Monthly Archives: April 2006

Disabled Activists and May 1

Disabled Activists and the Great Boycott: When Walking Requires Strategy

This is the biggest strike, the biggest mass action in U.S. . history. Many of us are giving up a days pay to support the boycott. Not to be able to attend could be very isolating, but to participate with a disability could be extremely problematic.
For those of us who are disabled, participating in the demonstration takes extra planning. Coordinate rides with friends if walking or rolling long distances is an issue. Do not depend on public transportation or anyone’s employment (busses, taxis, access paratransit) or any of the programs that usually allow us to access our society. There’s a good chance the busses won’t be running, the trains won’t be running and that access programs will also not be running, as the workers that perform these services will probably also be on strike. Be careful not to get stranded somewhere waiting for a bus or ride that never comes. plan for this contingency. What would be an inconvenience for the able bodied could be a safety or a health threat for many of us. You may want to bring extra medication, water and food.
Traveling long distances, negotiating huge crowds (they could exceed one million,) parking, etc. are very problematic for me. But like many disabled activists, the isolation of staying home, can be overwhelming. I don’t want this just to be a day without pay. I want to be in the heart of it, feel the beat of it, the pulse of it. I’ve been organizing my whole life and it’s painful to sit these mass demonstrations out. So, I plan to join the mass action without walking, by painting the windows of my car with statements of solidarity, driving near the demonstrations honking my horn.
Just some thoughts.
Peace with justice,
(from occupied Aztlan)

Just wanted to let you know that I just found your blog, and I love it. I also wanted to tell you that I will be with you in spirit Monday, but I’m playing golf with rich people Monday. If you knew me, that would be funny, but the truth is, I’ve already spent my hard-earned money for a golf tournament for the small Catholic school I work for, and I rarely ever get to play golf. I know it is just excuses, but they’re mine. I’ll be back to learn more about it._Posted by conqueringchaos on 04/29/2006 11:42:20 PM

Counting the omer: day 16

<><> Text                                                                                                                       Today is day 16_Two weeks and two days of the omer_Gevurah in Tiferet_Limits, strength, discipline in beauty balance harmony
Today I feel empty and broken_Worn down_Ordinary tasks and the void of human kindness overwhelm
I am out of place.  I feel as f I fit in no where, except maybe in Andy’s arms, but he’s in New York this weekend.  I am grounded and my legs are frozen twigs.  I am to tired
Too tired
The world spins around me
I am dizzy –invisible.
Today I cannot see beauty do not feel balance only the great void.
These are the days we always feared.  We live in dangerous times.  How to dance in the light when I have no legs?
Only masses of people bring new possibilities these greedy ones cannot prevail forever.

