Hola mi Gente,
Having attempted to facilitate groups at Rikers Island, I am of the firm conviction that Rikers cannot be reformed. It needs to come down. Period. Not that I ever thought it could be fixed, but this experience just nails it for me.
Oh yeah, my thoughts and opinions do not reflect on my the positions of my employer…
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
— Thomas E. Lawrence
I am a radical progressive descended from a long line of radical progressives. I stand proud on this heritage because my lineage has a long and legendary history. Its narrative is driven by the progressive principles of freedom, equality, dignidad (human dignity), and the celebration of diversity, and by the immovable conviction that our common wealth should be used for the common good. Our species’ greatest moments occurred when these values prevailed. I write so that these principles may endure.
I write because voting isn’t enough.
Whoa! You might say. Whadaya mean voting isn’t enough, Eddie?!
I mean exactly that. Voting is may seem important, but my ancestors and mentors taught me long ago that freedom isn’t guaranteed. Nothing can guarantee your freedoms. The Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if you’re not actively engaged in the liberation process. Voting every four years for the lesser of two evils will not ensure your freedom. It will only ensure evil. The principles I adhere to can only be attained through action — participation.
My lineage has shown this to be true throughout the ages. My ancestors are those that have stood to speak truth to power throughout the ages.
These principles do not belong to particular nation or political party. They belong to no race, class, or gender. They certainly do not mirror some bullshit red state/ blue state dichotomy. I write today to remind myself that it has been the progressive principles that have always elevated us to a higher moral position. And today I look back in the hope that we can leave our children with a better future.
My lineage has included of some of the greatest men and women, people who were able to articulate and act upon these principles. They were the ones who gave relevance to a Constitution that was founded on slavery and inequality through the courage of their convictions. The legacy of my lineage is my proudest heritage. It humbles me. I write so that I, too, may act on my deepest convictions.
The greats of my lineage have been common people. First, there were revolutionaries. Revolutionaries who dared dream with their eyes open who inspired later revolutionaries in Europe and later in the colonies of the so-called New World. My lineage includes proud First Nation peoples, who were here before any of us, whose methods of governance inspired the so-called founders of the United States.
My lineage includes the abolitionists, like Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Harriet Tubman, who insisted that no democracy could respectfully call itself one so long as slavery endured. My lineage includes the suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought to expand our understanding of equality and won for women the right to vote.
There are many others. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks who marched for tolerance and inspired a nation and a world to celebrate diversity. My fathers include people such as Malcolm X and Albizu Campos, both of whom who spoke eloquently of action and of “taking our freedom,” and both of whom paid with their lives for articulating such a vision. Mother Jones, Cesar Chavez, the Yong Lords and the Black Panthers, and Sojourner Truth — all living at different times — all championing the inalienable dignity of all human beings.
I write because the beliefs, the convictions, the values that inspired my lineage can inspire us today. While it is true the issues we face today are different, the guiding principles remain.
Our most significant challenge today is the dark cloud of global authoritarianism that hangs over us, making it almost impossible to address issues without major political change. The neoliberal project has taken over the reins of government for too long and has been controlling the terms of debate for far too many years. For real change to happen, the progressive ideals of my lineage must be brought back to the center of our revolutionary actions. This will be neither quick nor easy and I despair that it will ever happen because too many of us are content with the crumbs of the 1%.
However, if you believe in the progressive principles of freedom, equality, human dignity, tolerance, and the celebration of diversity, then this is also your lineage — your heritage. It leaves us with the clear realization that it is up to us to create a greater future for our children and to save this world. As one of the Fathers of my lineage, Frantz Fanon, said, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…