Cricket, Wal-Mart and Progress: Three Indian Lies

Monsanto’s-GMO-Seeds-Contributing-to-Farmer-Suicides-Every-30-MinutesI had to write about it. Even though I did not want to write anything now. A young sister Sandipta’s sudden death last week froze me. I could not function for a few days.

I want to thank you all who took time to read what I said about Sandipta. It was nice to see so many thousands of readers came to visit my little blog. I want to thank those of you who commented on it. It was reassuring to know that people still care about life, and death. Through this very unfortunate experience, a small group of people came together, and shared their pain and sorrow. It was a matter of the soul. It was a spiritual experience.

Thank you so much for your compassion for this young sister who left us so suddenly, and so untimely.

Then, I found some Twitter messages Sandipta wrote in her last few days. One message was a re-Twit about Shiv Sena, India’s KKK, and its just-deceased chief Bal Thackeray. The message Sandipta re-Twitted was on 17th November. “[Shiv Sena chief] Thackerey’s  editorial very sweetly compared women journalists to prostitutes.”

This was from a 1991 editorial Thackeray wrote in his Marathi-language publication Saamna. This is just before the time when SS butchered poor Muslims in Bombay, right after the Babri Mosque demolition that took India into a new bloodbath. Sandipta reposted the message for her friends — without any personal comments.

It gave me the courage to write again. It made me remember the young, vibrant, Tagore-loving Indian journalist Sandipta Chatterjee whom I knew for five years. I remembered how in many Facebook conversations, we often talked about and shared our similar opinions on rights, justice and dignity for all — especially Indian women. I kept tagging her on my blogs — particularly the ones that talked about racism, bigotry and lies.

Most of the time, she would simply not comment. Once in a while, she would, in her usual soft, subtle way. Being a part of the Indian corporate media world, she did not want to be too explicit, and I always honored that ethical boundary. She was not nearly as political as me, either. But I knew she had support for honesty and truth. She had to: she was a graduate from Tagore’s university.

IMFI am afraid I still don’t have enough energy to write too much. I just had to write something because it’s so relevant right now. My apologies if I sound too abrupt and too brief. I invite you to read some of the other articles I posted here on my blog over the past few months, if you’re interested to know indepth about these subjects. I invite you to read what I wrote about India’s corrupt sell-off political leaders, role International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Wall Street are playing in India right now — puppeteering profiteers as I call them — to destroy the Indian economy once and for all, and how Indian corporate media are cheer leading the ruling class without ever exposing the horrendous truths from a global point of view.

There is hardly any comprehensive discussion on Indian media (which is now officially a clone of global corporate media organizations and their profit-only business) on how IMF, World Bank, Wall Street corporations such as Wal-Mart, Disney, Monsanto, General Electric, McDonald’s, Exxon-Mobil or Coca Cola have destroyed economies and environments across the world. There is no discussion on Indian media about the connection between the thousands of farmer suicides in today’s India and the hundreds of young women burnt to death at garment sweatshop factories in Bangladesh just two weeks ago. There is no conversation to correlate these gruesome tragedies with the Union Carbide worker slaughter that happened in Bhopal three decades ago: to show that the global profiteering saga at the expense of poor peoples’ lives has reached a new low.

There was no discussion on the fact that for the first time in a very fractious India, political rivals such as CPI(M) and the left, BJP and the right, and grassroots Congress-breakaways such as Mamata Banerjee the West Bengal chief minister came together on an economic platform to stop the aggression of sinister, global corporations and their devastating profiteering — in the name of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Very soon, just like Indian farmers have been killing themselves in thousands — the largest number of farmer suicides in human history — small businessmen and farmer’s market vendors sitting for centuries on urban and rural markets of India will perish with their familes and children.

sweat-shop-bangladesh-007Congress Party and its media blast this coming together of right and left: they call it hypocrisy. Yet, just a couple of months ago, Congress got crucial support from India’s KKK Shiv Sena to elect its IMF-sponsored president Pranab Mukherjee. There was no comprehensive discussion of that scandal either!

