Saturday, January 9, 2016

Gone

Sometimes I remember little things that have been lost.
The notebook of poetry and observations
and other bits I wrote on that trip.

A bundle of love letters written  
by a nineteen year old who detailed his days 
and gently phrased his affection.

A bracelet bought from a street stall in Boston.

A small stuffed panda with ripped seams at the armpits.

These are just material things.  They say the best things are memories.
But memories are not fact, memories are oft inaccurate.
Those things were constants, fixed points
of the experiences and faces that presented those gifts.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lines Composed On the Drive Home

Old men with their stump teeth
eating stinky cheeses
and singing beer soaked songs
of a sadder, more glorious day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Central Connecticut State University Destroys Student Murals on Public Property

I found this update today in my headline feed:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Br0_tV-wrz9GtnJyuSH_CDyWKREd68GjW2BFlnq6WjY/pub

And I wrote a letter to CCSU President, Jack Miller. 

Mr. Miller;

As an alumna of Central Connecticut State University, a former employee of CCSU's Art Galleries, and a Master of Arts in Art and Design History, I find the University's action of destroying thoughtful and esthetic works of art on public grounds disgraceful and humiliating.

This action could be undertaken only by an authoritarian or coward who has no other way to make a mark on the community he is said to serve except to engage in a radical exercise of pedagogic narcissism. Many of the works in question reflect topics and issues these students pursue through their education and study. Do you really feel threatened by a math student who finds beauty in string theory? In destroying these murals, you are saying that there is no room for creative learning or interdisciplinary development at CCSU.

Congratulations on undermining the student population in the Art Department and embarrassing the University generally with this obscene and petty action. I now feel ashamed to associate myself with the institution and have lost any hope that CCSU creates an environment of free thinking, critical inquiry, or informed self expression among its diverse body of students and faculty alike.

Shame on you.
Krista Azzara
CCSU Graduate 1993, BA English Literature
Kingston University Graduate, 2008, MA Art and Design History


Update May 16

This email arrived in my inbox yesterday from Mike Alewitz, Professor of Art at CCSU.

Dear Friends,
You are among dozens, if not hundreds, of concerned individuals that have written to stop the wanton destruction of our murals.  I have posted a selection of these at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jEPzbK1IP6B5qKuLe3zEcehLbfCtU7kfIWtNm00pLik/pub
In response to the flood of protests against the mural destruction, President Jack Miller of CCSU is sending the following or a similar message:
“There seems to be some false information being spread by people.  The facts are simply these.  It is a longstanding written policy of the University to remove murals after each semester, although we normally don't do it that often, nor have we in this case.  We do it mainly so that new murals can be painted by our students.”
or
“It is not true. They are periodically “destroyed” which means painted over so students can paint new ones. This is done by longstanding policy and everyone is aware of that policy. Thanks for your interest."

Facts:
There has never been a time, in the fourteen years of the program, that murals been painted out to provide space for other students.  There are thousands of empty walls and numerous buildings that have no murals at all. 
There is no policy calling for the periodic destruction of murals.  The rare removal of a mural was always done in consultation with faculty.
Neither I, nor the students, were notified prior to the destruction.
President Miller’s statement to you, and similar comments to the press, is completely untrue.

Thank you for supporting academic and artistic freedom!
Regards
Mike

Updated 5-22:

http://academeblog.org/2014/05/21/why-bureaucrats-fear-art/





 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Be Critical of Your Own Team, Too

So I was following Abortion.com for a while on Facebook because it is a good way to keep up with the news and actions on the rights campaigns.  Recently, they posted an article about easing adoption laws in Ohio and the relation of that to the restriction of access to abortion services in that state.  The status line they gave to their post was this, "The problem is that it has been historically proven that Forced Birthers do not desire to adopt and take (care) of children."

And that is something I was curious about so I asked them where I could find evidence of this claim.  Now, I am pro-abortion; anyone who wants access to services should get access without question or interference.  But I don't like unsupported statements, even if they make a point that supports my views on an issue.

They suggested I look at what the GOP is doing right now and pasted in a picture of the face of Jesus.  Which was strange to me and I asked if the GOP was really post-carding Jesus online, to which they took offense.  And then they asked me to "Please explain how the GOP presently choosing to not cover 40,000,000 americans with healthcare is a humane and pro life concept . . ."

In fact, I never made any mention of that and my views on GOP interference in health care is not relevant to whether or not Abortion.com will provide me the statistical surveys that prove their conclusion that forced birthers do not adopt or care for children.  I pointed this out and persisted in my singular question.


