gaudior: (Default)
I love America. I love the landscapes, and the food, and the music, and the cities. And the people, even the ones who want me dead, or at least my marriage dissolved.

And also, my country was founded on genocide and slavery. And then the people who profited from those things came up with dehumanizing philosophies to justify them, and those philosophies were written into our laws and our religions and are still there now.

I have been fighting those philosophies for my whole life, and as I get older, I just fight harder. And in this, I am joining a line of heroes going back to the country’s founding and before, who have been fighting—and sometimes winning—all along. They are my proud heritage, and none of us would have to do this if the country weren’t so fucked up in the first place.

One of the founding documents of our country says that all men—men—are created equal. The other says that some men are only worth 3/5ths of other men.

I would not be alive if this country did not exist to give refuge to my ancestors. This country would not exist if millions of people had not been killed and tortured. I am not sorry to be alive.

It’s complicated.

It's home.

So I’m gonna take today to honor that complicatedness. I’m gonna eat some veggie burgers and corn-on-the-cob, and spend time with friends and family, and watch my baby’s very first fireworks. And I’m gonna call the president of the United States and tell him he’s being a shithead and to not take away people’s healthcare. And maybe then listen to Hamilton.

Let’s keep enjoying the good things about America, and let’s keep fighting the bad things. Let’s see what we can do to make this country the place it pretends to be—the place it wishes it were. Let’s celebrate, and rest, and resist.

It’s the patriotic thing to do.
gaudior: (Default)
So, I was talking to [personal profile] rushthatspeaks the other day about how everything the Republicans are doing makes much more sense if you assume their fathers beat them as children.
Read more... )
gaudior: (Default)
So I have been... not exactly enjoying Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, but getting a lot out of it.

One thing that has become clear is that a big chunk of American history looks like this:

White People: *do appalling things to Black people*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God, this thing we've done is unforgivable.

Less Philosophical-Type White People: Oh, come on. How can something this profitable be wrong?

Black People: Hey, cut that out.

Philosophical-Type White People: OH NO SEE THEY'RE ANGRY I SAID THEY'D BE ANGRY OH NOES!

Less Philosophical-Type White People: Shit.

White People: *do MORE appalling things to Black people to try to reduce their power and ability to take revenge*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God...

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's not funny, but it is kind of amazing how early this showed up-- both the stereotype of the Angry Black Person and the alternate stereotype of the Supernaturally Loving and Forgiving Black Person-- the White people's fear and hope in the face of White guilt. None of which considers the possibility that Black people might possibly have some priority other than White people, that Black people might be more interested in living their lives, recovering from trauma, and, I don't know, writing books and petting dogs and taking long thoughtful walks on a cloudy day.

White Americans have never been good at not centering ourselves in the narrative. But this particular manifestation is particularly ugly, because real people get hurt for the sake of protection from figments of projected guilt. And... gods damn it.

--R
gaudior: (Default)
I'd been getting a bit frustrated with how little I seemed to have to say to my Senators about the godawful politics, because Warren and Markey are both very strong Democrats who were generally already doing what I would ask them to do.

But then I came across a blog post talking about the vote-a-rama. This would give us a tactic to take to prevent (or at least delay) the passage of the horrifying AHCA, even though Senate Republicans are planning to use reconciliation to only need 51 votes.

So I wrote the following:

Dear Senator Warren,

I am writing to ask you to personally propose 100 amendments during the vote-a-rama phase of the reconciliation process of the AHCA, if Senate Republicans do indeed try to pass it using reconciliation. The AHCA is an abomination which would cost MILLIONS of American lives if it were put into law-- we won't know exactly how many millions if Senate Republicans manage to push through their version of the bill before the CBO report on it comes out.

We may not yet have enough votes to defeat it, but I want you to make them work for it. I want you to propose amendments so that Republican Senators will have to admit to EVERY SINGLE callous and life-destroying element of the bill. I want you to make sure that we have soundbites of them showing how little they care about their constituents, which we can use against them in 2018. I want you to make them say out loud how many Americans they're willing to kill for the sake of corporate profits.

This will be grueling and exhausting, but I believe that nevertheless, you will persist.

Gratefully,
[Gaudior]


If nothing else, delay should give people in red states more time to work on their Senators, and more time for the CBO report to come out showing just how bad the bill is. You can contact your Senators here.

Let's see what we can do.

