The Human Dignity Awards Dinner

April 27, 2018

The theme was Women in Human Rights and Healing and it was amazing to be honored last night along with LA City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who’s led the fight against the trafficking of women and girls, Lisa Fujimoto of the Change a Life Foundation, and the wonderful Amina Nakiyaga who shook everyone up with her speech. We got the celebrity photo treatment and the photos were then projected in the banquet hall throughout the program. Here I’m with Amina


and here with Rossana Perez, my brave and talented friend who survived the worst in El Salvador in the ’80’s (and brought the flowers).


We raised a lot of money for the Program for Torture Victims – but it’s never enough!

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Inheriting Genocide: Part 2, Conspiracy of Silence

March 31, 2018

As I posted last month, much of what I learned at the symposium resonated with me, with the work I do at the Program for Torture Victims and with ImaginAction, a theater arts organization dedicated to community healing. So for those who remain interested in the topic, here’s the link to the next installment as posted at the ImaginAction website. #2: The Conspiracy of Silence.

http://imaginaction.org/intergenerational-transmission-trauma-part-2-conspiracy-silence

March for Our Lives!

March 25, 2018

Students, children, and youth were the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement. Now the young people lead again!

The March for Our Lives-LA demanded gun control and an end to gun violence, not only at school, but in our SoCal communities (from San Bernardino to Seal Beach), and an end to the police killing of Black and Brown youth.

Obviously, the goals of the first two movements I mentioned have not been fully achieved but…No turning back! No giving up!

Events Coming Up!

March 17, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM I’ll be reading at the Ruskin Group Theater along with Garrett Saleen, Grace Singh Smith, and David Preizler, introduced by my fave Andrew Tonkovich, presented by Library Girl. The theater is at 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. $10 at the door and free parking.

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at LA Cathedral: The theme of the Human Dignity Awards Dinner (to benefit the Program for Torture Victims) is “Celebrating Women in Human Rights and Healing” — and I’m one of them! along with LA City Councilmember Nury Martinez, Lisa Fujimoto of the Change a Life Foundation, and Channel 11 anchorwoman Marla Tellez. Tickets at ptvla.org/dinner

Inheriting Genocide

February 27, 2018

On February 7th, I attended a symposium at the Museum of Tolerance here in Los Angeles.

Much of what I heard from clinicians, researchers, and survivors seemed to apply to a wide range of survivors, including generations affected by historical trauma.

It resonated with me personally as well as what I’ve experienced working with asylum seekers at the Program for Torture Victims and through my artistic work with ImaginAction, an international organization dedicated to promoting social justice and community healing through the arts, especially through theater. I decided to write up some of my responses to the symposium for the ImaginAction website.

This may be of interest to some of you who follow this blog and so here’s a link to the first, introductory installment: Intergenerational Trauma.

In the months that follow, I’ll let you know when new installments are posted.

Part 2: Conspiracy of Silence.

Part 3: Surviving Survival .

Part 4: Theories of Transmission .

Part 5: Childhood Amnesia.

Resistance

January 20, 2018

This post is dedicated to Carol Hand who misses hearing from me. As I explained to her, problems with my eyesight mean I limit computer use, but I can share some images here.

The current regime causes so much outrage and heartache, but we also suffer when violence hits close to home. Last week, a member of our PTV family, Viccky Gutiérrez who came here from Honduras seeking safety, was murdered, her body burned. Last Friday, her friends held a vigil.

Saturday, I joined the Salvadoran community (and Haitians) threatened with termination of their protected status and with deportation. I’m sick of marches that seem to accomplish nothing, but it’s important to let threatened people know they have allies who love them.


For the same reason I participated in the Kingdom Day Parade, held annually to celebrate the life (and meaning of the life) of Dr. King. I walked along with members of STAND, dedicated to fighting against neighborhood oil drilling and for environmental justice. It’s an issue that brings together people of all backgrounds.

There are about 16,000 homeless African Americans in LA, and I can understand why some think that they are being ignored while immigrants get all the attention. Can solidarity and unity defeat Divide and Conquer?

