With the rise of the #MeToo moment and the #TimesUp campaign, Hollywood has discovered activism, and with it, a new lexicon and fledgling new identity. This is potentially a blessing and a curse for those of us who have been fighting feminist and anti-racist battles long before “intersectionality” was uttered from the stage at the Oscars, long before activists formed a phalanx of silent sentinels to serve as props for celebrity performances. This scene was politically counterbalanced, by the way, with a celebratory tribute to war and militarism. But this is the world we live in. And like with every industry and institution, there are a handful of genuine change-seekers in Hollywood — people who have risked their careers and livelihoods to wage uphill battles for greater justice in the arts and media. And we have to give them the opportunity to be better allies going forward, in the spirit of Eslanda and Paul Robeson and others. How do we do this work, and dance this dance, with greater attention to the principles that ground us?
On Feb. 1, 1968, Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death while riding out a cold, driving rainstorm in the back of an outmoded “packer” garbage truck in Memphis. Unsafe working conditions, racism and abuse had long been intolerable for the city’s 1,300 sanitation workers. On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Monday, February 12, they refused to go to work. Later attacked by the police, the news media, and the city government, their fight under the banner “I Am A Man” for union rights and a living wage marked a turning point for the movements of the 1960s from civil rights to economic justice.
By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights
What does it mean to “have a coffee?” It is a fairly universal expression – but it is not just a verb, it is an event. An invitation. To “have a coffee,” means to get together with someone and talk. This talking may be about work. Or family. Or politics. Or your latest crush. You may be complaining or conspiring or commiserating and there may, or may not, be coffee involved. I have “had a coffee” in bars and in parks as well as in coffee shops. What distinguishes “drinking coffee” from “having a coffee” is setting aside the time to connect with someone in an unscripted manner. It is in this space that ideas flow, relationships strengthen and trust is maintained. After having a coffee, I go back to my life of work, family and revolution knowing that I have shared and am not alone. I return rejuvenated with connection.
“Little by little the raindrops swell the river.” (African Proverb)
All over this country, and the world, women (and some male allies) marched on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. Each woman who marched was a rain drop in a river of resistance to an increasing turn by demagogic leaning world leaders toward policies that trample on human rights. For us in the United States those world leaders are Donald Trump and Mike Pence and their allies in the Republican led Congress: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and others.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8rBeFw147E Chris Hedges discusses building successful non-violent mass movements with Bill Ayers, author of “Demand the Impossible.” Ayers reflects on his experience as one of the co-founders of the Weather Underground, a communist revolutionary group from the late 1960s that was dedicated to the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the rise and demise of the Weather Underground.
In our pursuit of a world powered by love and reaching toward joy and justice, imagination is our most formidable and unyielding ally—the people’s common asset, an endowment to each one and the indispensable weapon of the powerless. Yes, they control the massive military-industrial complex, the sophisticated surveillance systems, the prison cells, and the organized propaganda—and these are on constant display as if to remind us every minute that there is no hope of a world without the instruments of death and oppression—and we have only our minds, our desires, and our dreams—and each other. And, yes, in a fixed war or a traditional conflict we are finished before we start. But it’s also true that there’s no power on earth stronger than the imagination unleashed and the collective human soul on fire. In irregular combat or a guerrilla struggle that pits our free imaginations against the stillborn and stunted imaginations of the war-makers and the mercenaries, we will win.