The People’s Library of ABQ

By Joseph Orosco (July 7, 2021)

During the Occpy Wall Street, groups of activists organized a spaced called the people’s library.  Thousands of books and magazine were organized to be available for free to whomever wanted to come to the encampment and find literature and radical scholarship that could help them make sense of Occupy or the issues behind the movement. The People’s Liberary inspired dozens of other projects in across the country where local activists tried to make books and other media available as part of collctive liberation efforts When the encampment in Zucotti park was finally demolished by the police, most of those books were confiscated and ended up in the landfill.


We recently sat down to talk to someone who is working in Albuquerque New Mexico to build a project with similar goals and aspirations.  Fiadh is an activist who has created the The People’s Library of ABQ.  She has been an anarchist organizer in many different spaces for a while now, but within the last year decided to create a lending library of radical books and zines.  The People’s Library ABQ describes itself as “a community project of leftist theory anarchist history and radial education.  We have books about queer, feminist, antiracist theory, indigenous resistance, transformative justice, philosophy and revolutionary thought”


We sat down with Fiah to discuss her inspirations for the project and to learn how it works, and how she would like it to grow in order to offer works that inspire the radical imagination to a broader audience.

You can watch the full interview at our YouTube channel:


Or listen to the audio podcast on

The People’s Library of ABQ’s collection of books, e-books, and zines can be browsed here:

For more information about the project and how to support it, contact:

Honoring the Passing of Elizabeth Betita Martinez (2021)

By Chris Crass (July 2, 2021)

Honoring the passing of justice movement veteran, elder and one of the most important mentors of my life, Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez.


Of two Latina staff members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 60s, and founding leader of the Women’s Liberation movement and the Chicano/a Power Movements in the 70s.


Her organizing was rooted in a vision of building multiracial working class power – for example, in the 90s translating Black History educational materials into Spanish and developing Black Freedom movement literacy programs in Latinx communities as both antidote to anti-Black racism, and to forge alliances for racial, economic, and gender justice.


Her mentoring and support for younger generation organizers of color was already legendary – developing leaders, strategists and alliance buildings. I knew I wanted to figure out anti-racist/collective liberation organizing in white communities and I hoped she would mentor me and help me grow as a leader. She took on so much more.


Her vast experience organizing, her movement journalism, her bringing people together to build movement together, all of this was so incredible. And it was also her deep belief in young people and encouragement to experiment and grow.


She would often say – “I will pass on as much as I can about what I know and what I think, but I also want to learn from you and what you and your generation are thinking, what you’re doing, what historical reference points guide you.”


And in the late 90s, as a crew of us were building Catalyst Project and developing new ideas/approaches for anti-racist/collective liberation organizing, ‘Betita’ and her leadership was crucially important


At a time when guilt and shame were prevalent in anti-racist work in white communities, when the end goal often seemed to be getting white people to know how racist they were, and then saying “stop being racist”.


Catalyst started talking about organizing white people from a place of love, that white supremacy as a system dehumanizes white people and turns us into weapons against communities of color to maintain ruling class power, that white anti-racists didn’t just need how to move back and listen, but also move forward and lead (learning the nuance of when to do either).


One long night I was talking with ‘Betita’ about this approach to anti-racist work in white communities, she said, “Look, so much of this work is focused on making white people feel bad about racism, and it’s not working. If you all think you can organize white people in a way that inspires them and helps equip them to be effective anti-racists, and you talk about love and collective liberation, do it, experiment.” And then she said, “What can I do to help this happen?”


I shared with ‘Betita’ that one of the barriers was that the narrative of “white people are racist and therefore problematic” is so strong, that it’s hard to get momentum for a narrative that “white people can be effective and powerful for racial justice and collective liberation, that white supremacy hurts us all, differently, but creates damage nonetheless, and that we need to all get free.”


‘Betita’ said something that energized me and Catalyst and gave us political space to operate. She said, “I believe in what you all are doing. I organize in Brown and Black communities, and I know how important it is to have large numbers of white people support and join that work. If you all think you can get large numbers of white people into this work, and want to try different approaches, I have your back. I will vouch for you, you can use my name regularly and publicly as supporting what you’re doing, I’ll be an advisor, I’ll publicly support what you all are doing – even if I don’t totally understand it, because I’m not trying to organize white communities. I want you all to be successful and i’ll show up as often as I can to help with your work.”


‘Betita’ believing and supporting me and Catalyst was monumental and it all flowed from her lifelong organizing and vision of powerful multiracial movements.


Years later, ‘Betita’ was at a Catalyst event where there were hundreds of white people learning about Black and Brown movement history, where white people were raising money for Black and Brown organizing, and learning how to organize in white communities for racial justice – and she said “This is what I hoped you all would do, and it needs to keep growing, and you just let me know how I can help.”


I love you ‘Betita’ Martinez.


I am so grateful for you, your leadership, your mentoring, your laughter and sense of humor, your encouragement to try and build.


When “Chivalry” is a Mask for Coercion

By Elle Stanger (March 2, 2020)

Standing outside a downtown bar and a gal beside me shivers and a man offers his coat and she says: “No, thank you” but he’s disregarding her No, and so she says it five more times in various polite ways.

And he’s insisting because “chivalry” and he’s taking it off and taking steps closer as she backs away, and he’s trying to put it on her shoulders, and I step in between and told him:

“IF YOU CARE ABOUT HER NEEDS AND RESPECT HER, PLEASE RESPECT HER NO – SHE DOESN’T WANT YOUR COAT”, and then he blinked and repeated monotone like a zombie fukboy, “I respect her”.

And she says ‘Thanks’ and I tell her to have a good night, and Boyfriend and I leave before I get too depressed on how passively rapey this culture is.

It sucks watching dudes get coercive as they attempt to be their own idea of a Hero or Nice Guy.

Anybody else ever force shit on you “for your own good”, but really because they are trying to ingratiate themselves to you?

If I ever get stabbed by a man, it will because of shit like this, I swear.


The Everyday Gray Areas of Harassment Toward Women

By Elle Stanger (January 29, 2020)

When I was a teen-adult, I worked in mall jobs for a couple years. One day, a twenty-something man talked at me for thirty minutes in an empty store while I set up the t-shirt displays: He followed me around explaining in GREAT DETAIL all of the tattoos he planned on getting, where and what and which scummy bro of his was gonna “hook him up”, he even told me his plans to file his teeth into fangs.

Literally thirty minutes. He didn’t buy anything.

Six months later and I’m working at a different location of that retail store, fifteen miles away. And the SAME dipshit comes in and starts reciting the exact same script of all his supposed tattoo plans and fangs, and it was at that point that I realized he didn’t recognize me.

Then I realized that he actually spends his time Doing That to women, all the time.

Things I learned:

-Some people need friends real bad
-Most employment jobs don’t give you tools for dealing with people like this
-Grey areas exist in terms of harassment
-It’s perfectly OK to ignore someone who is ranting their bullshit at you while you’re working
-I never care/enjoy hearing from someone about their tattoo/plans

I wonder if he’s out there, somewhere, STILL doing this.


Notes From Conversations With White Men Committed to Anti-Racism and Feminism and Struggling to Love Themselves/Ourselves

By Chris Crass (December 12, 2019)

“I’m struggling to find my grounding, to feel grounded and good about who I am, while I’m learning about all of this history, learning about people who have looked like me in the past and look like me today – white and cisgender male – have been in positions of power and enacted such massive violence and oppression. I want to keep learning how to work effectively and holistically to end white supremacy, to end patriarchy, to work for socialism and collective liberation, and how to love myself and love other people who look like me too.”

We talked about the pain of learning histories of exploitation and oppression, of what has been, of learning about the violence and injustices of misogyny, of transphobia, of white supremacy today – learning about the violent acts of individual white men, of the collective patterns of violence of the culture of white racist patriarchy that raises men to be conscious and unconscious soldiers of supremacy systems.

