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Category Archives: Victims

Knowing the Klan

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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Lost Among Us~

Mentalillness
Mental Illness
Picture credit: Chitrapa

 

Once again, splashed repeatedly all over every News Channel, is a story about a person with a mental illness, who has attacked innocent strangers in a public place and then lost their own life.

This latest tragedy was done by a homeless person who has been in and out of places where he should have been kept, safe.

Safe for him, safe for the rest of us.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should never have been released into an unsuspecting community, who could neither help, nor understand his pain and anguish, nor his propensity for uncontrollable or violent outbursts.

The last two places that I have lived, California and Connecticut, have for all intents and purposes, shut down and/or closed nearly all of their outpatient, or public mental facilities.

Access to good Psychiatric treatment has been greatly reduced around the Country, but for the indigent, it basically no longer exists.

Persons who are unable to cope, or deal with the everyday challenges of life outside of a safe facility, are now being put out onto the streets, where they have no clue as to what to do.

These mentally ill people are admitted, kept for a short time and then because of budget cuts across the United States, released back out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

This is difficult enough to do with normal brain function, but for one that is nearly incapacitated, or badly impaired, as well as homeless, they are left to just wander around among us, lost and not understanding what is happening to them, or why.

We have endless money to send a huge military force all over this planet and spend billions on War, and all that is connected to it, but when it comes to those who are poor or afflicted, we often show little compassion or concern.

We must take care of our sick and desperate people, or there will continue to be tragedies in Theatres and Schools and the Workplace.

These wretched souls quite often cannot ask for help, as many of them do not understand that they are ill.

What they need is care, medications, kindness and a safe place to live in.

At any given moment, ” There but for the Grace of God, go you or I.”

Any one of us could be just one devastating accident, illness or mugging away from an impaired mental state, or permanently diminished capacity.

We should know better and do better, for them, for us.

No one should be alone and lost among us.

 

Places to learn more:

 
Schizophrenia

Police: Assailant in latest movie theater attack was homeless, had psychological issues

Police Kill Suspect in Theater Attack in Nashville

Antioch Movie Theater Shooting in Nashville a ‘Suicide by Police’?

911 call describes Tennessee theater attack: ‘He pulled out a gun and we all ran’

 

 

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The Radium Girls

Curie_and_radium_by_Castaigne

Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain

 

A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.

 

Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls

 

 

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Monsters of Marianna

FlaIndusSchBoys
The Florida Dozier School for Boys in Marianna
Dining hall construction with “White House” in background, 1936
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

This story has been percolating in my head and heart since we moved down here nearly ten years ago,

it is not about Florida Wildlife it is about Florida Monsters.

But just like the Wildlife here that I am devoted to writing about, these children also had no voice.

If you blink as you drive West on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee in the Panhandle of Florida, you might miss Marianna.

This is a sleepy little town, that until we moved here and began seeing the News stories, had held only one memory,  it was the town where we always stopped to eat at a place called Po – Folks.

Po – Folks  has  great country-style southern comfort food and a really friendly staff.

Absolutely nothing there, or anything that you see as you drive through, could possibly tell you about the dark, ugly secret this town once had.

Now when I think of Marianna, it will forever be because of the horrible, hideous stories continuously being splashed across our TV News Stations.

You see in  Marianna,  there used to be what is called a Bad Boys, or Reform School and it was said to be the biggest one in the entire United States.

You know, the kind of place where troubled children get sent to because no one can control them, or worse, wants them.

Some of them were orphans, others were just confused and needed guidance and help.

This House of Horrors  is/was called the Dozier Boys School and it was also a  place of torture, abuse and death for many who were sent there.

It is also said that the KKK were very much a part of the crimes here.

The school was opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 amid a flurry of accusations, threats and lawsuits.

Then Governor Crist had it all investigated, but as usual in this place called the racially oppressed and color divided State of Florida, this ugly mess was claimed to not have enough, or sufficient evidence to go further.

Those in control stepped out, hopeful it would all go away.

But not so fast, some survivors started making a lot of noise and some people were listening to their stories, better yet they were believing them.

It has been reported that almost 100 children died while this school was in operation.

Then several years ago a team of Anthropologists from USF in Tampa went to Marianna and began a dig.

The Dig team was led by Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who had known about the school and wanted to see if something could be found.

Because my field of Education at College was in Anthropology and the majority of my Nursing experience was at a State Rehab Center in California, this story was of great personal interest.

