Category Archives: Bearing Witness

Reiki for a Cause

Fundraiser for
The WE Empowerment Center

Reiki text in JapaneseFor a donation of $30 or more you can have a one hour reiki session with Emma Rosenthal

All donations over $30 are tax deductible.

Make your appointment today!

https://reikiwithemma.wordpress.com/

Reiki with Emma specializes in

  • FibromyalgiaDisability symbol for wheelchair access, cognitive emotional DISabilities, sign language and blindness
  • pain management
  • meditation
  • Focusing and ADHD
  • PTSD and ongoing traumaReiki sessions to be held at DragonflyHIll Urban Farm.
      DragonflyHill Urban Farm is a wheelchair accessible, DISability and LGBTQIAA affirmative, anti-racist, anti-sexist, decolonialist, social justice safe and sober space.

    Please let us know in advance of any specific DISability access requirements.

Cross Generational Trauma: a resource of links

Cross Generational Trauma: a resource of links

(Work in progress. I especially need links regarding restorative justice. Also, please post your favorite links on this issue.)
Links on the ongoing exploration of cross generational trauma, something that has impacted my lineage and my life tremendously and must inform our activism and policy as we try to create systems of support and determine reparations. Some links posted for future reference. Please feel free to comment on the links and critique their premises. Some basic concepts to consider as we recognize and explore recent evidence that it’s not just socialization and psychological behavior that explains the cross generational transfer, but that the trauma actually is in our DNA.
  1. The wisdom of our ancestors– what has been lost, stolen, forgotten and abandoned– language, customs, wisdom, healing, is also in our DNA. We embody in our cellular memory all the hurt, but also all the love and knowledge of our ancestors.
  2. It stands to reason that it is not just victims who carry the DNA memory, but also the perpetrators. They two carry with them– entitlement, power, abusiveness, violence, guilt. Their inheritance isn’t just the monetary inheritance of centuries of theft and enslavement and exploitation, but the entitlement of and power gained from the abuses inflicted on our ancestors.
  3. That is, power and powerless carry with us, into each subsequent generation this relationship of owner and slave, colonizer and colonized, Abuser and abused, Victimizer and Victim.
  4. I reject the rejection of the term victim. The assertion by many that we choose to be victims, we perpetuate the systemic and cultural tendency to blame the victim, either for their victimization in the first place or in their healing and response afterward. By thinking we, individually can step outside of this history without collective work and collective healing and accountability is to side with oppression and perpetuate abuse. Blaming the victim is the religion of systemic and cross generational trauma. Another term for victim that can be used, is “target” and the term “survivor” is also acceptable, but with the understanding that there is nothing more moral about being a survivor than having not survived. It is NOT a choice. To privilege survivors over those who were massacred is to embrace essential white supremacist ideologies of fitness and worthiness.
  5. I reject the idea that soldiers are victims. Soldiers are perpetrators. If perpetrating violence is traumatic, then that’s easy– stop perpetrating violence.
  6. Trauma is insidious– it can make us lash out at the what triggers us, which may NOT be what caused the trauma or the flashback at all. Like the child who dives under their chair when a plane passes over head, miles from the location of the trauma of war, where passing overhead planes meant the dropping of bombs, those of us in communion, where spaces are actually safe, are not the source of the trauma, just because we are the location of the trigger. It is the work of our PTSD healing to learn to recognize the difference between danger, and the flashbacks that come up when we are safe.
  7. I also want to point out that POST Traumatic Stress Disorder, may not be accurate. Much trauma is not only in the past, the distance past and our DNA, but is ongoing. It is exceedingly difficult to recuperate from ongoing trauma because the wounds are not only fresh, but are constantly being reopened.
  8. Terms like “Children of the Holocaust” and “Post Traumatic Slave Disorder” are headlines here, for the much larger body of work on trauma among Jews and African Americans, respectfully. I use those terms because they also reflect the narrative within those communities, even where the issue of cross generational trauma may be greater than the scope that term may imply.
  9. too often because of its scope and intensity, 6000 years of who Jews are and what we’ve done and what’s been done to us gets encapsulated in the 6 years of the Shoah, and now it Israel. As if aside from 6 years of being the victims of genocide and 60some years of being the perpetrators, is the sum of all we are. (That’s not the narrative, the narrative is that there is some redemption and deliverance for the years of suffering, via Zionism).
  10. The Shoah (Holocaust) came out of years of abuse and genocide– expulsions, crusades (where many Ashkenazi Jewish towns were massacred by the invading armies on their was to the Holy Land), pogroms, pogroms, pogroms, ghettoization, more expulsions, humiliations, incarcerations, segregation, discrimination, etc. Jewish trauma, specifically in Europe, reaches back hundreds of years. For Jews who were not in Europe, the Shoah impacted them in Northern Africa, and the trauma for non-European Jews was most experienced as colonization in the particular geographies of location. The Holocaust studies on cross generational trauma can inform the larger discussion on cross generational trauma, but it is not an isolated event. That degree of racism doesn’t just pop up like a camping tent and disappear just as quickly. The study of Holocaust survivors and their children is very important to this discussion on cross generational trauma, and it provides a very clear and distinct set of data, but there may also have been a predisposition to those genetic changes and the other changes that were passed on to children, due to the centuries of abuse and a much slower genocide, particularly for European Jews. (And by European Jews I am referring to Jews who were geographically in Europe, which would predominantly be Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, but would also include many North African Jews and Middle Eastern Jews, in Europe.)

