Morning edition reports on changes in USAID food aid plans, forgets to talk to aid recipients

Well this is interesting.  NPR is reporting today that the US may be planning to cut food aid programs that involve sending millions of pounds of US grown and processed grain overseas to alleviate hunger, and instead food aid will focus on programs that facilitate distribution of food from farmers closer to the areas in need.

Importing US-subsidized grain to alleviate hunger has a long history of driving prices down in the destination countries, and leaving local farmers stuck in a market where they cannot compete.  A new program where food aid came from the same country or region as the place in need seems like a positive step towards a food system where food sovereignty – populations’ autonomy and control over their food production and supply – is possible.

This NPR piece highlights a debate between a US-based humanitarian/global development organization, International Development and Relief, and Oxfam America.  IDR argues that the current system of food aid is saving lives, while Oxfam points out that it is a terribly inefficient system that robs local farmers of competitive markets to sell their crops.  The voices which are blatantly lacking from this piece are the voices of farmers and people who live in Pakistan and Ethiopia and wherever else US AID has “missions” (US AID projects are actually called missions, uncomfortably, but dare I say accurately, replicating the language of colonization).  Perhaps this is unsurprising, because the voices of those most directly affected and living in the places being talked about are so often omitted from the narrative, but it is none the less disappointing.

A Political War Brews Over ‘Food For Peace’ Aid Program

Listen! ¡Escucha!

Today, undocumented queer organizers continue to organize based on our experiences and the stories of people in our communities. It is by listening to these stories that many of us have come to the conclusion that we need to continue to use creative and unapologetic tactics to stop deportations and to address the abuses and injustices taking place every day in immigration detention centers. Meanwhile, national mainstream organizations continue to push for a path to citizenship that ignores the immediate needs of undocumented immigrants and the record-breaking deportations under the Obama Administration. Perhaps Frank Sharry and DC-based immigration reform groups should stop rewriting history and listen to those directly affected by immigration laws, including undocumented queer immigrants who continue to be at the forefront of the movement.

-Prerna Lal, How Queer Undocumented Youth Built the Immigrant Rights Movement

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/prerna-lal/how-queer-undocumented_b_2973670.html

An Overview of Rape Culture in Three Articles

Articles dominating my corner of the internet today:

CNN Reports On The ‘Promising Future’ of the Steubenville Rapists, Who Are ‘Very Good Students’

and

NYPD Will Now Run Criminal Checks on Domestic Abuse Victims

and

Telling a Woman to Get A Gun Is Not Rape Prevention (which is a post linked to a segment in which Sean Hannity* can’t process the idea that we should be teaching people not to rape rather than teaching women to arm themselves to deter their rapists)

The conclusion I reach from the fact that all three of these are converging upon me today is: We have got it ALL WRONG when it comes to ending rape and rape culture.

Today, the media is telling people that the perpetrators of rape are the true victims. It’s telling victims of domestic abuse that they can be even more doubted and victimized if they report their abusers. It’s telling women that if they aren’t armed, their rape is their fault because they should’ve been ready to defend themselves.

If we want to dismantle rape culture and end sexual violence, we need all of these things to happen:

We need a common understanding that victims of rape, sexual assault, and abuse are NEVER at fault for the crimes perpetrated against them.

We must have access to resources for victims of abuse that victim/survivors feel comfortable and safe using.

We have to teach people not to rape rather than trying to create strategies for people to keep from being raped – they don’t work.  The only people who can stop rape are the people who decide not to rape.

We have to get away from the idea that people who perpetrate crimes of sexual violence are anonymous, bad enigmas, who crawl around in underground tunnels until they jump from behind the bushes.  The majority of sexual violence happens between people who already know each other. 

We need to address the parts of our culture that teaches young people, particularly young men, that they are entitled to women’s bodies, and that they don’t have to respect when someone says no, or when someone is too sick or intoxicated to consent.

We need mechanisms to address sexual violence and domestic abuse that both trust and validate victims, and hold perpetrators accountable.

We have a lot of work to do.

Here’s a fourth article that just popped up, which is a really important part of this whole puzzle: if we really want to end a culture of violence and oppression, we have to dismantle the prison industrial complex and stop putting people in cages.

Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict by Mia McKenzie

It’s not as simple as just throwing people in jail for committing rape.

*whoops – meant Sean Hannity, not Bill O’Reilly

Today is Día de los Muertos

public art installation for Dia de los Muertos on the Mexicali/Calexico Border Wall

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life, a traditional way for the living to affirm their love for those who have passed away… We carry in our hearts the memories and dreams of all who have walked beside us in the journey of life. So long as we remember with love and honor, the dead never really die.

I’ll be celebrating the life of my mother, great-grandparents, grandfather, other friends and family members, and those who have lost their lives in the desert and at the Wall in many processions this weekend.

NAFTA & Political Economy of Migration

NAFTA & Political Economy of Migration is a helpful article by Collin Harris, broadly outlining how NAFTA, other neoliberal policies, and border militarization have shaped the conditions for migration from Mexico to the US:

“NAFTA finalized the restructuring of the Mexican economy that began in 1982. As Mexico was “locked in” to the neoliberal economic model, peasant farmers and assembly plant workers sought economic refuge in the country directly to the north, the center of the world’s economy. As “free” market policies pressured the state into cutting budgets for social services, Mexican communities were left with few options. Displacement of Mexican workers is the defining legacy of NAFTA-era Mexico while U.S. industries benefit from “illegal” migrants who demand much less than their U.S. counterparts in terms of wages, benefits, and legal protections. In 2001-2002, while the American economy was shedding millions of jobs, Mexican migrants arrived in staggering numbers. Currently, the vast majority of international migration in the global economy is forced migration.”

-Collin Harris

Inspired to Think

Kiese Laymon is a professor at Vassar.  Though I’ve never taken a class with him, whenever I’ve heard him speak, and now after reading this, I am inspired to think.  I am so lucky to go to Vassar and to have had many professors that have inspired me to think, and rethink, and think again.

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance by Kiese Laymon

“I want to say and mean that remembering starts not with predictable punditry, or bullshit blogs, or slick art that really ask nothing of us; I want to say that it starts with all of us willing ourselves to remember, tell and accept those complicated, muffled truths of our lives and deaths and the lives and deaths of folks all around us over and over again.”