Category Archives: Cafe Intifada

Moving Forward

I hadn’t realized it’s been a half a year since I last posted to this blog.   I keep three other blogs, and while I’ve made a few posts on those sites, and I did create a new page: “Resources for Accessibility” to this blog. (see the menu at the top of this page); it’s been a slow year for me as a blogger, and I haven’t made any new posts, here  since December.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on facebook– where, in addition to my private wall, I also have 2 organizational walls– DragonflyHill Urban Farm, and Cafe Intifada, and I’ve started tweeting, too. So, so much social media, and perhaps I haven’t needed to blog as much. Been venting my frustrations there. Regardless,  I do need to come back to bed with frida, not that she missed me. But I hope my readers have.

We’ve also been busy fixing up our home– DragonflyHill Urban Farm, busy with urban farming. I’ve been taking classes in photography and have a very serious and extensive work in progress I’ll be posting to the web sometime soon. And life’s been hard. very hard. We’re coming out of several difficult years and I THINK we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m hoping it’s not the train!!!!

I do expect to be doing a lot more writing in the coming weeks. Some of the topics you might expect to see include:

The Clientization and Infantalization of Dis-ability— the tendency of health care providers, friends, family, co-workers and others, including activists to see PWDs (people with dis-abilities) as clients to be cared for, and not peers to be respected, empowered and nurtured. Along with clientization comes infantilization– seeing PWDs as little children and putting us in our place. (this becomes especially acute for women PWDs, who are apparently expected to be good little girls.)

Emma’s Lexicon: A guide to the terms I use and their meanings, including PWDs. dis-ability, dis-abled, as well as words to address issues of imperialism, colonization, occupation, social justice and radical healing.

Radical Healing:  How to heal in community, how to provide systems of support, how to build community, and at the very least, what NOT to do.  I’m also looking at the role social networking: blogging, Facebook and twitter can have in breaking down the isolation of illness and dis-ability. I’ll also look at how these venues can also be abused by bullies and perpetrators to increase marginalization and victimize targets of abuse.

Resource Pages:  Pages that provide resources on a specific topic.  For example, see our page on Resources for Accessibility. (See links above)  Other pages include resources on Accessible urban farming, healing trauma, etc.

On my other blogs look for posts of essays, stories and poems including much writing on racism, sexism, movement building, infiltrators in the movement, blacklisting,  building community, white supremacy, etc. As well as a variety of resource pages on political figures, issues, etc.

And look forward to my new web page of my photography, something that has been in the works for some time.

To find me on the blogosphere and the rest of the web go to:

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/navigating-emmalandia-links-to-emma-rosenthals-web-presence/

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I CAN’T BE PART OF A MOVEMENT IF I CAN’T GET MY WHEEL IN THE DOOR

Today I reached my final straw with the L.A. Left.  After a bitter fb page exchange, and a nasty set of emails from a woman I never met before, I posted the following statement on my fb wall.  The offending fb exchange that precipitated this, follows, but, because at this point it doesn’t matter, i’ve obscured the identity of the offenders with fictitious initials and obscured the actual event.  It is important to know that the person identified as J.H (not his real initials) has been part of an ongoing dialogue on the issue of dis-ability inclusion, within the L.A. BDS movement. J.H.  just this week scheduled a meeting in an inaccessible venue, and apologized only to post this event a few days later.  Also affiliated with the BDS movement in L.A. was another event scheduled for this weekend, both failed to address this issue. This other event’s organizers, having had a difficult, but what I thought and what I acknowledged at the time, productive exchange, decided not only to have an inaccessible event, but to invite both other members of my household and not me.    To fight against separation while maintaining the privilege to separate, is an outrage. No wonder these offended egos go on the attack.

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Emma Rosenthal: I CAN’T BE PART OF A MOVEMENT IF I CAN’T GET MY WHEEL IN THE DOOR, When almost every inquiry and assertion is brutally attacked. when “security” at a (yesterday’s) demonstration knocks over pwds in “revolutionary” zeal to chase out a racist. when pithy promises of future access are broken and replaced with hollow excuses and bitter resentment, there’s no way i can be available to the struggle. i’m gonna do the next few scheduled readings, then i’m gonna disappear forever. if that’s good news, well then we know which side you’re on. if that’s bad news, please don’t patronize me with platitudes or admonitions. instead, step up on this issue and demand that there be at least a few safe spaces for activists with dis-abilities within the movement. refuse to participate in events that don’t include. work with andy, if he decides to continue with this, to develop a community protocol and to create community resources. do the same deep reading on this issue of community inclusion as a dedicated activist must do on all issues. there is no excuse. this isn’t a separate issue or a another cause, while you focus on what is “really” important. we are everyone– we are lgbti, we are women in hijab, we are people of color, we are (usually unemployed or wageless) workers, we are students, we are women, we are indigenous. there is no community you can build and still exclude us! i’ve asked other radical pwds what they’ve done. they tell me they just gave up on the left, too. it can’t just be my issue. how can we build a community of social justice based on a foundation (and up a flight of stairs) of exclusion?

the outrageous attacks, bitter stares, sabotage, character assassination, sexism, blacklisting, hate speech, ridicule, the bizarre nexus of dis-ability and gender expectations that demand passive placating, the lies, the jokes, the double standards, the false promises that the next event will address this crucial issue…

i’m done! i’m really really done!

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/guide-to-accessible-event-planning/

please don’t respond to this post. i will be closing down this fb page in a few days, or paring it down to a few close friends, and pursuing a much more private life. i will continue my blogs, so people i am not so close to, you can find me there. this has been overwhelming painful. if you haven’t read it already, please check out the anatomy of a blacklist, and i also recommend the rest of the “in bed with frida kahlo” blog for greater dis-ability awareness.

