Felicia Gustin has been with War Times since the beginning. She currently works at SpeakOut, a national organization working primarily with colleges, universities, and high schools and dedicated to the advancement of education, racial and social justice, leadership development and activism.
She is a long-time activist in international solidarity, peace, racial justice and labor movements. She was a journalist for 10 years in Cuba and is currently working on several projects - an historical memoir and a poetry collection, among others.
I think about the children in Gaza, the children coming across the Mexico - U.S. border, the children without water in Detroit, the children living with violence in Oakland.
I think about what kind of future our children face and what is our responsibility, as adults, to all children, to rid this planet of war and militarism, hatred and inequity. To save this planet.
I think about this poem by Guatemalan revolutionary Otto Rene Castillo. It kind of says it all:
"Before the Scales, Tomorrow"
The U.S. war machine is on the move. Oh, the tragic irony – the George H.W. Bush warship moves into the Persian Gulf, poised to take military action as the situation in Iraq deteriorates.
Calls for U.S. intervention grow louder. On one side we have the voices from the right, those who favor militarism and war over diplomacy (and who got us into this mess in the first place). Then there are those individuals, some liberals and progressives, who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of Iraqis and who may be confused about how to respond.
A lot of people seem confused about what’s happening in Venezuela. We see thousands of protestors facing off with police and soldiers and think popular uprising against government repression, right? After all, that’s how it’s being portrayed in both corporate media and much of social media.
But let’s take a moment for some fact checking. No question that violence has been rocking Venezuela in recent days. Hundreds of thousands of pro and anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets. Several people have been killed, dozens injured and arrested.
Islamophobia is bred from a culture of fear, misinformation and racism. Our society is rife with examples, especially since 9/11 - from stop and frisk policies directed at Muslims to government surveillance of whole communities; from increased hate crimes to media depictions that fuel the notion that Muslim equals terrorist.
The statistics are shameful – some 2.3 million people are locked up in the United States, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Of these, a disproportionate number are Black and Brown. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
This has never been about Republicans fearing that the Affordable Health Care Act would hurt the people of this country. If they really thought that, they’d let it go into affect without a whimper and when it failed, they could say, “See? We told you so!” No, this was about fearing its success. It’s also about political extremism. And racism.
The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington has brought civil rights struggles past and present into national discourse. And while the country marks the anniversary of September 11th there is another significant event on this date that merits attention as a turning point in the struggle for racial equality.
Last night I dreamt that Chelsea was my daughter. Chelsea who was Bradley who was just sentenced to 35 years in prison. It was one of those wandering about, helpless, lost, not knowing what to do dreams. Kind of like how I had been feeling about the whole situation while awake.
July 18th marks Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. It brings to mind another birthday of his when he was still imprisoned by the apartheid government of Pretoria. The year was 1986. Inside South Africa, waves of protests were sweeping the country. In June of that year, a second state of emergency had been declared and thousands were arrested.
I gain strength from the words of the song: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest, We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes…” But then I remember the words of Native brother John Trudell, that there is a lie in the middle of that word, believe: beLIEve
We know not to believe in the criminal justice system. But we harbored a little bit of hope. Hope gets us every time. Fools us. Lures us. Entices and tempts us. But it’s just a lie. White supremacist AmeriKKKa trumps justice. (Remember back in the day when we used that? AmeriKKKa. The day is back.)