Monday, September 5, 2022

We should not burn sage and smudge sticks

  • I am part of an indigenous solidarity group with SURJ Boston. This last week, a member in our group shared this from Mahtowin of UAINE
If you are not an Indigenous person and sage is not part of your cultural practices, stop buying it or using it!” 

  • This was something I appreciated learning about as I had been asked to teach a pottery class at a local store, with the theme of bowls that hold smudge sticks. It was coming up in the next 2 weeks. 
  • At the time that the store owner and I discussed the possibility for the class, I shared my concern that we could be culturally appropriating by using smudge sticks. I told the store owner at that time, that she'd need to include in the description that the history of smudging was from Indigenous practices, for me to agree to the topic. 
So she wrote this: 

"Native Americans and other indigenous peoples have burned sage for centuries as part of a spiritual ritual to cleanse a person or space, and to promote healing and wisdom. It's been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Romans to treat digestive issues, memory problems, and sore throats. White Sage, sometimes called Sacred Sage, is well-known for its usage for these purposes. Other common plants to smudge with include lavender, mugwort, tobacco, cedar, sweet grass, juniper, and copal. Today, we use Sage most often in a Clearing Ceremony or to Cleanse a space, such as when a new home is purchased or when you want to refresh the energy in your home or office."

  • This is the picture I had taken to promote the class (my sample bowls holding smudge sticks from her store):

  • Immediately after I saw the post: “If you are not an Indigenous person and sage is not part of your cultural practices, stop buying it or using it!,” I wrote to the store owner:
Have you advertised for the class yet? I don't see anything about it on your website. 

I am connected to an Indigenous group in the area ( and below is what they posted this week. I'm concerned about doing the class (with a focus on sage smudge sticks) and being part of something harmful to indigenous folks. Do you know the source of the sage in your smudge sticks?  

I shared the link and “If you are not an Indigenous person and sage is not part of your cultural practices, stop buying it or using it!

  • The store owner wrote this back to me: 
The class is on Facebook. Let me look into sourcing. I will get back to you.

  • She had told me 2 weeks before that she'd be posting then about the class. Instead, she posted only an hour before I found it on Facebook, 9 hours after I wrote to her about my concern. I replied:
I see you didn't post until today, when I expressed my concern with the content. Since you don't have folks signed up yet, could we put a pause on this smudge-bowl-centric class, please? I want to discuss this with the indigenous folks I know and see what they think. I can't decide for you what you will do in your store, but I don't want to be personally complicit since my community is asking for us to stop doing this practice.

  • The store owner wrote this back to me: 
It was on Facebook before I saw your concern. I always post 2-3 weeks ahead. Anyway, I will take it down. Let me know what you decide.

  • I replied: 
Would you be interested in doing a bowl class to hold stones and crystals? I could take a new picture without smudge sticks in them and we could use the same date and time. If you don't, I understand.

I won't be able to get back to you quickly about smudge sticks. I imagine and guess I wouldn't feel comfortable with doing that anyway. I should have gone with my instinct from the beginning. Someone in my indigenous solidarity group wrote this:

"my understanding is smudging is an Indigenous practice that's been very widely appropriated by white ppl especially "New Age" types... certainly might be an incomplete understanding of smudging but my sense was it's something we shouldn't be doing period, regardless of the source of the sage/other bundle"

  • The store owner wrote this back to me: 
Sure, we can do one for crystals. Send the photo when you have it and I will write up a new description.

  • After thinking about it overnight, I realized I can't work with her if she is still going to sell smudge sticks in her store, and promote the use of them. I feel I would still be complicit by doing a class there...something she would profit off of. So I wrote back to her: 
I need to think about if I still want to do a class there after all. I'll get back to you when I know more.

  • How do I make a more lasting difference than just stepping away myself? 
  • I considered buying all of her smudge sticks and donating them to indigenous groups in my area (if they wanted them) with the agreement that she not sell them anymore. 
  • At least, I hope my communication with her will have her consider not using smudge sticks anymore and not selling them in her store. 
  • I am sharing this here, in this detail, to share the message from UAINE, show how we as white folks can listen to Indigenous voices, learn, and change our behaviors. 
  • And we can stop using sage and smudge sticks if we are not an Indigenous person and sage is not part of our cultural practices.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Craftivism & What Racial Equity Looks Like to Me

I am working to integrate my activism with my craft (pottery) = craftivism. In Knapsack meetings, we are Crafting Together for Racial Justice and Writing Out, Speaking Up

This is my "craftivism" response to the writing prompt: What does racial equity look like to you? 