--R
gaudior: (Default)
So, a thing I've been working on lately is switching my thinking from "some people are better than others due to inherent things about them" (e.g. intelligence, race, gender, education, attractiveness, etc) to "people take good and bad actions." It is remarkably difficult, despite the fact that I've WANTED to think this way my entire life, and often believed I basically was. But so much of our culture is based on ranking-- "I don't have to feel bad about myself, because at least I'm better than THAT person." It's hard to notice all the times I do it, and hard to break out of when I do.

Anyone have thoughts about how to shift mindsets?

Welp.

May. 19th, 2017 07:12 am
gaudior: (Default)
So, who else spent yesterday constantly refreshing Twitter and the Associated Press with a mix of excitement and dread?

Mostly excitement, for me-- I mean, I have spent the last three decades hearing that the American government is based on "a series of checks and balances" to keep things from ever getting too dire. They are very dire now indeed, but if those checks are starting to get their balancing on, that would be pretty great.

Otherwise, I get to come to terms with the notion that the entire country is run primarily by racist, sexist oligarchs who would do anything to preserve their power, and that only outright revolution will actually stop them.

It's just... I cannot get used to how many different genres the next few years could be. And how rapidly it goes back and forth, which one is most likely.

I like the one where this is all the lead-up to the rise of the diverse and rainbow-strewn socialist utopia, but while I'll keep working for that one, I'm not holding my breath.

--R

Reading: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
gaudior: (be the change)
This is a call for people to sign a petition to give people the option of donating to NASA when they file their taxes. It could raise tremendous amounts of money for an organization which does important work, but is sadly underfunded. Go sign!

--R
gaudior: (be the change)
I was talking to B about foreign policy, and had an insight about one way of viewing world politics. It's the view I've held more-or-less unconsciously for many years, and I don't know how relevant it feels to other people, but I thought I'd share.

Namely: As a white American, I would talk about how we (whites and Americans) oppress everyone else in the world-- how our actions (currently and historically) are responsible for the vast amount of misery out there, and how other people's hatred of whites and/or Americans is completely justified because of what we've done.

Leaving aside for the moment the truth of this, I am struck by the fact that as a worldview, it can be tremendously reassuring. Because it suggests that whites and/or Americans are so powerful that we can cause all the pain in the world.

In my opinion, most worldviews are designed to perform the unconscious functions of making us feel both Good and Safe. The universe is huge, full of overwhelming amounts of information, and innately dangerous (we're all gonna die, sooner or later). We rely on our worldviews to make sense of it and our place in it, in a way that lets us feel secure enough to function. And if we need to distort or ignore some facts to feel that security, we'll generally do so for as long as we possibly can.

The worldview "whites and/or Americans are evil oppressors" fills these needs neatly. It would let me feel that I was Good because I, as a liberal, saw that racism/imperialism is bad, and so I felt virtuous about wanting to work against them. But it also, without my realizing it, let me feel Safe because no matter what I could do, I was still part of this immensely powerful group. If our group is so strong that it can do all this damage-- well, then it's also strong enough to protect me, keep me safe from all the bad things out here. I might disagree with other whites and/or Americans, but doing so could not remove from me the power they/we hold.

Now, all worldviews may be flawed in this way (certainly, the view, "Americans are good, everyone else is bad, and we're the strongest and can beat them up!" also makes us feel both Good and Safe, but has definite drawbacks). But I am troubled by this particular flaw because I believe it works directly against the goal it claims to be attempting.

Namely: if I felt safe because our group is powerful enough to cause all the ills of the world-- then I could not feel safe if other groups gained power. My conscious desire for people of color and/or developing countries to become empowered went directly against my unconscious desire to feel safe.

This has many manifestations. One, as B pointed out, was my tendency to assume that, for example, the terrorist attack on September 11th was caused solely by response to American oppression-- not by, for example, the influence by the Saudi Arabian monarchy on the rest of the region-- or, indeed, anything else being done by the people living in the Middle East. I assumed that terrorists were "misguided" or angry about American injustices toward them-- because that is so much less frightening than the idea that people might have a real ideology opposed to ours, and the willingness to act on it to defeat us.

