Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 - Solidarity

released on February 14, 2008:

African-Americans to Conduct Citizens' Arrest in Louisiana of employer accused of modern-day slavery practices:

Today, a group of African Americans in Amite, Louisiana will stand in solidarity with about thirty Mexican farm workers who have faced an on-going situation of forced labor and indentured servitude, providing another example of temporary foreign workers enduring modern-day slavery in the US.

These men, originally from San Luis Potis, Mexico, are documented workers who came to this country on an H2A (agricultural) guest worker program. They paid recruiters in their homeland, were transported to Louisiana and delivered to a prominent farmer and storeowner whom they have been working for since September 2007. The delegation of African Americans, along with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), will conduct a citizen’s arrest of the yet to be identified local farmer and storeowner....

The group of African Americans conducting the citizen’s arrest will seek to arrest this tyrant and interrupt the slave-like conditions in the undisclosed town close to New Orleans. Organizers will demand the return of the workers’ passports and seek the intervention of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Department of Labor.

Louisiana has codified the citizen’s arrest, allowing private persons to conduct an arrest if they become aware of an ongoing felony.
Citizen’s arrests were popular in the reconstruction era, when many Southern governments encouraged white and black citizens to act as law enforcement to stop groups from committing atrocities. Local organizers, in voicing their disbelief, have said that the proprietor is not only operating without a permit, but has been sued before by workers alleging violation of the federal minimum wage law.

Now if working class and even middle class whites would connect the dots, we would truly be a force to be reckoned with, all of us - at long last. It's several centuries past time for working whites to realize that our common cause is to be found not with white elites by virtue of a shared trait as illusory as "whiteness," but rather with all workers by virtue of our survival depending on our ability to organize in resistance to exploitation by the megagroupthinkcorptocracy.

Viva la revolucion, my white brothers and sisters. Tim Wise wants St. Bernard residents to march over to the Ninth Ward in solidarity, then for all to march together on Baton Rouge and the headquarters of the Corps of Engineers and places beyond:

Today, I was in a small town and got hungry very suddenly (the old hypoglycemia), so I stopped at a Taco Bell. I hadn't eaten there in a long time. When I lived up North, I would eat their tacos once in a blue moon because I liked them at least better than fast food burgers, but the last few years, I made sure to stay away because of the boycott and hunger strike against them. The action was started because the suppliers of Taco Bell's tomatoes were keeping the immigrant farm workers in slavery conditions.

So, woo-hoo, the boycott has been over for more than a year, and today I ate two tacos there. So, um, what's with the bell near the door, with the sign that invites customers to "ring the bell" if they've enjoyed their meals? So, what are we, Pavlov's dogs now? They're training us to train ourselves to associate that ringing bell with cornmeal shells stuffed with mystery meat and cheap tomatoes picked by underpaid migrant laborers? And I couldn't believe it, but several people rang the damn bell on their way out the door. Have we no dignity left whatsoever? We're doing their advertising for them now, in front of the other customers?

Then, an employee went from table to table offering people a coupon for a free combo meal IF they immediately took out their cell phones and called Taco Bell headquarters to answer their customer service survey. People seemed so thrilled to get their combo meal freebie, which has a street value of, I believe, about $4. They took out their phones mid-meal, calling as the employee stood guard and made sure they completed the corporate bidding before she would hand over the golden ticket. It was the middle of the day - don't they pay for their weekday/daytime minutes? I do. Also, no one questioned for a second what they were being asked to do, why, and by whom. I mean, I wanted to know, for example, would those bastards have my cell number for telemarketing purposes after this (in many cases, accepting a free offer of any kind does indeed give telemarketers a legal "in" to annoy you unlimited times in the future - that's why you see those ads for free ringtones; what they want is to get your cell phone number into their telemarketing database). Would they be asking for my name or address?

Why aren't more people skeptical about this stuff? Recently, I went to a website that sells women's clothing, a very reputable company. I wanted to track some items - you know, haul them around in the virtual shopping cart for a bit - and to do that, I had to register. I, however, believe in evading and sabotaging the information gatherers whenever I can. After all, Wendell Berry said so:

Manifesto:The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection

To that end, I use made up names. Strangely enough, these alter egos of mine most often can be found at 555 Main Street (and they like the 90210 / Beverly Hills zip code). Every once in a while, I use my real name but with the wrong address, to throw them off in case they get close to pinning down the real me. Oh, and the woman who made my life hell at my previous job - I use her name for CVS cards, for Winn Dixie cards, all kinds of stuff. She's been places she doesn't even know she's been! Still, I figure, while I'm indulging my adolescent grudge I am also doing her a favor by confusing the information keepers about where she really is and what she's really buying - so, you know, it's a win-win.

