Then the Women Spoke, and the Tide Turned

The dust is still settling from the 6 November midterm elections in the United States, but one thing is clear: It was women — especially women of color — who made the difference in this election. And not only that: Women, as a bloc, asserted themselves as the primary force of resistance against FPOTUS (Fake President of the United States) Donald Trump and his neo-fascist political agenda. And just in time, too.

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The Sound of a Tidal Wave Coming

Word has just arrived that United States Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh has been approved by the U.S. Senate and officially sworn in as the newest justice on the U.S. supreme court. The contentious, three-month-long confirmation process of Kavanaugh was watched around the world and protested and opposed by women everywhere.

What emerged from those unprecedented hearings was a clear picture of a supreme court nominee who was supremely unqualified on just about every count. Kavanaugh, a staunch Republican, was exposed as having a problem in his younger years with sexually abusing women and with alcoholism. He may well have also perjured himself under oath by denying and lying about that. He was not being charged with a crime before the U.S. Senate, true, but he was being interviewed for one of the highest public-service jobs in the nation. He failed the job interview miserably.

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A People’s Cry, a Heroine’s Silence

Rhino Records released in 2004 a compilation CD of various artists from around the world coming together for a good cause: “Dedicated to freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and the courageous people of Burma”, as the front cover of the CD boldly noted. This two-disc set, titled For the Lady, featured tracks by the usual fare of socially conscious liberal/leftish artists, plus a few more apolitical types — like former Beatle Paul McCartney and guitarist Eric Clapton — that you normally wouldn’t see on this kind of overtly political music release.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady” to whom this CD was dedicated, had been under house arrest by the brutal military regime in the southeast Asian nation of Burma for more than a decade. Buyers of this CD were encouraged to support and get involved in a nonprofit organization called the U.S. Campaign for Burma as a way to show solidarity for the oppressed people of that country. Aung San Suu Kyi was to Asia then what Nelson Mandela was to Africa — a true hero in the struggle for an oppressed people’s freedom.

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Remembering Judi Bari

Most people in the United States and around the world, it is fair to say, have probably never heard of Judi Bari — or if they have, they may just barely recall a news story about some crazy domestic American eco-terrorists blowing themselves up in a car.

But if such people had ever spent any time on the far northern coast of California in the U.S., they would need no introduction or explanation as to who Bari was. They would already know.

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The Presidential Election Cycle Morning-After Blues

It was a rough and wild ride, one you knew you’d never forget, and you drowsily awake in a state of lingering bliss as the sun rises on a Friday morning in late January 2017. It’s a brand-new day. You nudge your partner. “Hey sleepyhead, you awake?”

Your partner groans and stretches, then rolls over to face you, with the covers pulled up to her chin. It’s none other Hillary Rodham Clinton, or more intimately “H♡”, as you always liked to call her in your many illicit love notes to her. Her bleached-blonde hair still perfectly coiffed, she smiles sheepishly back at you.

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Sisters for Hillary, Unite!

A recently published New York Times article reported on how the campaign message this year of a U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is apparently not being embraced by younger generations of women and feminists in the USA.

Two icons of American female success quoted in the story — Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright — in particular caused a bit of an uproar. While it seems that my progressive sisters on social media and elsewhere have this matter well under control and are putting everything into proper perspective for the press, for what it’s worth I offer a few independent observations of my own. After all, if Steinem and Albright are the type of people who are waving the banner for Hillary Clinton, then it’s important that we know all about them.

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We are Sandra Bland

During the worst years of apartheid in South Africa, it was not uncommon for a person, usually Black and poor, to be arrested by police and then just disappear — never to be heard from or seen again. Suicide while in police custody, especially by hanging, was often listed as the official cause of such deaths.

Not even the well-known Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko was exempt from police abuse. Biko, South African police said, had died of a “hunger strike” at age 30 while in jail in September 1977; it came out much later that he had died after being tortured by the country’s notorious security police and then refused the proper medical treatment. A cover-up of Biko’s death had taken place all the way to the top of the South African government. Biko’s crime? Being caught out of his designated “banning area” after curfew one night.

In the case of Ms. Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American citizen, the “crime” was a much simpler and thus more insidious one: a very minor traffic violation in Texas in July that led to her being arrested on a major felony charge. She was found to have killed herself by hanging in her jail cell three days later. Bland’s surviving family members do not believe the official ruling that she took her own life while behind bars, and neither do I. Looking closely at all the facts in the case, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that an official police cover-up of some kind was (and still is) in place.

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The Stain of Sexual Slavery

The Japanese government’s censorship of nationally used school textbooks — deleting or downplaying the many bad things Japan did during World War II — has been going on for decades. But it is only recently, with a neo-fascist prime minister back in power, that such official censorship is now moving into dangerous areas beyond Japan’s borders and into textbooks used in overseas countries.

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Where the Real Obscenity Lies

Rokude Nashiko, a manga comic book and visual artist based in Tokyo, was arrested in July of this year and detained by police. Her crime? Posting and distributing information pertaining to vaginal art — thinly disguised, sculpted images of her own genitals, to be exact. She faced a possible two years in prison for making such “obscene” images public through her website, which she operates openly and legally.

Thousands of people in Japan, and apparently abroad too, took exception to the heavy-handed Japanese police actions and put a public petition in motion. Within a week Rokude Nashiko (her artistic name and a play on words, loosely translated as “Good-for-Nothing Girl”) was released from custody, the police apparently too embarrassed by the publicity to keep her any longer.

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A Mourning Moment

This poem, “Mourning Grace” by writer/master storyteller Maya Angelou, comes to me as I take in the news that she has just passed away in the United States at age 86. I listen over and over to the voice of Angelou herself as she recites these brief but touching words from a recording she first made back in the late 1960s.

I mourn her passing as I also celebrate her memory. Her words have touched and inspired millions of people around the world, and I am no exception. She is one of the writers I include as members of my extended spiritual-literary family around the world who have helped clear the path and led me to become the writer I am today.

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