Monday, May 25, 2020

Poetic License Horoscopes (May 25-31)

Gemini: You know who’s excited about quarantine!? Well, excited is probably the wrong word but BOREDOM RESEARCHERS! Join their experiments. See what’s going on with your old friend Boredom. Doodle around the edges of it. Build a shrine of pushpins and binder clips. Burn looseleaf as sage. Sit until you turn into cloudscapes, until your breath and your voice stop feeling like weapons. It’s a peace you deserve.

Cancer: Last Thursday night while Shamanic Journeying via Zoom, (Like one does.) the stars were dragged Blair Witch style into a dark wood shining only with fluorescent blue leaves. Plants are sometimes the only kind of touching, aren’t they? The only hint of life? The big leaves were both warm and cool to the touch, shifting colors because they were a dream. Curl up in those dark dream leaves until some helping creature arrives to lead you to a bright meadow.

Leo:   As the person who built an Aurora Borealis/ the door from Russian Doll out of tissue paper and LED lights, you can accomplish most things. Step one: Learn all the names of the flowers before you graduate to fungus, grasses, butterflies, and birds. String up the prettiest names like lights, make your gardens like lights, make the petals like lights too, why not? Delphinium, pulmonaria, kalanchoe, whatever names feel best, say them like prayers.

Virgo: “The sky over the city has too much light, baby. You can see the stars a little but you gotta work for them.” N.K. Jemesin, The City We Became. What pulses in the city of you, now without the thrum and crush of your commute? Now that you’re not being honked at so often when you hesitate for a nanosecond at green lights. Now that you’re commercial-free, where are the new gaps? See if you can hear it, or better yet, hold out your hands to the sky and wait to be touched.

Libra: A long walk in the woods, if you can. Not on the weekend, that would be nuts. It’s okay if the walk’s in your mind, or on watercolor paper. If you can’t ride your bike along the rivers and creeks or dance in a crowd under a big bridge any time soon, what then? Can you listen to those gentle studying songs until you sleep new lessons? Can you, very carefully, twist ropes into wings? The stars are sending new ways for you to sit in the sun and every puzzle you can hold in your two warm hands for hope.
Scorpio: Like everyone (Well, not everyone.) you are a business rebuilding, a Festival Girl whose travels have paused. Be even more than usual the stars’ favorite palindrome: drawn inward. Your imagination will grow forests and populate seas. Make your Tolkein-maps of undiscovered realms. Your mantra for now is here be dragons. It’s okay if you don’t yet see the treasure underneath.

Sagittarius: You’re a library. And the head librarian of that library. Ask the Front Desk (also you) where the Mystical Experience section is. Turn left at the card catalog of Conversations Your Barbies had, head past the Disco Songs Your Mom Used to Sing. The Special Collection is showing the archives from the Museum of Bad Advice, but don’t sign in there just yet—you just washed your hands. Check out as many items as you’d like, the City of You has changed its overdue policy.

Capricorn: If there’s one thing that (dear but un-re-watchable) Friends got right about the Nineties, its how much every day turned on the axis of coffee. Tired from doing not-very-much until sunrise or from a young, walloping misunderstanding of the proportions of a gin and tonic, we would migrate to our (way more rewatchable!) friends in basements, on porches, in just-barely-bookstores. We can’t do most of that right now, but: A porch, a cup of good coffee, a Sunday you feel ambivalent about, a dear friend, and peace.

Aquarius: As much as the stars are OBSESSED with Marie Kondo, there really is no one right way to clean a basement. If you want to go scorched-earth and pitch it all out, go ahead, the stars won’t tell anyone. If you want to lovingly turn over every document, write a sonnet to every shred of ephemera, every errant leaflet, go ahead, why not? It’s your basement, and even if it isn’t, too bad, you’re the one doing the work. Go down the steps and start.

Pisces: Every classroom you’ve even been in, teaching or learning, home or away, LOVES you. Each one keeps like love letters the maps you’ve drawn of them, the spreadsheets, the procedures, the hand-written signs. Buildings know how to love all-encompassingly and so do teachers, so do students. The windows are open to the summer breeze. The sun is giddily shattering concentration and helping the houseplants to feed themselves. The pencils are all sharpened, the dry-erase markers are fresh and multicolored. These things remember, and so do you.

