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Shouldn’t every human being have equal rights? And why would anyone want to silo those rights?                      3 Generations covers a range of social justice issues, and we are never surprised when they cross-pollinate – indeed they almost always do. We can talk about sex trafficking and genocide in the same breath (and have done so for years) because we know where there is genocide, girls and boys are being sexually exploited by genocidaires. So it follows naturally that when we explore veterans rights, we will inevitably find ourselves exploring transgender rights too. Our new short documentary, GO DEBBIE, tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who recently transitioned to her true self as a woman, with help from the VA. We were honored that Debbie shared her story with us, and did so with candor and humor. We are proud of of the resulting film.

We were disheartened to get some of the most negative feedback we have ever received at 3 Generations on one of our regular fundraising platforms. Some donors felt that transgender rights do not qualify as veteran rights, suggesting that we should not honor veterans and talk about transgender rights in the same conversation. This, despite the fact that there are over 150,000 transgender veterans in this country and close to 15,000 currently serving in the military. We do not agree. But we were not surprised, given the rhetoric against the trans community playing out in the 2018 midterm elections.

Vermont Democrat and gubernatorial candidate, Christine Hallquist, made election history as the first transgender woman to win a major party primary race for governor. She has reported receiving a steady stream of death threats, as well as personal attacks, since her candidacy began to draw national and international attention. Hallquist has said “early on when our team assembled I said ‘the more successful we are, the more vitriol and threats we are going to receive’ – it’s kind of a natural outcome of our divided country.”

Divided or not, all occupations in this country should be open to any qualified person. Fighting discrimination and advocating for equal human rights is the work of 3 Generations. If that work challenges some of our donors then we know we are still have more to accomplish. The critiquing of GO DEBBIE has actually invigorated us. It underscores how silenced transgender men and women in the military have been. “I thought this (3 Generations’ program Valuing Our Veterans) was only about veterans”, one donor wrote. It is, and in this case that veteran was a transgender women who served in Vietnam.

Last week we received a message from Debbie herself: “I hope my film will be part of the fight that is sure to be generated by Trump declaring that I do not exist”. And so here we are, facing the 2018 midterm elections, finding ourselves at the vanguard of the fight for transgender rights.

We are proud to support and work alongside activist like Debbie Brady, Go Debbie.

Recently, after listening to Phoebe Judge’s podcast, Criminal, I decided to visit an inmate at a correctional facility five hours north. As a student studying political science with a passion for criminal justice reform, I believed this inmate’s case and experiences would be highly relevant to the direction and purpose of my advocacy efforts. To protect the privacy of the inmate, I will refer to him as Robert in place of his real name.

During the hour and a half that I spent talking with Robert, he was kind, honest, and open, and never seemed threatening or abnormal in the slightest. We sat in a tiny room, about the size of a supply closet, separated by a reinforced chain wall, similar to the cell Robert will spend the rest of his life in. He has been in solitary confinement for over 15 years. Robert has been in prison since he was 15 for two counts of murder. At the age of 21, he was released for 3 months, but was soon reincarcerated for attempted robbery. While serving 3-7 years, he committed a number of violations, including arson and stabbings, and accumulated a life imprisonment sentence.

As a child, Robert was constantly in and out of reformatories and institutions. According to Robert, nothing anyone did ever helped him, but rather taught him how to “calculate and analyze” his growing hatred. What could have helped Robert and shifted his trajectory? In his first month back in prison at 21, a highly respected friend of Robert’s told him he was “too impulsive.” Robert claimed these exact words changed how he faced his anger, and could have impacted him at a younger age. In a moment of clear, deep anguish, Robert said he wished a “young, intelligent woman” had taken him aside, looked into his eyes, and told him that they believed in him and would be there for him. He stressed this point, of needing a young woman to have been a mentor to him. He admits that many well-meaning mental-health professionals did their best to help him, but he didn’t trust them or their methods. He needed to hear that his life was valuable and capable of goodness.

In our country, people of color (POC) are frequently treated as worthless and less-than. In America, police have violently taken the lives of young, unarmed black Americans and received little to no punishment; young POC students in public and private education often lack the resources and opportunities to succeed in a system that values wealth and white skin; emergency services are called when a young, black woman is seen peaceably eating in her school’s cafeteria; incarcerated men, women, and children are forced to work in privately owned correctional facilities for little to no pay. It is no coincidence that African Americans are incarcerated at 5 times the rate of Whites. The millions of people, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, rotting away in prisons and detention facilities deserve to be loved, valued, and feel safe, just as all people deserve these basic rights.

Robert and I agreed that incarceration is a worthless, cruel form of suppression and doesn’t benefit inmates in any way. Inmates are not reformed, but rather released as “shells of real people.” They lack empathy, compassion, and trust, all necessary to cultivating safe, healthy communities. Robert excluded non-violent, drug possession-charges related inmates from his dire expectations. After spending so many years in prison, Robert believes our extremely high rate of incarceration reflects the gradual shedding of compassion, community, and empathy in our society. He is terrified of what our world is becoming. Robert believes that every 5 years, each individual sentenced to more than 5 years should be given the choice to proceed with another 5 years in prison, or be euthanized. If he were let out tomorrow, Robert stated his first act would be to request euthanization so that he may “finally rest in peace.” He does not believe he or his fellow inmates are able to be free citizens.

