Saturday, February 3, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I re-read an article..

which is something I do...often (re-read things, especially articles, books and essays that present information created by people who are not members of dominant racial, sexual and sexual orientation dominant groups) because material from diverse sources often offers a perspective and/or information about lived life experiences that are different than what's offered by folks (like me, white and male and heterosexual) who belong to those groups which are dominant in this society.

I have to re-read these sorts of information often because I'm constantly exposed to information and thinking influenced by the dominant narrative and counter-information (that which differs from dominant narrative thinkings and themes) tends to slip out of my awareness and consciousness and re-visiting divergent sources helps me keep those perspectives and such in my thinking.

Another reason I have to re-read them is that, over time, I think and learn new things and perceive old things in new ways and going back and re-reading information with those altered (hopefully better and more rich and diverse) ways of thinking/perceiving results in me comprehending something that eluded me before or maybe noticing something that escaped my awareness previously. 

What tends to be true is that if someone occupies an identity(s) of one or more of these dominant groups in U.S. society, their viewpoint will almost always echo aspects of the dominant narrative that we're exposed to all the time.

It's critical to remember (if you want to be well-informed and aware) that all of the major opinion and knowledge and entertainment creating institutions in this society (e.g., news outlets, education, movies, social media, etc) are controlled by white men who are heterosexual.

That means, whether intentional or not, the perspectives and opinions and outlooks presented by these sources will reflect the interests and viewpoints and understandings of those dominant group members.

So, working to counter this homogeneity of outlook that I'm exposed to, I consciously and deliberately seek out sources of information that are created by folks who are not members of the major dominant identity groups.

That doesn't guarantee that I'll find information that differs from the dominant narratives that permeate information that circulates in this society...because we're all (regardless of our identity groups) exposed to and influenced by dominant narratives...but it does increase the likelihood that I'll run across information and/or perspectives that do differ from those presented by the dominant narrative.

I wanted to explain all that to provide some context for why I was re-reading this particular article. We are discouraged from being aware of or offering context (via stuff like the admonition: "Get to the point!" and other mini social pressures) and history in this society and I've come to believe that when we lose that awareness of context and history, we become easier to manipulate and to be deceived and, well, we're more ignorant when we're unaware of or oblivious to context and history. (someone who also thought this was Neal Postman...see #3 on the website about him)

The article is titled: "Anti-Essentialism and Intersectionality: Tools To Dismantle The Master's House" by Tina Grillo. This article was written in 1995 and at that time Tina Grillo was a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. I've provided you a link to the article and I would encourage you to read it for yourself...and I would also encourage you to re-read it...maybe multiple times. It's brimming over with insights and excellent thinking.

Here are the sentences in the paper that knocked me out:
We need to notice the areas in which we are privileged, and in those areas we need to be careful to listen to the concrete, lived experiences of those who are less privileged. Although I am always willing to talk to the very privileged, I generally assume, I think rightly, that I have heard their story. 
Yes, yes and yes again.

I've spent many decades listening to the very privileged, I've spent many decades living in a nation controlled and directed by the very privileged...and...I'm not impressed. In fact, I'm appalled. I've heard their story, I've seen what they do when they have power and...it pretty much stinks...some of it is ok but way more sucks than is tolerable. There's simply no credible justification for so much awfulness.

I just don't lend much credence anymore to the very privileged, I have heard their story (and...as uncomfortable and as squirmy as it makes me feel...I don't lend much credence and/or trust to my own thinking/perceiving anymore...that's a pain in the kabooka...but it's the truth).

So, I re-read an article.


Monday, January 15, 2018

A caveat if you have

read this book or intend to read this book. The title is "White Trash" and it's subtitle is "The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America". It's written by a professor of history at LSU named Nancy Isenberg.

I've become much more aware of how often various sources will work to deny or minimize racial oppression in the U.S. and glanced through this book one day in the library just to see what it was about. It received quite a bit of play in the press when it was released and I wanted to take a look at it. I presumed, based on the title, that it was a book designed to make some money playing off of the theme that was popular at that time which was to blame the presidential election results on poor white people.