We talked about the feels of shame, sadness, and dissociation that can arise for us as white men engaging in anti-racist, feminist, collective liberation work – with example after example of white men doing and saying terrible things.

And then we talked about the need for historical understanding and systemic analysis to situate ourselves in both the strategy of supremacy systems that positions us against so many, along with the history of liberation and justice values, visions and movements that have aligned us with so many.

That we see these brutal supremacy systems for what they are, including what they have done and continue to do to us – to socialize white men into this highly individualistic and competitive mindset in which self-worth is dependent on a vast web of domination and subjugation of the vast majority, that promotes violence, anxiety, social isolation and explosive depression – towards oneself and towards others.

That we see the ways supremacy systems want us as white men to reject liberatory values and visions, and the ways that we as white men need to rise up against supremacy systems both in solidarity with the vast majority and as an act of emancipatory love for ourselves and other white men who we do not want to see be used as tools for oppression.

That we understand that supremacy systems have long worked to get as many white men as possible to see themselves aligned with ruling classes, and that we, as white guy collective liberation organizers, need to be mindful that we don’t further entrench white men, making it seem that based on race and gender privilege, that class is irrelevant and that in fact white men are the ruling class – our goal is to awaken the heart of solidarity and dignity within white men, as we move them/ourselves to reject the supremacy systems of ruling classes and embrace – mind, body and soul – economic, racial and gender justice as efforts and movements to all get free.

We have to love each other, see each other, affirm and support each other, as we reclaim our hearts and minds from supremacy systems and work from the approach that supremacy systems are the enemy, and they can’t keep stealing the lives of white boys and white men to serve them.

Loving ourselves as white anti-racist, feminist men, for collective liberation – loving our bodies, loving our emotions, loving vulnerability, loving our tenderness, loving our strengths, learning about white men we can be inspired by, white men who we love and organize with – all of this is part of the journey to get free and become the leaders we need to become, especially among other white men. To get free and work, live, love and join with others, for collective liberation – from our personal relationships, to the governing values economically, politically and culturally.

We can do this, and we must bring as many white boys and white men with us, out of the death culture, the culture of emotional suffocation that leads to a hundred forms of violence, the structural inequality that deprives, exploits, divides and extracts our souls. We can do this, and can love and support other white men to be part of building up beloved community and the world our boys and kids of all genders deserve.

Chris Crass on collective liberation
Chris Crass on collective liberation

On Women Who Get Mad at the Removal of Pink and “Feminine” Markers from Menstrual Products

By Elle Stanger (October 26, 2019)

On Women who get mad at the removal of pink and “feminine” markers from menstrual products*:

Many assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) children are pushed into liking pink and flowers from the time they are born, so when you base an entire identity around gender roles, it’s going to be very upsetting for people who have strongly attached to those roles.

Example: ‘Pink things have always meant for-girls and I’m a girl and now that’s going away! Women = Pink! I’m being erased!’

Like men who are angry that they are being asked to rework behaviors showing entitlement and aggression (the Gillette razor ad, for example):

You told these boys to act a certain way their entire lives and now taking that away or altering expectations makes them confused about their role in society.

Look around for people who raise their kids on “How to be a Man/Woman”; it’s often rife with double standards and specific themes.

Gender roles are garbage and ascribed activities and tastes based on sex/gender are one example.

*Some people are just transphobes though.


Cruelty Toward Children Is Part of US History and Culture

By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (July 29, 2019)

I think the most insidious and cruel aspect US fundamentalist capitalism and Ayn Randian individualism is the hatred for children, prominently now those thousands of caged children in concentration camps on the border, and in pedophilia infested centers around the country; but also the ongoing lead in the water in Flint, in Oakland, in southern Louisiana, the lack of public child care for working parents, and in Syria and Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, dead and lost generations of children, refugee children the US refuses to take in, cruelty and hatred of children baked into US socio-political-cultural history, into every institution, the kill the children first in raids on Native communities, the unimaginable horror of enslaved African children separated form parents, no childhood at all, children as property to be bought and sold and groomed for lives of labor.

