Jul 4

Okay – so the other day I was in a store, I forget which one, and the cashier said to me “Have a safe 4th of July” to which I responded “I don’t celebrate the 4th of July, so no worries, I’ll be safe.

No, I do not celebrate the 4th of July. Should that surprise anyone reading this? Why? Because I think the country that my ancestors came here to start isn’t the country that exists today. Plus, with all this Palestinian stuff going on in my mind I suspect that my ancestors saw this land I live on as a “land without a people” and they were a “people who needed freedom from persecution” so thus they could move here and live on land that wasn’t inhabited.


Yeah, we all know that. We all know how wrong my ancestors were.  This was not a land without a people. This was a land with a whole bunch of people with a rich culture and history. So, as I thought about today coming, and as I’ve walked through my day I’ve thought a lot about how this could very well be “Nakba Day” for the Indigenous people’s of this land just as it is for the Palestinians on the day the Zionist government of Israel celebrates it’s independence day.

Since I can think about it in those terms it’s hard to swallow today. It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s hard to accept it. I don’t like it, not one bit. I don’t like my participation in it.

So, I am making a very specific choice not to celebrate this day today. I can’t. In my heart of hearts I just can’t. I love Thomas Jefferson and his ideals, but I can’t celebrate how those ideals were put forth at the expense of the indigenous people and their culture and their language. I just can’t, sorry TJ.

Apr 30

At least in my opinion:
Go see an interview here, it gives a beautiful view into the work he’s been doing, absolutely beautiful, GOD work: http://www.3news.co.nz/Justin-Duckworth-not-your-ordinary-bishop/tabid/367/articleID/252415/Default.aspx

From the Episcopal News Service (used without permission):
[Ecumenical News International -- Wellington, New Zealand] A dreadlocked priest who is usually seen in shorts and bare feet is to be the new Anglican bishop in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Justin Duckworth replaces Bishop Tom Brown who recently retired after 14 years.

In announcing the appointment on April 29, Archbishop David Moxon pointed to Duckworth’s lifestyle, Christian discipleship and mission, citing more than 20 years of mission to street people and those on the margins. “I am confident that his election will challenge, invigorate and grace the church with a deep sense of the breadth and height and depth of the love of God,” Moxon said.

While Duckworth said he feels “humbled, privileged – and terrified,” he believes the Anglican Church has huge potential for change. “I think the Anglican Church is doing amazing stuff, and is a total treasure. But it’s a treasure that needs to be dusted off. God wants his people to go on a journey – and if we have the courage, he’ll be faithful to equip and sustain us,” he said.

An Anglican for just six years, Duckworth and his wife Jenny founded Urban Vision in 1996, a housing ministry in which young Christians live alongside street people. In 2008, Urban Vision became an Anglican missionary order.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 22

governor kitzhaber of my oregon home did the right thing today, he stopped an execution on oregon’s death row and stated that there would be no more executions during his term of governor. he is calling for a re-examination of the death penalty in oregon. you can listen to his press conference here.

thank you governor kitzhaber. i’ve voted for you every chance i’ve gotten. i am grateful for this courageous decision. i’m grateful that you are willing to get oregonians to take a long hard look at the death penalty. it is my prayer that oregonians will see the inhumanity in the death penalty. i pray that oregonians understand that blood does not bring justice, that forgiveness brings justice, and peace. i pray that oregonians are willing to make the hard decision to seek out the difficult ways to achieve justice, instead of the easy decision to continue finding justice in retribution instead of restoration.

Nov 18

i just got the new requirements for what kind of identification i need to bring with me to renew my drivers license in february. i am writing this to tell you that i will not be bringing my passport, birth certificate, social security card and a bill from the past 60 days. instead, i will be bringing my daughters of the american revolution documentation. i will be bringing my DAR documentation instead so that i can show you that i am as undocumented as those who you want to keep from getting a drivers license (or state id).

huh? so, i get citizenship simply because all these people, on both sides (my mama and my papa), happened to come to this land before documentation was required. nicholas easton – he didn’t need documentation when he came here. the mclendons and the wilkins didn’t need documentation either. somehow, because of how history came together, when i came out (of my mama’s womb) i was just given citizenship. the beginning of those lines, though, are not reasons enough to simply give me that citizenship.

see, there are people who were here before all my people started coming over and stealing the land. now, unlike the state of utah (and the government of the united states), they were kind enough not to ask for lots of documents and hoop jumping in order for people to be able to come to their land. wasn’t that nice of them? i think it was, but on the other hand, i wish they had demanded all sorts of documentation and payments because maybe we wouldn’t have  stolen their land and treated them as 3rd, 4th, 5th class citizens, and i would be living in great britain somewhere with socialized healthcare.

so, i am going to take a risk. i am going to see what you say when i bring my DAR papers down to your offices in february. if you don’t accept them (i suspect you won’t), i will turn around and walk out. i will not be renewing my drivers license. yes, i know that is against the law, but never fear, i won’t be an uninsured licensed driver, instead i will be an insured unlicensed driver in a state registered car. so, you’ll get your money, and other drivers will be protected, you just won’t get my proof that i am of a better class than those innocents who weren’t as fortunate to come over when my family came. you won’t get proof that i am better than others because now documentation (from the non-native american government) is needed to settle on this land. i will not purposefully allow myself to be placed in yet another privileged class in this country.

thank you,

Jun 9

here’s an actual blog.

topic one: my friend vickie made a new friend.

“This beautiful face belongs to my new friend and also one of my most recent partners at Erin’s Dream Lanyards. Okay, so she didn’t make an EDL. She made an EDN. N = necklace. She and my digital friend Brooke (rivervision.com) collaborated to make this lovely necklace for her eight-year-old cousin’s baptism gift.”

go to the post to see the beautiful picture and to read the rest of the post.

topic two: the realities of the rafah border between egypt and gaza opening. it’s not as dreamy as you may think:

“Translation: Palestinians from the West Bank or East Jerusalem-even those with hawiat, Palestinians in refugees camps outside the Occupied Palestinian territories, “Filisteeniyit il-dakhil” aka 1948 Palestinians, or Palestinians abroad, are all still not allowed passage to Gaza through Rafah. This includes Palestinian families where one spouse possesses an ID, but the other does not, such as my own family, OR internally displaced Palestinians who live in Gaza but whose IDs were never approved by Israeli authorities (who are not allowed to exit). They number in the tens of thousands.”

please go read the rest of the post, and then spend more time on gaza mom’s blog. you’ll get a non-westernized (re: non-occupier) view of the situation there. if you are a firm believer in the american media’s coverage of palestine, this post and subsequent posts on this blog may just make your head explode. that’s a good thing.

topic three: another courageous mom (my friend vickie, mentioned above, being the the first courageous mom mentioned in this post) working to help cure the cancer that could have killed her beautiful daughter:

“Join Team Air Bear. Donate anything. It all makes a difference. No child should ever have to spend their birthday in the hospital.”

that’s all the text there, but there is a beautiful video, that i wish i could embed here, but i can’t. that means you’ve got to go to watch the video. please.

topic four: the situation in haiti is bad. the livesays can tell you and so can the good people at real hope for haiti:

“The rain brought so much destruction. I don’t exaggerate when I share that a regular little 20 to 30 minute rain can cause flooding in the streets. So when it rains night after night and harder each night – bad things happen. Power is out in lots of places (our area included) and the roads – they may as well be rivers. During rainy season it will often rain every night. What is going on lately is unusual because the cloud cover for so many days in a row is almost unheard of for Haiti. I’m no meteorologist but I’d say a system is stalled out over these here parts. It needs to leave already.”

please at least go read what these folks are saying and read about what they are doing in haiti. i know that they are just as human as i am, but they are truly doing blessed work. they inspire me every day and i don’t even know them. i’m grateful that they blog and that i can be inspired.

it’s time to start the day and get some work done. happy thundery day. (yes, it looks like a rainforest here in the desert these days).

Apr 9

daughter * sister * granddaughter * niece * cousin * friend
soccer player * academic * dog lover * lanyard maker * democrat * doer
wii player * fundraiser * activist * presbyterian * politico * cat lover * congressional lobbyist
legacy leaver
Erin Channing Buenger
June 20, 1997 – April 9, 2009

Mar 27

I was 11 the year she ran for vice president. I remember going out canvassing with a friend and her mother talking about her run. I was 11. I wonder what kind of impact I made on the voters we talked to, because I was 11, but I looked younger. I still look younger. When I was 11 I didn’t know what my future would entail. I didn’t know that I would get involved and work on campaigns. I didn’t know, when I was 11, the impact of her place on the democratic ticket in 1984. In 1984 I just assumed that it was normal that a woman was running for vice president. I think Geraldine Ferraro was to me as having a man of color as president is for the 11 year olds today, normal, as it’s supposed to be, the status quo. I’m glad that’s the way it was for me. I’m glad that 11 year olds today get to simply assume that a man of color can be president.

Yes, in the end it’s far more complex than these simple words. A lot of work still needs to be done. In this moment though, I want to celebrate what we have, what she did, how much courage it took to do what she did, the seed it planted in the minds of the 1984 11 year olds. It was powerful. It changed minds. It showed us something different. Even though we didn’t realize it wasn’t normal, she showed us it was.

Godspeed Geraldine Ferraro. You’ve left us too soon, but your legacy will never be forgotten.

Jul 19

from joy in palestine is this video from nicholas kristoff about the situation in the south hebron hills for the palestinians and bedouins.
joy comments:

But Kristof sure missed the mark at the very end of his piece. He says that settler attack Palestinians because they’re scared. He says that a number of settlers have been killed by Palestinians living in the area. Well, as far as I know, that number is two. Two. Let’s be honest, while settlers certainly use fear to marshal their supporters, they attack Palestinians because they want to drive them off of the land. That’s what their own statements indicate.

Nonetheless, I was glad to take look at what Kristof says and how he says it. There are a couple of arguments he makes that I think are worth using.

go watch the video, especially if you are an american or a brit. learn the truth of occupation. and while you are imagining it, imagine that’s you and your family instead of strangers living in those tents.

and from the livesay’s who are counting the days until they get back home to haiti, this video about the tent cities that people are living in 6 months after the earthquake.

and again, go watch the video, imagine that being you and your loved ones in those tents, again, especially if you are an american.

maybe one of these videos will cause you to take action in the caribbean or occupied palestine, or your local animal shelter or food pantry. maybe one of these videos will get you to start reading more about your country’s part in the humanitarian disaster in both countries, or another country. maybe watching one of these videos will help you to count your blessings and to hold one that you love closer, or reach out to one that you love who needs it. i don’t care what watching one of these videos causes you to do, i just hope they cause you to do something besides just getting through your day as you usually do. if you are someone like me who is already doing something [i'm not doing a lot these days, but i do continue to educate myself, it's not a lot, but it's something]? i hope that these videos just encourage you to keep doing what you are doing.

Jan 28

(from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Howard_Zinn.jpg)

Howard Zinn

Against Discouragement
Spelman College Commencement Address, May 2005
By Howard Zinn
[In 1963, historian Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College in Atlanta GA, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights activities. This year, he was invited back to give the commencement address. Here is the text of that speech, given on May 15, 2005.]

I am deeply honored to be invited back to Spelman after forty-two years. I would like to thank the faculty and trustees who voted to invite me, and especially your president, Dr. Beverly Tatum. And it is a special privilege to be here with Diahann Carroll and Virginia Davis Floyd.

But this is your day — the students graduating today. It’s a happy day for you and your families. I know you have your own hopes for the future, so it may be a little presumptuous for me to tell you what hopes I have for you, but they are exactly the same ones that I have for my grandchildren.

My first hope is that you will not be too discouraged by the way the world looks at this moment. It is easy to be discouraged, because our nation is at war — still another war, war after war — and our government seems determined to expand its empire even if it costs the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. There is poverty in this country, and homelessness, and people without health care, and crowded classrooms, but our government, which has trillions of dollars to spend, is spending its wealth on war. There are a billion people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East who need clean water and medicine to deal with malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS, but our government, which has thousands of nuclear weapons, is experimenting with even more deadly nuclear weapons. Yes, it is easy to be discouraged by all that.

But let me tell you why, in spite of what I have just described, you must not be discouraged.

I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson in office, was looking the other way while Black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So Black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do — enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That’s when democracy came alive.

I want to remind you also that when the war in Vietnam was going on, and young Americans were dying and coming home paralyzed, and our government was bombing the villages of Vietnam — bombing schools and hospitals and killing ordinary people in huge numbers — it looked hopeless to try to stop the war. But just as in the Southern movement, people began to protest and soon it caught on. It was a national movement. Soldiers were coming back and denouncing the war, and young people were refusing to join the military, and the war had to end.

The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do — to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.

Remember Tolstoy’s story, “The Death of Ivan Illych.” A man on his deathbed reflects on his life, how he has done everything right, obeyed the rules, become a judge, married, had children, and is looked upon as a success. Yet, in his last hours, he wonders why he feels a failure. After becoming a famous novelist, Tolstoy himself had decided that this was not enough, that he must speak out against the treatment of the Russian peasants, that he must write against war and militarism.

My hope is that whatever you do to make a good life for yourself — whether you become a teacher, or social worker, or business person, or lawyer, or poet, or scientist — you will devote part of your life to making this a better world for your children, for all children. My hope is that your generation will demand an end to war, that your generation will do something that has not yet been done in history and wipe out the national boundaries that separate us from other human beings on this earth.

Recently I saw a photo on the front page of the New York Times which I cannot get out of my mind. It showed ordinary Americans sitting on chairs on the southern border of Arizona, facing Mexico. They were holding guns and they were looking for Mexicans who might be trying to cross the border into the United States. This was horrifying to me — the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call “civilization,” we have carved up what we claim is one world into two hundred artificially created entities we call “nations” and are ready to kill anyone who crosses a boundary.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary, so fierce it leads to murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking, cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to those in power, deadly for those out of power.

Here in the United States, we are brought up to believe that our nation is different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral; that we expand into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy. But if you know some history you know that’s not true. If you know some history, you know we massacred Indians on this continent, invaded Mexico, sent armies into Cuba, and the Philippines. We killed huge numbers of people, and we did not bring them democracy or liberty. We did not go into Vietnam to bring democracy; we did not invade Panama to stop the drug trade; we did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq to stop terrorism. Our aims were the aims of all the other empires of world history — more profit for corporations, more power for politicians.

The poets and artists among us seem to have a clearer understanding of the disease of nationalism. Perhaps the Black poets especially are less enthralled with the virtues of American “liberty” and “democracy,” their people having enjoyed so little of it. The great African-American poet Langston Hughes addressed his country as follows:

    You really haven’t been a virgin for so long.
    It’s ludicrous to keep up the pretext.
    You’ve slept with all the big powers
    In military uniforms,
    And you’ve taken the sweet life
    Of all the little brown fellows.

    Being one of the world’s big vampires,
    Why don’t you come on out and say so
    Like Japan, and England, and France,
    And all the other nymphomaniacs of power.

I am a veteran of the Second World War. That was considered a “good war,” but I have come to the conclusion that war solves no fundamental problems and only leads to more wars. War poisons the minds of soldiers, leads them to kill and torture, and poisons the soul of the nation.

My hope is that your generation will demand that your children be brought up in a world without war. It we want a world in which the people of all countries are brothers and sisters, if the children all over the world are considered as our children, then war — in which children are always the greatest casualties — cannot be accepted as a way of solving problems.

I was on the faculty of Spelman College for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. It was a heartwarming time, because the friends we made in those years have remained our friends all these years. My wife Roslyn and I and our two children lived on campus. Sometimes when we went into town, white people would ask: How is it to be living in the Black community? It was hard to explain. But we knew this — that in downtown Atlanta, we felt as if we were in alien territory, and when we came back to the Spelman campus, we felt that we were at home.

Those years at Spelman were the most exciting of my life, the most educational certainly. I learned more from my students than they learned from me. Those were the years of the great movement in the South against racial segregation, and I became involved in that in Atlanta, in Albany, Georgia, in Selma, Alabama, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and Itta Bena and Jackson.

I learned something about democracy: that it does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point — that race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I learned that what really matters is that all of us — of whatever so-called race and so-called nationality — are human beings and should cherish one another.

I was lucky to be at Spelman at a time when I could watch a marvelous transformation in my students, who were so polite, so quiet, and then suddenly they were leaving the campus and going into town, and sitting in, and being arrested, and then coming out of jail full of fire and rebellion. You can read all about that in Harry Lefever’s book Undaunted By The Fight: Spelman College and the Civil Rights Movement, 1957-1967.

One day Marian Wright (now Marian Wright Edelman), who was my student at Spelman, and was one of the first arrested in the Atlanta sit-ins, came to our house on campus to show us a petition she was about to put on the bulletin board of her dormitory. The heading on the petition epitomized the transformation taking place at Spelman College. Marian had written on top of the petition: “Young Ladies Who Can Picket, Please Sign Below.”

My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way that our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you. There are wonderful people, Black and white, who are models. I don’t mean African-Americans like Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or Clarence Thomas, who have become servants of the rich and powerful. I mean W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Marian Wright Edelman, and James Baldwin and Josephine Baker and good white folk, too, who defied the Establishment to work for peace and justice.

Another of my students at Spelman, Alice Walker, who, like Marian, has remained our friend all these years, came from a tenant farmer’s family in Eatonton, Georgia, and became a famous writer. In one of her first published poems, she wrote:

    It is true —
    I’ve always loved
    the daring
    Like the Black young
    Who tried
    to crash
    All barriers
    at once,
    wanted to swim
    At a white
    beach (in Alabama)

I am not suggesting you go that far, but you can help to break down barriers, of race certainly, but also of nationalism; that you do what you can — you don’t have to do something heroic, just something, to join with millions of others who will just do something, because all of those somethings, at certain points in history, come together, and make the world better.

That marvelous African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, who wouldn’t do what white people wanted her to do, who wouldn’t do what Black people wanted her to do, who insisted on being herself, said that her mother advised her: Leap for the sun — you may not reach it, but at least you will get off the ground.

By being here today, you are already standing on your toes, ready to leap My hope for you is a good life.

Copyright © 2005, Howard Zinn

Jul 27

i’m in the process of reading a blog entry by alice walker (yes, that alice walker) about her trip to gaza with CODEPINK.  her story begins with a partial account of her trip to rwanda and then she links gaza and rwanda.  throughout the piece she reminisces about her experience in the south as black woman and she reminds us of the similarities between the palestinians struggle and the civil rights movement of the 50′s and 60′s. it truly is a piece of work from the heart and makes me continue to question my decision to stay here in logan to finish this degree instead of going and doing what i consider is the most noble work of all – being on the ground with the oppressed who’s lives and homes are being ripped apart with the help of my tax dollars.

you should take time and go read the whole post, and to entice you here are a couple excerpts from it:

here she writes of a meeting she had with the american ambassador to egypt (a white woman from the south):

Even so, I was able to have an interesting talk with the Ambassador about the use of non-violence. She, a white woman with a southern accent, mentioned the success of “our” Civil Rights Movement and why couldn’t the Palestinians be more like us. It was a remarkable comment from a perspective of unimaginable safety and privilege; I was moved to tell her of the effort it took, even for someone so inherently non-violent as me, to contain myself during seven years in Mississippi when it often appeared there were only a handful of white Mississippians who could talk to a person of color without delivering injury or insult. That if we had not been able to change our situation through non-violent suffering, we would most certainly, like the ANC, like the PLO, like Hamas, turned to violence. I told her how dishonest it seems to me that people claim not to understand the desperate, last ditch, resistance involved in suicide bombings; blaming the oppressed for using their bodies where the Israeli army uses armored tanks. I remembered aloud, us being Southerners, my own anger at the humiliations, bombings, assassinations that made weeping an endless activity for black people, for centuries, and how when we finally got to a court room which was supposed to offer justice, the judge was likely to blame us for the crime done against us and to call us chimpanzees for making a fuss.

and here she writes about entering gaza:

Rolling into Gaza I had a feeling of homecoming. There is a flavor to the ghetto. To the Bantustan. To the “rez”. To the “colored section.” In some ways it is surprisingly comforting. Because consciousness is comforting. Everyone you see has an awareness of struggle, of resistance, just as you do. The man driving the donkey cart. The woman selling vegetables. The young person arranging rugs on the sidewalk or flowers in a vase. When I lived in segregated Eatonton, Georgia I used to breathe normally only in my own neighborhood, only in the black section of town. Everywhere else was too dangerous. A friend was beaten and thrown in prison for helping a white girl, in broad daylight, fix her bicycle chain. But even this sliver of a neighborhood, so rightly named the Gaza strip, was not safe. It had been bombed for 22 days.

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