Hate on display in Charlottesville


There’s no moral equivalence between the anti-fascists and the alt-right. There are people who saw this event for what it was, and there are people who want to lie to themselves.

What happen in Charlottesville, Virginia last week is not so farfetched in today’s political reality, seeing as how 45 has opened the door for white nationalists, the alt-right and other racists who support him. These groups are inside a warm pot, and at some point it was going to boil over. Days after, it was comforting to see the backlash they received, not only from activists who were present in their opposition, but also with the tearing down of confederate statues that followed, and the business community not playing along with 45’s moral equivalence between anti-fascists and the alt-right.

It was shocking to watch these hate groups in full display, not afraid of any repercussions for their actions. On Friday night, they went out with tiki torches chanting awful slogans. I checked twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I was met with an onslaught of images: white men marching with torches, like it was the 1800s, except some were wearing white polo shirts and khaki pants. This was a poor attempt at conveying a clean, new look for the alt-right, neo-nazis of America, but they were clearly not fooling anyone with “their toned down” approach of “we’re fighting for our heritage.” The day brought out other hate groups that carried with them confederate and nazi flags, some sporting military outfits and guns. They went so far as to run over a group of protesters on the anti-fascist side, injuring many and killing a lady, who was white herself.

For anyone who was waiting for 45 to do the honorable thing and fully condemn these hate groups, has obviously not been awake for the last couples of months, or for the duration of the media’s obsession with 45. Stop waiting for a pivot. Sure, he can read teleprompters and pretend to be civil and cognizant of the facts, but those are not his words, as we saw the day he went off-script, and said there were some good people in the alt-right, neo-nazi side, and that they were there to oppose the removal of confederate statues. 45 has always been a racist; his actions and words reveal that. He’s too old and senile to change, so stop waiting.

The conversation needs to move to why young white men are adopting this radical ideology, some who are college-educated and seemingly well-off. People can try to use the economic argument, but there is a new crop of racists pretending they are fighting for white america and their “heritage,” since they believe they’re being replaced by minorities, but this stems from a belief that the white race is a superior one. I imagine these young men (I noticed from the photos many of them appeared to be in their 20s to 30s) gather in clandestine forums, posting hate speech and fake news, instilling a twisted reality on their consciousness. One that politicians are glad to use to their advantage, and ironically for the ruin of white-america. They are trying to take back America. I’m not sure from who? Since they have ancestors who immigrated to this country. They don’t own America. If anyone should claim ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

The online world has become the place for ego-driven fake news. hate speech, bots and trolls. For anyone willing to suspend their rationality to adopt a supremacist ideology, it’s not difficult to find people who will agree with you. Before fake news, there was, and still is, Fox news, which 45 watches religiously and often repeats verbatim. It’s like a cycle that keeps repeating itself. When your “president” is relaying back conspiracy filled statements, it’s no surprise people don’t believe trusted news sources.  He doesn’t hide his favoritism for these alt-right groups, since they’re part of his base. They want nothing more than to see him deport immigrants and undermine our civil rights.

Another point of confusion for me, is why anyone would want to claim the confederacy as part of their heritage, and defend it as if it was righteous and moral? Anyone espousing these beliefs clearly doesn’t have qualms about the fact that the confederates were fighting to keep slavery; they were willing to split up the country because they wanted an entire race to be enslaved.  Some of the descendants of confederate generals themselves have called for the statues to be taken down. The great-great grandson of Stonewall Jackson ( a man who believed god wanted slavery to continue) expressed their moral dilemma when it came to their heritage, as something that has evolved.  They acknowledge their ancestor and the history, knowing that his statues no longer have a place in today’s society.The great-great grandson called the statues “overt symbols of racism and white supremacy.” Many of the confederate statues were installed during reconstruction, as if to remind African-Americans, who were living in the south, of those who were against abolishing slavery. These symbols call out to an ideology that is offensive specially for black communities.

Though these statues are symbols of oppression, people should use the proper channels to bring them down. The communities involved should decide what happens to those statues and build consensus. As it occurred in New Orleans when the council members voted to take them down. The pressure should come from grassroots movements that influence elected officials to remove them from the community. It’s important for people to have a conversation as to why it should be removed.  Following those channels of actions will make people more likely to agree with the removal instead of doing it by force.

The hate groups made their presence known in Charlottesville, not just to express their anger over the removal of confederate statues, as 45 will have you know, but also because they wanted to show that all these groups are united. They’re not just some random group of people on reddit or 4chan, ranting about “white heritage” So for anyone saying that anti-fascists or others who are part of the resistance should not show up, in order to prevent a violent interaction, know that they were there to voice their opposition. It sends a message to fascist, racists that we have the numbers to back up the resistance, and that the majority of the country agrees with us when we say we want to protect minorities like Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jewish communities.

This is the time to speak out and protest against these hateful groups. But we can’t stoop to their level by committing violent acts ourselves, because then we are no better than they are, if we do not let out words and action come from a place of peace and conviction, and not force.



A reading of The Handmaid’s Tale


The show has a way of absorbing you with its bareness and minimalism, becoming almost too austere and icy.

This show couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate time, seeing as how women have much to lose from the extreme, right-wing policies of the current republicans in control of the senate, house and the fake white house. The patriarchy wants to reverse the progress on women’s health care and family planning. Not a single women was part of the republican senate group meant to write the new health care bill. Once it was out in the open, we saw why they kept it hidden for so long. There were severe cuts to programs vital to women and families, for example Medicaid and planned parenthood. I guess conservatives are pro-life, but not when its comes to women and their children.

People want to lie to themselves, and say “that couldn’t happen to us.” Often we dismiss older societies as being naive. We saw this at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale (book) when the historian discussed the tape recordings, which revealed June’s story. He laughed it off, saying Gilead was antiquated and their ideas were primitive and impossible now. That is until someone asked, “What sort political climate do you think could potentially break apart our current status and take us back in time?” The past repeats itself only with minor differences, so it’s safe to say, we should not make light of our current political state. The historian in The handmaid’s Tale goes on to respond:

In times of peace and plenty it is hard to remember the conditions that have led to authoritative regime changes in the past, and it is even harder to suppose that we ourselves would ever make such choices or allow them to be made, but when there’s a perfect storm and collapse of the established order is in the works, precipitated by environmental stresses that lead to food shortage, economic factors, such as unrest due to unemployment, a social structure that is, top-heavy with too much wealth being concentrated among too few, then scapegoats are sought and blamed, fear is rampant, and there is pressure to trade what we think of liberty, for what we think of as safety.



I’m a little mad that no one told me about this book growing up, nor was it a required reading in high school or junior high. I wonder how I would have perceived the harsh dystopian setting, the stony characters and the cruelness of how women were treated. It may have been the case that my teachers were either offended by the nature of the book, or were not allowed to teach it since the faculty might have deemed it inappropriate for teenage girls. It would have no doubt made me hate men, at least initially. There are some redemptive male characters who are not as deplorable as the males figures in power.

I began watching The Handmaid’s Tale series, blindly without having any background on the story. This caused a shock in so much as I did not want to watch another episode, even with another human present. I could only stomach one episode at a time, because by the end of episode I had shrunk and felt depressed. This was not a lighthearted show you binge watch for 3 or 4 episodes that include moments of comic relief of the likeness of OITNB.

The scenes in the show have a way of absorbing you with its bare and minimal quality. It takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts (though it was actually filmed in Canada) where a new society called Gilead has overthrown the U.S. democratic government of the modern era and instituted a version of Christian fundamentalism or a theocracy. This could have taken place in our decade, but it’s meant to resemble 2005—a not so distant past.

Fall in New York.

“They have instituted a caste system paired with a rigid wardrobe meant to subjugate women.”

The Gilead society is structured in such a way where everyone has a designated function, which determines their social ranking, and what they wear. They have instituted a caste system paired with a rigid wardrobe meant to subjugate women. In every town a group of handmaids are in charge of breeding children that will be raised by the wives and fathered by the commander within the assigned household. The names they once had have been discarded and in its place are the chosen family names, so they are Offred or Ofwarren. In this society love doesn’t exist, so no one dates or marries a person of their choice. Most of the men have been turned into guards or angels, meant to protect the women, but in reality they are there to make sure they don’t escape.

There is no a sight of imperfection with the neighborhood’s pristine streets, homes and gardens. Everything is meant to appear clean and pure including the women. The only colors that resonate are the handmaid’s crimson dresses and cloaks, their white hats and the wives’ blue dresses, which symbolize purity. The Marthas are the cooks and they wear drab gray uniforms; they mostly keep to themselves, since they are hidden away like discarded towels in the kitchen. The men mostly wear black and the nuns wear dark green outfits, which appear heavy.

IMG_3316 copy
Three dolls found in a nyc thrift store.

The handmaids cannot wear makeup. Their faces hide underneath the white hat that doesn’t let them see on the sides or above, only straight as if they were in a tunnel. The handmaids walk in pairs at the same rhythm. “She is my spy and I am her spy,” Offred (June) thinks  while walking with Ofglen.

Every word is carefully studied, as is every gesture, since the characters must be careful not to let their true feelings come out. An illegal action can mean punishment, or worse the women could be sent to the colonies where people go to die. It’s pertinent to know everyone’s motive, and to make sure they will not tell on you if you dissent.

“The series is an alternative reading of the book and works as a complement or another  layer.”

