Tag Archives: Intersectionality

How to Love Radically in the Era of Trump

6 Feb

radical-loveI have been struggling, along with 2/3 of the nation, since November. I have been fearful, hurt, and worried for ALL targeted communities. For those who insultingly made this about “Hillary lost, get over it,” you missed the point, quite sadly. This was about resisting a fascist regime, which we are now under, as evidenced by the over 20 Executive Orders delivered by Trump — as evidenced by the myriad lies spread by Trump and his team (please don’t make up attacks, Kellyanne).  This was about supporting a billionaire bully who makes fun of people with disabilities  and says it is acceptable to grab women by their genitals.

And so I struggle. I struggle with how to be loving to Trump supporters, some of whom are family members — family members who have decidedly voted against me, my family, my friends, and the earth. Yet I must maintain that we have to stay in community; we have to operate from our hearts first; we have to make space for those who are hurting us. I STRUGGLE!

I struggle every day to make this space for people who are deliberately oppressing so many. It is hard to love someone when they are punching you or shooting at you or sustaining systems of oppression. Moreover, I don’t want to become like those who are oppressing us! I think our individual and collective ability to RESIST with every fiber of our being and simultaneously love and make space for Trump supporters is Radical Love. I would love to take credit for this, but at least two of my friends for over 30 years, Jen, and DeShawn helped me here.

I feel obligated to share some survival tips and invite you to share how you are surviving a world gone mad.

  1. Take a break from news and social media.
  2. If you are able to, binge watch some tv that brings you joy. Here, I would strongly recommend the Netflix remake of One Day At A Time. My friend Gita recommended this to me, and Robert and I are loving it! It has a Latina cast and addresses social issues and is FUN! Rita Moreno is in it along with Justina Machado, and I think I am in love with Isabella Gómez. 
  3. With intentionality, seek out friends, family, and family of choice who feed your soul.

Finally, join me in a commitment to Radical Love! I commit to being in and operating from a place of love, while I know there are days I will fail at this. When I fail at this, I will not shame myself. I will continue to work towards building community, solidarity, and find ways to both resist this current fascist regime and love those who are engaged in supporting a world of fear, hate, and oppression. If this sounds or feels contradictory to you, all I can say is: I’m able to hold a lot of tension around being messy — this work we do towards social justice/transformative justice is MESSY! We don’t do this work in isolation and we will not complete it, but we must be engaged!

I invite you to share how you are navigating currently. What is working and what is not working?

Standing in love and solidarity,

Michael

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MLK Day of Service 2017: Celebrate Rep. John Lewis

16 Jan

john-lewisMr. Trump’s attack on civil rights hero John Lewis certainly underscores and unequivocally proves the need to celebrate our civil rights pioneers. I had the great honor of actually getting to meet Rep. John Lewis when he spoke at the Atlanta Girl’s School at a convocation we held. While I had always loved and admired Rep. Lewis, and I was fortunate enough to live in his district for many years, after his speech, all I could think of was: I want all children to turn out like this man!

Rep. John Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and endured such physical assaults and hate during the civil rights movement. Yet he emerged as this beautiful soul who has done nothing but promote peace, love, and equity for targeted populations — this has been his life’s work. To see him attacked by Mr. Trump who only has a legacy of avarice, mendacity, and divisiveness, hurts my heart more than I can say. The old rules of human decency seem to no longer apply. The United States seems to only reward sociopathic billionaires now who tweet late into the nighttime how their feelings have been hurt.

With the ascension/anointment of Mr. Trump, we have seen how his supporters are emboldened to thwart human decency. Case in point, Biloxi, Mississippi has renamed MLK Day to “Observance of Great Americans Day.” Thanks, Biloxi. You have made it painfully clear that only white heterosexual men are welcomed to your white city. This new celebration will also celebrate Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I think I just spat up a little in my mouth. More evidence of how emboldened Trump supporters have become, we witness Republican Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter calling Lewis “a racist pig.” Mr. Hunter, you clearly do not understand the word racism. Please step down from your position of power.

