Tag Archives: #Black Lives Matter

HOPE IS A GIFT WE GIVE TO OURSELVES

Dear Friends and Followers,

You may note that I am re-posting a blog from last summer. It was written as I doggedly moved ahead after my soulmate’s death, despite my pain and grieving. Today, I revisit the joy of hope because I know that each of us are responsible for creating our own inner peace and caring for ourselves. Today, I am taking a break from my book’s very successful first marketing run.  Now, it is time to step back and heal. I will be taking a health break to have some treatment, which I will follow-up by taking a vacation to spend time with my grandchildren. I am as enthused as ever about making my book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND IS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist, available to you.

You can find it here:

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE BooksellersPages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market. Ask your local book seller to order it from Ingram.

 

RE-POST: HOPE IS A GIFT WE GIVE TO OURSELVES

As I opened my eyes this morning, I reminded myself that 2017, the worst year of my life, is over. The year that I lost my husband, my lover and my best friend has past. It is time for me to create a new life, a fulfilling life as a tribute to the love we shared.

I am embarking on the final steps in my first endeavor as an author. I began today, to type in the data that will lead my book to the printer. My book unfolded with Mike’s encouragement and support. “It is important,” he continued to remind me, “that you share your journey with others.”

But I was tired from being a care-giver for so many years. I had worked hard on the book, but the continued demand to be his health-care partner was taking a toll. “It’s just too much,” I told him. “Soon I will be sick too.”

“Don’t give up,” he admonished, “young women need your story. They need to see your passion to help them learn and grow and become all that they can be. They need to know how you conquered so many challenges that they face every day. You must finish.”

The last evening of his life, I fell exhausted in the chair across from him after a 3-hour phone conference with my production team. “I can’t.” I mumbled, “They are asking too much.”

“Relax for a bit,” was his response. “It’s going to be okay. Get some sleep and I will help you in the morning.” But morning wasn’t going to come for Mike. During the night, he went to a better place, free from pain and the ravages of heart failure.

Pushing myself to continue the work became both joyful, as I indulged in the story of our two lives together, and a curse because all I wanted to do was to grieve. Yet, timelines and what I owed the production team demanded that I work and his voice was prodding me on. What could I do but finish?

Family Train FranceI am filled with hope in this new year that has been given to me. Soon, Mike’s dream that my book will be available to others will become a reality. So, piece by piece, I doggedly finish the final tasks to upload my book to the printer.

Each step I complete is a tribute to our love and to all that Mike taught me about dignity and humanity. I have glimpsed the heart and soul of the struggle of an African-American man who was born and raised on a Mississippi sharecropper’s plantation and rose to his heights in the powerful black worker’s movement arising in Detroit during the late 60s and early 70s.

My life with Mike has changed me and my conception of the world around me. I hope in some way, there between the pages of my book, that I have conveyed the depth of my new understanding in a way that is palatable and inspiring to my readers.

Soon, my book saga will end and you will find it on local bookstore shelves or on the pages of Amazon. Please celebrate with me and share in my new beginnings. THANK YOU FOR READING.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST by Joann Castle, is now published. Do you have your copy?

IN THE FALL OF 2018, I will be available for book talks, book clubs and promotional activities. I already have some things scheduled which I will share with you when I return. In the meantime, take your people power to the polls. ” VOTE IN YOUR PRIMARIES. We can make change from the ground up.

 

AMERICA FIRST (IN POVERTY)

Joann Castle | 0616/18

A Report from People’s Action, 6/11/18:  “A new U.N. report says the United States has the highest income inequality of all Western nations. On the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, we remember his words on the role of government in ending poverty.

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Government belongs wherever evil needs an adversary and there are people in distress.” – Robert F. Kennedy.

“Today, 40 million Americans live in poverty; 13.3 million of these are children.”

THIS PAST SUNDAY MORNING, The Detroit Free Press, 7/10/18, ran a front page story by John Gallagher, on barriers to work for Detroit residents:  “In the city of Detroit, 53.4% of working-age residents aren’t even looking for a job…Detroit has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation… a symptom of poverty and poor education attainment.”

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, second from left, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, left, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign.  (Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It’s not that there are no jobs, Gallagher says, but our disenfranchised communities of color do not have the education, the skills or adequate transportation to participate in the job market.  Sometimes it’s lack of child care or elder care. Sometimes young men have been incarcerated and employers are not willing to give them a second chance. Many of these folks want to work but they can’t get hired. There are many reasons for this disparity. Most are related to continuing racism in Metro Detroit, which hasn’t changed much in the last half-century.

Many folks are talking about Detroit’s rising but we need to look at the full picture including the impact of gentrification in poverty stricken communities. There is a greater disparity in wealth in our city now than there was in 1967, during a similar effort for urban renewal.  The outcome of that short-sighted change and the rebellious response by the black community caught many people by surprise, especially the mayor. I can’t imagine what the new welfare work requirement will do to folks who want to work but can’t get hired.

As citizens of privilege, who benefit from the services provided by our local government, we have an obligation to people in our communities to assure that essential services are available to those who are still fighting for full citizenship in our society.

In my new book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING, I analyze lessons learned from my early activism, consider our present conditions and seek to inspire young activists to get involved. “We live in the midst of a great struggle between those who control our resources and those who have essential needs but lack the power to attain them… From the ground up, we need to be an army at work demanding and participating in efforts to improve life in our neighborhoods.”

Lessons Learned from my book offer positive steps to improving your community:

Step 1: Get involved. You live there-take an active interest in your community. Understand the issues your neighbors are facing and stand up for those who are in need of support. Your community rises or falls in relation to the involvement of those who live or work there.

Step 2: Vote and encourage others to do so.  If your community wants power from the ground up, VOTE in the August primaries and the November midterms. Local election participation helps communities.

Step 3: Dialogue. Share your community building ideas with others in a newsletter or a blog. Perhaps your group can be a model for other communities to learn from. Protect your most vulnerable citizens.

Step 4: Coalition building. There is a critical need for coalition building across all strata of society, but none is more crucial than between different racial and ethnic communities. America is more segregated than in the 1960s. We’ve grown estranged from one another, making it all the easier for the things that divide us to settle into the gaps between us.

Step 5: Partner Up: Establish alliances with communities unlike yours and learn to understand each other. Many colleges, libraries, churches and cultural institutions offer opportunities to connect.

Step 6: Turn the Negative into a Positive: Stop complaining and focus on small things that can move your community forward.

If anyone would like to guest blog on my site to share positive things going on in your community, please reply at the top of this blog.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE BooksellersPages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market. Ask your local book seller to order it from Ingram.

 

BOOK RELEASE TODAY; NOW SHE’S YOURS

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist  by Joann Castle

Dear Book, Go forth and multiply. You leave me feeling like I’ve raised another offspring, sometimes joyfully and other times with much pain. But today, you are launched, baby. I’ve given you some of the best years of my life, now go into the world and make me proud. 

SOURCE 1 edited 042918. jpg (2) (1)

It’s been crazy this past week with two book signings, one at SOURCE Booksellers where Greg Hicks and I engaged in a community conversation about my book, and the other at Signature Grill in downtown Detroit. I also promoted my book at an author’s table at Preservation Detroit’s annual Authors Fair. Finally, last night, I was unexpectedly called to join a panel at the Hamtramck Free School, after a showing of the classic film, Finally Got the News. I was able to comment on the period when this film, about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers was made, and share why it is so important for white people to support the black freedom struggle. I was so pleased to see that the audience was made up of young people who are finding their way in the ongoing struggle for social justice.

SOURCE 3 042918Also happening:  My book was chosen to appear on the cover of the April 9th issue of Publishers Weekly magazine.  In addition, I received a rating of “It was amazing,” from a reviewer on goodreads.com, and at booklife.com, I received a rating of 10 out of 10 from a critic, reviewing for the annual BookLife Prize. Winners will be announced at the end of the year. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

This is just the beginning of my marketing campaign. I am available to speak at libraries and book clubs or your community events. Anyone interested can contact me through this website at   https://againstthetidebooks.com or by email at: joanncastle@againstthetide.com.

I have one more book signing scheduled on May 20th from 2:00 – 4:00 at Pages Bookshop, 19560 Grand River, Detroit, MI. I have asked my niece, Alena to speak with me and offer her view on my work from the perspective of a young person today.     

Books are available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available locally at SOURCE Booksellers in Detroit, In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market.

Ask your favorite book store to order it from Ingram.

LET’S CELEBRATE

I’m getting some great feedback from those who read pre-release copies. I am also celebrating that my book is featured on the cover of Publishers Weekly magazine, along with other independent authors. You don’t want to miss this. Here’s my schedule: Mark your calendars!

UPCOMING EVENTS:

My first book signing at Signature Grill Detroit

TOMORROW, Sunday, 4-29- 18 Author’s Fair, Preservation Detroit, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Jam Handy, 2900 East Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48202

TOMORROW, Sunday, 4-29- 18 SOURCE Booksellers, 4:00 PM. Book talk and conversation by author, Joann Castle with Greg Hicks. 4240 Cass Avenue, Suite 105, Detroit, MI 48201

Sunday, 5-20- 18 Family & Friends Book Signing, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Pages Bookshop, 19560 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223

My book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons From a Grassroots Activist, by Joann Castle, will be released on May 1, 2018. You can pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or The Seattle Book Company… or better yet, you can pick it up at one of the events listed above.

Against the Tide Books
Personal Histories in the Struggle for Justice
http://www.againstthetidebooks.com
For more information: 313-701- 8872

SILENCE BREAKERS START A MOVEMENT

By Joann Castle  12/9/17

Last night, a headline in the Washington Post noted: “Scandal costs three congressmen their jobs this week. The last time something like this happened,” the article continued, “it was over slavery.” Women are rising up in a spontaneous movement, demanding respect and restitution from men across our country. The #Me Too movement has brought them out of the shadows of long covered-up anger, pain and shame and on their feet to say that they aren’t going to take it anymore.

TIME magazine has named the Silence Breakers as its 2017 Person of the Year. It is a time of reckoning for men who have regarded women as inferior, objects and toys for their pleasure. And it’s not just about celebrities, the power of #Me Too has taken hold in the halls of Congress, in the workplace and I guarantee you, in many homes.

Rising movements aren’t pretty. They are chaotic and clumsy as they strive to find their way towards a better outcome for the common good. As we watch the chaos unfold, we realize that a lot of things about it are not fair. The world was not fair to Anita Hill. It is also not fair to compare Al Franken’s misdeeds to Roy Moore or to that person who sits in the oval office, but in these types of movements, passion rules. At the moment we are confused but if we work at it, leadership and a more just process will emerge.

Will there be a backlash? Yes, there will and many of the Silence Breakers and their allies will be hurt. But that hurt is lessened if we stand behind their shoulder or at their side. This is how cultural change occurs. We need to stand with the Silence Breakers and others, both male and female, who are victims of gender, race and identity crimes. If we are complacent, this powerful moment will be lost. If we are vigilant, this spontaneous movement may become a strategic movement for lasting change.

Most of the damage to date has been to men who had enough conscience to feel ashamed. But the wave is beginning to wash wider to other prominent men. Echoing a previous blog on this topic, I am asking, where are the good men of conscience who will back up our brave Silence Breakers and women who speak on their behalf. These women include Nikki Haley, American ambassador to the United Nations, who said that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct should be heard, which is counter to the administration’s position.

Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, also publically said that the President’s accusers should be heard and stood tall even as the president personally lashed back at her with a demeaning, disgusting tweet.

Gender rights is a broad topic and its potential scope is not limited to sexual harassment. Women are reclaiming their time to speak in the workplace and demanding equal pay for equal work. Women deserve to be respected for their thinking, their talents, their hard work and their contributions to society. #Me Too is a gender equality issue. Like all social injustices, this can’t be won without broad and sustained support. Make your voices heard, run for office, organize in your communities, support your domestic abuse shelters. Stand beside your courageous co-workers and vote for candidates who support gender equality.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

Coming soon… there is some promising movement in getting this to print.

I invite you to “follow” my blog by clicking on the follow button at the top right. You will receive notices of new posts and can keep updated on my book publication timeline.

Thanks for reading!

 Please note that my blog may be down over the holidays while I take a break to fix some links that are not working. I’m looking forward to starting anew in 2018. See you then. Joann

 

SPORTS CONNECTION: KNEEL OR STAND? Ask Stan Van Gundy

November 24, 2017 by Joann Castle

I was never a sports fan, much to my recent husband’s dismay. Mike’s mother was a devoted fan and I think he expected it of me but I just couldn’t connect. When I watched football, I mostly saw male hormones battling it out for dominance over other males. But I understood his passion. Mike had been privileged to be the first black quarterback on his high school football team. He could see the mental game and the strategies of the plays as they unfolded.

That deep devotionFootball Blog to the game was over my head, until Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, to protest police brutality explaining: “… this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” With this, I connected.

Here was my moment that wedded sports to humanity, a moment when sportsmen revealed another side to the players in an action intended to challenge our definition of patriotism. I can’t say it better than Stan Van Gundy, coach of the Detroit Pistons, my home town team, in this week’s Time Magazine:

What is it that the protesters want?

SVG: “Simply and succinctly: Equality. Equal rights. Equal justice. Equal treatment by police and others in authority. Equal Opportunity. The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence starts with, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” In over two centuries, from slavery to segregation to lynching and police brutality to the mass incarceration of people of color. We have not even come close to that ideal. It is our systemic racial inequality, not athletes kneeling during the national anthem that dishonors our country.

