The IRS Wants to Take Your Passport

We all know that the Internal Revenue Service, more commonly referred to as the IRS, is a ravenous beast that we must all feed.  However, there is new legislation afoot which would allow the IRS to revoke your passport if you owe them money. Check out this article by Robert W. Wood at Forbes Magazine.

So, neatly hidden within 1300 pages of legislation is this major slash to the rights of US citizens. Sneaky, insidious, typical.

Now it is definitely important to pay the government its due, but the problem with this legislation is similar to the problem with the recently vacated legislation in California which suspended people’s drivers’ license if they owed for parking/traffic tickets or child support: it disproportionately penalizes people of color and the poor. These are the main targets of legislation like this.  Since its inception in 1953, the IRS has commonly gone after people of color and the poor  to fill their coffers with ill-gotten booty because they know that these folks have the least resources to fight them.

The IRS has also had their funding cut recently, which means that they are operating in a diminished capacity. According to the staff at a local tax clinic, a legal program for those who do not have the means to pay for tax legal representation, there has been a rise in the number of cases where the IRS has bypassed their procedures and have slapped people with tax bills then adding on huge, I mean HUGE penalties. No audit, no chance for an audit appeal, just sending them a bill and telling them that their only chance is to go to tax court.  According to the tax clinic staff, the majority of folks without means are so stressed out and terrified by getting this demand for outrageous amounts of money that they do not have that they bury their heads in the sand hoping it will just go away, which just makes it worse.

So, why tie taxes to a passport?  The idea is to deny folks a vacation if they owe taxes.  It’s just bad policy and a breach of the civil rights promised to American citizens by the Constitution.

This new law is about to pass, but it is still not a done deal.  To fight this really crap piece of legislation, contact your local representatives of both the Senate and the House and urge them to get this part of bill H.R.22 removed.  Writing them snail-mail-style is the best way to get a politician’s attention, but since time is of the essence, call them or email them. Just Google the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives officials for your state and get busy!

 

Axe.

 

 

 

 

 

Afro-Columbian Journalist Defines “I Can’t Breathe”

We’ve got some great travel articles coming up for you all, but it has been too exciting following the ripples of the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.  If anyone wonders if the protests have struck an international chord, here is your answer.

Afro-Columbian journalist, Javier Ortiz, recited the words “I can’t breathe” while accepting the award as Afro-Columbian Journalist of the Year.  The journalist, who lives in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, then followed those words with a though-provoking definition of the role journalists play:

“To write, to question, to exalt, to investigate, to denounce, in the name of those who stop breathing, or those who are asphyxiating, should be the most solemn labor of journalism.”

Check out this article on Vice.

We highlight a lot of these kinds of articles on Twitter.  Follow us at @tbbmag.

Axe!

The Ayatollah Khamenei Tweets to the World that “Black Lives Matter”

The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

As reported by the British newspaper The Guardian last week, the Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted to the world using the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter”.  The religious leader of Iran spoke of what he considers the United State’s hypocrisy in its race relations going so far as to compare the oppression of Black people in the United States to the oppression of the Palestinians in Gaza.  Check out the article by Ed Pilkington.

Announcing the International “I Can’t Breathe” Campaign

frontTravel Beyond Borders Magazine is happy to announce its International “I Can’t Breathe” Campaign.  The International “I Can’t Breathe” Campaign features a T-Shirt designed especially for Travel Beyond Borders Magazine.  Staying true to TBB’s global viewpoint, the T-Shirt pays homage to People of Color who were killed and whose killer went unprosecuted.  It honors those who have protested, putting their own lives in jeopardy to highlight the myriad issues now in question.  It also offers thanks and acknowledgement of the support of the international community.

The T-Shirt contains the words “I Can’t Breathe” in the languages of countries where People of Color are struggling against some form of oppression.  Sporting the International “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirt is a continual protest, letting folks know that the deaths will never be forgotten and that the system as it is now must change.

The proceeds from the campaign will be used to create programs to build international support, knowledge, and relationships between People of Color and other nations.

Grab the T-Shirt for $25.00 ($30.00 XXX-L) at the Travel Beyond Borders Marketplace.

AXE!

London, Germany, and Missoula, Montana? – Feeding Change Internationally

As I’m very fond of saying, it is important to build an international image and support for People of Color. International travel is essential to keeping one’s perspective and to build humanity. I didn’t understand my own country half so well as when I left it and began to see through the eyes of those who live in other countries. As masses of people continue to mourn and protest the unreasonable deaths of young men and children color, there is fellow feeling streaming to America over the Atlantic from Europe.

It is heartening to know that people in other countries understand that grave injustice has been done. They see the racism clearly.  Newspapers all over the world have written extensively about the deaths of unarmed black males and the reactions have been completely sympathetic. These nations may have their own racial issues, even rampant xenophobia, but anyone, anyone can understand that shooting unarmed youths or choking a man to death for a seeming infraction is the sign of a society that has lost its ability to measure proper response and employ mercy as its guiding principle. The international community has gone to great lengths to show its support of those who are protesting, to show American protesters that they are not alone.

London Die in 3

London “Die In” Protest

One such response came from London, England last week where hundreds of people closed down a shopping mall by holding a “Die in for Eric Garner”, the American black man who died after being held in an illegal choke hold by a New York City cop on Staten Island. 76 people were arrested at that protest. London has had the high profile case of Stephen Lawrence, to overcome, a young black male who was killed by racists who went unpunished at first, but ended in the conviction of the killers.  The outrage was such that it fueled a national conversation on race, changed perspectives, and ushered in new regulations.

The “Die In” was staged by a local group called the London Black Revs (short for “Revolutionaries”) a group made up of black and Asian youths. In a statement on their Facebook page they say:

“We would like to state that this is a non-violent demonstration and we will be joined by international media broadcasting our ‘Die-In’ back to the screens of black Americans in the USA. We need to make our voices loud and heard.”

Say it loud.

Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe” before going silent and lying on the floor as if dead.

Diren Montana 1

Diren Dede

In another European country, Germany to be exact, there was elation as the Montana homeowner who shot and killed a 17-year-old, unarmed German exchange student was convicted of murder. This case was barely reported on in the United States and one has to ask themselves why. Not so in Germany. The story was broadly reported in print, online, and on television. The shorthand on the story is that a young German exchange student was out with his American buddies late one night just getting silly and drunk when they decided to enter an open garage looking for more beer to drink. Little did he know that the owner of the home, 29 year-old Markus Klaarma, had purposely left the garage door open hoping to catch one of the young people who had been vandalizing his home in the act of what they in Montana call “Garage Hopping” and shooting them dead. The young German of Turkish decent, Diren, triggered the surveillance apparati that the homeowner had set up and within minutes was dead on the ground with a hole in his head.

“Es ist natürlich eine völlig überzogene Reaktion, auf einen unbewaffneten Jugendlichen zu schießen.(“It is, of course, a completely disproportionate reaction to fire on an unarmed youth.”)

The comments of Germans in response to the story in German news media reports was what one would expect. They condemned the United States as a barbaric country with no morals and a strong gun lobby.

“Reise ich nicht mehr in die USA. Dort lebt man fast so gefährlich wie in Kabul oder Bagdad.” (I no longer travel to the USA. There they live in as much danger as in Kabul or Baghdad.”)

What is most remarkable about the outrage in Germany is that the young victim was ethnically Turkish, a group that is not considered German by many German citizens, but regarded similar to migrant farm workers in the US. He was also Muslim. After a memorial service in Hamburg, young Diren was buried in Turkey. Race was not brought up as a factor in this case, but it could be said that Diren’s coloring would have made him appear Latino or even Black in the darkened garage.