One of the many sad  things about this story,  is the name that was given to the place where so much of the abuse happened, it was called the White House.

So, the survivors of this school nightmare, call themselves the White House Boys and they are determined to not only expose the crimes, but to shine a bring light on what happened there.

This time, they want to see justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators, if any are still alive.

These few survivors of unspeakable abuse want, need, to be assured that this can and will never happen again, anywhere.

The White House Boys also want an apology, as well as, who can blame them, compensation from those who kept the secrets of the Monsters of Marianna.

 

Places to learn more:

Read the Full USF PDF  Report here:  Dozier School Report

Florida School for Boys – Wikipedia

THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS SURVIVOR’S ORGANIZATION CORP

Florida to exhume bodies buried at former boys school

Remains of 2 more boys identified at closed Florida boys school

Boy missing since 1940 identified at closed Florida boys school

Florida’s Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story

Abuses at infamous Florida boys reform school even more widespread, report says

 

 

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Violence Against Women

Violenceagainstwoman
Picture credit:  World Health Organization

 

Writing today had not been on my agenda, until while scanning some of the reader comments from yesterday, I noticed that one was from an unfamiliar person.

Being of a curious nature,  I went to his site, and on the right side, was a list of the Blogs that he followed.

I saw a name that intrigued me and clicked on it.

As the page appeared, the very first image that came up,  delivered an instant sickening memory, one that will burn in my mind, in my heart forever.

I knew that I would indeed be writing today.

Neither the horrific image, nor the page, will be shown here, if you look around, it is out there.

It is a picture of two young girls in India who,  they say,  were gang raped and then hung.

Please read that sentence again, will you?

Then try for one moment  to remember what year it is,  this is 2014.

How is it possible, conceivable,  that this kind of abhorrence is still being inflicted on females anywhere?

Yet, it most assuredly is, and  in many places apparently.

The word rape is personal to me, a best friend,  the best friend of my then young son and two close relatives, were all raped.

Men for the most part, can never truly appreciate the fear that is associated with this evil word.

Unless of course they become incarcerated, then …………

But for us, for women, this is a word that we know all too well.

Some better than others.

Rape, whether we admit it or not, is always in the back of our minds.

Will it happen to me?

For women, the world around us has now become so violent, that simply going to the grocery store, can put any one of us at great risk of becoming the victim of a violent act.

Where we live near Orlando, the violent acts against women and children, have now become an ugly, daily occurrence on our local News.

Women and young girls are beaten, raped, car jacked and murdered here on a regular, horrifying basis.

It seems that we/they are not safe anywhere, anymore, not even at home.

All of this brutality, this violence against women, is happening in a State that still has not passed  the ERA, like several other mostly, Southern States.

Does this have any bearing on the outrageous brutality towards women here, maybe.

Although not familiar with the statistics in other states at this time, it has been said repeatedly on our news here, that Florida leads the Nation in violence against women, children and animals.

Sounds like we have a BIG problem here doesn’t it?

But, it is not just here, not just in Florida, not just in America, it is GLOBAL.

The very long list of types of violent acts against women is simply staggering.

And, it has been going on since the beginning of time.

In India, wives died in their husband’s  funeral pyres in a practice known as  sati.

Young girls are still suffering right now with female  genital mutilation.

A shock today was learning that  Ethiopia has the highest incidence of violence against women.

But when you consider the absolute, abject poverty there, is it really so surprising after all?

It appears that violence against others is much more prevalent where there is great poverty.

This makes perfect sense in a way.

If a person, assuming the perpetrator of the violent act is a male, is out of work, perhaps for a very long time, desperate and suffering from extreme low self-esteem, any one could then potentially become the target of a violent act.

A wife, a child, a pet could become the victim of violent, out of control, rage.

Regardless of the triggering point, this is absolutely not acceptable behavior under any conditions.

But, back to the point.

We on this Planet have a very serious problem with violence against women.

America has just finally passed, for all of the good it has apparently done, the VAW ACT.

Yet every single day, here and all across this country and the world, women and children become victims, another statistic, while waiting for this VAW  ACT, the judicial system that continues to fail them and yes all of us too, to save their lives.

Women go to court trying to get legal protection, in the form of a piece of useless paper, called a restraining order, and are murdered anyway.

So, what is the solution?

Well, if we wait for a legal solution, I truly don’t believe that it can or will, ever be the answer.

The answer I believe, is within ourselves.

