Yesterday (November 28, 2010) Ireland’s multitudes took the streets to protest proposed reductions in pensions and the minimum wage as well as massive layoffs, all repercussions of a “bailout” deal with the EU which, as elsewhere in Europe, means cuts to health care, education, social security and infrastructure. Let’s call it the post-Reagan “US Model.” The continuing global Crisis created by out of control, runaway banks and real estate developers in sycophantic relationships with governments who then step in to guarantee the bank debts, while the rest of us are, as the Irish would say, “fecked.” Debts incurred, US economist Paul Krugman points out in a recent column “Eat the Irish,” “not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit – yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the brunt…”
On Tuesday, November 9th, the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools hosted the Youth Power Summit. Over 200 students from 45 schools came together for a day of youth led workshops and dialogues.
On July 26th, Carlos Alberto Torres was released from federal prison in Illinois after serving 30 years for his participation in the Puerto Rican independence movement. Charged with “seditious conspiracy” for his participation in the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a clandestine independence organization that began in 1974, Carlos has dedicated his life to the liberation of Puerto Rico from the colonial rule of the United States. That dedication, from his days as a community organizer in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community to his time underground and his three decades in prison, made him a symbol of Puerto Rican pride and heroism, both on the island and in the United States.
Paying back student loans can be a real downer. Loans can make organizing after college virtually impossible as they force debtors to work a full-time corporate or nonprofit job, or join the military just to pay them off. When I graduated from college, I had $50,000 worth of student loan debt. I felt I was forced to get a full-time job, and pay them off as quickly as possible so in the future I could finally dedicate myself to social change work. Luckily I didn’t have to make this choice, as there are other options available! Here are a few worth knowing about.
Tens of thousands of New Jersey high schools students walked out of class on April 27 to protest the proposed $820 million in education cuts by New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie. Around 17,000 students walked out at Montclair, Eastern Regional and West Orange High School and many other high schools in Newark and Camden. The walkout was organized through Facebook, a social networking site that high school students used to facilitate communication.
A fast-growing spirit of cross-racial solidarity is taking root in the Philadelphia public schools in response to the December 3rd attacks on 26 Asian immigrant students at South Philadelphia High School.
On the Monday following the attacks, 50 students refused to attend classes, kicking off a highly publicized boycott that lasted eight school days. At the School Reform Commission Meeting held that week, students and numerous community advocates gave public statements expressing outrage over the gross failures of teachers and administrators to intervene and stop the attacks. Despite the fact that the attackers were primarily African American and the school has seen long-standing tensions between the racial groups, students carried signs of protest that read, “It’s not a question of who beat whom, but who let it happen.”
Indeed, activists have been calling attention to the school district’s repeated negligence in addressing a history of racial incidents at the school.
The dodging response from the district as well as the coverage by mass media has tended to create the wrongful impression that tension and violence between African Americans and Asian Americans is somehow natural and inevitable. School District Superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman wrote in a Jan 11th editorial for The Philadelphia Inquirer, “All too often, students bring racial intolerance from their homes and communities into school. When these prejudices exist in cultures and neighborhoods where violence can be a way of life, it’s no surprise that tempers explode and learning becomes impossible.” Mainstream media coverage has tended to portray Asians in South Philly as the latest immigrant newcomers in a changing neighborhood who are understandably met with resentment and abuse because of their differences in language and culture.
California entered a serious budget crisis in 2008 as a result of the financial crisis and slump in its once-hot housing market. (Despite having the largest dollar per capita prison system in the entire United States, cuts were instead made to vital public services under the watch of of Arnold Schwarzenegger, super-rich Reagan-wannabe known for his attempts to ‘terminate’ allegations of sexual misconduct and business-related conflicts of interest).