Today 2 June, 2017: Hey America, written by Shariq Siddiqui
Hey America, you aren’t as exceptional as you think…(Except with the date format)
Countries with no paid maternity leave: Liberia, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Western Samoa, Tonga, USA
OECD countries without universal healthcare: Greece, Poland, USA
Countries that seek to tax their overseas citizens/Permanent Residents’ overseas income: Eritrea, USA
Countries that do not use the metric system: Myanmar, Liberia, USA
Countries with an incarceration rate higher than 500 per 100,000: Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, Turkmenistan, El Salvador, Cuba, US Virgin Islands, USA
Countries using the MM/DD/YY format: USA
Countries opting out of the Paris agreement on climate change: Nicaragua, Syria, USA.
Today 23 May, 2017: Dear CNN…
Dear CNN, firstly, please use “Breaking News” with more accuracy and precision. We can’t really take you seriously when you use it every five minutes.
Secondly, we’re so very sorry to hear about the terror attack in Manchester which has killed so many young people merely trying to attend Ariana Grande’s concert. Thanks for flying US anchors all the way to the UK to interview concert-goers, survivors, and those who tragically lost loved ones. You have done a great job exposing the human suffering that results from this barbaric violence.
But CNN, why don’t you fly more often to Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq which according to this article is where the most suicide attacks occur? Why don’t you show us the pink bedroom of the eight-year-old little girl who has been killed in Basra or the teenager who wanted to be a pop star but was blown to bits just trying to buy vegetables for his grandmother in the market? Why don’t you show us the prayers and poems and vigils that keep these communities going in the face of such savagery occurring monthly, weekly, daily, sometimes hourly? Why, CNN, why?
Today 1 May, 2017: International Workers’ Day
“The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate…He has thus acquired the right to make the labourer work for him during one day. But, what is a working-day?
At all events, less than a natural day. By how much? The capitalist has his own views of this…As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value…
Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.
If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist.”
~ The late great Karl Marx
According to some estimates, May Day is celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide. But not in the US which is very strange since it began there in 1886 when workers went on strike to demand an 8-hour working day instead of a 12 or 16-hour day. Lives were lost in pursuit of that goal. Today, around the world, the workers’ struggle is still being waged and in the US, people will march today to protest various types of worker exploitation, including the scapegoating of immigrant workers and other types of injustice.
A luta continua!
Today 1 April, 2017: Every day is April Fool’s Day Now
Most of the world is presently governed by old men who range from being utterly incompetent to zealously malevolent. Zeitgeist quotes received today...
From Veena Aunty: In his magisterial novel “Humboldt’s Gift,” Saul Bellow quotes Samuel Daniel:
“While timorous knowledge stands considering, audacious ignorance hath done the deed.”
From Abra: Trump & goons are like a daily April Fool’s joke perpetuated upon humankind.
Today 21 March, 2017: Happy Human Rights Day, South Africa!
Today is Human Rights day in South Africa, a most important holiday to observe because it celebrates those brave souls who stood up against the passbook in 1960. And paid with their lives.
But did I go to a braii, or take a swim in the pool, or watch a movie? No! I have spent the whole day obsessively watching coverage of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s myriad Russia connections and fuming about his mean-spirited budget which slashes funding for everything from Sesame Street to home-bound seniors who receive meals-on-wheels (I used to volunteer to deliver some of those meals and many of those who receive them can barely walk!). And then I just thought I better write Obama a letter, so here it is: DEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA, PLEASE SUE TRUMP FOR LIBEL
Today 16 March, 2017: Trump’s abhorrent Muslim Ban TROed; the Dutch take note
Two good things have happened in the last 24 hours. Right-wing, xenophobic,Tangerine Bully-wannabe, Geert Wilders, did not receive enough votes to become the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Seems the Dutch people see what madness has erupted in Trump’s America and voted otherwise.
Meanwhile, the Donald of Twitterhoea is trying for the second time to prove himself a hideous Islamophobe and a monster with a cold, stone heart who would turn away refugees by introducing the second version of his fundamentally unethical travel ban. El xamdullilah, a judge has slapped it with a Temporary Restraining Order.
May it be restrained FOREVER!!
Today 6 March, 2017: Hope or despair?
AUBADE by PHILIP LARKIN (1922-1985)
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Today 25 January, 2016: Day of the Revolution
#globalmzabalazo = global struggle
Every day is protest day from here on out.
We – progressives, sane people and fact-lovers –
are on Code Red Alert!
Every day, we have to do at least one thing
to block the Trump agenda with the goal of peacefully
toppling it. Trump is a global threat and therefore peaceful
resistance to him must be global...
So if you’re wondering what to do, here are a few practical tips:
- Call a government official in your country, don't just troll them on Twitter or
rant on your Facebook page, call them on the phone. This article will help you locate your representative and walk you through the process, easy-peasy. Global citizens can phone their nearest embassy/consulate. In general, politicians lack integrity and have no principle dearer to them than their desire to retain their own power, even if that means currying favor with the Tangerine Bully. Thousands of phone calls will help US politicians find the backbone to vote against Trump’s proposed policies, especially if their international peers are also standing up to him. For US-based people, check out more at INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA where “former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”
- Get involved on the local level, even if it’s someone else’s locality. Try a site like swingleft.org or the Sister District project that aims to get more blue Democrats elected.
