A Moment of Silence (2002) by Emmanuel Ortiz*Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the U.S., and throughout the world.And if I could just add one more thing…A full day of silence… for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.Six months of silence… for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a resultof a 12-year U.S. embargo against the country.…And now, the drums of war beat again.Before I begin this poem, two months of silence… for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where “homeland security” made them aliens in their own countryNine months of silence… for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin, and the survivors went on as if alive.A year of silence… for the millions of dead in Viet Nam—a people, not a war—for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives bones buried in it, their babies born of it.Two months of silence… for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.Before I begin this poem,Seven days of silence… for El SalvadorA day of silence… for NicaraguaFive days of silence… for the GuatemaltecosNone of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.45 seconds of silence… for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas…1,933 miles of silence… for every desperate bodyThat burns in the desert sunDrowned in swollen rivers at the pearly gates to the Empire’s underbelly,A gaping wound sutured shut by razor wire and corrugated steel.25 years of silence… for the millions of Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.For those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore treesIn the south… the north… the east… the west…There will be no dna testing or dental records to identify their remains.100 years of silence… for the hundreds of millions of indigenous peopleFrom this half of right here,Whose land and lives were stolen,In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of TearsNames now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…From somewhere within the pillars of powerYou open your mouths to invoke a moment of our silenceAnd we are all left speechless,Our tongues snatched from our mouths,Our eyes stapled shut.A moment of silence,And the poets are laid to rest,The drums disintegrate into dust.Before I begin this poem,You want a moment of silence…You mourn now as if the world will never be the sameAnd the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.Not like it always has been.…Because this is not a 9-1-1 poemThis is a 9/10 poem,It is a 9/9 poem,A 9/8 poem,A 9/7 poem…This is a 1492 poem.This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.And if this is a 9/11 poem, thenThis is a September 11th 1973 poem for Chile.This is a September 12th 1977 poem for Steven Biko in South Africa.This is a September 13th 1971 poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York.This is a September 14th 1992 poem for the people of Somalia.This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground amidst the ashes of amnesia.This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told,The 110 stories that history uprooted from its textbooksThe 110 stories that that cnn, bbc, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.This is a poem for interrupting this program.This is not a peace poem,Not a poem for forgiveness.This is a justice poem,A poem for never forgetting.This is a poem to remind usThat all that glittersMight just be broken glass.And still you want a moment of silence for the dead?We could give you lifetimes of empty:The unmarked graves,The lost languages,The uprooted trees and histories,The dead stares on the faces of nameless children…Before I start this poem we could be silent foreverOr just long enough to hunger,For the dust to bury usAnd you would still ask usFor more of our silence.So if you want a moment of silenceThen stop the oil pumpsTurn off the engines, the televisionsSink the cruise shipsCrash the stock marketsUnplug the marquee lightsDelete the e-mails and instant messagesDerail the trains, ground the planes.If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the windowof Taco BellAnd pay the workers for wages lost.Tear down the liquor stores,The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthousesand the Playboys.If you want a moment of silence,Then take itOn Super Bowl Sunday,The Fourth of July,During Dayton’s 13 hour sale,The next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful brown people have gathered.You want a moment of silenceThen take itNow,Before this poem begins.Here, in the echo of my voice,In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,In the space between bodies in embrace,Here is your silence.Take it.Take it all.But don’t cut in line.Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.And we,Tonight,We will keep right on singingFor our dead.*Emmanuel Ortiz is a third-generation Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American community organizer and spoken word poet. He is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Word Is a Machete (self-published, 2003), and coeditor of Under What Bandera?: Anti-War Ofrendas from Minnesota y Califas (Calaca Press, 2004). He is a founding member of Palabristas: Latin@ Word Slingers, a collective of Latin@ poets in Minnesota. Emmanuel has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland, California; and the Arizona/Mexico border. He currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” with his two dogs, Nogi and Cuca. In his spare time, he enjoys guacamole, soccer, and naps.
ari Quick Links animal cognition, capitalism, cooptation, economics, iggy azalea, inequality, oppression, racism, rap, research, Roxane Gay, shopping while black, technology, tortises, touch screens 0 Comments
- “I don’t mean to sound unduly harsh, but I’ve never heard of a hedge-fund manager whose jobs entails attending to basic human needs (unless you consider having more money as basic human need) or enriching our culture (except through the myriad novels, exposes, and movies made about greedy hedge-fund managers and investment bankers).”
- “Wilkinson’s colleagues at the University of Vienna gave the tortoises treats when the reptiles looked at, approached and then pecked on the screen. The four red-footed tortoises in the study learned how to use touch screens fairly quickly, Wilkinson said. ‘It’s comparable to the speed with which the pigeons and rats do it,’ Wilkinson told Live Science. ‘I’ve trained dogs to use a touch screen and I’d say the tortoises are faster.'”
- “The song “Fancy,” which dethroned Lil’ Kim as rap’s reigning Billboard queen, doesn’t evoke those same feelings. The lyrics are catchy but there is a lack of authenticity. Iggy [Azalea] begins her “Fancy” flow with “first things first, I’m the realest.” An interesting declaration from an Australian woman who intentionally raps in an American accent. In another line she claims to be “bringing ’88 back”? Bringing it back from where, I wonder? Iggy was born in 1990 so she’s “reminiscing” about a time when she wasn’t even born. Is that an era she is partial to? Does she have a thing for the number 8? Or is she just mimicking the sentiments of older, more established emcees?”
- “Finally, he removed the security case from the video game and handed me my receipt which I snatched out of his hand because I finally had enough. I said, “I just spent $700 dollars in this store. Are you serious?” And I walked out. He still had not acknowledged or spoken to me. It was humiliating to stand there, being treated like a common criminal, everyone staring like you’ve done something wrong. Racism was absolutely at work.“
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As a genderqueer person (and a Spider-Man fangirl), this video just made my day.
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Here are some of the very cool things that have landed in my in-box in the past few days. Had to share!
- Reverend Billy Vs. Robobees: ‘This is a film by Stop Shopping Choir member and Ethiopian-American activist Theodros Tamirat. In it, Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir marched bee-pollinated food into the Micro Robotic Lab at Harvard University. The lead researcher in this project has received public accolades and money from Navy, Air Force and the notorious drone designers DARPA. His scientists are designing a HoneyBee robot that would artificially pollinate the factory farms of the future, while its possible military uses stop at the word “Surveillance.”‘ Help finance the Third HoneyBeeLujah RoboBee Exorcism here.
- Astraea Foundation is seeking donations. Help support their excellent work for queer folks here.
- Video: “Why Are We Stuck in Climate Denial?”
“This salon-style event was hosted by Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins. To begin the discussion, Nancy Menning (Philosophy and Religious Studies) of Ithaca College, and Dave Wolfe (Horticulture) and Lauren Chambliss (Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future) of Cornell University provided some insight into the complex and often subtle explanations for denial, and approaches for moving beyond denial to address important questions regarding solutions.” Other talks: May 8: Can business and technology save us? May 29: Will government intervene? June 19: Is it up to the citizenry? Click more info on the video for details on upcoming events.
- Queer Women Who Tech Summit New York JUNE 19-22 // NYU LAW SCHOOL // NEW YORK “The Lesbians Who Tech Summit is the only event focused on increasing visibility and tech participation in two historically underrepresented communities: women and LGBTQ. The Summit brings together hundreds of queer women in tech (and the people who love them), for the most unique technology conference ever. We’ll highlight incredible queer women who are the next generation of technical leaders, and the people who have paved the way.”
- Information Session: NY State of Health Marketplace: “Come and learn about how the Affordable Care Act affects you, your family and your community please come to this information session on Thursday, June 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at GIAC… Refreshments will be served.”
- The New Black is airing on PBS’ Independent Lens, and is up for an Audience Award. Click here to vote! “Centering on the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland, this documentary takes viewers into the pews, the streets, and kitchen tables to look at how the African American community grapples with the gay rights issue.” Click here to view a TED Talk by the director, Yoruba Richen.
Hm, that was a lot of stuff! Sorry for the long post. Hope these sorts of posts are of interest to folks; let me know what you think!
This highly interactive and inspiring workshop gives an overview of a human rights framework and helps participants think freshly about our obligations and responsibilities as citizens as well as the obligations of our institutions and organizations. Participants will leave with new ideas and hopefully, new inspiration for yourself, your organization, and our community as a whole for both promoting, exercising and protecting the human rights of everyone.
Date: June 26, 2014
Location-Unitarian Church Parlor
Cost: $50.00 (limited number of scholarships are available)
“Russia Is Repeating 1968″ A Pussy Riot founder on the occupation of Crimea—and the silence in Moscow (Maria Alyokhina, for New Republic):
Troops are marching through the streets of Crimea today, on Forgiveness Sunday, as the patriarch declares “I hope Ukraine will not resist.” Police forces stand on Manezhnaya Square in downtown Moscow, ready to grab and arrest those who have declared no to war. Detention units are taking out Bolotnaya prisoners for their daily hour-long walk in the prison yard: These people are locked up for having taken to the streets two years ago to demand fair elections. Troops, police, prison guards—they are all following the command, the command to crush resistance. The old prison tactic to set citizens against other citizens, giving one group a mandate to use physical and legal force against the other: This is also the tactic of Vladimir Putin.
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CUSLAR, Latin-American Studies Program and Latino Studies Program Present the Film:
Soil, Struggle and Justice:
Agroecology in the Brazilian Landless Movement
With filmmaker Andreas Hernandez
7pm, Tuesday February 25th
History of Art Gallery, Goldwin Smith Hall Basement level,
This documentary is the story of a cooperative of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in the South of Brazil, which struggled for access to land and then transitioned to ecological agriculture, or agroecology. This MST cooperative is demonstrating the possibility of an alternative model of flourishing rural life, which provides thriving livelihoods for farmers, produces high quality and low cost food for the region, and rehabilitates the earth.
Andreas Hernandez is Chair of the Department of International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.
Here’s an event listing for an upcoming screening of Speciesism: The Movie — Thursday, February 13, 2014, 7:00pm – 9:30pm at Cinemapolis. And here’s a good review!