Running out of money? let’s talk about it!

May 28, 2016 at 9:11 pm (class war, Uncategorized)

This past week, I was posting on facebook about the drama of my car repairs costing as much as a month’s rent, and not having enough to pay both. I was making jokes about selling a kidney, but you know how those jokes are: not really funny.

I have family that is helping me out and I’m going to be ok, but I wanted to say something about WHY I posted that.

We’re trained in this culture not to talk about money, and especially not to talk about it when we struggle financially. But why?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/

This article explores recent studies showing that not only are a majority of people in the US living paycheck to paycheck, a majority of us also can’t scare up $400 in an emergency without selling belongings, or borrowing money. I know that’s MY reality, but I assumed that’s because I was, you know, bad with money, have too much debt, etc., etc. I thought about it in an individualist way, and blamed myself. It never occurred to me how common this situation is, and that people in my lie were probably in the same boat as me, without me knowing.

Because we don’t talk about it.

I think we should talk about it, because when we realize it’s actually an experience many people are having, it’s less isolating, scary, and shaming, and it also becomes clearer that it’s not an individual situation, it’s a systemic one. And maybe that’s a step in the direction of building solidarity and power to change the system.

I spoke with a couple of friends in the days after posting about my water pump drama, and it turned out that they, too, are one paycheck away from falling behind on everything, and they, too, don’t have $400 or more stashed away for emergencies, they, too have no idea what they’re going to do when their kids head to college. So if that’s also true for you, know that you aren’t alone, and even if some of your experience is a result of financial missteps or mistakes you’ve made, overall, this is systemic. And because it’s systemic, all of us coming together in solidarity and organizing is going to have a bigger impact on our financial situation that forgoing that latte.

I think that’s why we’re socialized not to talk about this stuff. If we think it’s only us, we turn our ire inward, and we think if we can just work hard enough/be frugal enough/win the lottery, it will change. But it will only change if we do it together.

And one last thing: don’t get sucked into blaming other people who have less than us for this situation. Scapegoating immigrants, people of color, people who are poorer or more precarious than us just clouds things up and keeps us from seeing where responsibility for this state of affairs rests. If you want to know who to blame, look to the people who run the economy and who benefit from the way it is right now. Punch UP.

 

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September 11, 2012 mix tape

September 12, 2012 at 5:05 am (Global politics, Politics of Power) (, , , , , , )

These are the things I listened to about 9-11 today, and last year, too. Do you have anything to add to this mix-tape? leave a link in the comments!

Suheair Hammad: First Writing Since

Ani Difranco: Self Evident (I haven’t watched the video…but listen)

Arundhati Roy: Come September

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It’s a Trap!

September 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm (School) (, , , , )

“If this strike happens, it will awaken parents’ interest in terms of ‘Why can’t we have more choice’ (and) ‘Why do we have to be stuck without having a voice,'” he said. “I think parents are going to be frustrated when they see 50,000 kids having an education, going to school without interruption and their kids are not.”

This article is clearly pro-charter school propaganda. The only people quoted in it are charter school parents, the CEO of an organization that runs charter schools that also has close ties to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (these ties aren’t mentioned in the article), and the president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

I have a complicated position when it comes to Charter Schools. Politically, I see and oppose the way they are being used by the right wing to break teacher unions and to privatize education. When the right wing push for school vouchers failed, those involved turned their attention to Charter Schools, where they are finding much more success. I have found writings published in Left Turn about charter schools in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and about charter schools in Washington D.D. to be very eye-opening and troubling.

But I also know that historically, charters were created to offer a place for innovation, and some charter schools do still innovate. I know this for myself because my child attends a charter school. Our school is atypical as far as charter schools go. It was founded by parents and teachers, in 1994, before the modern charter school “movement,” and from the beginning has had more of a focus on process than on product. Our teachers unionized a couple of years ago, and our board of directors is made up of parents and staff who are elected through a community vote.

I served as a member of the board of directors of our school for two years, and being in that position and doing that work really led me to believe that the right wing’s support for charter schools is more about privatization than it is about union busting (though it is, also, about union busting).

School districts are generally governed by a school board, whose members are elected by the voters of that municipality. So, the parents of the kids in the public schools are among those who decide, through voting, who will be making educational policy decisions and handling the money in the district, public money which comes from taxes.

