Sunday, November 17, 2013

Decolonizing Whiteness

Well worth a read for anyone who is classified as White by Western hegemony.  Thank you to Cecelia Rose LaPointe through whom I found this piece.

“Do you know the people you come from?” 
This is the one question most commonly asked by the world’s Indigenous peoples to people of European heritage. For the large majority of us in America, Europe, and elsewhere, the honest answer beyond simple genealogy is, “I don’t know.”
Unfortunately, this not knowing is part of a deep disconnection that has serious consequences for ourselves and others.

Traditional Indigenous people understand this unknowing lies at the heart of the political, social, and economic systems that have caused, and continue to cause, colonization and genocide of their people as well as destruction of life on Mother Earth.

At the personal level, the lack of being rooted in a culture of place brings spiritual disconnection, shallow sense of self, and historical trauma from the lost ancestral roots and lost way of life that shaped our physical, emotional, and spiritual health for tens of thousands of years.

People of European heritage are often called hungry ghosts because we don’t know our selves. This trauma of disconnection is profound, causing us to constantly grab for anything of spiritual meaning – even if it does not belong to us. This taking leads to cultural theft and appropriation, spiritual materialism, and the silencing of authentic native voices. Worse, we spread this dysfunction to others, including people of color, through the dominance of Western cultural values.

Read the rest here: Tribes of “Europe” – Why Decolonize?:

Monday, October 28, 2013

RIP Andy Lopez

Post by Melanie Cervantes.

There is a march tomorrow in Santa Rosa to honor Lopez' life and call for police accountability.  Please consider attending!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Baby Veronica Case IS a Feminist Issue

"Dusten Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation has been fighting to stop a white couple from South Carolina from taking away his child, Veronica, who is also a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Because a father is involved in the custody battle, it may appear this is not a feminist issue. However, this case is about more than just these individuals, it is about protecting indigenous nations in general for the wholesale trafficking of Native children and protecting the reproductive autonomy of Indigenous women. Thus, this struggle is a feminist issue.

Indigenous women, who are surviving 521 years of occupation, uphold sovereignty as central to the survival of indigenous communities. But where are the white feminist allies for our little sister Veronica Brown? The current silence is deafening. It is the responsibility of feminists to not only support this struggle but to educate and engage the larger public about why the protection of the Indian Child Welfare Act is critical to the well-being of Indigenous peoples in general and Indigenous women in particular.

This isn’t about just one little girl, or one couple, this case exists within the historical context of thousands of stolen children, familial lines broken, and culture lost because our children were not there to carry it forth. For so many reasons, this case should be of concern to all feminists."

Read the rest at: Some talking points on why the struggle around Baby Veronica is a feminist issue.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

after the verdict poem

Black mother in line in front of me
at McDonald's
after the protest

probably my age
three kids
oldest son maybe 12

he's clearly used to responsibility
he keeps the other two out of trouble
yells at an angry drunk who kicks their bags

his mother turns and asks the woman of color behind us
"what happened over there?"
pointing to the rally spot we just came from

the other woman says
"Zimmerman verdict"
and the mother says, "oh, that was today?"

she does not ask
and the other woman does not tell her
that the verdict was Not Guilty

and I watch her oldest son trying so hard
and I look at his mother's eyes
and I know why she didn't have to ask


Friday, May 10, 2013

Four Years

In a couple days it will be four years since my aunt was murdered.  It has been almost four years since I wrote this post.   FOUR.   YEARS.

Her accused murderer sits in a jail cell awaiting trial.  A trial I am quite sure he knows damn well he is unlikely win.  For a crime I am quite sure he is still running from, still blaming her for and still refusing to feel any responsibility about.

Four years of limbo, waiting for this thing to finally be over.  Four years of waiting for a "justice system" I don't even believe in to do its thing, so I can finally move on.  Four years of moving on only to be yanked back every six months to be told there is yet another delay, that he has fired his lawyer again, that he has taken us right to the edge and pulled us back and there's nothing the courts will do about it.

Four years of being reminded how little my aunt's life matters to the state.

To the court system.

To the DA.

And to her murderer.

