Tag Archives: advocacy

Mainstream Media Circus …

Carol A. Hand

Come one, come all!

Microsoft Word Clip Art

***

Step right up,
ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to the circus
Our main attraction
may appear to be
the orange clown
He will perform
astounding feats
of buffoonery

Microsoft WORD Clip Art

***

His act is intended
to distract your attention
Perhaps he will also be able
to divide you, the audience,
into illusory opponents
and maybe even provoke you
to fight with each other
But don’t be fooled

Microsoft WORD Clip Art

***
His main objective is
to keep you from noticing
the machinations of the puppeteers
who, behind the scenes,
are building structures that will
imprison you in joyless lives
of endless servitude to
feed their insatiable appetites
for yet more power.

***

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What’s in a Title?

Carol A. Hand

What deeper messages do titles convey? That’s a question that arises as I contemplate a powerful poignant book I just finished reading, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity by Marijane Huang. I read this work from a unique perspective as an Ojibwe scholar who has studied the history of Indian child welfare, as a descendant of a culture that has survived despite centuries of Native American child removal policies. I reflected on Huang’s experiences as a daughter who witnessed the deep emotional scars my Ojibwe mother carried as a result of the joyless, demeaning years she spent in a Catholic Indian boarding school far from her family and home. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the topic of child removal, particularly adoption, triggers so many thoughts and memories for me. Often, I need to turn to critical scholarly reflection for balance to consider the underlying questions.

Together the myriad of cultures makes up an intellectual and spiritual web of life that envelops the planet and is every bit as important to the well being of the planet as is the biological web of life that we know as the biosphere. You might think of this social web of life as an “ethnosphere,” a term perhaps best defined as the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and aspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. The ethnosphere is humanity’s greatest legacy. (Wade Davis, 2009, p. 2)

Huang speaks of the “primal wound” adoptees suffer due to “multiple losses, the most significant being the loss of the adoptee’s birth mother, but also that of culture, language, and original family” (p. xvi). Removing children from their families, communities, and nations causes harm on many levels and can be viewed as a powerful form of ethnocide. Huang’s account hints at the life-long suffering of her birth mother and family of origin because her father made choices he felt necessary in a context that wasn’t supportive of children and families. It reminded me of some of the stories I heard during my research about Ojibwe child welfare, aggregated into a poem I later wrote.

…All the child welfare system could do
was take a mother’s children away.
No one ever asked why she always had tears in her eyes.
Although her daughter cried for her beautiful mother every day,
no one ever asked what her mother needed to heal.
So the young girl spent her childhood with strangers,
a grieving mother mourned, and the White strangers felt virtuous.
The Ojibwe community lost yet another child to county removal
and the child welfare system closed the case, its job complete…

Huang’s courage to confront her fear of the unknown and her tenacity to keep moving forward despite so many obstacles are deeply inspiring. It wasn’t too late for her to reconnect to her original cultural legacy and some of the family that she lost as an infant. Her honest, gracious, and moving narrative brought me inside her experiences. She brought me inside her feelings as she discovered her adoption papers when she was in her 40s and learned of her heritage for the first time. And I felt as though I stood with her in the Taipei airport in Taiwan anxiously awaiting her first meeting with her two older sisters who had last seen Huang as an infant.

Huang’s healing journey brings joy and tears. I’m grateful for the chance I had to travel along with her. Her first book ends with a powerful realization.

Without a doubt, the reunion with my birth family has been one of the most significant, life-altering events of my life. (p. 159).

Learning to see the world through different cultural lenses is always s gift, and Huang does such a powerful job taking us beyond two profoundly different cultural worlds to see both the importance of being in touch with our cultural roots and the human bonds that connect us across cultures.

To acknowledge the wonder of other cultures is not to denigrate our way of life but rather to recognize with some humility that other peoples, flawed as they too may be, nevertheless contribute to our collective heritage, the human repertoire of ideas, beliefs, and adaptations that have historically allowed us as a species to thrive. To appreciate this truth is to sense viscerally the tragedy inherent in the loss of a language or the assimilation of a people. To lose a culture is to lose something of ourselves. (Davis, pp. 201-202)

I hope Huang will have an opportunity to return to Taiwan and I eagerly await her next book.

