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Divide

30 Jan

There are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. But young folks can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation.                                                Wynton Marsalis

Do a quick search of “Criticism of the Women’s March” real fast.  Just do that favor from me.  I will wait here until you’re back.  Okay, good to have you back now.  Did you notice anything about the criticisms of the women’s marches that happened all over the world one week ago?  If you answered that most of them are penned by women themselves you are definitely starting out with your finger on something that has probably been the largest barricade for women in the fight for equal rights: other women.

We’ve got women of color talking (rightly so) about the many ways that this protest has been treated in the media differently than recent peaceful Black Rights Matter marches. We’ve trans women talking (rightly so) about how feminism is not owned by body parts and the underlying “womanhood is for those of us with biological vaginas only” message that the knitted pink hats seemed to say to them. And it seems we’ve come full circle in the critical mass. Because now we have white cis-women being critical of other white cis-women for participating in a march which was apparently not “intersectional” enough for these white cis-women.  

It is to these women that I heartily give a great big shut the ever loving up.  Because you are the one of these things is not like the other.  You’ve managed to take a term used to describe the acknowledgement of the latent racism in feminism and turn it into some kind of righteousness that is only held by a small (white) few of you.  No longer can our feminism be about the business of granting women equal status and rights under the law, (with a hearty acknowledgement that that equality comes at more effort for some feminists than others) it must now raise to some standard that you, a white cis-woman, have determined it must be.  No longer is any effort toward feminism a good starting place or jumping off point.  No, now you must feel extra special and decry millions of women for not being as smart as you with your college word.

If we truly mean to be a group of women who show up in both word and deed, then why must I meet some sort of definition of a word before my deeds can mean anything to you?

I was told recently that my feminism was not intersectional enough for the two of us to be engaged in any “sort of productive conversation.”  A quick moment for my own self righteousness yielded that this person’s friends list was even less diverse than my meager attempt at diversity in mine.  And when I came to my senses, I realized, “Why does this even matter?”  It matters because we are human and we always want to be the more special one in the group.  It is not enough that we showed up with millions of other people united behind a singular cause.  No, that singular cause apparently wasn’t good enough and we must quickly establish ourselves as the ruling class of feminism.  We’ve had a ruling class of feminism from the beginning.  It has been white, predominantly middle class, and has certainly stepped on the equality rights of others in order to achieve its prize.  And why shouldn’t there be more of that in this day and age?  We always need and have always needed the best feminists to tell the rest of us what our feminism should really mean.

Feminism is this crazy idea that women should be viewed and treated as equals here on the playing field.  And that means treating other women as equals as well.  Not just women of color, or of different genders and sex parts, but also women that somehow fall short of the feminist ideal that you’ve painted for yourself in your head.  It is this type of divisiveness that does no good.  It is this divisiveness that was preyed upon in the 70s and used by opponents to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.  And we must do something differently if we are to do something more than just show up for the “white people march.”

We must encourage other women to not just say something about what they believe in, but to show up in spirit and body for these causes that we all believe in.  That is not done by demeaning someone and saying that their feminism isn’t good enough for your feminism.  It’s done by saying, “Hey, thanks for showing up.  Here are other ways to show up.”  Let’s quit devouring one another and actually figure out how best to move on down the road together.  Because surely our numbers are there, even if our ideologies don’t match.

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Photo taken at Civic Center Park, Denver, CO

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Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

29 Jan

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  This next song comes originally from my high school years, but came to exert a lot more influence in my life in college and beyond.  

This song started as a running joke between myself and one of my closest friends in high school about water skiing.  It became an anthem for getting out of bed in the two early winter mornings of bus catching.  To say I attended high school in a town with a strong cannabis heritage is probably the nice way to put that I had a lot of classmates who fashioned themselves rastafarian inasmuch as it allowed them to not bathe and to smoke a lot of the good ganja.  Mon.

It was also the era of In Living Color, and the Jamaican family with many jobs.  We watched that show and laughed.  Mon.

And then I started studying Africana Studies in college.  And began to learn about reggae as resistance.  Its storied roots and successes in several colonial uprisings in Africa and the West Indies.  Let us not forget that it wasn’t just John and Yoko preaching about One Love, Bob was doing it too.  And let us not ever forget that religion, particularly Christianity, was one preached to peoples of color, brought here to this hemisphere to be enslaved by their white, Christian owners.  And now we see the light and won’t give up the fight.

Yesterday the United States issued its strongest anti-refugee and anti-Muslim message that it has ever done.  I know the history of my country.  I will stand on the correct side of history.  And it will not be the side that allows fear and anti-religious sentiment take control of how we behave.  Nor will I allow all that glitters to be seen as gold.  More a shade of orange that’s quite unbecoming.

Tonight I go to see the Wailers perform in my new home town.  With as much joking as I make about what is bound to accompany such a show, I also hope it reminds us that we do have the choice, daily, to make our lives heaven or hell right here in this lifetime.  Don’t let them control you.  See the light.  And stand up for your rights.

Whiner

27 Jan

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A friend recently shared this meme on his Facebook page.  By recently, I mean on January 14, 2017.  182 days after Bernie Sanders conceded his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States of America.

This is not a blog about Bernie or Bust.  Nor is this a blog about whether or not the DNC rigged their 2016 primary election for the presidency.  Nor is it a blog really addressing whether or not this alleged rigging is what lost the DNC the presidency.

This is a blog about your feelings.  Because you are essentially still not doing anything to improve or change the way we do things by posting this.  You are simply wallowing.  And then justifying that wallowing by saying, “Look at who got elected!  I’ve got a right to my feelings and I’m going to feel them.”

This is not a blog about your feelings.  Yes, you have every right to your feelings.  Just understand that your feelings are like tears in a bucket.  (Google that phrase for the ending, you won’t believe your eyes!)

This is a blog about how political change cannot be about feelings.  And if you allow your feelings to encumber you in such a way that 182 days after your feelings got hurt you are still slinging memes out into your echo chamber, you might actually be making things worse, not better.

Imagine how your feelings would feel if you were set upon by police dogs.  If your fellow Bernie supporters were lynched.  If you and your fellow supporters were sprayed by fire hoses.  If you were imprisoned without any proper heating or food for many days.  How are your feelings doing when the police show up to a peaceful protest in riot gear or tear gas bomb a crowd because it might get out of control?  This is a blog about how political change has nothing to do with how its proponents feel.  In fact, one could say it’s more about how those feel that are against that change that needs to be made.

Senator Sanders is betwixt his second term in the United States Senate, and with his previous 16 years of service in the House of Representatives makes him the longest serving Independent member of Congress.(Source: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/about)

There is something you need to understand about Bernie’s political career.  It wasn’t something that just started happening on May 26, 2015.  It signified a whole career spent working toward the exact goals and beliefs he espoused on his platform for the presidency.  Nor did his concession speech mean that the movement dies.  If one does share Sanders’ goals for how we are citizens in the United States, then really, that was the beginning.  Just as he laid out on his website.  There are ways to build this movement, to see it be fostered and grown at the local level.  Because change does not come from the top down, but when those of us at the bottom punch up.

There are numerous places you can go to start getting something done.  Pick a thing and do it.  Go march.  Go protest.  Go call your representatives and senators and tell them that they should be representing you, not private interests.  Go read more about those you want to be a voice for.  But do not say that you cannot.  Because you cannot means you’ll just sit at home and post your little memes into the echo chamber.

When Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” he never meant that change was staying home and crying about how the world won’t change.

When Malcolm X talked about “any possible means,” he did not mean his Facebook page.

However, if I may, perhaps you did heed the words of Frederick Douglass when he said, “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. ”

Because take heed – Social media is silence.  And silence is acceptance.

If you want to be heard loud, please consider some of these websites resources.  Pick a thing and fight for it.  Fight for it outside of the internet.  Because as of right now the world takes place in the real world, not online.

If you are a member of the DNC, it is your voice, and your fight to change how they do business if you don’t like it.  There are also resources for protest and learning more about the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders has launched an organization called Our Revolution.  This website shows you how to organize, run for government positions, and just in general network to become part of the change.

Believe that Black Lives Matter but you’re not sure exactly how that came about?  Here is the Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves:

The Indivisible Guide has practical things to do for just about every issue.

Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice gives you a practical way to help daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  Great resource for someone who wants to learn how to start small and build from there.