Luis J. Rodriguez Keynote at “Justice for Native Peoples” Conference

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on April 4, 2014

On April 3, 2014, I was privileged to give the keynote speech at the 10th Annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. This year’s theme was “Justice for Native Americans: Historical Trauma, Contemporary Images, and Human Rights.” Below is my talk and the poem I read at the end.

I want to start by providing a number of greetings in the language of a few native peoples:

Yaa’teeh – “It is good” in Dine/Navajo

Kwira Va – “We are one” in Raramuri

Gualli Tonalli – “Good day,” in Nahuatl but can be translated as “have a good destiny”

And In lak’ech – Mayan from southern Mexico and Guatemala: “I am the other you”

What links these greetings is the sense of connection, that we are all related, “Mitakuye Oyasin” in Lakota, a sense that is largely being eroded in our modern industrial and post-industrial world.

I’d like to propose that this disconnection, separation from nature, from our own natures, and each other, is the greatest source of inhumanity, trauma, and disintegration of our natural rights confronting Native peoples today—and I’ll venture to say for everyone else as well.

Separation is what “sin” in the Christian faith is aimed at accomplishing, separating believers from their God. As Native Peoples we saw the invasion, infusion and infection from European powers more than 500 years ago as the single most important root of our separation from what we consider the Great Spirit, Creator, Ometeotl—including the very earth and sky and systems that have sustained us for tens of thousand of years, or as we would say, “forever.”

As most of you know, I’ve been around the world addressing this deep separation in a variety of ways. Because of my work, for example, I’ve visited hundreds of prisons and juvenile lockups. I’ve done this for close to 35 years. I’ve been to California institutions like Folsom, Soledad, San Quentin, and Chino; to juvenile facilities and prisons in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. I’ve done the same in some of the harrowing prisons of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, and southern England.

You have not been to a living hell until you’ve walked down several caverns of a Salvadoran prison with no electricity, no running water, tattooed faced gang youth at every turn, 40 to 50 prisoners in a cell meant for two, including a section for women with babies, who are also incarcerated.

Today I was at the J. Paul Taylor Center juvenile facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico, speaking to adjudicated young men. I can appreciate the difference in how the United States deals with our troubled youth, the much greater resources available, and for the most part staffed by courageous and caring men and women. I had a great time with these youth, great talks, and like always, I learned so much in hearing from them.

Yet, I must say, the separation affecting these youth is palpable, punishing and in my view destructive to their spirits and to our communities.

What traumatized, violent, raging young men need—and this is based on actual practice, study and experience—is more community, more family (and if they don’t have a family, or have a broken one, a healthy sense of family). The wisest way to address their issues—as deep as they may be—is more connection.

Generally, in our so-called adult corrections and juvenile justice systems, in dealing with most trouble, most traumas, we do the exact opposite.

Even the psychoactive drugs we prescribe to ADD children, or mentally ill persons, or the clinically depressed result in artificial separation from one’s own powers and energies to cope and to change.

Why is this so? Because this is what we’ve done to ourselves. The poison of spirit I’m talking about has penetrated almost all our policies, laws and history—it has separated us by so-called races, by economic class, young from old, men from women, gay from straight, powerful from the powerless.

We are a divided country, in a “disunited states” of America, one that is constantly at odds.

I’m proposing another way to re-integrate ourselves, a way to become more integral as a people, to make sure all basic needs and rights as human beings are intact, and a way that will allow us to unite around the essentials, have liberty around the nonessentials, and to be caring, connected and cooperative in everything else.

We as Native Peoples have an obligation to provide such knowledge, wisdom and imaginations to the world.

As a Chicano, my own native roots come from this very Chihuahua desert, before it was divided into two countries and various states, before there were any borders. A time when we all spoke a variance of what scholars call the Ute-Aztecan language group, that encompasses tribes on both sides of the border such as the Raramuri, Yaqui, Huichol, but also Hopi, Shoshone, Paiute, and Tohono O’odham.

My mother was born in Chihuahua City from a Raramuri woman and a mixed Mexican man. Her grandmother and mother left the Copper Canyon—La Barranca de Cobre—section of the Sierra Tarahumara during the Mexican Revolution, walking for miles during a time when whole villages, and what some people didn’t know, small tribes were being destroyed by federal troops.

My father is from a part of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero with many Nahuatl-speaking peoples but also former African slaves. When my dad’s village of birth was destroyed, his mother carried him as a baby in swaddling on the back of a burro just before federales attacked. I have Native roots from both areas, some African, and, of course Spanish. There’s a blue-eyed grandfather in my lineage.

However, for the past twenty years I’ve cleaved closer to my native roots when I decided to sober up after having been on drugs for seven years as a youth, including heroin, and then drinking for twenty years on top of that. I gravitated to the Mexika traditions that are now in almost every major Chicano community in the United States, first in Chicago where I lived at the time. I also had teachers among the Lakota, from Pine Ridge, where I helped bring contingents of Chicano, Puerto Rican, and African American gang members. I’ve done ceremonies there, as well as in and around Illinois and the Midwest.

In 1997, I began to go to the Navajo Nation for ceremonies and teachings, as well as work with youth and families there. I learned the medicine way from a roadman, Anthony Lee, and his wife Delores of Lukachukai, Arizona, who soon adopted my wife Trini, who has Huichol roots from Jalisco, Mexico. We’ve gone back there almost every year. My other teachers include Macuiltochtli and Tlacaelel of Mexico; Julio Revolorio of Guatemala; La Dona and Panduro, Quechua traditional practitioners from the rainforest of Peru; Ed Young Man Afraid of His Horse from Pine Ridge; and Huitzi and Meztli, a Nahuatl-speaking couple who currently run our Mexikayotl and Nahuatl classes at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural—the cultural space and bookstore that Trini and I helped create thirteen years ago in the Northeast San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles.

Trini and I were also among the founders of the Pacoima and San Fernando sweat lodges—and Trini now runs the Hummingbird Women’s Lodge of Sylmar, CA.

While most people know me as a poet and writer, with 15 books in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including a best-selling memoir, this aspect of my life informs what I’ve done for the past twenty years, including my current run as the officially endorsed Green Party candidate for governor of California.

Here is what I say we need today and in the future, drawing from these varied but linked traditions and teachings, which I believe are more relevant than ever before—these are not to be written off as “archaic” and “quaint” traditions that no longer apply.

–Coherency: We must help our youth, families and communities understand their roots, rituals and practices, that they were valid then and valid now. The destruction of our elder systems due to conquests, colonization, industry and un-education, as I call it, is detrimental to our spiritual and physical growth. These traditions, as has been done for all time, also need to be renewed, re-imagined and re-invigorated. Young people must feel they can shape and reshape our ties and connections. Rituals and practices have the key element of bringing people together. The root meaning of religion is said to be “to bind, to connect.” It’s personal and social.

–Cooperation: As a country for more than 235 years, we’ve lived in a capitalist system where competition, maximizing profits, and politics as war by other means have ruled most of what we do or don’t do. We “cooperate” in a shallow sense—to keep the system going, with our complicity, our compliance, and often our ignorance. We are governed by the assumptions of scarcity and mantras such as “killed or be killed.” We need to align instead to the highest level of evolutionary development—cooperate to sustain and maintain our species. Competition has its place. But the constant should be cooperation for the wellbeing of everyone—that the healthy and whole development of each is dependent on the healthy and whole development of all.

How do we continue to allow a situation where the biggest part of our national budget is for war? Where poverty and joblessness are ingrained, purposely kept active, and justified by blaming the victims of what are largely economic and political decisions? In a cooperative, connected system the overriding aspect would be abundance, the way nature and our own particular natures work. In proper relation to nature, following its own laws of regeneration and development, we can feed, house and clothe every human being on earth. That’s God’s way, the Creator’s imprint, Ometeotl.

Scarcity, like borders, like mortgages, like the wage system, are man-made—invented illusions, a matrix, as many have said before, made to feel like they were derived from God or nature itself. We’ve fallen into the traps of these illusions—and nothing dramatizes this more than our incarcerated youth, too often for hurting, stealing or killing. We’ve created this world, and then punish these youth for carrying out what we’ve set up to its disastrous and maddening conclusions.

I hate that young people kill each other for little or nothing. But don’t we do this as a nation, sacrificing our warrior sons and daughters, and people from other lands, for political and economic goals that have nothing to do with our whole or healthy development?

We go to war and we continue to have poverty, drugs, terror, and deep disconnections? We sacrifice so much for little or no lasting results. Our world is still topsy turvy, still unequal, still dangerous.

–Consciousness: It’s time for all of us to think, to use our highly developed brains, what is often referred to as the highest form of matter on earth, to create new ways of doing things, new ways of sustenance, new means to continue as a species beyond the scarcity, the violence, the income inequalities, and growing hopelessness. Our brains are the greatest tool and weapon we have, totally derived from God and nature, and yet most of our thinking is limited, kept in the dark, confused, filled with so much information and facts, but little discernment and wisdom.

Can we imagine a collective awareness, the full powers of each of our brains times the number of people on this earth? We could solve anything. Every problem has its solutions right next to it. That’s nature’s way. It’s our short-term, shallow and fear-driven concepts that keep us away from this knowledge, often addicted, lost and broken in the dark. Revolution in our economy, our politics, our technology—which is already gone beyond the constraints of politics and economy—must first occur in our minds. Our consciousness. The spirit of teaching must now be linked to the natural spirit of learning in all peoples, what the Mexikas called Nemachtilli.

And I want to leave you with the last “c” in this list, one that is rapidly becoming in short supply: Caring. Nothing works better than caring. When I was a troubled youth, in schools that had no place for me, I remember the few caring teachers, and the ones who were mean and ugly. But I don’t remember the majority of adults in my life because they were mostly indifferent. Caring to me is the opposite of indifference. It means giving a “hoot.” I’d use a stronger word, but that would be inappropriate for this audience. I’ve found that when it comes to crime, dysfunction and prisons, people respond by not caring. A few get “tough” on crime, mostly from in front of their TV sets as they bombarded with images and stories of the worse of our humanity, fiction or documentary. But I have said this for forty years, and I’ll say this for the next forty years, it’s tougher to care.

This is why I support restorative justice practices, which have roots in Native systems. This is how we draw on the very geniuses and gifts that people bring, to re-connect, to bring together offender and victim, hurt and healing, the wrong with the right. In all things there must be a clear path to restore, repair and help make whole what was taken away or broken. Instead of punishment, young people need treatment, tools, teachings.

Recently, I took part in a poetry event held at the largest juvenile lock up in North America, the Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar CA, just five minutes from my home. Several youth read poetry. One of them was 14 years old, a baby-faced young man who did a beautiful poem, with his mother and grandmother in the audience. Later I found out, this youth was facing 135 years in prison.

Anyway, you look at it, this is wrong: We throw away our young people we throw away our future.

I’ve learned from my native elders that we are now into a new age, often expressed as a new spiral from five previous spirals, that must take into account the four points I just expressed. My Dine teacher says it’s time to realign with our earth and sky systems, governed by the female and male energies in all things, and that this does not have to be against anybody or anything—except the clearly detrimental and destructive aspects I’ve mentioned so far, among others. We are not against so-called white people or Christianity or some of the important values brought here from Europe, Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world.

But in honor and respect to our ancestors, to this land, to our truths, we need to bring forth what we know, the bone knowledge that’s in our DNA, tapping into the richness of thought and practices of our peoples, into this modern dilemma, to address these modern traumas and empties, to become meaningful, relevant and vital for our time.

To end I’d like to read a poem about leadership, a new kind of leadership, the leadership that everyone must now have for us to continue fully into the future.

I thank you for listening, and I pray this short discursive opens up a deeper dialogue, with questions, comments and more questions.

When a leader appears…

When a leader appears the earth springs into song
Flowered with new hope,
A bright beginning even from a terribly seeded past
Where dust and stones are a bare sowing ground.

Wise ones have long declared:
“Leaders are people who see farther and feel deeper.”

Such leaders know there’s a design to our lives.
Braided with threads of the future
We don’t just make history,
We are called to it – just as the fleeting or slanted
Become solid and direct.

Aspiring to be a leader, you become a leader,
Turning what’s possible into what’s next.

Not just creating a nest for oneself
Made of familiars who agree or keep one comfortable,

Not just basking in the spotlight or the imagined power.

But by cultivating character, courage, discipline,
And humbleness—
Leaders carry this sacrifice with grace.

Always remember the unrecoverable moments,
With loved ones—with family—
While also giving to the whole
Even at the expense of one’s time,
One’s considerations.

All proper sacrifices are rooted in the sacred.

Blessed and cursed,
Loved and hated,
Seen well or lied about,
No leader can escape the human energies
That both destroy and lift up.

Yet true leaders are matched for this challenge.
There is a leader-seed planted
Before birth and carefully nurtured
By angels
By elements
By the alignments of universal sway.