Daily Indignities: laundry detergent hubris

I would like to suggest that the event described below is unusual, but in fact similar events happen to me on an almost weekly basis, hence, the tag category on this blog entitled “daily indignities.”   I would also like to clarify that the “other customer”  who helped me, was in fact my teenage son, Leon. who was forced to witness this humiliation. Please feel free to call the Baldwin Park store (626-851-9404) and let Reggie and Bryant know that this treatment of disabled people is not acceptable.  These are hard fought for human rights.  Had someone posted “whites only” above the door of the restroom, it would also be an outrage had an employee lectured the guest complaining, on the appropriate tone of voice.
Peace with Justice, _from Aztlan,
Emma Rosenthal_PO Box 1664_Baldwin Park, CA 91706_818-404-5784
Gilbert Diaz, Store Manager_Baldwin Park Target_3100 Baldwin Park Blvd_Baldwin Park, CA 91706-4703_April 27, 2006_626-851-9404
Dear Mr. Diaz,
This evening as I was attempting to shop for essential items I suffered an especially humiliating experience in your store at the hands of ”Target Team Members.”  I am a sick, disabled woman and find large stores especially difficult.  If not for the mechanical scooters you provide it would often be impossible for me to spend my money in your store.  I trust the money from a middle aged, disabled woman is as good as anybody’s and I would hope that my continued business, as well as the well being of disabled customers  (you call customers, “guests”) in general, is important to you.  To that end, in addition to the time it took to purchase a few items, I am taking the time to alert you to the oversights in your staff development and sensitivity programs.
When I got to the store, one of the wheelchair scooters was broken.  The other one was in use.  I desperately needed a few items.  I had been very ill all week.  Lacking laundry detergent,  I had been unable to wash any clothing and this evening presented the first opportunity all week when I had both the time and some energy to complete the task of purchasing this and other essential items.
I  did what shopping I could on foot while waiting for the other scooter to become available in order to finish my shopping.  Part way through my shopping, the scooter broke down because your staff had not seen to the task of keeping the machine charged during the day, when it was not in use.  I was stuck, unable to walk great distances, sick and in a lot of pain, in the middle of the isle.  It was quite humiliating.  I sat there trying to figure out what to do.   At least three of your employees were in the isle but none of them noticed that I was stuck.  It would be very difficult for me with my limited strength to walk to the register and stand in line and wait to pay for my purchases.  Unable to move towards your employees in the broken scooter,  I called to them to please get a manager. While I had been waiting, another customer had kindly brought me a shopping cart and had transferred my groceries into it.   The manager, Reggie, finally arrived, but showed more concerned for the tone of my voice than with the fact that I was a “guest” trying hard to spend my money in his store and that I was undergoing an especially humiliating experience, stuck in the middle of the isle. I explained to Reggie the situation and requested that someone bring me a chair, so that I could sit at the check out isle while I checked out my merchandise. I had already ascertained that I could not stand up very well and would have to walk to the register. But that standing in line would be especially difficult.   He instructed an employee named Bryant, to bring me a chair and told me to wait a minute.  Ten minutes passed and no one came to help me. Your store sells chairs and a walk to the chair isle and back should have taken less than two minutes.  I would further imagine that there is  probably  (or should be) a manual wheelchair in the store for emergencies.   I saw Bryant turning the isle and called to him to get me the manager again, then I  noticed that he had a chair. In a mocking tone, he asked me if I wanted the manager or if I wanted the chair.  I said, “ Just bring me the damn chair.”  I do understand that this tone didn’t help the situation, but the absolute lack of concern for the disabled, demonstrated by one broken and one uncharged scooter, the lack of accommodation to my situation as I sat for over ten minutes in the middle of your isle, the pain I was in and the discomfort of chronic illness contributed greatly to my own frustration.  At that point Bryant refused to bring me the chair and he stood 20 yards from me, in the isle, doing absolutely nothing.  Finally the manager approached.  I asked him to imagine that I was his grandmother, sick, disabled and trying to shop. I asked him to appreciate the humiliation I was experiencing.   Again, he was more concerned with the tone of my voice than with my rights as a disabled person or my experience as a “guest” in your store.  When I complained that the scooter should have been charged, he told me, “You’re not the only one that uses it.” (As if that weren’t obvious, as if I were simply ungrateful, as if I had no right to my indignation at this indignity.). Finally he waved Bryant to bring me the chair. At that point Bryant said, quite smugly, “Now I’ll bring the chair!”  -confident that his rude and inhospitable treatment of a disabled “guest,” trying desperately to obtain reasonable accommodation so as to be able to access your establishment, would be acceptable to his boss.
Finally Reggie brought the chair to the check out, and I made my way by foot to the register.  He placed the chair away from the line, and eight feet from the register.  He made me wait in line, after having left me waiting in the isle.  He did not ask me if I needed help with my groceries nor did he explain the situation to the cashier.  I managed to get my merchandise onto the conveyor belt with the help of a customer and waiting in the chair, had to explain to the cashier, from a distance of eight feet, the situation and my needs.  The cashier, to his credit,  helped me move the chair and helped me make my way to the register. When I stumbled getting up, he asked me if I was all right.  He lowered the credit card charger so I could reach it and was very kind and helpful.  His name is Michael.  I thanked him for his kindness.
I hope in relaying to you Michael’s courteousness, I am not putting him in a difficult situation, as it would seem by the behavior of your manager, Reggie, and his employee, Bryant, that this rampant disrespect and disregard for the rights and dignity of the disabled is of little importance to your corporation.  Not once did Bryant or Reggie apologize to me or display any concern for or sense of responsibility to me as both a “guest” and a disabled person.    Not once did anyone take any responsibility for the fact that the scooter did not have sufficient electricity for a “guest” to safely navigate your establishment.   I was reprimanded and scolded as if I were simply a difficult child, not a woman old enough to be their mother, not as if I were a “guest”  simply trying to make a few humble purchases, asking for help because of insufficient planning and accommodation on their part.
Should I assume that disabled people are not welcome in your store in the evening, when the scooters, if left uncharged all day, are likely not to be useful? Should I assume that accommodation of the disabled is a favor you perform on our behalf at your discretion and not as a matter of human rights and human decency? Does this mean that had I been stranded in the back of the store, I would have been left on my own to figure out how to get out of the store and to my car safely?  Should I assume that Target pays little heed to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the rights of disabled people to shop in your store free from humiliation and ridicule at the hands of your ”Team Members?”
Might I suggest that you require that all of your employees, especially your managers, attempt to do their jobs for as little as one half of a workday from one of the scooters.  Perhaps then they will be more sensitive to the nuances of these machines, their need for electricity.  Perhaps then they will also take note of obstacles within the store that limit accessibility: the closeness of racks prohibiting “guests” in wheel chairs from shopping for clothing, as well as shopping carts and merchandise left in the aisles by “guests” and “Team Members” alike, that block access, the sole disabled bathroom stall that when filthy essentially means that disabled “guests” have no access to your facilities, as they can’t simply choose another clean stall, like able bodied customers can.
This was a horrid and humiliating experience. It threatened my health and well being by putting my already fragile system under undue stress.  You do understand that within a mile of my home are several other establishments at which I can shop, some closer than the store in which I was treated so discourteously.
Your web page boasts a commendable policy towards diversity of your employees, apparently somewhat successful, evidenced by the diversity of those subjecting me to this humiliation.  But I have never seen a disabled person working within any of your stores.   And none of the company statements or brochures on line indicates any policy regarding accommodations of the disabled and the assurance to employees and customers alike that the experience of disabled “guests” or their buying power are of any importance to your institution.
In response to this letter, please clarify for me your policy regarding reasonable accommodations and the desired relationship you wish to have with disabled “guests.”  If the behavior of these two “Team Members” is not in accordance with your policy, please take steps to assure that disabled “guests” are not treated so discourteously in the future.  Additionally I would appreciate an apology by both the store manager, Reggie and “Target Team Member, ” Bryant.  Please extend to “Target Team Member” Michael, my gratitude for his kindness and assistance for taking the time to help a frustrated and irate disabled woman finish what to most people is a simple task, but for me can be a daunting experience even under the best of situations.
Emma Rosenthal_818-404-5784
CC:     The San Gabriel Valley Tribune_    Mayor Manuel Lozano, Baldwin Park_    David Olivas,  Esq. Councilmember, Baldwin Park_    San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice_    Randy Howard, Logistics, Baldwin Park Target_    Bob Ulrich, CEO, Target Corporation    _    Gregg Steinhafel, President, Target Corporation_    Bart Butzer, Executive Vice President of Stores, Target Corporation_    Jodeen A. Koziak, Senior Vice President, Human Relations, Target Corporation_    Laysha Ward, Vice President, Community Relations, Target Corporation    _    Sonali Kolhatkar, Producer, Uprising: KPFK