Aries: Get caught in the rain without worrying that your phone will catch a raindrop. There will be no need to sleep overnight in rice. You have a blowdryer and towels if you need them. Loosen your mask before it starts to feel like drowning. If, once you’re inside again reading with your coffee, the sun comes out, you don’t even have to get up and look outside for the rainbow. The rainbow will come to you.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Poetic License Horoscopes, May 17-24

(Made-Up and Always Taking Requests)

Taurus: Write a letter to your younger self, the longer-ago, the better, asking for their advice. Then disregard about 80% of that advice, because really, what do they know? The other 20%, follow it to the letter. Better yet, strew that advice like rose petals around every doorway you enter. Walk around presiding like a benevolent, naïve god.

Gemini: It’s lilac time in Upstate New York! At the Rochester Lilac Festival, (So, not this year…) you can buy a bottle of Highland Lilac perfume to save for the dead of winter. That’s what they don’t tell you, those who would have you wring your hands about the passage of time! (Like me.) Just in case, take care to delicately strain the sweet-smelling essence from today—someday you’ll need it!

Cancer: Last summer, my driving-home-from-the-beach-music was the jazzy little tune that Lawfair played to indicate direct quotes from The Mueller Report. Its gentle brush-taps were as soothing as salty hair and as skin full of solar energy. They were as kind as having a friend to drive you home from Aunt Patti’s when you’re tired from swimming. The truth is like that! Go ahead and cozy in.

Leo: Like Midsommar, but nice. Heap up a pyramid of flowers around you, no matter where the heck they’re being grown. So many colors! So many kinds! Sew sunflowers onto lovely places, like apron pockets and star maps. It’s bright out, but it won’t disrupt your rhythms. There’s absolutely nothing untoward in the lemonade or the individual pot pies. The dancing is real, though, and so are the bears; both are friendly, full, and ready for hugs.

Virgo: “Grief is praise because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”—Martin Prechtel, The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise. (by way of my yoga teacher) Spill out your jar or grief-gems and warm them in your hands. Charm them and hold them up to the light. Someday, you’ll be able to stock up again on Hope Diamond postcards, but for now, see what else sparkles.

Libra: You are a collage of wedding cards, cut precisely into colors, shapes, and patterns, a horizon of bright flowers, a gleefully interrupted sky. You are the infinite gift of watercolors, spilling swirls of aliveness onto everything. You are a protective circle when the dance floor gets threatening—wordless, loyal, absolute. You are a 3 AM kiss that butterflies into friendship, fluttering to the stars.
Scorpio: You know that feeling when you’re a lady who hasn’t seen your gay high-school boyfriend for like thirty years (Except for at that one family funeral.) and then you meet up at The Brooklyn Museum to catch up and see Frida Kahlo’s dresses? And then you find yourself standing in front of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party contemplating the elaborate and beautiful vagina-themed place-settings? And like good Catholic kids, you notice the names of the saints written in gold script on the tile floor? No? Just me? Well, look for something just as magical and weird, and greet it with aplomb.

Sagittarius: Marie Kondo says that if something doesn’t spark joy but you can’t bring yourself to part with it, keep it with confidence. I’ll go one more and say love it with confidence. The churning papers, the infinitely doubling photo roll, the sticky note whereupon a cute person returning your Bon Iver CD said you were amazing. Even keep the pictures you only took so you’d remember where you parked, if you want to. Don’t partition it off into neat little boxes! Sit at the top of your hoard like a dragon.

Capricorn: I’m here for you. I’ll document every blossom and change of light in your old neighborhood, and make sure you see. I’ll check the board games to make sure they have all the pieces for the next time you come over. While you nap, I’ll collect the light from your windows and store it in jars for then you wake up. I’ll pour you the drink of your choice, crack a Hi-Biscus La Croix and we can sit in the yard. The flowers may be fluttering away to other things, but there’s something else coming if we wait quietly: leaves! They surprise me every time.

Aquarius: “i like serendipity, I guess.”—Sarah Rose Etter. Sarah was talking about auspicious peach roses, but you can make any wish. Well, not any—these sort of things don’t work for million-dollarses or universal healthcare, just modest, fanciful, idiosyncratic wishes. But yes, open your eyes and gather, check off synchronicities like bird-sightings. Bring home your pareidolia bouquet and place it at the center of everything, because it is.

