Upside down and inside out.

Men will tell you that voting for a woman, because she is a woman, is wrong headed and biased. He’ll tell you that men understand the issues surrounding Americans just as well as a woman does. That beyond their ability to bear children, women are just like men. So vote for the better man.

A woman’s lived experience is not the same as that of men.

Nuanced interactions lead to nuanced thoughts, which the average man will never experience, in any meaningful way. If you have, then you’re not average and this statement doesn’t apply to you.

Can men listen?

Do men listen?

I appreciate and value those men who center the marginalized people in their lives. They are few and far inbetween.

Who you center is more important than who you value.

You can value black lives and you can value women, but if you are not centering them, you aren’t putting your hand to the plow. Words and good intentions don’t mean anything in a society run by men, bound up in the power of whiteness.

What is the power of whiteness?

The power of whiteness is the structure of patriarchy. It is a power which centers men and men only. The men of color and the women who support these men are side shows. Though they can often be portrayed as features. The proof is in their willingness to stand on their own. To advocate for the people in their community. Watch what is done to them when and if they do. What you’ll see is the men of color and the women upholding patriarchy removed from the spotlight.

Their power lies in the one who gave it to them. Not in the communities they represent.

Which is why it is your job to educate yourself on the differences in power structures. To know whiteness when you see it. Even if it is presented to you by the face of a black man, a white woman, and even a black woman. Whiteness is a structure in the house of patriarchy.

These men and women are chosen to deliver the message of whiteness. To plant the seeds which will take root in shallow minds, run deep, and break down barriers to their intended path. Yes, this powerful messaging system works for good and evil.

Though the structures it builds, from the ruins it created, are fragile and easily damaged by the witness of moral justice.
The shallowest mind can see that locking children in cages is morally repugnant. Their witness is not a victory, it’s a small light which needs to be fed, until it is a scourging fire in the souls of all who witness it. When a Republican representative shows horror at children in cages, don’t be aghast, when they turn around and vote for an equally brutal policy, but with better window dressing. Keep fighting and holding them accountable.

Our country lacks accountability.

We are told that there is nothing we can do. It is all shrugs and well wishes when a black woman is run out of political office in Vermont. A white man ran her out of office but it is we who are collectively to blame. We gave him power, we gave him agency, we gave him voice. You did this. It is your fault. You need to make it right. I need to make it right.

“If federal programs were not, even to this day, reinforcing racial isolation by disproportionately directing low-income African Americans who receive housing assistance into the segregated neighborhoods that government had previously established, we might see many more inclusive communities. Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult. To make a start, we will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of our government, accept responsibility.”
― Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Accepting responsibility for the actions or inactions of others has traditionally been woman’s work. Women have more experience when it comes to cleaning up the mess men leave behind. We’ve seen the steadfast leadership of Nancy Pelosi. We’ve witnessed the misogynistic attacks on her femaleness and her age.

Anyone suggesting that voting for a woman is biased, is someone with an agenda. A hidden thing they don’t want you to see.

Women are carrying the anger of men on their shoulders. It’s not their responsibility, it’s not their job. But we’ve been told it is a woman’s job and we’ve been told that it is our fault, if/when hate comes in.

Ms Morris says friends and colleagues tried to convince her to change her mind. After her announcement, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, offered to support her re-election, warning that her resignation would allow the forces of hate to win.

That, according to Ms Morris, is victim-blaming.

“The systems need to change to support individuals in office so that they do not have to live in fear and terror,” she says. “These are incredibly violent times, and I do not feel any need to martyr myself or my family.”

It can’t fall on her, she says – or on any one person – to try to fix a broken system. It takes a “chorus of people”. via BBC

The same men who could have centered her, did not. The same women who could have called their local police department and demand accountability, did not.

We are the reason she left. This is our fault. This is your fault. This is my fault.