- Get involved on the national or international level. So many choices. Ask my BFF Google if these don’t suit you but here are a few: the ANSWER Coalition, Moveon.org, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch.
- Convene a group discussion at your place of worship, workplace, school, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting etc. You can use educational material from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program to kick off the discussion.
- Research the history of fascism and think about whether the electoral college system that was formed in slavery times is really the best system for a so-called democracy.
- Keep looking out for protests to attend. The Women’s March organizers are trying to keep a running list. I have heard rumors of something called Resistance Tuesdays that might organize weekly actions.
- Sign a petition, sign a lot of petitions. The White House petitions page offers a choice selection as does Moveon.org. You can join me in calling for Trump to STOP TWEETING.
- You can write your own petition and add to these suggestions when you share this list with your newly-formed Revolutionary Pod – the six people you are embedding down with to continuously evolve the most effective methods.
Every night before you go to bed, please ask yourself: what positive action have I taken today to impede Trump’s hate-fuelled agenda…
Today 17 January, 2017: Chimurenga anyone?
Here is a guide to various protests happening this week. Whether you’re a non-American, a sardonic American, a quasi-American or an anti-American, I really suggest you find a protest and protest Donald Trump.
What’s the point, you ask? He lost the popular vote by three million votes but still won the election due to the archaic electoral college system. Whether you believe he is or isn't the legitimate president of the US, he is the president-elect so why even bother?
The point of protesting is to ensure that US lawmakers in the Congress know that milllions and millions of people do not support any of his proposed legislation, from repealing Obamacare aka the Affordable Care Act to making Muslims sign up on a registry. His domestic policy is appalling, his foreign policy might be even more inhumane.
Furthermore, the Tangerine Bully is a barbarian because he brags about "grabbing" women by their genitalia and supports torture. He is cursed with that most fatal of misfortunes: an insatiable narcissism combined with a fragile ego. These flaws propel his rapid-fire reflexes when it comes to tweeting an embarrassing mixture of vengeful vitriol, utter trivia and irresponsible comments which can cause company stocks to plummet and governments to cringe (stop tweeting petition). Protesters can embolden spineless Republicans, wimpy Democrats, the outflanked media and the Government Ethics Office which will be monitoring his business dealings' myriad conflicts of interest to stand up to him.
No matter where you are in the world, geographically-speaking, the US effects your life, probably more than you would like to admit. So here are a few protests you might like to attend. If there isn’t one in your locale, please feel free to organize one:
Thursday 19 January, 2017: http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/314379-michael-moore-to-host-star-studded-protest-outside-trumps-nyc
Friday 20 January, 2017:
Today 9 January, 2017: Box-challengers!
Saudi Arabian-born Michael Mmoh who is half-Nigerian and half-Irish is playing a tennis match against Dustin Brown, born to a Jamaican father and a German mother. In this still white-dominated sport, this is not a run-of-the mill occurrence. These players also challenge the boxes we use to divide the world up into separate nationalities, races, ethnicities etc. However, these players still have to choose a single nation-state to play for. Mmoh plays for the US and Brown for Germany.
When will athletes be able to represent two or more countries?
Today 6 November, 2016: Hypocrisy
Melania Trump broke the law by working illegally in the US before she had the correct visa. Her husband calls himself the “law and order” candidate and founded his campaign on stopping “illegal immigration.” Now that his wife is also an “illegal immigrant” (his term, not mine), will he apologize for his hypocrisy?
Or, if he and his supporters discount Ms. Trump’s breaking of the law, then will he admit that he has double standards? Why does he forgive a European modelling without proper documents but crimininalize a Mexican for doing the same?
If he refuses to admit that he is an hypocrite and employs specious double standards, he should just confess to all of us that he is a racist.
And CNN, please stop debating ad nauseum if Donald Trump is a racist or an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe. A person who spews bigotry and says and does racist things is a racist.
These jokes circulated a while back. They must circulate again because they are hilarious!
On a whale watch off the coast of California, I learn that every day nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins are caught in fishing nets. The fault lies not with the fisherman - the supplier - but with the demander - the fish lover, the seafood connoisseur.
The shark fin soup sipper enjoys a bowl whilst the finless shark is still trying to swim finlessly, slowly bloodying the ocean.
Today I am thankful for the lives and works of three great Africans who passed away last year: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Doris Lessing and Chinua Achebe.
Today 22 February, 2016: Congrats African Presidents, you are in it for the forever no matter what anyone else thinks!
Uganda’s main opposition leader, Mr. Kizza Besigye, has been arrested four times in eight days during Uganda’s “democratic” elections which Mr. Yoweri Museveni, already in power for thirty years, has miraculously “won”…again. Meanwhile, drought-stricken Zimbabwe will probably spend close to the usual million US dollars to celebrate Mr. Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday. This is his thirty-sixth year in power. But may he serve for many more because his good friend, the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, managed to rule for 42 years. Just want to say congratulations/amhlope/makorokoto to African presidents who have really shown the world how to put the life in the travesty of democracy which makes possible African Presidents for Life.
