Diary of a mothering worker. November 20, 2018.

Haven’t so many, particularly among the working classes, looked around and felt as Isabella Persaud, one of the appellants, said? “We are always treated like trash.” Their cause shares ground with Hindus, Muslims, Spiritual Baptists, Rastafarians, and poor Indians and Africans around the region who have turned to the courts for protection against being unfairly targeted or denied equality, respect and inclusion.

To quote the Hon. Mr. Justice Saunders, newly appointed President, “No one should have his or her dignity trampled on, or human rights denied, merely on account of a difference, especially one that poses no threat to public safety or public order.”

This line, and its logic, is one with which we all can agree, for it speaks not just to these four Caribbean citizens, but to each of us, and an ideal we surely must enshrine as necessary. Justice, however, isn’t only won in the courts. It’s also won in our nod to each other’s humanity in the streets. AS IGDS’ Angelique Nixon, acknowledged, “as important as laws are, we also have to do work to transform the culture to create more acceptance and tolerance” locally and regionally.

grrlscene

Is justice for one, justice for all?

In the Caribbean, we have a way of dividing ourselves from each other, and from each other’s struggles. What if, instead, we thought that each of these struggles nurtured better chances for fair treatment for others. How might that make us invest in each other’s pursuit of rights, even when they seem at odds with our biases, fears or differences?

It’s a good question to ask in response to last week’s historic ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Four Guyanese transwomen, Gulliver (Quincy) McEwan, Angel (Seon) Clarke, Peaches (Joseph) Fraser and Isabella (Seyon) Persaud, spent almost ten years challenging a charge and fine for “wearing women’s clothing for an improper purpose” in a public place. They spent four nights locked up for this minor crime. They pressed on despite the prejudice of the trial magistrate who lectured them about being confused about…

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Guyana: Midwives, nurses & pharmacists can provide abortion pill

reprohealthlaw blog

 

In Guyana, Madam Justice Roxane George has interpreted its Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1995 to permit midlevel providers to deliver nonsurgical/medication abortion of not more than eight weeks. This now means that medexes (persons trained above midwives, but below doctors, who serve in remote areas), midwives, nurses and pharmacists can provide the abortion pill, provided they notify a medical practitioner.  The Court Order of 15 January 2016 states:

“It is hereby ordered that the Family Planning Association of Guyana Ltd be and is hereby granted a declaration of its right on the true construction of section 5(1) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995, Act No 7 of 1995 to enable the administration of treatment for the termination of pregnancy of not more than eight weeks duration by any lawful and appropriate method other than a surgical procedure on its behalf of medexes, midwives, nurses, pharmacists…

