Hate protests delaying traffic? Here’s good news and bad news

19 Jan

Good news: You don’t have to love the idea. Diversity of tactics is a good thing, as is knowing your own preferences.

Bad news: However, if you literally don’t understand how making people late for work (or whatever) is an effective tactic to force systemic change that is a gap in your education rather than a difference of opinion between you and those who do understand how it is effective.

Good news: Educating yourself is easy when you’re on the Internet, and you’re already online.

Bad news: While educating yourself can be enjoyable as well as rewarding, it’s probably not the most fun activity you can think of doing with yourself.

Good news: It’s worth doing anyway.

I side with Antonio Martin

24 Dec

Even if Antonio Martin had a gun, and this is one of those surprising times when police aren’t lying, he didn’t die because he pulled a gun and was shot in self-defense. He was extra-judicially executed, dying on the ground a long time as no ambulance was called. In a spectacle akin to lynching, his dead body was displayed for the public, including his mother and friends, for hours.

Martin might have been shot in self-defense. Maybe. But he died because he was executed without trial, he died because he didn’t have enough class and ethnic status to make his death a PR problem among those who support the police, he died because there’s a multi-billion dollar machine of state-sanctioned violence that’s ready to kill you at any moment, especially if you’re brown or poor.

Most simply, he died because the dozens of professional decision makers involved decided not to take him to the nearby hospital to be saved. He died because dozens of professional decision makers watched him die, slowly, on the cold asphalt.

The two cops killed in Bed-Sty this weekend? I publicly refused to mourn them because they were paid instruments of state-sanctioned violence who died on duty in service to our empire. That doesn’t mean I’m glad they died, or that I didn’t pray for them and their families. It just means I know what side I’m on.

Which side are you on?

Fast food workers strike in 190 cities

6 Dec

Yesterday, fast food workers walked off the job in some 190 cities as part of the  campaign to raise the wage in the fast food industry to $15 an hour in the United States. People of color (black, latino, native) are disproportionately represented among minimum wage workers, victims of the justice system in all its forms, and the homeless population. What might it look like if those who organize for each concern were able to coordinate and combine their efforts?

Privilege is a backpack on a crowded train

5 Dec

WhitePrivilegePrivilege is like an overstuffed backpack on a crowded subway train. Those who carry it rarely realize that just by going about their business without paying attention, and gently turning towards one way or another, they’re actually knocking over people behind them. Educated white people carry this privilege, and sometimes knock people over, whether they know it or not. Some who know what they carry choose to be extra careful not to bulldoze. Others enjoy hefting that weight around and taking up as much space as possible.

I’ve likened privilege to a backpack that knocks people over, but looking for an image to go with this post I came across the works of Peggy McIntosh who said “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”

Read her 1989 essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

Talk about Ferguson with your family?

28 Nov

Did you talk about Ferguson with your family over Thanksgiving? I did. Like most liberals, they’re sympathetic to civil rights issues but horrified by the looting and vandalism that’s taken place in response. I navigated this with two points of argument. First, I pointed out that there’s nothing unusual about the killing of Mike Brown; the only reason it’s still in the news (and being talked about at white dinner tables) is because the community response hasn’t been entirely peaceful.

Second, I brought it close to home and asked, “When Ireland fought for independence from Britain, would you tell the people fighting for freedom to follow the rules of the game laid down by their conquerors?” I added that in centuries recently passed, whenever Irish tenants attacked a landlord or his property, legislators would say “We are fighting for land reform in Parliament and your violent actions create anti-Irish sentiment that harms our efforts.” But without fear of violent uprising, most members of Parliament had no motive to pass land reform; it happened because rich people feared for their wealth and for their lives.

My points were seen. I love my family.