Today 17 January, 2016: Fairness, consumed and produced
Who should take the blame for the popularity of Pond's "white beauty fairness cream," Nivea's "whitening smooth skin" deodorant for "fairer & smoother underarms," and Fair & Lovely's "pimples off, fairness on" facewash, featured below amongst other products seen in an Indian supermarket. I have already lamented about this unenlightened obsession with light skin. But who to blame for these psyche-damaging products? The producer who manufactures them or the consumer who buys them thus creating a market thus producing the producer....
Look at them upside down. It's a head-spinning ideology.
Today 25 November, 2015: Defeated
In the last few days, I feel utterly defeated by the news out of Zimbabwe. The First Lady Grace, has said so many disgraceful things: women in mini-skirts should expect to be raped as they are “tempting” men (as if rape is a crime motivated by sexual desire when it is nothing more than a crime of violence, please don’t blame the victim and excuse the perpetrator); she said she sometimes skips a meal in solidarity with the hungry (is she a modern-day Marie Antoinette, does she not wonder about the causes behind the hunger or rather whose policies have resulted in hunger); Mugabe will continue ruling the country even when he is one-hundred-years-old because that is what the people want (which people, all the people?).
And then to top it all off, Dr. Sam Moyo, great struggler for a greater Zimbabwe, was killed in a car accident. Nematambudziko.
Today 12 November, 2015: LGBTI, Rainbow Africa, #chevyfeathers2015
Who knew that US car company Chevrolet is the major sponsor for the Feather Awards which celebrate diversity and issues related to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (and as one drag queen added, Asexual, Queer and Curious) South African and greater African community? Well, since 2009, Chevrolet has been the major sponsor for these awards. This year, the theme is Rainbow Africa and although I am underdressed and considerably less glam than the glitterati who have come all out to Johannesburg City Hall, I am delighted by this event that aims to highlight the virulent and violent homophobia of too many African countries. Although it is a glitzy media event with a red carpet, bright lights, expensive food and wine, I will not criticize because a) awards were given in some fantastic categories such as “Diva Extraordinaire of the Year,” “Fag Hag of the Year,” “Drama Queen of the Year,” and sitting at our very own table is the winner of “Hunk of the Year”, b) Boomshaka killed it in their performance but most importantly, c) I must applaud the nominees for the night’s most important category, “Feather of the Year,” which is an award given to an activist who fights for the terrorized LGBTI community in his or her country.
Congrats to the nominees, such bold and brave souls who face immense danger every day they fight for this cause: Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile of Botswana, Don Spiros Skene of Mozambique, Ishmael Makhuludzo of Malawi, Titica of Angola, Muriel Yvon of Mauritius, Melusi Simelane of Swaziland, Sibusiso Malunga of Zambia and Ricky “Rikki” Nathanson of Zimbabwe.
I am awed and humbled by your courage.
A luta continua…
Today 25 October, 2015: Numbers this week…
The Chinese government has awarded the Confucius Peace Prize to my president who killed at least 20,000 people in Matabeleland in the 1980s and has overseen the displacement, rape, torture and murder of thousands of opposition party members since 2000 in a bloody bid to keep on keeping on as Zimbabwe’s dictator for thirty-five years now. A brief bright spot: over 10,000 South African university students and supporters gathered in Pretoria to demand that a proposed fee increase of ten to twelve per cent be scrapped: although he failed to address the crowd directly, President Zuma bowed to their demands – fees will not rise next year. Meanwhile, 30,000 face starvation in South Sudan, 7,000 Syrian migrants are arriving in Greece every day, 2.1 million Nigerians have been displaced by Boko Haram. But the death of four Americans who died in Benghazi in 2012 results in overzealous Republicans grilling Hillary Clinton for over eleven hours after an investigation of seventeen months costing five million dollars. Yet, the Obama administration has killed over 2,500 in drone strikes (although this number is impossible to totally verify as this data is not made readily available to the public) but nobody is being hauled in front of any committee to answer any questions. The good news is that with numbers like these Obama may have a chance at winning the Confucius Peace Prize next year. Me, I am left speechless by this Orwellian universe and read this poem to remind me that numbers are people...
African Lives Matter: tell them (they have names) – a poem (2015)
by JJ Bola
and when they turn the bodies over
to count the number of closed eyes. and they tell you 800,000: you say no. that was my uncle.
he wore bright coloured shirts and pointy shoes.
2 million: you say no. that was my aunty.
her laughter could sweep you up like
the wind to leaves on the ground.
6 million: you say no, that was my mother.
her arms. the only place i have ever
not known fear.