Yesterday was a reminder of what another country—Guatemala—suffered for so many years. First, some signs as I walked down Fairfax, and a section of the Berlin Wall on Wilshire.

Then, in the sculpture garden of the LA County Museum of Art, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa directed local performers in a staging of the piece that led to death threats against the director and the theater being burned to the ground when presented in Guatemala in the mid-70’s. You can see the indigenous prisoner trying to get free, the guerrilla who ran around the periphery, hiding behind trees and, held up to ridicule, the military, the Church, and the upper class.

Walking home. As Carol would advise: Take comfort in beauty.

Beauty and Resistance

August 29, 2017

“Beyond Words: Beauty and Resistance,” is what they’re calling our reading at Beyond Baroque, Sunday, September 17, 4:30 pm. “We” = me plus Richard Wirick, Zlatina Sandalska, and Andrew Tonkovich. I’ll be reading the opening of a novel I’ve been working on for a few years, now more topical than when I started.

If you’re not a Beyond Baroque member, admission is $10 and everyone gets a free copy of the new issue of the Santa Monica Review.

Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291. Free parking lot (turn right to enter just before you get to the building if you’re headed in direction of ocean) and also free street parking on Sunday.

Resist and Write on!

I stand with Planned Parenthood

February 12, 2017

About 50 people showed up at the Planned Parenthood health center in Van Nuys to demand the organization lose all federal funds. I was there too – with my own message.


planned-parenthood

At the Islamic Center of Southern California on February 3rd

February 8, 2017

Yes, February 3rd I wore a headscarf in solidarity as I went about my business: taking the bus, buying groceries, and visiting the Islamic Center of Southern California where I joined many allies who turned up to show support and solidarity of our Muslim friends and neighbors.

I joined in the prayer service and was so impressed with Dr. Aslam Abdullah’s sermon. How to Deal with the Challenge We Are Facing Today.

I wish I had a transcript, but I am linking above to the audio recording of his words. I think it’s so important to share this because we mostly just hear about the inflammatory and violent rhetoric of the most radical imams. I think Americans are being habituated to thinking Islam is dangerous and violent and so we need to hear the sorts of sermons that are more typical in US mosques and Islamic Centers.

Some high points for me of Friday’s khutba (sermon):

I loved when Dr. Abdullah said, “Those who hate are not our teachers.”

He went over the high % of Muslim American physicians, IT professionals, engineers but said contributing to society isn’t enough. A Muslim must also engage with the community, with issues like housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, keeping peace in our neighborhoods, improving our schools.

The Koran teaches the unity of humanity. It is humans who create division. The Koran teaches all human beings have dignity and rights and a Muslim stands up for all, for Muslims no matter how they worship, Christians, Jews, those who reject Islam, those who reject God, all have dignity. He spoke of compassion and love and asked people to have compassion and understanding for those who have made decisions we don’t like because they too are hurting.

He reminded people of the Muslim Africans who were brought to the US as slaves who suffered more than any Muslim in the US today and stayed strong and persevered.

He referenced the Holocaust and how humanity had pledged Never Again and we had to stand up for that pledge.

He thanked the allies for attending the service and showing support and he thanked God for bringing Muslims to America, the only country with 100% Muslim literacy, with respect for all religions and cultures, a model for the world.

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And here’s a link to the local CBS report on our act of solidarity. It’s a pretty long segment but if you’re curious, I appear toward the very end carrying the sign We Are All America.

Love and Solidarity on February 3rd

January 30, 2017


Women of America, please show support for our Muslim friends and neighbors on February 3rd by simply wearing a headscarf. You can post a selfie in a headscarf to show your acceptance of people of all faiths. Together we are stronger than hatred.

This call came from a group in the Philadelphia area.

I actually began wearing a headscarf in solidarity here in LA once Trump was inaugurated, but people assumed I was Muslim and the community here embraced me. I got so much unearned love under false pretenses that I gave up the headscarf. But if we can do this as a massive show of support, people will recognize it’s a message of solidarity and love. So, please, February 3rd!


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PS. I just heard from a Muslim woman that February 1st is World Hijab Day. She encouraged us to go ahead with the show of support on February 3rd but said we are more than welcome to cover our heads on February 1st as well.