The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: politics

Create Like An Activist: TJXP’s New Mission Statement

Soundtrack: “Chief Don’t Run” by Jidenna

I got a new agenda that I gotta carry through
When your father’s enemies try to bury you…

The results of our recent Presidential election was a gut punch, and I spent all of last week recovering. You can read the last thing I had to say about the election HERE. However, the stuff that’s of particular note reads as follows:

But while I do plan on holding Trump, Pence, and the rest of their administration accountable for any decisions of theirs that hurt my communities and continuing to fight for the needs of my communities, I’m also not going to make them the focus of activism and work.

Instead:

1) I will up my political activism game. Now is the time for me to keep tabs on my local politicians to make sure they’re doing what we need them to be doing, regularly reaching out to their offices not only when there’s something I wanna yell at them about, but also to write in praise of awesome things they’ve supported that are important to me.

I will keep up with these people, as well as midterm candidates, throughout the year so that, when elections roll around, I’ll be informed about what’s going on and who’s actually standing up for me in office.

2) Since certain issues may receive less attention from a Trump/Pence administration, I will put my time, energy, and resources into organizations that advocate for, provide awareness of, and provide services to the populations and issues that are important to me. In this case, my focus will likely be on (in no particular order):

    • Gender Equality
    • LGBTQIA Equality
    • the fight against racism and bigotry
    • Campaign Finance/Election Reform
    • L.A’s homeless population
    • the protection of Civil Liberties.

3) I will create like an activist. Now, more than ever, I am confident in the importance of stories. Not just any stories, but the stories I need and want to tell. Because a big contributor to people being so willing to throw people like me under the bus is the fact that they have no personal connection to people like me. I get that.

But I also understand that media plays that important role in people’s lives. I have a friend from the Upper Penninsula in Michigan who told me once that the first Latinx she ever “met” were Maria and Luis on Sesame Street. And she thought they were so cool. And having grown up in a majority-white, sparsely populated area of Michigan, she’s gone on to have traveled all over the world, move to New York, and be one of the most kind and welcoming people you could ever meet. Because the shows she watched, the books she read, and the films she saw gave her a glimpse of a wider world she’d never encountered in real life, and made her want more. That might never have happened had Sesame Street only been about a bunch of white people hanging out with some Muppets. 🙂

May the diverse characters I create, the diverse communities I depict, and the stories I tell be that glimpse of a wider world for someone else and inspire that person to action.

And may my work as a producer of those stories allow me to employ from marginalized communities and contribute directly to those communities from production through the release of the project, and beyond.

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And so here I am, back to my blog after months of being away, because one of the few silver linings of this election for me is that it has lit a fire under my ass, and I’ve decided to use whatever platforms I have at my disposal to try and protect the progress already made with regard to the populations and causes I care about, as well as continue to fight for further progress.

To that end, the new tagline around here, and my new mantra is “Create Like An Activist.”

The weapons with which I am the most skilled are: my writing (fiction and non), the ability to translate ideas in a way that allows people to understand opposing views (or think about things in a new way), and my history of being a connector between people.

Media and pop culture are where I live, and where I hope to make my living for the rest of my life. It’s my area of the world, and fluffy and superficial as it may seem to some, it’s an area in which I can affect the way people think, feel, and take action. It’s an area in which I can inspire people and help them maintain the strength to keep going, and it’s a place where, eventually, I will have the power to provide opportunities for the most marginalized among us.

But I don’t believe I have to wait until I get to that place of power to start making changes with what I do. I can do it right now, through the characters I create, or the artists/projects I choose to cover in my pop culture writing. I can do it by speaking up when I see injustice being done in my industry (or elsewhere in my life). I can do it by being brave enough to turn down opportunities, or refuse to work for certain people – lucrative though an opportunity might be – if they don’t align with my ethics. I can do it by using my art as a way to help others (ie: screenings as fundraisers, donating leftover craft services to homeless organizations, organizing casts and crews for volunteer opportunities, etc).

