Civil rights

Baltimore is Burning

Freddie Gray Protest in Baltimore

Baltimore is burning, but not because of the fires set by a few protesters. It is on fire with the passion and rage of the people, who have had enough of a gestapo police force that re-enforces the unequal, bigoted, exploitative status quo. Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, the police torture in Chicago, the police state in Oakland, the lynching of black men by the police and by vigilante minded white men. CNN b**ches and moans about the burning of a CVS and the cutting of a hose as though this is some sign of the collapse of Western Christian society, but the murder, by having his spine severed in custody, of a young black man by the police is cast in a moral shade of grey. Freddie Grey is just a new name on a long list of black men terrorized and murdered by mob justice, vigilantism, and police authority. The bodies of black men are considered weapons, are seen as dangerous, a threat. The black mind is dismissed as cultish, brutish, without thought or nuance, by pigs in blue who barely understand the Constitution they swear to uphold. The intelligence and wisdom, the genius, of an entire people is dismissed because of skin hue, and a history that white hands and white minds set in motion.

Baltimore is burning, but the fires were set 400 years ago when the first white man dragged the first black man in chains from HMS White Lion. The flames were stoked by 250 more years of chattel slavery, rape, torture, white supremacy and greed. The nation that was created “by the people, for the people” was actually an empire forged “by the slave, for the rich and white”, a fact acknowledged and enshrined in the Constitution of this country. The moral cowardice, and avarice, of our Founders extended the holocaust of American slavery for another hundred years. The craven political whims of the post-civil war generation helped to extend the terror of white supremacy long after slavery was officially abolished. Rights were issued in name only, while in fact black bodies found themselves re-categorized from property to vermin, and this in a nation that was BUILT by black bodies. The entire history of the United States has been one long, ongoing larceny perpetrated by whites against people any color but white, any gender but male.

Baltimore is burning, but the powers that be, and their pet media, do not weep for the people, do not strive to sooth their pain. They instead seek to protect property, to preserve the same order that is nothing but a boot on the necks of the black people of Baltimore, of the US. The media act as those peace and calm have been disrupted. The people of Baltimore, especially the people of color, know that there was never any peace to interrupt, there never has been. Every day another insult to dignity, every interaction with the capitalist owned government and with their police army another punch in the gut, a reminder that people of color indeed have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect” (a reminder from on high, straight from the mouth of one of the members of our sainted Supreme Court). White eyes watch black bodies act out in rage, desperation, pathos and righteous fury, and the only question on their lips is “what do those people have to complain about?”. “They” destroy “their” own neighborhoods, an unwitting admission by white citizens of the continuing presence and reality of Jim Crow in our cities, towns, and villages. What the law now condemns the culture denies, a reality of pain and hate and repression that is justified because “we” gave “them” what “they” wanted back in the 60’s…as though dignity and respect and justice were something whites must bestow upon blacks, a belated gift that arrived late but “just in time” to be a salve for white liberal guilt. Baltimore is burning, but is the hearts and minds and souls of the people that are on fire now.

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Activism, Race

The Cost of Whiteness

bourke-white

In America all too often to identify oneself is to indemnify oneself against the wrongs and crimes done by our ilk in the past. White America has convinced itself that whiteness brings with it a sort of dignity and wealth that is inherent, or at least self-evident, and this fact overrides the grievances and pain and struggle of other groups, specifically black people. No white, when it comes right down to it, will deny the privilege that comes with white skin but White America has a resentment towards those who would even suggest that privilege is unearned or built upon a foundation of violence and theft. We live in a nation built on the backs and with the blood of black slaves, on the land of Native peoples, improved with the labor of exploited and abused workers and immigrant laborers and the profits glide upwards into the pockets of those whose only hardship in life was having to decide which elite institutions one would be associated with. What began and continued as exploitation of black bodies continued into the exploitation of all bodies that had the misfortune of being born outside of the circle of inherited wealth and property. The white body politic has understood for a long time that the circle must be relaxed here and there in order to bring more people into the white “inheritance”: certain immigrants, certain economic groups, even certain people of color as long as the toed the line and gave up on justice for all and any sense of being wronged as a group. We arm ourselves against the “others” and we turn our homes into unassailable castles where there is no law and no respect for anything but our possessions and our sense of self-importance. We expected to be “protected” from…god knows what. Those who have the least to fear, fear the most, while those who have the most to lose, lose it all and are laughed at and spit upon while they lose it all. Every black body is a weapon aimed at our pure, white heart. Only an all powerful, unaccountable blue wall can save us from the fear of losing our place at the top of the pile.