Finally, before I run out of steam, a word about India’s cricket. This is of course the one of the largest, thriving, for-profit industries in India now. In fact, it is the only sports industry in the entire world that has a major portion of the country’s wealth played into the hands of mafia, underworld bookies, media corporations, politician-turned-administrators, and cricketers who keep making billions in a country where at least three out of four people do not have enough to eat, can’t send their children to school or sick parents to a hospital, or must walk miles every single day to fetch water to drink.

Here, this one game India invests so much money on, and a game only ten countries play (and nobody knows about it outside of the past British colonies they now call Commonwealth). There is no accountability for failures and no media discussion on how much money these players and administrators and underworld bookies actually make.

The game’s star player Sachin Tendulkar is now a Congress Party-nominated parliament member. Now, here is one interesting fact to reflect on.

cricket-cartoon-ruralDuring the very important FDI debate in Indian parliament, where Congress Party allegedly bribed some small, caste-based politicians to get their crucial, numerical support to pass the Wal-Mart and Rupert Murdoch’s foreign direct investment, Sachin Tendulkar was supposed to be present in New Delhi during that vote. But he was playing cricket in Calcutta exactly at the same time! Even though he was not able to pull the dismal Indian cricket out of a defeat by England (critics say he has hardly ever done it in his entire career: to pull the Indian team out of an imminent defeat!), he displayed perhaps one of the most egregious breaches of workplace ethics (I wonder if it’s illegal too), by working for two employment places exactly at the same time — also perhaps making money from the two places exactly at the same time!

And this entire breach of workplace code of conduct was done in front of one billion Indian people. Like, he was naked in front of all of them.

Well, I have said enough already. I am a poor, powerless man. I should not say so much. People are angry.

I fear for my life.

Sincerely (and Helplessly) Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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India, Today. And Tomorrow.
India, Today. And India, Tomorrow.

My Last Letter To President Obama

NOTE: I wrote this article using my own time and resources. This is purely my personal opinion.

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I hope you read it. It might help you.

October 12, 2012
New York

Dear President Obama:

This is my last letter to you. I don’t know if you have time to read it. But I hope you do.

I’m not going to say anything revealing to you; I’m going to say things that many of us tried to say to you over these four years since we worked hard with huge excitement, energy and enthusiasm for your victory in 2008. We were euphoric when you became the president of the United States. I played my small part to celebrate: I wrote a number of articles and spoke at a number of seminars, conferences and meetings to congratulate you, and explain to my audiences the significance of your election. An entire generation of young people shared my excitement; for me, I shared the ultimate vindication of my black brothers and sisters.

Guess what, I still have the Obama-2008 bumber sticker stuck on my old American car.

We all thought you were going to use your enormously powerful position to drive this country and virtually the entire world back to the direction of the ordinary working people and families, promote economic equality, hold the corporate criminals accountable and bring them to justice. We thought your leadership would stop global warfare and bloodshed, and bring some peace to mankind especially after the horrors of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft.

I am very sorry and dejected to tell you that you have not fulfilled our hopes, dreams and aspirations. You have let us down.

Two months ago, I posted an article on this blog where I had predicted you were going to lose in this November’s election. I analyzed some issues I thought were responsible for your likely loss. Some of my Democratic friends were angry reading it; they thought I was playing the role of a party pooper. Some of them unfriended me from their Facebook.

Yet, at the same time, I challenged the Romney-Ryan ticket with maximum force. I posed some questions to your Republican opponents — questions I thought media should have asked them but never did. Please visit the questions here if you are interested to know.

Of course, at that time very few people thought you could lose; and I wrote the article even before that scandalous and racist “47 percent” Romney speech Mother Jones magazine broke: speech at a $50,000 per plate fundraising dinner Romney had in Florida ($50,000 is the average annual income for an American family; in many Third World countries, it’s the annual income for an entire city, perhaps). When that exposé came out, hardly anybody thought you could ever lose; in fact, even diehard Republicans thought Romney threw the elections straight in your lap; the Florida speech was so devastatingly damaging for him and the Republican Party. But who knows, maybe, that episode had made you overconfident, and you took the first presidential debate casually with no preparation whatsoever; your election prospects since then took a nose dive. Boy, how quickly things turn!

