Tagged ‘Classism‘

Women’s March On Washington: To White Women Who Were Allowed To Resist While We Survived Passive Racism


January 23, 2017

I realize somewhere between being pushed into a trash can by an oblivious “Nasty Woman,” and being racially profiled by an elderly feminist, that white women marched yesterday for themselves alone.

Don’t get confused, in Ecuador the people support Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution

August 18, 2015

By Santiago Escobar

Ecuador Article

Photo: On April 15, the coordinator of Pachakutik, the political front of CONAIE movement,
met with banker and right-wing politician, Guillermo Lasso. Pachakutik and Lasso
agreed to rally against the government.

On August 13th, 2015 bankers, right-wing groups, few indigenous people, foreign funded NGOs, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media, called to a general strike against the government of President Rafael Correa, but did not succeed in their destabilization attempts.

This plot started as a “marcha indigena” (“indigenous rally”) during which people supposedly marched over 700 kilometers across several provinces to finally reach the capital of Ecuador, Quito. However, in fact most participants traveled by SUV and gas-guzzling trucks owned by infamous CONAIE and Ecuarunari members. ‘Infamous’ because all their glory and revolutionary past vanished when these historic indigenous organizations succumbed to the old elites and joined the right wing agenda lead by banker Guillermo Lasso, who according to Wikileaks is a key contact and has strong ties to the US Embassy in Ecuador.

Don’t get confused the current CONAIE and Ecuarunari are no longer the same from the 1990s and 2000s when they stood up and fought against neo liberal governments.

Why they protest

In June 2015 wealthy elites claimed that two new bills aimed at addressing inequality and the concentration of wealth, would affect small business, families assets and all kind of entrepreneurship. In fact however, these bills would only impact less than 2% of the Ecuadorian population and no poor and middle class families. President Correa opted to temporarily withdraw the bills in an effort to promote a national debate around the pressing problem of inequality.

In this context the leadership of CONAIE and Ecuarunari not just met with banker Lasso, but also got public support from the notorious far-right mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, the leader of Partido Social Cristiano (PSC). His PSC party has been linked to the disappearance and torture of labor, indigenous and student activists in the 90s. Part of the opposition group is also Andres Paez who has strong ties to Chevron Oil Corporation.

In this hodgepodge, Jorge Herrera head of CONAIE and Carlos Perez of Ecuarunari, both have used the same rhetoric as the ultra-reactionary Venezuelan opposition, calling to defend “freedom”, and fighting against a supposed dictatorship of Correa and to avoid becoming as Venezuela. Furthermore, both Herrera and Perez made statements against the proposed two new bills. Carlos Perez even stated that Ecuador and Venezuela are ‘like Germany and Italy’ (alluding to fascism), and that all current progressive governments in Latin America especially Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are ‘fake leftists who are only making people poorer’.

Furthermore, these opposition groups have not accepted the invitation by Correa’s government to have an open and public dialogue, only confirming that this is part of a regional plan aiming to topple the revolutionary governments across Latin America. This real objective is also revealed by the opposition now calling the “marcha indigena” to become an indefinite general strike, which includes road blocks and violent rioters, perfectly synchronized on the heels of right-wing demonstrations against taxes on the ultra-rich.

Already in 2014 the president correctly identified that “People must prevail over capital,” adding that politics is about whose interest governments serve, asking the questions: “Elites or the majority? Capital or humankind? The market or society?

Policies and programs depend on who holds the balance of power.”

What the Correa administration has achieved

Ecuador now collects three times more in taxes than it did in 2006 (when tax evasion was rampant), allowing the government to invest in much needed infrastructure and services. As a result of this social change, President Correa has been rated as one of the most popular presidents in Latin America throughout his administration. Furthermore, political stability has returned to the Andean nation.

Correa and his supporters have won 10 elections since 2007. Promoting equality and tackling discrimination has also been given greater emphasis than in the country’s past.

This has boosted the use of different native languages, which were formerly endangered. Laws to protect minorities have also been implemented, including a law which compels companies to reserve four percent of jobs for people with disabilities, and other quotas for minority ethnic groups – such as indigenous communities and Afro-Ecuadorians – in order to narrow inequality gaps. The same has been applied in the country’s higher education system, where indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean community inclusion has soared.

