Thursday, July 31, 2014

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (including Colonial America): Part 2


A BRIEF HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (including Colonial America): Part 2

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator


1600s Continued

What was life like for children in the 1600s?

"Forms of child labor, including indentured servitude and child slavery, have existed throughout American history. As industrialization moved workers from farms and home workshops into urban areas and factory work, children were often preferred, because factory owners viewed them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike. Growing opposition to child labor in the North caused many factories to move to the South. By 1900, states varied considerably in whether they had child labor standards and in their content and degree of enforcement. By then, American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddlers."  Source: https://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/us_history.html

 

"As early as 1642, Massachusetts had a law that gave magistrates the authority to remove children from parents who did not "train up" their children properly. In 1735, an orphan girl in Georgia was rescued from a home where she was sexually abused.8 In 1866, Massachusetts passed a law authorizing judges to intervene in the family when "by reason of orphanage or of the neglect, crime, drunkenness or other vice of parents," a child was "growing up without education or salutary control, and in circumstances exposing said child to an idle and dissolute life."9 Whether or not a statute authorized intervention, judges had inherent authority to stop abuse."  Source: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/insights_law_society/ChildProtectionHistory.authcheckdam.pdf

In the above quote, the meaning of "train up" is to teach to read and write, not batter into subservience. 

"In 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. Concerned that parents were ignoring the first law, in 1647 Massachusetts passed another one requiring that all towns establish and maintain public schools. It would be many years before these schools were open to all children. Only in the mid-nineteenth century was universal free public schooling guaranteed – in time, made compulsory — for Massachusetts children."  Source: http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=113

In 2014, 23% of United States citizens are illiterate.  The inability to read, write, and comprehend written works and communications has a devastating impact on child welfare and overall human rights.  Source: http://washingtoncountyliteracycouncil.org/.  60% of individuals incarcerated in the United States in 2014 are illiterate. 

 "Youth crime has been strongly linked to illiteracy and truancy. Government figures for 2002 – 2003 show 40% of young offenders entering prison were below level 1 (i.e. would not achieve a G at GCSE English). This is also true of adult offenders, with 80% having the writing skills of an 11 year old.

This is not the only factor. There are often deeper language and communication difficulties which drastically limit an offender's ability to respond in emotionally laden situations, making it more likely that they will lash out and be violent.

These individuals are also likely to have been the victims of abuse of violence themselves. For some children a group of their peers may provide more care and protection than can be found at home or school. For them it may be a rational choice to join a gang rather than be left out of one."  Source: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/sep/01/pupilbehaviour.classroomviolence

As you can see, coupling modern knowledge with long-term problems adversely affecting children as a class in the United States, we find an overall pattern of progress towards universal human rights by some and resistance to progress by those who stand to lose their ignorant, easily controlled, and subservient "employees" should better human rights laws be enacted and enforced.

What about institutional abuse of children in Colonial America?

HEAL considers slavery and indentured servitude to be forms of institutional abuse and therefore such is covered in the above discussion.  In addition, we can look at the abuses at "orphanages" or the "boarding schools" of the 17th century.

 "Valentina Tikoff’s essay provides a history of the orphanages in Seville from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. Through institutional policies and family strategies, many children who still had one or even two living parents ended up in the care of “orphanages.” What we might think of as orphanages would more properly be called the foundling home in eighteenth-century Seville. This was simply the place where abandoned babies passed through before ending up in the care of a wet nurse, if they even survived that long. In contrast, the “orphanages” were more like boarding schools, where children might, for example, be trained as sailors.

Widowed parents pressed the authorities to admit their children to these institutions, which in fact became quite socially selective."  Source: http://www.ncsu.edu/acontracorriente/fall_08/von_germet_rev.pdf

 "In the United States, an early means of caring for orphans was by indenture. The first American child was indentured in 1636, in Massachusetts. Indenture was often free labor rather than protection. Later, children were placed in almshouses with their parents, and the feeling was that they would set children on a road to life, "free from permanent ignorance, pauperism, and vice." By the mid 1800s they were recognized as just the opposite. Yet, in 1927, there were still children placed in almshouses throughout the country."  Source: http://www.childrenservices.org/directservices/USAhistory.html

What we have here in 2014, is a system that has changed its names and claims while continuing to operate as 17th century child labor and abuse institutions.  It is important for advocates and activists to understand the long history of institutional abuse in the United States in its many forms and the efforts over time to improve conditions for children in the US and around the world.  What we are seeing in 2014 is not only resistance to continuing progress, but, intentional opposition to progress with intent to return to and/or continue exploiting families and traffick in children.  This issue is understood from a variety of perspectives by a wide variety of people and organizations.  Those who wish to engage in the movement for progress including teen liberty, must understand what progress has been made overtime and what we can do to protect and reinforce existing policies and laws as well as enhance policies and laws to better protect children and families. 

