Archive for January, 2007 Page 2 of 2

ACTION ALERT: Entire Queens Family Arrested as Intimidation

Note from Jack: I heard about this on NPR the other morning, but unsurprisingly didn’t get the whole story, not even from them. I’ve added emphasis on some parts of this press release from DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), which is an important and kick-ass organization that everyone should know about.

Also, for more information on Shahawar Matin Siraj’s case, see Democracy Now! interview with his lawyer, Martin Stolar.

January 9, 2007

Entire Queens Family Arrested as Intimidation

For questions, contact:
Fahd Ahmed, DRUM (940) 391 -2660

At 5am on the morning of January 9th, 2007, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raided the Queens home of and arrested three members (father, mother, and daughter) of the Siraj family, a tight-knit Pakistani family that has been caught up in the U.S. “War on Terror’s” most recent act of racial and religious profiling. Tuesday’s deplorable raid on the home of an innocent family is amongst dozens of other targeted, prejudiced sweeps across the country that are tearing Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities apart. The arrests occurred less than 12 hours after their young son, Shahawar Matin Siraj, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for alleged terrorism-related charges emerging from a clandestine NYPD-paid informant’s entrapment.

ICE officials are currently falsely reporting that the family was arrested on immigration-related charges and that the father’s appeal for an asylum case was “denied.” The reality is that the father’s appeal is still pending in the Second Circuit Court and has not been decided, and that the mother and teenage daughter do not have any immigration cases or deportation orders pending against them. Given the high-profile media attention on their son’s case, in which there were many underhanded legal irregularities and rights violations, these arrests are being seen by the community as an attempt to silence and make an example of the family through harassment. The family maintains that their son was ensnared by an NYPD informant, evidence of which the court did not properly consider, resulting in an unfair trial and sentencing. The family has filed a notice of appeal for their son’s case.

Both the father and the mother have ongoing and severe medical conditions, and the mother was only allowed to take two days of medicine at the time of the arrests. All family members are currently being held at Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, NJ, but they may be moved or separated to different facilities.

DRUM, as a community based organization that works with Muslim and South Asian immigrants and has seen the targeting of this community before and especially after 9/11, is calling on all concerned individuals and organizations to contact the ICE Field Office Director, at 973-645-3666, and demand that (a) the Siraj family be immediately released on their own recognizance or a reasonable bond, and, (b) that ICE stop targeting immigrant communities, in particular Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. DRUM is also calling on all people of conscience to call Warden Charlotte Collins at Elizabeth Detention Center, at 908-352-3776, to demand that (a) they provide urgent medical care and medication for the mother and father, and (b) that the Siraj family be kept together, particularly the mother and daughter not be separated, and, (c) to pro-actively facilitate direct communication and visitation between the family and their son, Matin, who is being held at Metropolitan Detention Center. DRUM, alongside countless civil and human-rights organizations and concerned citizens will continue to expose the ongoing injustices of the “War on Terror” against this family and all targeted communities.


Now that I’ve returned to Brooklyn and the life, love, and work contained therein, it’s harder to keep up with all of this blogging business! Not only the writing, but the reading of other people’s blogs, the linking, the commenting, the responding to comments here, etc. How do some of y’all manage to keep up with it all?

Part of what’s fallen to the wayside is continuing to participate in the massive, multi-blog conversation about feminism and trans politics & identity. The conversation continues to move to new blogs and posts; one recent, active, and interesting thread is going on over at Alas, a blog.

I’d intended to write my own post highlighting the excellent conversation going on in the comments on this earlier post, especially the dialogue between Holly and Fire Fly. I’m not going to get to write that post and pull out quotes from that discussion with any degree of timeliness, so instead, I’ll encourage folks to read and participate more in the discussion, either in the comments on that post, or here on this post. (Also, Holly rocks and says a lot of stuff that I just wind up nodding furiously too, since I couldn’t say it better myself.)

linkage – 1/3/2007

I’m wrapping up my holiday visit with my parents, so here are some quick links of notes.

  • Life Support for Feminist Health Care?, on the more-than-worrisome decline of available feminist health care for women, especially low income women, in the US. From the article: “A true societal commitment to quality, funded health care for poor and marginalized women … still eludes us.” (Found via Feministing)
  • If you’re a New Yorker like me, you’ve undoubtedly heared those awful words over the subway train PA system: “We’re being held in the station due to a sick passenger.” After once seeing a man die on the subway (an awful experience), I always wonder and worry about what’s going on and how serious the situation is. Well, according to the MTA, the most common “sick passenger” situation is people fainting because they’re on crazy “diets” that amount to not eating at all for big chunks of time. So now when I’m feeling murderous* on a stopped train, I know to blame fatphobia, most likely tempered with a good dose of sexism. (Or, I can just Blame the Patriarchy, of course. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    UPDATE: After reading other bloggers and media outlets’ take on this, I’m starting to agree with them – maybe this is a bit of non-scientific woman-blaming going on. After all, the “statistic” about the prevalence of diet-related fainting only comes from one person’s observations and conjecture, rather than actual tracking. However, I have to say, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about many people in NYC dieting in unhealthy ways, even to the point of fainting. And that’s not woman-blaming; like I said above, it’s fatphobia and patriarchy blaming.