Counting the omer: entering tiferet!

Day 15 of the omer

The week of gevurah is a tough week.  It requires focusing on limits, boundaries, strength, discipline.  Tonight we begin the week of tiferet; balance, beauty, harmony.  Tiferet is the heart (Each sephira corresponds to a place on the body, similar to ayurvedic chackras.) Beauty is in the heart, the place of love, for what we love is truly beautiful.  I feel at war with the world so much of the time, gripped in fear and grief for the impending loss, for what is already gone.  I fight so hard, a battle I doubt we can win so powerful are the forces against us, so easily we are divided, so self-defeating, so small against this giant death machine.
This week I can put that all away.
Another world is possible.  The proof is in my garden.
Day 15- two weeks and one day of the omer.
Lovingkindness in beauty_Chesed in tiferet

Counting the omer: day 14

Malchut in Gevurah
This is the map of my heart, the limit and expanse, the hope for connection, the resignation and despair, the recognition of the separation.  We are broken apart.  Made whole together.  I wait for you, the tribe, the people.  When will we dance by fire light, tell stories, sing songs, bathe in ritual baths, paint history on walls of ancient clay and sand?

text:_Day 14_Two weeks of the omer
kingdom sovereignty grounding in strength discipline and limits
These daily musing flashing images are limited to the free flow of pen and pencil on empty pages I cannot plan
These manifestations do not come from rational thought.  It is only in the limitless bounds of deep dense inner corridors that this light emerges. The moment I intend for something to emege, everything is lost in the limits of rational intentionality. I am not a draftsman  I cannot draw on commission.  Mine is the sky the place where the rainbow seem to touch the land but does not.
A patchwork of possibilities a crazy quilt of life.  this is not a tessellation of patterned predictability.

dearest rheim,  so glad to know we share this space.  love, emma

thank you for making your space so generous and welcoming!_Posted by rheim on 04/28/2006 05:27:22 AM

Counting the omer -days 11 and 12

Counting the omer- day 11

Day 11_One week and 4 days of the omer
Netzach in gevurah_Creativity, inspiration, endurance in strength, discipline, limits
This week has bee a profound week of limits, including the limits of my strength, its impact on my creativity, no lack of inspiration as I lie in bed recuperating from the conference last weekend.
I am learning to accept the limits my infirmity imposes on me and to manage the abundant inspirations I receive while waiting for the strength to carry out a fraction of them.
I have brought my activistm into smaller circles, not wandering so far, writing, blogging.
Yesterday I was too tired to do much of anything, even write in this book.  So I reviewed film for the film blog.
I launch ships from my sick bed and wait for them to return.
Day 12_Hod Shebe gevurah

Counting the omer- day 12

Day 12_Hod Shebe gevurah
Theory, order, splendor
in boundaries, strength, limits________________________________
This is the ugly
part of truth
the scar that marks
the place of healing
the written memory
of steel and gut
the point of the wound
what must be done
what remains
what is lost
the rigid demarcation.