You took that debate with your now-familiar demeanor: you took your audience — your supporters and sympathizers and onlookers across the country — for granted. That non-performance in the debate was really symptomatic of your four years of non-performance. That abject failure to rise up and overpower your fierce, well-oiled opponents and their media with measured documents and reasons was symptomatic of your four years of abject failure to rise up and do the right thing at the most critical moment.

You’re going to be paying a hefty price for that non-performance. And you’re going to drag us all down with you, by your non-performance and lackluster presidency. Your elite circle of advisors — dubious and ill-reputed political insiders who are really part of the now-infamous 1 percent, exposed because of Occupy Wall Street’s resistance and challenge — have ill-advised you. You believed in them, and took us for granted. Your drones killed many innocent people overseas; your political actions killed hopes and dreams of many here in the U.S.

I can never vote for racists and bigots.

President Obama, let me be clear. I would be very sad and disheartened if you get a shock defeat in this election. I would get a chill in my bones if someone like Romney whose racism and hypocrisy is now exposed becomes the president of America. I know he’s going to start another devastating war in Iran: the war industries and Karl Rove are working hard for his victory. I would be frozen to death if a social and economic extremist like Ryan with his Tea Party Glenn Beck doctrine becomes the vice president of this country. I know he is going to kill off the last remnant of the New Deal, including Medicare and Social Security as well as collective bargaining and such precious rights of the working people of America. His party will probably overturn Roe v Wade too, destroying women’s precious reproductive rights. Corporate America, NRA and Koch Brothers as well as organized bigoted groups are working hard for his victory.

Even though I have serious, major issues with your presidency and every single day, I feel cheated by the promises you and your administration didn’t keep, just because I NEVER want a racist and a bigot become the world’s top leaders, I would want you to win.

The only problem is that deep inside, I feel you are not going to win. And you can blame nobody other than yourself for this looming, historic defeat. Your likely loss would be the final letdown of the billions of people — particularly the young generation here in America and peace and democracy soldiers all across the world — who believed so much in your message of hope. They believed in YOU!

You let them all down. How terrible this letdown has been!

Sincerely Writing,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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President Obama, Why Should I Really Vote FOR You?

Change? Really?

Related post. (Click on this link) — Questions Media Won’t Ask Romney and Ryan.

Related post. (Click on this link)– Occupy Wall Street: Ordinary, Working People — Moderate Left and Moderate Right — Must Come Together, Empower and Fight Back Against Both the Elite Center and Far Right and Far Left. Because there’s way too many overlaps as opposed to differences. Believe me: this is where the real strength is.

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NOTE: I wrote this blog using my personal time and resources.

Recently, I wrote two articles on this blog — both on the subject of the U.S. presidential elections. They were both popular — beyond my expectation. I want to thank all the readers — practically from all over the world — for their kind interest. It’s been a gratifying experience.

In the first article (click on the link here), I expressed my fear that Romney and Ryan — the Republican ticket — would win (that was before the Mother Jones “47%” expose broke out). In the more recent article I posted just a few days ago during the Republican National Convention, I challenged and asked some questions to the R&R ticket. You can read it here too.

Readers visited both articles with surprisingly high interest; particularly, the newest post where I challenged Romney, Ryan and Republicans to answer my questions got a very high number of readers. I was delighted. Of course, I never got any response from the Republicans at all; my doubt is that they never even heard my name, let alone read my questions. I wish they did.

But it was reassuring that so many readers took a moment out of their busy life to think about what I had to say on the political and economic scenario — of USA and almost by default, of the entire world. Given that my readership — especially my American readership — has a more liberal tilt, and that too, perhaps with a Democratic affiliation, I felt happy that my questions reached them and that they had the opportunity to use and share those twelve bullet points in their own circles. Who knows, maybe, some of these people are going to attend the Democratic National Convention that’s happening in North Carolina this week; chances are, at least a few of them who perhaps heard my name and about my OneFinalBlog through grapevine, Facebook and Twitter would talk about the issues I addressed in my articles, and have some productive, positive discussion.

