Slavery was not an aberration of a new society, but was central to the shaping of the United States. The establishment of Jim Crow laws and lynching continued the degradation and violence against African-Americans that is central to our society. Then, as Michelle Alexander shows us in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Era of Colorblindness, these links of oppression held firm between Jim Crow and our massive prison system, which locks up astounding numbers of African-Americans. In this poster, the auction block, the hangman’s noose, and prison bars are linked as they are in reality. We need to break those links.
The U.S. needs to join the responsible human race and sign the United Nations nuclear ban treaty. For information, check out The nuclear ban treaty: a missed US opportunity that can be redeemed in September, by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: https://thebulletin.org/2017/07/the-nuclear-ban-treaty-a-missed-us-opportunity-that-can-be-redeemed-in-september/
I designed (and, now, revised) this poster to respond to the heavy-handed and blatant role corporations play in shaping our educational policies. Education should be shaped according to the needs of the human community, not corporate profit. We want all children, youth and adults to have access to a quality education that enhances our/their lives and the community as a whole. Listed are just some of the policies that move us away from that goal. If you would like to read a tremendous new book on this subject, check out Miseducating for the Global Economy: How Corporate Power Damages Education and Subverts Students’ Futures, hot off the press, July 2018, by Gerald Coles. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand education today.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are being kept (and forced to work) in immigrant detention centers for crossing a border every year. Along with the necessary question of Who Benefits? (largely private corporations), this raises other questions: Which is the crime? Crossing a border? Or keeping immigrants captive for money? This is not new in the age of Trump. Obama (who deported more people than all other presidents of the century before him, combined) detained large numbers of families in prison setting the stage for Trump’s policies today. For more on this stage setting, check out Cruel and immoral: America must close the doors of its immigration prisons by C.C. Garcia Hernandez, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/17/family-separation-family-detention-immigration. If you would like to see stats on immigrants in detention centers check out Freedom for Immigrants site: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics/
I once worked in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan on an education project. The principal of their makeshift school told me one day he was a principal in a large school with one hundred staff. Days later he was in a camp struggling to set up some semblance of a school with a handful of teachers. He did not plan on being a refugee. Yet, there he was. He could be me. They could be us. Millions and millions of refugees, thrown from their homes by war. Why?
Let’s not buy into the horrific actions and threats against Iran. Turn off major media and look to other sources for our news. Check out Michael Klare’s piece Gearing Up for the Third Gulf War: a Future Cataclysm between US, Israel, Saudi and Iran? which you can find on Juan Cole’s site: https://www.juancole.com/. While you are there, check out more of what you can find on Cole’s site.
Women leaving their home countries, fleeing war, domestic and social violence, poverty and political, gender and religious persecution, find that even their journeys are fraught with violence, abuse and exploitation. Eighty percent of women and girls leaving Central America for the US are raped or abused. It is such a common occurrence, they take birth control along to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Women in many parts of the world, setting out for a new life, are grabbed and caught by elaborate networks of sex trafficking, one of the three most lucrative illicit businesses internationally (the other two are drugs and illegal arms dealing). Surely safe passage is an important issue for feminists.
Every day women around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. While they walk, private ownership of water, excessive use of water for vast mono-cultural agribusinesses, deforestation/desertification practices, and climate change go unchecked, creating and worsening this situation. Their paths are not romantic, safe or easy. They can walk for hours then trip, fall and lose their days work. Their backs, internal organs break down from the incessant, cumbersome weights they carry, sometimes three times/day at all hours. Surely, this is something that must be attended to.
Every war is fought long after the last physical battle. It is the sustained battle for a dominating, ruling story about that war. Why did we go to war? How did we fight? Who were the righteous and glorious? The evil and devious? Who were the victors? What were the costs? War after war, a repeating pattern. In this United States, it is a lethal pattern propelling us into acceptance of the next war — and the next. The ghosts of war ask us to be skeptical.
According to a UN 2005 study there are at least 100 million homeless in the world. I imagine there are more now, not less. A study by Habitat in 2015 found 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing. In the Philippines 22.8 million people are homeless out of a population of about 105 million. One in ten school children in New York City is homeless. In Los Angeles County, 8% of the population is Black. 40% of its homeless population is Black. The UN figures about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world (1 in 9) suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2014–2016. While the vast majority of those were from the developing world, this does not mean the developed world is doing so great. In the US, one in six of us face hunger on a regular basis. I’m just throwing some numbers around. The real story is in the living of homelessness and hunger, the outrage and the robbery that causes it.