We often find closeup shots of June’s face as we hear her interior monologue. There’s a natural quality to the way the show was filmed, especially when June or other handmaids are in the shot, which is not to be compared with the harshness of the wives or nuns.

Let us be who we want to be and wear what we want.

The show is a version, adapted from Margaret Atwood’s book by the same name. As is the case when books are turned into shows or movies, many scenes are left out, dialogues or the similitude of relationships. The series is an alternative reading of the book and works as a complement or another layer.

The interior monologue of June is much more fluid and spontaneous in the book, where she takes certain freedoms  describing scenes and giving us suggestive anecdotes, often tricking into believing that she is still in her old life. There are poignant moments of irony and sarcasm that are not strongly felt in the show.

The book version also has a longer scene between Moira and June when they meet again after the red center days. Nick and June’s relationship is lackluster in the book and I’m glad I had the show’s version to illustrate their affection, since in the book it seems oddly cold. The wife also does not represent much of threat in the book version, but in the series she is much younger and has an alarmingly sadistic quality.

From the book, I remember Margaret Antwood’s words on how cool the scrabble pieces felt in June’s hand as she paired the letters. From the show, I remember, “They didn’t get everything, there was something left in her. She looked invincible,” June said after seeing another handmaid commit an act of bravery.

Blurry memory.


Krewe of Concerned Citizens

In true New Orleans style.

Another one reverberated, “We are one nation, no mass deportation!”

It felt like a hot summer day when I went to Metairie for a town hall, hosted by Bill Cassidy, U.S. senator of Louisiana. Around the country some elected officials chose to attend town halls during the President’s Day congressional recess, and some chose to ignore their constituents for fear of being screamed at. At least Cassidy didn’t cower at the idea of having angry citizens express their concerns about the new White House Administration and its orange warlord. I’m sure he knew what he was in for, because he strategically chose to have the event in a small venue that fit about 200 people, and it was scheduled to last only one hour. Try fitting policy concerns from hundreds of constituents into one hour, and you will fail.

A friend and I expected to at least make it to the back of the venue. But by the time I arrived at the library, I saw crowds of people walking from the entrance  towards the parking lot.“They closed the doors. We’re going to see if he’ll come out from the back,” they told us.

Some people had been there since noon, hours before the start to get a spot inside. I assumed it would take place in a large auditorium, and most of us would be able to get in. Over by the entrance, there were hundreds of people holding up signs. One read, “Keep the EPA. No Pipeline.” Another, “Investigate Trump ties with Russia,” and “Healthcare is a human right.”

Over by the entrance, people standing wishing they could have a chance to ask Cassidy some questions.

The best signs were close to the barricades that security guards had set up near the entrance. There was a small group of people using a microphone. One lady was recounting her experience with Affordable Care Act and how it allowed her to get coverage for her illness. There was also a guy that talked about listening to who have different ideologies. “Don’t let them tell you should hate them. They voted for someone else but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them…,” his voice trailed off as I kept walking.

I thought about the sentiment of putting yourself in another person’s shoes, and listening to their point of view before relying on severe judgment and ridicule. If anything has come out of this election, it’s that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people outside our circle. Fear doesn’t allow for the exchange of ideas; it only further divides us.


We ventured to the parking lot where people were waiting for Cassidy to come out. The number of people on this side was also significant and kept increasing as the hour approached when Cassidy would exit. A couple of people were following the meeting through live feeds. From the videos, it sounded like there was plenty of yelling. Someone said Cassidy had a power point presentation for the audience on how the senate and congress function. People were also told to leave their signs outsides— nothing bigger than 8×11 could be brought in. “He had everyone write their questions on an index card, and now he’s only talking about health care,” one lady said. “But he’s also answering other stuff now,” but this was only after people started demanding it. Cassidy had everyone write their questions in an index card, and read them as he saw fit. It would have been better to have people line up to ask their questions.

One guy outside got a little rowdy when the security officer told him not to pass further into the driveway. There were signs that recalled Cassidy being paid off by Betsy Betsy Devos, who donated $70,000 to his campaign. Many called him to oppose her confirmation vote, and expressed frustration on his Facebook account. “Oh that’s not necessary, were fine just standing here,” said a lady behind the guy who was yelling about Cassidy’s record.

We sat down for a while and my friend asked if I thought aggression was sometimes necessary? It’s a double edge sword. Even when protestors are marching peaceful—take the case of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation— they are painted by the mainstream media as criminals, instigators and rioters who are acting violent, which could not be further from the truth. There’s a danger that while our intentions may be noble, there are individuals that use this opportunity to rage, loot and set things on fire, but by in large most protests are peaceful except for minor rioters who in no way represent the whole message. That’s also not to say you shouldn’t express your anger over real issues, but there are definitely strategic ways, and yelling a few facts into the air and chanting vigorously is not criminal. Sometimes the only way to get heard is to be in the face of powerful people, who refuse to hear facts and rational arguments. I keep asking: Is our anger not justified? At what point does it become justified?

I talked to one lady, who had come down to protest because she was worried about the Devos confirmation, ACA and the investigation on cheetolini’s campaign connection to Russia. Some medical students who wore white lab coats were hoping to ask questions about ACA. They were worried about coverage and preconditions. They told me that one of their friends luckily made it inside the venue.

The crowd kept chanting while the town hall took place inside.
The crowd kept chanting while the town hall took place inside.

Chants from the crowds rose: “Refugees are welcome here.” “Say it loud, say it clear.” Another one reverberated, “We are one nation, no mass deportation!”

Someone standing near us asked, “Where are they being sent?” It was reported that immigrants are being sent to Mexico, regardless of the fact that they are not from there. I remember reading an article about the backlog of detainees stemming from the Obama Administration, and with the new ICE raids it will only exasperate the problem, since immigrants without criminal backgrounds are not being exempt.

There was no sign of Cassidy yet, and it was well after the end of the event. Some suspected he left through a different door, but a lady, assured us that, “No, that’s his car, parked right over there.” On the live feed, Cassidy was taped leaving the town hall abruptly to the shout of audience members who complained that he had arrived late and left quickly.

For those who want to discredit the resistance, none of the people rallying against this administration are paid protesters.

The sun was drying us out, so we decided to leave. My friend said she wanted to ask him about the Bayou Pipeline. “Maybe he’ll answer your question as he’s leaving,” someone said, to which I laughed imagining the two seconds the question would get, and sadly it was a low-level priority for his administration, because a healthy clean, environment isn’t that important.

Driving away from the library, and watching as some protesters stayed behind, chanting and waiting. I thought about the guy on the microphone, saying to talk to people who have different ideologies and not to simply ignore them. I thought about whether these types of rallies were effective, and my friend pointed out that it allows people to learn and become politically aware. It also means that Cassidy could witness the opposition in numbers. This was not a random occurrence, not some little fuss, but a serious concern with how this administration is being run.


The reality show

Photo: Cynthia Via
Krewe de Veux Mardi Gras float in New Orleans. Photo: Cynthia Via

Today I went out to finish some errands and while waiting for the streetcar, I decided on the fine idea of getting fries from a po boy place. I have no business spending money on fries, but alas, I dug into the brown paper bag for some greasy fries and kept checking my iphone, not caring about the greasy smell emanating from the bag. I was reading instagram comments on President’s Obama’s White House photographer who was shading orange bastard. Here I am digging into a bag of greasy fries, laughing that some photographer is making fun of orange face in a nuanced, classy way. Some comments included, “That’s such a great way of trolling xxxx!” or “ He’s definitely part of the resistance.” People who are anti-dufus are calling themselves the resistance. Resist always, world.

I have to try harder to keep myself away from social media. It’s ruining my concentration. Since when do I watch white house briefings? But the onslaught of lies is so comical, you almost can’t believe it’s real. This guy is our fucking president. A couple of nights before, I heard a reporter say: “at this point everything the white house says should be considered propaganda, and treat it as such.”

Before I continue rambling —I’m just going to stop myself. It’s possible that I’ve been diving head first into the news of the day for one reason to be informed, but it’s turning into entertainment and outrage, which distracts me from purposeful activity. I’m suppose to be searching for a new job, but I waste time browsing twitter and listening to the radio, or worse turning on CNN. I fear any day, a reporter’s head will blow off as they try to factually disprove statements from the white house. There was a group of panelists on CNN in sheer disbelief as they tried to make sense of Flynngate, and the recent LIESSSSSS. I have to keep reminding myself news addiction is unhealthy. I should try to concentrate on myself, and find moments of peace. Still this is American’s most wretched reality show in history, and everyone is watching. A show on how we lose our humanity. The administration is selling us entertainment (everyday is a new scandal, meltdown, alternative fact or hatefest towards the media) and we continue to watch, anticipating the next disaster because the media plays into it so well and we follow along. How will it unfold? Will the U.S. survive these unjust human right violations? Will ICE raid immigrants’ homes indefinitely? Will smog, oil spills, and climate-related deaths be considered a normal occurrence?

It’s sad that even if you turn this off—so as not to carry on with the next episode— the reality of the white house will continue to exist despite watching it or not. It’s matters greatly though if you take action, but how do you stay informed without drowning in current news? I keep reminding myself, to be more selective about what I choose to worry about, and make a plan about how to counteract some of those laws and executive orders that will hurt us the most. It’s tiring and stressful to be concerned about everything, when everyday there’s something more mind-boggling than the last. People should stop paying attention to the drama, and more to policy, cabinet positions, and EOs.

My drink of choice tonight was Franziskamer Weissbier.