Teacher Emotionally Assaults Student & Still Gets to Come to Class

The website for Congress Elementary School in Wisconsin proclaims its lofty mission statement with pride:

Congress Year Round School is committed to creating a well-prepared and caring community of learners, where students work hard to be successful and the learning never stops.

and images of happy black children smile out to website visitors as if to confirm both the schools diversity and its stated commitment.  No doubt a week ago, there would be no irony here.

This week however, is different.

An unidentified teacher at Congress Elementary humiliated a 7 year old black child in front of her peers for playing with her hair. According to the 7 year old, her teacher called her to the front of the room after she did not stop playing with her braids during class. The teacher then took out the large scissors issued to elementary teachers from her desk and cut off  one of the child’s braids. The 7 year old went back to her desk and cried. Her peers laughed while the teacher is reported to have said “Now what you gonna go home and say to your momma?” (see KCCI) a clear threat to an already broken child.

If the story ended there, it would already be inexplicable. In the state where I teach, you cannot touch a student for any reason except an emergency. In most states, there are rules governing how you can and cannot touch your students even when they are adults in university. On the basis of these rules alone, the teacher was out of line. But even if these rules did not exist, the blatant violation of this black child’s bodily integrity for the sole purpose of humiliating her in front of her peers would be inexcusable.

Or would it?

According to the 7 year olds mother, Helen Cunningham, the teacher attempted to explain away her behavior by saying, “I was frustrated” (ibid) though she did also offer an apology.

The school leadership claims they are “pursuing district policies” with the handling of the teacher; but so far, they have allowed her to remain in the classroom. Instead of putting the teacher on leave pending an investigation (hello look into the garbage can, find the braid, case closed), they have moved the 7 year old child into a new class. While this certainly will help mediate anxiety the child likely has about returning to school it sends the message to her and to her peers that there are no consequences for violating the physical integrity of little black girls.

To add to the insult, the little girl’s name and photo have been circulated by the media, as they contacted the media after hearing the teacher was not being suspended, but the teacher’s name and image have been withheld. The official website for the school no longer has a viable link to the staff roster either. So the offender is being protected while the victim is on display. And while the child’s mother has given consent, one has to factor in that Helen Cunningham felt the media was a better bet for helping her child after the school failed to do anything to remove the teacher from the classroom. (I was able to find a backdoor way into the staff roster, unfortunately, there are 11 different 1st and 2nd grade teachers at Congress Elementary, so I am not sure who the teacher in question is.)

The Wisconsin police on the other hand, have been trying to resolve the issue with appropriate sanction. Initially they referred the case to the District Attorney’s office for possible criminal charges for mental or physical abuse charges. THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY DECLINED.  So the police, believing this incident needed to be reprimanded, cited the teacher for disorderly conduct. The crime carries with it a $175 fine.

Ultimately, this is a story that has become all too familiar. Congress Elementary is a school with 94% black student enrollment and 78% of students qualifying for free lunch, ie the bulk of their students are black working class and subsistence level children. (see student stats here) At the same time, slightly less than 1/2 of their teachers have 5 years or more of teaching experience and less than 40% have a Masters Degree of any kind, including a Masters of Arts in Teaching. (see faculty stats here) In other words, this situation is a reflection of an ongoing problem in which schools that serve primarily poor and working class children of color are taught by underprepared and under-educated teachers. Teachers who are easily frustrated by common childhood behaviors. And in this case, as in the case of the black child handcuffed by her teacher in NYC and the black child beaten by a school security guard in CA last year, it is becoming far too common for school employees to respond to their frustration with violence against black youth.

While many have commented on the racial overtones of this case, the teacher’s race has been withheld. It would be impossible to argue that cutting a black child’s braid was not an act of racial violation. Whether that violation was enacted by someone who understood how profound that violence was because they internalized the history of the auction block and the meaning of interfering with a black girl’s hair or because they simply understood racial dominance from the role of oppressor, is irrelevant. The bottom line is that cutting that child’s hair was an act of intimidation predicated on the intersections of age, race, and gender.

This case highlights a growing problem of emotional and physical violence against both poor children and children of color, especially in poor neighborhoods, by school officials. Given the high profile attention that the President and several long time, some famous, community advocates have placed on unsafe schools the boldness with which this teacher, the District Attorney’s Office, and to some extent the school itself (which did issue a public apology via the media) have handled this case cannot be ignored. The message sent is that black children are not safe in school and when they are abused, it is their fault. If they can’t prove fault openly, it’s ok because the public perception of black criminality will be underscored by the failure to punish anyone who perpetrates against them. Ultimately, we must decide as a society that violence against any youth for any reason is unacceptable and that violence against black girls is not some proof of black barbarity but rather proof that schools are failing all of us.



  • the child, whose name you may note I am not using on purpose, whose hair was cut/AP
  • Milwaukie County District Attorney John T. Chisholm/unattributed

Women of Color Bloggers Rocking My Feminist World

While I have been largely absent from the comment section both here and elsewhere, I have been keeping check on all of the amazing women of color bloggers around the radical feminist internet. What that means is that I often have at least one head nod and one head desk every morning before logging on to twitter to say hi in real time to any woc bloggers out there. For me it has been a nice way to blend information and engagement or radical community based knowledge. Not only is there the reading and thinking that blogs provide but then the almost immediate chance to talk abt what is written there with the author and others jumping into the discussion. We are a community on twitter as much as in the blogosphere.

Today I want to take that process one step further and spread the link love:

Alexis @ Broken Beautiful Blog has a post up about Pauli Murray, a Black Feminist, Civil Rights Lawyer, and Radical Preacher. I did the bulk of my graduate work in WS/ w/ feminist historians who would later help build WS programs and it is one of three departments in which I am a core faculty member; I have never heard of Pauli Murray. (deep alexissigh) If the number of hits on this blog for the Women of Color Feminist Posts and the Black Herstory Posts are any indication, there remains an overwhelming thirst for knowledge about women of color’s contributions to both historical and present feminist, womanist, mujerista, pro-woman activism and especially from those women who identified as feminist or community based women’s activists. (Those posts are 2 of 3 subjects that receive the most hits on this blog, the other is queer people of color movie reviews.) This is why I love Alexis, across the internet and in her academic-activism, Alexis Pauline Gumbs works to re/raise awareness about black feminist women throughout history. As part of this work, she encourages reading groups, artistic expression and connection, and engages people on both the web and in real time. While her post today is simply an announcement for a group meeting to honor Murray, I think what she has done in such short space is exactly the kind of feminism that inspires and engages. First, she tells us just enough about Murray to wet our appetites. Then she provides the information for how to do your own research on Murray. And finally, she promises a thoroughly researched and yet conversational event at her place in Durham complete w/ archival images and recordings and a potluck. It is this kind of vision and communal connectedness reaching out into the vast virtual space that makes me proud to be a feminist. (And yes, I am off to look up more on Murray.)

Noemi of Hermana Resist, has another short post on Vegans of Color announcing a new vegan cookbook/zine with classic Latina recipes. Not noemionly is she helping to make the transition to a more ethical diet easier for people of color with her proposed work, but she is also looking out for working class and subsistence level women and students by focusing on menus for people with non-traditional cook tops. What that means: if you do not have stove, these recipes are for you. In many areas surrounding Pov U, homes don’t come with stoves and when they do they are often broken so that only one burner works or the oven can only be on for short periods b/c it over heats and poses a fire hazard. Even in rentals this is a common problem and the more rural the county, the less likely access to a traditional oven becomes. Many of my grad students local to the area are proud of ovens that “kind of work” in their homes. For them, Noemi’s cooking zine represents both a lifesaver and communal wisdom. It takes the love of a mother for her culture (Mexican-Puerto Rican) , her world (veganism), and her fellow mamis (women) to create this zine. More than that it shows particular radical woc feminism that centers working class struggles and honors the knowledge of hard working women. In so doing, it destabilizes the idea of veganism and environmentalism as the terrain of upper class white youth and thoroughly grounds it in woc survival. Like Alexis, Noemi is also taking a communal approach to her work. This post is a call for recipes and wisdom so make sure you drop some and join the chorus.