Looking for a holiday card or wall calendar with this image? Go to Syracuse Cultural Workers, https://www.syracuseculturalworkers.com/products/holiday-card-night-sky and https://www.syracuseculturalworkers.com/products/type/calendar
It won’t help us to elect women to offices of power, if they turn around and vote for huge military budgets. This recently happened in the vote for the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, the largest “defense” bill in history which passed 89–8 in the Senate. Of the 21 women senators voting (16 Democrats, 5 Republicans), only one Democrat woman voted against it. That means 15 Democrat women betrayed, and made insecure, women here and around the world. There are approximately 3.8 billion women in the world; 126 million in the U.S. For whom does our feminism stand?
Mess around with the bones of the earth and there is liable to be trouble. Earthquakes are appearing in new, startling places like Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Netherlands, not known for earthquakes but sites for fracking. It’s madness. Check out Like Thunder in the Ground, (Tom Dart, The Guardian, 1/5/18) to find about fracking and earthquakes in north Texas and what an environmental group, Liveable Arlington, is doing in response.
We will be hearing the word “balance” a great deal with the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary series on VietNam coming up this fall. Question the notion. When a mega power invades a small country and then tells the story, there is no balance. The telling of the dominating perspective is another war (this time for our minds) even when coated with misdirects, niceties and seductions. If you want to arm yourself before listening to the Burns-Novick work read John Marciano’s The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration or go to the Vets for Peace Full Disclosure site.
Here’s another poster protesting the U.S. military’s role in polluting the earth. The Department of “Defense” produces more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. oil companies combined! At the same time, the Pentagon is exempt from all international climate agreements!!! How can this be? For another article on this issue, check out Project Censored’s US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet.
When we think about environmental destruction, we must think about war because modern warfare (most particularly coming from our own military) is the number one enemy of the earth. Ecocide — the destruction of the natural environment, especially when deliberate — is both a strategy (i.e., Agent orange) and a consequence of our military practices (i.e., oil use) of U.S. wars. So, we fool ourselves if we think we can address climate change and the environment without being anti-war. If you would like to check an article on this topic, read Karl Mathieson’s What is the Impact of Modern Warfare in the 11/06/2014 issue of The Guardian.
We need our forests to breathe. According to American Forests, two mature trees provide enough oxygen for one person to breathe over the course of a year. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Oh, wait. Forests also improve our health by removing dust, ash, pollen, and smoke. Check out other forest facts and spread the word. As we work to protect our forests, we also need to pay attention to the safety conditions of our forest workers who suffer nine times the fatalities of the general US work population. For more information on forest worker safety check out http://lohp.org/forestry-workers/
Do you know what I mean about property here? Not my house, my car, or even my small business I’m doing the best I can kind of property. I’m talking about that gigunda, grabbing up all living space, air, water, seed, bones, mega-factory, corporate sprawling purveyor of misery we call capitalism. That kind of property. It sucks to feed itself. Life. Possibility. Out of most of us. Makes us unrecognizable to each other. My class. Your class. Yes, it sucks. But for every action, there is a reaction. That’s physics. So, what do we do?
According to UN figures, there were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014. The number of people internally displaced by persecution, war or conflict reached a record number of nearly 60 million people. Then we have all the numbers who scramble from place to place because of their economic conditions. We move to survive, not to cause trouble or discomfort for other people.
We are supposed to identify with nation above humanity or sisterhood, to support endless wars, to not-see our government’s crimes dressed up in “humanitarian interventions.” Let’s not. We should be outraged that women and their loved ones all over the world are being relentlessly trammeled by the injustice of our wars. Wars, now, not just led by men, but also by women of great power and deception.
Let’s remember there are many things we have in common. The need for love, security, food, shelter, health, housing. Watching our children grow into their amazing possibilities.Working jobs that respect our dignity. Growing into old age honored and protected. How is fanning the flames of distrust between us blocking our right to meet those needs?
I’ve said it elsewhere on this site, but feel compelled to repeat this message over and over. Women moving into key positions of power under the name of feminism, then pushing the buttons of imperial wars, no matter what name they give those wars is an outrage. It is not an advance of women or feminism, it is a profound loss. I hear women say it helps us all when women get in these places. It’s the opposite. We helped them get in power as they claim victory in sisterhood. It’s a twisted mockery of sisterhood. Let’s make it real, deep and international.
Despite the fact that mental illness touches so many of us, people often discard, abuse, and demean the mentally ill. It’s okay to break your ankle, but not to grapple with mental problems. And so, people are shunned, rather than embraced and supported. A terrible idea and social practice.
President Obama called for a commemoration of the American War in Vietnam lasting from 2012–2025. During this period we are being regaled with all the mythology of that war. Vets for Peace and Vietnam Full Disclosure are attempting to counter that mythology. Check out www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org to learn more. And buy a t-shirt or hoodie with this design to support them. All proceeds go to Veterans for Peace.
