Activism, Immigration, Refugees, Uncategorized

Do What You Can For Refugees

Here is a list (from Think Progress) of some protests going on throughout the country against the fascist Trump’s illegal & immoral executive order banning refugees & migrants from the nations of Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia, all nations the US has bombed, invaded, or sanctioned. Do what you can: if marching or protesting is not your thing, write or create art, or call your congressperson, spread information through your social media or blog, volunteer to help refugees, or donate to a reputable charity helping refugees, like the UN Refugee agency  (https://donate.unhcr.org/us-en/redirect/). Do what you can.

Atlanta, Georgia

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/370576413312630/?active_tab=about

Bloomington, Indiana

January 29, 4–5 p.m.
Court House Lawn
https://www.facebook.com/events/141181763054369/

Boston, Massachusetts

January 29, 1–3 p.m.
Copley Square
https://www.facebook.com/events/1808560036070492/

Canton, New York

January 29, 12 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.
Park St. and Main St.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1877987165813906/

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

January 29, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.
Peace and Justice Plaza
https://www.facebook.com/events/1830257140581355/

Chicago, Illinois

January 28, happening now
O’Hare International Airport

Denver, Colorado

January 28, 5–7 p.m.
Denver International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1416101161753999/

Detroit, Michigan

January 29, 3 p.m.
Hamtramck City Hall
https://www.facebook.com/events/1754583231524900/

January 29, 4–6 p.m.
DTW- Macnamara Termial- Intl Arrivals
https://www.facebook.com/events/959584757476881/

Houston, Texas

January 28, 7 p.m.
IAH Terminal E
https://www.facebook.com/events/771992316298993/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
Discovery Green
https://www.facebook.com/events/386770058353091/#

Louisville, Kentucky

January 29, 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/175651122918583/

Minneapolis, Minnesota

January 28, happening now
Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
https://www.facebook.com/events/1626807780957019/

January 31, 4:30–6 p.m.
Minneapolis Federal Building
https://www.facebook.com/events/294911630924576/

Newark, New Jersey

January 28, happening now
Newark Liberty International Airport

January 28, 5–8 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1655523898074718/

January 29, 1–4 p.m.
LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal
https://www.facebook.com/events/1876148372629363/

Nashville, Tennessee

January 29, 3–4:30 p.m.
Sen. Bob Corker’s office
https://www.facebook.com/events/1782511105404931/

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2016 Election, Activism, Uncategorized

Thesis For Post-United States Systems

red

The Democratic Party & many mainstream (especially white upper middle class) liberals will roll over like a dog for Trump & the GOP in hopes of getting some legislative & policy table scraps. This whole “civil war” narrative for the Democratic Party, this whole Clinton/Schumer corporate elites vs. populist working class allies Sanders/Warren/Ellison is just that: a narrative meant to divert effort & energy away from the protests, art, writing, civil disobedience, grass roots & communal organizing & self-governance that is the ONLY real antidote to the sort of incipient fascism/nationalist populism being embraced by the ruling & media elites.

DO NOT BUY INTO IT.

Ignore the Democratic Party “get out the vote” shaming & its mirror image “third party” utopianisms, ignore the “we need to reach out to the white working classes” bullshit: organize, speak out & act out in any way you can. The system is broken, it does not deserve to be put back together. We must create a new one from the ideas & imaginations within ourselves. We must abandon the party system entirely. We must eventually even abandon the discursive & self-justifying system of nationalism. There is no hope for the US. There is only hope if we create, together, Post-US narratives & systems.

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Activism, poetry

This Flag

ragflag

This flag

it is a rag

it ain’t my bag

to salute this piece of cloth

signaling defeat

and deceit

in the eyes of those

unfortunate enough

to be “liberated”

in its name

This flag

is just a rag

a blood one at that

used to mop up the

trail of tears

and 500 years

of genocide

red as the blood that stains the great plains

white as the skin of the conquerors

blue as the blood of those who profited

and who profit still

on the tyranny

and calumny

that reigns

under

that

flag

that

rag

to me

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Activism

Guest Post: My Medical Marijuana Odyssey

medical-marijuana-rx

The following essay was written by a good friend of mine, an anonymous patient on the Medical Marijuana Registry

***

As many people know, states around the US are allowing the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain or otherwise incapacitating illnesses and disabilities (with the exception of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska who have simply legalized marijuana altogether.) This, however, is not a piece about the legalization of marijuana, though I do support that for various reasons. This piece is about what is like to be a patient on a medical marijuana registry.

