Rally for Transgender Equality #YesOn3


Today I’m attending the Rally for Transgender Equality at Copley Square. Hundreds of people are making it known that our transgender friends, family, children, coworkers, and neighbors deserve equal protection against discrimination in public places such as restaurants, hotels, and hospitals.

In reality, we shouldn’t have to be here as transgender people should not be discriminated against and their rights have been protected under Massachusetts law since 2016. But people acting on ignorance and prejudice have put forward a ballot referendum asking Massachusetts voters to repeal the laws that protect our transgender neighbors from discrimination. No ones human rights should ever be put to a vote, but since they’re bringing this fight to us, we’re here to show our love for transgender people and defend their rights and dignity.

Learn more about why you should vote Yes on 3 at the Freedom for All website.

Podcasts of the Week Ending November 18


Radiolab :: Match Made in Marrow

A story about how faith and science are in conflict, but how people who disagree can come together in dialogue (and still disagree).

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Disney Parks

An overlooked aspect of the Disney theme park experience: sound design.

30 for 30 Podcasts :: Hoodies Up

Trayvon Martin was murdered during a broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game.  Five weeks later, his hometown team the Miami Heat posed for a photo with their hoodies up.  This is the story of that photo and the rebirth of athlete activism.

WBUR News :: An ‘Underground World’: This Urban Tent Community Is Dangerous For Heroin Users

A scene from the opiod crisis with a visit to a hidden tent community in the Boston region.

Fresh Air :: Priest Responds To Gang Members’ ‘Lethal Absence Of Hope’ With Jobs, And Love

An interview with Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries and how to care for children in gangs.  You can also read my review of his book Tattoos on the Heart.

Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders


Another week, another protest, although it feels as if I should be marching in a demonstration daily.

This time is was the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Massachusetts’ Protest Against the Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders in Boston’s Copley Square.

Here on the steps of Boston’s most architecturally renown Christian church, Massachusetts’ political leaders and religious leaders of different faith traditions (including my friend Reverend Laura Everett) spoke of our promise to love and defend our Muslim neighbors and welcome immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds.

This all happened steps away from where two immigrant brothers detonated bombs that murdered three and wounded hundreds, purportedly in the defense of Islam.  The 25,000 people who marched today know that banning Muslims and rejecting refugees does nothing to protect us from attacks like the one on Boylston Street, and if anything further fan the flames of hatred.

“Let’s be clear: Donald Trump’s order has nothing to do with security. Little girls who flee murderers are not a threat to the United States. Elderly grandparents in airports are not a threat to the United States.

“No, this order is not about terrorist threats. This order is about religious tests, and the United States does not impose religious tests—period.” – Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Photos from the Boston Women’s March for America


Last Saturday, with my family, church community, numerous friends I met along the way, and around 125,000 other people, I participated in Boston Women’s March for America.

I’ve been First Night and the Fourth of July celebrations in Boston.

I’ve been to the Boston Marathon and Red Sox victory parades.

And I’ve never seen that many people in the same place.

Estimates place attendance around 125,000 people. We were in the back of the crown on Boston Common, and couldn’t hear much of anything from the politicians who addressed the crowd. Once the march began, it was more of a shuffle as everyone was stuck shoulder and shoulder, and could only move an inch at a time.

But none of that mattered because this was also the friendliest crowd I’ve ever seen in Boston too. I mean, Boston is a grumpy place and Bostonians generally don’t react well to sharing their personal space with others.

But on this day we filled the Common and overflowed into surrounding streets. It was awe-inspiring. And while every person had a different sign, a different reason for showing up for the march, I’ve never felt such unity.

Upcoming Protests and Rallies in Boston Area


Here’s a list of gatherings in the Boston area where you can make your voice heard on a variety of issues at risk in our current political environment. Please share the list and attend as many events as you can.

Saturday, January 14th:

Sunday, January 15th:

Monday, January 16th:

Thursday, January 19th

Friday, January 20th

Saturday, January 21st

If you know of any events not listed, let me know and I will update.

Also call or write your members of Congress and Massachusetts state government on the issues that matter to you.

The “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet provides tips, scripts, contact information, and calls to action.

