Friday, August 17, 2018

My Wonderful, Magical Day of Yelling at Nazis, Part Three



One of my favorite parts of the No Hate in DC rally was when people asked me “What’s the E.R.A?” (https://www.equalrightsamendment.org/) and I got to tell them that sadly all genders aren’t currently protected under the Constitution, but we only need one more state to ratify!! People from Virginia apologized for not having already ratified, but it was so cool because they could call their reps and do something about it directly! This feeling of organizing-within-organizing made me feel so optimistic, happy, and powerful, and I plan to carry the Equal Rights Amendment around more often.


As the group (estimates had the count at around two thousand) started to migrate over to the side of the park where the march would start, a couple of the communist and socialist groups began to form a march in the opposite direction. I caught a glimpse at the (white lady) Refuse Fascism speaker at whom I’d yelled “Stop suppressing votes!” when she’d launched into a “both parties are the same” tirade at Philly’s immensely successful demonstration against Family Separation during Mike Pence’s visit a couple months ago. (https://www.phillyvoice.com/pence-in-philly-hundreds-protest-march-rittenhouse/) Telling a crowd of mostly brown and black people not to vote is a good way to become my nemesis for life, but I wouldn’t let seeing this character disrupt my sense of unity.
(Not the nemesis lady)

Antsy to march, Amy and I joined the smaller march, but a guy in a yellow safety vest told us that it was a splinter group, and that the Charlottesville contingency, Black Lives Matter, and other groups would be leaving in a few minutes. After marching with the splinter march for about a half-block, the phrase “hired by Russia to make the main protest march seem smaller” popped up in my mind. It’s funny/sad that such a paranoid-sounding phrase can also be totally sensible. (For a good insight on how ground-level Russian interference works: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/curious-case-russian-flash-mob-west-palm-beach-cheesecake-factory/)

We rested in the shade for a few minutes then went back to the main group. Black Lives Matter was out front, with other groups getting into formation behind them/us. Fox News came by and the crowd erupted into boos and chants of “Black Lives Matter!” I feel so incredibly lucky whenever I get to chant that.


(Awkward aside: Earlier in the day we’d come across a group of white ladies about my age chanting in celebration of Heather Heyer and happily moved over to join them, until I realized they were chanting “Say Her Name!” I sidled away, not knowing how to feel, but knowing that Say Her Name is for women of color and even the most wonderful, heroic, martyred gift of a white woman can’t have it. For a great resource about the #Sayhername movement, you can go here: http://www.aapf.org/sayhernamereport/)

Finally, the march got underway. I loved the way that “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” reverberated off of the fancy columned buildings, the way “Whose streets? Our streets!” felt true on so many levels.


Next time, sobbing in the march with joy and love.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Wonderful, Magical Day of Yelling at Nazis, Part Two


               
We got to DC by 11 AM, just in time to visit the National Gallery of Art. I was excited to see the Dutch Masters’ paintings of ships, but frustration and horror about colonialism put a damper on my fascination with the beautiful, intricate model tall ships and dramatic, almost photorealistic maritime paintings. In the modern and contemporary wing, the Calders gave me such a sense of buoyancy as the light streamed in over the mobiles at all sorts of I.M. Pei-designed angles.

Voyager by Kerry James Marshall (https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.159651.html) gave me a sense that goodness and rightness were possible. So did (to a much less transcendent degree) the strong coffee in the museum café.
Detail: Voyager by Kerry James Marshall

Our Lyft driver was happy to hear that we were on our way to Freedom Plaza to yell at nazis. He was African American and a veteran, so the idea of anyone carrying a nazi flag offended him on a deep patriotic level I could probably never fathom.

“That’s not a nazi in the trunk,” he said, “Just a water bottle I keep forgetting to unload.”

“A nazi in the trunk would definitely be five stars” I said, and we promised to yell some extra for him as we jumped out into the humidity to join the crowd.

One of my goals for the day was to really pay attention to what it feels like to be around Antifa members. I knew lots of people were afraid of them, maybe more afraid of them than they are of white nationalists for some reason (racism), so I wanted to figure it out.

Though one of our local anti-fascist groups does seem a little bit like they might be funded by Russia for protest-trolling purposes (Refuse Fascism Philly is almost exclusively white, seems to have a very big poster budget, and has engaged in “both parties are the same” voter suppression rhetoric—could be suspicious, could just be young and rich…) I’ve also felt grateful to see covered-faced anti-fascists take the periphery of the Philly Trans March, seemingly to act as a protective front line in case anything violent might happen. That’s an act of risk and service that means something to
me.