We must change our basic nature, we must get to the roots of all humans and their eons old, errant thinking.

We must all, each and every one of us, be taught from birth, from our Mother’s, yes and most importantly from our Father’s knee, that each of us is valuable, each of us is worthy of being loved and each of us is important.

Once we as a species, begin to feel good, or at least not bad,  about who and what we are, only then can we truly accept and love each other and stop the violence against women.

 

Places to learn more:

The Violence Against Women Act

International Violence Against Women Act

Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women Laws

Women Against Abuse

Domestic Violence – Legal Protection From Abuse 

 

 

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The True Cost of Your Food!

migrantchildren

The year  is 1941 and these are the children of Migrant Farm Workers in California.
Picture credit: Library of Congress, Robert Hemmig.

 

As you sit to eat each day, do you ever think about where the food on your table comes from?

Perhaps not, but maybe you should.

The United States has millions of Migrant Farm Workers whose sole means of survival, is to put that very food on your table.

And how do we thank them for this life-giving nourishment?

The truth is not very pleasant, nor often even humane.

The work that they do is back-breaking, with very low pay or sometimes,  even no pay.

They have no health insurance and few rights and even fewer who care what happens to them at all.

Yet, without these Migrant Farm Workers who suffer in silence, we would have nothing, or very little, on our dinner tables in America.

I know of no one who would do the work that they do,  no one!

Would you?

If they are lucky, they and their children will hopefully survive it all.

As most of you who follow my two Blogs know, I lived in Southern California  for over 30 years.

My education was in Anthropology, and my opportunity to learn about Migrant Workers came easily because of these two facts.

My last semester at CSUN was a rewarding one, the hard part was all done and the classes that remained were ones that gave me the chance to study what really meant the most to me, people.

Over the years, I had met and become friends with many Hispanics in California, some were legal residents, many were not, but they were all the same to me, kind, warm and family loving people,  that I enjoyed being with and knowing.

The first  “free study”  Class that I did was about the Migrant Farm Workers who lived and worked in Southern California.

I spent countless weekends for six months,  all over LA talking to and learning about, the way these people lived and worked.

They were so forthcoming in offering me the chance to understand the hard lives that they and their families lived.

In these interviews, the people who talked to me were always men,  their wives and children were still in Mexico and they sent them as much as they could each week.

This was the saddest part of the lesson learned, many times the men would get onto trucks and work for an entire day in a field somewhere, only to be dropped off and told that they would be paid the next day.

But, that never happened they said,  because the next day the nasty people who did this,  always chose another street and another group of unsuspecting victims.

Usually, these men lived as many as 8-10 to a room, sharing what they had,  just trying to survive and send money home.

They were victimized by “legal” Americans who cared nothing for them of their families, but only used them.

The workers of course,  could not complain, as so many of them were not here legally and those who cheated them, were quite well aware of this fact.

This was in the mid 1990’s.

What I did not know about at the time of these interviews,  was all that had been done to those who came before them.

Migrant Farm Workers coming to pick food in California began shortly after the two World Wars,  first in the early 1900’s and then later, in the 1950’s, with the Bracero Program.

California advertised everywhere to bring people there to pick the exploding orange and fruit harvests for the owners who were desperate for pickers.

Those who came, were promised many things and in the beginning they were treated fairly well.

Although unbelievably,  I just learned today, they were sprayed with DDT at the Borders.

But then later after the worker shortage slowed down around the mid 1960’s, things began to change and conditions for the pickers became most unbearable.

Just about this time,  Cesar Chavez began his lifetime of dedication to improving  Farm Worker’s Rights.

He would fight this good fight,  until his death and made such a tremendous difference in their lives.

But silently waiting in the dark shadows all during this time was a sinister evil that few suspected, until it was out of control.

Pesticide poisoning was now rampant among the farm workers, their families and the places where they lived.

There is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, called  McFarland, where not so long ago, the rate of leukemia among the children there under six, was nearly 80% and many blamed this on the over use of pesticides throughout this entire farming region.

This town is right smack in the middle of the Big Valley, which we Californians jokingly called the “salad bowl of America” because just about everything in a salad came from there.

What no one talked about back then,  however, was the amount of pesticides and the harm they caused, used everywhere in this  Great Valley,  that  all of this wonderful food required to be delivered to America’s dinner tables.

The people who bring you your food and their families,  have paid a great price for this, many paid the ultimate price.