You feel this in the bones – somewhere the message is:
“I was meant to be here.”

The fact is leadership is in everyone:
They emerge from the human sea.

Yet, as deeper truths go,
Leaders see farther and feel deeper:
Just like the rest of us, only more,
Turning time into learning, into passion, into revelation.

They bargain with God for how to be in the world:
Learning for learning,
Passion for passion
—revelation for revelation.

c/s
unknown

Amiri Baraka — Rest in Peace

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on January 10, 2014

Amiri Baraka, one of this country’s leading revolutionary writers, a paramount representative of the Black Consciousness Movement, and a veteran challenger of the great injustices and inequalities inherent in a class-based society—run on the fuel of historical racism—died last Thursday. Baraka was 79.

Baraka published more than 50 books of poetry, fiction, essays, and plays since the 1950s, including “Blues People,” his take on African American music. Formerly known as LeRoi Jones, he hit big with the 1964 award-winning off-Broadway play, “Dutchman.” He became New Jersey’s Poet Laureate in August of 2002, but the position was abolished soon after he wrote the poem “Somebody Blew Up America,” which was unfairly designated as anti-Semitic. He never failed to speak up, to write poems that moved ideas, emotions and political awareness.

I was fortunate to have read with the master in a couple of occasions. I was on a panel with Mr. Baraka and Allen Ginsberg in New Jersey just prior to Ginsberg’s death in 1997. I also was on the stage with Mr. Baraka and his wife Amina during one of the Black Poetry Festivals in London (I may have been one of the few, if not the only, non-African poet reading).

And Mr. Baraka and I took part in the 2007 Caracas Book Festival where the theme was “Is Revolution Possible in the United States?” People from around the world were invited. I presented on the capitalism system and its impact on social, cultural and political movements; Amiri spoke about the revolutionary trends and issues facing the United States. I am honored to call him a teacher and a model of uncompromising truth in letters, performance and voice.

Que descances en paz, hermano.

c/s

Wanda Coleman, R.I.P.

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on November 27, 2013

A mentor, teacher, friend, fellow poet and revolutionary, Wanda Coleman, left us this past Friday. Known as the unofficial poet laureate of the city, she had more than twenty poetry collections and fiction works, mostly from Black Sparrow Books, including one nominated for a National Book Award. She was 67.

I’ve known Wanda since the late 1970s when I began hanging around the Los Angeles poetry scene that included Beyond Baroque, but also the bars and clubs of downtown L.A. and places like Self Help Graphics in East Los Angeles. I was part of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association, working with poets, writers and artists such as Manazar Gamboa, Barbara Carrasco, Robert Rodriguez, Helena Viramontes, Victor Valle, Guillermo Bejarano, Mary Helen Ponce, and others. In 1982, I became LALWA’s director and editor of its literary & art magazine, ChismeArte (Gossip Art) for about a year, forced to leave this position when the funding ran out.

But that experience—and meeting people like Wanda Coleman—never left me.

Ideas, images, vignettes, and thoughts I had written since a troubled teenager were now becoming poems, stories, memory pieces. When I first heard Wanda read, she woke up and helped heightened that small voice I had at the time. Her voice was strong, angry, clever, image-laden, deep. A Watts woman like I was a Watts man (my first homes in L.A. were in the Watts area when my family moved there from Mexico when I was two years old).

I left L.A. for Chicago in 1985 and in a few years got enmeshed in the thriving poetry scene of the Windy City, which included the birth of Poetry Slams. Wanda’s voice stayed with me. I wanted to embody that source of pain, betrayal, and abandonment that Wanda turned into powerful verses, songs, poems beyond borders. I helped create the renowned literary arts center, the Guild Complex, lead by friend and fellow poet Michael Warr. I also started Tia Chucha Press in Chicago twenty-five years ago, a press that continues to publish quality cross-cultural poetry collections.

And Wanda’s influence, stance and bravery marked my every turn.

When I returned to Los Angeles in 2000, and soon after helped create Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley, Wanda was an early supporter. She read at our stage and later she was part of our Ford Amphitheater “Celebrating Community” extravaganzas. When Wanda read that time, she had her brother Marvin playing piano—and people were riveted to the words, the music, that voice.

