Tuesday, January 20, 2009

millions of voices calling for change

"There is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change."  
President Barack Obama, January 18, 2009.

Once again, when I am most full of emotion, words fail me.  I am speechless.  It is unbelievable to me that something this good could happen.  I have witnessed so much ignorance--and I know it's only been a small amount compared to many people--that I really didn't think a day like today would ever come.  

I have always felt profoundly connected to the struggle for civil rights, and I can't express the feelings I experienced on Sunday--the Sunday of MLK weekend--witnessing President Obama speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and listening to musicians pay tribute to MLK.  Today, those feelings are multiplied by one million.

The only thing that has taken away from today is my ongoing struggle to figure out how to respond to those who don't want to embrace change or hope, and who refuse to acknowledge that the old administration made any mistakes, and who continue to fear that which is different.  I'm all about seeing from other's point of view and being post-partisan; yet, I still haven't figured out how to respond to people who can only see things in one way, who don't understand that people's anger with the old administration is often legitimate, and who don't acknowledge that life is more complicated that Republican versus Democrat.  Ugh!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

criminal activity

Push on Immigration Crimes Is Said to Shift Focus
Solomon Moore, January 11, 2009, New York Times

"Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system. Many of those other crimes, including gun trafficking, organized crime and the increasingly violent drug trade, are now routinely referred to state and county officials, who say they often lack the finances or authority to prosecute them effectively.

Bush administration officials say the government’s focus on immigration crimes is an outgrowth of its counterterrorism strategy and vigorous pursuit of immigrants with criminal records.

Immigration prosecutions have steeply risen over the last five years, while white-collar prosecutions have fallen by 18 percent, weapons prosecutions have dropped by 19 percent, organized crime prosecutions are down by 20 percent and public corruption prosecutions have dropped by 14 percent, according to the Syracuse group’s statistics. Drug prosecutions — the enforcement priority of the Reagan, first Bush and Clinton administrations — have declined by 20 percent since 2003.

Seeing as I have been having some trouble reigning in my frustrations this week, it seems only appropriate that I spotted this article just before letting exhaustion get the better of me and fading off into sweet slumber--and it kicked me right back into full gear. I spent several hours today composing my new affidavit so that I might submit it along with the additional evidence of hardship I have been pulling together in the past few days (although, uh, I somehow haven't managed to have a child in the past month, so really...let's be honest). It seems only fitting that after having to drudge up all emotion it takes to put together one of these affidavits (knowing the whole time that 1) the chances that it will be read, and 2) the chances that even if it is read it will have any bearing on the timing of the adjudication of our case = slim to none [timing from December 2008 appointment until adjudication is currently estimated at 15 months, but I am preparing myself for 18-24 months, given the fact that the backlog has almost doubled since last year...]), after going through all this I spot this article which hits home yet another of the absolute perversities of our current immigration policy. Why is the undocumented immigrant the scapegoat for all that is wrong with the world? Why are we diverting our resources from more serious and threatening criminal activity in order to prosecute and jail people who, by and large, are risking their lives in the hopes of obtaining a better life for themselves and their family? There has got to be a better way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


every so often something makes me crazy.  something gets under my skin and activates all my dormant anger-bots until i've got an anger-bot riot on my hands.

i try to distract myself, i try all the little tricks i have to calm down and to not let them get to me.  but those little anger-bots are nasty fellows (check john martz's drawing out to get a sense of what i'm dealing with here).  and sometimes i've just got to give them the attention they so desperately need.

i usually don't know what to tell them because they're right.  there's everything to be angry about.  and it is urgent to do something about it.  but, damn them, i'm back at square one because i don't know what they want me to do about it all!!  (and this is where despair generally sets in).  i can spend all day on www.change.org clicking on issues i care about, i can send emails to my elected officials (although i'm really down for the count these days in terms of elected officials), i can volunteer at a myriad of places, i can encourage people to get politically active, i can recycle, i can give away old coats to the coat drive, i can do my job which at some point in the distant future should eventually lead to something good happening for someone, somewhere...  yes, yes, yes.  i know change takes time, and this is not a perfect world, and there are no easy answers.  i know i know i know.   but.   

go check out elle, phd's blog.  she's got a fannie lou hamer quote and a million other things that you should read.  peace.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

some thoughts on the new year

so, yesterday, the second official day of 2009, i woke up to the following stories on the news:
another great start to the new year.  i mean, what can be said in response to all of that?  NOTHING.  no matter how much we do, war, violence, injustice, dehumanization...it's not going to end anytime soon.  it's just not the way of the world.  

but.  i've always thought that it's worth it to put up a fight, even if it's a losing battle.  and i've tried, in more than a few of my own little ways.  and some of these attempts have (maybe, kinda) been somewhat successful.  maybe.  and some of these attempts have clearly been dismal failures.  but, i'm done with blaming myself for not changing things fast enough and aggressively enough.  my current efforts are more discreet and less confrontational than some of my past efforts (researcher versus community organizer), and i think they work better for me for right now.

it's time for a little confession, though.  i know the reason i haven't always been successful in making the changes i want to see is that although i have always imagined myself to be a strong and outspoken person, the reality is that i don't have half the guts i wish i had.  i don't have half the guts i sometimes need to say and do and be the things i want to say and do and be.  many times i've been too afraid to speak up--part of that was because of my husband's status, and part of it was just because i am a little bit of scaredy cat, chicken, and cowardly lion, all rolled into one.  it's ironic, really--as much as i've worked to empower others, there are times when i don't think i'm too empowered myself.  and i'd like to change that, if nothing else, this year.  

if i'm going to get that done, then i suppose i've also got to continue on last year's big life plan: DON'T DESPAIR (very original, i know).  that plan was all about letting go of fear and embracing the fact that no matter how awful and ugly the world is, it's also full of mysterious beauty...and everyday there is at least a little chance to create more.   cliche, yes.  but sometimes you need that.

so, that's that.  let's see what we do in 2009.  happy new year, and here's the beautiful nina simone to keep it real.  peace.