Your average charter school is governed by a board of directors. The school’s charter is granted by the local school district or by the state. In the case of our school, we go before the local school board once every five years for charter renewal. So while theoretically, the school board has some oversight, in practice there’s not much. Voters, the parents and families of the kids in those charter schools, have very little access to, or power over, the people deciding educational policy and choosing what to do with the public dollars that run the charter school.

Please note that, at least in California, the state provides the exact same dollar amount per student to charter schools as they do to regular public schools.

Most charter school boards are appointed by whoever formed the charter and then they self appoint subsequent board members. Board members are often chosen for their access to resources, such as money and power, and we all know that folks with access to money and power often see the world very differently than those without that access, and those world views will guide their choices. And if the choices they make don’t serve the good of their neighborhood or of their city or, even, of their students, there’s not a lot that a community can do.

This is what it looks like when private interests assume control over public funds. The electoral process is pretty flawed, but at least when we’re dealing with a school district, the people making policy and budgets are elected and there is some accountability. Not so with a self appointing charter school board of directors. Some charters are big organizations, so the CEO of that charter down the street might not even live in your state.

With the Chicago Teacher’s Strike underway, charters are popping up in the conversation, but mostly in the context as a way to break teacher’s unions. The union busting possibilities of charter schools are certainly one of the reasons the right wing loves charters so; but teachers at charter schools can unionize.

More and more, though, I feel like the hits on the teachers unions are both a side benefit and a distraction; the deeper agenda is the removal of control of public dollars into private, unaccountable hands.

Charter school promoters tap into the frustration and disenfranchisement that many people feel, that we don’t have enough options, that we don’t have enough say in our day to day lives or in our children’s education. They offer the idea of choice and agency, but in reality, the more of our children go to typical charter schools, the less say we have in educational policies and in how educational money, public dollars, is spent.

Which is why, when I read that quote I opened with, the first thought that jumped into my head was IT’S A TRAP!!! It’s a dirty stinking lie, and a trap.

***

after writing this, I was on my way home, listening to the podcast of today’s Democracy Now! broadcast, and I heard Chris Hedges say this:

And it really boils down to the fact that we spend $600-some billion a year, the federal government, on education, and the corporations want it. That’s what’s happening. And that comes through charter schools. It comes through standardized testing. And it comes through breaking teachers’ unions and essentially hiring temp workers, people who have very little skills. This is what Teach for America is about. They teach by rote, and they earn nothing. There’s no career. I mean, there’s quite a difference between teaching people what to think and teaching people how to think. And corporate forces want to teach people what to think. It’s a kind of classism. People get slotted. It’s vocational. And so, I see what’s happening in Chicago as, you know, one of the kind of seminal uprisings of our age. And if they don’t succeed, we’re all in deep trouble.

which sums it up pretty well.

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There’s Something Missing

August 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm (Global politics, Patriarchy, Politics of Power, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

There’s something missing in the dialogue around rape charges against Julian Assange.

Most people are going binary on this…either either poo-pooing the rape charges and claiming this is all politics, or poo-pooing the politics claim and saying this is all about rape charges.

This is a crystal clear example of why movement/radical/leftist men need to be feminists and our politics need to be counterpatriarchal.

When people in movements for change harbor and replicate the oppressive behaviors and attitudes of the dominant culture (the top three are probably sexism, racism, and homophobia, but there are many others, including but not limited to ableism and classism), we give the state and reactionary forces great tools to use to crack us open, and we also diminish our participation, potential, and power.  I believe there is something to the rape charges, because the scenarios are completely plausible to me and I know that having supposedly great politics doesn’t mean a man won’t rape.  I believe the prosecution and attempted extradition of Assange is political, because I know governments don’t go to great lengths to follow up on crimes against women.  As people who want to change the world, we have got to be able to hold both of these concepts in our head at the same time; we have to be able to see and grasp and communicate nuance, and we have to be able to gain insight from tricky situations.

A comrade on facebook  recently pointed out that the way some Assange supporters are treating the rape accusations with ridicule and disdain is exposing the deep misogyny that even to this day is common in radical and lefty spaces…to the extent that discussions of the situation push women and rape survivors to the margins of conversations, spaces….movement…yet again.  Holding onto these attitudes and beliefs and behaviors just guarantees that we will not win.  So, maybe instead of arguing about the validity of rape charges, let’s talk about why it’s so easy to believe a movement man might rape someone, and let’s talk about what our movements and politics would have to look like for that to change.

Collective Liberation for The Win!