Anyway, so back to the women's clothing company. On this occassion, I needed to give my real adddress - for some purpose that I can no longer remember - so I decided to name myself "Violet William" (there are Williams on the family tree, and I was kinda in a purple mood). Mind you, there was no reason for them to send me anything. Eight weeks later, I receive three women's clothing catalogues in the mail, all on the same day, all addressed to Violet William. And the first thing I thought was, "Who the hell is Violet William?" And then I realized, "Ooooh, right, one of my information-age alter-egos." And the second thing I thought was, "Those bastards sold my information to some database," and I was quite annoyed. Finally, however, I rememberd that the whole point of the consumer alter-ego is to try to keep the information gatherers off my trail, so, hey, let them try to compile their multi-source consumer profile of Violet William.

So, soon after having eaten at Taco Hell, I had to make a stop at Wal-Mart - NOT because I've lost the stomach for fighting the megagroupthinkcorptocracy but because my body was engaged in its own struggle post Taco Bell (TMI? Sorry, trying to give the context). This Wal-Mart was so rundown. The bathroom was all torn up, the stall doors scratched up and hanging crookedly. On the way past the makeup section, I saw a display for some cologne and on the display it said something like "That's why she's yours. Because you're the king."

We are such a nation of consumers. Consumers rather than citizens. I mean, someone offers a free coupon and people give up their right to privacy, since the data collectors are mining EVERY bit of information they can get on every one of us. You know what my brother-in-law's argument is in favor of the congressional telecom immunity law? "There is no point in lawsuits that award damages, because the corporation will just pass on the cost of the damages to me, their customer." Even if the guy is right and assuming a request for a rate hike from your phone company were immediately approved, it might be, what, thirty cents a month? A dollar? He can afford that; it won't mean his sweet babies will have to go to bed hungry. I was horrified by his point of view on this - his first thought is how will this affect me, the consumer rather than how will this affect me, citizen of the republic. Are your civil rights worth a dollar a month added to your phone bill, to make it clear to the telecomm companies that they are under no circumstances to cooperate with illegal government spying on citizens? This kind of consumer-think would preclude ANY corporate tort judgements, since, according to my brother-in-law, the corporations will just pass on the cost to him, so he doesn't want any judgements against big companies. Let Taco Bell enslave tomato pickers. Let the telecoms sell our private data. Let chemical companies pollute the groundwater. Let Wal-Mart engage in the most wide-spread sex discrimination yet documented. But no damages should be awarded, says the brother-in-law, because we consumers want our cheap shit as cheap as possible. No accountability please.

Meanwhile, back in the car, the only talk shows on the radio at the time were Dennis Miller and Rush Limbaugh. Nothing local. No signs of intelligent life coming through the airwaves. Limbaugh was bragging about the success of "Operation Chaos," which means voting for Hillary just to keep Democrats busy plucking each other's eyes out. Hateful bastards. I would never bother trying to screw up their primary - partly because it's just wrong and partly because I don't want ANY vote for a Republican on my soul when I die. They CAN NOT WIN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS and they know it, so they resort to distractions and dirty tricks.

Also in the car, I heard that a movie crew shut down the bridge so the city could serve as their Hollywood set and, as a result, there would be traffic jams. You know, finish filming, then come in and just tear the place down - it's all cardboard, right? New Orleans is the adult Disneyland, Hollywood South, JazzLand, GumboLand, yes ma'm, souvenire shop is up ahead to the left in what was once known in this neighborhood as Miss Riti's house.

I've been brewing this rant about tourism ever since Katrina and I think the brew will become a blog post very soon. Today I saw a book I REALLY want to get (next payday) called "Authentic New Orleans: Tourism, Culture, and Race in the Big Easy". I'd like to mix that author's academic insights with some of my own experiences and write about it. I'm pretty well fed up with putting the "New Orleans brand" out there for tourists. I mean, is this a city or a zoo? A home or a theme park? Let the tourists puke in their own backyards.

Viva la revolucion.


Leigh C. said...

Wow, madame.!

NOLA radfem said...


This blog is turning out to be a great place for the rants in my head to go! (my head is WAY overcrowded, as you can probably tell)