At least, that is my hope. With that hope in mind, I’m now going to ask a few questions to President Obama and his Democratic Party — again, on the current political and economic scenario of America, and almost by default, of the entire world.

Republicans are now asking the American voters, borrowing the famous line from Ronald Reagan: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Actually, even though I have absolutely no soft spot for the Republicans and I said it loud and clear that I would never vote for Romney and Ryan, I believe the question they’re asking is not irrelevant at all. In fact, that is a perfect ask any voters should ask themselves: are we now better off or worse off? And, what is the measure of being better off or worse off? Is it economic, is it the war and violence situation, is it domestic repression, is it the elitist status quo, or is it something else?

Remember them? No? No wonder media makes so much money making you forget stuff so quickly!

The only problem is, Republican leaders are asking the question disingenuously, and cheating their ordinary Republican (or undecided) voters who may or may not remember the whole story. If these leaders — most of them affluent and powerful and with deep ties with Corporate America and its powerful lobbyists — were not so dishonest and if they didn’t have an equally disingenuous media on their side, they would rather phrase the question this way:

“We know eight years of Bush completely destroyed the American economy, created an astronomical budget deficit, gave obnoxious tax breaks to the super wealthy, bailed out billionaire bank executives and corporate criminals, waged catastrophic genocides in Iraq and Afghanistan killing millions, looting oil and destroying history of ancient civilizations and bleeding us the U.S. taxpayers here to death, and tarnished the American superpower image once and for all across the world, but still, we believe that we are better than the Democrats to run this country. So, would you not vote for us? Please?”

Neither the Republicans nor the disingenuous, gloss-over U.S. mainstream media would frame their question to the voters this way. They don’t have the guts or honesty to do it.

(And Bill Clinton, in spite of his jackpot speech at the DNC, forgot to tell us how he destroyed age-old American welfare especially for poor women, imposed NAFTA with majority help from Republicans drastically cutting U.S. manufacturing jobs in the U.S., overturned landmark Glass-Stegall, rehired Greenspan to destroy the economy even more, and deregulated financial derivatives with help from Rubin and Summers. He also forgot to tell us how he and war criminal W. Bush have been great buddies ever since. Maybe, he’s preparing us for a Hillary 2016 and a Jeb Bush 2020. Who knows? Nobody but the elite knows anything: it’s all elitist secret. And they call it a democracy!)

Too disturbing to digest!

In any case, we can never believe that Obama-Biden and the Democrats did a wonderful job in these four years and should be able to put all the blame on those eight years of a Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft presidency; hence, we should all be happy and happily vote for another four years of Obama-Biden. Not so easy. We have some serious questions for President Obama and his Democratic Party, and here they are. Again, for the sake of time — both of my esteemed readers and Obama and the Democratic leaders who are busy and important people, I’m going to ask only a handful. I’ll save the rest for later.

You know what? I like Barack Obama as a person. I like Michelle Obama too. They are two of the smartest and modernest first couple America has seen for the first time in generations. And I know for sure that just because they are black, a large number of Americans (and Indians — from India) hate them. It’s unbelievable that even in 2012, millions of people especially in USA, Europe and India believe blacks are inferior to whites (and to browns and red and yellows and olives and purples and grays…) and a black president is a disgrace for this God’s Country called USA.

Well, let me tell you this. I think these people are pure racists and sexists and bigots and jerks too; and just because I know them so well from my own long experience to be with racists and sexists and bigots and jerks, I think at the end of the day, I’ll come out and vote for Obama, even though I think his Democratic administration has cheated me of my hope, expectation and enthusiasm for a change. But that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to vote FOR a presidential candidate FOR him, and not AGAINST his racist and bigoted and sexist and lying opponents.

So, at this point, without annoying my patient readers to death, I’ll ask a few questions to Barack. Mr. President, Sir, would you please be kind enough to respond, or at least ask one of your colleagues to do it? It would be much appreciated. My questions are not prioritized in any particular fashion.

Question 1. (I asked this to Romey and Ryan too). — Rachel Corrie, a young American woman, in 2003 stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer to protest against Israeli government’s demolition of houses of Palestinian civilians. The bulldozer crushed her to death. Your Democratic Party leaders such as Hillary and Bill Clinton had blasted Chinese government’s human rights violation when its tanks threatened to kill Chinese protesters at Tienanmen Square a few years ago. Do you think your Democratic Party can show the same resolution to protest against the action of the Israeli government when they killed Rachel Corrie? (You might also add here the drama of including Jerusalem as the Israel’s capital in the Democratic election platform.)

Question 2. (I asked this to Romey and Ryan too). — Multinational, U.S.-based companies such as Monsanto, Union Carbide, Coca Cola, Chevron and Disney (among many others) have caused havoc in many other countries because of their ways of doing business. For example, over the past decade, 200,000 Indian farmers (yes, you’ve heard it right!) have committed suicide — the largest in human history — because of Monsanto’s permanent seed replacement with their own genetically engineered products and false promises of crop yield. Union Carbide’s infamous toxic gas leak in Bhopal in 1984 had killed thousand of poor workers and their families; women who suffered are still delivering crippled babies. Are you going to bring these companies to justice and compensate the victims for the disasters they went through?

Question 3. (I asked this to Romey and Ryan too). — Have you ever visited an agricultural or industrial farm in California, Tennessee, Arizona, Florida or Texas where owners work immigrant workers like slaves in a toxic situation — with zero human rights? Many of them die of cancer, tuberculosis and such diseases — because of their inhumane work conditions. Do you see any difference between their condition and that of the black workers and their families in a cotton plantation during the slavery days? Your government has detained and deported more undocumented immigrants — many of such poor workers — than even Bush and Ashcroft government did.

Question 4. — Why did your administration let Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest corporate criminals in the history of modern human civilization, off the hook even after their criminal activities were exposed beyond doubt at bipartisan Congressional hearings?

Question 5. — Why did you include people such as Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Jeff Immelt, et al.  — some of the worst-known corporate elements responsible behind the financial disaster — in your administration and would not purge them in spite of repeated pressure even from the pro-people sections of your own party? Why did you not stand behind the Overturn Citizen United campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders — 100 percent?

Question 6. — Why did you not take up, let alone pass, the Employee Free Choice Act when labor unions have always been such an ardently faithful ally? Isn’t that one of the worst examples of not keeping your 2008 campaign promises?

Question 7. — President Jimmy Carter has condemned your drone attacks and hit lists that killed thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and recently in Yemen too). Isn’t that one of the grossest violations of international peace treaties and human rights laws? (And we all know you also backtracked on closing down Guantanamo.)

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Post Script. — This is from New York Times tonight (click for the news story here). Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, said, “We’re in a better position than we were four years ago in our economy.” But Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a Democrat, answered “no” on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” though he blamed Republicans. Other aides equivocated.

I’ll tell you this. Martin O’Malley and the other aides are honest. David Axelrod is dishonest and arrogant with his answer. And that is my problem with this Democratic Party and its top people who run the show. If you tell me we’re better off than four years ago, you’re kidding me. If you tell that to an ordinary American voter — Democrat or Republican or undecided — you’re going to lose their vote. Remember, many of these people didn’t watch Bill Clinton last night: they were working a late-evening shift to make ends meet.

We, the ordinary people who live and work in the U.S., who lost their jobs, health care, life’s savings and houses, and who can’t afford to play the stock market, are not better off. People like us do not see light at the end of the tunnel. President Obama and Mr. Axelrod, you must face the truth. You must tell the truth.

Most importantly, tell us why should we vote FOR you, and not just against your bigoted, lying, racist, sexist opponents?

Thank you, Sir, for your valuable time and kind response.
Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Youth Unemployment Hit a Record 30%.

My Kid’s Name is Trayvon Martin

My Kid’s Name is Trayvon Martin

UPDATE JULY 14, 2013. Zimmerman has been acquitted. ONLY HAPPENS IN AMERICA. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/us/george-zimmerman-verdict-trayvon-martin.html?hp&target=comments#commentsContainer

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Update April 11. Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with a second-degree murder. Visit news at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/george-zimmerman-to-be-charged-in-trayvon-martin-shooting-law-enforcement-official-says/2012/04/11/gIQAHJ5oAT_story.html

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“Trayvon Martin, 17, was walking home from a 7-Eleven in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26 when he was shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer who had called police and reported a “real suspicious guy” wearing a hoodie.

Martin was found dead, unarmed, with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.

The neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, claims he acted in self-defense and has not been arrested.”

This is NBC news today. I therefore put it in quotes.

What is so special about the news? Which part is the one you don’t understand?

If you ask me, I understand all of it. Here’s how I understand it — point by point.

1. Trayvon Martin was a seventeen year-old kid.

(He could be my kid. He could be your kid. He could be anybody’s kid.)

2. He was walking home from a 7-Eleven in Sanford, Florida. It was February 26, 2012. It was after dark.

(He could be my kid. He could be your kid. He could be anybody’s kid.)

3. He was unarmed.

(That’s not a crime. Right?)

4. He only had Skittles and an iced tea with him.

(That’s not criminal, either.)

5. He was followed by a so-called neighborhood watch volunteer — whatever that means — who had a gun.

(That sounds scary to me — especially if I put my kid in that situation.)

6. Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old kid who went to buy Skittles and iced tea at his neighborhood 7-11, wore a hoodie, this so-called neighborhood watch volunteer — whatever that means who had a gun — reported to police that he found a “real suspicious guy.”

(That sounds scary to me — especially if I put my kid in that situation. Wearing a hoodie is normally not criminal. What do you think?)

7. Trayvon Martin, unarmed except for his Skittles and iced tea on him, was shot dead. They found his dead body on the street.

(The kid is now dead. He was seventeen. He was suddenly killed by a man who thought the kid was “suspicious.”)

8. The so-called neighborhood watch volunteer whatever that means, George Zimmerman, claims he acted in self-defense.

(I want to act in self-defense too, if my kid is suddenly killed. What do I do? Please let me know. I shall follow your advice. I don’t have a gun. I don’t kill. What can I do?)

9. Therefore, from the NBC news report, it is obvious that the so-called neighborhood watch guy, George Zimmerman, meant his act was shooting and killing Trayvon Martin.

(In fact, the guy never denied it. Ever.)

10. The guy who shot and killed an unarmed seventeen-year-old boy was not arrested.

(He was not arrested even though he never denied he shot and killed an unarmed kid who went to to buy Skittles and iced tea at his neighborhood 7-11.)

As you can see, I understood the whole story. I have no confusion. I have no illusion.

I got more news tonight on Trayvon Martin.

His parents appeared Wednesday on the “TODAY” show and said their child had been frightened for his life because he was being followed by Zimmerman.

“He was on his way home. He had every right to have on his hoodie. It was raining. Why not put on his hoodie to prevent getting wet?” his father said on “TODAY.”

This is the ONLY part I do not understand. I have seen my kid wearing a hoodie even when it’s not raining. In fact, I myself wear a hoodie every time I get a chance — in sun, in rain, in cold weather, in pleasant weather.

In fact, I plan to wear a hoodie at the Million Hoodie March in New York. I plan to wear a hoodie in front of Fox studio here in New York, especially when Geraldo does his show in that big, jail-like building.

NY Post before 9/11. How fierce they’ve changed!

Have you heard about Amadou Diallo? No? Look it up. He was an immigrant from Guinea who lived in the Bronx. One cold night about twelve years ago, he was shot and killed by New York Police Department cops who thought Amadou looked suspicious. Amadou did not have a gun. He was killed instantly, with a barrage of bullets the cops fired at him. The cops who killed him were all acquitted by the American justice system.

Have you heard about Sean Bell who was killed in Queens on the night of his wedding? No? Please look it up.

I don’t know what will happen to the so-called neighborhood watch guy who thought Trayvon looked suspicious, and therefore followed him and then shot and killed him.

I cannot predict the American justice system. I only feel strongly tonight that my kid’s name is Trayvon Martin.

That’s all I wanted to say.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Trayvon Martin’s Parents are Us

This is Laughing Matter 2. Or is it?

