Black? Friday

I joined up on Facebook a few years ago to see pictures of a close relative.  Now I’m hooked and check it every day!  I’ve found it to be a slippery slope in terms of privacy issues and more.  There is some community building that goes on as long as the conflicts don’t get out of hand which can and does happen.  There is a learning curve for how to relate to it.  Overall it is fun and educational to connect with people over websites, silly and serious.  The blogs that develop sometimes are interesting.  I saw one that I no longer can find about Black Friday written by, I think Native and/or African Americans.  They commented on the use of the word “black” and took umbrage at it being used for a day of unleashed spending.  I thought it was a worthwhile conversation to be having.  One of WISR’s students, Lisa Carey, wrote a paper that was published in WISR’s Occasional Papers about the negative connotations for the word black which she felt as she who was of European descent, had married a man of African descent and her children are labeled Black.  The label has been embraced by African Americans so no wonder people would be uncomfortable with it being used for negative purposes.  I don’t think Lisa liked the use of dark either and suggested negative words like ominous or bad or in this case might suggest something more specifically descriptive like Shopping Friday???

Posted in Consumerism, Facebook Comments, Race and Class | Leave a comment

Reflecting on Woody Guthrie

Labor Day in the USA does not have the punch that May Day has in other countries, to hold up the rights of working people.  Giving a thought to it as more than a before school, last day of summer, I listened this weekend to Going Down the Road with Woody Guthrie: A Centennial Celebration  This is a tribute to Woodie Guthrie on American Routes, a weekly two-hour public radio program produced in New Orleans, presenting a broad range of American music. .

My father, Leland Jackson, liked Woody Guthrie as though he became a Lutheran hospital chaplain in his career and before that a parish pastor, as a young man during the Depression, he “bummed” around the country as he put it and worked in fields in California and points between there and his home in South Dakota.  He told a story about his father, who felt the call to move west as in the family in the Grapes of Wrath.  My Grandpa Jackson, at the entrance to their home on the farm, reached down and picked up dirt and let it fall through his fingers, saying “This has never failed me yet.”  They had a slough, a low moist area on the farm, where vegetables would grow and they were not far from a lake.

I learned by listening to the radio program that Guthrie’s father’s newly purchased farm was set on fire when his sister was ironing over a kerosense stove.  She burned to death and in a day or so his father did too, though Woody suspected his father set himself on fire because he was so upset.  His mother became mentally ill and all the children went to separate foster homes.  Woody had a job taking care of a hen but he was bored and took to the highways.  I suspect he had what is called post traumatic stress, and never got over that early trauma.  Often artists are born out of difficult circumstances.  When I did temporary office work when I was younger, I wrote a lot of poetry.  I thought of putting it together in a collection called “Out of the Blue” and perhaps I still will.

Studs Terkel, interviewed in the radio program, said This Land is Your Land should be our national anthem.  It was written to include everyone of all classes.  There is one Native American verse I’m currently aware of which Pete Seeger includes which is included below; also a counter melody by a Lutheran musician, Bret Hesla.

This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and I rambled, and I followed my footsteps
To the sparking sands of her diamond deserts,
All around me a voice was sounding,
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, then I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if,
This land was made for you and me.

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
Was a great big sign that said, “Private Property,”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking my freedom highway,
Nobody living can make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
(c) 1956 and 1958 Ludlow Music Inc.

Additional verses by Pete Seeger

Maybe you’ve been working as hard as you’re able,
But you’ve just got crumbs from the rich man’s table,
And maybe you’re thinking, was it truth or fable,
That this land was made for you and me.

Woodland and grassland and river shoreline,
To everything living, even little microbes,
Fin, fur, and feather, we’re all here together,
This land was made for you and me.

Native American verse:

This land is your land, but it once was my land,
Until we sold you Manhattan Island.
You pushed our Nations to the reservations;
This land was stole by you from me.

Counter melody by Bret Hesla ©

This land is more than your land or mine
It’s done fine on its own for several billion years
It’s given life to us all
And someday when we die
It will be made from you and me.

It’s fascinating to read Wikipedia’s biography of Woody Guthrie.  I don’t
know if I got all the facts straight above here from listening to the radio
show as they are a little different on Wikipedia but to read about his life is
to read about a movement and a time:

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Films for Girls

As an adult I’ve been able to watch films I didn’t get around to watching as a child.  I remember my father was nervous about me going to see Dr. Zhivago as an early teen. There are films I’ve watched since as an adult that I have thought would be helpful for young girls to understand what life and people and men and relationships can be really like.  Among the many musicals I saw growing up, Guys and Dolls wasn’t one of them.  Seeing it as an adult I see some common patterns in relationships.  Elmer Gantry, about a womanizing itinerant preacher, would go on my list.  Reading a little on Wikipedia I see that it was based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis.  Now I kind of wish I had read that instead of or in addition to Main Street in school.

British films about relationships are useful for this as well, where the mothers and fathers and aunties and uncles and sisters and brothers all worry and gossip about who their sister or brother will marry.  As immigrants, to the US, I see the United Kingdom as having an older culture and that wisdom is more accessible and available to us immigrant Americans than other cultures just because we know the language.

So many of the stories pumped at little girls are about meeting a prince and riding with him away on a horse to a white castle.  I recently watched The Secret, based on a book by  Catherine Cookson about a young girl who marries and expects to live happily ever after though her family gave her mixed messages. It turns out her husband is mentally ill and abuses her. “Whoa, girls….  Not so fast,” this film tells us.  The numerous Catherine Cookson books made into films are downloadable through Netflix and focus on class and follow young women and men through their lives through struggles that happen to real life people.

So perhaps if you have a daughter or know someone who does, this information will be helpful. I’ll try to add to this column as I watch and rewatch some of these films.

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Educational Pedagogy for Sharing of Work and Learning Process in Brazil

This podcast from Against the Grain, a KPFA radio program, an interview of a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, tells the story of a workers’ movement in Brazil that is also an educational movement using the ideas of Paulo Freire as well as Russian educators to support a socialist shared work life.

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Scandinavian Seminar

I spent a weekend on the premises of Scandinavian Seminar in Amherst, MA a few decades ago for a gathering of the Folk Education Association of America.  Scandinavian Seminar sent students from the US to folk schools in Denmark.  Here’s a link with some information about them.  Apparently they closed in 2010.

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Social Democratic Safety Net And Crime Rates, Is There A Correlation?

When the 99% movement began, talk radio host Ron Owens was puzzled as to what they were all about and this supplied a topic to discuss for hours of radio programming.  Recently I heard Ron Owens tell a story about a man in Berkeleywho called the police for help because he was nervous about a young man he didn’t know was wandering around his yard.  He called the police but they didn’t send anyone out because there was going to be an Occupy protest and they needed all their officers for that.  The homeowner ended up being killed by the young man who was depicted as being mentally ill.  Ron’s answer to the story is that some people need to pay more taxes; that simple.  He finally got what the 99% movement is about, in my opinion.  I strongly suspect there is be a correlation between a social democratic safety net and the rate of crime but I will followup in future articles as I research this subject.

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In One Hundred Years

Here’s a poem I translated in 1993 that was written by my great great
uncle who lived in Sweden, 1846-1931.  I have mostly translated Swedish
songs and a few poems to be singable and as true to their meaning as
I can.  This is the longest poem or song I have ever translated.  It is about
fraud and a strong commentary on how peoples’ behavior will weather
through the ages. It was published in 2010 in the collection of poems,
On the Edge of Peace — Voices from the faith-Based Peace and Justice Community, by the Ecumenical Peace Institute, Berkeley, CA.


When truth is judged as slander,
The light is scorned and persecuted;
When courts of old prejudice descend and
Every friend is frightened and must hide.
Then on one thing alone I stand,
What does it matter to me in 100 years?

When authority stands and boldly mocks
The free and truthful, investigated report,
The interpreter receives the names of a few,
Their biggest news is made.
They boast and foolishly persist and carry on,
What will it matter in 100 years?

When the country’s good human dignity is forgotten
And from its prejudicial pedestal
The court delivers severe and crooked sentences,
Hating each righteous speech.
When I the condemned am reprimanded,
What difference to me in 100 years?

When spirited spokesmen wish to bind
In form an investigation, accomplishments and trust,
And in ignorance wrap up;
They constrain so they may rest.
If then I change my way for them,
What difference to me in 100 years?

If the truth must inflict punishment to be respected,
For equality to work well;
Enlightening as a wound causes one to reflect
On God equally as on the lowest servant.
If I on the weakest court of justice stand,
What difference will there be in 100 years?

When like a beast that preys and drags victoriously
With fire and sword around sea and land;
Triumphantly, treasure and power they seize for themselves,
With violence, fraud, murder and fire.
Today the war, strength may establish,
But will be condemned within 100 years.

When the people are enslaved; indulged
With wages as great as a soldier’s;
The country’s blood and marrow used up
At their slave work.
They awaken and return from this injustice
Perhaps travelling far, within 100 years.

Those who for their own profit pursue
Every struggle for the greatest good and right;
Who failures, mistakes and truth conceal
In life, their knowledge, difficulties, ways,
The historian’s judgment receives the people’s anger,
Defying fraud far into 100 years.

And then each heart that hardly moves on behalf
Of a brother’s hardships and needs,
Who hears no cries for mercy or help;
When the weak are judged, their support is none.
They have just enough for when they go,
They are not remembered for 100 years.

But those who fight for justice and truth,
And whom the human race hold in high esteem;
They suffer for the light and peace.
Their brightness is not blinded, they are not inclined to hate,
Though their struggle may receive hate and ill will.
They are worthy still in 100 years.

When he for whom his cleverness is praised
Which none have grasped to understand;
Each to their own advantage judges,
The fanatics holler.
The just struggles to stay calm,
His work doesn’t die out in 100 years.

The good does not die out in time,
Nor is the wicked totally gone.
Yet if among them in the fight,
The better more and more until the finish
Seizes the empire, captures the upper hand,
The good will be understood for 100 years.

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Senior Care

Here’s a video of a senior who feels seniors have been put at the bottom of the list.

I’m glad this man expresses himself so well. Depending on health issues and the older people are, the less well they can speak up for themselves.

Posted in Happiness Factor, Senior Care, Social Democracy | 1 Comment

Please join this Social Democracy Think Tank!

I’m looking for others to join this think tank.  If you want to form a pod of 2 or 3 people, I encourage that as well.  The goal would be to discuss social democracy in the U.S., it’s history, why it’s looked down on, etc.  The Van Jones/Move On new movement for local grassroots organizing is inspiring in this regard and I’m hoping the group I joined for one meeting will continue.  One thing to research is all the social democrat groups around the world.  I’ve started to, using Facebook and Wikipedia.  I see this process of discussing and interacting in an ongoing way to be similar to folk school principles.

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Social Services to Avoid if you Don’t Want to Pay Taxes

This website has a long list of service US Americans shouldn’t use if they don’t want to pay taxes:

1. Do not use Medicare.
2. Do not use Social Security
3. Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
4. Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
9. Do not use public restrooms.
10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.

and so on….

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