Topics:

Children of the Holocaust

(And other Jewish traumas, but this was the title of the book that started the current discussion on cross-generational trauma)

Post Traumatic Slave Disorder and Cross Generational Trauma in African Americans

“The Truth is that disability has been with us, in us since the beginning of time. Disability has held and kept us. It is in our marrow, in our blood, our sweat and tears. Disability does not make us less than, it makes us who we are. Ableism and anti-Blackness are the enemy. Disability is our kin. While the world has convinced itself and the Black community that disability is a bad word and a bad circumstance. It is neither. Disability and Blackness is pride. Disability and Blackness is innovation. Disability and Blackness is brilliance.

Native Americans and DNA evidence

Childhood Trauma, particularly ongoing trauma and violence

General Research and Cross Cultural Considerations

Responses and Resources for healing:

Restorative Justice

(What it is and what it isn’t)

Meditation and Healing

Bearing Witness

letter to a friend who suggests i am sick because i want to be

your ideas aren’t new to me. i don’t talk about my illness nor am i sick in order to get attention or because this is what i actually want. i have enough talented and intelligent, that if i weren’t this sick, could get a whole lot of attention doing a whole lot of things. as it is, i could get more attention pretending my illness didn’t impact my life the way it does. i could get a whole lot of attention pretending to be positive and happy, when i’m really not. i think there is a greater truth to be told, and a cost to that truth, but i also appreciate that my ability to articulate my experience is of benefit to those who also endure what i endure, but don’t have that capacity. —they tell me this! hearing from people who are validated by my words is priceless and makes my efforts valuable, to me, and apparently to others.

i think we live in a very compassionless society that blames people for their misfortunes and loves stories about people who “made it”. it’s a lot easier than actually taking care of each other. it’s easier than compassion, and it’s a politic that supports a brutal ruling class– that the rich got where they were, because they THINK better, that healthy, beautiful people are somehow more spiritual, superior.

it’s a politic that i embraced at one point in my life, and it rejected me. it doesn’t work. at a certain point all it does is create huge areas of denial –denial of pain, denial of people from the margins.

i do make healthy choices– eat healthy foods, do yoga, meditate, take vitamins, etc. i’ve tried many expensive modalities for treatment. i’ve thought good thoughts, etc. i’m sick. it’s just the way it is. (actually there are things i can do to get better, but some of them are too expensive right now. i simply don’t have the money.) thing is, when i get sick like this, speaking the truth about my condition, and resting resting resting is what helps. i’ve had this condition for 15 years. i know what it takes to manage it.

friends who want to help can offer to do so. they can ask my partner what they can do to ease his responsibility. they can give me rides to drs offices, bring over food, help out around the house, bring groceries, help raise funds for the care i can’t afford, support my work, or even, just visit. just sit and bear witness to what i real, what the present challenge is. — the things people used to do for each other, what they still do in compassionate communities.

