Jason Johnson on Trump Folk

November 13, 2017

Do they believe he’ll build that wall? Do they believe he’ll bring back jobs? Do they believe he’ll really “Make America great again”? Of course not. Trump voters don’t believe in what Trump says. They don’t care, and they don’t have to. Trump voters already think that America is done, finished, final, a fatality; they figured that out a long time ago. They didn’t elect Donald Trump to fix America; they elected Donald Trump to make sure that as America falls, white folks go down swinging.

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One Year Ago

September 1, 2017

Within two days of each other, momentous events. First, I become a geezer with no more questions, no dodging possible. Seventy. And then, two days later, my son and daughter-in-love–with pain, persistence and mutual caring–turn me into a grandmother, an experience I never thought to have. Tonight, one day shy of two weeks since her birth, I sit in my study and think back on meeting this wee beauty. Tiny, beautiful baby head, long elegant arms and legs, breathtaking fingers and toes and most of all indigo eyes as deep as the sea. All the cliches apply: watching her sleep becomes magic, watching her take a bottle from her mother, her father, her newly met grandpa becomes thrilling, feeling her slight body on my own chest and listening to the noises she makes as she eats takes me to a new place. Have you fallen in love, Meg asks. Oh yes.

 

Brittany Packnett on Twitter

April 16, 2017

Last night in my UW Badgers keynote, I discussed the social justice buzzwords. We so often use words we don’t mean, or worse yet, say words we aren’t willing to or don’t know how to live. I’ve been thinking a lot about what resistance means. We have an archetype of resistance: Loud. Brash. Confrontational. Those things matter. But resistance is so much more. Resistance requires that we confound the status quo—challenge acceptable norms though our actions. Joy is resistance. Oppression doesn’t actually have room for your happiness. You resist it when you find joy anyhow. Love is resistance. Think about the need to protect trans kids. In a world that too often shows them hate, love pushes that status quo. Living unapologetically is resistance. Oppression doesn’t give marginalized people our full humanity. Being fully human flies in its face. Hope is resistance. If you let it, this fight will destroy the hope you had in our ability to change things. But change is fueled by hope. Rest is resistance. Music is resistance. Culture is resistance. Language is resistance. For marginalized folk, existence is resistance. We are not supposed to be here. Loving , laughing, working, loving. But we’re still here. And if you are wondering how to stop up, get involved and push forward to a just and equitable world….Your role in social change starts two steps past where you’re comfortable. Find that place. Take two steps past there. And begin. We have to give our words meaning through our action, not through our rhetoric.

Election Trilogy

March 28, 2017

Mid-November on a bike ride to Towners with

Leaves clinging still: golden maples, red-brown oaks,

Bright yellow beeches quaking like aspen.

They bring me joy, a respite from each morning’s

Waking into the ground-hog day horror.

On Wednesday at the Women’s Center, white women in tears.

Denise, black warrior woman, tells us “Suck it up! This isn’t new for us, it’s the same old shit.

Get to work—fight harder, and smarter.”

I’ll get there, I will. I will. But first, some sunshine, one last bike ride,

The deep vermillion eyes of a new granddaughter.

 

March morning, windy. Gobbets of snow hit the window, making brown

pocks on the branches they jump from. Tea room peace descends as I watch,

A peace that eludes me most days as the orange shit-gibbon stalks the land and

The vampires suck it dry. A jay out my window decries the lot, calling us to the fight.

 

A winter where March becomes the coldest, darkest month.And we, tempered by life in Ohio,

put on gloves and scarves and hat  And carry on. The chickadees and titmice, happy for the

sunflower seeds in the front yard feeder, sing and mate and nest as though it were true spring,

while the frogs keep their council and sleep a bit longer. My mother’s funeral was today, long

ago now and me older than she was then. I’d like to call her today, complain Together at short-

fingered cheeto’s latest outrages, mourn with her how crass,mean-spirited and ugly we’ve

become.

Sound Familiar?

March 1, 2017

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

John Ehrlichman, 1999

James Baldwin explains the Present Moment

February 19, 2017

The question the white population’s got to ask itself is why is it necessary to have a nigger in the first place.  I’m not a nigger; I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nigger it means you need it, and you’ve got to find out why.  The future of the country depends on that.

Holly Near to the third party folks

November 4, 2016

My own favorite quote from this:  I prefer to choose the person with whom I will struggle.

You don’t have to like her! Let me clarify the office for which the two candidates are running. They are running for the leader of the largest military, economic, capitalist, imperialist, aggressive nation in the world. They are not running for best friend. They are not running for leader of my fantasy feminist anti-racist labor nation. They are running for leader of a massive world power in an out of control world. So, who is most equipped to do the job?
Picture a meeting where the leaders of North and South Korea sit with leaders of India and Pakistan, sit with leaders of Israel and Palestine, sit with leaders from Black Lives Matter and the KKK, sit with the leaders of Standing Rock – you get the picture. In the center of the room is access to a nuclear weapon. Then the president of the US walks in. Who is most equipped to handle the tension in the room? No question.
Why it is that Ms Clinton is accused of being “badder” than JFK or Obama, who were also leaders of a world power and who also had to deal with the under belly of American politics – which includes Kissinger, corporations, the military industrial complex, privatization of the racist prison system, a massive weapons lobby and the ongoing attack on the environment and indigenous people.
So I repeat. You don’t have to LIKE her. But hopefully you like yourself enough to vote from a place of self-defense. I know how to struggle with a Hawk Democrat. I don’t know how to struggle with a mad man. I value my time. I do not want to spend the next 4 years defending Planned Parenthood, suffering right wing Supreme Court decisions or dealing with the rise in hate crimes because the president encourages people to be their worst selves.
So I am voting in defense of myself and for all the people who will be insulted, abused, forgotten and cast out if the mad man is elected. His shocking behavior is not a joke for women living with men who emulate his sexism. His racism is dangerous for children making their way through complex daily life in the classroom.
A while ago I thought we should try talking to people who are voting for Trump. Now, I think we need to talk to each other – to make sure that our friends who have chosen this year to cry “purity” do not throw their vote to a third party that is not yet established from the ground up.
Let’s check misogyny, political elitism, purity politics and cynicism at the door. In an ideal world do I want to vote for a hawk? No. Still, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I prefer to choose the person with whom I will struggle. And then I will continue to be part of the social change movements that work for change.

Death of a Hero

June 4, 2016

I am America, he once declared. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me-black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.

Muhammad Ali, quoted by Barack Obama

Yes.

December 1, 2015

I don’t care if Planned Parenthood provides nothing BUT abortion services. I don’t care if it’s a million-story abortion super park with abortion waterslides and an abortion electrical parade. Abortion is legal.  ABORTION IS LEGAL.  If I read one more “defense” of Planned Parenthood that says”it’s not JUST abortions!” or “only 5% of what they do is abortions” I’m going to abort myself.  Abortion is legal, culturally necessary, and good for humanity.  It has been and will be practiced for millennia. It is essential. It is a fact. By minimizing, denying or apologizing for this fact, you are allowing these venal anti-woman Nazis to chip away at this essential right.  Abortion is not tragic. It is not painful. It is a fact. It is a right. Demand it, fight for it, and for the sake of the women who have given their lives to defend it, stop apologizing for it.

Amanda D, posted on Facebook

Explains a Lot

September 30, 2015

In an important 1996 article, legal scholar Reva Siegel describes a dynamic she calls “preservation through transformation”. As a status hierarchy is contested, she posits, the dominant group protects the hierarchy by changing the rhetoric used to support it. She uses the example of domestic violence, noting that under eighteenth century English law, a husband had the prerogative to beat his wife. The American legal system adopted that prerogative in qualified form, but advocates for women’s rights successfully abolished it in the nineteenth century. After retiring wife-beating as a husband’s right, however, courts replaced the rhetoric of prerogative with the rhetoric of privacy. Judges noted that it was improper to make husbands liable for domestic violence , because such judgments would impinge on the privacy of the marital relationship. Men continued to beat their wives with impunity. Siegel argues that the legal subordination endured not in spite of, but because of, the change to more contemporary rhetoric.

Similarly, as Chauncey’s analysis revealed, it was possible in the 1970’s to justify the subordination of gays by using “save our children” language that cast them as predators or molesters. After that view had been discredited, anti-gay groups had to find a kinder, gentler argot. As a theme, “protect our children” sounded much better, given that it was capacious enough to cover everything from “protect our children from learning about sexuality too early” to “protect our children from becoming gay,” while sounding the dog whistle of “protect our children from being molested by gay people” to those who still held that view. However, as Chauncey observed, the “more polite” rhetoric still kept the same hierarchy in place.

Kenji Yoshino, Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial