Friday, May 28, 2010

Conflict at University of Puerto Rico

I am always interested in what is going on in academia. Please find below info on the conflict at the University of Puerto Rico:

Dear colleagues, students, and friends:

As many of you already know, students at the University of Puerto Rico have been on strike for 37 days now and have de facto paralyzed all but one of the eleven campuses that comprise the system. At the core of this conflict is the future of public higher education in Puerto Rico. This includes critical issues concerning the current state budgetary crisis and its potentially detrimental effects on the life of the university, but it also bears upon questions that go beyond economic matters, as we hope the information enclosed below makes clear.

Even though talks between students and the university administration have recently resumed, the situation is still volatile and rather precarious. Students have been beaten by the police as recently as last week, and riot squads have been deployed, and are still on call, to siege university campuses all around the island. Two weeks ago Police Chief José Figueroa Sancha, with the support of university authorities, forbade water and food supplies to students who are occupying the main campus of the system (Río Piedras). This measure was finally withdrawn after much outrage from the community. Most recently, this past Monday a student, Natalia Sánchez López, died from unknown causes following her participation in a student assembly on the Mayagüez campus. University authorities had ensured that this gathering would take place in uncomfortable and potentially harmful conditions in order to discourage participation. Many students were treated for dehydration throughout the proceedings, and an investigation into Natalia’s death is still under way. Finally, yesterday several thousand protesters, of all ages and backgrounds, marched on the capitol building and the governor’s mansion in support of the students’ demands.

For your information, we are enclosing here a link to a segment on Amy Goodman’s program, Democracy Now, that addresses this current crisis, a link to a NYT article on the strike, and both the original Spanish version and an English translation of the Declaration of Puerto Rican Academics in the US (originally published in Spanish on May 20, 2010 and signed by 65 professors) in which we discuss some of the deeper implications of the conflict. Below you will also find two additional links: 1) to the students’ news service (Desde Adentro-rojogallito); and 2) to the strikers’ own radio station (Radio Huelga).

As this situation has received so little coverage outside Puerto Rico, some of us have deemed it important to send this information to our networks. Please help us to disseminate it by sharing it with your lists.

Many thanks,

Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, The University of Chicago

Aldo Lauria-Santiago, Rutgers University

Ivette Hernández-Torres, University of California, Irvine

Luis Avilés, University of California, Irvine

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now

NYT Article on PR Student Strike
U.S. | May 21, 2010

Student Protests Tie Up Campuses in Puerto Rico


Most of the University of Puerto Rico system has been shut down by students seeking greater transparency.

UPR Student News Service, Desde Adentro-rojogallito

Radio Huelga

Racial Profiling in Arizona

Below is a statement by The Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), an organization of UUs of color and Latina/o ministers, religious educators, seminarians and staff comprised of individuals that come together to support and advocate for one another, their colleagues and their ministries.

Question: What are you doing to build and support bridges between people?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

May 28, 2010

DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries) join with other Unitarian Universalists concerned with justice to condemn the new racial profiling laws in Arizona and we urge Unitarian Universalists who identify as people of color/Latina/o/Hispanic to express their outrage individually and collectively at these laws which allow law enforcement to target people based on race. We particularly note the statement by LUUNA (Latina/o Unitarian Universalist Networking Association) which notes about this law that “its very vagueness will provide a means for law enforcement agencies to harass individuals on the basis of appearance alone.”

Because some of our members have indicated their concern that they would not be safe travelling to and within Arizona as long as such racial profiling laws exist, we also support the proposed boycott of General Assembly. To hold a General Assembly without the total spectrum of our members is exclusionary. We also urge our General Assembly delegates this year to explore other options that could keep us in dialogue with the people of Arizona.

We remind our Unitarian Universalist family that such actions do have impact. In the late 1980s, when Arizona refused to honor the Martin Luther King holiday, Unitarian Universalists cancelled the General Assembly scheduled to be held there. After the state changed their position, General Assembly was once again held in that state. We believe that, even in hard economic times, Unitarian Universalists must be willing to demand that their money be guided by their principles.

We as people who affirm the worth and dignity of all people must continue to fight against racism and ethnic discrimination in all forms. A law that singles people out by race and ethnicity is by its nature racist. We condemn this law and urge people of faith throughout our country to let their voices be heard.

For The Steering Committee

DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries)

Rev. Danielle Dibona, President

Robette Dias, Treasurer

Clyde Grubbs, Event Coordinator

Rev. Leslie Takahashi Morris, First Vice President

David Yamashita, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus Chair

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tragedy for One of Us Constitutes Tragedy for All of Us

A beautiful 7-year old girl, Aiyana Jones was recently killed when police in Detroit invaded her home under the guise of executing a police raid. Aiyana Jones was peacefully sleeping on a couch in her home when she was fatally shot in the neck by a police officer during a raid on the house allegedly targetting a homicide suspect. It appears the police instead targeted the home of an innocent family.

CBS reported that neighbors told [the] police [that] there were children in the house, and showed them toys in the front yard. However, the police allegedly proceeded to throw a flash grenade through the window of the home despite the warnings.

The tragic incident was reportedly caught on tape by a television crew that was following the police while filming the raid for a crime show.

Aiyana had been sleeping on a living room sofa about 12:40 a.m. Sunday when she was struck by a bullet from a gun carried by a member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team. Officers entered the downstairs flat of the two-story duplex in the 4000 block of Lillibridge on the city's east side after throwing a stun grenade through the glass of a front window.

A video crew with "The First 48" cable TV show was recording the scene as the cops executed a warrant for Chauncey Louis Owens, 34, wanted for the May 14 slaying of a Southeastern High School senior. Owens was captured as officers simultaneously raided the duplex's upstairs unit -- without exploding a stun bomb.

Owens has since been charged with murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jerean Blake.

Officer Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team, has been identified as the person who shot Aiyana. The 14-year veteran of the force has been placed on a desk job while the incident is investigated.

Police said there was some level of contact between Aiyana's grandmother and Weekley after he entered the home and that led to the shooting.

A lawsuit has been claiming negligence, civil rights violations and a police cover-up of the true facts.

(source: From The Detroit News:


What a painful loss and tragedy for the parents. My heart goes out to them. But we must share in the parents grief and outrage if these facts are correct as reported. How can life be rendered so cheaply by those designated to protect us? How can they profess to uphold the law and be so inconsiderate of the humanity and rights of citizens? The recklessness out of which the police appeared to act reflects a historic alienation rooted in racism that I had thought had begun to dissipate in most instances. Whether this reflects an aberration remains to be seen. I pray the day will come soon when we are healed of the disease of racism and all the other isms that corrupt human relations

Q. When are we compelled to step forward and speak out less we compromise our humanity and become less than human?

Pray like hell for justice and then get up and fight like hell to claim it!
Rev. Qiyamah

Friday, May 7, 2010

II Annual Freedom Weekend

I was recently in Austin, TX, AKA ATX for the II Annual Freedom Weekend held April 29to May 2, 2010. While I helped out in different venues my primary role (besides supporting my daughter, Kaleema Haider Al-Nur) was as one of the guest speakers for the Interfaith Worship Service held on Sunday, May 2. Each of the four clergy delivered ten minute mini-sermons:

Rev. Dr. Joseph Parker, Senior Pastor, David Chapel Missionary Baptist, Austin, TX
sermon - Rebooting Justice

Cardinal Aswad Walker, Shrine of the Black Madonna, Houston, TX
sermon - Why Do You Cry to Me So? Tell the Children of Israel to March On. Exodus 14:15

Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman, Director of Contextual Ministry and Senior Lecturer at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL
sermon - On the Road to Beloved Community

Robert Muhammad, Nation of Islam, Austin Study Group, Austin, TX
sermon - The Science of Freedom

BLACK FREEDOM WEEKEND 2010 featured 4-days of discussions, Films, performances and trainings!

Annual Black Freedom Weekend featured a gathering of individuals and community groups and organizations, convened by Community and University organizers and partners to confront major issues that impact Black communities in Austin [and throughout Texas] as human rights issues. The Weekend included some exciting venues featuring: a film festival, community forums with keynote speaker, Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network. His presentation was titled, From Civil Rights Back to Human Rights: Recapturing the Spirit of Revolutionary Change. Freedom Weekend Kickoff Night featured an elder activist, African Martial Arts (stick fighting and a version of Capoeira) and slamming guest poets delivering spoken word. The largest gathering occured on the last day when white allies convened to talk about gentrification in Austin.

FW fosters practical strategy-making, community building, truth-telling, critical dialogue, and creative collaborations and coalitions by inviting a variety of voices to the table during activities held at different locations throughout the Community. Freedom Weekend is:
* Community Art Show & Performances
* ‘Bringing Human Rights Home’ Community Forum
* Sunday Sermon
* ‘People Get Ready’ Community Workshops

Annual Freedom Weekend is Housed at: the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas.

[2010] II Annual Freedom Weekend: This year’s Freedom Weekend focused on naming the collection of Systems, policies and practices that work in concert to produce a Push-Out/Pull-Out effect of Black communities or Black Community Displacement. As the size of the Black community in Austin continues to shrink, we ask: WHERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE GOING AND WHAT’S GOING ON WITH BLACK PEOPLE!? Last years focus and theme was
"Bringing Human Rights Home."

Question: What are you doing in your community to bring together segments of people that do not usually communicate such as the residential community and academia; grass roots activist and policy makers/legislators and politicians?

If you are currently not doing anything what can you begin to do? Who do you need to collaborate with? Who are the existing players?
Blessings! Rev. Rock (Rahman)

Get in Where You Fit In!

This post features a potpourri of events that you may or may not be able to relate to. Hence, the title, get in where you fit in.
Rev. Qiyamah

Politics of Black Women's Hair

At the risk of setting off a deluge of comments (good for the blog - bad for my peace of mine), I have a confession to make. I recently put a light relaxer in my otherwise natural hair. Given that I have worn my hair natural since I was 18 years old and I am now turning 62 I think I can exercise the freedom to explore my hair options without having the the hair police called down on me. The fact that I am very embarrassed to admit this simple fact (Hey! I'm a grown ass woman!) is a sad commentary on the politics of black women's hair. But I reserve the right to be in relationship with my hair however I choose. Besides, I have demonstrated my commitment to natural hair and the polics of natural hair at almost 62. And I have earned the right to make my own decisions about my hair. For those of who that do not know the roots from whence this conversation flows then you have not been paying attention! I do not have the time or patience to school you. Google something like "politics of black women's hair" or "natural vs straightened hair debate."

Here is a picture of the culprit. I chose this product because it does not contain lye. It went on easily, had no odor and did what it said it would do - relaxed my hair. I left it on for 15 minutes. If I had known that my hair texture did not require 15 I would have probably left it in for less time. What I noticed after I rinsed it out is that the "curl/kink" that I slightly straightened also provided body and once I did not have the curl/kink I had less body and my hair was not as full and able to form a natural crown but lay down like a domesticated dog. Did I take all the fight and umph out of my hair. lol I am on the verge of cutting it all off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On a More Serious Note

I said it was not all that serious! And I have just the picture to prove it. This is a dog walker in downtown Chi Town doing his thing!

Ordination: Celebrating a Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Milestone

L-R Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Beverly Bumbaugh, Rev.Rudra, Rev. Ed Searles, Rev. Jim Hobart (back to camera), Rev. Nan Hobart and Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher.

Two of my favorite Unitarian Universalist ceremonies are installations and ordinations. This is a picture of Lynn Garner's recent ordination held April 24 at
3rd Unitarian Church. The ordination marks the congregation's naming and blessing of a UU seminarian that has usually completed a Masters of Divinity and has been fellowshipped by the denominational credentialing body, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

Ministers and students in candidate status can process (march)in at the beginning of the ceremony and at the conclusion of the ceremony. Several will also participate in the service. An ordination usually features the following: hymns, readings, meditation, homily, charge to congregation, charge to minister and right hand of fellowship. The ordinee is usually gifted with a stole. The ordaining congregation and ordinee participate in a responsive covenant and the benediction is given and everyone convenes to a reception to indulge in food, drink and conversation.

L-R Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Beverly Bumbaugh and Rev. Rudra

Theatre Gains Another Gifted Playwright

L-R unidentified staff person with Crossroads Theatre, Stephanie Berry and Artistic Director of Crossroads.

Sunday, April 18 I had the pleasure to travel to support my friend Stephanie Berry's endeavors in New Brunswick, New Jersey to witness an important milestone in a friends career. I was privy to the transition of Stephanie's craft from actor to playwright. The Court Theatre premiered Stephanie's play, the Last Fall. It is a love story between two individuals in the senior years of their life. Watching the play I realized an irony, that is, many of the same dynamics and challenges in love attachments are present across generations. Issues of trust, commitment, adjustments to one another and clarity about the relationship and common agreement about same are all similar across generations. The unique factors that aging partners appear to face is the recognition that one might have to settle because advanced age may preclude other options. Also, partners, usually the woman face having to compete with much younger rivals for love interests is another unique dynamic associated with aging love. Sexually active seniors also face more health concerns as they seek sexual pleasures with aging bodies and all the accompanying challenges.

The two protagonists, Lizan Mitchell (Rhea) and Roscoe Orman (Neville) meet and become enmeshed in a verbally combative relationship that is sometimes as toxic as it is loving. The couple treat the audience to their unique blend of intimacy moving back and forth between loving reminising of shared moments of playfulness and lusty sex to sharp and biting verbal exchanges punctuated by Neville's silences or ominous warnings, "you don't want to go there."

The play put me in touch with my own reflections and vulnerabilities about growing old and attempts to claim love and romance. How that process changes is not as obvious as how I have changed and what it means to seek a mature love in a changing world. Rhea and Neville overcome the biggest obstacle, how to meet potential partners, through their accidental meeting one night when Rhea is attempting to catch a cab. They are not going in the same direction. This might very well be the theme of the relationship. Rhea wants commitment and Neville is not sure whether he wants it although iot is obsious he craved love as much as Rhea. Rhea was more willing to take risks to secure it than Neville was. An ironic twist, Neville is an "emotional coward" and Rhea the warrior. Some of the basic differences between men and women are explored in this complex play. Differences about how men and women pursue love interests differently and how men often equate it as more about sex than romance. Rhea defies all those stereotypes and is at times portrayed as a card waving feminist/womanist who clearly will not let any man take advantage of her. She is quick witted and intelligent and feisty!

My regards to the playwright Stephanie Berry for a job well done! I suspect we will be hearing from her in the future and her career as a playwright looks more than a little promising!

L-R Stephanie Berry, John Martin and unidentified theatre goer.