3 million: you say no, that was my love.
we used to dance. oh, how we used to dance.
or 147: you say no, that was our hope. our future. the brains of the family.
and when they tell you that you come from war: you say no, I come from hands held in prayer before we eat together.
when they tell you that you come from conflict: you say no. i come from sweat.
on skin. glistening. from shining sun.
when they tell you that you come from genocide: you say no, i come from the first smile of a new born child, tiny hands.
when they tell you that you come from rape: you say no, and you tell them about every time you have ever loved.
tell them that you are from mother carrying you on her back. until you could walk.
until you could run. until you could fly.
tell them that you are from father holding you up to the night sky. full of stars. And saying look, child. this is what you are made of.
from long summers. full moons. flowing rivers. sand dunes.
you tell them that you are an ocean that no cup could ever hold.
Today 13 October, 2015: Democratic Socialist ≠ Anti-Capitalist
The wannabe Democratic presidential candidates take the stage tonight for their first debate and besides Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, no-one knows who the other three are although former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley does appear to be a somewhat serious character. In fact, compared to the Donald of Trumped-up Self-Importance, the Dems are too earnest, avuncular and in touch with fact-based reality to provide much entertainment i.e. TV ratings will be far lower than for the Republican Debate Circus. Yet, on the question of capitalism, there was still confusion amongst the Dems and the pundits.
Firstly, Bernie Sanders with his delightful Brooklyn accent and his just-got-out-of-bed-and-too-busy-saving-the-world-to-comb-my-hair gravitas is constantly lambasted in the American media which likes to think of itself as a wing of the free press but is in fact run by giant corporations, the type Bernie would like to tax a lot more. Hence, they keep accusing him, as if it were the most heinous insult, of being a socialist.
Bernie is no socialist. He calls himself a democratic socialist which he defines as basically being like a nice Scandinavian who promotes free enterprise but would like a strengthened social safety net, more worker-friendly regulations, other pleasant things like universal health care and free education and finally and foremost, much less egregious income inequality. If you listen carefully, he said that he is against “casino capitalism” and even though he talks about the revolution, his policies do not promote Soviet-style seizures of private sector assets or a Maoist-type uprising of the peasants.
Although a lot of very clever people from Karl Marx to Neil Smith to Pope Francis consider capitalism a structurally unequal system which propagates undemocratic socio-economic inequality, Bernie, Hillary and the Democratic Party are just as pro-capitalist as the Republican Party. They are merely quibbling about what type of capitalism America should have but none of them is genuinely trying to overthrow the system tout court. You can calm down now, Fox News.
Today 1 October, 2015: Empathy
Excerpts from Olive Kitteridge, an exquisite collection of sea-salty short stories by the formidable Elizabeth Strout. These stories gather force through the slow, cumulative documenting of the accretions of disappointment, aging and half-realized relationships; like all great masterpieces, they evoke new depths of empathy in the reader...
"Hope was a cancer inside him. He didn't want it: he did not want it. He could not bear these shoots of tender green hope springing up within him any longer. That awful story of the man who jumped - and survived - walking back and forth for an hour on the Golden Gate Bridge, weeping, saying that had anyone stopped to ask why he was weeping, he wouldn't have jumped."
~ from the story, "Incoming Tide"
"What young people didn't know,[Olive] thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm; oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away
carelessly, as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again. No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn't choose it."
~ from the story, "River"
Today 28 September, 2015: Blood Moon Eclipse but meanwhile, the earth is bleeding as we continue to destroy it...
Today 6 June, 2016: Dear Republican Party…
The word hypocrisy does not begin to describe your actions. Endorsing the Donald of Trumped-Up Self Importance is tantamount to treason. You know very well that his divisive demagoguery can only be destructive for your country’s long-term interests. But you’re so desperate to win the White House, you have used the excuse of party loyalty to justify your sudden support for a misogynistic thug with a bad hairstyle who lacks both character and the conservative ideals you claim to cherish.
Country before party, patriotism before power. If nothing else, be pragmatic! In the short term, the dangerous Donald may win the presidential election in November. But in the long term, this bigoted bully will obliterate whatever integrity your party may have ever had. Not only will he alienate Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans and women but all people of principle. It’s a losing strategy, Republican Party. You’re on the path to self-destruction.
Today 2 November, 2016: Rasputin and/or
State Capture and/or
South Korean President Park Geun-hye is accused of falling under the influence of a Rasputin-like cult member, her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and sharing secret state documents with her.
South African President Jacob Zuma is accused of capitulating to the whims of the wealthy Gupta family. Many South Africans suspect they have captured the state apparatus to enrich themselves.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump is accused of being under the influence of Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton has gone so far as to call him a puppet of the Russians, the quintessential Manchurian candidate.
What exactly is going on?
Today 8 July, 2016: Dear US Media…
You pundits and so-called journalists spend all day talking on TV but say very little. In the wake of shootings in Orlando and Dallas, your 24/7 sensationalist coverage is deeply problematic.
1. False Equivalence – Do not equate systemic, continuous violence with random, lone shark attacks.
If, for example, a solo gunman kills police officers in Dallas, you are quick to equate that with police killings of black men. This is a false equivalence. If there are a few instances of sick people who kill police officers because they are police officers, this is a tragedy. But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed black men who have been killed by police because they are black. This too is a tragedy and this is a SYSTEMIC problem. Not every police officer is guilty but nor is it just the act of a few “bad apples.” That is why it keeps happening again and again and again and again and again...
2. Analysis without Facts – You are rarely guilty of imparting facts or useful information to your audience. Instead, you seem to regard your job as an opportunity to editorialize and/or invite guests on to shout at and over each other thus ensuring no substantive discussion can be had. Amazingly, in the wake of earth-shattering events, you don’t bother to assemble even half the facts before you whip up various opinionistas to weigh in with their half-baked analyses of what has happened. Even though it is not clear what has happened. The reason you do this is because you are rushing to…
3. Consolidate a Narrative – Depending on your subjective political position vis a vis the half-known, not-yet-understood event, you proceed to insert it with great confidence into one of your clichéd narratives, often relying on the…
4. Specious Use of Statistics – You allow your overheated guests to spew stats ad infinitum. But you never fact check these stats or offer a clearer interpretation of them e.g. if someone argues that the US police kill more white men than black men, this is true. But it is true BECAUSE according to the US census, white people (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) make up 77% of the US population so logically speaking, of course more white people fall to police gunfire. But if you consider the fact that black people make up only 13.3% of the population, it becomes clear that proportionally speaking, a black man is two to three times more likely to be killed by the police than a white man depending on which database you reference. Click below for one such database and arm yourself with a few facts. Just for a change.
Today 21 March, 2015: Love poetry...
The First Day
by Christina Rosetti
I wish I could remember the first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me;
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or winter for aught I can say.
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it! Such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow.
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much!
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand! - Did one but know!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The longing in this poem is for a day the poet cannot remember because the moment of meeting
that person who would eventually change her life forever went unrecorded. I wonder if love poetry
in the age of online dating has changed considerably? Everything is recorded on email and text message before the first encounter which is already assumed to be potentially momentous.
I would like to see today's poems. How do they begin?
“I reread the first email you sent me”?
Although I hate providing links on this site because I feel that this culture of hyperlinking causes even more ADD and general fragmentation of the mind, I will here break with my own rule because African American Leonce Gaiter’s “Black authors in the ‘write white’ trap” and Nigerian author, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s searing “African Books for Western Eyes,” are so cogently argued, they sing with the frustration felt by many black and African writers whose writing is -as Gaiter puts it so well here - “neatly sealed in racial ziplock bags” by the mainstream (read white) publishing industry. Nwaubani explains that what is called African writing can only be successfully published with “the approval of ‘white people’.”
This is why black and African writers suffocate in a small and overcrowded box in which a wealth of wonderful stories is stifled by the handful of reassuring stereotypical tales which are deemed appropriate to represent myriad multifaceted lives…
Today 7 February, 2015: Women
My president has made news this week for stumbling. Countless memes have zipped across the inter webs showing him at various stages of tripping. Last week he made news when he was elected the Chairman of the African Union as if he were somehow the legitimate democratic leader of the opposite of a failed state. But then again his cohorts at the AU are no doubt envious of his ability to cling to power for 35 years despite a blatant disregard for the welfare of the majority of Zimbabweans whose standard of living is in seemingly interminable free fall…
Between stumbling and assuming the chairmanship, President Mugabe also made some other comments at the AU summit on women’s empowerment which deserve more attention: “Mugabe…has said it is impossible for women to be ‘on a par with men’ because their primary role is having and looking after babies…‘You see, we men make the very women we want in power pregnant. You see, and we remain. It’s not possible [that women can be at par with men]’.”
I completely agree with President Mugabe. Women are so blessed. Women can get pregnant and bear babies and still do everything that men can do although they usually do it much better. Women and men are not on a par. Women are far superior.
Today 26 January, 2015: The rape victim honors her rapist…
We are watching the Australian Open but there is a break in the tennis to celebrate Australia Day. According to the inter webs, 26 January is “the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove…in 1788.” Although the Australian government is trying to reformulate it as a day to celebrate their multicultural diversity, its colonial origins cannot be offset by this Aboriginal lady who is now singing the Australian national anthem. How perverse! Like a rape victim forced to commemorate the day she was raped. For the Aboriginal peoples, there is no doubt that 26 January, 1788 marked the commencement of the infinite violation of their land and their lives.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the western media is insisting on trotting out endless streams of besuited, beardless Muslims speaking in flawless French and perfect English to apologize on behalf of all "moderate" Muslims for the tragic killings and to voice their infinite support of the values of freedom of speech, democracy and civilization. Thank God that Aamer Rahman, one of my favorite stand-up comedians, an Australian Muslim – and that will teach you a thing or two - has responded with this most excellent tweet:
“As a random Muslim I'll apologise for this Paris incident if random white ppl will apologise for imperialism, drone attacks and Iggy Azalea.”
Let these words be contemplated, all the way…from LA to Tokyo!
Today 28 July, 2016: Two Wolves
An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth."
The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"
The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."