  • For the first time since the Beefeaters began guarding the Tower of London, a woman will join their ranks. Happily to me, she’ll be wearing the same awesome uniform as all the others.
  • CNN accidentally ran the caption “Where’s Obama?” during an ad for a segment on Osama bin Laden. Oops! Senator Barack Obama’s spokeperson responds: “Though I’d note that the ‘s’ and ‘b’ keys aren’t all that close to each other, I assume it was just an unfortunate mistake.”

* Note that my murderous feelings are not directed towards sick passengers themselves, of course. However, other New Yorkers might understand and agree that there are few things more maddening than being stuck in a subway tunnel for an indefinite amount of time, especially when one is running late, as one almost always is when the subway is involved, and especially when the conductor reassures you that “we should be moving shortly” for minutes on end.

Wage to Live: supporting restaurant workers in NYC

I’d like to start highlighting work by community and social justice organizations, so here’s a start: Wage to Live, a recently-formed non-profit organization that is working towards a living wage for restaurant workers in NYC.

We all know that working in a restaurant can be a really rough job. Not only is it ass-busting, frustrating work (think of all the difficult diners you see out there, or how difficult a diner you can be), but the pay is often for shit. Restaurant workers are often tremendously underpaid; in NYC, many of these workers are immigrants (both documented and undocumented) and people of color. From the Wage to Live site:

Despite the increase in profits, patronage, and meal costs, the wages of workers within the industry have stagnated. Thus, restaurant workers are now earning one-third of the average income within the private sector. In 2005, NYC restaurant workers earned $21,658 where non-restaurant workers in the private sector earned an average of $70,834. Over the last twenty years, the wages of restaurant workers have lagged by 17% behind the growth in wages that have been felt in all other sectors. Close to half of all restaurant workers (44%) live below the poverty level and 13% (roughly 22,425 workers) are still earning below minimum wage. The stagnation in restaurant wages has coincided with a gradual shift in worker demographics. In 1980, more than half of all restaurant workers were born in the United States. Today, more than two-thirds of all restaurant workers are foreign born.

Wage to Live is trying to change these conditions. From their mission statement:

Wage to Live has several goals: to raise the wages of a severely underpaid workforce, to prove that low wages are not the inevitable bi-product of capitalism but the result of societal acceptance and a prejudice against immigrant workers and people of color, to demonstrate that businesses can actually pay well while remaining profitable, to increase the public’s expectation of responsible business practices, and to prove that organizations such as Wage to Live can be self-sustainable and replicable in other cities.

To these ends, Wage to Live is waging (heh) a “socially responsible consumption campaign” in which restaurants that pay a living wage become certified members and are promoted by Wage to Live. In turn, folks who want to eat out responsibly can refer to Wage to Live’s website to see which restaurants are actually paying their workers a living wage. Or trying to – I appreciate that Wage to Live recognizes that not all restaurants can afford to pay every worker a living wage and plans to offer guidance to restaurants who want to try to and memberships to those who are making a good effort, paying no less than $10/hour to every worker.

Want to support Wage to Live? Check out their website, sign up for their mailing list, make a donation to the organization. But most importantly, check their website this spring to find and support restaurants that are paying their workers fairly.

you know you’re blogging too much…

… when you’re watching overtime in the Fiesta Bowl, and instead of hearing “he knows how to read blocks,” you hear, “he knows how to read blogs,” and are very confused for a few moments.

Although, during the commentary on the various Bowl games today, there has been discussion about blogs, specifically on how bloggers are going to react to Michigan’s loss today. Yes, in case there were any doubts left, blogging has officially entered the mainstream.


Happy new year!

Not only is this my first post of 2007, but it’s also my 100th post! Woohoo!

I’ve been busy spending quality time with my family (and watching football, heh), so I haven’t gotten to attend to blogging very much except to moderate comments. There’s been a lot of great discussion going on the comment threads of recent posts here; though I haven’t yet gotten a chance to get into the discussions myself, I really appreciate reading it all and thank everyone for sharing and engaging. It’s wonderful to see constructive, thoughtful conversations, ones that include differences of opinions expressed in useful, respectful ways. (Note that “hateful transphobic bullshit” does not qualify as “differences of opinions.”)

For more constructive and instructive discussion, check out the conversations being held on brownfemipower’s Women of Color Blog, including this one, in which she opens up a dialogue for women of color, trans and non-trans. I think that this goes to show that a blog “owner” can really set the tone for the quality of conversation that goes on under their little virtual roofs, through clear intentionality about what their space is all about. That doesn’t mean quashing dissent or disagreement; rather, it means setting parameters for what is respectful of others and therefore acceptable, and what is not. Brownfemipower has done a really good job of that, and I think that the rest of us bloggers have a responsibility to do the same.

Also – this link is coming a few days late, and I hope most folks have read this already, but Winter has written a really excellent post on her blog entitled “I did not come to feminism for this: thoughts on the anti-transgender agenda.” If you’ve not read it yet, you most definitely should.

One more also: I’m thinking I need to write something somewhere prominent on this blog that tells people not to bother if they intend to write me an email or comment saying that I’m racist or sexist for holding people who possess racial and/or gender privilege (especially white people and men) accountable for their privilege, power, and prejudice. ‘Cause it’s really getting old, people.