Healthy and Tasty Vegan Recipes


Healthy and Tasty Vegan Recipes

by Angela Smith

 

From time to time, I will post a vegan recipe on this blog and provide some nutritional information to assist readers who would like to adopt a more sustainable diet.

 

Today's recipe is Chili Rice Casserole.  This recipe provides nearly 4x (4 times or 400%) the iron per serving than found in a serving of meat and slightly more protein than found in a serving of meat.  In addition, it is a 99% fat free dish!  One serving of this dish amount to approximately 425 calories and it is very satisfying! 

 

Chili Rice Casserole

 

1 - 15 oz. Can of Vegan Chili (Hormel's Vegetarian Chili is vegan and other brands have vegetarian and vegan options as well.)

 

1 Cup of Uncooked Rice (2 Cups of Cooked Rice--I prefer white rice with this recipe)

 

1 & 1/3 Cup of Corn

 

Directions:  Prepare rice per package instructions.  Add Chili and Corn, stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed and mixed.  Heat for 5-7 minutes on low/simmer.  And, enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (including Colonial America): Part 1


A BRIEF HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (including Colonial America): Part 1

 

By Angela Smith, HEAL Coordinator

 

The following is the first installment of a series of articles giving a brief history in chronological order of a sampling of examples of institutional abuse occurring in the United States of America (Colonial America from 1607-1783).  This is in no way a complete list of institutional abuse occurrences in the United States of America.  It is simply a crash course of sorts in institutional abuse and those who oppose and have opposed it from 1607 to the present (2014) in the United States of America.

 

For our purposes, we are choosing not to go back to the Spanish expeditions that began in 1492.  Institutions had to be formed to abuse and oppress in a systemic form.  Systemic institutional abuse for our purposes here refers to any institution that engages in a system of social injustice and human rights violations as understood post Nuremberg and post-civilized philosophy that promoted democratic and just values (i.e. Plato's Republic written in 360BCE (or approximately 2374 years ago). 

 

An extensive review of world history and in-depth analysis of various cultures and cultural/social reform movements may provide readers with an even greater understanding of the progress that has been made and the work that is still needed to both protect existing human rights and social justice access and standards and keep improving human rights and social justice access and standards for all human beings.

 

"Human rights are norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. Examples of human rights are the right to freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, and the right to engage in political activity. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels."  (Source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights-human/)

 

Most readers may not need much information on American Indian and African/African American oppression, so, for those that do or would like to refresh your memories regarding these important lessons from American History, please visit: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/slavery.aspx and http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-timeline.html. 

 

Our focus will now turn to the institutional abuse and oppression of men, women and children, starting in the 1600s and moving forward.  It is important that everyone who seeks to stop institutional abuse in the 21st century understand the history of such abuses and the various campaigns and efforts to stop those abuses.  This will aid in identifying the actual "enemy" as well as understanding strategy and guarding against counter-intelligence activities by the opposition.

 

1600s (Colonial America)

 

Social Injustice in Jamestown Courts & Colonial Governance

 

"The first Africans in colonial America were brought to Jamestown by a Dutch ship in 1619. These 20 Africans were indentured servants, which meant that they were to work for a certain period of time in exchange for transportation and room and board. They were assigned land after their service and were considered free Negroes. Nonetheless, their settlement was involuntary.

 

The status of Africans in colonial America underwent a rapid evolution after 1619. One early judicial decision signaled the change in European attitudes toward Africans. In 1640, three Virginia servants—two Europeans and one African—escaped from their masters. Upon recapture, a Virginia court ordered the European servants to serve their master for one more year and the African servant to serve his master, or his master's assigns, for the rest of his life."  (Source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/slavery.aspx)  (Also see sentencing disparity and slavery loophole connection perpetuating this injustice today: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/13thamendment.html, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/82902.pdf, and http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/mandatory-sentencing-and-racial-disparity-assessing-the-role-of-prosecutors-and-the-effects-of-booker)

 

"Virginia and Maryland operated under what was known as the "headright system." The leaders of each colony knew that labor was essential for economic survival, so they provided incentives for planters to import workers. For each laborer brought across the Atlantic, the master was rewarded with 50 acres of land. This system was used by wealthy plantation aristocrats to increase their land holdings dramatically. In addition, of course, they received the services of the workers for the duration of the indenture.

 

...A contract was written that stipulated the length of service — typically five years. The servant would be supplied room and board while working in the master's fields. Upon completion of the contract, the servant would receive "freedom dues," a pre-arranged termination bonus. This might include land, money, a gun, clothes or food. On the surface it seemed like a terrific way for the luckless English poor to make their way to prosperity in a new land. Beneath the surface, this was not often the case.

 

Only about 40 percent of indentured servants lived to complete the terms of their contracts. Female servants were often the subject of harassment from their masters. A woman who became pregnant while a servant often had years tacked on to the end of her service time. Early in the century, some servants were able to gain their own land as free men. But by 1660, much of the best land was claimed by the large land owners. The former servants were pushed westward, where the mountainous land was less arable and the threat from Indians constant. A class of angry, impoverished pioneer farmers began to emerge as the 1600s grew old. After Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, planters began to prefer permanent African slavery to the headright system that had previously enabled them to prosper."  (Source: http://www.ushistory.org/us/5b.asp)

 

The Colonial court and governing systems were clearly oppressive and not democratic.  Poor immigrants of European descent as well as involuntary immigrants of European (i.e. Irish, see: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/27/1265498/-The-slaves-that-time-forgot#) and African descent were subjected to, often involuntary, indentured servitude.  This system continued fairly unabated until the early 1900s.  You read that correctly, the early 1900s.  (Source: http://www.dcnyhistory.org/indent.html)

 

Both the Abolitionist Movement (1800s) and Labor Movement (1800s) grew in the US in response to economic inequality and brutal working and living conditions for all "voluntary" and involuntary laborers.  (See: http://www.aflcio.org/About/Our-History/Labor-History-Timeline and http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart3.html)  So, this type of institutional abuse was encoded into law and custom in the United States since Colonial times. 

 

What was life like for indentured servants and enslaved people?

 

"Speaking from everyday experience, Jacobs is eloquent here in summarizing everyday dimensions of enslavement: extreme labor, poor rations, family destruction, child sexual abuse and rape, whipping and other violence, and the intense pursuit of those seeking freedom."  (Source:  http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/10/14/the-rape-of-black-women-under-slavery-part-ii/)

 

Ignorance is still used along with violence as a tool of enslavement.  (Source: http://articles.courant.com/2013-02-28/news/hc-op-simpson-learning-power-of-reading-0301-20130228-1_1_slaves-frederick-douglass-book-discussion and http://www.heal-online.org/ebook.htm).  To choose to remain ignorant when so much valuable historical information and discussion is available through public libraries, universities, and online resources is to choose slavery and stall progress.  It is a disservice to our ancestors who fought and died for the rights we have today and for the rights they hoped we would continue to fight for, defend, and protect now and in the future.

 

Systemic Oppression of Women

 

"Married women could not make contracts, even for their own labor. A wife had no legal identity separate from her husband's. The interests of a wife and her children were to be determined and represented solely by her husband.

Property was power in the colonies, and married women would have neither.

Divorces were rare, and usually men were allowed to beat their wives, just as they beat their slaves and servants and dogs and horses. When a wife chose to run away from an unbearable marriage, her husband could advertise for her capture and return in local newspapers; just as he could advertise for the return of his runaway slaves and servants." (Source: http://b-womeninamericanhistory17.blogspot.com/2009/02/women-in-17th-century-colonies.html)

 

""Puritan court records further reveal that WIFE ABUSE is not a recent development. Between 1630 and 1699, at least 128 men were tried for abusing their wives. . . The punishments for wife abuse were mild, usually amounting only to a fine, a lashing, a public admonition, or supervision by a town-appointed guardian" (Domestic Revolutions 11).

"Even in cases of abuse, Puritan authorities commanded wives to be submissive and obedient. They were told not to resist or strike their husbands but to try to reform their spouse's behavior" (ibid).""  (Source: http://web.campbell.edu/faculty/vandergriffk/FamColonial.html)

 

Clearly, the Colonial American courts and governments were oppressive to women and contributed to vile human rights conditions for women in the United States.

 

"...[T]he truly dramatic transformation came in the 17th century (aka 1600s), with what Foucault styled "the great confinement of the poor". All across Europe, the mad were herded together with other social pests into giant warehouses, the archetype of which was the Hopital General in Paris. This amounted essentially to street-sweeping, an official edict of exclusion and sequestration. With little or no medical warrant, its rationale was not curing the deranged but securing them. Its aim was at bottom political - it was a way of silencing the mad, indeed of turning madness into "unreason", a state utterly negative, emptied of humanity...  The rising count of long-stay inmates was thus a symptom of society's desire to ostracise social nuisances; the high percentage of female patients pointed to the bother patriarchy had with unruly women."  (Source: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/103990.article)

 

The problem of warehousing people in the above manner was not limited to Europe nor was it limited to the 1600s.  In the United States of America, this problem existed from nearly the beginning.  And, arguably the first battle in the United States to stop these abuses was fought by Dorothea Dix in the 1840s in Massachusetts.

 

"Those who had underestimated the determination and dedication of Dorothea Dix, however, were brought to attention when they heard her say that the sick and insane were "confined in this Commonwealth in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, beaten with rods, lashed into obedience." Thus, her crusade for humane hospitals for the insane, which she began in 1841, was reaching a climax. After touring prisons, workhouses, almshouses, and private homes to gather evidence of appalling abuses, she made her case for state-supported care. Ultimately, she not only helped establish five hospitals in America, but also went to Europe where she successfully pleaded for human rights to Queen Victoria and the Pope."  (Source: http://www.ushistory.org/us/26d.asp)

 
Unfortunately, one who seeks the truth will find, these disgusting human rights abuses and institutional abuses have almost always existed and have often been a mainstay of human civilizations around the world and in the United States.  This "war" has many victims, many casualties, and many warriors.  In future installments of this series, we will discuss other examples of institutional abuse and the heroes who fought and continue to fight for universal human rights and social justice.  Don't allow anyone to "beat you into submission"!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Effective Activism and Advocacy v. Astroturf Organizations and Posers


Effective Activism and Advocacy v. Astroturf Organizations and Posers

by Angela Smith

 

"An unsuspected enemy is doubly dangerous." ~L. Frank Baum wrote in "The Emerald City of Oz"

 

Effective activism and advocacy requires dedication, commitment, great research, civic literacy, and intelligent strategy.  Most activists and advocates are dedicated and committed to their causes, but, often fall short when it comes to great research, civic literacy, and intelligent strategy.

 

Dedicated and committed individuals who recognize injustice and abuse and wish to do something can: work on their own; with an organization; or may even start their own organization.  Individual activists working alone can do great research, advance their civic literacy, and even strategize effectively without much help and without joining an organization.  If an individual activist wishes to join forces with an established organization or create their own, there are a few important issues they must consider first if they wish to be effective in their activism and advocacy. 

 

It is vitally important that individuals who care about a specific cause enter volunteerism with their eyes open and with significantly developed goals for their cause to avoid the pitfalls of misdirection, disorganization, manipulation, and inefficacy.  A good rule to follow here is not to assume anything, including that the organizations know what they are doing or are effective. 

 

Once an individual has identified at least one significant goal they have and is seeking an organization that can help them achieve that goal, they need to determine if the organization they've selected shares that goal and what the organization has done or is doing to further that goal.

 

To determine if an existing organization is effective in strategizing and succeeding in regards to short-term and long-term goals, ask the following questions:  (If an organization or individual activist avoids answering questions, responds with insults or disrespect, and acts and speaks differently in public than in private, this is a serious indicator that the individual or organization may be an Astroturf Organization, poser, or provocateur.)

 

1.  Does your organization share my goal [insert goal here]?  And, if so, can you tell me more about what your organization has done to achieve this goal?  (If you have more than one goal related to a specific cause, ask this question regarding each goal.)

 

Sample Q & A

 

Q: Does HEAL wish to stop institutional abuse and further children's rights in the US?

 

A:  Yes, HEAL works to stop institutional abuse and to further children's rights in the US.

 

Q:  What has HEAL done in its efforts to stop institutional abuse and further children's rights in the US?

 

A:  HEAL is perpetually building a database of detailed information regarding fraudulent and abusive facilities for children and teens that includes news articles, victim and family reports, lawsuits, and law enforcement records to provide information to assist journalists, victims and their families, attorneys, law enforcement, and regulatory agencies in their efforts to report on and hold accountable violating facilities and programs.  In addition, we provide survivor and parent support to help individual victims and their families as well as to assist with preventing institutionalization in the first place.  We filed Initiative 999 in Washington State in 2008 to improve laws to better protect children and families from fraud and abuse.  Unfortunately, we did not get the needed signatures before the deadline and it did not go to the ballot for public consideration.  For more information on Initiative 999, see: http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i999.pdf.  Because collecting 224,800 valid registered voter signatures in Washington State between March and July is next to impossible without a very healthy bankroll or hundreds of dedicated signature gatherers, that effort was unsuccessful.  But, it is public record and remains so on the Secretary of State website.  And, we think that is a success in its own right.  Moving forward we are developing our State Action Plan and working to educate our volunteers and members so they can be a "lobbyist" for children in their home States.  For more information on this project see www.heal-online.org/actionone.htm and http://www.heal-online.org/action2.htm.  [If an organization cannot provide information on their goals or their efforts that clearly shows action and not just talk, they should probably be avoided if your goal is to be effective.]

 

2.  Who founded your organization and who funds your organization?

 

Sample Q & A

 

Q:  Who founded HEAL and who funds HEAL?

 

A:  HEAL was founded in 2002 as a registered student organization at the University of Washington.  Angela Smith is co-founder of HEAL.  Smith is a survivor of institutional abuse.  Smith is also a graduate of Highline Community College and the University of Washington.  Smith also successfully completed 1 year of law school and is on extended hiatus from law school due to personal matters.  Beyond that, you can learn more about Angela Smith by visiting www.heal-online.org/hqseattle.htm.  Most of the other founding members of HEAL moved or stopped being actively involved after graduating from the UW in 2005.  To learn more about our chapter coordinators, please visit their webpages linked on our homepage at www.heal-online.org.  HEAL is primarily funded in-house by our primary volunteers and coordinators.  However, we do receive less than $500 per year from donations through our site, by mail, and at events.  [If the organization refuses to provide information regarding founders or funding, this is another red flag.  If the organization claims to be, or you later learn it is, funded by or run by individuals or businesses with a vested interest in perpetuating the injustice by providing false information, misleading victims regarding their options for seeking justice, or undermining effective actions by feeding confidential information to the offending individual, business, or organization that results in their avoiding investigation and accountability, volunteer somewhere else.  And, don't align yourself with those who would ask you to be willfully blind because of their own misguided loyalties.]

 

3.  How can I help? 

 

Sample Q & A

 

Q:  How can I help with the teen liberty campaign?

 

A:  It depends on your skills, the amount of time you have, and what you are interested in doing.  For people who don't like the public eye or spotlight, research, survivor support, and parent support are all areas where HEAL needs more help.  If you don't mind being in the spotlight, you can: organize and participate in marches and protests; volunteer for public speaking events (i.e. guest speakers at colleges and high schools, etc.); become a coordinator; or be a media liaison.  You can participate and support our existing campaigns and efforts, or get our help in developing your own campaign.  For more information, see www.heal-online.org/solidarity.htm.  [If an organization cannot provide you information on volunteer opportunities and/or asks for money and ignores your offer to volunteer, that is a red flag.  Avoid organizations who are more interested in your pocketbook and hosting lavish events than they are in your ideas and organizing effective campaigns.]

 

Since this is a blog article and not a book, the suggested question portion ends here.  It is very important that you don't take what people say or what other people say at face value.  In the case of HEAL, our primary campaign is teen liberty and our opposition is a multi-billion dollar industry with far-reaching government ties and influential relationships.  We are effective and resourceful.  And, we are experienced, informed, and involved.  If an individual makes a celebrity of themselves with one action (i.e. representing victims in one case against the opposition), don't assume they are on your side.  Find out if they've done anything besides that case and talking about that case.  Don't recommend or align yourselves with individuals because they charmed or impressed you with their celebrity or public persona.  Demand evidence that they have done anything to further the cause beyond celebrating their own notoriety for the last 20-30 years.  And, check any public documents to see if there are inconsistencies or clear misinformation in the celebrity's writings and statements.  If you don't know if someone has written or said something that is false, find someone who would know and get their help with research and forming an opinion.  If someone refuses to answer your questions, insults you, disrespects you, or otherwise shuts you down, don't admire them.  You deserve honest replies to your questions, consideration, respect, and validation.  Those who redirect the conversation and fail the transparency test will lead you astray.  Beware!