Four years of knowing the trial won't bring me any closure.  Four years of this PROCESS of the trial preventing my closure.  Four years of wondering if this time will be different.

Four years of missing my aunt.

Three Mother's Days where I want to just celebrate my mom.  My grandmas.  My great grandmas.  My Ancestors.  My mother friends.  Three Mother's Days where I pretend that is all I'm doing.  Three Mother's Days of hiding the pain searing through me as wounds barely healed are ripped back open.

Four years of watching my family age faster in those four years than we did in the preceding ten.

Myself included.

I found my first grey hair last night.  It isn't grey so much as silver.  Bright.  Shining.  Almost glittery.  I'm not yet 30 but I don't mind that hair.  I think it's beautiful, actually.  But it is also, I think, a by-product of that aging.  An aging that has happened so quickly.  An aging brought on by pain and loss and no closure and the seemingly endless limbo of the USian court system.

Will we get to five? Six? Seven?

Will it ever be over?

Will it even mean anything in the end?

I am a prison abolitionist.  I know this system is broken.  I know it doesn't work.  As surely as I know that if he is not locked up that he will hurt more women.  Like all the other women he hurt in the past.  But because I am a prison abolitionist, I know there will be no resolution in putting him on trial. Because I am a feminist/anti-racist I have no faith my aunt's life will be treated with respect in that court room.  And I have no real faith he will be found guilty of what he did.  I have no faith that even such a conviction would mean anything to him.  I have no faith that JUSTICE means anything here.

But I stand witness to the process, because it is the last thing I can do for her.  I couldn't help her.  I couldn't save her.  I couldn't even help her cat.  And I can't rehabilitate him.  I can't make him accept what he's done.  I can't make him accountable to us or use the rest of his life trying to make sure other men don't do what he did.  All I can do is stand witness.  Face him in the only provided framework sanctioned by the state and not let him forget that we know what he did.

And I will do that.  For whatever it is worth.

And I will remember her.  Often.  I will light the candles on my altar for her.  I will remember her when the veil is thin and the dead come back to visit us.  I will remember her on Mother's Day.

I will try and live the lessons that she taught me.

It's all I can do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crisis of Identity: Green Day and Me

I'm not precisely sure why I am choosing to share THIS of all the stuff I have been writing privately over the last year, but I guess something in me wonders if anyone else might be interested or find it useful or just more generally what responses I might get.  Like, honestly, this is kinda trivial in a way.  Maybe that's why, maybe it's a safer thing to share, sort of.  Anyway, whatever, the point is: I went to a Green Day show tonight and it brought to the surface things I have been feeling for a while but did (well, DO) not want to admit to myself.

I am not connecting with Green Day like I used to.

Let me put this in context: Green Day has been my favorite band since I was about ten years old. So for almost two decades now.  Their being my favorite band is a huge component of who-I-am and how I understand myself.  Their albums have gotten me through (quite literally) the worst times in my life; from coming to terms with my depression and self-hate as an adolescent to coping with my aunt's murder in 2009, and everything in between.  Every album has had something important to say about something that was core to my life at the time that I heard it.

Except this latest one.

I mean there are some good songs on it (and just to make it easy I'm talking about Uno, Dos, Tre! as one album), songs that have gone into rotation as some of my favorites.  But, with the exception maybe of Stay the Night, none have spoken to me in that way that was unique between me and Green Day's music; songs that talked to me about something I needed to hear before I knew I needed it.  Or that said something about myself/my life that I was only just coming to understand.  More generally, and more troubling to me, is that this is the first album that has had songs on it I actively dislike and don't want to listen to, EVER.  I mean it's only one or two but literally that has never happened before.  Even worse, apparently some of the stuff they think is their best on that album, I'm indifferent to at best (like 99 Revolutions).  But, generally, I've been purposefully ignoring this and refusing to admit it to myself.

That ended tonight.

I went to the Green Day show tonight in Berkeley.  It was good.  It was what I have come to expect.  It was familiar in a way that I have found comforting in the past.

But it wasn't what their shows usually are for me.

