Monthly Archives: October 2008

Change is in the air

Standard

Change is in the air and I have decided to embrace that with a new look for my blog.  What do you think?

Other change that is currently going on…

  • the leaves.
  • the weather.
  • daylight savings on Sunday (that will be a whole other post)
  • hopefully my job.
  • the president of the US of A.  Don’t forget to vote!

Write to Marry Day: Famous Quotes

Standard

Update: I would like to thank Emily who is a non-lesbian, non-mother, CA resident living in Chile who reads this blog regularly and had never heard of Mombian.com before this.  She took up my challenge to post today on her blog and within 5 minutes was receiving heat for it.  I think her position was well thought out and clear.  Go check her out and thank her for reading and for VOTING!

Mombian is currently compiling a list of all the blogs taking part in Write To Marry Day. You should definitely check out the updated list of submissions here. 

As I think about the issue of Gay marriage in this country, two particular quotes come to mind:

Gay families are a rising river stretching across the country. Conservative opposition to gay marriage is a dam blocking the way. Impeded in its natural course, the river does not dry up.

and

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. -Audre Lorde

Regardless of if Prop 8 is passes or not (although for the sake of equality and American ideals, I can only hope it is), peoples sexuality will not change. The only thing that will change if Prop 8 passes is that CA will have succumbed to bigotry.  The proposition does not force religion to accept sexuality nor does it change the status quo.  As Looky Daddy pointed out, marriage did not implode, it was not undermined, in fact, nothing changed.

Saying No to prop 8 in CA, and other similar props around the country in this an future elections, secures couples who love each other and have chosen to be together the right to form a family without jumping through legal hoops of adoption, to make choices for the other when he/she is ill, and to take part in the civil institution of marriage just like any other American.  If they form a family (and they will do so with or without the state smiling on their marriage, it protects their children both in the legal sense and in the sense that they will not be forced to reconcile why the state sees their family as second class or why their classmate can site a proposition in his bigoted taunting. It means that LGBTQ youth in CA will feel more support as they recognize their own sexuality– hopefully lowering the commonly sighted figure that 1 out of every 3 adolecense who tries to commit suicide is doing so because of learned internalised homophobia. It means that the American dream that all people are created free and equal is being lived up to.

Finally, I want to say how appauled and saddend I am by people’s violent reactions and blatent homophobia aimed at the Vote No on 8 campaign. I hate that we are teaching hatred. I hate that people are so blinded by hatred that they forget their own morals. I hate that the religious community rallys around gay marriage and abortion issues and completely forgets the bible’s teachings:

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other  commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31),

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself” (Romans 2:1), and

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

For more on the violence issue, check out Polly’s post.

McCain, Obama, and Immigration

Standard

There has been a lot to say, and a lot of mud-slinging, over various issues in the current US presidential election. I hope to find the time to talk about some of them here; already I have touched on McCain’s 1985 meeting with Pinochet, women’s issues, and McCain’s health care plan. Today, let’s talk about immigration.

McCain was an early bipartisan champion of immigration and even introduced legislation with his 2007 immigration bill that would have created a temporary worker program and tightened boarder security. Because of this, he has received endorsement from Latino Singers like Daddy Yankee. He has also aired Spanish language attack ads featuring this information and portraying Obama as the man who stopped the bill.

The facts are, McCain decided not to support his own bill. He stopped talking about immigration as an issue of his until he had gained the presidential nomination and now only appears to do so while speaking with Hispanic voters. His own website, which does not have an issue piece on “immigration” but rather lumps immigration under “border security”, states:

John McCain’s top immigration priority is to finish securing our borders in an expedited manner.”

Wants to create software that will identify “bad employers” and “will use this new system in conjunction with other Department of Homeland Security resources to identify and aggressively prosecute employers that continue to hire illegal immigrants.”

“Implement a usable, market based system for low-skilled workers to enter the United States in an orderly fashion.”

“Ensure high skilled workers trained and educated in the United States have the opportunity to stay and work in the United States upon graduation.”

The program will also ensure that all undocumented aliens either leave or follow the path to legal residence. America cannot permit a permanent category of individuals that do not have recognized status”

Pretty much, from reading his position paper, these were the 5 main concepts. The first one is in line with the creating of a wall. How does he propose to adequately secure our border. Are we really building a fence between us and Mexico? Should we just let the bounty hunters and coyotes run free? I didn’t see any really plan. If we do not address the economic disparity and the difficulty of safely obtaining a work visa, then people will continue to cross our border patrols and the risk of being murdered. They will continue even if they have to climb a fence.

While I understand the desire to target bad employers who hire illegal workers, I wonder if this is really the best use of our homeland security resources. I will remind people that we have no cases of terrorists entering the US through the Mexican border illegally. Recent terrorists have been home grown or they have entered through legal visas (student, work, tourist or others).

A market-based system for low-skilled workers is what we currently have. The market does not want to pay a living wage or grant benefits; therefore, the market has chosen to hire illegals who are easier to exploit. In a similar way, a guest worker program has people coming to work during the months that work is most readily available. Then, it sends the workers home. What happens to the families with these moves? The children? Many poor immigrants come to this country so that they can send money home to support families– this money needs to be sent year round. Additionally, those who travel with children are often willing to take jobs well below their skill level, leaving their dignity at the door, so that their children can obtain a better education, learn English, and have a higher chance of success. These families are going to overstay their visa is a guest worker program. They do not want to try and create two homes and be shuffled back and forth. Some people will say that they don’t have a right to be here– these people are technically right. The way the immigration system is set up now only people who are highly educated and recruited, those with family ties, or victims of atrocities have a chance of obtaining a visa.

Finally, if a foreigner comes over to the US and gets a good degree. This person, already under the current system, has the right to stay for one year post graduation to seek gainful employment in their field.  If they get that job, then after their year visa is up, the employer can apply for a job sponsored visa for the individual.  Many of my colleagues in my master program have taken this route and are currently receiving visas to stay and work in the US.  His plan, in this respect, presents absolutely nothing new.

Barack Obama said:

“The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should”

— Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor, May 23, 2007

Here is his plan, at a glance, per his website:

Two unrelated political pieces

Standard

First, as someone who is worried about McCain’s foreign policy and the levels of hypocrisy that his campaign has risen to AND as someone who has lived in Chile and knows personally the pain that Pinochet inflicted during his dictatorship, I was appalled while I read Huffington Posts piece McCain’s private visit with Chilean Dictator Pinochet revealed for the first time. Considering the way he has loudly opposed Obama’s willingness to speak with dictators and “enemy regimes” despite the fact that Obama has always said that he would do so with diplomacy and speaking out against terrorism, torture, and human rights violations committed by them, I found this piece particularly poignant.

Second, I wanted to tell (or remind) bloggers that Mombian has information about a Write to Marry Day on October 29th.  This is a time to express views on Proposition 8 that wants to take away the right to vote from gay and lesbian couples in CA.  There are multiple other similar propositions around the country and it would be great if non-LGBT blogs also expressed their opinion.  To get the you excited about the topic, I am leaving you with this video (a spoof on the Mac vs. PC commercials):

They ugly face of racism, or as we say here in Chile, classism

Standard

This weeks topic is racism/classism in Chile.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that this is a topic I am fascinated by. In fact, I think I think about it much more than I actually blog about it. Still, I am really looking forward to what other people have to say (check out the links at the bottom of the blog– they are updated as people post).

Also, take a look at some of my past posts on racism and or classism in Chile:

And other posts just on classism or racism in general:

One of the things that is really interesting to me is the way Americans, in general, are comfortable about talking about race issues and racism but not class issues or classism.  Chile, on the other hand, is the opposite. People are more comfortable talking about class issues and class than about race issues and race.

In fact, the conversation I generally have, goes like this:

Chilean person: There are real race issues in the states.

Me: Yes, there are huge problems. But I think race is a problem here.

Chilean: No, we don’t have race issues here. We do have issues with class.

Me: What do you mean.

Chilean: Well, people of lower class are really looked down upon.

Me: How can you tell who these people are?

Chilean: You just can.

Me: (finding a darker skinned Chilean in the crowd) What about that person… over there… what class are they?

Chilean: They are lower class.

Admittedly, this is not the exact wording; I am not transcribing this conversation.  However, I have had the essence of this conversation well over 200 times with a huge variety of people in my dozen years going back and forth.  Really, it doesn’t matter what the person I point out is wearing or where she is– the skin tone is a give away for class. In the US, you would be hard pressed to have this conversation. Not that classism doesn’t exist; it simply isn’t talked about or addressed.  Therefore, I wanted to talk a bit about class, classism, class issues, theories on classism, types of classism in general. I guess the easiest way I can think of is by defining all pertinent terms.