I will miss her dearly. Wanda kept the fires burning. She was real before anyone talked about being real. Rest in peace, my sister.

c/s

Green Party of California Endorses Luis Rodriguez for Governor

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on November 25, 2013

On November 25, 2013, the Green Party of California after a week of online voting endorsed author and community leader Luis J. Rodriguez for governor of California. Luis has embarked on a grassroots campaign, breaking new ground by calling for the end of poverty. The campaign champions aligning resources to meet needs by providing livable and meaningful work or income, healthy and clean communities, free quality health care for all, the overhaul of the criminal justice system, and ensuring arts, culture and expression outlets in every neighborhood. Below is the speech Luis made at the Green Party of California Plenary on November 16.

I’m honored to be among you all today in what I consider an important milestone in progressive, Green and social justice politics in this state. As we gather, the Green Party of California is poised to become the most encompassing and diversely represented it has ever been—and in the process make history for a healthy, clean and sustainable future for all.

Or – and let’s be clear – this opportunity may pass the party by. That may sound simplistic so let’s get to the heart of the matter.

We are at a crossroads. The capitalist system is in deep crisis. As a result every major institution in our society is in crisis. This is true for faith-based, cultural, social and political organizations. This is true for the Greens. And yet, as we all know, every crisis has opportunity. The general crisis in our society is our opportunity to inspire, teach, and organize for a new world—which more than ever is possible and imminent.

The key aspect is whether any association, party or institution can renew itself in alignment to an integral, cooperative, peaceful and equitable vision. The Democrats and Republicans can’t. As one party with two faces, they represent the failure of the capitalist ruling class in meeting the basic needs of working people, including the poor and marginalized. Moreover they represent the failure of ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone.

This ruling class on local, national and global scales is being exposed for what it is—the greatest single danger to humanity. People around the world may have different borders, languages, customs, belief systems, and politics. What binds us is our growing misery.

Can we imagine a reality where no one has to sacrifice their health, children, or future to partake in an economy or in politics? Where anyone can become the owner of their life, their dreams, and can be provided the tools, teachings and choices to live fully and expressively?

Can the Green Party be the party of this imagination—of this future?

That’s our challenge. That’s what I hope my campaign for California governor represents to the Green Party, to anyone who wants to live meaningfully, artfully—as dynamic examples of transformative ideas, programs and actions.

The world has to change. And the Green Party has to change to assist in the process. That’s why I’m here with you today. I’m willing to do my part. I’ve not gone this far in my own revolutionary growth to squander time or energy on anything that doesn’t push this process forward.

Yet this endeavor will take profound patience, painstaking attentiveness, and a deep-seated persistence from all of us to match the gravity and power of this immense challenge. Walking this path takes courage, deep-seated character and the ability to be strong and vital in the complexity and tension of actually impacting our communities, our state, our world.

I have made the elimination of poverty the centerpiece of my program. So let’s delve deeper into the extent of this impoverishment—exemplified by 8.7 million Californians who are poor, including 2.7 million more since Jerry Brown became governor. What about the poverty of not having a clean environment? The poverty of being denied free and quality health care, or livable and meaningful jobs, or a liberating and comprehensive educational system? In the growth of actual material poverty, we are also seeing the rise in the poverty of ideas, of imaginations, of caring. And, as my wife Trini says, the poverty of access.

Here’s a statement from Jeffery Martin, an African American poet and leader who has never voted, disillusioned about the continuing lack of solutions and results in politics. He’s now the Los Angeles area coordinator for the Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor campaign. On the poverty of access, Jeffery writes:

Not having the essentials of life stagnates potential and undermines creativity. There is nothing engaging about seeing prosperity in other communities but knowing it is limited within your own. The American Dream has become one-dimensional. It works to the advantage of a select few while community after community are mere observers as it sidesteps the poor, leaving them frustrated and marginalized. The poverty of access leads to ill equipped neighborhoods, mismanaged lifestyles, less than successful educational facilities, dead-end job opportunities, broken communities and a myriad of other vices that attach themselves to despair and despondency.

Jeffery is now encouraged and engaged to take a leading role in this campaign. There are millions of people like him throughout the state. I tell this story to demonstrate how the power of a singular voice for change must be part and parcel of my campaign.

The Green Party of California platform has values I’m committed to – values linked to my indigenous roots. The platform says we are part of nature, not above it. That we are all interconnected. Implicit in this is that abundance is the nature of things, not scarcity. That in proper relation to each other and nature, we can create sustainable and clean technologies, cities, homes and workspaces.

