Front Cover: Poetry Collection, Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez
My Poetry Corner September 2019 features the poem “Mexican Heaven” from the poetry collection Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018) by José Olivarez, a poet, teacher, and poetry slam performer. Born in Calumet City on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite all the odds, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.
Olivarez’s first contact with poetry occurred through his high school’s poetry slam team. Their poetry had a profound impact on him. In a conversation with Jessica Hopper in July 2018, Olivarez said, “It made me feel like I could question more.” For the first time, he saw a way of becoming his true self, other than the reserved person everyone wanted him to be.
In his poem, “I Tried to Be a Good Mexican Son,” he shares his parents’ disappointment that he didn’t become a doctor, lawyer, or businessman.
I even went to college. But i studied African American studies which is not
The Law or The Medicine or The Business. my mom still loved me.
i tried to be a good Mexican son. Went to a good college & learned depression isn’t just for white people…Continue reading →
Caribbean immigrants remember loved ones at the 9/11 memorial on September 11, 2018
Photo Credit: News Americas
On September 11, we will remember all those we have lost on that ill-fated day when a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City turned the world-famous landmark into rubble.
I was living in Brazil when the tragedy occurred, sending a tsunami across the world. More than ninety other nations also lost loved ones that day, including three Brazilian-Americans and twenty-six Guyanese-Americans.
In his poem, “Guyanese Roll Call,” Guyanese-Canadian poet Peter Jailall remembers his twenty-six countrymen and women who died on that day. Their American Dream had been suddenly cut short.
Listen to our roll call
Of those who died
On that dreadful September day, Following their American Dream:
Patrick Adams Leslie Arnold Austin Rudy Bacchus Kris Romeo Bishundauth Pamela Boyce Annette Datarom Babita Guman Nizam Hafiz Ricknauth Jhagganauth Charles Gregory Jolin Bowanie Devi Kemraj Sarab Khan Amerdauth Luchman Shevonne Meutis Narendra Nath Marcus Neblett Hardai Parbhu Ameena Rasool Shiv Sankar Sita Sewnarine Karini Singh Rosham Singh Astrid Sohan Joyce Stanton Patricia Staton Vanava Thompson
These are our dedicated, Hard-working country people, Who travelled from South to North To savour just a small bite Of the Big Apple.
We will always remember them.
Source: Poetry Collection, People of Guyana by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall, MiddleRoad Publishers, Canada, 2018.
While violent anti-immigrant activism spread across America, let us remember that Guyanese and other Caribbean immigrant families also share our nation’s grief for loved ones lost on September 11, 2001.
Peter Jailall is a teacher, poet, and storyteller. He has published five books of poetry. In 2011, he received the Marty’s Award for Established Literary Arts in Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives. Since his retirement, Jailall has conducted workshops on Poetry Writing in schools across Guyana and Canada.
Pam Lazos, writing at Green Life Blue Water, observes the signs of climate change around her in Central Pennsylvania. Troubled by the “unknown unknown,” using the “tortured phraseology” of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, she calls on us to face reality and cure our global bipolar disorder.
We all know the truth: it’s time for an intervention.We can help Mother Nature deal with her issues because we are her issues.The government is not going to save us and neither are the aliens, in case you were wondering.The only ones who can save us are us.It’s time to do what we do best as a country — solve problems, innovate, lead so others might follow.The payoff — as if saving the planet and ourselves wasn’t enough — is that there’s a heck of a lot of money to be made in green technology, but first, we need to cure our global bipolar disorder and think things through in rational, logical terms.
“Send Her Back” – US President’s Campaign Rally – North Carolina/USA – July 17, 2019
Photo Credit: HuffPost, YouTube Video
I know about divisive racist politics. I have experienced it up close in Guyana, the land of my birth—one of the “shithole countries” that our president loves to denigrate. Divisive racist politics has crippled my birthplace over the past fifty-three years since its birth as an independent nation. As a multiracial woman, I know firsthand the ways in which hate, rancor, fear, and distrust can splinter families, communities, and relationships in public spaces, such as our schools and workplaces.
Caught up in what Guyanese call “the racial disturbances”—during the years leading up to independence in May 1966, between the two major population groups of descendants of African slaves and Indian indentured laborers—I became a marginalized citizen. Beginning in adolescence, I learned to navigate the racial minefields, to dodge and take the blows.
In my debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, to be released in the coming months, I tackle the roots of Guyana’s divisive racist politics and its impact on the lives of my racially diverse characters. You can learn more about my motivations for setting out on this literary journey in my article “The Making of Under the Tamarind Tree.”
While the chant rose to “send her back,” during a recent presidential campaign rally, America’s transnational corporations are sucking Earth’s natural resources from all those “broken and crime infested places from which they [non-white immigrants] came.”
Front Cover: American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism by Henry A Giroux
(City Lights/USA 2018)
American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism by Henry A Giroux is a collection of essays that aim to shake up Americans to the growing threat of Trump’s authoritarianism to America’s democratic institutions. The author observes that “while the United States under Trump may not be an exact replica of Hitler’s Germany, the mobilizing ideas, policies, and ruthless social practices of fascism, wrapped in the flag and discourses of racial purity, ultra-nationalism, and militarism, are at the center of power in Trump’s United States.”
As defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary, fascism is “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” To examine the echoes of fascism under Trump, Giroux refers to Robert O Paxton’s nine “mobilizing passions” of fascism described in his work, The Anatomy of Fascism (2004). These include:
sense of overwhelming crisis;
subordination of the individual to the group;
belief in victimization of one group to justify violence;
dread of group’s decline;
call for a purer community;
authority of a natural leader;
supremacy of leader’s instinct over reason;
beauty of violence and efficacy of the will for group’s success; and
right of chosen people to dominate others without restraint.
These fears and frustrations [President Trump’s failure to build a wall], heightened by U.S. Census Bureau projections that white people will no longer be a majority by 2044, helped propel hate to a new high last year. The total number of hate groups rose to 1,020 in 2018, up about 7 percent from 2017. White nationalist groups alone surged by nearly 50 percent last year, growing from 100 chapters in 2017 to 148 in 2018. But at the same time, Trump has energized black nationalist hate groups — typically antisemitic and anti-LGBT organizations — with an increase to 264 from 233 in 2017. Overall, though, the great majority of hate groups are those that despise racial, ethnic or religious minorities and they, unlike black nationalist groups, have a firm foothold in the mainstream.
“Thanks to President Trump’s
leadership, the United States is pursuing trade policies that are more
favorable to American workers,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “In just two years,
we have significantly re-written major trade deals with Korea, Mexico, and
Canada. We have undertaken dramatic new enforcement efforts to stop unfair
trading practices by China and other countries.”
President Trump has kept his promise made during his electoral campaign to renegotiate NAFTA. On November 30, 2018, the three trade partners signed theUnited States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace NAFTA. It’s now up to Congress to approve or reject the terms of agreement.
In her article, “The Battle Over
NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s
Global Trade Watch, warns that “if progressives don’t engage strategically to
improve the pact, the consequences could be devastating [for both workers and
To date, our Dealer-in-Chief’s
strategies to reduce our trade deficit has not shown results. Based on the U.S.
Census Bureau foreign trade statistics released on March 6, 2019, here’s a
look at U.S. trade (goods only) in 2018 for our top three trade partners—China,
Canada, and Mexico—that account for 44.9 percent of America’s total trade,
valued at $1.9 trillion.
America’s trade war with China is not over.
Our success or failure matters. China is our Number One trading partner with 15.7
percent of total trade (imports & exports), valued at $659.8 billion. Trade
teams from the USA and China are now in their eight round of negotiations. Judging
from the import figures for 2018, our ten percent tariff on select Chinese
imports have not yet had any effect, when compared to the previous year. U.S. export
values tell a different story. Our farmers and ranchers continue to bear the
burden of China’s retaliatory tariffs on American produce.
China Imports increased $34.0 billion to $539.5 billion Exports decreased$10.1 billion from $130.4 billion US-China Trade Deficit increased $44.0 billion to $419.2 billion —representing 47.7 percent of total trade deficit for all countries
After China (15.7%), Canada (14.7%) and
Mexico (14.5%) rank in second and third place, with total trade valued at
$617.2 billion and $611.5 billion, respectively. In 2018, trade deficits increased
for both Canada and Mexico, when compared with figures for 2017.
Canada Imports increased $18.5 billion to $318.5 billion Exports increased $16.3 billion to $298.7 billion US-Canada Trade Deficit increased $2.2 billion to $19.8 billion
Mexico Imports increased $32.5 billion to $346.5 billion Exports increased $22.0 billion to $265.0 billion US-Mexico Trade Deficit increased $10.5 billion to $81.5 billion
After decades of trade policies that have favored multinational and transnational corporations and gutted American manufacturing jobs, we cannot ignore the terms of our trade agreements that would impact our industries and livelihood. We can no longer expect more and pay less. This comes with a high price tag.
By Robert A. Vella. It may seem paradoxical to laypeople that we would have severe cold weather spells in wintertime given that the world is rapidly warming up due to manmade climate change; and, climate change deniers are quick to exploit this paradox for political reasons. But, it is true. Global warming is increasing the incidence of extreme weather events of every kind from prolonged droughts and powerful storms to deadly heat waves and brutal cold snaps. The following details the basic science behind the phenomenon popularly, though inaccurately, known as the “polar vortex.” The real polar vortex is something else altogether…
Sunrise Movement protesters outside then Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Office – December 10, 2018
Photo Credit: Sunrise Movement
While our president is fixated on building a wall along our southern border to keep us safe from the invasion of “bad hombres,” he refuses to acknowledge our greatest existential threat: climate change disruption. Young climate change activists, clamoring for bold action, have found a champion in the newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). At twenty-nine years, she is the youngest member of the US House of Representatives.
On February 7, 2019, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced a nonbinding resolution that sets out the framework for the Green New Deal. The proposal has gathered 64 House and nine Senate Co-Sponsors, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In an interview with Politico, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), not present at the unveiling, referred to the proposal as a mere suggestion.
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is but they’re for it right?”
The Green New Deal Resolution – List of Co-Sponsors
Photo Credit: Sunrise Movement