When I was first diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder, I was devastated. I remember going to the pharmacy to pick up my new life-style-in-a-bottle. And, man, was it a big bottle. It was the length of my forearm, and it had “refill as needed” written on the side. I sat in my car and I cried. I was not looking forward to shoving 9 of these down my throat every day (3 morning, noon, and night.) On top of that, I had steroids, pain killers, and a host of other scheduled drugs. I had cases of pill packs with labels so I didn’t forgot to take what and when and I was taking up to 17 pills per seating. I got really good at just swallowing a handful of them with a big gulp of water. Hooray for new talents right? I was on so many pills my birth control stopped working, leading to an accidental pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage (as one of the drugs killed basically anything trying to live inside of me. Sort of thankfully, I was in no shape to carry a child. Let alone care for one and raise it. I could barely get out of bed at this point.)

Eventually, I had to stop taking the original medication, and thus began the Pharmaceutical Gauntlet of “what won’t I have a reaction to?” I went on immunosupressors (6MP’s and 5ASA’s) and I also did a stint of chemotherapy treatments to try and quash my ever-raging immune system. I was allergic or had a reaction to all of it. Every 6 weeks the chemo made me stop breathing. For those that have never experienced chemotherapy drips, you have to start slow and over the course of the 4 or so hours they speed up the drip. For me, they could not speed the drip because I would stop breathing every time. I have a permanent bruise on my arm where a nurse who wanted to go home ripped the IV out of my arm because my treatment was “taking too long.” (I filed a complaint against her and showed my specialist, but who knows who else she treated so poorly.) I had to have a family member or friend sit with me, and take time out of their lives to watch me struggle to breathe every month. It was not a good experience. Eventually I stopped going.

I tried anti-nausea medications that have, for the most part, left me infertile.

During this time, the Medical Marijuana Registry was created, and I asked my doctor if this was something I could have. I never smoked in high school (really, I waited until I graduated because I didn’t want to hurt my chances at school etc…) But during my chemotherapy treatments it really helped with the pain and nausea. (My disorders also give me constant nausea, which is what the anti-nausea meds were for.)

I was informed that, according to laws, I had to try other drugs that were specific to my symptoms, and they had to not work for me, or cause me harm for me to be allowed to move to the next step. Which was Marinol (the synthetic version of Delta-9 THC, which is the most active chemical in marijuana.) 

After (many) more trips to the Emergency Department at the local hospital I was finally allowed to try Marinol. Which also doesn’t work. I haven’t met anyone that said it does what it is supposed to. That’s not to say it doesn’t work for some; if it works for you, that’s great and I’m glad you found something that gives you relief.

After all of this, I was allowed to apply for my patient license, and be put on the registry. Now, while I understand that marijuana is considered a controlled substance by the federal government, I can’t say I agree with listing the names of patients on an easily accessible list. I am not very worried about the federal government coming down on the sick and infirmed, but I worry for our safety and privacy. I worry about housing and employment discrimination. Also, in my state, the registry is run by the Department of Public Safety. This has bothered me from the beginning. I feel that this contributes to the negative stereotypes that marijuana and/or marijuana patients are somehow endangering the public. More so than say, alcohol? Or tobacco? There have been literally no deaths attributed to the use of marijuana. In my research I found one secondary death, and this was someone who died because they believed their abilities were more than what they were (they could not, in fact, fly). Direct deaths are things like, cirrhosis of the liver or lung cancer, directly caused by the ingested chemical. 

Anyway, the application process goes like this:

1. Get really sick
2. Take a bunch of medicines that make you ill to prove that you can’t take an insurance backed medication, because choosing your own health care plan with your trusted physician is a big no-no for some reason.
3. Download, print, complete, and mail all of the parts of the application (for someone with a condition, simply going to the store to get lunch can be a drain, so running all over town to obtain the things you need is that much more of a burden). These things include:

A meeting with your “trusted physician with which you have a relationship”

Getting to the office

Taking time out of your day, maybe you work, maybe you are just exhausted (I do not blame the doctor’s they are just doing what they are supposed to)

Get the papers notarized (luckily where I live medical papers are freely notarized, I am not sure about other states)

Take passport style photos (when I first signed up you had to mail in actual DVD’s but now you can send them .jpgs which is extremely handy)

Pay a fee for both your caregiver and yourself

Mail everything out, certified

(PS almost all of these steps cost something, which puts more pressure on those who are ill and can’t work.)

4. Hopefully get your cards (I did.)

5. Whether you grow or use a dispensary (in my state there are only a few) you have to go to the dispensary and get your clones (plants) or have a consultation. Here the appointments are a month or more out, since there are only a few. This means if you run out of medicine you can’t just go to the place and get more, you have to wait it out; wait out your pain, your nausea, your lack of appetite, your lack of sleep.