Although the media portrayed it differently, the rally in Freedom Plaza was populated with all different kinds of people. BYP 100 and Black Lives Matter activists, young punk kids handing out “ally cookies” that I didn’t realize were a pun until later on, and at least two two middle-aged ladies carrying signs about the ERA:

           
Though I have a deep distrust of young white dudes (Okay, white dudes. Okay, dudes in general. Okay, almost everyone because I have anxiety and PTSD and it’s 2018.) I felt a deep wave of affection for a scrawny bespectacled twenty-something white guy standing atop a planter holding an Antifa flag aloft.
And, as at every protest I’ve been to, there were adorable kids being adorable. I put on my teacher voice and told them they were doing SUCH a good job.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Wonderful, Magical Day of Yelling at Nazis, Part One



I spent a good chunk of last week working on my protest sign and panicking. I had terrible dreams. My best friend/ex-wife can’t walk very fast and I dreamed that we got separated in a crowd—I have recurring dreams of us getting separated and me screaming out “Amy! Amy!” because she’s lost, then getting in trouble for screaming. So you can see that as much as I tend to drag people for being afraid to protest, I was scared of this one.

For anyone who might have missed it, a group of white nationalists planned a rally for Unite the Right II on in Washington, DC on Sunday the 12th, the anniversary of last year’s tiki-torch hatefest. On the anniversary of a white supremacist murdering Heather Heyer with his car. When I heard that facebook was taking down some of the counter-protesters’ event pages, I sought out a couple that hadn’t been taken down and RSVPed YES. My BFF agreed to go with me and I made her promise not to get lost or murdered. I asked a favorite neighbor to be my check-in person so someone could feed the cats and call my mom if anything happened to me—since the March for Out Lives, this has been my routine, and I’m grateful to have a neighbor who doesn’t mind!

Aside from my #sayhername series, (http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2018/06/say-her-name-street-art-abolish-police.html) this was probably the saddest protest art I ever painted. I had to put it in the closet for the second half of the week to stem the rolling panic attacks it inspired.


The other side was cheerier, and I was happy to devote some time to my favorite new (to me) cause:
(For more info and the other unratified states, check here: https://www.equalrightsamendment.org/states.htm)


I sproinged out of bed at 4:30 AM on the 12th, but only so I could read my book for a while before getting ready to go. Amy and I packed water, snacks, and sunscreen. She packed more phone batteries than we could ever need, that’s a very comforting thing about Amy.

Next: Soothing Art and Pondering Antifa



Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Motivation: Barbara Ehrenreich Rules!

If you haven't read Living With a Wild God yet, put it on your reserved list. It's like an Ishmael for our time, such a gorgeous, grumpy journey from solipsism to justice-hearted animism.

My favorite part, though, is this quote:

"The great, unforgivable crime of the monotheistic religions has been to encourage the conflation of authority and benevolence, of hierarchy and justice. When the pious bow down before the powerful or, in our own time, the megachurches celebrate wealth and its owners, the "good" and perfect God is just doing his job of legitimizing human elites."--Barbara Ehrenreich

Yeah!!

Monday Motivation: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

I'm excited to write about the incredible counter-protests in DC yesterday (We won! The day at least!) but it will take some time to process first.

One thing I'm sure of, though, is that it BUGS the CRAP out of me when "nice" people sit around wringing their hands about whether protesting is "safe" or not.

So I'm saving this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote to my desktop and vowing to share it in EVERY one of these annoying conversations.

"Nice" white people, put your bodies on the line. Get off your ass and help defeat hate.

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Resource: Equal Rights Amendment!

A few weeks ago, The Unladylike Podcast posted a compelling argument to work to get the ERA ratified in addition to fighting for women's rights in all of the individual ways. I was convinced and maybe you will be too! 

https://unladylike.co/episodes/020/equal-rights-amendment

If the argument makes sense to you, you can join the fight! Especially if you live in the any of the twelve unratified states, call your Congress folks and tell them. 


Unratified States: 

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

Florida

Georgia

Louisiana

Mississippi

Missouri

North Carolina

Oklahoma

South Carolina

Utah


Virginia

For more info, you can visit: http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tarot Tuesday: You're a Diamondy Star Goddess

Pleidian Star Goddess: XVII The Star A silhouette of a person on a grassy expanse, arms raised to the Star Goddess, who is showering them with sparkly white light.

Be alert for showers of sparkling light, for diamonds within and without. Everything in you is made of the Goddess, lighting you up with both love and bright fury. It's all material, so feel free to make it into art.