Movie Reviews Through a “Poverty Skola” Lens By Lisa TIny Gray Garcia, Editor, Poor News Network
“I live in there, its my home,” Frances McDormand “playing” a houseless woman named Fern in the new movie Nomadland, says to mechanics who tell her it will be $5,000 to fix her van, which she “lives” in, in the movie. These and other moments are some of the excellently “crafted”, lines by brilliant actor McDormand and are classic examples of Hollywood’s ongoing dedication to performing poverty, disability and homelessness. to feed the ever-hungry, ever-exploitative film, media and akkkademik industries.
Another example is Adarsh Gourav, “portraying” Balram Halwaia,a very poor chauffeur working for Indian wealth-hoarders, scamlord class in the movie White Tiger a depiction/performance/portrayal of Poverty in India.
Both of these movies are artistically powerful, both of them have critiques (albeit way too subtle in Nomadland) of wealth-hoarding, employee slavery and CorpRape entities like Amazon. White Tiger is a deeper and more powerFULl critique of the scam-lord “upper classes” and even politricks itself. But they both are depictions of us poor people without us poor people. (Notwithstanding the only redeeming part of Nomadland, three poverty skolaz “playing” themselves)
Aravind Adiga, author of the book White Tiger and Jessica Bruder, who did a “story” on houseless “Nomads” for Harpers magazine and then published a book of the same name, are both themselves middle class/owning class academics, journalists, who have “never missed a meal” as my mama would call it, but who were “fascinated” with the “underbelly” aka Bleeds it leads possibilities of writing about poor people. And as my OG ghetto poverty skola mama would also say, because they are well-educated mofos, they are excellent editors and writers, story-builders and are able to create spins and slants and stories out of our messy, CONfusing realities. But the thing they both share with countless writers before them who write, perform, and create an endless stream of “about us without us” narratives about poor, houseless, landless, disabled, indigenous Black, Brown, and immigrant/migrant communities, from Dickens to Steinbeck to most recently, the fake Raza writer Jeanine Cummins of American Dirt, is what I call By-line privilege and linguistic dominance.
In other words these writers had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet, while growing up so they could focus and learn what I call in the Poverty Scholarship book- linguistic domination skills, so they could carve a powerful story arc, and create these beautiful portrayals. In both cases, the filmmakers of these movies, Chloe Zhao and Ramin Bahrani, were also schooled, clothed, loved and protected so they could go to institutions and “learn” expensive software editing programs, get high-priced computers, meet people who would finance them and make connections to Sundance festival and other spaces, to fund their budgets so they could create powerful productions with excellent sound, and cinematography , and more.
Newsom Twists and Turns Against Worker Protections
Earlier this year we at Women Rising Radio posted a short article lauding the California governor’s announcement of a commitment to support the state’s substantial population of undocumented and essential frontline workers, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Governor Newsom said:
“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians. And that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals, a total of $125 million.”
Since we published that piece, I as the author have wondered what proportion of that $125 million has actually been spent on the ground, in beneficial support for the undocumented doing the critical work to maintain us all, in this chaotic time.
I haven’t been able to do that investigation, but Women Rising Radio is broadcasting program titled “Women Challenge Capitalism”, in which we visit with domestic workers spearheading workers’ cooperatives in New York City. Those women, while they are not undocumented, faced exploitation and physical endangerment cleaning residences, until they formed cleaning cooperatives to protect them and their work.
Domestic workers in the USA, primarily women and people of color, are excluded from OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) regulations and other protections offered workers. The California state legislature just recently passed SB 1257, to remedy that problem. The bill removed the exclusion of domestic workers from CAL/OSHA, and gave them the same basic safety protections as other workers across the state, such as health and safety training, protective equipment, and legal protection against retaliation if they need to advocate for their own health and safety. at work.
The bill was authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and co-sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates, the California Domestic Workers’ Coalition, Worksafe, and the California Employment Lawyers Association.
SB 1257 went to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for signing – and he vetoed it. Why?!
New at Women Rising Radio’s Featured Essays Department!
A TRANSFORMATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS: GOVERNOR NEWSOM RECOGNIZES THE DIGNITY OF UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS
April 15th is a day that the undocumented must dread more than any of us who pay taxes. Out of their minuscule wages received for long hours of often backbreaking work in farming, food factory labor, domestic labor and caregiving, they must pay taxes to the United States government.
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a report in February 2016, stating that 11 million undocumented workers in the United States are paying annually an estimated amount of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes, “on average an estimated 8 percent of their incomes.”
California’s governor finally – and miraculously in a nation that largely ignores the poor and marginalized – Governor Newsom finally recognized the undocumented for doing labor that, in the time of Covid-19, is considered to be essential, frontline and indispensable.
Newsom recognized and honored undocumented workers in California – and by inference in the USA – on April 15th, normally “tax day”, underlining the irony of the undocumented being forced to support the US government but getting almost no services from that same government.
Said Newsom, “We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians. And that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals, a total of $125 million.”
The program will assist 150,000 undocumented workers in California with support payments of $500 to $1,000, depending on their circumstances. Granted there are about a million and a half of these essential workers in California alone, and Newsom is quite aware of that. But the recognition, the swift action to give relief, and the gratitude expressed by the governor of California are a huge breath of fresh, healthy air.
NEW SHORT ESSAY ON “JINWAR”, A DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ECO-VILLAGE IN NORTHERN SYRIA, THREATENED BY THE INCURSION OF THE TURKISH MILITARY:
Solidarity with a Kurdish Women’s Eco-village Community in Northern Syria
In early October 2019, when the US administration announced that it was abandoning its Kurdish allies in northern Syria, and leaving about 1,000 US troops trapped there to face the onslaught of the Turkish military, Women Rising Radio got an alert from a conference in Italy, where Syrian Kurdish women appealed to their supporters worldwide to come to their aid. They were, and are, directly in the path of the violence in northern Syria, and the eco-village paradise they created there is also in dire danger. Women Rising Radio has featured women working with eco-villages, peace villages, and women’s activist cooperatives across the globe. We are in solidarity with the women of JINWAR, the feminist and democratic eco-village in northern Syria. And we want all of our listeners to know about JINWAR. Perhaps among you there are organizers who can give assistance to this great undertaking – helping to protect it. Here is an excerpt from a letter delivered to the conference in Italy, from the women of JINWAR themselves:
“JINWAR is a place where women are able to live in a communal way and autonomously raise and educate their children freely and without huge daily influence of the dominant male mentality. Many brave women and men fought and gave their lives, in order to liberate this territory and make the possibility to build a new democratic system inspired by the concept of Democratic Confederalism. This system is based on ideas of Abdullah Ocalan concerning women’s freedom and self-administration of different ethnic and social groups, which are living here side by side together. Our village JINWAR is a part and in the same time a result of this revolutionary process. Furthermore, it is also a practical example, how we, as women, can create alternatives in fields as communal living, ecology and economy. During this process many things have been built here in Rojava: Women are organizing autonomously in every city. Examples for this are “Kongreya Star” and “Mala Jin” (Women’s houses), where women are gathering and developing solutions for problems of the whole society. In the “Mala Jin” women are supporting each other in solving conflicts in families. Women’s leadership and participation in decision making processes is also a key component of the direct democracy model being enacted in Rojava. Through that women could gain a new position in society and in politics. This achievement can be an example for all the women in the world.”
The women of JINWAR who drafted this letter go on to describe the dangers facing them and their visionary enterprise:
”You could see what we have built up: the houses made of clay, in which we live together, the school, the healing center for natural medicine which is supposed to be opened soon, our bakery, the garden, the fields, all the trees, which grow bigger and bigger and all of all our common life, far away from oppression and violence, based upon our will to live together as free women and children. …All this is now under direct threat by the Turkish State, which openly launches attacks against Northern Syria. Erdogan’s plan is to extinguish the Kurdish people and to occupy our region. We can see the results of this politics in Afrîn, which has been occupied by Turkey, DAIŞ and other Jihadist groups. The situation in Afrîn turned out really bad for the people, especially for the women, whose rights were taken away, who suffer from violence and rape, who are sold and treated as slaves. The attacks and another occupation by the Turkish state in other parts of Northern Syria could mean the same brutal exploitation for women here.”