It wasn't poor white people who supported Trump...it was white people across all the lines of education and wealth who voted for him. The only demographic segment of white people that a majority of voted for Clinton was college educated white women and they only supported Clinton by a 51 to 49 percent factor. That's pretty pitiful when you consider that Trump had clearly established himself as misogynistic (and racist) by his various campaign statements.

But...to make itself look better to itself, the dominant narrative was pushing the idea that poor and ignorant white people ("white trash") were the reason Trump was elected. It's a "have your cake and eat it too" sort of maneuver. White folks could enact their racist and patriarchal leanings by electing Trump and can disavow the implications of it by blaming "white trash". Except...it's not true. Trump was elected because white people chose him and education and class had little to do with their choice.

This book plays into that "have your cake and eat it too" manipulation by various devices, one that is easily detected is to read what she says about Reagan. On page 285 of the book she writes: "In 1980, Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, a man who understood precious little about southern culture."

I was stunned by the ignorance (or outright deception) exhibited by this sentence since Ronald Reagan made a point of traveling to Neshoba County Mississippi, at the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, and spoke there at the county fair and in that speech he voiced his support for "states rights".

The Neshoba County fairgrounds are located seven miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi which is where, in 1964, three civil rights workers were murdered by racist white men. It's absurd and misleading to characterize someone running for president who goes there to speak and voices support for "states rights" as a person who "understood precious little about southern culture".

"States rights" has been a code phrase for racism for a long long time in this nation (source one and source two) and since the author of this book is a professor of history she knows full well that this is true...but...I'm presuming that if she had been honest then she would have had a harder time of blaming ignorant white people for Trump's election (and thereby maybe not sold as many books).

I have no idea what her motivation(s) were for writing what she did (I suspect part of it was she was trying to make some money, but I don't know for sure) ...I just know that what she wrote was promoting the fiction that mostly poor and ignorant white people supported a racist and misogynist for president. That's untrue...white people, wealthy and poor, educated and uneducated, voted for him and thereby outed themselves as either being indifferent to misogyny and racism or outrightly supporting these ugly practices.

And...folks like this author help white folks feel better about their deficiencies by blaming "white trash"...even when they have to distort or deny truth in doing so.

Note: when I write "white folks" I'm referring to those who ascribe to and support the ideology of patriarchal whiteness. People don't have to have white skin or be male to buy in to this ideology. Heck, there were Jewish people who fought for the Nazi regime so some "leakage" is associated with any sort of dominant social outlook or regime...what's important to pay attention to are the patterns of the majority...not the strange exceptions. I recently was told by a friend of mine (a Jewish woman) that there are Jewish folks in the Temple she attends who deny that the Holocaust occurred. Exceptions will always occur...they're a distraction.

The way I conceptualize stuff like this is that all behaving and thinking by living beings occurs on a spectrum. What you want to pay attention to is the patterns associated with the majority...it's those patterns that provide a basis for generalizations and will show you what's going on. If you're looking for absolute adherence to any ways of thinking/behaving by living beings (maybe outside of autonomic reflex stuff like breathing and such that are necessary for the maintenance of life) then forget it...there will always be exceptions.

I'm still disturbed with myself that I was mesmerized by the dominant narrative for so long. That narrative encourages us to believe that someone's social group positioning (social identities) have little or no connection to how we think and what we know. It's not an accident that all the major social institutions were created by white men and continue to be controlled by white men and that the national narrative persistently puts forth the fiction that white men "know best". That's neither an accident, nor is it true.

Whenever an unmistakably horrid white man is too prominent to hide then many white folks scramble to explain that presence away (because white people are "good", ya know?). In this book, this explaining away is done by blaming "bad" white people ("white trash").

Anymore, whenever I read anything, I first want to know the social identity(s) of the author (so I have some knowledge about their perspective(s) or standpoint(s)) and, in the case of non-fiction writing, I want to know whether they are aware of the structural oppression that has shaped this nation (and whole hemisphere) since western Europeans first showed up here.

If the author is unaware or apologetic or dismissive or ignoring...of this structural oppression then I'll know I'm reading the work of someone under the influence of the dominant narrative. Here in the U.S. (and in western "civilization" in general) the dominant narrative supports the viewpoint and interests (again in general) of white men. If you didn't know this...well...it's time you did. You have much to learn and lots of work to do if you want to gain some clarity and more accurate comprehension of why (and how) human society operates the way it does.

