Is terror a bigger horror than imperialism?

I have been consumed with the horror of the destruction in Paris on Friday. And yet many of my progressive friends and various Africa news sites remind us of the ongoing relationship between France and its former African colonies.

Burkina Faso
Ivory Coast
Central African Republic
Equatorial Guinea

Due to a series of unequal relationships these countries are independent in name only. When we ask ourselves, why are African countries experiencing poverty and instability, we must look at the roots stemming back to the horrendous scramble for Africa in the late 1800s.

There was a book written called Not Yet Uhuru about the struggle for freedom in Kenya after independent from England. The title applies to most of these countries. And if the horrors of colonialism weren’t enough, radical Islamic groups are carrying out bombings. Africa must be free from imperialism and religious fanaticism. As we help the people of France to heal, they must recognize their duty to remove the yoke of neo-colonialism I am hopeful that a new generation of African leaders will emerge to help make independence a reality.

To be honest, I’m actually brown

On facebook there is a page being promoted by a local activist Eyon Biddle called All Black Everything: ABE. For some reason I’ve always had a problem with saying I’m black. Because I’m not. I’ve never met any black people but I have met plenty of white people. However, the people we say are white actually are white.  At least enough of them to make the term accurate. But black has always been the more politically powerful term.  I sang “I’m black and I’m proud” and “Young Gifted and Black” with everyone else of my generation. They were powerful anthems that spoke of our coming of age.

The only thing we could say about brown was, “if you’re brown, stick around.” But for black, it was “get way on back.” So we have a discrepancy between the way we describe ourselves and who we are. There are those who embrace the idea that Africans in America are “niggers.” This is a hateful term I have always rejected and started fights with white people about being labelled. There are those of us with deep wonderful brown skin and we are the bomb. Most of the wonderful dark brown hair that I had is now grey and I look more like Frederick Douglass than Malcolm X. But All Black? Not by a longshot. However, local oddballs like me we will stick around.

I have many different types of identities within me. I am known as one who felt very deeply that the main dividing factor in our society was social class: the haves and the have nots. It is wonderful that Magic Johnson is part of the new ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but yes he is an owner. Sadly, it has never been shown that a society based upon ownership by the working class can create a successful country. There always seems to be a need to retain class divisions. Even before you start talking about skin color.

There is a simpler way to discuss the issue of class and race among African-Americans. Allen West, a right wing, African-American Congressman from Florida recently addressed a meeting in which he said he thought he was coming to  buy a franchise of Chick-fil-a, a fast food company whose owner recently spoke out against equal rights for lesbians and gays. But, to West, who had already become notorious for many other ridiculous remarks, it was perfectly okay to say he would buy into a company whose owner believes in discriminating against Americans. He’s a brown man and I’m proud not to support him.

We also have the zombie like supreme court justice “clearly tomming on us”, whose wife is awhite right wing ideologue. He was appointed because he was young and the repugnant party wanted someone someone to help bury the distinguish career of Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Then there is my identity as a peer support specialist. I have walked in the shoes of those living with issues relating to a mental illness. Keep in mind that this is an identity that transcends race, color and class. And it is something that can strike at almost any point in one’s life. What color does mental illness have? Mostly gray, like my hair.

So to embrace all the different facets of my life, you would need to create an identity that includes workers, people of African descent in America, people struggling to overcome being labelled by the mental health professionals and probably a lot more. So, all black? It’s not for me.

Ask Congress to ratify disability rights treaty


ACTION ALERT — No Time For Fence Sitting:

USA Senate May Vote on Major Disability Treaty.

Tell Your US Senators to Ratify “CRPD” Today!

by David W. Oaks, Executive Director
MindFreedom International

Just five days ago, on July 26th, the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the first step in the process to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the USA succeeded.

The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a mark-up hearing and voted the treaty out of committee by a 13 to 6 count.

CRPD is out of the hands of the lawyers. Now it’s time for the grassroots in our democracy — the 99 percent — to get hands on with the process! Everyone in the USA can help bring the CRPD to the floor for a full vote by the members of the US Senate within the next few days.

