Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Gumbo: All Things Savage

Savage: Mossville, LA is located a few hours north of where I was born and hosts so many polluting facilities that it has become known as Cancer Alley. Not too long ago a long time community activist, David Price, had an expected but rather routine kitchen fire, which eventually took his life this past August. The fire company could not appropriately extinguish this very routine kitchen fire in the same amount of time that another company in a more urban area would be able to because there is insufficient water hookups and low water pressure in the hydrants they do have. This area is a hub of polluting chemical facilities (14 in all) and there is not enough infrastructure to put out a routine kitchen fire in an appropriate amount of time and energy. Parish officials are refusing to hold community conversations with residents who are desperate need of better emergency response.

Not only are the chemical companies that are poisoning this community overlooking basic human rights but they are lobbying against chemical security reform. The American Chemistry Council is now on a full fledged attack against safer technology and upgrading chemical infrastructure. This has nothing to do with supporting the economy and ensuring jobs. This is a play for power and money. These companies do not care about jobs because they do not care about people. They don't care about Mossville and they do not care what your child in ingesting in his apple juice in the morning.

Savage Public Relations: The American Chemistry Council recently announced that it will be donating plastic water bottles to LA students as a way to teach the importance of recycling and drinking more water. Drinking water instead of sugary soda is good. Having a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles all the time is good. Having an organization that lobbies against the reduction of toxic chemicals in plastic and throws millions of dollars to attack organizations and communities that are trying to eliminate toxic chemicals in our bodies, products we purchase, and planet hand out plastic reusable bottles is shady public relations. It's hard to be positive about this one action when so much of what ACC does everyday is against healthy and safe communities.

When I speak about the importance of eliminating toxic chemicals in products, I speak specifically about the life cyle of each product. Where and how is it made? What happens when people come in contact with the finished product? Where and how is it disposed of? We must judge corporations the same way. If one day out of the year they hand out plastic bottles (which may or may not have leaching toxic chemicals) to poor kids, then on the 364 other days they strip communities of their rights to self perservation, clean water, clean air, and chemical security, what are they really doing? How important are those water bottles in the bigger picture? I say stop with the bullshit public relations, stop embarassing your families, and start doing real work that will actually make our communities safer and healthier.

Savage Love: I love Dan Savage. I first discovered him while I was working the graveyard shift at an all night diner. His column appears in the Washington City Paper and I began reading it during the time when Rick Santorum was spewing hate from all his orifices. If you don't know the column Savage Love, I'm not going to go into great detail here, but it's a sex column for today's sexuality, not some relationship column from the 50s. He is very graphic, non-judgemental, and very honest.

He's also a political commentator. And often weaves political themes into his sex advice. As we all know sex and politics is closely, very closely related in the United States. Especially if you are being told not to use condoms in your public school sex education class, if you get sex education classes at all, and then taught to condemn young parents (girls mostly) for being poor and of color and having babies.

Anyways, Dan Savage is awesome and I listen to his podcast all the time. Great commuting materials, though its very strange to be listening about the complexities of double penetration during rush hour on the DC metro. A good friend and I often quote things from his podcasts because he gives such great personal advice. How to feel confident in your personal decisions, how to show compassion to yourself and to the people around you, and how to get someone off in almost any situation and circumstance. All good things to know. Check his column out.

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