Podcast of the Week: “Do Protests Still Matter?” from To The Best of Our Knowledge


This week’s To the Best of Our Knowledge asks Do Protests Still Matter.  I grew up inspired by the history of mass movements to use protest for Civil Rights, women’s equality, labor rights, and anti-war to  bring about great change.  In the 80s and 90s, I visited Washington, DC often and every time would see a protest of dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people marching from some cause.  It seemed that protests were so routine that they no longer received media coverage and certainly did not seem to be influencing elected representatives in the government.  In 2007, as part of the ALA Conference in Washington, I went to the US Capitol and visited the offices of my representative and senators to advocate for libraries.  I noticed that there were other groups working for other causes wearing matching t-shirts and carrying their own petitions.  I never met any elected representatives, just their administrative assistants who politely asked me to drop my petition in an inbox.  Again, I really wondered if protest was so commonplace as to have any affect at all.

In recent years, first with Occupy Wall Street and then Black Lives Matters, I’ve been inspired by mass movements innovating to get attention to their causes through long-term encampments, blocking streets, and other more “in-your-face” tactics.  They seem to have helped stir conversation about inequality in our nation, but they’ve also met with police repression and a widespread commendation of “extremism” in tactics that ignores the severity of the problems they’re trying to address.  It makes me worry about how in the future the people’s voices if protest is no longer an effective means of expression and resistance.  I remain optimistic though, and if you read this blog you know I’ve participated in demonstrations and rallies for Boston Public Schools and plan to remain active in the future.

What do you think?  Do protests still matter?  In what ways can people express their voices and opinions to make change for the better?

BPS Student Walkout


25 years ago the students, teachers, families, and alumni of my high school – a small Catholic school in Greenwich, CT – were informed that as of June 1991, the school would no longer exist. The decision was made by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport as a cost-cutting measure due to declining enrollment. In the weeks prior to the announcement the Diocese floated the idea of consolidating my high school with another school in the diocese, thus pitting one school against the other as to which one would get to stay open, as well as making other claims that made many question the Diocese’s commitment to education.

I was graduating that spring and disappointed that I effectively would have no alma mater.  The stakes were higher for students in the lower grades, especially the Juniors who would have to attend another school for their final year.  And so, these students organized a walk-out.  I don’t know how much effect this protest had on the Diocese, but I do know that a sympathetic reporter from the local newspaper covered the walk out and it was given top billing in the newspaper, above news of the Gulf War.

All this is preamble to a sense of déjà vu, I’m getting as today students from across Boston Public Schools will walk out of class today and march on the Massachusetts State House to protest the state and city government’s continued cutting of school budgets. Like the protest at my school 25 years ago, this originates completely from those effected most, the students, originating with students at Snowden International School at Copley.  And in this case the stakes are much higher:

  • This is not 1 school, but 120 schools that will be affected
  • This is not a private organization paring back their commitment to education, but the moral and legal obligation of the government to provide equitable funds and resources towards public education for every child
  • Schools are losing teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors, and other staff.
  • Classes and programs such Advance Placement courses, foreign language instruction, and physical education
  • Life-changing programs like Diploma Plus at Charlestown High School are being cut completely
  • Extra-curricular programs, sports, and enrichment programs are being slashed
  • A complete list of what will be cut is available from Krissy Cabbage: http://krissycabbage.blogspot.com/2016/03/why-bpswalkout.html

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I’m proud of the students at our high schools for taking direct action and stepping out in protest today.  Among other ways of showing support I’ve signed this online petition and encourage other Boston adults to do so as well.  I hope that our children’s voices will be heard today, and like the local newspaper did at my high school 25 years ago, the local Boston media will cover this event.

Unfortunately, there is considerable bias in the Boston media when it comes to public education as they news generally sides with the politicians and corporate “philanthropists” pushing education reforms that lead to underfunded schools and pitting schools against one another for resources.  If the media acknowledges opposition to what’s happening to our schools at all, it is to say that the Massachusetts Teachers Association is fighting for their union members. A recent Boston Globe column declared that teachers are vastly overpaid with generous time off and should considering voluntarily slashing their pay to save the school budget. Columns of this ilk are published with regularity, but the voices of teachers – real human beings with jobs include working nights, weekends & summers not faceless unions – parents, and students are rarely represented in the media.

In meetings and protests I’ve attended for Boston Public Schools in recent years, it is always the students who’ve impressed me the most.  They are eloquent in portraying the real effects of budget cuts and corporate education reform on their lives and education.  They are activists not by choice but by necessity.  They are the leaders of our movement and I hope and pray that their voices will be acknowledged before it is too late.


Update (3/8/16)

News coverage of the 3500 heroes who participated in the walkout: