The other day I received an email from a friend working with Moveon.org. The four of us have reached an age and stage in our lives that keeping up pretenses takes way too much energy and we are all intellectually and comfortably transparent about our beliefs. Soon after a discourse began that I believe is worth sharing.
In order to raise above the atrocities of true American History, the misinformation taught in schools across the country ro try and cover it up-we would like to believe that there is an opportunity in which the American Dream becomes the American Standard for all who call her home.
The names here are all made up except for my own. I have asked permission of my three friends to begin using my page as an opportunity to say what we feel in spite of what we believe that we know to be our “truths”. The difference being that it also involves owning our stereotypes born out of how we were each raised and when we decided that there was something terribly wrong and the facts just weren’t adding up.
Slavery may have ended on the books, but it has been replaced with institutionalized racism so cleverly masked and woven into the fiber of the American culture and many of our policies, that most of us would rather keep the blinders on than face the truth that we have all been lied too, and the price of holding onto those lies is at the very heart of why America has moved so far away from what it says it is, because it has never ever been what it says it is, ask millions of people of color starting with Native Americans.
My story begins with an email from Jane, (not her real name),one out of this band of four women, three white, Jane, Diane and Terry and me. Jane, a friend from Gig Harbor decided that she needed to do something about the current state of this country- unusually wounded and angered by what she saw on television-watching occupiers being dragged off to jail by the NYPD, she decided in a matter of hours that she had to be a part of what we all feel is a historical time in this country. Jane went out and bought an RV and took to the roads in support of Occupy. Her husband is one lucky man and we would all have to agree that she is as well considering that not many men or women of boomer status would have the courage to allow their wives or husbands to follow their heart and passion and travel across the country meeting strangers connected by a common cause of a different kind of oppression. The conversation is recent, with more to come.
March 18, 2012
I am being trained as a trainer for a workshop in how to take non violent direct action in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am really excited about it! I am inviting you to attend my first workshop here in the Gig Harbor area at the Fox Island United Church of Christ. We must not stew in our anger over the injustices that are growing in our communities. We must DO something about them! I hope you will take this opportunity, if possible, to gain some valuable tools, spend time with awesome people like yourselves, and leave armed with a lot of positive energy!
Thank you for your time and all the good that you are doing in the world!
March 20, 2012
It’s been a very long time and I’m sure you’ve been watching and following on FB. So many stories and things happening it’s hard to keep up. I need a full time techie team on this “V” lol.
Hope you’re doing well. Glad to see you still involved. I sat here tonight and was enraged at the NYPD crap they pull with the protestors. Hard to believe this is America! Let me just say it’s going to be a very interesting election.
I’ve been doing some radio here in Florida and that seems to really get people noticing. I plan to do much more. I still would like to see more women running for seats. We need a WIP “v” (Women in Politics).
I’m putting out the search on my next stretch of journey!
Love you guys, Jane
March 25, 2010
Terry I work during the week so anything that is scheduled during the day is prohibitive for me. Should you schedule something on the weekend then I definitely would consider being in attendance.
I must also add that I am for Obama, very much for Obama and very much for showing the prejudice and obstructionism that has plagued his administration.
I think it is a great insult for people to overlook that and pretend it doesn’t exist and that it has had everything to do with him having to dumb down many of the proposals he put forth, case in point health care reform.
Had he been able to push forth what he originally proposed, then the public option would be a part of the reform. That being said the only “movement” that I could support and respect is one that brings forth all of the facts from the very beginning up until where we are today.
Most people have very short and extremely subjective memories and any legitimate cause will not be afraid to examine and acknowledge those facts even if that meant they might have to backtrack an assumption and admit that perhaps they are wrong.
That takes character and integrity, I don’t see that outside of Obama. And I mean that in the most non confrontational manner.
He has brought out the worst in what is still at the core of Most Americans and that is their feelings of privilege and superiority over any other race especially Black people. And they are committed to spinning whatever this man does and to hold him up against what a white President would and could do is dangerously naive, people will not allow themselves to consider him as an equal.
That being said, if what you are doing involves making an honest and heartfelt effort to help begin the paradigm shift in this country towards who we are than I am 100% behind you. And remember at his best, his heart was and still is in the right place and that is with the people. I don’t think you can honestly say that about any other president if you really look at the facts. None of them had this type of blatant disrespectful and few of them ever were spoken to and spoken of in the manner in which Obama has been.
The economy would be better if everyone in Washington wanted it for the right reasons and those reasons can’t be on the backs of people who have been kept out or down historically.
March 25, 2012
Cheri, I agree with just about everything you say, and I believe that Obama needs the kind of action that MoveOn is providing training for.
Yesterday I was glued to Cspan and the Tea Party rally in the shadow of the Supreme Court as the ObamaCares act is argued in the high court. Speaker after podunk speaker, including the grandstanding Herman Cain (yes, he’s back) prophesied the end of the world if Obama gets another term. Lie after lie after lie, with lots of fervor and twang. We all remember when the TP craze was sweeping the country. They singlehandedly changed the conversation about health care and the rest of the national dialogue.
Thankfully, Wisconsin and Occupy (direct action) took it back, but now there exists a great void. What will happen now is the question on everybody’s minds. Maybe the Trayvon Martin case will become a major factor. It’s really high time that amenable black folks and amenable white folks got back together for progressive change, and all shades in between. The sixties would not have happened without both. Then we retreated to our respective corners to lick our wounds. “That wasn’t easy.” The right has been smarting ever since, building an incredible underground head of steam. And of course when the freedom fighters of the sixties went to their respective corners, black folks were still black and white folks were still white. The lack of mass, sustained follow-through on our part allowed those who got slapped in their “I’m inherently superior” face to devise mechanisms to take back the ground they lost. They are precariously close and have covered significant ground despite the election of Obama.
I do believe the left was so busy trashing the approach Obama took that they could not pivot in time to save the 2010 election disaster. I saw it coming. As late as June 2010, they were still trashing the president as spineless, etc. But we couldn’t seem to be other than armchair referees in the kind of numbers that mattered enough. We didn’t do the mass follow-through, the same lack of character we evidenced coming out of the sixties. We just did what we considered the hard part, not realizing that the really hard part is the follow-through. We didn’t go the distance. When we elected Obama, we were perhaps certain that having elected “a strong black man,” our work was over; after all, we were exhausted — and we left him hanging. We didn’t grasp that the democratic majority in Congress was not what it appeared. It was infiltrated with Blue Dogs, Republicans in sheep’s clothing.
I’ve tried to understand the left, their extreme disappointment in Obama. Maybe it’s kind of like me marrying Cole and discovering that, contrary to popular stereotype, he’s not big on dancing. I was sure I had a dance partner for life. In fairness, he thought he had a few things that didn’t materialize too. I have spoken to lefties that were so sure that Obama was going to come in kicking ass (Mohammed Ali) — which I think would have been a disaster, because it likely would have “spooked,” pun intended, more folks than would have rallied — that they felt like they got punched in the gut when he turned out to be the type of person that they raise their children to be — nonconfrontational, loving, understanding, forgiving. There were a few times that I too, ever patient and willing to give the benefit of the doubt, felt very let down. I do get that it’s not all about me though. And I understand very well the points you make.
Relaxing after the 2008 election was a fatal error. We are talking about racism, after all, and the backlash was based on irrational fear, which is a powerful motivator. That fear hasn’t subsided; it’s grown. Success is so much harder to deal with than failure, because failure arouses our feelings of loss and anger. We will fight for revenge. Having installed a champion, however, we apparently assumed our job was done. We
just wanted to have a life, dammit.
Obama has always been aiming for middle ground, partly, I suspect, because he understands the numbers and partly because that’s really who he is. He really just wants everybody to get along and be able to follow rational thought, studying both sides, to conclusion. He totally overestimated the American people. It was naive, or was it “developing the record” based on the realities he was slammed with? I’d like to think he was laying the groundwork for punkin’ the assholes. Probably not though. I suspect he’s a bigger man. The next eight months will certainly tell. But I digress.
I think we need both. We need to support the president. That is why I am volunteering a minimum of two hours a week with my local chapter. That commitment will increase greatly as we get closer. We are countering religious fervor, after all. And I will be fitting wherever and whenever I can into MoveOn’s strategy to take to the streets along with many other worthy organizations who must make their way to the same page. Obama needs that kind of mass (really mass) pressure for political cover and direction. What can I say? He seems to be a president who really listens and responds to the people, whether they be tea partiers or occupiers. He needs to be able to point to the numbers literally in the streets, as was first made clear by solidarity for Wisconsin, followed by occupy. It was as if he put a corset on, wasn’t it? Stiffened that spine right up. MoveOn is on absolutely the right track.
And so are you. What you are saying needs to be said, again and again. The standard for a black person in our country is still much higher than for a white person in a huge swath of our population’s minds. And what we are witnessing is also a fundamental truth: For many, a black person in certain positions, the POTUS chief among them, is an abhorrent concept, inconceivable even. The history is very long in this respect, and it ain’t over. So for many, nothing he could do would ever be enough. If they could get away with it, they would gleefully string him up in the old tradition, party style, or put a bullet through his head and rape and dismember his wife and children, or both.
We must be careful though about alienating our friends. And being black and maligned does not give Obama a clean pass, either, or it should not. As mothers of black men, there is a maternal tendency to want to protect and coddle. As mothers of black men, in our gut we know this does them no service. They need to be able to take a beating and jump back up so fast it’ll make your head spin. They need to be light on their feet. Swift. They need to cover their ass. Life for a black man in America is not easy. I’m not saying it’s easy for anyone, whatever color or gender, but it’s comparably easier for many. If anyone starts life with three strikes, it is our black men.
Can we afford to give them the false sense of reality that it is not so? No, we cannot. Obama has had, in my opinion, a more noble opinion of Americans than they deserve on balance. He has now had his eyes opened. He spent four years facing reality. We need to keep the counterbalancing reality on. The reality is if we don’t have our direct action game down, we are invisible and he is impotent.
Let’s all keep up the fight, and let’s remember we’re on the same side. Let’s get busy. Le’ts clear time in our schedules in the coming eight months (they are), let’s make room in our budgets (they are) — God knows money is going to count — and let’s own our power (they are).
Terry, I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around this training because my “calendar” had not found its way into a cohesive form. Now that I’ve done that, I think I can make this. I need to double-check, but count me in tentatively. Will sign up as soon as possible.
Thanks, Cheri, so very much for writing. It took courage, and we need that. I know you won’t stop. This is good. I admire and love you.
Jane! Keep on keepin’ on! This country needs what you are doing too. We’ve essentially got anarchists on the left and anarchists on the right, and having that, the middle-left will look like the best way forward to enough Americans, I hope, with a little luck (since the middle-right doesn’t exist anymore or haven’t found their balls/voice to counter the extremists) to avoid the type of acute, prolonged pain we will get if the right gains ground in November.
Obama figured this out long ago. And I realize Jane, that while you have made a huge effort to understand the anarchist thread, that the strategy of getting good people into office is not at all in line with throwing the baby out with the bath water. I salute you!!! You’re phenomenal. What are your plans? Are you ever coming home?
One thing about direct action: It will require not thousands, but millions of people coming out and it must be sustainable. This requires commitment, organization, training and stamina. Thank you MoveOn (Terry, that’s you)
Love you all.
I hope that this is just the beginnng of what a true and honest conversation between people from different races and background begins to looks like. I know that my above three White friends all have their own feelings about race and racism. And yet I believe that we know there is better. That we can do and be better people. But we are going to have to peel away at that onion and cry tears of remorse, acceptance and acknowledge what it has been like for generations of Black Americans to be systematically kept out of the mainstream.
To know that the history of Blacks in this country is riddled with holes and untruths. I have also witnessed many Whites in undoing racism workshops become painfully aware that some of what they were taught to believe concerning their history and contributions to the early growth of this country is gravely distorted-yet we all must but be willing to give credit where and when credit is due, especially to those who fought and died to free Blacks and other oppressed people. But most importantly to be willing to allow one another to heal. It is my honest belief that this conversation is the only thing that is going to save us and that one day fewer Trayvon Martins will have to die, and the Zimmermans in this country will become the exception not the rule of an unjustifiable law.