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From Democracy Now!:
“Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action,” said John Pilger. “That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.” We spend the hour airing a recent lecture by the acclaimed Australian filmmaker and muckraker.
Watch it here with realplayer.

Or listen to the mp3 here.

It's a really good speach full of great analysis, and definitely worth the time.

One part I thought was really good:
BBC news routinely describes the invasion as a miscalculation. Not illegal, not unprovoked, not based on lies, but a miscalculation. The words mistake and blunder are common BBC news currency. Along with failure. Which at least suggests that if the deliberate, calculated, unprovoked, illegal assault on defenceless Iraq had succeeded, that would have been just fine.

Whenever I hear these words, I think of Edward Herman's marvelous essay about normalizing the unthinkable. For that's what media cliqued language does and is designed to do. It normalizes the unthinkable of the degredation of war, of severed limbs, of maimed children, all of which I've seen. One of my favorite stories about the cold war concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit they were asked by their host for their impressions. "I have to tell you," said the spokesman, "that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers, and watching TV day after day, that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the goulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don't have to do any of that. What's the secret?"
And this:
Last year a study published by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that since the invasion of Iraq 655, 000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the invasion. Official documents show that the Blair government knew this figure to be credible. In February, Les Roberts, the author of the report, said the figure was equal to the figure for deaths in the Fordham University study of the Rwandan genocide. The media response to Robert’s shocking revelation was silence. What may well be the greatest episode of organized killing for a generation, in Harold Pinter’s words, “Did not happen. It didn’t matter.”
It's interesting how killing is so different when Americans/Westerners are the ones doing it.

I felt that the Domecracy Now! clips in between really highlighted the fact that the corporate media just places government figures on our televisions and newspapers with quotations and interviews all day long. They don't place independent people who will challenge and dispute the institutional figureheads.

also on youtube..Collapse )

U People: An Open Letter

The U People Podcast is produced by Sucka For Life and Single Handed Films better known as Hanifah Walidah and Olive Demetrius. We are partners in art and love and we feel fortunate to be able to live as we love and share that with all of you. U People is our documentary film about what happened in a brownstone in Brooklyn one spring weekend where 30 gay, straight women and trans folks of color got together to shoot a not so typical music video. What was caught on B-roll are moments that most can relate to how ever you live your life. So to promote the film we began producing the U People podcast and found their is a community out there that not only supports the film but its message. U People is more than a movie but has been embraced as a movement and we hope this site is a second home for all of U People. -- http://suckaforlife.com/upodcast/about/

Dear Community,

U People is a film that was born out the possibility that our voices are more powerful than ever. If you have heard of U People it is because two women saw an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done. It is also because our community has lifted us up along the way. We’ve come this far with what we have.

Background in Brief
Hanifah Walidah and Olive Demetrius are two artists who on one spring weekend in Brooklyn, brought together 30 women and trans people of color to create a music video that was the first of its kind. What was captured behind the scenes of the shoot would become a cultural benchmark for a generation. The documentary U People has been met with standing ovations from audiences spanning NY to California. The associated weekly video podcast at iLoveUPeople.com at this point has over 60,000 views.

Click here to watch the U People trailer.

The Crossroads
With everything we have worked towards we have finally reached the inevitable crossroads. LOGO, MTV’s queer network, has proposed broadcast of U People to a nationwide audience. With this blessing come its challenges. In order for the film to be broadcast it must acquire Errors and Omissions Insurance and obtain closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. These combined costs amount to $7,000. An amount that must be raised no later than September 15th, 2008.

We need you to support U People now at this most crucial point in our work. We have provided numerous ways you can support our cause. Whether you pre-order a DVD, buy a download card, donate small or large amounts, together the community that U People has supported will be integral to its eventual broadcast.

A Means to a Dream
* If 700 people donate only $10 we will reach our goal. If you are that 1 in 700 click here

U People is fiscally sponsored by Women Make Movies. If you can make a tax-deductible contribution of over $100 please click here. Contributions over $500, receive a free DVD and prominant credit in the film.

* For more information on ways in which you can support U People click here.

Thank you for being a part of this movement by forwarding this message far and wide.

Hanifah Walidah and Olive Demetrius
U People LLC



Dead Prez - Be Healthy

They say you are what you eat,
so I stive to eat healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy.
True wealth come from good health and wise ways.
We got to start takin better care of ourselves.

Orgasms for Social Justice

I started my day by reading an article, The Orgasmic Mind: The Neurological Roots of Sexual Pleasure which I was linked to by Delux. The article describes what is going on in your partner's mind as they are reaching an orgasm with you, which is pretty much just totally amazing to read about. One thing the article brings up is that for women, an orgasm requires a certain level of safety and comfort with ourselves and our partners:

Brain activity fell in the amygdala, too, suggesting a depression of vigilance similar to that seen in men, who generally showed far less deactivation in their brain during orgasm than their female counterparts did. “Fear and anxiety need to be avoided at all costs if a woman wishes to have an orgasm; we knew that, but now we can see it happening in the depths of the brain,” Holstege says.

I won't go into how I believe that need is at least in part a reaction to the patriarchal society, which is so violent towards women, that we live in here. But at the end of the article, it talks about how drug companies are creating pills that make it easier to reach orgasm, thereby decreasing our visible need for safety and comfort:

One such experimental compound is a peptide called bremelanotide, which is under development by Palatin Technologies in Cranbury, N.J. It blocks certain receptors in the brain that are involved in regulating basic drives such as eating and sex. In human studies bremelanotide has prompted spontaneous erections in men and boosted sexual arousal and desire in women...

So hold the thought about these orgasm-enabling pills for a minute, and let's talk about love. In All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks speaks to self-love, the act of loving yourself unconditionally, being the foundation for all other love that you are able to give and to receive:

Self-love is the foundation of our loving practice. Without it our other efforts to love fail. Giving ourselves love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional love we may have always longed for receive from someone else. Whenever we interact with others, the love we give and receive is always necessarily conditional. Although it is not impossible, it is very difficult and rare for us to be able to extend unconditional love to others, largely because we cannot exercise control over the behavior of someone else and we cannot predict or utterly control our responses to their actions. We can, however, exercise control over our own actions. We can give ourselves the unconditional love that is the grounding for sustained acceptance and affirmation. When we give this precious gift to ourselves, we are able to reach out to others from a place of fulfillment and not from a place of lack.

One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn't it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim "You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself" made clear sense. And I add, "Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself." (emphasis mine)

Which then leads me to a quote from this interview at clamor, which I found through brownfemipower later today, that connects love for our own bodies to social justice organizing:

Unfortunately, what I most often witness is people’s trauma around their bodies getting in the way of uniting. As queers, as fat people, as people with disabilities, as people of color, we have often located so much of our pain in our bodies. We internalize so much anger, we get sick from it and throw up walls and make divisions. I get inspired when I see the connections made on an individual level. But on a larger scale I don’t really see it happening yet.

I think there are two main obstacles: 1) Most of us spend a lot of time outside of our bodies. I’m not sure how many people are willing to get into their bodies in the way it would require in order for this kind of movement to build. Phat Camp was an amazing place to witness people going through this. They come in with their brains in a tizzy, wondering “What is empowerment? What is self-acceptance?” and then they realize we don’t want their brains to do the work—we want to go to a deeper place. A place where all of our bodies are unified in the struggle to be whole and real.

2) People who don’t have to think about their power usually don’t. Sometimes I wonder if we can really build anything effectively without figuring out how to cross over and get people to examine their privilege. There is so much mythology about health and wellness, that it’s hard for me to picture having a deep moment with someone who more than anything believes I just need to lose weight. Even if we agree that the prison system needs to end and Bush is a motherfucker.

I see the goal of all work like this to be community building, healing, and revolution. In that order.

A lack of acceptance of our bodies, which can be a very difficult part of self-love, gets in the way of building communities, organizing, and creating healthy interpersonal relationships. And I also find it difficult to picture myself having a deep moment with someone who defines who I am inside by the shape or other characteristics of my body, and who places expectations on my self or my body, one based on the other.

At the 2008 AMC I heard a lot of talk about how the greatest movements of today are built around, and defined in terms of, our love for each other, rather than only on the oppressions we face. About how instead of only focusing on our anger and bringing down our oppressors, this allows us to also act from a place of love and gives us the ability to envision new, positive futures, built upon love, which we can work to replace our oppression with. The above mentioned interview also speaks of this idea in the context of our bodies and otherwise:

LF: Part of what I appreciate so much about this roundtable is being able to listen to and learn from activists who have taken this approach. Some people like to argue for unity on the basis that we all have the same experience—for me that just plants landmines that are going to blow up later. In my activism and my travels, I’ve been able to work with so many different types of people, which teaches me to appreciate our differences and recognize the burdens that people are forced to carry. This helps me learn about what it is to be a human being and break out of the isolation that’s been imposed on me as a transperson. GF: I taught a group of young girls of color last weekend, ages 9 to 12. They’re African-American and Latina. At least one of them had starved herself from the age of nine. We talked about how they wanted to create new magazines and images of beauty. I asked them how this conversation related to self-defense and violence-prevention. One girl said, “You have to know your life is worth something before you can fight to save it.” Others talked about their belief that one can’t work for justice in any community without starting from a place of self-love, or at least working toward that.

