issues, more on-site social workers and counselors, anti-bullying and suicide prevention educational programs for students and faculty, and the necessary funding required to adequately implement these programs.
In addition to creating safe schools, community organizations such as the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth (BAGLY) and FIERCE are also important to providing affirming and empowering outlets for LGBTQ youth.
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OFTEN, THE problems of anti-LGBTQ bullying and suicide are narrowly discussed as a problem of insensitive bullies. Normally, punitive measures like suspensions, expulsions and, in some extreme cases, criminal prosecutions are the focus of solutions put forward by public officials.
Generally, little help is offered to those who have been victimized, and few policies that could transform the larger structural factors that allow bullying to flourish in the first place are ever even contemplated.
Ending anti-LGBTQ bullying and the damaging--even life-threatening--mental health issues it produces does not need to include increasing incarceration. Holding bullies accountable by requiring them to undergo LGBTQ educational programs and providing them with counseling does more to eliminate bullying and creating an LGBTQ-inclusive environment in schools than simply punishing perpetrators with suspensions or prison sentences.
Transforming our schools has to be the aim of our efforts.
Only a decade or two ago, one would be hard-pressed to find more then a handful of politicians willing to address anti-LGBTQ bullying. But now, elected officials are talking publicly about these issues. Even President Barack Obama made an "It Gets Better" video. This sea change in official discourse is undoubtedly due to years of grassroots activism by parents, students and educators.
While many politicians are now quick to lend their support to issues such as gay marriage and anti-bullying campaigns, few are actually willing to seriously push for the necessary policy changes to address the range of problems affecting LGBTQ young people, in and outside of schools. Even the rare few who do, like Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, fail to allocate the necessary resources and funding to adequately deal with the problem.
Too often, the same Democratic politicians who are willing to speak at LGBTQ events, solicit LGBTQ votes, take LGBTQ donations and advocate for LGBTQ equality are the same officials complicit in cutting funding for the very programs that LGBTQ youth depend on.
The lives of LGBTQ young people are not playthings to be tossed around for political capital. As people who want schools that are safe and affirming places for LGBTQ students and hope for a future where no young person will ever feel like death is a better option then living, we have a responsibility to hold politicians accountable to their rhetoric.
We are best positioned to do this when we organize with others to build grassroots movements that are less concerned with befriending the political establishment and courting corporate sponsorship, and more focused on doing whatever it takes to pressure those in power to implement the wide-reaching changes required to end the range of problems facing queer youth once and for all.
First published at TheNation.com.


The lessons of Scottsboro

Elizabeth Schulte tells the story of the campaign, organized against all odds, to keep nine innocent Black teenagers from being executed in Alabama's death chamber.
The Scottsboro Boys in prison, speaking with a lawyer 
The Scottsboro Boys in prison, speaking with a lawyer
ALMOST 80 years after the trial that condemned nine innocent Black teenagers to death for allegedly raping two white women, the Alabama parole board has finally issued a pardon to the last three Scottsboro Boys.
The old saying that "the wheels of justice turn slowly" is a grotesque understatement in this case.
The Alabama justice system's eight-decades-too-late decision only underscores the Herculean antiracist struggle to save the nine youths from a legal lynching in the 1930s Jim Crow South.
The Scottsboro Boys survived because of a fight waged across the country, with protests and other actions that brought the realities of Southern racism into the spotlight at the same time that they exposed the racism that existed in every corner of U.S. society.
The campaign to defend the Scottsboro Boys centered around the basic idea that justice would not and could not be won in the courts--especially the courts of Alabama--but had to the won in the streets. The protest movement, initiated by members of the Communist Party (CP), became a focal point for antiracist organizing in the 1930s and drew support around the country and around the world.
This one case highlighted the many ways racism is woven into the institutions and beliefs of U.S. society--for example, the myth of the Black rapist preying on virtuous white womanhood, or the idea that the police and courts dispense justice evenhandedly.
But there is another lesson to be learned about Scottsboro: that a determined campaign for justice, which put a premium on mobilizing Blacks and whites together to fight racism alongside one another, could defy the odds and stop the Alabama death machine from claiming nine more victims.
