May 1-31, 2011

My state worker

by Araceli Esparza de Nuñez

When I drive down University Avenue and see the masses and some protest signs I think of all my women of color friends who work for the state, my own mom and abuelita have worked the state for over 55 years collectively.

The state was their bread n butter when our men left. They were given a chance on a job and with that job she bought a house put us kids through school.

The union is a necessary protection for when we make mistakes. Because second chances are deserved when one puts in time in a job.

WI women of color who are or have been state workers are a special breed.
They volunteer their time for working overtime when no else will, and they break the barriers with the very action of their work.

Their dedication is what stories are made of. I remember hearing as a child of how the humanities students of the 70’s followed my grandma and took pictures of her. I’m smiling because she thought it was funny too and just brushed it off as one of the common causality one takes working for the state. When I would ask her why they did that she would say “oh, you know they are humanities students.”

State worker you are appreciated! Women worker of color you are appreciated.

They have families, they budget because even with work it’s not enough. They bus, car pool, shuffle kids, care for their elders and maneuver in a work place where they are the one and only women of color or person of color. They take the looks, the snide comments with a smile, with grace. Because they love their job. Even faced with sexual harassment, sexism, racism they still go back and do their job. Even if they are the OEO/AA officials of their department or are part of the custodial team. They go back each and every day. To work To be part of something bigger than themselves.

State worker you are appreciated! Women worker of color you are appreciated.
WI State women workers of color give annually to charities like United Way because we know we might need them later. We promote from within, we tell our friends and family about job openings. We cover our walls, corners, cubes with pictures not of vacations but of family.

We’re are the ones who bring all that good soul food to the pot lucks. We share sick time.

We listen to our co-workers when it’s not part of our job. They’re the ones who encourage you when you want to quit.

State worker you are appreciated! Women worker of color you are appreciated.

They bring collaborations between different departments and agencies.

They support 3x or 5x as many people as their counter parts.

We are honest; we are professional even in the most menial jobs. We are stylin!

We work in every part of the state gov’t, university, Colleges, Schools, City and County if I missed an area my greatest apologies—

You are mother of each generation of women of color worker. We are envied by the private sector. We carry an air of accomplishment, awe to our dedication and mystery of “how can she do all that and still look good!”

State worker you are appreciated! Women worker of color you are appreciated. We are Wisconsin!

She is the reason I protest, she is Wisconsin.

Araceli Esparza de Nuñez is a Mother, poet, photographer, & activist from Madison.

Not My Wisconsin

by Signe Jorgenson

I don’t recognize these marble halls, this seemingly infinite dome rising up and up and up, this white building so full and loud, echoing Jesse Jackson’s footsteps. When I was here last, on a fourth grade field trip, no one slept in the alcoves or drummed on overturned five gallon pails; passersby weren’t clad in solidarity red and didn’t carry hand-lettered tagboard signs duct-taped to yard sticks sawed in half. Nor did security guards grab my peers at the elbows and drag them through the halls, motionless and silent, just for the crime of sitting. My sister didn’t have to sneak in through a side door to make her way into the heart of the chanting, and my father’s collective bargaining rights weren’t about to disappear like smoke rings blown into oblivion after thirty-eight years in the public school system. And the bronze Lady Forward wasn’t blindfolded on the lawn, and farmers didn’t drive malodorous manure spreaders around the square to impart the message, “Walker’s Bill Belongs Here.” When I was in fourth grade, there was no straight-faced man on the capitol steps, snowflakes collecting in his beard and on his shoulders, holding a sign written in uneven block print: “The faith I have lost in our system has been replaced by a faith in the people.” Amen, brother, but this is not my Wisconsin.

Signe Jorgenson is an associate editor of Stoneboat.

it's us against them;

by E J Lukes

those clenching hands
that circle patent leather
around our waists,
hands that fit a size
42 x the top of the world

tighten our belts down
like corsets boning anorexics,
slimming down to nothing,
gobbled at the top,

top hat democracy in
drawling Wisconsin dialect,
maintaining orthodoxy and

order, through dribbling lips
gurgling under the surface
with cash cows,
corporate interest,

bills, bills, bills, bills,
a railroad trail of them
stretched along the
streets, cities, equator,

wrapping every
colonial post-colonial
country in its tight trapping,
a limpid, insipid whisper
in the ear of every

faintly at first, but
closer to that cragged
mountain peak, returnless,
eternal the voice howls,
demanding humanity
in every heavy step

a blood price---
climb those sagging shoulders
and you will find the way
among cracked bones
and solitude,
those great achievements
of the 21st century.

E J Lukes is an artist and writer who lives in Madison.

By the Capitol

by Alexander Silva

Drive by protest protesting
Shouting up Walker
Sad faces... Hurt they feel'ns

Alexander Silva lives in Waukesha.

Stand With Wisconsin

by Phil Hahn

Fighting Bob La Follette must be spinning in his grave.
Republican extremists want us all to be a slave
To their un-elected money masters.
Liberty be damned!
Against this, we must stand.

They swept into their offices with promises of jobs.
Now, we know, they think of us as “…longhaired, pinko slobs”.
They minimize and denigrate
The workers of our State.
Sowing seeds of hate.

Walker, Huebsch, Kapanke and the whole Fitzgerald clan
Work against us, decent folk, to implement their plan
Of budget cuts, and power grabs
And robbing from the weak.
Hear us when we speak.

Now the time has come for us to stand for what is right.
To turn the tide of heartless men who work by dark of night.
To show the world and nation:
Reason reigns in Dairyland.
Join us. Take a stand.

Never, never shall we falter
On our way to unseat Walker.
His cronies and his lackeys
Will be cowering in fear
Of the People. We are here.

Phil Hahn lives in Viroqua, WI.

A brief, personal history
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

by Katie Kalish
Ninety-two years ago,
Wisconsin confirmed
Women’s voices matter.
Forty-six years ago,
Peggy started marching
For equality.
Seventeen years ago,
I called my mom a hippy,
She said, “No, an activist.”
Twenty-eight days ago,
I set foot in Madison.
Now, I understand.

Katie Kalish lives in Marshfield, WI.

Here, Heroes

by Amy Barlow Liberatore

Have you heard?
Hope is alive and well in Madison.
Hands up if you heed the Constitution.
Hands up if you've read about Mother Jones,
woman with the heart of a lioness,
spearheading the cause of workers’ rights

Heading to the Capitol Dome,
heeding our call as citizens
to have our grievances heard.
Scott Walker, in the pocket of rich men,
calmly advocates union-busting;
disappointed, no doubt, that protests were peaceful.

Heads up: Greed is heading for
your hometown next.
Wisconsin is ground zero:
The ripples will radiate from here.
Jesus said, “Help the hungry, the homeless…”
Or are Limbaugh, Beck, and Hagee your only heroes?

Amy Barlow Liberatore, Madison, WI, is a poet, singer, songwriter & activist.