Archive for May, 2010

There is still a lot of attention being put on Arizona’s racist anti-immigration law, but what can we do if we are not in Arizona or even the USA? A lot of people have decided to boycott the state, and there is mounting pressure for others to follow suit. Boycotting Arizona will definitely have an impact on their tourism, which is a big source of revenue for the state, and also bring attention to the issue and keep the debate going. There are pretty divided opinions on this law, which may be surprising to some, but immigration has always been a very touchy subject in the public sphere. I have always found this to be very peculiar seeing as how we are all immigrants on this continent (minus the native americans of course), and that we do not encourage people to take the steps to improve their lives is beyond me. Especially with the issue of the Mexican/American border, should we not want to help and welcome people who are trying to escape poverty, corrupt governments, and even the atrocities that are being done to Guatemalans, and in other southern regions of Mexico. The debate however continues, many of us ask ourselves “What can I do to help raise awareness and show my dissent against this law?” There are many ways of course (starting a blog, creating community groups to raise awareness in your community, and of course boycotting Arizona), the boycott of Arizona is picking up some steam with a new collective of artists that are speaking out!

The Sound Strike is a collective of many diverse artists that are boycotting Arizona and asking people to follow suit, the site is maintained by Zach de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine fame). On their site you are able to sign a petition to repeal SB 1070, it also has a very up to date news feed to help people stay informed on actions that are being done, and also encourages people to join in actions against people who are spreading hate in the media (for example O’Reilly and his immigrant crime slurs). This movement is crucial seeing as this is one of the most important struggles for human rights of our generation, hopefully this will also help put pressure on the Obama administration to use its executive branch authority to prevent the implementation of this unjust law. Will this boycott yield results? It has at least sparked a heated debate in the public sphere which is necessary!

Please go sign the petition to repeal SB 1070 and invite all like-minded people to do the same, we have to stop this now! As a Canadian I must say that this scares me because first it is Arizona, but who will be aimed next? Once racial profiling is accepted on a political level, masked as an economic and immigration issue, what’s next? This debate has definitely shown the deep-rooted racism that is still present in society, unfortunately people do not remember that we are all immigrants (guilty of the genocide of the native American population). Also what is important to remember is that Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, California were all Mexico until it was taken by force during the American “Expansion”. I encourage you to tell others to boycott, for example, there is a campaign to pressure the Vans Warped Tour from passing through Arizona this summer. I am sure that most of the bands on the bill would agree with this and help send a message to the government of Arizona that we do not agree with what is happening and it must change! “It has to start sometime, it has to start somewhere, what better place than here, what better time than now” – Zach de la Rocha

Tell the Warped Tour to say no to Arizona:


15700 Shoemaker Avenue
Santa Fe Springs, California 90670

Telephone: (562) 565-8267
Fax: (562) 565-8406

The site to encourage Vans to boycott Arizona also has a complete list of all the corporate sponsors involved in the tour, let put some pressure on them to also ask Kevin Lyman to say no to Arizona until there is real change. There is also a great list of non-Arizona vacation spots that you can choose as your destination this summer!

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Here is the video for Back to Arizona by a collective of rappers to denounce the racist Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. People have to keep speaking out against this, the corrections are still not good enough, this is a racist bill aimed directly at visible minorities. Lets remember how hard it was for this state to recognize Martin Luther King day as a holiday, Public Enemy had a song in 1991 and now in 2010 musicians are still speaking out against racist government policies and opinions. Spread the video around, the more people see this the better!

I will be posting an update on the resistance to bill 1070 tomorrow, and here is the Public Enemy video When I Get Back to Arizona to watch while you wait! Chuck D has always been an inspiration to me, a great role model no matter your background. He always gave us lyrics that were honest and true, never about bling and making sure that he got all his “bitches”, speaking from the heart and realizing that the only thing that we can change is ourselves, and it is by everyone changing one at a time that real social change will occur.

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It was forty years ago today that four unarmed students were killed by soldiers of the Ohio National Guard for protesting an unjust war. The students were Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Sandra Schreuder. Let us not forget that such events have happened, we live in a country that prides itself on dissent as being a part of the democratic process; unfortunately sometimes governments are so hell bent on pushing their agenda either on an international or local scale that they forget our right to speak out against what we think to be wrong. Here is a the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the body of Jeffrey Miller to remind us what can happen when we voice our opinion against our governments.

It is our important that we continue to voice dissent whenever we see actions taken by our government as wrong, we should not let them bully us into being afraid to speak out because when this right is taken away from us we will no longer be living in a democratic society. Just like Howard Zinn said: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Take a minute today to think back to this tragic event and remember what role we have in our government and society to create the change that we want to see.

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I found a quote last night at the end of Peter Singer’s new book The Life That You Can Save by Spira that really hit the head of nail for me:

I guess basically one wants to feel that one’s life has amounted to more than just consuming products and generating garbage. I think that one likes to look back and say that one’s done the best one can to make this a better place for others. You can look at it from this point of view: What greater motivation can ther…e be than doing whatever one possibly can to reduce pain and suffering?

I find that this quote first of all really captures his life work, starting with his activism in the civil rights movement, and of course all his work in the animal rights movement (what he is most known for). I remember the first time I heard about him, a person that kept the company of Zinn and Singer, I thought to myself “He must have something important to say”, and I was right! Spira is most known for animal rights activism, but he also did a lot for the civil rights movement in the south (where he met Howard Zinn), he also reported the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba for the Militant.

Spira was born in Antwerp Belgium in 1927, he arrived in the United States after living in a few different countries (Germany, which he escaped in 1938 seeing as it was becoming unsafe for Jewish people, and Panama) in 1940. He left New York in 1945 to become a seamerchant, he was blacklisted in 1952 during the Mcarthy era because of his involvement in left-wing politics. It was wasn’t until the 1970s that Spira became interested in animal rights. It happened when one day, while looking at his girlfriend’s cat: “I began to wonder about the appropriateness of cuddling one animal while sticking a knife and fork into another.” Spira’s major influence was Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation, he founded Animal Rights International in 1974.

In 1976 he led ARI’s campaign against vivisection on cats at the American Museum of Nature, they were researching the impact of certain types of mutilation, including castration on the sex lives of cats. The museum stopped its research in 1977, this is viewed as the first victory for animal experimentation. One of the other big campaigns that he led was against the cosmetic giant Revlon’s use of the Draize test (this usually involves dripping substances in the eyes of animals, usually rabbits, to see if they are toxic). ARI took out a full-page ad in the New York Times which had as a header “How many rabbits does Revlon blind for beauty’s sake?”. Revlon began to look into cruelty-free research immediately.Spira took a photograph of a primate who had been imprisoned for months in a Bethesda Naval Hospital chair to the Black Star Wire Service, which sent the picture around the world. It was shown to Indira Gandhi, India’s PM, who cancelled monkey exports to the U.S., because the photograph suggested the U.S. Navy was violating a treaty with India that forbade military research on animals. Spira has gone after giants like KFC, McDonalds, the beef industry for face branding, etc. He has, however, been an advocate for gradual change by negotiating with giants like McDonalds to better the conditions of their slaughterhouses.

Henry Spira passed away in 1998 from cancer, he was a powerful voice for the animal rights movement and his influence can still be felt today by the changes that he has influenced with the American Humane Society. I find that his life properly describes the quote from the beginning, we must live our life in the only way that we know how, and Spira had a truly great impact on the world!

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