If love in our closest relationships can only be found by loving ourselves first, then I see a pill which can replace or obscure our need for love as an assault on, or at least an direct obstacle to, women realizing our need to and thus finding our ability to love ourselves. And if love is at the heart of our movements for social justice, then self-love is at the center of them as well, and I see medicinized apathy towards love as an attack also on our movements for justice, peace, prosperity, health, love, and wholeness for us all.

Instead of pills, or self-help books that teach us to cope without love, what we need is awareness and knowledge about love, knowledge of how we can achieve it through self-love first, and the wisdom and experiences of those who have found it. Awareness of what love is is important because we can't talk about love, or realize and acknowledge where our lives lack love, without this grounding. bell hooks gives us her understanding of love in All About Love: New Visions:

I spent years searching for a meaningful definition of the word "love," and was deeply relieved when I found one in the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck's classic self-help book The Road Less Traveled... he defines love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Explaining further, he continues: "Love is as love does. Love is an act of will - namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love." Since the choice must be made to nurture growth, this definition counters the more widely accepted assumption that we love instinctually. (bolding mine)

I think this definition exposes how unselfish real love is, as loving someone else has nothing to do with yourself, but rather their own independent spiritual growth. (spiritual as in the core of our being, the place where our mind, body and spirit meet, or our whole selves.) hooks then later goes on to clarify and expose our myths about love:

To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients - care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication. Learning faulty definitions of love when we are quite young makes it difficult to be loving as we grow older. We start out committed to the right path but go in the wrong direction. Most of us learn early on to think of love as a feeling. When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them; that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them. That process of investment wherein a loved one becomes important to us is called "cathexis." In his book Peck rightly emphasizes that most of us "confuse cathecting with loving." (bolding mine)

These definitions are powerful, as our culture generally defines love simply as some combination of care and affection, which may or may not even be consistent. These definitions expose the truth that where there is no respect, there is no love, regardless of how much care is involved, and likewise for all of these components. Domination, abuse and neglect can not coexist with love when love is acting in a way that continuously embodies all of these ingredients.

We need to know how to find love if we are ever going to have success in our search. But giving and receiving love to and from others is difficult when we are not working toward loving ourselves as well. Using medication to diminish our need for love, teachings that tell us to simply accept a lack of love from others, and beliefs that the love lacking in our lives needs to be found in some external place, as are prominent in mass media, do nothing to help. They all function to hide the need for us to work on loving ourselves, which only pushes us farther away from the love we hope to obtain.

Loving ourselves is not an easy thing to do, but by following a definition such as above, hooks says in All About Love: New Visions, we can see that "action we take on behalf of our or another's spiritual growth provides us with a beginning blueprint for working on the issue of self-love." She goes on to claim self-esteem as being a critical first step toward self-love and gives a clear path toward building self-esteem from the work of Nathaniel Branden:

The wounded heart learns self-love by first overcoming low self-esteem. Nathaniel Branden's lengthly work Six Pillars of Self-Esteem highlights important dimensions of self-esteem, "the practice of living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, living purposefully and the practice of personal integrity."

This approach to self-love rings very true with me, as I can clearly see how working on those same dimensions, without meaning to directly improve my self-esteem, has strongly impacted my ability to love myself and others. Working on any one of these dimensions has strengthened my ability to work on all of the others, and I can see clearly how continuing to work on these will continue to improve my ability to give and receive love. I also greatly appreciate that none of these directions toward self-esteem depend necessarily on the involvement of other people, even though support and exemplary love from those around us can make a huge difference.

There are many books, movies, etc. on the topic of love, but true knowledge about love needs to come from those who have done the work to find self-love. As bell hooks says in Communion: The Female Search for Love:

The women in our culture who have the most to teach everyone about the nature of love are the generation of females who learned through feminist struggle and feminist-based therapy that self-love was the key to finding and knowing love.

We, the women who love, are among a generation of women who moved beyond the patriarchal paradigms to find ourselves. The journey to true selfhood demanded of us the invention of a new world, one in which we courageously dared to rebirth the girl within and welcome her into life, into a world where she is born valued, loved, and eternally worthy.

And I think that "invention of a new world" parallels so perfectly with the work of envisioning, transforming, and rebuilding that is the goal of our movements for social change and justice. That transformation can be done within each of us, and as we work on our own transformations, it will allow us enact them on the world around us. And as queers, as fat people, as people with disabilities, as people of color the act of learning to love ourselves in our bodies is already a radical and powerful movement.


دانت Dana

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