“The hoarding of wealth is violence.”

“The hoarding of wealth is violence.” I saw this somewhere on the Internet and can’t find the original source. I appreciate it because “greed” is a term that can be disputed; it’s so relative. While “hoarding” is still a bit slippery, it captures the kind of greed that crosses the line into violence.

The top 1% of the wealthiest people in our country fit into the “hoarding” category. Maybe more people do, but if we could force (yes, force, through legislation) the hoarders to share with people living in poverty (or something like reparations for slavery), a lot of our broken system could be fixed.

If-us-land-mass-were-distributed-like-us-wealth

Jill Stein is not Jesse Ventura (why I might vote Green in the presidential election)

In 1999, I voted for the Green Party in the Governor’s race. I was young and idealistic. I voted for a candidate who really fit with my values. After Jesse Ventura was elected Governor, a lot of people told me it was because of people like me not sticking with the Democrats. Back then —whether the corporate world had already purchased our government or not, I don’t know (I was young and idealistic, remember)— I believed everyone’s vote made a difference, so I believed my vote had ultimately been a bad decision.

Here we are again, but the stakes are much higher. The idea of voting for a candidate who truly represents my values is terrifying. The consequences could be deadly, without any exaggeration (a President Trump would lead to many deaths around the world, I have no doubt).

At this point, I have no allegiance to any party or any candidate. People who know me are surprised to find I’m not an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders. It’s not that I think he’s not an amazing politician; I just don’t think he’s radical enough to change our broken system. I’ve given no energy in the time of primaries as the Democrats have selected their candidate. If I’m going to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” I’m simply going to vote Not Trump.

As I stay in my place of indecision with my mind as open as it can be, I do wonder if perhaps the time is right for real change? What if everyone who loves Bernie Sanders for all of his progressive and practical values really looked at Jill Stein as a candidate? What if the major media outlets all included Jill Stein in their reporting? What if…?

A lot of people hate Hillary Clinton. I don’t. I think she’s about the same as President Obama. Both are owned by Wall Street but both care deeply about trying to do the right thing with the cards they feel they were dealt.

What if everyone who recognizes Donald Trump for what he is — a very, very dangerous man — took some time to look at Jill Stein’s plan? What if there was an actual revolution in our political process? What if we tell the corporations we’re sick of them making all of our decisions, that we want to create a government by the people, of the people, and for the people in ways it never has been before?

 

 

 

 

 

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parenting while under reality

“Mama? If Trump or Cruz become President, will the world become a dystopian nightmare with a black sky?” (She reads a lot.)

“No, hunny, the sky won’t be black.”

On second thought, with the environmental crisis, the sky may be going black…

“What will we do if Trump or Cruz is elected?” she continued.

I realized my answer — that we would go to organizations like the Maine People’s Alliance, 350 Maine, or the Maine Women’s Lobby who are already doing the work and get involved to fix our broken systems — must be the answer to the question, “What will we do now?”

We also discussed the seductive and incorrect idea that it’s “them” who are the racists; that it’s “them” who are greedy and scary and sometimes evil. We talked about how the overt racism we recognize in the Trump supporters is frightening, of course, but that a well-meaning white person who doesn’t consider themselves racist might deny someone a job because they feel personally that interpersonal relationships with people of color makes them uncomfortable. [We were in a car burning fossil fuels. We shop in stores where people are paid insufficient wages. The list goes on…] We talked about how we should take the overtly ugly and dangerous seriously, but that we shouldn’t use it as a way to imply the rest of us are innocent.

These are big issues to be discussing with a 12.5 and nearly-7 year old. They are necessary subjects of discussion, though. That said, I want my children to live in a world that feels safe and full of joy and hope. Can we have both? Can we expose them to reality, work together with them to make changes in the broken system, while also helping them know they will always be safe?

The solution for me is to involve my children in direct actions to help those organizations who are working on the issues that matter to us (see those I mentioned above, though there are so many!). I will help them stay in hope and optimism in the face of the terrifying realities of our world by showing them that we are not entirely powerless. Much is beyond our control, of course, but one of our realities is that we have a safe home, a loving family, and involvement in incredible wider communities who are all engaged in good work.

Next on my agenda after hitting “publish” on this post is to reach out to those organizations to find out where my daughters and I can actually help.

What is Whiteness? (a linked NYTimes article)

I don’t usually focus on the fact that race is a social construct, because I think it can detract from the reality of our institutionalized racism. That said, I think if we white people read things like this and talk about the ideas, we could start some important internal and personal changes that might add to a foundation we need to help make structural changes in our institutions.

If you look at the #blackoutday tag on twitter it becomes really clear how race is a social construct. There’s no real way to “look black.” From the article:

Eliminating the binary definition of whiteness — the toggle between nothingness and awfulness — is essential for a new racial vision that ethical people can share across the color line. Just as race has been reinvented over the centuries, let’s repurpose the term “abolitionist” as more than just a hashtag. The “abolition” of white privilege can be an additional component of identity (not a replacement for it), one that embeds social justice in its meaning. Even more, it unifies people of many races.

check yourself, my white friends

Since the late 80s, I’ve been working on and through my own racism. I’ve written about it on my own blog, before it was called a blog, and I’ve written about it in my newspaper column at the Bangor Daily News.

As the news coverage of the Department of Justice’s study of Ferguson continues, I’ve caught myself in old patterns of translating the facts. I invite my white friends to listen to your inner voices. We want racism to be not as bad as it is. We want that so much. So, to make it easier, when we hear shocking statistics we may translate them into less devastating facts. Maybe you don’t do it, but I know I have.

As I wrote in one of my BDN columns about racismthe one with deeply offensive thoughts as the first sentences—I think we well-meaning white people get so caught up in wanting to be not-racist that we aren’t able to engage in authentic relationships with people of color which means we can’t take or even support real action to change (institutionalized) racism.

Here’s the translation I’ve had to use over and over again as I listen to the news stories, using one statistic as an example:

news story: 93% of summons issued for jaywalking were issued to black people.

me: (for a millisecond) probably more black people jaywalked. maybe that’s something that happens more often in black neighborhoods and maybe there’s a non-racist reason why it’s considered such a bad thing.

me: *checks myself* the police are targeting black people for “crimes” and they are not targeting white people for the same “crimes.”

I’ve had to fix my thoughts again and again as I listen to the news. Each time I hear a statistic, my millisecond “please make this not as bad as it is” thought is louder and more easily detected. It flashes away faster, too.

Just like my work a decade ago getting beyond the “please consider me one of the GOOD white people” nonsense, the desire to have our racist systems be not as bad as they are leads me to an easy way out (hearing the statistic and thinking probably they deserved it).

Please consider reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, or listening to the audiobook, or simply listening to Michelle Alexander’s many public presentations. It is the knowledge of her work resting inside my gut that helps me face the ugly truth that I am still trying to avoid the ugly truth about racism in our country.