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/anatomy-of-a-blacklist-a-thread-on-two-blogs/

i will be posting the most recent series of events to the blog, obscuring the names of the offenders. they can post their pithy justifications on my blog if they want to stand publicly by their words. special thanks to michael novick and my andy, for one more time, coming to my rescue.

andy posted:

With the exception of a handful of people, what Emma says above is true–we have faced attacks, rejection, blacklisting, ignoring offers to assist and work together, loss of jobs…

each time it occurs the harder it is to keep up the struggle! WE need a cadre of people to join in this dialogue, to participate in planning and cooperative work to educate and support all of us – because a space or event accessible to PWDs is better for all of the community!

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/call-out-on-dis-ability-access-in-the-left/

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=361031147521&id=1081303180&ref=mf

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The Final Straw (the event announced on fb and the ensuing thread of comments):

J.H. Hey folks, 

J.H. and the ____________ are inviting you to the next fabulous party by the ______________ on June 5th. It’s a fundraiser supporting folks traveling to Detroit in June to do movement work at the Allied Media Conference, the U.S. Social Forum, and the Jewish anti-apartheid gathering. The majority …

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J.H. Hey all, really hope folks can make it out to this fundraiser.

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J.H. oh yeah, its this Saturday night. We’ll have a keg.

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Emma Rosenthal is this event dis-ability accessible and affirmative?

https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/guide-to-accessible-event-planning/

i recommend the following advisory (pending the necessary actions and planning to back it up), for all events. In the invitation you mention that the event  is queer affirmative. dis-ability affirmative, takes more planning because the discrimination is ubiquitous in building structures and attitudes, even among human rights activists.

“this event is wheelchair accessible and dis-ability affirmative. if you need additional accommodations please contact us 72 hours prior to the event.”

(and then be ready to provide sign language interpretation and other accommodations as needed.)

if it is not accessible, it would also be appropriate to say so, saving pwds (people with disabilities) the necessity of having to call to ask if we are welcome or wanted at an event. (can you imagine any other marginalized group having to call to say, for example,”i’m (insert your prime identity here). is it possible for me to attend your event?)

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J.H. No, unfortunately. The main area for the party, the backyard, is but the bathroom is in the house which has 3 stairs up to it. And to be clear, I’m the organizer of the event, no ill will should be directed at INCITE! because of this, I’m raising money for them, its not an INCITE! organized event, I just got the go ahead to do it from them.

Don’t know what to do. There is no staff for this event as described in the link. Since its just me, I don’t think that I could be making sure everything is good with the party and play the role of accessibility coordinator legitimately. I certainly could not afford to pay a ASL interpreter to be there, having no idea how much we’re going to make.

The link seems to be talking about events supported by an organization with money and staff. Is there a suggestion for how to handle something like this that’s very small scale and done with very little money if you don’t have a hookup with an accessible space? Originally I was going to have folks over to my house  which is much less accessible (60 stairs from the street). In the future, do you think that if there is no ability to have an event like this be accessible, that it would be better not to do it at all or to do it and apologize in the announcement that do to financial constraints the event is not going to be accessible?

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Emma Rosenthal well, take out disability, and ask yourself, would it be okay to have an event that (especially if most events) excluded women, people of color, immigrants lgbti? what makes this exclusion or the difficulties it entails to build bridges, acceptable? in planning events, we (andy and i)  have decided not to have inaccessible events, and we find ways to make them accessible. it’s just something that has to be done.

do you feel so immune to injury that you cannot see yourself part of this group someday? do you think that your contributions would have such limited value after becoming a fallen activist, that you would passively and silently accept a diminished role and the constant exclusion of the movement you spent a lifetime building? do you think we can build a movement when an entire sector of our society is treated as disposable and unessential? do you expect people of a marginalized group, when presented with the obstacles to our participation to simply say, to questions that you raise “yes i understand. i won’t participate in the struggle. i’ll stay home. i won’t make noise?”

would you ask this of any other marginalized group?

you note that the event is queer affirmative. if the only location of an event were a church that, aside from homophobia had a “good” politic, provided free space, and there was no other space, would it be acceptable to assert that the event, this event, given the shortage of funds, just this one time, not to be repeated until the next time, be not so gay friendly– “please dress accordingly and in the gender you were originally assigned by god as determined by our host.”

it is one thing to be unaware– but once there is awareness, excuses are simply that!

andy and i have put a call out to the left to find collective ways to contend with the “unique” issues presented in breaking down the (literal) barriers of exclusion, and with a few exceptions, have been met with the same (white) liberal guilt ridden excuses as any other emerging movement, followed by hostile resentment that we continue to assert the right of people with dis-abilities to be fully included in ANY AND ALL movements for social justice.

we have also offered our home, which we have gone to great effort and expense to make accessible beyond our own needs, in the interest of visitability (that my friend, comrades, fallen activists with dis-abilities could visit!) and as a means of community organizing. no one to date has, while providing excuses and excuses, taken us up on this offer either.

our repeated demands and sincere offers are greeted with rolled eyes, hollow excuses, future promises, hostile indifference, ridicule, blacklisting.(and the occasional feel good story about some hero gimp who never complains, provides freak show entertainment and either pity or inspiration for pwods-people without dis-abilities.– that seems to be our only role in society.)

i have asked other radical gimps what they have done. they tell me they just gave up. they limit their activism to writing, board meetings if they can get asked to serve. it’s just too painful, and the l.a. left just doesn’t care. (in fact we are more often targets of ridicule!)

i suppose one of these days i too will learn my place and fade into the background. though i doubt it. i’ve spent too much of my life fighting for human rights.