 

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Magic Beans (no cow required)

March 11, 2012 at 8:16 am (Uncategorized)

I have a small bag of scarlett runner beans, that I grew in the garden at our house on 26th Street.   They must be from two years ago, because the last year we were there I couldn’t find it in me to do any gardening.  It was very hard to put the kind of love and intention that tending a garden is into the garden of a household that is falling apart.

But I kept them when we moved, because they are beautiful, and because growing them was beautiful.  That garden wasn’t ideal, facing north and shaded by other houses, and it only took a week or two of neglect for it to look, well, neglected.  But when I was in a habit of regularly spending a lot of time out there, watering, talking to plants, weeding, watching birds, relocating slugs, nibbling on herbs, things grew pretty well.

 Scarlett runner beans, when they grow, are a lovely plant.  They send up strong green shoots that then get vine-y, and they grew to the top of the 5 foot high poles I gave them, and then some; I think they’d have grown as tall as anything I could have built for them.  The flowers are small, but bright red and vibrant, and then the bean pods are long, and flat, and slightly hairy.  You can eat them right off the vine when they’re young and tender, then as they get bigger, you can eat them as green beans, steamed, sauteed…but they’re not as juicy as regular green beans because they’ve been bred for the bean inside.  If you keep picking the bigger ones, the plants will keep setting new beans, and you can have a steady supply for a while.  Then when the plants start to lose steam, you can leave them on the vine until the plants are starting to die off and the pods are yellowed and totally wilted, and then pick the pods.  If you let the beans dry in the pod until the pods are dry and hard (and rattle when you shake ‘em), and then shell the beans, you’re met with a thing of beauty: a purple edged, black centered bean that’s nearly the size of a lima bean.  They look great on your altar, feel excellent and smooth in your pocket, and when you cook them, they are not as beautiful to behold, but they’re smooth and tasty.

Eating food I had a hand in growing is one of he things that pleases me on every level…physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Growing beans also proves to me that I still, on some level, have some basic non technological skills that are about sustenance and survival.  These beans could feed you all year: fresh green beans during the growing season, and then dried beans through the winter.

I wish I could plant these beans myself. In fact, I will; I’ll put some in a large pot that I have, set it up in the micro-yard, and see how it goes.   But I will probably only use about 10 of them, and I have 166 (I counted em).   Seeds don’t improve with age.  I suppose I could eat them, but it’s only about a cup of beans, and I’d rather know someone else is watching them bust out of the earth, send up those energetic tendrils, bust out those butterfly attracting blossoms; and that someone is eating the tender baby green beans and enjoying the bright flowers.  I saved these beans specifically to replant them, and I want them to be planted.

The best time to plant these beans in the bay area is May, but April works too.   It’s also good to know that these sweethearts are perennial in our region; if you cut them back after they die off in the fall, they’ll resprout the following spring.  Oh yes.  these beans are magical.

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Tarot Reading for 2012

January 2, 2012 at 8:26 am (Magic, Politics of Power) (, , , )

Tarot reading of January 1, 2012, at 1am

This is the story as the cards told it and as I interpreted it:

Now is a time of great abundance, of wealth, though that wealth may not look as we expect it. So much is available to us right now, we need to know what we want, what we need, and we need to know how to ask for it.

But we are challenged by the inclination to pull back, gain some distance, in the name of gaining what seems like greater context, but is in fact a retreat from the real world into the cerebral, the theoretical, separating from our heart and soul connection to what is happening here and now.

What is happening now began in the distant past, when new relationships and organizations were just being formed, with all the optimism and joy that comes with such new beginnings!

And more recently, we have found new inspiration, new energy has been unlocked. Things we thought were impossible are now possible.

We strive now for togetherness, celebration, strength, and joy! If we succeed, this is the moment where we begin to build our new world.

Our immediate future holds slow and steady work, and all the strength that comes from and with that kind of work. We are grounded and rooted, the earth is beneath our feet and supports us, and we will taste of the bounty that accompanies our persistent hope, work, and success! The struggle itself can be it’s own reward: when we use the right means, we taste the ends we are striving for.

Our chances are affected by our capacity to combine different forces and create something new and better, by our ability to engage in praxis; by our ability to come out of the crucible of strife and change tempered and strengthened. Our situation is affected by our ability to co-operate and to compromise in appropriate ways, to balance things.