Sylvia @ Problem Chylde has an introspective post about embedded classism in higher ed and its meaning for working class women of color. The raw honesty of her post strikes me as profoundly radical precisely because it exposes not only the theoretical vulnerabilities of women of color sylviasrevenge-128in academe but also the very real experience of it in Sylvia’s life. It reminds me of an essay Patricia Hill Collins once wrote about arriving at college feeling prepared, after working hard to get there, and then watching her roommate unpack her cashmere sweaters. PHC writes that she marveled at all of the sweaters, one for every color she could imagine; when her roommate saw her looking, she apologized for having so many ratty comfort clothes but she couldn’t help it. This scene is recognizable to almost every graduate student of color I have mentored and is one I remember myself. Experiences like PHC’s and Sylvia’s are also the reason many of my returning students of color tell me they left undergrad, disillusioned and thinking higher ed was not for them. For those of us who endured, Sylvia’s insight about what it is like to go from the false middle class image we put on to fit in to under or unemployment, to look around at all the things that were so essential to passing and calculate how many needed resources were directed to it instead of to things we now need is powerful prose. For me the communal feminism in Sylvia’s post is in her willingness to be brave and tell the truth many of us know in print. She lights the way for other working class students, particular women of color, to take stalk in the lessons we have all learned too late and make different choices or join her in finding peace on the other side by speaking out. For people who take middle class “finery” for granted, like many of my colleagues at Snooty Poo U and elsewhere, it also reminds us that higher ed is predicated on a certain kind of elitism that often marginalizes women of color and rural students the most while penalizing them socially, economically, and sometimes intellectually for failing to pass. I believe Sylvia’s words are as powerful as Collin’s or Kadi’s ( see my post on Joanna Kadi Thinking Class here and here) in helping women recognize the process, become self-aware, and unite with one another in healing or changing the system. If that’s not radical feminism, I don’t know what is.

Feminist Icon & Labor Activist “Norma Rae” Dies Waiting for HCR

normaraeCrystal Lee Jordan, the union activist from North Carolina that inspired Sally Field’s Oscar winning performance in Norma Rae, died on Friday because her health insurance company delayed her cancer treatment. Sutton was diagnosed with meningioma but waited two months to begin taking needed medication because her health insurance refused to cover it. While they debated about whether or not the medicine was included in her policy, the cancer spread through her nervous system making the medicine ultimately ineffective. Sutton herself openly criticized the U.S. health care system as an abuse of the power and potentially murderous for the working class. Her criticism got her insurance company to ultimately approve the medicine she needed, too late.

Crystal Lee Jordan has been inspiring women workers since her first stand for the rights at 17 years old. The film Norma Rae was once a staple in Women’s Studies classrooms. In my own home, my mother refers to me as Maude/Rhoda and my littlest sister as Norma Rae and we wear those names at family outings with pride.

How many more people have to die for the greed of the health care industry before we have health care reform?

read more about Crystal Lee Jordan here.

BLBG: Staceyann Chin Other Side of Paradise a Review

This is the second review of books from our Black Lesbian Book Group at Swandiver’s blog. My review for our first book, which I didn’t like, can be found here. As I committed to at the beginning of the summer, I will review the rest of the books as we read them.

Staceyann Chin’s The Other Side of Paradise begins with a mythic birth scene that imagines Chin as wholly unto her own. It is a metaphor that foreshadows the main point of the nearly 300 page autobiography in which Stacyann figures as a precocious, unwanted, and abused child. For the bulk of the book, she is shuttled between relatives and caregivers who provide the littlest amount of care possible. In this version of her childhood, Chin is a victim of overzealous religiosity, classism, colorism, and sexism long before she stumbles on homophobia.

A poor child, abandoned by her mother and rejected by her father, Stacyann spends her early years with her protective brother and her God-fearing, hard working, grandmother. Though they don’t have much, the three of them live mostly happy lives of Bible study, school, and dreams of their mother’s return until they inexplicably lose their house and have to move in with the first of many Aunties. While women unrelated to Chin are often depicted as Aunties who care for her during her stormy childhood typified by severe beatings and humiliation punctuated by Bible passages, her blood relatives are mostly “long suffering black women” who see her as an undue burden. Through it all, her grandmother and her brother do their best to help tame the rage that Staceyann feels at not receiving enough love or being punished for being “too” inquisitive, “to0” self-directed, and “too” forthright.

At age 9, even they fade into the background of increasing poverty, sexualized abuse, and desperation. By the time Staceyann passes her exams to go to high school, her brother doesn’t even talk to her. By the time she is ready for college, he has immigrated to Germany without a word. For most of her tweens, he lives with his father on the other side of town and barely waves at her if they pass by one another on the way to school. Her grandmother is gone from the story all together, left behind when one of their Aunts decides to punish their mother by sending the children back to her. Both of them reappear once or twice in the later half of Staceyann’s story but the ease with which they disappear from her life and her narrative illustrates how fragile and fleeting human relationships are in Chin’s childhood.

Her brother’s slow and unexplained abandonment is typical of the men in The Other Side of Paradise. Men in the book represent a fleeting yet significant presence in Chin’s life. Most of the adult men in her early life are sick, drunk, and/or mentally ill. Their absenteeism is ever present whether it is physical absence or psycho-social.

Her father, who is the most important man in her life b/c of his ongoing absence, denies her to her face. Though he does pay for her schooling, and help her get into college, he treats her as a somewhat unwanted associate never his flesh and blood. While his indifference chafes, her brother’s father’s seeming care is soon undermined in similar ways. Both men write checks, but neither offer love. Worse, though he gives Staceyann money and food, he also makes uncomfortable and unexplained advances on her that often leave her feeling violated by his touch. Other men, like the Preacher in her church make overt sexually advances, behaving in predatory ways that Chin inexplicably avoids.

Young men in the book are almost all sexual aggressors. She spends her tweens and teens dodging three of them in her own home. They try to catch her in the bathroom or changing her clothes, and corner her in various parts of the house. Her first attempt at a boyfriend results in a sexually explicit letter asking for favors she has made clear she is unwilling to give. And tho she has a seemingly normal relationship with her second boyfriend, the normalcy is undermined by his unwillingness to make any real commitment to her, transforming him into another emotionally distant man who uses her for sex. When she comes out in college, these boys transformer into a raving band of rapists in a scene that not only rings true but also reflects a general sense in the narrative the young men are just old rapists and drunks in the making.

Lest anti-feminist readers see this as yet another example of  “feminazi man-hating,” women and girls fair little better in Staceyann’s text. Staceyann’s mother starts out as a sympathetic character whose return transforms her into a self-obsessed violent woman. Her erratic behavior and violent shifts from cooing at her children to raking them with her long red nails and bitterness mirror that of clinical schizophrenia so much so that I expected to be told she hadn’t abandoned the children but instead been sent away. Not so. Though Chin makes her mother sound clinically ill, this too is a function of the child narrator, who experiences the terror of her mother’s behavior but has no explanation for it.

The other adult women in Chin’s life, with few exceptions, seem to take great pride in humiliating her in front of classmates and female peers. They demean her because of her heritage, her class, and her inquisitiveness. Most importantly, they check her outspokenness with swift violence designed to silence her voice and teach her to become invisible. Their anxieties about her precociousness and blunt struggles with social norms and religion, speak to the fears of working class and lower middle class women about “respectability” and male power. Yet while Chin is thoughtfully introspective about why she acts out against them, her child narrator is unable to provide similar introspection about the reasons they discipline her so harshly. There is no excuse for their abusiveness, but Chin’s corrective look back on it in the epilogue is lacking in the story itself.

Not only do adult women figure prominently in her ongoing physical abuse, but young girls seem to torment Staceyann wherever she goes. Whether they are relatives or kids at school, the girls Staceyann meets mock and humiliate her because of her color, her class, and sometimes her diction. Colorism and classism dog Staceyann at every institution, in ever person’s home she visits, and even causes a bitter fight between her and her brother.  Despite what she says about juxtaposing homophobia in Jamaica to racism in the U.S. in the book promo clip at the beginning of this post, her book makes race (colorism) a central plot point in which it is no less salient to her life than racism would have been in N. America. Her prose is never more honest nor poignant than when lessons about color and poverty hit home in the text.

All of these characters represent the pain and abandonment that is at the center of the entire story. They figure far more prominently than the nuns, teachers, and friends who are actually kind to Staceyann in her childhood. The underdevelopment of the latter gives her story a sense of urgency at the same time that it makes her narrative seem somewhat overdetermined. The truth value of one’s memories is less important to me than what falls out as a result.  Because Chin gives us no concentrated description of mentors or heroes her memoir gives us no insight into how she became an artist. Subtle glimpses of her being assigned journaling or finally finding a home in the theater department are like footnotes in the long and painful story of abandonment and abuse. When did she decide words were her refuge? When did she find the excitement in sharing her voice instead of the shame that was almost always put upon her every time she spoke in the book? Where are the inklings of the poet in her childhood?

Those looking for a poignant coming out story that mirrors the powerful and beautiful poetry Chin writes, will also be disappointed. Chin has two crushes in her early childhood but neither are written in a way that foreshadows same sex attraction or the awakening of same sex desire. Instead, one of her crushes isn’t even identified as an object of desire until they mutually come out to one another in college.  Her desires for the other girl are easily overlooked by both girls pursuits of boyfriends and Christian morality that permeates their lives. There are subtle ways the prose lets those of us who know what we are seeing, know we are seeing it, but for those uninitiated, much of the subtlety will be lost. In both cases, Staceyann’s emotions for them are wrapped up in class longing, desires for friendship and popularity at school, or gratefulness for the kindness of adults these other girls experience. Thus for many readers, only the very blunt jokes about not marrying boys will hit home in these passages while the homosocial commitment to one another, the subtle care in the way they are with one another, etc. will be lost.

Chin doesn’t speak about her sexuality until the book is almost over. With only 70 pages left, she embarks on the subject of her coming out and trying to find women to be with at a break neck speed that barely leaves any time for character development, internal reflection, or some other narrative device that would make the sea of rejection and hookups crammed into this section as insightful as her poetry on the subject. It’s unfortunate because this portion of the book has an adult narrator who could be introspective and multi-viewed about the characters introduced. In many ways, it feels as though Chin is still holding this part of herself back from her readers, afraid of what prose, as opposed to poetry, might tell us and her about these tumultuous days before she immigrated.

As a result, her coming out years whiz by, literally punctuated by cliched lesbian music and the shaving of her head. While Chin hints at a thriving underground queer culture, she never lets her prose linger on it long enough for us to get a sense of what queer Jamaica looks like to her or how GLBTQI ppl navigate homophobia there. As an insider, her insights on these issues could have been a critical counterpoint to a colonialist gaze on Jamaica that elevates violence against the queer community there while erasing it in the West. It’s unclear if she is trying to protect the women she left behind by not describing them or their encounters in detail or if she has sacrificed this aspect of the story to make her larger point about the homophobia in Jamaica that drove her to leave. If it is the latter, homophobia has not only robbed her of her home but her readers of a story about sexuality and (fraught) communities, for one of violent homophobia. Both are clearly present, but as in other identities represented in the book, the latter dominates.