Mostly...what we call "common sense" isn't common nor is it sense...it's a bending and distorting (sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant) of thinking and perceiving and understanding that works to uphold and promote the interests of (mainly) wealthy white men. Until you get a handle on that (or get your mind wrapped around that truism) then society here in the U.S. (and many other places) won't make much sense to you. 

For fiction I'm a little less demanding of awareness, sometimes a good story is just a good story.

If the author is writing a non-fiction book dealing with social/cultural issues or themes and is oblivious to the history and oppressive make-up of this nation...then their story isn't well grounded and they're writing fiction without knowing it.

Someone probably can write a book like "Windshield Washer Repair for Dummies" (non-fiction) and do a credible job and also be deluded as hell about social issues (I say probably they can, maybe not, I'm not certain about this). However...if their non-fiction efforts have anything to do with social/cultural issues and they're deficient in knowledge about the genocidal and human enslaving foundational structuring of this nation...then their writing is mostly blather and a waste of time and effort.

My rule of thumb for non-fiction cultural/social/historical writing is (and I borrowed and modified this rule from an observation by Robin DiAngelo about movies) that if a white person can read it and still feel good about being a white person after having read it...then it's probably untrue and it works to uphold oppression and white supremacy.

I don't like that it's that way...it pisses me off and saddens me...but we white folks made it that way and unless we lie...then thinking and/or writing and/or talking about it is going to feel bad until we start making a society and culture that clears out the awful stuff and starts following a positive path for everyone.

Maybe then...many years from now...white people can begin to write non-fiction stuff that also doesn't mean bad feelings for white folks...and is founded on truth. For now...it's not that way and blaming "white trash" just evades the truth.




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Death

I initially wrote what I'm putting in this post as a comment on a friend's facebook post about the impending death of a dog who has lived with her for years. She (my facebook friend) was expressing her grief and pain.

I wrote what I wrote and then decided that it wasn't ok for me to respond to her in that way...but...I did want to share the thoughts I had somewhere...so...here they are.

"Experiencing the loss of beings I have loved because of the differences between our lifespans has resulted in me being aware that having intense/close different sorts of beings (different than "human" I mean) entails almost guaranteed suffering. When their "natural" lifespan is 15 years (for example) and mine is 70+ years (again for example) then I'm guaranteed to suffer the grief and pain of their death.

I'm not asserting a position, just sharing my thoughts. I have come to have a lot more appreciation for a "live and let live" approach to relationships with beings who don't have the same expected lifespan as myself than I did at one time.

All those beings we call "pets" were forced by we humans into relating to us. "Domestication" is a euphemism for captivity and forced breeding and maybe the suffering I experience when someone dies of old age because their "natural" lifespan is much briefer than mine...well...maybe that's some sort of weird karma because at some point in time we humans arrogated to ourselves the power over the lives of those beings we call "pets" and they suffered terribly....they lost their freedom to live their lives how they wanted...and I'm certain that caused misery.

It's a characteristic of human societies that are organized around oppressive practices that history be erased...and when I remember the history of how "pets" came to be "pets" and all the imprisonment and loss of freedom and liberty for the ancestors of those who are "pets" and the suffering they endured...well...maybe it's a balancing of the scales of hurt that I, as a human, have to suffer and grieve the death of their offspring.

I wonder whether if in some future/other (imaginary) human society whether wisdom wouldn't mean no "pets"...only Earthlings who look different than me who maybe I know...maybe only casually or maybe even closely...but for sure they aren't dependent on me and, if they chose, they could live quite well on mother Earth without me. I dunno.

I think I wish for a future where it is the case that my sister/brother Earthlings can live their lives without risk of harm by humans and also that they can live without humans if they so desire.

That's not true now and it is my duty and obligation (and pleasure) to provide what care and protection I can for those Earthlings who we call "pets"...but I do suspect there would be less suffering (and more freedom) had we humans never ever done the "domestication" thing.

It hurts to love someone and to endure their loss. That's a truth.

