yes, all cops.

content note: cops, mentions of racism, classism, state and carceral violence. 

the other night in a white, wealthy town in marin county, i had just parked my car to go out to dinner. one parking spot over were two cops harassing a latino man sitting in his parked car. he had been pulled over because he had a garbage bag taped to the inside of his rear view mirror, and one of the cops wondered “what was going on.” the man’s license was suspended for driving without insurance, and his car wasn’t registered. the cops cited him and called a towtruck, insisting they were doing the merciful thing by having his car towed instead of having him arrested. the man quietly pleaded with them, saying he really needed his car. the cops kept repeating how they are good guys and they hate doing this kind of thing. soon enough it came out that he was living out of his car, which the cops gave him a hard time for — as if houselessness is a measure of character or a matter of choice. i called out to the man and offered to take his stuff since his car was being towed and he didn’t know when he would get it back. we moved a laundry basket of clothes, a backpack, and his bible to my car. he said, “i don’t have anywhere for this stuff to go.” i said, “i’m so sorry this is happening.” with tears in his eyes he shook his head and said, “for nothing.”

i am certain these men consider themselves good guys, “good cops.” the exclusively white passerbys seemed to trust that as well, as several of them nodded and smiled at the cops, and narrowed their eyes at the man who didn’t know where he would sleep that night. aside from some quietly infuriating tsk-tsk-type comments and value judgements about the man, the cops were well-mannered in their words and body language. aware of my presence and intent to observe their behavior, one went so far as to thank me, saying i was so kind to offer the man a ride. he shrugged, saying, “it is what it is.”

i don’t believe there is any such thing as a good cop. i am not saying all cops are mean or all cops are card-carrying members of the KKK. i even believe cops sometimes offer certain forms of support to some people. however. i bear witness to the fact that the norm of police culture, not the anomaly, is using physical and systemic violence to enforce oppression. yes, all cops break up families, depriving parents of their children and children of their parents. yes, all cops enforce racist, sexist, and classist laws. yes, all cops protect “private property” on stolen land, patrolling the streets for people who they don’t feel have the right to exist in public space. it doesn’t matter how polite or nice a cop acts, who a cop voted for, and what kind of person they are when they’re not wearing the badge. no cops are good cops because all cops accept the state-sanctioned power to lock humans in cages based on interpretations of already racist, classist laws.

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former 49-ers quarterback colin kaepernick tweeted this image last week and was heavily criticized. it’s factual truth, not opinion or exaggeration, that the us’s modern-day police originated from runaway slave patrols.

often when the idea of abolishing police and/or prisons comes up, people who feel resistant to the idea point to the small percentage of people in prisons who are chronically violent and unremorseful. in the long-term, let’s-vision-collective-liberation scope, i strongly believe that all people with lifelong access to stable housing, comprehensive healthcare, education, cultural resources, and community support are capable of thriving in a way that doesn’t hurt others or compete with others’ right to live and thrive. that may sound far out, since so many people in the US don’t have stability in terms of housing, healthcare, and other basic resources. but as i continue to learn from adrienne maree brown and other visionary black women, envisioning a better world requires imagination. walidah imarisha writes in the introduction of octavia’s brood:

… the decolonization of the imagination is the most dangerous and subversive form there is: for it is where all other forms of decolonization are born. Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless.

For those of us from communities with historic collective trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking around on two legs. Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us. For adrienne maree brown and myself, as two Black women, we think of our ancestors in chains dreaming about a day when their children’s children’s children would be free. They had no reason to believe this was likely, but together they dreamed of freedom, and they brought us into being.

i have been thinking a lot about the man and wondering how he’s doing, where he’s staying, if he got his car back. i won’t forget the look in his eyes. we owe it to ourselves and to our communities to look out for each other, even when we don’t feel we can do anything to help.

if you are interested in learning more about abolition for police and prisons, black & pink has a collection of resources compiled here — i really appreciate captive genders for a queer perspective. if you are interested in learning more about observing police in action, i think the berkeley copwatch handbook is a good place to start, as well as the other resources here.

til next time.

xo freddie

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on the stabbings in portland

[content note: white supremacy, etc.] 

I am feeling sad about what went down in Portland, my hometown, over the weekend. Briefly: a white supremacist was harassing two teenage girls, one of whom was in hijab and one of whom was black, and some white men intervened. This resulted in the white supremacist stabbing the three men who intervened, two of whom died and one of whom remains hospitalized. The teenagers fled to safety. The white supremacist was arrested without incurring any police violence.