Thus while women, female lab partners, sexual encounters, and her growing attachment to the stage moves so quickly they blur into nothing, the homophobic potential gang rape Chin survived in her college bathroom is described in detail. For survivors it will likely be triggering. For people inclined to vilify Jamaica as the most homophobic place on earth,  it will provide perfect fodder. And yet, this moment is a defining one in Chin’s life. The prose she uses to describe it not only reflect the way time works for some survivors during abuse but also ensures that readers cannot look away from the intersection of sexism and homophobia, fear and male-sanctioned violence. Its familiarity opens the doors for talking about global homophobia, sexism, and male violence in ways that expand rather than contract feminist discourses on the subject for anti-imperialist readers. Not only is this moment critical to understanding Chin’s critique of homophobia, it is also perhaps the most feminist moment in the book because it not only exposes male domination but also demands bodily integrity for all women and feminism from men.

Ultimately, if you commit to the story Staceyann Chin has set out to tell, you will not be disappointed by this book. For those looking for the feisty feminist lesbian who bellows out the words in proud defiance of social norms, you will see glimpses of her here but never quite connect the dots. And those looking for an immigration based bildungsroman ala other Caribbean-American writers, you will have to look elsewhere, as Chin acknowledges the ever-presence of immigration while also proving how life in sending communities is about the dailiness of living not just a holding pattern until one goes abroad. In a world where we have come to expect artists lives to be unique and special, punctuated by clearly defined awakenings, it is an act of extreme bravery to depict oneself as rejected, broken, and yearning for love just like everybody else. That is the story Staceyann wants us to know, the story of a girl who overcame, who makes her living speaking when so many tried beat her into silence. And tho it isn’t the story I was expecting, I for one, respect that.

The Black Lesbian Book Group is discussing this book now. The current discussion question from Luna Kiss is: what were your impressions of the title before you read the book? (Obviously this question is meant to go beyond Chin’s own statement that she was referring to the class divide in the town of Paradise where she spent her formative years.)

Faces of Globalization IV

Instead of images today, I thought I would post a video from India based on a poem written by an indigenous activist fighting mining near his village:

“God of Development, oh pray tell us, how to save our lives” oh wait, you have no answer b/c you are the most false god of them all.

Free Book: Eli Clare’s Exile and Pride

Rather than post my multi-culti Pride pic again this weekend, I am offering readers a chance to get a free copy of Eli Clare’s Exile and Pride on (my favs) Southend Press. The book address a number of topics including sexuality, dis/ability, rural and urban divides, the class assumptions embedded in whiteness and queerness, gender, and so much more. I will be posting a longer review of the book as part of the series on dis/ability and queerness started here two weeks ago (I know I’m late in posting) but until then, you can read the description of the text at the link above. If you are in Arizona, you can also meet the author at the Society for Disability Studies Conference going on right now.


If you want a chance at the book, all you have to do is tell me why you want the book AND how you will use it in your own life and/or community to raise awareness about diversity and (gay) pride.

(Our next Pride give away will be a DVD bundle for the boys: Were the World Mine, Latter Days, Shelter, & Boy Culture)

World Day Against Child Labor

This poem was written by Kenyan school girls about child labor. It’s reiteration of “father and mother” shows how hard it is for children to understand the poverty that forces their parents into complicity and how easy it is for traffickers and child exploiters to convince children their own parents do not want or care about them in order to exploit them.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the International Labor Organization’s adoption of a resolution to confront conditions that promote and exploit child labor around the world and the 7th anniversary of World Day Against Child Labor. World Day Against Child Labor “is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour” and “provides an opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women’s groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.” (ILO) This year the focus is specifically on the exploitation of girls who make up slightly less than 1/2 of all documented or estimated child laborers, and probably make up even more than that once we factor in largely undocumented unpaid labor.


According to the ILO, 100 million girls work as child laborers. While many of them do the same or similar work as boys, they are also more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, trafficking, and other engendered abuses in the workplace. Girls are also often the first to be taken out of school to provide unpaid household labor or sold as domestics or sex workers to payusa_onion03 off mounting debts.

While this issue is often considered a “global,” read non-US, issue, the AFL-CIO estimates that 400,000 to 500,000 migrant children work in the U.S. These children work in unsafe conditions like the ones that killed pregnant teen Maria last year on a vineyard picking grapes for cheap wine or exposes children to pesticides. Even when they are not exposed to excessive heat or chemicals, their work hours can run up to 12 hours or more. Other migrant children work to clean the homes of prominent families on the East Coast and Midwest, often enduring isolation, physical and mental abuse, and threat.

