Do You Get it Now?

By S. (September 30, 2018)


Every time a black person is murdered and there’s a public debate I want to scream “do you get it now?”

Kavanaugh’ entire life is about generational wealth, white privilege, systematic oppression of black people, and control of women. He is a terrific embodiment of Republican values. Like Trump, he is but a symptom.

The larger picture is about a toxic ideology to some extent we all agree with: an ideology that says it’s okay for the strong to dominate the weak (through economic means), that governments are ineffective, that wealth is a blessing from God, that compassion is weakness and greed a virtue, that there is no consent only domination.

Do you get it now?

Dr. Ford Represents the Resilience of the Wounded

By Mark Naison (September 27, 2018)

I didn’t watch Christine Ford’s testimony, but the pain it has inspired among so many friends, which they have expressed with an eloquence and courage that has moved me to the core, is something I will never forget.

This is a profound historical moment. I just ask for the wisdom and strength to show solidarity with and compassion for so many people who are at the very heart of the communities which give meaning to my life. If I do not hear the cries of anguish, if I do not grapple with my own demons, if I do not contribute to the healing, I am not the person I need to be.

In this moment, know someone hears you, someone loves you, someone remembers that it is the resilience of the wounded that has contributed to our best art, our best music and has shaped those moments in History where humanity takes a step forward.


Why Are the Standards of Human Decency So Low for White Men?

By Teka Lark (September 27, 2018)

I remember back when I had my newspaper and a blog and commented on Laist for making a comment on the coverage of Watts that was not only plagiarized from Wikipedia with photos from a moving car, but was also amazingly racist. I was called a stupid bitch and banned from ever commenting again, even though that was almost 10 years ago.  When I tried to comment last year I was still banned.

My partner who was a white guy, got zero static (he wasn’t banned from anything) for our various actions, but me I was painted as an aggressive troublemaker.

Then in life being in more radical circles, I’m regularly tested. I have to be way nicer, do way more, and I am questioned more frequently than my white male comrades.

If I don’t prostrate myself, my name is bandied about, “Well why isn’t Teka fixing this?”

No one is paying me, but who cares, I’m a Black woman, and I can fix everything.

BUT when I do help and do it too enthusiastically, you know I use my name, someone mentions me and I actually get credit (very unBlack ladylike) my offers of help are viewed as power plays. My heels are used as proof as my allegiance to the bourgeoisie. My socioeconomic background does not only make people suspicious of me, but also makes people quite angry. The idea of the uppity Black person has been behind the burning down of many Black US cities and that anger is still very much present in modern day, especially if you’re characterized as uppity and you let it be known that you like other Black people.

People have arguments with me that aren’t conversations on things that I have said, but on things that other people, who are Black, have written, the frequency of this is frightening.

I remember once I was told that I needed to apologize for Farrakhan, because I said gatekeeping is a real problem in regards to agency. Now, those of you who know me, know that I am an atheist and I just don’t generally bring up religious leaders of any stripe, so this interaction was simply a continuation of a conversation that this person had with another Black person, who clearly was not me.

And that brings me to this: why is the standard for Black women so high for white and white passing progressives/radicals/moderates, and why for white men the standards for just human decency so low?

I look at a guy like Kavanaugh. I look at his life and I bet no one has ever called him an elitist to his face. I bet no one has ever viewed his initiative as some sneaky power play. I bet everyone in his life, before this, generally thought he was a nice guy.

But OK possibly comparing myself to Kavanaugh isn’t an example that seems reasonable, but you know I think about white/white-passing guys in art, poetry, radical movements; they can talk to people like they are dogs, they can threaten to kill people, not shower, they can have conversations peppered with “fuck” and there will be no consequences, and not only that, people will think they are cool.

They can get book deals, tenure, speaking gigs, and they can be completely incorrigible, and if they are just kind of decent (like only rape one person and it was statutory rape, so not as bad right, –clearly this is sarcasm–) and be kind of pleasant and get kudos and accolades for just doing what they are supposed to do, the rock bottom bare minimum of what everyone else is expected to do, but for white men, the bar is really low for not just being a radical, but for being a decent human being.

Kavanaugh is so cocky, so sure he’s not going down, because never in his life has he ever had to worry about people not liking him and not supporting him, because for a white guy to be viewed as an OK guy, whether it is in liberal circles, radical circles, conservative circles all he has to do is smile and make a joke and all the bad stuff goes away.

How wonderful must that be?


Dismantling Racism is About Dismantling the United States

By Teka Lark (September 18, 2018)

Dismantling racism in your community/your org/your place of religious worship isn’t about you personally taking a journey and discovering everyone really is a human being, this isn’t about you, but yet –it is.