Our struggle is supported by the magic that people do, the rituals we engage in to set our intentions, be they rituals where candles are burned and spells cast, or be they the forms and patterns of our meetings and actions. The ritual phrases people speak to each other whether they are pagan and arcane, or of political subcultures and communities, they set intention and are a gift to us that we should embrace!

We need mentorship, and leaders who are calm in the face of crisis, who know how to use diplomacy instead of force. We need leaders who reach out to help people, that build more leaders, and who know how to accept different points of view. We need leadership that seeks not to gain power but to build collective power.

And in the end, we will assert ourselves, we will speak up despite the risks, because now is the time to shout out loud! When we are united, we can shift that which we thought was unmovable. Don’t give up! Don’t surrender!

******

The reading was a version of the Celtic Cross, with the Collective Tarot*. I was slightly tipsy when I laid out the cards, and then only had time to jot them down before I was interrupted; therefore the reading and interpreting happened at about 9pm on January 1st. I thought I’d laid a personal reading, but as I looked at each card and it’s meanings, I realized that this reading is not about me and my life, it is about me, and you, and them, and our world. So mote it be.

And the cards were thus:

The Present: 10 of Bones
The Immediate Challenge: 6 of Feathers
The Distant Past: 2 of Bottles
Recent Past: Ace of Keys
Best Outcome: 3 of Bottles
The Immediate Future: 9 of Bones
Factors Affecting the Situation: Temperance
External Influences: Ace of Bones
Hopes and Fears: The Mentor of Bottles
Final Outcome: 7 of Keys

*for those not familiar with the Collective Tarot, Bones=earth/pentacles, Keys=fire/wands, Feathers= air/swords, and Bottles = water/cups.

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Hidden Gifts

October 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

October 17, 2011

It’s been 11 years, now, since my son Misha was born and died. I haven’t discussed this recently with my daughter, who is nearly nine; I haven’t reminded her that this anniversary was coming up. So it’s not connected that this morning she told me she wishes she had an older brother, who was a year older than her.

Yesterday she was hyper and I was tired, and she said she wished there was someone around who had as much energy as she did. This led to a conversation abut siblings, and she decided she wanted a younger brother or sister, one who was just one year younger than she is. So, when she commented on wishing she had an older brother this morning, I assumed it was connected to yesterday’s conversation. Now, of course, I’m contemplating psychic threads and the things we know without knowing we know them.

Natasha has always known about Misha, we made sure to always talk about him. She must have been 3 or 4 the first time we had a big talk about it and went through the photo album, which has some pictures of him as well as cards and other things that people gave us that helped us through that terrible time. She cried as she looked through it, and it was really clear that she knew what was lost. We talk about Misha off and on, and I always make sure her teachers know about it, because I never want her to have the experience of being told, No, you don’t have an older brother. She does, even though he died before she was born.

Because of course Misha’s brief presence in our lives affected us, his parents, her parents. Who we are and how we parent was of course changed by being Misha’s parents, even though he never lived outside of my body. Jeff and I decided, together, to be parents, and became pregnant intentionally; everything about that pregnancy was intentional.

While I was pregnant with Misha, I became estranged from one of my most intense friendships. She stopped speaking to me, and after a couple of months of that, sent me a letter offering some explanations. One of the long standing dynamics of our relationship was that I was often angry with her, and she was often dishonest with me. In retrospect, I was angry because she was dishonest, and she was probably dishonest to avoid making me angry. Terrible dynamic; and she decided to end it, although she did leave a door open, telling me she would reconnect after she’d worked through her issues in therapy.

We lived in a relatively small community, and being activists and leftists, we were part of a small subset of that small community, yet when Misha died there was no word from her, no card, nothing, which, unsurprisingly given our longstanding dynamic, made me angry.

A decade passed with no contact; and recently I heard from her; she sent a letter through one of our mutual friends. Due to some stuff around reproductive loss in her own life, she was thinking about that time and wanted to apologize for not saying anything to me when Misha died. And she shared something with me that illuminated for me the ways that an awful experience can also bring gifts.

IN THIS LETTER She told me that the reason she broke of our friendship is that she was afraid to see me as a parent; she was afraid of the rage I would bring to parenting. And I understand what she was talking about. She didn’t tell me that at the time, but I wouldn’t have understood it back then anyhow; it would probably have just made me mad. Thinking about it now, I am in some ways amused. No one who knows me as a parent would recognize that assessment of me; I am the parent who gets my kid to do things by threatening to speak to her in a stern voice (I’m not even joking). I work hard to parent from a place of intention, not reflex, and I think I do well at that. I work as a mediator, and I am generally calm and thoughtful about things, and though I am still plenty angry about the messed up state of the world, systemic inequity, and the awful way people treat each other, that anger isn’t always on the surface. People often tell me I am very grounded.