My invitation is for us to do this together, to join with me as I join with you. To take this message, these ideas, these potentials to the very people who can make them real. As leaders we have to trust the intelligence, cooperative natures, creativity, and immense capacities that people possess to bring the necessary changes to fruition.

Trust in them and trust in yourselves. There should be no gulf between revolutionary thinkers and revolutionary activists, between our visions and the needs of the people, between what we strive for and what can be achieved.

I will make another point—I’m not here to be the “Latino” savior of the party or this state. Yes, I’m Chicano. I have native ties through my mother, a Raramuri woman from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and father from the Nahuatl-speaking populations of Guerrero. Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, and Native Americans are a large and vibrant population that will get involved in this campaign if they are engaged the way anyone should be—with truths, with honesty, with respect. I’m here to represent all genders, ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, and disabilities in this battle for a new California. I will not compromise my hard-earned credibility with original peoples from California as well as those from Mexico and Central America by participating in political machinations, manipulations, and inauthentic approaches.

If the Green Party is true to itself, maintains strong integrity, and avoids any internal splits and bickering, the Green Party will be the party of the conscious and strategic revolutionary thinkers and leaders as well as the pushed out, the pissed off, and the disengaged. This is key to our many challenges.

One big truth is that most of what we are dealing with today, including in the so-called two-party system, is illusion. Mortgages, the wage system, borders, money, even “race”—all of these are man-made designs to benefit a few, yet made to appear as if they are God-derived and in our interests. The Green Party should be against all illusions. All lies. All misrepresentations linked to wealth and power.

Join with me. This campaign has to be bigger, broader and make inroads beyond the Green Party. Yet for the Green Party and others this campaign is an opening to be relevant and viable for millions of people in California. I welcome the Green Party’s support and endorsement. I am a Green. I will also move to get the support of genuine grassroots organizations and leaders wherever I can.

This campaign must be part of a movement and not just a campaign.

##

To donate, endorse and get involved go to www.rodriguezforgovernor.org.

Address to the Green Party on Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on November 18, 2013

On November 16, 2013, Luis J. Rodriguez addressed the Green Party of California plenary in Santa Rosa, CA to obtain their endorsement for his candidacy for governor of California. Below is the presentation he made, which was enthusiastically received by delegates and guests. A vote will be held for a week before an official endorsement will be made.

I’m honored to be among you all today in what I consider an important milestone in progressive, Green and social justice politics in this state. As we gather, the Green Party of California is poised to become the most encompassing and diversely represented it has ever been—and in the process make history for a healthy, clean and sustainable future for all.

Or – and let’s be clear – this opportunity may pass the party by. That may sound simplistic so let’s get to the heart of the matter.

We are at a crossroads. The capitalist system is in deep crisis. As a result every major institution in our society is in crisis. This is true for faith-based, cultural, social and political organizations. This is true for the Greens. And yet, as we all know, every crisis has opportunity. The general crisis in our society is our opportunity to inspire, teach, and organize for a new world—which more than ever is possible and imminent.

The key aspect is whether any association, party or institution can renew itself in alignment to an integral, cooperative, peaceful and equitable vision. The Democrats and Republicans can’t. As one party with two faces, they represent the failure of the capitalist ruling class in meeting the basic needs of working people, including the poor and marginalized. Moreover they represent the failure of ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone.

This ruling class on local, national and global scales is being exposed for what it is—the greatest single danger to humanity. People around the world may have different borders, languages, customs, belief systems, and politics. What binds us is our growing misery.

Can we imagine a reality where no one has to sacrifice their health, children, or future to partake in an economy or in politics? Where anyone can become the owner of their life, their dreams, and can be provided the tools, teachings and choices to live fully and expressively?

Can the Green Party be the party of this imagination—of this future?

That’s our challenge. That’s what I hope my campaign for California governor represents to the Green Party, to anyone who wants to live meaningfully, artfully—as dynamic examples of transformative ideas, programs and actions.

The world has to change. And the Green Party has to change to assist in the process. That’s why I’m here with you today. I’m willing to do my part. I’ve not gone this far in my own revolutionary growth to squander time or energy on anything that doesn’t push this process forward.

Yet this endeavor will take profound patience, painstaking attentiveness, and a deep-seated persistence from all of us to match the gravity and power of this immense challenge. Walking this path takes courage, deep-seated character and the ability to be strong and vital in the complexity and tension of actually impacting our communities, our state, our world.

I have made the elimination of poverty the centerpiece of my program. So let’s delve deeper into the extent of this impoverishment—exemplified by 8.7 million Californians who are poor, including 2.7 million more since Jerry Brown became governor. What about the poverty of not having a clean environment? The poverty of being denied free and quality health care, or livable and meaningful jobs, or a liberating and comprehensive educational system? In the growth of actual material poverty, we are also seeing the rise in the poverty of ideas, of imaginations, of caring. And, as my wife Trini says, the poverty of access.

Here’s a statement from Jeffery Martin, an African American poet and leader who has never voted, disillusioned about the continuing lack of solutions and results in politics. He’s now the Los Angeles area coordinator for the Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor campaign. On the poverty of access, Jeffery writes:

Not having the essentials of life stagnates potential and undermines creativity. There is nothing engaging about seeing prosperity in other communities but knowing it is limited within your own. The American Dream has become one-dimensional. It works to the advantage of a select few while community after community are mere observers as it sidesteps the poor, leaving them frustrated and marginalized. The poverty of access leads to ill equipped neighborhoods, mismanaged lifestyles, less than successful educational facilities, dead-end job opportunities, broken communities and a myriad of other vices that attach themselves to despair and despondency.

Jeffery is now encouraged and engaged to take a leading role in this campaign. There are millions of people like him throughout the state. I tell this story to demonstrate how the power of a singular voice for change must be part and parcel of my campaign.

The Green Party of California platform has values I’m committed to – values linked to my indigenous roots. The platform says we are part of nature, not above it. That we are all interconnected. Implicit in this is that abundance is the nature of things, not scarcity. That in proper relation to each other and nature, we can create sustainable and clean technologies, cities, homes and workspaces.

My invitation is for us to do this together, to join with me as I join with you. To take this message, these ideas, these potentials to the very people who can make them real. As leaders we have to trust the intelligence, cooperative natures, creativity, and immense capacities that people possess to bring the necessary changes to fruition.

Trust in them and trust in yourselves. There should be no gulf between revolutionary thinkers and revolutionary activists, between our visions and the needs of the people, between what we strive for and what can be achieved.

I will make another point—I’m not here to be the “Latino” savior of the party or this state. Yes, I’m Chicano. I have native ties through my mother, a Raramuri woman from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and father from the Nahuatl-speaking populations of Guerrero. Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, and Native Americans are a large and vibrant population that will get involved in this campaign if they are engaged the way anyone should be—with truths, with honesty, with respect. I’m here to represent all genders, ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, and disabilities in this battle for a new California. I will not compromise my hard-earned credibility with original peoples from California as well as those from Mexico and Central America by participating in political machinations, manipulations, and inauthentic approaches.

If the Green Party is true to itself, maintains strong integrity, and avoids any internal splits and bickering, the Green Party will be the party of the conscious and strategic revolutionary thinkers and leaders as well as the pushed out, the pissed off, and the disengaged. This is key to our many challenges.

One big truth is that most of what we are dealing with today, including in the so-called two-party system, is illusion. Mortgages, the wage system, borders, money, even “race”—all of these are man-made designs to benefit a few, yet made to appear as if they are God-derived and in our interests. The Green Party should be against all illusions. All lies. All misrepresentations linked to wealth and power.

Join with me. This campaign has to be bigger, broader and make inroads beyond the Green Party. Yet for the Green Party and others this campaign is an opening to be relevant and viable for millions of people in California. I welcome the Green Party’s support and endorsement. I am a Green. I will also move to get the support of genuine grassroots organizations and leaders wherever I can.

This campaign must be part of a movement and not just a campaign.

c/s

Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor of California

Posted By Luis J. Rodriguez on October 18, 2013

On October 26, 2013, the Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor of California campaign is having a “Meet the Candidate” night from 6 to 9:30 pm in the San Fernando Valley: 716 Orange Grove Avenue, San Fernando CA 91340. Luis will speak on the key issues and hear from you all. Performing will be poets, musicians, singers, emceed by Jeffery Martin. $10 donation (no one will be turned away for lack of funds). Includes healthy food, pinatas, and more.