Pisces: Tidy out this week all of your bad muses, the ones you think you have to ask for permission, the ones that ask you (You THINK they ask you, you haven’t actually spoken in years.) to move slower or smaller or not at all. Throw them like bad books against the wall, cancel them like Firefly (Except they’ll deserve it.) blow them into the wind like they’re dandelions, but not as effective.

Aries: The first quarantine book my dad asked for was Walden, so remember how bad Thoreau was at being alone. It’s easy to be monkish when your mom is making you muffins, but your job is to find your muffin-equivalents, any taste of closeness and care. Take a shamanic journey via Zoom or start long Instagram conversations with other people’s pets. Remember how you got close before you could go anywhere. Remember how you first fed yourself. Remember alone, but don’t forget to call.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Primaries Are a Good Time to Disagree (IRL)

First in a series inspired by On Tyranny:Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

A lot of the “obedience” triggers I’ve been experiencing lately have come from the pressure (both inner and outer) to “unify” with the (perceivedly) dominant Democrats, with the implication that if we don’t, Trump will be our fault. Sometimes, in my Bernie-ful neighborhood, my brain tells me I might be seen as at best a disharmony and at worst a threat. This isn’t the case, but it’s a tough feeling to wade through.

Urgent clumps of white men have become a mainstay at the Weaver’s Way Co-op corner (the very BEST corner if you need any kind of lefty signatures) and they feel like a threat to me, just as groups of white men can in any setting. When they first congealed there, I put on my quiet teacher voice and asked them to please talk with their teams about the bullying factor, (This NYT article had just come out: but mostly I just cross the street to avoid them, running the risk of tangling with the grumpy dry cleaner across the street. Ladying is hard, even in our Stars-Hollow-like corner of Mt. Airy.

In addition to working on my own petitioning for Elizabeth, the main way I can push back is with art. Not having a yard, I’ve been filling the local telephone poles with even more watercolor sass than usual, plus some nice big Warren posters from headquarters, all decorated with ribbons and silk flowers.

Every year as a Valentine to the neighborhood, I take out all of the art I’ve accumulated throughout the year and staple them to the phone poles, expanding my like-I-own-the-place reach beyond my usual 3-4 blocks. This year, I got a melancholy windfall of flowers that the aunts cleaned out from Grandmom’s house. Washing them in the sink took days, the years and grief and not-having-a-family-headquarters-anymore evaporating into the air as the flowers dried, weighing heavy on my heart.

Armed with my bag of art, my bag of flowers, and my trusty staple gun, I set out to freeze my hands on my Valentine project last Saturday afternoon. One of my first stops was to decorate someone else’s art, a Postcards to Voters sign put up by a mother-daughter team I had the pleasure to meet one glorious day. Imagine, being in like second grade and helping design Postcards to Voters signs—amazing! (

I was happily stapling when a neighborhood lady I sort of knew approached me. She had just finished chatting with one of the aforementioned white man clumps.
“I have a new acronym!” She declared. “Do you want to hear it?”

“Of course!” I said, stapling silk flowers around the sign.

“AVAT! All votes against Trump! No matter what, we have to unify and get him out of office!”

I was wearing an Elizabeth button and I (somewhat paranoidly) thought this might be an obey-the-Bern lecture. (Or worse! Obey the Bloomberg!) But still! She was right!

“That’s a great idea! I said. “You should make a poster!”

“I don’t want to make a poster. I’m not a visual artist. I sing and write songs. Just like you might not like to sing and write songs, I don’t have to make visual art.”

Her voice had an edge to it that made me nervous, but we chatted away about her acronym. Another lady happened by and asked how she could write with Postcards to Voters, since she wasn’t from around here, and I told her it’s online.

“Yeah,” said Acronym Lady, “You can’t really see the “.org”—you should make that more prominent.”

“This isn’t my work to change, but you can totally do that!” This is my standard response to unsolicited critique, particularly unsolicited critique of free-labor activism—make your own!

“She keeps trying to force me to make art,” Acronym Lady said to the woman who was no doubt regretting that she’d stopped to chat, “But that’s not what I do.”

Something was awry here and I wasn’t sure what it was, but I wasn’t quite done stapling up this batch of flowers.

