Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm thankful for black rage

poster at Seattle's 11/24 protest march in solidarity with Ferguson
If gratitude is the key to joy, then I am thankful for black rage.

In no way am I grateful to live in America.  This is Babylon, an empire built on stolen native land and stolen black lives.   If I learned one thing from the Bible, it's that praying prayers of thanksgiving to Babylon is an evil ritual.  If we want to sincerely chant "black lives matter" then we cannot turn around and give thanks for a social order that requires the daily human sacrifice of black people at the hands of police, prison guards, and vigilantes.

I AM thankful for everyone who has taught me not to fear moments of black rebellion like this one, everyone who has helped me embrace the love and life within angry crowds from Ferguson to Seattle.

I'm thankful for the life experiences that taught me whiteness is a historic dead end, a life of privileged alienation, a slow suicide in an isolated golden jail cell built upon slaughtered black and brown bodies. Inside that jail cell, we are facing despair, anxiety, and depression, ripping apart the last remaining social bonds among us in the name of capitalist individualism.  I'm thankful that I reached a point where I could no longer go on living as a "normal" white man, a point where I had to reach out in order to keep going.

White people are expected to act as prison guards over the rest of humanity, keeping everyone in check, while our own white capitalist masters keep us in check and make sure we return safely to our lonely cells at night.  Of course I acknowledge my white privilege, but I refuse to give thanks for it.  It is a set of golden handcuffs holding us and everyone else back from overthrowing this system.  We should welcome the moment when it is broken open in rebellion.

I'm thankful for friends who have given me the confidence to fight for my own liberation, and the knowledge this is only possible if black people, indigenous people, asian peoples, and all oppressed people fight for their own by any means necessary.

White liberals don't want to admit that Black people rising up may make it impossible for us to go on living the way we are, in our relatively posh cells under the careful watch of Babylon's guard towers.  But it's become clear to me that if we go on living this way we'll destroy ourselves and the planet anyway.

So Black rebellion is good news to all of us who are already seen by other white people as dysfunctional, crazy, broken, disabled, queer, or too rough around the edges.  By destabilizing white normalcy, Black rebels are opening up space for us all to get free and to live differently.

We should be thankful for that, and we should show our thankfulness by acting in solidarity with all of the Black folks who are putting their lives on the line right now.  Perhaps we can even open up new fronts in the movement against Babylon by struggling for our own freedom, wherever we are.  The empire may not have enough pigs to contain us all.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

We'll Wait For You Brother (prayer from today's interfaith vigil against legal lynching)

Last year, a mob of people attacked one of my friends, Matt E (emcee name Bypolar the Toxic Cherub) because he was filming the police.  There is significant evidence the police instigated this attack.  He successfully defended himself and today he was sentenced to three months in jail for doing so.  This is the message that the system is giving: that Black lives do not matter and that Black people do not have a right to self-defense.  Matt would likely have gotten up to a year in jail if we had not successfully organized around his case, including court support and today's interfaith prayer vigil outside the courthouse.  We also marched into the mayor's office today and demanded that city hall investigate the two officers involved in the situation, as well as the judge.  Furthermore, we demanded that the mayor put out a statement in support of Matt E, reiterating the right of black people to defend themselves.  Matt will be appealing his conviction, and the struggle is far from over.  Information, press releases, and videos can be found at stoplegallynching.wordpress.com .

Here is the prayer I wrote for today's interfaith vigil on the courthouse steps.


We'll Wait For You Brother

(when I raise my hands, if you feel like it, shout “let us pray”)

Huddled in the cold at the foot of this modern day cross
Where Judge Rosen presides like a pretentious Pontius Pilate, 
Sanitized, his hands clean, letting others do the dirty work
Letting lynch mobs and pig legions kidnap the rebellious
Letting banal machinery of bureaucratic evil 
Grind down those who refuse to bow before the state Almighty  


Like our brother Matt, a modern day Nazirite,
his heart pledged to Yahweh, the God of liberation 
Not only does he abstain from eating swine - 
he doesn’t worship pigs, or bow before them
He is too free to be enthralled by those idols. 
Maybe the mob attacked him because they feared that freedom
Or maybe the pigs and the chemicals in their bodies teamed up to posess them

Rosen, the Roman emperor wannabe washes his hands of their violence in the name of Objectivity, American decorum 
This is the place where the neo-Roman forum 
crucifies our friends, our families, and our dreams of revolution  
But we’ll wait for you brother, here and everywhere

(raise hands) 

Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies, so let us pray for Steve Rosen 
Let us pray that he is wracked with anxiety and guilt, so that he never forgets this trial (raise hands)
Let us pray that he recalls Matt’s face on sleepless nights,  alongside the faces of all the other poor, Black, and freedom-loving people whose lives he has destroyed 
(raise hands)
Let their voices rise and shout, rattling their prison bars, haunting his subconscious with messages that cannot be tazered out of existence 
(raise hands)
Let us pray he repents, throws away his gavel and robe, and joins the oppressed in rebellion against the state machinery he once administered
(raise hands)
And if he fails to do this, let’s pray that God, in her infinite mercy, gives him a heart attack to put him out of his misery. 
(raise hands)
As memories of this moment leak into his soul, and ours, 
We’ll wait for you brother, here and everywhere.

(raise hands)

Jesus of Nazareth, the Neo-Nazirite prophet
Led an insurrection in Jerusalem, chasing money changers out of the temple 
Knowing the lynch mobs, pigs, and courts were after him,
he prophesied the temple would be torn down and rebuilt by the people 

Let us pray that one day the judges and pigs will be chased out of this building
(raise hands)
Let us pray that its courtrooms will be converted into childcare centers
And its offices into places of learning
(raise hands)
Let us pray that our grandkids can grow up safely here, discovering how to resolve their disputes
Without cops, courts, and prisons 
(raise hands)
We’ll wait for you brother, here and everywhere 

You taught me 
that we are each cells in God’s body 
With hearts as dark and expansive as the night sky over the ocean 
Or the chaotic depths that Yahweh stirs with her breath 
(raise hands)
We are not on God’s side and she is not on ours
We are God’s side arms, loaded with earthfire
Yahweh's breathing, chaotic, loving justice
 in unpredictable motion 
(raise hands)
Congealing from ancient seas, 
Rising from the dead, 
Surging through prison walls
Courtrooms
Color lines 
And American isolation chambers
(raise hands)

Who the hell does Rosen think he is, to presume that a prison cell
Would be enough to neutralize a cell in God’s body, 
Especially one who is part of a growing, colorful swarm of life spanning 
three or more continents? 
(raise hands)

If he locks you up today, what he doesn’t understand is this: 
You will keep on growing dangerously, reading, writing, creating, and praying
Like a warrior monk, on the path of Samson, Jael, Malcolm, and Assata 
And we will keep growing too, 
Waiting for you brother, here and everywhere  


Saturday, November 1, 2014

In surges of care, ruled in contempt

Here is a poem dedicated to my friends who are facing political repression right now, and all of us who are supporting them in solidarity







we’re a race-gender vortex,
still undefined, 
of public emotions,
hearts intertwined 

in surges of care, 
ruled in contempt;
identities flooding, 
becoming unkempt:

swirling spirits on divergent tides
among censored bodies, 
a maelstrom of pride

relaxes trauma’s grip on our shoulders;
despite their repression,
we’re all growing older...