The Republican National Convention last week certainly does not represent all Republicans since the Bush family was in absentia and even other big enchiladas like John McCain and Mitt Romney were MIA because they could not stomach the Tangerine Bully as the party’s nominee. But the RNC aka Trumpmania was immensely different from the Democrats’ brighter and more optimistic convention this week. In terms of content and tone, Trumpmania was doom and gloom all around, feeding the wolf of Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, bigotry, racism, jingoism, militarism and Hate Thy Neighbor. The Democrats on the other hand, despite the rifts between Bernie and Hillary supporters, are trying to raise a completely different cub…
...Which wolf will win?
Today 1 June, 2016: For You...
"She needed a hero. So that's what she became."
I don't know the author of this quote but I admire the sentiment. To all women, I say,
a luta continua.
Today 7 December, 2016: Colonization by Malls?
Driving down NH17, what do I see? The recently-opened Mall de Goa, the second one in this state. Goa’s lovely beaches and calm vistas run along the west coast of India facing into the Arabian Sea. It was colonized six hundred years ago by the Portuguese which is why their huge Catholic cathedrals are still found everywhere and why this American export is named in Portuguese, Mall de Goa. But 60 years from now, historians will marvel at how rapidly global capitalism colonized the world with malls, our contemporary version of churches and palaces and temples and tombs. If former generations built structures to honor royalty and the dead and the gods, we build massive structures to sanctify consumption. But we’re doing far more than merely shopping and eating in these malls. We’re lusting after some version of a lifestyle we saw in a magazine somewhere, or maybe on a TV show. Here, in the “developing” world from South Africa to China to India, we embrace these malls like they are here to save our souls.
Is it terribly cliché to ask if they are here to steal them?
Today 25 April, 2016: Equivocal does not mean equivocation...
“By multiplying both authorship and readership, the novel, from the times of Cervantes to our own, became a democratic vehicle, a space of choice, of alternate interpretations of the self, of the world, and of the relationship between myself and others, between you and me, between we and they. Religion is dogmatic. Politics is ideological. Reason must be logical. But literature has the privilege of being equivocal.The quality of doubt in a novel is perhaps a manner of telling us that since authorship (and thus authority) are uncertain and susceptible of many explanations, so it goes with the world itself.”
~ Carlos Fuentes, a clever chap
Today 22 August, 2015: Brooklyn Traditional Music Show, #Afropunk Fest 2015
I happily go along laboring under the delusion that I have a lot of hair until I set foot in any event frequented by the Triple-B.* There is so much fabulous big BIG hair, hip Afro-fusion fashion and ganja filling this perfect summer eve that you can get a secondhand high from all the smoke. The deejay has to work overtime keeping the crowd rocking to popular Brooklyn traditional musicians like Lil Kim and Biggie because of the long wait between Kelis and Lauryn Hill. But when the sound goes off just when Lauryn Hill’s about to perform the songs the audience actually knows, I think we have suddenly been transported back to Zimbabwe. Rumor has it, however, that this is no power outage. Apparently, the “miseducated” organizers cut the mics because she was too late starting her set and they want to make way for Ms. Grace Jones and her ever-funky masks to take the stage. They are sending a message but at least this all-inclusive one is on point. Read sideways and think laterally:
The spirit of Cecil the lion joins me today in wishing you well on your journey now that you’re retiring from The Daily Show today. Cecil has recently been the victim of an ugly tug of war with all sides deploying him to score points for their own agenda. If you were still with us to cut through the hyped-up hullaballoo, the world would be a better place.
This week, we went on a tour of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Economic and Social Council has a symbolic architectural feature. The ceiling is unfinished to remind us that the work of improving society is never done. (When I say “we,” I do not mean me and Cecil the deceased lion, I am referring to other live humans). It is people like you who unflinchingly stare down hypocrisy who make sure that that ceiling remains visible to all of us wherever we are.
Thank you for your hard-hitting but ever gracious interviews, valiantly speaking truth to the powerful, right to their very faces. Thank you for trying to counter Fox News’ vicious misinformation campaign with common sense and sanity. Thank you for trying to keep Obama from straying further right and reminding him to close Guantanamo Bay. Most of all, thank you so very much for saving us from jumping out the window during the dark George “Dubya” Bush years when torture was called enhanced interrogation and nuclear was pronounced nucular.
We could go on and on but we have to find some witty comments of our own to make the first Republican primary debate palatable. Couldn’t you have steered us through 2016? Okay, well, you gotta go but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, come back to visit when Trevor Noah takes over!
Hasta luego, inschallah!
Today 7 July, 2015: Words to live by...
"Don't let small minds convince you
that your dreams are TOO BIG."
Today 7 June, 2015: Fantastic Fridge magnets
Everything is easier SAID than done…except for talking…that’s pretty much the same.
Dear Maths, I’m not a therapist. Solve your own problems!
She is spherical, like a globe. I could find out countries in her.*
* Having grown up in that one small country, Africa, where voluptuous women are in general still cherished by the more traditionally-minded, I assumed that the above was a poetic compliment to a curvaceous goddess of a woman.
Unfortunately, in the original play by MacDaddy Shakespeare, it is meant as an insult!
I prefer my initial interpretation.
Curious. Don’t dogs possess ultra-sensitive ears? Are these dogs deaf? If not, how do they stand the noise of a million honking hooters? Why do they rest here on these dividers amidst the booming roar of incessant traffic? Often they are fast asleep, curled up, apparently snoozing peacefully.
A documentary about Delhi’s homeless population informs me that they like to sleep on these same dividers because the breeze created by passing traffic repels mosquitos and functions as a poor man’s fan.
I will never be able to ask these dogs why they choose to rest here and not somewhere quieter like one of the city’s many parks. I will never know but I nevertheless celebrate their zen attitude and henceforth, will try to emulate their deep calm and evolved quietude in the midst of much mayhem.
And when this cool like that dog is ready to go,
he abides by the traffic rules and waits to cross at the crosswalk.
Today 25 October, 2016: Boycott the Tangerine Bully's Brand!
Guys, I’m giving up golf! I will no longer play golf at any Trump-owned golf course. Okay, just joking. Clearly, I never played golf and never will. But I will make sure that I never, ever, for the rest of my life, buy a product that will result in a dime of profit for racist misogynist, Trump, or Trump progeny. Almost all Trump-branded products and businesses are made and/or staffed by black, brown and yellow people. Who is working in the kitchens of Trump hotels if not the “Mexicans” he so disparages? Who makes the Trump-branded clothes manufactured in Honduras, China and Bangladesh? How many of these workers are women whom Donald Trump has boasted he “grabs by the p----y”?
Trump patriarch and Trump progeny only seem to care about one thing: money!
So join the #GrabYourWallets campaign begun by Ms. Shannon Coulter and make sure you boycott shops from slash-priced Marshall’s to department stores like Macy’s that sell Trump products. Don't forget about Amazon.com and Zappos! Call them up and tell them no, you don’t want to spend your money there until they remove such an offensive brand. Here’s the list of online and brick-and-mortar entities selling Trump products with their phone numbers/contact details. Get dialing!
Today 19 September, 2016: Dear World Bank, why would you lend Mugabe the big bucks?
Robert Mugabe has for 36 years ruined Zimbabwe’s economy. His government is responsible for the murders of thousands of political opponents and ordinary civilians. We still do not know the whereabouts of activist Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 March, 2015. Why would you lend him more money to keep on killing the country’s people and economy?
Today 16 September, 2016: BREAKING NEWS!
Donald Trump announces that he believes the sky is blue
Today, Donald Trump wants to garner free publicity for the opening of his new hotel in Washington, D.C. So he has built up a lot of suspense to make sure that as many cameras as possible follow him to see if he will finally admit
something everyone already knows
(with the exception of white supremacist conspiracy theorists).
After five years of insisting that President Barack Obama was not born in the US and is therefore not the legitimate president of the US, Donald Trump has now seized the opportunity to turn common knowledge into another brand-building opportunity.
As the biggest proponent of the so-called “birther movement,” the Tangerine Bully began bullying the president in 2011 to release his birth certificate and prove he is American by birth. He pursued this offensive inquiry in order to expand his bully pulpit and propel himself into the position of Supreme-Bigot-in-Chief. He could not believe a black man could be a "real American" or become president of the United States.
Should we be grateful today that he ignored an invitation to address the
Black Women’s Agenda in order to hold a press conference at his new hotel to tell us
something we already know?
I don’t want Trump’s admission that the president is born in the US.
Everyone already knows that just as we already know the sky is blue.
Why does the media treat this as breaking news
and give him more unpaid for airtime?
All we really need from Trump is his tax returns.
Because many people say, I would not say it, but, believe me, many people are saying that those returns have the potential to break his whole campaign apart
if they reveal him to be the most incredible, tremendous
Chief Executive Con Man the world has ever seen.
The very same gun-toting conservatives who defend the second amendment right to bear arms are the quickest to condemn American footballer Colin Kaepernick for exercising his first amendment right to protest. If he wants to kneel during the national anthem to draw attention to the plight of people of color who too often, so often fall victim to police violence, he could not do anything more patriotic.
A true patriot must always protest to improve the nation.
Today 9 September, 2016: The most important news story happening in America today is…
...NOT about the Tangerine Bully’s latest nonsensical drivel.
The most important news story in America today is about the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's struggle to block the Dakota access pipeline. Corporations and corporate interests in favor of the oil pipeline argue that it won’t cross “Indian land.” I really don’t know what they mean. All land in the US is Indian land.
Everyone else here is an interloper. We should never forget that.
Today 15 August, 2016: Supergirl aka Wonder Woman
Is there a worse possible time to shop for groceries than a busy Monday evening at the Fascist Food Coop here in the heart of bourgie Brooklyn? Alas, it needed to be done but there is always a silver lining. As I maneuvered through the jammed aisles aiming for the crackers, I discovered a large obstacle blocking my access. A shopping cart parked right there with an impossibly cute little girl sitting in it.