Thankful on Thanksgiving

27 Nov

Thanksgiving afternoon, but I can’t stop thinking about the ‪#‎IndictBoston‬ action on Tuesday night. I’m thankful I was able to attend, and I’m thankful white people present seemed mindful of participating in the action without trying to direct it, make speeches, etc. I’m thankful to have been there when Daunasia Yancey yelled “white allies to the front” and that I was able to respond. I’m thankful that my eyeglasses got broken and not my skull. I’m thankful for the painkillers that are easing the back ache I walked away with. I’m thankful to have seen dozens of familiar faces at that march, most of them friends from Occupy Boston. I’m thankful for the honor of participating in that action, and I’m thankful that today I’ll be eating food with loved ones. But I’m thankful, also, that I won’t forget Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and millions more souls killed or incarcerated by state-sanctioned violence who won’t be eating a Thanksgiving meal today. I’m thankful, also, to be mindful today of this holiday in the context of white imperialism and native genocide. Am I happy? Am I sad? I don’t know, but I’m thankful.

Video: Black Lives Matter at South Bay House of Correction in Boston

26 Nov

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Last night, I went to an action called #IndictBoston organized by Daunasia Yancey and the Boston chapter of Black Lives Matter. We where there not just to protest the decision not to indite Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, but to also challenge state-sanctioned violence in all its forms against people of color. We shut down several highway ramps in Boston and made a sustained and gutsy effort to physically break the police line on the ramp to I-93. That place is also the site of the South Bay House of Correction where protestors chanted to the prisoners, “We see you…black lives matter!” The prisoners seemed glad to be seen.

Watch the video.

Want to be placed on a DHS list?

14 Nov

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2014 Boston Anarchist Bookfair is Nov 23 and 24, and this will be my fourth year attending. Want to be placed on a DHS list with me and all the cool kids? Then I’ll see you there.

Gnarley on the MBTA

27 Jan
I’ve been riding the MBTA since before most of my friends were born, and it never used to suck so bad. My bus today into Boston took so long, at one point I almost forgot I was traveling and, instead, felt like I was living in an extremely crowded trailer home parked at the Dedham Mall. I could have read a book on that bus, if if been able to raise my arms to hold it.  It was overcrowded because they run infrequently.

Mind you, almost anywhere you look on the MBTA — the stations, the subway interiors, the inside and outside of buses and trains — there are ads. Aren’t these public spaces? Don’t that station and vehicle, really, belong to you? Maybe you don’t want them to look like that. Why are they so underfunded? Your tax money is going somewhere. All this advertising revenue is going somewhere too.

Public transportation should be free. It should be ubiquitous. It should be awesome.  Instead, the MBTA is a source of misery for its riders.  When my ride finally got to Forest Hills, I asked that bus full of people “Are we actually at the station? I feel like I’ve been on this bus for ten years. Anyone else?” Dirty looks were the only response offered by my fellow passengers.

 

 

Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square to be replaced by $17,000 seascape

3 Aug
How do you feel about $17,000 in public resources being used for this?

How do you feel about $17,000 in public resources being used for this? (Photo by Jennifer Taylor for Boston Globe)

A brightly-colored mural by Os Gemeos (Brazilian twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo) has looked down on Dewey Square since it’s instillation in July 2012.  Since the site attracted little attention before Occupy Boston set up camp in 2011, some associated the masked figure with a participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  More neutral parties simply described him as a kid in mismatched pajamas.  Either way, it’s soon to be painted over.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston has commissioned Matthew Ritchie to install a 5000′ square abstract seascape to take it’s place, the Boston Globe reports.  It’s scheduled for installation the week of September 16 and is expected to be replaced about a year and a half later, the same schedule as was set for its predecessor.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, an organization that has come under fire for financial matters, is funding the $17,000 installation. According to Geoff Edgers:

The collaboration, to be announced Monday at a Boston Arts Commission meeting, is part of a residency for Ritchie that will include a multimedia performance with members of the rock bands The Breeders and The National, concerts at the museum and elsewhere, and a video project to be produced with the ICA’s teen program. But the biggest splash for the public will come on the exterior of the Big Dig ventilation building in Dewey Square.

Edgers also notes that Os Gemeos mural now in place “made national news when the local Fox television affiliate posted an image of it to a Facebook page, inspiring comments accusing the brothers of creating an image that resembled a terrorist because of the way the face was partially shrouded in clothing.”

I love public art, but this $17,000 price tag makes me squeamish.  How do you feel about it?  Please comment below.