Saturday, April 13, 2013

Young Chicano writer not burned out by Global Heating

On August 29, 1970 in East Los Angeles, the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War staged a march and rally that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, most of whom were Chicanos. Prior to that, the anti-war movement had been largely an Anglo student led struggle. The Chicano Moratorium changed that and eventually helped end an unjust war killing brown and black boys at higher statistical rates than Anglo kids. Some of the older Chicano writers of today were a part of that effort and many of their stories still need to be told.

Denver last week
In the last months, my wife and I have participated in actions to the stop the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline that will transport tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast. The dirty oil will worsen Global Heating, multiply incidents of pollution and make more of the environment toxic to all forms of life.

At a demonstration a week ago at Sen. Michael Bennet's office in Denver, I wasn't surprised to see very few Chicanos in the crowd. It was déjà-vu, pre-Chicano Moratorium, all over again.

When this primarily Anglo movement finally links up to the Chicanos and mexicanos, it will become as powerful as demonstrated in the votes for Obama in the last election. To do that, they will need to cross the ethnic fence, produce written and oral material in Spanish readable by la gente, among many other things. The time will come.

In the meantime, there is at least one Colorado Spanish-surnamed kid involved in leading this movement. His talk at the rally was inspirational, at least for this old Chicano. It gave me hope that even though few old Chicanos are involved yet, this one young man put himself forward to say some things. That he'd been studying to become a writer, but was considering dropping out of college, seemed too ironical to be ignored by a Chicano literary website, like La Bloga.

If you think the XL Pipeline will somehow be good for or Canadians or humans in general, you can read passages that I excerpted below and go to the sources to read the entire pieces.

Words from a young Chicano:

"We are here to mourn our future, but I am also here to mourn for the people already impacted by climate change and the fossil fuel industry. I am mourning for the Beaver Lake Cree Nation where industry has stolen land in order to extract the tar sands, and where people are getting more and more sick. I am mourning for the community of Manchester, the Valero refinery in Houston, where childhood cancer rates are ten times higher than the state average.

"People talk about how bad things are going to be in thirty or forty years for the privileged, but they often ignore how bad things already are for the marginalized communities.

"I keep hearing from people that my generation--I'm 22--doesn't care or that we are too complacent. I've been thinking a lot about that, and the real reason we may seem disenfranchised is because it's your job, as the past generation, to convince us to buy what you're selling. And you've failed.

"At my age it is hard to see the power structures fail and become completely obsolete, but that is the case. There is no progress within the current system. The future you have left for us is a miserable one, so I don't want to see you act happy about that. I am tired of reading reports, and scientific studies that tell me this planet may not be hospitable for me by the age of retirement. And it will be even worse for my children, and the future generations.

"That is why I am here fighting, alongside many others my own age, and younger and older. Fighting to change things, fighting to change the flawed system that I was born into, and fighting for the future." - Mark C.

Some older people took offense at some of his words that day. I wasn't one of them because taking personal offense at the truth seems petty, ignoring the decimated forest for the one tree you planted.

I was there and can attest that this young man's words had much more emotion in them that the text indicates. I detected frustration and spirit, anger and love, youthful angst and intelligent insight. It moved me at least to post this with the intention of spreading the word to stop this degradation of people, countries and planet. Below you'll see that ethnic minorities already suffer greatly, yes, Chicanos too.

People of color paying for extraction

"The Canadian oil company Transcanada will be cleared to transport bitumen, or tar sands oil, from Canada to the Gulf Coast for sale on the open market following refinement. This process is said by locals who live near refineries in Texas to be poisoning the environment of especially low-income communities of color.

"Sylvia McAdam of the Idle No More Movement of Canada told The Nation Report today that the water around Fort McMurray at the source of tar sands extraction is not only no longer fit to drink, but that 'indigenous people are not hunting around that area anymore'. She went on to say that locals can no longer use their local water to even bathe."

Native Americans and their caribou in the crosshairs

"The cultural heritage, land, ecosystems and human health of First Nation communities including the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay Cree Nation, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, and the Metis, are being sacrificed for oil money in what has been termed a “slow industrial genocide'.

"Infrastructure projects linked to the tar sands expansion, such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline, threaten First Nation communities in British Columbia, Canada and American Indian communities throughout the United States. Community resistance is growing and Indigenous peoples throughout North America have mounted substantive challenges to tar sands expansion.

"Stories of cancer epidemics in the community of Fort Chipewyan, massive wildlife losses related to toxic contamination, environmental degradation and increased vocal resistance from impacted communities have shattered the ‘everything is fine’ myth propagated by the Canadian and Alberta governments. The Athabasca delta has been completely altered from a pristine boreal forest, clean rivers and lakes to a devastated ecosystem of deforestation, open pit mines and watershed where fish regularly exhibit tumors and birds landing on contaminated tailings ponds die instantly.

"Each barrel of oil produced from tar sands requires 2 to 6 barrels of water.
In 2007, Alberta's government approved the withdrawal of 119.5 BILLON gallons of water for tar sands extraction. 82% of this water comes from the Athabasca River. Toxic wastewater is discharged in holding or tailing ponds that leak 11 million liters of toxic waste per day into the Athabasca and seep into the ground water. This water flows northward (downstream) further into Indigenous territories. Since this toxic waste has been flowing into the river and seeping into the groundwater - rare and virulent cancers have affected many of the Indigenous Community members- and fish and game have been found with physical abnormalities and deformations and tumors in fish.

"In 2006, unexpectedly high rate of rare cancers were reported in the community of Fort Chipewyan. In 2008, Alberta Health confirmed a 30% rise in the number of cancers between 1995 -2006. However, the study lacks appropriate data and is considered a conservative estimate by many residents.

"Caribou populations have been severely impacted by tar sands extraction. The Beaver Lake Cree First Nation has experienced a 74% decline of the Cold Lake herd since 1998 and a 71% decline of the Athabasca River herd since 1996. Today, just 175–275 caribou remain. By 2025, the total population is expected to be less than 50 and locally extinct by 2040."

Bus Trip - CO to KXL Hearing in Nebraska
Our government is holding only one open hearing about the construction of this pipeline. In Nebraska, where attendance would obviously be limited. Buses from other states will head there with people willing to go. Check here for Colorado info.

If this pipeline is stopped, a major contributor
to Global Heating will never happen.

If it is constructed, plan on Global Heating accelerating.

Es todo,

1 comment:

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Kudos to this young man who spoke his heart, spoke the truth. And shame on all the rest of us in America who shut him out, who don't care about the people who are already suffering. May this young Chicano be multiplied by millions of people of all colors who'll step up to the plate and speak out. It will take all of us to pressure our President to deny this pipeline. I fear he's leaning in the direction of approving it; if so, this would be a huge betrayal to the people and a huge cave-in to Big Oil. Let's not let that happen.