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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want all to thrive in

Monday, July 30, 2018

My first newsletter: Newsletter #1 July 27th, 2018


This is a copy of my first newsletter! If you want to be on my list, please email me at ButWhatCanIDo2018 at gmail or respond to this post!

1)      SHARING ACTION(S)

Keene, New Hampshire: July 25th, 6pm

Last month when on route to womyn’s land in Vermont, I stopped at the Keene YMCA to work out. My ‘normal’ routine is running on the treadmill for a half hour keeping my heart rate above 120, stretching, and swimming if there’s a pool with lap swim lanes and I can convince myself to get into the water!

When I returned to my truck, which was strategically parked by the front door, I noticed an older white man staring at the “End White & Male War against Black, Brown, Muslim, Native, Asian, Immigrants, Womyn, Mother Earth” back of my truck. I approach cautiously – this is New England – but positively, greeting him with a broad smile and a “how do you like it?”

He is very enthusiastic himself and asks me if he can post the pics he’s already taken to the internet. I encourage him to do so. And I ask him about what folks are busy doing here in New Hampshire. He identifies the furor over separating babies from parents at the border as directing most of the present-day actions in Keene.

I tell him about my book and ask if he’ll set a reading up for me here. He then tells me about the Monadock Progressive Alliance and promises to connect us – which he did a few days later!

So today I’ve returned to Keene in order to gather with about 15 or so of the mostly white, one brown man awesome activists of the Monadock Progressive Alliance (MPA) where I’m told that Keene is the Austin of New Hampshire, and I’ve heard that Austin is the Berkeley of Texas. Hmmm.

We sit together around four large tables as we share food, past and current actions as well as future plans. Plus I get to do a shortened version of my reading!

“Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) is primary on the extensive list of work they are doing. But “Get Out the Vote” must not be the end – it sounds so final, doesn’t it? I think we need to add something to that slogan like “GOTV AND Follow Thru: Keep the Vote True” or something that indicates we’re not done by voting but we’re beginning by voting, merely beginning. It’s like the plug slipping out from a mother-to-be’s vagina, just the easy beginning, signifying the real work is about to start.

I remember Obama, during his first few weeks in office, stated that he needed to look out the white house windows and see the people present holding signs and having his back. But instead, we GOTV, elected a Black man, and then went back to our lives-as-usual counting on him to do our work fixing our country.

Activists working to save our environment were also strongly present and several upcoming dates for conferences and actions were shared. (See the MPA website http://www.monadproalliance.org/) and/or facebook page).

Immigration and ending the separation of children from their parents is also a driving force for MPA. So I had a further opportunity to exemplify the point in my book that states most of us, especially white people, do not know our real history nor how it continues today.

We can use the shock of some folks in our country when witnessing this cruel practice to uncover our real history, as this separating of children from parents of color has been practiced since white men invaded this land: grabbing children from mothers and community who had the nerve to survive genocide, and sending them far away off to “indian schools” when they were a mere 5 years old; and the practice during slavery of selling babies and children to be enslaved far away from their enslaved parents.

And how presently, even before we learned of the mass detaining of immigrant children in facilities far away from their mothers and fathers, this practice of the snatching of children and imprisonment of youth has been institutionalized in our country in the form of juvenile detention ‘centers’ or ‘halls’, ‘juvie’ prisons, once again disproportionately impacting Black and brown families; not to mention the placing of children in foster homes, the majority of Native children being placed in white homes. And now we’re hearing stories of brown babies that have been stolen from immigrant mothers and placed again into white homes.

I was able to conclude with the Salmon Sacrifice story and how when we act for justice and survival of life on Mother Earth, we are not really ‘sacrificing’ but are gaining our humanity.

Everyone trudged out to the food co-op’s parking lot, where my truck was parked, to take group photos. Plus I sold a few books!


2)      CALENDAR

My next reading is at the marvelous Bloodroot Restaurant, 41 years of creating radical feminist gathering space sharing vegan and vegetarian food! Selma and Noel, our fierce and brave foremothers, are also writers themselves as well as creative chefs! And they provide jobs for immigrant and refugee womyn escaping violence of u.s. fueled wars.