So what changed? I know I am very different than I was at 25; most 40 year olds are; but this shift is bigger than just the shifting of age. Mulling over this letter from this estranged friend, something began to come clear to me.

What changed is that I became the parent of a dead baby. I went through agonizing grief, and in the process was subjected to amazing love and support, from people I was close to and also from people I didn’t know very well. The small community we lived in came together and held us, bringing us food, paying our rent, packing the room at the funeral parlor; we were not alone. On top of that, I had the experience of walking around in the world, knowing no one who looked at me knew what grief I was carrying, realizing that any person I looked at, talked to, interacted with, could also be carrying a similar grief and I wouldn’t know it. Through my grieving process, a crack in my hard armor of anger broke open, and that crack was called compassion. Where I once held people to very high standards and considered those who didn’t meet them the “them” to my “us,” I started to feel like every person who could suffer a grief like this was a person who I could connect with, a person I could find common ground with. Anyone who loves can suffer this loss, and almost everyone loves, even people who do terrible harm in the world.

I didn’t become someone who looks at the world with rose colored lenses, or believes all the harms a person does are excused by the pain they may have suffered; I believe in accountability. But accountability and compassion go well together.

So, on this 11th anniversary of the birth and death of my son, I contemplate the nature of loss and grief, and what shapes us and changes us, and how we find gifts in unexpected places. Recognizing this shift and knowing that I am a better person for it does not make up for the loss of my son; nothing does and nothing could, but it is still a gift.

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Vermont stands up to ICE and S-COM (and blows my mind in the process)

September 14, 2011 at 7:38 am (anti-racism, Politics of Power, Uncategorized) (, , , )

There are so many things about this that strike me.

Migrant Workers Detained, Protesters Arrested

First of all, look at the lead:

“An immigration bust by Vermont State Police on Tuesday, and the subsequent arrest of protesters, is sending shock waves around the state.”

Where I live now, in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, migrant workers getting detained sends outrage through certain communities (like im/migrant communities, ally communities, communities that care about civil liberties and justice) but shock waves? Not only are few people shocked, there’s a chunk of the population that *approves*.

then there’s this:

“…farm workers …were racially profiled …a violation of the Vermont State Police’s bias-free policing policy…”

Wait, what? The Vermont State Police have a bias free policing policy?

Yes, why yes they do!(clicking this link opens a PDF)

Well, that’s fantastic.

But wait. What is this?

Later Tuesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin ordered an investigation into the traffic stop. “The Governor is concerned by accounts of the incident and ordered an immediate internal investigation to determine the facts of what happened and if Vermont State Police bias-free policies were followed,” a statement from the governor’s office read. “In addition, he has instructed his legal counsel to lead a review of State Police policies relating to undocumented workers in the state with an eye toward ensuring bias-free policing conduct is observed in all settings.”

I honestly don’t quite know what to make of a Governor criticizing the police for racial profiling or for cooperating with ICE; I don’t know how to understand an elected official above the level of city council who doesn’t automatically defend and flatter the police.

I also really don’t know what to make of the director of the State Police doing anything other than belligerently defending the right of his officers to do whatever they did. I can’t even find any fear mongering in his statement:

“An internal investigation has been order[sic], as well as a review of policies relating to incidents involving undocumented workers in the state to ensure bias-free policing conduct in all settings. The Vermont State Police take seriously the necessity of ensuring fair and humane treatment of all people living and working in Vermont, regardless of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, or other personal criteria.”

Reading this was a bit shocking. It showed me that in spite of being part of a community that is committed to immigrant justice, I’m still immersed in a overarching culture (hegemony!) that is anti-immigrant and that routinely, un-apologetically dehumanizes people.

It’s also odd for me to think of immigration as an issue in Vermont; I grew up there, though I’ve lived in California since the 90’s, and I don’t recall there being very much of an immigrant population. I know that has shifted, and last year, visiting my mom, I read a newspaper article about migrant workers on the local dairy farms in the Northeast Kingdom, but it’s a reminder of how long I’ve been gone and how much things have shifted these past two decades.

So, after reading the article, I watched the videos at the end, and was struck by a whole other set of surprises.