Celia Brown, MindFreedom President, told me today, “I worked very hard inside the United Nations with other MindFreedom International members for human rights and against discrimination. Hopefully we’ll be able to ratify the CRPD in the USA!”

The CRPD is entering its final stage for a full floor vote in the Senate. There is still time for floor action before the August recess (which starts on August 3), so act soon. But no matter what… contact your Senator!

The treaty needs at least 67 Senators to vote “aye” in order for it to be ratified.



Call your Senators and tell them to support bringing the treaty to the floor for vote, and to vote in favor of the treaty once this happens.


Find your Senator contact info to call, email or both TODAY at:
or use this link:

Or phone Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Identify yourself as a constituent and urge your Senators:

“Please bring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to the floor immediately and support the ratification of the treaty!”



With just days before the August recess, ask your family, friends, co-workers, and other community members to call!

Activate EVERYONE to call, email, and visit your Senate offices!

Tweet #CRPD and Facebook messages of support!

Updates and info at:

UN info on CRPD here:



The US National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) put it this way:

“The CRPD is a non-discrimination treaty seeking to achieve the same goals as the ADA and other existing disability laws in the United States: to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, inclusion, and integration into all aspects of society. The CRPD is important to all people with disabilities because it embodies equal treatment and non-discrimination in access to employment, educational, and housing opportunities.”

As well as being a psychiatric survivor director of MindFreedom International, I also serve on the board of the United States International Council on Disability (USICD), which has been a leading group in unifying the USA disability movement for passage of CRPD.

I’ve found USICD leaders such as Eric Rosenthal, Marca Bristo and David Morrissey, and others, to be positive, passionate, and principled allies for the psychiatric survivor movement. Thank you all! Let’s be powerful allies for USICD and the entire cross-disability movement today, in the spirit of Justin Dart, Jr., and push for passage of CRPD, today!

There is opposition to our human rights. Some misguided US Senators have added an amendment at the last minute — over the wishes of the disability and psychiatric survivor movement — that may weaken this treaty in the USA. Of course, MFI is against any amendments, period. However, this current amendment, called a ‘declaration,’ does not rise to the level of a ‘deal breaker’ so everyone still ought to still push for the CRPD.

Of course there might be a point where an amendment — called Reservation Understanding or Declaration [RUD] — could become a ‘deal breaker.’ MFI is monitoring that, and if this happened, MFI would withdraw support. But we need to support CRPD. Or not. This historic moment is no time for fence-sitting.

Your PEOPLE POWER can help win this in the USA! Act now!

Lead on!

David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MindFreedom International


Ozzie and Fidel: not a match made for Miami

Español: Fidel Castro en Brasilia
Español: Fidel Castro en Brasilia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ozzie Guillen, the new manager of the newly renamed Miami Marlins, is currently serving  a five game suspension handed down by the team for…speaking his mind. If you  were watching the Internet recently you probably  heard that Guillen, an outspoken native of Venezuela, had praised Fidel Castro for being able to survive so many years in power in Cuba. The anti-Castro Cubans in Miami, who are loud, howled in disbelief.

They called for a boycott of Marlins games as long as Guillen remained the manager. The politically astute Marlins management released  a statement denouncing Castro and suspended Guillen for five games. Guillen has apologized and hopes to be able return to his job.

I don’t intend to change anyone’s mind by posting my opinion but I believe Guillen was right in saying there are things to admire about Fidel Castro. He inspired a lot of people in the late 50’s and early 60’s who loved his audacity in being able to resist the US and the CIA inspired attempts to subvert the Cuban revolution. There are American medical students enrolled in Cuban medical schools who had not been born when Fidel came to power in the 1959 revolution.

Since the United States became a world power, we have always treated Cuba like a tasty little morsel that should have slipped into our orbit from the time we began seizing land and power from Spain. The United States is sold bold, we just wrote our permanent occupation of Cuba into their constitution through the so-called Platt Amendment.

There is the often repeated narrative that by resisting continuing American control Castro first inspired but then alienated many people. There were many things that happened, including Cuba fighting South Africans in the struggle against colonialism in Angola. The last ten years of increasing South American political independence from the US can be attributed in part to the Cuban revolution.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union and the passage of ever increasing measures intended to make the Cuban economy scream for mercy, Cuba remains firmly in the control of the revolutionaries. It is that long history of survival and change that Ozzie Guillen admired. And I believe he was correct in admiring Fidel. Having saving that I probably would not have done so in his position.

The Cuban government has been implementing changes in their economic system but they are not willing to allow American political control.Which is probably what the rich Cuban-Americans want. They want to own land, plantations, and labor in Cuba.  It is a struggle for the destiny of Cuba and the verdict is out on who will win.

I said that even though I understood why there are things to admire about Fidel Castro , I might night have done so as the Marlins’ manager. It’s a presitigious position and it pays a boatload of money. In a way, Ozzie Guillen, who previously managed the Chicago White Sox to their first World Series championship since the Bronze Age, is like one of the people portrayed in the This American Life episode You Have the Right to remain Silent. People for whatever reason refuse to shut up no matter what the consequences.

There was a police man who exposed crooked police practices in New York City and was put in a psychiatric ward and there was a loud mouth on facebook who made a comment that got him in trouble. There are people like that. Ozzie spoke up, so I guess he’s the latest one.

Ozzie Guillen - Chicago AL - 1991 Road
Ozzie Guillen - Chicago AL - 1991 Road (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)


Is there an alternative?

Years ago there was what was called a socialist bloc of countries in eastern Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Most of those countries have now embraced capitalism. And of course, the Soviet Union disappeared altogether. It’s depressing to hear Cuban leaders talk of their economy being a basket case. I think of this because of a brief exchange I had on Facebook this week regarding the Libyan revolution. I support the right of the Libyan people to change their leaders and to overthrow  the government of Muammar Ghadaffi. Over 40 years in power is far too long for anyone.

Tonight I heard one of the leaders of the revolutionary council talking about Libyan needs including technology. At the same time the country will have access to over $100 billion in assets that will be unfrozen from accounts around the world to assist in this effort. Libya has already established markets for its oil. Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, China and other countries have contracts to buy their oil. The US buys a tiny amount of its oil from Libya. This situation is expected to continue. At this point we have an imperialist dominated world and even the few nominally socialist countries are allowing more and more capitalist enterprises.

The question is whether the capitalists will absorb Libya. But the model of faux Pan Africanism that Ghadaffi used as his justification for clinging to power does not work. It is time for a new generation of Libyans to direct their country’s fate. Let us hope that the use the resources of their nation wisely.

A year later, things still remain in flux. Revolutions take time to transition to a functioning government. Will the trains run on time under the new government?


Zimbabwe (Photo credit: AFSC Photos)
The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gadda...
The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi. Português: O líder de facto da Líbia, Muammar al-Gaddafi. Deutsch: Libyens de facto Staatsoberhaupt Muammar al-Gaddafi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Muammar Gaddafi is at the end of his chess match. He as no more moves left. His sons have been captured or surrendered. The  revolutionaries have taken over most of the capital of Tripoli with little resistance. From monitoring twitter, Al Jazeera and other media it is clear that his government no longer exists. Elements of former military may still be hiding out. Rumors abound that NATO has its designs on Libyan oil. What is clear is that Muammar Gaddafi does not control the oil. The revolutionary council that defeated him will need to set up a new government and the people who have participated in making the revolution need to return to routine jobs. There are warrants for Muammar Gaddafi to appear before an international criminal court to answer charges relating to his efforts to defeat the revolutionaries. He can surrender to the new authorities and attempt to arrange to be transported to a country like Zimbabwe that does not recognize the courts or end up in South Africa whose leaders met with him several times while he stubbornly clung to power. A less dignified approach would be to end up in a rabbit hole captured like Saddam Hussein. The tribes did not respond to his call to come and sacrifice themselves to help maintain his regime. It is time to accept the new realities and call for an end to the remaining resistance in order to prevent further loss of life. Libya has won.