Emma Rosenthal we have also offered to provide consultations on access, and to be a resource to the community free of charge (which is the expectation of cripples, that we work for free!) we do accept tax deductible donations, but don’t require it. we are more interested in developing systems of mutual aid and sustainability.

with few exceptions, we have not been taken up on this offer either, but instead get the same excuses, if it is a garden party for one person, or organizations with the resources like cair or answer — our participation has no value and our inclusion costs too much!

the nazis called us useless mouths

Emma Rosenthal btw, you start the invitation “hey all” ? ALL? do you get how marginalizing that is when ALL isn’t YOU? when you know, day in day out, it isn’t you? when you have to plan every outing, pre-call every event and humbly ask, opening oneself up for more rejection “am i included in a way that is not dehumanizing and insulting?”

or as fallen comrade S Brian Willson, put it, on another thread i posted where i asked “Could the newly dis-abled 70+ wounded activists of the Freedom Flotilla, attend your next event?”

” Excellent reminder. I face this challenge all the time when I attend events or activities that advertise themselves as “open to the public” or “all welcome.” Where is the ramp, where are railings on steps for those who can walk but need extra boost, where are the accessible bathrooms? I remind event organizers that “open to the public” is not honest if there is no handicapped access unless they describe a warning that the venue is not handicapped accessible.”

J.Q. wow, no offense… since i dont know you… but don’t you think a personal email would be better suited for your criticisms? Sincerely ,J.Q. “poor queer woman of color who isnt dehumanized or insulted by this event!””

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Emma Rosenthal: yes you’re right. issues of social justice should always be handled with discretion and decorum.

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J.H. Do not call me or my ideas white Emma. It’s unacceptable. I’m Chicano, light-skinned, of mixed European and Western Hemisphere indigenous blood and you need to step back and recognize your own white privilege before you attack me in that way. And regardless no excuses were given. I clarified that the event was organized by myself and so whatever problems there were with the event were my responsibility, I explained the realities of the situation and asked questions about how to better operate in the future. Your vicious personal attacks do not help anyone to hear the important issues you raise.

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Michael Novick I didn’t hear Emma calling you “white” (a word she used once, parenthetically talking about a general response by the LA left and liberals to the issue of accessibility), and certainly not making a “vicious personal attack.”

I grappled with issues of accessibility for many years because my mother-in-law was paralyzed and needed a wheel chair as a result of a stroke, and I can tell you that it makes you excruciatingly aware of the generalized lack of accessibility throughout this society. I work in a 10-story high rise school downtown and it took five+ years of hassling to get a chair lift installed at the front entrance; but in a blackout, people have to be carried down flights and flights.

Emma is (thankfully) relentless in calling these issues to people’s attention. In the SF Bay Area there used to be a lot more collective awareness and action about these issues, and blind, limbless, paralyzed and other disabled people were a lot more visible and provided a lot more leadership around the left as a result. We all need to be asking ourselves why signing for the deaf, childcare, disabled access, and a lot of other “new world is possible” collective self-realization type of behavior and inclusiveness is not more common at ‘movement’ activities in L.A.

I say this in a spirit of self-criticism. If my mother-in-law were still alive, we would not be living where we are (in an apartment up a flight and half of narrow stairs from front or back). We did get some sidewalk cuts and handicapped parking spots added in the vicinity recently. We all should know that in this regard, as in every other, it will take conscious struggle, demands, and also self-determined action on our own parts, to make the necessary changes.

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Andy Griggs J.H.–there is no place in Emma’s reply where she calls you or your ideas “white!” To assert that is unfair.

And she did not attack you! You asked a question, and she responded. She responded to each of your questions in detail. She explained what happens whenever we assert the need for access. She gave examples of how to proceed in the future, including calling out for assistance in planning. Until it becomes part of the dialogue in event planning on the left, Pwds will continue to be excluded.

The bottom line is that it is not ok to hold an event that is inaccessible to any group or individual!

And it is not ok to ask when it is “acceptable” to discriminate by holding an inaccessible event – ask yourself how you would respond to that question, if you felt excluded.

We will continue to vehemently assert these rights and demands with the same commitment and determination that we bring to support of Palestinians, indigenous peoples, women, people of color, LGBT!

Simultaneously I received the following email and had the following exchange:

(a quick google search reveals that “P.Q.” is one of the feminists behind a publication i’ve been published in, called “LoudMouth”– a title chosen to counter the assertion that women are supposed to be tempered, well mannered and soft spoken.– something, if you read to the end, apparently does not apply to women with dis-abilities.  –i have found a strange nexus between gender expectations and dis-ability.  this demand that i act like a demure child and not the militant activist i have been my whole life! revised 6/9/2010)

P.Q I think you are missing the point.

Should the event be accessible? Yes! Of course/Claro…

Should he have listed that it was when it wasn’t? NO! Pero…you shaming him online for the event doesn’t sit comfortably with me either!

For example, you could have asked him if it was accessible…if he said no, why not ask if he could make it accessible or help make him make it accessible?

It certainly is a problem with grassroots/diy fundraising….no doubt.

We had fundraising for AMC in a house last year as well….

But it is totally different to compare the struggles of these two movements….for you to bring up immigrant women?!

Sorry, but I do not agree!

They are two struggles that certainly walk (sic) side by side especially when they are intertwined either by spaces/geography/bodies themselves but there is also such a thing as having respect for the differences that these two struggles engage. I may be documented but I take offense to you likening these two together.

That you should honor if you feel that you are really interested in having respectful dialogue. My struggles as poor qwoc are not the same at all. So if you wanna talk about decorum and the very privilege to speak online in the middle of the day….we can start there!

