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Posts Tagged ‘racism’

power to change everything

One year ago, I couldn’t have told you how World War II began. Sure, I’d studied it in high school history classes, but that was more than twenty years ago.

Having immersed myself in history and politics for the last year, I understand more now. Most significantly, I understand how economic distress fueled Hitler’s rise.

Germans were not a uniquely evil people. They were a distressed people, susceptible–in those specific circumstances–to finding both the wrong villains and extraordinarily wrong solutions.

On Sunday, I wrote about how neoliberalism created the conditions for the weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville.

Yesterday, a dear friend replied that she’d seen the pictures. The racists she’d seen pictured weren’t economically oppressed, but well dressed and clean shaven. They were privileged.

I’d reply today the same as I replied yesterday. That is to say, I’d reply by noting I’m no fan of privilege theory, which conceals (grave systemic failures) much more than it reveals (anything actionable).

But I wondered: How could I express the pain of enduring economic squeeze to those who haven’t yet felt it? Read more…

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cherish

as i pulled into 
my driveway, i saw
one of my neighbors
basking in the sunshine
on her front porch,
with a dog on
either side
of her

“heya,”
i called
as i opened
the driveway gate

she told me
that she’s feeling
a little pain, but that
the sunshine helps
in more ways
than one, so:

she can’t
complain

i paused,
and said,
“you know,
i just had a really
great conversation
with anthony, and i’m
just so grateful for
him … i’m with you.
i really can’t
complain”

i’d already
planned on
sharing (a little) about
anthony and neighbors,
so the timing of this
exchange was
perfect

earlier,
as anthony and i
talked, i asked if he’d
be okay with
this one
thing

(which
might
prove
aggravating)

he laughed.
“you know me.
i can put up with
almost anything.
i can’t say i’ll be
all sunshine, but
i’ll be okay”

we talked about
how people mistake
his very long fuse for
absence of fuse, with me
explaining how my sister
rache taught me that
the fact someone
has a long fuse
and peaceable
demeanor
doesn’t
mean
they’re
meek

(a lot of people
make that mistake)

i thought about
this one post 
i wrote on
l2sp;
how
anthony
surprised me,
and reminded me:
i no longer have
to fight every
fight alone

i’m sharing
that post here
tonight, but with a
caution: while the first
part was all about
anthony, the
second was
me raging
about
white
people

i’m done 
raging at 
individual
people,
done
done
done,
i do
solemnly
vow Read more…

from where my husband stands

wedding bwA couple of months ago,
I wrote of my husband
that the best thing
I ever did
“was marry
that
sweet
man”

(This continues
to be
the
case)

A few days ago,
he said something
that helped me
understand so much more
than all the books
in the world
could

I can’t remember
his words, or even
the exact context, but
what he said made
clean-water-clear
why I was
so angry
and he was so …
not

A Black man 
grown up in Compton,
he never had illusions
that colonialism or
empire were dead,
or that they were
(ever)
only extended by
the evil hearts
of evil people

He saw
people as they were
and loved them for
who and where
they were,
trusting they were
doing the best they could
with where they
were coming from

I didn’t have that

I “escaped” poverty
and abuse and a
million poverty-
invited horrors
I’ll never forget
no matter what
my salary
reaches;

Having “escaped,”
I saw bad guys
(molesters; wife-
beaters)
and good guys
(everyone
else)

Having “escaped,”
I surrounded myself
with good guys
and, voila!

All was well

Except,
of course,
it wasn’t

And I was
affronted,
shocked, 
horrified 
to learn as
I read (on
the U.S.’s
genocidal global
politics) that
they we were
far less good
(as measured
by outcome, not
squishy, vague,
offered-as-exculpatory
“well-meaning”)
than I’d seen

The feeling
I experienced:
betrayal, at a
whole world
(and worldview)
destroyed

But that’s
not the point here:
I get what happened,
and whether anyone
else does or does
not get it isn’t
that
important

The main thing here
is this:

Seeing the world, now,
closer to how it really is,
I can see from where my
husband has always stood,
and I think …

I’m almost there:

Seeing
people as they are
and loving them for
who and where
they are,
trusting they are
doing the best they can
with where they
are coming from

The Hate U Give

I laughed and wept, both alternately and simultaneously, as I read Angie Thomas’s

The
Hate
U
Give.

For a couple years now, I’ve witnessed as names become hashtags. I’ve seen people killed twice over:

first,
when breath was stolen
from their bodies;
next,
when their lives were stolen,
too, swept away by words like
“no angel” or “drug dealer” or “thug,”
as if an entire life
is worth no more
than its worst
(alleged)
offense.

I’ve understood how a person, once painted an “offender,” is seldom understood as worth one more thought. I’ve struggled to explain how

each life taken
is a loss insufferable,
outrageous, egregious;
a. loss. of. a. whole. life.

(that could have been anything)

When I read the fictional-but-not-really-fictional, staggering, powerful The Hate U Give, my whole body sighed. I saw that this is how people understand the life behind the death; the years of needless hate behind a moment’s sanctioned bullets.

While this exact Khalil never lived in this flesh-and-blood world, he lived in a heart that bled onto pages. Those pages are now being read by thousands upon thousands of people. And this Khalil, though he lives in heart and page, represents many who lived
in
this
world:

Oscar.
Trayvon.
Rekia.
Michael.
Eric.
Tamir.
John.
Ezell.
Sandra.
Freddie.
Alton.
Philando.
Emmett.

Once upon a time, each of these people lived and laughed and cried and yearned. Their ability to do these things ever again was stolen from them, but you and I? By remembering them, we can change the world.

By remembering them, we can

end
this
list.

thug

Many thanks to Alison Doherty for the recommendation

 

 

Strategic racism, in quotes

Last week,

I read a book*

that demonstrated

how U.S. political

“colorblind” racist strategy

has been crafted to

achieve horrible ends

by concealed

means

I can’t share

my whole post

on the matter, yet,

so now, I leave you

with a few related quotes

(and a holdover link)

*  Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

MLK, Jr: passionate and revolutionary

A couple months ago, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s pursuit of positive peace. King succinctly but powerfully differentiated this peace from what he described as “negative peace”:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I began today writing a rejection of WashPost’s vision of the “conservative” MLK, Jr. You can read that if you’d like.

Whether or not you read that, please do read MLK, Jr’s letter from a Birmingham jail at the very least, and understand King’s love wasn’t mild and conservative but passionate and revolutionary.

On building racial stamina

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