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ON MARCH 25, 1931, nine Black youths hopped a freight train. Like many unemployed people of the day, Black and white, the young men, aged 13 to 19, were simply searching for work, and needed transportation to find it.
On the train, they got in a fight with some white youth, and the whites complained to the nearest stationmaster. A posse was called to apprehend the young Black men--it met the train in Paint Rock, Ala. When they all got off the train, two young white women who had also hopped the freight, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, also disembarked.
The young men were taken to the Scottsboro, the seat of Jackson County, where they were met by a racist lynch mob--and now, the charge wasn't just fighting, but the rape of Bates and Price as well. The National Guard was called in to protect the nine from a mob lynching--so that their legal lynching could be carried out.
Jim Crow justice was swift in its judgment of the nine Black youths. They went to court 12 days after their arrest, and their four trials lasted a total of just four days.
Decisive testimony came from the two white women, who lied on the stand about their alleged assault. In this lynch-mob setting before an all-white audience, it was little surprise that the sentence was death for all except 13-year old Roy Wright. "The courtroom," said 18-year-old defendant Haywood Patterson, "was one big smiling white face."
If the trial were the end of the story, we would never have heard of the Scottsboro Boys. But it wasn't--thanks to a campaign that mobilized thousands of ordinary people to take on this racist injustice. Rather than rely on convincing politicians and the courts that an injustice had been done, the CP-led campaign instead relied on working people, Black and white, coming together to oppose this injustice.
After the death sentences were announced, the CP called for a nationwide protest movement. The party's legal defense wing, the International Labor Defense (ILD), to contact the Scottsboro Nine and their families about representing them in court.
The CP's strategy was to organize the best legal defense available, while simultaneously building a national activist campaign--with the understanding that pressure and mobilization from below was necessary to save the nine. As a Liberator editorial argued at the time: "There can be no such thing as a 'fair trial' of a Negro boy accused of rape in an Alabama court. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to deceive."
The campaign put the Scottsboro Boys and their families at the center of the struggle. Family members toured the country to speak about the case, sometimes attracting thousands to hear them. The defense campaign joined forces with various Black organizations, including community groups, churches and fraternal organizations, to mobilize multiracial crowds of protesters in support of the Scottsboro Boys.
For the CP, which called Scottsboro a "legal lynching," taking up the case was about more than winning justice for nine innocent teenagers. It was also about shining a light on the racism of U.S. society. "Precisely because the Scottsboro case is an expression of the horrible national oppression of the Negro masses," wrote the Daily Worker, "any real fight...must necessarily take the character of a struggle against the whole brutal system of landlord robbery and imperial national oppression of the Negro people."
The campaign was also about proving in action how that Blacks and whites could come together to fight racism.
The CP's bold approach to organizing--prioritizing mass action and an uncompromising condemnation of racism--stood in sharp contrast to the NAACP, which at first avoided taking up the campaign at all. Later, NAACP leaders tried to wrest control of the defense campaign from the CP by convincing a few defendants to switch their representation. But the defendants' families, who had experienced organizing with the communists, convinced their sons otherwise.
Likewise, when Black Southern ministers tried to take over the fight from the ILD, the Scottsboro families continued to support the CP-led defense. "For the first time in their lives, white men were not telling them what to do, but asking their support, on the basis of complete equality," wrote Dan T. Carter in Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South. "The contrast with the Minister's Alliance was all the more striking, since neither Roddy nor Stephens [of the Alliance] had bothered to talk with them about the cases."
When the communists who led the defense campaigns faced red-baiting and race-baiting, this was met with fierce defenses from the people who worked with them closest. "They tried to tell me that the ILD was low-down whites and Reds," Haywood's mother, Janie Patterson, told a rally in New Haven, Conn. "I haven't got no schooling, but I have five senses, and I know Negroes can't win by themselves."
Patterson said, "I don't care whether they are Reds, Greens or Blues. They are the only ones who put up a fight to save these boys, and I am with them to the end."
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AROUND THE country, the CP organized rallies and demonstrations. While the first events were small, turning out mostly party members, outrage over the case among Black workers fueled larger turnouts as the campaign progressed.
Nevertheless, some of the official policies of the Communist Party at the time--which, under instructions from the Stalinist government in Russia, were dominated by a strategy of exposing liberals at all costs--held it back during some of the Scottsboro campaign. For example, when Clarence Darrow, the famous lawyer and staunch opponent of the death penalty, offered his services to the Scottsboro defense, the CP said that he would have to publicly repudiate the NAACP to participate. Darrow declined.
Despite this sectarianism, however, the CP's campaign--with its outspoken opposition to racism and a commitment to multiracial organizing--began to attract more and more supporters.
In April 1931, a rally that started with 200 mostly white Communists gathered in Harlem swelled to over 3,000, most of them Black, in a protest against the legal lynching. In Harlem, the campaign for the Scottsboro Boys included important supporters from the arts and music, such as poet Langston Hughes and singer Billie Holiday. Solidarity protests were also organized by communists in other countries, including a July 1931 rally in Germany, where 150,000 workers turned out to hear Scottsboro mother Ada Wright.
A 1933 march in Washington, D.C., turned out 4,000 people who marched for more than six miles in the pouring rain. The night before, several thousand African Americans joined hundreds of white supporters at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church to hear Ruby Bates, the alleged victim of rape who now proclaimed the innocence of the nine youth. "They were framed up at the Scottsboro trial," Bates said, "not only by the boys and girls on the freight train, of which I was one, but by the bosses of the Southern counties."
As a result of the growing pressure, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the death sentences indefinitely suspended, after the Alabama State Supreme Court upheld the conviction of seven defendants and set their execution date. The Supreme Court ultimately overturned the convictions, but ordered new trials to take place in the Alabama courts. More protests were organized in the lead-up to new trials in March 1933.
Then, Ruby Bates came out publicly to admit that the defendants never touched her and hadn't even talked to her on the train. She explained that police forced her to lie about the incident. The ILD toured Bates across the country in support of the Scottsboro Boys.
But the Alabama courts had no interest in the truth. In a fourth trial, the youths were still found guilty, but the sentences reduced to life in prison--in the fifth, four were found innocent. In 1950, the charges against all the Scottsboro Boys were finally dropped.
The defense campaign ultimately didn't win freedom for the Scottsboro Boys, but it saved them from the execution chamber--an outcome that was hard to imagine in the Jim Crow South of that era.
The years-long Scottsboro defense campaign provides important lessons on how to organize a multiracial movement that protests an individual racist attack--while linking it with the racism and inequality endemic to capitalism that must be confronted in the struggle for a different world.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Demanding the dignity all workers deserve

Dominic Ware is a former Walmart worker in the Bay Area and an activist in OUR Walmart, a campaign led by Walmart "associates" and backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to demand a living wage, better benefits, and an end to management harassment and disrespect on the job.
Last year, OUR Walmart organized some of the first strikes ever inside Walmart stores, including a day of walkouts and demonstrations on Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. The giant retailer is nonunion--Walmart has closed down departments and even whole stores in response to the threat of unionization--but employees working in OUR Walmart have some protections under federal labor law by striking over unfair labor practices (ULP), such as management retaliation, harassment and unsafe conditions.
OUR Walmart has coupled actions at local stores with nationally sponsored protest initiatives that often culminate at Walmart's corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. For example, earlier this year, Walmart workers who walked off the job were joined by supporters in the Ride for Respect, modeled on the famous Freedom Rides in 1961 by civil rights movement activists determined to desegregate instate bus travel.
Earlier this year, after he participated in a strike call and the Ride for Respect to Bentonville, Dominic was fired from the Walmart in San Leandro, Calif. But he explained in an interview with Stephanie Schwartz and David Whitehouse, Dominic is carrying on the OUR Walmart struggle and the fight for justice for all low-wage workers.
Walmart workers and their supporters on the picket line for respect (Marc F. Henning)Walmart workers and their supporters on the picket line for respect (Marc F. Henning)
HOW DID you get involved with the OUR Walmart campaign?
