Tag Archives: #socialjustice

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.

 

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.