life isn’t changed because we think good thoughts. nice idea, but it just doesn’t work that way. i’ve know a lot of people who were really silenced and marginalized with this thinking– people who have survived cancer, but not because they thought better than the people who didn’t. i lost friends to cancer who tried to be positive, ate all the right foods, did all the right things. i think it added to their stress, when what they really needed was to say exactly how frustrated, scared, alone they felt.

we tell people they create their own condition because it excuses a whole lot of injustice and marginalization, and because it makes us comfortable. it’s not easy listening to people in pain. it’s not easy listening to people who complain. it’s a lot easier to silence that in a spirituality of complicity and obedience. it’s certainly a lot easier than actually fixing this mess the world is in, and creating a society that meets human needs.

i also am not a fan of madonna. (the friend who this is to, used her as an example of positive actualization and insight).  she’s a very mean and narcissistic person who has left a lot of bodies in her wake. the way she treats people who work for her, in her own words, is hardly positive, kind or healing. she’s no one i look up to. she has masterfully marketed her extreme talent into meaningless pop drivel and sexual objectification. as for her attachment to kaballah– it’s an ancient tradition, not a passing fad. it is very complex, not something that can be simplified for mass production. cultural appropriation is never attractive.

i haven’t come to these ideas casually, nor have your suggestions failed to make their mark on my life, nor have i rejected them capriciously.

i think greater healing though is had through telling the truth, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable. i know i am at odds with the culture around me, but nothing changes without complaints and non-conformity. i would rather find myself a small counterculture of resistance than find ways to please and appease an intolerant and compassionless society that blames people for their conditions, instead of insisting on ways to meet human necessity and asking people what they need.

i don’t want to have this conversation more than once, because i find it very hurtful and isolating. there is something more negative than the negativity sick or otherwise marginalized people are often accused of. it is the negativity of negating the full range of human experience and existence. it is the negativity of telling people what they have to say, who they are as they are, has no place in the larger society and is their own fault, if they only thought better or adopted some magic protocol.

there is a difference between curing an illness, and healing. healing is a much deeper process that requires deep truth telling, process and transformation. it is often quite wrenching, lonely and painful. (it is why so many cultures have initiation rituals that involve pain).

(at this point in time, there are no cures for my condition, though there are ways of managing it.)

i am not interested in maintaining the world the way it is, on either a small or large scale. i am interested in the deeper transformation, the deeper healing, and we won’t get there by insisting we need to think positively. we will only get there when we can clean up the muck that keeps us apart, that separates, that exploits and that poisons us. we certainly won’t get there by telling people in difficult circumstances, that their reality exists because they want to live that way.

(anyone who really knows me, knows i have a tenacity and a spirit that is hardly complacent or stagnant.)

my illness is caused by trauma and environmental toxins. without going into the details here (storytelling doesn’t mean some things aren’t private), the trauma i endured most people don’t survive. the trauma i endured is rooted deep in the power relationships of a brutal body politic, that i am determined to fight, on every level.

i tell the truth. i don’t just lie in this bed, sick, meditating, waiting, eating well, etc. i share my journey and i express my journey as a political one, among the larger issues of the day, imperialism, health care, education, oil spills, domestic violence, genocide, racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, etc. and i challenge those systems that allow these negative realities to go unchallenged under a cloud of enforced positivity and false blame.

Kathy Running Horse Wells 1957-2010


kathy and i both came into dis-ability together, especially the intolerance within the teachers’ unions for full, dignified inclusion. we both shared the initial shock at the pervasiveness of dis-ability exclusion, ridicule and hostility. i have, we have lost a real sister in the struggle. i loved her so much. i will miss her very very much. perhaps those at this years nea convention, when the mourn for her, can, in her honor, demand the nea convention, at the very least, address the issues of accessibility (and dignity) that have gone ignored for years.
-emma

andy griggs, emma rosenthal and kathy wells

A Valiant Sister Warrior’s Crossing

It is with great sadness and love that we share the following message from NEA AI/AN Pacific Regional Director and CIEA President, our brother Clyde Hodge.Dear Brothers and Sisters,(I’ve just checked into Baton Rouge and am writing this as soon as possible.)