Information about how to purchase a copy of Huang’s book, published on May 8, 2017, is available on her website, Beyond Two Worlds.

Works Cited:

Wade Davis (2009). The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Toronto, ON, Canada: House of Anansi Press, Inc.

Marijane Huang (2017). Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

Celebrating Possibilities

Carol A. Hand

Who would believe it’s possible
to witness lives transformed
in the span of a mere 2 years
by working together on a vision
of what could be?

Skills, knowledge and lasting bonds are built
when everyone shows up
graciously offering open minds and hearts
contributing their critical creativity to overcome challenges.

Divisions between teachers, learners, and cultures dissolve
expanding inclusive caring communities
empowered by life-long liberatory curiosity and compassion.

***

Students sharing what they learned to open up new possibilities and help create healthier communities

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Promoting restorative justice as an alternative to juvenile corrections

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Preserving culture and language by bringing generations together through storytelling circles

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Using research to involve youth in diverse communities to improve education

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Using skills to build programs to improve services for people who are homeless
and inspiring the next generation

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Celebrating connections and accomplishments

Acknowledgement:

In gratitude to colleagues and graduating students who make liberatory learning possible, and a special thank you to MJ for inspiring others by sharing her exceptional scholarship, tenacity, and wisdom.

“Integrity vs. Despair”

Carol A. Hand

The mean(ingless)-stream media circus continues
Celebrating the latest ignorance and cruelty
Seas, air and land poisoned by hubris and greed
Drones and bombs shredding lives and livelihoods
Millions of refugees searching for shelter
I feel the earth crying out to awaken our hearts
It’s more than enough to foster sorrow and hopelessness

***

crouching child

***

As a woman of little importance I still have a choice
to resist that temptation
for the sake of my grandchildren and yours
As a simple teacher and storyteller I can give voice
to the suffering and wisdom of my ancestors
to the fleeting fragile beauty present, now, everywhere
to clear visions of the peaceful world that could yet be

***

***

Each one of us who resists despair
adds a bit of light to the world

***

Note:

The title, “integrity vs. despair” is drawn from Erik Erikson’s theory on human personality development. It’s the eighth and final stage, according to Erikson, that begins when people come to terms with their own mortality.

 

Reflections about Being Human

Carol A. Hand

Make the most of each moment while you are here

Observe life intently with an artist’s eye, listen deeply with a poet’s ear

Contemplate life with an empath’s heart, engage life with a compassionate mind

Live your life humbly, simply, remembering to be kind

***

Lake Superior Dreaming
Lake Superior Dreaming

***

Speak your truth when you must

urged by an inner power you’ve learned to trust

sometimes gently with the voice of a singer in a choir

and other times, boldly, with a spirit on fire

***

Forgive yourself for the moments you squander

when emotions or daydreams cause your focus to wander

It’s what often reminds you how human you are

***

A Powerful Message from Standing Rock

Carol A. Hand

On November 20, 2016, Kendrick Eagle posted a video appeal to President Obama.

“You gave me hope…. You said you had our back, and here we are. Help us stop this pipeline. Stick true to your words, ‘cause you said you had our back. I believed you then and I believe you now – that you can make this happen. Thank you.”

The response to Kendrick Eagle’s message reminds us all about the long history of broken federal promises to the Indigenous Peoples of what is now called the United States of America. On Friday, November 25, 2016, the day after Thanksgiving, the US federal government issued an evacuation order to the largest Water Protector encampment in Standing Rock, North Dakota, the Oceti Sakowin campground.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a letter to a Native American tribe leading the opposition against the pipeline that it will close the area on Dec. 5, after a series of clashes between law enforcement and protesters…. Anyone staying in the area after the deadline may be subject to prosecution…” (Huffington Post, November 27, 2016)

Thank all of you for doing what you can to stand against tyranny.

Standing Rock Update

Carol A. Hand

The news from Standing Rock, North Dakota, is alarming. I’m not sure if the link below will take to you to a recent video of escalating police violence, but it greeted me this morning when I visited Facebook.

 

The video inspired me to follow through with something I intended to do yesterday. Posted below is a copy of the letter I just emailed to the Governor of Minnesota. I hope Governor Dayton is more supportive and responsive than President Obama was when I sent him a similar message.

