PEN America Calls for Trump Administration to Open Migrant Camp to Journalists’ Scrutiny; What You Can Do to Close the Camps by Kella Hanna-Wayne

100-mile border region on the U.S.–Mexico border courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency / Public Domain

“A crude age. Peace is stabilized with cannon and bombers, humanity with concentration camps and pogroms. We’re living in a time when all standards are turned upside-down, Kern. Today the aggressor is the shepherd of peace, and the beaten and hunted are the troublemakers of the world. What’s more, there are whole races who believe it!” Erich Maria Remarque, Flotsam



Climbing the Mexico–United States barrier fence in Brownsville, Texas courtesy of Nofx221984 and generously released into Public Domain

PEN America issued the statement [below] in response to The Washington Post’s report that the Trump Administration is blocking journalists from accessing migrant detention camps on the southern border to see the facilities for themselves and speak to children, who are reportedly held in squalid conditions.

“It is shocking that the American public largely must learn about the dangerous conditions at these detention centers not through reporters being able to cover the news, but through second-hand reports from lawyers and advocates granted access under a legal agreement with the U.S. border patrol,” said Nora Benavidez, PEN America’s Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs. “The fact that journalists are being sealed off and held behind a wall of secrecy, unable to show the American people the faces and voices of those who are suffering in squalor is one more unconscionable aspect to this epic horror story on the southern border.”

“Cutting the press off from this story to hide what is going on is unacceptable and unwarranted; professional journalists are well-equipped to handle issues of privacy and consent, and this should pose no barrier to press access. The American public has a right to see for themselves what is happening in these camps through first-hand accounts, images and video documented by professional journalists. Indeed, the fact that every story that does make it to a reporter galvanizes public attention and action demonstrates the importance of that reporting. PEN America calls on the Trump administration to open the camps to the scrutiny of the press–and thus, the American people–immediately, and end this effort to keep what is happening in the detention centers a secret.”

PEN America has previously spoken out and advocated about press access to migrant detention centers and the situation for journalists covering the immigration crisis on the border. In October 2018, it hosted a panel discussion at the Texas Book Festival entitled “Stories (Un)told,” featuring journalists speaking to the challenges of covering child detention issues and immigration more broadly. Following months of tracking and public comments on the situation of lawyers and journalists being surveilled at the southern U.S.-Mexico border, PEN America joined a coalition of human rights and media freedom organizations in sending an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in May, 2019, expressing concern for the privacy violations and explicit targeting by Customs and Border Protection of journalists, activists, and lawyers working on issues around the “migrant caravan”. Following our letter, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged it had engaged in the surveillance and tracking of these individuals. PEN America has also condemned the unacceptable practice of the government’s surveillance of journalists reporting on this issue and authored a petition urging the administration to stop monitoring journalists at the border. That petition has garnered more than 58,000 signatures to date.

*****

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


From Kella Hanna-Wayne, poet, blogger, activist

“Today, I read something terrible; a story that possibly upset me more any other news story from our current administration and it filled me with helplessness.

“Over the past year, Trump’s immigration policies have become increasingly strict and dehumanizing. Detention centers, separation of families without keeping records, poor hygiene, inadequate access to food, water, and medical attention, children in cages– these were all themes among reports of the horrifying conditions our government was signing off on for immigrants, regardless of their documentation.

“But in the last week, it came to light that not only is Trump using Fort Sill– the base used to hold Japanese-Americans in concentration camps during WWII– to hold immigrant children, but that our government is now using concentration camps as a strategy to manage the influx in immigrants coming to the US. “

Kella goes on from these introductory remarks to provide a comprehensive list of tips and resources: What You Can Do to Close the Camps. I particularly appreciate it when folks don’t just regurgiate the bad news we’re all reading anyway but who go on to provide tools for mitigating the travesties. Bravo, Kella!

Stay tuned for a comprehensive interview with Kella here on The Poet by Day.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)

A mostly bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove,I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a vitual literary community and publisher of The BeZineof which I am the founding and managing editor.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



#MeToo ~ Anita Hill, recipient of this year’s PEN Courage Award

Anita Hill in 2014 speaking at Harvard Law School

“Women who come forward with sexual misconduct allegations are often portrayed as “crazy, vindictive, promiscuous or prudes,” reactions that explain why many don’t come forward sooner.” Anita Hill [MORE]



This week PEN America announced that professor, lawyer, and chair of The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality, Anita Hill, is the recipient of this year’s PEN Courage Award, conferred in recognition of her singular role in challenging sexual harassment in the workplace and the attendant abuse of power, and a career spent combating the silencing force of sexism. The award, which honors dauntless exercises of free expression, will be presented May 21 at the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

“As a Yale Law School graduate pursuing a promising career as a legal scholar and lawyer, Anita Hill stepped alone into the glare of the public spotlight to call out abuses that others insisted be forgotten or overlooked. She has devoted her life since then to teaching, writing, and speaking out—in the process, helping to catalyze a global movement that is essential to the achievement of equality . . .