It's horribly wrenching for fur people (or any other sort of Earthling) we love to die...and...I am suspicious (distrustful even) about human beings who don't acknowledge and/or understand that. I feel for you, and I regret your pain. Love is love and loss and grief are loss and grief...and how someone looks and/or acts and/or thinks doesn't matter one bit if they were someone we loved and they die." 

That's what I wrote and decided to not post on facebook.

I think "domestication" is one of the greater crimes that we humans have ever inflicted on our sister/brother Earthlings and I sometimes think that the suffering we humans who are living now experience when a loved "pet" dies is some sort of balancing of misery (albeit a pretty clunky and imprecise balancing).

That suffering really should have been experienced by the arrogant human harmers who did "domesticating" in the first place. And that suffering should have signaled to them to stop doing what they were doing.

But...they didn't listen to (or even have?) their feelings then...so now those of us who care about Earthlings are stuck in a situation they made and we have to do the suffering of the misery they ignored.

Maybe the lesson here is when other humans do bad stuff, not only do their victims suffer...but any human who has feelings and is in touch with those feelings suffers also. And...that suffering continues from generation to generation...until the harming is rectified.

Maybe we really are in this all together and what we do (or don't do) impacts everyone. The longer I live, the more that seems to be true.

If aging offers the opportunity to gain awareness or wisdom...whatever pluses there are in those achievements(?) are offset fully by the simultaneous recognition that the human society I live in has very little wisdom about suffering and harm in terms of how it operates.

Ouch.   

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An observation...

It seems to me (right now, anyway) that holders of group privilege (e.g., white privilege, male privilege, human privilege etc.) are mostly oblivious to that privilege (in part because society conditions us/them to be so and in part because it was bestowed on us/them, we/they did nothing to earn/deserve it) but those who are harmed/impacted by that privilege are often (however they're also conditioned to be oblivious to privilege and to assign harms from that privilege to their own shortcomings, etc., but it often doesn't "take" as well because of lived life experiences) acutely aware of being harmed/impacted.

And...just to add complication on top of complication, we can occupy both privileged and marginalized identities simultaneously. E.g., white and female, etc., black and male, etc...complexity is the rule, not the exception. 

Jeez.

Feeding into this insidious/effective social conditioning is the common situation that it is generally easier to discern whenever we are hurting than it is to discern that we are hurting others...especially if we've been conditioned to disregard the voices (this disregard is manifested by believing such stuff as: "women are too emotional", someone is "too sensitive", etc.) of those belonging to less privileged groups.

We have receptors for pain built into our physical bodies, but as far as I know, we don't have any receptors that signal when we're inflicting pain on others.

Empathy can serve that function for us but it doesn't tend to have the same immediacy and salience as do our sensations of pain. We have to work at attending to our empathy, our pain smacks us up beside the head.


Racism and sexism (and other structural oppressions) haven't persisted for centuries simply because there are lots of human a**holes (although such folks certainly contribute to it and we all are a**holes from time to time)...there are a number of social conditioning processes (which are difficult to discern and are also extremely effective) that uphold the "isms" of oppression.

These conditionings encourage/ensure the participation of "good people" in oppressive structures...as well as their socially encouraged obliviousness to that participation.

Jeez...

This means that since I occupy several identities that bestow privilege on me (human, white, male, etc) my task is to constantly struggle to recognize the harm that my privilege(s) entail and work to counter it. And...I fail at this, constantly...jeez.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

The United States of Huck?

George Saunders  titled his essay “The Braindead Megaphone” and he wrote:

“America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will be the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. The United States of Tom looks at misery and says: Hey, I didn’t do it. It looks at inequity and says: All my life I busted my butt to get where I am, so don’t come crying to me. Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege. Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around. Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies. These two parts of the American Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.”
It should be noted…these two parts are not just at odds out there in human society (which is what Mr. Saunders means when he says "the world")…they also occur inside each of us and there’s where we sometimes become aware of this battle/choice.

It's one that we repeat again and again and again...we constantly encounter situations wherein the Huck/Tom battle/choice is activated and we have to choose...and...from what I've seen in my lifetime here in the U.S., the Tom choice (the default) is made way more often than is good for anyone, including mother Earth and all of her Earthlings.

