5. Connection/ Community, 9. Racial Justice (Smash White Supremacy)

Why and How and When to Give your Dollars

I’ve seen a lot of fellow White folks ready to donate money since the election. This is important. The redistribution of resources is urgent. See here for suggestions about where to donate money.

See below for thoughts about why and how and when.

I will not address the “how much” question in this post, aside from encouraging you to give a lot. More than you gave last year. And to more radical places. I acknowledge that financial traumas and related anxieties are real for many of us, no matter the numbers that define your current financial context. Check out these awesome resources from Hadassah Damien on financial fearlessness and healing while doing this work.

And then, give.

 

Give in significant amounts ASAP.

Now. Giving Tuesday. This holiday season. Before the end of 2016. Organizations and activists are recovering and regrouping and strategizing for how to approach the coming year. The money raised in the next month will shape what they can plan and how ambitious they can be. And we all need to be very ambitious.

 

Become a monthly sustainer.

Organizations and activists need to know what money they have now – and also what they can count on coming in down the line. Becoming a monthly donor shows them that you are in the process with them, and is helpful as they plan ahead. It helps them figure out how to make their work sustainable.

 

Give tax-deductible donations as well as not-deductible contributions.

This information should be clear on the organization’s website or on the automated thank-you note you receive. Although getting a tax deduction is certainly a perk, please consider also contributing to places that are not tax deductible – perhaps because they are new and not yet sponsored (read: institutionalized), because they want or need to remain political/partisan, or perhaps because they are individuals trying to get by in the world who sorely need your support. If you are tithing or using another system to set a goal of how much you want to give each year, consider setting separate goals for tax-deductible donations and non-deductible contributions.

 

Give because you mean it.

Get in touch with your most visceral reasons for giving. What are you yearning to accomplish, or to be a part of accomplishing? Are you motivated right now by plans for emergency management, doing damage control? Are you motivated to build a deeper and more radical grassroots movement? Do you want to make sure we are better networked and better organized before the next election? Do you feel an imperative to redistribute the wealth accumulated by your or your family’s participation in American capitalism/ colonialism/ imperialism? Are you ready to start the process of giving reparations to indigenous communities and to Black people whose families were enslaved and who are persistently targeted by multidimensional structural oppressions?

 

Give here.

 

For those of you who have the opportunity to move large amounts of money, or want to further get involved in mobilizing people with wealth, check out the book Classified and the work of Resource Generation.

5. Connection/ Community, 9. Racial Justice (Smash White Supremacy)

For White people asking me, What do we do?

Taking it step by step. Here’s where I was the first day.

I’ve had many White people – friends, colleagues, Facebook friends – ask me what we do. So here’s what I’m doing now, at least this first week.

Note: I am a queer femme survivor of sexual assault with an advanced degree and enough money. I write and love and work from all of those places. I write with the hope of engaging other White people. I also welcome feedback, pushback, and connection with folks of color who may be reading this, and I want to repeat over and over that I value you and I am with you.

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1. Self and community care reminders

  • Water, sleep, food, movement, human company.
  • Offer support – particularly to people who have been the primary targets of this campaign and of American White Nationalism. Pay attention.
  • Reach out – to the extent that you are able – share your own emotional response with people who may be or feel more secure than you do right now – I specifically ask upset White people to reach out to other White people in your life. Maybe you’ll get some real, useful emotional support. And maybe also showing them why you’re agitated will get them agitated. And we need them, too. We need them with us.

***trauma triggers trauma***

We’re all going through different kinds of shock and grief and fear and betrayal and trauma right now… triggering different kinds of shock and grief and fear and betrayal and trauma that we’ve experienced previously… especially all that systemic stuff that is so interconnected. Hold that, give space for that, for yourself and for the people around you.

2. Action planning

  • Our 100 — An open letter to Our Nation from 100 women of color leaders — read and sign
  • Showing up for Racial Justice — engaging White people in racial justice work across the US — sign up, get connected
  • I am also planning a Skype series for anyone who wants to talk, to move from reflection to action. We will talk about Whiteness and the Vision for Black Lives and all that is happening around us and whatever else you/we need to talk about.