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Emma Rosenthal

how patronizing to say i am missing the point. i have studied the point, lived the point, fought for the point. what are the struggles of the qwoc with dis-abilities? why should this issue be sidelines and not subjected to open discussion? why replace a hierarchy of exclusion with a hierarchy of exclusion?

and

if you had read what i wrote, instead of responding with the same outrageous excuses i have heard used for the exclusions of q. w. o, and c, for years (and as an outspoken ally, been summarily upbraided for having done so) you would see that we have offered

1. venue

2. resource

3. consulting and support.

all my protestation is so that more people can be included in building a movement. we have spoke to J.H. more discreetly a number of times, offering all of the above. this is hardly a new issue to those who know me and include me as their (fb) “friends.”

there is no struggle without all of us.

simple!

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P.Q. but are you really wanting to say that you were not being patronizing as well?

i too, have studied the point….i too have lived the point….and i certainly do not underestimate that you also have….

i am NOT saying that one isn’t a struggle. i am saying though that they are two different struggles indeed.

again there are many complex struggles in which people find themselves in various positions. i think that mia mingus for example has written really amazing things about this. and it is not a sideline when she addresses this topic…at all…

if you want an open discussion, why not suggest it for this event? why not another event? l.a could certainly use it as im sure many places can.

my point is that if you are going to point the finger at J.H. alone…that just seems ludicrous.

and i actually did read what you wrote. which is why i found it to be offensive as well. again, likening struggles as though they are exactly the same. they are not.

be an outspoken ally all you want….its not living in our shoes….we dont live in yours either…. and yes, it requires more convo and more communication, certainly.

?

was your consulting free?

my apologies….but it is not that simple….

i wish for it to be….but it is not….

this struggle is clearly in the ways that ideas around issues of race/class/ableism or all considered….

paz

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Emma Rosenthal

as for the privilege of being on line in the middle of the day, i gained this privilege like so many people with disabilities as a result of acquiring this non-conforming body, finding that despite extensive skill and education, like most pwds, i am apparently unemployable unless i make work for myself and find meager ways to market it.

other people who have internet access during the day are 1. people on break, dedicated to social struggle, 2. the unemployed our wageless workers, like myself. 3. people who work at night, on weekends, and at inconvenient hours.

hardly privilege.

i remember when gender, race lgb (no one was even talking about t or i) was considered bourgeois distractions from the movement, the movement being the class struggle, and being told that these issues would be addressed after the revolution.

we were also told to be discreet and less selfish and self indulgent.

if you don’t experience these exclusions in the movement like i experience the daily exclusion of dis-ability access and affirmation, then thank your elders. we fought that fight with the same vigor. When you do experience these exclusions, give me a holler, if i can get my wheel in the door, you’ll have one more ally.

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P.Q. well….i have the privilege of being online during the day because i have been unemployed/underemployed for what seems like ever….

despite an education that has only seemed to amount to cultural assimilation so cheers to us both for being in these bodies!

thanks for the list emma! as you see above, im no stranger to this….talk about checking your patronizing….wow.

wrong again….

i experience exclusion all the time….

and im not certain if you think im a lil girl….but that seems to be typical behavior from my so called “allies”

thanks again!

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Emma Rosenthal we seem to have posted at the same time, in response to your most recent post, how outrageous, again read what i wrote to J.H.  we are hardly singling him out. what a waste that would be (and an abuse!)

to repeat!!!!! we have called for dialogue, we have attempted to meet with people, we have offered free consultation, resources, meetings, venue.

you claim you read what i wrote, given this question “was your consulting free? ” indicates you did not!!!!

because i clearly addressed that.

we would be willing to meet with anyone on this issue and we have told J.H.  we also raise this issue EVERYWHERE!!!!

an invitation went out “to all” and i asked if that included a sector of society that it apparently did not. (given recent convos with J.H. it would have been an unfortunate error to have easily assumed that it did). that’s an outrage, especially since we have had this discussion.

J.H. chose to answer that question on his wall, and i answered in the same venue.

we’re all grownups here!

your outrage is really out of line and misplaced.

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P.Q.

sounds like you need to redirect your strategy then….or engage it in a different way…if you are raising this issue everywhere, where comes the time when you are not just on defense? its a common issue in every movement i understand…

but lastly you have stated again that its an outrage to you that this has happened and then state again that my outrage is out of line…huh?

misplaced? because you would prefer that someone doesn’t check you or the way you addressed this?

right….we are grownups….sigh

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Emma Rosenthal

You state: “sounds like you need to redirect your strategy then….or engage it in a different way…if you are raising this issue everywhere, where comes the time when you are not just on defense? its a common issue in every movement i understand.”

ho hum where have we heard that before!?!?

Anatomy of a Blacklist- a thread on two blogs

For the last three years I have been documenting a series of events within United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), around disability rights, Palestinian rights, union democracy and blacklisting, which started as a strange power play within the Human Rights Committee apparently around disability rights, but in my estimation, may have merely been the utilization of (my) disability as the socially acceptable way of attacking when no legitimate means was available. 

Just as that controversy seemed to be resolving itself,  the Jewish Zionist Establishment (the ADL, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish National Congress, Stand With Us, the Progressive Jewish Alliance–them too!, as well as others) launched a campaign against the Union, the Human Rights Committee, the AFSC, Café Intifada, and….. me, focusing particularly on an upcoming meeting to discuss boycotts, sanctions and divestiture (BDS) from Israel.  Thisresulted in an unholy alliance between the Zionist lobby, the “progressive” UTLA leadership, bent on protecting themselves and their positions, and the members of the Committee who now had a (pro-imperialist) arsenal of accusations to use against me, resulting in my removal from any position of leadership within the Committee and the destruction of the Committee infrastructure I had played a  large role in creating. 

