So You Thought Your Genes or Drugs Cause Drug Addiction? Read This and Think Again

 
Johann Hari Headshot

FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST:

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

By Johann Hari

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexandernoticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

 

 

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the people he met — can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at www.chasingthescream.com.

Johann Hari will be talking about his book at 7pm at Politics and Prose in Washington DC on the 29th of January, at lunchtime at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on the 30th January, and in the evening at Red Emma’s in Baltimore on the 4th February.

The full references and sources for all the information cited in this article can be found in the book’s extensive end-notes.

If you would like more updates on the book and this issue, you can like the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chasingthescream

What Makes you Healthy?? Conventional vs Natural Medicine

GOTTA SEE THIS SHORT VIDEO about Naturopathic medicine, no mention of God by the way, at “God made dirt”…Really terrific!

What Makes you Healthy?? Conventional vs Natural Medicine.

Tortured and Thrown into the Hole. A nd Why I tell you: DO NOT APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PAYMENT

Ankle swollen and discolored from hours in 4-point punitive restraints the night before discharge/escape
Ankle swollen and discolored from hours in 4-point punitive restraints the night before discharge/escape

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The above is are just some bruises of many I received during my month-long course of “psychiatric treatment” at the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, on the unit called Donnelly 2 South in January through Feb 2013. In  Connecticut, the Institute of Living, first known as the Retreat, and once quite famous as a posh sanatarium for the rich and famous though this is no longer true, was first made famous by  Clifford Beers, I believe, who wrote about similiar torture he underwent there just a hundred years ago in the book, A Mind That Found itself.
 (I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS WAS FROM 2013)

After burning my face with cigars and cigarettes, in response to command hallucinations, I spent the last month in Connecticut’s well-known Institute of Living (yeah the dangerous 6th month was JANUARY not February but nobody thought to check my math) being beaten up and trussed like a pig in four-point restraints almost daily for many many hours. Why did they deal me this sort of treatment? Why? Because “You do not follow directions”.

I DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS so they beat me up (despite my policy of non-resistance) and tied me, shackled me with leather and metal cuffs  to a bed for dozens upon dozens of hours.! Time after time I had to defecate in my own clothing, because they would not even give me bathroom breaks.  Get that? I was disobedient, so they shackled me to a bed as an excuse for treatment!

After this experience, I LOST ALL FAITH in the ability of any institution to do anyone any good who has a mental illness or sickness of the mind, or any emotional disorder or whatever you wish to call it. I GIVE UP! I will kill myself if anyone ever tries to send me back to such a cesspit of a place. I do not care if it is appointed like the Taj Mahal. NO ONE who works there is uncontaminated by the evil infecting such places. I may be the devil but I never wanted to be evil while they are ALL EVIL EVERY SINGLE ONE. I have NEVER been to a hospital where the people are kind and well meaning and where the treatment is actually kind and decent. Once in a while a single person, such as the Middlesex Hospital occupational therapist  Christobelle Payne, may stand out in memory as being a rare human being of warmth and dignity and  caring, but otherwise, they all to a one fail the test of being decent human specimens and all fail royally to be even normally humanly responsive to suffering persons. They are in it for the money and a cushy job, and don’t you forget it if you go into a psycho hospital, DO not expect to get well there. Expect deadening dulling drugs that never worked and the research tells so, and directions (ie ORDERS) that you HAVE To follow or ELSE.

Get out of there as quickly as possible, because your life depends on it. I am serious. DO NOT LINGER expecting care and treatment or to feel better no matter how helpful you might want it to be.

Furthermore. if you are a young person, do not listen to the sweet seductive advice that some may give you that you woul do well to go for “disability” and social security payments. THAT Is a load of total crapola and the worst thing anyone could tell anyone under the age of 40. Too many young people are being 1) told as children that they have Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADHD, both of which are adults’ and psychiatrists’ ways of saying, “You don’t as we tell you to huh? Okay, then, we will label you mentally ill in retaliation!” But that is not the worst because they then “medicate” you young children or adolescents with Ritalin or SSRIs and if those cause the anticipated problems of irritability and anger management problems, and outburts and moodswings (!!!), then “add on” atypical antipsychotic drugs (and who would not think to themselves, in momentary awe and self-pity, “OOOh, I must really be Mentally Ill if I take an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug, right???”)