It is my very sad duty to inform you that our friend and ally, long time CTA and NEA AI/AN Caucus member and American Indian rights activist Kathy Running Horse Wells crossed over to be with her ancestors today, at about 4:00 PM Pacific daylight Savings Time, today, June 24 2010, at a hospital in the SF Bay Area due to complications from diabetes.

To quote Cheryl Whitney who called to let me know, “CTA and NEA AI/AN caucuses and Union work was her life.” We will miss Kathy and wish she were still with us, but we must celebrate her struggles, battles, and successes in the work she did for NEA, CTA, the AI/AN Caucuses, and the American Indian/Alaska Natives educational community. She was a Strong-hearted Warrior.

I trust you will say a prayer in your own way for the family, friends, and other loved ones Kathy left behind, and please allow yourself a prayer as well.

In sadness and solidarity,

All my Relations,

Clyde

It is also of note that we share and continue Kathy’s advocacy for disability access and inclusion at the NEA-RA. Kathy shared with Emma Rosenthal and others many times, the humiliation that was typically experienced by union activists with dis-abilities. Tommy Flanagan  CTA/NEA  American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus

ruth and kathy summer 2009

A tale of two inquiries (this is how we do it!)

As if there really were a god, the following invitation ran on my fb feed, just as i was addressing the issue of access at another event.  (see the previous post!)  I asked Yesi if I could publish our dialogue and use her name.  She agreed.  Please note, how, in comparison to the previous post’s example, i made the same inquiry,  in  much the same way, with incredibly different results. Unfortunately the previous post’s example is more often the norm.

When approached by anyone from a marginalized group, who asserts that your actions might be discriminatory,  especially if you have little experience with that area of  marginalization, Yesi demonstrates how to assertively and humbly respond to  such an accusation.

This is textbook, and in my opinion and experience, applies to race, gender issues, colonization, etc.  etc.  etc.

In exile,

Emma

Yesi King save the date!

Fundraiser and Website Launch Party!

Location:Self Help Graphics

Time:7:00PM Saturday, July 3rd

Emma Rosenthal it is my understanding that this is not a wheelchair accessible event.

Yesi King oh no emma, it definitely is! self-help graphics is wheelchair accessible! please come, i’d love to meet you in person 🙂

Yesi King i’ve actually updated the event page with that info. my apologies :/

Emma Rosenthal as i recall, the bathroom is not, and unless they installed an elevator, the entire upper floor is not, either. when i brought this up to a board member, i was addressed with hostile indifference, called necia and taken off of her fb list. so if it is physically accessible, it still isn’t dis-ability affirmative. — a very important consideration for pwds because hostility, ridicule and humiliation are more the norm in social environments than not.

Yesi King hmm, i actually haven’t checked out the place in a while, but i will ask. if it isn’t i will be very, very disappointed actually :/ …and i agree with you.

Emma Rosenthal better not say it’s accessible until you confirm. the humiliation and incredible inconvenience of attending an event that isn’t is devastating.

Yesi King good point :/

Emma Rosenthal yesi,  i very much appreciate the openness you have expressed on this issue. usually i am attacked brutally for the mere suggestion. i need a few days to sort things through, but call me and let me know how i can help you make this a fully inclusive event. 818 404 5784

Yesi King hi emma, i definitely will 🙂

Yesi King

Hi Emma.

You said to give you a couple of days to sort this through so I didn’t want to intrude by calling you too soon. So, I opted to send you a message instead. I hope I’m not bothering you.

I’ve read your blog posts (cool blog name btw 🙂 and I’ve really been thinking about the points you have made…and I feel HORRIBLE. You have every right to be upset, you make excellent points, and unfortunately, in order to create change, people have to be put on the spot and be made uncomfortable. I’m very honored to have crossed paths with you.

I’ve asked the people on the team in charge of securing the location about SHG. I haven’t been there in a long time and apparently some things have changed. So, unlike their website and other internet sites about them post, they are NOT wheelchair accessible. The place isn’t two stories; it’s only one story, the upstairs. The bottom spaces apparently don’t belong to SHG. The main part of our event will take place outside but the art gallery will be upstairs :/ According to my friend, SHG just simply has never had enough funds to take on that sort of project and they apparently don’t own the building anymore. They had to sell it a while back. It really SUCKS that the place isn’t accessible for dis-abilities.

Now, this is the context in which the event is being organized: we are not an official org (we are not a non-profit), we do not have an abundance of options for spaces for what we’re trying to pull off, and we do not have funds. We were actually lucky to get the space for free. We just want to raise funds for this website project…because we’re all broke and can’t afford it on our own.

Like I said, I feel horrible…and stupid…and ignorant. The items above are not an excuse. If it was any other situation, this would not be acceptable. What can we do? Please help…we want to make this as inclusive as possible. Forgive my ignorant question, but what exactly do we need to make this inclusive and accessible? I would like to begin making a list asap.

I can’t claim to understand where you are coming from, but I can surely empathize. I really admire you for standing up for this. I think about my son, whom I love more than anything. I wonder how I would feel if he was in a wheel chair, and let me tell you, I’d be PISSED AS HELL if places weren’t accessible to him.

I’m sorry for this. I know what I have to do. I have to ask my friends with whom I am planning this event, to either change the location or find a damn way to raise the funds to accommodate. If they refuse, then I will refuse to be a part of this event. Discrimination is discrimination period.

Thank you Emma,

Yesi

PS. Not sure which book signing event I will be able to make it to, but I will definitely make it to at least one 🙂

Emma Rosenthal

first of all, be easy on yourself. You’re addressing an issue that is new to you, in a very responsible way. (don’t muck it up with guilt- which is always destructive and rarely serves justice.) for me, your timing is perfect. your interest in very affirming. The reaction you observed in my most recent post, is more typical than we would like. (though this is the first time I’ve actually been accused of being racist and exercising privilege in the context of dis-ability access.) we need to address this, not individually, but as a community.

I tried to think of comparable situations—venues that might be inaccessible to other marginalized groups:

Homes in neighborhoods hostile to certain ethnic groups, or sexual orientations,

a strip club–i can hear the rationale now–“oh lighten up, it’s just fun and for a good cause (baby!)” ,

a venue near a police station or ins station,

certain religious venues.

But disability inclusion presents very unique (physical as well as social) obstacles. it’s why andy and i put out a call to the left to begin the dialogue to set up a protocol and find collective ways to address these issues, with short and long range planning.

Even well funded organizations can’t resolve these questions overnight. Right now we’re struggling with what to do if someone requests sign language interpretation. We haven’t found an affordable answer yet. Hopefully we will before the situation presents itself.

The last time I was at SHG they did have use of the first floor. Some possible “solutions” are to see if that space can be made available for the event. Since your event is outside, see if (this is a long shot) there is a way to make the artwork accessible, there. One (not so optimal solution, could be a video feed of the gallery. –-not okay as a long term solution, but certainly an improvement. If the bathroom is not accessible, an accessible porta potty costs a little more than $100 to rent. And our newest strategy is to see if a neighboring business has an accessible restroom that can be used. That’s what we’re doing at Imix in Eagle Rock. Their restroom is not accessible, but a coffeehouse nearby is. In establishing this, we instigated a dialogue that may change Imix’ approach to this issue in the future, and may have also fostered relationships between the two businesses.

I want to draw up a list of accessible venues, look into ways groups can collaborate, pool resources, share equipment. (We have a portable ramp, btw.) Imagine, again the community and working relationships this would foster – the benefit beyond addressing the initial issue.

if you can’t make the event accessible, and you can’t find an alternative venue, you can weigh the decision to have or not have the event, or to put it off until you can find a space that can meet your needs.

If you do decide to have the event, while it is never acceptable to discriminate, a statement that clearly delineates the access, the options for pwds, is essential in not wasting the time of pwds, who know that if it is not stated, not only is the event probably inaccessible physically, but it is probably not socially accessible either.—in other words, even if the space is structurally accessible, once it is full of people and materials, the likelihood that it will be a positive and safe space for pwds, is less likely. On the other hand, if the access is spelled out, it gives pwds a choice, and it also indicates that the issue is one of which the host is aware. (though I am starting to observe that this is being used more as a copout than a real solution. The two events this weekend that included such statements were not events where i would have felt welcomed and they involved organizations that had promised such misunderstandings and oversights would not happen in the future. Instead, what seems to be their position, is that it is okay to discriminate some of the time, as long as an advisory is stated.) it reminds me of the signs from the 1950s- “no dogs, no jews no coloreds.” –Good to know, but not exactly a revolutionary politic.