As Steinbeck saw all too clearly, the American Dream (the dream of whiteness/wealth/power inherited and “earned”) is and has always been a lottery whose main purpose is to provide the illusion of meritocracy, of social mobility, of economic self-determination. Decades of government action on behalf of those who already had a centuries long head start, a welfare state for those who had all the welfare they could ever need, a bait and switch that gave the trappings of an illusory and always lily-tinted middle class to some in exchange for obscene and ever expanding wealth for the very very few who had always resided at the top. And when black or brown or female or gay or poor bodies dared speak up and question this moral foundation for the nation, dared to ask for their fair share of what they had built with their blood, sweat, toil and tears, when these wretched folk dared to make a peep the great white house on the hill, that home of the great beacon onto a dark world, would convulse with rage and self-indulgent fury. How dare those people imply we have not earned all of this largesse? How dare those people question our right to all that our forefathers gave to us, no questions asked? How dare those niggers and sluts and faggots and bums and illegals suggest that this system is anything but the most fair, the most amazing system ever created? All this self-importance, all this self-delusion, just so we can say “at least I am better than those people”, while clinging like barnacles to a luxury liner that steams ever more resolutely forwards, first class passengers popping champagne bottles and laughing at our pitiful pretensions all the way.

We sold our souls for whiteness; we sold our sense of decency, our sense of outrage, our sense of right and wrong, justice, intelligence, fair play, and brotherhood. And for what? For a chance to say that we are better because of what we own, where we live, and what we look like? We have made ourselves dunces, fools who can only nod their heads when their betters tell us who to hate and who to glorify. We vote against our own interest and the interests of our brothers and sisters and friends and family just so we can say we voted for the winners instead of “those people”. Whiteness has given us a culture of consumption and greed that eats us from the inside out like some sort of galling medieval blight. We are lepers whose only balm is the material we grasp at with fingers bloodied and broken in the fight for precious lucur and capital. Our wealth resides in things and our worth is derived from what objects we use and what people we choose to abuse in order to obtain them.

And the lies we have to tell in order to maintain this fragile facade! Decades, centuries of history distorted, edited, misplaced, erased, shoved like so much garbage down the memory hole. Every day has been remade into a relentless march forward towards this moment, this time, these purchases, these jobs, these trinkets and prizes and fixtures. In order to justify our empty consumption and greed we had to remake history into one grand and meaningless disney-fied ticker-tape parade, with white banners flying and patriotic odes sung with ever increasingly shrillness and desperation. We wanted whiteness, now we need it. We need it because what else is there? To reject our privilege, to even question it, is to look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge all the crime and filth and dirty deeds done to our brothers and sisters. To reject whiteness is to reject the idea of America as a blameless, beautiful, god-blessed nation with nothing ahead of it but destiny and nothing behind it but laudatory deeds. But you can only deny truth and history and justice for so long before those you have stood upon, trampled over, begin to try and force you to confront reality. If we do not choose to look into ourselves we will be torn apart and forced to contemplate a shattered wreck of a body and spirit that never even gave itself a chance at decency or transcendence. The cost of whiteness is our humanity and that is a price that none of us can afford to pay.

