December 2009 Archives

The Death of Dennis Brutus


Click here for a 2007 podcast by Victor Dlamini of Dennis Brutus on Poetry, Protest and Global Apartheid

From Patrick Bond

(Dennis left us this morning, surrounded by loving relatives, without
pain. His final period in Durban, about six weeks ago, reminded all of
us of the courage and 'stubborn hope' - and of the need not to mourn,
too long, but to celebrate. If anyone would like to assist with
memorials, in whatever city and setting, please let us know; events will
be announced in coming days. There will also be a website to post the
photos Dennis loved so much, and we'll try to have videos of Dennis
online for posterity. Mainly, keep struggling for justice, in honour of
his politics, and keep expressing, in honour of Dennis' contribution to
culture and inspiration. And keep enjoying every minute no matter how
grim the enemy and the circumstances, as he always insisted.)

Statement from the Brutus Family on the passing of Professor Dennis Brutus

From Achebe's New 'The Education of a British-Protected Child'


Excerpt from Chinua Achebe's new collection of essays, The Education of a British-Protected Child (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009).

My Daughters

All my life I have had to take account of the million differences -- some little, others quite big -- between the Nigerian culture into which I was born, and the domineering Western style that infiltrated and then invaded it. Nowhere is the difference more stark and startling than in the ability to ask a parent: "How many children do you have?" The right answer should be a rebuke: "Children are not livestock!" Or better still, silence, and carry on as if the question was never asked.

Over Dosing Poor Kids

Antipsychotic Disparity.jpg

The New York Times
"Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics"
11 December 2009
BY Duff Wilson


New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. . .

Some experts say they are stunned by the disparity in prescribing patterns. But others say it reinforces previous indications, and their own experience, that children with diagnoses of mental or emotional problems in low-income families are more likely to be given drugs than receive family counseling or psychotherapy. . .

The data indicated that more than 4 percent of patients ages 6 to 17 in Medicaid fee-for-service programs received antipsychotic drugs, compared with less than 1 percent of privately insured children and adolescents. . .

Although doctors may legally prescribe the drugs for these "off label" uses, there have been no long-term studies of their effects when used for such conditions.

The Rutgers-Columbia study found that Medicaid children were more likely than those with private insurance to be given the drugs for off-label uses like A.D.H.D. and conduct disorders. The privately insured children, in turn, were more likely than their Medicaid counterparts to receive the drugs for F.D.A.-approved uses like bipolar disorder. . . .

Read the full NYT report here.

Read the findings from the The Rutgers-Columbia study here.


Above, NYT Graphic.

Journal of Korean Adoption Studies Third Issue Call for Papers


The Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is published by G.O.A.L. (Global Overseas Adoptees Link) in Seoul, Korea. Click here to read adoptee activist and Korean adoptee Jane Jeong Trenka's article "Fugitive Visions" in the journal's first issue (summer 2009). Trenka is the author of the important and powerful autobiography, The Language of Blood (Graywolf Press, 2005).


The Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is pleased to announce a call for papers for their upcoming third issue: Community. The issue will focus on community as a significant project that Korean adoptees have been engaged in building since the early 1980s.

Deadline for submissions: 1 April 2010

Sade.jpg Sade New CD.jpg

With a few more freckles and a bit deeper voice, she's back.

Some might think it's corny to announce Sade's new album, but those of you who were listening to her in the early to mid '80s like I was are feelin' me. Check out ole gurrl here.

evo morales relection 09.jpg

UPDATE: Evo Morales re-elected on 6 December.

Huffington Post
6 December 2009

In the US, presidential elections shift trillions of dollars and move armies across the globe. In Bolivia, the stakes are even higher.

Hoy, el 6 de Deciembre, nearly every citizen in the country - voting is obligatory here - will go to the polls for an election whose outcome is certain: a victory for the incumbent indigenous president, Evo Morales. And yet political energy has been vibrating plazas, radio stations and kitchens nonetheless. Because Bolivians are casting their ballots not to identify a new president but to take advantage of an even rarer opportunity: a chance to define themselves.

