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I hung up the phone and got queasy. Leigh Shelton, the press spokesperson for Local 11 had just asked me if I wanted to MC the rally after the protest at the Hotel Bel-Air on Stone Canyon Road. I’m a dues -paying member of Unite Here, the hospitality workers union, but I never thought I’d be asked to do something like this.
My natural response to doing things that scare me is to say No, and then to inform the person that I would not be the right one for the job, that indeed I might be terrible. My excuse for not wanting to do this was imbedded in a traumatic comedy club experience where I thought I would give the MC position a chance. I can still see a few heckling faces in the audience to this day.
However, Leigh convinced me that it would just involve a few talking points and introducing a few key people.
Last April, I went to visit my 25-year-old son, Armando, who lives in El Salvador. Armando – who is half Salvadoran – has been living in the capital, San Salvador, for the past two years, trying to make it as a freelance artist. When I got down there, I decided right away that I wanted to buy a car seat for cute, little three-year-old Alfonso (the son of Armando’s then-girlfriend), who was riding around in the car “freestyle” so to speak, with some pretty crazy Salvadoran drivers making me nervous.
Armando reassured me 10 ways to Sunday that he was a “careful” driver and that Salvadoran law did not require car seats for kids. Laws aside, I was determined to do the right thing and get a car seat so Alfonso could be a little safer.So began my week-long quest to find a car seat in a country where the decision to strap in your child is left to the “common sense” of the citizenry.
An apple a day and eating your peas led to good health, we once thought. Now, according to major food manufacturers, fruits and vegetables are “job killers” that will devastate the American economy.
In April of this year, the Federal Trade Commission, along with three other Federal agencies (FDA, CDC and USDA), released a set of proposed guidelines for marketing food to children to reduce sugars, fats and salts in the diets of American youth, and increase fruits, whole grains and vegetables. In 2008 Congress, led by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), asked for these recommendations to address the nations’ growing childhood obesity crisis.
A coalition of major manufacturers of processed foods (including Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and SpaghettiOs), fast-food chains and the media industry that depends on their advertising dollars are spending millions on lobbyists to derail the proposed voluntary guidelines.
(Editor’s Note: Yesterday Peter Dreier compared this year’s breakout film, The Help, to an earlier but more accurate Hollywood portrayal of the civil rights movement. Today Vivian Rothstein, a veteran of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, weighs in with comparisons of her own.)
From watching the recent box-office hit, The Help, you’d think the women’s liberation movement had triumphed by 1963, when the film is set. In the story, white women appear to be the primary enforcers of racial segregation; it would also seem that white and black women, working without any organizational support, can profoundly change social conditions — and that white women make the top decisions in literary publishing houses. None of which was true back when I went South to work in the 1965 Mississippi Freedom Summer project.
Men are nearly invisible in the film – so is the Jim Crow power structure that allowed Southern white men to perpetuate unequal school districts,