Key Definitions for Classism

Class – Relative social rank in terms of income, wealth, status, and/or power

Classism – The institutional, cultural, and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign differential value to people according to their socio-economic class; and an economic system which creates excessive inequality and causes basic human needs to go unmet

Class Indicator – a factual or experiential factor that helps determine an individual’s class

Class Continuum – The ranking of individuals or families in a society by income, wealth, stats, or power; the range of experiences of which particular class identities are defined. Lines may be drawn at different points along this continuum, and labeled differently. Class is a relative thin, both subjectively and in terms of resources; our experience varies depending on whether we look up or down the continuum. However, it is clear that everyone at the top end is mostly agent/dominant, while everyone at the bottom end is mostly target/subordinate. The following demonstrates this:

Agents – Owning Class, Ruling Class

Mostly Agents – Middle Class

Mostly Targets – Working Class

Targets – Lower Class/Poor

Class Identity – A label for one category of class experience, such as ruling class, owning class, middle class, working class, lower class

Ruling Class – The stratum of people who hold positions of power in major institutions of the society

Owning Class/Rich – The stratum of families who own income-producing assets sufficient to make paid employment unnecessary

Middle Class – the stratum of families for whom breadwinners’ higher education and/or specialized skills brings higher income and more security than those of working- class people

Upper-Middle Class – The portion of the middle class with higher incomes due to professional jobs and/or investment income.

Lower-Middle Class – The portion of the middle class with lower and less stable incomes due to lower-skilled or unstable employment

Working Class – The stratum of families whose income depends on hourly wages for labor

Lower Class/Poor – The stratum of families with incomes insufficient to meet basic human needs

Individual Classism – This term refers to classism on a personal or individual level, either in behavior or attitudes, either conscious and intentional or unconscious and unintentional. Examples include the thought or belief that a certain type of work is beneath you, or the assumption that everyone has the financial resources to go out to an expensive restaurant.

Institutional Classism – This term refers to the ways in which conscious or unconscious classism is manifest in the various institutions of our society. Two examples from colleges – some schools give preference to children of alumni, thus making it harder for first-generation college applicants to get in; some schools reserve the most convenient parking spaces for faculty, even though they usually work more flexible hours than support staff.

Cultural Classism – This terms refers to the ways is which classism is manifest through our cultural norms and practices. It can often be found in the ideology behind something, as in the commercial for peanut butter, “choosy mothers choose Jif,” implying that if you buy the less expensive store brand you care less about your kids.

Other Chilean Bloggers thoughts on Class/Race in Chile:

Photo Wednesday: The death of summer

Standard

Taiwan mountains (Nantou county), originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

Since autumn is quickly descending upon us in the northern and eastern parts of the US, I thought that today’s photo Wednesday should be a tribute to that. Since I just left winter in Chile and barely got to enjoy a summer in the states, I am morning the passing of warm weather and saddened by the changing of the leaves.

Taken: Nantou county, Taiwan January 2007

More on Prop 8 and photos that WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH

Standard

Looky Daddy often has good posts and funny pictures; but currently this takes the cake.  I am traveling and interviewing for jobs and trying not to get lost on the way to airport– needless to say, this is as much as a post as I can muster.  But click HERE to see the post and click HERE to learn more about what you can do about similar Props around the country.

Go ahead! Click on that link now.

Stop reading! Click on the link and check out Looky Daddy and Mombian’s posts.

As a voting woman in the US…

Standard

As a voting woman in the US, it is important that I understand how the presidential nominees for president and vice president have supported or failed to support women in the past.

Today, I tried a little experiment to see what would happen: I went to The Library of Congress THOMAS which holds all the records of what goes on in the senate. It has a search engine where you can choose key words and specific senators as co-sponsors/sponsors of bills. I chose to look at each of the candidates who is in Senate and see what bills they have sponsored or co-sponsored that include the word “woman” during the 110th congress session (most recent). Here is what I found:

Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential hopeful sponsored or co-sponsored 60 bills or resolutions that included woman as topic. These included (but were not limited to):

  • A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Harriett Woods will be remembered as a pioneer in women’s politics.
  • A resolution celebrating the accomplishments of title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, also known as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, and recognizing the need to continue pursuing the goal of educational opportunities for women and girls.
  • A resolution honoring the sacrifice of the members of the United States Armed Forces who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • A resolution supporting legislation promoting improved health care and access to health care for women.
  • A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women’s health care.
  • A bill to require that health plans provide coverage for a minimum hospital stay for mastectomies, lumpectomies, and lymph node dissection for the treatment of breast cancer and coverage for secondary consultations.
  • A bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin, and for other purposes.

His running mate, Joe Biden (the sponsor of the first Violence Against Women Act in 1993), came out of the search with 45 bills or resolutions sponsored or co-sponsored, including:

  • A resolution supporting the goals of “International Women’s Day”.
  • A resolution designating October 19, 2007, as “National Mammography Day”.
  • A resolution urging the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to overturn the sentence of the “Girl of Qatif”.
  • A resolution commemorating and acknowledging the dedication and sacrifice made by the men and women who have lost their lives while serving as law enforcement officers.
  • A bill to empower women in Afghanistan, and for other purposes.
  • A bill to amend title 39, United States Code, to extend the authority of the United States Postal Service to issue a semipostal to raise funds for breast cancer research.
  • A bill to establish a domestic violence volunteer attorney network to represent domestic violence victims.
  • A bill to combat international violence against women and girls.

Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, has a mere 19 bills or resolutions sponsored or co-sponsored by him. These include:

  • A resolution commemorating the 25th anniversary of the construction and dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • A resolution congratulating the University of Arizona Wildcats for winning the 2007 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
  • A resolution congratulating the Arizona State University women’s softball team for winning the 2008 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Softball Championship.
  • A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2008, and for other purposes.
  • A bill to protect the public health by providing the Food and Drug Administration with certain authority to regulate tobacco products.
  • A bill to amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to expand and improve opportunities for service, and for other purposes.

The thing is– this is not a partisan study. You can repeat it yourself by going to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas

As for Sarah Palin, I think I have already made it clear that I do not support her because I believe that she and her policies would move American women back not forward. However, I think this video highlights some of the reasons I do not support her.

Please, if you are voting woman in the US, get the facts. Obama/Biden have a clear history of supporting women.

Blog Action Day (late): Ways we view poverty

Standard

Yesterday it was blog action day and I missed it.  I didn’t actually forget, but rather I truly didn’t have time.  I am applying for two jobs (both of which would deal with combating poverty) and spent yesterday on two planes and then catching up with old friends who are being kind enough to house me during the interviews. Needless to say, I was thinking about poverty (financial and job) and wealth (friendship) in my own life, but not blogging about it.

Today, I am making up for that and yesterday helped me to think about it.

Poverty is such a great topic and so often relates to my blog; it intertwines with important issues in my life, work, and blog like human trafficking, racism, and development. I have blogged many times about poverty (and how it mixes with other issues), including in these posts:

However, today as I write this, I want to talk about something else.  Often when people talk about poverty, they either look at it as all encompassing, hopeless, and awful or they look at it optimistically and sugar coat the experience.  Both are negative and I want to talk about why.

I have, more often that I would like, spoken to people about poverty on an international level, particularly in developing countries where the other party stated something along the lines of “oh, it’s so sad; they just have nothing good in their lives”.  With another social worker, once I was informed that in developing nations you couldn’t really justify adding “quality of life” as a part of research because they don’t have any.  This idea repulses me. Even in the most awful moments of our lives, we can point out something good.  Similarly, even people living in abject poverty do experience positives; they strive for an improved quality of life but this doesn’t mean they have no quality to begin with.

With other people, I find the exact opposite.  They try and paint poverty as an empowering experience; one that strength spirits or brings families closer together. They talk about how “the poor” (as if it were a homogeneous group) are not encumbered by modern day extravagance.  I beleive this is often done to make individuals feel less guilt over their own wealth. It also ignores the fact that poverty is a huge risk factor for family problems (domestic violence, break ups, etc) because it puts extra stress on the family. Again, internationally, this view is used to speak about “simplistic” indigenous societies without really analyzing how globalization has affected them or what the real effects of poverty within the groups are.

If you want to look at more blogs, go to Blog Action Day or check out these posts for blog action day: