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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.

 

A WORD TO #ACTIVISTS EVERYWHERE: SAVE YOURSELF

Joann Castle, June 4, 2018

An Open Letter To: Parkland students, immigration advocates, busy mothers caring for their families, election hopefuls and the countless activists who give their hearts and souls to the struggle for a better world.

Is your passion for your cause thrusting you forward at a pace that is jeopardizing your physical and mental health? Are you crabby and irritable? Are you risking your health and/or compromising your ability to achieve the outcomes you desire for the cause that you care so deeply about?

The following quote is from the “Activist’s Survival Guide,” in my book, which was released in May, 2018.  It is one of eleven lessons learned from my experience in 50 years of activism.

ACTIVISTS, SAVE YOURSELF: “While sacrifice is an unavoidable part of being an activist, you’re no good to your cause if you’re irritable or ill. Eat right. Sleep enough, Stay positive. Recognize your abilities and limitations, and choose your role accordingly. Remain physically and emotionally refreshed with periodic down-time. Avoid time-wasting conflict and negative people.”  – Joann Castle, Author: WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist.

I’ve been rushing headlong for six years, caring for my husband and after his passing, passionately driving myself to finish my book. I thought that a finished book would bring some relief but instead, I moved headlong into intense marketing of my product without missing a beat. When spring came around, I found myself working day and night, while I watched the long-awaited summer unfold from the window behind my computer.

Last week, it occurred to me that I was ignoring what it took me a whole life to learn. I decided to schedule a break and take my own advice about finding balance.

Here is how I spent my weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

My fellow activists, what are you doing to save yourself?

Please share your suggestions by clicking on “Reply” on this website.  We can learn from each other.

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. 

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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

 

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.

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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…

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!  

 

 

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!