“We did everything that we were told to do, reported everything, held nothing back and trusted in a system that, in the end, was insufficient and inept at addressing and repairing the harm done… we were told there was nothing to be done.” via Raw Story

There is something we can do.

We can work at local levels, state levels, federal levels to make sure that marginalized people are centered in policy.

This is your job. This is your responsibility.

Advertisements

Flipping the script

You do me proud, people of social media. Your steadfast, no bullshit approach to the conservative funded PR blast was spectacular.

You give me hope for a better future.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about Nick Sandmann smirking and menacing Native American Nathan Phillips.

You will also have witnessed the rapid ascent of a conservative PR firm “script flipping” the narrative, surrounding the events that occured.

You can read some really good accounts of it here and here.

A really good narrative can cast doubts in the minds of average people.

Average people don’t question the narrative, they don’t research, they don’t question their own internal biases, they don’t even examine if they do have internal biases.

How do you get around people like that?

In a world where average people hold sway over the lives of those in vulnerable positions. A world where those average people are told what to think, how to think, when to think. Like a mass army of minions, a sleeper cell of bots, ready to turn on marginalized people at any moment. Sometimes even against each other.

For me, I’ve found standing my ground, standing firm, has helped. But it has not been a perfect solution. Because they are always writing, scripting, a narrative that benefits them and causes you harm.

So again, how do we get around people like this. All those average people who think they’re so smart. Looking at the world through their own warped lense. Gleaning the information which only reconfirms their own internal dialogue.

Walls are more than a metaphor, a wall is a real blood brain barrier, a cognitive barrier that is viciously guarded. Like any wall, there are weak points and there are strong points. We can’t know what or where those weak points are and we can guess at the strong points. But we’d only be guessing.

The reality is that our messaging isn’t for the protagonist, it’s for their followers.

We aren’t tearing down walls. We are planting seeds. These seeds will take hold, their roots will run deep and search out those weak spots on their own. Our only job is to spread the message, work with legislators, and activist groups to get the message out.

We know this method works because it’s been used for decades. It was used to change public opinion surrounding women’s right to vote, the right of slaves to be free, and the right for people to marry whom they love. It’s a system of messaging that creates a shift in public consciousness.

I am looking for people to help me flip the script, tear down the patriarchal narrative which surrounds and intertwines itself throughout our everyday lives.

 

Dear White Normative Man….

Fuck you!

As I was making my way home, I passed through White-Marts overly expansive auto squatting lot.

I scanned my way through welfare for auto’s and yielded to foot traffic as appropriate. Upon completing my turn into the home stretch lane, I scanned for male centrist autos driven by any person behind the wheel.

As I approached the stop sign, I witnessed a white pick up truck careening off the main road, his white truck bouncing over the curb, the rear end fishtailing as he hit the gas.

Visually calculating the distance, I knew there wouldn’t be time to make it through the squatting lot intersection and avoid the large white man who occupied the large white truck.

None of the rules applied to him.

He was normal.

I was not.

He gave me a white, shit eating grin, from behind the white whiskers framing his white face, as he sat behind the wheel of his white truck. His large white thumb sticking up in the oppressive air which surrounded him.

“Thank you for following the rules of the road,” his actions screamed, as he himself broke several.

Pedaling off from my power position, pedal up, as my weight propelled me forward.

I looked over my shoulder and signaled to him that he was indeed number one.

Capture

 

Normative male centrist society, from which sprung forth the auto, has classified rules which dominate all others. By default, you and I are ‘other’.

The culture around “Those rule breaking bicyclists,” perfectly sums up a micro view of normative white culture.

My two disadvantages are being a woman on a bicycle. It irks me to no end when white men co-opt rape culture to ‘prove’ their victimization. Which isn’t to say that they can’t be victims of a crime. But they will never be a black man, woman, LGBTQ, and a victim of a crime

For that white man, he momentarily becomes other(ized) as he climbs on his bicycle. This other(ing) is brief and surface deep. Like dipping a toe in to test the temperature of the otherness water.