The conclusions one can draw from this case in comparison with other shooting deaths of young males in the States are myriad. Again, one must asks why the story of young Diren was suppressed in the United States? The consensus response from those that I have spoken to about this case is that they felt it was under reported because of fear of the national outcry it would bring because of the way this case was handled as opposed to the others. In Diren’s case, it was handled as it should have been, which has not been the case in other controversial shooting deaths.  Diren was shot and killed one day and his killer was charged before the week was out. Not the case with the other shooting deaths of young, unarmed males. Diren was shot and killed in April 2014. By December 2014 his killer was convicted.

Certainly, pressure from Germany played a key role in the treatment of Diren’s case.  The Germans themselves set a special prosecutor about the task of investigating the death.  US leaders are fully aware that the international world considers the overuse of guns in the USA to be a huge flaw in an otherwise great country. The condemnation of Germany for the death of one of their own would bring more international tension than the government can handle right now.  This then begs the question: can People of Color in America receive fair treatment only if they are affiliated with another country?  Diren was indeed in the shooter’s home and committing theft.  Trayvon Martin was just walking through a neighborhood while being stalked by another person, who then invoked “stand your ground” as a reason for killing an unarmed child.  After speaking with an attorney about the case, it seems that Markus Karma was convicted because Diren had already committed the act and was set to retreat.  He presented no threat.  “The use of deadly force has to be reasonable.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled that Diren’s killer has been convicted for ending the life of an unarmed kid, but this should have been the outcome in all of the cases, even the officer-involved ones.  If it was a Person of Color who entered the trap laid by this shooter, it is clear that there would have been no conviction.  So even in Diren’s case, justice was not done because the outcome was not based on the teachings of the criminal justice system, it was based on preference.

Now would be a great time to build an alliance with Germany to bring about change in gun homicides among youths of color in the US.

Travel2015: Building Support, Representing Internationally

Travel2015: Building Support, Representing Internationally

Hello People,

We’re back! Took a little hiatus to bone up on the happenings in the travel world and the world in general. Lots to report on. Every week there seems to be this or that new travel app or that gotta-have-it new gadget that will make travel sweet and easy. Or what about all of these crazy changes at the airline level? Smaller seats, $25.00 charges for a carry on. It’s all a bit of a blur, so we will spend some time sorting it all out. The goal is to make travel easy, interesting, and incredible for folks, so that’s what we are going to do.

Sadly, it also seems like every week there is a new tragedy in the world that deeply effects People of Color. The international coverage of the happenings in Ferguson and the protests has been amazing. The American criminal justice system is now officially an international joke, a liability to the standing of the United States in the world.  All of the international papers ask the question “How can the US advise other nations on human rights when they have a huge human rights problem of their own?” Voila. The international outrage and call for the US to reform is loud and clear. Now is a great time to build support and alliances abroad. When you are out trotting the globe get to know the locals.  I always find that people in other countries are really curious about People of Color.  Okay, there is a little bit of that Karate kid “Can I touch your hair?” stuff going on, but is it so bad to let someone touch your hair if it builds some bonhommie? (The hair touching is a metaphor , by the way…) Yes, there is such a thing as international affairs for People of Color. So, please get out and travel in 2015, reach out, let people get to know who you are. That is actually the most enjoyable part of the whole travel experience.

And then there is still the magnificent “25 Countries in 2 Months” super journey. Yup, we’re still going to do it. What can I say? Last year something came up. That’s life. The point is never to lose that travel dream. If something disrupts your plans, just re-plan, but don’t give up on it. Never lose the travel bug. In fact, 2015 is going to be full of travel you can actually share with us like Joinable Journeys, Streaming Travel, Immersion Travel and Travel Receptions. More on those later.

As I’ve said many a time before, travel is an amazing high and a fantastic education that no classroom could ever equal. In the coming months we are going to look at travel from many different perspecti: luxury/high end travel, budget travel, heritage travel, cultural travel, adventure travel, travel tech…you name it. We will check out arts and entertainment that highlight the travel experience and cultural understanding. So please join us as we make 2015 an official Year of Alliance Travel for People of Color.

Travel well.

Bis gleich.