The Tom choice seems to be the default here in the U.S. By that I mean that if we think we're making no choice (being 'neutral') we're actually being complicit in the Tom choice whether we think we are doing so or not. Remember Howard Zinn's observation“To be neutral, to be passive in a situation is to collaborate with whatever is going on”

(In other words, if you're not 'fighting' them, you're joining them...that's often a tough one for me to comprehend/grasp even though I know it is true. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that even when I think I'm making no choice...I actually am, I'm collaborating in the default. In my head I perceive myself as existing independently of systems...but that's misleading and untrue. There is no "out there", I'm always involved in various social systems and groups no matter what I think. My illusion of being 'independent' is fostered by that invisibility stuff...which I write about often.)


It's deceptive and misleading to think about all this in purely individualistic terms (which is what our socialization wants us to do...so we won't ask disturbing questions). That's not to say that the individual isn't important...but there is great significance (that's often unrecognized) in groups that we belong to and the systems that we navigate as members of those groups.

I suspicion that societies strongly structured by oppression (like those that resulted from colonization...e.g. the U.S.) have systems that encourage and reward the Tom choice (or the 'neutral' stance) over the Huck choice...and demean (and resist or even punish) the Huck choice.

I recently stumbled across a brief (15 minutes or so) video that uses the movie Wall-E as a tool to illustrate the difference between thinking solely in terms of individuals versus thinking in terms of individuals in social structures. I'm somewhat familiar with some of the writings of Allan Johnson (who is referenced in the video) and find much of his thinking very similar to my own.

I think Dr. Johnson is saying that the 'neutral' choice or the Tom choice are the "paths of least resistance" (to use his conceptualization).

I would be greatly interested in your reactions to the video so please watch it and let me know what you think about it. This Huck/Tom stuff is difficult to sort out without taking account of context (and even then it confuses me greatly) and the video adds some conceptual tools that assist in doing that...at least I think it does. 

(Note: I wrote a little about Huck/Tom over on Medium back in January but this post expands on my thoughts about this stuff.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I was reading

a book titled A Man's Life: An Autobiography. It was written by Roger W. Wilkins.

I remember seeing him in the news when I was younger and always liked his demeanor and how he spoke as well as what he had to say.

In his book, which was published in 1982, he wrote the following on page 366:

"The neoconservatives are spending a lot of time these days trying to convince us that America's racial problems are over...."

He wrote those words 35 years ago.

People who (consciously or not) uphold oppression have a strong interest in either denying that it exists or at least promoting the notion that even though it existed in the past...it's all fixed now.

Post-racial anyone? (by the way, the wikipedia entry says this term was first used in 1971)

Jeez.

It's really easy to determine whether the oppression of racism is "over". It will be over when the majority of those targeted by it say it is over. Folks who belong to the oppressing group don't get to say when it's over...only those targeted get to say that.

Many people (mostly we white-skinned ones) seem to have a real problem with understanding that harmers don't get to say when the harming is over...that power belongs to those being harmed. Maybe the problem is that the harmers are so used to having power over others that they think their power extends to being able to say when racism is over. Maybe that's part of their inability to comprehend reality.

Hmmm...

I was really struck by Roger Wilkin's 35 year old writing about neoconservatives...things don't change much in the minds of the deluded.

I don't much listen to folks who uphold the status quo anymore (I used to think they sometimes made sense) mainly because they never have anything new to say. You have to be connected to the flow of life and it's ongoing transitions to experience new things...harmers are static and frozen in their embrace of unchanging delusion, hence they learn nothing new and their messages are endlessly repeated (the wording varies sometimes, but the meanings don't). To believe them requires a well developed facility for forgetting that you've heard it all before.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Norman

is a city with many many trees and those trees are all different sizes and shapes.

They often put on quite a show of color in the Autumn and I think maybe this year is one of, if not the most, spectacular I've ever seen.

We haven't had a hard freeze and the various trees are changing colors and losing their leaves at different times and rates (because of different timings in their seasonal cycles) so there is sort of a slow motion extravaganza of bright and shimmering golds and reds and greens and browns all mixed together going on here.

It is beautiful to behold. I'm really grateful to be able to witness it all.

Below is a photo of one of my absolute favorite trees, it's a Ginkgo...they have unusual sort of fan-shaped leaves. If you read this article you will find that they are a very old species of tree...they've been around for some 270 million years.