At 3G, we believe that reform is possible, but do not support prisons, nor the privatization of such. In 2016, we released A System of Justice, to bring awareness to wrongful incarcerations and honor the life of Glenn Ford, who spent 33 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. According to the NAACP, “in 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections. Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre‐K‐12 public education in the last thirty years.”

Before joining 3G, I spent a year working full-time as an unpaid intern in Washington, DC. I spent August-December working in a Senator’s Capitol Hill office, and January-May working in the personal office of a supremely popular and highly regarded former politician. In both positions, I worked eight hour days, Monday-Friday. I received $300 from the Senator and $0 from the former politician. I felt extremely honored to be working under my principles, surrounded by brilliant people doing vitally important work, and have the opportunity to contribute to causes close to my heart and see democracy function before my eyes. I’m grateful for the recommendation letters, the lessons learned, friends made, and the two new blurbs on my resume. However, neither a resume nor recommendation letter can cover the financial burdens of living in Washington, DC, which often costs upwards of $6000 for a semester. During my time in DC, I met many young people coming from wealthy, connected families who could easily afford to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities for 2-5 months. I knew two people who could not, including myself.

Without the connections and networking opportunities that come with an internship, finding a job in politics is exceptionally difficult. Students from low-income and working-class families often may not be able to cover the costs of transportation, housing, food, and wardrobe without any salary or stipend. Therefore, access to opportunities on the Hill, and in politics in general, are largely limited to students who come from wealthy backgrounds, further deteriorating the cultural, racial, and socioeconomic diversity in our representation. Internships must be available to all qualified candidates in order to increase the representation of marginalized communities.

In a New York Times article, Internships Are Not a Privilege, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, asks his readers to, “consider…how a plum internship may alter a young person’s career trajectory. While some students take a summer job in food service to pay the bills, others can afford to accept unpaid jobs at high-profile organizations, setting them on a more lucrative path.” Students below a certain socioeconomic level are unable to reap the benefits an internship can offer, both in valuable work experience and networking opportunities, and can be effectively excluded from advancing in their field. In a Washington Monthly article, When Congress Paid its Interns, Saahil Desai, digital editor at Washington Monthly, states that, “By failing to pay interns, Congress not only dissuades children of the non-affluent from becoming interns, but also limits the talent pool from which it draws most of its paid staff…This pinching of the talent pipeline has another downstream effect: fewer minorities in the intern pool—a direct consequence of not offering payment—means fewer minorities in the ranks of the paid staff.”

At best, an unpaid internship is dispiriting and frustrating. For me and many others, it places enormous strain, financially and mentally, on you and your family. In the fall, I lived in southern Maryland and commuted two hours each way to avoid DC housing costs. I had to leave every morning by 6:45am and usually didn’t get back home until 7pm. Transportation fees and stress – along with having to pay for an expensive dog-walker since I was gone all day – forced me to seek housing in DC for the spring. I was lucky enough to avoid paying an average rent by finding kind-hearted individuals to house me and my dog for greatly reduced rates. Most students don’t have this privilege and must pay thousands of dollars for a DC or Virginia apartment. Even though I was able to avoid high rent, I still had to cover transportation, food, medical costs, and a new wardrobe. Working as a delivery person at night and on weekends, my family and I were just able to pull it off, but it was an extremely stressful, overwhelming period of my life. I frequently went to sleep without eating all day in order to cover my Metro fare the next morning. At the end of my second internship in May, I had lost nearly 12% of my body weight and was experiencing a multitude of health problems, including recurring migraines and acute, unexplained nerve damage.

I consider myself to be skilled, efficient, and hardworking, with a passion to help others through enacting transformative and progressive change. I’m committed to advocating for equal rights and opportunities, reproductive justice, farm animal welfare, criminal justice reform, and more. For as long as I can remember, helping others, both humans and animals, has been my primary passion. After a year spent working unpaid for the very people who are elected to do just that – be a public servant – I felt used and undervalued by the system I so desperately wanted to enter.

On Monday, June 25th, the Senate passed H.R. 5895, an appropriations bill that includes $5 million for Senate intern salaries, allocating approximately $50,000 per office. According to a 2017 congressional report by Pay Our Interns, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for paid internships on the Hill, only 32% of Senate Democrats and 51% of Senate Republicans pay their interns. In the House, a mere 4% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans pay their interns. H.R. 5895 is certainly a step in the right direction, but our nation’s fight for income equality remains. It is not a pleasant feeling to work for nothing and skip lunch when everyone around you is being paid.

