What Happens When Your Kids Are Raised In “Foodie” Culture

1. They Invent dishes. Like the one below. My son calls it Pastrami Sushi.

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2. They think about presentation when they make their snacks. When creating said dishes, my son declares – “I need a condiment on it. I ask, “what did you choose?” He answers: “I put a drop of soy sauce on each one for decoration and a touch of olive oil.”  After invention of snack, my kids say, “cheers” before eating it.

3. They think that food needs a name. Actually decides to rename his dish “snackers delight” and declares it should be surrounded by kale chips.

4. They ask about the “origin” of their food and have favorites. My daughter declares that she loves her Mast Chocolate from Belize. Well, I guess a kid liking any chocolate from Mast Chocolate is already a tad on the foodie side. My only defense is Free samples and 3 blocks away from home!

5. They have very pronounced opinions about food. We walk past the Mast Chocolate Brew Bar and my daughter says, “remember when we tried that Chocolate water? There was not even a touch of sugar in it! I mean, I want to taste the chocolate but c’mon! It needs some sugar!”

6. They pick sushi over all other food options and the local sushi chef is impressed by your kids’ palate and has memories of them double-fisting pieces of sashimi at age 2.

Mike Brown and Talking to Our Children About Racism & Walking With Them To Fight It

Here’s the thing –IMG_1720 recently I have heard people talking about WHEN they should talk to their kids about race, as if our children will first hear about it from us – but our society and culture ALREADY teaches our kids about race. EVERY SINGLE DAY. The experience is different depending on the skin you walk around in, but the truth is – ALL our kids are learning their respective places in the racial caste system of the US.

Our children learn about race and White supremacy from an early age. When my daughter was just 3 or 4, she declared that White skinned girls were prettier and that she wished she didn’t have brown skin. Of course, this killed me. My daughter didn’t learn about our country’s racial caste system from me, she learned it from being a brown skin girl in America. White kids know it too, but they don’t have to grapple with it like our children. It is easy to bask in the beauty of whiteness when it is all around you. No need to look at your skin the mirror and wish/ache for something more. And of course, why question it? White children are so used to being the center of everything – movies, books, celebrities, political figures, historical accounts, that when a movie like Hunger Games dares to make a small Black girl an emotional center (not even the star), White children felt free to complain about via social media. And while all children of color experience racism – in this country, with it’s history of slavery and genocide of the First Nations – anti-Blackness and Anti-First Nations has it’s own particular virulence.

We talk about racism all the time in our home. We use it as frame and explanation for many of the questions that my kids feel free to ask. But with the recent murder of Mike Brown, I realized that talking about fighting racism, while essential, was not going to be enough to counter to the anti-Blackness that our kids are exposed to every day.

But actually being out there fighting for a Black life with Black people as the lead – well – that is the heart of it, right? Our children needed to see our anger and despair over the loss of a Black life at the hands of the State. Because in this society that our children live in – they learn that Black life is disposable, not to be celebrated, not to be cherished, or mourned when taken so brutally. They needed to see their non-Black parents watch the racist’s state announcement that essentially blamed Mike Brown for his own murder & they needed to hear us declare the prosecutor’s words to be racist lies. They needed to see us mourn a Black life. And then they needed to see us all march in the street together and take the streets and declare that yes #Black Lives Matter.

Requiem for Mexico; Thoughts on NAFTA, the US, and The Narco-State

Yesterday, my family and I attended a rally for the 43 missing student teachers, likely massacred, from the southern city of Iguala. The state, including the Mayor and his wife, have been implicated, along with the drug cartels. We stood in the bitter, cold, breathing incense, and broken-hearted by a poet’s words describing the torture and mutilation of one of the student’s killed.

I couldn’t help think about the hundreds of women dumped like garbage in a field outside Mexico City, or the hundreds of women killed in Ciudad Juarez. From a Reuter’s article: “With 22.7 murders for every 100,000 women in 2012, Chihuahua is still Mexico’s most dangerous state for women.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/us-mexico-violence-women-idUSBREA2608F20140307. There is much to say about misogyny and why this outcry over 43 students rather than the 1000’s of women killed. But I think that some of the outrage is over the blatant government collusion, the peeling back of the curtain to reveal a Narco-Military state, created and funded by US trade and military policy.