It is important that we have goals. That we take time to imagine what the end result we want looks like.

"The difference between equality and equity must be emphasised. Although both promote fairness, equality achieves this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently dependent on need." Mar 29, 2019 Equality and Equity :: Social Change

I am putting some of my thoughts (words) into my pottery:

"A life affirming future for all" 
is my initial response to the question of what racial equity looks like to me. 
I learned that was a goal at a BLM Cambridge meeting years ago. 

Makes sense to me!

A Healthy Community (vase)

A healthy community meets 
at a common center, 
coming together 
even though groups and individuals might be separate.
A healthy community includes 
diverse groups of people 
balancing together to hold each other up. 
Needing each other. 
Supporting each other.

A healthy community uplifts 
sensitivity and femininity 
not the patriarchy. 

Systems support everyone,
and all are equal.
Everyone has diversity in their friends;
even strangers are treated like friends. 

Everyone is respected
and valued
even when mistakes are made.
I want racial equity!

"I see you" (bowl):

We have huge hurtles to get to a place of racial equity due to the everyday reality of white supremacy, historical trauma from slavery, Jim Crows laws, lynching, and the colonization of indigenous land and the attempted genocide of indigenous peoples. We can't get around these serious issues; there are so many challenges. We can't erase or ignore them. We have to recognize and take responsibility. We need to take ownership of our advantages (if we are white). Change the narrative. Change how history is taught. And we need to confront the systems that don't support racial equity. 

I want to continue to push myself to visualize this "so far from reality" ideal of racial equity. What could it look like if we got past the hurtles? 

I do not want to describe this ideal world in "not" comparisons, for example: having a potential leader of the country who would not be accused of being born outside this country just because his name and color frightened others. 

I want to use positive language in this worthy and positive goal: 

Everyone is seen as unique and valued. Power is shared by all genders. Gender is more than binary. All sexual preferences are valued and understood. Since everyone has disabilities, the abilities of everyone are utilized and treasured. We use trade and mutual aid, so currency is rarely needed. Instead of prisons and police, there is transformative justice and active bystandership. Those struggling with mental health are cared for without incarceration.

I will think about this more. This work is not done. 

Finding Compassion in our hearts is a good first step to reach these goals.

We call for an end to racial and cultural inequity and injustice. We call for: 
I. The support, recognition, and prioritization of the leadership of Black people, Indigenous peoples, and people of color (BIPOC).
II. The reversal of long-term inequities in funding, hiring, and resources in the arts and culture sector.
III. Investment in arts and cultural ecosystems for BIPOC.
IV. Investment in building healthy communities through centering cultural and racial equity.
V. Accountability, commitment, and integrity in the pursuit of cultural and racial justice.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Reclaiming Whiteness, Evolving Whiteness

I got some of these ideas from Resmaa Menaken in his book My Grandmother’s Hands pg. 271. Thank you again and again for your teachings in your soulful book, Resmaa Menaken.

(how it is seen and, as defined by White Supremacists)
  • group energy is used to feed individual weakness
  • childish, spoiled
  • selfish, acts entitled
  • defensive
  • violent
  • protected
  • closed-minded
  • materialistic
  • fueled by trauma (passed down through many generations)
  • militaristic
  • capitalistic
  • nationalistic and people (like-themselves) centric
  • “white race is superior” belief
  • acts (and/or stay silent) to keep systems in place so white people (continue to) have advantage
  • has a void because to be white strips identity of ethnicity and ancestral culture

Who can be proud of that ^!? Who would want to claim that whiteness? Who would want to identify with being "white" if that is what it is? No one I know!

I am working towards 
Reclaiming Whiteness…Evolving Whiteness:
(I disown whiteness as defined by White Supremacists, see ^)
  • strong, resilient individuals
  • grown up
  • builds community, cares for others, humble
  • willing to own the impact we had
  • non-violent
  • accountable, able to be trusted, respected
  • open minded, ready to listen and learn
  • humanistic
  • moves through trauma (passed down through many generations), noticing and accepting what is felt in our bodies
  • uses hearts and minds to be powerful
  • mutual aid centric, participating to share resources and gain from each other
  • cares about the environment and people, inside and outside our country
  • knows that black and brown lives matter, and are EQUAL in the human race with white people
  • acts to disrupt and change systems so nobody has advantage
  • helps with reparations for stolen land, culture, and resources taken from Indigenous Peoples and Enslaved Africans; take responsibility
  • claiming my ethnicity and learning about my ancestral culture

I am a white person reclaiming whiteness…evolving whiteness into something I can be proud of.

“Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”  
     by Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Are you ready to join me?

    Friday, June 12, 2020

    speech written to give at a march

    I wrote this for a march in Medway last weekend but then didn't give it there after all. They decided to go with other folks. I got a lot out of writing it anyway. 

    Hi, my name is Debra G_____ and I live in Ashland. Let’s start by taking a moment to ground our bodies. Focus on your breath. If you want, take in a deep breath and sigh it out loudly. And again if you want. 

    Feel into your body. Where and how does it experience pain or discomfort right now? Where and how does it feel good? Where does it feel constricted? Where does it feel relaxed? Do you want to move or activate? Do you want to release? Simply notice the sensations, vibrations, and emotions in your body instead of reacting to them. Accept any discomfort and notice when it changes instead of trying to flee from it. Stay present in your body as you move through the unfolding experience with all its ambiguity and uncertainty and respond from the best parts of yourself. 

    Now feel your feet on the ground. Feel the ground beneath you. I acknowledge we are on the stolen land of Nipmuck, Massachusett, and Wampanoag Peoples. Are there any members from these groups here now? The rest of us are guests on this land. Let us respect and care for it like we do any home we go into as a guest.

    Let us take a breath to express gratitude for the land we are on, the Indigenous Peoples who lived here, and modern  day Indigenous leaders, educators and healers. We need a lot of education and healing. 

    In a moment I will ask you to indicate if you know you are white and that you know that comes with advantages. Indicate that now as boldly and publicly as you are able. 

    I am white and I acknowledge my advantages. I had them even when I was a 6 year old child and a minority on the west side of Chicago, and when I lived in Japan, and when I was in Korea as a teenager. White people have power everywhere, even if you don’t know it.

    I did not begin to understand my advantage, or the responsibility that comes with being white, until it touched my family. My younger sister was a part of The Somerville 18, linking their bodies together across the I-93 highway in Somerville in January of 2015 stopping traffic for 4 hours. After the challenge for me of being a part of a call-in campaign and letter writing to the DA of Somerville in July of that year, to get the extreme charges reduced, I knew I wanted to get stronger, to learn and do more, so I started leading a Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group series of meetings in Medfield in Nov. 2015, that led to many other meetings I organize and co-facilitate now.

    Ever since The Somerville 18’s very risky and brave protest, I’ve been doing everything I can to learn and build an anti-racist community in and around where I live in Ashland, mostly in Natick, and over Zoom at this time. 

    What will it take for you to act to make changes to the systems that give us an unfair advantage? We won’t lose anything, we will only gain.

    I want to center people of color I have learned so much from (please forgive me for mispronunciation of names): 

    Ibram Kendi taught me in his book How to be an Antiracist that if you're not actively working to fight racism you are supporting racism because that is status quo. Want to repeat that after me? 
    If you're not actively working to fight racism… (repeat)
    you are supporting racism… (repeat)

    I learned from Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow about the resources we lose by incarcerating so many black and brown people out of fear and our racial biases. 

    I learned from Angie Thomas in The Hate U Give that “a brush is not a gun” and people should not be killed by a cop because there was a hair brush in a car door pocket. 

    I learned from Beverly Daniel Tatum in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria about racism that is deeply embedded in our schools and that we much to change there.

    I learned from Tommy Orange who wrote There There about issues and loss that comes when culture and land is stolen from Indigenous Peoples. 

    Along the same lines, I learned from Ilan Pappe who wrote The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine about the traffic loss of Palestinian homes and land, and the intentional growing of trees to hide this. You might think that has nothing to do with you, but American tax payer dollars fund Israeli weaponry and supports the government that makes life still intolerable today for many Palestinians. Me saying this does not make me anti-Semitic. What Zionists are doing is not what all Jewish people support. 

    Just like what some white people are doing is not what all white people support. 

    Just like what some police officers are doing is not what all police officers support. 

    Just like what some protesters are doing is not what all protesters support.

    It is powerful to be public about what we support, otherwise we might be lumped into a superficial idea of our group.

    I learned from Ijeoma Oluo in So You Want to Talk About Race that if you unintentionally offend a Person of Color (which you will) and they tell you the impact it had for them (which they might if you are lucky), to listen and learn and don’t do it again. And not to give up trying.

