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.


Whiteness:
(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 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: C19helpsquad.com.

    ______________________________________________________

    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
    Housing
    Environment
    Health
    Food
    Education
    Ways to research these and other charities