In the fall they turn a vibrant and amazingly bright shade of gold. Along a street near us there are several houses with such trees in their yards and this year they are putting in a show that almost calls for trumpets and fireworks.

I generally drive a few blocks out of my way whenever I go anywhere just so I can get a look at this tree (and several others). Notice the youngster (I think it's a young Maple tree) in front of the large Ginkgo, it's offering its own show of red.


Yesterday I walked over to campus for a meeting and stood in front of this tree for a bit, just soaking in the color. Amazing.

I hope the changes of Autumn are giving you a show wherever you are.

My thanks to all the plants and trees around here for their casual grace and beauty...and if you want a gold show in the fall...plant some Ginkgo trees. They are just stunning.

Mother Earth's plants are not only provide food for the stomach...(live Vegan please)...they are also nourishing for the eyes and the spirit. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Babies again...

I first published this post back in January of 2013 and it continues to be visited frequently...looking at the wonderful beings here makes me know why.

They're beautiful.

I admit to finding the babies of my fellow Earthlings mind-bogglingly attractive.
(thanks to all the photographers...all photos were obtained from the internet or sanctuaries)


Here are some examples of why.
The wonderful being to the left is a baby wombat. The cutie above is a baby African grey parrot. All are just exquisite.

And no, the last photo isn't of a baby...just a picture of a wonderful face. Our planet has so many different beautiful babies and beings. Unless you are living as an ethical vegan...you are not doing all you can to not harm them. They deserve their lives as much as you deserve yours...live vegan and help to do your part in allowing them that which you ask for yourself.

Friday, October 27, 2017

There is no neutral...


In societies that are deeply entangled with and formed by oppressive structures we either are complicit or we resist...there's no place to hide.

Sorry...

Friday, October 13, 2017

It makes my head hurt...

I recently ran across this image (which was taken from this video). You can find further information on this web-page.


The information graphically represented is from 1999 and shows the percentage of these violent crimes that are committed by men. (these rates stay fairly steady, so the percentages from year to year don't change much)

Violence against living beings by men isn't confined to humans:
 "A study published in Violence Against Women found that of 111 battered women with companion animals in shelters in South Carolina, almost half reported that their current or former male partners had threatened or abused their animals. A study of women living in Wisconsin shelters because of domestic abuse found that 80 percent of their batterers had been violent to their animals."

We have a violence problem here in the U.S. and...it's a problem almost wholly committed by men.

Next time you hear anyone bemoaning violence in society...notice whether they specify who is engaging in all this violence (men) or not.

It is highly likely they will leave out specification of the gender group that perpetrates almost all violent crimes. Ever wonder why? (hint: it has to do with dominance)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

From "business purposes" to U.S. history

I was poking around on the Food Empowerment Project's blog and read this post.

I'll summarize (which means I'll probably leave out important nuance so either read the post yourself or keep in mind the difficulty with a summarization...ok?) the post by saying that it is critical to realize business interests/purposes really only accidentally have anything to do with being a moral good...they have to do with somebody getting somebody else's money...if they also produce something that benefits living beings or life on Earth then that's a function of chance or something else, not "business".

One of the things that is constantly messaged to we who live here in the U.S. is that capitalism is "good" and anything that impedes and/or interferes with capitalism (or "business') is "bad" or even "Anti-U.S. American." or "anti-democratic".

Go read the F.E.P. post and decide for yourself whether the instance of business interests elaborated there is "anti-democratic". While you're at it go sign the petition that is referenced in the blog post.

What the heck does that post have to do with U.S. history? Well, most of us here in the U.S. are ignorant about the fact that Haiti is a nation came into being because it was the place where a successful revolt of enslaved humans resulted in the founding of a nation that was ruled by those who were formerly enslaved. In fact, that's the only place where that happened. That revolt ended in 1804 with the establishment of the nation of Haiti.

Hmmm...1804...that's not too long after the establishment of the United States as an independent nation...hmmm. We here in the U.S. have a big celebration every year on July the 4th that commemorates our pursuit of "liberty and justice for all" and such and such. Folks here in the U.S. must have been really happy and elated to see other peoples pursuing their own liberty right here in the western hemisphere, right?