    I am learning from author and therapist Resmaa Menaken in his book My Grandmother’s Hands about the strength and resiliency of black people and white people and police officers…and also the historical trauma in black bodies and police officer bodies and white bodies. I am learning some techniques to self-soothe and control my white body. I learned we need to build a different culture for the changes we want in society. Resmaa Menaken inspired the grounding exercise I started with and that I will repeat in a moment.

    That is just a few of the many many lessons I have learned in the last 5 years since my little sister's protest woke me up and I started work to build my racial justice muscles.

    Do what you can to learn and strengthen yourself and build a community of racial justice activists. Don’t believe for a moment that white people are fragile. Whatever we practice, gets stronger. And we are stronger and better together.

    Before I end with a quote, let’s do the body awareness practice again. Notice if anything has changed for you:

    Feel into your body. Where and how does it experience pain or discomfort? Where and how does it feel good? Where does it feel constricted? Where does it feel relaxed? Do you want to move or activate? Do you want to release? Simply notice the sensations, vibrations, and emotions in your body instead of reacting to them. Accept any discomfort and notice when it changes instead of trying to flee from it. Stay present in your body as you move through the unfolding experience with all its ambiguity and uncertainty and respond from the best parts of yourself.

    I will end with this quote out of Resmaa Menaken’s book by Angel Kyodo Williams:

    “Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”
    repeat after me:
    Without inner change… (repeat)
    there can be no outer change… (repeat) 
    Without collective change… (repeat) 
    no change matters… (repeat)

    Thank you for your time and willingness to join us today in solidarity.


    I will be doing a Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group meeting this evening inspired by my writing this speech: 

    Speech/Talk Writing Practice to #EndWhiteSilence (over Zoom)
    RSVP to join us (and see more with that link).


    I haven't been posting much on this blog due to the meetings I organize and facilitate with Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group. We did 3 actions in local towns last week, weekly action call groups, monthly book and racial justice discussions, history activities, and more.

    Please join us. All are welcome. We meet over Zoom now due to the pandemic.

    I am also helping a lot with the mutual aid group:


    Wednesday, January 1, 2020

    charities list

    I think these are organizations worth supporting as they are making useful changes. I get asked about who we support/like, so I thought I'd blog this to help those who are curious/interested:

    Racial/Social Justice, making changes to the Political and the Legal Systems
    Business Growth/Social Justice
    Ways to research these and other charities

    Saturday, November 30, 2019

    stamping Tubman 20's

    Pres. Obama got it approved to get Tubman 20's minted in 2020. The current U.S. president pushed the printing to 2026 or 2028. I joined the movement to not wait. I bought the stamp to help get more representation on our currency (a woman, a Person of Color, and an activist). Harriet Tubman represents what I believe in, not Andrew Jackson (a strong supporter of the removal of Native American tribes from U.S. territory east of the Mississippi River, Jackson began the process of forced relocation known as the "Trail of Tears.") 

    Since I am trying to get these into circulation, I try to use them often. I start with the attitude that folks would want to have these, asking with a positive tone: "Would you like to have a Tubman 20?" Not assuming they will have a problem with a defensive tone: "Would you take a Tubman 20?" 

    I bought my stamp from this site:, getting the ink pad and extra ink too. I have needed to re ink the pad a few times, so I am glad I got the extra ink. I am stamping 20s for my family and friends too.

    I use a white colored pencil to make Jackson's shoulders (and hair that still shows) lighter. Then I use a fine point Sharpie marker to complete the top border where Jackson's hair was, and write: "TUBMAN" at the bottom if the printing alignment wasn't accurate enough. The stamping process isn't perfect. But it is better than Jackson!

    We checked with our bank, yes, they are legal tender. 
    One store my sister used it in did a test with a marker and accepted it as legal. 
    Sometimes folks won't take it, but we will keep trying to normalize the use of these so they will be readily accepted.

    Here is research on legality of these 20s:

    Here is info about this movement:
    Note from 3/5/20:
    I am considering not doing this anymore. I just read this article:
    I am so opposed to using currency with Jackson on it... based on what he did to Indigenous Peoples... that I like the Tubman option. But now not sure if stamping Harriet Tubman over his face is better...based on the points of that article.