And so I plan on using this blog as a hub for all of that work. There’ll continue to be fun stuff around here, too (and what’s more fun than helping others!), and I will continue to write about my journey through this bonkers life and career of mine, but there will definitely be a shift in focus and intention.

I will write about both the creative and the more activist work I’m doing, and I will also provide resources and ideas for work you can be doing. Especially if you’re interested in the same areas I mention above. None of us can do everything, but if we all do what we can in the areas we care about the most, we can change the world. And if you’re interested in causes like solving climate change, ending factory farming, or any other issues I haven’t mentioned, I hope that you can take any ideas that I bring up here, and apply them to whatever’s most important to you.

Sadly, I’m not confident that the government that’s currently been elected into office will operate in the best interests of all its citizens. So, in addition to resisting anything they do or pass that will negatively affect already marginalized and oppressed communities, I will be setting more of an intention both with and outside of the creative work I do to take on some of that work myself, helping others do the same.

It’s our country. It’s up to all of us to take care of it, and each other. I love you all. Yes, even you. 😉

I’m With Her?

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I was waiting for California.

Despite the irresponsible journalism on the part of the Associated Press, who declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee THE DAY BEFORE the final big primary day during which some of the most populous states (including my home state of California) would be voting, despite friends in my Facebook feed saying that Bernie Sanders should just concede already (again, A FULL DAY BEFORE MY STATE EVEN GOT TO VOTE). Despite the fact that people have been saying that Bernie Sanders should concede for months.

I was waiting for California.

When the AP defended their reportage of Clinton as the presumptive nominee, Senior VP and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said:

AP concluded that Hillary Clinton had enough delegates to clinch the nomination after a painstaking but very straightforward exercise.

We counted.

By Monday evening, 571 superdelegates had told us unequivocally that they intend to vote for Clinton at the convention. Adding that number to the delegates awarded to Clinton in primary and caucus voting to date gave her the number needed to be the presumptive nominee.

That is news, and reporting the news is what we do.

Nothing in that discourages or prevents voters in six states from exercising their right to go to the polls today and cast their ballots.

Technically, she’s right. Technically, it’s true that nothing about reporting this fact keeps people from exercising their right to vote. Except that, as a professional news outlet, she knows all about how media narratives shape how people think, how they feel, and whether or not they take action. It’s her job to know that, and if she doesn’t know that, she’s terrible at her job. So she was either being clueless, or disingenuous.

Either way, that AP story was simply the most recent example of Clinton’s victory being proclaimed “inevitable.” News outlets had been saying that for months in countless opinion pieces and opinion pieces disguised as actual articles. Then individual bloggers, and even those who do no writing at all began parroting that “fact” all over the place. She’s going to win. Of course she’s going to win. It’s inevitable.

And then I would see friends of mine in my social media feeds saying things like “I’d vote for Bernie, but he has no chance of winning.” And I’d say, “Of course he has no chance of winning if people like you who support him don’t vote for him.” Even during the times when Sanders was winning states and catching fire at rallies, people who supported him were saying over and over again that, while they support Sanders and would vote for him if “circumstances were different” (if circumstances were different, we wouldn’t need him to win so badly!), they didn’t want to “waste their vote” when it was inevitable that Clinton was going to win, not just the primary, but the General Election.

All those people. Deciding not to cast their vote for a candidate they believed in. Creating the very perceived inevitability that concerned them.

If you think that mainstream media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign had nothing to do with that, I have a bridge to sell you in Bernie Sanders’ Brooklyn.

But I was waiting for California.

And it was a long wait, because I voted early by mail:

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As I waited, I had people insinuate that the only reason I was voting for Sanders was because of ingrained sexism. Never mind that I’m a media-savvy feminist who writes critically about female representation in media images for a living. I had fellow liberals tell me that I needed to make sure to examine the reasons why I was so anti-Clinton. Because it was probably ingrained misogyny, and I needed to check that.

But my feelings about Hillary have nothing to do with her being a woman, and everything to do with the fact that throughout my voting life, I’ve been feeling her forced on me. As an inevitability.