Due to the (ongoing)  blacklisting, death threats, personal attacks, humiliations and the limitations of my health,  as well as, more recently a “tip” to a hot line,  an early morning service of a search warrant  of our home, complete with 14 armed police officers, a news camera, the seizure of our property, which included a thorough three month investigation  of every computer,  hard drive, zip drive, digital camera, thumb drive, back up disc and memory card, the result of which determined NO EVIDENCE OF CRIMINALITY  (no arrests, no charges, case closed!.  All of this, leaving us with  legal bills and other expenses,  PTSD (!) and (for all teachers under police investigation) the removal of my partner from the classroom.    (More on the police action later. )

Over the course of this time,  I retreated into a period of deep self reflection, depression, study and creativity. I sold my house, moved in with my partner and fellow activist, went back to school to learn new skills and  with him, bought and restored  an old house that promises to be a vehicle for our vision of local and global struggles for social justice.   The pressure on our marriage has been considerable as we have both needed to take time to work on our most basic support system: each other.  Only now am I  attempting to emerge, increasing my personal security, finding out who my real allies are, breaking the silence, speaking out,  healing deep wounds, initiating new dialogue with some of those who committed betrayals of silence, and enjoying the emergence of new, younger movements for social justice within Los Angeles. 

In the interest of disclosure:  During this same span of time the original home of my blogs shut down, so I had to repost each blog entry piece by piece, photo by photo to the new server. Emotionally, there were periods where I couldn’t look at this any more.  It just hurt too much.  And life had its own demands.  Our  larger adversaries are paid to bring us down.  We must work for justice in our spare time.  Emergencies come up, work gets put to the side. So, I have contributed to this thread on and off,  and while material is provided in chronological order, some of the entries have recently been updated or contextualized, drafts written at the time may have been recently completed and posted.  

And I doubt we have seen the end of this.  I invite my detractors to feel free to post comments as they see fit.  If their positions have the validity they claim, there should be no reason for their ongoing anonymity and stealth.  As long as they don’t obscure their identity, I will approve their posts. And it is quite possible that some events have been misrepresented.  I am open to critique and will be issuing corrections in that event. 

Finally, a word about my union ( UTLA), and the progressive slate, whose members include activists with whom I have worked for decades.  I submit this documentation, in the spirit of critical support.  I believe that dissent is essential for the life of this organization that I first joined over 25 years ago.  I was involved in the early recruiting campaign that brought UTLA membership from  30% of teachers and support staff,  to greater than 90% going into the 89 strike. I was active in the fight for bi-lingual education and against the English only movement. I was a cluster leader during the 1989 strike, rising at 4 am and not getting home until after 9:30, all the time carrying my 2 month old son.  (nicknamed “el huelgito)! I have helped plan several conferences, served on the House of Representatives, participated in the School Community Relations Committee, the Human Rights Committee and the Chicano Latino Education Committee.  I have been a delegate to the NEA RA, served as a Chapter Chair (shop steward) before I had permanent status, and filed and won over 30 grievances.   I chose at several junctures not to file harassment or discrimination lawsuits against the union, though I would have been in very good standing, especially when targeted by a member of the Board of Directors and Vice Presidents.  I also chose at the time of the entire controversy regarding BDS, not to present the matter as a an attack on my person, or use the matter to promote my own agenda within the larger community. While the L.A. Times originally accused us of planning for a rally inside (!?)  of UTLA , we very well could have, without union permission, held a protest outside the hall on the day of and at the time the canceled meeting was to be held.  We did not.  We attempted to address these matters internally, except for a call for letters to the broader community when President Duffy made a similar request to only members of the Jewish community.  It is only with considered reflection and after years of continued marginalization, harassment, innuendo and humiliation  along with increase attacks on other activists by these same forces,  that I have decided to fully address myself to this compilation and  broadcast these events more publicly.   

 To follow the complete dialogue on the issue,  please start by reading the statement: Enough is Enough- Who’s Who and Why it Matters, where  I provide a summary of events and  list the real names of the people (formerly given pseudonyms)  who have carried out this campaign against me within the Union.  As I make changes, adjustments or additions, I will post updates and links.  For those who chose to follow this closely, you may subscribe to the blog and will be alerted to newer posts.

The beginning of the thread, regarding disability discrimination is chronicled on my blog:  In Bed With Frida Kahlo- daily indignities, small insurrections and honest musings for a life of infirmity and rebellion 

The documentation pertaining to the Zionist lobby continues on my other blog: Cafe Intifada which is the web page of the organization of the same name.  

1. Go to: Enough is Enough: Who’s Who and Why it Matters:   https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/enough-is-enough-who’s-who-and-why-it-matters/  (If that doesn’t work, try cutting and pasting.  I don’t understand it, all the other links i post, seem to work!)

2. Then start the thread at the beginning at:  https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/category/utla-human-rights-committee/page/4/    and read the posts in reverse chronological order, starting with the link at the bottom of each page.  

3. From there, within the thread,  you should be directed to the sister blog; Cafe Intifada, but should that link fail, return here, and follow this link to the continued thread:

 http://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/category/anatomy-of-a-blacklisting/page/3/   and read the posts in reverse chronological order, starting with the link at the bottom of each page.)

Peace with Justice, 

Emma Rosenthal

Enough is Enough: Who’s Who, and Why it Matters

In covering blacklisting  within the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and specifically within the Human Rights Committee, which has been documented within this blog and then later in the blog of Café Intifada, I initially chose to use pseudonyms in quoting or discussing the actions of those with whom I did not agree.  (In the Café Intifada blog,  I used initials.)  I can’t do that anymore, and listed at the foot of this post, are the real names of the public figures who had important roles in these events. 

