on hiding/privilege/guilt/shame

16 05 2009

“Still, Gyan was absolutely sure that she was proud of her behavior; masqueraded it about as shame at her lack of Indianness, maybe, but it marked her status. Oh yes. It allowed her that perverse luxury, the titillation of putting yourself down, criticizing yourself and having the opposite happen–you did not fall, you mystically rose.

From The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai





Fellows and growing and building and justice

13 05 2009

Life has been taking over, and leaving me little-to-no time for blogging and writing. I literally have five or six posts that I’ve started in the last month and a half and never finished. I’m going to finish this one, dammit.

A couple things, mostly personal. There are other important not-about-me things to write about too. I care about them. They are mostly contained in those aforementioned drafts. I am going to try to get some quick hits up soon, at least.

Like something about the Allied Media Conference. And how you should support people doing really important radical media justice work. And throw a little bit of money their way, to help mamis of color get to Detroit. I can’t be there, but those links above are to people whose work and writing I love reading, and on whom I have serious activist crushes, so you should probably go or help more people go, because it should be awesome.

And there are other things, too, of course.

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me with a look of deep concentration, routing the edge of a piece of rough-cut lumber

me with a look of deep concentration, routing the edge of a piece of rough-cut lumber

I like building things. And, huzzah, I get to build things this summer!

I’m going to spend 2-3 weeks of June working in upstate New York, doing natural building. We’re going to be in a little town called Hartford (I think), it’s about 60 miles north of Albany, just over the Vermont border. The job is a strawbale installation, which, explained very loosely, means using strawbales to build a house, and no it’s not going to blow down. Google it to learn more, it’s really interesting. I actually don’t know if the job is a house, or some other sort of structure, or a wall, or part of a building, or something else. But it’s a pretty awesome building technique, I’m super excited to learn more about it, and it also is a really great use of a resource that would otherwise be used for Halloween decorations and pumpkin patches.

Plus I’m working with someone for whom I have just overflowing respect and admiration, and a perpetual friend-crush.*

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I got a job! And a fellowship! Well technically, they go together and were contingent on each other. I don’t want to talk too specifically, because this blog isn’t totally anonymous, but I’m going to be participating in a community organizing fellowship program, and working with a local organization that is, quite literally, down the block. (Assuming our landlord doesn’t raise the rent so much that we have to move in October.) I can bike and walk to work in less time than it takes me to drive or take public transit work now. Plus, it should be a great and challenging and rewarding experience.

It will also mean being part of a Jewish community that is really committed to incorporating an anti-oppressive political analysis and critique into social justice and community-based work, and I am SO amped to build that kind of a community. My Judaism and my radical politics go hand in hand, but they are often forced apart, so it feels really good to see them coming together outside of just me and a handful of friends.

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Our garden is growing! We got off to a rocky start, but my partner’s parents were visiting, and her mom helped us replant some things, and now we have seedlings!

close-up of a nasturtium leaf in a metal pot.

close-up of a nasturtium leaf in a metal pot.

the first leaves of our one-day-to-be-a-bush raspberry plant

the first leaves of our one-day-to-be-a-bush raspberry plant

assorted pots with growing plants

assorted pots with growing plants

We have assorted vegetables and other edibles growing in our little pots, and most of the plants in the peat pots are ready for transplanting into larger containers. Hurrah!

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And finally, on something not so self-centered…

The Angie Zapata murder trial feels like old news, in the rush of blogging, but I think it’s still important to be talking about. My feelings were really complicated and conflicted, and really they still are. The first US hate crimes trial for the murder of a trans woman resulted in the highest possible guilty charges and sentencing. Ray Allen Andrade won’t receive the death penalty, which I’m also glad about, but I have no sympathy for him and I think he is the lowest of the low despicable people in the world.

And yet… there’s this. Which is just so right on. And my stomach tightens because even as I feel relief hearing the verdict, I know two things:

1. This verdict won’t bring her back. If it brings any measure of comfort to her family, friends, and loved ones – that is something – but it won’t bring her back. I’m also not convinced it will do much to reduce the threat trans people, especially trans women of color, live with every day.

2. The prison industrial complex is NOT the answer. Another man of color locked up, even one who did a terrible awful cannot be excused disgusting heartbreaking thing, is not how I envision justice. Does that mean I think Andrade should get off scot free? Absolutely not. But I don’t think the current criminal justice system is the answer to bigotry, hatred, and violence. I think the prison industrial complex is further dehumanizing and degrading, and breeds just those evils.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know it’s complicated and I feel conflicted. Because I think that every message that says that trans people’s lives are valued is important, and mattes. And I think that every time another man of color is thrown in jail, it matters, and serves to perpetuate individual and institutional racism.

Nezua has a post including links to other people who have been writing about the trial and verdict. Go there.

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There’s more. Always more. But I’m wrapping up for now. Good night.

*I’ve found that the term “friend-crush” is not always clearly understood. It means the feeling you have when you are very excited about building a friendship with someone, and it sort of feels like you have a crush on them, only it’s platonic. So it’s a friend-crush. I might have one on you.