***

November 22, 2016

Honorable Governor Mark Dayton
Office of the Governor and Lt Governor
116 Veterans Service Building
20 W 12th Street
St. Paul, MN 55155

RE: Minnesota Police Presence in Standing Rock, North Dakota

Dear Governor Dayton,

I am writing to request your assistance. I was alarmed to discover that that the taxes I pay as a Minnesota State citizen are being used to fund a militarized police presence in support of corporate actions that disregard treaties and threaten the well-being of millions of people for short-term financial profits. Ironic, isn’t it, that the State with a name that means “sky-tinted water” in the Dakota language is now engaged in attacking peaceful Standing Rock Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Water Protectors? This is an unwise use of State revenues, and from my perspective, an immoral one.

Please address two simple questions. Is this a fiscally sound investment in the future? Instead of first considering the impact of issues involved in building yet another pipeline to ship toxic non-renewable pollution-generating fuels, Minnesota has chosen a path that can only result in the escalation of conflict with the certainty of serious costs in terms of lives and environmental destruction. Why would our State deliberately choose to support a corporate venture that threatens the very water that blessed this State with its name?

How is it wise policy to invest in expanding technologies that will soon be obsolete? Fossil fuels will ultimately be exhausted. Burning them produces toxins that result in many life-threatening illnesses. Burning fossil fuels also hastens the onset and severity of global climate change. Why defend the expansion of pipelines, a technology that has proven to be disastrous so many times in the past? Experience shows very clearly that once waters are poisoned, it’s too late. Even if corporations foot the bill for clean-up, it will take many generations, or perhaps longer, for water to be safe.

Our State can make wiser decisions about the use of fiscal resources impacting our natural resources and people. One, we can make decisions that prevent disasters. No more facking. No more pipelines. Two, we can invest in and build for the future. Why not use those same fiscal resources to retool? To build and transition to alternative energy-generation technologies? Why not invest in education for youth and those presently unemployed to equip them with the scientific knowledge and technical skills necessary for the transition to alternative energy technology?

The choices are clear. The path Minnesota has chosen locks us into outdated and dangerous technologies and threatens the well-being of the earth and future generations. It is already causing harm to our water and related resources and threatening the lives of peaceful Water Protectors. It’s not too late to choose a wiser course. Let us ask Minnesota’s police to lay down their weapons and stand in peaceful solidarity with the Standing Rock Water Protectors. Because the Water Protectors stand for all of us.

We should honor the traditional wisdom of Minnesota’s original inhabitants. “Mni wiconi” – “Water is life” in the Lakota language. “Nibi zhaawendaawak” – “Water is sacred” in Ojibwe. We owe it to our grandchildren’s children to protect the purity and pristine beauty of the “sky-tinted waters” of Minnesota.

Respectfully,

Dr. Carol A. Hand

***

Here’s a link to the Governor Dayton’s website in case you wish to make your views known: https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/

***

A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors

Carol A. Hand

My heart is heavy with the news coming from Standing Rock, ND today. It’s led me to do something I rarely do. I’m posting a request for the help of all of those who follow this blog. For the sake of the health of our earth and future generations, I ask you to consider voicing your concerns about the situation in Standing Rock, ND.

The voice of the Protectors:

Standing Rock Update and Indigenous Call to Action – Bioneers 2016

 

An example of the mainstream media portrayals:

Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff Lapses Into Violence (Huffington Post)

Consider contacting the White House today at 202-456-1111 or sending a message to whitehouse.gov/contact. Ask President Obama to support the peaceful Water Protectors and act on behalf of the 17 million Americans who depend on the Missouri River for their clean water. Ask him to honor treaties and do what is right to protect people and the environment, not the profit of corporations. Please let him know that people are concerned across the US and the world. And please feel free to add your ideas in comments about how to raise worldwide attention and support for this and other pressing social justice issues.

From the Official Presidential Contact site

Call the President

PHONE NUMBERS
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
TTY/TTD
Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitor’s Office: 202-456-2121

Write a letter to the President

Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure your message gets to the White House as quickly as possible.

1. If possible, email us! This is the fastest way to get your message to President Obama.

2. If you write a letter, please consider typing it on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. If you hand-write your letter, please consider using pen and writing as neatly as possible.