“If we truly want to honor our country, this must change.”

Yes, the time for kneeling is over and everyone needs to stand up and move from talk to action. What can we do? Van Gundy has a very specific list.

  • Ameliorating harsh sentencing guidelines and ending mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Enacting clean slate laws.
  • Eliminating cash bail, holding people presumed to be innocent because they cannot afford to pay their bail.
  • Reforming juvenile justice. Black kids are five times more likely to be locked-up than white kids. (2015 statistic)
  • End police brutality and racial bias in police departments.”

Jeff Seidel, a Free Press reporter put it this way: If we love our democracy, “we need to stand up and do something until our flag wraps around each one of us, the same way.”

Stand up and speak for democracy. One of the major avenues we have for advancing Van Gundy’s proposed actions is to pay specific attention to down-ballot and judicial candidates. Do the research, discuss with your friends and cohorts, and then vote like your life depends on it.

Finding common ground puts us on the track to solutions. I learned there is more to sports than the battle on the field. Players and coaches understand teamwork and have something to say. Who ever thought I’d be a sports fan?

(Thanks Mitch Albom for bringing all this to my attention. Detroit Free Press 11/19/17)

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

Coming soon…

I invite you to “follow” my blog by clicking on the follow button at the top right. You will receive notices of new posts and can keep updated on my book publication timeline.

Thanks for reading!  

WOMEN MOVE FROM MARCHING TO ACTION

This is part two of a blog about my experience in attending the Women’s March October Convention in Detroit. At the Convention, leaders of the historic January 21st Women’s March shifted into forward gear to reengineer the D.C. March into an active resistance movement that includes both urban and rural women from all over the country.

Women aren’t in a waiting mood. They are stepping forward to become the change. The results of last Tuesday’s election wins in VA, NJ, FL and WA were in part, a direct result of commitments made at the D.C. March and suggest that women are in this for the long haul.

What I experienced at the Detroit Convention was a shift in strategies that transform the current women’s movement from one of spontaneous action into strategic programs to sustain us in a new age of struggle. This evolution will demand much more than just showing up. We need to bring our full-selves to this work. Although there were women of all ages at the event, the Convention was largely conducted by young women of color who see the urgency created by our current political conditions and have the skills and talent to lead us.

Packed Convention Workshops

Convention work groups took up bold new themes that are emerging in our society as we witness an alarming resurgence of white supremacy and state sanctioned violence. We have finally begun to openly discuss the role that race plays in our society. The ideology behind the efforts to move forward is new to many and requires a rethink of how we understand the role that race plays in our day-to-day lives. To begin this conversation, there is an increasing need for white people to understand the concept of white privilege and how to become an ally of people who have been oppressed in our society. We must support these daring discussions.

Since the time, white men landed on our shores, white men and women have taken their supremacy for granted. Yet, the white Anglo-Saxon tribe was only one of many cultures that existed across the world. Throughout their history in the new world, whites have sustained an aggressive culture that conquers, takes resources, and controls others by isolating them from the economic and political systems necessary for equality. White children often grow up believing that the white race is normal and that all other cultures are deviations from the norm. Women are now taking the lead in forging a new vision for our future.

In addition to the training at the Women’s Convention, there are a number of local seminars emerging on the topic of white privilege. I recently attended a frank discussion between whites and women of color, called “Get Your People” at Detroit’s Historical Society. I also note from the Convention literature that a group called Allies for Change www.alliesforchange.org will be offering seminars “Doing Our Work” across Michigan in 2018 to further expand these discussions. Some of the Indivisible groups are also having discussions on these topics. Indivisible, largely made up of women, has more than 5,000 groups across the country with at least two in every state.

If we are to move forward together, it is imperative that we do the deep work that is required to embody an anti-racist identity and learn how to develop relationships of accountability to people of color, interrupting the pervasive racism in our communities, our work lives and even in our family relationships.

If we don’t want to live in the kind of world we see emerging from the shadows of our new government, we must take responsibility for acting on our beliefs. In addition to educating ourselves, the following actions were recommended at the Conference. Several were suggested by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967.

  1. Contribute to groups like the ACLU or the NAACP that have a track record of doing good work in this regard.
  2. Be thoughtful about where you shop. Support minority businesses.
  3. Put your money in black banks or credit unions.
  4. Volunteer in your communities. Change will not come from our government but from the ground up.
  5. Vote like your life depends on it.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

By Joann Castle   Coming soon…

I invite you to “follow” my blog by clicking on the follow button at the top right. You will receive notices of new posts and can keep updated on my book publication timeline.

Thanks for reading!