We can’t just remove icons of Confederate glorification — we must add representations of Black empowerment, too

Hey, look, I know I post a lot, especially lately. But this essay is ESSENTIAL READING. Save it for later if you must. But please, please read it! There is so much to chew on here! This piece offers a truly different cultural POV than I’ve seen. It includes links to un-whitewashed history. And most eye-opening, to me, is the the shifted framework of seeking prideful displays of Black empowerment, vs. removing shameful markers of supremacist glorification. It seems activism has largely focused on the latter, which is necessary of course — but it’s the former that really will change everyday lives. This piece really shook me up, in the best way.

 

(but NOT LIKE THIS, ok??)

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Antifa and false equivalencies

The sudden appearance of articles “explaining” antifa and giving them threat-level equivalence to organized (and in some cases decades-old) white supremacist groups is living proof that there is no such thing as “the liberal mainstream media.” This is anti-left propaganda, and must be giving Nazis and Trump lemmings great joy.
Once the fuck again, respected news orgs are playing into Trump’s media strategy. Trump is hopelessly obtuse in innumerable ways BUT there’s no denying he is a next-level media savant who does with press manipulation what Rain Man did with card counting and People’s Court. He’s the king of all news cycles.
Sure enough, within hours of the moment he spouts off some fresh deranged newspeak (the “alt-left” was not a thing yesterday, but I assure you, it is now), here come the think pieces and explainers reinforcing his self-serving bullshit — where in the pursuit of “objectivity” they pathetically refuse to name and defuse the lie that it is.
Antifa are not a group or identity, they are a variable collection of individuals. They also disrupt gatherings and destroy property to create an unpredictable environment. Sometimes, they punch Nazis. OK, no, that’s not nice. On the other hand, white supremacists advocate for the disenfranchisement/deportation/elimination/systematic murder of queerfolk, Jews, POC and “race traitors” and they have allies in authority. (And have had for 150+ years.) They routinely use clubs, guns, fire, bombs, chemical sprays and motorized vehicles to terrorize, maim and murder. (And have for 150+ years.)
The violence is not equivalent, the motives are not equivalent, the goals are not equivalent, the numbers of participants are not equivalent. But right-wingers are suddenly acting like antifa is a unified occupying army raining random death and destruction on poor law-abiding churchgoers, shopkeepers and families out for a stroll. It’s painting a conflict between lawless uncivilized savages vs. law-abiding gentlefolk for the umpteenth time and it’s as American as baseball and goddamn apple pie.
Yo, media folks, sure would be great if you could do better. Media consumers, you can *demand* they do better. Subscribe, click, and comment like the paying customers that you are. Make responsible reporting the smarter business move.
There are lots of ways to fight Nazis — including delegitimizing all their arguments, precluding their claims of any victim status, naming and negating false equivalencies, and keeping them on the filthiest edge of social acceptability. Fuck Nazis. #resist
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‘You don’t have to start perfect. You just have to start.’

I truly love this statement by a friend of a friend on FB. (Text included below, too.)
I feel that it is a very gracious open hand, with true understanding and empathy for a certain kind of oblivious white person who is only starting to realize that they have been oblivious. And specifically for Southern people, by a Southern person.
I also love the phrase “start imperfectly” and will be adding it to my personal collection of major life mottoes.
I offer one caveat, though. Her statement of “donate to ACLU and NAACP,” is very broad and could be a misstep. Everyone should try to direct their donations to on-the-ground organizations that are in urgent need, to create immediate action and benefit. Smaller orgs appreciate every dime, no gift too small! The national chapters of ACLU and NAACP are actually very well-funded right now. This list is specific to Charlottesville, which is still valid, but it can also serve as an example for people who want to start imperfectly in other communities or closer to home. Look for local chapters rather than umbrella orgs, use Charity Navigator for additional guidance, or ask a friendly neighborhood POC for recommendations. 🙂
Her statement:
I’m taking time out from my regularly scheduled facecrack fast & grief to bring you this: real talk from a country grown white southern belle: Contrary to what “elite snowflakes” might make you feel, you don’t have to do this “perfect”. You don’t have to eradicate all the little crevices of bigotry to speak up and pull a chair to the table. You don’t have to forsake your southern heritage or give up nascar to do a better job of being a neighbor. You just have to start. I didn’t know words in my vocab were racial slurs. I didn’t realize that I stereotyped folks or that I had some special beliefs that were as backdated as a hand-wringing washtub. I didn’t know I blundered my way through making friends and becoming and ally, and let me tell you, the minority folks I said some cringe-worthy things too didn’t correct me. It was my white friends that gently informed me what I was saying, what it meant, or how people hadn’t used those terms since 1954. Thank you for your kindness. It was important. You don’t have to start perfect. You just have to start. To all my family and friends who laughed at me and scoffed at me when I was devastated that Trump won the presidency. You asked me what I was “afraid of.” I said, that me & mine would be hurt by this. That it allowed hatred, bigotry and folks to think it was ok to bring out their shittiest impulses and thoughts and hurl them at others. I’m worried about basic things like affordable healthcare too. You said, “It won’t happen.” You said, “I’ll stand in front of you.” Here’s your chance. Stand up. Speak out. Call your Representatives & Senators. Shit, say you’re sorry this is uglier than you bargained for: Grandparents not being able to get into the country to see their grandkids, soldiers that have fought for us being deported, trans folks threatened with exile from our military that they bravely give their life to join, healthcare being threatened for everyone, people being attacked and mowed down in the street by white supremacists… when exactly were you going to stand in front of us? I’m not asking you to wear a pink pussy hat and give up Sunday’s target practice. I’m asking you to stop turning away from those things that make you a little uncomfortable. I’m asking you to start. I loved the confederate flag too before I realized that the love of it meant the right to own and enslave folks to most. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t mean that to you. It means it to most. When you learn your symbol isn’t what you thought it was, you put it away. You use some of those fine manners that our grandmama’s taught us to make everyone safe, not just the white folks comfortable. You don’t have to do this perfectly. You just truly have to start. Donate to the ACLU. Donate to the NAACP. Call your representatives, tell them who you are and tell them you don’t condone this (see above) ask them to do something about it. Smile at folks. I’m dead serious. Smile at folks that look different from you. Say it out loud on facecrack: I believe in freedom, equal rights & safety for everyone. Next month try: Black Lives Matter. Take down your confederate flag paraphernalia, in your own home. Put it away. Put a sticky note on it: “It isn’t what I thought it was.” Build a better South. This is how you start. Start now. Start imperfectly.
PS: I commented with a version of the intro above, which she deleted with this explanation:
Thank you for your thoughts & sharing. Here’s the thing: I’m talking directly to my people that turn away from any ounce of discomfort here. I’m talking small steps. I’m talking to the people of mine at the tip top of the priviledge chain if you will, the folks that still have the veil of privilege so thoroughly over their eyes they don’t understand that no action is akin to being a German that just kept watering the garden while Hitler rose to power. I’m talking about teaching people how to take the first steps towards becoming allies. And that starts with organizations they might know the names of. That starts with telling them I’m really truly not after their guns or way of life, unless their way of life directly damages another person. And the issue here, speaking as a hillbilly southern gal, is that we don’t always know that our actions, inactions or paraphernalia are damaging to others. I believe to the depth of my soul that reaching out a hand to people and asking them to join in a way that doesn’t shame or belittle is the most important first step we can take in growing the love and safety for everyone. When I felt that I was being “told” or chastised, I -in the time honored tradition of all my ancestors- did what my daddy calls “bowing up” which means got mean and mad. I was done listening. I can still get this way. So that’s why I said what I said, how I said it. I’m not going to get my people to attend any rallies or navigate anything probably at all online. I’m asking for a first step, and I understand that to so many folks – that first step feels scary, shameful and anxiety inducing. That’s how bigotry wins. That’s how it keeps on oppressing. That’s how it has it’s claws in us: It makes us feel like traitors for leaving the gang, even when the gang was ugly and bad. So I’m talking about commonality and I’m talking about the truth of it, which is that it’s ok to start small. It’s the “start” that counts. Thanks for reading – I wanted to explain my whyfores & wherealls. Much love to you.
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Share sparingly

