"In the News - Post Election 2017
With the 2016 elections and the inauguration in the books, many of you have gone beyond shock, anger, apprehension, fear and disgust, to being informed and to getting involved. Our first nonviolence training had a hefty waiting list two weeks before the day. Many first time activists have attended marches and rallies in the last two weeks. New groups like Indivisible and Forward Action Michigan are getting people involved at the grassroots level. Established groups like the ACLU Detroit, Take on Hate and MCHR are strategizing and acting on priority issues that are coming fast and furious. We hope that you have been inspired and challenged personally to do at least one thing each day to further a cause that is important to you.
Our board members too have been focused on the issues and offer their reflections on issues that they are passionate about. We hope you will feel supported and encouraged by reading these articles. Continue to stay engaged and connected. You are important to us and to the work.
"Small acts when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world." Howard Zinn
What I Saw At the Revolution
by Barbara Ingalls, MCHR Board Member
The moment I heard there would be a women's march on Washington, I knew I wanted to go. I immediately wrote to my friend Keri, who lives in Takoma Park with her husband and daughter. She instantly fired back YES. Within two days, my t
wo oldest friends called me to join up. So Friday morning, off we went.
The drive in on Friday morning had an adventure feel to it. Every rest stop was full of women in pink pussy hats. All sorts of women; everybody smiling. We worried about getting into DC on Inauguration Day, but traffic was no heavier then any Friday night in DC.
My generous DC friend had 8 other guests besides my crew, so we slept dorm style - which was actually great fun. There was a woman from Atlanta, one from LA, and a surprising number of Michiganders. My host is from New York and her husband from London. We created a bathroom chart, 15 minutes each, there was a hot breakfast and we set off to the March at 7:30. It was a very smart time to leave, as we hopped immediately on a train, and got downtown with no problem. It was crowded and every minute brought a new influx of people. There was a surging feeling in the air; a push of energy. The day was chilly and overcast with occasional mist. We worried we would be too warm, but I was so grateful for my warm pink pussy hat!
We met up with folks from a Michigan contingent, where Dan Kildee was holding court (he tells me he's testing the waters for a gubernatorial race; I encouraged him!) but set out to find a good vantage point for the day. We did very well, parked ourselves to the left of the stage (stage right) where we couldn't see anyone live, but clear views of the Jumbotrons above.We had lots of room, and people kept coming.
It seems that surging feeling was 1 million people arriving. You can't really get a sense of a million people, but when I heard the final numbers I was not surprised. Not once did I feel boxed in or afraid, and believe me, we were boxed in. There was no pushing or shoving, people who couldn't move tended to shrug and say okay, I'm here for a while. The crowd was very diverse and there were many, many awesome brothers.
If I have a criticism of the march, it would be the oldest problem known to the left. Too many speakers. As the crowd grew and grew there was a sense that we were not there to talk. The chant, Let Us March! broke out about every five minutes. There was a sense of purpose that could not be denied. Finally the crowd gently broke itself off and it seems went into two sections. We started moving and away we went.
It is very hard for me to put into words the sense of joy and love that day. People are angry and afraid; I think this was exactly the rallying point we needed to shake off the malaise and move forward. With that love and joy was righteous anger - all we needed was the tools and a big push to spark this resistance.
We walked for about a mile then broke off to the side, where we found risers left from the inauguration. There we watched with wonder as a river of people passed us by, singing and laughing and chanting. There were so many chants, besides the usual "This is what Democracy looks like", "People United will never be Divided", as well as "Hands Too Small, Can't Build A Wall","We Need a Leader, Not a Creepy Tweeter", and "We Want Power Not a Golden Shower".
Some of the signs were hilarious. Lots of fallopian tube humor, "Shed Walls Don't Build Them", " Darth Vader, Taxi Vader", "Mom, Dad, it's not a phase", "Suffer No Fools", the succinct "Ugh", "I Am Very Upset", "I Am Seventeen, Fear Me", "I'm With Her" (with arrows ringing the entire poster), "We Shall Overcome".
But my favorite sign was "You Will Never Have The Comfort Of Our Silence Again".
My cellphone kept going in and out, but every once in a while, a text from Bob would come through, giving me reports on the numbers through the world. To stand in that crowd knowing that in cities all over the world, including Antartica, people were coming together to fight tyranny, was a powerful feeling I will never forget.
I think this time is going to be very hard. We are going to have to fight every day to keep what we hold dear. But I can pull this amazing memory out when things get bad and use it to sustain me.
It's Time to Talk About What to Talk About- Part One
by Frank Joyce, MCHR Board Member
It is a given that we need to talk about resisting Trump in various ways. But since there will be new atrocities daily (if not hourly) we need perspective, mutual support and effective time management as we have never needed it before.
Even with all that however, other topics also urgently compel our attention. Space here is limited so I'll start with just one:
Do we truly understand how we got to this point?
For 400 years the US has regularly gathered up its dirty laundry, thrown it into a giant washing machine and used powerful chemicals to scrub and bleach it until it all comes out pristine white. Emphasis on white.
Because this has a cumulative effect, the overwhelming majority of the population is profoundly uninformed. Those of us who identify as human rights activists, progressives, radicals, revolutionaries or whatever label we might choose or accept are not immune.
Consider this. The status quo favors white males over all others by every metric. Given the available electoral choices, 66 million people voted for the status quo-Hillary Clinton. Sixty-three million people think the status quo doesn't favor white males at all or at least not enough. They voted for Donald Trump. Together, that's 129 million US Americans.
The Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein vote notwithstanding, those are grim numbers. Are there other ways to interpret these tallies? Of course. But any notion that we have achieved some sort of post-patriarchy, post-racial nation is not supported by these totals. Confusion on this point plays into an entrenched left/liberal version of wanting to make America great AGAIN.
Was it ever? No, not really. On a personal note, I have been engaged in anti-racist activity for more than 50 years. Thanks to a new generation of scholarship and perspective, I have learned more about US history in the last few years than all those that came before combined.
For example, historian Ibram X. Kendi's work helps us appreciate that the idea of racial progress within capitalism, distorts the fact that racism is also a dynamic component of the system. Racists make progress too. Indeed, they just did in a big way.
THIS IS NOT NEW. It is the ebb and flow of our history. Interestingly enough, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon know this, even if some of us are shocked, shocked, shocked. That's why one of Trump's first acts was to install in the Oval Office a portrait of one of the most racist, bloodthirsty and sexist Presidents of all time-Democratic Party icon Andrew Jackson.
My conclusion-it's time to talk about how to reinvent the part of MCHR's mission devoted to: "advocacy for human rights through education."
Any one of these books is a good place to start:
The Counter Revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne
The American Slave Coast-A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by
Ned and Constance Sublette
The Half Has Not Been Told by Edward Baptist
An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-
Empire of Cotton-A Global History by Sven Beckert
Slave Patrols-Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas by Sally E.
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Bind Us Apart by Nicholas Guyette
Fear Itself by Nicholas Katznelson
Stamped From The Beginning-The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Beyond Vietnam-A Time to Break Silence-speech by Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.
Trump Wages War on the People of the United States and the World
by Abayomi Azikiwe, MCHR Board Member
These are trying times for those of us who have fought for an equitable and just society.
However, the response of millions across the United States and the world over the first two weeks of the administration of President Donald Trump has been inspirational.
On January 28, a delegation of us from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and the recently-established Michigan Peoples Defense Network went to Hamtramack to participate in a rally and march against what amounts to an effective ban on entry of people from seven countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Over 1000 people attended this gathering from various nationalities, races and religions. Signs were in evidence saying "refugees are welcome here"; "we are all Muslims"; "deport Trump, not Muslims"; etc.
Later a number of us quickly carpooled out to the Detroit airport (DTW) for an even larger action. Approximately 10,000 people rallied at the airport even going inside to occupy the McNamara terminal.
What was striking was the overwhelming participation of youth. These airport demonstrations were replicated across the U.S. involving tens of thousands of people.
This movement has spread to Europe as well with thousands demonstrating in Britain on February 4 saying that Trump should not be invited to the country on a state visit by the new Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.
The stage was set for these activities through the Washington, D.C. counter-inaugural demonstrations on January 20 in which I attended as well as the millions of women who came out in force the following day on January 21 in the nation's capital, throughout the U.S. and indeed the world. All of us working together can tip the balance of forces in favor.
War is on the horizon abroad with threats against Iran, Yemen and China. In addition, prior to his taking office, Trump confirmed that he will engage in a renewed nuclear arms race.
Consequently, our work is cut out for us within the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. We must strengthened our internal structures and build broader alliances with other groups working for peace, justice, an end to racism, xenophobia and bigotry.
The annual dinner has the potential of being the best so far. Let us move forward with the determination necessary to bring sanity and stability to our troubled society and world.
BOLD, ACTIVE NONVIOLENCE: TOOLS FOR THE STRUGGLE
by Kim Redigan, MPT trainer and MCHR board member
When Michigan Coalition for Human Rights asked Michigan-Meta Peace Team (MPT) to offer a full-day nonviolence skills training shortly after the election, neither organization was prepared for the overwhelming response we received for the Jan. 28 training at St. Peter's Episcopal. Within hours, MPT was inundated with reservations, and by the end of the week, we had a waiting list, prompting MCHR to partner with Marygrove College's Masters in Social Justice to host a second training on Saturday, March 4 at Marygrove.
In response to the escalation of hate crimes during this past election cycle, MPT has added a component to its standard eight-hour training that focuses on strategies for interrupting acts of harassment and intimidation. Through skills sharing and role plays, including quick decision making and de-escalation practice, participants explore creative ways to respond to violence, both as an individual and as a peace team member.
For those not familiar with its work, MPT trains people to serve on both domestic and international peace teams as invited. Recently, MPT was invited to place teams at the Republican National Convention, the Women's March in Lansing, and an anti-violence march in Flint among other domestic teams. After being invited by tribal elders, MPT sent a team to Standing Rock and continues to place teams in the West Bank where MPT has had a long-term presence. MPT has also placed teams Chiapas, Bosnia, Haiti, the U.S.-Mexico border, Iraq, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip. It is important to note that peace teams are not peace police or event marshals. Peace teams do not interrupt speech, no matter how noxious, or protect personal property. The purpose of peace teams is to help create a space for people to solve their own conflicts on their own terms.
MPT believes that the primary violence in our world is structural and expressed in systems of oppression. When not working on peace teams that create safe spaces for others to do the work of justice through what is called "third-person nonviolent intervention," MPT members are themselves deeply involved in a range of justice and anti-oppression movements. MPT also believes in the sacred interconnectedness of all life.
MCHR has partnered with MPT for a long time and is committed to supporting the demand for nonviolence trainings during these troubling times. In the groundbreaking book, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict , Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan offer empirical evidence to support the claim that bold, active nonviolence works in the struggle for human rights. MCHR is part to offer human rights activists a few more tools to use in the struggle for a
more just world.
Self Care in the Resistance
We're obviously in this for the long race not a sprint. This is not a solo race but a joint effort that will need to keep up the pressure, creativity and strength. The resistance is more a relay race where each one takes a turn with the baton while others take a break and get sustenance.
SOME SELF CARE TIPS:
1) Stay strong and healthy. Eat healthy, drink water and get plenty of sleep.
2) Take a walk or exercise to relieve stress.
3) Be creative. Color, sing, cook, build something, write a poem.
4) Take long breaks from media even from your phone . Be silent. Meditate.
Breathe.Take some me-time.
5) Connect.. with friends, nature, children, family, pets
6) Renew or begin a spiritual practice.
7) Be kind in word and deed. Stay positive.
8) Play to your strengths.
9) Focus on one or two issues.
10) Learn to work intersectionally, across the broad spectrum of different
11) Get involved in a group of like minded people.
12) Make activism fun. Draw a political cartoon. Sing. Design a new protest sign.
13) Be aware of good outcomes and be grateful.
14) Do something, no matter how small, everyday. You will feel productive.
BUT CONTINUE TO SPEAK UP, STAND UP, PROTEST, RESIST!
Youth and No Politics as Usual
by Mark Cowan, MCHR Board Member
am not a proponent of accelerationism (the idea that we should go pedal to the metal with capitalism, in order to agitate people into resisting and overthrowing it), but it looks like under a Trump administration we're going to be seeing if it works pretty soon. What kind of system do young people want to see replace the current one?
According to a 2016 survey done by Harvard (the details of which can be found at http://bit.ly/IOPSpring16Poll), millennials are rejecting identifying as either socialist or capitalist. Only 19% of 18-29 year olds surveyed identified as capitalists and 16% identified as socialists. In the same poll, 51% of the respondents identified as supporting capitalism and 59% of respondents of supporting socialism. How is it possible that these millennials are supporting both capitalism and socialism; two ideologies that are incompatible and diametrically opposed?
In the Harvard poll, Bernie Sanders was the only presidential candidate with a net positive rating among millennials identifying as Republicans or Democrats. Bernie Sanders ran as a Democrat, but was a self-described "socialist". Bernie was, of course, not a socialist- he did not advocate for overthrow of the capitalist mode of production- but was actually a "democratic socialist" or reformist. This important distinction may help explain the confusion young people are facing around ideology.
In any case, millennials are definitely sick of politics as usual. Their experience in movements such as Occupy Wall Street, #NoDAPL, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Fight for $15 is opening their eyes to other ways of organizing society and organizations. Despite all the fogginess surrounding the opinions of young people, it is clear that they are sick of hierarchical, unjust systems. This justified anger is feeding a thirst for building systems based around anarchic or socialist principles. We should help cultivate this passion, when we see it.
Poem: "HOME" by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
COMING UP NEXT FOR MCHR FEBRUARY 20th!
PLEASE JOIN US!
Flyer by Barbara Ingalls, MCHR Board Member
MCHR Sponsors Second Nonviolence Training
Register early, spaces go quickly!
flyer by Kim Redigan
Save the Date! April 30th
MCHR Annual Dinner
"Justice in a Changing America"
Speaker: Morris Dees
Founder: Southern Poverty Law Center
ON SALE NOW! MCHR NOTECARDS $15 -
PACK OF 8, 4 DIFFERENT DESIGNS, BLANK INSIDE
AVAILABLE AT ALL MCHR EVENTS
OR BY CALLING MCHR OFFICE AT
313 579 9071
ART WORK BY
MCHR BOARD MEMBER
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