I hope this helps. It’s not a complete solution. But it’s a start.

Yesi, with your permission, I would like to publish our dialogue on the blog, with or without (preferably with) your real name. I think it is an excellent example of how to begin to address this issue and the appropriate way to address any dialogue on privilege, inclusion and bigotry.

in solidarity and struggle, for a world with no borders or barriers,

emma

Yesi King

thanks emma…but i tend to live on extremes, it’s something i’m working on 😉

also, i’m sorry but i can’t ignore something when it’s wrong. especially when it’s so blatantly wrong and unjust. i can’t ignore it…and you’re right we do need to address this as a community 🙂

my friend neil actually suggested that we rent a portal potty. so that, we can definitely do…thank you for offering the ramp. i will ask them if it is needed. also, regarding the art gallery, i’m workin on that and waiting for a response. oooh and i have a student who knows sign language so i hope she can help out 🙂

also, of course you can publish this dialogue. it IS an excellent example of how to address this issue, creating change, connections, and showing that it can be done 🙂

yesi

Emma Rosenthal

i appreciate what you are saying. i’m the same way when it comes to oppression and marginalization, though i try to temper my expectations in a less rigid praxis, understanding the contradictions and constraints we live with under capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy. i do know, with dis-ability, the social barriers are more significant than the physical ones. neither of the two events this last week, had obstacles to my participation. i can climb a few steps. but i know better to go into such a situation when it is full of people who have no understanding, experience, and awareness of dis-ability rights and solidarity. the hostility, indifference, resentment, the use of space, the way people move around, would have been very difficult and perhaps dangerous for a pwd. the problem with accommodationism, is it just doesn’t work. it never serves the one who is accommodating the marginalization– not in race, gender, colonization nor with dis-ability. it always ends up serving the marginalizer. it always obscures the marginalization. it always demands more of the person who faces exclusion when the real onus is on the entity that is the perpetrator of the marginalization.

emma

keywords: anatomy of a blacklisting

Renewing my Soul

Emotional Spring Cleaning

Affirming core principles through Kabala.

The last few years have been very hard on me. I am amazed at the extent of my marginalization as a person with a dis-ability, and as an activist who dares to speak up for Palestinian human rights.  The nexus of the two has had an enormous impact on my life.  Almost every time I leave my home I am exposed humiliating and even dangerous situations.  I have had to limit my contact with the outside world.  Pwds (people with dis-abilities) don’t have a ghetto to fall back into (except the  gulag of healthcare facilities and skid row.) We can’t gain comfort in the exclusivity of our exclusion. We make due in the world of those who may some day join us in this marginalized identity, by illness or accident, (serving as a deadly reminder of their own vulnerability).  Andy and I are building a space where I, where we can work, where people can gather, where we can hope to develop a community based on values other than moral relativism, cronyism, opportunism and greed; though it’s hard to go against the grain of the pervading culture. Fueled by the motion picture industry, this is a tit for tat (and a tit and ass) city, and it filters down into almost every relationship.  “What can you do for me?”

This year has been especially devastating for me.  Even limiting my interactions to my own home– an amazing compound that includes supportive neighbors, a small urban farm, a work studio, a gathering place to build connections, I am still constantly hit with messages of marginalization, usually in emails attacking my body politic, defending privilege, making excuses for exclusive events that don’t consider the input or inclusion of pwds as important, essential or valuable.

For middle class activists who have only minimally suffered the ravages of capitalism (if capitalism isn’t a boot on your throat, it’s all theory) there is great impatience.  Friends think I should be “over” this.  Since it isn’t “over”, since the blacklisting and the ridicule and exclusion continues, this demand demonstrates their own intolerance, their own need to see oppression as something that happens somewhere else to someone else, not someone like them.  Their activism is more about assuaging their guilt in measured bursts that don’t challenge their privilege, than about a real battle of life and death. It shows their own inability to understand that for many people, life is a series of events for which there may be little or no escape.  Tragedy isn’t the occasional experience, it IS the experience.  Their activism is based on charity, not solidarity.  They fear and reject seeing any connection to their own lives, the lives they attempt to defend. In my case, and it isn’t just my case, tragedy has revolved around loss of my job due to dis-crimination, the poverty and isolation of single parenthood, the marginalization of my own illness while raising a child with a serious condition, the brutality of the health insurance and “care” system, the social service industry, the educational establishment, lack of services, lack of respect for single mothers, discrimination against my gay, Jewish Mexican son, political marginalization, dis-ability discrimination,death threats, vandalism, sabotage etc. etc. etc.  This isn’t a reality one simply snaps out of.  I can’t just show up at a dinner party or a social or even a political event and discuss these matters as if they were happening to someone else, far away. I can’t avoid bleeding on fine linen.  For me, the death spiral of the capitalist system isn’t theory, and it isn’t temporary.

I find myself in the  grip of  a profound depression, afraid for the end of the world, the incredible loss of life  of those who are expendable to a brutal machine that needs our labor and our minds less and less.  Somedays I wish I could stop breathing. My grief is very deep.  I have an intractable hopelessness.  AND MOST OF ALL, I AM TIRED OF PLATITUDES.  Telling people to “think positive” when they are under attack and in the midst of a terrible reality is actually a very cruel and negative act.  Though it is much easier than actually bearing witness, listening, and taking appropriate action.

Today I woke up, bathing in despair,  thinking, “something has got to give.”  Somewhere in all of  this, there  has to be some salvation.  I hope that I can at least break from my own complicity in the attacks against me and rise up from under my own self doubt, hatred and demoralization.

Counting the Omer

Starting on the second day of Passover, it is tradition and enter into a   49 day period of study of the principles of Kabala. *1 Keter-“Crown” 2 Chochmah-“Wisdom”3 Binah-“Understanding”4 Chesed-“Kindness”
5Gevurah-“Severity”
6 Tiferet-“Beauty”
(Secondary emotions:)
7 Netzach-“Victory”
8 Hod-“Splendor”
9 Yesod-“Foundation”
(Vessel to bring action:)
10 Malchut-“Kingship”

So here I am, at a point where I am personally, politically and spiritually mandated to do exactly what is simultaneously indicated by the Hebrew calendar. I appreciate such sinchronicity.  It is rare in my life.

Of course, there remains my own rebelliousness.  Study of Kabala is forbidden to those under the age of 44, and I started studying Kabala when I was 40. It is also not traditional for women to study Kabala.  But unlike many of the Mosaic laws I have broken, I don’t think this one is a capital crime, so there is that!!!  (The religious enforcers may put down their stones at least on this account.)

A few years ago I underwent a deep study of Kabala.  Using my own drawings and writings as meditations,  I published those writings and drawings on this blog.  Feel free to join me and meditate with me on these principles.   I am very lost.  very very lost.  Help me find my way back to something resembling wholeness.

Day one:  loving kindness in loving kindness:

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2006/04/14/counting-the-omer-day-1-5766/

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephirot

“Skid Row Types”, “Mental Cases”, “Tough Guys” the Library Cops, and One Retired Teacher in a Wheelchair!

DEFINITION:

Dis-abled person: n.- A person one is able and entitled to dis, regardless of the standing in society (STANDING!)  or the status of the offending person, without fear of any social consequences.

(from “Emma’s Lexicon”  –a work in progress) 

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I went to the city library today and while waiting to check out cds, a young latino man behind me, started calling me “Wierdo, in a wheelchair” “Don’t look at me” “What I said, what I said” and “bitch” and started posing aggressively. He continued this for some time, right in front of the librarian. NO ONE SAID ANYTHING, not even library personnel. Afraid for my safety and offended, I  said to the librarian, “This is hate speech, please call security.” When three public safety officers (the library cops! Did you know L.A. had library cops!!???!!)   arrived, they talked to him (man to man!) and  before even speaking to me,  dismissed him.  As I began to tell my story, they cut me off, and with hostile indifference for my safety, my civil rights  or for what he had said to me, told me they couldn’t do anything because of free speech which apparently includes harassment and hate speech. They told me that they didn’t know what happened since they weren’t there, refused to interview anyone who was, and added that they get all types in the library, including “people from skid row” and  “mental cases.”   They continued to tell me that this sort of thing happened all the time and there was nothing they could do, since they couldn’t arrest him.  

 But there should be some remedy (such as removal from the premises),  other than arresting someone or doing absolutely nothing at all! And regardless of what he said, verbally accosting a total stranger is more than just speech, it is aggressive and threatening.  Furthermore, it can hardly be city policy that people with dis-abilities, along with other protected classes, be required to accept abusive language in the course of accessing public services or working for the city.  I asked the officers, one of whom was Latino and the other two were African-American, “What if I used racist terms toward you?”  one of them asserted that that would be my right, that it was part of his job.  “No it’s not” I told him.  “It would constitute a hostile working environment and it would be wrong, and if I heard someone speaking to you that way,   I would say something.”   

Offended  by their indifference,  I asked them their names. Two of the public safety officers walked away, one muttering, “I’m through here.” I demanded to speak to a superior. and the remaining officer took me to a sergeant, who basically repeated the same policy and was equally reluctant to give me his name.  While I was talking to the sergeant,  Officer “Through Here” interrupted, quite angrily, reprimanding me in front of his supervisor,  as if I were a small child,  stating that he had feelings too and that he walked away to calm down. He stated that I had talked down to him.   The sergeant went on to tell me that they have to deal with knives and guns all the time.  I think he said this to assert how insignificant my complaint was, but it also illuminates how outrageous their reaction to me was, as well:  A retired school teacher in a wheelchair is too much for the library police to handle,  despite all the other “types” they come in contact with every day.  One uppity woman with an ambulatory device explaining the nuance of hostile working conditions, civil rights, harassment and hate speech and asking for names and badge numbers to  three fully armed and uniformed city officers  trained in weapons confiscation, is infuriating and justifies abandonment of  their duty to provide a safe environment for everyone.
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 One  would-be witness did come up to me later:   -¿que pasó con ese tipo?  Preguntó (“What happened to that character?  He asked.)  -nada se pasó, -contesté (“nothing“, I replied).  Surprised, he expressed outrage that someone would be allowed to yell insults in the library like that.  

You would think that there would be a code of conduct in the library.  Can one YELL hate speech?  Is it a matter of decibels?  Are the badge wielding, armed, and academy trained (I was later informed) law enforcement personnel of Los Angeles, suddenly more schooled in the civil rights of L.A. youth, (I don’t think so), most of whom are harassed by the police routinely, simply for walking down the street?   than in how to handle assertive women in wheelchairs?  (Apparently!)  Or is it that PWDs have such low status, that we’re fair game everywhere we go?  (And are “skid row types” and “mental cases” less threatening than cripple gurls who have the audacity to take down names and badge numbers?) This is just one more example of the widespread acceptance of dis-ability discrimination!  Teasing me apparently is a right law enforcement is trained to protect,  my protestations, the actual violation, the instigating young man, the apparent victim.  

The sergeant, eventually did give me his name, and did walk me to my car, in response to my concern for my safety, so there was that.  But  he continued to justify the behavior of his officers, even going so far as to state that perhaps they had expected me to take my anger out on them and had reacted in anticipation and that I should consider that.  I told him that that’s where training should come in. –apparently they had been trained to respect “mental  cases”, “skid row types” and “free speech”  but not innocent citizens being harassed  or how to handle articulate women in wheelchairs who have the audacity to assert their rights and have a voice.  Hate speech and harassment should not be tolerated in public spaces.  No one, including PWDs should  be subjected to ridicule and humiliation for simply entering a public facility and such abuses SHOULD be seen as  a security issues. There is no reason to arrest this young man but he should have been told, in front of me, that he can’t speak like that, that he was to let me alone, and if he did not, he would be asked to leave, and his library card revoked.  

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Check out the following video– what happens in this video,  happens to PWDs all the time, with not only the same indifference, but with patrons or others (in my case, the library cops)  actually jumping in to take the side of the offender.  Also note what happens when just two people take action— how it changes the entire social dynamic.