Archive for November, 2013

March to Support the Right to Share Food

November 26, 2013

Tomorrow several community organizations will be marching in Downtown Los Angeles to speak out against the criminalization of public feeding in L.A. and to bring awareness to the California Homeless Bill of Rights, which would provide the Right to Share Food and Eat in public spaces. Click on the link below to see the flyer and get further information on the March.

11.27.13 DTLA Right to Share Food March

For those who want to see the Press Release of tomorrow’s March you can see it here:
http://cangress.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/media-advisory-community-organizations-march-against-hunger-and-criminalization-on-wed-nov-27.pdf

NY Times covers L.A. Battle for the Right to Share Food

November 26, 2013

Here is the article that the New York Times printed in today’s edition. To give readers background information on the article, I have included this youtube video where one can clearly see the food line is not even close to a residential area. Click on the link to read the article and see the video for yourself.

NY Times covers L.A. Battle for the Right to Share Food

Long Live Ella Baker

November 13, 2013

Today is the birthday and death anniversary of one of the most famous unsung heroes in our country. Ella Baker. She would have been 110 years old. Today is her 27th death anniversary. Ella Baker was the type of revolutionary that understood that the movement is not about being the one who gets more exposure or the person that everyone talks about. She was all about the people. She was the type of revolutionary who dedicated her life to the struggle of human rights, the type of person that clearly understood that one doesn’t have to get the limelight to fight for freedom of others. She the female version of Bayard Rustin. Both of them did so much for the civil rights movement behind the scenes. 

So much can be written about Ella Baker. What matters is that we apply her teachings and implement her ideas on grassroots organizing to systemically change our system. The best way to honor and pay tribute to Ella Baker is to get involved and organize our communities. Continue to fight for the human rights of all people. She once famously said, “We who in believe in Freedom cannot rest.” 

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when our country continues to invade and occupy foreign countries.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when Palestinians continue to be treated like 2nd class citizens in their own land and Israel continues to have the apartheid wall.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when NSA has already invaded the privacy of most Americans and tapped all cell phones, read our emails and listen to the conversations of foreign leaders.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when homelessness continues to be an issue that people ignore and countries nationwide are criminalizing people for sleeping on the streets.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until we as a people start changing and realizing that the reason of our existence lies in using our gifts for the greater good of Humanity. When we are able to recognized that the beauty of life is found in upholding the human rights of all people and providing people with the basic human needs and working to abolish systems that seek to impose barriers on people’s dignity, human rights and way of life, then only then will we rest. Until then, we who believe in Freedom cannot rest.

Here is a great article about Ella Baker.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/ella-baker-and-limits-charismatic-masculinity

Here is my favorite song that honors Ella Baker.

Remembering the Homeless Veterans

November 11, 2013

As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us not forget the thousands of homeless veterans that are in our communities. They may not get the special treatment, or be asked to join in a parade, but like every other soldier, they put their time and energy and deserve to be recognized. I am always amazed at how people can “support” the troops or have campaigns to bring the troops home. But, when those troops come back to the United States, they become unknown soldiers. This is especially the case with homeless people who have given their commitment to fight for this country but we haven’t seen this country fight for them.
We have seen too many homeless veterans on our streets. We have seen a lot of our soldiers come back from war torn countries and not be given the proper care to deal with their PTSD. Instead of thanking our veterans for putting their life at risk, we have seen this country turn their backs on them. We can continue to have Veterans Day as a holiday but what good is that if its only to be use as a photo op for the President or any other politician.

Let’s really honor our Veterans by taking care of our Homeless Veterans, especially women. The general public has a perception that women who are veterans are nurses, file paperwork and not engage in combat. That is what mainstream media wants us to think about women in uniform. The truth is that women have also been on the front lines. They have also given their fair share but when they come back to their communities, they realize that resources for women veterans are very scarce. There are not that many resources catered to this population and that is a tragedy in itself. Women in the military not only have to deal with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) but the barriers that they have to deal with once they go to their communities is even more shocking. The lack of VA services catered for women is an issue. Many women feel disrespected when seeking services at the VA because they feel that men would not treat them as equal. They feel that men would just look at them as someone who didn’t have the same combat experience as their male counter parts did.