In the first video, we see one of the detained people being led to an SUV by one border cop, while one, two, and ultimately about 6 people crowd around hugging the person being detained and asking questions. The border cop doesn’t push, shove, yell, put his hand on a weapon, tase anyone, crack skulls, or call in backup, though other cops are nearby. He doesn’t shout at or threaten the person with the camera, either.

It’s almost as though…he’s not afraid of them, and they’re not afraid of him. It’s definitely a confrontation going on, but so far, it’s not scary and it doesn’t feel dangerous for the solidarity folks.

Let me tell you, in San Francisco, that first person who approached the detained person would be at a minimum shouted at and threatened, and 6 activists crowding around one cop would *definitely* lead to violence. When I used to do pre-arrest trainings, I would even tell people not to crowd up on cops (unless you had a plan/reason to do so) because they call that lynching (it’s a legal term/charge which doesn’t have exactly the same meaning as the lynching African Americans, and some others, have been victim to through US history, but it’s the same root meaning) and cops freak out about it. Seeing that was surprising.

Then, the next video, wow. I’ve never seen such a calm, peaceful blockade. On both sides. Or, wait, I should say, I have, but they’ve been more of the ceremonial, symbolic, planned type. This was a direct action, an emergency response, and yet the activists are calm, grounded, effective. And when the SUV makes a move, and the people chase after it and block it again, still no panic or freak out from the cops. This is happening at a Vermont State Police barracks, but no state troopers come to help the border patrol for at least 5 minutes.

As the third video shows, when the State Troopers finally come to help, only three of them walk up. Where’s the overwhelming force I’m so accustomed to?? When the arrests happen, the police do get violent, and threats are made, but there still is this sense of, nobody’s going to escalate this situation much.

Now, I don’t know anything about the state of policing in Vermont, I have no idea if this is typical or not, and regardless of everything else, the State Police should not be profiling people or turning people over to the Border Patrol. (The Border Patrol shouldn’t even exist: Deporten a La Migra!) But reading this article and watching the videos was revelatory for me.

The first revelation is how incredible it is to me to see elected officials speak critically about immigration busts and question the police instead of immediately defending the police.

Second, there’s a lot going on in Vermont that wasn’t happening when I lived there, and there are some really competent, skilled activists and organizers there who can respond rapidly in a calm, peaceful but resolute way and who are committed to solidarity.

And the third revelation, the one that makes me wish I could move back to Vermont, is that being so shocked by the Governor’s response, and so surprised by the tone of the interactions with the cops made me realize that I have become accustomed to a really heavy level of policing, and that police violence has been normalized for me, and I’ve even on some level gotten used to the dehumanizing anti-immigrant, anti-criminal rhetoric that permeates the national political discourse and is tangible on the ground in California.

People roll their eyes when they hear people talk about a police state, like it’s just too dramatic or rhetorical. As a housed white person with citizenship who generally escapes official notice I am rarely subjected to police interference or violence (with the exception of demos and protests), but for many communities, particularly immigrant communities and communities of color, the level of policing, imprisonment, and official violence far surpasses anything I’ve experienced; and the impact on whole communities is intense, severe, and persistent. In comparison to that, I don’t often think of myself as being heavily impacted by the police state. Seeing how things look in Vermont has really shone a light on how high the background noise has gotten, and it frightens me to see how skewed my perception of normal is.

So, you go, Vermont. I am so impressed, and though I claim San Francisco as my home now, I’m also very proud to be a Vermonter.

also: hey! Vermont has NOT implemented S-COM. That is freaking great.

Finally, before I got into thinking about all the ways this shows how immersed I am in a migrant hating, police state culture, my first thought was: follow the money. If VT State Police are making immigration busts, perhaps there are some federal funds or other resources that they might get access to if they can demonstrate a “need,” and perhaps some in the Vermont State Police want access to those goodies. I hope folks are watching for that kind of thing; knowing Vermont, they are.

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ch-ch-ch-changes

August 11, 2011 at 5:26 am (Cultcha, Magic, mostly frivolous) (, , )

Someone else’s comments on changes in their own life led me to this quick meditation on David Bowie.

Much has changed in my own life in the past 6 months; in January of this year I was living in the house I’d been in for about 8 years, with the collective I’d been a part of for over a decade, with comrades I’d lived with since before my child was born. Now I am living in an apartment with just my partner and child (and cats of course). Massive changes happened between then and now, some of it logistical, some of it relational, and some of it internal…but I resisted them all.

