Tag Archives: #blogging

SOMEONE NEEDS TO SAVE US. WHO WILL IT BE?

By Joann Castle, December 5, 2017

Last evening, in a spontaneous late night gesture, I playfully posted the trailer for the movie, Avengers; Infinity War, on our Against the Tide Facebook page, under the caption “Someone Needs to Save Us!”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfuNTqbHE8&feature=youtube

While Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the avengers may have something to teach us about uniting against the enemy, the Marvel super heroes cannot save us. The reality is that we have to save ourselves, and that won’t happen on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter. These social media sites function well as communication and networking tools but saving ourselves requires hard work.

Avengers_(Marvel_Comics)_vol_3_num_38

Marvel Studios Photo

I don’t know about you but the character of the Facebook feed I am getting from my friends has significantly changed over the last several months. Everyone is getting very serious because we realize that our democracy is under attack. Mostly, my feed consists of petitions to sign, requests to contact my congressmen or women, solicitations of contributions for social justice causes, requests to support people running for elected office, for victims of injustice, for tragedies like Puerto Rico, for Dreamers or immigrants being torn from their families by ICE.

Make no mistake, I support these efforts. I sign petitions and contribute what I can but sitting at my computer is not going to create the dynamic coalition that is needed to make change. We need to get off our computer chairs, our iPhones and Tablets and stand up for what we believe in.

Go to your congressman’s office, run for an elected office, volunteer at your local school, homeless shelter or soup kitchen, mentor a child, support a family fractured by the actions of ICE, hold a voter-registration event, attend discussions at your local bookstore or Indivisible group and meet people like yourself.  Collaborate and develop coalitions with other groups in your communities that share your values. This is a ground-up fight. Speak up; speak out or you may be the last one standing and have no one to speak for you.

I recently posted a Youtube video, rEVOLUTION CINCY. The video was written, produced and directed by Liz Wu, a talented young musician from Cincinnati. The message is a call to action geared to young people in their communities but its message applies to all. Liz’s music will bring you to your feet with a mesmerizing beat and lyrics that resonate today:

“Vote with your dollars, vote with your time, vote with your actions, vote with your mind.” This musical gem is followed by a list of local issues where people can vote by zip code, choosing the three biggest issues in their communities that need attention. This is an organizing strategy intended to get folks together and do something. Become a superhero and do something to aid your community.  View the video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jE6tdr40ZU/.

Art and music created by our young people offer creative space for thinking about our future in new ways. Be inspired and cultivate your own super hero talents as you stand up and fight in our unfortunately, very real infinity war.

Everybody’s busy; it’s the nature of our lives. But this is the perfect time to ask ourselves: How can we direct our actions in the time we can muster, to have a meaningful impact on saving our communities today? Become an empowered patriot, fight for the values you believe in, civil rights, due process and a truly representative democracy. So, step aside Captain America, we’ve got work to do.

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

Coming soon…

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Thanks for reading!  

 

 

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!  

FROM “#ME TOO” TO “YOU, ALSO.” GOOD MEN MUST SPEAK OUT

The timing of the recent “Women’s Convention” and the excellent choice of content by the women of color who led it, is deeply relevant to our daily lives. This alignment to women’s lives today has inspired me to write a number of blogs on topics discussed at the conference.

One of those topics is sexual harassment. “#Me too” is a movement created by Tarana Burke serving to empower women through empathy. Burke was joined by actress Rose McGowan who kicked off a panel discussion titled “Fighting for Survivors of Sexual Assault.”

It is notable that it took more than a decade before #MeToo spilled out into the public consciousness. It was only this past October when white women began using #MeToo on social media that sexual harassment became a social concern. I say this understanding that any woman, who publicly speaks out, puts themselves at risk. This is a problem for all of us. But let’s be clear, black and brown women and women of color have been repeatedly raped by white men throughout our history as a country.

It was so heartening when one man on the convention panel reflected on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in American culture. “This is nothing new,” he said. “But it is time for this conversation to come out in the open. Ours has been a culture of rape ever since the very first European boat arrived on America’s shores.” There was an audible pause from the audience followed by shouts of appreciation and plenty of tears as women internalized that it was not their fault that our culture developed this way. Thinking back, we know the history of the founding of our nation and the venereal diseases that were spread among the native population. But this man’s words connected the dots, and absolved some of the guilt women often feel about allowing ourselves to be trapped in untenable situations. It was then that I began thinking how important it is for men to become allies in our #MeToo movement.

Today, I am asking: Where is the courage of our men to add their voices to this cry for an adjustment to our social norms? It will take the actions of men as well as women, to move us forward. I believe that it is time for men of good conscience to step forward and add their voices. When I first put the accompanying photo on Facebook, one woman commented: “Men do not understand.” I don’t believe that is true of all men. I was married to a man who forcefully spoke out against sexual abuse of women in the black power movement back in 1972. I believe there are a lot of good men who respect women but are complacent in speaking out as they observe women being abused, not only physically but verbally, because they are concerned about backlash.

Yes, there will be a backlash to those men who step forward on our behalf. But we need our men to be as brave as our women and speak out. We need the courage of men who do understand to help us change the sexual norms of abuse and degradation of women in our society. Where are our good men and how can we support their voices? If we are to make social change, we must do it together. What are you going to do, the next time you observe sexual harassment?

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!  

LET’S TAKE A WALK AROUND MY BOOK COVER (Literally)

Last week I wrote about my book’s title, Today, I invite you to move one step deeper into my work by taking a peek at my book cover. At the moment, my book cover looks like ‘Flat Stanley’ (a character familiar to kindergartners and their parents) because the innards are not yet bound.

I’m feeling impatient as I wait for the printer. Why don’t you join me and we’ll explore my story through the photographs on the cover. You will be opening the book from the right. So, let’s begin there.

  • The first photo was taken by, my then 12 year old son, Ken Castle, when the Detroit Anti-STRESS contingent went to D.C. to protest at Richard Nixon’s second inaugural ceremony. If you look closely, you can see me in the lower right of the photo. STRESS (Stop the Robberies; Enjoy Safe Streets) was a brutal undercover police decoy unit that was entrapping and murdering young black men in Detroit. The unit’s military ‘search and destroy’ tactics were approved and conducted under the leadership of Police Commissioner John Nichols.
  • The second photo, also taken by my son Ken, shows me moderating a Control, Conflict and Change Book Club (CCC) session. The book club was conceived and founded by Mike Hamlin and me in the early 1970s. We began our organizing effort supported by the Ad-Hoc Action Group Against Police Brutality and Blackstar Bookstore, a black printing operation funded by the Black Manifesto. We benefited from Sheila Murphy’s talents and influence among both black and white radicals in Detroit and participation by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Ultimately, the CCC Book Club became an extension of the Motor City Labor League and the Black Workers Congress.
  • The next image is a still shot from the film documentary, “Finally Got the News,” a Blackstar Production. Mike was a co-founder and the director of Blackstar. The film was originally conceived by John Watson from the League and created by California Newsreel. If you want to understand the atmosphere in Detroit after the 1967 Rebellion, take a look at this film on YouTube to give you a sense of the period: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=finally+got+the+news.
  • The 12th Street rebellion photo on the book’s spine, along with the photo of Father William Cunningham, Pastor, Church Of The Black Madonna, are from the Detroit News Collection, courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.

    Back Cover

  • Father Cunningham mentored me into the Civil Rights Movement in 1965, at the intersection of the brutal police actions at Selma, Alabama and the murder of Viola Liuzzo, a white woman from Detroit. An informant for the FBI, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, confessed to the murder but no one was ever prosecuted.
  • The photo of the cops on 12th Street is from the Detroit Free Press and is in the public domain.
  • The photo of the Castle-Hamlin children on the lawn of the Boston House is from my private collection. It had to be photo-shopped to get all my children in a small frame to fit on the book cover.
  • The photo of Frank Ditto and the crowd at the Hourglass demonstration was also taken by Ken Castle. Hourglass was an organization launched out of our home just a few months after the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. The purpose of the organization was two-fold: “to support [pressure] the Catholic Church to contribute funds to programs fostering black self-determination and to destroy racist attitudes in the white community.”

Thank you for taking this walk with me. I am working hard to get this book in your hands. Book publishing is a very complicated business.

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

By Joann Castle   Coming soon…

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