On the New York City police shootings: December 2014

The Haymarket Affair
The Haymarket Affair

via historian Mark Naison:

The assassination of police officers is not only morally reprehensible, it has a history of undermining the legitimacy of non-violent mass protest movements against social injustice. No better example of this can be found than the Haymarket Affair of 1886, which took place in the midst of a nationwide mass protest movement for an eight-hour day. One tiny, but highly visible, component of this protest movement were anarchists, who claimed that the armed force of government would always be used against workers and urged that workers arm themselves against the power of government and use dynamite as their weapon of choice to neutralize police, the army and state militia. The anarchists numbered several thousand among a movement of millions, including the 600,000 member labor reform organization The Knights of Labor, yet one one fateful day, their influence proved to be deadly. A huge eight-hour day rally in Chicago was taking place, when some person or persons, threw live dynamite into a line of police who had arrived to break up the rally, killing more than 10 police officers.

The national wave of revulsion against this bomb attack proved so great that it completely destroyed the eight-hour movement, contributed to a precipitous decline in the membership of the Knights of Labor, and put organized labor on the defensive in the United States nearly a decade.

I am not saying this to suggest that history always repeats itself, but to warn that legitimate non-violent movements raising important issues can be undermined by immoral and irresponsible acts of violence launched by those who can be linked to the protests, even tangentially, by the authorities of the time.

On Cuba: When What Is “Lost” Is Not Actually Gone

By Joanna Klimaski via Inside Fordham

Rose M. Perez was 8 years old when her family left Cuba.
She remembers holding her mother’s hand as they marched with the line of travelers across the tarmac toward the plane. Suddenly her mother paused and looked upward, her expression stoic.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.51.16 PM

“I said ‘Mom, come on, the line is getting ahead of us,’” said Perez, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS). “I knew something was wrong, because she didn’t respond.”

Years later Perez learned that her mother had intentionally slowed down so that her relatives who gathered to watch the family depart would be able to see their place in the line.

Perez’s struggle to balance her Cuban and American cultures inspired her research on the adaptation of immigrants and refugees to U.S. society and how immigrants reconcile the worlds they must straddle.

Read more here.

Meet (& support!) Norvis Jr.

A little over a year ago, Natalia Linares (the digi-femenista/music manager/publicist) behind conrazón invited a small group of people for a private concert at her Staten Island apartment featuring an independent artist, Norvis Jr.

I’d met him (real name Nelson-Mandela Nance) a couple of times prior to the performance, but I wasn’t familiar with his music. I had no idea what I was in for.

Norvis Jr. sings his types of soul.
Norvis Jr. sings his type of electro-soul in Staten Island.

Not only was I blown away by his unique brand of electro-soul, but the intimacy of the performance coupled with the ‘zone’ he was in signaled to me that I was witnessing something special.

Since then, Norvis Jr., a native of Dallas, TX. now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., has performed at a handful of New York City venues, but now he wants to take his show on the road with a spring 2015 tour. Listen to him here (he’s got a great speaking AND singing voice), and then support his Kickstarter (and its hilarious video displaying his healthy diet!) here.

Norvis Jr. surrounded by a diverse crew of music lovers!
Norvis Jr. surrounded by a diverse crew of music lovers!


About that pro-police rally in NYC on Dec. 19

#BlackLivesMatter in Paris, France.
#BlackLivesMatter in Paris, France.

There’s a pro-police rally in New York City at City Hall. (As is their right, *** updated Dec. 18 and as commenter ‘Love It’ points out, is not sponsored by the NYPD but by police supporters.) As a public relations professional, I think it will further hinder relations, making them sound like they’re anti #BlackLivesMatter. I mean, really, what other way can it possibly look?

Why not do something like this, this, or this?

Police in Lowell, Michigan, have a good PR strategy.
Police in Lowell, Michigan, are DOING, not talking.