The US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Poverty: The U.S. ranks 30th out of 34 rich countries in terms of child poverty. 21.2% of children in the United States live in poverty. The average for rich countries is 13.3%. Only Chile, Turkey, Mexico and Israel had higher child poverty rates.

The U.S. is the only high-income country not to grant paid maternity leave.

The U.S. is also the one country in the world that sentences offenders under the age of 18 to life in prison without parole, which the Convention opposes.

How do we in the US live with this horror that is the US? We should not be shocked how the USG is treating refugee children at the border, given that it doesn’t treat US citizen children much better.


Laughter in the Face of White Mediocrity – and other strategies for anti-oppression excellence


By Christian Matheis (June 21, 2019)

“What do I tell my kids?” a student asked me last spring in an intro class on community problem solving. She, African-American and one of the few (4, she tells me) on the municipal police force of around 450 officers, caught my words.


“What do I tell my kids???” she repeated as I searched for an answer worthy of the question.


Here is what had prompted the question. In response to a class discussion about the covert and persistent versions of authority, white supremacy, and white privilege in institutions, I made a casual remark about mediocrity. Paraphrasing something Lani Roberts told me many years ago I said, “Remember, bureaucracy tends to select for mediocrity. And mediocrity tends to bolster bureaucracy. Act excellent, show brilliance and you’re a threat to the mediocre who have careers built on mediocrity. Stay mediocre, get promoted.” I voiced it matter-of-factly.


Her question, “what do I tell my kids???” was not casual. It was urgent.


In the moment I didn’t have the kinds of liberation-informed response I wish I had. So, I’ve given it some thought and reflection over the past few weeks and I at least found some of my voice to try again. In other words, through the cruel irony of white mediocrity itself I had casually named white mediocrity while a Black mother in a class I taught lived it, felt it like a ton of bricks and instantly had to wonder how to parent in spite of it.
More and more recently, a growing number of people have written about and re-emphasized Black excellence — a term by Black people, for Black people, about Black people that highlights the successes of Blacks who thrive despite and in resistance to global white supremacy. Or perhaps irrespective of white supremacy. I do not know.
I think it is not for me to say much at all about Black excellence, except that I think it stands in critical, liberatory opposition to white supremacy, white privilege, and white mediocrity by making these latter systems wholly irrelevant (or as much as possible) to how African Americans treat one another. Or to paraphrase Toni Morrison, “When I started writing I found that all the stories by Black men about Black people were about someone locked in a fight with their oppressor. Once I decided to kick the oppressor out of my stories I could write the realities of Black women, for us and about us” (my recollection of her remark at the Sheer Good Fortune event at Virginia Tech in 2013).
I want to reiterate that the mediocrity here is not just any mediocrity, not just any bureaucracy. It is *white* mediocrity. And it helps maintain and fuel white bureaucracy, white privilege, and white supremacy by any and all names we might call these systems.
Intersectionally, white mediocrity as the paradigm inside of white bureaucracies depends on the entire system of capitalist imperialist cisheteropatriarchal mediocrity (riffing on bell hooks).
(As much as I admire Bonnie Mann’s work on “sovereign masculinity” (2013), we have to read our Marx and Engels closely enough to notice that an elite class struggles with sovereign masculinity, while the vast majority of people exploited, abused, and murdered by patriarchy suffer in systems of “bureaucratic masculinity”)
White mediocrity plays out its favors and punishments through a system that at least includes:

– Aesthetic white mediocrity: collapsing and controlling beauty, awe, wonder, ineffability, the sublime, etc. in ways that protect and further entrench the role of whites as the paradigm of aesthetics, the benchmarks of all beauty, pure and magnificent. All others, ugly, impure, and mundane.
– Moral white mediocrity: assessing right, wrong, good, bad, and any complex value determinations in ways that protect and further entrench the role of whites as the best evaluators, the best at making judgments.


– Political white mediocrity: adjudicating claims of injustice, distributing resources and opportunities, distribution of social benefits and burdens, and ranking individual and group interests in ways that protect and further entrench whites as the best deciders.
– Economic white mediocrity: conceiving of quality of life, social welfare, distribution of resources and opportunities, etc. in ways that protect and further entrench whites as the best owners and controllers — to say little or nothing of interrogating and dismantling ownership paradigms in themselves.
Let’s get a few things on the table.
White mediocrity has promoted me.


My refusal to collude in white mediocrity, when I have mustered the strength and strategy, has also cost me. But it has never cost me as much as it has promoted me. The cost is optional for whites.


I both have and can still give talks titled, “Anti-Racism for White People: Or How to Stop Worrying and Become a White Race Traitor” knowing that it is a luxury, an option. White mediocrity allows me to do so, but with as much or as little efficacy as I choose.


The social positionality allows me to write about it, in this moment, with relatively limited consequences.


We know all too well that whites can count on cashing in the white mediocrity chip at any time, anywhere, and that it benefits us to remain unaware of this particular form of corrupting privilege (Peggy McIntosh).


White mediocrity may take familiar forms. Though because systematic oppression operates to conceal itself it may not always appear obvious when one has come face to face with white mediocrity. For that reason, I want to try to help expose the anatomy of white mediocrity by naming what seem like common aspects:


– Assume authority is yours for the taking, that as white you deserve it if you put enough loyal years into an organization.

– Speak with the tone and cadence that always, flawlessly implies the threat, “I decide, or must I remind you.”

– Seek managerial promotion in white-dominated bureaucracies as an inherent good.

– Treat others as if they want managerial promotion in a white-dominated bureaucracy.

– Reward/encourage others as if they want promotion in a white-dominated bureaucracy.

– Sanction/discourage others who resist promotion in a white-dominated bureaucracy, especially anyone who doesn’t “play ball.”

– Defend your mediocre decisions as best for the white-dominated bureaucracy.

– Offer to mentor, coach, or advise people from underrepresented groups in how to obtain the fruits of white mediocrity by assimilating.

– Avoid people from underrepresented groups who question and challenge the mediocrity of white rule over white-dominated bureaucracies.

– Pat on the back anyone from any group who validates your fragile, white mediocre ego.

– …what else? This must be an open list.


These and many other normalized traits of administrative leadership and managerial authority depend on and bolster white mediocrity. We whites dare not admit to it. What would become of our claims to authority, force, power, rule? All so flimsy.


One salient insight into white mediocrity I can now recall was with a supervisor during an annual performance evaluation meeting. At the time I served in an advocacy role in a university, my salary paid for by student fees. During the conversation while I listened to “recommendations for professional growth” I had a sudden and inexplicable need to explain, “I think you think I someday want your job. Or the vice-provost’s job.” She looked shocked. I went on, “I took this job because I want this job, this work right now. I’ll hopefully take the next one for similar reasons. But I have zero aspirations about promotion, about climbing the status ladder.”


She, a cis heterosexual woman of color, confided in me several months later that that remark had seriously upset her. Not because it wasn’t fair or relevant, but because she realized that she had never once in her career questioned her desire to climb the administrative hierarchy. It was a given.


Given by whom? By mediocre whites.


White mediocrity can co-opt, tokenize, and assimilate people from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds.
Various scholars of liberation such as Jane Nardal, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Audre Lord, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Herbert Marcuse, Karl Marx, etc. have shown that oppression plants in the oppressed the seeds of their own liberation, while at the same time it (oppression) also masks that fact.


This is probably why Black excellence is so crucial to undermining white mediocrity. Black excellence exposes and at the same time treats as irrelevant the scheme of white mediocrity, or so I suspect.


In “Shooting an Elephant” (1936) George Orwell tells about the time in his young adulthood when he served as part of the brutal, colonial British military force occupying India. Many years later, reflecting on the depth of his acculturation into white imperialist rule he remarks, “Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. …I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East.”
What catches my attention is not that Orwell merely notices and confesses to his acculturation into British imperialism, doing the job while hating the job. It is the pattern of events that Orwell says most frustrated and upset him at the time, and what helped to expose to him the mediocrity of British bureaucratic oppression over India and Burma. In the opening of the essay he writes,


“As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow [sic] faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves.