Since this event occurred, photos and other evidence of the white supremacist’s racist and xenophobic words and actions quickly surfaced, including photos and quotes from Portland Police officers writing him off as a kook “with a head injury,” and protecting him as he made his way to a bus following an alt-right “free speech” protest last month.

I mourn for the people who lost their loved ones, for the girls whose sense of safety is surely gone and who have the rest of their lives to look back on this bloody event, for other Black, brown, and Muslim folks who now have more cause to worry about their kids, families, and own wellbeing as they go about their lives. I fear for the impact this attack will have on future bystanders of hateful harassment and violence. I recognize that there are ways in which the alt right is organized and trained and the left and progressives are not. I wonder when everyone who claims opposition to Tr*mp’s dangerous rhetoric and deadly policies will stop defending nazis’ right to free speech and public rallies and start taking this shit seriously.

Looking at photos of vigils and memorials in my hometown, I saw a lot of “love trumps hate” rhetoric and other heartfelt, but apolitical, calls for unity and care. No mention of Islamophobia, of anti-blackness, of the ways women of color are at the highest risk for white supremacist violence. Now we want to talk about mental health. Now we want to talk about toxic masculinity. We as white communities will do anything to avoid naming white supremacy, and addressing how we are all complicit.

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“love trumps hate” is an empty phrase without naming white supremacy and the role we all play in it. 

I hear a lot of generalized statements about how the Pacific Northwest was specifically founded on segregation and white supremacy. Some quick history from Oregonian and organizer Keegan Steven:

While many see Portland as a progressive Mecca, it is in fact the whitest city in America, largely by design. When Oregon joined the Union, it joined not as a free state or a slave state, but as a no-blacks-allowed state, the only state to do so. Being black in Portland, Oregon was a crime punishable by 40 whippings a day until leaving the state, on the books until 1974. This was possible because Oregon refused to ratify the 14th Amendment – the equal protection clause – until the 1970s. Oregon also refused to ratify the 15th Amendment, giving black people the right to vote – passed after the Civil War – until 1959. As a result, Portland is still the whitest city in America, with some of the worst inequities in housing, education, and criminal justice.

I know what occurred in Portland is liable to occur anywhere. It’s a fatal, heartbreaking, and infuriating example of what happens when progressive communities are more focused on protecting the right to free speech and store windows than protecting their neighbors. Still, this is all happening quite literally close to home, and I sit in grief, anger, and love for those of us in resistance together. What will we do to strengthen ourselves and our movements, and re-commit to shutting down white supremacist violence?

xo freddie

Action idea: write a letter to your high school

Inspired by some people on social media, I decided to write a letter to the administration of my Catholic high school in Portland, Oregon. It is a bit nervewracking considering the internalized misogyny and homophobia being at that school cultivated for me, but it feels important to speak out. Below is the letter I sent (with some specifics rescinded). I welcome anyone to use this letter as a template for your own!

***

Dear staff and administration of ________,

I am a graduate of the ______ class of 2007. My education and experiences at ________ helped spark my interest in social justice, leading me to my current work in communications and care work. I am also queer and transgender, two important components of my identity that did not feel safe to explore in my time at______ . With gendered dress codes, “faggot” as the all-purpose insult among my peers, and no clear stance against homophobia and transphobia stated by the administration,______ was not a safe space for me. I feel that I, too, likely engaged in hurtful attitudes and behaviors toward non-normative students, due to internalized misogyny and homophobia. I have heard that there are now several more openly gay kids at______ than there were when I was a student, and I am hopeful______ is taking measures to be more actively inclusive. I am grateful for community and care I found in the drama department and classes led by nurturing teachers including ______ and ______.

The current presidential administration’s rescinding of protection for trans and gender non-conforming students is heartwrenching and violent. Around 42% of transgender people attempt suicide in their lifetime (compared to 5% of the general population), so when it comes to how transgender youth are treated at school, this is quite literally a matter of life and death.

I am writing to urge you to create a sensitivity training program among staff and students at ______ . I would like to know about the availability of single-stall bathrooms (in classroom buildings and athletic facilities) and hear about plans to increase the availability of these. I want to know how you will protect trans and gender non-conforming kids, and remind you that just because not all of your LGBTQ students aren’t out doesn’t mean they aren’t there. How are you going to address the behavior of those who violate a safe environment for young members of the LBGTQ+ community?

I look forward to hearing from you and am rooting for your community as a space where all students can fully discover and become who they are.

Sincerely,

Freddie (he/him/his)
Class of 2007

healing in nature & relationships as resistance

between periods of nonstop rain, we’ve begun to have warm, sunny days of thawing out, and it feels like springtime is emerging. it feels good to be living in sonoma county, both for the healing properties of the redwoods and ocean, and for the proximity to my loved ones and community in the bay. oroville, the town eli and i just moved from, has been in the news lately due to a recent evacuation order and fears of flooding from the dilapidated spillway of the oroville dam. i have been thinking of our friends at the farm tons. they are safely positioned above the dam, but taking serious precautions to prepare for an emergency, just in case. it’s so intense to think about the thousands of mostly poor and working class residents dealing with the uncertain safety and stability of their homes, at the same time the newly appointed leaders of the executive branch are ferociously denying the impact of climate change.

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a panoramic photo from the sonoma coast

i have begun my work as an in home support person for a couple of different folks in the area. the duties include everything from housekeeping to running errands to more creative endeavors, and it feels like unique and important work. over the years i continue to find a lot of power and strength in relationship building across lines of identity, ability, and oppression. i don’t mean for that to sound lofty or self-important. it’s not glamorous work by any means and i don’t kid myself that the support i offer is some all-encompassing solution to these folks’ problems. but as i’ve written before… enacting structural change feels super daunting most of the time, while relationship building both helps me step into my own power and transform, and has the potential to do the same for others as well. so, it’s work i’m learning a lot from. i am grateful and humbled to be doing it.

while my process for finding my place in this moment and movement of resistance feels slow, it is in motion. i am trying to balance showing up for action with finding ways to contribute and support grassroots efforts in more sustained ways. i would like to share the inspiration, excitement, and even hope i felt while joining with many hundreds of others at SFO a little while ago to shut down the airport and demand that the people detained due to the xenophobic, islamophobic travel ban be released.

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brooke anderson photography

first of all, it was amazing to see the airport filled with resistance, as airports are places i associate closely with heavy security, policing, and being on one’s best behavior. not to mention the ways that protesting in an airport makes things so much more accessible for families with kids, disabled folks, and elders — there are ample bathrooms, water, food, electrical outlets, and physically accessible means of getting around. there is lots of good information and resources floating around about the necessity of making movement work accessible, please do yourself a favor and read some if that’s not already an integral part of your work! i’ve found sins invalid and the icarus project to be great resources on this front.

one amazing thing about being a part of the SFO shutdown and protest was seeing the wide swaths of people who seemed totally willing to participate in civil disobedience and direct action under the leadership of AROC (arab resource and organizing center) with support from APTP (anti-police terror project). like many others i have my critiques about culture/politics around the women’s marches, but was so pleased and excited to see folks in their “pussy hats” ready and willing to lock arms and stand their ground to prevent police and angry passengers alike from passing through. it made me feel hopeful — perhaps in spite of the very valid critiques around inclusivity (particularly in relationship to race and people who don’t identify as women), the mass mobilization the women’s march provided can really lead to a popular movement of inclusive, effective resistance in this era of a fascist regime. alicia garza wrote a great piece related to this called, “our cynicism will not build a movement. collaboration will.” here’s a short excerpt:

“Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to figure out what it means to join a movement. If we demonstrate that to be a part of a movement, you must believe that people cannot change, that transformation is not possible, that it’s more important to be right than to be connected and interdependent, we will not win…

I remember who I was before I gave my life to the movement. Someone was patient with me. Someone saw that I had something to contribute. Someone stuck with me. Someone did the work to increase my commitment. Someone taught me how to be accountable. Someone opened my eyes to the root causes of the problems we face. Someone pushed me to call forward my vision for the future. Someone trained me to bring other people who are looking for a movement into one.”

one moment i witnessed: a line of about 15 riot police approached a small group of folks banded together to block an airport escalator, and ask them to move. they refused, and someone from APTP told the riot cops to leave. after a few moments, the riot cops turned walked away. i have never seen that happen before. it was powerful. (view democracy now’s coverage of the SFO protests here.)

thanks to the folks at protests and online who have pointed out the fundamental error in the sentiment, “we are all immigrants.” we are not all immigrants. notably, native people and black folks whose ancestors were brought here forcibly as slaves are not immigrants. i am a white settler, the descendent of great grandparents who immigrated from ireland to turtle island (aka the U.S.), which was stolen from indigeneous people. there is power in unity, but it is equally important and powerful to highlight the difference in our histories and experiences — and how if anything, that should serve to strengthen the collectivity in our struggles.

btw — i’ve done some re-organizing of my small monthly donations to include AROC. please do the same if you can, even $5-10 a month makes a difference for grassroots organizations. even better, seek out a muslim/arab led organizing group in your community, if you are not in the bay area.

on a personal note, i celebrate two years in my loving partnership with eliana this month, and am so grateful for the exploration, support, laughter, transformation, and love our relationship continues to bring me! this might be a little embarrassing for them to read. but rad, queer love is resistance and i am proud and grateful to be in it!