The government has also invested more than $200 million in Intercultural Bilingual Education in order to maintain and encourage indigenous languages since the start of the Citizen’s Revolution.
Also, with the new Media Law – approved in 2013 – the indigenous communities have greater access to community media. The law assigns 34 percent of the country’s radio and TV frequencies to community media. So far, 14 radio frequencies have been assigned to each of the country’s indigenous groups.

As an Ecuadorian migrant living in Canada for the past 6 years, every time I visit Ecuador I am able to see the massive re-distribution of wealth that has taken place. Now the majority of people have access to quality services. Especially the access to health and education needs to be highlighted, as 8 years ago this was only a privilege of the few. After decades of being one of the poorest countries in the region, the current government has undertaken a series of deep reforms, which have delivered remarkable changes for Ecuador’s long-excluded majority, particularly for indigenous peoples.

Before the citizen’s revolution, the Ecuadorian economy was collapsed forcing many to migrate, but today all Ecuadorian migrants are again part of the country being able to elect members of Parliament to represent our particular needs and create policies to make our lives better while living abroad. This allows us to maintain a real connection and participation with our homeland; and with numerous benefits in place for returning migrants, many are finally able to return home.

Ecuador’s fight for sovereignty has come at a price

Ecuador has shown an anti- colonial/imperialist foreign policy in order to tackle Western domination. The Correa government shut down the U.S. military base in Manta, asserted control over the country’s oil and other natural resources, taking them away from domination by multinationals, and canceled the punishing international debt. In the past three times as much was spent on debt repayment than on social services. Affecting big players in the financial world, specially US and European elites.

However, this fight for sovereignty has come at a price. On Sept. 30th 2010, a police strike ended up in a violent revolt against President Correa, who was held hostage and fenced in a hospital for several hours. Policemen openly called to assassinate President Correa the outcome of the clashes resulted in 10 deaths. Documents emerged showing massive U.S. funding for policemen and opposition groups, through USAID.

Despite this direct threat, Correa continued to assert an independent foreign policy; one of his boldest moves was granting Julian Assange asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012, a move that angered the U.K., Swedish and US governments.

Today the right wing opposition continues to receive funding from NGOs protecting US interests. According to the Bolivian and Ecuadorian heads of state, the “empire” is attacking Latin American nations with “soft coups”.

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the Ecuadorean right of using Indigenous movements to topple President Rafael Correa, and urged them not to be treated like instruments.
“I want to tell my Indigenous brothers in Ecuador to not allow themselves to be used against the Ecuadorean government,” said President Morales

Today the rich fight against the government of the poor

When you have a well-organized plot implemented by small indigenous groups, bankers, right wing parties, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media and the US Embassy against a revolutionary government of the people, you clearly have to choose a side.

During the coup against Allende in Chile there were only two sides. During the coup against Chavez in Venezuela there were only 2 sides. During the coup against Zelaya in Honduras there were only 2 sides.

Today in Ecuador, there are only 2 sides. The side of the people and the citizen’s revolution or the side of the right wing indigenous traitors that share the same ideas, speech and demands as the bankers and the elites.

As president Correa put it: “Before the poor had to fight against the government of the bankers. Today, the rich fight against the government of the poor, for the ‘crime’ of seeking a bit of social justice”.


[Santiago Escobar is an Ecuadorian citizen living in Canada since 2009. He has spent the last 4 years working on migrant workers’ rights with migrant farm workers in the Niagara region. Prior to this Escobar organized with Social Movements in both Ecuador and Venezuela implementing People’s Media platforms. In 2009 Escobar became a whistleblower in the environmental law suit against the Oil giant Chevron exposing Chevron’s corruption and dirty tricks operations in Ecuador. The evidence provided have been used in international courts exposing Chevron’s corruption. Escobar also serves as the coordinator of campaign in Canada.]


Follow up: Published on Aug 21, 2015

“David Hill’s article in the Guardian on August 20, entitled “Protests by 1,000s of Ecuadorians meet with brutal repression” is riddled with errors and misrepresentations. We explain to you why.” [TeleSUR]


Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty


July 14. 2015

by Melissa Chadburn

Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty

Two years ago, I was hired as a campaign coordinator for a community initiative in South L.A. I got the job because I’d been an organizer for labor unions, and I was eager and thrilled. I’d be coordinating The Belong Campaign, part of a nonprofit funded by government entities as well as large foundations. My cubicle was in the heart of The Children’s Bureau. What they said I was doingwhat the foundations were paying us to do, what I thought I was doingwas working to prevent of child abuse and neglect. But the work was not what it seemed.

I came into my job knowing a couple of things. I knew how to organize people to stand up for what they believed in. I knew I wanted to do something to fix the system that treated victims of abuse and neglect like bar codes.

Then, on my first day, I was shown to my cubicle and handed a heap of papers that touted an ideology—a Theory of Change. On subsequent days, I sat at large round tables and looked on as a series of aggravating white liberals spouted the inherent value of this theory:

Relationship Based Organizing is a specific model that recognizes and harnesses the power, and inherent skills and talents of individuals to create and drive the changes they determine are necessary to improve the lives of their families, friends and neighbors.

The story the campaign told was a story of lost resilience. The narrative they preached was how to get it back. This is a common theme in community work. Over the years the term “resilience” has been applied more and more frequently to people in distressed communities to mean their capacity to bounce back from dysfunction or breakdown. Increasing community resilience becomes a solution to chronic barriers such as poverty, trauma, and class inequity. Dozens of programs that encourage resiliency have been introduced in schools and low-income neighborhoods all over the world in an effort to help children recover from trauma and also cope better with their day-to-day stresses.

It’s poverty amelioration through behavioral change—a behavioral change that asks for utter stability. What the resilience preachers look for is a person to be unchanged in the face of trauma. But I would argue that this is impossible, that people are always changed by trauma, and furthermore, that we ought to be. Rather than shift ourselves to change what is, the foundations that fund these initiatives would be better off addressing the gaps, filling the lacks, changing what isn’t.

To me, the story of the families we engaged in South L.A. was never the story of a lack of resilience. It was the story of your electricity getting turned off or your landlord being a slumlord, or your immigration status standing in the way of a good job, or your children graduating from high school with little to no money to pay for college, or your child joining a gang, or your child suffering from autism.

The story, another way, goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy community. Just to the south was a poor community. Between the two ran a freeway. People from the poor community were always sneaking over, trying to partake of the wealth of the wealthy community. The people in the wealthy community resented this. Or some did. Some seemed fine with it, and even helped them once they got there. Some said it was a crisis. Others said: What crisis? It’s been going on for years, plus they work so cheap. The local nonprofits, city and county efforts seized on the situation and, as always, screwed it up: reduced it to pithy ideologies, politicized it, and injected it with faux urgency, until I was confused, and we all were confused and there was nothing much left to do but to throw some good wholesome foundation money at it.

About five months into my employment as campaign coordinator, I attended a research meeting where all the plans for the organization were laid out and where I felt very conflicted. I already knew that, in these types of meetings, I was made a tourist to a world and a life that I already knew well. Oftentimes I was asked to be a translator of sorts—a translator of where things went wrong for all these people, for the me I had once been.

At roundtables, this one woman who developed our particular Theory of Change sat at the head, and she carried with her a sort of dominance. Her rhetoric was accepted as the central rhetoric. Throughout time, the rest of us who worked with her stopped believing in our value as organizers. Some of us became passive and stopped believing in the validity of our own experience.

We all began speaking in her language: protective factors, asset based organizing, personal resilience. We started to absorb this woman’s idea that changing people’s behavior was the solution to their problems, which meant absorbing the idea that people’s behavior was the source of their problems. But I knew at the core of me this was false. The problem had never been that I didn’t know the right number to call. It’s a lack of resources that produces a lack of resilience, not the other way around.

But the work of the initiative said otherwise. This is what we did: we gathered residents in the community and pointed out what their individual and community assets were. Nothing else. We didn’t provide services, or even find a way to coordinate between the different service providers.

Our mission statement:

The 35,000 children and youth, especially the youngest ones, living in the neighborhoods within the 500 blocks of the Magnolia Catchment Area will break all records of success in their education, health, and the quality of nurturing care and economic stability they receive from their families and community—Getting To Scale An Elusive Goal.

Our target community was the Los Angeles neighborhoods known as West Adams, Pico Union, and the North Figueroa Corridor, where the streets are lined with sweet bread bakeries and fruit cart, hot dogs fried and wrapped in bacon, chicharrones the size of my head, round and puffed or flat with lime and chile, AA meeting spaces, Disney knock-offs. The making and selling of things was an endless mantra, repeated in my head with every step.

The Belong Campaign chose this area because it’s a place that houses vulnerable, high-need, low-resource neighborhoods with multiple threats: high poverty, low employment rates, high incidence of diabetes and asthma, and high rates of involvement with the child welfare system.

In other words, we served people who are already resilient. If there’s one thing that people in poverty, children in foster care, and recent immigrants already have in abundance, it’s the knowledge of how to be tough.

How did this gaggle of liberals measure this mental toughness of resilience? One common tool to measure resilience is called the Children and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-28). The CYRM-28 is a 28-item questionnaire that explores the individual, relational, communal, and cultural resources that may bolster the resilience of people aged nine to 23. The measure was designed as part of the International Resilience Project, based in Canada—a group on the forefront of resilience studies and partially funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice Correctional Services.

Part of the programming offered by The Belong Campaign was a training for the parents in the community. The theme, of course, was resilience. It would be encouraged through discussions about challenges that life presents you and what possible resources you can use to respond to those challenges.

I felt this training endorsed a morally appealing self-castigation, and when I was hired, I did away with it. We’d built what I thought was a lonely hearts club; parents attended their “resilience meeting” casually, waiting for the day to unfold. They’d do this with or without us, without this hovering idea of what they lacked. Rather, I thought it would be best to go out in the community and assess who lived there, ask where the children were, what their barriers were.

So the promotoras and I knocked on the doors within the geographic target area. We surveyed the questions within CYRM 28. I added an additional question: “What was it that you want or need most in the community?” Most everyone responded with jobs and safer spaces. This seemed reasonable and not something that stemmed from a lack of resilience.

The questions were like this:

When I am hungry there is enough to eat:

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit A lot

Door to door, I thought about the Philippines, where my people drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, (backwards, the lit end in your mouth). It reduces the appetite. Babies drink coffee, children smoke cigarettes, little brown bellies go round and vacant, the coffee sloshing around.

I’d think about it, asking people:

I know how to behave in different social situations:

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit A lot

And I’d remember my own capacity, or lack thereof, to behave in social situations, and then think back to a time when I too lacked resources. When I first entered the system as a foster kid I ran away a lot. I ran to a park in the Pacific Palisades, all trees and dips and picnic tables. I hung by the pay phones for a nighttime streetlamp. I pretended to be relevant and then later I retreated down a hill.

Halloween of 1993, all the rich kids came to the park and called it “Midnight Madness.” I emptied a tub of Cool Whip and replaced it with Nair so when one of the pretty girls was being flirty I could douse her long, blonde, shiny hair with it and she’d think it was innocuous, and then scowl as handfuls of her hair fell out.

Back then, I was a solid little bomb—young, angry, and energetic. I had nowhere to put all of these feelings so I pasted posters on the sides of buildings, leafleted college campuses, got people to sign petitions at supermarkets. I was angry because, after being placed into foster care, I hated all the rules of my life and being told what to do and when to do it. I hated that the people who were in charge of my well-being felt substantially less prepared and dumber than me. Less resilient, you could say.

The moment I entered the system I felt my identity ebb further and further away, no longer a name to my body, no longer an address, no longer a mother, no longer a brother, no longer a host of dreams attached to my body. My body was a number. My body was assigned to a social worker. The social worker was responsible for lots of bodies, not just my body. And yet deep, deep inside I was certain that, if these people could just meet me—if they could hear me and listen to me and talk to me—they would know that I was different. I was special and articulate and to be handled with some kind of care. I did not deserve to be poor. I did not deserve to be forgotten. I wasn’t yet aware that no one did.

Was I “resilient?” I don’t know. But I was a Marxist, a graffiti artist, a girl looking for love. I was needy and cool and confused and nonchalant, and I hitchhiked around town with my friends. I slept in parks and in rich kids’ homes and stayed up in coffee shops. I drank Carl’s Jr. coffee and smoked clove cigarettes. I did not pay for too many things, I stole food but was at an age where I could live off of a large french fries, cigarettes, and coffee.

Meanwhile, there were other kids in foster care who were much worse off than me. As of 1989 Los Angeles County had already paid $18 million in settlements to children who were abused while placed in custody.The majority of the lagging Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigations—which include allegations of serious abuse, inadequate food, homes in disrepair or other licensing violations—remained open for more than six months, according to data obtained under the California Public Records Act.