Then later, in closing, “The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.”


What if white mediocrity has no immunity to laughter?


Perhaps what white mediocrity fears most is that the oppressed will realize how preposterous and mediocre white rule has always been. How laughable, unimaginative, and incoherent white supremacy actually is, and how it appears maybe most laughable in its bureaucratic administrative formations. Moreover, laughable in that so much of the scheme and scam of white mediocrity is about whites coercing whites to remain ignorant of it, and to use white bureaucracy to eradicate spaces in which people of color can create overt language – a language in which to talk about white mediocrity in institutional settings (e.g. in the workplace, classroom, research conference, annual performance evaluation, etc.).


Where and when can we talk about white mediocrity? Cisgender mediocrity? The mediocrity of the temporarily able-bodied? Masculine mediocrity? Heterosexual mediocrity? And so on.
“What do I tell my kids?” she asked.


I do not know.


At least for today, I hope she tells them to consider laughter and Black excellence — Tell your children to laugh and love their Black excellence.

How Can We Make You Stop? They Can’t. A Guide for Marginalized People Who Challenge Discrimination

By Christian Matheis (June 20, 2019)

One of the things that happens to people from underrepresented backgrounds when they begin to advocate for themselves, including when they challenge patterns of institutional / systematic discrimination: attempts by people in positions of authority to get you to doubt your reality.

We need to call this what it is: an attempt to get people from marginalized groups to further internalize oppression, to engage in horizontal hostilities, and to accept assimilation and tokenism as “the other” (Suzanne Pharr).

Naomi Zack, a philosopher role model and mentor to me many years ago, told a story at a conference a few years ago (2016 APA Central Division Meeting) I want to paraphrase as an example.

Naomi had been invited by a colleague to give a talk at another university as a guest lecturer. As the talk neared, the colleague who invited Naomi wrote to say that faculty in the hosting department — also philosophers — were pressing this question: “how is what Naomi Zack does philosophy?”

Naomi identifies as a biracial/multiracial African-American Jewish woman from the U.S.A.


This is, in brief, how Naomi responded: she itemized her entire CV by illustrating that she earned various degrees in philosophy, including a PhD, has taught philosophy courses for several decades at accredited universities, has held various non-tenure and tenure-track positions in philosophy departments at different universities, is now a tenured full professor of philosophy, and has a long list of peer-reviewed publications in various branches of philosophy in a range of philosophy journals.

At the end of this narrative Naomi added the key response: “Tell them this, my CV. And then tell them that what they are asking is not how what I do counts as philosophy. They are asking, ‘how do we make her stop?’ And the answer is, tell them they can’t. They can’t make me stop.”

The intimidation may take all sorts of different forms, but it owes to the same objective of trying to convince people from marginalized groups that they are not qualified by their experiences, studies, survival mechanisms, community mentoring, etc. to address institutionalized oppression.

The intimidation may percolate up and take shape through a whole range of different phrases and behaviors that seem all-too-reasonable.

But what those with authority are asking is not whether thou art qualified. They are asking, “how can we make you stop?”

And the answer is: they can’t.

But you have to believe it and spend time with other people who live it, care about liberation, and who also believe it.


Open Letter to the White Male Legislators in Alabama and Georgia

By Sonia Gutierrez (May 15, 2019)

Dear White Guy, You Don’t Own My Body

I had a miscarriage.

At the clinic, the doctor told me I had a blighted ovum and said she was sorry. According to her, I would have to go to the hospital for a procedure—if nature didn’t take its course. Well, I didn’t want that and trusted my body could miscarry on its own. I knew women’s bodies had miscarried for thousands of years, and I trusted their wisdom and the female anatomy’s ability to release its seed.

I called my cousin with a doctor in the family and asked her if I could miscarry on my own. She answered, “Yes.”

I visited my parents to tell them the news. In the backyard, my father standing next to the guava tree looked worried. When I told him about miscarrying on my own, my father said he would prefer that I go to the hospital. While my father talked to me, my mother walked hurriedly to her estafiete plant, took some leaves, and asked me to drink the tea with chocolate when I was ready. My mother’s knowledge didn’t surprise me—she had always been our medicine woman. But I knew women like my mother and myself, who knew their bodies and stood their ground, had been historically persecuted and branded as witches and evil.

Later that late afternoon at home in my garden I took a shovel and a pick and struck the Earth ”La Tierra” with all my might. My partner asked me, “What are you doing?” I answered, “I’m telling my body I am ready.”

Hours later, we had dinner at my sister’s, and I excused myself. When I looked down at the toilet, I saw what looked like a heart-shaped plumb. I shared with my sister the miscarriage had begun and not to worry—I would be fine.

We went home. I miscarried all night. I do recall drinking aspirin in case my miscarriage came with pain. It didn’t. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking process.

Days later, when I returned to the clinic, I was asked, “How did you do it?” or something like “Who did it?”

I answered, “I did.” She was impressed.

Fifteen years after, when states like Alabama and Georgia put the faith of women’s bodies in men’s hands, who do not know what it is like to live in a woman’s body, it worries me that a woman like me who remains rooted in indigenous knowledge after 500 years of colonization is told what her body can and cannot do.

Dear White Guy—ignorant is the man who thinks he can think for a woman and know her body more than she does.


Cersei is Far More Than a Raging Mother

By Theresa Hogue (May 14, 2019)

There are plenty of valid criticisms floating about regarding Game of Thrones’ brutal penultimate episode, many of which focus on the unexpected and frankly wild veering that many beloved characters do from the path the writers had previously put them on. Whether it’s Jaime’s sudden crash from his redemption arc with Brienne to Dany’s maniacal firestorm slaughter of innocents, there was a lot to take in, and a lot to be critical of.

For me, though, the most frustrating moments of the episode came when multiple male characters discussed the motivations of Queen Cersei, including both her brothers. Over and over, you heard male characters linking Cersei’s ambitions directly to her motherhood and current pregnancy, negating any other valid reason for her refusal to cede power.

Does Cersei identify as a wounded mother? Clearly. And have many of her most brutal actions been fueled by either protecting or revenging her children? Absolutely. But Cersei’s underlying drive for power is clearly motivated by being a capable, intelligent woman in a patriarchy that severely limits female ambition. She was less valued by her father than her twin brother, despite being a better strategist. She was strategically married by her father to a far less capable king and had to watch his failures as a leader. “I should wear the armor, and you the gown,” she tells King Robert Baratheon. She has been limited and thwarted by men her entire life.

While it is true that Cersei’s current pregnancy may lend urgency to her situation, she fights not because she’s a mother but because she has finally attained the position she felt she deserved and she damn well won’t relinquish it. It is true that Cersei’s position is not a feminist one, she is not fighting to stay in power to somehow advance the situation of women in Westeros, in fact many of her biggest and most loathed enemies have been other women attempting to grab or maintain power, and she’s ruthlessly cut them down (think Margery Tyrell, her treatment of Sansa, and her current disdain of Dany). However, she does fight against patriarchy for her own sake.

Salon did an analysis of Game of Thrones last year which showed that since 2013 there hasn’t been a single female writer, let alone director, on the show. So perhaps it’s not surprising when a major female character like Cersei is reduced simply to her role as a protective mother, rather than a complicated, dangerous and ruthless leader who has many reasons for protecting the throne she fought so violently for. In her final scene with her brother, the writers reinforce the episode’s emphasis on motherhood when they have her plead to Jaime, “I want our baby to live.” And of course she does, but her impending death is about so much more.

“Power is power,” Cersei says in a much earlier episode. Her whole life has been about shaking off the impediments of male power in order to attain what she knew, all along, she was capable of. That’s what she loses as the walls come down.