    Thursday, November 28, 2019

    my choices for today and these days

    Some folks are celebrating Thanksgiving today. I don't, and haven't for a number of years. This is what I do instead:
    • I recognize the National Day of Mourning. 
    • I do a Mother Earth Celebration outside on this day, including the 4 directions and 4 elements. Every day I can, I nurture the earth and plants indoors and outside, conserve water, reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose, enjoy walks in nature, drive an electric car...for example. 
    • I spend time with my family another day.
    • I try to feel, and express when I can, my gratitude everyday.
    • I try to educate myself and pass on what I learn to my community.
    Here is some examples for above:

    I am grateful to my growing community of folks wanting to learn about our history, and do something about it now and the future.

    I am reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. This is so information and important to know.

    I recently saw Native education specialist Annawon Weeden, a member of both the Mashpee Wampanoag and Mashantucket Pequot tribal communities, present ‘First Light Flashback,’ the personal story of his communities' history and legacy. It is powerful. This is his website:

    Jessie Little Doe Baird is a linguist known for her efforts to revive the Wampanoag language. Here is a film about her efforts and the effect: "We Still Live Here As Nutayunean": I am grateful to Annawon for telling me about this film. I found it moving and hopeful.

    I recently saw "Praying Town" a documentary film by filmmaker Zadi Zokou for a screening and discussion of his film that covers three centuries of Natick and Southern New England: Puritans, Christian Indians, King Philip’s War, Black slavery, the Abolitionist Movement and more. I requested a copy and will get it when it becomes available so I can share it.

    Today I listened to this current informative interview about the National Day of Mourning, the myth of Thanksgiving, and the truth: See for more. My sister regularly goes to this event. She is there now.

    Here is what I did last year for my Mother Earth Celebration:

    A neighbor and good friend and her two younger daughters, joined my partner and me for this event. It included the four directions and four elements as we moved around the house. I elicited answers and we had conversations at every stage. (It was cold so we didn't spend a lot of time on could have included more, for sure.)

    North, wind/air
    Standing in the side yard, we discussed the need for this element: for fun (all blew bubbles, E. continued this until the end of Celebration), for birds, bees, butterflies, and planes to fly (all got a Reminder Stone gift (pottery I made) of a butterfly (or other things for the other elements) and a folded paper crane, we looked at a small model airplane of P.'s), and for scattering seeds to represent the spreading of trees, flowers, plants, food (we blew seeds off of my ornamental grasses). Appropriately, it was a windy day.

    West, earth/land
    Standing in the middle of the front garden, we discussed the need for this element: to grow flowers, trees (for fruit and oxygen to breathe), and food. We dropped on the earth as a gift back to Her: popcorn seeds and lentils to represent food, and a dried flower from the garden. We walked and stomped on the earth to send a message to Mother Earth that we appreciate her, and want to care for her.

    South, water
    Standing in the middle of the food garden, we discussed the need for this element for food: I pointed out the herbs, blueberry bushes, rhubarb, and strawberries...they need water (and earth) to live. Just like all of our food. As do us people (and animals). We are around 80% water. We drank water, and poured some on the garden. We discussed the ocean...that it is 70% of earth surface and ocean water is 97% of water on planet; we need to take care of the 3% fresh water since we can't drink ocean water. All got a shell as a gift from the ocean. WATER IS LIFE!

    East, fire
    Standing in the sun in the back yard, we discussed the need for this element: the sun for warmth and light; fire is needed for warmth and cooking our food. We discussed what it would be like if we could only eat raw, cold food. P. said she couldn't have baked the cake she just made without fire. And we need to respect the power and danger of fire. Talked about fires in California: damage to people, homes, trees, and more. We had written notes with our wishes for Mother Earth inside. At this point, we burned these small notes in a ceramic container with "Gratitude" carved on it, spreading our wishes to the Universe asking to help us carry them out. We had trouble in the wind lighting and keeping the fire going...this reminded us of positive and negative sides of wind/air on fire. 

    I ended with the reminder we don't have to stop speaking to the Universe with our wishes. It can make a difference. And I mentioned that we went around the house in a circle, like the cycle of the seasons, and that all of the elements are connected, and continuous.

    Today, my hubby and I were alone. We did a similar but shortened version since no guests and children were with us. Then we smudged around the house 2x and in all the corners and rooms of our house afterwards.

    Again, I am grateful to my growing community of folks wanting to learn about our history, and do something about it now and the future. I am grateful for you.

    - Deb

    Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    free Rodney Reed

    This is urgent. On November 20th, Texas is scheduled to execute an innocent man for a rape and murder he did not commit.