The thing is, they will justify these drugs with another label, a label imposed because you now have an IATROGENIC or doctor-induced, medication-caused illness,  like some version of “bipolar”, or if they really dislike you, the untreatable Borderline Personality Disorder, which only means largely that you are youngish, female and emotional and angry and don’t shut up when they want you do. (Test: Do they want you in DBT classes? Then you have the BPD diagnosis, trust me. Dialectical behavioral therapy is FOR “borderlines” no matter how hard they argue that it is open all…)

NEITHER of these labels reflect your or anyone else’s REALITY, mind you, they are ONLY labels, and neither Bipolar nor borderline have ever ever been shown to be real bona fide physiological illnesses or even (for all the talk) genetic diseases. What is a “real mental illness” anyway? No one agrees on the diagnosis, in any one person, and no one can find any chemical test or neurotransmitter than it out of balance or even an anatomic difference between the ill and the well. They only have the person’s words and the doctors opinions… If you disagree, prove what you what to argue. Do not tell me, well Manic depression “runs in the family” because that is horseshit. Messiness and not making beds can seem to run in a family, you know why? Because NO ONE breaks the cycle and teaches the kids the value of neatness and making beds every morning. It matter where and how and WITH whom you grow up, and the myths you grow up with matter just as much. The notion that  Manic-depression runs in your family is only that. A MYTH. but that doesn’t mean you cannot induce it or see it and make it real in your kids or yourself if you try hard enough.Lord knows teenaged angst these days is frequently dx’d as bipolar so jump on that bandwagon by bringing your child to a psychiatrist and they will be happy to oblige!

But do not think that your label of “Borderline” is something elevated and “nearly psychotic” as if that itself is anything superior to other MIs. Trust me, when someone else calls you Borderline it is shorthand for MANIPULATIVE, DRAMATIC, attention-seeking, devious, lying…if you like those words, go ahead and claim the diagnosis for yourself, but i doubt you will. So why do you vaunt it, and flaunt it? Do you not understand that the hospital and therapists actually hate your guts? Get a hold of your chart and READ IT. it is YOUR right and it might open your eyes to what those people REALLY think of you…It won’t be pretty or nice at all, but it will be instructive, and maybe you won’t want to be Mentally Ill with Borderline Personality Disorder any longer, hey?

Another few words as to young people going for social Security Diabilty: Someone asked me about this and my response is unequivocal. It is the very same trap that Welfare was for young mothers with too many children years ago…It had positives to it, but it ended up trapping many and many generations in poverty of the most extreme sport for, well, generations. Speaking just for myself, IF anyone had had the time to find out where my talents lay, in art and writing, and had been able to provide the community and home supports for me that I truly needed, rather than funding my rent and hospital stays largely, plus a visiting nurses visit to bring me medications. I might have blossomed and never ended up recurrently in the hospital for decades. I mean this from the depths of my broken heart. I was always an extraordinarily talented and intelligent person, and everyone knew it. At the same time, I had very real problems. But no one ever said, LET’S NOT FOCUS ON YOUR PROBLEMS. LET’S SEE HOW FAR YOUR STRENGTHS CAN TAKE YOU!

You know, I still cannot socialize  or be away from home for long, and I cannot tolerate any 4- hour work day, far less an 8-hour work day…I do not have ordinary or “normal” stamina in any fashion. Narcolepsy is partly to blame and probably the mental issues and whatever else is at fault, I cannot say. But an extreme lack of stamina that eating well and exercise daily does nothing to help is a FACT of my existence. Nevertheless, I do not believe that I had to stay on Disability and “relief” all my life and be a leech on society…No, i just had no one from the ADA or any social services (god forbid a family member or friend) looking at my individual needs and assessing what I could do to earn a living and helping me, in deep and truly helpful way.,..I believe that my life might have been very different and more productive had the AMERICAN system not dumped me onto antipsychotic drugs and social security and essentially thrown me away…

But it will do it to you too, and you are assenting to it, if you go for disability at at young age. DO NOT DO IT. You will NEVER get free from those checks. NO ONE EVER DOES, unless they marry or get rich some other way…It is the worse decision you will ever make. I know that some living situations demand a check for rent, but don’t assent to their demands, make a radical decision to take charge of your own life, CHALLENGE the psychiatrist’s diagnosis. How long have they known you for anyhow???? Challenge the pills, or at least the dosage. DO YOU FUNCTION BETTER NOW???? that is the only question that matters. If not, the pills do not help. PERIOD.  NEVER take any pill on  a “For the rest of my life basis!”

Oh, I am so angry and broken at the moment that I cannot speak more. But if I can later on, I will say more to explain. At the moment, I have to attend to too many PHYSICAL bruises and to find a way back to sanity on my own, having  been driven to the brink of near extinction by one of the best known hospitals in this state. At the moment I am both rigid with rage and so confused and broken that I scarcely know how to continue, or whether I even want to. Why bother? Why bother? How can people be such  monsters, and in such monstrously powerful places and ways. I hurt so deeply and feel I will never trust an single person ever again when they say, “Come let us help you. You need our help.”  YOUR help? Like being raped, I need your F—ing help!