I DECIDED to get involved with OUR Walmart because, being a working person and a part-time student, I felt I wasn't being respected on the job I dedicated my life to, and that it was actually holding me back from fulfilling my duties as a student. I had other job opportunities, but I was dedicated to being loyal to Walmart because I believed in the Walmart dream. I believed in being able to work hard and move up. I believed that Walmart would take of their associates.
That's what I thought the first couple of months, but after working there and getting my hours cut, I got a firsthand look at what Walmart is really like, from the point of view of 10- or 12- or 15-year associates. They pretty much dread coming in to work every day. That's when it started to be that way for me as well--going in to work and being disrespected on a day-to-day basis.
One example of being disrespected is Walmart's 15-foot rule, which means that every single person who comes within that 15-foot sphere, you have to acknowledge them, say hello and ask if they need any help. It shocked me that the hourly associates have to do that, but the salaried associates will walk past even their own employees and not even acknowledge them being there.
I would come to work and try to be polite as possible, and on a daily basis, management would just walk past me, you know? They can't be friendly to me, they can't even say hello when they've obviously seen me--and then five minutes later, they call me on the intercom to come help with a carryout! It just bothered me.
I tried to handle the situation myself. I talked with my store manager and asked her if Walmart had any type of hospitality training or did any training at all on how to interact with their employees. She was shocked that I said that. I was promised that things would change, but nothing changed--as a matter of fact, she started doing the same thing herself.
So I was pretty much through with Walmart--the bubble was busted. I was able to see Walmart for the ugly corporation that it is. I was through.
A few weeks after I talked to my store manager, I met an organizer with Organization United For Respect at Walmart [OUR Walmart], and I've been a proud, active, striking member since. I'm going on my second anniversary, and just being in the organization has been the best time of my life. I've learned so much, and I've just been so proactive in my store and in Walmart's business overall.
Like I said, my main issue was respect. Poverty wages are already a reason to stand up and strike, but I was hoping to become an assistant manager one day. But after a year, I didn't move up at all. The only thing I got after a year of hard work was a $.40-an-hour raise. I knew that it wasn't just happening to me--it's happening to people all over this beautiful country.
WHAT WAGE did you start out at?
I WAS part time at $8.25 an hour. And all I got after a year of hard work was $.40 an hour--that's all I'm worth after my dedication, missing holidays, missing family time, stressing myself out.
Just knowing that this is happening to people across this nation is what keeps me going in the fight. I've been on strikes and picket lines at the stores and at protests the home office, doing everything that I can. We're letting the associates know that we have a voice and we have the power, but we must educate each other and support each other if we want to change anything at Walmart. That's the main message of this organization I'm proud to be a part of.
CAN YOU tell us about the first walkout you were involved in, when you went to Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to protest?
IT WAS the first time I had a chance to meet with brothers and sisters from Hawaii, Texas, Miami and all over, and stand in front of Walmart's home office and demand that they respect us as workers. It just enriched my soul, you know? I was meeting people who felt the same way and were going through the same things, so many miles away from where I called home.
We remixed the Michael Jackson song: "All I wanna say is that / They don't really care about us." We did a flash mob in the first Walmart store, and then we went to the home office, where we did a mic check. Anybody who's been involved with a mic-check knows how amplified the crowd gets and the connection when everyone who's speaking and getting our voices heard, all at the same time.
Management was shaken. They didn't know what to do. Until I wore this green [the color of the OUR Walmart campaign's T-shirts and other materials], I never saw a look of fear on the face of a salaried worker for Walmart. I've been on a couple of strikes since then, and I just love it. If I was working at Walmart, I'd be doing a ULP strike today.
TELL US about why you're not working at Walmart now.
IT'S BECAUSE of the last ULP strike I was a part of earlier this year, which was the longest Walmart has ever seen.
A group of associates from all over the country--180 in total, I think, with family and community supporters--went on the Ride for Respect 2013. Those of you who are familiar with our history and all of the fights we've been a part of know about the Freedom Riders of the 1960s. What we did was follow that blueprint and that spirit, and duplicated it for modern times. I wish I could share with everybody that experience so people could really feel how big it was, and how detrimental it was to Walmart's name.