At the time I felt that while it was important to document what was happening  in the Union, with teachers, activists on the issue of human rights, disability rights; that the names of individuals was more sensitive.  I was still under the illusion that dialogue could, in this situation allow for transformation and that differences could be ironed out with further discussion.  But many of my opponents have influential positions and public images that they have continued to use to wage a campaign of defamation and character assassination against me, well beyond the confines of the Committee, or even the Union hall, with no consequence to their own reputation, and because of their prestige, they have credibility.  As long as the words and actions,  are not attributed to them, they can hide behind their own justifications and misrepresentations, which they have continued to do.  

Their renown, without any evidence to the contrary, gives credence to their campaign, which has been ruthless and relentless.  While I don’t doubt that many of their supporters share their hostile indifference to disability  or Palestinian rights, I hope that others will be horrified to know the depravity of their attacks and the history of dishonesty and abuse.  I continue to endure humiliating and marginalizing responses to even the most passive appearances within the Union hall or at progressive events, having discontinued activity within the Committee since October of 2006. Often phone calls and emails go unanswered, old allies, also close to these detractors,  took themselves off of the Café Intifada listserve without context.  I am constantly barraged with strange accusations.  (For example: that I had falsely sent out Don White’s notice regarding the situation at UTLA in the BDS uproar, or I had fooled both he and Andy into positions that they would not have taken without my guile and manipulations.—as if these two men couldn’t think for themselves on such a vital issue!)

I was finally blacklisted within the Union, as a result of an unholy alliance among  members of the HRC, who are also some of L.A.’s most respected activists,  the “progressive” leadership of UTLA and the very powerful Zionist establishment.

What became clear to both Andy and myself, was that disability had been only the pretext for an attempt to wrestle power within the committee and that the fallout, including capitulation to the Jewish Zionist establishment over the BDS controversy, necessitated these prominent activists continue their lies and accusations beyond the Union hall into the larger progressive community, labor community and the left.   Additionally, the hatred and bitter disregard for disability rights, that would allow these activists to use that bigotry as a means to an end, also provided motivation for what has continued to be a campaign to limit my expression and participation in the larger movement.

It’s not about policy, politics or program. Otherwise we could simply live and let live.  Our paths don’t cross that often, and even when they do, they could extend to me the same courtesy they have had the gaul to demand of me.  (Nod, smile, move on.)   I do think it’s about power, initially within the Committee structure,  in some case, ego; in others, that I dared to write about what happened to me, even not naming names.

These bullies are so  effective, one wonders what other lives have been damaged.  How dare I speak up!

At one point, Greg Sotir brought copies of my writings to the HRC and demanded that the Committee shut down my blog!!!!  I think, in the case of what happened in Berlin, it’s about power.  It’s the school girl thrill of being able to manipulate and instigate hostility and ostracism while taking no action of one’s own.   Rosemary Lee has behind the scenes, been campaigning against me for years, insisting that I don’t have a disability, that I only use it as a pretext to get attention, inspiring others to openly ostracize me, forcing or attempting to force divisions between me and anyone close to me.  The problem with gossip is that it never bears scrutiny of the light of day.  Those who go along, take the heat for their public expression of the silent provocation, or,  with the power of numbers– the mob mentality of the bullies have the justification of majority.   (We tell the target of bullies, to ignore, when in reality it is not possible to ignore those who seek one out– it is the bully that should be given that directive.)  The others, who might even disagree with the perpetrator, do so in one on one conversation, not understanding that beyond that “private” conversation, is a very public  and essentially political campaign.  There are people who reportedly stood up to Rosemary, but only in the intimate context of the accusation. 

We say “the personal is political”  but this entire mess is a failure to really understand how personal the political really is. Illness is very personal. An attack on one’s disability is an attack on her body, on its statement, presence and place in the world.  Gossip, though apparently private; the ancient preserve of ladylike  discourse; the subtle current under the apparently calm sea, has always been political.  It speaks volumes to the role or women. Beyond that, it provides obscurity for a very public agenda. Repeated over and over again,  privacy is only an illusion; the shear volume, over time, distance and the number of people involved.  Whatever the reason for this campaign: hatred of disability, hatred of me, power within the Union around conference planning, resentment of attention being offered to assist access, we’ll never know.  We’ll never know.  That so many went along with it is astounding.  That picking on “the cripple” is still acceptable (among teachers!!!) speaks  to a larger depravity.  Whatever the reason, there is no excuse for the use of bigotry to forward that agenda. 

And something must be said about the controversy around Palestine and how it played out in the Union hall.  The progressive slate, consisting of activists of several leftist tendencies, including Solidarity, ISO, etc, all anti-Zionist;  as well as more “moderate” members of the slate, totally capitulated to Zionist pressure, both from the membership of the union, and from the  larger, Jewish Zionist establishment who launched the campaign to shut down a small, open meeting to discuss (discuss!!!) boycott, sanctions and divestiture of Israeli apartheid.  Gossip became extremely essential in explaining this capitulation, especially from the clique within the HRC, who used this nexus of disdain, the two step children of human rights activism: Palestinian and Disability Human Rights,  to further their own personal political agenda.  To cover their duplicity, they told their friends within the L.A. left they had been mislead either by me and Andy (Griggs)  or by the SDS/MDS, or they didn’t understand the issue, or the HRC never really took a position on the matter, and a few people, acting on their own, plummeted the entire Committee and Union into this controversy.  To their more moderate friends, mostly those within the Union,  they could parrot the point of view asserted by the Jewish Zionist establishment; that any support of Palestinian human rights –even non-violent actions, such as boycotts, sanctions and divestiture was the work of a few extremists who had steered the committee away from a real human rights agenda, supporting terrorism and violence, had failed to back up the leadership of the Union (!) had a one issue agenda, were divisive during contract negotiations (Unions are always involved in contract negotiations.)  