The women of JINWAR are calling out to the people of the world to raise our voices and assist them in rescuing all that can be saved, from the violence of war:
“In the moment we are writing this letter different villages and places around have been bombed and many people have already been killed. Our village, our society, our lives and the life and future of all people here, especially women and children, is under urgent threat. We, as women and children from JINWAR call you to raise up your voices and take action against this war. Use all the possibilities you have to spread information and raise awareness about the Turkish occupation politics! Don’t stay silent! Let’s stand up together for free life and for our common future!”
Please send out this plea to all who can be of assistance to the brave and visionary women of JINWAR.
PRO-CHOICE ACTIVIST LAURIE BERTRAM ROBERTS TAKES ON MISSISSIPPI! BRAVE ACTIVIST.
Women Rising Radio‘s program on reproductive health here:
Democrats and Democracy: Chicago 1968.
A Killer Kulture
As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago in 1968, the Democratic National Committee is set to hold a significant meeting – in Chicago – August 24th and through the weekend, to consider election issues that have been critical for a long time.
That coincidence of time and place evoked in me deep memories of the debacle I witnessed 50 years ago.
April 1968 was “the cruelest month”, in the words of T.S. Eliot, blooming in red, black and blue with the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., undisputed king of the civil rights movement, and a hero of mine.
With that spring of 1968 came an offer from my college professor, to join a group of student activists headed to Mississippi for a summer of registering voters of color – mostly African Americans blocked from exercising rights enshrined for them in the Voting Rights Act. I wanted to go with that group.
By 1968 I’d been a foot soldier in the nationwide movement against the war in Vietnam for a few years. I’d helped to swell the ranks of the hundreds of thousands marching in New York and Washington. I’d participated in a reading of the trendy play MacBird! with Smith and Amherst students – as a witch chanting “double, double toil and trouble, Burn Baby Burn and Cauldron Bubble…” I went on to organize teach-ins against the war.
But I hadn’t devoted much time to focusing on civil rights and voting rights. So I called my parents, who always supported my student political activities both morally and financially. “I’m going with a Smith group to register voters in Mississippi!”
After an unexpected, stony silence at the other end of the phone conversation, my father finally responded, “Over my dead body.”
“You’re not going there, Lynn,” my mother added. “You have no idea of the danger involved.” They pointedly reminded me of the gruesome deaths of three CORE field activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner just 4 years previously during “Freedom Summer” of 1964.
My parents linked forces to demand that I do something else. When the conversation ended I was, to use a phrase of the time, “hung up”. I couldn’t go without their financial support, and I clearly had neither that nor their emotional support.
“Nuclear is NOT an Option
by Women Rising Radio Producer Lynn Feinerman
Published in the Tikkun magazine Daily Blog:
Here is the article. Join the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb: June 2017
Digging in my tiny Jewish library this Passover season, I came across a short contribution to a published symposium, made by Rabbi Nehemia Polen, a well-known scholar, author and congregational rabbi.
Polen wrote his short piece in 1986, for the literary publication New Traditions. But his words were ominously current for me, discovered as if by what we Jews call “hashgachah pratit”, a kind of destined timeliness.
He was considering the phrase in Jewish prayer liturgy, “hem yevoshu ve’yehatu mi’gevuratam”, translated “may the nations of the world be put to shame and crushed despite their power.” He meditated on the meaning of this phrase, and its intention in prayer:
“Then it hit me. Ever since nuclear weapons entered the world, with the potential to destroy not only the victim but the attacker as well, the nations of the world have indeed become terrified of their own power. A sense of shame does indeed adhere to this power. The logic of power in history has reached its extreme, self-negating limit…”
Polen perceives this part of Jewish prayer as “a lengthy meditation on the shamefulness of power”. I’ve been considering it throughout this Passover season. And the world’s so-called leaders have given me plenty of evidence corroborating that shamefulness.
This past weekend, as we observed both Passover and Easter worldwide, and likely other holy days not given so much publicity; as we asked for freedom and commemorated the death of a free-thinking Rabbi, we watched and listened as Trump and Un of North Korea rattled nuclear sabers at one another, threatening on one side to send “armadas” – sailboats from Spain?