Jul 6 12

Summer in San Francisco

by Emily Benjamin

Maybe it’s a little premature, but this summer in San Francisco is shaping up to be pretty darn perfect. The weather continues to be sublime, even with the afternoon fog rolling in. We had a stellar 4th of July with amazing friends and rooftop fireworks. Family and friends have visited, including Jamie’s mum last week, honeymooning pals this week, and another friend in town from tomorrow! After that, I head back to Brisbane for ten days to see my family before college starts back in August. But, I digress. Thankfully, with so much time off at the moment, I’ve been out and about taking lots of photos. Here’s a few from the last couple of weeks – enjoy!

Filed Under → Travel
Jun 14 12

A San Franciscan Spring

by Emily Benjamin

We have had some of the most divine weather recently in San Francisco. The days have been clear and warm – hot even – with the usual cool change at night. In other words, near perfect. With my being on holidays from college, we’ve made a point to get out of the house more on weekends for adventures. There’s been rooftop wines, backyard picnics and long lunches – basically food and drink is the common denominator, as it usually is with me :) Anyway, here a few pics from the past couple of weeks in sunny San Francisco. More to come soon!

Filed Under → Travel
Apr 7 12

Dad & Sam in SF

by Emily Benjamin

 

Filed Under → Travel
Jan 13 12

Best of 2011

by Emily Benjamin

In every way, 2011 was an amazing year. Jamie Talbot and I travelled the world, visited 15 countries, and met countless inspiring people. We spent time with our families and friends in Australia and England, and made new friends everywhere else. Eight months on the road was revitalising yet tiring, but we’ll never forget the opportunity we had to take the such a huge chunk of time off work, pack up our lives and travel, free of worry, debt and responsibility. The trip brought us even closer together, too – so we got married at the end of it! And now, we start 2012 with a new home in San Francisco – overjoyed at what 2011 brought us and excited to see what’s ahead in 2012. Here are my favourite memories from the year on the road.

Filed Under → Travel
Jan 1 12

Cesar Chavez

by Emily Benjamin

I knew nothing about who Cesar Chavez was, or what he was about, until today. With each of these reflections, I’ve known at least something about the subject before I researched them. But with Chavez, I knew only that there was a street named after him in San Francisco, that my bus goes past every day as I make my way to college.

The source text I chose is the United Farm Worker’s website, which is the group Chavez founded in 1962. The site provides a background on Chavez, from where he was born and brought up, to where how he was educated, to how he spent his later years. Chavez was born in Arizona and from very early on, he understood injustice. His family had their home taken from them, when deeds were broken by dishonest white land owners. The Chavez’s had no options, but to take a loan that inevitably they were unable to pay interest on, and the house was lost. This began the cycle of debt for Chavez and his family.

Recognizing this cycle, Chavez worked towards getting himself and his family out of it. Education, he thought, would be the key. But being in school during the 1930’s and 40’s meant racism was rife – you either suffered through it in the integrated schools, or chose a segregated school. Chavez and his brother ended up at thirty-seven different schools before Cesar left school in eighth grade, in 1942. Despite this early graduation, Chavez pursued his belief in and love of education, collecting and reading an amazing array of book throughout his life.

In 1948, Cesar Chavez married Helen Fabela and together they moved to Delano to start a family. The time that Chavez spent with ministers, priests and in missions led him to pursue a life seeking justice for his family, friends and co-workers, through nonviolent measures. In 1962, the United Farm Worker’s group was formed to protect the rights of farm worker’s in California. Through Chavez’s leadership, the group helped lift the lives of thousands of worker’s across the state, ensuring better pay, better work conditions, and protection from racial and economic injustice.

What really stands out to me about Chavez was the success he had with non-violent measures. He pursued his beliefs and the UFW’s interests without aggression, choosing picketing, protests and strikes over more forceful options. Chavez also went on a lot of fasts, often as a protest to the unsafe use of pesticides on farms, which put the health of worker’s and their families at risk. While I have always agreed with the non-violent approach, in any situation, the idea of fasting has me confused. In Chavez’s case, and in many other cases, I understand it is about awareness. And if it wasn’t for the attention given to Chavez’s public fast in 1988, where actors, entertainers, politicians and celebrities fasted with Chavez, perhaps the issues for farm worker’s wouldn’t have been addressed.