These men, who also invented the bicycle, before rapidly tossing it for the much more exclusionary auto, can not be the voice of bicycle advocacy.

They are, as a whole, crushing any forward momentum we have obtained.

Only recently have I found a few men, who have grasped the concept that you can not rationalize with the irrational and male culture is irrational, full stop.

People who drive, break as many “rules of the road” as anyone else who doesn’t drive. But Pedestrians and Bicyclists bear the brunt of being labeled a wanton rule breaker.

Any motorist, no matter their race or gender identity, is participating in, propping up, and re-establishing white normative culture as the default culture when they ‘other’ anyone traveling on foot or using alternative transportation, such as a bicycle.

 

 

Please take a few minutes to read this delightful article on why “The Straight, White, Middle-Class Man Needs to Be Dethroned.”

“Default Man feels he is the reference point from which all other values and cultures are judged. Default Man is the zero longitude of identities.”

Has the Jessamine County Attorneys office embraced the Sovereign Citizen movement?

Has the Jessamine County Attorneys office embraced the Sovereign Citizen movement?

A lot of people viewed my case with a flawed assumption. They erroneously believed “If the police are ticketing you, you must have done something wrong.”

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has shown that often the police will use made up excuses to pull you over and then kill you. If you are white the police still use made up excuses to pull you over and, instead of killing you, they write you bogus tickets.

Since 2009 there has been a movement on the rise. A dangerous, corrupt, fanatical, wide eyed, foaming at the mouth movement.

I, unwittingly, ended up getting a taste of this movement. The focus of the article, written by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is on Sheriffs department. I can personally attest that this movement doesn’t end with your local sheriffs office. The #SoverignCitizen movement has also had a huge impact in the local police force and in the Jessamine County Attorneys office.

They pick and choose which laws they wish to follow. All other be damned.

I recommend reading – Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP

Jessamine County attorney Brian Goettl and his staff have been known to operate outside the law. Brian Goettl is a Tea-Party Republican, he holds an elected position. At what point do we say “Enough is Enough”?

I strongly urge you to #VoteEmOut!

Cyclist Cherokee Schill on her work commute
There is a huge rumble strip to my right and this truck is on my ass. Making it doubly dangerous for me to move anywhere but forward. It is NOT illegal in Kentucky for a cyclist to operate a bicycle on the road. Brian Goettl told me I was “Morally” obligated to ride the white line. He himself admitted that I was not required to operate on the shoulder. But he still went ahead and prosecuted me for exercising my legal right to the road and to be safe. 

 

 

It can happen to you

Originally shared by:

Steve M Williams
December 5, 2015 · Clovis, CA ·
This put me damn near in tears; read this encounter with police that professor Steve Locke went through, and it will explain everything you need to know about being black in 21st century America. If you don’t get it from this then really I’m wasting my time trying to explain it.

“This is what I wore to work today.
12314064_10205682939701484_2685232086259167111_n.jpg

On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.

I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street. As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me. I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.

“Hey my man,” he said.

He unsnapped the holster of his gun.

I took my hands out of my pockets.

“Yes?” I said.

“Where you coming from?”

“Home.”

Where’s home?”

“Dedham.”

How’d you get here?”

“I drove.”

He was next to me now. Two other police cars pulled up. I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place. I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class. There were cops all around me.

I said nothing. I looked at the officer who addressed me. He was white, stocky, bearded.

“You weren’t over there, were you?” He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.

“No. I came from Dedham.”

“What’s your address?”

I told him.

“We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman’s house.”

A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded. Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place.

“You fit the description,” the officer said. “Black male, knit hat, puffy coat. Do you have identification.”

“It’s in my wallet. May I reach into my pocket and get my wallet?”

“Yeah.”