They responded by stating, ""We have asked over a million Christian Anti Abortion Pro Death Anti Lifers if they have adopted a frozen embryo that they believe to be a baby , and zero in absolute numbers, and zero percent have adopted a frozen embryo."  And that's pretty extensive on their part so where can I find the link to the stats to see that evidence?  Any good skeptic won't simply take your word for it; just offer up the substantive proof that you have done this and quantified the numbers. 

I probably shouldn't be that bent but it really rubs me the wrong way that any organization thinks they can ignore this basic level of exchange of facts, particularly when much of what that organization is concerned about is the false and unsubstantiated claims of their opposition.  By not revealing their statistical analysis for this, Abortion.com's statements appear hyperbolic.

Here's the thing: Abortion.com made a statement and it carries authority because it is a statement made by a legitimate, organized agency.  They have an obligation to provide evidence to support such claims if they are questioned, specifically because of the authority their group commands.  Interestingly, the comment I made pointing this out to them was deleted from their thread. 

They have also informed me that to identify as pro-abortion because I support access to services is "inaccurate".  Also a claim they cannot verify.  I imagine most people who support the right to these services will identify as pro-choice, fair enough.  I do not because even pro-life is a choice and I find "choice" an apologetic view.   To this, I should ask if Abortion.com thinks there is a correct personality and perspective required of all persons who support this right.  I haven't asked; they clearly aren't capable of answering such a thing.  I did ask if the web exchange was with the same person or if everyone in the organization is that feeble minded.  That's my fault and their defensive avoidance became frustrating for me.

So now they have let me know that their site is for those who are educated at the graduate level and who work in the ob/gyn profession.  Well, that's news to me -- and if you've ever seen the persuasive and emotional types of posts they share, that should be news to you.  In fact, their website exists to help you get in touch with a provider if you are seeking services and their Facebook page posts just as much opinion as they do news,  much of which is in the social/political realm, not the medical.  And if someone never finished college, she isn't smart enough to follow the information or want to be in touch with the news? 


"Our guess from what you have written is you do not have the graduate level education and experience in OB, Gyn, Reproductive Endocrinology, and Maternal Fetal Medicine, needed to discuss these complicated issues.  Please tell us if we are mistaken."  Now, I am not trained in women's health but I do have a master's degree, though I don't know what that has to do with anything.  What complicated issues?  Women's rights over their own health is a conversation best left to the medical community and not open to all women?  That's news.

And how complicated can it be to provide one answer to one question -- a link to the survey analysis that proves forced birthers do not adopt or care for children?  Not having training in women's health means I simply am too incompetent to look at that information and make sense of it?  Thank you very much for trusting me, a woman, with information.

Here's the post.
And here's their website, in case you know anyone who needs it.


Friday, September 20, 2013

SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

I sent a note to my Congressional Representative, Elizabeth Esty (D, CT-5).  While I agree with her vote on the recent food assistance bill, I am disgusted at the result of the House vote.  Here  is an article about the bill and House vote. 

And here is what I had to say in response:

Exactly what happens in Congress? Here's a thing -- let's cut the defense budget since even DOD said they don't need the allotment. Let's get rid of oil subsidies. Eliminate loopholes on corporate taxes. How are those of us who make the choice to stop paying student loans so we can eat the cause of the problem?

And as far as the farm subsidies go: I want regional agriculture with a greatly reduced reliance on food being grown and transported at 3000 miles to market. If we're going to cut back in our personal lives, tell people they just can't have strawberries all year long. Limit the amount of food that is imported, make reasonable exceptions for items that can't be grown in smaller growing regions.

Stop subsidies to companies who grow crops primarily for packaged and modified food manufacturers and give better protections to farmers who grow food for direct consumption.

And here's a crazy thought: start creating jobs, raise the minimum wage, and create standards that guarantee adults full time hours at full pay with overtime -- then maybe we can buy our food for ourselves. Or pay our loans.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's All I've Got

In light of the Zimmerman ruling, a friend of mine who is black asked his circle what he should tell his son.  Dude, I don't know what you should tell your son.  But what can I say about it?

Injustice exists.  Not just where you are but everywhere.  Sometimes people are treated unfairly, are hurt, are damaged, are killed.  When that happens as a result of human actions against others, it is wrong.  Always.  Not just when the victim looks like you or lives like you or eats like you or believes like you or has sex like you...  It is wrong, period.  Always. 