Generally, going to a Green Day show for me is like going to Church (or rather what going to Church should be).  I feel super connected to the larger world/life/the gods and dance and sing my heart out like no one is watching (a state of bliss I basically never otherwise achieve).  While I had a good time tonight, that feeling did not emerge.  Out of 8 shows I have been do over the past 12 years, this is the first time I haven't felt that way.  And on reflection that really shook me.  Now...maybe this is the case because I did something different this time and went down on the floor and ended up contending with moshpits and almost getting crushed to death for the first half of the show.  That context did make the show hard to enjoy at times, although seeing them pretty up close for the first time was worth it.

But also the show was basically the same one that I've been going to since 2004.

I mean obviously there are some differences in song choices... They've had a couple albums come out since then.  BUT, largely the format (and many of the songs) have stayed the same.  And where that familiarity has been comforting in the past, this time it was...not boring...but less exciting and meaningful than previous.  If you listen to Bullet in a Bible you'll basically hear this same show.

Something has changed; I'm just not sure if it's them or it's me.

I felt this when Billie Joe went into rehab too - like that maybe they are becoming cliche old rock stars. Not totally happy with themselves because their brilliance is spent or in hiding because being-a-rock-star is so much work inofitself that how do you find time for your mental health or family or inspiration?  And so you just keep doing what you've been doing even though you know deep down it's getting stale.  The possibility that this is happening to Green Day quite frankly frightens me.  I fear this is part of why I am not connecting with their music as I once did.  Along similar lines, while I have been deepening my political understandings, theirs seem to have lost some of the incisiveness of American Idiot (and even 21st Century Breakdown); again 99 Revolutions comes to mind.

And to be PERFECTLY clear, I don't think this is about "selling out;" that whole conversation completely annoys me.

But I do wonder how they may have compromised themselves or lost perspective on who they are and what they do and their place in the universe over the years.  And I do wonder how that is effecting their mental health and creativity.  And I think some of that can be found in Billie Joe's stint in rehab, or more accurately, the things that led to him getting to that point (according to his recent Rolling Stone interview).  But here's the reason I have been running away from even allowing myself to voice any of this in my own head much less aloud:


That might sound completely ABSURD and SILLY but I am very serious.  I mean, go back up to my third paragraph where I told you all the things that they have gotten me through.  Look at the fucking name I use to blog with.  There are certain things that are major pieces not only of my life but in WHO I UNDERSTAND MYSELF TO BE and HOW I come to understand myself.  If that ceases to be, if I move away from them, if another band takes their place...does that mean I am becoming someone new?  Or has that already happened and I am just playing catch-up here with myself?  What will it mean if I no longer have them to rely on?

I know this is going to seem patently ridiculous to some people, but I hope there are others who have had something so important for so long that can relate to what I'm trying to think through here.  I'm not expecting to get any answers out of writing or posting this, but it is a marker of...something...that I think is going to be important for my own personal journey over the next...however long.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter
Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter by Russell T. Davies

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an absolutely fascinating background story of the making of the fourth season/specials of new Doctor Who from showrunner Russell T. Davies. It's told through a series of emails and text messages between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine writer Benjamin Cook.

The exchanges are for the most part incredibly compelling, and I spent more than one night pushing off bedtime so that I could keep reading more. At times I could tell chunks of email between the two had been cut out for length, but for the most part the whole package made sense.

It is a bit of a slog at times, as the book is just huge and detailed (and I wasn't particularly invested in seeing the original screen plays), but the burning desire to know it all just kept me going. There are also a number of truly priceless quotes about writing, it's meaning and Doctor Who under Davies.

I only wish there was more about the third season of Torchwood, as it was my favorite, and the occasional references and small details felt like an immense tease. How did he settle on that overtly political plotline? Did he wrestle at all with the non-consent of Jack's grandson as the vessel to defeat the 456? But ah well, the book is billed as about Doctor Who, not Torchwood, no matter how much I wish it had been about both.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

watching berkeley and oakland fly by
getting all nostalgic on bart
as it tries to throw me from my seat

listening to tardis rock
and feeling sad
feeling like home is driving me away
feeling the call of the emerald city

calling calling
sparkling with possibility
reminding me of what i've known for years
i'll be homesick no matter where i am