So, now that you know the true cost of your food, perhaps the next time you and your family sit down to dinner, you may say a silent thank you to the Migrant Farm Workers who brought it to you.

 

Places to learn more:

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Protect Farmworkers From Pesticide Poisonings

California goes mobile to educate farm workers on pesticide safety

Pesticides and Childhood Cancer

Heavy Lift

Florida Farm Workers Allege Pesticide Exposure Is Giving Them Cancer

A Poisoned Culture: the case of the Indigenous Huicholes Farm Workers

Farm Workers Demand Protections From Pesticide Poisoning

Long-awaited EPA pesticide protections a ‘mixed bag’

Farmworkers plagued by pesticides

Farmworkers

 

 

 

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Rape on the Reservations

UNiTE_Poster

Picture credit: The United Nations End Violence Against Women Campaign

 

As many of you know, my partner for the past 15 years is Walkingfox, who is a Mohegan from Connecticut.

This morning while posting his weekly Blog on his website, the story left me both sad and disgusted.

It was about the many rapes and lack of punishment of Native American Women on Reservations.

Here are statistics from the National Native American Bar Association of some very disturbing numbers for Crimes committed against Native Women:    Violence Against Native Women

So, as this is still Women’s History month, I would like to offer you more about this very serious, ongoing problem that is happening to so many Women, but is out of the mainstream American News and you may not know anything about it at all.

Indeed, these are the kinds of stories that will most likely not ever be shown on your, local news, unless you live on a Reservation.

If these hideous crimes were being committed in other Countries, we would,  as a Nation,  be filled with rage, up in arms, you only need recall when a woman  in India was gang raped on a Bus last year,  there was an instant rush, an avalanche of rage here over this brutal rape.

So, where is the rage for Native Women in this Country?

Kathryn Rice, of the Pawnee Nation,  who spoke recently at UCA about Sex Crimes Against Native American Women in America,  stated that Native Women living on Reservations face these brutal statistics:
one in three will be raped in their lifetime.”

And, if you are wondering how that number compares with Non Native Women, their number is, 1 in 6.

Another stunning quote from the  recent speech by Kathryn Rice:
“Indian women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sexual abuse than any minority group. ”

If you are interested, here are some numbers for Global rape statistics:  Rape Statistics

You will notice, that Native American Women were not included on this website page, and  yes I sent them off a little note asking them why?

So, now for some conclusions.

After reading countless stories, one particular fact was often repeated, the victims were usually raped by off Reservation people, making the chance of any conviction all but impossible, as only the  US Government can prosecute the criminal.

This well-known fact may be the primary reason so many non natives commit this crime, they know full well, that they will never be put in jail or brought to justice.

For entirely too long in this Country,  Native Women had been considered easy targets of countless, brutal, violent  crimes, primarily because of the way our History has presented and demeaned them.

The ugly past of this Country, has kept Native Women fighting to retain their dignity,  while a living in a world frequently controlled by Non Natives who do not respect them and take their anger out on them with little fear of reprisal, because they can.

Another often repeated term was,  ” An epidemic of sexual violence.”

Well, if this was a viral epidemic, immediate and definite steps would be taken by all affected parties, right?

So then, what is the answer for the ugly crime of  ” Sexual Violence “ against Native Women?

How can Native Women protect themselves and stop this cycle of brutality, this madness?

In my opinion, changing the current  laws must be the first step to stopping this and it is beginning already with the recent new words written into the Violence Against Women Act  (VAWA).

But the law may need to be tweaked again, with even stronger language this time,  further applying to all Reservations and their Tribal Rights and Responsibilities, when it comes to contending with violence against their women and what they can legally do about it.

But it must continue right on to the Reservations as well. Women must collectively have open discussions about what they are going to do for themselves to change this.

All over the world, Indigenous Women are now learning how to demonstrate that they are quite capable of forming all kinds of groups to address problems for a myriad of other cultural Issues,  the time has come and even passed, for rape to be one of them.

When women join together, when they act and speak with one voice, they can conquer any obstacle, I know how strong they/we are.

Now it is time for women to let the rest of the World know too.

 

Here are some places to learn more:

Native American Women and Violence

Speaker Sheds Light On Sex Crimes

Sexual Violence Scars Native American women

For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice

Rape on Native American Reservations

Rape Cases On Indian Lands Go Uninvestigated

Native American Women and Rape –  An Escalating Crisis on Tribal Lands

 

 

 

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