I grow exceedingly tired of Trump supporters including Trump’s bitch (NBC) and famous idiots like Nicole Kidman who keep telling us: “We have to trust Trump and support him.”  Why on earth would any targeted person/community trust this man, when he keeps appointing White Supremacists, Homophobes, Misogynists, billionaires to his cabinet? Help me understand why on earth should we trust him.

I am inviting all of us in the United States to reflect around our own racism and encourage conversations around issues of racial disparities and systems of inequities and oppression. I also invite us to think about how we see our country. For all of us white folk, now is the time for us to stand up against racism — to speak out against and resist those who continue to participate in the system of racism. I am asking for us to become activists and NOT to speak for nor speak over black voices. Find out what it means to be an ally. If you are not speaking out against Trump and against racism then you are colluding with the oppressor. Mr. Trump just cancelled his MLK Day visit to the National African American Museum “because he is too busy.” What kind of message does that send to all of us about his commitment to heal a divided nation and to address systemic racism? If you need to cry here, please do. I know many of us are crying for what the future holds in store.

While I identify as a queer white man, I would argue racism in the United States is most definitely a queer issue, it is a feminist issue, it is a black issue, it is a trans issue, for the intersectionality here makes it an issue for all people living in the United States.

Taking Action: Here we have an opportunity as white people to leverage our power and privilege for black lives. I hope all of us are engaging in conversations that address issues of access, power, and barriers. Can we look for spaces where white people can stand back and stand in solidarity with black people? Can we look for spaces to ensure more black voices are being heard? Please resist and do not normalize a Trump administration. I leave you with this clip from a show called Black-ish.

Trump Avoids Devouring Children, Wins Debate

26 Sep

trump-loves-childrenYet another disturbing week, as I had to hear Donald Trump decry the upcoming debate as being rigged against him. Trump, always a stranger to the truth, declared that he was at a disadvantage because NBC’s Lester Holt is the moderator and is a liberal Democrat. (Fact Check: Lester Holt is actually a registered Republican–a black Republican, which is just a bit too much to unpack here in this article.)

I would also remind people that NBC seems to embrace Trump at every turn. Case in point: Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s The Tonight Show was paling around with Trump and messing up his hair — oh, that wacky duo, what fun! Seriously? What the hell? Thank you, Mr. Fallon for helping to normalize racism, misogyny, homophobia, and hate. Another example, Saturday Night Live welcomed Trump to host — again thank you NBC for helping to normalize deplorable behavior! Let us not forget NBC’s Matt Lauer’s interview with Trump and with Clinton. You know you have sullied yourself beyond repair Mr. Lauer, when Fox News congratulates you on what a fine job you did.

More concerning for me, in addition to the pathological liar Trump is, is that there is a disgraceful double standard already at play against Hillary Clinton. I do agree with Trump that the debate is rigged, but I fear it is to his benefit. All Trump has to do to be declared a winner for this debate is to accomplish the following: not bite off the head of a small child while on stage, not refer to his penis and small hands, and finally (and this is a big ask) not throw one of his usual temper tantrums.  Yes, the bar has been set quite low here for Trump. Despite this embarrassing standard for a presidential nominee, I suspect it maybe difficult for him to not present himself as the bullying, bloviating, bigot that he is.

Yes, we already know that Hillary has many tricks up her sleeve. I have actually heard that she will be using facts and actual experience to draw from for the debate! How very dare she? Where the bar has been set for Trump, perhaps just an inch above the ground, the bar for Hillary has been set exponentially and disproportionately higher. However will she combat the horrific scandal of Pneumonia Gate? Can you imagine someone getting sick and then taking off a few days to recuperate? If that is not a scandal, then I don’t know what one is. Clinton is up against over 30 years of being vilified. Sadly, millenials only know the narrative created and produced by right-wing conservatives who have made it their life’s work to pillory Hillary Clinton. Here is a link to 19 pages of lies told by Trump.

My hope is that the debate is not a one man circus for Trump, but rather we can see that this is not who we want to lead our country; that Trump is not who we want as the ambassador for the world to see. This is an opportunity for Clinton to draw from her successful career and address that she is in fact exceedingly qualified for the job of President. Let us hope that the media, famously obsessed with false standards of “equivalence”, focus on presidential standards and not ratings fodder.

 

Call The Midwife and Social Justice

27 May

CallTheMidwife_S5_BLUFor those who follow this blog, you know I am a devoted fan of Call the Midwife.  My husband and I just finished watching the conclusion to season five and wow! While the story is quite different from the show I fell in love with during seasons one through three — where they were drawing from Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s — season five proved to be an amazing journey. The season fully explores topics of social justice — issues of power, race, misogyny. In fact, season five seems to be the point of reinvention. This is where the show decided to really take on themes of that are sadly still relevant today such as queerness, the lesbian love story, and poverty, and how differently women have to navigate the world and how difficult it can be for women to govern their own bodies.

From the start, season five addresses powerful topics and does not shy away from where and when people in the “helping profession” cause harm. Such is the case in episode two, which deals with breast feeding or using formula. What is lovely is that our dear Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) is able to offer some repair work with a woman who was unable to breast feed. Episode three was very difficult to watch and deals with how we treat pregnant women who are not married and also takes on the issue of abortion. I strongly recommend this episode, as here in 2016 women still face so many of these same barriers. Of course, if we then look at intersecting identities, we look at how women of color and queer women may face even more barriers.

The show also takes on sex work, poverty, and the clandestine lesbian affair between Patsy and Delia. We also see the advent of the pill and how we look at women’s reproductive health and choice. I have to say that every episode is very intense and well done. I will continue to use many of the episodes in social work classes I teach, as they address what good social work can look like and what intersectionality is.

While I am exceedingly sad that our Pam Ferris has left the show, and I still miss Chummy (Miranda Hart), I am thrilled that Call The Midwife will return for a sixth season.  Rumor has it that our Chummy will return. I don’t know of another show that takes on social issues the way this show does, especially around the disparities of how we treat women. Well Done! Stay tuned for Season Six.

Earth Day 2016: United By the Soil Beneath Our Feet

22 Apr

globalsoilweekToday is Earth Day, celebrated by nearly 200 nations and an important chance to look at the world we share and celebrate better ways to live in healthy cooperation. This isn’t just a day about recycling or public transportation — although every effort to improve our world helps. It’s a time to reflect on the fact that the billions of people who live on this planet fundamentally walk the same ground, breathe the same air, drink the same water. We are all connected.

I would like to thank Melody Travers of the Global Soil Forum for bringing a powerful program to my attention. Global Soil Week, timed to coincide with Earth Day and Earth Week activities around the world. This program, sponsored by IASS Potsdam and an impressive array of international organizations, speaks to my heart. Their work is about ensuring healthy soil, a key component of healthy living that is often overlooked. As Ms. Travers observes:

Our soils which are our communal life-support system, a common good for humanity, are under immense pressure to produce an increasing amount of food, energy, and raw materials. Soil degradation continues unabated in many countries, resulting in devastating losses of biodiversity and threatening the provision of ecosystem services such as soil fertility for food production, groundwater recharge or carbon sequestration. Thus we need to protect the living soil from rapid and continuous large scale degradation going on all over the world.

This year, Global Soil Week is promoting its efforts through the international  release of the song Golden Grounds. Please visit the website and listen to this anthem of interconnectedness. Spend some time looking at the amazing information collected by this important program. I am thrilled to see the celebration of inclusive development, the focus on poverty and hunger, the acknowledgment of maldistribution of resources, including the very land on which we live.

We are all connected on this weary world. Let’s work together to nurture it and each other on our respective journeys.

Black History Month 2016: Black Lives Matter

1 Feb

black-lives-matterThis is now the sixth year that Social Justice For All (SJFA) has celebrated Black History Month. Sadly, the past year has proven unequivocally why we still need Black History Month. I can only hope all of us in the United States are doing some reflection around our own racism and encouraging conversations around issues of racial disparities and systems of inequities and oppression. I also hope as we have these courageous conversations we have a better understanding of what racism is.

