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Social Justice Activism

I read this article today and a lot of it really rang true to me (other than the second section): Kin Aesthetics – Excommunicate Me From the Church of Social Justice.

Two bits that stuck out:

There is an underlying current of fear in my activist communities, and it is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, eviction, discrimination, and street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. Social death follows when being labeled a “bad” activist or simply “problematic” enough times. I’ve had countless hushed conversations with friends about this anxiety and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events, conversations, and spaces because we feel inadequately radical….  I self-police what I say in activist spaces. I stopped commenting on social media with questions or pushback on leftist opinions for fear of being called out. I am always ready to apologize for anything I do that a community member deems wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate—no questions asked. The amount of energy I spend demonstrating purity in order to stay in the good graces of a fast-moving activist community is enormous.

And…

Scrolling through my news feed sometimes feels Iike sliding into a pew to be blasted by a fragmented, frenzied sermon. I know that much of the media posted there means to discipline me to be a better activist and community member. But when dictates aren’t followed, a common procedure of punishment ensues. Punishments for saying/doing/believing the wrong thing include shaming, scolding, calling out, isolating, or eviscerating someone’s social standing. Discipline and punishment have been used for all of history to control and destroy people. Why is it being used in movements meant to liberate all of us? We all have made serious mistakes and hurt other people, intentionally or not. We get a chance to learn from them when those around us respond with kindness and patience. Where is our humility when examining the mistakes of others? Why do we position ourselves as morally superior to the lowly un-woke? Who of us came into the world fully awake?

I understand the desire to dismantle the systems that have held down anyone not white, straight, male, upper class, cisgender, etc. for a long time. That is my goal as well. And I understand that people are angry about being oppressed and I will never tell them that their anger is not justified, because, as student of political science and history, I damn well know it is more than justified.  Hell, there are a number of things in our society I am very angry about.

I am really tired of the ideal of the perfect “woke” social justice activist.  Someone who spends all day and all night participating in marches, protests, calling their congresspeople, and preaching the word to the “un-woke”.  Someone who puts all their time and energy into fighting for all social justice causes.  I remember commenting the other day to someone (…don’t remember exactly who…) that that term seems to exist exclusively to other people, to split the community apart, into the “woke” and “un-woke”.  Anything that rips us into smaller and smaller groups makes it less likely that we’ll be able to accomplish anything.  The whole “house divided” thing.
I am (in a minor way, becoming more major day by day) disabled and neurodivergent.  I learn in different ways than other people.  I take in information differently than other people.  I am particularly sensitive to being rejected from communities and friend groups.  I cannot participate in all the protests, marches, and rallies that people put together for both physical and mental health reasons.  I despise the quiet implication that I am not as good an activist because I am not a loud activist.  Or because I can’t really afford to take time off work (ya know, the work that pays for my insurance and medical bills, so I can stay sorta healthy and sane enough) to attend events during the work week.  I go to what I can, I participate where I can, I spread the word where I can – but I can’t go everywhere or say everything, and sometimes I’m just exhausted and can’t do much of anything.  And I don’t think I’m in the minority here, in the slightest.  Expecting perfection sets you up for failure.
Yes, please feel free to call me in if I’ve said or done something offensive to you.  Hell, I encourage it.  Not going to learn any other way.  But if you try to shame me because I’ve erred, tell me that I should or should not do something – I am not a child, you are not my parent, and if you try to tell me that I “should” do something, then I am not likely to react well.  Suggest it, make it a condition of participating, fine.  That makes it my choice what I do, whether I choose to participate.

I am exhausted of staying silent for fear of being seen as lesser-than.  Un-woker-than, one might say.

I am afraid of posting this.

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Pride Challenge: Day 21

Political LGBT issue that is closest to you or affects you most. 

This used to be domestic partnerships/marriage, but with that being the law of the land now, things have changed.

One big LGBT issue is the growing prevalence of so-called “bathroom bills”.  Bills that make it law that you basically must show your birth certificate at the door of the bathroom to be able to use it.  Which is all sorts of problematic.

In no particular order:

1. Gender is not a binary.

2. Carrying around your birth certificate all the time is ridiculous and it massively increases your risk of identity theft if your wallet/purse/bag is stolen, as birth certificates have social security numbers on them.

3. It’s prurient.  Why the fuck does anyone want to know what my bits look like?  It’s perverted to tie bathroom access to what your bits look like or what is on your birth certificate.

4.  What about intersex people or other folks whose genitals somehow don’t match the sex listed on their birth certificate, even if they are cisgender?

5.  Why does it matter what bathroom anyone uses?  As long as you keep your hands and eyes to yourself, it should not matter where you go to pee.  For pete’s sake people.

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November Write 9

Obligatory election follow up, blah blah blah

I’m stuck at the point of “just can’t even”.  This man, The One Who Shall Not be Named (TOWSNBN, for short) is the epitome of everything that will halt progress in this country, even worse than the Brexit has halted progress there.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t process these kinds of externally.  I need to have time to process internally before I can, or will start to process externally, with everyone.  Today, my Facebook feed has been full of external processors.  Good for them, for getting the support they need in the way that it works best for them.  Heck, I’ll even offer what I can in the way of assistance for them.  

However, it does get a bit in the way of my own processing to have everyone else’s thoughts intruding from the outside.  I can manage processing at about half speed with other people processing externally.  So, I do what I can, when I can.  I will not fault those who process differently, nor blame them for the slowing down of my own process.  I am used to it by now.

So, here’s what I’ve got so far…

What I’ve been saying all along – this electoral system is in need of reform rather badly.  The best suggestions I’ve heard include getting rid of the electoral college, which I am all in favor of.  Also reminds me to refresh my memory on different electoral systems.  I took a whole class on it, you’d think I’d remember more, wouldn’t you?

TOWSNBN will become president on January 20, barring any accidents. Which will be a disaster of epic proportions.  I figure I will probably have a more emotive response later, but right now, I’m just emotionally exhausted from other things and am just not up for it at this point.  But so far the words I’ve got are: “disaster”, “distress”, “fear”, and “we shall overcome”.  I figure that’s a start.

Oh, and the upside down flag.  That seems an appropriate response.  Not a sign of disrespect, so I far prefer it to flag-burning.  The citation (because I’m an American government and law nerd): 4 U.S. Code § 8 – Respect for flag – (a) “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property”.  I’d say this man’s election counts as that for anyone who is not a rich, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, “Christian” man, given all that he has said and done.

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Class

They say there’s three things a lady should never bring up in conversation: politics, money, or religion. I say, why not? I’ve taken on politics–heck, that’s my major.

First and foremost I will say this: I have middle class privilege. My family has never had to live paycheck to paycheck. Anything I needed (not wanted, but needed) I have gotten. My parents are paying for my college education from money they have been able to save up since my birth for exactly that. I have never needed to work to pay for anything–I chose to work to further myself and my real-life education.

However, this is not something I am very proud of, whatsoever. Would I prefer to have a life where I cannot afford to go to college and my paychecks went toward the family income? No. I do feel a sense of guilt for being born into the family I was and having the luxuries I’ve had when I meet so many wonderful people who have not had any such luxuries and have had to work for every thing they needed.

I have a few case studies to illustrate this–incidents recently where I catch myself with my privilege showing.

The first one, the incident that really inspired this post in the first place, took place at Wal-Mart a couple weeks back. I was in the area, so I decided to pop my head in, take a look around. Within five minutes I felt uncomfortable–uncomfortable with supporting a big business that oppresses its workers, not allowing them to unionize or even provide a decent wage. Then I realized how silly I was being. Yes, those things are still true, but there are people who cannot afford to shop elsewhere, whatever their personal beliefs on the business politics of Wal-Mart. There are also people who work there to feed their families, maybe put a little extra something in their kids’ backpacks as they go off to school–whether or not they agree with what Wal-Mart Inc. has to say about the state of the world. I can, quite literally, afford to care about the politics and policies of this corporation and to vote with my dollar.

The second incident came about a week later when I was in Portland with my mother and sister. The fact that we can afford to travel, even just by train with the economy the way it is–privilege right there. That we can afford to pay for a hotel–not just any hotel, but a fairly nice one in the middle of the city–obscenely privileged. I felt out of place there–this is not a place where the kind of people I prefer to associate myself with would hang out. Even when we were waiting for the bus we were the ones that were asked for spare change–our clothes gave us away as possibly having some to spare. The shopping bags were even more conspicuous. The fact that my traveling companions seemed grossly unaware of just how much our class was buying us–disappointing. The fact that we could prefer to save money by taking public transportation rather than require it–well, we could have done worse.

The third incident took place about three years ago–my family took a river cruise in Europe over the Christmas season–mostly to visit the Christmas markets in the cities we stopped in. I do not often mention the specifics of this trip to people–it makes me look like a little rich girl. In fact, it was the first cruise I’d ever taken, but how is anyone else supposed to know that without hearing an explanation that sounds like an excuse. We were probably the poorest people on the cruise–our clothes and our talk of experiences gave us away as middle class. It was a bit of a humbling experience to be the poor ones, but it was only a very small experience–there are times I do wish that feeling to be mine again.

I may depend on my parents to pay for my college education, but everything else, that’s mine to pay for. I feel like I can commiserate better with my friends if it is my own money on the line for my buying experiences and mistakes. It makes me feel like a better person I guess–puts me temporarily in a place where I am more comfortable being–more solidly middle class, rather than verging on upper-middle class. I think as long as I can realize what my privilege brings me in this society–little worry about debts and where the next meal will be coming from, this is an okay thing to do.

I worry though, about my sister, who has little to no knowledge of her class privilege. Mommy and daddy have been paying for everything for her and she has not held a job until this summer and that only because my folks told her she should. She depends on them and their money to be able to dress and associate with people who are fairly firmly upper-middle to upper class. I don’t think she quite realizes that she won’t always be able to live like that and that there’s a certain amount of pride being able to, even if just in some small way, live on your own money, earned by your own merits, not hanging off the coattails of one’s parents. I think it’s also part of growing up–learning how to be financially independent.

Class is a touchy subject because it is attached to the idea of money–but not just because of that. It shapes our growing up years, our education, our politics. It is hard to detach one’s experiences in life from one’s class, unless you know/realize that the best experiences in life have little to do with money and much more to do with intellectual, emotional, spiritual, mental, and sexual happiness.

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A letter to the president

Dear Mr. Obama,

Congratulations on making it into office! I voted for you.

Now, here’s my concern. It’s nice that you believe that it’s important to reach across the party line and try to unite people, but honestly, your own party has interests that should be as important or even more important than the other party’s. The Democratic party hasn’t had a president for almost ten years, and those were long years. It was time.

People voted for you for a reason. They like your policies, they like what you stand for. They like that you’re generally more progressive than other Democrats. And a lot of them were pissed off when you catered to the religious right with your choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at your inauguration. Even you have to admit, his speech was pretty lame compared to the rhyming benediction given by Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery. I know you’re a Christian, but I’m not and I even I thought Lowery’s speech was so much more beautiful and spiritual than Warren’s claptrap. You don’t get much better than this as spiritual things go:

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — when yellow will be mellow — when the red man can get ahead, man — and when white will embrace what is right.

You have so many things you can do for those of us who are true blue liberals and have been waiting years for someone like you to come along and do or reverse the doing of. It is our turn and you cannot deny us those things we have long been waiting for, especially in:

  • Reproductive health (thanks for the repeal of the gag rule, by the way)
  • Environmental protections
  • Governmental responsibility/accountability (this is the “government of the people and by the people” after all)
  • Corporate responsibility
  • LGBT rights (we’re waiting…)

It is time for you to live up to your promises, not to pander to the right, who didn’t vote for you, and would never vote for you.  Pander to us, your constituents, the people who put you in office.  We know what we wanted and we told you.  You promised us liberals (and moderates) that if we voted for you, you would give us the world.  Now I’m not stupid, so I know that the number of campaign promises that presidents usually fulfill is negligible.  You’ve been doing wonderfully so far.  Please don’t flake out on us.  But there is so much left to be done and you know it.

Sincerely,

QueerLady

P.S. I will be later posting what I personally want from this presidency.  I just didn’t think it had any place in this letter.

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Throwing my shoe at Bush



This is the shoe I’m throwing at Bush, the same ones I wore to watch Obama take office. May these next four years be glorious!

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Inauguration Day

Goodbye George Walker Bush!  Hello Barack Hussein Obama!

I was so overjoyed to watch the inauguration of the first president I ever had the opportunity to vote for.

I turned my back on Warren, cheered on Lowery, and teared up when Aretha Franklin sang My Country ‘Tis of Thee in that gorgeous hat.

What more is there to say?