Dismantling racism is also not about the first Black capitalist, the first Black general, or the first Black supermodel.

Dismantling racism is also not about the opportunity for everyone to be an oppressor.

Dismantling racism involves changing laws, changing not who is in charge, but that there has to be a person in charge. Dismantling racism is about investing money in communities that have been divested in owing to race. Dismantling racism is about getting rid of the idea that there has to be poor people. Dismantling racism means relinquishing power you have obtained just by being white. Dismantling racism is understanding that there is no such thing as good power. Dismantling racism means understanding that this system isn’t broken, but working just the way it is supposed to. Dismantling racism means understanding that equity is reparations and reparations is not a check.

A check will never fix any of this.

Dismantling racism is about dismantling the United States.

If you don’t want to do that, fine, but I have no desire to have pretend conversations with you on the topics of capitalism and war, because all those things are glued together in the United States owing to racism.

If you’re not ready to dismantle racism, then you’re not ready to dismantle anything.


What the Louis C.K. Comeback Can Teach Us About Restorative Justice

By Katherine Power (September 14, 2018)

This piece describes the demands that justice makes in the name of people victimized in sexual assaults.

I would add only one point: restorative justice is not about victim and perpetrator talking or repairing a relationship. It is about naming, on behalf of the whole community, the harm that has been done. It is about a community publicly witnessing that what was perpetrated was harmful and must be addressed.

Faced toward the perpetrator, restorative justice is both an insistence and an invitation to see, really see, what they have done to others; to repair and restore where possible; to suffer the discomfort of a disturbed conscience; and to commit to the values of the community they are asking to be restored to.

Faced toward the people whom the perpetrator has harmed, it acknowledges and even measures the harm done; allows them to see that the perpetrator has been called to account.

Faced toward the community, it asserts the value of the person diminished by the harmful acts; declares a community standard of behavior that will be enforced, both by disapproval and by an invitation to return to full participation.


How to Talk to the Young White Men Drifting Toward the Alt-Right

By Chris Crass (September 7, 2018)

Talked with a Mom who reached out for support about her teenage son who she sees drifting towards the alt-right.

My heart ached listening to her story. I shared how when I was 15, I was deeply confused, angry and felt alienated. I was trying to figure out who I was and what meaning there was in life. I almost went down a right wing reactionary path. I almost went towards joining a gang. And thankfully I found my people; my anarchist/socialist, let’s make a better world and still have room for our anger and our pain, and build community around social justice values and deep friendship, people

I talked with the Mom about how so many young white men are being spoken directly to by the alt-right, being given a narrative that places that in the world, gives meaning to their lives, and enemies all around them to blame for their pain and anger. We talked about how important it is to connect with her son, not directly so much about the alt-right politics and debate them, but go deep underneath to what the pain, confusion and anger is that is in his heart.

And we talked about ways to connect him with social justice stories and experiences that have young white men in them, young white men finding their passion, their purpose, their place in multiracial, feminist justice movements and communities.

The main thing we talked about is how much she loves her son and how much we need liberation narratives and visions that resonate deeply in the hearts of young white men, that not only repel the poison of the alt-right, but ignites their hearts and souls for their own salvation, healing and purpose, rooted in collective liberation.


Should We Worry Whether Bash is Flashing White Power?

By S. (September 5, 2018)

Dear White Liberal Friends,

Welcome to the crazy-making world of trying to interpret the actions of those in power. Is Ms. Bash sending a white power signal or are we reading too much into her hands? Black people have had to deal with so many dog whistles and so many excuses to explain away racist behaviors that it is intentionally very difficult to discern real micro- and macro-aggressions from non-racial behaviors.

–Did I get the traffic ticket because I’m black or did I get because I committed a traffic infraction?

–My white coworker got a promotion and I didn’t. Is it racism or did my white coworker work very hard and deserved that promotion more than I did?

–Is the waitress being rude to me because she doesn’t like black people?

–If Tamir Rice was white, would he still be alive today?

–Would a white tennis player been allowed to wear a cat suit at the French Open?

When blatantly racist actions get explained away or people deny that a known racist is racist, we are being gaslighted. Our ability to assess and interpret situations has been compromised. Because we are so vulnerable and so hurt, we can error on the side of caution and assume racism when there may be more appropriate explanations.

I have no idea what’s happening with Bash’s gesture. But for the sake of my sanity, I can’t focus on the ‘real’ intention. Instead, let’s focus on the very real and unambiguous policies and ideas that Bash supports that will harm people of color.