This summer, as a 3G intern, I’m extremely grateful that we have always remained committed to paying our interns. Even as a nonprofit organization that relies entirely on generous donations, 3G understands the socioeconomic divides that arise from unpaid internships, and is proud to actively support institutional integrity. Jane Wells, our Executive Director, says it best: “for years, we have gratefully and proudly paid our interns. As an anti-slavery organization we cannot imagine not doing so.”

I returned back to 3G a couple weeks ago now after a whirlwind trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador. It has taken me a few weeks to write, as it’s been hard for me to wrap my mind around the circumstances our country seems to find itself in– ones that seem all to familiar.

My mother’s mother and father escaped from Germany and Italy, respectively, during World War II and fled to Ecuador. My grandmother was 12 and my grandfather 19. The two of them made Ecuador their home: becoming part of the Jewish community of refugees in Guayaquil, making lifelong friends and having their first 2 children. They eventually left for the United States in 1955, had my mother, and the rest is history…

My father’s parents had a story all their own – making me somewhat of a mutt but also a product of fate, as I like to think about it. My paternal grandmother was from Poland, but at the age of 18 was taken on the third transport to Auschwitz. She survived the Death March, almost the entirety of Auschwitz and came into contact with Mengele twice – among other terrifying experiences – which are chronicled in a memoir entitled Rena’s Promise. All the while, my grandfather, who hailed from the Netherlands, spent time in a work camp but had the nerve to “walk out” at an opportune moment. He escaped on a train, narrowly avoiding capture, by going directly up to an SS officer to ask “what [his] medals were for”, full well knowing his Aryan-like features of blonde hair and bright blue eyes would focus the officer’s attention away from his required papers.

My grandparents were masters at making the best out of nothing. All four were in the Holocaust, and yet, my paternal grandmother famously would say “to hate is to let Hitler win”. They thought of their children and their grandchildren as the best revenge. So there never really was much talk of suffering or trauma, but mostly focus on creating the purest happiness for their family in the present day. And yet, not a moment in my life has passed where those memories haven’t imprinted and flooded into every aspect of my life. I’m not sure who I would be without them, if it weren’t for their torment, and their fight for us to see a much better world than they had had. I carry those thoughts, and those wishes, with me every single day. Not a person alive, whether it be an acquaintance or a best friend of mine, does not know how amazingly proud I am of my family and everything my grandparents did for me. I can only hope that my grandparents, three of whom are no longer with us, are as proud of my path as I am of them every day.

Going back to one of the countries that held so many memories for my grandparents, good and bad, was somewhat of a surreal experience. My brother is an anthropologist who has studied Germany, so my family has traveled there several times, but the reality of the horrific events that unfolded there never seem real when you visit. I had the same feelings in Ecuador. In only about 75 years time, it’s as though the memory of the Holocaust and the sanctuary so many Jews found here has all been wiped clean from its existence. Of course in Berlin, the amount of apologies, monuments, plaques – whatever you can think of – is endless and they are sprawled throughout the city. And yet, it is still like any other city you’d step into. In Guayaquil, the Jewish community only has about 70 people left. You’d never know that it served as a safe haven not that many years ago. Perhaps because, as I’ve said, my grandparents and others like them wanted to live in the beauty of the present, with their children and children’s children. But those times have changed: in 2018, this lack of remembrance not only has a harrowing quality in and of itself, but allows for that terrifying bystander effect to take hold yet again.

Every step I take is in honor of my grandparents, but now, walking into many cities that were the sites of these horrors, that time has uncomfortably, and eerily, come and gone. I’ve decided to dedicate my life to human rights (my father calls me Mother Theresa) beginning with choosing it as my major, to this job at 3G and now to being a very loud “social justice warrior” (though sarcastic, a term I rather enjoy) in a time that’s disturbing for me to witness. But for the masses, those memories have started to fade, as I’ve witnessed these all too familiar patterns rising in, not only the U.S., but all over the world. With the absence of these reminders, most forget that seemingly minuscule and harmless steps in the early 20th century are what got us to World War ll in the first place. For me, revisiting these places has only further sparked those reminders. With the memory of my grandparents at the forefront of my mind, more and more everyday, it’s my wish and my goal to make the world truly fulfill the words ‘Never Again’.

GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FACTUAL SURVEY AT CONGREGATION BETH TORAH IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Jane Wells

The full restoration of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014. Since then, it has been shown around the world on hundreds of occasions, and I have attended screenings and spoken about it many times. The recent invitation to screen at Congregation Beth Torah in Brooklyn, New York was different. It was the first time we have screened the documentary in a synagogue and the first on Yom HaShoah. It was a memorable and moving experience for me, and I believe, for the audience as well.

Rabbi Ari Azancot has a very profound commitment to teach his congregation about the Holocaust, particularly since its members are largely from Syria. After, he urged the audience to go and listen to the stories of survivors. It was an honor to speak before the members of the Beth Torah community, to hear the Kaddish on that particular day and to represent my father and all those who made this film 74 years ago.

At 3 Generations, we have the educational and non-theatrical rights to German Concentration Camps Factual Survey for North America. I sincerely hope other congregations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, will consider showing this film. Reviewing it in the New York Times, Manohla Dargis described the restored film as “an extraordinary act of cinematic reclamation and historiography…you need to watch.” Here at 3 Generations, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is the essence of our foundation story. The sharing of this film is the actualization of our mission. After the screening at Beth Torah, a member of the congregation wrote: “The feedback from those attending was unqualified in recognizing the film’s special place in the historical record and your special connection to the material—your presence made the night something that our Congregation will never forget.”

Won’t you consider sharing it with your community?

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Jamie Brandel

In what world should it be normal that any woman or girl has zero control or say about what happens to her body? What world bestows upon a person the right to violate another? This world. This world, in its silence, says this is okay.

A week ago, while walking to work at 3G, I experienced something that I am always wary of, that has me looking around at most men on the street – that I am constantly on the lookout for. (And for any skeptics, I was wearing leggings, a huge sweater a jacket and glasses – not that it matters). I was walking by a man when he approached me, came inches from my face, and tried to kiss me – making sounds as he did so. Simple as that – so simple that no one noticed. In this moment, my heart started to beat out of my chest and my stomach dropped as I hurriedly kept walking. If you’re a male or a some sort of unicorn woman or anything in between that has not experienced this, you may ask me why. This seems so trivial.

First of all, no matter how small these acts may seem from the outside, they are incredibly violating in and of themselves. I did not ask this man, or the many others who have done similar things to women, to act in this way. I should be able to have control over whether or not someone would even have the impression of being able to kiss me. Or anything else for that matter. Emotionally and mentally, women should be unapologetically confident in their bodies and confident in the control they have over it: we are endowed that fundamental right. For any person to feel unsafe walking down the street and seemingly feel as if they have no control over their personal space is frightening, to say the least. Again, even in the most open of places, it is reiterated to me that I have no say and no control over whether or not someone can invade my body, invade my emotions, invade my very being. All of these seemingly minute instances chip away at you, until it is buried so deep you don’t know what you even feel anymore. We as women become so numb to what is now commonplace and engendered in what is now our culture.

Even more so, this emotional uneasiness reminds me of all the times that I’ve had zero physical control or say in what happens to me. So many times I can’t even count, the opposite sex has felt it is their right to take something from me or attempt to. Just because it’s been “okayed” by the good ol’ boys club that runs our world. Just because they can. Because we have been subjugated into thinking that we are lesser than, that we are vessels to take from – that this is merely “how it is”.

I myself have been in the presence of men who felt it was within their right to grab my thigh or pull at my dress.

I, like so many others in college, have written off encounters as simple drunken mishaps of the night when they really are in no way consensual (making a girl feel badly about saying no isn’t okay either).

I have been in incredibly unhealthy relationships, where I’ve been gaslighted and wildly unappreciated.

And I have been cat called, touched, accosted, and made to feel unsafe in so many ways, for so many years that I don’t remember when it began.

The degrees of these experiences, you may say, wildly varies. And it does. But let’s stop questioning that. Let’s stop asking “well what exactly happened?”, “what did he do to you?”, “was he drunk?” because truth be told, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s this culture of masculinity, this culture that is toxic and far reaching – and in these instances, it demonstrates how pervasive it is and how it stretches into every facet of human interaction.

Still, this only continues to remind me of so many people – immigrants, Native Americans, Muslims, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, women of color, the students at Parkland High School and so many more – who have no control over so many aspects of their life. People who have far far less control than me. Shouldn’t we all be able to have an equal and fair say about what happens to our bodies and our lives? The values that we say we hold onto, as Americans, are in the darkness and to move forward and heal, they must be brought out.

#MeToo

By Jamie Brandel, 3 Generations Summer Intern

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.25.03 AM
 The vlogger (left) having fun at a North Korean water park

As a millennial, social media has been a powerful tool in the fight for human rights — whether it be the Arab Spring or the Human Rights Campaign’s equality logo. Whatever the cons of the Internet may be, it is without a doubt a profound force in raising awareness of global issues.

So when I saw the North Korean fun vlogs from Louis Cole, better known by his Youtube name FunforLouis, the first word that came to mind was “strange.” If the word North Korea wasn’t in the title, you may never know that Louis was vloging about one of the most frightening places on Earth. If you have ever turned on a TV before, you probably know this about North Korea. There’s quite a disconnect between this video and reality. You also probably know that getting into North Korea isn’t an easy task. We don’t know much about the country for a reason: It blocks out any “corruption of its society” from the outside world. So it seems pretty obvious that Louis must have agreed to some guidelines, also evident by the controls set up in his visit, like Ms. Kim – one of his “tour guides.”

Whether he was paid by the North Korean government or not, as some media outlets are reporting, he is clearly complicit. Like Shane Smith said, “You’re not a tourist — you are on a tour.”

Going to visit the monuments that pay homage to North Korea’s authoritarian leaders, visiting a waterpark and schools while remaining silent on reality, these things make him just as guilty in recreating a very orchestrated image. The secretary of Joseph Goebbles, who is now the subject of a new documentary A German Life, claims she had no idea what the Nazi regime what really up to. Just another job. She says she had no idea what happened when her friends disappeared; this obliviousness is one in the same. Under the guise of some cultural relativist argument, Louis says that the Western media only portrays this horrible image of North Korea, and it’s his job to show the culture and focus on the positive. At one point he tells the camera that it would cost him 200 US dollars, even as a visitor, to get probably a couple minutes worth of data. But no problem there. So does passive acceptance and willful ignorance equate to innocence? No, not really.

Louis responded with another vlog after he received a large amount of backlash. Two things struck me: One is his mention of his two favorite places he has visited, Rio and Cape Town. He mentions that Cape Town has one of the largest wealth disparities in the world. And yet, anyone who has visited Cape Town will tell you that no one, absolutely no one, would visit Cape Town and not include the images of apartheid-era settlements and racism. It is inherent in their culture and in every South African’s identity. So, quite the opposite of showcasing North Korean culture.

Secondly, Louis talks about how he just left out the clips of him talking to people about their realities and how bringing happiness to people, like when they surf, was a means of change.

Now, no one is asking FunforLouis to be an investigative reporter, but purposely leaving out the truth of North Korea is the ultimate bystander effect. If you act as if the people around you aren’t under constant threats of violence, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Well, it does.

Change won’t come from momentary “happiness” like Louis says but when silence is broken.

unnamedBy 3G Intern Luis Rivera-Nesrala

Last Week Tonight: A poignantly daring late-night news show hosted on HBO by John Oliver. The show’s success is in large part a reflection of Oliver’s ability to brilliantly marry award-winning reporting and in-depth research with his unique British satirical sense of humor.  Still, the reason that millions of viewers keep coming back each season is that Oliver acts as a proxy for his viewers, unflinchingly expressing the justified righteous rage that many of us feel on a range of social and political issues.

Last week I got on YouTube and realized that the newest episode, Puerto Rico, was out. Never mind that I’d be late to class, I clicked on it immediately.

As a Puerto Rican, I was thrilled that the economic crisis was finally being covered on a much-deserved international platform.

Even though the segment was characteristically funny and well-researched, by the end of it I was left with nothing more than a jumbled list of economic and political reasons as to why Puerto Rico is in the hole.

I was unmoved, unsure why I should care about this issue.

Oliver’s power to mobilize and galvanize people to a cause is perhaps his most powerful tool. But where was it this time? More than simple recognition of the problem, I hoped that the segment would finally knock some sense into the millions of Americans who have no idea why they should care about Puerto Rico. For once Oliver failed.

Now it’s my turn.

Too many people are probably wondering, “How this crisis is more relevant to us as Americans than the Greek financial crisis? After all, we don’t live on the island. We don’t pay $7 for a gallon of milk, or a 13% sales tax. And we certainly weren’t responsible the $70 billion debt that the Puerto Rican government recklessly racked up.”

So, why should you care?

Why? Because most Puerto Ricans aren’t responsible for the debt either. And now they’re paying the price for it. Let’s break it down:

1) First, Puerto Ricans are Americans.

We are born with US social security numbers, US citizenship and we hold US passports (there is no such thing as a Puerto Rican passport). We are full American citizens in every sense.

2) Fifteen years ago there were close to four million of us living on the island. Today that number has plummeted to 3.5 million. That means that the island has experienced a 7% decline in population.

“But 7 percent??”  you might say. “That means that 93% of people are still there. How is that even a big deal?”

Let’s put that into perspective.

If 7% of the US population fled the country, we would lose the entire population of the State of Texas — the second most populated state in the US. The implications of that are huge! Economically that would be like losing almost 10% of the country’s entire economic production and income. And when people have less income, they spend less. When they spend less, companies produce less. And this leads to even more people losing their jobs. For many in Puerto Rico, the only option is to head to the mainland to find work.

Last year alone over 80,000 people left the island.

The bigger picture? Many of these people are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and other highly educated people on whom the economic recovery will one day depend.

3) How the island fell into this toxic cycle of unlimited borrowing is largely connected to the job market,  but it is too intricate to explain in a few words.  So let’s focus on the consequences of this economic catastrophe.

Due to some unjustifiable laws and obscure amendments likely introduced by Senator Strom Thurmond in the 80’s, Puerto Rico cannot file for bankruptcy like any of the fifty states. This means that the 330,000 people who paid into their retirement funds for their entire working lives aren’t receiving their retirement pensions because the government has wiped them clean and can’t replace them. And even if they wanted to come out of retirement, the chances of finding a job in the overheated labor market would be nearly impossible. This means that food stamps, housing assistance and unemployment benefits will be slashed and the disenfranchised will continue to suffer. This means that the electric grid on the island will continue to suffer major cuts, prohibiting hospitals from operating, schools from opening, and people from getting basic services.

This was an economic crisis. Now we are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.

—————-

The point I’m hope to make is simple.

The Puerto Rican people are not Greece halfway around the world.