“Today, amid a worldwide reckoning over pervasive sexual harassment, Hill is leading a major effort to break the cycle of abuse and silence in Hollywood, rallying the entire entertainment industry to effect cultural change and establish accessible and clear channels of safety and accountability. As an organization that recognizes the pernicious force of inequality in eroding the right to free expression, and one that elevates those who take the greatest risks to speak out, PEN America is proud to honor Anita Hill.” ,” said Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America.

In 1991, Hill served as a witness during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She gave her testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee of fourteen white men and a global television audience. She described numerous instances of sexual harassment while working for the soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Other women who had made similar allegations against Thomas were not called to testify.

In her career as a university professor and scholar, Hill has been a steadfast champion of women’ rights. She joined the faculty of Brandeis University in 1998 and in 2015 was named University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies. She is the author of two books (1997’s Speaking Truth to Power and 2011’s Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home) and numerous opinion pieces (including a New York Times piece entitled “How to Get the Kavanaugh Hearings Right,” published during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh). In December 2017, Hill was appointed Chair of The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality, which was established by a coalition of Hollywood studios, television networks, streaming services, music companies, talent agencies, trade associations, and unions. In this role, she is leading an industry-wide effort to identify and establish best practices and solve problems related to harassment, bias, equality, and diversity in the entertainment community.

In addition to Hill, PEN America will honor other women’s rights champions at its May Gala: Saudi writer-activists Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan, imprisoned for opposing the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia and the female driving ban in the region, will receive the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. Additionally, PEN America will recognize peerless investigative journalist Bob Woodward with the Literary Service Awardand Scholastic Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson for his outstanding leadership in publishing. Past Courage Award honorees include student activists against gun violence (2018) and organizers of the Women’s March (2017). The Gala raises essential funds that fuel PEN America’s free expression advocacy efforts. Comedian and political commentator John Oliverwill host this year’s event.

This feature is courtesy of PEN America; photo courtesy of Tim Pierce under CC BY 2.0.

If you are viewing this from an email subscriptions, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view the video.

About the PEN Courage Award

The PEN Courage Award was established in 2015 to honor exceptional acts of courage in the exercise of freedom of expression. The Award is granted after consultations among PEN America staff and Trustees with specific relevant expertise on matters of freedom of expression. In some cases, outside expertise from PEN America’s membership, partner organizations, and network of contacts is enlisted to inform internal analysis and deliberations. All final decisions regarding Award determination and recipients are made by the Executive Committee of the PEN America Board of Trustees.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMUNITY NEWS: Terri Stewart, Unite with Might; Michael Rothenberg, Organizing Around Peace, Justice and Sustainability; Grannies Caravan to the Mexican Boarder

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson



The world is rife with injustices that call for our attention and there are many social justice initiatives that bring people together to raise awareness, right wrongs, and offer sucor to the torn and weary.

PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE

While the daily news feeds our sadness, fears and hopelessness, you and I are a reason for joy. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of the millions of old souls whose natural instinct is for justice and respect.

There is joy in the fact that so many of us live in a time and place were we can put out a call for solidarity, a call to move on to right and just action. Therein lies our hope and grace and our ability to keep on keeping on.

What an extraordinary thing it is that we have the means, the inner sight, the backbone, and passion for this good work. My hope and strength comes from the poets, writers, artists, clerics,  and readers of every type and from every corner of the world who come together virtually for each edition of the The BeZine, for the yearly 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, Global, for those who will join in Rev. Terri Stewart’s (Beguine Again and The BeZine) Unite with Might initiative, for the Abuelas (Grandmothers) caravaning to the Mexican Border to support the families crossing into the U.S., and for the many peace and social justice efforts that go on all over the world, even in the darkest places where preaching justice to power invites imprisonment, torture and death.

– Jamie Dedes

UNITE WITH MIGHT

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church

“We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.

“Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next.  But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us.  The beloved community.  We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion.  Hence the name, Unite with Might.

“On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.”

Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.

In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding.  And so we propose gathering around food.  This is a different kind of gathering.  A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.

  • Churches, Synagogues, Masjids, and other Religious & Cultural Communities!! Hold picnics and BBQ’s!  Read prayers of inclusion!
  • Cities, towns, and counties! Make statements of inclusion for all citizens!
  • Schools!  Ensure that your students know that hate speech is unwelcome and teach them the hard parts of history!
  • Families!  Discuss the history of white supremacy with your children!
  • Bloggers!  Splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!

Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day.  Love always wins.

Please sign on and let us know if you will be holding an event or making a public statement or declaration where the values of hope, love, and inclusion will be uplifted.  We must let the world know that hate will not win!  And that our numbers are much stronger than the puny amount they expect to rally.  We are strong together!  Mighty!  #UniteWithMight !

Let us know your event or statement so we can see the results of our unity in its beautiful diversity by signing up at this link.

Our website is: www.UniteWithMight.com

Sincerely,
Rev. Terri Jane Stewart

 

Note: We are hosting a virtual Unite with Might event at The BeZine on August 11 and 12. You’ll be able to post thoughts, activies, videos, art, poetry – whatever can go into a comment. This will enable your support and participation even if there is no event accessible near you. It will also allow you to share what you are doing with others in Unite with Might. / J.D.

ORGANIZING AROUND PEACE, JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY

I took this photo at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, CA. Michael is the gentleman in the hat and Terri is the lovely woman with the camera. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are cofounders of 100tpc. If you came up in the ’60s and especially if you are a Beat fan, you’ll recognize others in the photograph.

“100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around something other than our literary careers, something more than our recent publications. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around peace, justice and sustainability, and we have set our priorities. Immigration, gender inequality, global warming, police brutality, censorship, homelessness, war are among those priorities. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we know it is essential to build a global community that will work together to make a better world, a global community which will exchange information to make us smarter and more informed about the needs that exist beyond our own bubble, and to learn new strategies from our friends around the world, to make us better organizers who can build that better world. We write, we demonstrate, we rally, we create, we raise funds for homeless and assist food banks, we are engaged… [because so many] are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make good things happen. Will you join us? If so, connect with us on our Facebook Page and register at 100tcp.org.” Michael Rothenberg

Note: Don’t forget that on September 29, Saturday, we’ll host a virtual 100tpc at The BeZine. American Israeli poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play and The BeZine) will officiate. / J.D.

In 2011, Michael Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc], a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education.

100tpc assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round.

ABUELAS RESPONDEN / GRANNIES RESPOND

The abuelas are asking what you are willing to sacrifice now that the most vulnerable are threatened by violence, separation, and hate.  They are calling on women and men to come out and caravan with them to the Mexican Border to protest the abuses there. Details HERE.

If you are viewing this post from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to see this video.


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writing.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, a crucial role for poets in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse

“Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse.” MORE, Poetry Foundation



OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, I’m inviting all Facebook friends – and this post is an open invitation – whether you are poets or not – to Like 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change 2018 GLOBAL EVENT. Of course, there’s no obligation to do so, however given the state of the world at this time, it’s important to throw our energy and support behind this effort. It sends out a message to those who . . . 

  • use their power to harm people, culture and environment,
  • to the folks on the run who don’t know we care, and
  • to each other that we are together – have one another – in support of PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Really I think we outnumber the bad guys. We just don’t get the press. We have to make our own. 

FROM MICHAEL ROTHENBERG:

“Do you want to join other poets, musicians, artists, mimes, dancers, photographers, performing artists, clerics, and friends of the arts around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social, environmental, and political change?

“September 29th is the global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, 2018!

“This is our 8th year!

“If you would like to organize an event in your community, join us here and write to us directly to register your event at

Sign up:
http://100tpc.org/sign-up/

– Michael Rothenberg, Co-founder of 100TPC with Terri Carrion


UNIQUE EVENT AS PART OF 100,000 POETS (and friends) for Change 2018, Global

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) / Play) and others are organizing a 100TPC event in Jerusalem during Sukkot this year. Sukkot is a harvest holiday celebrated in temporary structures (a sukkah, singular; sukkot, plural) to commemorate the time when the Jews wandered in the wilderness. It is traditional to eat meals and sleep in the sukkot during the week of the holiday. The plan is to offer poetry, shared food, and comfort in one or more sukkah in Jerusalem in the spirit of peace, justice, and sustainability. More details to come. This year Sukkot ends during the weekend of 100TPC Global, 2018.

Connect with Michael HERE on Facebook for more information if you want to help with and/or attend the Sukkot event. You can also leave a message for Michael Dickel here at The Poet by Day in the comments section below. I’ll make sure he sees it.

Non-Jews living in and near Jerusalem are welcome.

This event in Jerusalem suggests another way to organize around 100TPC, which could be emulated elsewhere. What holy days or feast days are celebrated in your tradition near September 29, 100TPC Global 2018? Or, do as Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) did one year: 100,000 Peacemakers for Change. Egypt did 100,000 Mimes for Change. There have been 100,000 Drummers for Change … and Musicians and Photographers as well. All these registered their events with 100,000 Poets for Change. Our only limits are a lack of energy, imagination and passion, so rev up your engines and let’s do it …

Let’s do it … and, let’s get the word out with Joy! Gratitude! Caring! Sharing!

If you are organizing a registered 100TPC event in your area, I’m happy to include details about your event on The Poet by Day if you send your announcement to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and  California Woman.