One case involved a nine-year-old boy. He weighed only 28 lbs. That’s half the size of my dog. The social workers assigned to his number hadn’t visited him for four months. In their defense, my social worker was only required to see me once every six months. During that time, the boy was beaten, sodomized, burned on his genitals, and nearly drowned by his foster parents. He had become a spastic paraplegic.

On the other side of the country, I had a brother who was being kicked out of our father’s home. He was being kicked out for being gay. “Bakla” is how he was called at home. It means “faggot” in tagalog. He was being called bakla and my rich girlfriends were taking ecstasy and making out with each other. And I was sleeping in their rooms in their clothes, fondling their CD collection, pretending it was all mine until the one day I got picked up and put back into the group home I’d run away from.

If you ask one of these service providers they might say I reached my all time resiliency low when I was sent to the first group home, scared of the bed that had been already been so slept on. Scared of the used sheets and scared of the roommate and scared of not knowing things. The only thing I could compare this separation to is a break-up, one where you imagine your beloved at home, heartbroken, crying, hugging a pillow in the dark. In this new place I imagined the same of my mother, and then I took maybe one or two moments to pause and take in my own surroundings. It was clear to me then that nothing good was ever gonna come of me. It has taken me two decades to shape all that helplessness and anger into a career. Does that make me, now, resilient?

I thought of my past a lot during the Belong Campaign. At one of our meetings, about three months into my tenure, I looked across the table at the people in nice suits, drinking coffee and eating bagels, talking about solving this poverty problem by increasing these community members’ sense of belonging. These people, my colleagues, traveled the world—Australia, Africa, and throughout the U.S.—speaking on panels and at conferences about their innovative new approaches to increasing resilience. Making money off poverty was their vocation. They were compensated for these studies, creating a career out of their ludicrous idea of “resilience,” that the circumstances of these people’s lives were somehow a result of their poor choices or ill behaviors.

At this meeting, they proposed a new concept. What if we did a cortisol study, someone said.

Cortisol is the hormone that is released when someone is distressed. The proposal was to enlist a group of parents in the target low-income community in a clinical trial—to take a mouth swab and check their cortisol level, and then ask them to do something stressful and take another mouth swab to check their cortisol level. Compare these cortisol counts to others in more stable environments. The hypothesis for this study was: people in low-income communities suffer greater levels of stress. The incentive for the initiative was that it might procure funding that could then be used to establish concrete measurable findings which would then in turn substantiate the need for more workshops on resilience, more outreach, and ultimately more funding.

That day was enough for me. On that day I walked out of that job, understanding fully that the story of these people was not one of a lack of resilience but of too many systems to navigate. How to see a doctor, how to enroll in classes, how to get a driver’s license, how to tell people that you are already resilient, and what you need is a job that pays better, a job that will take you out of the surveys and focus groups to a place where you’re no longer so poor.

Melissa has written for Guernica, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, Salon, McSweeney’s, Tin House, The Rumpus, American Public Media’s Marketplace, Al Jazeera America and dozens other places. Her essay, “The Throwaways,” received notable mention in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her first novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, is forthcoming with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This feature has been supported by the journalism nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby

Question: Environmental Politics: What’s Left? Answer: Bourgeois Primitivism, That’s What


“The cheap prices of commodities,” wrote Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto, “are the heavy artillery with which” the bourgeoisie batters down all borders. The rise of the bourgeoisie “compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. It creates a world after its own image.”

Classism Runs Deep | Liberalism vs. Radicalism



Weekend Edition May 10-12, 2013


What’s the difference between liberalism and radicalism? Which is “better?” How is “better” determined?

Liberalism is the belief that the king has the right to rule and that when we want him to make decisions different from those he is currently making, we ask him respectfully, even firmly, but always recognizing his ultimate right to decide.



This is a presentation given by Dr. Tony Monteiro at the January 15th, 2012 gathering of the Philadelphia Chapter if N’COBRA , (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America.), titled “THE REAL REVEREND Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr.” Also in the panel discussion was Attorney Michael Coard, Sister Nadine Lester, and Dr. Faruq Iman.

A complete recording of this event is available … Please email for more information…