Season of Extra Helpings of Greed
By the time you read this column, you will have survived Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and the first weekend of the holiday shopping frenzy. What lies ahead are weeks of (wanted or unwanted) Christmas music blaring from every elevator, mall, grocery store, and your car radio. You will be pressured to buy, buy, buy, as corporations push to fatten their coffers before the end of tax year 2017. Whether you participate in Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, or Kwanzaa celebrations is not the point. Making bank is the point — not your bank, theirs.
You read this column because you want to know what is happening in the world of hate, and what you can do about it. It’s important to stop once in a while and recognize that greed is one of the underlying foundations of the manifestations of hate we face. Another foundation is our fear of other. The human race has a long history of killing and/or enslaving people who we deem “other.” You might think all that was in the past. I wish it were.
Violence Against Native Americans Continues
Native Americans, who make up 5.2 million or 1.7 percent of the country’s population, saw a rise in deaths due to police shootings, from 13 in 2015 to 24 in 2016. Six Native Americans were killed by police in southwest Arizona, the state that is home to the majority of the Navajo Nation and where the highest number of these killings occurred.
Native American women who are sexually assaulted have a more difficult time reporting the crimes because they fear being discriminated against, and if their tribe isn’t equipped to handle felonies, their cases have to be referred to the FBI. In one case, a fourteen-year-old young woman was sexually assaulted by a woman six years older. The FBI wouldn’t pursue it because the young woman (who had marks and hickeys covering her neck, chest, and face) had not been molested in designated areas. According to federal prosecutor Kerry Jacobson, “The only allegations involve the subject touching the minor’s lips, neck and upper chest and the knee and those areas do not fall within the definition of sexual contact,” Jacobson said, explaining why she declined the case.
Jacobson is holding the case open in case the victim wants to tell more later. As with many cases, the victim’s testimony is the primary evidence.
According to a government report, sixty-one percent of Native American women have been sexually assaulted. Most of the assaults are from non-Native men (67%).
We recall that a Native American transgender woman was murdered in her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in January of this year. Her name was Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow.
In Wisconsin this month, a fourteen-year-old Chippewa young man was killed by a sheriff’s deputy on the Bad River Tribe reservation. The Ashland County deputy shot Jason Pero just before noon outside his home on the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, a sprawling wooded area about 300 miles north of Madison. Investigators said deputies were responding to a call about a male subject walking down the street with a knife around 11:40 a.m.
His grandparents said Jason had come home from school, where he was in the eighth grade, with the flu that morning, and it was unclear why he left the house. He was shot and killed in front of his own home, where he had lived with his grandparents since the age of one year.
The authorities claimed Jason had a knife, and they found that an old butcher knife was apparently missing from the house. The grandfather and other relatives doubted that the young man had a knife, but if he had the grandfather said he might have been carving. Witnesses characterized Jason as gentle and harmless.
Slavery Happening Now
In addition to the sex trafficking that is happening all over the globe, war is raging in many areas of the world. Where there is war, there are people fleeing to safety. Refugees escape with what they can, often only their bodies. If they have money (they may have sold everything they own in order to obtain money), they pay smugglers to get them out of the country. When refugees are turned back, the smugglers have excess people on their hands. In Tripoli, Libya, slave auctions are held and the refugees are sold to the highest bidder.
One Example of Greed You Need to Know About Right Now
The FCC program designed to give poor people access to the Internet or phone service has been drastically scaled back. Seventy percent of subscribers will be cut. The FCC voted 3-2 to scale back the federal Lifeline program that lets poor people use a $9.25 monthly household subsidy to buy Internet or phone service. The FCC proposed a new spending cap that potentially prevents people who qualify for the subsidies from actually receiving them. The FCC is also taking steps to prevent resellers—telecom providers that don’t operate their own network infrastructure—from offering Lifeline-subsidized plans.
Sometimes we get discouraged. We think, “What can I do? I’m just one person.” We know that we can vote, we can join our voices with those of other like-minded people by calling and writing and faxing and emailing our Members of Congress. We can join local marches or start our own protests, or picket our one corner of the world.
And sometimes, one woman can create HUGE change in her community. Read this feel-good story about Vanessa Thompson who suffered a bad childhood, became addicted to drugs, was implicated in a murder in a crack cocaine dispute, and went to prison in Indiana. That’s not the feel-good part. After a rocky start in Indiana Women’s Prison, she steadied herself. She took classes in civic literacy.
Thompson began to see possibilities for reform. And from her classes, she gained the skills necessary to work for reform. She had a big idea. She wrote a proposal and brought it to class. Her classmates dug into it.
Thompson and her classmates brought the idea to the state legislature, and it was approved unanimously. Together, they created “Construction for the Future,” which is a project to both reduce recidivism and restore blighted neighborhoods. Read the article here.
Contribute to the GoFundMe campaign to support this project here.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.