Tag Archives: politics

Post the Tenth 2 or Remembering Trayvon

The judges gavel cracks

My head split in two

Not

Guilty

Innocent slain

Yet cleared of all charges

One more drop

In a swift moving river of blood

But this drop

Is an ocean

An expanse stretching back 500 years

Not the first nor the last

A steady stream of souls

Every 28 hours released

Slain

In cold blood

By jackals who fear majesty

He was just a boy

And we were just children watching

A farce on the screen

Knock knock

Whose there?

Motherfucker

His life was not a joke

And this is not justice

This is a travesty

A tragedy branded upon our scalps

I ask myself

Are you human?

Are you made of rock?

How do you not see this black boy slain

How do you not SEE

Take your face and press it against the glass

Of his coffin

Grab you by the wrist and force your hands to feel

The stillness of his chest

Pull your eyes open and show you what it looks like

To mourn life

I am driven mad

By this wondering

The knot in my throat

Pushing me to desperation

How is your heart so cold

Your mind so calloused

Your conscious so numb

That you don’t see these lives

Human

6 women

Representative of our world

That sees blackness

And cowers in perpetual fear

Sees blackness and thinks

Criminal

But they are not the ones

Who crossed the ocean

To burn and steal and kill

They are not the ones

Who subjugated whole people

They are not the criminals

These 6 women

And the lawyers

And the judges

And their whiteness

Are the criminals

Murderers all

Whiteness is a hell of a drug

But I refuse

To lose any more sleep

Worrying about white people

They don’t deserve my energy

Today

I worry about my Black sisters and brothers

Today

I wonder how we can eradicate anti-blackness

In our communities

In myself

Today

I will do what I can to keep my lover safe

Today

I remember Trayvon

Today

I fight for Trayvon

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Post the Sixth 2 or On The Labor Movement and Transmisogyny

Another Black trans woman was found murdered the other day. The details of her death are so similar to the other deaths, that I avoided reading about it for a while. Articles like that upset me for many reasons and once I get drawn in, its hard for me to surface again with hope.

But I cannot run forever.

So I read the articles. And of course there was mispronouning, using wrong names, using mug shots, delving into her past that might be relevant as to why she was murdered (i.e. the fact that she was harassed and brutalized by the police)  but completely missing the point and only serving to further dehumanize her.

Even in death, the way we are spoken about by the mainstream cishet world is traumatizing and violent. Even in death, trans women of color cannot escape the trauma of colonialism and genocide. And I can’t help but think about trans day of remembrance  which is almost always all white trans women organizing and present for it and almost all trans women of color dead and being “remembered”.

Our bodies are exploited by white trans and queer folks to further their assimilation into colonial power. They use our deaths to justify their inclusion in heteropatriarchy.

I can’t help but make connection between this and May Day. May Day is International Workers Day. It is a day that marks the successes of the Labor Movement here and internationally. It is a recognition that globalization and capitalism exploits billions of people for the benefit of very few.

The bodies of trans women of color are exploited in a similar manner. We do not own our own labor, our own deaths. The labor of our deaths are exploited by the mainstream queer rights movement to prove why assimilation, inclusion the military and the strengthening of the prison industrial complex will keep white queers safe. Our deaths are exploited to sell shit like marriage equality. We are not allowed the dignity to determine what our deaths will mean.

It is amazing to me just how different forms of oppression intersect and interact with each other. I’m constantly learning just how deep this shit goes and it confirms for me even more that we will not be free unless we take down all of these systems simultaneously.


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.


Post the Ninety-Ninth or On White Atheists and Knowledge Production

I recently reactivated my OkCupid account because my partner is out of town and I get lonely. So far, however, I’ve gotten mostly douchebags messaging me. One in particular bothered me. I messaged this guy because I thought we had a lot in common and might get along well. He replies by saying, “I’m not interested in people who believe in pseudoscience.” I was confused, what did he mean by “pseudoscience.” So I asked him and he replied, “Astrology and tarot cards.” Mind you, this person only knows what I wrote in my profile and so I’m a little bewildered why he would write me off so quickly.

I look at his profile again and written in big bold letters is, “I am an Atheist.”

Of course.

I reply, “Wow. Ok. Well, enjoy your patriarchally assigned designation of what is and isn’t valid.”

He then accuses me of being ignorant and that I should go take an upper level physics course.

That’s the problem I have with atheists, and white atheists in particular. They think that their way of viewing the world is superior to all other ways and that if you do believe differently, you are somehow unintelligent and inferior. Only simpletons would believe in such superstitious nonsense! But the thing is, science and knowledge that is produced by the West has just as much dogma as anything else. It is subject to biases, prejudices and injustices. But white/western atheists would have us believe that they are the only ones who are truly “objective”.

Atheist are quick to dismiss any world view that does not agree with their own and yet

The other reason why it bothers me is because white folks/the West is positioned as the arbiters of knowledge. Knowledge is only considered valid if white folks produced it. From academia to medicine to law, the only knowledge that matters is the kind sanctioned by the white establishment. How many times have we seen studies that say, “Hey! Racism is still a thing!” published by white folks? And of course the the only people who are shocked are other white people.  People of color have been talking about that shit forever, but only until it is approved/stolen by white people does it have any “credibility”.

So when white atheists look down their narrow noses on “superstitious” brown people like myself, I know that a lot of that is couched in the white supremacist ideology that knowledge produced by white people is the only objective and valid kind of knowledge.

Further, the kind of knowledge that black and brown folks have access to is considered inferior. PoC, and particularly WoC, are underrepresented in the sciences and the academy. Either because we don’t have the social capital to be visible or we just can’t afford it, a lot of PoC cannot afford to go to school. But that doesn’t make them less intelligent. They just need to learn from different sources, whether that be from the streets or at the knee of their abuela. The knowledge and knowings of survival and hustle that is produced by poor and working class people of color is undervalued and under appreciated.

The production of knowledge by white institutions have constantly invalidated and erased people of color, women of color, queers of color, etc. And many times, the white establishment has stolen wholesale from communities of color and patented knowledge produced by people of color as their knowledge. This is one of the ways that white supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy hold on to their power. Because the people who produce the knowledge, that says what truths are valid, control the way we think and what we believe.

If we want to create a world that is free from marginalization, than we need to take the production of knowledge into our own hands. We need to realize that there is more than one way to view the world and that just because they are different doesn’t make one inferior over the other. We need to theorizing about our own lives and speaking truths that make sense to us. Most of all, we need to throw away the idea that if you are educated in certain things that you are more objective, more intelligent and more worthy of being listened too. We need to realize that we are all intelligent and creative people.


Post the Ninetieth or On Resistance as Spiritual Practice

Today is National Coming Out Day. It is a day when many queer and trans* folks who are already out once again proclaim their identities. I’m sure there are some folks who actually come out for the first time on this day, but it is mostly for folks who are already out.

Coming out is such a complicated act, both politically and personally. However, it is more complicated for some than for others. Coming out is not a unilateral or universal experience. It is altered by the different social locations the person occupies. Anderson Cooper’s experience in coming out is going to be very different than CeCe McDonald’s.

And in many ways, coming out is an act of resistance. It is an action that flies in the face of compulsory heterosexuality and heterosexism. It flies in the face of assumed cisgender identity and cissexism. However, coming out carries different risks for different folks. What frustrates me is when folks like Anderson Cooper come out and everyone is like, “That’s so brave. He’s so strong. OMG wow…” Like, I’m glad he came out but lets be real. Coming out for Anderson Cooper carries no risk. He is rich as fuck, he isn’t gonna be fired from his job or become homeless. And yet his experience is seen as normative for all queer people. And we exult him, as if he singlehandedly fought a rhinoceros. Further, his coming out does nothing to challenge the status quo. Rather, his coming out reinforces that assimilationist claptrap that we are “just like straight people”.

What this emphasizes for me is that not everyone has the privilege to come out. Whether because of safety or financial or any other reason, many folks cannot afford to be out. And I think that we must recognize the reasons for that silence. And those of us who can or don’t have the choice to come out, we need to constantly resist and fight against the reasons for that silence.

If coming out is to be an act of resistance, than it must carry risk and it must challenge, at least in some way, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and capitalism. Coming out is an act of political resistance only when it emphasizes the collective liberation of all people. In other words, coming out and saying “Hey, I’m a normal gay!” is not gonna cut it. When you come out, it must be in solidarity with all oppressed peoples.

Which leads us to a bigger question. What is the nature of resistance?

I would argue that resistance is and must be a spiritual practice. When we resist, we reclaim our power. When we resist, we assert our humanity. It is in resistance that we politicize ourselves and locate our position in the greater social hierarchy. It is only in resistance that we find ourselves, find who we, as oppressed people, really are.

Resistance can take many different forms. It can be as subtle as refusing to identify gender on paperwork or it can be as in your face as protecting your home against foreclosure.  Ultimately, when we resist, we are refusing to have our power taken from us. We are refusing to allow our lives to be moved around without our input. Resistance is certainly not futile because even if we don’t win the battle, our oppressors can never claim our souls. When we resist, even if our efforts are not successful, our humanity is still affirmed.

But even more than that, when we resist, we give thanks to all those ancestors who came before us. We honor their memory of sacrifice and suffering and joy and beauty. When we resist, we do not allow their efforts to go in vain. We continue their legacy and work. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we must continue their work for the generation that will stand on ours.

In reclaiming our power, we are refusing to be spiritual infants. We are able to co-create our reality with the Universe/Goddess/Great Spirit/Creator etc. We move away from these Western (white) concepts of spirituality as submission or obedience to an All Father, which tell us to just take it and that we will have paradise in the next life. We can be right sized in our relationship with the world. We are neither the rulers of all but neither are we victims of powers beyond our comprehension. Rather, we have our place as stewards and facilitators in the greater scheme. We become the midwives to a new vision of reality. This vision does not come from us but we are still needed to facilitate its birth. Resistance allows us to do this.

We can take responsibility for our actions and our power in this life when we resist. Paradise might be an unachievable aim, but we must still shoot for it in this life. Because we can find exultation in that struggle and create communities that support us and feed our souls, minds, bodies.

As Emiliano Zapata said,

“Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.”