Category Archives: Social Justice

Social justice sets us all free

The Longest Night

Thank you Liza for reassuring us that we can bring back and expand the light.

photo: Candle in the dark, by Andy Hay

Like Liza, I have been sifting through memories of my Christmas Pasts, to find ones that nourish new possibilities. I am so content with what I have, my seasonal joy is now from gifting things to people who are in dark times, to surprise and delight them.

When I studied Psychology, I learned that people collapse under crises just after the worst is over. Forget the common idiom, “the darkest hour is just before dawn”; the darkest hour is the one just after dawn. People tend to give up just as things start to get better. That is one reason to appreciate that Christmas and New Years are after the Solstice; after the darkest, longest night. That means that the most important time for action is now.

What is making your days merry and bright? How are you brightening the dark times of others?


(This might be especially true for people close to the North Pole. I have not found a comparable tradition for Southerners; short days are less drastic for them.)

Deeper Roots

Tonight is the longest night. At 5:03 the shortest day of the year ended and the winter solstice, the longest night began.

My family lit candles – six candles on the menorah for the six (thus far) nights of Hannukah and four candles on the Advent Wreath for Peace, Hope, Joy, Love. We won’t light the Christ candle until Christmas Day. My family gathered in the flickering flame. The light looked so fragile, the shadow and the darkness beyond so vast and enclosing.

It feels like it is the longest night in our nation as well.   The President of the New York Police Department Union said “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” In fact there is blood on many hands. There has been for many generations. Since the first Native was murdered, since…

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Police Brutality and Fear

Howard University students protesting police brutality in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
A conversation is taking place at Dungeon Prompts regarding whether, and how, race colors our perceptions of police brutality.

My perception of police brutality is colored by my personal experiences, which are colored by my racial status.

The Context

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Brown — an unarmed black young man — was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Witnesses say that Mike’s hands were in the air when he was shot.

My Personal Experiences

As a white woman, I was raised to present myself effectively in a non-threatening way, and people perceived me as respectable and trustworthy. They didn’t read my mind. I was fantasizing about using my advantage to become a professional criminal when I grew up. (My desire to continue to be trusted, and to feel free from the haunting paranoia that I stifled after each incident, deterred me from following such a plan when I was still a teenager.)

As I was deciding to be a criminal, someone very close and dear to me married a man who became a police officer. As he took on the responsibilities of being a rookie, he had to walk the beat in the most dangerous areas of New York City during the most dangerous times. Their relationship became explosive. One day, while he felt enraged during an argument, he took out his gun and pointed it at her. Eventually, she discovered that this was not acceptable behavior in our culture, and she filed for divorce.

Years later, I was in a similar situation in which I no longer felt safe with my husband. Eventually, I, too, discovered that this was not acceptable behavior in our culture, and escaped to safety, with the help of supportive friends.

Around the same time, someone very dear to me found police waiting for him at his home. They strategically persuaded him that he met the description of someone who had committed a violent crime. The long and aggressive interrogation ended with, “We know that you did this. We’re going to get you.”

Conclusion

In these three cases, each aggressive man — who was a highly valued member of his community — felt fear, and misdirected it toward someone whom he identified as a threat, like in Ferguson, Missouri. How can such behavior ever be considered acceptable?

I want to feel safe. Even though my race and socioeconomic status assure me that I am not a likely target, events of police brutality hinder my trust, and feed any paranoia that has a chance to dwell in me.

Amazon Wake

Amazon Wake

A New York Times article has been blasting across many websites this morning. Thank God! I have been researching the impact that Amazon is having on our culture, and the picture that I’m finding is not appealing. The Amazon family of companies is impacting the availability of essentials:

Food

– pantry items: “Amazon’s Prime Pantry Service Lets You Buy and Ship 45 Pounds of Groceries For a $6 Fee”
– Subscribe & Save: “6 Ways to Beat Amazon’s Prices”

Clothing

– sales partners: “Amazon Favours Brands Like Burberry and Levis with ‘Pay To Play’ Strategy”

Shelter

‐ household supplies, major appliances, construction tools

Employment

– warehouses: “Worse Than WalMart”
– crowdsourcing: “The Unregulated Work of Mechanical Turk”
– merchants: “What Amazon Doesn’t Tell Third-Party Sellers”
–  professional services: “Amazon Eyes Local Services Market”
– affiliates who provide links to amazon.com on their webpages

Business

‑ web services, tools, and supplies: “Amazon’s Wholesale Slaughter” for janitors, industries, medical professionals, building contractors, scientists, and others
‑ small business: “Retail Predatory Pricing Bully Tactics”

Leisure

‑ reading: “Amazon controls about a third of the book business”
‑ toys, games, etc.

Social Justice

‑ Smile: “Why Amazon is Smiling and Charities May Be Losing”

Christopher Zara wrote that Amazon’s competitors are seeing

“ a world where storefronts are obsolete and economies are stimulated not by local merchants with a personal stake in where they do business but by a select few online players. It can be a depressing prospect if you care about things like civic engagement, livability and social capital, all of which tend to decline with the disappearance of local businesses.”

