mama/papa zinesters raising hell

October 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

mama/papa zinesters – wanna raise some hell?!! hello!

I wanted to tell you about a project called Mamaphiles. Its started on the website, a site for writer and artist mamas, on the zine thread.

“What if we all did a zine together, kinda like a mama zine reader?” posted one zinester – Stacey of Fertile Ground – way back whenever (I think in 2000) and about 32 other zinesters jumped in excited. Since then we have put out 3 issues: “Birth”, “Cutting the Cord”, and 3 “Coming Home” is still available. Now there is talk of 4 – with the possible theme being: “Raising Hell”!
The purpose of this project is also to be collaborative. In that, we are stronger, together – and all who participate (mothers or fathers, now with the last issue we are opened to papa zinesters) in writing an essay can participate as much or as little as they can/want. Jumping in with ideas, taking n a task: such as promotion, lay out, printing, editing, etc…

Which is great! I love to lay-out zines but am bad at promotion so my job was to lay it out. Another mama used to zerox on the sly at her office, now we have a new contributor whose collective owns a zeroxing machine, and she is going to do it and is interested in lay out. I said I would write and do outreach, looking towards newer mama zine writers I have met this year – to see if they would like to participate!

Another beauty of this project, is that we pick a theme – a very loose open theme – and see how each one of us interprets that theme. It comes out pretty cool! And no one is turned away, you want to be in, your in – but we have learned also, to have a word limit.

So we work together on this – and it becomes whatever those who make it, make it!

Interest, as well as general activity levels over at mamaphonic, is down – but some of the contributors that joined last year, are already ready to make another! Enthusiasm is re-emerging. . .

Brainstorming on a theme – has begun. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Would you like to join in? To each as they may- as little or as much as you can/want. I know many parents are busy. If you would like to only contribute an essay that too, would be so wonderful! I think there are more parent-zinesters to ask and reach out too. The more the better!

Creating this kind of “reader” with bios in the back, also is a good networking tool and a good way a new parent or interested person can see many diverse and various publications at once.

The new theme idea that has the most interest level, so far, is “Raising Hell” I kind of like it. Might be just the ticket! We need something spicier, the last issue “coming home” was very nesty.

and please, if you may, spread the word to all parent zinesters you know – that they are invited (+ greatly happily welcome!) to participate

Organization takes place on This is a good time to jump in, at the beginning! (but things are rolling along, so I am not sure where we will be if this has been forwarded to you and took a week or so …so check in and see)

and for more info on this project:

thanx and best wishes,

p.s. – also all ideas on places to put the call for submissions up are welcome &
please feel free to forward this!

shackling birthing inmates in federal prisons

October 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

The ACLU welcomes the Bureau of Prisons’ recent policy change barring the shackling of pregnant inmates in federal prisons in all but the most extreme circumstances.

This new policy represents a sea change in the United States, where the shackling of pregnant women during transport, labor, and even delivery has long been routine in jails and prisons. Currently, only California, Illinois, and Vermont have enacted state laws restricting the practice of shackling pregnant women. By contrast, international human rights bodies have repeatedly expressed concern about policies that permit shackling of pregnant women.

Such reform is long overdue: As the stories from Amnesty International’s 1999 report, “Not Part of My Sentence”: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody” make clear, shackling is not only dangerous and inhumane, but also poses serious and unnecessary risks to the wellbeing of the mother as well as her child. Warnice Robinson, who was imprisoned for shoplifting, explains,

“Because I was shackled to the bed, they couldn’t remove the lower part of the bed for the delivery, and they couldn’t put my feet in the stirrups. My feet were still shackled together, and I couldn’t get my legs apart. The doctor called for the officer, but the officer had gone down the hall. No one else could unlock the shackles, and my baby was coming but I couldn’t open my legs.”

Maria Jones, who was incarcerated for violating drug laws, tells the story of having labor induced two weeks prior to her due date, but being “kept in shackles, leaving 18 inches between her ankles, and told to pace the hallway for several hours. ‘It was so humiliating. My ankles were raw,’ she said. ‘I had shackles on up until the baby was coming out and then they took them off for me to push…It was unbelievable. Like I was going to go anywhere.’”

while the policy has been changed in federal prisons there are still state and local prisons that continue to shackle women during pregnancy and birth….check out more here

us ranks 29th in infant mortality rate

October 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

once someone asked me why did i think that infant mortality rate was so high in the u.s. i said that i thought that there was a lot more poverty in the US than most middle class people realized. that there are significant sections of the population that are living in the third world conditions in the US…
i have meant to post the little mosaic essay that i wrote for the revolutionary motherhood zine here on gmm, but havent gotten around to it…anyways it addresses the question (or raises further questions) about why infant mortality rates are so high in the us….

U.S. falls behind other developed countries in infant mortality

The United States ranks 29th. The rate has not improved because of an increase in premature births, health officials say.
By Mary Engel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 16, 2008
After a century of declines, the U.S. infant mortality rate barely budged between 2000 and 2005, causing the United States to slip further behind other developed countries despite spending more on healthcare, according to a report released Wednesday.

