living through the unveiling

things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.

people have been detained at our borders, people are being deported, people are being sent away from the US. we are making plans with the people we love about what to do in case they get stuck outside these borders or sucked out of these borders.

there are white supremacists, overt white nationalists, in office at the federal level, people who don’t hide their feelings of supremacy.

there are climate change deniers, people who seem to think what we do has no impact on the earth, being appointed to have oversight of our US relationship to the earth.

people with no experience or even apparent concern about the majority of human beings are being appointed to oversee how we are educated, how we are housed, everything about how we live.

it certainly feels like this is worse than what we have been experiencing from our federal government. i say feels like because, as a radical, i am not certain that that’s true. In fact, i’m pretty sure that it’s not true.

at no point in my adult life have I seen the government make the necessary decisions about climate, take real leadership to turn and face the changes we have to make in order to survive. everything has been woefully incremental. we have been facing climate apocalypse for some time now.

police, and military, are, and have been, armed racial profilers filling modern day slave cages, upholding imperialist lines of power. black people have been in the streets saying we are not paranoid and we are not criminals – there’s something rotten in this nation. indigenous water protectors have been telling us there’s something rotten in this nation. our comrades in the global south, in Muslim nations, all over Latin America have been telling us there’s something rotten in this nation.

our history is bloody with governments who have faced our interventions, whose borders have moved, whose people have died if we didn’t like how they looked, how they prayed, if they didn’t want to support our economic interests over their own.

our borders are littered with the bones of those who were not only not welcomed, but hunted down by militia, left with no water in the desert. in most cases, those people have come from the same places that our interventions destabilized.

and I live in Detroit, where we have lived under emergency management for years. in the corruption of the city we have seen overwhelming displacement and overwhelming denial of services to people who are just trying to live, raise children, be a part of this place.

so why, now, does it feel like this?

why can’t we sleep, why are we in extreme patterns of drinking, smoking and numbing? why are so many of us in pain as our bodies try to keep up with the news? why are so many of us in a panic all day every day (and those that aren’t sound like they are in denial or rocking unearned hubris)?

perhaps the number one privilege of being an American is our narrative. we have a story that covers all of our wretched behavior, that makes us exceptional regardless of what we do. we’ve gotten lost in that story. we have believed that the beautiful princess wanted us for our virility, the apple was a nutritious offer from a frenemy, Oz was a magical city and that we are a benevolent, caring nation that really loves all of our differences, our democracy, our global nature. that we were almost there, to that place where we can know we are better than this.

as a nation we have quietly turned away from any numbers that seemed to make a counter argument about what we were up to – the suicide rates of trans people, the number of bodies along our southern border, the increasing rate of C-sections, sterilization and fibroids amongst women of color and poor women, the length of the existing wall, the number of people killed by our drones, the percentage of black people in prisons, the pace at which people of color are murdered by the state, the rising heat and ocean levels during this golden age of global warming. and so much more.

those of us who have shouted these numbers out, who have taken action in order to raise the attention of this country, have been called uncouth, negative, hyperbolic.

and we have been working in silos, each of us digging deep down into our own particular issues, our own particular numbers and making a case for why there’s a crisis.

so, what feels new is the unveiling; the heaviness is the increasing weight of the truth becoming undeniable as more people believe it.

right now, more and more of the truth of this country at this time is visible, left naked, made obvious. not only are each of us right about the particular crisis we have been holding, but others coming up out of their silos are right too – and the intersecting crises are massive.

now that it is plain to see that we are up against white supremacists whose plan for survival seems to be eliminating the majority of us, we no longer have the luxury of pretending we can change their minds with logic, or survive the pendulum swing of universal survival issues made partisan.

we have to be willing to engage in radical resistance and radical futuring.

because people are looking at us like, well, you were right, now what do we do?

we must increase our collective tolerance for truth. this means we must learn how to hold the full breadth of emotions we feel upon hearing the truth, and to keep listening, changing, taking action, learning. we must be willing to look at what actually needs to happen to address the truth.

we must deepen our connections to each other. there is no way the majority of us will survive this time if we continue working in isolation or in competition. we must meet at the intersections and lovingly figure out how to be in right relationship. we need the largest, and most authentic, collaborative efforts for justice and liberation that have ever been witnessed on this planet.

we must take the risk of leading. we must be willing to assert the solutions we believe in, to experiment with alternative ways of being human on this planet at this time. we must be willing to try out post-normative paths, we must be willing to say unpopular things.

we must divest. i am still trying to figure out what this looks like in real time. i know part of it is boycotts and buycotts and I am excited to see the lists of places we can stop putting our money and where to redirect it already moving around the internet. i know part of it is really being willing to stop financially supporting all of these things we so viscerally disagree with (#alternativetaxes).

i also think we need to learn to divest our attention from the circus in DC. i do not mean to ignore it or to escape it, but it’s not going to work to continue to spend the majority of our hours saying what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck to what’s coming out of DC.

i am grateful for those who have focused on tracking our resistance and our victories, that is really helpful. we must figure out how to get the information we need from the dying, antiquated present-day systems, and use it to continue doing the most radical work possible. we must put the majority of our attention where it can grow the next world.

not only are we the ones we have been waiting for, but this is the exact moment we have been shaped for. and even though it came so quickly, it has actually taken forever. but here we are, in this moment, the present moment, naked and messy and visible right down to our roots.

the veil never hid us from others, it only ever hid us from ourselves. now that more of us can see who we truly are, we must begin/continue to move towards who we truly want and need to be in order to sustain human life on this planet.

liberation is no small task – it is appropriately daunting for miraculous beings. it is a gift, to be given such undeniable purpose, such immense odds. hold each other tight, and let’s do this work.

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: