Category Archives: Race

"The Garden" and its South Central Farmers

I’m watching Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s 2008 documentary “The Garden,” a film about urban farmers in South Central Los Angeles and their fight against developers.

And I’m nearly speechless.

For 14 years, 350 familes grew their own food on this 14 acres, once scorched by riots and pain. It was the largest community garden in the U.S.

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In 2006, the garden was bulldozed – all 150 plant species – and plans are underway to build a Forever 21 warehouse and distribution center on this land. This, even though the farmers had raised the money to buy the property from the developer. He’s on record as saying, his words smacking of self-righteous privilege, “Even if they raised $100 million, this group could not buy this property… It’s not about money. It’s about I don’t like their cause and I don’t like their conduct. So there’s no price I would sell it to them for.”

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A flood of words get jammed in my fingers when I try to express how I feel about this. Did I mention that most of these farmers are Latinos and Latinas from the community? Are you surprised?

What I can manage to stammer is that this is the mark of everything wrong about the United States, about our dominator society. This is a prime example of what will destroy our national soul.

In the movie, there is footage of heavily armed police officers storming through tall rows of vegetables. If it were fiction, it would be hilarious. But it’s real, and it’s powerful and embarrassing.

The footage of carefully tended, productive, green vegetables, fruits, herbs, being torn up to put in concrete buildings just wrecks me. I feel that loss viscerally, and it makes me hungry for the social upending that will bring in a nurturing, partnership society. Right NOW.

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Filed under Environment, Movies, Politics, Race

Vote with Each Bite

Remember studying The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in Civics class? We read excerpts and made gagging noises when we got to the parts about rat pieces and feces found in American food. Maybe we didn’t quite understand the other call for social reform in the book: to end the profound mistreatment of immigrant workers at the turn of the century. 1906 seemed like another world. We had no idea how close this book hit to home, to now.

Everyone who eats should watch Food, Inc. Or at least the trailer.

Should you buy popcorn and M&Ms? Probably not– unless you can down them during the previews. This documentary isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s tasteful and informative. Most importantly, it argues for our right to knowledge, to be able to find out “what’s in the kitchen.”

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Filed under All The World, Environment, Health, In The News, Movies, Politics, Race

Clowns 1, KKK 0

via Rob Brezsny

clownaraThis story is almost two years old, but it’s still a fantastic tale of using lively humor to puncture hate.

Posted in its entirety; originally from Asheville Indymedia:

Unfortunately for [VNN] the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.

Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns. http://www.volunteertv.com/home/headlines/7704982.html

“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Race, Theater

The Social Media Moment + Sidelined Communities

deannazandtThis week, I got an exciting e-mail from my friend and fellow 2006 REAL Hot 100 winner, Deanna Zandt. She’s a media technologist and a leading expert in women and technology, and she’s about to add “first-time author” to her resume.

She’s signed with the Berrett-Koehler publishing group to write a book about “the social media moment as a huge opportunity for social change and action.” Women, people of color, queer people, and many more have too often been left in the dust of technological advances (see film, TV, and radio in their formative years). Deanna will use her experience in the feminist community and bring in experts from the fields of racial justice, LGBTQQI organizing, the front lines of the class warfare, and more, to assemble strategies for widening the diversity of voices in social media.

Deanna is a sharp, compassionate, thoughtful person, and her book is going to help women and other sidelined communities release their fear and take advantage of the new technologies. The last thing we need is another place where the dominant culture creates uncontested content that blocks out all other perspectives.

If you’re interested in technology and social justice, you should be reading Deanna’s blog. Also, the publisher doesn’t offer advances, so Deanna is fundraising for living expenses this summer while she writes the book in 4 short months. Even if you have $10 to spare, visit her Feed The Author page and join supporters like the Hightower Lowdown, and Don Hazen and Doug Kreeger (editor and board member of AlterNet). It’s a fantastic project in which to invest.

Her full fundraising letter below the cut.

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Education, Gender, Politics, Race, Science & Technology, Writing

Celebrate Loving Day TODAY in NYC!

loving_day_invite_nyc_2009There’s a free party happening on the East River in Manhattan today from 3pm-7pm, and it celebrates the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the U.S.

DJ Dhundee and DJ Tyler Askew will be spinning, there’s free BBQ all day long, and there’s free beer for the 1st hour. It’s at Solar 1, on the East River Waterfront at East 23rd St, NYC.

Go soak up some of the beautiful day in the company of beautiful, happy people and families!

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Filed under Health, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Race, Random, Relationships, Writing

Look Out for Precious

I’ve heard that THE film to watch in the next year is going to be Precious, based on the incredible novel Push by Sapphire. It won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award and is set to storm Cannes soon. The trailer was just released by Lionsgate:

It will hit theaters in November. I can’t wait.

For more on the director, Lee Daniels. And yes, that’s Mariah Carey as the social worker.

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Filed under Generation Overwhelmed, Movies, Race

Yes Men, the Fools

So, what’s the appropriate greeting today: “Happy April Fools'”? I hope you haven’t been tricked too severely. (My long-time favorite resource for verifying questionable information is Snopes.com, by the way. For future reference.)

I’ve been thinking about fools and sacred clowns today, appropriately enough. One of the movies I saw at SXSW was The Yes Men Fix The World, a documentary about the culture jamming activists called the Yes Men. This group uses inventive mischief and deceit to expose the wrongdoing of powerful corporations and governmental offices. The movie features Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, but they’re only two members of the larger group.

The Yes Men have created politically-charged hijinks like:

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Filed under Art, Class, Environment, Gender, In The News, Politics, Race, Theater