-Laugh 2-

Or, you don’t. It’s your choice.

My Insignificant Personal Stories

I’m going to tell you three of my own, honest-to-God, real-life, personal, New York City stories of live-together with racism and stereotype. Or, you can call it something else. It’s your choice.

I simply titled it Laugh 2 because I called the most recent story I told you Laugh 1. These three stories are so dry, down ‘n dirty, straightforward and unfunny that you might start suspecting my basic literary prowess. Heck, I seriously doubted it myself when I went through those little experiences; in fact, when they happened — one event at a time with a gap of a couple of years in between — the only thought that came to my mind was how to save my little brown Indian butt, and go home with a non-disfigured face (or in one instance, go home at all).

And I didn’t laugh.

I just thank God I did not become a post-9/11 FBI or NYPD statistic of hate-crime victims (or in one instance, a permanently disappeared U.S. citizen). I just hope and pray to God that, however insignificant my scare was compared to the grotesque, horrific, nightmarish and bone-chilling experiences so many people I know have gone through, none encounter experiences even as small as mine. I don’t know about you the rough, tough and diehard, man, I nearly peed in my pants. And a grassroots, 9/11 community organizer turned immigrant and labor advocate, I am not particularly known as a wimp.

How do I rank these stories? There is no way I could do that. So, like they write experiences on the resumé with the most recent cited first, I’m going to tell you my stories with the most recent one first. Is it the most stand-out one? Not sure. I leave it up to you to decide on the poignancy indicator of it.

Let’s just cut to the chase. I’ll be brief.

Scare 1

NYC subway on police watch

So, about this time last year, on one late morning on a slow, sunny, early fall day, I was waiting on a downtown NYC subway platform for the E train. I was going to college to teach an afternoon class. I had my trademark brown backpack on my brown back, I had a light jacket on, and I also had my hands in my coat pockets.

A woman — she was likely watching over me for some time — walked up to me, just before the train arrived. She smiled strangely at me, and said, “You’re not carrying a gun on you, are you?” Then she gestured at my hands in my pockets, and smiled again, as if she actually had doubts if I was carrying a hidden gun.

I was so surprised by the suddenness of it that I didn’t know what to say. First I thought she was just joking, however bad and stupid the joke was. But then I realized she was serious. The train came and she and I boarded the train; I now felt quite annoyed that she kept looking at me and my brown skin and my “Islamic-terrorist-looking” face and beard (she didn’t know I was an American Hindu, involved with the American peace movement, and preached global non-violence all my life). I realized she was quite nervous by the possibility that either my backpack or my jacket could indeed carry a gun. And then she walked up to me and repeated her question: “You don’t have a gun on you, do you?”

I had a little interaction with her after that — a non-violent one — and it was lucky I only had one station to ride on the E train. But that one-station, three-minute ride was more than enough. It was pretty long.

I am not CNN or Fox or some tabloid paper, and I don’t mean to make too much of a big deal out of it. But I’ve actually thought about the incident quite a bit afterwards, and in hindsight, I believe it could’ve been much worse under a slightly different set of circumstances.

Think about the incident happening on a Greyhound bus or maybe, a commuter train (I’m excluding airplanes because they’d have body scans and all). I very likely “look like an Islamic terrorist” with my brown skin and pronounced beard based on the profiling and flagging they’d had on countless innocent Muslims, South Asians and Arabs since 9/11. What if this crazy woman walked up to me there, challenged me if I had a gun in my backpack (remember my NYPD-NYCLU bag search lawsuit story?), and then perhaps called the “see-something-say-something” police? I know people who were picked up by the police and FBI and other law enforcement on such charges by “responsible American citizens.” I also know of at least one real-life story a young Sikh friend from New Jersey told me where a busload of Americans started heckling him on his way back home from Philadelphia, called him Osama, and followed him off the bus to the public bathroom, and threatened to beat him up black and blue.

Any of the above could’ve happened to me. That was really the scary part.

Glad in this case, it was “small and significant.” And I came back home in one piece to report it on Facebook the same night.

Funny? Not funny?

___

Scare 2

(to be continued)