Another manifestation (one which I don't think I did so much, but which I recognize in other people) is one of white allies in anti-racism work basically trying to take over the movement-- because they believe that they need to rescue the poor people of color from their horrible plight. This leads to white allies not listening to POC, putting forth solutions to non-existent problems while ignoring the real ones, complaining about how POC would make more progress if they would just change their "tone," etc. (I also notice this particularly in disability activism, where disabled people saying they want the kinds of help they want, not the kinds that non-disabled people assume they need, are often met with considerable resistance and accusations of ingratitude.)

Now, it is very important to note that this does not mean that white and American people don't have a lot of power and the responsibility for tremendous misery, both historically and currently. We do, and I think it is incredibly important to work to dismantle that abusive power.

My point is that if we do not look at our unconscious motivations for doing that work, we may find ourselves accidentally working against our stated goals. If we cling to White Guilt, it can keep us from hearing the voices of the people of color who have the best grasp of what is actually happening. That guilt is a marvelous unconscious compromise; it lets us imagine our group to be all-powerful, but absolves us of the possibility of doing anything real about the harm we do. We can both be all-powerful (Evil White Americans oppress the WHOLE WORLD!), and powerless (we can never make up for all the Evil our group has done, so there's no point in trying-- and anyway, it's not our fault, because we are good liberals!).

The better position, I think, is one of having an awareness of exactly how much power we do and don't have. As a white American, I do have a great deal of privilege, and can use it to make the world a little better or a little worse. But people from other countries, and people of color, also have power. They look at their own situations and make their own decisions about the best route to take. And on the other hand, America is not immune from others' actions and beliefs-- September 11th was not our idea, it was genuinely people wanting to hurt us because they hated us. Everyone has some power-- not all, not none-- and a realistic worldview must realize and accept that.

I am not Safe because I am a white American. Nor am I Good for thinking that racism and imperialism are bad. I am a vulnerable, imperfect person, like everyone else. And it is only together, as a united group of vulnerable, imperfect people, that we can change the world.

--R
gaudior: (utena/anthy)
Please answer "yes" only if this is a genuine preference-- you like it better than any of the options offered in the previous poll.

[Poll #1453077]
gaudior: (utena/anthy)
I was talking to a (moderate, politics-wise) friend this evening about gay marriage. He advanced the idea that everyone, straight and gay, should have civil unions, which include all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, but don't use the word. Instead, the word "marriage" should be reserved for religious institutions, which can then decide for themselves whether they will perform same-sex marriages.

This is not a new idea. This is, in fact, an idea which I myself advanced early in the debate, and someone told me, "No, that's a bad idea-- no-one will vote for it."

But it just keeps coming up. I've heard the idea proposed half-a-dozen times over the last few years, always by relatively moderate people, all of whom seem to think that they've come up with it on their own.

And I do know a number of arguments as to why people want to insist on actual legalized gay marriage (not the least of which is that it seems entirely likely to happen, and soon)(and all the difficulties involved in things like, say, Catholic hospitals not wanting to allow unionized queer couples visitation and adoption on their premises). But I find myself curious about the numbers.

So, o my (admittedly biased) sample:

[Poll #1452891]

And this raises the question-- if it turned out that a majority did favor this plan, should same-sex marriage advocates change tactics? Or not?

Discuss!

--R

(Upon request, I have added the following questions, for people who like the status quo in New Jersey, here. That's, civil unions for queers, legal marriages for straight people. Unfortunately, lj will not allow me to revise a poll, or add another poll to a pre-existing entry-- otherwise, I would edit this into the original.)



ETA: Okay, so, on further reflection, I clearly did not think this entry through very thoroughly at all. It is, as many people have pointed out, a bad poll, poorly worded, and unlikely to get results which are in any way representative of the general population. If I were being a real social scientist, this would have been my test-run, in which I found out all the things wrong with the poll before revising it, running it by another test pool, and then taking it to a large, anonymous, randomized sample, preferably with multiple methods of reaching participants of a good range of demographics.

Which was clearly not my intent. Honestly, I just wanted an ideas-check-- "Hey, I've heard this idea from a bunch of people, but I don't see any moves towards it-- howcome? Is it a bad idea, and if so, why, so that the next half-dozen times someone proposes it to me, I'll have ideas about what to say?" Or it might have been possible that it was a good idea, which for some reason no-one had proposed, in which case, I might have wanted to take more action. But I didn't have a real agenda besides finding out what people thought, and looking for more ideas.

So, my apologies for taking so long to respond to people's interesting and insightful comments-- I was somewhat overwhelmed by just how many responses I got! But. Onwards.

--R
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