***White people need to listen to People of Color leadership and be ready to respond***

And by ready to respond, I mean ready to risk more and to contribute more than we ever have before. Professionally, emotionally, financially. To do that, we will need teams of people we love and trust who will hear us when this gets hard and push us and guide us through it. Let me know if you want me on your team.

3. Moving money

***pay folks of color for their labor and leadership***

Many people who can lead us out of this are right now unable to pay their bills. Medical bills. Student debt. Big bills. They are educators and activists and organizers and writers and designers and more. Hire them. Give them jobs, speaking gigs, consulting gigs. Give them money. And do not ask them to do anything for free.

That’s not to say there won’t be a lot of unpaid labor by folks of color in this process. There will be. It’s just that White folks shouldn’t be asking for their unpaid labor. At the same time, White folks who can should be investing more and more of our own unpaid labor – and we should be reorganizing budgets so we can pay folks of color for theirs.

***

More soon. Let me know if you want in on the Skype series, of course.

Thank you for reading. Be in touch. And please, please… stay alive.

5. Connection/ Community

First response.

 

Originally posted on Facebook, 10:00am Wednesday November 9th.

I’m here and I care about you and I’m worried about you. I’m fighting to dismantle White supremacist patriarchy and I’m in it with you and deeply grateful to those who are in it with me.

And I’m here for the work of taking care of each other. My heart goes out to the counselors and therapists and educators and activists and organizers and writers who are spending today holding space for others and making a plan. I’m here to offer care for you, too.

I’m paying attention and I’m ready and I don’t quite have plans yet but I’ll be in touch. I’m ready to act. I invite you to text or message or call if you have feelings or questions or plans or requests or just want to connect.

Black lives matter. I stand with Muslim folks and indigenous folks and refugees. Trans and queer and nonbinary and gender non conforming humans, I value you. I trust survivors. And there’s so much more and I will do better by you because you deserve better.

Lastly, trauma triggers trauma. I’ve heard from a lot of people already who are dissociated and I encourage you to try not to be alone today, and to check on your loved ones too.

5. Connection/ Community

“You’ve done everything right up to this point”

The most dominant image I have is me sitting on my couch staring at the ceiling. But really I was luckier than that – it was a beautiful fall, and I spent a lot of time lying in the grass soaking in the sun. In the park down the street… on the field across from the gym… on the hill by my office… resting my concussed brain, trying to cope.
I was coping not only with the concussion, but also with the effect of the concussion on my basic emotion regulation abilities. It was like there’d been a buffer zone around my feelings that had dissolved, dissipated. Hard feelings turned to panic much more easily, with a dangerous intensity. And panicking could only make things worse: spiking my heart rate, sending me down a steep dark spiral, and only aggravating the injury further.
So I had to ground myself. I had to. Feeling the grass underneath each limb, waves of guilt and shame and fear threatening to flood my system for uninterrupted hours in which I was supposed to be recuperating so I could get back to the Regret.
I have done everything right up to this point.
That’s how I would anchor myself.
I am alive, loved, and enrolled (as in, enrolled in grad school, even if I didn’t know when or how I would be able to finish). I have done everything right up to this point.
I would focus on those words, repeating them over and over and over again, for weeks and weeks.
Of course, it wasn’t true. I mean, it was true that I was alive, loved, and enrolled. But it wasn’t true that I’d done everything right. How could it be? That’s not a thing.
I said it to myself so much that it became a habit – telling myself I’d done everything right because at least I’d gotten to that point, still in the game, with people in my corner. But those good things can be true even if I haven’t done everything right. And I haven’t. I didn’t do everything right in grad school (shh don’t tell!); and I certainly haven’t done everything right by the people who have so valiantly loved me.
Sometimes I’ve messed up and hurt only myself. Sometimes I’ve messed up and really hurt people I care about. Sometimes I’ve messed up in ways that hurt marginalized folks around me and perpetuate the very systems of oppression I’m committed to dismantling.
I want to hold these truths. I need a way to be here and to feel them and then to do the repair I can do in/for myself, in/for my relationships, and in/for my communities. Can I tolerate the reality that I have not done everything right, without getting stuck in spirals of regret or shame or self-flagellation?
The first step is feeling the feelings. And then comes speaking back, but not to negate or deny what I’m upset about having done. Not to claim rightness or say it’s okay when it’s not. What can I say instead to speak directly to/with those feelings? I’m gonna play with some ideas here, and I’d love to hear feedback and reflections from you, too!
To regret, I could say: This is how things have happened. I did what I could at the time. This is the only way it’s happened, and this is what I get to live with now.
To shame, I could say: I care about my impact. I want to understand and address the impact I’ve had. Having a negative impact doesn’t negate everything about me. Everything else is still true, too, and I can be complicated.
To self-flagellation, I could say:Actually what I need is the opposite. What I need is self-care. To do better in the world, I need to do better for myself. The more okay I am, more aware of my own feelings and holding more of my own stuff, the more responsibly I’ll behave towards other people and the more I’ll be able to do for/with other people.
Perhaps these thoughts can help me ground myself in the presentand future, and engage with the pain and complexity of the past. By paying attention instead of turning away, maybe I will find an opportunity to do repair work, and maybe I can expand my capacity to do differently next time.
I am alive, loved, and employed. I’ve done a lot right up to this point. But not everything. I’ve messed up in some significant ways.
I did the best I could. I care about my impact. The more I take care of myself, the more I’ll be able to address what I can of what I’ve done, and to do better moving forward.