Nope, not so. In fact if you'll read this article (I realize wikipedia can be informationally problematic but in this instance we can make use of what's written there) it says: "...the United States attempted to suppress the Haitian Revolution. The US even went as far as to refuse acknowledgement of Haitian independence until 1862...".

That should give you some pause. Some peoples were seeking their their freedom not long after the struggle for freedom here and the United States attempted to stop them. Hmmm...what the heck is that?

Business, that's what that is. Folks in the United States were afraid that the pursuit of liberty by enslaved peoples in Haiti might give the enslaved people here in the U.S. ideas so the U.S. attempted to suppress the Haitian Revolution. 


Human enslavement was profitable...its continuation was a "business interest" and the pursuit of profit is...at least in common practice here in the U.S....a more powerful value than the "pursuit of liberty".

Yup, that's true here in the "land of the free", and was true even way back then...and...based on F.E.P.s blog post...such valuing continues. (vegans might want to think about "business" and the harm done by factory farms)


In case you didn't realize it...capitalism and/or business have no relationship to freedom and/or democracy. Capitalism/business references an economic system and freedom/democracy reference a political system. Those are different systems and while they may co-occur, one doesn't create the other.

But...if you're like me...and have been exposed to the constant cultural messaging that goes on here in the U.S....you would be quite likely to think they're interchangeable...they're not. They have nothing to do with one another, in fact they can be (and often are) in opposition (however that's not what those who pursue profit want you to to realize or know).    

Saturday, September 30, 2017

I've been re-reading

an essay/article by Dr. Alison Bailey titled: "Despising an Identity They Taught Me to Claim". It's one of the pieces in an edited book: "Whiteness: Feminist Philosophical Reflections".

Dr. Bailey took the title of a book of poems by Michelle Cliff (Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise) and reworked the wording around to reflect the content of her essay. When I looked up Michelle Cliff to find a link for her I learned she was the long-time partner of Adrienne Rich (who is a writer and poet that I've read before...it's a much smaller world than I often think).

In the essay/article, there's a sentence that just jumped at me, it goes:
"These defensive moves are, to use Ruth Frankenberg's (1993) phrase, "power-evasive repertoires" designed to alleviate the white guilt, pain, and self-hatred that almost always accompanies privilege awareness."
 That sentence, especially the part about "guilt, pain, and self-hatred" resonates with me because I've been wrestling with feelings like that (they wax and wane in strength, but never really go away) because of some of my social identities (white, male, human) ever since I first experienced what Victoria Foote-Blackman called "The Fluther Transversion".

My "discomfort" (a euphamism) over my obliviousness to how we humans behave toward our sister/brother Earthlings began almost 10 years ago, then several years ago my "discomfort" received a serious rocket booster of intensity when I started grappling with my whiteness (and maleness) and how we white men have been being giant a**holes regarding race/racism and sexism. There's something bizarre and disorienting about being a white, male, human and being so adamantly opposed to the numerous awfulnesses that originates from those who occupy those same social identities. Jeez.

Dr. Bailey's essay made me think about the fact that her dismay with her white identity is (in some small measure) ameliorated by the fact that (at least here in the U.S.) white women had no formal political power (being able to vote) until 1920. I don't mean that white women necessarily comported themselves with compassion and kindness in reference to race/racism up until that time (they really didn't, at least most didn't)...but...it is the case that they had no voting power from the founding of the nation till then.

They (white women) have been chipping away at their decreased formal responsibility because of their voting behavior ever since and they really blew any claim to that small refuge as a result of the outcome of last year's presidential election where the majority of them (who voted) supported the current occupant of the white house. The delusional destructiveness that underlies such voting behavior is...well...stunning.

It's like they said hey...we (white women) will vote for an openly racist man (even though he's misogynistic) over one of our own. And they did this even though this is the first time ever there was a good chance that they could have placed a woman (white though she is) in the presidential office. 

There's something sort of breath-taking in the degree of whatever it is that supports such anti-compassion and absence of commitment to fairness and equality on the part of white women. (I'm not even mentioning white men, I don't have any words to describe what I think about most of us)

I recently ran across a bit of mind-boggling (to me at least) information which noted that never, since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Legislation (which was sponsored and signed into law by LBJ), has the majority of white people in this country voted for a democrat for president. What a deplorable and sh*tty statement about us white folks here in the U.S....especially considering some of the demeaning and pitiful white men the repubs have offered as presidential candidates.

I realize I write much more about the ugliness of racism in this blog than I used to, it's not because I'm any less passionate and committed to the notion of not harming our sister/brother Earthlings than I used to be...rather it's (in part) because it seems absurd to think that we're going to behave decently toward them while at the same time upholding white supremacist and misogynistic behaviors and ideals. It could be done, I suppose, but such an imagined situation is too morally deplorable and ridiculous to even be considered (to me, anyway).

Naw, we white folks gotta quit engaging in such ugly harmfulness and we gotta start by working towards treating our sister/brother humans with fairness and equality...that's way way way way overdue. There's nothing says we can't live vegan and also work to oppose and resist racism and sexism.

But...it can't be done just by thinking good thoughts...it's much more difficult and unsettling (see the sentence from Dr. Bailey) than that.

We white folks here in the U.S. (and worldwide for that matter) have devoted much more effort to disguising and obfuscating our recognition of and responsibility for our racism and sexism than we have devoted to disguising our lethalness toward those Earthlings we call "animals".

I am a lot more flim-flammed and confused by my own "whiteness" and "maleness" and all that entails than I am by my "humanness". That's mostly because my culture works really really hard to convince me that being a "good guy" doesn't take much effort (it says that I just gotta have "good intentions") but it's a hell of a lot more complicated and hard to grapple with than our dominant cultural narratives would sucker you (me) into believing.

I'm appalled at thinking and living according to choices made by people who lived before me and who I think were really morally deficient, ya know? (of course I've been the goofy one who swallowed their ugly harmfulness without deeply thinking about it)

It's much more demanding (for me, anyway) to figure out how to identify and comprehend and work toward trying to interrupt racism and sexism (and additional "isms") than it is to figure out that we gotta quit hurting our sister/brother Earthlings. If you think living vegan is tough...if you're white...just start getting serious about studying race/racism here in the U.S. and you'll find out what tough really means. 

Does that make sense to you? It seems to hold together to me...but...I wouldn't be surprised if I were missing somethings.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Intent and Impact.

It seems to be that we (and I include myself in this mess) seem to have profound difficulty comprehending that intent amounts to almost nothing when weighed against the impact of our behavior.

The photo is of the feet of a bunny recently brought to Heartland Rabbit Rescue by a "well intentioned" human who said he "couldn't care for" the bunny anymore due to his work demands and wanted a "good home" for the bunny. He seemed to "care"...at least he didn't dump the bunny onto the street. That's not nothing...and yet...his "good" intentions didn't mean an absence of avoidable suffering for the bunny.




The bunny (and the bunny's bother) had been enclosed in a small space with a wire floor for nearly 4 years...with the subsequent neglect and damage to their feet. He said he didn't trim their nails because he was afraid of hurting them.

Well intentioned? Apparently so. The cause of suffering and pain...yup.

Whatever your intentions might be...for the recipient of your intentions what counts is the impact of your action (or lack of action). Intentions are mostly stories (fantasies) you tell yourself to convince yourself of your "goodness" or "innocence".

Don't misunderstand...mean people doing mean things is terrible...but what might even be worse are people who think they're "good" all the while they're doing awful things (or failing to do the right thing).

At least an out and out villain is recognizable as such...folks who believe themselves to be "good" while promoting harm...well...that seems to confuse the hell out of us.

Ever wonder why we apparently have such difficulty comprehending that the two (intent versus impact) have little or no relation to one another?

I suspect, at least in part that's because societies structured by oppression encourage this kind of dysfunctional thinking because that way awfulness can keep on keeping on...but...all of us who participate in awfulness and uphold and support it can keep on keeping on thinking we're "good people" even though destruction and harm and horror surround us...somehow we think it is not associated with us and what we do or fail to do.


Advice from an old man (which means I've lived a long time and thought about many things)....enjoy your "good" intentions if you want but realize they count for nearly nothing when compared to the impact of what you do (or fail to do).

That's your lesson in demystifying living for today.