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Posts Tagged ‘we are political monkeys’

“A Riot Is the Language of the Unheard”

I make my living with words, but some things are so large and so awful, they leave me at a loss. The death of George Floyd, and what’s happened as a result, is one of those things.

But I should try anyway, because from the outside, you can’t tell the difference between silence caused by an inability to articulate, and silence from a lack of care. And even if my words are going to be inadequate, it’s my responsibility — it’s the responsibility of all those who care, but especially white people who care — to say something anyway. Because just sitting here feeling bad about things? Gets precisely jack shit done.

One of the things that really struck me in reading Ijeoma Oluo’s book So You Want to Talk About Race was her metaphor of the abuse victim, replicated on a society-wide scale. It’s easy to look at many things abusers do in isolation and think “well, that wasn’t good, no, but it wasn’t that awful, so why are you making such a big deal out of it?” But looking at them in isolation misses the point. If my husband says something hurtful to me, I can cope because he doesn’t usually say such things, and I know he didn’t mean to hurt me, and I’m confident that when I say “hey, that bothered me,” he’ll listen and apologize and avoid that in the future. In the case of an abuser, though, it’s yet another blow landing atop an existing bruise landing atop deeply-buried scar tissue — and all of that damage is also the abuser’s work.

In this situation, the abuser is society as a whole, white society most particularly, and the victim is marginalized people. Particularly marginalized ethnic groups, but others as well.

Jim Hines posted a good quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., and I’ve taken my lead from him in using part of that quote as the title for this post. What we’re seeing right now is the result of centuries of abuse, and centuries of America — white America — refusing to listen. Of white America making changes here and there, sometimes big ones (abolishing slavery), but more often small, grudging ones . . . or no changes at all. Read Jim’s post for the statistics on what institutionalized prejudice looks like. If you’re white, imagine raising your son knowing there’s a 1 in 1000 chance that he will die at the hands of the police, and ask yourself how okay you’d be with that. Imagine this has been happening to your people for decades, and before that it was Jim Crow, and before that it was slavery. And the genocide of Native Americans and everything else white America has done to people who look different.

Imagine those blows hitting, again, and again, and again, and again, while people around you say “why are you making such a big deal out of this? Why are you angry? If you want to see things change, you should ask politely.” While continuing to ignore the polite requests you’ve been making for years and decades and centuries.

And let’s be clear: if you’re thinking right now “we’ve got to vote Trump out of the White House in November,” you’re not wrong . . . but you are woefully undershooting. We can’t wait five months to start doing something, and we can’t pretend that swapping who’s at the top will be enough to fix things. Change needs to happen everywhere. And it needs to start yesterday. Right now, do you have a little money to spare? Donate to Black Lives Matter, or the NAACP, or the ACLU. Write to your local lawmakers — city, state, and federal — to push for change where you live. Ordinarily I would encourage you to find a local protest and join it, but in these times of plague, I don’t think in-person action is the best idea.

And speak up. Say something. Even if your words are inadequate. What I’ve written here certainly is — but it’s better than writing nothing.

Every day is Voter Registration Day

Yesterday evening, I thought, “oh, crap. I was going to make a post about National Voter Registration Day, but I missed it.”

And then I thought, “screw that.”

So yes: Tuesday the 24th was National Voter Registration Day. You know what else is a good day to register? Literally any day you like. Here, have a link — just click on that to get rolling.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The best response to the attempts to undermine our nation is to democracy so hard at those people they can’t pull their shit anymore. To vote in better officials at every level, from the presidency down to the local dogcatcher. All our protests, the letter-writing, the sit-ins — those are all responses to the things done by our elected representatives, demonstrations of support for their good actions or efforts to push them in the right direction. You know what makes that easier? Having people with actual human ethics sitting in those seats to begin with.

So register. And better still: ask the people around you if they’re registered. If they’re not, here’s the link again. Step One, register. Step Two, vote. Step Three, profit. No question marks in the chain there; we know exactly what to do. We just need to get out there and do it.

After elections, chop wood, carry water.

It would be too much to say I’m relieved. That would imply a more sanguine outlook on the next two years, the next four, the next decade than I actually have. Given the path this country has been on, it’s going to take a long time to truly turn it around.

But I’m not crushed, either. And given how I feared I was going to feel tonight, I’ll take that. There are a lot of things to be pleased with from the election results. If there are some to be disappointed by . . . well, that was always going to be the case.

Either way, the next step is the same. We keep organizing. We keep shouting. We keep voting. We keep protecting the vulnerable, the marginalized, the people the Republican Party is determined to wipe away, by violence or law or just plain disregard. We keep striving for that more perfect union, because it ain’t gonna happen without a lot of work. And nobody can do that work but us.

The past and the future

cover art for ARS HISTORICA by Marie BrennanThe past: Ars Historica is on sale now!

The past is prologue . . .

Kit Marlowe. Guy Fawkes. Ada Lovelace. Kings and sailors and sainted nuns populate these seven stories of historical fantasy by award-winning author Marie Brennan. They span the ages from the second century B.C.E. to the nineteenth century C.E., from ancient Persia to the London of the Onyx Court. Discover the secret histories, hear the stories that have never been told — until now.

The future: if you are able to vote today, please do.

Nevertheless, a whole lot of us persisted

cover art for Nevertheless, She Persisted; ed. Mindy KlaskyYesterday saw the release of Nevertheless, She Persisted. There are many things with that title these days, but this one is mine — well, mine and that of eighteen other authors from Book View Cafe. It is, as you might expect, a collection themed around female persistence in the face of adversity. If you feel like you need that sort of encouragement right now, or you know someone who might, or you want to support the general idea, or you just think that sounds like something you would like to read, you can get the ebook directly from Book View Cafe, or from Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon UK; if you want a print edition, those are available too, from Amazon US or UK.

My contribution to the anthology is “Daughter of Necessity”, which is one of the stories I’m proudest of having written. It was inspired by an essay of Diana Wynne Jones’, and of course she herself is the woman whose work inspired me to become a writer in the first place.

It’s been six months since Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor of the Senate. Keep on speaking out. Persist. We will stand strong.

    Table of Contents

  • “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan
  • “Sisters” by Leah Cutter
  • “Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross
  • “Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle
  • “How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle
  • “After Eden” by Gillian Polack
  • “Reset” by Sara Stamey
  • “A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
  • “Making Love” by Brenda Clough
  • “Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford
  • “Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil
  • “Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky
  • “The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson
  • “If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
  • “Chatauqua” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds
  • “In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin
  • “Tax Season” by Judith Tarr
  • “Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Battle for the Net

I posted a little while ago about today, July 12th, being the “Battle for the Net.” The short version is that the FCC is trying to roll back the “net neutrality” protections we currently enjoy, which would have the effect of letting corporations control how you interact with the internet. Think of your cable company: you know how they charge you more money for “premium channels”? You might find yourself paying your internet provider extra fees to access “premium sites.” (Not paying the sites; paying Comcast. Or whoever provides your internet connection.) Sites they don’t have a financial stake in might load more slowly. Streaming sites could be throttled to the point where you can’t watch a video or listen to music or play an online game without constant hiccups.

All of those things are bad. But here’s what’s worse.

Think about the flood of online political activity we’ve had in the last year. All those petitions, all those videos, all those political blogs. Right now, the only thing controlling your access to them is your level of interest and will to engage. But if we let the FCC empower internet providers to become the internet’s gatekeepers, then it may get a hell of a lot harder for us to make our voices heard. A lot of the groups speaking out right now are precisely the ones being disadvantaged by the current administration’s policies; they’re the ones who can’t afford to pay prioritization fees to keep their sites from being buried. This would be another way to screw them over, to make sure the voices we hear first, last, and loudest are the ones with money behind them: a negative feedback loop that ensures that power stays in the hands of those who already have it.

We can’t let this happen. Call your senators. Call your representative. Write a letter to the FCC. Speak up now, while you still can. As tools for speech go, the internet is up there with the printing press and the invention of writing itself — and our democracy depends on freedom of speech. We have to protect it.

The Battle for the Net: July 12th

So, net neutrality.

It’s an important thing. Without it, cable companies will have far more control over what you see and do online: they’ll be able to slow down or block websites, or charge apps and sites extra fees in order to reach their audiences. They’ll push you toward sites belonging to companies who can afford to pay for “prioritization.” Marginalized communities and voices will be muted by the power of money, and your ability to say “I want to hear them” will be weaker, too.

Ajit Pai, the new FCC chairman (and not coincidentally, a former Verizon lawyer) thinks this sounds great. Me, not so much.

There’s a protest planned. I’ll be back on this topic July 12th, because I’ve signed up to participate. If you want to do the same, you can sign up at that link. My microphone isn’t huge, but the more of us that shout together, the louder we get.

Let’s get loud.

that whole “tikkun olam” thing

I’ve been making these tikkun olam posts for about half a year now, and responses to them have been slowing down, which I suspect is in part a sign of fatigue. It’s hard to keep on working to repair the world when so many people seem determined to break it, and when it’s hard to see any result for your effort.

But sometimes you can make a very real difference to a very specific person. Chaz Brenchley has put out a call raising funds to treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis. If we lived in a country where this was covered by insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry; instead we live in a country where Republicans are trying to take away even the insurance we already have. Karen is the primary earner in their family, and she doesn’t know how soon she’ll be able to return to work. Helping out, either by donating directly, or by subscribing to Chaz’s Patreon, can make all the difference in the world to these two people, and to their friends and family.

And while you’re at it, call your senators and beg them to oppose Trumpcare. Because I’d like to live in a world where things ranging from anxiety to surviving sexual assault don’t count as “pre-existing conditions,” and where health insurance companies are required to cover things like doctor’s visits.

Lives in the Balance

I’ll keep this short and to the point.

The intended replacement for the Affordable Care Act is going to kill people.

It sounds melodramatic — but it’s true. It will leave an estimated 24 million Americans without insurance (compared to the ACA), which will make it extremely difficult for them to afford healthcare. It cripples Medicaid, because poor people don’t deserve to be healthy, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, because children only matter while they’re fetuses — oh wait, insurers wouldn’t be required to cover maternity care, either. Nor birth control. Nor gynecological exams. And we all know what the right wing wants to do to Roe v. Wade. So you’re having that baby whether you like it or not, but don’t expect any support from conception until after your kid has graduated. Guess you should have kept your legs closed, bitch.

Call your elected officials. Call them until you get through, because their lines are swamped, and it may take you a while. Especially if you’re represented by a Republican in either chamber, for the love of god, call them. A number of them are already wavering; they know this is bad. But this isn’t the kind of bad where it’s okay to let it happen and let them reap the consequences later, because for them, the consequences will be that maybe they get voted out of office two or four years down the road. For other people, the consequences will literally be death. They need to hear voices telling them not to do it, before we get that far.

For the sake of the millions of people who will be hurt by this, speak up. Make your voice heard. Make a difference.

Excerpts from MLK’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail

(Jim Hines posted this to his blog earlier today; I’m reposting it because it is timely and well-chosen.)


You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured…

-From Letter From a Birmingham Jail
Written by Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 16, 1963