I’m deeply moved and grateful to have this opportunity. This is a place where the womyn’s revolution of was fomented and passed on by these womyn as well as other visionary sheras like Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Mary Daly. To think I might be in a seat one of them sat in first! I’m rendered speechless with joy and wonder!

Here’s hoping I’ll be able to speak, if not partake again in the wonderful brunch 11:30-2:30 before my reading, this Sunday, July 29th in Bridgeport Connecticut!

I’ll be heading off to Media PA and then to Pittsburgh PA for the first of August: I want to meet up with the Grannies Resist caravan that is heading from NYC to the detention Center in Texas for a 24 hour vigil protesting the separating of children from their parents at the border. I’ve decided not to join the caravan – although I’m deeply appreciative the grandmothers are embarking on this action. If they were staying at the detention center until this horrific practice has ended – as well as if they were making the connection with the everyday imprisonment of our youth – I would feel more inclined to put my book readings on the back burner and join them. Or if I was inclined to take responsibility and make these actions happen but I cannot be deterred from my present mission.

The rest of August I am setting up readings in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Stay tuned – or if you’re in any of the states, please email me so I can come do a reading/gathering/discussion in your neck of the woods!

3)      (RE)DEFINING THE PROBLEMS AND CREATING SOLUTIONS

a)      The Problem

It is magic really when I get together with other womyn and come up with creative strategies for implementing change.

Such an opportunity arose a couple months ago when one of the awesome New Jersey radical feminist lesbian activists I connected with was a white librarian. She’s very committed to eliminating racism and sexism in children’s books and has attempted to get other (mostly white) librarians on board.

When suggesting to her white staff that the library take the books (treasured by most white people) off the shelf that teach our children racism and sexism – and our children have to be carefully taught both – the staff balked and refused in the name of declaring such an action ‘censorship’.

If you’ve read my book, then you’re familiar with the concept of “Blank Checks of Inaction” that we give ourselves and this embracing of anti-censorship as having a higher priority in white lives than the eliminating of racism and sexism, is such a blank check. I can then say I cannot take action to prevent or eliminate teaching racism/sexism found in my treasured childhood books because I believe that is censorship.

There are several ways in which we teach children, from toddlers to teens and on, racism or sexism. One way of course is by the omission of womyn and the omission of males of color, making a child see that whites and males are important and valued, superior even while they are unseen and inferior.

Or when ‘white’ and ‘male’ is understood as when the race and/or sex of every character that is not white or male is identified while white and male is assumed for everyone else. Or when white characters are identified by describing their physical appearance, like blond with long hair, but the person of color is identified by describing their Black or brown race.

Another rampant way is by promoting both racial and sexual (gender) stereotypes of both womyn and of males of color.

And yet a fourth way is name-calling.

b)      The Solution

We came up with the idea of creating a “Stereotype Corner” in the library (altho it might end of much bigger than the missing or anti-stereotype section) and placing those beloved (by some) books like “Little House on the Prairie” where the white father claims ‘the only good indian is a dead indian’, “Babar the Elephant” and “Pocahontas”, etc.

So much can be done with such a corner: information can be printed on a large piece of cardboard, giving children (and adults) the skills to identify racism and sexism. There can be a bulletin board with cards for printing the names of books and authors and then an explanation of the racism and/or sexism found in this book.

Children can be invited to read every book with an eye to ‘uncovering’ the stereotypes in a book, or to identifying who is present and who is missing in a story, or to listing the positive and negative ways dark and light, Black and white, female and male are portrayed in the book.

And, on the other hand, to identifying the anti-racism and anti-sexism in the book.

The same invitation could be extended to adults. When I read a book, it is with a pencil so I can write in lead the racism and sexism I uncover – for the next reader(s). I also try to find the author’s email to let her know what I’ve witnessed in her book.

Contests could be run: who can identify the most stereotypes, which books are really hurtful especially to children of color and which books enforce white and/or male superiority.

This corner can also be set up in school libraries and/or classrooms as well.