    Mountains of evidence exonerates Rodney Reed. All of that evidence was kept from the all white jury that convicted him. Instead, the evidence implicates the victim’s fiancé – local police officer Jimmy Fennell – who has a history of violence against women, including being convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was wrongly sent to prison.

    Read more, and sign the petition, here: and do any other action you can. Do something every day if you can. I am asking friends and family to sign the petition at least. I am making calls (there is lots of support on the calls), writing emails, and sending clemency letters.

    Rodney Reed is innocent. Even if you aren't sure, let's get him a fair trial!

    Thanks for your help,

    Wednesday, June 12, 2019

    ideas and support for activists

    A friend shared this recently. I just read it and found it helpful (as an imperfect activist wanting to learn how to find balance with the challenges in this work):

    6 Signs Your Call-Out Is About Ego and Not Accountability
    May 22, 2019
    by Maisha Z. Johnson

    From the article above, I got this link and appreciated her suggestions:

    Activist Burnout Is Real – And You Probably Need to Read These 4 Ways to Manage It 
    May 27, 2015
    by Aliya Khan

    Wednesday, May 1, 2019

    We don't have the Constitutional right to vote!

    I learned about this issue from Ep. 19 of The Breakdown with Shaun King podcast. The episode title is: Do you even have the right to vote? really recommend listening to The Breakdown. Shaun King breaks things down very clearly and gives us action steps.

    The action for Ep. 19 was to research this issue more on:
    (Note: If the links in the body of text don't work, use the top navigation.)

    I also am reading about this:
    Dozens Of Civil Rights Groups Ask Presidential Candidates 
    To Support Letting People In Prison Vote 

    If you want to get started with the podcast, google: The Breakdown with Shaun King
    I use the podcast player Podbean if you want my suggestion. I am new to listening to podcasts myself. This is my first!

    Saturday, February 9, 2019

    How to Overcome Our Biases, TEDx talk

    This is a TEDx talk by Vernā Myers.

    "Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we've seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how."

    Very good.

    Thursday, January 24, 2019

    wealth gap

    You might be aware of the wealth gap in the U.S. between white folks and POC. One way we (as white people) perpetuate it (are complicit) is to offer jobs to our friends and family (high percentage of which are also usually white too) without offering the job to the broader community. This would make it possible for POC to apply and compete.

    I know why this happens; it is easier to do, we know the person, we love the person, we already trust the person, etc. For those of us who appreciate the importance of undoing racism, I challenge us to see the big picture, put in more effort, and offer jobs to the wider community, not just our friends and family. And don't take a job you could get from a friend/family member connection until you are sure the job was advertised widely.

    Here are some related resources I used at a Knapsack meeting in Feb. 2018: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Class:

    Whites Aren't Affected by Racism but are Victims of Classism (YouTube, 4:26 mins)

    Wealth Inequality in America (YouTube, 6.23 mins)

    America's wealth gap is split along racial lines — and it's getting dangerously wider (article on

    It’s Not Class, It’s Race: Why America Can’t Move Forward Until It Addresses the Racial Wealth Gap (article on

    Is America more divided by race or class? (article on

    Our money will not liberate us: What the NFL protests say about wealth and White Supremacy (article on

    The Color of Wealth in Boston (article on

    Thursday, January 17, 2019

    Seeing White podcast

    A friend recommended this podcast to me and others in the Racial Justice Dialogue group that meets in Natick the first Saturday of each month. I am so grateful to know about this. I am almost done listening to the 10 hours in 14 parts. I have learned from it and want to share it with everyone.

    Seeing White*

    An exploration of solutions and responses to America’s deep history of white supremacy by host John Biewen, with Chenjerai Kumanyika.
    Go to the bottom of the page I posted to start listening to part one.

    This part of the series I found particularly helpful for understanding affirmative action so I can respond to what I hear from other white folks.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2018

    bike ride fundraiser for Boston Area Gleaners

    As an Ashland resident, and regular shopper at the Ashland Farmer's Market, I am deeply grateful for the availability of fresh, local produce from the wonderful farms near us. Not every one has that advantage. Some less fortunate folks live in "food deserts" and experience food insecurity.

    I am doing a bike ride fundraiser in September to support the Boston Area Gleaners who help with this issue. To learn more about this thoughtful group and to support them through my ride, go to my fundraising page.

