Category Archives: democracy

White Woman Rant and To Do list

This is a long post, only partially a rant.

What a razor’s edge: judgment!

Step forward! Shut up and listen! Step back! Silence is violence!

The voice of the hour responds: try being Black for a half hour.

Marshall your hatred and your good person biases and give them license, or don’t, for the hatred and biases both good and bad need no license. They like to go rogue. They operate on the sly. The rotten impulses will thwart and harm another’s soul, a Black person’s soul, whether you grant them permission or not. Being otherwise decent has nothing to do with it. Do a little reading for Christ’s sake.

So why must discrimination law require demonstration of INTENT? So bogus. Such a loophole.

So many ways to pose as ally, whether silent or speaking up. But, oh hallowed white person with every advantage coded into your DNA, silence from your earthworm lips surrounded by freckled skin prone to burning, no no silence is not acceptable.

Shout loud and clear and worry about getting it right and redeeming your moral points later.

(This business of hoping to earn badges toward redemption is not just a White Woman thing, BTW, it’s a very Catholic thing. So — fucking crucify me on two counts).

History shall condemn us if we do not, oh darling freckle-faced politicos, put our bodies on the front lines, yes, even our raggedy, lumpy bodies and yes, even during a pandemic. Protests? Maybe not. But calls and donations, yes. I’ve said it before.

TODAY: I shall call my reps in support of H.R. 51 — a bill regarding Washington, D.C.’s statehood. Why don’t you, too?

TODAY: I shout out the importance of all those down-ballot races. It’s not just the protests shrinking the response time between racial murder and indictment, it’s Black mayors and Black DA’s and Black police commissioners. Progressives of all races.

I long for the day when progress is measured by the absence of Black bodies gunned down by police and not by the swiftness of justice.

TODAY: I shall rest in the satisfaction of a Supreme Court acting like a court and not like an adjunct of the Executive (even though I’m inclined to move straight to dread about the tax case and did just that yesterday). In particular, I say HALLELUJAH AND FUCK YOU to trump for Neil Gorsuch authoring the LGBTQ opinion.

Have I lately been so satisfied by a court’s result?

(Well, yes, Judge Sullivan in the Flynn case. I CANNOT wait for him to sentence that traitorous ass).

TODAY: I shall finish one of the books by a Black author that I purchased in support of a week of buying Black writers (Instagram) (‘course, I’ve been doing this for years, letting myself buy bestsellers penned by Black writers LOOONNNG before they come out in paperback). Today? Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John. It takes place on Antigua where Kincaid grew up and incidentally, where Eliza Lucas Pincnkey also grew up.

The Solstice is nigh (she said). With Leo on the ascendant, and a problematic 12th house, this time of year always comes as a kind of relief to me, a psychological blossoming as well as a literal one.

I will also make two more masks. The elastic I ordered back in March finally arrived. These two will be birthday gifts for a Cancerian friend who is coming over tomorrow to write POSTCARDS to Florida with me. If she’s lucky, I’ll use some of the batiks that Tina sent me.

They say the postcards make a difference, but what do I know? What do any of us know?

In the category of things that surely don’t make a difference but that make ME feel better: this week I sent a postcard to the White House, saying, “You’re Fired!” as part of a campaign to get millions of people buying stamps because — you know — ahem, absentee ballots, the Constitution, the USPS, Jeff Bezos.

I also made a complaint to the Virginia Bar about William Barr (OK impeachment might be out of the question, but can’t somebody disbar the fucker?)

Since this blog is PATTERN and outrage, here’s some noodling from this week, done in anticipation of some hot pink threads from Deb (due to arrive any minute).

P.S. Don’t give to the Minnesota Freedom Fund as I recommended a bit ago — they’ve been SWAMPED by donations! A wonderful problem for them. Also in case you don’t know, don’t give to anything Shaun King is rustling up. He’s reviled by many of the Black woman I follow on Twitter.

PPS. I do not mean to hassle those who are taking time to absorb things and order their thinking and staying quiet. I can’t tell you how tentatively I posted our Hearts for Charleston quilt on Instagram yesterday, it being the 5th anniversary of the Mother Emanuel AME massacre.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

A spoken work with references to the nursery rhyme, Ring Around the Rosie, and to ideas put forth by Resmaa Menakem in a recent interview with Krista Tippet, On Being. See references, below.

Ring around the plaza
an eye socket full of gas
the corner goes up in flames.
Ashes, ashes, we all
rise up.

Ring around the Big House
pocketful of protests.
The fence becomes a meme
demanding justice.
Ashes ashes, we all
fall down and weep.

Ring around the house of worship
pockets emptied of protection.
The Reverend’s voice rings to
the rafters of the nation:
“Because you held a
knee to our neck.”

Ring around the Rosie
a reference to a rash
pockets full of posies
those nosegays believed to
protect against the plague.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down
as cases spike, the bodies
that cannot breathe, numerous.

Ring around the wrist or the waist
We wear our slogans proudly
as if our purchasing history
might changed the damage done
over centuries.
Free Shipping! Black Lives Matter!

Ring up the purchases, fast and
furious, for its not all
pat and full of pride. The
esteemed list of best sellers
goes nearly fully to educating
white people about the ills of
our body, our white body,
holding down the Black body
for 14 generations.

‘Performative’ sneers a neighbor
‘a buzzword,’ she demeans,
then puts “micro-aggression”
in quotes, nearly begging
to be challenged in a post
decrying white women
challenging each other.

We could argue. I could be
right and she wrong, or
I could be obnoxious and she right
and none of it would matter since
it all happens from the
neck up and slightly to the left.*

What if justice with a
capital ‘J” arises from a
place located just below
the navel?

What if it’s a problem
niceness can’t nice us
out of? And policy can’t
strategize us out of?*

I’m reminded of the brief
time in one of my toddler’s
lives, when he went
around disagreeing with
everyone. “You are
UNcorrect,” he’d scold.

Neighbor, fellow white
progressive, you are
UNcorrect. Hook up the
laugh track or better yet join hands and
spin and spin and spin until
the world blurs into horizontal
stripes and when we all fall
down, the world tilts and
makes us woozy — a
full body sense of disorientation,
a visceral impression
of losing hold of our
ingrained reliable perspectives —
even gravity unfamiliar.
A falling down
that might unhinge us
enough to fully rise up.

No nosegays for protection,
no signs of disease
breaking out, but an

embodied redirection
a skeletal curiosity
a human openness lacking
historic reference to white
supremacy except as
a check and a check again —
a hand out held for a
less insular dance
maybe even a fever pitch
celebratory hallelujah
where race matters as
culture but not as an
up or down measure.

Ring around the Rosie,
a Juneteenth dance,
a July 4th dance.
Post pandemic, Post
Tulsa, Watts, Rodney King,
post slavery, reconstruction, Jim
Crow, red lining, post foul brew
of leadership that slinks
from low point to low point.

Some of this will be over
soon, right?

We’ve burned it all down
before — ashes, ashes —
but could this be
the real time, the call
forward, even if the dance goes to
our death — yes — since all
dances go there — but
with real hand holding
in a dance of falling down? Alive.

The wind blows today.
Maybe it brings hope.

 

* * *

*in his now famous TED talk about education, Sir Kenneth Robinson talks about how most of academia is aimed to an area “above the neck and slightly to the left,” and that this is one of its greatest weaknesses.

* Reverend Al Sharpton’s eulogy for George Floyd was powerful and moving.

* Resmaa Menakem studies how trauma is stored in the body.
In his recent interview with Krista Tippet (On Being podcast), he criticizes white anti-racism efforts for relying on strategy and policies, instead of on culture. He also says that ‘white niceness is inadequate to deal with the level of brutality inflicted on black bodies.’ He asserts that the ‘real battlefield is inside our bodies and therefore the conflicts need to be resolved there.’

 

PS This post took almost two hours. ARRRRRRRRRRG! WP would not upload a 5M video from my iPad. I kept trying. Then, it also wouldn’t upload a draft to my phone (I usually bounce back and forth). So then I said, screw it, I’ll just publish and keep revising. So then I made a voice memo, forgetting how I uploaded it last time, then researching and remembering — requires emailing it to myself and then downloading to PC and inserting as media on blog. But then (Then!), I could not access WP Admin on PC, at which point I moved from a barely contained fury to whimpering. I had to google how to access admin, which took a bunch of tries, and then, when I tried to sign in, I apparently had the wrong PW, no re-assign PW link showed up in my email and then (Then!) they told me my account was closed and if I thought it in error to tap link where they wanted three pieces of info — none of which I had. I backed out and started again and just for fun input what I THOUGHT my PW was, just to see what the fuckers would say, and sure enough: “PW was used ‘too recently.'” YOU MEAN IT WAS MY PASSWORD? So now I have a PW that starts ‘youfuckingpieceofshit’. But I got my poem up!

West Newton Metta

It got crowded. What was six feet became four and then two. It was hot. I started thinking about myself in ways I don’t normally, as old, as immune compromised. So just before it was time to kneel for nine minutes in silence, I left. I said metta all the way home.

May George Floyd be peaceful. May he be free of inner and outer harm. May he be cared for gently as he makes his passage home. May he know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May the young woman who filmed Floyd’s murder be peaceful. May she be free of inner and outer harm. May she be healed of recent and transgenerational trauma. May she be cared for gently as she walks upon this earth. May she know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May George Floyd’s family be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May the people of Minneapolis be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May the people of Houston be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May all protesters be peaceful. May all protesters be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May all members of law enforcement be peaceful. May all police be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they minister to the public gently and for the greater good. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May all Americans be peaceful. May we be free of inner and outer harm. May we be cared for gently as we walk upon this earth. May we know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May all sentient beings be peaceful. May all sentient beings be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

May the earth be peaceful. May the earth be free of harm. May the earth be cared for gently as it spins through space. May the earth know joy, wisdom, and compassion.

Tomorrow — a rant. I’ll bet you can hardly wait.

How is everyone doing?

Not just another day

It’s hot. “The news flattens one spirits,” is one way to put it. A neighbor uses chalk to #saytheirnames

She inspires me.

It is hot enough for the season’s first batch of gazpacho.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, a random act of kindness.

And a kitty looking Finn over as we pass.

And in case you didn’t already know that consciousness loves contrast, after a brutal catch up of the news this morning, look what greeted me to the East.

If nothing else, give

View this post on Instagram

RIP George Floyd.

A post shared by Chawne Kimber (@cauchycomplete) on

It’s heartbreaking that Chawne Kimber had cause to repost her “I can’t breathe” quilt. After nearly every comment, Kimber asked, “but what are you going to DO?” A drumbeat. A call to action. “What are you going TO DO?”

Here is a link to Minnesota Freedom Fund, which among other things, pays criminal bail for those who cannot afford to do so. I gave a little this morning.

And here is a Medium article titled, “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.” It was written in 2017 and things have only gotten worse since then, so it’s still relevant. You could get lost for years doing the suggested reading and movie viewing. Don’t. Get a parallel course of action going.

Massachusetts has been reforming their criminal justice system in recent years, supported by a number of advocacy groups, like Citizens for Juvenile Justice. I made calls to my reps about some aspects of these efforts back in 2017 and am putting the task front and center again.

In “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander describes the devastating impacts of mandatory minimum drug sentencing and forfeiture rules. In the case of mandatory minimums, judges lost the power to consider a person’s circumstances. Sentencing that should have been calculated in months was imposed in five and ten year chunks.

When I worked for Aid to Incarcerated Mothers in the 90’s, I met inmates who had received mandatory five year sentences for possession of small amounts of drugs. Drug sales were often motivated by poverty or to support a habit. If parents, these women were almost always in danger of losing custody of their children — a secondary and devastating consequence to ridiculously long prison terms.

Alexander delineates how the forfeiture rules not only created incentives for law enforcement to grab property, it incentivized the vigorous continuation of the drug trade itself.

I’m jumping all around here, but there is a through line.

When making investments, you can either choose a socially responsible fund (an ESG investment) or have an otherwise ordinary fund apply filters. We chose Trillium as our ESG fund and applied the filters of fossil fuels and private prison corporations to others.

Privatization of the prison system creates incentives for keeping incarceration numbers high. More bodies equals more profits. ICE has been housing people in private prisons as well.

While I’m not sure that I fall all the way on the side of prison abolition, I most definitely want the racist and other inhumane policies to undergo reform. Our numbers are beyond shocking.

In closing let me say how gratifying it was to watch Amy Cooper go down in real time. From “twitter do your thing,” to her identity being posted within hours, to her voluntary surrender of her dog before sundown, her termination from Templeton Franklin the next day, and finally, her being banned from Central Park. She went full Donham* and deserved every bit of it.

*Woman who cried rape and effectively killed Emmett Till. She recanted a couple of years ago.

This quilt is from my Middle Passage series.