What followed over a period of several years, were a series of hate mail, anonymous phone calls,  death threats and an extensive police investigation based on a “tip” to a hotline, resulting in the serving of a search warrant at gun point, the presence of a news crew, the seizure of our property and an extensive 3 month investigation that found no NO NO NO NO evidence of criminality.  Despite these very real dangers, these individuals continued their personal campaign,  making it clear that the simplest appearance by me, at the funeral of a close friend or simply as Andy’s partner at a Union breakfast,  would subject me to continued harassment, marginalization and humiliation.   They have even taken to sending (traceable) anonymous emails to me, knowing that I have been subjected to hate mail and death threats.  (That was the final straw!) 

I don’t know what will come of finally exposing these names to the light of day, of holding these prestigious activists accountable for their actions.  It may bring on more wrath, though I doubt the situation could get much worse for me, in terms of what has already been dished out, in terms of the damage that has already been done. Their skill and lack of remorse assures that there are other bodies (so to speak) and I hope that by speaking out we can begin a dialogue on solidarity, revolutionary discipline, human rights and group process. 

I do hope that this will illuminate for people that they need to speak  against this stealthy, relentless campaign.  It hasn’t been just one statement or a few small opinions. It has been an ugly operation, conducted over the course of over 4 years, utilizing commonly held hostilities towards people with disabilities, which regardless of anything I may or may not have done, or may or may not be, is cause alone, for public outcry and denunciation. 

IF YOU HEAR SOMEONE MAKING STATEMENTS THAT ARE ROOTED IN BIGOTRY,  SPEAK UP. LET THEM AND THOSE AROUND THEM KNOW THAT THESE ATTITUDES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.  IF IT IS PART OF A LARGER CAMPAIGN, OR THEY HOLD SIGNIFICANT POSITION AND PRESTIGE,  SPEAK UP PUBLICLY.  MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DAMAGE THEY DO, FOR WHILE YOU MIGHT CHOOSE TO DISREGARD THEIR ALLEGATIONS, THERE ARE MANY THAT DON’T,  AS EVIDENCED BY THE FOLLOWERS THESE ACCUSATIONS ATTRACTED.  THIS SEEMINGLY INNOCENT, CHILDISH GOSSIP IS PART OF A LARGER BODY POLITIC, HAS REAL CONSEQUENCES, LIMITS REAL ACTIVISM, ISOLATES, MARGINALIZES AND DESTROYS.   

The fact is, there has been no negative social consequence for their behavior. 

We who fight for social justice are up against a brutal and ruthless machine. There are those among us who are agents of that machine, though with the complexity of the human animal, determining motives can be quite difficult.  When we let our petty differences, egos, status and pride rule our priorities, people will get very hurt.  As one Iranian friend of mine stated; “In a time of extreme repression, this is the behavior that gets people killed.” These actions lack collective vision and revolutionary discipline.  

 I do not reveal the identity of these  individuals casually, but with the  measured reflection of several years.  We have a huge battle in front of us, and I want, I need to be a part of it.  This gossip has gone on for so long, that my silence lends to my own marginalization and limits my own contribution, as well as the contributions of others whose voices have been similarly stifled.  

I’m not asking that these individuals be ostracized or treated as they have treated me.  They too have important work to do (though don’t expect me to serve on a committee with them any time soon!)  But I do insist that a serious left will be less tolerant of this behavior and will work to draw our circle as wide as is possible, so that we can all bring our skills, our heart, our love and our strengths to the battle, this enormous battle that looms ahead of us. 

Peace with Justice,

Emma  Rosenthal

Within the Human Rights Committee

Gilroy:  Greg Sotir, Multimedia Director, Coalition Against Militarism in the Schools (CAMS)  also known as Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in the Schools, Teacher, LAUSD, UTLA House of Representatives

Ethel or “W” :  Arlene Innouye  General Coordinator, (CAMS)  also known as Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in the Schools, Speech and Language Therapist, Special Education, Roosevelt High School (speech and language.) LAUSD, UTLA House of Representatives

Mildred: Roselva Ungar, Retired teacher LAUSD, Past Board member, and Vice President Unitarian Univeralists L. A. UTLA House of Representatives.

Camile: Rosemary Lee  Chair, Trinational Conference, Retired teacher- LAUSD,  UTLA House of Representatives

Clarence:  Howard Bransky   Director, UTLA Board of Directors  2005-2008, UTLA House of Representatives, Teacher LAUSD

Tammy: Theresa Sams, UTLA House of Representatives

Other key players:

A.J. Duffy, President UTLA

Joel Jordan, Director of Special Projects, UTLA

Josh Pechtalt, UTLA Vice President AFT,

Dan Barnhart, Director, UTLA Board of Directors, UTLA North Area Chair

Steve Seal, UTLA Human Rights Committee Chair. UTLA House of Representatives and later, UTLA Board of Directors

Julie Washington, UTLA Elementary Education Vice President

To follow the entire thread, go to: https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/anatomy-of-a-blacklist-a-thread-on-two-blogs/

Diary Post: Where it’s at now

There’s so much to say.  I’ve barely written on this blog in over a year, due partly to the shut down of the blog site, but also to my own need for retreat and reflection.  I’ll summarize a catch up here, and give more details in future posts over the next few weeks.

The events at UTLA where I was essentially blacklisted for my position on Palestinian human rights, and purged within the Human Rights Committee ostensibly  due to conflicts over disability rights, in  what was the perfect storm and an example of the strangest bedfellows, caused me to step back from activism for a while. Personal anguish, burnout and isolation were overwhelming and matters in my personal life required much of my attention.  Andy and I were able to move in together, after three years of dating and commuting 32 miles to see each other.   We found a sweet but small two bedroom apartment in Echo Park, with his cat, my dog and most of our books, computers, clothes etc. We had planned to be here only six months and to start looking for a more permanent place, but days turn into weeks, turn into months.  In September, my son, Leon, home early, from an educational program, joined us, with his life and his stuff.  With the dining area set up as a study with our desks, Leon’s desk in the small living room, our clothes in two small closets and much of our furniture still in storage, we’re pretty crowded and unorganized.  In December we started house hunting and now we’re in a very difficult, creative and what promises to be a rather long escrow for a house that will provide us with much needed space for home, books, art, dance, activism, family, house guests and life. Over the summer, Andy and I traveled to Philadelphia for the NEA convention and onto Berlin for Education International.  In both circumstances we experienced even more marginalization and ridicule of disability, making my participation at a breakfast, or a dinner, as simply the partner of a delegate, impossible.  Travel, fascinating as it was, was difficult with disability.  Germany was amazing (more on that in a later blog!)  After Germany, we went to spend a week at a spa in the Czech Republic.

The move to the apartment was exhausting and my health was very poor.  I spent much of the winter spring and summer (at the spa) getting my strength back, buying fruit and vegetables at the farmers’ markets in the area, cooking healthy meals for me and Andy (and later, Leon,) organizing our stuff, reading and reflecting.

The constant attacks on women’s bodies in our society is difficult enough.  Every billboard, t/v/ show, feature film, magazine cover bombards with unattainable perfection,  the realization of which is itself a threat to health and well being.  The constant attacks, innuendos and ridicule by the leaders within the teachers’ union; allies some of whom I’ve known for over twenty years, was devastating. So little on the left resembles the human rights agenda we claim to support.  The way activists treat activists is so defeating to the cause, so self serving much of the time and inexcusable.

I’d like to say I rose above it, that it made me stronger but the extreme marginalization of disability has been quite overwhelming.  It is hard not to take it personally.  Older trauma issues rose to the surface as all of this was transpiring. It’s been quite a journey.

Slowly I am venturing out again, building allies, finding activity and community that is supportive.

While it is true that many doors are closed to me, the world is vast and there are small cornes in which I can live out quite an exquisite existence.  I’m living in smaller circles and casting narrower nets.

I’m serving on the Boards of one local organization and one statewide committee, where disability rights and human rights are not incongruous. Andy and I are looking forward after the move, in bringing activities and services to the community though The WE Project and Café Intifada, and I’ve returned to school to study graphic arts, web design and photography.

My health has been good.  I am on an effective regimen of supplements and medications that seem to be allowing me to pace myself and finish my course work.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I am much relieved that I can.

And I am learning the difference between what is private and what is public.  Once burned, you know….

These are difficult times, too dangerous to live one’s life in the open.  I’ve really had to contemplate how to blog honestly without putting myself or the ones I love in the kind of danger I found myself a year ago: my name on hit lists, death threats and few allies willing to step up and defend me.

I think my current condition requires a quieter life, without surrender to the machine; a more creative way to deconstruct divisions, build community, justice, possibility and health.

Andy is a wonderful partner.  In ways that terrify me, our lives are coming together and I can foresee potentialities that in the past would have been impossible to imagine.

CROSS REFERENCING EMMALANDIA

Blogs:

I maintain a few blogs; the baggage of enforced respite.  I literally have lots of time on my hands, the consequence of a disability that leaves me physically limited but usually intellectually quite limber, and while there are days when I lack the strength to sit up in bed or raise my hands to access the keyboard, most of the time I am able to click away.
The first blog I started is called In Bed With Frida Kahlo. It is named after disabled activist and artist, Frida Kahlo, whose life story, including her strengths and weaknesses; gives me fortitude and insight.   This is a very personal blog about my struggles with disability and the massive discrimination that accompanies it.  It includes diary posts, recipes, poems, art work, photographs, daily indignities and other musings. 

The second blog I started was the Café Intifada blog, which is a bulletin board of events and articles of interest to artivists and other activists.  I also include poetry, art, commentary, photos etc. It is the official web page of Cafe Intifada, the organization I head up.  

The next blog I developed is Emma’s Room, and it simply publishes my completed, more formal writings; mostly essays. 

The Frida blog includes the entire history of the conflict in the Human Rights Committee and UTLA as it pertains to disability, so for those Café Intifada readers who are following the issue of death threats and hate speech, the Frida blog provides some of the back drop as well as the more personal contemplations on both that situation and the current challenge of personal security, anonymous threats and political and social isolation.

emma’s blogs:
In Bed With Frida Kahlo:_Daily indignities, small insurrections and honest musings from a life of_infirmity and rebellion_http://inbedwithfridakahlo.blogsource.com
Emma Rosenthal: A blog of political essays, letters and news._http://emmarosenthal.blogsource.com

Café Intifada: Uniting Art with Critical Consciousness:_http://cafeintifada.blogsource.com/

Following the thread: Anatomy of a Blacklisting

For those following the thread, Ableism in the Human Rights Committee, which is part of the thread:  Anatomy of a Blacklisting, a thread in two blogs,  go to:  

http://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/category/anatomy-of-a-blacklisting/page/3/   and read the posts in reverse chronological order, starting with the link at the bottom of each page.  You will be returning to this blog to finish the tread.  Follow the prompt which will be provided in my sister blog at the end of that thread.  If you follow these instructions, you won’t be reading the two blogs in perfect chronological order, but I think it’s the easiest way to navigate the coverage of these series of events, at least up until June of 2009.  

For the introduction to this thread, go to: https://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/anatomy-of-a-b…d-on-two-blogs

Emma 

June 2009