I’m a native New Yorker, and I was living there when she and her family bought a house in Chappaqua, New York to set up residency so that she could run for the Senate. When, as a First Lady twice over she moved to a state she’d never before lived in to run for office and be that state’s representative. That didn’t sit well with me.

It was one of my first elections (I turned 18 in 1997), so I’ll admit that I wasn’t terribly knowledgeable about much of anything. But I couldn’t help but think, “Why doesn’t she run for senator in Illinois, or Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or Arkansas?” Later, I learned that the Democratic Party urged her to run in New York, and somehow that made it worse. Now the party had pushed someone who had no experience with our state to run for senator and represent us. It was a decision made by committee.

I didn’t vote for her. Twice. She won twice. And then she voted for the Iraq War.

And that was before I knew that she’d served on the Board of Wal-Mart for six years. That was before I realized the extent of her ties to corporations. Actually, that was before I really started to care about such things. Before I started to really understand how broken our system is. Before any of that, I was already uninterested in having her be the woman to represent me for anything.

Fast-forward to 2008. Here was Clinton running for president the first time, and for the first time, I was conflicted. Because in addition to possibly having the first female Presidential nominee, we also had a chance at the first black President of the United States. I, as I’m sure many women of color did, felt torn. Is it more important for me to see a woman’s face, or a brown face leading my country. But Obama voted against the Iraq War. And Obama started from the ground-up politically in Chicago, working at the grassroots level before working his way up to becoming an Illinois senator. When I heard him speak, he reasoned the way I did. Saw the world the way I did. At the time, I joked that Obama was a black, male, Harvard-educated me.

I became a proud Obama supporter. Because it’s possible to see yourself in someone who’s not the same gender you are.

Two Presidential terms later, Clinton is back, running for President again. At first, I started out a Clinton supporter, for no other reasons than 1) No one else was prioritizing campaign finance reform and income inequality to my liking, and 2) I had become even more of a feminist, and since my true first-priority issues weren’t being addressed much, my secondary priority of electing a woman would have to take precedence. Even though this was not the woman I would’ve picked. Even though this was the same woman I had already not voted for three times.

And then came Bernie Sanders.

And he was actually talking about the things I wanted to be talking about after Occupy. After Ferguson. After Baltimore. After so many acts of police brutality and miscarriages of justice. After thinking that no one in the political establishment cared about any of these things, this senator from Vermont was not only showing he cared but that, as I later learned as I did more research, he’d always cared. Suddenly, there was someone daring to talk about these issues out loud. Daring to expect that we could do something about them as a nation. Daring to suggest that, as President, he would prioritize these issues of inequality specifically as the biggest threat to getting anything else done.

I became a proud Sanders supporter. Because it’s possible to see yourself in someone who’s not the same gender you are.

That’s something that I’ve come to realize. That while Clinton is a woman, I see nothing of myself in her, and I see nothing of her in me. There’s a gulf that I don’t know how to bridge. I’ve been trying and failing to bridge this gulf for sixteen years.

So, I waited for California.

And today was a difficult day. Sanders didn’t win my home state, nor did he win the second-largest state delegate-wise that was voting yesterday. While there’s an extremely slim chance that he could convince the over 300+ superdelegates he’d need to change their support from Clinton to himself, his loss in California forced me to acknowledge his defeat.

I looked at the results first thing in the morning and immediately felt disappointment like a punch in the gut. I had a sinking feeling before going to bed last night, but now it was certain. I’ll admit it – I was near tears. As I talked to people on social media, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so upset, until a friend of mine insisted in one of her statuses that we should accept that Clinton won, even if we didn’t vote for her, and just celebrate the fact that we’ve achieved such a huge milestone already. Keep in mind that we’d all only just gotten the results. I said the following in this person’s comment section:

I’m thrilled that we have our first female candidate for president. I’m sorry it’s her. I’ll vote for her, I might even volunteer for her as it gets closer to November because #NeverTrump, but it will be difficult to be truly enthusiastic. At least, it is today. I’m trying to be happy about it, and I just can’t. Because today, what I learned is that as much as I’ve tried to give this country the benefit of the doubt, it will only be ready to elect a woman or elect a person of color as President at the expense of changing a broken system. The US can apparently only have one or the other. It can’t have both. And we will always choose safety and sameness (and yes, I know a female President is a HUGE change, but I’m talking about how she will govern), and that is frustrating and disappointing. My only hope is that the judges and senators that we elect through this primary have as much fight in them as Sanders has.

