“July 28, 2018 NYT
What Happened to the Country That Made Us Citizens?
By NAUREEN KHAN
Growing up in a friendly Dallas suburb, I never imagined the hostility lurking beneath the surface.”
The above is in today’s NYT. I haven’t read it because after reading this plaintive blurb, my inner voice was screaming: “Black people!! We told everybody!” “Black people, First Nations people, American History, Freud…”
WTH white people and white people wannabes? How desperate were you, ARE you to live outside of reality? How extraordinarily prejudiced that you subvert or ignore whole, gigantic swaths of history and the present? How willing to sell your soul for a lie openly labeled as a made in the USA “DREAM“? How willing are you and have you been, to watch human beings and their children kidnapped; degraded; criminalized; beaten; pillaged; raped; bad mouthed; murdered; victimized by ethnocide and genocide, and yet stand aloof or in judgement because in this fleeting moment it’s not your poor white/light brown/darker-but-wealthier brown ass being victimized? Has your Dream become our nightmare?
Of course you should seek better lives for your kids, but that doesn’t necessitate buying into lies and abuse.
So no, I won’t read this nor any of the other late-to-the-party “realizations” and sad stories because you know what? BELIEVE BLACK PEOPLE. We run the gamut of human brilliance, foibles, and foolishness, but if there is one thing we excel at, it’s recognizing and calling out racism and its subsets and intersections, because you know what else? We and our First Nations cousins have been victims of atrocities for hundreds of years while you watched, occasionally clutched your pearls, looked away, or even applauded. You knew, you just valued your own possibilities of entre into whiteness more than our lives. You knew, you know now; you are and have been complicit in condoning and upholding white supremacy and I’m fresh out of pity. So, sit down in the back, own up to your culpability, be quiet and learn: we have much wisdom to impart.
Oh, and screw you all for the past 500 years.
He who does not oppose evil, commands it to be done (Leonardo Da Vinci)
To the other alleged adults critiquing the Parkland survivor-activists:
They are not yet adults. Chronologically, you are. They’re not supposed to, and couldn’t possibly know everything they need to get through life, much less take responsibility for changing society. That they are taking it on and doing so with courage and considerable clarity, is laudable and should humble a great many adults who see and complain about the problems, but have done little to shake this society out of the stupor and fear that holds it in thrall and leaves us vulnerable to charlatans, violence, and greed.
Who these young activist-leaders will be, their lifelong allegiances, etc. have yet to be fully determined. They are now responding to tragic violence that shook their lives and took the lives of friends and schoolmates. They are fearless in part because of their youth, but they are also fearless because they just survived a small massacre that should never have happened. They are angry, they are mobilized, they have purpose. It doesn’t make them perfect or demons, it makes them human and it makes them a force to be reckoned with.
Historically, revolutionaries come from every class. Most workers are no more revolutionary than the capitalists they work for. People occasionally wake up (or are awakened) and once they really do, they move to throw off the shackles of oppression where they find it: in the family, by race, gender, or class. If one is really awake, there is no choice. Stasis becomes intolerable and one must act to change the situation and circumstances.
To expect middle class high school kids who’ve been suddenly traumatized by murders to have done a realpolitik or other sophisticated analysis of their own class socialization is ridiculous. Most adults never have, so why expect it of them? Who were you in high school? How woke did you think you were and then how old were you before you realized you had just been turning over in your sleep?
These kids can’t go back to sleep. For better or worse, they’ve joined the millions of other traumatized, woke or awakening young folk from various walks of life. The difference is, these kids have a platform that allows them to be heard. You didn’t listen to the Black and Indigenous and Latino and and various other kids who’ve been victimized by violence for, oh, centuries. But you can see and hear these kids and apparently, that an uncomfortable situation that you’re bracing against. I get that, I just don’t care about your comfort. I’ve never believed in unrequited love and have little concern for those who display no concern for others. So take a proverbial chill pill, do some self reflective analysis and ask yourself why you’re so heavily invested in (figuratively) shooting these young people down? There are always critiques to be made, but when, how, and to what purpose are good questions to ask before jumping on the media blitz.
Again: adults should have done the work and adults should be picking up the slack now. If you don’t trust these kids, teach them in solidarity, otherwise you’re not far different than the conservative “critics” who practice overtly divisive tactics. It’s simple: lead, follow, or sit down quietly, out of the way of those who are doing the work.
And to those who think these kids are the group messiah: they’re not. Do your own work, stop waiting for saviors, and stop putting it all on a group of very bright, very courageous, but also very young, traumatized youths.
Everybody, please grow up.
As my heart alternately breaks and inflames with rage, I find myself anxiously begging our representatives to hurry to rescue the US citizens of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. To do what all we can for the VICTIMS of ravaging storms, in and around the Caribbean. This is what my heart is screaming.
But then my knowledge of history and the current political climate and economic priorities kicks in and I know that the point is not to “save” Puerto Rico, it’s to let as many die or give up as possible. The point is for the capitalist vultures to finish what they’ve been doing: wresting complete control over the land and all resources, including the remaining workforce. The point is to let 45’s friends and their ilk denigrate the people for being poor after taking away their ability to thrive at home. For a man who declared bankruptcy multiple times to dare to disparage victims of colonialism and hurricanes while allowing, no, encouraging his disaster capitalist buddies to steal all they can.
The pattern can also be seen in the current attempts to disenfranchise the stricken people of Barbuda by the government of Antigua, whose members have vested interests in development that will do little to profit the people of Barbuda, but will certainly take away their inherited rights to the land they hold in trust.
If these uber/hyper capitalists have their way, you won’t be able to subsist on your own land, grow your own food, use solar, fish, or pluck an avocado from a tree. Remember the 2020 Plan to eliminate agriculture in Puerto Rico? Then also remember that, as a Barbudan elder often said to me, “A people who cannot feed themselves are bound to become slaves.”
Look around the US as unions are decimated, water is polluted and your rights to it are handed over to those who pollute and sell it back to you. Look at the outlawing of your right to collect rainwater or go off grid in states like Florida. Look at the destruction of a once internationally envied, free education system. Look at the ways in which you’re stimulated to buy what you don’t need but are dissuaded from being active participants in your own governance. Look at the millions who are a paycheck away from devastating medical debt, the millions of Americans imprisoned, often because they can’t afford bail or good representation.
Look around and know that you are all being colonized and enslaved. You are Puerto Rico on a three second delay. Wake Up and ACT.
To the ignorant folks who think that you can feed and educate a family on 125 K in NYC/LI: please, go back to your imaginary Kansas. A single person here needs about 50 K just to have a totally no-frills life here where the average house costs $400,000 (in the burbs) and 1 bedrm apartments start at 1,200 per month, mostly in places you don’t wish to be. (like Staten Island, bwahaha) It’s not a snob thing and we wish it wasn’t true, but really, this “free” tuition plan will help working people to get their kids through school, and that’s as it should be. And before you say it, think about what it would take to move: you don’t just pick up and go. Every single thing costs more here, from the barrettes in your daughter’s hair to the plumbing, transportation, and toothpaste.
Furthermore, the jobs aren’t often in your low rent areas, they’re in expensive cities, so hush!
We desperately NEED an educated public: democracy is rooted in the concept, as is our ability to stay competitive in the world. This new plan doesn’t cover dorms and the multiple expenses that come with education in this century. It’s not a cure for the problems in our education system or access to it, but it may save our students from a lifetime of crippling debt. So please just shut up and enjoy what you may have without begrudging others the ability to improve their lives and the prosperity of the nation.
I am furious, certainly frustrated, but I’m not afraid! Yes, this ish is frightening, but the US has NEVER been safe for me or mine. This land, this homeland that was once a place where my ancestors lived in relative civility, was not “America.” The nightmares of history aren’t ancient dusty memories. My childhood was peopled with family who had been enslaved, neighbors with tattooed arms, grandparents who told stories about parents returning from the Trail of Tears. I’ve had more encounters with racism (including being held for hours when trying to re-enter the US every freaking time I’ve traveled) than you’ve had pairs of shoes.
So none of this is new or surprising, nor did it happen overnight. This is what it’s always been, just now in your face, yet apparently still deniable for many. It stinks, and I’m really glad that people are protesting and organizing and resisting. It’s about time all you Rip Van Winkles woke up, and I hope you’ve got your crates of Social No Doze/Redbull/red pills handy and that those political alarm clocks are on on a timer so that you don’t drift back into that convenient and comfortable coma. We have grown old and tired in the struggle, waiting for the heat to get close enough to singe you into not only wakefulness, but the genuine solidarity that can only come when you really get what chronic oppression, equality, and justice mean, on the ground, not as merely as words or symbols, or intellectual agreements.
People keep talking about “love” to me, but by the way that they’re using the term, it’s like spitting at an inferno. True love grows. It develops over time and trials, errors (complete fuck ups, actually) and a whole lot of difficult, painful, monotonous encounters, confrontations, tears, deep listening, real talk, and maturity. It grows from the trust that can only develop over time and going through shit together and getting through it, like veterans of war.
So stay woke, friends. Stay sober, woke, and committed. You must do right because it is right, not just because it touches you and yours, and most certainly not just to win. I know we will, but we’d better have a clear vision of what that means, the costs, and our willingness to get there. This is life work, my friends, not a “moment.”
A luta continua
My FB page 7:59 AM