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Civil rights, Ferguson

White America: WE are the Problem

arton1586

White people, especially white men, are the most dangerous people in the US to people of color, women, immigrants, children and LGBTQIA people. I say this as a white man. We must look in the mirror. See who we are and what we have wrought on this nation and on this world. WE are the problem. WE are the danger that our fellow citizens need to be protected from. It is our fear, our rancor, our privilege, our hate, our greed, our power, our arrogance, our stupidity, our lack of empathy, our closed ears and closed eyes and loud, brash, cruel voices that are the problem. We must correct ourselves before we tear what was once a great democracy to the ground. We must make sure that the efforts and struggles and heroism of men and women like MLK, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Frederick Douglas, Cesar Chavez, Upton Sinclair, Harvey Milk, Eugene V. Debs, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells and  the countless educators, Civil Rights marchers, Reconstruction workers, Union Soldiers and labor rights activists were not in vain. There have been too many Mike Browns, too many black and brown bodies hanging from sturdy tree branches. We must look into our hearts and realize that this nation is dying, this democracy is being taken apart day by day and that we, the white men of this nation, are largely to blame. This is not meant as condemnatory screed, or a public shaming but as a CALL TO ACTION! We are better than this, we are human beings. We must start behaving like human beings and realize that the wealth and power we possess was purloined from the labor of countless millions of women and immigrants and laborers and slaves. We are making monsters of ourselves and plucking the wings off of the better angels of our nature, casting them down into a dark, endless abyss where only capital, power and narcissism remain. The US can only survive if we realize that we are the ones destroying it and making it uninhabitable unlivable, for the millions of our fellow human beings who do not share our gender or our skin tone. We must join our fellows in the streets and marches and teach-in and theaters of national conversation and raise our voices with those who have trod upon for too long with impunity. We are not the master race, no one race is or could be, but how could we even conceive of such a possibility be if we are not even the masters of our own baser instincts. The white man is the rotten core of this mess. We must purge ourselves of our hate and our prejudice. We must make our enemy the powerful, the entrenched interests, the corporations and the warmongers and the do-nothing leeching investor classes. We must make common cause with those who we have wronged. We must rejoin the family of humanity in good standing and atone for our crimes. Only then will we truly deserve a place in the American system.

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Civil rights, poetry

White White

Jasper Johns

What do you know when you know what you know?

Have you seen any sort of disaster?

I know how you know what you know you know

Can your rhyming scheme fail any faster?

 

All rock, and in eve thought to way that cracked

The rain has fallen down there, quay,

sush out of reach and lay me out the fact

Draught of a fine lupine the pank in they

 

Clouds of teargas steam rising plus ultra

Big fat white pig billow willow coughing

LRAD blaring piggies swearing area

Deny it wasteland fly by it crying

 

Same time same place same crime same race, white white

I don’t see it walking or defying

Rise rise rinse and repeat onslaught flight flight

The blue makes you white there’s no denying

 

Tactical munitions, facile in thought

Blaze and akelarre believer guns cocked

thirst and burn and thrust and churn they’re distraught

West Ferguson and waiting waiting rocked

 

Blue race bubble bubble toil and trouble

I’ve it in me stand alone monolith

Get your ass on the street on the double

Shit is going to hit the fan forthwith

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Civil rights

Hands Up!

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

I saw his hands in the air

I did and I didn’t care

He had the wrong look on his face

did not have deference enough for his race

I was offended by his stance

By his glance

Threatening my authority

My superiority

My prerogative

           To decide

What constitutes a homicide

The greatest crime I can divine

Is the destruction of what is mine

My property, my material goods

My primacy, my wholesome neighborhood

I shot him in the back you see

Because I cannot stand to be

His equal in society

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Activism, poetry, Police

A Strange Sort of Justice

Happy as a Pig In Shit

Happy as a Pig In Shit

You boys in blue

There is nothing just about you

There is no law

There is no order

Save for racism

Corruption

brutality

and murder

Eric Garner

Eleanor Bumpers

Michael Brown

Abner Louima

Patrick Dorismond

Ousmane Zongo

Rodney King

Tyisha Miller

Lynch mobs with shiny badges

Scared little men

Who fear

Those they are tasked

To protect

Instead they serve

A strange sort

of Justice

Law of power

A choke hold

Around a throat

Screaming for respect

The darker the skin

The harder they stomp

And kick

and punch

Amadou Diallo

Sean Bell

John Weerd Smith

Kendrec McDade

Lorenzo Collins

They bleed blue

if they bleed at all

They hide behind

a ghastly wall

of bodies culled

from the population

of men and women

denied the right to live

in peace

the greatest crime one can commit

In America

Is to be born black

or poor

“when you’re in trouble look for a cop”

unless you look like

Ramarley Graham

Marlene Pinnock

Kathryn Johnson

Marshawn Pitts

Adolph Archie

Henry Glover

Ask a question

RESISTING ARREST

Don’t look the officer in the eye

RESISTING ARREST

Fight back

RESISTING ARREST

Call for help

RESISTING ARREST

Officer Porker is judge

jury

and executioner

His will is law

and thy will be done

 

When white sheets went out of fashion

Klansmen turned them in

For blue shirts and silver badges

Protect and serve

The powers that be

But the iron fist

for you and me

Mayor Daley said it best

“The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”

 

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