Category Archives: Boycott

Remembering Rosa Parks Today

53 years ago today, just 19 days before my mother gave birth to me, she would have sat quietly with  bulging belly, and listened to a New York City station on the radio. (Mom loved to tune in New York City because of the great dance tunes). She would have heard the following item on the evening news report that night;

“A colored woman in Montgomery, Alabama was arrested by police today, after refusing to give up her seat to a white person. Mrs. Rosa Parks faces a fine for breaking the segregation law. It is not the first time that Mrs. Parks , a seamstress who works at the Montgomery Fair department store, has defied the law on segregation. In 1943 she was thrown off the bus for refusing to leave by the back door reserved for black passengers. She became known to drivers who then would refuse to let her on. Ironically, Mrs. Parks recognized James Burke today, as the same driver who threw her off the bus some 12 years ago. Mrs. Parks is a youth leader in a local branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Her husband, Raymond takes part in voter registration drives. The NAACP and Mrs. Parks have been  involved in raising money to help defend 15 year old, Claudette Colvin, removed from a bus earlier this year for a similar segregation law-related refusal.”

Five days later, (just two weeks before I entered the world) mom would have heard another related news story on her radio, about the thousands of black citizens of Alabama participating in an organized boycott. A young man, named Martin Luther King spoke to the crowds that night and urged them to continue with the boycott. Almost all of Montgomery’s 40 thousand black residents did so for 381 days, crippling the city’s transportation system and signaling the start of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. On December 20th of 1956 (my 1st birthday), the Supreme court upheld a lower court decision to end segregation on Alabama busses. Mrs. Parks was fired from her job and  then moved to Detroit in 1957 because of harassment. She worked for Democratic congressman, John Conyers until her retirement in 1985. Rosa Parks died in October of 2005.

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In Preparation For ‘Blindness’

No, I’m not referring to preparation for loss of sight. I’m not referring to the skills-learning that someone “going blind”  might undertake…the hours of O&M (orientation & mobility) training with a qualified instructor where someone learns techniques in  the use of a white cane (example: streamline caning, tapping method, sweeping method) and use of sound reflection to determine position and location as well as learning to judge traffic flow etc., thereby allowing a blind person to travel independently. No, I don’t mean the time spent learning about, and purchasing adaptive devices which allow a blind person to read, cook, write, do math, tell time etc such as talking clocks, tape recorders, tactile measuring cups, talking book players, water level indicator, talking calculators etc… I’m not thinking of the exchange of information and tips with others who are blind which provide one with helpful ideas to make a home  safe (removing scatter rugs, and repositioning furniture …) and allows one to  perform the same tasks as they did before they couldn’t see, only differently (cleaning floors by using a grid system,  marking appliances with bump dots to facilitate cooking and cleaning, using elastic bands and large print labels to distinguish containers….) I don’t mean the hours some people (15%) spend learning Braille, first uncontracted or Grade 1 Braille, then contracted or Grade 2 Braille, so that books, documents bank statements, telephone bills become accessible when available, as well as providing a means of ‘writing’ on the go with a slate and stylus,  or reading storybooks to their children..No, I’m not referring to the assistive technology (Jaws, Guide, Window Eyes and other  screenreading software, Kurswell scanning software and other scan- to-speech programs)  that are available which enable blind people (who can afford or otherwise obtain them)  access to the Internet,  e-mail, document writing and reading etc as well as potentially  obtaining education and employment in a more equatable manner so that they earn a living, raise families…essentially the usual happy story, except maybe there’s no station wagon in their driveway.  Nor am I talking about joining blind sports and recreational organization for the usual reasons one joins them, like  getting  exercise and playing  cribbage. I’m not referring to any of the stuff that a blind person learns over time that provides the skills so that they can lead independent, full, happy normal lives.

What am I’m talking about? I’m talking about preparation to attend a screening of the Canadian co-production of the movie, ‘Blindness’, based on the book of the same name by Jose Saramago. This involves researching the plot summary (very disturbing, depicting a world gripped by a blindness epidemic….trouble is, all the blind people are portrayed as helpless, altered and desperate…), linking to articles on the Net, listening to the BBC production available ’till October 8th on Sendspace, following the protest in the USA by the NFB, sending out a media release to local media and responding to those who have requested interviews following the screening tomorrow, and preparing a statement in anticipation that this movie’s buzz (as one which portrays blind people in a vile and unacceptable manner) is accurate.  The  statement would likely ask the people of Halifax and beyond to give it a MISS altogether, NOT support the  filmmaker and theatre by paying for admission to see it, to look beyond Mr. Saramago’s comment that this is a  “allegorical” film and his dismissal of the blind community (who are widely protesting it) as “ridiculous”, and send a message that this film is NOT OK with the blind community…I’m just preparing for ‘Blindness’, ’cause this movie is sending the wrong message about real blindness, and frankly I don’t care if  Mr. Saramago’s literary soul is crushed in the process. Metaphor shmetaphor!

Don’t make come back to your store (Sobey’s) with bad produce again!

I like to believe that I’m not playing ‘the blind card’ today.  A local grocery store (that would be Sobey’s at West End Mall in Halifax, Nova Scotia) really ticked me off yesterday.  I take great pride in small accomplishments. One being, navigating to Sobey’s with my guide dog, Opal,  and  finding  a clerk once we have reached the produce section, then handing over my cloth bag (no environmentally evil plastic here).   As always, my question to the clerk is: “What’s good in produce?”  I usually get the guy who actually tells me something like, “the eggplant is lovely, but forget the avocados…they’re horrible”.  THIS I appreciate. But yesterday, someone else ‘helped’ me. I posed the usual question.  The affable produce clerk told me the MacIntosh apples were 2 three pound bags for $3.97. The green beans? $2.99 a pound.  I thought the apples were a good deal. The green beans? “1/2 lb is plenty at that price”, I tell the guy.  He also looks for the tofu which I had heard is ‘on special’, but it is not available as advertised.  I settle for an alternate.  My cloth bag is returned with those items as well as a few oranges and bananas. Opal and I schlep it to the bakery counter, where a clerk comes to find my loaf of my favourite bread.I am happy. “Opal”, I say at the cash, “Let’s go home and make a fritata”.Only when I am probing the beans, do  discover that the guy gave me old beans with no stems or tails…they have no smell, and feel tough enough to be the sort you would find in a third-rate  can of cut-up beans.  By the time I opened the SECOND bag of badly bruised apples, I am livid.  Did he think I wouldn’t notice? No, that’s not it. It’s not a blind thing. It’s just Sobey’s trying to pass off produce that is just slightly better quality than garbage, to ANYONE. I’m just the woman who has to harness her Guide dog and load it up in my backback, walk back to the store and demand my money back tomorrow.  I’m also the woman who will make every effort to convince the people of Halifax to BOYCOTT Sobey’s!!!!  and did I mention that in recent months, this store (Sobey’s) had a recall of packaged burgers?….they had e-coli bacteria in them.