I hope?

5. Connection/ Community

Hopes and Dreams for 2016

  1. Stop saying I “just” moved to NYC
  2. Cook – like, roasted vegetables and soups
  3. More reading and writing
  4. More music and dance and prayer and poetry
  5. Host another dinner party
  6. Go back to not checking email and Facebook on Saturdays
  7. Read/listen/talk more about the impact of white supremacy and structural racism on the work I do and how I do it
  8. Read/listen/talk more about the impact of gentrification and what it means for me to be living where I live
  9. Further systematize my financial contributions to bolster the work of the people most impacted by local and global systems of oppression
  10. Stop getting annoyed when people send me vague text messages… avoid over-interpreting
  11. Open my heart to other humans
  12. Feel as much as possible
5. Connection/ Community

Having Feelings in Public (& Other Themes of 2015)

I didn’t mean to alarm people with my Facebook statuses; I just wanted to share. But perhaps there’s something in the genre of Facebook status writing (and Instagram selfies, apparently) that is not well-suited to the kind of self-expression I’m trying to achieve. I try to invite you into these thoughts and feelings that I’m having, but in a brief status – that you’re reading while scrolling – I can’t show you the whole thing. I can’t show you what it means to me and how I’m holding the experience. sex education, public schools and youth development programs. And authenticity, and I’m finding within that authenticity a kind of connection with community are what allow me to invest in my work as an activist, to build relationships that will facilitate and propel change dance. To careand question. So hard but so needed. 
I will keep seeking community, I will keep hosting events at my place, and I will even keep going to Brooklyn to see what people are building there. Let me know your other ideas, hopes, dreams, visions, suggestions, etc. I’m in it with you!
You. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my village this year. Family of origin and family of choice. Best friends, old friends, new friends, people who weren’t yet my friends but welcomed me with warmth anyway. You are the reason I can do anything, you are the reason I could write my dissertation and finish school and get a job and move to New York. You are the reason I could start a new job and take on new projects and set up a new life. You are the reason I have hope for myself, and you are the reason I have hope for the world.
Sending you warmth this winter, with so much hope and so many wishes for care and love and justice in the coming year.
5. Connection/ Community

Authenticity, writing, and regret

Regret has been my go-to emotion these days.
The times in my life I most regret are the times when I have succumbed to inauthenticity. When I have not been my authentic self. When I have turned away from myself in order to turn towards something else, and then that something else ended up being really bad.
I can’t go back to any of those times and wake myself up. I can’t enter those key moments and decide to listen to myself, decide to take myself more seriously, decide that I am worth facing challenges for.
I can’t go back. That’s the whole point. That’s the one rule in all of this. I only have now and in the future.
This recent wave of regret has been triggered by something that feels rather silly in the context of all this existential reflection. But still, it is real and it matters and it’s bringing up some really strong feelings for me. It’s that Feministing contest.
Many of you were so overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic when I made it into the final round of the Feministing.com “So You Think You Can Blog” contest. I got the email on a Tuesday afternoon at work—I had arrived at work late after spending the morning presenting a lecture on adolescent sexuality at a Boston College class on Positive Youth Development and then getting lunch with the professor (at Inna’s Kitchen!). I was totally amped about the lecture and discussion and the prospect of more teaching about sex and sexuality.
Then I got the email that I was selected as a finalist, and I couldn’t stop shaking in disbelief. In fact, I didn’t stop shaking until I got the email three weeks later that I wasn’t selected as a winner.
And I just think—I can’t help but feel—my understanding of my own situation is that it was that very disbelief, that very shaking, that very frozen-in-time, this-can’t-be-happening feeling that pulled me out of myself and threw me into a state of inauthenticity bordering on emotional paralysis—and now remembering that state of being is at the core of my current regret. I regret that I didn’t slow down enough in order to enter the last round of the contest as myself. From the minute I got the email, I was thinking about how to fit into their club—how to write the way they wanted me to write and write about the topics they wanted me to write about—I wasn’t thinking about how to be myself and be true to myself. I ended up writing blog posts that I thought were smart and well-written, but I personally wasn’t anywhere in those posts. They could have been written by anyone.
My biggest challenge was the one instruction they gave us—to be timely. When I blog, it’s always timely, but to me, to my timeline. I’m blogging about the one thing that I’ve been stuck on recently, the one piece of my life, past or present, that is eating away at me and that I want to come to understand by communicating it to others. I don’t tend to discuss current events or pop culture, and I’d never written a post on-demand before. And instead of slowing down and considering how I would proceed were I to actually win the contest and become a more scheduled, more public blogger, I plowed forward without reflection. I was plowing forward without myself, because I wasn’t giving myself time to catch up.
I don’t know if any of this is making sense to you. I can only get it to make sense to me part of the time. But it’s really at the core of what I’ve been feeling and thinking about these days, and it seemed to be more honest and authentic than the “why I hate competitions” or the “what does this mean about my professional identity and career goals” posts that I was considering writing as another form of reflection on the Feministing contest. Maybe those will be important posts for me to write at some point in the future, but today I needed to write about regret. Because noticing this regret about the times when I haven’t slowed down to address myself, to try to be true to myself, to attend to my own feelings and boundaries and goals—noticing all of that regret regarding the blog posts I wrote made me notice all the other regrets I have, too: regrets about times when I turned away from myself in ways that had much worse consequences than losing a contest.

5. Connection/ Community

Feministing Contest Final Round

I got the email on Tuesday, October 9: I was selected as one of six finalists for the Feministing.com “So You Think You Can Blog” contest. The winners of the contest would become regular contributors to the site. The final round was simple: we each selected a four-hour shift the following week in which we would write three posts for the main page.

Although I did not win the contest, I worked carefully on these entries before posting them on Monday, October 15. Here are the links, for prosperity.

Four responses to how Martha Raddatz posed the abortion question

5. Connection/ Community

In Support of Effective Government

I am not protesting against the government. I am protesting in support of the government. I am in support of a government that works, one that does its job, one that takes care of the American people and demonstrates positive teamwork across the globe. I support President Obama, and I want to see this country’s administration doing its thing a little more. Let’s make change.

I support Occupy Wall Street because we are the 99 percent, and we want a better government.

In the fall of 2000, I was in 10th grade, and I learned that the government is not doing its job well, not supporting the American people in the ways in which they need support. I was a stellar student at a stellar suburban public school, told that if I worked hard I could achieve wonders. And I believed it, because I had the resources to help me and the people to encourage me. I read Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol to do a book report, and my world changed. I read about other public schools, underfunded public schools, with run-down buildings, overcrowded and violent hallways, and classrooms in which tired and scared teachers struggled to teach hungry and traumatized students.

I was sold. I can fix this problem, I said to myself. I have found what I will do with my life. I love schools, and I love teaching, and I can help make all American public schools as great as mine.

Well, Jonathan Kozol and countless others had already spent decades trying to do the same, and they had not yet succeeded. The more I researched the issue and taught and tutored in urban public schools, the more I discovered classism, racism, financial crisis, financial restructuring, and what I consider a totally irresponsible government.

How did our government get away with spending money on corporations and war-waging when our schools needed that money for repairs, resources, curriculum, and teacher training? When our students were hungry? When our families needed health care, jobs, housing?

As someone passionate about education, I have done a lot of work in non-profit organizations. And yes, many of them are working to address inequities in education, and in other areas. But what I truly believe is that this work of ensuring high-quality education and providing high-quality health care and jobs and housing and food is the primary responsibility of an effective democratic government.

I quickly learned that I would not fix the system alone. It is too broken, in too many parts, and in such complex ways.

So I support Occupy Wall Street. Because I support the government. I support a government that is working for the 99 percent. We can do this work. I want to see the government take on this challenge. I want to see President Obama make this happen. I want to help make this happen.

2. Weddings, Marriage, & Divorce, 5. Connection/ Community

To my support network

I wrote this piece to share with several wedding guests who came to spend time with me in the hour before the ceremony, in a tradition called a tisch, which means “table.”

I have been experiencing this wedding in three layers, three perspectives, three ways in which I understand and express my own story. The initial layer is the personal relationship I share with Matt. Hopefully, you will hear the meanings of this deep layer as you witness our marriage ceremony, right after this tisch. The second layer of my experience of this wedding is political. Throughout the last month, I have expressed many of these thoughts and feelings on my blog, so I will not repeat them here.

The third layer of my experience of this wedding was actually the key motivating factor in my decision to have a wedding and reception to celebrate the marriage that Matt and I are undertaking. This layer is what I would like to focus on now, because it is about you. It is you. To my family, my friends, my loved ones, and those who love Matt and are here because they are open to loving me, too… welcome. Thank you for being with us today and throughout our lives. We have put all this thought and energy into preparing for today because we wanted to share it with you. It was because of you that I wanted to have this wedding today.

I once had an assigned reading for a gender studies class in college that addressed the Wedding Industrial Complex and analyzed many problematic and patriarchal aspects of modern weddings. One part of the critique that really struck me was he role of the guests in the wedding process. The couple and their parents plan the wedding, then everyone rushes in to celebrate for a day or for the weekend, and then the couple is left alone. Sealed off and isolated as they begin their marriage. Where the struggles happen, where the hard stuff comes up.

I don’t want to do it that way. First of all, we haven’t done it that way so far. We have been so blessed to have the effusive love and collaboration of each other and our parents in planning this wedding, but it didn’t stop there. Our best friends, our new friends, our parents friends, our cousins, they all helped us in planning this wedding. And each offer of help, each volunteering to take on a task, meant so much to be. Because not only was it extremely helpful in terms of getting this thing to happen, but it also, to me, implied a willingness and perhaps eagerness to help us in the times that will follow this wedding, whatever those times might entail.

We need you. I need you.

Our relationship cannot thrive in isolation. We need your support, in times of struggle and in times of joy, to help us thrive and reach our potential as a couple. I want to take this opportunity to ask you for this support, and for your patience, compassion, and wisdom as we navigate the joint and individual challenges ahead of us and cope with what that means for our relationship with each other and for our relationships with each of you.

And in addition to your support, I want to offer you mine. In the theme of approaching my wedding day as a personal Yom Kippur, I will start with an apology. I am sorry for all the times I have hurt or offended you or others that you care about. I have been distracted, I have been careless, too fast to speak, too soon to leave, and I have been selfish. Please forgive me. Know on this day, as I renew my dedication to living a life in which my words, actions and relationships reflect my values and passions, I am committing to you as well as committing to Matt. I want to be there for you, and I will be renewed because of this day and because of the strength I gain from my relationship with Matt. Please know that as we solidify our relationship to each other, as we invite you here to celebrate our commitment and rejoice with us, we hope that you will find joy and comfort in welcoming us into your lives, as well. As I set many important intentions today, I take this moment to set the intention to be your friend, to deepen our relationship, and to support you with love and caring. And, I will need your love and care to nourish me as Matt and I pursue a partnership thriving with health, happiness, and the pursuit of justice.