“Here is the California story we can’t cover up or push aside: Increased job eliminations, evictions, home foreclosures as well as cuts in welfare and needed services in the face of a deepening, poverty-creating economic crisis. Which way for California?”
–Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor of California

Fellow Californians: Our state is rich in resources, human capacity, technological advances, and social innovation. California is the wealthiest, most populous state in the union and the eighth largest economy in the world. It is the world’s third largest agricultural center. California has world-class cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

Yet California has some of the worst poverty rates in the United States. Estimates of poverty go from 16 to 25 percent. It is the 50th worst state when it comes to arts funding and the 48th worst in educational funding. California has the world’s second largest prison system (after the U.S. federal prison system) with up to 80 percent of prisoners consisting of Chicanos/Latinos and African Americans, and almost 100 percent poor and working class.

I’m convinced we need more voices to address our growing impoverishment, our deepening injustice system, and the continual poisoning of our environment. Our present governor, Jerry Brown, has recently stood up for immigrant rights and other important issues—after years of grassroots pressure from the people. But he has also “balanced the budget” on the backs of California’s poor and working class, caved to the prison/industrial complex and vetoed bills that would have protected our state from “fracking” and other environmental risks. He’s just another bead on a long string of unresponsive pro-corporate politicians. I’m running because I know there is money, there are resources, especially among the people, that there is genius and boldness everywhere, but it’s not being drawn out or tapped into. I want to help change that.

I’m running for California Governor–and seeking the nomination of the Green Party–because I know that the solutions are in our hands. Let’s realize our dreams of a better world; let’s organize to make sure our needs are met with an economy and politics that are aligned, accessible and adequate for all.

The Rodriguez for Governor Program

1) End poverty in California. This is not fantasy or impossible. Despite our economic status among states and the world, the income disparity is growing and there are now 8.7 million people in poverty. I will work with all sectors to plan and implement viable policies to generate economies and livelihoods that end California’s poverty once and for all. More immediately, I will use all executive, emergency and persuasive authority available to this office to restore the unconscionable cuts that have been made to CalWorks, CalFresh, and other vital programs so that no Californian goes hungry, homeless or ill for lack of ability to pay for these necessities.

2) Clean and green energy and jobs. I will move our dependence on fossil fuels and push investors, businesses and governments to utilize wind, solar and water for power. The technology is growing in this field, also making clean energy affordable. In the early 1980s, I lived in an experimental solar-powered community in San Bernardino. This worked. Yet the state or private investors did not build on this model.

3) Make real a single payer health care system. Extend Medi-Cal to everyone. Impart nurses and health providers with livable wages and ongoing training. Also expand the idea of healthy and well communities to include arts and culture, native and other spiritual practices, organic gardening, and creative livelihoods.

4) End the California prison system as we know it. Use alternative sentencing that in general keeps people in communities, with families, and surrounded by services, treatment, transformative skills, and more. End three-strikes-and-you’re-out, trying youth as adults, the death penalty, life without the possibility of parole, gang injunctions, and long prison terms. Establish restorative justice practices as well as training and educational opportunities for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. Incorporate everyone into the economic, political and cultural life of our communities.

About Luis J. Rodriguez…

Born in Texas and raised in Los Angeles, Luis was a troubled gang and drug-involved teen in the late 60s and early 70s who turned his life around. At 22, he was a candidate for the L.A. Board of Education while working in construction, heavy industry and transportation. By 1980, with the exodus of big industry, Luis became a writer/reporter/photographer for East L.A. weekly newspapers, public radio, magazines, and the daily San Bernardino Sun newspaper. He also worked for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFL-CIO). In 1985, Luis moved to Chicago and became editor of a revolutionary national newspaper; a performance poet; a writing workshop facilitator in homeless shelters, prisons, schools and juvenile facilities; and a gang prevention/intervention specialist. In addition he was a writer/reporter for WMAQ-All News Radio. In 1993, Luis published a best-selling memoir called “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” Luis now has 15 books in poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction including his latest, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing.” His writings have appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world. In 2000, Luis returned to L.A.’s San Fernando Valley where he and his wife, Trini, founded Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore. Luis was a principal contributor to “A Guide for Understanding Effective Community-Based Gang Intervention,” officially adopted by the City of Los Angeles. He is a sought-after urban peace leader who has helped shape positive futures for youth from South L.A. to San Salvador.

To learn more, contact: Committee to Elect Luis J. Rodriguez Governor of California at www.rodriguezforgovernor.org or call: 818-898-0013. Checks can be made out to “Campaign for Luis J. Rodriguez for Governor” and sent to PO Box 328, San Fernando CA 91341 (Labor Donated)

c/s