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ecocidal thoughts

i woke up yesterday with a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach which may or may not have had something to do with the parakari i consumed the night before. it was world suicide prevention day- although when you’re a queer, mouthy womanist of Indian and Muslim heritage living in patriarchal Guyana- former suicide capital of the world (we remain in the top 3 still)- that’s pretty much every day ha. i didn’t feel like doing my morning yoga, but.. then i remembered the 5 minute perseverance trick which psychologists recommend to overcome depression, build your mental strength etc and pushed myself into downward dog. reading the news and social media bs afterwards threatened my fragile peace of mind though and i shut down the computer to go outside and romp with the puppy and cats, hoping that would help restore my tranquility. it did, but then the ground started shaking. it wasn’t another earthquake tho- just the roadbuilders arriving. i tried to ignore as best i could, but it’s not easy when chaos is directly infront of your eyes. almost 10 years of living in Guyana and i’m still struggling. i see them start digging and my heart skips a beat. there is a flambouyant tree nearby which has been there for several decades. at sunset, a roadside bar opens up beside it. sometimes the patrons play music too loud and bother me, but that’s not the tree’s fault. at dawn, before the roadbuilding project started, i used to see horses grazing under its shade. i haven’t seen them since the roadwork started though, not sure where they went.. i miss them.horse under flamboyant tree- cuba i peered from across the street, trying to see how close the workers and equipment are to the tree. the day goes on. i tried to concentrate on my tasks. but every half hour or so, to the window i went peeping, heart in my mouth. lunchtime came and i see the workmen taking a break, sitting on the benches under the tree to cool out. that’s a good sign, i think. but then they get up and start digging again. after all, you can’t get progress and development by remaining in corpse pose whole day, right. uh huh. roadwork men under flambouyant tree2 progress and development. they’d already destroyed the sapling i’d planted by the roadside in front of my house in a spot where my neighbour had initially dumped a pile of sand. passersby had thought that the depression left there afterwards was someplace to dump their garbage; i got sick and tired of cleaning up after them and decided to plant a tree there instead, hoping that would stop the dumping. it did, to an extent, and i was happily watching it get taller and stronger each day. but then progress and development struck and before i could run out the gate with my shovel to rescue it, mr chinee man and his bulldozer had run it over and all i could do was shake my fist at them in impotent rage. the funny feeling in my stomach persisted. i started making plans. i would chain myself to the tree like the Chipko women! https://www.ecologise.in/2017/05/28/the-bishnois-indias-original-environmentalists-who-inspired-the-chipko-movement/chipko women hugging treesi started writing a letter to the president rowing about the hypocrisy of “green” states that destroyed trees. a friend reminded me about the silk cotton tree in Mahaicony that they had to build the road around and advised me to tie some bottles and things on this one to try to convince people of its magical powers. (as if trees generating the oxygen which humans and other living creatures cannot exist without isn’t magical enuf..)road around treehttps://www.architecturendesign.net/clever-buildings-whose-architects-refused-to-cut-down-local-trees/road around tree2the more i thought, the more heated i got. it’s maddening indeed living in a country where people think picking up trash is being an environmentalist. where people think nothing of throwing their garbage into the rivers and waterways in the first place. where organizations allegedly dedicated to conservation and sustainability collect funding from oil companies that deliberately lied about climate change for decades. where folks talk about going green while sipping on plastic bottles of water. when more and bigger roads and vehicles on them are cheered as progress and development. when all the scientific data points to a sooner-rather-than-later environmental tipping point of no return but we still welcoming exxon with open arms and high hopes- best thing since colonialism! CI on green developmentcha ching- bring we money! corpse pose here i come. before i collapsed on the ground however, i put on a bra and some non-holey pants and went outside. chinee man and i met halfway. uh, this tree- i said, pointing to it, not sure if or how much english he understood.. yes, yes? he looked at me inquiringly. “are you guys going to cut it down?” i blurted out. no no, he said, we stop before. work behind. is just one tree, a small thing in the grand scheme, but.. for me, twas the best part of my day. KillCapitalismtreesare4huggingshirt

in conclusion:

  • can you make oxygen?
  • can you live without oxygen?
  • is it progress when it destroys the things necessary to maintain life? or suicide? ecocide

https://www.businessinsider.com/hothouse-earth-climate-change-tipping-point-2018-8

World Suicide Prevention Day: It’s good to listen

HUMMING OF THE BIRD

woman with earrings closing its eyes Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

The letter was written before she committed suicide. In it she was resigned, angry, tired. Tired of fighting, tired of looking for help, tired of finding help only to see her trust betrayed. “Confidentiality” was a word that came up repeatedly. It seemed she couldn’t find much of it in “dog-eat-dog” Guyana.

Yet there was a chink of hope in there, that things might change after she was no longer here. Use my death as an impetus for change, she pleaded.

Extracts from the letter were read at the Guyana Equality Forum‘s observation of World Suicide Prevention Day. Arriving at Herdmanston Lodge I wondered why I was there. Was this going to be another talk shop? A photo op – with brunch? I chose not to take any food and see if something else would nourish me. I didn’t have much hope.

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A seat at the table

nilanjana s roy

Where I grew up, we were taught – or we didn’t have to learn, it was in the air, something you could catch like a virus that settled in your gut – to pay attention to men. If those men were geniuses, then they were owed more than your attention. Adulation, or an unquestioned acceptance of their genius.

We learned to append a word to the description of geniuses who were men who may also have acted monstrously: problematic. It allowed you to acknowledge the troubled areas – the abused girlfriends, the dominated wives, the rough-riding over women who dared to excel in the fields these men had chosen for themselves – without ruffling the smooth bedspread surface of their talent.

***

The first time I saw V S Naipaul, I was too timid to speak to him, such was his aura. Unnecessary to say that I had read and…

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you will not drown

i’m finally feeling good about myself. 2018 started horribly for me, traumatically. my body betrayed me- or so i thought for months, until i realized i had received a blessing from pachamama. it was disguised really spectacularly though- or maybe my brain and psyche are just reeeeeeally slow at processing things. ha. anyway, months- many months- later, i am finally feeling good about myself. almost like a brand new person. that’s not to say that i don’t still have bad days and habits, etc, but i’m finally feeling good about myself and life again. writing poems to myself and all 🙂 nuff love, self- and to you too, world. especially especially to the mama orca carrying her dead baby on her head for over a week now. may you soon find peace and healing too, love.

you will not drown

stay still and you will see

red clawed crabs scuttling and grasping

fronds weaving and waving in the salt water

big and small snails with black, gray, and red striped shells meandering across

barnacles becoming one with the pitted rocks

seagulls and pelicans flashing and fishing

move your body and your feet until it doesn’t hurt anymore

when the sand shifts, stand firmer

breathe with the ebb and flow

you will not drown

– Cartagena, Colombia. August 3, 2018

 

 

 

 

Diary of a mothering worker. July 24, 2018.

more ❤ , less hate

grrlscene

Post 294.

In a society still recovering from the inhumanity of slavery and indentureship, our most important commitment is to non-violence, in all forms and in all relations. Non-violence isn’t just about not beating. It’s far more than refusing physical brutality or harm.

Non-violence is about seeing the God in another, recognizing them as born into the world with their own specific struggles and their own divine breath and heart, just like you. I suppose it’s been better said as, let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone. Therefore, with the same sense of its righteousness, put down your stone.

Each of us carries secret sins that we know would change how others treated us if only they knew. This includes the most pious, who have the hardest to fall and the most to hide, for the only way to distance yourself from the others whose…

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State Capture

Pree

POLICY DUDE

The limits of the power elite have been exposed in South Africa. Jacob Zuma and his private sector cronies have finally been brought to book. Perhaps they got away with corruption for so long that they thought they were untouchable. In any case, their spectacular demise has put the term ‘state capture’ on the lips of millions of people around the world.

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this is the first time we’re meeting people who accept us

they’re in their 20’s, deep in the throes of sweet first love- smoldering glances, lingering touches and all. they sit as close together as decently possible, ignoring the fruit punch slushifying in the fancy glasses in front of them. the sun is hot hot but nothing compared to the looks that pass between them. although they live in the same village, this is one of the few, rare occasions that they are able to see each other.

the request for help went first to a former co-worker who had since migrated, who reached out to someone who had done some workshop activity in the area years ago, who then contacted us. days went by before the first tentative message came in. “our families don’t accept us.”

guyana is full of montague and capulet families, fighting to the death for reasons unknown or long forgotten. sometimes it’s a race issue. sometimes economic. not forgetting the religious bigotry. land of six people, one nation, one destiny blah blah, but keep to your own kind, hear! is we heritage and we achilles heel and no amount of oil is going to fix that. in this case though, too much of one’s own kind is also a bad thing apparently.

K is the younger and more outgoing member of the couple, an only daughter and “good girl” with 8 CXC subjects who never expected her parents to beat her. “they drew blood from me that night..”

M is the older, quieter one, a former daddy’s girl. “he used to treat me like he son sometimes. i thought, if anybody would be on my side, it would have been him. but since he find out, he stop talk to me.. my mother is more accepting- well, she was telling me about getting married but i asked her if she wanted me to be raped every day for the rest of my life, because that’s what it would be for me- and like that affect her. but she doesn’t want me living around them anymore. people in the village does tell them things.. she always crying..”

king sugar no longer rules in their village. ignorance is still lord though. one heartening thing though is that the police at the neighboring station are not part of the oppression. “they told my parents that no, it’s not against the law for me to be in a relationship with another woman.”

they bring us gifts- purple grapes, pink and white sugar cake, and tiny yellow skinned mangoes like i’ve never seen before. they smell like turpentines but i’ve never seen them this small. mother nature is diverse and full of glorious surprise though. we hug and then hug some more. the shyness evaporates as we gyaff and laff, sharing stories of our own families, first and forbidden love escapades. this is what revolution looks like.

“this is the first time we’re meeting people who accept us.” the thank you messages keep coming in. i get back home, overwhelmed, and go to bed with an aching head. my heart is happy though. two more young Guyanese women have hope for a brighter future. a luta continua.

 

LGBT Guyanese Deserve Better