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Thanksgiving Holiday Reflections

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Being a “true” American (legal citizen or not) means that we get to constantly live with, sit with, feel the complex contradictions of living on this land, in this country. Today is an epitome of that experience — an opportunity to give attention to the trauma and genocide of the way this country was founded, to honor the original people of this land, to reckon with the lies many of us were taught in school, and to walk courageously forward holding a greater awareness of the truth. AT THE SAME TIME, we can celebrate an opportunity for millions of people to focus on the spirit of gratitude, giving thanks for our blessings, being granted a day to pause and celebrate love, connection and food with family, friends, ourselves, neighbors, strangers…

I am deeply grateful for these days when “business as usual” takes a bit of a pause and I can make space for what is most important in my life. I’m grateful for all the loved ones who touch my heart and help me be a better, more loving human being. I am grateful for all the sacrifices that people have made to allow me this moment to live. I have reverence for all the suffering that has been endured to allow us this moment to live. I pray that I am honorable in the ways I live my life and I ask for forgiveness for any ways that I am disrespectful, insensitive or have caused harm.

Blessings to you as you walk the path of this day and this season. May we be awake to the complexity of the human experience, able to be with the joys and the suffering, able to recognize the past while co-creating a more compassionate and just future. May we find and be the medicine for one another.

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Which America Do You See?

“I never knew. This isn’t the America I thought it was. It hadn’t touched me personally.”

I hear these kinds of comments a lot lately, about so many different aspects of this country. I’ve said these words myself. If you are feeling this way, may you find the courage to stay connected to the shock, horror and overwhelm so that you can actually act to address the causes and effects of the truths you are waking up to. We need you active, not deflated.

To those of you who have for generations been dealing with these realities and dedicating your lives and those of your ancestors towards changing the tides… thank you. Humanity is indebted to you. May enough of us join you to actually make a difference in the lives of those living now and future generations.

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Indigenous Youth Leaders & Man Camps

These indigenous youth are badass. So much important information here. Their analysis, leadership and journalism is powerful and clear. They have updates about Keystone as well as other significant things to be aware of. Worth listening to all 27 minutes.

Do you know any farmers in Nebraska?

Keystone XL Pipeline Update from the NoKXL Gathering 2017 in Kul Wicasa Territory -Lower Brule, SD.
Youth voices from:
Seeding Sovereignty
Indigenous Environmental Network
International Indigenous Youth Council – Denver Chapter

I did not know about “man camps” until these videos and their correlation with missing Native women. This is disgusting and unfortunately extremely easy to imagine a sex trafficking industry and violence surrounding temporary housing for oil workers. More about Man Camps.

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Largest HBCU in the Nation Loses 50 Year Old Political Science Department

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Black folks are needed in politics and the power grabs that are happening in this country continue to be atrocious. Two conclusions that I jump to in reading this news.

NC A&T State University is the largest public HBCU in the nation. Its Political Science Department has existed for about 50 years. They just announced plans to collapse this department into another one. I imagine that move will, in various ways, involve a shift in power and resources. This seems intentionally manipulative to me. Especially in a state that appears to be the testing ground for government to explore how much they can get away with that impacts how society exists… without people noticing.

Derick Smith is a professor of political science and speaks highly of their department, “We’ve produced a lot of great students. We have a reputation for speaking truth to power, for strong advocacy and social justice. We still get students elected to office. A lot of them go on to law school.”

This move by A&T makes me think that those who currently hold power do not want black folks to be educated and wise in areas of political science. They want to disrupt social and educational systems that are addressing poverty, civil rights and civic engagement. It’s easy to jump to this conclusion as it follows the trends of US history, so many efforts to limit black folks from having access to education and participation in government.? And so one of my conclusions, black folks are needed in politics (for so many reasons).
. . .
?May we notice what is happening in institutions that shape society. May we shift the quality of leadership that holds power in these institutions. May we see more and more people stepping into this experiment of democracy and discovering if it’s possible to create a government that is accountable to serving the public interest of the greatest good.

Thank you Derick Smith for allowing the public to see that this is happening.
Thank you Joy Boothe for drawing my attention to this.
Article about this news
Derick Smith

BREAKING NEWS! After a 50 year history of serving the University, the State, Community and Nation as a highly credible, extremely competent, remarkably active academic department; the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at NC A&T State University will be COLLAPSED after this semester.

NC A&T State University, the largest public HBCU in the nation, committed to its “Preeminence 2020” goal of cultivating an environment of high civic engagement is dismantling its POLITICAL SCIENCE department.

The Margaret Spellings, Betsy DeVos, UNC Board of Governors trends continue. Long live the dismantling of the Academy; death to the NC A&T Political Science Department…death to the UNC Poverty Center…death to the UNC Center for Civil Rights…death to the NCCU Center for Civic Engagement…death to the ECU Center for Special Education….DEATH to the ACADEMY!

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Staying Engaged in Local Politics

Black_Lives_Matter_And_Occupy_Wall_StreetI’m at fault. For the majority of my 8 years of living in Asheville, I was not involved in government politics. I was absorbed in my own life and work and field of perceptions and not paying attention to the laws and policies being passed, enforced or not enforced locally. I paid my taxes, but paid little attention to how city officials voted or how city staff performed their jobs. I trusted that other people were paying attention while I was paying attention to other things. And here we are.

Now I wake up at 5am imagining how hotels could be transformed into affordable housing and staffed with the healers so prolific in asheville, folks providing services to those living in financial poverty instead of just financial wealth. I think about all these hotels that don’t pay a living wage. I think about the rapidly decreasing numbers of people of color in the city and the rapidly increasing numbers of white folks flooding in. And reading an article like this one, how our city manager and police chief wouldn’t step in to help when their help was requested, I have to reckon with the fact that I, and people like me, are at fault. We who are comfortable enough in our life bubbles rationalize not paying attention. That said, while I will take some of the blame. I won’t stop there. I won’t get stuck in my emotions, feel ashamed of my inaction, overwhelmed by the truth, and thus continue not to act, not pay attention, or not be involved.

I invite you to join me in paying attention and placing our hearts upon these issues in our city, if you aren’t already. We could really be a remarkable, model city for innovative solutions to some of the toughest challenges cities across the country are facing. Or we can be a beer, tourist city for white folks while increasing the numbers of children living in poverty and families living on the streets and move from the #2 most gentrified city into first place. The choice is made in each of our actions and inactions. My vote is for innovative, radical change that is rooted in moral actions that further the wellbeing of all humans, that looks at the nuances of our history and makes decisions about the future that take into consideration that history… and much more to this vision of what could be, but this post is long enough.

Article that inspired some of this sharing and reflection: Mt. Zion says hotel encroaching on church property

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Reflections on White Supremacy on the Rise

So many feelings around this

Nazi’s and White Supremacists are willing to be violent and kill people. Period. They also feel emboldened right now.

This feels like an instance where police acted fast and used their resources to stop actual violent perpetrators (With the partnership of a community member that knew to remember the license plate in a time of crisis). I’m grateful for that.

I was traveling last week. One of the things that I noticed and mentioned to my white male friend was that I kept noticing myself being suspicious of a certain type of white men (clean cut, polished and pointy ones) when I passed them in the hotel. Many times I caught myself wondering what was under their suit? Is he one of the alt-right folks? My friend encouraged me to continue listening to that thought, let it warn and protect, and at the same time, to also hold the awareness that my mind is recognizing patterns and making generalizations.

In writing this post, I kept deleting my thought that — their sunburns feel symbolic. Then I went to learn more about the conference and read the NYtimes article that quoted Richard Spencer, a leader amongst the alt-right and the keynote of their conference:

“But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. Mr. Spencer called out: “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” and then, “Hail victory!” — the English translation of the Nazi exhortation “Sieg Heil!” The room shouted back.

And from the article about the 3 men arrested:

“In a coincidence, two of the men who were arrested spoke to the Gainesville Sun before the shooting. Said William Fears to the newspaper: “Us coming in and saying we’re taking over your town, we’re starting to push back, we’re starting to want to intimidate back. We want to show our teeth a little bit because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly. We don’t want violence; we don’t want harm. But at the end of the day, we’re not opposed to defending ourselves.”

I wonder about all the men who are trying to show their teeth right now, what is the healing that they need? All the white people who feel threatened by changing power structures and are also trying to show their teeth or actually firing bullets at people, actual bullets or the ones dressed as laws and policies. What do they need to start acting differently?

And always, I wonder what we do to shift this. In this case, I can only look to all the other white folks I share this planet with. These are our people. These are our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, sons and neighbors. It is also many of our ancestors who did, in fact, create an America that was initially only for white, wealthy people. In that way, I think the first part of what Richard Spencer says has truth:

“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

American governance is indeed the creation of white people. In most other ways, America was nourished and built by people of color.

I think that the rest of us white folks have a responsibility to help the future of America be one that is created by the vast diversity of people who inhabit this land, to share what we have inherited with those who are not white, and together, to recognize that this land actually belongs to Mother Earth.

Phew… so many feelings…

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Taking a Knee

“Protest is a right and frequently a positive game changer in our short history.” ~Paul Cooper

My dad sharing his thoughts with his local paper

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