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Here’s a juicy, educational tid-bit…sort of.

Voter Registration.  If you’re a student at a college or university, odds are you’ve come across folks poking these forms at you as you pass the major points of pedestrian traffic.  Outside of that, though….how does one register to vote?  I like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable about such things, but I’ve racked my brain and the only way outside of the above described scenario that comes to mind is my very first voter registration process – at the DMV.

By now I am sure a lot of folks have realized that *they* do not want us to vote, to exercise that civic duty/right that I too battle between loving and hating.  But I thought, surely, that the campaign to register folks was a little more robust than just hoping they wandered into the DMV (and even then I have no clue what the protocol really is) or onto a college campus during a strategic point in a major election.  But it’s not really.  There are, however, more ways to register than I knew.

Check it out:

“In addition to the printable voter registration application accessible on this website, voter registration applications are available at county boards of elections’ offices, public libraries, high schools and college admissions offices.

Further, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires certain agencies in this state to offer voter registration services. Voter registration services are offered at the following agencies:

  • North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): A person may complete a voter registration transaction at any driver’s license examination office when conducting official DMV business with that office (applying for or renewing a driver’s license, I.D. card, etc.).
  • Public Assistance Agencies
    • Departments of Social Services (DSS)
    • Departments of Public Health (WIC)
  • Disability Services Agencies
    • Vocational Rehabilitation offices
    • Departments of Services for the Blind
    • Departments of Services for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
    • Departments of Mental Health Services
  • Employment Security Commission (ESC)”

 

Now it might not be an aggressive campaign or anything, but it’s something to be aware of and to spread knowledge of to any and all folks.

Important also is that you register at least 25 days before the election in which you wish to vote. 

Now I’m not one to pretend that this process is perfect or that it’s the means to the ideal end that I envision, but it is a potential stepping-stone.  As is stands, far too many folks vote against their interests, are lied to by major media outlets, are deluded into believing that a 2 party system is a superior voting system, and believe that the presidential election is the make or break of this nation’s future.  The things we could do with proper representation, however, are beautiful.  We could elect representatives who put THE PEOPLE first in their legislative processes.  We could have representation that conveys our interests in, ya know, FOOD AND SURVIVAL, and education for all and human-centered solutions to the alleged problem of immigration across imaginary, stolen borders.  That could be a thing.  We could have universal healthcare.  We could change our laws and agencies and protocols to eliminate their “need” to incarcerate, dehumanize and otherwise attack and brutalize communities of color.

We can do this because, while the process is flawed, we are still in control.  We can use our votes for what they are worth and continue the fight on the 364 other days in the year.  We can use our votes to communicate the needs of the folks in our communities who are being denied the right to vote themselves.  I’m talking about felons, children, undocumented folks – anyone whose voice is intentionally drowned out by our current laws and ideology – consider the folks in the countries the U.S. constantly invades!! Who speaks for them in the U.S. government? Is that what we want? the wanton murder of folks in the name of imperialist strategy and positioning? NO!

But who will we vote for? Who is there to accurately represent these perspectives I’ve just listed?  Can we trust anyone of these majority white, male, wealthy, career politicians to do right by our communities once they have our initial nod?  Probably not.  I mean, maybe we can, but why take that risk if we don’t have to?  Radical folks – rise up!! Run for local office!! Yes, there are limitations to who can make it through the arbitrary list of initial requirements, but it can be done.  Locally elected officials have a real chance to impact the day-to-day lives of the folks in our communities.  Change to the systems we loathe can come from the inside AND the outside!  We can strip away the pretense and the hierarchy one official at at time.  IT WILL BEND TO THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE!!

But yes, so that’s what I learned today and I hope you found it interesting.  Let’s continue this conversation, though, because resources are important and I haven’t covered everything by any means in this short rant.  It’s just something to start/keep thinking about.  I was inspired by the existence of countries with low levels of SES inequality and excellent health outcomes who still use similar processes electorally speaking as the U.S. does.  They also manage not to invade multiple countries per decade. Really sparkling resumes and shit.

 

Oh – PS. Total afterthought but needs to be discussed also — *they* don’t want us to vote and so *they* have implemented a Voter ID law to make it more difficult for the populations to which they wish to deny rights.  This isn’t going into effect until 2016 – so let’s…I dunno..raise so hell, or…appeals,….or….beat them at their own game and make new legislation that requires the gov to provide these IDs free of charge and at the voter’s convenience, or…I dunno. Something.

Thoughts? Feelings?

Hey folks – I just got this email and hope you will join me in placing a call to the Department of Justice to demand an investigation into the Durham Police Department. Here is the message from the body of the email:

“There are still more questions than answers in the tragic death of 17 year old Jesús Huerta. The young man died of a gunshot wound to the face received while handcuffed in the back of a police car in Durham, North Carolina.

Durham Police have released a report saying that Jesús somehow shot himself, a claim that defies logic. Jesus’s hands were cuffed behind his back, and the officer who arrested Jesus claims to have frisked him before arresting him.

Jesús’s grieving family needs answers they can trust now more than ever. Last month the Department of Justice received more than 18,000 petition signatures calling for a patterns and practices investigation of Durham Police Department, but so far they’ve done nothing.

It’s time to increase the pressure for them to act. Can you take a moment to call the DOJ to ask for an investigation of Durham Police? We’ll give you the phone number and a short script you can use.

Sunday night marked two months since Jesús’s death, and his family organized a prayer vigil in Durham. Jesús’s family and community are still seeking answers and assurances this will never happen again.

While we still can’t be sure how Jesús died, we do know that he was the second Latino and third man of color to die in the presence Durham Police Department since July. We know that the police chief is under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following his own vice chief’s allegations of discriminatory practices in hiring and promotion. And we know that an analysis of traffic stop data reveals troubling evidence of racial profiling by Durham police.

A Department of Justice investigation could lead to the kind of reforms within Durham Police Department that would ensure that no other family would have to grieve the way Jesús’s family has.

Please place a phone call to the Department of Justice and ask them to investigate the Durham Police Department. We’ll give you the phone number and a brief script.

Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Roberto, Jesús, Erick, Erica, Refugio, and the rest of the Presente.org Team”

“My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

……..

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

I have pulled some quotes from this speech but reading or listening to the speech in its entirety is the only way to do this speech justice.  Please do.  Here is the speech in full text w/an audio: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

Folks!!! FOLKS!! LOOOOKKK!!! An exciting opportunity to get together with ya radfolks and MAKE SHIT HAPPEN!

I know it’s tough to be politically conscious in this world, what with all the constant attacks on already marginalized folks and all, but the only thing that’s worse than this reality is the overwhelming feeling of HELPLESSNESS that accompanies a shit-avalanche like the one we’re seeing in North Carolina. There’s so much going on that I for one am still numb with confusion.  What was passed? In what secret midnight vote? Affecting whom? Closing down which clinics? Cutting which benefits? Wait – what happened to my right to vote?

And money = free speech still, right?

*cue cautiously optimistic, inspirational tune*

That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with education — not just about the issues and their effects, but what YOU — yes YOU!!! — can do to [resist the powers that be], [reverse the effects of damaging legislation] and [prevent this from happening again in the future].

Here’s a blurb from the [WIN] Conference event page:

“The [WIN] Conference will serve to educate the community about issues currently plaguing society. What this means is that we will have a bunch of awesome presenters teaching us about what is going on right now.

Learn more about current womyn’s issues such as reproductive rights/justice, politics, violence against womyn, and womyn in the media. Our keynote speaker is Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong. Organizations such as the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, Ipas, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and Lillian’s List will be presenting and tabling throughout the day!

Come out to the Womyn’s Issues Now [WIN] Conference
WHERE: Union in room 3408
WHEN: Saturday, January 25, 2014 from 9 AM – 5 PM!

We will serve free breakfast and lunch. You don’t want to miss this great event!

 

Space is limited so register NOW!

[WIN] Conference 2014 REGISTRATION

[WIN] Conference Event Page

I want to write about the word “bitch.”  I’m aware of the many arguments made for and against the use of the word (through a feminist lens, of course) and I’ve moved up, down, back, forward and side to side in my own relationship to the word since the dawn of my political consciousness.

Full disclosure: I don’t say *bitch* anymore.  It used to pop out of my mouth with every other word when I was younger, but I read a piece that encouraged me to stop “in good faith,” if you will.  This bit argued that yeah, maybe it hurts no one, but how would we ever know?  And if it is even MAYBE hurting people – shouldn’t we at least try and figure that shit out? Or is our right to speak unfiltered bull shit too precious to us to even consider it? (I’m paraphrasing…..)  So I did stop.  But then I saw it everywhere.  And it started to hurt.  It wasn’t like “across-the-board-I-hear-bitch-I-hurt” but more like….”when-someone-means-to-hurt-I-really-feel-it-now-ouch.”

Straight up – this was typically a man v. womyn sort of occurrence.  Womyn v. womyn didn’t pack the same sting, but womyn tend, in my experiences and observations, to use BITCH in all its variety and are more likely to go the “bitch = powerful badass womyn” route whereas men stick to the “bitches = all womyn” and “bitch = womyn who made me mad just now for whatever reason – probably because she challenged my authority or did something I think she shouldn’t do.” This is just my perspective and I speak only for myself and what I have seen.

It’s not like I was desensitized by chance or because *sticks and stones* and shit, either.  It was so perfectly normal in my life – to be called a bitch, to call someone a bitch, to hear it as a code word for the seemingly neutral all the way to downright nefarious  sorts of women all around me – OH – and the men who weren’t acting ***mannnnllyyy enougggghhh***

It became normal and therefore invisible.  And at this time in my life I haven’t excavated a single thing from my insides that once brought to light kept its apolitical, no-big-deal character.  I tend to view my relationship to the word as mainly one of internalized sexism and men reinforcing sexist practices and structures. I know that’s not so for everyone and that is valid and fine and totes to be determined by many intersections of identity and experience.  I only ask that folks question shit and never stop.

I have to wonder how the people in their respective stances relate to the word in their personal lives – if we leave the scholarly discourse or theoretical realm and look at our lives as they’ve played out, if we could CTRL + F: bitch – what sort of patterns would emerge?

I am writing this after months of writing absolutely nothing.  I am writing this without analysis, really, and without giving due time to the nuances of the aforementioned stances.  I am writing this because I started thinking about all the *bitch times* in my life and how it felt each time.  It’s not so clear cut, you see, but I thought it might be worth writing down and talking about.

***Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, emotional abuse, excessive use of the word bitch***

Strongest memories that  I could conjure up today that are somehow associated w/ the word bitch:

When a friend raped me and I found the strength to tell others (mutual friends) I was a bitch.

When I called the police when my ex choked me, slapped me, pulled me by my hair off of the bed, dragged me topless through the apartment and threw me outside at 4am and he was subsequently kicked out of school — I was a bitch. They couldn’t believe that bitch would do something like that to him.  Some of my own friends were in this camp.

Anytime my mom or stepmom did something I didn’t like.  Or did something that was legitimately fucked up. Or made me mad. They were bitches.

When I was manipulated and lied to by same ex into continuing the relationship so that I could lie to the district attorney and get the case thrown out – I was a bitch then, too.

When I call anyone out for sexist/racist/classist/ableist/heterosexist anything — BIITTCCHHH

When my dad had anything to say about my mom it was usually – in the end – to do with her being just a total, irrevocable BITCH NUGGET

I was a bitch last month when my host got wasted, tried to force himself on me, grabbed my ass and as a result I punched him in the nose.  Such a bitch.

When my sisters or womyn friends before I was 21 did anything silly or anything I didn’t like.  Fuck you, bitches. You’re such a stupid bitch.

I was a bitch when I showed any legitimate anger towards my father growing up.

When I found out that my sister’s bff slept with her boyfriend…. We both screamed “BITCH”

When I, like so many others, though I knew it all and fought hard about it without apology — they were assertive and know how to speak their minds.  But me? Totes a bitch.

When I stood up for an acquaintance from high school in an online bullyfest – Super bitch.

When I graduated from college after years of thinking I would never make it and magically wound up with a GPA that will let me get into a grad program someday, maybe —- Boss. Ass. Bitch.

Being horny and engaging in casual sex as a consenting adult somehow translates to acting like a bitch in heat at least once in my life

When a young man in high school showed any sort of fear or wouldn’t do something risky – come on! Don’t be a bitch.  Man up!

