Wednesday, 15 May 2013

10,000 Visits!!!

Thank you sooooo much for stopping by over the past couple of years! Look forward to more posts soon!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Granny, Nanny, Mom and The Motherless Child

My maternal grandmother was born and grew up in Bridgetown, Barbados. She married when she was sixteen, miscarried her first child, a girl, within a year, had four children by twenty-three and moved to Canada after the Second World War at twenty-seven. Her fifth child was my mother, born in 1947. She got a job with the Canadian National Railway as a seamstress where she worked until retirement in 1984. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away from cancer in 1994. She herself passed away over the Christmas holidays in 2007.

My paternal grandmother's parents were from England, but had most of their children in Canada. Not many from her generation went to high-school, so it was out to work in her early teens. She had married and had had her first child by nineteen. My father was her third child, born a few months after the end of the war. She  remained a housewife until she divorced my grandfather on that side in 1978. Other than some odd jobs as a cleaning woman, she never held a job from that point forward. Her eldest daughter died from lymphoma in 1995. She herself passed away from complications from a stroke last fall.

My mother's relationships with both her own mother and her one-time mother-in-law were stormy to say the least. There was always tension (racial as well as personality-based) between her and my father's mother, but it was somewhat muted after my parent's divorce. Her relationship with her own mother had deep resentments which were never resolved by the end of my mother's life and had been all but forgotten by the time her mother, suffering from Alzheimer's, died.

As for me, regarded as a "son" and "grandson" for so long, I often had tense relationships of my own with all three of them. Today, Mother's Day 2013, I find myself pondering this. As their daughter and granddaughter after all, I write this post as a tribute to them, as somber a tribute as it may be. In three different ways, I miss you all and although I had never those daughter moments with any of you, I am grateful for each you for giving me life. I will carry your determination to live life on your own terms forward with dignity and pride.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day Remembered

On May 1, 1886, massive demonstrations and rallies of striking worker's took place all over the United States, the biggest being in Chicago. A violent few days followed, culminating in the bombing and gunfire on May 4 at Chicago's Haymarket Square. The bomb thrower was never found, but eight anarchists were brought to trial, four of them were executed. The majority of strikers present at Haymarket Square, however, were struggling for one thing above all: an eight-hour workday.

Five years later, at the second congress of the Second International (an international delegation of socialist and labour parties) in Paris, May 1 was officially made into an annual commemorative day in which workers rallied for the eight-hour day and other demands. Eventually, May Day was made a holiday in many countries around the world as well as a state holiday in socialist countries such as Cuba. In the US, meanwhile, there had been, at the end of the nineteenth-century, a initiative to move the holiday further away from the anniversary of the Haymarket Massacre. Then-president Grover Cleveland, following the lead of the anti-socialist union the Knights of Labor, moved the labour holiday to the first Monday in September.

My own post on the September Labour Day can be found here. May Day, however, is often shrouded in more mystery and its history, based around workers' struggles for basic rights and humane working conditions desperately needs to be remembered. This is even more important in light of the recent workplace disasters in Texas and Bangladesh, both seen increasingly as the result of lax corporate regulations and poor working conditions, echoing historic industrial disasters such as the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City.

Perhaps today is an opportunity to begin the long hard work of pushing forward on labour issues, and regain the ground lost over the past few decades of rollbacks and losses.