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We ALL Live in Jena

First of all, I’d like to say that the graphic here and the title of this essay are taken from Nezua over at The Unapologetic Mexican with his permission.

After seeing his diary, I spent some time this afternoon trying to understand why I haven’t engaged more with the Jena 6 issue. While I have been aware of the situation for several months now, I haven’t really spent a lot of energy on it or gotten involved at all. Part of me thinks that’s wrong and I’m sorry.

But I just saw something on Fox News (yeah, can you believe that one!!!) that helped me understand why. In a roundtable discussion about several issues related to race that have happened this week, one of the commentators talked about a case where a white boy had been beaten up by a group of black boys, but had gotten no media attention. This is the problem with advocacy by anectdote. If we are going to rely on one case to make our point – the other side is more than capable of coming up with a case in counterpoint. But we all know what a lie that turns out to be, don’t we?


Some time ago I found a speech given by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon titled Coalitions Politics: Turning the Century at the West Coast Women’s Music Festival in 1981. It is some of the most profound thinking I have ever read about our struggles to work together as progressives. I can’t tell you how many times the content of this speech has crept into my thinking in all kinds of discussions. I’d love it if everyone would just go read the whole thing and then come back and talk about it in the comments. But knowing that’s not likely, I’ll excerpt some quotes and try to summarize.

Object Becomes Subject

Last night when I put up that “Let’s Introduce Ourselves” essay, I stated my genuine motivation for doing it right up front: I didn’t want myself or anyone else here to feel like an “outsider.”

Then, when my brain started winding down and I went to bed, some things came together for me that I’d like to share with all of you. It has to do with a quote I included in my last diary here from a book titled The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen where he is having a conversation with a friend about the similarities between corporations and hate groups:

He said, “They’re cousins.”
I just listened.
“Nobody talks about this,” he said, “but they’re branches from the same tree, different forms of the same cultural imperative…”
“Which is?”
“To rob the world of its subjectivity.”
“Wait – ” I said.
“Or to put this another way,” he continued, ” to turn everyone and everything into objects.”

Let’s Introduce Ourselves

I know that many of you “know” each other from your various on-line participation. But I don’t know most of you and I’ll bet there are others like me out there who want to participate, but don’t feel comfortable yet because they feel like outsiders. So, I’d like to introduce myself a bit and then ask you to do the same in the comments. You can decide what you want others to know about you and what needs to stay private.

Can We Fix It? Part II

Last night I wrote about a nagging thought that hangs out in the back of my head these days. Today, I think I’ll bring another one out from the dank recesses and let it see the light of day. I was actually spurred to do so by this bit from a diary at Who Is IOZ:

In any event, the notion that Bush isn’t a moron is a form of national self-flattery. At its root is the belief that he can’t be a moron because if he were, that would mean that the American people, our government and institutions, allowed ourselves to be conquered by a moron. It would mean that the whole edifice of Western Democracy, centuries in the making, is cheaper than a backlot set. It would mean that the fruits of the political Enlightenment were finally plucked and chucked onto the compost heap with no more effort than it takes to nickname some reporters, shamble around, talk with an aw-shucks accent, and produce some decent war pornography. It would mean that the founders were right to fear democracy and their descendents wrong to give it to us.

emphasis mine

The thought that roams around in the back of my head is to wonder whether or not a democratic republic can actually work. To my view, we have already proven that it is not working in this particular time and place. The question for me is if it can ever work – or at least whether or not it can work on the scale of a country the size of the US.

Can We Fix It?

Lately I’ve been having a nagging awareness hanging in the back of my head as I try to absorb so much of what’s going wrong in our world today. The title of this post is a short summary of that, but the longer version is the awareness that our actions and inactions have long term consequences that we just might not be able to fix. The poet David Whyte talks often of the “fiercness” of life. I think this is part of what he means by that.

I guess that for most of my life I’ve been priviledged with the white upper middle class kind of thinking that says all problems have a solution. And in these days of instant everything – that solution better be quick in materializing.

On Learning to Fly

Here’s an interesting take on the history of black/white relations in the US from Ampersand at Alas! A Blog.

I think this cartoon makes a powerful statement about how the game is played these days. But its all about climbing over each other to get to some destination where the table has already been set by the guys in charge. I was reminded of all this by a comment keres made in a diary at Booman Tribune.Here’s what she said:

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