Featured Activism…Confronting “-isms” in Public Places, in Real Time

A Facebook friend gave me permission to re-post this – an example of acting in everyday situations.  I commend the restaurant owner in this situation:
“So, some of you might be familiar with Conejito’s on the near south side of Milwaukee. Well, I was there for dinner with family tonite, including my nephew, and there was an incredibly rude moron making offensive remarks loud enough for anyone on that side of the restaurant to hear. He was making obscene comments about women’s body parts, gay people, black people, and really when you think of it, what he was saying was offensive to human beings, period. Well, at one point, he was talking loudly into his phone right next to our table, and acting belligerent toward us. When my nephew’s dad asked the guy to move away from our table, the jerk then made a rude comment toward him. At this point two other men sitting nearby came over and asked the moron to leave the restaurant. The first guy also had children with him and his wife. His wife was also absolutely horrified by the guy’s comments. The second guy basically said to the jerk, ‘If you don’t leave on your own, I’ll make you leave.’ I personally thanked him afterwards. The owners finally stepped in and asked the moron to leave, and he did, but this was only after two tables of patrons got up and walked out after being subjected to this jerk’s loud, rude commentary. I have never been in a serious fight in my whole life, but this is one person that deserves to have his ass kicked.”

What Have You Done to Create Change Today?
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Dear Activist’s Diary…Unethical “News” Reports of Walmart Workers Protests

Walmart protesters in Oklahoma. Courtesy of corporateactionnetwork.org

Big Week for what may be the beginnings of some major changes in the right direction for Walmart.   They’re not going to happen overnight.  We are reminded of Ghandi’s inspiration:  “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Here is my most recent activity this week.  We must look for opportunities to inform others of the facts & try to hold journalists to a modicum of integrity.

Commented on WGN News Story re: Walmart Employee Protests :

WGN – How do you call yourself journalists, again?  You did not dispute a statement by the Walmart CEO that clearly outright lies.
He said that “only 50 employees around the country” engaged in the protests.  There were more than 50 just at the Chicago location you showed!  Employees and other protesters engaged in peaceful protest in more than 100 cities yesterday – in one location in Los Angeles alone, there were 1,500 people.  So, that’s thousands across the country.

Again, I ask you – what are you journalistic credentials to not dispute that statement, much less even air it in the first place?

To those of you on here supporting the one of the richest families in America and the biggest employer in the world, do you realize that even if you never step foot inside a Walmart, you help the owners and shareholders get richer and richer by subsidizing their employees with your tax dollars?  Here are the FACTS…
– 80% of Walmart workers are on food stamps – even those who work full time – because Walmart pays so poorly.
– Employees rely upon $2.66 Billion of YOUR TAX MONEY in government programs.
– Walmart employees, in state after state, are the top recipients of Medicaid.
– Walmart sets the pace for other retailers.  This hurts all retail employees & families.

I personally don’t care if they unionize…What’s at issue is our largest employer treating their employees like human beings.

What Have You Done to Create Change Today?
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Speech at Unite Against the War on Women Rally 4/28/2012

“We speak out for those people who need someone to stand up for them without compromise. Those who need a champion cannot afford compromise, in the face of forces that are powerful, persistent and pernicious and greedy.”

My name is Laura Sabransky, and the words I just spoke and believe wholeheartedly are those of Elizabeth Edwards.

THANK YOU to the organizers of this event today, taking place around our country as we speak!

I have been a political organizer for reproductive choice – for National Audubon Society’s International Population program in Washington, D.C. and then in the early ‘90s, served on the board of the Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance and Illinois League of Women Voters.

In those days — before social media and even before e-mail — yes, I know, so hard to even remember now — we did grassroots organizing by sending letters, making phone calls, making personal visits and writing testimony. In those days, our passionate communications affected legislators and legislation. In those days, legislators — even those who had been re-elected many times, even those on the other side of the aisle — would visit with us, listen to us and sometimes changed their minds and their votes upon feeling the pressure from their constituents about preserving our fundamental right to reproductive choice.

