RIP Twitter

I have been using Twitter actively since 2006 and have had the best of times as well as the worst of times there. It’s very likely to stop existing as we know it very soon, which is a real shame. It didn’t have to be that way. I would like to write more about what it’s meant to me and the world but for now I want to share this urgent advice that I wrote up for my colleagues this morning.

The Twitter situation is not a drill. It could stop working at any moment, and until it does the nastiest trolls will be running amok. I recommend you do a few things on your personal accounts:

  • Put alternate ways for people to follow you in your bio. Could be Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon, TikTok, Tumblr, Discord, whatever.
  • Turn on 2-factor authentication if you haven’t already. You must use an app (like 1Password or Google Authenticator) and not SMS to authenticate. Also enable Password reset protect.
  • Request an archive of your Twitter data. You will have to authenticate for this by e-mail and not SMS. It can take a day or two but you’ll get an e-mail when it’s ready to download.
  • Consider making your tweets private so that you have to manually approve new followers.
  • You may want to deactivate your account, but DO NOT DELETE it. That could allow others to take your old name.
  • Even if you’re not signed up for Mastodon, run this FediFinder tool and download a list of your follows’ addresses on Mastodon and other federated services. (You can decide whether to use it later.)
adrienne maree brown

some of us are never surprised

Wow, I have so much to say about this tragically historic moment in time that we are living through, starting with we fucking told you so.

But while I try to get my head together to write something more articulate than that, here is a new poem from the brilliant visionary adrienne maree brown.

what is unveiled? the founding wound. (poem/directive)

January 7, 2021

a body is always a body
individual or collective
(whole or in many pieces)
alive or, later, dead
a body is always vulnerable

a wound is always a wound
singular and deep
or many cuts, slowly, blood everywhere
left untreated, unstaunched, denied
a wound will always fester

the first wound happens within
the violence of birth
the expulsion from the illusion of safety
from the idea that someone (else)
will do all the labor

and some of us keep looking everywhere
for placenta, for mothering
for acceptance of our worst choices
to be told we are so special
to be named a favorite child

some of us learn to work
we are given tools, lectures, practices
we are given the blessing of knowing
that work to nourish the collective
is a sacred path for our lives

some are only taught to eat
given the title to land that isn’t ours
judged for the speck of dirt under our nails
set to race against even our own kin
for the neverending victory of more

some of us are black
still nauseous from the boat’s hold
still catching our breath from snapped ropes
still oiling our calloused field hands
and still wounded

some of us are white
still synonymous with impossible purity
still given no songs from the earth
still taught to master nothing but superiority
and still, wounded

some of us are red, yellow, brown
still made to feel tertiary to the plot
still dismissed for all we remember
still claiming we are human, not terrorist
and, still wounded

some of us are never surprised
never apoplectic when the stench hits us
what rots at the core is known, documented
it is tangible, moral, American, spiritual
it is the founding wound

gray only at the surface
brittle black where the injury began
a rainbow of bruising everywhere
green mold making life in dying flesh
but the pus, the pus bursts white

we are well past the age of turning inwards
of seeing the open wounds on our souls
of stepping into our shadows with truth light
of seeing we were shaped, and can change
of believing the wound is who we are

we know the smell of decay on breath
we see the swollen cracking flesh of infection
it is not rude to acknowledge the stink
to wonder if it is viral, venom, survivable
to look for the laceration(s)

things are not getting worse
they are getting uncovered
we must hold each other tight
and continue to pull back the veil
see: we, the body, we are the wounded place

we live on a resilient earth
where change is the only constant
in bodies whose only true whiteness
is the blood cell that fights infection
and the bone that holds the marrow

remove the shrapnel, clean the wound
relinquish inflammation, let the chaos calm
the body knows how to scab like lava stone
eventually leaving the smooth marring scars
of lessons learned:

denial will not disappear a wound

the wound is not the body

a body cannot be divided into multiple living entities (what us will go on breathing?)

the founder’s wound is the myth of supremacy

this is not the first wound, or the last

we are a species before we are a nation, and after

warriors, organizers, storytellers, dreamers – all of us are healers

the healing path is humility, laughter, truth, awareness and choice

a scab is a boundary on territory, between what is within and what is without, when the line has been breached

stop picking at the scab, it slows the healing

until we are dead, and even when we are exhausted and faithless, we fight for life

we are our only relevant hope
we are our only possible medicine

a body is always a body
wounded, festering, healing, healed
we choose each day what body we will shape
with the miraculous material we’re gifted
let us, finally, attend to the wound
let us, finally, name the violence
let us, finally, break the cycle of supremacy
let us, finally, choose ourselves whole
let us, finally, love ourselves
whole.

http://adriennemareebrown.net/2021/01/07/what-is-unveiled-the-founding-wound-poem-directive/

NEVER AGAIN Ice Out of Alamance

Graham 9 Update

Here is a personal statement and an update on the Graham 9 – the group arrested at a Never Again Alamance protest last November.

On our first trial date, one member (who was charged with “masking” if you can believe it) received a Prayer for Judgement. The rest of us are charged with failure to disperse. Two had trials and were convicted. Those judgements will be appealed. The rest of us (including me) are now scheduled for trials in November and December.

The Burlington Times News wrote a quick story about the gathering we had before the trial with supporters, who came to walk us to court. They included an excerpt of the comments I made that morning as well as very thoughtful remarks from my co-defendant Xavier Adams.

Here is the full text of my statement:

I grew up next door in Orange County, and I’m here to stand with my neighbors both new and old who have had enough of the childish tantrums, violent threats, and racist intimidation in Alamance County.  Sheriff Johnson must go, and he can take all the city and county officials that coddle racists and arrest racial justice supporters with him.

I am old enough to remember life before ICE. I was 30 when the planes struck the twin towers on September 11. To many of us at the time, the whole idea of a Department of Homeland Security smacked of nationalism and violence. And sure enough it has grown to become a source of xenophobia, violence, and human suffering for nearly 2 decades now. ICE is our gestapo: terrorizing communities, abandoning people in concentration camps, and tearing families apart.

As a Jew and as an American, I have a moral obligation to stand up for the rights of all people, not just those who look or act like me.

As a parent I have an obligation to try to make this world a better place for my son and all the kids he’s growing up with in these unfortunately historic times.

And as the descendant of immigrants who were also demonized and ghettoized and exploited, I know that today’s immigrants are my siblings coming to the United States for a better life just like my ancestors did.

So when I learned last year that Terry Johnson was not only terrorizing women and people of color of Alamance County with his authority but also taking money from ICE to lock up innocent migrants in the Alamance Detention Center, I knew I had to come to Graham and join with others in calling out his racism an in humanity.

This summer in Graham demonstrations have continued for civil rights, Black lives, and freedom. Unfortunately we’ve also seen a lot of ugly white supremacy on display. Many around NC and around the country have looked on in horror as Alamance County officials have not only allowed actual neo-Nazi and neo-Confederates to swarm the streets and intimidate people, but in fact have arrested peaceful demonstrators who had the audacity to simply disagree with racist symbols and policies.

Pence, McConnell, & Trump

It’s not incompetence

I cannot understand people’s insistence on believing that Republicans are failing because they are incompetent. They are extremely strategic, they just don’t have any intrinsic morality. They will grab all the money and power within reach, and they’ll believe it was right if they don’t get caught.

Even in the areas where they simply lack the skills or capacity needed to govern, that is a strategic choice. They don’t want there to be an effective safety net, schools, public health, transportation network, public safety, healthy environment, or anything that connects us socially or culturally.

People who are poor, sick, isolated, scared, and hopeless are easier to manipulate, especially by authoritarians that appeal to the worst parts of human nature, ie: Republicans.

Rant inspired by this Twitter thread:

simulation results

Quarantine for kids

After screaming into the void for weeks on Twitter about the desperate need for massive testing and rapid social isolation, we are now living that quarantine life. Like many parents I am trying not to terrify my child (and myself), but unlike many parents I will not sugarcoat things. Especially after spending decades talking about how our political leaders are failing us, I am not going to lie about the fact that we are all suffering now because those failures have come home to roost.

I know my child thinks I am going a little overboard with this quarantine business, so showed him a few visuals to help him understand. These were the most helpful things we looked at today.

  1. Washington Post simulator showing the difference in infections between different policies such as partial quarantine and social distancing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/
  2. The now-ubiquitous #FlattenTheCurve chart show how rapid spread will overwhelm the medical system. This available everywhere, we looked at https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation
  3. A young man from Wuhan’s TikTok videos that show his experience in Wuhan (start at the last one). https://www.tiktok.com/@danielouyang

Disinformation agents attack NC Women’s March

As soon as I RSVP’ed to a Facebook event for the 2019 Women’s March in Raleigh, I knew something didn’t smell right. The page owners were posting weird, partisan memes that seemed totally out of character, and no-one would reply to my messages asking who was in charge. This week I decided to get to the bottom of it, and by way of friends of friends I found that the page is in fact a scam!

This is exactly how the Russians/Republicans have been manipulating our communication, politics, and elections for over 2 years now. The fake “Women’s March Raleigh NC 2019” page on Facebook has a fake event that has thousands of RSVPs for the wrong march date! And by spreading questionable memes they may be manipulating sentiment in ways we can’t even predict or understand until after the fact.

One of the real Women’s March organizers replied to me about this on Facebook:

we’ve reported the page as spam several times. It’s 100% not managed or set up by the WMOR organizers, they’re at Women’s March On Raleigh. Last year we had a similar problem when a vendor set up a FB page posing as the WMOR group to sell t-shirts. This page and it’s event aren’t legit

Read my Facebook post with all of the receipts in the comments:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10160753082835321
Excerpt of "Home" by Warsan Shire

Home

Home by Warsan Shire, 2011

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Red paint is poured on the statue called #silentsam at #uncchapelhill; a statue that celebrates a racist history in a public space unavoidable to students and community members who are threatened by it and the white supremacy it represents.

Confederate context

I stand with UNC PhD student Maya Little who was arrested today for pouring blood and paint on Silent Sam. Here is her statement:

Maya Little was arrested today after pouring red paint on the statue called #silentsam at #uncchapelhill; a statue that celebrates a racist history in a public space unavoidable to students and community members who are threatened by it and the white supremacy it represents. https://www.instagram.com/p/BiNQ5jbA4Ql/I have been an organizer for the Silent Sam Sit-In since September 2017, when campus police confiscated the belongings of the 24 hour occupiers. Every weekday we provide context around the statue. This is an opportunity to teach. It is also our duty to continue the struggle against white supremacy that countless others have led since black students have been on this campus. The statue, a symbol of UNC’s commitment to white supremacy, has been defaced and protested since 1968. Yet the statue remains on campus 50 years later. These last 5 years Carol Folt has been chancellor and she has not taken a single step towards removing Silent Sam. The armed, Confederate soldier dedicated and built by racists during Jim Crow has remained. However, the dedication and courage of each successive group of students fighting for racial equality at UNC has made our message louder and clearer. The threat of Neonazis and white supremacists marching on our communities has made it more urgent.

Chancellor Folt and the administrators are more dedicated to silencing us. In her first two years, there was no state law against removing the statue. She has heard countless activists tell her the statue’s presence dehumanizes and threatens people of color. The governor has written an open letter asking her to remove the statue. White supremacists have marched around Silent Sam and threatened violence. How has Folt responded? She has called us outside agitators. She has refused to call a statue dedicated for and by proud racists, white supremacist. She has never met with members of the Sit In. She has allowed white supremacist groups to invade this campus. She, Derek Kemp, and Jeff McCracken appointed a campus police officer to go undercover, lie about his identity, and gather information on us. According to McCracken, they continue to spend $1,700 dollars per day to protect the statue.