I handed him my license. I told him it did not have my current address. He walked over to a police car. The other cop, taller, wearing sunglasses, told me that I fit the description of someone who broke into a woman’s house. Right down to the knit cap.

Barbara Sullivan made a knit cap for me. She knitted it in pinks and browns and blues and oranges and lime green. No one has a hat like this. It doesn’t fit any description that anyone would have. I looked at the second cop. I clasped my hands in front of me to stop them from shaking.

“For the record,” I said to the second cop, “I’m not a criminal. I’m a college professor.” I was wearing my faculty ID around my neck, clearly visible with my photo.

“You fit the description so we just have to check it out.” The first cop returned and handed me my license.

“We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person.”

It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die. I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car. I was not going to present myself to some victim. I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery. I was not going to let them take me anywhere because if they did, the chance I was going to be accused of something I did not do rose exponentially. I knew this in my heart. I was not going anywhere with these cops and I was not going to let some white woman decide whether or not I was a criminal, especially after I told them that I was not a criminal. This meant that I was going to resist arrest. This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me.

If you are wondering why people don’t go with the police, I hope this explains it for you.

Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police. People look at you like you are a criminal. The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn’t have you. No one made eye contact with me. I was hoping that someone I knew would walk down the street or come out of one of the shops or get off the 39 bus or come out of JP Licks and say to these cops, “That’s Steve Locke. What the FUCK are you detaining him for?”

The cops decided that they would bring the victim to come view me on the street. The asked me to wait. I said nothing. I stood still.

“Thanks for cooperating,” the second cop said. “This is probably nothing, but it’s our job and you do fit the description. 5′ 11″, black male. One-hundred-and-sixty pounds, but you’re a little more than that. Knit hat.”

A little more than 160. Thanks for that, I thought.

An older white woman walked behind me and up to the second cop. She turned and looked at me and then back at him. “You guys sure are busy today.”

I noticed a black woman further down the block. She was small and concerned. She was watching what was going on. I focused on her red coat. I slowed my breathing. I looked at her from time to time.

I thought: Don’t leave, sister. Please don’t leave.

The first cop said, “Where do you teach?”

“Massachusetts College of Art and Design.” I tugged at the lanyard that had my ID.

“How long you been teaching there?”

“Thirteen years.”

We stood in silence for about 10 more minutes.

An unmarked police car pulled up. The first cop went over to talk to the driver. The driver kept looking at me as the cop spoke to him. I looked directly at the driver. He got out of the car.

“I’m Detective Cardoza. I appreciate your cooperation.”

I said nothing.

“I’m sure these officers told you what is going on?”

“They did.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“From my home in Dedham.”

“How did you get here?”

“I drove.”

“Where is your car?”

“It’s in the lot behind Bukhara.” I pointed up Centre Street.

“Okay,” the detective said. “We’re going to let you go. Do you have a car key you can show me?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my car key.”

“Okay.”

I showed him the key to my car.

The cops thanked me for my cooperation. I nodded and turned to go.

“Sorry for screwing up your lunch break,” the second cop said.

I walked back toward my car, away from the burrito place. I saw the woman in red.

“Thank you,” I said to her. “Thank you for staying.”

“Are you ok?” She said. Her small beautiful face was lined with concern.

“Not really. I’m really shook up. And I have to get to work.”

“I knew something was wrong. I was watching the whole thing. The way they are treating us now, you have to watch them. ”

“I’m so grateful you were there. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Don’t leave, sister.’ May I give you a hug?”

“Yes,” she said. She held me as I shook. “Are you sure you are ok?”

“No I’m not. I’m going to have a good cry in my car. I have to go teach.”

“You’re at MassArt. My friend is at MassArt.”

“What’s your name?” She told me. I realized we were Facebook friends. I told her this.

“I’ll check in with you on Facebook,” she said.

I put my head down and walked to my car.