By the way, how do you like my umbrella? It was given to me during a election day, 2004, in Cleveland, Ohio in while I was working for the Kerry campaign to defeat the Bush regime. Even during the heavy downpour that lasted all day, and we kept receiving word that there were lines of Democrats all around the state waiting hours to vote. We all know now this was the 2nd election within four years that the Republicans stole from us.

Is anyone really surprised that this party of criminals thinks they can steal what belongs to us as women?

I’ve heard some citizens claim that there is no “War on Women” — that the 1100 individual pieces of proposed legislation across the country in 2011 created to dismiss, diminish and degrade women — and the more than 300 bills that became laws AND the 435 already proposed this year — all by the same party that stole national elections, sent our nation’s children to die in a protracted war based on lies, and committed war crimes — do not constitute a “war on women.”

To them I say: I — like many of you — have personally experienced bullying, harassment, aggression and attacks, and every time I hear about another law that has the intent to — control our bodies, treat women as property, make us poorer, keep us out of public life and make us into 2nd class citizens — I feel personally assaulted.
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Responding to Calls for “Smaller Government”

My response to someone on FB saying they’re for “smaller government” and that my language describing the outcomes of the Republican platform was extreme:

“Carl – The tag line “smaller government” is an antiseptic version of us taxpayers refusing to take care of each other and instead funding a military-industrial complex and companies who have a profit motive.  You should question “smaller” for whom?  It’s smaller for middle class and poor people, unless you’re a woman, then the the supposed “small government” politicians expand their reach literally into our bodies (re: vaginal probes – that was determined to be state-mandated rape).  Remember the 2nd Bush campaign, Carl, when their were commercials threatening that if you didn’t vote for him, you have a great chance being killed by a terrorist?  Why would you have a problem, then, with any of us progressives discussing real life consequences of Repubs’ draconian policies/budget?  A budget is a moral document that represents the priorities of our citizens.  In bad economic times, when people are already suffering, to put families out on the street, leave them with absolutely no lifeline, would cause disease and death.  To lower women’s pay, when we are the primary breadwinners – many barely making a living to begin with – would cause our children to suffer greatly.  To force women into back alley abortions by denying them both birth control and abortions causes death.  When services for women who have survived violent crimes is cut, more women will commit suicide and suffer debilitating mental and physical problems.  When you call what I’m saying hyperbole, you remind me of Akin, who denies that women actually suffer from “real rape.”  Do you have a problem with real consequences?  Repubs are keeping their language intentionally dry and devoid of any real life descriptions of the very serious human outcomes.  There is a reason for that, Carl, and you should question it.”

Dear Activist’s Diary…Let your Wallet Do the Talking

During any given week, I post and comment frequently through social media to help advance action on progressive issues.  Activist’s Diary lists other direct actions.

11/13/2012:  Launched Activist’s Diary

11/15:  While picking up a voucher for theatre tickets that I won through WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, I ran into a Donor Relations staffer.  I told her that I would be reducing my donation again (I did so last year, when they refused to cover the beginnings of the Occupy Movement) because of their recent cancellation of the Smiley and West program.  I repeated some of the concerns brought up by Tavis Smiley about BEZ’s CEO Torey Malatia’s article in Current.  WBEZ is keeping a list of concerned listeners/donors, and so far, it’s up to 300.  When I wrote to them last year about their other poor decision re: the Occupy Movement, the head of fundraising copied their programming staff, to show them how their decisions were hurting the station.
ACTION:  Email Jill Sheperd, WBEZ’s Director of Individual Giving

What Have You Done to Create Change Today?
Please share in the comments section and you might be featured here.

About Activist’s Diary

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.”
– Blaise Pascal, Philosopher, 1623-1662

I launched this site one week after the 2012 national election and a few days after a 30-second elevator conversation with a stranger that went something like this:
Stranger: I’m so glad we’re not going to have much snow this winter. I like these warmer temperatures.
Me:  Actually, it’s bad for the environment if we don’t have enough moisture accumulate during the winter.
Stranger: Oh?
Me:  You know those forest fires that happened last summer?  That was a result of lack of snow.  And the droughts we’re beginning to see?  These are the results of our global temperatures climbing to harmful levels, brought on human activity.”
Stranger: Oh, I guess I never looked at it that way before.
DING…She arrived at her floor and as the door closed, I realized that this type of interaction is commonplace for me, and most importantly, it is activism! 

Our daily interactions are the pebbles that influence the ocean of human attitudes, opinions and behavior.
In launching Activist’s Diary, I acknowledge that:

  • We are inspired by and learn from the words and actions of others and benefit from discussing our experiences.
  • Transformational change of the collective is brought about by those who recognize their own power (or are practicing doing so).
  • Action and sense of community are antidotes to apathy and feelings of futility.
  • A space like Activist’s Diary – where we can post what we’ve done to help create change and be recognized for our work – encourages us to act more frequently.

Activist’s Diary is a safe, non-partisan community for progressives to share our experiences of being and becoming activists. Respectful discussion about issues, news, events and above all, personal actions and experiences is encouraged.  Please share your activism in the comments section of any post to inspire others and be considered for inclusion in “Featured Activism.”

Actions that ultimately help to create a just, humane and sustainable world are often not dramatic, but as Pascal says, they are significant. My intention in creating a shared diary is that progressives consider every day an opportunity to create change and influence others to do the same….

What Have You Done Today to Create Change?

MY STREET CRED:
Exposure to feudalistic, inbred politics and corruption while growing up in a Chicago suburb and living in Chicago for my adult life except for briefly in D.C. and Denver is certainly backdrop enough for developing into an activist.  As long as  I can remember, I’ve recognized injustice – as most children do, I believe – and although shy as a child, was never shy about speaking up about it.

The rest of my tale/trail looks like this:

Protest 2011

  • High school student council leader and newspaper news editor.
  • Left my first for-profit job out of college to take an unpaid internship
    with National Audubon Society’s International Population program
    in their D.C. Capitol Hill location.
  • While working at League of Women Voters, served at their statewide Reproductive Choice Chair and was an officer on the statewide Pro-Choice Alliance.  I organized hundreds of grassroots activists prior to email and social media, conducting letter-writing, phone calling campaigns, organized personal visits to legislators and state capitol lobbying.
  • Volunteered on local and national election campaigns.  Traveled to Cleveland in 2004 to be in the epicenter of Republicans’ election theft.
  • Volunteered for local and national animal rights groups.
  • Contacted appointed and elected officials by letter, email, phone, petition & in person hundreds of times.
  • Published articles and letters to the editor.
  • Participated in demonstrations  and rallies on numerous issues, like the one you see here.
  • And, last but not least, have written thousands of words on social media and other online discussions.
    Although I spend a lot of time on FB & discussion boards, I feel it’s the least effective form of activism.  It’s mostly futile to engage in discussion with people who are firmly wedded to their positions or to complain about them.  I try to use my posts and comments to urge others to act and mobilize.

 

The Manufactured Debt Ceiling “Crisis:” Listen to Your Mom, John Boehner

My letter to John Boehner, 7/26/2011:

Not actually Boehner’s mom.

Listen to your mother, John. She told you to:

  • Always tell the truth
  • Respect your superiors
  • Stand up to bullies

So, stop…

  • Letting a minority of freshman congressmen – representing very few people in our country – tell you what to do. What are you, the homely girl who needs the acceptance of the popular ones who are bullies? You’re the Speaker of the House. Act like it. You were ready to compromise, then you buckled to a bunch of bullies. Now you owe them your lunch money for the rest of your life.
  • Dissing Obama every chance you get. He’s far from perfect, but he wants to help Americans. You have more experience in Congress. You should be supporting him. You are supposed to set the example of civility and diplomacy toward the leader of the free world.
  • Lying about how the debt ceiling is related to the budget. Stop holding our country’s bond rating and interest rates hostage to your party’s demands about the budget. It’s reckless and you know it. Also, really, stop lying about how significantly cutting the deficit during this economic crisis will help Americans. There’s nothing in American history to support your claim. Just the opposite is true. Helping create jobs, therefore more consumers and tax dollars by infusing money into the economy, works. Deficit reduction, at least at a time like this, does not.

Thank you for your time, and I pray that you do the right thing and listen to the majority of the American people and, your mother.