don’t patronize us/them (from oakland to standing rock)

on saturday i learned of a warehouse fire in oakland that, as of this writing, has claimed 33 lives.

on sunday i learned that there was a victory in the fight against the dakota access pipeline – the army corps of engineers made a decision in our favor.

the emotional high and low of the weekend has been massive.

something i have noticed, many times before this weekend (especially around the movement for black lives work) but in sharp thudding pounding obviousness this weekend, is how patronizing we get with each other in the name of rigorous social justice. like mansplaining, but it’s not only men doing it…

for some reason, we patronize and condescend to each other in response to news in our community.

shortly after i saw the news out of oakland, when i was franticly bouncing from page to page of my oakland loves and missing everyone, i already saw comments from people about how unsafe these kinds of spaces are. and why aren’t artists demanding better work/live spaces?

and then as the news of the army corps of engineers decision was being announced by indigenous leaders on the ground at standing rock, amongst victory screams and tears, people were already saying ‘but, nope, no, not a victory,” and so on.

i wanted to take a moment to highlight this behavior as one of the ways that myths of superiority play out in real time, amongst people who don’t think of themselves as racist/sexist/classist/ableist or practicing supremacy.

as a virgo/first child this is a major piece of my own life work – thinking i know better than anyone else. i am unlearning.

so: we don’t know better than the artists who were in that warehouse on friday night. they made the ‘choice’ of freedom and community over (or while also) reaching for a safety most of us have been priced out of. because warehouse parties are a gathering place for those of us who are outside the systems in a million ways, for a million justifiable reasons. and warehouse parties are one of the places where we know each others’ faces and unique styles, we look for or become our favorite dancers, we wait for the dj who knows exactly how to liberate us from the week we had and remind us we are alive and in this moment we are in community and we are free. i found parts of myself on narrow warehouse stairs in oakland, i left parts of my pain on dance floors in warehouses in every city i have ever lived in. those choices, those risks, were a part of my survival as i found the communities that wouldn’t ask me to leave any of myself at the door.

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.

this weekend i have found myself all over the emotional map, and that condescending tone has felt so loud and disrespectful. comment threads expose that social justice is guilty of the same anti-intellectualism rampant in the u.s. media right now. we know so little, but rather than admit that, we cobble together stances, little barricades to cover how scared we are to feel. we are still rushing to be right and know the most. intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. we need to turn up collective rigor around facts, yes, but we also need to hone our emotional intelligence.

if we were making massive decisions based on facts, we would already have a global commitment to a just transition and every single life would matter in practice and action. instead we live in a world of emerging patterns, human flaws and miracles, crises and ecstasies. and we share this planet with (and internalize the beliefs and practices of) criminal colonial power brokers who bend the law in ways the masses are not allowed to.

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.

kandi mossett live:

tokata iron eyes with naomi klein:

pleasure in the age of [insert president elect]

if you are actively working on the election (knocking on doors, calling black voters in the south, talking to voters who feel confused, etc), thank you. remember to eat, shower and drink something other than coffee – at least twice a day. book a massage for november 9.

if you have voted already, or are waiting to vote in person, and know what your choice is (for example in Detroit you know why you are voting yes on Prop A and no on Prop B), and aren’t actively working in the election, but still find it impacting the pleasure potential of your days?

some options:

1a. if ranting and raving at people online makes you feel good, this is the week to indulge. helpful tip – when sharing any of the often terrifying and/or underwhelming news about the womEn running against candidate bump, make your recommendation for what you think people should do in the voting booth. it is more interesting to hear how people navigate the compromises than to pretend there are none.

afterwards we will all be out of the theoretical multiverse and back in some version of the same boat (an ethno-racialized hyper-gendered/abled/class segregated multiverse), so rage against whichever machine most enrages you.

1b. if ranting and raving (your own or others) makes you feel hopeless and miserable, take a social media break. write a book. read a book. i was accidentally offline most of last weekend and i felt my brain instantly nourished by the lack of incoming election-related crises.

1c. i have also curated who i follow right now – mostly checking for people who inspire and inform, with humor and fact checked sources. some favorites: alicia garza, kiese laymon, rebecca solnit, dallas goldtooth, jay smooth, taylor renee aldridge. yours?

2a. have at least one orgasm each and every day. minimum. to paraphrase mae west, an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away AND keeps everything in perspective – no matter what, right now you still have your miraculous body, made up of a complex system of pleasure sensors.

if you don’t have easy access to a lover each day, or if you do but still love the idea of buying new sex toys to use for political purposes, i recommend the womanizer (worth it), magic wand (dependable), wahl (also good for joint massages) or jimmy jane 2. use separately or all together. i’ve also heard positive reviews of the fleshlight, but can’t evangelize from experience…feel free to add your recommendations.

2b. more cuddles and more massages. hold, comfort and release each other.

3. stay hydrated and increase your exercise and mobility. polls show a 100% likelihood that some portion of us will move closer to apocalyptic conditions on nov 8, 2016. get ready!

4. focus on how incredible standing rock/#nodapl and the movement for black lives/#blacklivesmatter continue to be every day in the face of traumatizing and hard work. feel grateful to be alive at a time when you can give time, attention and money to such groundbreaking work.

5. in order to help yourself remember that whatever the outcome, y/our work continues, write a love note to your today-self from your 2020-self about the incredible work you and y/our community accomplish in the next four years.

this might include working on evolutions in the voting system like instant runoff voting so you don’t spend the next election in a fear vise about voting your values.

or not. your future self knows.

6. plan post election community healing spaces, places to notice how we are, knit ourselves back together if need be, hug on each other and focus on breath and laughter.

i will be hosting such events in oakland (11/16, 7pm solespace) and detroit (TBA) (will post events on my page)!

7. if all else fails, google michelle obama speeches (just fast forward through the ‘greatest nation’ parts, because as a reader of this blog i assume your goals for humanity are global survival, abundance and pleasure, not permanent dominance and competition) and revel in black woman magic.

let your pleasure be an act of resistance in this time of terror and distraction. as always, we are almost in the future, and this moment is almost in the past.