But as proof of that, after we came back, that's when they started firing people. I was one of the first 20 associates fired, just for speaking up for respect and a living wage.
I believe $12 an hour is a reasonable wage, and even that is really close to the poverty line. Right now, an associate starting out, who is working 40 hours a week all year, is making about $15,000. No one can survive on that at all. We're asking for a few more pennies to help us survive and get by while not being on government assistance and not relying on other people or handouts to make it through the week--I don't think we're asking for too much.
But that's pretty much that's what me and 20 other OUR Walmart members got fired for.
WHAT WILL be taking place on Black Friday this year?
THAT'S THE big event of the year. We're going to have a day for the people. It's not going to just be about Walmart workers, but the Walmart victims--people who don't even know they're being affected by this ugly corporation and its mistreatment of workers. That's people like fast-food workers, the warehouse workers who work for Walmart, even down to the ports--all down the line.
Walmart has its hands in so many things that are wrong with this country. On Black Friday this year, we're going to shine a light and let our community know that we need Walmart to uphold its responsibility to this country and its people, and to change for all of us. I'm just glad to be a part of it. To be there and show support for each other is going to be a real sight to see.
We're in a struggle right now. Throughout history, there have been many struggles. People remember the struggle for women, and people remember the struggle against racism by African Americans. Right now, we're in the class struggle of our lives. I really advise that if you're anywhere from the shrinking middle class on down, you need to get activated and join this fight.
DO THIS year's protests look like they're going to be bigger than last year's?
HEY, LAST Black Friday was bigger than what I expected. I didn't expect there to be 700 people going out on strike. The message is bigger this year than last year, and it's going to keep getting bigger, because these issues are getting uglier. Walmart's not getting any better. It's a matter of time before everyone's activated and truly understands the effects that Walmart is having on this country.
MANY OF the people reading this article will be people outside of Walmart, who will show up on Black Friday and protest in solidarity. What kind of organizing or feelings are taking place inside the stores?
INSIDE THE stores, it's holiday time. People are probably getting 30 or 40 hours a week if they have seniority. Anybody who's been to one of our actions knows that workers will be having the worst day while at work, but they'll hear the action and the support of the community members outside, and be able to come out and see people cheering them on.
It really touches their hearts and gives them pride. A lot of people don't have pride in what they do at Walmart. If you understand that there are people who support you and understand what you're going through and who are fighting to get you more respect, better pay and more health benefits, it gives you a sense of pride.
WHAT CAN people do if they want to get involved in supporting people like you who are working at Walmart, or who have been fired for organizing?
IF YOU want to get plugged in and find out what's going on, go to ForRespect.org. For something more specific about the Black Friday protests, we have a website called BlackFridayProtests.org. And for those of you in the Bay Area, you can go to my personal Facebook [search for Dominic Ware] and my Twitter is @hellaourwalmart--yes, "hella," because this is the Bay Area.
In the Bay Area, the airport workers at Oakland have some things going on--some awesome actions that we're teaming up with. And fast-food and retail workers. We've combined our struggles, and we're going to be doing more in December. Then there are port workers who have some issues, and the BART workers. We support them and are trying to help them get the win they deserve.
AFTER BLACK Friday, what's your vision for what's going to happen with OUR Walmart and all the people who are organizing?
MY VISION is that this little downtime that everybody is going to be having in December isn't really downtime. It's a setting-up time. We're going to be combining more of our fights and finding common ground with each other, because that's what it's going to take. We need to stop bickering over little issues and focus on the big issues at hand. So my vision is for us to find more synchronicity with each other's fights, and we join each other and back each other more.
I'm a history geek. My favorite subject in school was history, not because I didn't like the other subjects, but because I like what's real. I like to see what has worked and what hasn't, and history shows us that.
If you go back to when workers were winning and when our country was doing better, you'll see it was because workers were able to buy homes and the price of living wasn't so far from much than minimum wage. So that's what's going on in the Bay Area, and I hope it starts a domino effect that goes all over, so we can win this beautiful country back for the people.
Transcription by Jason Netek