The VA office has unveiled a 5 year plan to end Veteran Homelessness. While that may sound nice, we would have to see. The problem with all these “strategic” plans to end homelessness, is that every city and state practically has one. It is basically lip services in my eyes. I have seen too many strategic plans to end homelessness come and go and the problem is still there. A 5 year plan to end Veterans Homelessness is like saying the United States in 5 years will stop invading and occupying countries in the world. It’s not going to happen. I wish we can end Veteran Homelessness in 5 years. I wish the United States will stop invading and occupying countries. But, I have to be realistic. It’s not going to happen. I can’t believe I said that but its a dead fact. Only time will tell. In the mean time, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in the streets, who continue to be on the front lines.

Here is a poem, I wrote in honor of our Homeless Veterans.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER

My name is Fred and I am a Vietnam Veteran.
At the time of my deployment, I was fired up.
I was ready to go to war and defend my country.
I was given the proper tools
and was well prepared to battle.
But, something changed when I got to Vietnam.
Something in me realized this wasn’t right.
A lot of my fellow soldiers had second thoughts.
We started questioning the motives for us going to war.

One thing about war is that it will leave you
with scars that you will never be able to heal.
I saw other soldiers kill innocent men, women and children.
These innocent people were our “enemies”
because they were Vietnamese.
I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t have it in me.
So a few of us got court martialed.
We made our decision under the basis that
we couldn’t follow through with our orders
at the expense of killing innocent civilians.

You have to understand that back in our times,
we didn’t have the internet.
We didn’t have the technology that your generations has.
We had a real movement going on.
The anti-war movement was strong.
You could feel the wind of Revolution.

Nowadays, even with all the resources
that this generation has
it saddens me that we continue
to live in a world
where war triumphs over humanity.
Son, how can this be?
How can we allow ourselves to
believe that something good
comes from war?
I’ve been there
and trust me when I tell you
that war seeks to impose
ones’ views over others
while it leaves the rest of us
suffering from PTSD
and if that’s not a catastrophe
look around in your own community
and tell me how many
homeless veterans you see
walking around
with PTSD.

Look at me,
I have tried to
live a normal life
but I can’t.
Once you go to war,
you will never be able
to live a normal life.
I have been on the streets
for quite some time.
I have been getting assistance
from the VA office
but because there is such a
long waiting list to house
homeless veterans
I am on the streets.

Many people may
disagree with me
that I am not a real
soldier because I
didn’t kill anybody
or engaged in combat.
But, does killing someone
make you more a soldier
than someone who didn’t.
The difference I see is that
me and my friends were not
going to allow ourselves
from being brainwashed
and making us kill innocent
people that have never done
anything to our country.
If I invested the same amount
of time and went through the
same training as any other soldier
then I consider myself a soldier.

Right now,
I am still a soldier;
only of a different source,
a soldier who is willing
to fight for the greater cause of Humanity.
Once you live in the streets,
you don’t have to worry about
getting a purple heart to
make you feel special.
Once you live in the streets,
the soldier instincts in you come out.
We are in the concrete jungle
and you have to use
whatever resources you can find
just to survive.

Thanks for taking the time
to talk to me.
I really appreciate your time.
There are a lot of us
unknown soldiers
in these cold streets.
Many of us have our
different stories.
What’s important to know
is that there shouldn’t be
homeless veterans
in the United States.
That is like a slap to the
face for soldiers
who fought and defended this country.

We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest

November 5, 2013

This song by Sweet Honey in the Rock is a tribute to Ella Baker. This song gives me the chills!
Here are the lyrics by Bernice Johnson Reagon:

Refrain:
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Verses
Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons

And that which touches we most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can shed some light as they carry us through the gale

The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hand of the young who dare to run against the storm

Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny

Struggling myself don’t mean a whole lot I come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survive

I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word

Take Back the Night 2013

November 5, 2013

Fighting for a Homeless Bill of Rights: A look From the Front Lines

November 5, 2013

Hollywood, CA–

The food and medical services provided for poor people on Sycamore and Romaine Streets has been going on for nearly a quarter. Recently there has been a campaign by Los Angeles Councilmember LaBonge and “neighbors” to shut the services down. Connected to the shutdown is a larger attempt to create policy that would effectively stop charitable services from being provided on public property. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until freedom comes and will not sit by idly while special interests dictate how we take care of one another.

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