I’m really not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but there’s are legit reasons why many people are disappointed today. It’s not just “because sexism.” It’s not that simple. And I think this feeling is important for Clinton and her campaign to remember. Because these feelings are not going to go away. It’s not just about Sanders as an individual, but about what his supporters want from our country.

And it’s not even just what we want from our country, but what we need and expect from our country now.

Still the “just get over it alreadys” and the “thank God, now we can move ons” and the snarky “Superdelegates don’t vote until July 25th ORLY???” comments continued to be bandied about. Finally, I posted this:

I was irritated that one of the very reasons I haven’t been a Clinton supporter since 2000 – that she is beholden to mainstream, establishment politics and interests – was now manifesting itself in my social media feeds. Demanding party unity from me the freaking day after the primary. The Great Political Machine working through my friends.

I’ve spent a very long, very difficult day trying to come to terms with this loss. Trying to come to terms with what it says about our country. And in spite of that, trying to find joy in the fact that WE COULD HAVE OUR FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT IN NOVEMBER. Which despite everything I’ve said up until this point is something I’m hugely happy about.

And I want to make this ABSOLUTELY CLEAR. While I’ve never supported her as a candidate until now, I have always had the utmost respect for her and everything she’s accomplished. It’s not easy to be a woman in any male-dominated field. I can’t even imagine what it has been like for her to not only navigate politics, but do do so entirely in the public eye thanks to the scrutiny placed on her because of who her husband is. The fact that she has come through all of that, achieved so much, and is now thisclose to the Presidency is astonishing.

As I said above, I WILL be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. There’s no question about that. You got me, Machine, OK? You got me. YOU FREAKING WIN. “Uncle!” Whatever. I will be voting for Hillary Clinton not simply because a Trump victory would probably start the Apocalypse, but because Clinton and I DO agree on many issues. We’re both liberals, and we’re both women, and there are indeed values we share.

I’ve become a Hillary Clinton supporter. Because it’s possible to see yourself in someone who’s not the same as you are.

i'm with her

SONG OF THE DAY: "UPRISING" – MUSE (Or, Reporting Injustice Is a Crime)

I was fine this morning. I was feeling good, worked out, made time to journal and center myself. I was getting stuff done. And then I started reading about Bradley Manning. And then I read a great post by Laurie Penny at The New Statesman about what Manning, Edward Snowden, and the Steubenville hacker have in common, and I became hugely disheartened.

Aren’t we living in the United States? Aren’t we supposed to be the Good Guys? Apparently not. Not if shit like this can happen. Not if the price for exposing the truth is being keelhauled by your own government. Because, apparently, exposing your government committing war crimes harms “national security.” Apparently, helping to bring rapists to justice doesn’t excuse computer hacking and could, in fact, allow you to serve more jail time than the rapists you helped to convict. For HACKING.

I’m so angry right now, I could vomit. And the only thing I can think to do, is just help more people be aware. My greatest talent at the moment seems to be delivering information. So there you go. Links to articles you should read. Go read them. Then read others. Then think about what you want to do.

Today’s Song of the Day is “Uprising” by Muse. Because dammit.

** DON’T FORGET THE POUND BY POUND PLEDGE DRIVE –RUNNING APR. 5TH 2013-APR. 5TH 2014 **

I Voted (Early) for Obama Because…

…well, there are many reasons. I voted for him, because he repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I voted for him, because he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. I voted for him because he gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden (and while, as many of you know, I’m not someone who supports the death penalty or celebrating someone’s death no matter who they are, I understand the need for the decision), which is what the entire war in Iraq was supposedly about in the first place. I voted for him because when I hear him interviewed, he speaks and reasons like a male, Harvard-educated me. 🙂 A registered Democrat who’s thoughtful and moderate, values pluralism, and weighs things very carefully most of the time. Someone who genuinely values the opinions of others even when you don’t agree. But mostly…

I voted for Obama, because whenever he’s citing an example when asked about student loans, or education, or jobs, or the economy, or families, or the future, he generally uses the pronoun “she” as his go-to pronoun, because he’s always thinking about his daughters, or his wife. Women aren’t a “demographic” for him. Keeping women and girls in mind is obvious; a reflex. He does it without thinking. As a brown person with ovaries, I appreciate that. So, that’s why I voted Barack Obama in this election.

Please get out there and VOTE today if you haven’t already. I know that some of you don’t want to vote, because you believe the system is broken, but removing your voice is not going to be the thing that fixes it, and in the meantime, you’ll be allowing others to possibly make worse choices than you could’ve helped make. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s the one we have, and it requires your input to work the best way it can. So make the time to get to a polling place, even if you have to get to work late, or leave early. It’s the most important thing you have to do today.

Pizza Is a Vegetable: How Occupy Wall Street Affects You

I’m not talking about jobs, or even the economy.

I’m talking about school lunch.

Whaaaa???

On Tuesday, Congress decided in a revised spending bill that pizza is a vegetable, and therefore, is healthy enough to be a staple of school lunches.

Apparently, there are a whole mess of pizza farmers out there that I didn’t know about.

OK, so maybe that’s not entirely accurate. It’s not the pizza that’s a vegetable, but the two tablespoons of tomato paste on it that can count as a serving of vegetables. Here’s some of the deets, courtesy of MSNBC and the Associated Press:

Specifically, the provisions of the new bill would:

  • Block the Agriculture Department from limiting starchy vegetables, including corn and peas, to two servings a week. The rule was intended to cut down on french fries, which some schools serve daily.
  • Allow USDA to count two tablespoons of tomato paste as a vegetable, as it does now. The department had attempted to require that only a half-cup of tomato paste could be considered a vegetable — too much to put on a pizza. Federally subsidized lunches must have a certain number of vegetables to be served.
  • Require further study on long-term sodium reduction requirements set forth by the USDA guidelines.
  • Require USDA to define “whole grains” before they regulate them. The rules would require schools to use more whole grains.

What does this have to do with Occupy Wall Street? It has to do with the corporate hold over our government that affects not only our wallets, but our health and well-being. Basically, the food companies that make frozen pizza (whose biggest client is schools), the potato industry, and the salt industry all got together and were like, “Hey, guys. They’re gonna pass a bill that’ll make our products less desirable and take away a big chunk of our profit. Yeah, maybe kids might eat a little better and learn to live more healthily. And yeah, maybe that would create a present and future demand for healthier food products that we could look into supplying. And yeah, maybe healthier children means lowering the cost of health care, because obesity wouldn’t be such a big problem and cause government to have to provide for weight-related illnesses. And yeah, maybe children who eat better and have less starch in their lunch might actually perform better in school because they’ll be more alert, and then they’ll grow up to be more successful, focused members of society who might be able to figure out how our industry can survive without serving people crap. But this is our money we’re talking about! WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

And so they complained to the government – the government that’s supposed to be protecting us from harm – and since they give lots of candidates lots of money, Congress did what they wanted.

And never mind that the tomato, which is biologically a fruit, was determined to be a vegetable by the government back in the day solely because the things that people cook with as “vegetables” (which are used more often) are under different tariff laws than “fruits” and have duties charged for them.

Basically, whether something is considered healthy, or a vegetable, is determined by what will make food companies more money – not by silly things like “science” or “facts” or “common fucking sense.”

When you’re thinking about criticizing Occupy Wall Street, think about what you’d also be allowing as the alternative: a country where up is down and left is right; a country where companies are considered people; a country where money, not facts, determine what’s good for you; a country where pizza is a vegetable.

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