“Hello,” I said, “you are wearing a very nice dress but I have to reach across you.” She proudly patted her Supergirl costume, the red S emblazoned against the blue. As I scooped up a packet of bourgie organic saltines (flavored with extra virgin olive oil), she said conversationally, “Do you know Wonder Woman?” Of course, Wonder Woman was one of my childhood heroes! I used to wear her star-strewn red and blue costume myself when I was small. Did the little girl know the difference, however, between Supergirl and Wonder Woman? “Yes, I do know her,” I said, deciding there was no point in pointing this out to a kid no older than four. She nodded conspiratorially, “Have you seen Wonder Woman, she punches the rude boys. That’s what I do to Alex.”
“Who is Alex?”
“Alex is a very rude boy. So I punched him.”
Today 9 November, 2016: Tragedy
Donald Trump has offended most of the world and insulted half of America.
But he has enchanted the other half. Now, the world is a much scarier place for everyone who is not white, male, straight, Christian, a non-journalist, a non-bully, a non-progressive and a non-intellectual…First, I will jump out the window. If I survive that, I will write a full analysis/eulogy for America and the American-dominated world right here in the coming hours.
Today 11 November, 2016: What have we taught the children?
Children are logical to a fault. They think in black and white. The election of Trump will teach them the following life lessons*:
That it’s okay to bully and belittle…
That it's okay to brag and boast...
That it’s okay to never say sorry…
That it's okay to be vain and selfish...
That it’s okay to accord value to people based solely on their physical attractiveness…
That it’s okay to make fun of the differently-abled…
That it’s okay to never read a book or study…
That it’s okay to not pay your bills or your debts or your taxes…
That it’s okay to sexually molest women…
That it's okay to talk like you're in the third grade even when you're 70 years old...
That it’s okay to be a racist and a bigot…
That it’s okay to publicly humiliate the mothers of your children by cheating on them…
That it’s okay to say anything that pops into your head no matter whom it hurts…
That it's okay to lie...
That it's okay to replace principle with political opportunism...
That it's okay to ignore climate science and the crying earth...
That it’s okay to discriminate against people because they do not share your religion…
That it’s okay to use other people’s money to make charitable contributions…
That it’s okay to sue, sue, sue, mangle the law to protect your privilege, justice be damned…
That it’s okay to admire dictators like Putin and disparage democratic institutions…
That it’s okay to punch protesters and torture suspects…
That it’s okay to turn away those seeking refuge from war and terror…
That it's okay to defraud, cheat, and scam...
That it’s okay to do all of these things IF your father was a millionaire and IF you are a white man and IF you are a Reality TV star…
It’s okay to say and do whatever you like, no matter how unethical, immoral or hateful…
It’s okay because you will be handsomely rewarded for spurning every convention of basic decency...
* Work-in-progess. There will be more additions to this list…
Today 9-10 November, 2016: Anti-Trump Protests erupt in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle etc…
Have you seen the excellent film, Clash, directed by Mohamed Diab? A group of diverse Egyptians are shoved into a police van whilst protesting for and against the removal of President Mohamed Morsi. They have to learn to co-exist as they spend several uncomfortable hours stuck together, cheek by jowl with those of different political, religious and social views. There is the homeless guy who lives in the street next to the kid from Tagemma, a wealthy gated community. The unveiled nurse next to the young teenage girl wearing her hijab. They are driven throughout a tumultuous Cairo which is on fire as warring political factions take their battles to the street because all sides feel betrayed by the ballot box.
Now, after Donald Trump’s “Third World”-style campaign, protestors, thus far peaceful (please remain peaceful!!!), have taken to the streets in multiple American cities. The Tangerine Bully always threatened that he would not accept the election results if he didn’t win. He flippantly sowed those seeds and now the people are rebelling against his election…
The media is weaving new mythologies about the Tangerine Bully during Trumpmania aka the Republican National Convention. They are dubbing him the “Blue-collar Billionaire” and keep repeating that he has such “great children” and therefore he must be such a “great guy” to have brought up such “great children.” If his five children are great, did the three different mothers who gave birth to them have nothing to do with their upbringing? Was the Tangerine Bully a single father awaking before dawn to cook them oatmeal and make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for them to take to school? Did he board the bus to take them to school every day? Or were they raised by their mothers, nannies, chauffeurs and other paid staff?
Trumpmania has been a depressing volcano of vitriol directed against the world at large and Hillary in particular. Hillary has done herself no favours by lying about her emails. Melania Trump, the ultimate trophy wife, plagiarizes Michelle Obama and for days, the campaign denies it. It’s such an Allison-in-Wonderland upside-down world that Ted Cruz appears to be the only man of principle.
As we walk through Columbus Circle on this summery night in Manhattan, we see on the opposite side from Trump Tower, this beamed on to a wall. An elderly Latino man almost falls off his bike. It’s such a very bad word. He tells us in Spanish that he is shocked to see such an insult. I don’t ever want to put curse words on this site but the Tangerine Bully with his appalling lack of moral integrity, odious hyperbole and hate-engendering rhetoric has flushed us all down the toilet and now here we are…in the sewer.