    Did you know that the Upswing Farm, one of the farms at the Ashland Farmer's Market, donates some of their harvest to the Boston Area Gleaners? (see their blog post for more)

    I'm doing this ride to bring awareness to the Boston Area Gleaners, to educate about the need for their efforts, to help raise money to support them, and to let folks know that volunteers for harvesting with them are welcome!

    Thank you for your contributions of time and money, and spreading the word about this.

    prison strike

    There are serious issues in prisons. The PEOPLE incarcerated there inside are not being treated like people outside. This coalition is educating us about water and heat issues (and more): #deeperthanwater

    There is a prison strike coming up: more info here.

    meeting history page made

    I made a new page (link in the header now) to use as a resource, mostly for myself about Knapsack meetings I helped to organize. I know I will refer to this as the meetings had links, both in the descriptions and comments, that I point folks to, now and then, and refer back to myself.

    meeting history

    DA vote in Boston needed Sept 4

    Rachael Rollins is running for Suffolk County DA on Sept. 4. If you have friends/family who vote there, could you help spread the word? This is an important race. 

    More info here:

    Monday, October 9, 2017

    lynching history in map and memorials

    I posted before about lynching. I recently found the sites below. They are informative and useful for understanding this despicable history of our country:

    EJI's Alabama lynching memorial to confront U.S. history of slavery:

    The Origins of Lynching Culture in the United States:

    Explore EJI's site about Lynching in America:

    This interactive map is so informative:
    (see more history here:

    cultural appropriation

    A neighbor/friend recently shared this link with me:

    In this article, Brianha Joy Gray writes: It’s more helpful to think about exploitation and disrespect than to define cultural “ownership.” 

    I had learned and posted about this topic before. I found this article helpful in Gray's further distinctions on profiting, exploitation, respect, and understanding.

    Indigenous Peoples Day (holiday name change needed)

    "Indigenous Peoples Day is about more than a name change; it’s a refusal to allow the genocide of millions of Indigenous peoples to go unnoticed, and a demand for recognition of Indigenous humanity. Recognizing this day in place of what’s currently known as “Columbus Day” is a way to correct false histories, honor Indigenous peoples, and begin to correct some of the countless wrongs committed against Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (what’s now known as the Americas)."

    Above, and more, from

    I found this link on the site above8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus

    I was astounded by how very different and wrong the history was, that I was taught about Columbus "discovering America." Reading that history link above was not easy. The truth is not easy.

    I hope we can teach our children better than what I was taught.

    We have an opportunity to do some right for the many wrongs done to Indigenous Peoples by changing the name of this holiday today, and changing what history is taught. Sign the petition here and support this cause:

    Cambridge, MA, did it in 2016! Read about it here.

    Saturday, September 30, 2017

    good black news

    I learned of this website with Good Black News from this article:
    What I Told My White Friend When He Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege

    Our mass media has a bias towards white supremacy culture. This website shares with us other info to help us understand and know about Good Black News too.

    implicit bias

    This is another helpful video:

    Vernā Myers’, How Can We Have A More Candid Conversation About Race?


    Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. source
    We have a bias when, rather than being neutral, we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. Thus, we use the term “implicit bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. source

    Related videos: 

    The Talk: (go to July 28)
    My Black is Beautiful

    Bryan Stevenson on ways to fight injustice

    This is a short article by Death row attorney Bryan Stevenson on 4 ways to fight against injustice.

    I was helped by reading it, being reminded to “protect your hope quotient" AND "position ourselves in uncomfortable places and be a witness." Sometimes when I get uncomfortable with how difficult conversations and making a change is, I lose hope. That is how I felt recently (feeling some white fragility after a meeting in Maynard last week). Bryan's words brought some clarity.

    Friday, September 29, 2017

    White Supremacy is not new

    Author Ijeoma Oluo says this and more in her article So You Want To Fight White Supremacy:

    "White supremacy is in our workplace, our school system, our government and our prisons. It is in our books and movies and television. White supremacy has been woven into the fabric of our nation from the moment that white settlers decided that their claim to land was more important than the lives of indigenous people. This is not a new problem. This is America."

    Ijeoma Oluo lists many suggestions in various areas of our lives where we can work to dismantle White Supremacy.

    Here is a 2 page pdf I made (you can print two-sided on one page) with key excerpts from this article and I bulleted the list of suggestions for easier reading and noting: what I am doing now, want to do more of...etc. Shared on my google drive.

    I highly suggest this reading and use of her list of ideas.

    Battalora talks with Matthews about where white people come from

    Philippe SHOCK Matthews talks with Dr. Jacqueline Battalora: Dismantling #WhiteSuperiority in a #Trump Administration from Feb 24, 2017

    Dr. Jacqueline Battalora has a 5-Day Free Ecourse: Where Did “White People” Come From?

    I haven't listened to the Ecourse (yet) but appreciated listening to their conversation and the key points they discussed from it.

    Claudia Rankine's talk on whiteness

    This talk by Claudia Rankine: "On Whiteness" is very good.

    I learned about the term "internalized dominance" to discuss "white privilege" in a different way. I will watch more talks by Dr. Robin DiAngelo to learn more about this alternative wording.

    Eric Foner on confederate monuments and history

    Eric Foner, historian and author of “Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History”  discusses confederate monuments, the role of the historian and the lie of omission with Chris Hedges.

    These are my notes from this video:
    On Contact: Creative Forgetfulness with Eric Foner
    • landscape of denial
    • historical amnesia
    • mythology
    • history that doesn't help us understand the present
    • critical historian
    • we have an obligation as a citizen to take a stand
    • be an active citizen not a bystander

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Act to Increase Diversity in Books

    On my first Movement for Black Lives call (8/14 evening), I volunteered to organize an action of some sort in my local community on the one week anniversary of the protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville. The leaders reminded us that we need to focus a light on local symbols and institutions that support/celebrate white supremacy to show what side we are on…to show we support/need POC and other marginalized show white supremacy is not the world that we want.

    I decided to focus on books. We need more diversity in books! Here are great resources that explain why, give us suggestions of what to do, how we can help, and reading suggestions:

    3 Ways Readers Can Increase Diversity in Publishing

    Diversity: What Can We Do About It? from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

    Children’s Book Council

    We Need Diverse Books

    Please comment below if you will do some action on your own on 8/19...and you can comment on what you will do/did. It can include contacting your town library's head librarian and asking her/him to buy more books by authors of color. It can include buying a book that centers on the experience of POC (People of Color). It can include reading a book to your child that centers on the experience of children of color. You get the idea. Do something new that you haven't tried yet. And then let us know about it. Okay?

    I hope this helps us start/continue a trend that will continue every day we use and think about books.

    Here is my list of favorite books for adult readers who want to learn more about racial justice:

    Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

    • The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist

    • The New Jim Crow (Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) by Michelle Alexander

    • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    Letter from Shaun King about the Current Civil Rights Movement

    I got an email from Shaun King today. He led the Injustice Boycott that I was a part of this year. Below is some of what he said:

    Like thousands of you, I was following Charlottesville very closely. In almost real-time I saw the white supremacist deliberately drive his car, using it as a brutal weapon, directly into a diverse crowd of men and women who were literally just crossing the street. Soon we learned that one amazing woman, Heather Heyer, was killed in this attack.

    I learned that Heather was “one of us” far more than I ever understood. Heather Heyer was actually a part of the Injustice Boycott and participated in our direct actions against police brutality and mass incarceration here in New York. The world is already small, but the world of activists and people willing to use their time and privilege to fight back against oppression is even smaller. Learning that Heather was a part of our tribe, and fought against injustice alongside us, made her loss all the more real for me.

    I see Heather as a martyr in this modern day movement against injustice and oppression. I’ve said it many times, but if you ever wondered what it would be like to be alive in the Civil Rights Movement, you are living in that time right now! And if you ever wondered who you would be or what you would do in those circumstances, the best indication is what you did this weekend. If you watched and said nothing, if you normally watch and say nothing, if you only share an occasional Facebook post here and there, and that is the extent of your activism, then that is an indicator of who you’d be if you were alive in the 1960s. Because we are LIVING IN THAT TIME right here, right now.

    We cannot allow Heather’s death to be in vain. She was a brave, generous, courageous soul and we would do well to mimic her life. I am convinced that this nation is far more unstable and problematic than most of us are willing to admit, but it appears things may grow worse before they get better. But I want you to hear this from me – they will get better because we will fight for them to get better. And we will win. I believe that with all of my heart.

    (FYI: Injustice Boycott members helped play an essential role in Raise The Age in New York….helped play an essential role in New York announcing it is going to shut down Rikers Island…played an important role in Seattle announcing it would divest from Wells Fargo…together, have raised millions of dollars for causes and families and victims to give them all the support they need.)