When I complain about something legitimately terrible or not so terrible but it bugs me, so Imma complain – Stop bitchin’ all the time

Womyn knitting and venting about true frustrations in life – Stitch and Bitch

*end scene*

I suppose I like to think that beyond the feminist debate about the impact of this particular word lays another discussion about being more compassionate with our word choice overall.  Fewer insults generally, more engagement…I mean I get that not every use of the word is an insult necessarily – but is its use compassionate?  What’s the aim? Are we conscious of our impact?

Is this just some seriously white feminist shit to say? Yes. Absolutely.  And let’s keep in mind that I’m writing this because I have tons of free time and no obligations for the moment so I can indulge in some “self-improvement” (totes important, but let’s keep some perspective) while WOC and other POC and QPOC and all poor folks generally are busy with just surviving.  The working poor and the impoverished are fighting a centuries-long, losing battle just to keep chins above water.

SO.  Today’s post was brought on by some casual thoughts and then when examining my privilege I see how ironic it is that the first post on our site in almost 4 months will be this.  But ok – this started it and now let’s talk about North Carolina and the white supremacist, heterosexist, classist, ableist, cis-centric patriarchy……and all the shit that has been happening since July……

….to be continued…..

HB695

“URGENT! Sneak attack by NC Senators who seem committed to denying safe and legal abortion to NC women. HB695 inserts every anti-women’s health bill the GOP couldn’t get passed during the regular session, so they’re trying to push them through now. They think we’re not paying attention. BUT WE ARE!

The third reading is tomorrow at 9am at the NCGA. Let’s show them our power and BE THERE!

*Wear Pink &/or Purple

*FYI: As opposed to Texas, anyone who is disruptive in the Senate gallery will be arrested.*”
–via Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund

Hey everyone – Just thought I should spread this far and wide, so check out this article on WRAL.  Link to the page is listed at the bottom.

1215McCrory

“Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory told a national radio audience Tuesday that state community colleges and universities should be funded based on how well they do at placing their students in the job market.

“Right now we pay based upon how many students you have, not on the results of how many jobs you’re getting people into,” McCrory said. “I’m looking at legislation right now, in fact I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead and develop legislation, which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges. It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs.”

Speaking on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” show, McCrory touched on themes similar to those he talked about during the campaign.

“I’m a big vocational training advocate,” McCrory told Bennett. “I think some of the educational elite have taken over education where we’re offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”

McCrory observed that even though North Carolina has a high unemployment rate, there are employers who can’t find qualified employees.

“To me, that means we have a major disconnect between the education establishment and commerce,” McCrory said. “So I’m going to adjust my education curriculum to what business and commerce needs to get our kids jobs as opposed to moving back in with their parents after they graduate.”

In response to a dig that Bennett took at gender studies courses, McCrory expanded on his theme.

“You’re right though,” McCrory said. “That’s a subsidized course. And frankly, if you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job … It’s the tech jobs that we need right now.”

McCrory added, “Most people don’t realize, two-thirds of my students are women, and most of them are going into either health care or taking junior college programs, when in fact, I’ve got a lot of unemployed men who typically go into technology or mechanics. And if they do – or welding or something – and if they do they can get six-figure pay right now. But instead, they’re on unemployment.”

The governor tied his train of thought into the UNC athletics department scandal.

“It’s even hit our athletic department at Carolina, our great basketball program,” McCrory said. “They took Swahili on a night study course where they didn’t have to do any work and they got B-pluses. What are we teaching these courses for if they’re not going to help get a job.”

McCrory said he believed in liberal arts education.

“I got one. I think there are two reasons for education. One is, as my Dad used to say, to exercise the brain. But the second is to get a skill.”

http://www.wral.com/mccrory-fund-higher-education-based-on-results/12037347/

Photo from http://www.reflector.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-mccrory-missteps-give-pause-1656755

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In the past several years we have seen incredible social movements spanning the globe in response to the still worsening economic crisis and punishing austerity measures that followed it. Young people, students, and workers are standing up to the abuses of a system bent on denying us a future. These forces, driven by greed, will continue a path of wealth accumulation for the few on the backs of the many. North Carolina is no different.

Wealthy right-wing donors bought the North Carolina legislature and put Tea Party conservatives in the driver’s seat of our state. Their program is clear: public education and services will face massive cuts, and the general welfare of our state will be undermined to benefit the richest few. From voting rights to women’s rights, those in power want to take us backwards. North Carolina families, students, and workers cannot afford this regressive agenda — and we will not accept it. It is more urgent than ever to build upon multi-issue, grassroots mobilization efforts in NC. Our state has a rich history of activism and resistance, and as in the past, students must serve as leaders in the fight for social justice. The time for organizing a powerful student movement is now!