But it has always seemed too passive to me. I think about the 40 Hour Famine that my primary school used to run once a year, for those that wished to take part, to raise money and awareness for World Vision. In this instance, the money gave this initiative a tangible result – at the time, just $1 a day raised or donated could feed an entire family in Africa, World Vision said. The program, from my understanding, has now switched from abstinence from food to abstinence from something – because fasting may not be so ideal in children and teenagers. It also makes me think about the breast cancer awareness campaigns that filter through Facebook each year. The first one I remember was with people updating their status to share what color underwear they wore. When people started asking why so many people were on Facebook declaring ‘Red!’, ‘White!’ or ‘Black!’, it was revealed as a campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer. How, exactly? No one could answer it. Their latest campaign involved changing your profile photo to a pink one, again for breast cancer awareness. True, the symbol of breast cancer awareness is a pink ribbon, and thus seeing this color pink might remind people of the ribbon they’ve seen elsewhere – but what does changing a profile photo actually do for the number of regular check ups, and the push for early detection? I don’t think it does very much at all.

Irrespective of my thoughts on fasting as a form of activism or protest, Chavez’s fasting produced results. Through his non-violent actions, perseverance and willingness to stand up for himself and others, he was and still is the face of civil rights activism for many Mexican Americans.

References: [URL] United Farm Workers Website http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?inc=history/07.html&menu=research

Photo from [URL] http://www.chavezfoundation.org/uploads/001006000000000/FL12057613330.jpg

Filed Under → Words
Jan 1 12

Say No to Hate Crimes

by Emily Benjamin

It has been a good few months since I’ve posted on here, but not by choice. There has been a lot to write about, and lots of photos taken – but no time to put them all together on this blog. But in one of my classes at college – that’s right, I’m at college, but more on that later! – a recent video has inspired me to get back to writing, here on my website, for all to read.

Last week, we watched a documentary called When Hate Happens Here, about community reactions to hate crimes in Northern California. The video was impactful, to say the very least. But I won’t just say the very least. I will elaborate. The video reported on five specific hate crimes in California – the brutal bashing and murder of a young transgender teen, the shooting of a loving gay couple, the burning of three synagogues, the destruction of library books related to the LGBT movement, and the burning of a cross outside the home of an African American family. In some cases, the culprits were captured and charged. Other times, justice might not have quite hit the mark – in the case of Gwen, the transgender teenager, two of the defendants were charged with second degree murder, and the other two pleaded to voluntary manslaughter, but none of the charges were given the hate crime enhancement. What the cases all had in common was the hope, togetherness and perseverance shown by communities in the face of such tragedies. Schools, workplaces, and towns united to speak out against the hate crimes, to refuse to let them happen again, and to support the families and groups affected by such violence and hostility.

But, why should it come down to the unity and togetherness of a community, after the fact? Why did the crimes happen in the first place? Hate crimes happen when a person or group targets a victim, based on the victims inclusion in a demographic or group. It could be a religious group, it could be the victim’s sexual orientation, their class, their skin colour, or even their political persuasion. If the perpetrator’s motivation was related to any of these areas, it could be considered a hate crime. But what in that perpertrator’s life led him or her to think it was ok to target another human being in such a way? How can they be so unaccepting, so intolerant, so violent? How can they possibly believe that it’s ok to inflict injuries upon someone else, purely because they think differently, feel differently, or believe differently? How dare they? Who or what are the influences in someone’s life that lead them to these actions?

At one point in the documentary, a commentator said that it wasn’t just about tolerance of different people, cultures and ideas – but it was about acceptance. Shouldn’t acceptance be considered the norm? Isn’t it is common sense, not to treat people with such hatred, such disrespect, such agression? To me, everyone should be accepted, no matter who they are, where they are, or what they believe in. If someone believes differently to you, or prefers men while you prefer women, or believes there is five gods, rather than one, or none – respect their choice, their belief, their thoughts. You don’t have to change yours, because of theirs. There is no rule book in life that says ‘everyone must think and feel the same’ – we should respect and appreciate the differences and uniqueness in societies here, and around the world.

That brings me to my travels and experiences. I have met a lot of people in the past few years. They were all amazing, in their own way, and many of them I will know for life. Some are gay, some are straight. Some have dark skin, others have light skin. Some believe in one god, some believe in none. Some speak with a strong accent, or speak very little english, while others sound just like me. Some are married, some are single, and now some are in civil unions. But these differences are beautiful. I don’t want a world where everyone thinks the same, where men can only love and marry women, or vice versa, or where we are all forced to believe in one god, one religion, one way of thinking. I want diversity, and unity. And while it may be too late for certain people in past or present generations to un-learn whatever it is that makes them believe their colour, gender, orientation or beliefs make them superior, I can only hope that in future generations, hate crimes don’t exist.

 

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Gwen_Araujo [URL] Accessed 03/09/2012
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/04/08/DDGVNC4AV61.DTL [URL] Accessed 03/09/2012

Filed Under → Words
Site design by Jamie Talbot.