So many examples of showing how you’re “WITH” the people out there, and those are just from recent days. It’s a shame the NYPD doesn’t see that. Talk about missing opportunities to win people over on your side.

I discussed this rally, and how we debate contentious topics such as guns, abortion, or the police, with a colleague and friend today. We both think the ‘you’re either with us or against us,’ attitude individual police (or police-related) friends we both have, is misguided. Especially when so many of us are willing to have nuanced discussions about this topic, that–news flash!most of the world is now paying close attention to.

It is not every police officer. That should be a given, though, I guess I can’t be surprised it comes off that way when people take things personally. As I’ve said in the past, when Bernie Madoff was arrested, did every banker feel offended at the criticism? When a teacher is arrested for statutory rape, do others go on the offensive? When a doctor is sued for malpractice, does every physician panic that the public at large is watching? Yes, I know, these are not apples to apples comparisons, but my point is it’s bigger than YOU.

And then my friend put it perfectly: “It’s part of a larger culture. Violence is how we get things done [when it comes to ‘others’]. (Ed. words in parenthesis mine.) It’s not education, or empathy, it’s violence. It’s the same reason we can’t open schools in Pakistan, but we can send drones over there.”

Well said.

Now this is a classic Christmas tree.

Check out the wonderful Christmas tree at the home of my friend and colleague, Jim Kempster. Each year, he and his partner Bob Loncar, outdo themselves in decorating their West Village apartment. Enjoy the photos, and Merry Christmas!

The bookcase bower of wirewrap ornaments from the 1910s to the 1930s, and tin and led reflectors from the 1800s. ALL PHOTOS: By Jim Kempster
The bookcase bower of wirewrap ornaments from the 1910s to the 1930s, and tin and led reflectors from the 1800s. ALL PHOTOS: By Jim Kempster
The main Christmas tree is loaded with ornaments from all eras, 1800s to the 1950s: kugels, glass figurals and beads, paper cutouts, oil candles, clip-ons, and a sunburst star on top.
The main Christmas tree is loaded with ornaments from all eras, 1800s to the 1950s: kugels, glass figurals and beads, paper cutouts, oil candles, clip-ons, and a sunburst star on top.
Detail of ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Detail of ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Cool and just a touch creepy!
Cool and just a touch creepy!

Argentina: Dos and Don’ts from a 1st-time Visitor

The $100 Argentine peso. PHOTO: Gina Vergel

via Sounds and Colours:

I traveled to Argentina for the first time recentl and I’ve come up with a to-do list for aspiring Argentina travelers:

DO detox beforehand, and I’m not talking about alcohol. (According to most guidebooks, and what I personally experienced, Argentina is not a get pissed drunk kind of place.) What I was referring to was your diet. You’re going to eat meat. Lots of it. (If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll have to eat lots of pasta or find the very few vegan eateries). But just give in and eat it. Every day. Maybe, even, twice a day. It’s what they specialize in. If you can find a host family, or hang out with some cool Airbnb hosts, pray that they have a parilla at their home and treat you to a typical Argentine asado cooked on their special parilla grills. It will be the most amazing slowly barbequed meat you’ll ever eat, I can guarantee it!

DO NOT just visit Buenos Aires. If you’re a wine enthusiast (or just a plain wino, like me,) you must visit Mendoza for it’s small city charm and plentifulbodegas. (Think: complimentary and lengthy tastings.) I’m fortunate enough to have family in San Juan, a province about two hours north of Mendoza. It’s a must-visit gem. You’ll find farms and vineyards tucked in rolling hills and a picturesque set of mountains surrounding the place. The El Dique (the damn) de Ullum is a must visit. The spring and summer draws scores of Argentines, who relax, chat (they’re big on chatting!), and drink their beloved mate. (Read about this special drinkhere. There are rituals to it, as I found out after trying it. I’m sorry, prima!)

El dique of Ullum, San Juan, Argentina.
El dique of Ullum, San Juan, Argentina. PHOTO: Gina Vergel

Read more here.