Much of what happens is a result of what some people assume or believe about other people.  Many of the ideas we have about one another are sometimes right and often wrong.  That is true about a single individual whom you judge on gossip rather than personal interaction, and it is true about groups of people whom you judge by stereotype rather than personal interaction or fact checking. 

So it's a cliche but it's true that you should be part of the solution.  This means you should treat people with the same courtesy you would expect for yourself.  And it is also true that this is not the answer or the real solution to the real problem.  But you have to have a premise and an expectation on which to judge people by their actions. 

Be angry.  Which is not to say you should be mad at others all the time.  But be angry that injustice and inequality persist.  Accept every struggle as your own.  Because it is.  When your son is at an age where he can hear this there will be other examples but these serve as noteworthy:  Recently, the NAACP took a stand for gay rights, Occupy has organized for civil rights on multiple fronts.  In the 1960s, labor and black civil rights activists sometimes partnered.  Everyone's struggle is your struggle even when it isn't because it is.  You cannot expect others to see us as "in it together" if we are not. 

Know how to use that anger.  It is the reaction that tells you something is wrong and it is the motivator to do what is right.  But it is not the form your response should take.  You can be angry about injustice and make that known without engaging in harmful behavior.  Hold others accountable to that standard.  Make anyone who wants to engage with you -- or the appropriate social agencies -- engage from the intellect, not the emotion.  Because one cannot respond until one stops reacting.  Know the difference between reactive and responsive.

Do not believe in invisible forces like "them" or "society" or "the system" for why things happen.  Do not expect invisible forces like them or the system or even a god to fix it or explain it or make it right in the end.  None of those invisible forces ever will -- YOU will, people will.  When we make people or causes invisible we have no way to find them, confront them, change them.  Identify who, what, and how.  Demand to know why.  And then demand a solution.  Or get with others and look for one.

Expect that life is unfair and people will judge you unfairly.  Black men are dangerous, women are incompetent, Latinos are lazy.  You may not be able to win the debate or overcome the obstacle each time you find it.  But take it to a new forum.  Be engaged in some way.  

Acknowledge that prosecution influences persecution.  Go after the penal system, or agencies within it, for perpetuating unfair law enforcement.  Demand we do better there.  Understand how the way that part of our society works influences how different people are percieved differently, how that reinforces stereotype generally and discrimination more broadly. 

Do not run from confrontation when someone challenges your ideas and views about life.  Do not expect to always agree on these but embrace the opportunity to be questioned on your views -- and to examine them yourself.  Those who reject this kind of confrontation only exacerbate misunderstanding and perpetuate the social conditions that give us discrimination and persecution. 

Cooperate and collaborate with those who are not like you, do not think like you whenever possible.  Do not surround yourself with these people as your friends, however.  If they do not believe you or "your kind" have the same rights as everyone else, they are not your friends.   

None of this is new.  This may not be particularly insightful.  It may not protect you from real harm.  But none of us is truly protected from real harm.  There is risk.   That's life.  That sucks; it's deflating.  Maybe you tell your son to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  Eric Holder just gave a speech about this very idea in having to talk to his son.   Some of us care.  About people in general.  About people specifically.  About white America and black America and religious America and atheist America and male America and female America and straight America and gay America.....  And some of us care about humans beyond even those tags and beyond our borders.  You could tell your son that I care about him and want his experience to be better than what it might have been in the past.  And that maybe he can want the same for everyone.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Get Over It

See how the internet works? Say this: "As a woman, I am tired of women who dress like sluts then cry sexism when people salivate for their visible bodies" and everyone in the thread will read into it implications that aren't there. How do I know? I said it. Yeah, that's right.
 
You wouldn't expect this from someone who thinks it's perfectly legit that women should be allowed to go topless in public as a measure of equality. But laws are one thing. Personal behavior is another. I didn't flinch when I saw the topless woman last summer in NYC. Just like I don't flinch at topless men. But if you are dressing in a manner meant to accentuate for the purpose of garnering attention for your physical sexual parts then don't complain that anyone wants to stare at your parts.  Just like you can't be topless at work, you probably shouldn't be showing us your tits leaping out of your intentionally low scoop tee during the course of a shift.  While I do think much of our cultural dysfunction regarding sexuality comes, conversely, from trying to refine sex and sexuality, I also think there's a time and place.  And I think sometimes what you put out will come back to you.

As to the rest of it -- men cat calling to women out for a run or whatever... It's stupid and unnecessary. But it's also harmless. And it's sort of human nature. The laugh is we think we are born more refined than we really are.   So women don't do it as much to men -- that means nothing.  Maybe we should.