My colleague was in our shared office and she was able to calm me down. I had about 45 minutes until my class began and I had to teach. I forgot the lesson I had planned. I forget the schedule. I couldn’t think about how to do my job. I thought about the fact my word counted for nothing, they didn’t believe that I wasn’t a criminal. They had to find out. My word was not enough for them. My ID was not enough for them. My handmade one-of-a-kind knit hat was an object of suspicion. My Ralph Lauren quilted blazer was only a “puffy coat.” That white woman could just walk up to a cop and talk about me like I was an object for regard. I wanted to go back and spit in their faces. The cops were probably deeply satisfied with how they handled the interaction, how they didn’t escalate the situation, how they were respectful and polite.

I imagined sitting in the back of a police car while a white woman decides if I am a criminal or not. If I looked guilty being detained by the cops imagine how vile I become sitting in a cruiser? I knew I could not let that happen to me. I knew if that were to happen, I would be dead.

Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description.

I had to confess to my students that I was a bit out of it today and I asked them to bear with me. I had to teach.

After class I was supposed to go to the openings for First Friday. I went home.”

~Steve Locke

I can feel his pain.

“You must be doing something wrong because you are [fill in the blank].”  Is a blanket form of prejudice. It can be used in racism, sexism, and for anyone who doesn’t fit the status quo.

The part of his story which had the biggest impact for me was;

“Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police. People look at you like you are a criminal. The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn’t have you.”

This is my own experience. While the local cycling advocates tsk’d tsk’d over me for legally and safely cycling on a public road. People assumed I had broken some law. That I was wrong to be cycling. All sorts of excuses were given as to why it was acceptable for the cycling community to leave me out to hang.

“I wouldn’t cycle like that.”

“You are giving cyclists a bad name.”

“You shouldn’t be on that road. It isn’t safe.”

All of these were excuses to justify their own fears and soothe their conscious, while my life was being systematically destroyed.

Can you imagine if members of #BlackLivesMatter; instead of supporting Steve, instead chose to focus on what he was wearing? Or the way he walked on the street? You would think, “how absurd!” And yet! This is exactly what happened to me.

I’m not black, but if I had been, would it have been a race issue? I’m not talking about the #AllLivesMatter group or reverse racism. I’m talking about why, we as a society leave some people to hang, while others are given empathy. There are no incremental levels of injustice and wrongdoing at the hands of the police or judicial system. If it was wrong to do to Steve, then it was wrong to do it to me.

I hope you felt empathy for Steve. I hope his story kindled anger in your heart over the injustice that he experienced. And I want you to feel that same anger about all the other injustices that are happening to people. But more than that, I want you to do something about it. I want you to be there for people. I mean really be there.

I want you to do one more thing.

I don’t want you to reduce Steve to victimhood. He is a strong, smart, capable adult. He deserves to be treated with respect. Black people deserve to be treated as “expected and respected” members of our community.

And when cycling advocates are advocating for cyclists. I don’t want you to reduce them to victimhood. Because we are not victims. We are strong, smart, capable adults. Cyclists deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be treated as an “expected and respected” part of traffic.

From my own personal experience, I have heard it all. I can not begin to tell you how heart achingly frustrating it is to explain to people that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t broken any laws.

No laws were broken!

Yet, I was ticketed and arrested anyway.

Professor Steve didn’t do anything wrong. The cops were being lazy and targeting any black male in the neighborhood.

The only thing protecting Professor Steve was his status as a professor.

The only thing protecting me was the color of my skin.

And neither of those things should have ever been a part of the equation where police and judicial bullying are concerned.

The fact that neither of us were breaking any laws should have been the only protection we required.

Furthermore, my status as a woman was enough to embolden my antagonizers both in and out of the legal system.

Don’t think for one second that because you are a man, white, or have social status that it can’t happen to you. Eli Damon can tell you that even those won’t protect you if you are a using a bicycle for transportation.

What happened to Steve, Eli, and myself should show you;

It can happen to you.

Start demanding positive changes.

Now!