This problem is your problem: now, or later.

Because we, as Puerto Ricans, are Americans.

We are Americans facing the very real possibility of becoming a lost generation. For millions of people, the inability to pay for higher education or find jobs is a daunting reality. For millions of people who have relied on government help, the massive social safety networks have expired.

You must care about Puerto Ricans because we are not just some islanders who live in your favorite vacation spot. We are the beautiful and intelligent Miss Universes, unrivaled in titles. We are the Major League Baseball players that your kids look up to and aspire to be. We are the Supreme Court justices that proudly guard and preserve the U.S. Constitution. We are the entertainers you pay to see on Broadway, whose CDs you buy and whose movies you watch. We are the people of all genders, colors, sexualities and religions who don the uniform and travel to places beyond our homeland to protect the democracy that we all enjoy.

All figures and talking points aside, we are American.

We are Americans who have lost, and will continue to lose, homes, health care and access to education. If nothing is done, and prices keep increasing, many of us may even lose access to proper nutrition.

Puerto Rico’s previous governors and their grossly negligent administrations let their greed and power affect the fates of millions while they comfortably spent their millions. Now those people are penniless and being taxed at higher rates than any other place in the United States, even as they make less.

All of this in an attempt to pay off an exorbitant debt that can’t be paid.

This is not the Puerto Rican people’s fault. They have been exploited and now it is the moral and legal obligation of the federal government to protect the citizens living under its constitution.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not Obama. This is not Fortuño. This is not Ryan.

Esto se trata de la sobrevivencia del pueblo Puertoriqueño.

You can watch the video here

You can view a PDF of the graphic here

3 Generations’ Syria Intern Luis Rivera-Nesrala will be offering his vision on the importance of regarding the value of Syrian lives as equal to life in the West this Saturday at the Posthuman Glocal Syposium in New York City. He believes that in the West a dangerous narrative has taken hold which relegates Syrian refugees to the status of second-rate humans in an attempt to justify the reluctance of many Western nations to offer humanitarian aid. Rivera-Nesrala’s presentation is entitled, Syrian Refugees: The Other Does Not Exist, and will feature a clip from 3 Generations’ film Three.

Please check out the graphic below that will be presented in conjunction with his talk:

syria-poster-print-version_block_1 syria-poster-print-version_block_2

In conjunction with the New York Posthuman Research Group, New York University is holding its second annual Posthuman Glocal Syposium on the weekend of April 22nd. This year’s conference, titled Posthuman Futures, calls on a wide range of scholars, philosophers and NYU students to come together for a productive two-day dialogue on how we envision the future that comes after humanity in the postanthropocene era.

A complicated topic, posthumanism is an ideological and social movement founded in the philosophical discipline following humanism. While there are a multitude of disciplines that fall under the umbrella of posthumanism, the main idea is that in the future the human race will inevitably evolve to the point where we cease to be human. The looming questions with which each of the subgroups concerns itself is how to achieve the desired state of posthumanism, and what such a society would or must be like.

At its most basic level, posthumanism can be seen as a critique of humanism, the ideology and philosophy that places the human subject at the highest level of importance in the biosphere and universe. The posthuman philosophy seeks to establish a postanthropocentric society, in which all human life, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. is equally as valuable as every other organism and inorganic being.

If you would like to learn more, a link for the conference is here. 

In December 1984 Glenn Ford was tried for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport Jeweler who was robbed and shot to death in his own shop, for whom Glenn did yard work. Despite Glenn’s assertion of his innocence and a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime, a combination of:

  • Inexperienced defense lawyers (they had never tried a criminal case, were being paid less than $3 an hour and were unaware they could request funding to hire experts)
  • The testimony of a forensic pathologist (which was later exposed as “pure junk science at its evil worst”)
  • Racial discrimination (from the all-white jury in a Confederate flag-flying Courthouse, at a time when legislation made it difficult to prove racial bias)

These issues led to Glenn being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Glenn was kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and was not permitted to participate in any religious services or educational programs.

After numerous failed appeals Glenn was finally released on March 11, 2014, when new evidence emerged showing that he ‘was neither present at, nor a participant in’ Rozeman’s robbery and murder. At the time of his release, Glenn had spent 29 years, 3 months and 5 days behind bars, making him one of the longest serving death row inmates in the United States. Tragically, Glenn was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly after his release.

After Glenn’s exoneration, A.M Stroud, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 trial, issued an apology to Glenn, and urged that he be granted the maximum $330,000 compensation available under Louisiana state law:

“In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning… Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute.”

However, Louisiana’s compensation law requires “factual innocence,” meaning that the defendant did not commit not only the crime for which he was convicted, but also “any crime based on the same set of facts.” The state attorney general’s office argued that Glenn didn’t have “clean hands” because they claimed he knew about the plans for the Rozeman robbery and pawned some of the stolen jewelry. The Innocence Project’s Kristin Wenstrom stated that ‘they [the state attorney general’s office] are coming up with new minor crimes he was never charged with or convicted of.’

The only compensation Glenn received was a debit card loaded with $20.24 upon his release, which was standardly issued to all released inmates, and he had to rely on donations to receive the hospice care that he urgently needed. On June 29, 2015, Glenn passed away from his disease at a home provided by the nonprofit group Resurrection After Exoneration.

Political Background to Glenn’s Case

Although a particularly extreme example, Glenn’s story is far from unique. Twenty states have no laws pertaining to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. There have been 152 exonerations from Death Row since 1972 and 329 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989. The number of innocent prisoners in the United States is unknown, but the few studies that have been conducted estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of prisoners are innocent. To provide context, if just 1% of prisoners were innocent, that would amount to 20,000 prisoners across the country.

Further, it is impossible to separate racial prejudice and institutionalized racism from issues surrounding both the death penalty and wrongful convictions. In Louisiana the odds of receiving a death sentence are 97% higher if the victim is white as opposed to black, in Washington State, North Carolina and California a black defendant is more than three times as likely to receive a death sentence if the victim is white. In 96% of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both.

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The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest in the world today and one of the biggest since World War Two. 11 million Syrians – nearly half the population – have been displaced and many are seeking asylum across the Middle East and Europe.  An estimated 2 million refugees have crossed the border into Lebanon. Increased security and checkpoints have left 80% of these refugees without legal status.

3 Generations started telling stories from Syria back in 2014 when we filmed interviews with Nasir, Yasmine and Sultan, three Syrian refugees in Jordan. We are proud to continue this important work through our role as a producing partner of the upcoming documentary feature Beyond the Borders. Written and directed by Sophia and Georgia Scott, the film is set in Lebanon along the Syrian border and follows the lives of four Syrian refugees and a German professor fighting for peace and human rights.

Beyond the Borders gains exclusive access to unknown stories in a region that is on the fringes of hell. The Scott Sisters have spent over a year on the borders of Syria documenting the stories behind the news reports. Beyond The Borders will be a reflection of the strange chaotic lives of the people living in the shadow of the Syrian war.

This is the second documentary feature from the Scott sisters. Their first film, In The Shadow of War, followed four teenagers born in Bosnia towards the end of the civil war. The film examines the lasting psychological trauma of growing up in the aftermath of war. Watch the trailer below:

The Scott sisters are currently on location in Lebanon filming and editing. The film will be ready for release in early 2016. Watch this space for more information.

By Lili Hamlyn

Tim Hetherington was a British photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who was tragically killed in Libya in 2011 while covering the Libyan civil war. Tim is perhaps best known for the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, co-directed with Sebastian Junger, which chronicles a year with a U.S. platoon in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan. Tim also worked as a photographer on 3 Generations’ co-produced The Devil Came on Horseback. His body of work includes numerous photographic projects and magazine photo essays, as well as art installations, multimedia exhibitions and short films which included Diary (2010), a ‘highly personal and experimental film’ shown below:

Hetherington was an alumnus of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, which is where I studied for my undergraduate degree in English Literature. As an admirer of his work, I felt deeply moved by his untimely death. This eventually led me, along with fellow student Sara Edwards, to co-found the Tim Hetherington Society, an Oxford University-based documentary film and photography/photojournalism society, in his honor.

By running this society I not only became more closely acquainted with Tim’s remarkable body of work but was also able to meet those who personally knew him: his friends from Oxford, his photojournalism professor Daniel Meadows, his colleagues James Brabazon and Platon and his wonderful mother Judith.

Tim did not approach photojournalism with cool detachment or any misguided belief that he could be an invisible objective observer. Instead, he engaged with his photographic subjects on a personal level, and preferred to be called an  ‘image maker’ rather than a photographer.

In Sebastian Junger’s brilliant documentary on Tim’s life, Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?, we are repeatedly presented with Tim engaging in a chatty rapport with the people he’s photographing. In the film Tim states, “I want to connect with real people, to document them in real circumstances, where there aren’t any neat solutions.”

This is perhaps a perfect summation of his work and philosophy: It’s not didactic, and instead seeks humanity even in the most extreme of circumstances. Personally, I feel rather honored to have had the opportunity to connect with Tim’s impressive body of work and, through the stories of those who knew him, been able to gain some insight into this extraordinary man.

 

EPSON MFP image

 

As early as 1819, the United States government had policies in place to ensure the cultural genocide of Native Americans. With the Indian Civilization Act Fund, Native children were stripped from their homes and forced to learn the religion, language, and ways of their oppressors in the Boarding School Era.

Native children faced physical punishment for speaking their Native languages and practicing their spirituality. General Richard Pratt, the founder of arguably the most violent boarding school in the United States, created the motto of the Boarding School Era, “Kill the Indian…Save the Man.” If the United States could not commit literal genocide by murdering masses of Native Americans, they tried to destroy the cultural and spiritual ties to their internal being.

Generations later, the trauma is interwoven into our DNA, contributing to illnesses such as, diabetes, depression, and posttraumatic stress that run rampant throughout Indian Country. This trauma pervaded our communities, causing assimilation to white society and instilling fear of practicing Native spirituality, wrongfully driving traditional ceremonies underground. One hundred and fifty years after these oppressive polices were enacted, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 to protect the practice of Native American spirituality. With a revitalization of Native spirituality, came the revitalization of Native languages.

3 Generations’ upcoming film, The Dakota Project will shed light on the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation, who are faced with the North Dakota oil boom’s impact of environmental degradation to their ancestral lands. The film will showcase the work of spiritual leaders who are guiding younger generations to understand that spirituality and language are inherently tied to our lands, songs, and history. As a Lakota and Ojibwe woman, a graduate of Native American Studies, and an assistant to this film, I knew that to better understand the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes, I would need to learn their history, spiritual practices, and their languages.

Across Indian Country, tribes are working to revitalize their languages. Curriculum has been added to schools, immersion camps, immersion day cares, and many other efforts are celebrating Indigenous languages to keep our cultures thriving. The Dakota Project has joined in this celebration. Every Wednesday, I’ve taken on an initiative to share a word of the day and showcase a little of what I’ve learned from these affiliated tribes. As a student of Lakota language, I’ve come across similarities and differences between our languages. I am learning in this process that I am proud of my effort to learn from other tribes. During pre-colonial times, our ancestors of the Great Plains were multilingual and communicated across tribes. In my effort to share the vocabulary, I hope that it encourages our viewers and fans of our Facebook page to learn more the history of Indigenous languages and take time to learn from one another.

In case you missed it, here are a few of my favorite words that I’ve learned from the Three Affiliated Tribes. Take some time to learn a little too!

“Good”                                        “Spring” (Season)                                   “Mother”
Mandan (Nu’eta)                       Mandan (Nu’eta)                        Mandan (Nu’eta)
Shi                                                Wehinu                                        Na’e

Hidatsa                                       Hidatsa                                        Hidatsa
Tsạkits                                         Miawakute                                   Ikaŝ

Arikara (Sahnish)                    Arikara (Sahnish)                      Arikara (Sahnish)
AtíŝtIt                                           Hunaaneeká                                 Atiná

-Autumn White Eyes, 3 Generations

https://www.facebook.com/theDakotaProject
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/05/28/trauma-may-be-woven-dna-native-americans-160508
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865
http://www.mhasi.com/
http://www.mandanlanguage.org/
http://hidatsa.org/
http://www.arikara.org/
Freedom, Law, and Prophecy: A Brief History of Native American Religious Resistance by Lee Irwin–http://www.sacredland.org/PDFs/Irwin.pdf

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SEX trafficking

By: Isabel Stub, Social Media Intern

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act has had major bipartisan support since its introduction to the House on January 7th, 2015. The bill would create federal funding for human trafficking victims by imposing heavy fines on convicted traffickers. The entire process, from introduction to the Judiciary Committee’s approval last month, has been marked by neutrality in terms of partisanship, a testament to our nation’s collaboration when it comes to eradicating sex trafficking.

Recently however, one particular issue has come to light which may prevent the bill from passing. This week, Democrats withdrew support for the bill after finding that it contains Hyde Amendment language, which is a legislative attachment that restricts federal funding for abortions and other health services. This is a conservative partisan amendment to a bill that was previously conceived to be bipartisan. To compound the problem, the anti-abortion clause would remain unchecked for five years, instead of undergoing annual reevaluation.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the group Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, released a statement, “No woman should have her decision about abortion made for her because she can’t afford medical care, especially those emerging from exploitation and in need of comprehensive health care like trafficking survivors, who are overwhelmingly young women.” These words resonate with a powerful argument that supports a more accepting and compassionate understanding of the needs of rescued sex trafficking victims. To restrict a woman’s access to choose what happens to her own body, regardless of whether a pregnancy is a result of rape or accidental circumstances, is based on fundamental lack of empathy and a denial of pragmatism. Abortions happen and will keep happening even if conditions are unsafe and unregulated. The safety of women is at stake, especially for those who cannot afford medical attention or who have already been ostracized by society by means of abuse or trafficking.

Regardless of one’s perspective on abortion, it is undeniably a partisan issue, which is halting the progress of the bill. It comes down to language. Senate Minority Leader, Dem. Harry Reid, took the floor on Wednesday morning to address the conflict, stating, “Today, the Senate is doing a good deed. We have a chance to address human trafficking. In this legislation that is meant as an outline to stop child trafficking and human trafficking generally, there is a provision in this legislation dealing with abortion. It has nothing, nothing to do with this.”

We need to demand action. With the oil boom in North Dakota attracting more sex trafficking than police and rehabilitation resources can manage, we need funding now and if the Hyde Amendment language is not removed, it gives traffickers more time to expand their business and destroy the lives of women and children. This is a human issue, a narrative told by people living in unfathomable conditions. But their voices cannot be heard. Write to your senators and expedite the passing of the bill without partisan legislation. Help victims regain their humanity.

Read the full version of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/181/text
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