Acronym Lady kept on with her unity-talk until I finally pushed back, in (I swear) the mildest and calmest way. I told her my usual stuff about how this is primaries, now’s the time to disagree! With one guy bypassing the system by trying to buy the election and another candidate who was backed by Russia in 2015 and 2016, ( there’s plenty to argue about! Plus, a lot of us were really traumatized by Bernie’s followers in 2016 etc, etc.

“So you DON’T think I should be telling people about this acronym?”

“Of course you can! Just maybe leave a little space for those of us who are in trauma.”

“Well, I was just having this conversation with a Bernie Bro who was actually capable of listening…”

The “unlike you” was implied, I think. But I’d BEEN listening for like ten minutes at this point!

I told her to stop gaslighting me and go away. Sometimes people get REALLY PISSED at me when I have a personal boundary, I can’t quite figure it out.

“No, YOU go away! This is MY corner!”

Still, I wasn’t done with what I was working on, so I kept telling her to go away and stop harassing me. I made the motion of getting out the phone to call the police, which was really dumb because there are almost no reasons to do that. What kind of street artist WOULD?!

She was shouting by the time she crossed the street. “You know what? You’re an ASSHOLE,” she hollered. “I thought you were a nice person, but you’re not.”

“Good job with the unity!” I childishly yelled. “It’s going really well!”

I’m not sure why I was the person she chose to resist, but I’m so glad she did. Her unhingedness and my own give me faith that we haven’t been swallowed up yet by tyranny, be it left or right.

But also, neither I nor Acronym Lady are okay right now. We on the left are all scared and weird from the acquittal, the missing Philadelphia snow, from the troll farms, from our own blind spots and entitlements. Amazingly, my fight or flight didn’t even activate during this exchange. Plenty of loving neighbor interactions followed—accidental canvassing, art bonding, general love. Still, Acronym Lady filled up my heart the most.

The Dueling Troll Farms of the left and right want us obedient, silent, scared, and complacent, so I hope we can hold to our IRL prickliness, our effrontery, and be downright difficult. This is a very good time for us to argue for what we believe in. It’s time to challenge each other and make each other uncomfortable and push for what’s right. This is Acronym Lady’s corner and mine and (though I wish it were very much less so) even the Bros. Fear can’t be allowed to simmer us down.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Tears and Miracles at Warren Headquarters

Last Tuesday, I put in a couple of hours at Elizabeth Warren’s Philly headquarters, calling New Hampshire to get out the vote for the primary. I was already having the blues a little for Bloomberg reasons and also because of come personal stuff, and the first round of calls really broke me. It was painful and scary hearing perfectly-nice-seeming people tell me they’d just voted for Trump and being compelled by the rules of phonebanking to disengage politely instead of screaming to the heavens.

About an hour in, I called a man who seemed delighted to tell me how much he hated Elizabeth Warren. I don’t know why, but I muddled through the call script instead of hanging up for self-preservation (darn persisting!) and he used every gaslighting trope since the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: She’s DISINGENOUS. She’s sneaky, she’s a liar, why would ANYONE trust her, etc, etc. As I finally got it together to end the call, he said “Say hello to Mata Hari for me.” I don’t know if it upset me more that he felt entitled to firehose contempt at me or that I’d chosen to listen to any part of his Women Are Liars: The Opera.

There’s a thing in my trauma brain that says: “BE GOOD. GET SMALL.” If you behave well enough, he won’t hurt you. Unfortunately, that inner voice intersects in time with the politeness, the performed equivocalness of canvassing and phonebanking.

Saying calmly “I respect your opinion” instead of screaming “WHY WOULD YOU VOTE FOR A MAN IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020? OR EVER? AND WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE WHITE? AND WHAT ABOUT THE MUELLER REPORT?” is a better way to be, but being diplomatic is triggering and it makes me feel surveilled and hunted.  It feels too much like obedience. That’s a PTSD problem, for sure, but it’s also an America problem.

I selected “Not Ready” on my dialer, took my headphones out, and went into the restroom and cried. I wondered if the organizers and other callers could hear me, if New Hampshire could hear me. It was a good cry, the first time in all these years that I’ve broken down in a campaign headquarters. It has been a long, painful four years. I felt dangerously close to the debilitating depression that I and so much of America, suffered in early 2017.