You can now get posters, magnets, buttons, or postcards with this image at the very wonderful Syracuse Cultural Workers.
Today, I heard another instance of there being “not enough money” to appropriately fund a predominately Black and Latino high school’s course offerings. This time the school is Jefferson High in Los Angeles. Students will not get the courses they need to graduate on time. Students will have to repeat classes they have already passed. Where do they turn? What does that slick saying “When one door closes, another one opens” mean for young people in this school? What options are we giving our precious youth when “not enough money” is seen as a good enough reason to block vital opportunities for some, when there is plenty of money available for war, prisons, and yachts? Is this democracy? Justice?
I believe it is important for activists to be disciplined in our discussions about social issues. We need to speak to allies and potential allies in a way that educates, supports, rallies and sustains people rather than venting at people of power. This is not a moral issue, but one of practical strategic sense. We need to keep building. However, we must question the source of this current push to emphasize civility, an incessant pointing the finger of condemnation at the enraged expressions of oppressed people. It puts the onus of “civility” on people who do not call the shots, rather than on the those who do. Hmm. A misdirect?
It’s mind-boggling that a society professing moral democratic superiority around the world would stand by as Black and Latino children get pushed out of schools into what very likely will be an incarcerated future. And yet, that is what is happening here and now. If you would like to know about the school to prison pipeline check out ACLU’s source page.
Please read history. Read Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine or his October 27, 2014 article, “Ethnic Cleansing By All Means.”
I used to teach first grade before I even considered the possibility that I might be an artist. One day I tentatively drew a stick figure (impoverished school, lousy resources) and received unanimous accolades from a roomful of little bitty people. I was delighted. So I think of them and still do art from time to time that I think they might be able to “read,” despite the serious topics I deal with. Children can understand injustice, when it is happening to them or when it happens to other people.
When I was a kid, my friends and I could hop on our bikes, pedal a mile or so and cup our hands to fetch and drink delicious, clean, ice-cold, fresh spring water. We knew the water was safe and never dreamed that it would disappear or that others could not have what we did. When I hear of the phenomenal numbers of people in the world without access to clean water, I am stunned. When I find myself not trusting the water flowing out of my tap or hear about impending and already occurring scarcity, I am stunned. Water and humans go together. There should be no assigning of privilege with access to this basic elemental right. Nor should there be corporate practices that hoard, misuse, or defile our water. If you’d like some facts on water, check out this United Nations fact sheet. Staggering.
Imagine being 7 or 12 or 15 and being afraid to leave your house for school, play, errands, life. Imagine your parents equally frightened, desperate, being forced to leave you or send you away in a scramble to help you survive. No parent, no child would undertake the very dangerous journey across borders to an unknown, hazardly mounting a train called la bestia — the beast. Economic, political injustice pushes children out. Injustice sends them back.
Birthdays. Funerals. Community events. Weddings. The important life affirming events of any human society. Times to be cherished, honored. The US government does neither, however. Rather it sees those events as prime opportunity to seek and destroy with its high-tech weaponry. If we value human culture we must end drone warfare.
Take 2 minutes, Google “economic justice info-graphics,” and we can find plenty of staggering information on economic inequality. Check out Rick Wolff, listen to his very accessible lectures or read his work for indispensable theory and knowledge to turn around our economic reality. Not only is economic injustice devastating for us in the U.S., it’s our number one export.
Violence against women is a hate crime and should be classified as such. Yet, according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics (2012) hate crimes are based on race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic/national origin, and religion. Gender is left out. Why? Rape is not sex out of control. It’s an act of hatred, contempt and destructiveness against a specific class of people — women and girls. Mis-categorizing is not an incidental issue as it has an impact on how rapists are viewed and punished and it limits women’s consciousness and solidarity as a targeted people.
I was moved to design this poster on fracking after watching the documentary, “Gasland,” written and directed by Josh Fox. Listening to the people whose lives have been immediately affected by fracking on or near their property is an eye-opener and a call to action. While fracking occurs or may begin in many different environs, including in my city, I used the red barn in this image because of the threat to my beautiful beloved home state of New York. I warmly remember countless rides with my grandparents through the luscious countryside, being taught to love nature, to honor our farmlands, to value those distinctive red barns. Those kinds of places are now suffering from or being threatened by environmental destruction due to fracking.
What is austerity politics? It is crying “NO MONEY” to cut human services, the oxygen of large segments of humanity, destroying the life chances of far too many. It is crying “NO MONEY” while the wealthy blatantly engage in a super frenzy of spending. flaunting and hoarding. It is crying “NO MONEY” while the US military spends spends spends to destroy people all over the world. THERE IS MONEY! Put it in the right places.
Private Prison Corporations, such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, are in the business of making money. One of the ways they do this is to make sure their prisons are filled to the max since they are paid per prisoner. Immigrants, minor offenders, the aged, people up for parole are kept locked up. These companies insert a “lock-up quota” into contracts to ensure states keep their prison 80–100% filled. They work to ensure legislation that will bring more people into the system, and fight against alternatives to jail time by hiring dozens of lobbyists to act on their behalf. Something is not right here.
Here’s another poster on the private control of seeds. Such a heavy cost on farmers, and consequently on us all. If you’d like to see a short video on this topic, check out Seed: The Untold Story. It’s a quick, eloquent overview of our situation with a particularly important moment as a woman describes the impact forced dependence on corporate seeds has on her ability to provide for her family.
This is not a cliché. Unfortunately. We are caught in an endless war. Our government has a waiting list of wars as if the ones they have going now are not enough. On and on we (?) bomb, shoot, sabotage, rape, poison, and torture to serve the few. So, as an artist, I must do this poster that will be considered by some to be a cliché, but is not.
A society bent on war cannot take care of its own. When we destroy the lives, homes, and possibilities of people around the world we cannot fund, protect or nurture own lives, homes and possibilities. We destroy ourselves. With a collective fist, which should hold righteousness and generosity, we hand over our own lifeblood to forge a relentless attack on the human relations we have never bothered to know. We acquiesce in a terrible decision. Or do we?
It is easy when doing political posters to focus on our troubles. There are many, after all. Sometimes, however, I nudge myself to concentrate on our vision of a better life, to remind myself why I got involved in movements in the first place. The power and joy of deep connection with earth, the natural world, with other human beings. The importance of creating economic systems and social institutions that honor and support those connections. Doing this poster brought me back to those first exciting, very connected days way back when.… Sigh.
Butterflies grace us with their presence as they alight quickly, tentatively on blades of grass, a quick kiss on their long distance journeys. We watch, transfixed and delighted. They make our days a little more special, beautiful. And, yet, they are dying in staggering numbers, victim to an economy which digs up, paves over, pollutes and just generally messes up the fragile paths our winged friends travel. Do we really need this kind of economy, represented here by our mechanical, more destructive long haulers?
Water. Fundamental. Lavished on large-scale, costly, inefficient, mono-cultural, corporate agribusinesses. Squandered on, denigrated by fossil fuel extractions. Poisoned by careless industrial practices. Sent into hiding, disappeared by the rough treatment of fragile ecologies. Siphoned off for preferential living arrangements. Hoarded by private businesses for profit. Water. Clean water. 1.7 billion without access to clean water. 2.3 billion people suffer from water-borne illnesses each year. How we handle water is a democratic, human rights issue.
There has been a staggering increase in the numbers of women in prison in the last few decades, largely due to the “War on Drugs” Many of these women began their journey as battered women seeking solace in an environment devoid of support services. They turned to drugs or alcohol to numb pain and then to petty crimes to pay for the numbing. Do they really need prison? Or do we need stronger economies, communities and supportive social institutions?
For thousands of years farmers/peasants have worked the soil with nature’s gift. Seeds. Every harvest people of the land gathered the seed of previous crops to continue this vital cycle. Now, corporations, with a mind-boggling bundle of tricks, claim to hold a more fundamental right —the patent! This forces struggling farmers/peasants to buy expensive and troublesome terminator seeds — seeds which cannot bring on the next generation of crop. Massive farmer suicides around the world attest to the damage done by this private, selfish ownership of seed. To see work aiming to put seeds back into people’s hands, check out NAVDANYA, a project of Vandana Shiva and others in India.
A few decades ago, one of my favorite posters was “Sisterhood is Blooming Springtime Will Never Be The Same” by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union. It captured the excitement and optimism of the women’s movement at that time. I still smile when I think of it. Yet, I am distressed to see so many women who call themselves feminist ignore, support — and in cases of women in power, wage — war against other women all over the world. So I decided to borrow from this earlier poster to make a new statement on sisterhood.
Every 30 minutes a farmer in India commits suicide. That means in the 2 decades since large seed corporations have planted themselves in India, almost a quarter million farmers have killed themselves, leaving behind families in impossible debt, loss and despair. Export focused, non-food mono-cultural crops, forced use of terminator seeds, pesticides and fertilizers requiring recurring loans create staggering financial burdens, rob people of their capacity to provide for their families. But don’t think this is India’s problem alone. The rate of farmer suicide in the U.S. is more than double that of any other occupation.