Tag Archives: justice

Post the One Hundredth or On Radical Compassion

This is for the anon who asked what radical compassion means. For me, the common understanding of compassion is that we sympathize with those who are suffering and seek to ameliorate their suffering. Because of their suffering, they are deserving of our pity. We feel bad of them and so we do what we can to help. And while this is all well and good,  there is a very shallow understanding of the root of suffering or why people suffer. Put in another way, regular compassion just seeks to make someone feel better. It is a Pollyanna, “lets all just get along”, “you poor thing here is a cookie” response to suffering. It is individualistic and fails to see the bigger picture. It sees suffering as an unfortunate occurrence that exists in a vacuum that lacks context. Regular compassion is silent on why people suffer.

And those who experience suffering have access to this type of compassion only if they behave in appropriate ways. In other words, you only get compassion if you play nice and don’t make anyone uncomfortable.

Radical compassion, on the other hand, stands in solidarity with those who are suffering. It examines the interpersonal, systemic, institutional and structural reasons for suffering. It seeks to locate the individual sufferer within the greater social context. It understands that suffering is systemic and that those under more axises of oppression generally suffer more. Radical compassion seeks to challenge these causes of suffering and allows the sufferer the freedom to react and engage with their suffering in anyway that they see fit. In other words, those who are suffering are allowed to rage and scream and be angry and still receive compassion. Radical compassion does not pity the sufferer. Rather, it seeks to fight with the sufferer to end suffering.

Radical compassion seeks to end suffering on a systemic level. Regular compassion just seeks to help out the individual sufferer. And that is ok, as far as it goes. But I don’t think it goes far enough.

Another way to describe radical compassion is by saying that it is fiercely gentle. It has your back and understands where you are coming from and seek justice with you.

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Post the Seventy-Third or For Fierce Brown Mamas

Conflict minerals

As if

The diamonds that encrusted

Her neck

Were not paid for in blood

As if

Someone just argued over them

As if

They weren’t clawed out of the Mother’s belly

By fingers filthy with the gore of greed and madness

As if

There wasn’t a reason why

Our lands and our bodies continue

To be pillaged

She holds her baby tight to her bosom

Hoping

That the toxic fumes of colonialism

And industrialization

Won’t kill her child

Or

Transfigure it beyond

Recognition

This is for all the

Fierce Brown Mamas

Who hold it down

Who work two jobs

And raise three kids

Who risk deportation

And rape

Who push against

Images

Of the Welfare Queen

Or The Neverending Strength of

Black Women

This is for those Mamas

Who give

And give

And give

So that her future generations will

Thrive

Who fight

And fight

And fight

For their family’s

Survival

This is for those Mamas who never had kids

This is for all of us

Whose insides

Will never match our outsides

For those of us

That are pursued

By hearts filled with

Avarice and fear

For those of us

Whose glory is unmatched

Saved by the Sun

This is for those of us

Who refuse to have our

Stories and Herstories

Erased or rewritten

For convenience

For those of us

Who refuse to be silenced

For those of us who

Stand and Fight

With glitter, fake eyelash and

High Heel

Against the pollution of our

Spirits

Justice

Is never simple

But it is

Clean


Post the Fifty-Forth or Red and Blue Lights

The red and blue lights flash

Behind me

How do I put into words

the Fear

the Terror

the Dread

That I feel when I see those

Lights

That unnamable and unspeakable Horror

Which precedes the knowing that

The long arm of injustice

Has finally caught me

How can I convey to you

Just how real and desperate and percarious

My life is

How can I make you understand

How disposable this world sees me?

Memories of my sisters

Dead at the hands of those Lights

Arise to my mind unbidden

Stories cut short

By the brutality of white men

With guns

And ownership of the world

Brutalities

That most people willfully ignore

And my sisters

Go unburied unmourned unclaimed

Except by those who walk the path

That they walked

Their cries for JUSTICE

Unheard by all

Save for those who have the experiences to hear

I searched those lights for news of my fate

Would tonight be the night?

I served a cop coffee once

And wondered

Would he be so polite

If we had met on a street corner

Instead of across a counter