3. Please include your return address on your letter as well as your envelope. If you have an email address, please consider including that as well.

4. And finally, be sure to include the full address of the White House to make sure your message gets to us as quickly and directly as possible:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

This issue affects us all no matter where we’re located in the world. I hope you will consider contacting President Obama. We need to stand in unity on issues that affect all of us and the earth we all call home.

“Communities of Relatedness” – A Reblog

Originally posted December 17, 2013

Carol A. Hand

Sitting on my back doorstep as I greeted yet another snowy morning, I was reflecting on my most recent neighborhood. West Duluth, the working class part of town. The side of town where the industries – manufacturing and paper mills – send plumes of putrid exhaust into the air. Some days the winds blow it eastward toward the lake, away from the children in my neighborhood who are walking to school or out on the school playgrounds. On the days the winds blow westward, I know it’s unwise to take more than very shallow breaths. Mine is the side of town where only those with few resources are able to find housing, the side of town where parents without choices send their children to schools with fewer resources and amenities. Even if I had more financial resources, I suspect I would still choose to live here, even though people in my neighborhood are not especially sociable – they’re too busy just trying to survive.

Perhaps it’s foolish of me, but I prefer to live in an old house that needs lots of work, with an overgrown yard that needs tending, on the side of town with the most diversity. So many people in the world live with far less. And it is the things that need transformation that attract my attention and inspire my creativity. I suspect it’s because of a different cultural frame. I don’t feel a sense of allegiance to the symbols of “nationhood” – fictive notions of fraternity – of us against the world. Instead, I realized this morning that I feel a sense of responsibility to people and my environment, not just Ojibwe people, but all my relations.

I have had the privilege of working for a state developing policies and programs for elders, and then working at the community level implementing and evaluating programs and policies for families and children. What I observed was a fundamental disconnect between policies developed by experts from a dominant cultural paradigm, what I refer to as “collectivities of strangers” like the residents of Duluth, and communities that were based on the foundation of enduring relationships. Raising the awareness of policy developers and academics to the importance of this distinction is not an easy task. So I have shifted my efforts to try to raise the awareness of students who will hopefully become the policy and program developers of the future.

From an indigenous perspective, the centrality of relationships is apparent. Tribal communities are characterized by centuries of enduring close family and community relationships among members and their natural environment, and members anticipate the continuation of these bonds for generations yet to come. The legalistic, impersonal approach used by the dominant Euro-American social welfare and judicial systems can best be characterized as “a collectivity of strangers,” designed to keep strangers from killing each other. As Jared Diamond (1997, Guns, Germs, and Steel) argues,

… the organization of human government tends to change … in societies with more than a few hundred members … [as] the difficult issue of conflict resolution between strangers becomes increasingly acute in larger groups…. Those ties of relationship binding all tribal members make police, laws, and other conflict-resolving institutions of larger societies unnecessary, since any two villagers getting into an argument will share many kin, who will apply pressure on them to keep it from becoming violent. (p. 171)

What this means for the sense of responsibility members feel toward each other from these contrasting cultural paradigms can be simplistically illustrated.

     Community of Relatedness                                      Collectivity of Strangers

lp worldtug of war

What these distinctions mean for children can be described simplistically as well.

cor graphic

cor cos graphic

As I contemplate these contrasts this morning, I need to ground the philosophical questions in my present lived experience. Fortunately for my neighborhood, the gentle wind is blowing in from the west this morning, leaving the air clean and sweet. It was safe to take deep breaths and contemplate the possibility of building a sense of community that recognizes the importance of protecting the health of all our relations. In doing so, however, I am mindful that my privilege of breathing clean air this morning doesn’t mean the world is fair. The factories that provide jobs for people in my neighborhood are still sending forth poison plumes. It is others who are downwind who must breathe shallowly today. They are both strangers to me in one sense, and relatives in another. The challenge I contemplate is how to reach out to them so we can begin to work collectively to create a community that is healthy every day for all of our relations.

***

Today, my thoughts are with the Water Protectors in Standing Rock who are indeed taking a stand for the earth and all of us, regardless of how we define our relationship to each other. I send them all deep gratitude, love, and prayers. Chi miigwetch.

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.