In most of these cases, children’s work schedules do not permit time for consistent schooling. Girls without educations are all the more likely to be exploited and abused later in life. The statistics related to low educational attainment levels amongst girls and their exposure to violence, exploitation, and abuse are undisputed. Yet, often people who employee child labor claim that the children are not workers, ie that they employ adults only and cannot be blamed if those adults bring children to work even tho they take the fruit of those children’s labor, or that they have saved them from “much worse conditions in their home countries,” so it is ok if they exploit them in their own homes or shops.

According to the ILO, nearly two-thirds of working girls between five and 14 years old are engaged in agricultural work. Agro-labor is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of job-related deaths, accidents, and occupational illnesses.

The National Consumer League estimates that 1 teen worker dies from injuries in unsafe work conditions in the U.S. every 10 days.

Children outside of the U.S. often work to produce the items that are in the highest demand in the West, like diamonds, gold, oil, coal, and coffee. Because of their low or non-existent salaries, children may not ever receive needed health care for injuries or chronic health problems caused by the work. They may be trafficked throughout the world as a result of conflicts and kidnappings, so that their parents may not even know where to look for them. Orphaned children are among the most exploited around the world because there is no one to protect them.

UNICEF also estimates that 300,000 children are being exploited in conflict zones around the world. Instability caused by global capitalism and genocides leave children open to this kind of exploitation turning them from innocent children to child soldiers and rape gangs.

While child soldiers are often boys, girls are also conscripted. Worse, girls are often forced to marry adult soldiers or sexually abused as a matter of “breaking in” child soldiers. Girl children are often kept as sexual and domestic labor in extended conflicts as well, forever altering the course of their development.

What you can do:

  • educate yourself by following the links in this post and/or joining the UNICEF mailing list
  • get involved locally by supporting programs for girls and migrant workers
  • hold discussions and forums on child labor around the world
  • donate to organizations that support the end to the exploitation of child labor, women and girls, and wars and conflicts
  • if you have time, volunteer with organizations that help ensure that marginalized groups are self-sufficient

Faces of Globalization III: U.S. Backed FTA Rt.s to Incursions into Amazon Suspended by Peru


After a violent repression of indigenous protesters in Peru that the BBC says left 40 people dead, 14 police officers dead, and 100 Peruvian activists missing and presumed dead (Amazon Watch numbers: 25 civilians dead, 150 people injured, 150 in custody, and 9 police dead), the Peruvian government suspended two FTA inspired bills that will allow for the expansion of mining, oil drilling, and other industrial exploitation of the land (and ultimately its people) by multinational corporations.


(Police vs. Indigenous Protesters in Peru. Amazon Watch)

The latest violence was in response to Peru’s 48 day long indigenous protests, involving over 1200 indigenous Amazon communities and more than 30 thousands indigenous protesters. In peaceful protests against FTA policies that would further open the Amazon to “development” and exploitation, they blockaded roads and river traffic throughout the Amazon. Earlier FTAs have already resulted in pollution of the land, destruction of ancient indigenous cultures and Afro-Columbian cultures living in the Amazon (altho this conflict is going on in Peru, the Amazon extends into other nations that have already experienced violent repression and removal including Columbia & Ecuador), and exacerbated gender and ethnic conflicts.


(oil spill from FTA allowed drilling in Ecuador/Rothschild)

According to Amazon Watch, eyewitnesses report having seen missing activists bodies being dropped from helicopters into the river to hide how many had been killed from official count. This is a tactic that has been used in other nations whose governments or MNC funded militias have attacked indigenous groups to move them out of the way of corporate flower and produce farms and mining.


(People killed in the clash in Peru. ibid)

The same report also cites physicians who said dead and dying patients were carried out of the hospital in secret by police for the same reason. Some of them think the bodies have been stacked in a steep ravine near the hospital for disposal.