My friends and family are finding ways to start boycotting Amazon. Rob Hopkins posted at the Transition Network, in reference to Amazon, “I give so much of my time every day to trying to create a different, more just, more resilient world, yet my shopping decisions undermine that.” The resulting discussion raises issues about alternatives, Amazon’s motives, international laws that govern sales, and whether Google is posing a similar threat.

According to the New York Times article that is spreading like wildfire around the world this morning, John Grisham, Stephen King, Lemony Snicket, Nora Roberts, and 900+ other writers signed a letter that will be posted as a full-page ad in this Sunday’s New York Times. It is fueling debate about Amazon’s relationship with book publishers. The writers organized as Authors United. You can read the letter at their website.

Even Simon Head couldn’t help but support Amazon when salon.com reviewed his book “Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans”. He says that you might find that doing business with Amazon is “morally indefensible” after reading his reports. Yet, links to buy his book (and other anti-amazon books) land readers at amazon.com!

Some of my links above give ideas for alternatives to doing business with Amazon. Please share ideas in the comment section below, so we can each find more alternatives to supporting Amazon’s business practices.


Image Credit:
Original Image by Claudio Toledo
Creative Commons License This work is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.

Modified by Grace Buchanan
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Reaching Out: Social Justice Award

Bloggers Who Reach Out

Reaching out to others means at least calling out from a hole. I prefer when it means looking out to see what others are up to. I am even happier when it means interacting with others. The best is when we connect to grow.

Many bloggers reach out by interacting with readers on a regular basis. They produce posts from careful wording and editing and research. They give credit to their sources. Most of all, they shine light on issues that matter. I admire them, and want to express my appreciation by way of the Reaching Out: Social Justice Award.

Jenni of Unload And Unwind created the Social Justice Award to “acknowledge those whose work seeks to inform, aid and connect with others. It is a large world we live in and often there is such strife but the internet has made it smaller. Social media has given us the tools to make us closer and to find and disseminate new information and ideas, reach out to those who need it and speak out when there is injustice.”

I am one of her first nominees! I feel very honored to be recognized by a blogger who reaches out to many people while sharing her own challenges, in an inspiring way.

The conditions are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and create a link back to their blog.
  2. Insert a Link back to the original award page to create a pingback so that Jenni can chart the progress of the award.
  3. Nominate no more than three people for this award, and write a short paragraph [or longer] saying why you chose each one, and what each one does.
  4. Display the badge somewhere on your blog, either in the sidebar or an awards page.

Honorable Mention

I am limited to three nominations. I would give the award to the following bloggers, but you have met them in other posts on my blog. Therefore, I am simply reminding you of them before I announce the award winners.

Jeff was the first person whom I thought of for this award. His blog Deconstructing Myths has been reaching out on WordPress since August 2012. He shines his light strongly and consistently on troubling issues, shares many links for further investigation, and stirs his readers to discuss the issues in his comments sections. His readers leave intriguing comments. His guest bloggers are some of the most outspoken people in favor of justice. On top of all of that, you can rely on his judgment when he guides you to some of the best of WordPress via his Jeffster Awards.

Jeff introduced me to Dandelion Salad, which has been a WordPress fixture since June 2007. It is a blog that acts much like a forum. DS has been one of the most useful places to find reports on events submitted by more than a dozen regular contributors (and many more less frequent ones), and articles and videos by the greatest Social Justice activists. This blog is quiet recently, only posting a few times each week instead of several articles every day, and its energy might resume if enough of us offer enough substantial support or persuasion.

Ohnwentsya posts numerous times every day on Spirit In Action. She began her blog in September 2011. Her posts are enlightening, empowering, and insightful. She collects articles from The Oracle Report, Truthout, Yes! magazine, and some of the other greatest sources. Her blog has the potential to provide nourishment for the roots of social justice movements, and a shift in planetary energy.

Award Winners

Many of the bloggers whom I read are equally qualified for this honor. I decided to come up with fair criteria to narrow the list of candidates, and select my three winners:

  • not previously featured on my blog
  • focuses on a social justice issue in a creative and effective way
  • promotes social justice by reaching out and connecting to share ideas that make us closer

I am awarding the Reaching Out: Social Justice Award to the following bloggers:

Carol of Voices From the Margins encourages conversations about how to raise awareness of diversity and its value. She describes using fascinating exercises in the cultural awareness workshops that she leads.

Danielle of Broken Light Collective presents a guest blogger each day who knows mental illness (personally, professionally, or socially), and who also photographs. Each image is inspiring, especially after reading the artist’s explanation of the significance of the photograph that they share. This blog is giving hope and support to people who are connected with mental illness. Photography is working as therapy for the photographers and viewers.

StoriesBellyHeader Diahann of Stories From the Belly appeals to sexual empowerment. She urges men and women to overcome shame by discussing — in healing ways — feminine and sexual experiences. She brings sex issues out of the closet, and repurposes the sex act as something for the participant(s) to completely enjoy.


I welcome comments about other social justice blogs that are important to share. (note: if you include “too many” links in your comment, the WordPress spam filter will hold it, and I will need to manually approve the comment. Please feel confident that I approve over 99% of the comments submitted to my blog — except unrelated advertising spam.)