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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

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Raining and Reigning... water and racism

I went this morning to San Francisco to participate in a solidarity action in support of the awesome climate justice activists who traveled to Paris to influence the world wide gathering on climate destruction being concurrently held there.

I almost didn’t go to this action, thinking my body wouldn’t really be needed as there are tons of committed green people in the Bay that get it, who know we need to act quickly and act now to prevent the total destruction of the planet, who will show up.

And I also wanted have enough time to go to the evening protest against, yes, another police assassination of a Black man. But this one’s in Berkeley so easier to get to.

When I arrive at Montgomery and Market, I’m saddened to see there are only about 20 or so people on the street protesting. The sun is brilliant, the air neither hot nor cold, a good flow of pedestrian traffic, the bulk of the rush hour madness mostly over.

Folks are holding up a beautiful large banner with a sleeping T-Rex skeleton and bold words declaring “Stop Climate Change: Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground”; and others carry signs declaring “Climate Justice Now” in English and French.

A few people are handing out small white quarter page info sheets to the public and most passersby hustle quickly along, ignoring everyone while a couple take flyers and some even give thumbs up.

Typical largely apathetic u.s.ofa. public sidewalk traffic.

Then someone began passing around miniature bumper stickers of the blue, white and red (in that order, we are instructed) French flag which we are directed to place over our mouths: symbolic for the current ban on protesting the French government instituted, using the recent bombings that occurred in Paris last month as the excuse for this silencing of dissent.

I refuse, explaining that I despise flags, especially the French flag being the symbol of so much genocide, murder, rape, oppression, exploitation historically and presently. I’ve been to Senegal, I have friends from Haiti, my eyes are wide open.

The tall, gangly white male next to me also refuses the flag. He turns to me and declares, with a wave of long pasty fingers, he doesn’t care about those things, he just thinks the stickers are not environmentally friendly.

He doesn’t leave it there. He is disturbed because he wants to mourn the people of France without certain people pointing out his racism embedded in that concern. He thinks it’s horrific that people were murdered and he wants me to support his feelings.

I retort that of course it is horrific people were murdered in France but his concern is based on white people’s lives mattering more than everyone else’s, that is what is objectionable and racist.

But he still can’t leave it there and protests that it is ‘natural’ for him to be more concerned about the people of France than the people of Sudan or Somalia. He’s been to France, he loves Paris, he feels connected to them.

Yes, I say, because of racism: racism is what makes you feel part of those French white people, value white people, enables you to sympathize and feel compassion for whites – while ignoring the atrocities these people have and still engage in.

He keeps trying to convince me that his caring more about people in France doesn’t spring from racism. I keep countering his arguments.

He thinks he’s switching gears when he says with such authority surely I can’t help but agree: “but if my son was walking down the street and was injured, I would feel so much more strongly about his pain, his experience, his hurt so naturally in the same way I’d feel more for French people.”

Ah, he has so very plainly stated the kernel of racism from which his compassion flows – or doesn’t flow. I also assume from his statement his child is white. I think it is so clear and getting clearer to see his racism and I try again.

So you see French people as family, as your relations, as people you care about. And you don’t see the children of Sudan or Iraq or Brazil as your family, your relations, people close to you. That is exactly what people are calling you on when you value French people so much more than Black and brown people around the world and here even.

I end the conversation there, pointing out there really is no need to delve deeper – that’s as deep as it gets.

The air has suddenly grown colder and we are now blanketed momentarily in grey: the heavens open and we stand in awe as we are engulfed in precious rain which here-to-fore has been a mere memory in the Bay.