In the wake of Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, and all of the other cities where black voices are being silenced, we have an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations around race and racism.  I hope all of us who identify as white have some discomfort as we look at how disproportionately black lives are subjected to police brutality or murder — how all of us should be mourning Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Artago Damon Howard, Jeremy Lett, Trayvon Martin, Roy Nelson, Miguel Espinal, Anthony Ashford, and all of the other unarmed black lives lost. It is with profound sadness that I note the statistic (most likely under-reported) that police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, more than any other race. I find it more than difficult to believe that systemic, institutional, and individual racism did not have a hand in these deaths.

While I identify as a queer white man, I would argue this horrific part of American History is most definitely a queer issue, it is a feminist issue, it is a black issue, it is a trans issue, for the intersectionality here makes it an issue for all people living in the United States.

Equity and Equality are still just a dream when 13% of the people in our country identify as African American (we know this percentage is not accurate because of the many barriers that prevent some African Americans from filling out the census) and far fewer than this are represented in most walks of life. Sadly, the places where African Americans are over-represented include poverty, dropout rates, and incarceration, further evidence that institutionalized oppression still plays a major role in how things work in America. In states like Alabama, African Americans that are or were incarcerated lose their right to vote for the rest of their lives – so much for the 14th Amendment.

I would love to see a point in history when we don’t need Black History, Women’s History, or LGBT History Months. I don’t see that happening until we have a level playing field, which would require eradicating racism, misogyny, and homophobia. This also requires that we see accurate representation in history books and the media of Blacks, Women, and LGBT folk. I can only hope that all of these targeted populations can find ways to build community and work together around issues of equity and equality.

Taking Action: Here we have an opportunity as white people to leverage our power and privilege for black lives. I hope all of us are engaging in conversations that address issues of access, power, and barriers. Can we look for spaces where white people can stand back and stand in solidarity with black people? Can we look for spaces to ensure more black voices are being heard? Please vote and think about the candidate you are voting for this year for President.

LGBT Pride and History Month 2014: Harry Hay

26 Jun

hay5Today I would like to honor and celebrate the late Harry Hay.  Hay, whom many consider the founder of the Gay Rights movement died in October of 2002.  Hay understood intersectionality, as he advocated not only for LGBT rights, but also for the Labor movement, and for Native American civil rights. Hay founded the Mattachine Society, a leftist gay liberation organization which worked for the civil rights of homosexuals during the 1950s.  The Mattachine Society was tied to the Community Party during the age of McCarthyism here in the United States, which made it difficult to secure consistent leadership.  Many members left the society in fear of the dire actions being carried out by McCarthy’s henchmen.

Unlike other gay liberation movements, Hay strongly resisted the move towards assimilation.  Like many gay men, Hay succumbed to societal pressure to deny his identity and try to adopt the identity of being heterosexual.  This attempt led him to marrying Anita Platky.  The couple adopted two children and later divorced, for Hay could no longer manage the pretense of being heterosexual. Sadly, 60 years later, we still see people engaging in heterosexual marriages due to the overwhelming societal pressure to be “straight.”  Here is a perfect example of how the liberation of LGBT people is directly tied to the liberation of our heterosexual brothers and sisters and is connected to the liberation of other targeted populations.  I know my own narrative and activism as a gay man helped to pave the way for my activism around other social justice issues, such as eradicating racism, misogyny, and poverty.

Hay’s first male partner was none other than the amazing civil rights leader Will Geer, whom many remember only for his role as the grandfather on the television show the Waltons. My husband and I loved Geer in the  1954 film adaptation of Salt of the Earth — not a trip to chuckle town, but a great film about social justice racism, and poverty.

Years later, Hay and his partner John Burnside would look to the Mattacine Society and Native American cultures that revered gays for inspiration to start the Radical Faeries in 1979. Today, I am aware of two Radical Faerie communes that still exist; one in Tennessee and one here in Oregon.

Harry Hay was a true pioneer — a bold speaker of his personal truth who demanded that everyone be afforded the right to live openly, honestly, and safely. Justly called the “Father of Gay Liberation,” he is a person to whom we all owe a continued debt today.

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