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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Journalists: The Gift of Being Present

For journalists, the gift of being present is the greatest gift

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photo: On the road to Zapatista Stronghold by Brenda Norrell

It is often the simplest memory, the simplest truth, that is the most profound: Riding in the back of a cargo truck through Zapatista country in Chiapas, wearing our red bandannas; driving into Pine Ridge from the south, with the sky as a painter's palette; and hiking outside my log cabin in the Navajo Chuskas, watching for wild turkey, black bear and acorns.

It is often the simplest truth in a news story that returns to our minds in the years that follow: Hopi and Japanese revealing how water has intelligence and changes its appearance in response to positive words, or Navajo elder Howard McKinley remembering eating wild baked yucca bananas in Tse Ho Tso and how the ice from Blue Canyon was cut, hauled by wagon, and stored in the rock houses of finely chiseled stone.

This is why it matters to be present as journalists. The new cyber journalism, with editors telling journalists that it is OK to stay home and plagiarize the web, or rewrite others hard work and add a phone call interview to disguise it, are committing a crime of journalism. Besides being paid for others work, and publishing articles with content errors, these editors are denying journalists a precious gift.

It is the gift of being present. It is the gift of great and beautiful memories. It is the gift of sharing some vital truth when you see the speakers eyes, smell the blue corn cooking for lunch, taste the tamales steamed in banana leaves, and see the resilience within the young mother grinding corn.

It is the gift of riding horseback on Arapaho's Wind River, and on the back of a Harley in Green Bay. It is the gift of crossing the border one more time, going beyond the saguaros at sunset and seeing just one more time, where the desert meets the sea. It is the gift of smelling the damp red earth after a great rain and hearing words spoken which may never be spoken again.

It is the gift of swimming in rivers.


Brenda Norrell has been a reporter in Indian country for 34 years, beginning as a staff reporter for Navajo Times and stringer for AP and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. As a result, she created Censored News, now in its 10th year with no ads or grants. She is blacklisted by all the paying media.

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Photos by Brenda Norrell: Photo 1: Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham and Mark Maracle, Mohawk, Indigenous Border Summit, San Xavier, Tohono O'odham land in Arizona. Photo 2: Bolivia, in mountains and home community of President Evo Morales as Morales played soccer, during Mother Earth Conference 2010. Photo 3: Dine' (Navajo) relocation resister Roberta Blackgoat protesting Peabody Coal mining and aquifer theft on Black Mesa, during Flagstaff, Arizona, protest. Photo 4: Jean Whitehorse, Dine', exposing the sterilization of American Indian women during AIM West Conference in San Francisco. Photo 5: Comcaac (Seri) in Sonora, Mexico.

Photos below from Sonora, Mexico by Brenda Norrell

The Juarez Workers' Fight Crosses the Border in 2016

January 17, 2016

Special Report

The Juarez Workers' Fight Crosses the Border in 2016

By Frontera NorteSur
Posted with permission at Censored News
Dutch translation by Alice Holemans, NAIS
French translation by Christine Prat

Beginning in the summer and fall of 2015, a wave of worker protests over low wages, sexual harassment and other adverse working conditions broke out in four foreign-owned factories, or maquiladoras, in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez.  In a city where genuine union representation in the export plants is practically unknown, the workers' demands for independent unions stood out.

As the days turned into weeks and months, speculation buzzed in the Juarez press whether the companies, which labor activists accuse of firing workers involved in protests and union organizing, would simply wait out the movement until hunger and cold set in.

In early 2016 not only have the protests defied the winter weather and persisted against at least three of the companies-Lexmark, Eaton and Foxconn's Scientific Atlanta division - but actions in support of former and current workers are growing both nationally and internationally.

Last week, in solidarity with Lexmark workers, demonstrations were staged in Mexico City, El Paso and Lexington, Kentucky, according to the Paso del Norte Regional Popular Assembly, a grouping of human rights and pro-labor organizations and individuals in Juarez, El Paso and Chihuahua.

"There is a lot of sexual harassment in the industry. The most common one is that the assembly line chiefs and supervisors demand sexual favors for such basic things as overtime hours," a Lexmark worker told a reporter in Mexico City. "The base salary never makes ends meet, and (supervisors) condition overtime to what the women workers agree to give them."

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