6. Get your medicine. Finally, you can feel like a halfway decent human being for the first time in months. The strains at the dispensaries are bred to help with specific ailments. It isn’t just “getting high” and loafing around the house. A recent state poll showed most people use it before bed, or before meals (which, if you have nausea or a dampened appetite makes a lot of sense.)

***

As a patient, I have to guard myself against discrimination. I had one doctor that wouldn’t even prescribe me the marinol because he felt that the pharmacists treated his patients too poorly after filling that prescription (To be clear, I have a bunch of doctors. I didn’t doctor-hop until I found one that would give me drugs, I just asked my GP how they felt and the basically said “fuck those pharmacists”).

I am sure I am forgetting something, but I hope this gives people a little insight into what it is like to be someone with a chronic (and at times debilitating illness.) Living with it daily, and all we ask is for some respite without being judged or harassed.

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Activism, Race

The Cost of Whiteness

bourke-white

In America all too often to identify oneself is to indemnify oneself against the wrongs and crimes done by our ilk in the past. White America has convinced itself that whiteness brings with it a sort of dignity and wealth that is inherent, or at least self-evident, and this fact overrides the grievances and pain and struggle of other groups, specifically black people. No white, when it comes right down to it, will deny the privilege that comes with white skin but White America has a resentment towards those who would even suggest that privilege is unearned or built upon a foundation of violence and theft. We live in a nation built on the backs and with the blood of black slaves, on the land of Native peoples, improved with the labor of exploited and abused workers and immigrant laborers and the profits glide upwards into the pockets of those whose only hardship in life was having to decide which elite institutions one would be associated with. What began and continued as exploitation of black bodies continued into the exploitation of all bodies that had the misfortune of being born outside of the circle of inherited wealth and property. The white body politic has understood for a long time that the circle must be relaxed here and there in order to bring more people into the white “inheritance”: certain immigrants, certain economic groups, even certain people of color as long as the toed the line and gave up on justice for all and any sense of being wronged as a group. We arm ourselves against the “others” and we turn our homes into unassailable castles where there is no law and no respect for anything but our possessions and our sense of self-importance. We expected to be “protected” from…god knows what. Those who have the least to fear, fear the most, while those who have the most to lose, lose it all and are laughed at and spit upon while they lose it all. Every black body is a weapon aimed at our pure, white heart. Only an all powerful, unaccountable blue wall can save us from the fear of losing our place at the top of the pile.

As Steinbeck saw all too clearly, the American Dream (the dream of whiteness/wealth/power inherited and “earned”) is and has always been a lottery whose main purpose is to provide the illusion of meritocracy, of social mobility, of economic self-determination. Decades of government action on behalf of those who already had a centuries long head start, a welfare state for those who had all the welfare they could ever need, a bait and switch that gave the trappings of an illusory and always lily-tinted middle class to some in exchange for obscene and ever expanding wealth for the very very few who had always resided at the top. And when black or brown or female or gay or poor bodies dared speak up and question this moral foundation for the nation, dared to ask for their fair share of what they had built with their blood, sweat, toil and tears, when these wretched folk dared to make a peep the great white house on the hill, that home of the great beacon onto a dark world, would convulse with rage and self-indulgent fury. How dare those people imply we have not earned all of this largesse? How dare those people question our right to all that our forefathers gave to us, no questions asked? How dare those niggers and sluts and faggots and bums and illegals suggest that this system is anything but the most fair, the most amazing system ever created? All this self-importance, all this self-delusion, just so we can say “at least I am better than those people”, while clinging like barnacles to a luxury liner that steams ever more resolutely forwards, first class passengers popping champagne bottles and laughing at our pitiful pretensions all the way.

We sold our souls for whiteness; we sold our sense of decency, our sense of outrage, our sense of right and wrong, justice, intelligence, fair play, and brotherhood. And for what? For a chance to say that we are better because of what we own, where we live, and what we look like? We have made ourselves dunces, fools who can only nod their heads when their betters tell us who to hate and who to glorify. We vote against our own interest and the interests of our brothers and sisters and friends and family just so we can say we voted for the winners instead of “those people”. Whiteness has given us a culture of consumption and greed that eats us from the inside out like some sort of galling medieval blight. We are lepers whose only balm is the material we grasp at with fingers bloodied and broken in the fight for precious lucur and capital. Our wealth resides in things and our worth is derived from what objects we use and what people we choose to abuse in order to obtain them.