GO jump in a lake of snot is what I should say to all of you so called helpers. I’d rather die. Go F— yourself.

It’s the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.

As I wrote to Simon, Wow. Simon, Just WoW!

S i m o n T o c c l o

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ― Madeleine L’Engle Children see magic because they look for it.” ― Christopher Moore “It’s the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.” ― Frank Warren DSC01019DSC00982DSC00974DSC00956DSC00953DSC00986DSC00943DSC01030DSC01011DSC00965DSC00936DSC00934DSC00953DSC00956DSC00974DSC00982DSC01005DSC01019DSC01022DSC01028DSC01035DSC01037DSC01078DSC01080DSC01015DSC01081DSC00428DSC00923DSC00926DSC00929DSC01019DSC00982DSC00974DSC00956DSC00953DSC00986DSC00943DSC01030DSC01011DSC00965DSC00936DSC00934

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10-Year-Old Nigerian Girl Top in UK University Mathematics!

Esther-Okade-200x150

Just thought this, from allAfrica.com: Nigeria, should be publicized as proof positive that girls can do just as well as boys in math…and maybe better, when they are not discouraged or told they have “math anxiety”! Go for it, all you ten year old University-bound young girls!

allAfrica: African news and information for a global audience

via allAfrica.com: Nigeria: 10-Year-Old Nigerian in UK Varsity.

Ten year old Esther Okade, one of UK’s youngest students from Nigeria, has been accepted to start her maths degree at the Open University. Esther, who enrolled three weeks ago, is already top of her class, scoring 100 per cent in a recent test.

Esther’s mother, Efe, said the process of applying to the university was ‘an interesting one because of her age.

she said “We even had to talk to the VC and after they interviewed her, they realised that this has been her idea from the beginning. From the age of seven Esther has wanted to go to university.

“But I was afraid it was too soon. She would say, ‘mum, when am I starting?’, and go on and on and on. Finally, after three years, she told me, ‘mum I think it is about time I started university now.”

Esther applied in August, and after a phone interview, an essay and a maths exam, she finally got the news in December that she had been accepted onto the course.

Though she watches cartoons and plays with barbie dolls, Esther’s aim is to get First Class honours degree in two years and start a PhD programme. She also intends to run her own bank.

New Art from Pamela Spiro Wagner

These are two very different paintings, clearly…The top one is the one most people like. For obvious reasons, as it causes less pain…I did it for them. The bottom one is about me…but no one likes it though I don’t care. Both are for sale if anyone is interested. Please get in touch with me by email or comment box to discuss price and shipping…

A Murmuration of Starlings with '32 Chevy (free hand copy in oil paint of oil pastel drawing I did at Retreat and gave away)
“A Murmuration of Starlings with ’32 Chevy” (free hand copy in oil paint of oil pastel drawing I did at Brattleboro Retreat and gave away)  c. 16″ by 12″ oils on prepared paper)
Spewing evil into the world. (Reworked)
Spewing evil into the world. (Oil on canvas  30″ by 24″)

A Response From Barbara Ortiz Howard: Now Let’s get that “Womenon20s” site to go VIRAL!!!! Yay!

Lyda Conley
Lyda Conley

I suggested Women on 20s add Lyda Conley, about whom this much is known:

Eliza Burton “Lyda” Conley (ca. 1869 – 1946) was an American lawyer of Native American and European descent, the first woman admitted to the Kansas bar. She was notable for her campaign to prevent the sale and development of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, now known as the Wyandot National Burying Ground. She challenged the government in court, and in 1909 she was the first Native American woman admitted to argue a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barbara said she would add Lyda to the “Hall of Fame” once the campaign steadies, then I asked if I might post her response. She edited and said, “Yes.” So this was her response and I think it is important to read and understand where she, et al, were coming from in the original Women on 20s campaign to get a woman’s image on the 20 dollar bill:

“Dear Pamela,

Thank you so much for your blog post.  I just wanted to take a moment to clarify some things so that our campaign is best understood.

Actually, we never said we were unable to find Native American or Latinas.  And it wasn’t just two women that developed the “slate”   With so many women to chose from, we needed a way to evaluate the over 100 possible candidates.  We came up with a method that scored candidates on a scale of 1-10 based on two criteria.  The first criteria was the candidates’  impact on society which was weighted more heavily than the second criteria , obstacles they had to overcome to achieve their goals or if they were a pioneer in their field.    We had a “caucus” of  approximately 100 historians and professionals weigh our candidates along these lines    We did not arbitrarily select anyone specifically for their ethnicity, sexual orientation, preference or race.  The only factor was that they be an American woman, which we realized in the process had to be deceased for at least two years.  This is explained on the website page:http://www.womenon20s.org/the_process and a list of 15 runner ups can also be found there.

 We certainly did want to have Latina and Native American Women on our slate.

Gloria Anzaldúa, died a few years ago, very beloved and influential feminist.  Luisa Capetillo, a lesser known socialist Puerto Rican feminist from early 20th century. Cristina Mena was not quite a feminist, but early 20th century Mexican American woman writer. Other earlier figures include Jovita Idar and Maria Ruiz de Burton.  All of these women were great, but none of them really met the base criteria.  Had we had a criteria that said that we must have a Latina for just the reason she is a Latina, we would have jeopardized the entire campaign for what would be seen as tokenism. As a Cuban American woman, I did want a Latina badly to be on our list.  For me, I am taking great pride in many Latinas that are leading the way and are still serving our nation and will surely be remembered for all their efforts to help create a more equal and fair nation, dozens including Sonia Sotomayer, Martha Cotera, Dolores Huerta and am so happy that they are leading the way today still.

As for Native Americans,Wilma Mankiller emerged from the dozens to the top 30.  Her impact was huge to a smaller group, albeit a key constituency and one which this very campaign hopes to heal in some way with the removal of a person responsible for the death and suffering of tens of thousands, indeed an entire people.   Sacagawea, also was named two years ago on the list to be considered, but did not make it through, not because she was on a coin, as that is but another form of tokenism , but because her impact was not as significant as the contributions of others.

We can have just so many women on our list.  If you find a glaring omission, please let me know

We are hoping that all this dialog can insure that we are equal sisters, in every wayl.  This is not a beauty competition, nor any competition at all.  We are also hoping that we can have a place on our site as a Hall of Fame for all sisters.

Yes, many are left out, because we have just so many we can nominate. Thank you

Barbara Ortiz Howard

Stay in touch and get out the vote so that at least we can have our voice heard !

Barbara”

Barbara Ortiz Howard

www.womenon20s.org

facebook.com/WomenOn20s

twitter.com/WomenOn20s

Put a Woman on the Twenty Dollar bill and make “Women on 20s” go Viral…but FIRST:

I love the idea that the two founders of the Women on 20s website want to put a female face on the twenty dollar bill, arguably the most used greenback in American paper currency. And I love all of the candidates they have chosen for the slate. But what I do not like is that they claim to have been unable — unable?! — to find qualified Native American or Latina women who might also be placed on the slate to be  voted on.

 

A woman for the 20 dollar bill?
A woman for the 20 dollar bill?

 

 

 

 

I don’t believe this for a second. Do you? Come on folks, help me, let’s do some research. Will you help me find the names of some Native American Women, and some Latina Women from the past (the ONLY necessary claim is that they must be deceased) that I could offer the owners of the Women on 20s site so the voting could really be fair to all? Otherwise this is discrimination all over again, and to groups that just get screwed again and again.

 

PLEASE Help? Then let’s get that site to go VIRAL for real! (I will put the link here next time, after we put our thinking caps on and get Native American and Latina names together to present to the site owners.) THANK YOU EVERYONE.

New Art from Brattleboro

Art is all in reverse order of when it was done. If anyone is interested in buying, let me know. (Only some are for sale. Others are taken or donated already.)

Nevertheless, this expresses how I feel these days...
Nevertheless, this expresses how I feel these days even though it is  not a self portrait…
Paper and Cloth Mache table I made for my living room...
Paper and Cloth Mache table I made for my living room…
Sketch for painting that follows  - Jason is one of the best neighbors i have had!
Sketch for painting that follows – Jason is one of the best neighbors i have had!
Jason Mott, "The Mottster Rocks Out"
“The Mottster Rocks Out” — My downstairs neighbor entertaining me, unwittingly, but to my delight, every night, as he practices his drumming!

 

Translucent Papier Mache Bowls
Translucent Papier Mache Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, all the above was done in my apartment in Brattleboro, after I moved there. What follows was done before I moved here. Either in the interim, in Sheffield, or while I was looking for a place and living with a friend in CT.

Central American Welcoming Madonna, in gouache and acrylics c. 12" by 8"
Central American Welcoming Madonna, in gouache and acrylics c. 12″ by 8″
Face Seen on Wastbasket and captured in a mask made of brown paper...
Face Seen on Wastebasket and captured in a mask made of brown paper…
Second Eyes Mask
Second Eyes Mask, made at the Retreat, pre-formed mask enhanced with paper mache and collaged with eyes and other papers…
Mask of Eyes Made at the Retreat
1st Mask of Eyes Made at the Retreat
Jute Bowl
Macrame Jute Bowl, made of brown paper and edged with copper tape