What do you see when you look at this statue, Chancellor? We see the mutilation of black bodies, the degradation of black people, the celebration of an army that fought for our ancestors’ enslavement. I see Julian Carr whipping a black woman. I see your willingness to traumatize, dehumanize, and endanger every black person on this campus. We see our blood and now you will too.

Today I have thrown my blood and red ink on this statue as a part of the continued mission to provide the context that the Chancellor refuses to. Chancellor Folt, if you refuse to remove the statue, then we will continue to contextualize it. Silent Sam is violence; Silent Sam is the genocide of black people; Silent Sam is antithetical to our right to exist. You should see him the way that we do, at the forefront of our campus covered in our blood.

But UNC does not want this context. Chancellor Folt will order Silent Sam to be cleaned immediately. But she should clean my blood and the ink off Silent Sam, not campus workers. The Chancellor and all who have used their power to keep Silent Sam here must embrace the truth about UNC. UNC is Silent Sam. Chapel Hill is Silent Sam. The statue stands smirking and defiant representing a community that has failed many times to work for justice and racial quality. Chancellor, the blood is on your hands.

Folt cares more about plastering our black faces over the Campaign for Carolina than about our safety, our dignity, our right to exist on this campus. Black community members are harassed by campus police. Black athletes are exploited by this university for the Tar Heel brand. Black faculty are not retained. Black students are forced to live and study in buildings named after people who made their fortunes through the sale of black children.

But we are not silent. The statue will be contextualized to show UNC’s racist past and present. You, Chancellor Folt—and your donors, the students you recruit, the alumni you cater to—will be forced to see it until every facet of white supremacy on this campus has been removed.

 

Photos by https://www.instagram.com/dhosterman/

Emma Gonzalez, January 2018

I’m ready to follow these young people to a better future

Parkland students like Emma Gonzales remind me so much of myself at their age. I was ready to change the world, and I knew exactly how to do it. I also rocked the same kind of natty friendship bracelets, and even shaved my head (well, part of it). I helped mobilize thousands of students to stand up for a free-standing Black Cultural Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. I was ready to take on the world. But then life kept beating me down and telling me I was not so important, and eventually I started to believe it.

People my age (and especially older) lack the fire and vision to make the changes we desperately need. These students are right, they are mobilized, and they have a platform to speak to the nation. I am totally ready to follow those young people’s leadership and energy. It’s their turn, and us olds have fucked it up enough already.

Here is some information (via MomsRising) about how we can support their upcoming actions:

Wednesday, March 14: #Enough – A National School Walk Out! The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER Team is calling for a seventeen-minute (1 minute for every life lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) national school walk out on Wednesday, March 14th at 10am in all timezones.
https://twitter.com/WomensMarchY/

Saturday, March 24th: #March4OurLives – Student survivors from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL are calling for a march on Washington, D.C. and also in cities across our nation on Saturday, March 24th Go to https://www.marchforourlives.com/ for more information.
https://twitter.com/AMarch4OurLives

Friday, April 20th: #NationalSchoolWalkout – Other student and education groups are calling for a longer-term student walk out on the anniversary of Columbine.
https://twitter.com/schoolwalkoutUS/

Photo credit: Humans of MSD 

Silent Sam, 1913

Silent Sam must go

I graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993. Even then we questioned why any soldier, not to mention one abstracted from a war that divided the country in an effort to preserve the horrible institution of slavery, should be in such a position of honor for all to see.

The purpose of Confederate remembrance is to embrace those principles of white supremacy. This is true of Silent Sam and of other monuments that were erected in an attempt to revise history. Keeping them up does not help us remember our past, but instead creates a false memory in which racism didn’t shape our country.

This fake history prevents us from being able to understand our present, in which racism is clearly alive and well. Putting the statues up was an effort to erase history. Taking them down moves us one step closer to better understanding our past and hopefully making a better future.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it much better than I ever could. Here are some excerpts of his speech about removing Confederate monuments in New Orleans:

“These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”

“To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.”

– http://pulsegulfcoast.com/2017/05/transcript-of-new-orleans-mayor-landrieus-address-on-confederate-monuments

 

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Silent_Sam_1913.jpg