At the time of the clash, activists were engaging in a peaceful road blockage to stop encroachment on indigenous lands in the amazon. Road blockage has been an important tool in peaceful protests against NAFTA and CAFTA by indigenous and subsistance level citizens in Latin America who often find their lands and cultures destroyed, their homes demolished or polluted, and subsequently end up homeless rural to urban migrants who eke out a living on others garbage, involvement in low wage or exploitative informal economies, or working for the very companies who displaced them for low wages and often at high health risk. The clashes between peaceful road blockers and police or military has also pointed to how easily governments working to pay back loans or enjoy lucrative kick backs and MNCs, some of whom are willing to pay militias, will meet human beings with little more than locked arms and access to rocks and sticks, with tear gas, gun fire, and air support, all the while claiming that the violence is the fault of the people.

Our government is implicated in these attacks when we continue to push for trade agreements that encourage lawlessness, violence, and profit over people.

You can help by educating yourself about these issues, contacting you congress people, and refusing to by products produced under these conditions. a Full list of actions and how to accomplish them is here.

Another Trans Woman of Color Shot in Memphis

kelvinKelvin Denton remains in critical condition in a Memphis hospital today after being shot by 18 year old Terron Taylor. Taylor shot Denton in the nose and throat at 6 am on Wednesday of last week. The two are said to have gotten in an argument at Denton’s apartment.

Taylor admitted to the shooting when arrested but, like so many others, also claimed the trans panic defense.leneeshia According to The Advocate, Taylor told police he shot Denton b/c she had “misled him about her gender.”

Like other women I’ve reported on this week who survived harrowing experiences through sure will, Denton was found before her injuries proved fatal, b/c she walked from her apartment to the Whitehaven Community Center near her home. She knew if she could just get there, someone would call the police and make sure that she got medical attention. All though she did victimberrytiffanyvd7not make it the whole way before losing consciousness, the police report said she was found by a jogger who called for help.

Denton is the 5th trans woman, 4 of whom were African American twoc, to be shot in the area in 2 years. Hate crimes in the state have gone up 38% this year and slightly less than half of that increase is against GLBTQ people. As Memphis Trans Guy points out in discussing the transphobic murder of Leeneshia Edwards in January, 3 of these crimes took place in just 6 months. Moreover, there seems to be a clear pattern of targeting working class/subsistence level African American trans women in the informal economy. The intersections of these identities has been largely missing from discussion of Denton’s case as well as some of the other Storyshooting victims. Many of us who did talk about the intersections in all of these cases were queer women of color. One such discussion at Unfinished Lives makes sure to highlight all of the victims of the 6 month period prior to Denton’s attack and stress the need for HR in Memphis.

The failure of some LGB advocates to use proper pronouns (ie transphobia), and for some transgender advocates to address or even acknowledge the specific race of the women targeted (ie racism), as well as the failure of both to explicitly address class (ie classism, and possible heterosexism b/c trans women are often relegated to working class and informal economy positions) is part of the reason that trans women of color remain such easy targets. duanna_johnsonNot only do they struggle against societally accepted discrimination and violence but they are often rendered invisible by the discourses of advocates on every side.

Taylor is to be arraigned today and several transgender advocates have urged the judge and the police not to except the trans panic defense.

The TN Transgender Political Coalition is also once again calling for the State Legislature to pass an amendment to civil rights law for the state that would include “gender identity or expression” in protected status alongside race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. (read more here)



  • Kelvin Denton/unattributed.
  • Leeneshia Edwards/Eyewitness News. Edwards was killed in December 2008 by an unknown assailant. read more using link in post
  • Tiffany Berry/ unattributed. Berry was killed by D’Ondre Blake 2/16/06 outside her apartment b/c “he didn’t like the way she touched him.” read more here.
  • Ebony Whitaker/unattributed. Whitaker was killed by an unknown assailant near a day care center in July 2008. read more here.
  • Duana Johnson/unattributed. Johnson was first beaten and refused medical care by Memphis Police and health care providers and then assassinated under questionable circumstances. read more here.