Change is hard!

Change is inevitable.

Now look at this guy here:


Bowie is the master of the repellently sexy, especially in this phase of his life.

But take a look at him in even earlier days:

young bowie

and then there’s this:

young bowie fro

As a young child, I loved the song “Space Oddity.” I had no idea what David Bowie looked like or really who he even was at that point.

thin white duke
(I mostly missed this phase)

By the time I saw him live, on the Glass Spider tour, he’d changed quite a bit…

And not only has he changed his persona multiple times over the years, and his look and musical styles, he’s changed his name and even eventually straightened his teeth. He’s been in movies, written music for video games…for goddess’ sake, the guy started out as a mime. a MIME.

So, my point:

Change is hard. Sometimes it’s our choice, other times it’s dropped on us like a ton of bricks, and it comes whether we want it to or not. It comes when we resist with all our might, and even when we actively seek it, sometimes it shows up differently than what we asked for.

But when the changes are overwhelming and hard, and it feels like too much, think about David Bowie who has not stopped changing ever, and he’s into his 60’s and still amazing. Change keeps things moving, and motion is good.

May all the changes in my life and yours, sought for or unexpected, welcome or resisted, easy or challenging, help us to be engaged with life, in love with life, and in positive motion.

…and speaking of change, here’s a fun version of a song about the human race changing into a new breed of aliens.

and I can’t post a bunch of Bowie videos without including this one

****
A few other meditations on change, but not about Bowie:

As Octavia Butler‘s character’s would say, God is Change)

She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches, changes
She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches, changes
Change is, touch is; touch is, change is.
Change us, touch us; touch us, change us.
We are changers;
everything we touch can change.
We are changers;
everything we touch can change.

– Starhawk

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Link round up about the killing of bin Laden

May 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm (Uncategorized)

I got the news of the death of Osama bin Laden during a farewell dinner for one of the more important people in my life, so after a round of cynical comments from the anti-imperialist, anti-war group of us, we got back to the matter at hand, celebrating a dear friend, and I forgot all about it until I was offered an SF Examiner this morning, with a headline that said something like “the butcher of 911 is dead”

I don’t have a whole lot to say, but other people do and they say it well, so here’s some links. this is just a gathering of what my friends and community have put up on facebook so far today; I am blessed to be part of such a thoughtful and thinking community.

Overview from Al Jazeera English

A bit on the organizations/structures behind the actual killing:
The Secret Team that Killed bin Laden
What else do these teams and groups do? What will “DevGru” do next, I wonder?

The always great Jeremy Scahill, with great framing by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now: (video) the rest of the show is also very good.

A thoughtful look on the scene in Washington DC last night:
Outside the White House

Way to go, sports fans! oh…wait…

Dave Zirin is a sports writer with a radical analysis; I’m not a sports fan but I love his work, and he has a good take on this event through the eyes of a sports fan:

Some have wondered if now that bin Laden is dead, life will “go back to normal.” But as we saw in Philly last night, this is the new normal and will continue to be so, until every last troop is home

Kai Wright at Colorlines adds some perspective:
the Ability to Kill Osama bin Laden Does Not Make America Great

More context from Chris Hedges at Truth out

Glenn Greenwald:

Does hunting down Osama bin Laden and putting bullets in his skull really “remind us that we can do whatever we set our mind to”? Is that really “the story of our history”? That seems to set the bar rather low in terms of national achievement and character.

From Suheir Hammad

affirm life. your life. our life. all life.
not stand with bloody handed men.
not sit with death breath women.
not lay with false love.
not wave murder flag.
sow peace sew peace so peace will come.

Robert Fisk: “Osama bin Laden’s Death is pretty irrelevant”


Osama is Dead. Bring the Troops Home.

Finally, I won’t repost it, but I saw a link to a round up of ridiculous facebook posts that indicated that there’s a good chunk of folks who don’t know who Osama bin Laden is, a good bunch of folks using his death as an excuse to use racial slurs and engage in islamophobic racism and bigotry, and there’s a bunch of folks who think Obama should be next and all glory for this should go to George W. Bush. If I had the stomache for it, i suspect I’d find a lot of that on the tea party style blogs and websites; I imagine this is a difficult moment for them, being stretched between the desire to exult at the violent death of a bogeyman, and the desire to repudiate anything Obama does.

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