Standing in solidarity globally

As a Black woman and anti-racist, the news of the assassination, murder, killing or whatever we are calling it of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani at the behest of our very own Donald Trump has landed rather harshly with me.

By no accounts was Soleimani a good guy. From everything that I have read, an untimely death was almost certainly in his cards at some point. However, as an American, I know all too well that our nation has a rocky history with the truth as it relates to people that we deem as “other.” American truth is precarious at best.

We have made it our business for hundreds of years to traffic in truth that is convenient to our side, specifically the side of white folks and truth be damned! Given that our current commander-in-chief is a known liar, and apparently the majority of people who serve him also are truth-deficient, we may never know if there was actually an imminent threat being posed by Soleimani.

What we do know, though, is that the United States has a long history of mucking around in primarily non-white countries and that there is a long line of “invasions … bombings … overthrowing governments … occupations … suppressing movements for social change … assassinating political leaders … perverting elections … manipulating labor unions … manufacturing “news” … death squads … torture … biological warfare … depleted uranium … drug trafficking … mercenaries …” (Killing Hope 2008).

We also know that the average American is often clueless about our reality abroad and that too often we accept the “truth” as it is spoon-fed to us. Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, anyone? Oops, our bad!

I am nowhere near qualified to provide a global geopolitical analysis on Western imperialism. As an anti-racist writer and speaker, I will say though that if events in recent years in the United States brought you into racial justice and anti-racism spaces, then you need to be equally as concerned about events abroad. The same white supremacy that undergirds much of American racism can also be seen abroad. The same lack of truth that is a hallmark of American history can also be seen anywhere we have left a footprint.

In the end, we cannot claim to be in solidarity with Black and Brown people in our country without standing in solidarity with oppressed Black, Brown and working-class people globally.

Wherever this latest conflict takes us, it won’t be the powerful, rich, white men who feel the pain. It will be the everyday person in Iran, struggling to survive. It will be others across the region as well. It will be American troops who are disproportionately Black, Brown and white working-class people and their families who are directly affected. Once again, victims of a system that too many refuse to dismantle.


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Be we resolved for 2021…looking beyond the new year

Let’s start with a pretty uncomfortable likelihood: 2021 will likely be a complete catastrophe. No matter the outcome of the impeachment trial or the election, the president won’t step down. This is true, obviously if he wins, but also if he loses. He’ll never accept the results. He’s said as much from the beginning. Honestly, just try to imagine him saying, “Well, we did our best, but the country chose a different leader tonight and I wish them all the luck in the world! We know they’ll do their best for the country because after all, that’s the only thing that matters!” Does the idea of him saying that make you laugh or cry? At this point I’m not even sure I can do one without the other.

Anyway, the whole thing will probably go to the very same courts that he’s spent his entire term stacking. At some point people will take to the streets in protest and in all likelihood be met with the same level of violence the protestors in India and Hong Kong are facing right now. Which, in case you forgot, is the very same violence protesters have historically faced in this country.

And that’s just what happens if the president survives—and let’s all hope and pray that he does! Seriously, because if he’s struck down by the stress of the job or his own decades-long diet of fast food and diet soda, all of those mass shooters, mail bombers, conspiracy theorists, members of various hate groups who are inspired by the president would cry foul and escalate their violence in the name of their new martyr.

And that’s not even touching on what a terrifying monstrosity a Pence presidency would be.

So, yeah, 2021 is probably going to be horrifying in unimaginable ways, but there’s good news: 2021 is a whole year away. That may not sound like good news, but what it means is, Lord willing and the nukes don’t fly, you can make 2020 a good one.

You and I don’t know each other well enough for me to give you advice. And while the timing is right for New Year’s resolutions, it feels a little corny to call it that. That said, here’s a number of things I’ve done that have helped me deal with crises, improved my overall experience of the world and hopefully prepared me in some way for what promises to be the most obnoxious of all possible apocalypses.

Learn to shoot a gun

I’m gonna be straight with you. I hate guns. I always have. I love them in my entertainment, but in real life I just can’t stand them.

So, a few years ago I was visiting a friend in the Mojave Desert. Like a lot of folks out there, my friend has survivalist tendencies and he loves guns. He also knows I don’t. Half-jokingly, he offered to take me shooting and I accepted his offer.

For real, it sucked. I hated every second of it. It felt like way too much responsibility, but I learned. And I’m glad I did because even though I continue to hate guns, that knowledge is better had and not needed than needed and not had.

Eat healthier

Ugh. I know. It’s such a cliché. And annoying, but it’s real. I used to eat, um, presidentially, but after a bit of a health scare a while back I decided to start eating healthier. Something that helped me a lot was striking the word “diet” from my vocabulary. That word sounded like I was keeping things from myself, restricting my own behavior. Thinking of it as just eating healthier felt like I was doing something good for myself and it didn’t take long to make it routine. Of course, eating healthier is naturally paired with…

Exercise

Oof. More with the clichés, I know. I worked at a gym for years and I really grew to loathe them. Everyone eventually seemed like vain hamsters all running the same wheels at the same time never breaking from a constant stare at their own reflections. And spending money to do that? Luckily, you can get weights and a bench for pennies on the dollar on craigslist. Plus, you know, push-ups, crunches, squats, running and even pull-ups on a tree branch are all free.

