Yesterday, the United States killed Osama bin Laden. This is a time to rejoice and to remember those on 9/11 who died at the hands of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But we are still in Iraq, Afghanistan, and also in Libya, at the cost of billions of dollars a day. The loss of 3,000 on 9/11 has been exceeded in ten years with 20,000 US casualties (around 5,000 dead) and tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis, many of them civilians, who have perished due to our mislaid policies and military actions. Bin Laden reached power and notoriety because of the US, and it was right for the US to get rid of him. But let’s not forgot the immense pain and suffering we’ve done in our name, with badly needed tax dollars, to get to this point. It’s now time to heal, to generate, to build, to provide living resources and not take more lives. Osama bin Laden is dead. The Wicked Witch is Dead. Now let’s come home. I also wanted to convey the wonderful and energized audiences I’ve encountered in talks and readings since the beginning of this year, including South San Francisco, Richmond, CA; Washington D.C.; Silver Spring, Maryland; Maravilla/East L.A.; Chicago; Buffalo Grove, IL; Ypsilanti, MI; San Luis Obispo, CA; Albuquerque; Omaha; Des Moines, WA, (just outside of Seattle); and at Sonoma State University in northern California. I’ve had audiences of around 100 to 500. We also had town hall meetings, great dialogues, with teachers, librarians, parents, youth, students, law enforcement officers, politicians, gang intervention experts, urban peace advocates, community organizers, and more. I’ve spoke at an L.A. County Probation and Prison Reentry Conference, two gang peace conferences, a writers conference, a Black and Brown Male Summit, and to several schools—including schools, about once a month now, that have made field trips to Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The hunger for knowledge, ideas, poetry, positive alternatives, for real choices and real challenges, is across the board. I see revolutionary upsurges—I was in Madison, WI in March during one of the biggest pro-collective bargaining rights rallies in the recent spate of rallies there. The voices and poster signs often went beyond collective bargaining to address joblessness, the losing of homes, the falling down of educational process, and the weakening of our financial and economic foundations. People are beginning to imagine another way to live, to relate, to thrive. I was also honored to host the great Sandra Cisneros at Tia Chucha’s this past Saturday. She was gracious, funny, smart, and read new works. The line for the book signing went around the corner. Gracias, mi amiga. And I want to remind everyone that on May 21st, Tia Chucha’s will sponsor our Sixth Annual Celebrating Words Festival (Written, Performed, and Sung), co-sponsored by the LA City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Go to www.tiachucha.com to find out about our great lineup on stage, the many booths and vendors, and the amazing authors who will take part in panels and readings. The festival is the only outdoor literacy and performance festival in the San Fernando Valley and will be held from 1 to 7 pm at Mission Community College in Sylmar, CA. In two days I leave for Argentina to take part in the Buenos Aires Book Fair, but also to visit poor barrios, with gang youth, in community, and more. I will take my message—pro-youth, pro-community, pro-empowerment, pro-peace, pro-families, pro-cooperation, and on and on—beyond borders. These are global problems and concerns, and much of this will require a global response. I anticipate great audiences there as well. c/s
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