The 2001 Bolivian Census Survey on Race identified 12% of the population as white, 30% as mestizo (mixed) and the remaining 58% as indigenous. But such demographic studies of the population are more exercises in definition than data gathering; race is an inherently fluid notion in a country with 36 recognized ethnic groups and a 400+ year history of racial mixing and integration. In a country where the racial lines are so blurred, both "whiteness" and indigenity (to coin a term) are highly economically and culturally determined. And, as a result, somewhat self-defined.

Possible Alternatives to Transracial/International Adoption

Malawi adoption.JPG

The article below from today's NY Times provides some proof that small amounts of money given directly to families in the Global South may be able to stem the tide of predominantly white adoptive families from the US, Canada, and Europe adopting children of color (particularly those from Africa, China, and S. Korea) in such great numbers.

One way to decrease the availability of children to adoptive families from the Global North would be to provide direct aid (monthly funds, medicines, etc.) to families who might otherwise place their children for adoption because of poverty, political violence, or AIDS, Another way is to provide direct aid to extended families who could care for their relatives' children if they had access to adequate assistance - this is what the NYT article discusses.

Obviously, the next and even better step would be a massive movement to combat political and economic issues in countries like Ethiopia, South Korea, and Guatemala (as well as the US). In more ways than one, these issues the historical repercussion of western colonialism and contemporary histories of western repression, advanced capitalism, and continued cultural and political influences.

• In the first population-based survey of U.S. parents who have adopted internationally . . . eighty-eight percent of the parents [surveyed] reported transracial adoptions (97% of the parents were white); 57% of the adopted children were Asian.<small>(1)

Compared with other countries, the number of children adopted in the U.S. is 4-16 times greater. However, the highest rates of adoption (per live-births) are in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries.(2)

Ethiopia became the first African nation to hit the U.S. State Department's list of the top 10 foreign countries from which Americans adopt in 2004. [In 2006], the numbers . . . [were] on pace to increase again, by about 20 percent, to 530 adoptions, according to State Department data. And while Ethiopia still trails nations such as China. . . with 8,000 children arriving here in 2005, Russia with 5,000, and Guatemala with 4,000, observers say that the increase is significant.(3)

The New York Times
6 December 2009
"Aid for Relatives Offers Alternative to African Orphanages"
BY Celia W. Dugger

MCHINJI DISTRICT, Malawi -- The Home of Hope orphanage provides Chikodano Lupanga, 15, with three nutritious meals a day, new school uniforms, sensible black shoes and a decent education. . . .

In a country as desperately poor as Malawi, children placed in institutions are often seen as the lucky ones. But even as orphanages have sprung up across Africa with donations from Western churches and charities, the families who care for the vast majority of the continent's orphans have gotten no help at all, household surveys show.

Researchers now say a far better way to assist these bereft children is with simple allocations of cash -- $4 to $20 a month in an experimental program under way here in Malawi -- given directly to the destitute extended families who take them in. That program could provide grants to eight families looking after some two dozen children for the $1,500 a year it costs to sponsor one child at the Home of Hope, estimated Candace M. Miller, a Boston University professor and a lead researcher in the project.

Experts and child advocates maintain that orphanages are expensive and often harm children's development by separating them from their families. Most of the children living in institutions around the world have a surviving parent or close relative, and they most commonly entered orphanages because of poverty, according to new reports by Unicef and Save the Children. . .

Click here to read the FULL ARTICLE.


Photo: Moises Saman for The New York Times.

1. Wendy L. Hellerstedt and Nikki J. Madsen, et al, "The International Adoption Project: Population-based Surveillance of Minnesota Parents Who Adopted Children Internationally," Maternal and Child Health Journal 12.2 (March 2008): 162-171.

2. Ibid.

3. Nara Schoenberg. "As More White Americans Adopt Africans, Experts Point Out Social Realities," Chicago Tribune, 28 August 2006.

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