On February 16th 2013, The NC-Student Power Union will be holding a statewide organizing conference in Raleigh, North Carolina—our state capital. This conference will bring together leaders of social justice organizations, university faculty, and most importantly, students like us for a day of education, inspiration, and action.

Instead of accepting a future shaped by low wage jobs, racism, and a warming planet, our generation is coming together to demand a world with opportunity for all people and justice for our earth—a world without fear of deportation, crushing debt, or heterosexist discrimination. Join the movement on February 16th. Help build student voice and student power to reclaim our education and create the state we want to live in.

Register for the Conference Today.

**This Post is part of a larger series of activist we should know**

“People have to be made to understand that they cannot look for salvation anywhere but to themselves” 

               -Ella Baker

As students, and certainly students in North Carolina, we have heard much about the Greensboro Sit-Ins and the Civil Rights Movement.  We heard about injustice—probably for only for a few days in our US History course—as if it happened, was discovered to be wrong, and then changed by a few super-humans who lead us to the promised land of equality before the law.  This reduced, linear reading of history leaves us with few lessons to carry forward—little to nourish ourselves as citizens in a world still yearning for people committed to make change and confront ever more entrenched oppressions.  These histories leave us merely with monuments to what was.  We look on them with reverence and wait for our next hero.

As seekers of justice we cannot be satisfied with the dominant narrative of history.  We must sharpen our eyes and dig through the past in hopes of finding the roots of our current struggles.  We must discover our ancestors, learn from their efforts, and carry forward their vision with ours.  We must look to groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and figures like Ella Jo Baker.

Ella Baker grew up near the North Carolina-Virginia border on what today we would call a cooperative farm.  Her parents believed in building community among African-Americans and thus she grew up surrounded by a large group of extended family that worked together and shared resources to sustain each other.  Out of this work Ms. Baker quickly gained a sense of collective struggle and a self-sufficient streak.  Her upbringing in this collectivist, deeply democratic setting informed her belief on the importance of radical democracy in organizing work.

Ella Baker went on to become a leading field organizer and director of the NAACP, founder of In Friendship, and the first organizer of Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  She brought to all of these organizations perhaps the largest network of committed people built by any civil rights leader.  She left all of these organizations with a want for something that none of the major civil rights groups could give her: an organization that took seriously building a struggle which would uplift the voices of Black-Americans on the ground in the most dangerous areas of the southern United States while building long term leadership and attacking the roots of a society she believed did not meet the needs of working people.  In many ways, the nomadic nature of her activist career made her a perfect candidate to facilitate the convergence of young activists that came to be the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

As the sit-in movement was sweeping the country, Ella Baker used her influence within SCLC to solicit funds and organize a conference of the young activists to take place in April 1960 in Raleigh, North Carolina at Shaw University.  While organizations from the NAACP to CORE lobbied for the students to join their ranks, Baker offered students a different perspective.  She told them to build their own organization.  They agreed with her and formed the group that would become SNCC.  While I certainly cannot do justice to the legacy of SNCC in this post, there are many sources I would encourage you to explore.  First among these is Charles Payne’s I’ve Got the Light of Freedom in which he describes eloquently the impact of this organization.

SNCC initiated the mass-based, disruptive political style we associate with the sixties, and it provided philosophical and organizational models and hands on training for people who would become leaders in the student power movement, the anti-war movement, and the feminist movement

This formation of this dynamic group was made possible by the mentorship of Ella Baker.

Knowing the legacy of Ms. Baker brings with it a responsibility to carry on and fulfill her mission.  She envisioned a movement which would be led not by ministers or the privileged, but by the people who most needed it.  She recognized the importance of nonviolent direct action and encouraged activist to take up the work of building collectives that would be capable of meeting injustice head on.  She believed in the importance of organizing the American South and uplifting the voices of the working class, young people, and people of color. In the end she hoped to build a society of cooperation and collective action which brought her back to the interdependent community of her youth. As Payne states in his book, the complex political legacy of SNCC “went back at least as far as Miss Baker’s grandfather’s farm.”  The question now is how much further we can carry it.

-MH

Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

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