“love is an action, never simply a feeling.” (bell hooks)

til next time,

xo freddie

ps – !!!!!!!!

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“i have three hearts”

what’s going on? j20 and beyond

waking up at four a.m. to pounding rain and dramatic thunder and lightning was a bit cliche for what felt like the doomsday of a certain neo-fascist’s presidential inauguration. miraculously the storm cleared in time for the people to gather in the streets of san francisco and far beyond, all around the globe. i am deeply honored to have been able to stand with resilient and inspiring activists and community members to take a stand not just against the new u.s. administration, but against the country’s legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, and violence that made it possible.

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blocking off the parking garage entrance for 555 california street, the second tallest building in san francisco, 30% of which is owned by the new president. photo by brooke anderson photography.

the atmosphere throughout the day felt strangely celebratory, in spite of the terrible event we were there to protest. but i realize that is is imperative for people and communities overlooked and oppressed by those in power to gather to celebrate survival, resistance, and our commitment to love and support one another. i’m not talking about feel-good “love trumps hate” stuff. i’m talking about standing together in the face of danger to defend the lives of the most vulnerable against a regime which is only becoming more hostile to us all. i’m talking about acknowledging the labor and struggles that are invisibilized and diminished by white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. i’m talking about fighting for each other like we were family. all of us — with different identities and experiences of race, gender, class, and ability — need each other to thrive. we need to lift each other up to win.

we did some singing in the streets today and although i’m exhausted i was inspired to record this cover of “what’s up” by the four non-blondes. please note i am still learning how to use my voice, both literally (thanks T) and in a woo-woo sense…

i know today is just the beginning of this particular regime of violence. i’m seeing lots of loved ones and strangers who have never hit the streets before now, out and about and planning to keep at it. i sometimes bristle at seeing messaging that doesn’t feel quite right, or feel annoyed at someone’s shock to learn about police violence and state repression. but i, too, am learning every day. it takes all kinds. one thing i remain resolute about is my firm belief in the importance of taking leadership from populations most likely to be impacted by discrimination and violence — black and brown folks, muslims, transgender women of color, immigrants and refugees, and disabled folks, to name a few.

that said, i have to speak out about one thing and i hope that folks newer to attending protests will consider it: it’s okay if you don’t want to be around window smashing, and it’s okay if you disagree with it as a tactic (though, it’s worth learning why many consider it strategic in certain situations). but, do not conflate property damage with violence. think about who defines violence and who gets criminalized. i repeat — it’s okay if you don’t approve of window smashing, and if you don’t want to be at risk for experiencing police violence, it’s a rather good idea to find an exit strategy  if that starts happening. but, do not take photos of property destruction, do not ‘snitch,’ do not do anything that incriminates people (this includes posting on social media, which we know law enforcement relies on for policing). if you’re committed to observing and stopping violence, learn some principles of copwatch and turn your camera on the police.

we’ve got a long and hearty fight ahead. please join me in seeking to be humble and open to learning and strategizing how we can resist oppression and defend all communities at risk.

shoutout to everyone i have been fortunate enough to learn from, in relationships and in action and in writings and by example. i am gratefully indebted to you.

xoxo freddie

ps – would very much welcome articles/additional resources that are more in-depth explanations of how/when property damage may be considered a strategic protest tactic. i know i’ve read ’em, but i can’t find them now. thanks!

courage is a heart word

i’m in the thick of moving, yet have been intending to write a end/beginning of year post for the past week or so, so here i am.

“You cannot, you cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.”

— I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

i was inspired by my friend marion to write a political accountability journal. marion writes: “every single one of us needs to enter 2017 as an activist. YES, YOU. ESPECIALLY YOU. IT IS NOT GUARANTEED THAT ANYONE ELSE WILL DO THIS WORK INSTEAD OF YOU SO IT IS UP TO YOU. and me. Please do this ESPECIALLY if you are a person with privilege and you’ve been feeling helpless hopeless sad complacent pessimistic. Consider choosing the same date each month to reflect back on what you’ve done and what your goals for the next month will be!” she posed some questions:

  • what do i believe in? what do i want to fight for?
  • what will my resistance look like?
  • what valuable skills do i have to offer?
  • how will i consistently go outside my comfort zone (because staying in it clearly isn’t working)? what sorts of activism make me uncomfortable, and why? how can I step into that discomfort?
  • which organizations will i join?
  • what will i initiate? how will i bring my people together with purpose? what community do i want to build?
  • what books will i read? how will i keep myself on track with my reading (internet articles do not count)?
  • where will i put my money?
  • how will i encounter feelings of helplessness or burnout? how will i resist slipping back to my comfort zone?
  • what privileges do i have? am i white? cis? male? able-bodied? educated? straight? employed? socially well-connected? etc? how will i acknowledge and check these privileges and simultaneously use them to weaken systems of unearned advantage?
  • how will I hold myself accountable?
  • who else will hold me accountable?
  • what is my plan to take care of myself so I can keep doing this work?

trump’s inauguration is imminent, and extremely basic rights and safety of muslims, immigrants, black folks, people of color, disabled folks, and queers is at risk more than ever. when he was elected, a conversation i was already having with myself was boosted to the forefront. if i am not a capital-O organizer, where do i fit into the movement? and what about all my friends and family, for whom it would be a big deal to even just show up to a meeting or a march? and what about my people for whom showing up is not accessible, most of whom’s rights and wellbeing are directly threatened by a right-wing government?

it feels true to me that it’s important we are all involved in the resistance against a fascist government and against neo-nazis who are growing more comfortable showing their stripes in the alt-right movement. what does this look like for me and for you? personally, i am embarking on a more intentional path of support. i intend to build budding skills like housekeeping, cooking, first aid and CPR, and navigating bureaucracy, to become a homecare worker for disabled folks, chronically ill folks, elders, and others who need help around the home. while this path will not likely impact any systemic change, building strong relationships with people isolated by systems of oppression has always felt powerful and meaningful to me. whatever is left of the optimist within my cynical and somewhat broken heart still believes that the change we inspire and the support we provide for each other can make waves that extend beyond our individual selves and relationships.

capitalism and near-constant microaggressions make it so easy to hunker down and get into survival mode. to avoid meaningful engagement with people who i could potentially build supportive community relationships with, or at least have interactions that challenge white supremacy, misogyny, and other systems of oppressions that impact us all.

my therapist will, who i deeply trust and value, recently shared the origins of the word courage with me. it’s from old french and latin and essentially means heart-ful, or from the heart. for me, hearing that affirms that it’s okay to be scared when pushing toward being the person i want to be, and fighting for what i believe is right. that while communication is important, i don’t have to be able to form an extremely articulate or academic argument to know what’s right. i want to approach challenges and relationships with courage, full of heart. it’s lofty, but it feels like the right place to start from in a moment where it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel incapable of impacting anything at all.

i’m apprehensive about what’s to come (both in my personal life and on a global scale) but i am committed to being present and courageous with myself and my people.

i think that’s all for now. thanks for reading. ’til next time.

xo freddie

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ace hotel in portland, oregon, in the final days of 2016.

 

a hell of a time to be alive.

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print by pete railand (justseeds.org)

it hasn’t quite been a month since trump was elected to be the president of the united states, but it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that. i spent the first week or so oscillating between feelings of depression and numbness. it was a big wakeup call for me in realizing how invested i was in the democratic status quo, in spite of my politics and my heart which tells me that a democratic regime is also volatile to muslims, black folks and other people of color, immigrants, incarcerated people, and poor folks.

 

i feel clear that clinton being elected wouldn’t have been a victory, and some argue it wouldn’t have even been harm reduction. but in trump being elected, congress turning red, and dangerously right-wing white men being appointed to top white house positions, even i as an enormously privileged, able-bodied, white queer person could be impacted in terms of healthcare, discrimination, and safety on the street. in case you haven’t heard, hate crimes and harassment of the above-mentioned identities has spiked big time, most notably in elementary and middle schools across the country. i reject the rhetoric of being “shocked” by trump’s election, because that ignores the white supremacy and patriarchy that our country was founded on. but it’s indeed an indicator of the scary and dangerous times that are already here, and are about to get scarier, especially for muslims, immigrants, and others sitting at different intersections of marginalized identities.