I’m proud that I cried. I’m proud that I came out of the restroom, wiped my eyes, and asked the organizers for hugs. They freely gave them, and I was so grateful. I got some chocolate from the snack table to ward off the (admittedly rare) dementors of New Hampshire. I wished I’d brought an extra thermos of coffee: Next time, for sure.

Those few minutes of campaign life were a beautiful miracle: the organizers and my fellow phonebankers got me talking about Gritty (“the true leader of the Democratic Party”), the time I met John Lewis, and how Elizabeth was probably proud of me.

For them, and for me, and in spite of the misogynists, I dialed back in. The first person to pick up was both heartbreaking and galvanizing: She told me she wanted to vote for Elizabeth, but it was too big of a risk—she was really, really afraid. I gave her my reasons (best choice for women’s rights and racial justice) and said I empathized but hoped she would make the brave choice, which Amy later pointed out was Gillibrand’s IP. That’s probably okay.

After that, the calls got better. Sorry Elizabeth, sorry organizers, but my heart overflowed with joy when voters told me somewhat apologetically that sorry, they’d just voted for Amy. My heart was somewhat less overflowy (but still overflowy) when they told me they’d voted for Pete. There’s so much progress, even in the middle of this troll farmy nightmare. So many reasons to feel hopeful.

I ended that day’s spate of calls talking to a man who told me that yes, he and his wife were both planning to vote for Elizabeth, they were leaving for the polls in about 25 minutes. I love them, and I love everyone who’s trying, and somehow, though it’s nuts, I love America.

Since that day, I’ve been having a depression flare-up because the Trump calls were truly harrowing. But I’m okay. I gave myself the whole weekend to do nothing but write and read and make art and take care of my apartment. I’m recommitting to caring for my mental health this election year, realizing I may not have the stamina I used to, but I still have so, so much to offer.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Guest Writer! Doxxed by Bernie Supporters

I first met the young woman who honored my with her story when she was a campaign organizer for Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2016. From the outside, she was powerful, self-assured, and hopeful in ways that put my Gen X when-I-was-her-age self to shame. I wouldn't have guessed, even with my election year + anxiety mind, how much she was going through for us. I'm really grateful to her and so angry that all of this happened to her--it's my hope that this story will spread far and wide, and that it will help folks understand why it's still and always important to speak out against the misogyny of our own side, no matter what threats we face from the right.

Written by an Anonymous Hillary Campaign Organizer

TW: Doxxing, Racism, Threats of Violence and Rape, Gaslighting

It’s no secret among people that know me that I worked for Clinton in 2016. My wall is still decorated in posters, my car is covered in bumper stickers, I even have a tattoo that reminds me of the good times on that campaign. However, the worst parts of the 2016 campaign still haunt me wherever and whenever I meet new people working in politics. It’s no secret among people I’m friends with that I was doxxed by Sanders supporters in 2016, but it’s something I’m not “supposed” to talk about. 

I joined the Clinton campaign while I was still a student. Originally it wasn’t because I liked Hillary any more than Bernie, as a woman I just wanted to know more about women running for higher office. My facebook was full of friends that supported Bernie, but were happy for me on the campaign. Until Caucus night in Iowa. 

The lucky part for Iowa was the Caucuses were so close and went so long that most people were asleep by the time the results came out and most people had to work the next morning, so I was left alone. By the time Super Tuesday rolled around, I had already been doxxed for the first time. 

I had gone to bed around midnight Central Time, but a few people I knew on the West Coast were still awake. I woke up to dozens of notifications on my Facebook. A friend-of-a-friend had made a post asking for people to tag the people they knew who were “sHillary sellouts” in the comments. I got tagged by someone I had worked on a class project with right before I left for the campaign. People started by replying with the generic “corporate cunt” or accused me of “voting with my vagina” until one of them decided to click onto my profile and things got a lot more personal. Whatever public info on me they could find, they commented about. In my messenger were people who screenshotted my parents and siblings profiles. They called my dad a “banana” or “coconut” and called him uneducated. I got messages that said my mom, my sisters and I deserved to be beaten and raped. 

I’m not sure if they actually sent anything to my family. If so, I never heard about it. But I spent the whole day with my supervisor reporting accounts and trying to lock my Facebook. Some of the threads I couldn’t mute or take down because the doxxers knew that Facebook hadn’t yet figured out a way to let people report comments and my name wasn’t in the original post. 

The most common comments and messages in between the threats and slurs were “you’re just too stupid to know Bernie is who is best for you.” 

We searched my name on Reddit and tried to get a few posts taken down. I didn’t have a Reddit so it wasn’t worth taking down more than the posts of my personal phone number, email, and address. Taking a look at the account, it appeared to be the same “friend” who tagged me in the first place. Luckily, it didn’t seem to have spread beyond Facebook and Reddit.

After locking down my account, I made a post about my experience. It was a little vague since I wasn’t ready to talk about the specifics, but mentioning “Bernie Bros” rained even more hell I wasn’t ready for. This time from actual friends. Comments talked about how the “Bernie Bros” didn’t exist, how I must be overreacting, how both sides had violent supporters and I was contributing to the violence by mentioning it when I couldn’t provide proof. 

The thing is, I was young and dumb. So was my manager. We didn’t know to screenshot the hate and report it up the chain, nobody told us that’s what we were supposed to do until we were trained again a week later. I couldn’t access the hate anymore, I’d already blocked the accounts. People were riled up in support of their candidates so the hate shifted from an anonymous barrage of insults to comments from friends denying my experience. I blocked more people. 

As I shifted around in the campaign and my role shifted, so did the hate. Since I was making calls from my personal phone, obviously my personal number got out. Prank calls, hate texts, my number was even scrawled in a men’s bathroom somewhere in Colorado. “A Monica Lewinsky hoe- one of Clinton’s bitches. Call for a good time.” Someone texted it, curious why my non-Colorado area code was in a Colorado bathroom. He was nice enough to scratch my number out, but not without a dick pic first.

From there the barrage of messages decreased significantly. Hate sent to my work email had to be saved in a folder, no deleting anything on the Clinton campaign, and flagged up the chain. I didn’t hear much back, there wasn’t much they could do. After the primaries were over, I did digital organizing for a state’s Democratic Party. Those messages weren’t nearly as personal, they didn’t know who I was, but my work email had 2 folders for the 2 different kinds of hate I was receiving- death threats, mostly directed towards the candidates and superdelegates from that state, and dick pics. 

I felt fairly safe and rather confident again, except my new state party was all former Bernie staffers. The email about Hillary “riding a rocket-sized dildo of corporate cash” that made me feel uncomfortable was laughed off by my coworkers and called well deserved. Cheap shots were made at the Clinton campaign’s expense on the Slack channel. The candidates and party chair had all supported Hillary, but the rest of the staff took shots at them too. As a “worker” people didn’t insult me personally or directly, but they insulted where I’d come from to get there. 

I sobbed on election night. My coworkers told me to suck it up. It was my fault for supporting the wrong candidate in the primaries. There were a lot of “I told you so’s” as I cried. 

The “I told you so’s” and “you just didn’t get that Bernie was what was best for you’s” followed me into a campaign in 2017. My full year of experience with Clinton wasn’t as good as the experience from the guy who volunteered on the weekends for Bernie during the primary. The insults followed me to a campaign in 2018 when one of my coworkers called me a “centrist pussy,” called me an “elitist rich bitch” on my birthday, and laughed in my face about how she drove across 3 states to Michigan just to vote for Jill Stein so the Hillary shills could “get what they deserved.” The gaslighting followed me into 2019 as the same thing started happening again to Warren staffers. I tried to come forward again with my new friends and instead was told “well we hear all these things about ‘Bernie Bros’ harassing people but I’ve never seen it. Hillary staffers don’t share screenshots because it was all made up.”

The thing is, it’s been years at this point. The email accounts I had for work are long gone. The phone that had all the screenshots broke after the primaries in 2016. The Facebook messages and tagged posts are long lost, and the list of blocked names on my Facebook has dwindled as people have deleted their accounts amidst Facebook’s many scandals. The internet has not lasted as long as my memories, especially as I’m continually reminded. 

“You just don’t understand that Bernie is who is best for you” has followed me into 2020 as I’ve watched Warren’s staff get caught in the same kinds of hate. 

It’s no secret that I experienced hell from Sanders supporters in 2016, but I’m not sure people knew to what extent. I’m watching the same things happen to the Warren campaign, often fueled by the same people as last time. I’ve been told that years have passed and my experiences don’t matter anymore and I should take down the posters and stickers that reminded me of the best year of my life. I’ve tried to move on and respect the best parts, but the worst parts of 2016 still haunt me as I look at the snakes spammed at Warren staffers on Twitter. It’s no secret that Bernie Bros harass people online, right?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Could Philly Socialists Please Stop Being White Supremacists?

When I was a teenager protesting Operation Desert Storm and wishing I had more people to protest with than my mom and two or three friends (Thanks mom though!!!) I would never have guessed I would be standing in the middle of a gorgeous and vibrant peace protest in 2020 just feeling like a BITCH.

I love, love, LOVE being an activist in Philly. I love that whenever I’m mad about something big I can type the keywords into Facebook and find a protest already planned. But there’s a hazard here too: You almost always have to stand around for a while listening to voter-suppressive nonsense from young, mostly-white groups who seem to have a LOT of (Ahem, Russian?) funding to print their stickers and signs.

The crowd at Saturday’s anti-war rally, hosted by Philly’s Party for Socialism and Liberation, was as diverse as Philly protests so often are: all ages and walks of life, some young folks with covered faces walking the periphery to keep us safe, veterans, nice middle-aged ladies, etc. But the speakers…

One of the first speakers I heard, a young African-American man, asserted the Bernie-ism/Russian talking point that race doesn’t matter, going on to say that “If you’re being choked by a policeman, is it going to feel better if that policeman is black?” Never mind who is usually getting choked, I guess, I did agree with him about Police Abolition, but I wasn’t surprised when he blamed today’s international tensions on Hillary and Barrack (who certainly do share responsibility) instead of our current nihilist-in-chief.

I didn’t feel entitled to interrupt or confront that speaker, but the next few ladies were voter-discouraging white socialist ladies, the worst bane (I mean, the worst bane on our side) of my protest existence.

“We cannot give our power over to the Democrats! It doesn’t matter who is in power!”
Except that:
“We need a Green New Deal!”*
At this point, I couldn’t help but to screech out “But you need the right people in power to do that!” I felt like an unpeaceful monster, like I was letting down the teenage idealist I’d been, but Jesus fuck.
(Possibly AOC is one of the TWO people allowed to be in government? But still, she can’t Green New Deal on her own!)

I’m sorry, young me, for wanting to kick the next speaker so badly, but I can’t, can’t, can’t deal with the white girl from “Refuse Fascism” who tells every crowd, at every protest, that voting doesn’t matter. Advising a mostly-people-of-color crowd not to participate in elections is so evil it makes my heart evaporate through my ears. I’ve seen Refuse Fascism (they of the well-funded signage) preach nonvoting to crowds of immigrants and immigration activists. I’ve seen them colonize a Black Lives Matter vigil for Stephon Clark.

How can I explain to Young Hippie Me that I think a group called “Refuse Fascism” is evil and funded by Russia? She would be mad that I’d even distrust another country! But then, she never had The Muller Report as driving-back-from-the-beach listening.

It’s settling in that with an all-white slate of Democratic candidates, I may spend the year hearing the refrain that “identity politics” are over, that economic inequality is the only inequality that matters. I’ve already heard NPR singing that tune, and even my sassy feminist news sources forget that we have an actively white supremacist president and an implicitly white supremacist Democratic (oh wait, but not really) front-runner so maybe identity DOES have an impact. (For way, way WAY better writing on the topic:

I miss Hillary. I don’t want to think her platform was our last chance for real progress. I know it isn’t. Of course I’ll keep canvassing, marching, and shouting back when I need to. John Lewis told me to!

To idealist teenage me, I’ll say:

I’m sorry we’ve been protesting the same war for 30 years.

But look at all the people out here marching with us! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 in Protest Art for Heather Heyer

Kendra won a seat on city council, too!!!
Philly Trans March!
Handed out with Halloween candy! 
Global Climate Strike! 
Protesting against ICE
Postcards to Voters! Will follow Henry to his next campaigns forever.

Happy to follow Erika to her next campaign too!
Philly Women's March
 Philly Womens March

Philly Womens March

President's Day Protest, Philly City Hall
President's Day Protest, City Hall Philly

President's Day Protest, City Hall Philly
What to yell at congress about.