Tag Archives: Boston

Post the Fifth 2 or On the Boston Bombings and Drone Strikes

First of all, my heart goes out to all the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. I am so, so grateful that my family and friends are safe. I can only imagine the fear and a deep-seated apprehension that must have settled all over the city. I’m not sure what I would have done if I was still in Boston. But I do know that I would be writing.

Writing helps me sort through my thoughts and bring order to my mind. I’ve had a lot of emotions running through me the past few days. Fear that my family had been hurt. Worry that more attacks my come. And yet I am not surprised. This type of violence is common in many parts of the world. US imperialism is constantly waging war against Third World people. This state of fear is common place in areas like Pakistan, Palestine and Yemen. To me, this seems like another manifestation of imperialist violence. Another bomb in a long line of bombs stretching back to Columbus.

There has been such an outpouring of love and support for Boston and the victims of the bombing. It is amazing to see the bravery of those folks who witness the disaster first hand and do what they can to help. All over my Facebook and Tumblr, as well as in person, I have seen people express deep sympathy and solidarity with Boston. I have seen so much rage at the people who did this. But I wonder, where is all of this rage and love and solidarity for the victims of drone strikes in places like Pakistan and Yemen? Where is the outcry for the dead innocents aboard?

And I wonder if that 8 year old boy had been Black, would he have been as mourned as he is now?

Of course, I already know the answer to these questions. Its natural to react more strongly to things that happen closer to you. It is easier to dehumanize that which you will never see or interact with. And our culture of systemic white ignorance keeps most people from realizing what is happening or even caring. But this does not make the reality any less disheartening.

And I worry about what sort of racist backlash we are in store for. Already, a Saudi student was accused of being a suspect by the media, when in actually he was injured by the blast. Two men were taken off of a plane because they spoke “Arabic“. A “be on the lookout” alert has gone out for a “tall, dark-skinned man wearing a black hoodie and a black backpack”, which is probably the vaguest, and most lethal, description ever. I have many friends who fit this description but none of them are, of course, involved  But that is not going to matter. What is going to matter is the racialized panic that is going to envelop Boston and make like much, much harder for brown folks, especially folks who “look” Muslim.

Already I am seeing on my Facebook patriotic calls for revenge. And that scares me more than anything because that patriotism is under girded by white supremacy and imperialism. And patriots rarely care if their victims were actually responsible for the crimes that they are accused of.

I also wonder how this will affect victims of domestic violence. Almost always, disasters put victims of DV at greater risk.

I don’t say this to minimize the pain or the suffering or the fear that is going on in Boston right now. Rather, I encourage us to hold all of these truths together. I encourage us to stand in solidarity with all victims of violence and understand the ways in which we are complicit in imperial violence here and abroad. I ask that you remember the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and the victims of drone strikes.  I ask that my friends in Boston, and elsewhere, resist the urge to buy into the panic that the media will be selling us.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Take care of each other. If you feel like this stuff is getting to you, reach out. There is a Disaster Distress Helpline that can help you through this. It is times like these that really show the mettle of our character. I would hope that we can act out of compassion rather than fear.

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Post the Sixty-Second or On Real Social Change

As many of you know, or are soon to find out, I am living in Boston right now to finish my degree. I cannot tell you how very excited I am to graduate and be back in Austin, but for now I’m here in Boston. And here in Boston our public transportation system is called the T. It includes busses, trains, light-rail trollies, commuter rails for those coming into and out of Boston, and ferries. The T, like public transportation elsewhere, is primarily used by people of color, young people and people who live in poor neighborhoods. They can’t afford to buy a car, so they have to take the T. It is literally the only way to get around the city if you don’t have a car because bikes cannot access some parts of the city.

Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the T is consistently underfunded and in debt. This is because all of the debt that the Big Dig (an expensive feat of unsurpassed magnitude in the field of tunnel engineering) accrued, which benefits mostly white middle and upper class car owners, is dumped on the back of the T and, by extension, the riders of the T. Young people, people of color and poor people end up paying for Big Dig debt. So how do the managers of the T propose to close that debt gap? Well, increase fares and cut services of course!

In the face of all this, T riders and those invested in making life livable for POC, poor people and young people (three groups which overlap immensely!) are doing massive organizing to push back against the hikes and cuts. Everyone from the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, to the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (a youth-led organization), to the T Riders Union to the T workers themselves have held protests, rallies and teach-ins. They call for a sustainable way to deal with the debt that doesn’t involve vital service cuts or hikes that make it inaccessible to those that need it most. They call for a reasonable, just and supportable way to handle the debt. They are asking for solutions that involve long-term sustainability and not band-aid fixes. They are asking that the state make the T a priority.

Basically, what they are asking for is that the government prioritize the needs of people of color and poor people. They are asking for economic justice.

But the government won’t do that.

Not because it’s not sensible or feasible. Not because they lack the resources. Not because it is too difficult logistically. No, the reason they won’t do it is because they have no reason to do it. They, the politicians and government, are in the pocket of corporations and Big Money. There is no reason for them to invest in the empowerment of oppressed peoples. Why would they invest in that when they can just continue to remain in power? There is no incentive for them to invest in the T because in doing so, they cut their profits and empower those people who are oppressed.

I know this sounds really pessimistic of me but think about it. In the past couple years, we have seen a consistant cuts against those safety nets that keep us afloat; from food stamps, to grants for higher education, to affordable housing and access to healthcare, just to name a few. And this during a time when companies are reporting record profits! Prices go up but we aren’t making any more money. Trickle down economics doesn’t work because we need more than just a trickle, we need a goddamn river! But the government will continue to ignore our needs because of all the money and lobbyists that those big corporations pour into the State House.

Real social change isn’t going to come from the State House nor from those who we elect. We have tried reforming the system and it hasn’t worked. Real social change will only come when we completely revolutionize and radicalize the way our society work so that power is truly accountable to those who are the most oppressed. Where power and resources are equitably shared.

It’s time we rise up and take matters into our own hands.