LAT: Chronic Fatigue Is in the Genes

Chronic Fatigue Is in the Genes, Study Finds

Mutations are to blame for a syndrome often scoffed at as imaginary, researchers say.

By Thomas H. Maugh II
Times Staff Writer

April 21 2006

Chronic fatigue syndrome, often dismissed as the imaginings of
depressed and whiny people, is caused by genetic mutations that
impair the central nervous system’s ability to adapt to
stressful situations, according to a major new study by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The complete article can be viewed at:,1,6780422.story

Visit at

Counting the omer: Day 13

Day 13_Yesod (foundation- righteousness) in Gevurah (strength- discipline- limits)

Day 13
Yesod in Chesed
Rain beats down life and death_Branches reach skyward_Trees hold on to rocky cliffs_Roots dig in deep into underground aquifers_Rocks mark the passage of time and bear witness

i love these posts, emma. i am hooked!_Posted by rheim on 04/27/2006 03:47:36 AM
on the first night of the omer, rheim and i sat reading my previous frida journals (inspired by frida’s own journal; a mixture of words and images.) we had explored the tile work, my garden, the painted floors: all my creative expressions, had broken matzo for the second night of passover, and i said to her, “i must find a way to bring my art out of this house.” the next day i started this omer journal, no planning, it just emerged out of the magic of the night before. the previous journal had only a few pages left, and this one had been waiting several months to be filled. suddenly it was time. rheim makes guerrilla postcards. (that’s my name for them.) simple cards with typewritten sayings that i think are poems. (she says she isn’t a poet. i disagree.) they offer cryptic insights. these omer meditations of mine are inspired by her postcards. we met years ago at a reading i gave. this year marked our third passover together. passover sedar is always magical for me, a precious gathering of friends, activists, family and surprise guests. (we never know who will show up. the prophet elijah always brings interesting companions.) as the evening drew to a close, we wandered through my home, ending in my study, exploring books and images. so much emerges for me in that night, and often in the days of omer that follow. most of the friends that frequent the sedar year after year, aren’t jewish. they hold that space for me to mark time on an ancient calendar, the holiday that precedes the 49 days of omer, of wandering in the wilderness. some of these friends are passover friends. i hadn’t seen rheim since sedar last year. we cannot let so much time pass between visits again. -emma rosenthal_Posted by emma on 04/27/2006 04:20:06 AM

Counting the Omer: Days 8-10

omer days 8-10_Text:
Days 8-10 _The week of gevurah: strength, discipline, boundaries, limits.    Day 8: loving kindness (chesed) in gevurah,  Day 9 gevurah in gevurah. Day 10 tiferet (beauty, harmony balance in gevurah.
It seems strange that the week that is about discipline is the week I start to (apparently) slack off in my omer journal.  But actually, it was really a decision based on a loving, strong, harmonious understanding of strength, limits, boundaries and discipline.  This weekend I was responsible for the human rights committee conference at UTLA.  I was on my feet (a major accomplishment in itself) for the better part of two days.  On Thursday I had preparation for the conference, but also knew that I needed to rest in anticipation of everything the conference would require of me.  I made it, thanks in no small measure due to living in balance, loving kindness and discipline.  What got me through the conference despite my extreme limitations was disciplined rest, yoga, healthy food choices, hot baths, patience, asking for help, letting go of what I could not control as well as what I could not take on, delegating responsibility, zinc (yeah zicam!!!) vitamin C, lots of vitamin C, rest, lots of rest, and the power of community, which was ever present in bringing this conference into fruition.
I will need to be very still the next few days, to regain all my strength, what little that is.  The pain and the immobility began to set in before I rose from my bed this morning.  I was able to hold it off by sleeping a bit later than those who showed up to set up, arriving at 8:30 instead of 7:30, and spending some time with yoga, meditation and relaxation.
So all this applies to the theme of the week, the discipline in life, the recognition of limits, boundaries, strengths, necessary to carry out a task, a life, a plan with balance, beauty and loving kindness, always mindful of radical self-acceptance and radical self care.

Counting the Omer: Day 7

Day 7 of the Omer_Malchut in Chesed

Day 7 of the omer
sovereignty, grounding, kingdom in loving kindness
a time of deep inner reflection, release, transformation_what is lost what is gained
the loss of a close friend,  illumination of what was there, what was missing, the place where two paths diverge.  the truth is she had stopped caring a long time ago.  love is messy work.  it takes a rare integrity, the willingness to look inward, show up, wait, nurture.
in the end we really walk this path alone.