Guns and America, Part 2

•October 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In 2012, after the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I wrote a blog post suggesting that guns weren’t really the problem. I still stand by that. But in the wake of yet another mass shooting last night in Las Vegas, Vox recently compiled stats and charts demonstrating why guns kind of are the problem. It’s already being called the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history” which already whitewashes American history, because it ignores several violent incidents that targeted black people which claimed more lives.

But the essential question and point I made back in 2012 remains. We started to answer it in the comments. Why are we such a violent hateful nation? Five years later. we have a president who is the living embodiment of every hateful, violent internet troll you’ve encountered, I think it’s a more relevant question than ever. Trump is, above all else, a symptom of America more than anything. More specifically, I’ve come to conclude Trump is the symptom of Amerikkka. Of white supremacy unreconciled.

I teach a class to graduate counseling students called Teaching Power. Privilege, and Oppression. In it, I demand that students examine their own biases and prejudices and unpack them. This is kind of what we need to be doing as a nation.

In the decades that followed World War II, Germany went through some soul-searching, and has tried to atone honestly and through reparations for atrocities they committed. Individual Germans felt shame and guilt for what their country had done. And they should. In America, 250 years after the Civil War, we are still arguing about whether it’s appropriate to have statues celebrating the losing side, the side that fought for slavery to remain. We still have white people whitewashing history and pretending we’re “post-racial” and “colorblind.” And we still haven’t given reparations for descendants of slaves, for Japanese citizens interned during World War II, for Chinese people expelled violently from towns after they broke their backs to build our railroads, or for Native Americans our country slaughtered.

I’ve come to conclude that THAT is why we are such a violent hateful nation. Until we reconcile ourselves collectively – all of us – we will never change. Are we too big and disparate a country to do this like Germany has done? Could this ever happen?


On the word cisgender, and labels we use

•July 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been immersed in an online dialogue about the word “cisgender” which I did not realize has been interpreted as an insulting term by some feminists, who object to being labeled without their consent. Ironic, of course, because transgender people have been labeled without their consent since the word “transsexual” first started being used my medical professionals (in 1949, according to Wikipedia, by Magnus Hirshfeld, after the first successful gender reassignment surgery, which took place in 1930.)

Labels are a funny thing. The word homosexual didn’t exist until the 1880s but homosexual and bisexual activity and relationships have existed since the earlier human times. It wasn’t until we started to label “homosexuals” that we needed to then define who wasn’t a homosexual. And then gays, lesbians, bisexuals, queers, dykes, fags, and all the rest of us started to define and re-define ourselves, because it took back power from those who had first defined us.

And we needed to have a term to define people who aren’t gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer, because linguistically this became easier than saying “non-homosexual people”. So straight and heterosexual were born as labels.

So too is it with transgender people. Transgender people and gender nonconforming people have always existed, but for many years they had to live in silence, without being defined. Even when they had surgery the goal was then to slide back undetected into society without anyone knowing they were transsexual, the first medical label. And then – that is, now, trans and gender nonconforming people are defining and redefining themselves in ways that better fits them.

And so linguistically there is a need for a term to define “non-transgender people”. So cisgender was borne.

I read in one blog post that the objections feminists have to cisgender are in part because some feminists view all of gender as a social construct. I would argue that Kate Bornstein long ago floated the idea that if you expand the definition of transgender to include anyone who has ever transgressed gender, it includes a lot more of us. Including those same feminists.

Gender is a construct. But how we live in the world is important. But so is how we talk to each other and about each other. What labels we use for ourselves is important, but only because it is supposed to enable us talk to each other more easily and get our needs met. We’re missing the point here.

For Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, for Ricky Best, for Micah Fletcher 

•May 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Someone else said, it was the very best and the worst of Portland on that MAX train from Lloyd Center. A city that feels like home, a city often ahead of the country in compassionate and progressive policies. But it is also a part of the country violent white supremacists have claimed as their own territory. And I remember in 1991-1992 one of my best friends at Reed (a Mexican American man from South Central LA) and I would take the bus to Lloyd Center in search of brown people. He texted me Saturday when he heard the news of the attack and I recalled this to him. 25 years later, his response was “did we find any?”  

This country was founded on violent white supremacy, yet has pledged ideals it has never met. If we are ever to become the successful model of of a pluralistic democratic nation our best ideals claim us to be, we must confront our own racism and imperialism. Men like Jeremy Christian are as American as it gets, but so are all the rest of us.  

The State Of The World In 2017

•May 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sink hole at Mar a Lago
Elephant falls on poacher
Meanwhile teenyboppers are murdered
at their first concert.
“I might turn into star dust,”
he says, and I don’t know
if he’s being metaphorical
or delusional.
That’s the state of the world.
Is it karma or is it surrealism?
Everything seems to be slipping
sliding between tectonic plates
We dont know if it will be
an earthquake or a tsunami
We just know its coming.

Protected: NaPoWriMo, Day 22

•April 24, 2017 • Enter your password to view comments.

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NaPoWriMo, Day 23

•April 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’m going to try and catch up, but man I haven’t done so well on this year’s 30 day poem challenge.

Day 23: Write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. 

“Schooling as a Site of Black Suffering”: An elevenie for Michael Dumas

Resist capitalism
Refuse settler colonialism
What keeps people down

Learn stuff
Red brick building
Reject racism and sexism

Protected: NaPoWriMo, Day 20

•April 20, 2017 • Enter your password to view comments.

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