The rate was 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005, virtually unchanged from 6.89 in 2000. In 1900, the rate was 100 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed the leveling off in mortality to a 9% increase in premature births over the same period and to stalled progress in saving the earliest preterm infants. Premature birth and low birth weight are by far the biggest causes of infant death.

Advances such as prenatal steroids that hasten lung development and other treatments that help premature infants breathe have allowed the vast majority of those infants to survive.

But the search for new breakthroughs is only one part of the solution, said Joann Petrini, director of the March of Dimes’ perinatal data center.

“Several decades ago we saw really dramatic declines because we had these silver bullets,” she said. “But the other piece is to see how can we prevent some of these babies from being born preterm in the first place.”

Infant mortality rates vary by race and ethnicity, from a high of 13.63 per 1,000 births for African American women to a low of 4.42 for Cuban Americans, according to the CDC report. Differences in socioeconomic status and access to medical care did not entirely explain the gap, the report said.

A rise in twins and triplets, driven by the use of infertility treatments, contributed somewhat to the rise in premature and low-birth-weight births, Petrini said. But even accounting for those trends, premature births are increasing, possibly tied to rising rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

What those conditions have in common is that they are preventable, and that, said Petrini and other health advocates, is where the United States falls behind other developed countries.

“We as a nation place less emphasis on primary care and prevention than a lot of these other industrialized democracies do that have lower rates than we do,” said Dr. Ann O’Malley of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington-based research group.

Twenty-two countries have infant mortality rates below 5 per 1,000 births, and Sweden, Norway, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are below 3.2.

Health advocates acknowledge that many of those countries have more homogeneous populations than the United States. But they also have fewer gaps in healthcare coverage and health systems that emphasize primary care.

“We’re great in this country at taking care of really sick people with high-tech interventions,” O’Malley said. “But we’re not very good at plugging people into preventive care.”

who is politically correct?

October 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

dear all,

please stop trying to be politically correct around me.  if you have felt some invisible pressure to clean up your language around me…please stop.  i am not politically correct.  actually, i hate politically correctness.  i like direct, raunchy, unsentimental language.  i like words like black (instead of person of african descent or whateva is the latest nomenclature) and shit (instead of bowel movement).

anyone who has not realized this basic fact about me has missed something major about my personality.   i like my whisky straight.

i am politically engaged, but i resent most to all attempts to be politically correct.

to me being politically engaged is being willing to stand up in the fire and fight for what you believe in.  being politically correct is the opposite of that.  it is thinking that using the right language can stand in place for real action.

i have a sweet spot in my heart for hanging out with old cranky loud men in bars who aren’t afraid of offending anyone and who aren’t easily offended.  i like the south where the racism is more direct and so it is easier to disagree, rather than northern racism where it is all hidden under this cloud of politically correctness.  this is why i love living in the west bank, where people are too politically engaged (for their survival)–they dont have time to worry about using the right elevated words to describe their fucked-up situation.

this is why i had to put my blog revolution of the lilies on hiatus.  it was becoming too much of a burden worrying about offending people if i used the wrong word or wrote about topics which are not appropriate for polite society (like sex, and crazy family dynamics, and too many curse words and drugs and such)–i was self-censoring.  and anyone who knows me knows that i follow voltaire’s line: i may not agree with what you say but i will fight to the death for your right to say it…in  other words, i am very anti-censorship…and if you say something or write something fucked up, i will probably laugh my ass off and then deconstruct it, and i expect, actually i hope that you do the same to me.

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aza and the family

October 23, 2008 § Leave a comment

aza and the family…

siarah, with the sandy-colored curly hair, my brother’s daughter, is three years old, very smart and cute

malik, my brother’s newborn son, also very cute

in my hometown

October 20, 2008 § 1 Comment

if you are wondering what kind of place i grew up in…welcome. what i love most about this video is 1. check out the diversity at a mc cain rally! that is woodbridge, va. 2. only 3-5,000 people came. 3. at the end of the video the tall guy says that no matter who gets in office they are going to have clean up bush’s mistakes. which is so sweet.


growing up there i took it for granted that america was a diverse country where every one mixed and mingled and everyone grew up with tough skin about their racial identity and fair play was fair and playful. when i was there last week my sister in law told me that when she drives to the richer neighborhoods all you see are mc cain posters. where we live it is obama all the way. i admire the courage of someone who put up a mc cain poster in our neighborhood.

thats what i like about this video. all of that pent up frustration has to go somewhere. they all look like they could live in my neighborhood. in the kind of house that would get pranked first.


October 18, 2008 § Leave a comment

i wrote this about a month ago…but frankly was without internet for a month so didnt post it. plus was too depressed to think about it. the good news is that i am writing this from our new apartment. it is lovely. hard wood floors, ceiling fans, wireless internet. nearly twice as big as our old apartment. i even have my very own office. with my very own door. and i can close that door!

upstairs our good friends sara and mark and eli live. eli is three years old and he and aza play outside in the ashes underneath the grill. there is a waxy magnolia tree that covers most of the backyard and yellow and orange flowers.

and the apartment is cheaper than our last one. and i feel like we are really in chicago and not in the suburbs. and english is a second language in this neighborhood. (spanish being no. 1)

we found this place by luck. or really cause sara mentioned that she was going to a going away party for her downstairs neighbor and my partner asked if that meant that they were going to have an empty apartment in the building…this is the second time cal has found us a lovely living space by asking random people…

there is a mortgage crisis going on…had you heard? this post is not about a mortgage crisis but it is about finding a place to live. a comfortable place to live. four walls and a garden. the garden so my daughter has somewhere to play during the day that is full of grass and leaves and interesting three dimensionality.

there are days when i want to curse whateva goddesses made me think that i would be a good mother. mamita mala says that the term ‘bad mother’ ought to be cut out of the lexicon. but even more than ‘bad mother’ i think that ‘good mother’ ought to be cut out as well….cause it is not the ‘bad mother’ that haunts me, but the ‘good’ one. who has it all figured out in her (you know it is) white, sacrificial, middle-class, perfectly coiffed mannerisms. she never raises her voice. she never worries about paying all the bills. she was born to be a mother. not only does she believe in the ‘maternal instinct’… it resides in her full force.

when the fuck does the nurturing maternal instinct kick in for me? never. there is nothing ‘natural’ or ‘authemtic’ about having a vulva that means that i know how to find housing for my daughter and my partner and me, when it feels like door after door is being shut in our faces.

of course, the authentica mother would have figured this all out. her house is surrounded by a picket fence. and she vacuums in ironed khakis and a smart polo shirt. she wakes up before her babe to prepare healthy breakfast that has all the vitamins and nutrients any growing babe would need for the day. she speaks in a sweet light high soft sing song voice that drives all the demons away. hell, what demons? that babe is always happy. always full of light and sunshine and smiles. that babe follows a sleeping and eating schedule that is so ingrained no amount of change could well, change it. hell, what change? no good mother would introduce anything but age-appropriate change to their growing babe…oh god. someone shoot me now… welcome to the real world. or at least my world. which may not be real…but is incredibly accurate.

in (my) real world, i dont know exactly where we will be living a month from now. i thought i knew. i thought i had it all worked out. but then at the last minute, it turned out that maybe we were not as welcome as i had imagined. this isnt the first time….its like people want to be generous. and they want to be cool with our ‘alternative’ lifestyle. our revolutionary lifestyle. our shit. but really, when the shit hits the fan, they arent. this whole: creating community is a great IDEA but how dare we expect anyone but ourselves to put it into practice. i am exhausted. i have tried to imagine where we will be in a month from now and as the magic 8 ball says: shit, if i know. a good mother would not need a magic 8 ball. a good mother would have it all worked out.

so please when i write or talk about revy motherhoood please dont think i have it all worked out. i dont. please dont think i have all the answers, no matter how confident i sound, i really really really dont have them. please dont think that this isnt hard. it is so hard. i am learning as i go. all i know is that in order for me to survive in this world, for us to survive in this world, there has to be a little place where we belong.

and that leads to me question from before: where is my maternal instict and when does it kick in? this isnt what you want to know. you want to know that i have figured out some trick or tricks that makes this manageable. and i never get handed a curve ball when i was just going for the other part of this baseball analogy that i dont in reality know how to end because what the fuck do i know about baseball?

there’s something missing from mommy lit

October 18, 2008 § Leave a comment

great quotes from an article in bitch called:  theres something missing from mommy lit

That black mothers were not among the combatants on the fake battlefield of the mommy wars is not coincidental. This simply wasn’t our fight. In her book Having It All: Black Women and Success, Veronica Chambers notes, “Guilt just isn’t a currency in our lives the way it is in the lives of white women.” Further, as economist Julianne Malveaux observed in USA Today, “Some African-American women want to yawn at the angst about shouldering multiple burdens and juggling multiple roles. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt so long ago that I recycled it.” Since the 1940s, black women have outnumbered white women in the labor force. According to some reports, the black middle class owes its existence to black women’s presence in the workplace.


I asked one Mocha Mom I know, Jennifer, what she thought about mommy memoirs and the mommy wars. She responded, “Historically, we’ve had to take care of our kids and their kids,” referring to black women’s roles during slavery and as domestic workers in white households after slavery and throughout the ’50s and ’60s. “Now we only have to take care of our kids, and we just don’t have the same level of angst as white women do. Definitely not enough to write a whole book about it.”


The encounter led Parker to write I’m Every Woman: Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood, and Work, a book that combines memoir with the stuff good U.S. history texts should be made of. In it, Parker presents her personal experiences as a mother, wife, and professional woman, as well as the larger historical legacy of black women and work. Of the mommy wars, she writes: “Understand, it’s not that I think that black women have all the answers — only that we have struggled with the questions longer and that sometimes our tool sets are more expansive. I am clear that in all cultures there are other committed women who deeply believe they must stand on one or another side of a work-family divide and agitate in order to create a better world for their children. And really, I can dig it. I’m actually quite grateful that I can skim some of their best parts off the top. But these women must never, ever try to give me any of their excess baggage.”

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