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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 steaming 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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Response to Tina

My response is too long to post under comments so here it is: i wrote this 12/12/2011 on my way to oakland from d.c.:

sorry this has taken me so long - and i don't have time to do this 'condition' (privilege) justice - to respond re:privilege: that of the people who sleep on the street because they have no other choice and those who choose to sleep on the street.

i think everyone - especially those who point the finger at the 1% and are trying to hold them accountable - needs to be aware of and responsible for our privilege.

in this case, on the plaza, i was attempting to develop and use another language upheld by other values when talking about "stealing" and "them" and "us". i was attempting to disrobe the very thinly cloaked racism and classism i was witnessing among those who chose to occupy.

i was attempting to suggest we talk about 'sharing' and 'caring' for those with less. setting up a 'buddy' system, where we get to know each other (the those that 'have' with the those that 'have not'), know what each other needs, and help each other meet those needs.

i recommended we leave at our homes those things we are not willing to share with others, or we put our belongings that are so very precious to us either on our bodies when we leave or in the 'security' tent, which was set up for this very purpose.

instead of emulating those in power, fearing 'stealing' from the have nots, flaunting our privileges, locking up our possessions, building walls of separation, maybe even involving the police in jailing those that are 'stealing' sleeping bags while those that are really 'stealing' our lives walk free - really thinking about and creating true community.

i'm not saying it is an easy thing to do, but if we cannot develop strong, caring ways to take care of those poverty-stricken human beings in our communities, especially when we are moving into their 'homes' mostly with impunity from the police, how can we expect the 1% to feel for those who have less or to act in any different ways.

we HAVE to remember the truly poor people of this country and why they are poor - and why we have what we do.

i know we hate to think of ourselves as having 'privileges', especially when we've experienced heterosexism, sexism, racism ourselves - but we have to honestly, clearly look at institutionally, culturally, structurally, systemic 'privilege' which gives white, male, christian extreme wealth at the expense of brown, lesbian, Indigenous mothers extreme poverty - and everyone else falling in between depending on how close we are to either end.

and it IS a negotiation between humans, but in order for whites and blacks to work together, for womyn and men to work together, rich and poor, those with privilege have to be willing to step back, to listen, to accept, honor and follow the leadership of those without privilege, who themselves have to step forward and lead.

the willingness to step back was severely lacking and the mere numbers made it near impossible for many to step forward - especially after they kicked me off the plaza!

as far as me being too much, too strong - i do try not to let the opportunity to confront bigotry pass. this does not make me many friends but does make me some life-long deep chosen family!

once the majority of people left, it became really clear the consciousness of individuals at freedom plaza is severely lacking. actually, the truth is, from the beginning with the organizers, consciousness was severely lacking. they set up a white male dominated action, failing to take into consideration and account for racism, sexism, classism.

the majority embraced the racist, sexist notion that talking about racism, sexism, etc., is divisive; and that it was my personal issue, not occurring structurally, systemically, and even personally on the plaza.

for example, when i pointed out that telling womyn and men of color not to talk too much, too long - as well as not telling white men the same - is racism and sexism, i was told i was being 'too sensitive' and this was my problem.

when we adopted a hand signal to interrupt the process if racism, sexism, classism was occurring, the facilitators at the next g.a.'s had so much difficulty explaining this hand signal as one to address racism, but instead morphed it into one to use if you were personally 'offended' by something someone was saying.

and the lack of consciousness around resources, food, garbage & recycling was/is appalling. the right to breathe smoke-free air was/is none existent. for a californian, i was stunned that people who supposedly wanted to change things used more plastic bottles, had to have garbage picked up three times a day, did not even bother recycling those plastic bottles let alone paper or composting...

i criticize with the hope that we can do better, be better, work harder. our planet is dying and we are the people, the country that are the number one killers. we MUST act now.


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