And the lies we have to tell in order to maintain this fragile facade! Decades, centuries of history distorted, edited, misplaced, erased, shoved like so much garbage down the memory hole. Every day has been remade into a relentless march forward towards this moment, this time, these purchases, these jobs, these trinkets and prizes and fixtures. In order to justify our empty consumption and greed we had to remake history into one grand and meaningless disney-fied ticker-tape parade, with white banners flying and patriotic odes sung with ever increasingly shrillness and desperation. We wanted whiteness, now we need it. We need it because what else is there? To reject our privilege, to even question it, is to look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge all the crime and filth and dirty deeds done to our brothers and sisters. To reject whiteness is to reject the idea of America as a blameless, beautiful, god-blessed nation with nothing ahead of it but destiny and nothing behind it but laudatory deeds. But you can only deny truth and history and justice for so long before those you have stood upon, trampled over, begin to try and force you to confront reality. If we do not choose to look into ourselves we will be torn apart and forced to contemplate a shattered wreck of a body and spirit that never even gave itself a chance at decency or transcendence. The cost of whiteness is our humanity and that is a price that none of us can afford to pay.

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Activism, Election 2014

Election Day 2014: I voted, did you?

Vote-Counts1

Just voted in Illinois! Voted Scott Summers of the Green Party for Governor of Illinois, voted against the “Victims Rights” state constitutional Amendment, voted yes for the “Voting Protection” state constitutional Amendment. Reluctantly voted for Dick Durbin for Senate and AGAINST my idiot Representative Randy Hultgren and FOR Dennis Anderson his Democratic opponent. I know that the GOP is making it harder to vote in many states and localities but it is worth it to try and vote. Make a nuisance of yourself! Be THAT person who demands to be heard! Go out and vote your conscience!

VOTE!!!

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Activism, Feminism

My Little Brother, The Gamer

Not My Little Brother haha

Not My Little Brother haha

My little brother loves video games. He loves them A LOT. He has a gamecube, both Wii’s, pretty much every gameboy you can think of and plays some games online. He is a voracious reader, online video watcher, and reader. He knows more about the inner workings and corporate politics of the Nintendo company then most industry journalists do. He grew up with four siblings and a mom who loved video games, played them often and as a family. He is very good at them. VERY. All in all he is a remarkable little guy. My brother always tells me what he learns about the history of gaming, especially from videos he watches on youtube. It seems like every time I visit him he has something new to tell me about a game I grew up with! Mind you, this kid is barely older than the Obama administration and he lectures me, brilliantly, on the history of game companies going back to Atari. He’s a video game savant! He is also a genuinely kind and friendly kid. He makes friends with the kids in his class who are made fun of or marginalized, not out of pity but because he genuinely connects and loves them. He is create and he tries to understand the “adult” world of ideas and history and politics. He told me once how he didn’t understand why so many of the boys in his class considered being gay or being feminine or a girl was a bad thing. He was utterly baffled by this and it was so refreshing to see such lack of prejudice and cruelty in his eyes. This is because he is a good guy, but also because he has three very accomplished older sisters and a mom, all of whom are strongly feminist and constantly teach him to respect all people and to understand the privilege his skin color and his gender give him. He understands this and he does not take it like so many “adults” do, as an indictment of all men or a condemnation of the male gender itself. He always asks me questions about the world and why people think the way they do and why so many treat people so badly. Sometimes I have answers with him. Other times I can only wonder with him why so many people, men especially, seem to think that the entire world revolves around their prejudices and needs. It is amazing how much more mature and intelligent my little brother is than the so called “men” who claim the gaming culture as their own and who try so hard to make women, LGBTQ people, and feminist men feel unwelcome. My little brother likes to play video games. He doesn’t care if he plays with a boy, a girl or anyone else. He just likes to play. He doesn’t care if games become more friendly to the concerns of women and minorities, and by that I mean it makes no difference to him because a game is just a game. Whatever makes people feel happy and safe and is fun is all that matters to him. He does notice when women are treated badly in games and you can tell that he is not a big fan of the super violent games. I think this is a part of his kind personality and also how he was raised. He tends to like puzzle games, building games, racing games, and turn based games and RPGs. The exception is Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo. He sure does like to beat my butt at that game. My brother does not whine about games other people want to create or play that might “not be fun” or are “too artistic” or “weird”. He is content to play the games he likes and to let people enjoy the games that engage them. He does not judge a person based on the games they play. He is probably the most tolerant and open-minded person I know and he is only getting more so as he gets older and wiser. He is going to make someone a very happy wife or husband or boyfriend someday and that makes me very happy. Most important of all he does not let games define who he is or how he feel about the world. He does not care if someone tells him his favorite game is “stupid” or “bad”. He just likes to play games. That is enough for him. You’d think that would be enough for the supposed men out there who rage against women, journalists, and feminists for “destroying their culture”. My brother knows that games are not his to own and control. They are just games. He likes to play games. That is enough for him. My little brother, and thousands and thousands of little guys and gals like him, are the reasons why the gaming world is only going to get better, and the gamer gate embarrassment will someday be forgotten. They just want to play games.

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