Birthday Blues

Friends, you know that I usually make a fuss over my birthday, but this has been a personally challenging time and yesterday topped it off. We’re in a nightmare where a bunch of greedy, heartless two-leggeds want to force women to have children but won’t regulate the formula companies or spend the money to feed the children women are forced to bear. They know that the majority of these under nourished, possibly unloved kids will be poor and more likely to be incarcerated, often for the same crimes that their own children and grandchildren commit but for which they will never be punished. And the rotten cherry on top of this putrid cake is that these immoral and cruel meat suits also adjudicated that death row prisoners could no longer use exculpatory evidence to free themselves when wrongly imprisoned.
So it boils down to the willful and fully conscious control, virtual enslavement, and persecution of women, people of the global majority, and the poor.

My birthday wish is that you actively fight against this in every way that you can. Give money, take to the streets (masked, of course), write letters and put your various amazing talents to good use. Organize, Agitate, and Change the World because a better one is waiting to be born. And it must be born, “by any means necessary.” We cannot wait!

Endings

Today marks nine months since my husband died and ends the week when things shifted for me. The last bits of magical thinking died somewhere around Wednesday, a day that has often marked changes in my life, although generally more benign, like getting a new job. It is Oya’s day- the Orisha of Change and the Guardian of the Cemetery Gate. It is she who admits the dead and has the power to deny entry. She’s the warrior who rides before Chango in the form of the whirlwind, the harbinger of his oncoming storm.

I am not one of her children, but my appreciation of that deity goes beyond the general respect I have for ancestral beliefs. I guess you could say that I get her, and like my childhood love for Athena, she is the archetypical embodiment of qualities to which I have aspired. This week my emotions made such a radical shift that I could not help but think of her, despite the inactivity of my beliefs.

For nine months some part of me hadn’t really believed that my husband was dead. It was unacceptable and just impossible. I looked for signs and portents. I prayed that his soul might enter an otherwise healthy but prematurely dying body, like in the old movie, “Here Comes Mr. Jordan”, or the more recent “Soul.” His death was an intolerable mistake and I expected the correction every pain-filled day.

Years ago, I had an ugly dream that Ray had won the lottery and when I came home from work, he was waiting for me in a big limo, on his way out of town. He handed me his keys and said that he’d paid the rent for the year. It was November.

When I woke up, I was angry at him, with that residue from lucid dreams that sometimes floods the borders between our waking and dreaming worlds. He of course laughed, held me, and was a bit hurt that I held even the slightest doubt about his complete loyalty and devotion to me, and over the years it became a bit of a family joke, and I’d always end the laughing by saying, “Uh huh- I’m keeping my eye on you, brother!” It was particularly funny to everyone because most of our friends had never seen a man as devoted as my husband was to me. Yes, he could be incredibly stubborn, obtuse, and frustrating, as in any marriage. But he was “as constant as the Northern Star” to quote Joni Mitchell. Adultery was an intolerable sin to him and one of the few things for which he would cut off a friendship. It was not in his playbook. He understood the boundaries of mild flirtation and never went anywhere close to its edge. He didn’t hang out on his own or with “the boys.” Once married, he was completely faithful, so my residual anger over a few days after the dream befuddled and amused him.

I tell that story because this week I understood that he was not coming back. I know that because I know that my husband would never willingly leave me and if there was any consciousness beyond the grave, any way that he could return to me or fetch me, he would have done it. There is nothing that would stop him. He prided himself as a Marine to never leave a comrade and his love for me more than doubled that emotion. He would sometimes say to me, “You go, we go” and he meant that most sincerely. So for whatever reason(s), this week something shifted in me and I knew that he was indeed gone. It is real.

I won’t bore you with the aftermath of such a shift, I’m still processing and so far there’s nothing beautiful or redemptive in it. But I will leave you with something by Carl Sagan’s widow that showed up on my Facebook feed on Thursday and felt affirming:

“American Taliban”

I think most of us have done it, because the parallels are obvious, but it’s time we all stop comparing what’s going on in the USA with the Taliban.

These are home grown, mostly white male Christians, Not Muslims, not “the Other,” not the dark bogeymen invoked by the shadowy fears of your own cruel history.
Call them the specific misogynist, power hungry, mean spirited, detestable villains that they are. Name them without mystifying them, without distractions or by using a different set of misogynists (who aren’t actually endangering us here) as shields or deflectors.
Own them as an ever present part of American society and a perversion of absolutely everything that Jesus taught or required of His followers, much less of anything that even vaguely resembles democracy.

There’s no new ugliness in this country. The racism, narcissism, misogyny, cruelty, disrespect for the Earth and all creation: that’s yours, America. You brought it with you and you cling to it and revive it regularly. You raise your children with these beliefs and you find ways to profit from them, and then you use your profits to do exactly what you condemn in, and project onto others.

Own it, call it by its true true name, (Dorothee Sölle’s “Christofascists”works very well) and never again insult our intelligence and reality with your denials.

Or do that most difficult thing: Change.

It Is Always The Day After

We need to be organized, put differences on hold, or at least not let relatively petty quarrels divide us. The scary people may hate each other, but they still vote as a block. They show up, if only to beat us. There’s no sitting this out, no “I’m not political” or “They’re all the same, why bother.” We not only have a common enemy, we have common interests, desires, and visions. They’re not identical-that’s ok. They’re enough for us to organize behind and win. Then we can hash out our differences. This is an intersectional cause: leave your ego at the door and work it out.

Dine/Apache burden basket

Is this the system of my choice? Hell no! But I’m here; X marks the spot, and I spent many years preparing for “The Revolution” while watching the disintegration of an increasingly hypocritical and corrupt system. I saw early on that most people don’t want revolution/change: they just want to be on top or better off within the familiar. They want to survive; they want to hold onto the illusion of the myth of The American Dream.

Disappointment can’t make you turn away, it requires us to use every tool available to us until “revolution” evolves.

We have to do better. These are the times that try our souls: united we stand, divided we fall hard, lose our remaining rights and become virtual, if not actual slaves to people you might mock, despise for their vulgarity and biases, but who will continue to kick your/our collective asses.

Work, work, work…

OXY or JUST MORONIC? J’accuse!

“July 28, 2018 NYT

OPINION

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)

A Caribbean Inspired Rant

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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.

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Barbuda 2010. “The Light.”

This is a photo I took in Barbuda in 2010. I was trying to capture “The Light” that many believe to be the spirit of the island. It is my most heartfelt and sincere hope that The Light will restore the Caribbean and return the land to the true people.

The ‘ville

2021 Intro:

I had two wonderful conversations with old and new Charlottesville buds yesterday, four years after terrorists openly invaded the city and UVA grounds. So of course this piece I wrote came up in my “Face Book Memories” this morning. It is striking to see a mutation of the white supremacist movement as it continues its historic reign of terror and mendacity with the anti 1619 Project/Critical Race Theory push at local and state levels. It’s particularly striking to me that the vitriolic response to a more accurate and complete rendering of US history is interpreted as being “unpatriotic”, and in doing so, proving that this is indeed a nation rooted in an ideology of white supremacy.

A. Mebane-Cruz 8/13/21

The reason I had no words for what happened in Charlottesville is because this is completely tragic, but not at all surprising. If you remember from lit, the flaw/seeds are always inherent in the character leading to the ultimate manifestation of the tragedy. People thought a host of folks I knew were “just being negative” or “too angry” when they spoke out against racism in Charlottesville. Some people actually said to me that they didn’t understand my rage, that I should be “used to it” and “ignore it” thus showing me that they only wished to diminish my humanity, to try to make me carry the burden of other people’s evil. Uh uh: my father might have called me “pixilated” but my mother never raised a complete fool! I know when I’m being discriminated against, singlely or intersectionally. So:
People who act shocked and wonder why we don’t share our personal reality when you make it abundantly clear after centuries of the same old same that you are not listening? People who blast and blacklist a guy for respectfully refusing to honor the symbols and songs of national racism? People who blame victims of police brutality for their own deaths? People who label children of colour as “thugs” but bestow innocence on shady, corrupt middle aged white men and refer to them as “kids/children”? Who damned thousands of black/Latino/Native folk to incarceration but now pity and protect white addicts? Who disrespect our bodies, psyches, traditions & histories every single day? I have no patience with you or with those who normalize you.

Whiteness is a political choice, not merely a decrease in melanin. Choosing not to see or change injustices, choosing destructive forms of tribalism/jingoism/ to ignore or negate the realities imposed upon people outside of your group, etc. are choices. Someone is now thinking/saying/writing: “but Black/Native/Latino people do some of those things!” And indeed, some do. But here’s the difference and here’s why we say that racism is a white problem: WE do not have power over your lives. I can’t keep you out of my neighborhood or from voting. I don’t determine your value or standing in society. This country and its multinational corporations are run by white people. Our Constitution, systems- including Race-were constructed by and for white people, most particularly land owning white males. So while not every white person is in that club, aspires to, or can join, whiteness still gives you a leg up over others. In constructing disadvantage for PGM, our racial hierarchy creates advantages for others. Not rocket science, yet millions of advantaged, “I’m not racist/I’m not rich/I never owned slaves” white people  adamantly refuse to connect the dots. Or they do so from their own fear-based frames of reference and assume that we want to destroy them in revenge, so they spout or buy into Nazi, KKK, alt-right beliefs, rhetoric, and actions. Like yesterday in a town where I spent 16 years, with people I still love.

So stop saying “This isn’t America.” Please! This IS the US, always has been, and your selfish adherence to a mythical origin and denial of the genocide, exploitation, and oppression of millions for your own comfort upholds these injustices and perpetuates oppression. It’s the blue pill of a very dangerous, self negating illusion. Unless and until white people -every single one of you- demand that it be otherwise and take hold of their rabid relatives, it will continue, under the radar or in attention getting flames. If people really want 45 out, they wouldn’t be wringing their hands and waiting for 2020. There are legal, Constitutional means for ousting him and his cohort. The electoral college can be dismantled or amended. It doesn’t change because that IS the will of the spineless, willfully ignorant, greedy, stupid, superficial people who support this regime, actively or passively. IMHO if you are not antiracist, antifascist, anti-misogynist, anti-discrimination against LGBT+ then yes, you are complicit. It’s not enough just to be a “nice” person.

And while I’m at it, let me just say that to my knowledge, Black Lives Matter has never dragged anybody behind a car or otherwise killed or maimed anyone. They haven’t burned down houses, shot at people, or terrorized them in any other way. There are no reports of burning Black Power fists on anyone’s lawns, so stop comparing them to the KKK/Alt Right/Nazis or other actually violent terrorist groups. If you have the ability to think you might ask   yourself why you see people demanding justice in the face of violence against their people to be a threat to you. Why do you fear ordinary, unarmed PGM who simply aren’t servile? What are you projecting and how might you get help for this problem? What I’m talking about are Systems of injustice, and unless and until they are dismantled, they will continue to oppress people you say you care about: relatives, neighbors, friends, innocent strangers that your moral codes & ethics tell you to protect and support. Unless you work against injustice and oppression, yes, you are guilty of complicity. Charlottesville is your call to humanity: choose.

Anjana M-Cimg_2788