This gentleman’s experience is an important reminder to be extremely careful what sources you follow, click on and share. The Left is not immune to emotional manipulation– far from it! We must always use the intellect we are so proud of (sometimes smug about). “Our” sites can be unscrupulous and shifty too, especially when there’s profit to be made. There’s an honesty spectrum where it doesn’t have to be fake news to still be toxic messaging. Also, avoid promoting and sharing aggregator and commentary sites whenever possible. Always click through and find the original piece. This is essential of when the viral site is just a wrapper, basically, and adds no new insight, context or commentary. But even for more reputable blogs, it’s still good practice to give the click first to the originator, and then add the other as a secondary, for more discussion. At best, it siphons attention and credit, at worst it outright steals from the creator. How to tell the difference? Well the most obvious clue is if you see a dozen links to More Stories on other URLs, blatant ads, and clickbait headlines scattered around the page. Be extremely judicious in sharing anything like that, or even taking it to heart just for yourself. It is probably exaggerated and irresponsible messaging designed to keep you coming back for more clicks.

All of you folks sharing the Washington Journal piece:

I did NOT give permission for my material to be published to The Washington Journal. They lifted it from my Facebook page and published it in total without permission. This isn’t fair use under copyright law. They didn’t write an article in which I was quoted, they wrote a small bit as framing for lifting my entire piece in total.

As is usual with these types of sites, they’re busy making money off my words — a LOT of money — without bothering to offer me a cent. People share their article, not mine.

What’s that?

They mentioned my name?

Yeah. The “Influential Vet” headline doesn’t work without it so forgive me if I’m less than impressed.

And this way, if I complain, then their audience calls me ungrateful and a greedy mercenary and I get all the hatemail, and they get all the money.

But wait, it gets better.

See, you might recall that a while back Occupy Democrats repeatedly stole my material and published it as their own. Just scrubbed off my name and published it as their own or published my material and made it look like I was writing for their site — until they got called out on it.

Guess what? Washington Journal IS Occupy Democrats. Same people.

Surprise.

Washington Journal published my material in total. Then Occupy Democrats shared it. The internet version of money laundering.

These people are not the good guys.

Just thought you should all know.

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Slavery, in all its context and shame, should be taught in U.S. schools

I will 100% support slavery education on par with Holocaust education. Empathy building for everyone! The Nazis’ attempt to eradicate Jews, queers, the disabled, nonconformists and ethnic minorities is one of Europe’s great sins … generational chattel slavery is certainly ours. It should be taught throughout the country as the unbearable, unrepeatable, inexcusable, shameful evil that it was. We can be proud of accomplishments by our ancestors and celebrate our heritages without ignoring –or worse, rationalizing or even glorifying– past participation in everyday evils. But obviously, average Americans refuse to decisively denounce white supremacy of the past… because they still enjoy the privileges and benefits of whiteness. Examination and denunciation of American enslavement (in *every state* not just Confederate-aligned ones!!) requires a commitment to social change that Americans just don’t want to make. We can’t even eradicate open neoNazis, white nationalists, and eugenicists from our public spaces (and government) today!! And that is our very present shame, and our current participation in everyday evil. Reckon with this.

Responding to this FB post:

Why are we so hell bent on forgetting that slavery happened in this country??? Just because we don’t call it a holocaust doesn’t mean it wasn’t one.

400 years.

400 years of rape, murder, slaughter, mutilation, experimentation, sexualization, abuse, and tearing families apart. Why should we be over that?? Why aren’t our children learning about the horrors of slavery?? The true horrors. Not just the made for tv pain and angst.

I remember learning about The Jewish Holocaust in middle school. I remember the pictures vividly. They didn’t spare us. We learned about all of the awful things. They even went as far as to put us through what it was like to arrive at an internment camp. They did all of this so we could carry the memory of that awful thing in the hopes that through understanding it wouldn’t happen again.

Why have we not done the same for black folks in this country? Why do we sweep hundreds of years of slavery followed decades of struggle, murders, lynchings and oppression under the rug??

What happened in Virginia last night is the product of this country’s campaign to bury the horrors of slavery and beyond.

Why are y’all surprised racism and white supremacy still exist?? I’m not surprised. It thrives because the past is being deliberately forgotten.

We’re just a country on repeat.

Edited to add: I am speaking as a black woman on the black experience. I’m not here to speak on every oppressed groups behalf.

Slavery still exists I this country in different forms. AKA The industrial prison complex. Prisons for hire. Corporate run prisons. Etc.

 

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You’re not really anxious

A little semantics PSA in favor of more accuracy and less alarmism — not to mention eliminating ableism:

Please immediately stop misusing “anxious” when you mean “eager”/”happily excited” and “depressed” when you mean “slightly sad.”

“We’re so anxious to see you at the wedding!” … are you excited to see them or worried about it?

“School starts in a few weeks, and I’m so depressed about it.” … are you bummed that you’ll (probably) have to stop day-drinking, or do the social/emotional/mental demands of school leave you too drained to get out of bed and doubting your value? 

Whether or not you think ableism is a thing (it is, so don’t be that person), you should want your comments to be understood properly, right??

I’m not even going to try to encompass here all the *many* mental illness terms that have become totally ordinary vernacular. I am very guilty of using general terms like “crazy” and “insane” when circumstances or thinking seem just widely unfathomable and inexplicable. But any of us can start with specifics, right? These two strike me as particularly common, and should be pretty easy for most people to eliminate.

PLUS: I know a not-small number of people who experience true, debilitating anxiety and depression — and I’m pretty sure you do, too. So make this change for your friends’ sake, whether or not you’re aware of their particular struggle.

I found this article and it really speaks to this issue of flippant usage. Check it out if you want to learn more!

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McCain: One Senator, one vote. He is not a health-care maverick superhero

The night John McCain killed the GOP’s health-care fight“… “The bold move by the nation’s most famous senator stunned his colleagues…” I mean thanks for the vote and all, but fuck McCain and his drama queen theatrical bullshit that played with millions of lives for the sake of his ego. He even said “Wait for the show” and then sat around the chamber enjoying the attention and entertaining pleas from colleagues with even less integrity than himself. Fuck them and their craven avarice too.

Also fuck all the members of the press who play into covering literal life-and-death decisions with global historical implications like it’s the movies or sports beats. The real heroes (heroines!) are Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who have consistently opposed their own party in pursuit of doing the right thing for Americans. And when they aren’t totally IGNORED for doing so, because consistency is less interesting than erratic, terrifying bullshit, they are disrespectfully described as having “joined with McCain to defeat the GOP health care plan.” NO, fuckwits, HE joined THEM. At the last second. When it befitted himself best.

But yeah, also praise to all for doing the right thing in the end. I just wish they didn’t have to be so shitty about it along the way.

Also, let’s not forget to thank every Democrat who also voted the right way, from the start and throughout. Most notably Sen. Mazie Hirono, who is herself fighting cancer.

FINALLY, yes, I am indeed grateful I have the luxury to be angry about a few showboating dicks instead of being angry and scared that I’ll be watching my friends die. But that is not an either/or that any of us should have to face.

Ultimately, my only congratulations today go to my beloved friends — and all the strangers across America I’ll never meet — who today can celebrate that their right to access health care continues. I see you, and I love you, and I am so grateful that you will be healthier and happier for longer. ❤

UPDATE, 9/23: If McCain gets all the credit for killing the GOP death panels AGAIN, I might hemorrhage. Even ruthless Rand Paul is on this iteration’s “nah” list, *in addition to* the two women who have been consistent (and consistently underappreciated) in this fight.

In this hilariously un-self-aware McCain-lauding piece, the author mentions all three of them, briefly, before returning to the narrative of how it’s all on McCain, and ol’ Mav’s mighty struggle to vote against his pal Graham:

“Since the entire Democratic caucus opposes the bill, dubbed Cassidy-Graham, Republican leaders can afford to lose only two GOP senators on it. McCain’s decision means the bill doesn’t appear to have the votes to pass. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he’s opposed to it, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she’s “leaning against” it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted against the last repeal bill, has also raised concerns with this one.”

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