Also, exercise doesn’t have to be “exercise.” It can be a recreational sport or a dance class or you could…

Learn a martial art

I’ve studied martial arts for more than 20 years. As an adult, I’ve only been in a handful of situations in which fighting was necessary. I can tell you without a doubt that the key to success in those moments was not martial arts. It was situational awareness, but having the tools of martial arts in my belt gave me the confidence to act and the appropriate response. If you are new to martial arts, jiu-jitsu is a great place to start because it is practiced how it is used and doesn’t require a lot of physical strength to be successful.

Take a first aid class

It was required back when I worked in that gym. It was the best thing I ever did even though I’ve been fortunate enough to never have to use it. You can get that training at a Red Cross near you.

Learn a musical instrument

As a musician, I’m obviously biased here, but hey, you’re gonna need to entertain yourself somehow post-cataclysm, right?

Gardening

This is something I’ve actually never done. I don’t have much of a yard, but there’re community gardens. Maybe I’ll start with something potted on a window sill. Learning to grow things could be just the practical and meditative thing I’ve been missing.

If you need it, I hope this list gives you the inspiration to make 2020 the best pre-annihilation year possible. And on the off-chance I’m wrong, well, you’ll have had a pretty good year anyway!


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Buttigieg’s mediocrity reveals racism in his supporters

There’s a phrase that comes to mind when I consider Pete Buttigieg: “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Of course, the phrase has a complicated history; I don’t mean it in the way it was originally used. When I use it here, I mean that Pete Buttigieg is milquetoast mediocrity and I am confident that white people’s support of him is based in racism.

Why do I think white people’s support of Buttigieg is based in racism? For two reasons. First, he is not well-qualified for the position of the president of the United States of America. He’s only been a semi-successful mayor of a relatively small city; he’s had no federal experience. And, second, his policy ideas are so “centrist” they’re practically Republican.

Why are those reasons racist? Here’s where the soft bigotry of low expectations, or maybe “dancing backwards in high heels“ comes into play. We white people have extraordinarily high expectations for candidates of color. Na’ilah Amaru, policy strategist and Iraq veteran, said it well, discussing Kamala Harris leaving the campaign, “…women of color understand from our own lived experience: We must be twice as good for half the opportunity—and even then, that may not be enough.”

The fact that he is even being considered a serious candidate with so little experience is an example of how low the bar is for white men. The current president is another example, of course. The candidates who are people of color all have so much more experience than Buttigieg, but the bar for them is higher. Most of the candidates of color also don’t have the connections to global consultancy firms like McKinsey & Company for fundraising opportunities (most of which are closed to the press). So, yes, supporting Pete Buttigieg is racist because he’s not as qualified as most of the other candidates and apparently that doesn’t matter to you; for you, it’s enough that he’s a book-smart white man.

The other reason that supporting Buttigieg is racist is because his policy ideas are almost exclusively non-threatening. Nothing he is suggesting requires radical change in our white supremacist systems. He doesn’t support Medicare for All and he wants to increase military spending, for example. Here’s a good example of how wishy-washy and not-radical he is, when asked about a wealth tax: “I think we certainly need to consider a higher marginal tax rate for top income earners. Maybe it doesn’t have to be as high as it was historically, but we should at least admit that when it was higher, the American economy was growing pretty well. We should consider a wealth tax.” Notice that he’s not saying we should do it, only that we should consider it but not at too high a rate. That’s how he talks about anything approaching actual change. He uses lots of subtle cues to appease more conservative or wealthy voters.

I will also freely admit that I don’t trust him because none of the Black people I know on- or offline trust the guy; there’s plenty of press coverage about his lack of support among Black voters. I don’t think all Black people are always right, but the overwhelming dislike of this candidate by Black people is something I take seriously.

Plus, racism is rampant in South Bend. 26% of the people in South Bend, Indiana are Black but 0% dollars of the government contracts have gone to Black-owned businesses. There is a consistent lack of support from Black and Latinx voters in his small city. Referring to Buttigieg’s “1,000 homes in 1,000 days“ project, “[B]lack and Latino residents panned the aggressive blight eradication project that put local homeowners at the mercy of inflexible bureaucrats, did not incorporate community voices and concerns as much as it should have, and cast the pall of gentrification on those neighborhoods.”

The fact is, I can’t prove that you like Buttigieg because he’s white and doesn’t threaten to radically change anything. I’m sure you have reasons that make sense to you. But as Rafia Zakaria writes in “Why is Kamala Harris gone while Pete Buttigieg is still here?“ “while there is no direct evidence (there never is) [emphasis added] that a combination of race and gender hastened the end of the Harris candidacy, it is true that all the front-runners left in the democratic field are white.” I believe the same reasoning holds true for why I’m confident that white people’s support of Buttigieg is racist. As Gabrielle Gurley of the Prospect says, “Contemporary problems cannot be willed away with an earnest demeanor, good intentions, and a plan named for a fabled abolitionist by someone who has shown himself completely unqualified to sweep away the detritus of the country’s original sin.”


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