For me, this latest atrocity, is just continuing reminder of the devastation that Mexico has suffered since the passage of NAFTA (the North American Freed Trade Agreement). NAFTA has ravaged the economy of Mexico, driving Mexican farmers out of business as cheap, American, subsidized food products flooded the market. As Mexican farmer explains, in David Bacon’s article in the Nation:

“Roberto Ortega tried to make a living slaughtering pigs in Veracruz, Mexico.“In my town, Las Choapas, after I killed a pig, I would cut it up to sell the meat,” he recalls. But in the late 1990s, after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened up Mexican markets to massive pork imports from US companies like Smithfield Foods, Ortega and other small-scale butchers in Mexico were devastated by the drop in prices.” http://www.thenation.com/article/165438/how-us-policies-fueled-mexicos-great-migration#

Mexico, under the weight of global capital, cannot sustain itself. One of the only ways to survive in Mexico is to enter the drug trade or work for the cartels for protection from other cartels. The US accelerated this through supplying of weapons and military funding under the guise of the War on Drugs. Today, the drug cartels, the State, and the US supported-military are barely distinguishable.

The thing is – Our government knows this! The world knows this, yet the world has turned it’s back on Mexico. Or rather, the US and Canada have decided that Trade is more important that human rights. Or rather Mexico is the final outcome of the global neoliberal regime  – An economy destroyed by free trade agreements, unregulated manufacturing profits for 1st world nations’ corporations, a supplier of cheap, exploited labor, a militarized border providing military and defense contractors a deluge of profit streams.

In-Requiem for Mexico.

Broken Butterflies, Empty Homes and the Price of Forced Migration

A recent family tragedy in the Philippines really brings home the profound dislocation and loss that is the other wing of migration. That’s why the butterfly symbol for migration is based on broken assumptions. Assumptions that people come to the US because they want to, rather than forced to by the ravages of global capital. Only people in the 1st world can imagine migration without the accompanying loss and heartbreak. We believe the narrative of the migrant who wins the lottery to the land of milk and honey and builds a better life for her and her children. “How lucky they are,” we say.

This narrative misses the tragedy that forces entire populations from their homeland. 10,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines because they are driven out by economic forces. Children are gathering at the Mexican side of the US border because of desperate bid for survival. Humans are social creatures, we build families and communities because we need them for our physical, spiritual and mental survival. When we lose our families, our communities, we suffer profound trauma.

Imagine the life of the overseas workers, whom successive Filipino Presidents refer to as “heros of the economy.” Births, deaths, illnesses, and marriages happen half a world away. Children grow up without their mother, while their mother spend their days taking care of 1st world children or aging parents.

Back in the Philippines, neighborhoods are without mothers but littered with little mcMansions, gated monuments to the hard, break breaking labor of Filipino overseas workers. These homes conspicuously rise up, between bamboo houses and thatched roofs, concrete hopes of these women, who send money every month, while living in tiny NYC apartments, sharing a room. They scrub, wipe the asses of babies and the elderly, with the dream of retiring in their homeland, in their gated, concrete homes. They hold onto this fantasy as they watch their children grow up without them, miss funerals, and one year death anniversaries, Skype being a terrible substitute for actually living their lives with their families and communities.

When we received the phone call, telling us that a close family member just had a massive stroke and was on life support – There was nothing we could do. If we were in the Philippines, we could hold each other, grieve together, make food for the soon-to-be widow. But here? Here, life goes on, and we can only grieve by ourselves, wire money, light a candle. And wonder why we are a world apart.

And it is not just the big moments. It is the small ones, the sense of dislocation, not knowing your way, experiencing US racism, raising children in a land and language not your own.

But today, it is a big moment – a death of a loved one that brings the price of separation home. Can his grandson get off of school for a week? Can we afford tickets and time off work? In the Philippines, when someone dies, we do something like sitting shiva. The body is embalmed and comes back to the house and loved ones stay up all night with the body, neighbors come, food is eaten, cards played until sunrise. This goes on for an impossible 10-15 days. At the end, you are so exhausted, you are like a towel wrung out, all your grief spent, at least for a short time. Your loved one is buried and then you sleep. Here, we can’t join with the community to wring ourselves out.

RIP, to a fabulous farmer who always woke before sunrise and grew some of the most delicious rice I have ever eaten.

Brookyn Barangay Joins The People’s Climate March!

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Getting ready to make some art with DAMAYAN, Filipino Domestic Workers group!

This Sunday, September 21, Brooklyn Barangay will be joining the 100,000’s of people expected to march in NYC to show the world that we DEMAND our world leaders to act now on climate change.

We March because Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm to ever make landfall – in the history of the PLANET.

From pics taken in our province of Aklan, Madalag, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan.

From pics taken in our province of Aklan, Madalag, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan.

We March because the Philippines, our home, suffers from energy poverty, has contributed a tiny % of the green house gases that causes climate catastrophe and YET is one of the countries most at risk for the havoc caused by climate change.

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DAMAYAN’s Banner Clean up! FIGHT Corporate Plunder.

But Marching is not enough. We need to start to act like we are in a climate catastrophe – because we are.

We Need to Fight For Community and Worker Control of our Energy Systems. We must understand that the companies who are the worst polluters : oil and coal will literally let this planet burn for profit. They have manipulated science, public discourse, laws, in order to make a buck KNOWING that they are destroying the world. The very definition of Psychopaths.

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We Need to Fight For a Different, Sustainable Economic System Because: CAPITALISM Is UNSUSTAINABLE. 

527639_10150918412181178_1664081966_nSee You on the Streets!

A Meditation for Too Many Worries, To Get Ready For Monday

this could me!

Worries!

My daughter is a worrier. More than a worrier, she is terribly anxious. I came up with this as a visualization for helping her get to sleep. But really, maybe, we could all use this visualization to help calm down our monkey brains! Let me know if you try it and find it helpful!

Visualize:

You are on the beach. In front of you is huge pile of sand. You have a shovel, and you start digging. Underneath the sand is all your worries – terrible things that might befall you.

You dig and get the first worry in your shovel and you place the worry behind you, near the water. You watch the ocean come up, and take the worry and dissolve it into the ocean. It just swirls up with the foam and waves and sweeps away. Take a breath while you watch the white foam, sand, and thoughts swirl and then slide back into the vast ocean. Thank-the ocean.IMG_1492

Now turn and look at your pile of worries again, now with one less. Visualize all your friends and loved ones coming to help you. Everyone has brightly covered shovels. Everyone starts to dig, shoveling the worries, one by one onto the beach where the waves meet sand. Each one dissolves, swirls, and is carried back into the ocean, swiftly sliding down the sand, bubbling, glistening back into the ocean. Take a breath and notice that each worry, is transformed, and becomes beautiful in the water. Take a breath and sigh of relief that the worries disappear into the water. Thank the ocean.

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Now thank your friends and loved ones for helping you dig. Notice that at the bottom of all those worries that are now in the ocean, you see something shining under the sand. Reach for it, and pull it out. It is a diamond, it shines and glitters. It is yours.  It has been there the whole time, buried beneath your pile of worries. All your friends and loved ones admire it. Slip it in your pocket.

Take a breath. Thank the ocean for taking the pile of worries, thank your friends and loved ones for helping. Put the diamond in your heart. It is your true self.

Take a breath.

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The Geeky kid(me) Finally Discovers the Benefits of Exercise! (After Years of Disdain)

I started a New Blog about rowing and fitness because you may or may not want to hear all my details about my heart rate training, etc!

RowBaby

IMG_1387I was always the geeky, tiny kid in PE. The smallest, with glasses, and long, unstyled hair. I was picked last for every team and the only “sport” I excelled at was dodgeball because I was swift and tiny! I compensated for this amazing deficiency in physical prowess by making fun of jocks and all forms of exercise. This-while satisfying,-did nothing to help me get stronger or healthier. My strategy worked out ok for me through my 20’s. Naturally petite (I know, I suck), I stayed weak but skinny, plus working all the time and drinking coffee seemed to help too. But as I careened toward 40, I acquired a whole new set of body aches and pains, I was tired all the time AND I got a bit of a pot belly. (Boy did my mom laugh).

I tried and promised myself to get on board with exercise from…

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