anyway, part of the reason i haven’t gotten around to sharing my thoughts and reflections here is because i am feeling more than ever the importance of listening to and learning from grassroots organizations and impacted communities who are on the frontlines of oppressive violence.

i’ve started a study group with my three sisters, all of whom are younger and brilliant in their own ways, all of whom are at different places in their political journeys. it is helpful and powerful to connect with my family of origin in that way, as we were all raised as white women and all taught (mostly covertly) to buy into racism in a way that is specific to white girl/womanhood. it’s also a helpful practice for me as a radical in my late 20s to always be working to pull people i love into the movement, rather than isolate them with a ‘radder than thou’ attitude and language. i’m grateful that my immediate family of origin are not trump supporters, and i think these conversations about unlearning white supremacy would be a lot more difficult to sustain if so. but it’s important for all white folks to be having these conversations right now, no matter how much we might ourselves despise trump and all he stands for.

i wanted to share a few quotes and articles i’ve found helpful in processing what’s happened and what’s happening in regards to trump’s election:

“Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.”

– chimamanda ngozi adichie, “now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about”

“Perhaps this is why seeing another white person holding a ‘Love Trumps Hate’ sign makes me cringe and nearly ready to go home. It is not hate people of color are facing, its violence, deportation, seizure of land, denied resources, and murder. People of color have always dealt with hatred, that is the reality of our existence under white supremacy. Reducing it to hate is a mischaracterization of our grievances. We are not protesting against hate because hate is a feeling. We are protesting against oppression and domination. We are protesting against the predictably of whiteness–that it will always win, which inevitably means we have lost.”

– amina pugh, “love doesn’t trump hate. accountability does.”

“Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.”

– masha gessen, “autocracy: rules for survival” 

i’m inspired by all the people and organizing i see that is proactively offering support and defense for those who are most impacted. i see money being collected for undocumented folks to get their papers, for transgender people to get their legal name, gender, and surgeries lined up and their hormones stockpiled, for low-income women and others with uteruses to access IUDs and other forms of birth control. i am wary of the calls for “unity” that i hear from liberals (see the “women’s march on washington” fiasco), and simultaneously recognize the urgency of coming together to realize our struggles are connected. and unless we put the most vulnerable communities’ needs front and center, they will inevitably get swept under the rug and forgotten.

meanwhile in oakland, many of my loved ones and many more people i’ve lived with, worked with, and otherwise shared space with are grieving the 40+ who died in a fire at a warehouse party on saturday night. it wasn’t a freak accident; there is a housing crisis in the bay area, and DIY artists are among the many people getting pushed to materially unsafe spaces. (a little more on that topic as it pertains to the fire here.)

i want to share one more article i found to be full of truth and compassion, by adrienne maree brown:

we need to learn, together, how to grieve or respect the space for the grief of others in our community – without using it as a moment to educate those who are grieving. about anything. i think we buy into the rapid river pace of social media and think we only have five minutes to say everything that needs to be said about a topic. this is not true. we have to protect the time and space needed to grieve.

and: we don’t know better than the multitude of tribal leaders on the frozen ground at standing rock. indigenous communities are well aware, after 500 years of dealing with this country’s genocidal campaigns, not to let down any guard. when we see them telling us the news of this victory step with tears in their eyes, we need to check any part of ourselves that wants to talk down to them and say, ‘you are wrong, because…’

kandi mossett said this in her facebook live video, which i am posting below and recommend watching: ‘we have survived genocide. for 500 years we have not changed our story – you have to care for the earth so she can care for us.’ and tokata iron eyes, a 13-year-old who lives at standing rock, said ‘i feel like i have my future back!’

they don’t say these things because they lack context or information or misunderstand the patterns of this country and need non-native people to educate them. they say these things with lifelong experiences of being in this battle for the planet, against nations.

the victories are few but they nourish all of us, help us to understand the potential of intersectional peoples’ power. we have to protect the time and space needed to celebrate.

what holds us together is community and story.
stop telling communities they have their story wrong.
examine what it is in you that needs to counter things you hear from people directly impacted by oppression.
grieve with oakland. celebrate with standing rock. and keep doing your own work.

– adrienne maree brown, don’t patronize us/them (from oakland to standing rock)

i have personal updates to share soon, as well, but this is quite long and exhausting enough.

i’m sending my best wishes for everyone reading this to check in with themselves, check in with your people, figure out how to support those going through it right now. maybe it’s showing up to protests, giving money, helping people navigate bureaucracy, lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on. it’s felt like a particularly dark world lately, and we all need every bit of kindness we can get.

xo freddie