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Grassroots activist, feminist, sociologist, poop talk pro, future foster mom, travel whore, thrift store junky, music and food consumer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


The colonists fought for their freedom during the Revolutionary War, while owning slaves. Our current power elites wage wars to fight for the freedom of other nations and albeit in the name of our own, while the not-so-free continue to exist within the borders that symbolize freedom in song and legal documents. Every other body fighting for freedom is understandable except the black one, except the brown one...unless you're fighting for the freedom of the white one. Blacks helped fight the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, and every war that followed in hopes of being free, of being human, of being equal. But violence doesn't fit in the narrative for black & brown freedom because black and brown bodies fighting for freedom are thugs & terrorists. The only freedom fighters are black bodies who rode buses into danger, who got shot, and beat, and bombed, who needed the government to intervene on their behalf, but not for their sakes, not for their humanity, but to cease the nation's international ridicule from critics.  

Perhaps, you'd like to think a bit more critically as to why the image of blacks fighting for racial, gender, and economic equality is so disturbing to you. Why do you feel so threatened when a rock, a gun, or a bomb is in brown or black hands? Why do images of black and brown bodies rioting scare you so much more than white bodies rioting? An even better question: why is a black man connecting eyes with a white man such a threatening event? Run black man. Kill him white man. But don't just kill him. Mangle his body. Tell the rest of them and then return his body to them, so that they may see the consequence of not subjecting your body, your mind, your heart, your dignity, your hopes. Let his story remind them, let his body remind them, of their place, beneath and under, of their power, which is nonexistent. 

Stop referencing the Civil Rights movement and its tactics as forever representative of "the way" change is evoked, especially changes in race relations. Nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement were effective because they were innovative at the time. It was a tactic that illuminated the ease of provoking great turmoil and death from whites (whose value is only found in the oppression of everyone else). I was just in Washington, DC with 600 other people from across the nation protesting, marching, and holding rallies outside. Where was the media? We had to call them. Because marching and rallying is so commonplace that unless you're doing something that breaks from the usual protest, the media is not checking for you. So regardless of how you feel, those "rioters" are why we're talking about last night. Those rioters are why you have so much media coverage about the structural problems in Baltimore. Those rioters are why your fb and twitter feeds are full of people conversing about their frustrations, their feelings, their grief. So you might say that all they are going to accomplish is death, but their greatest accomplishment is that they have reignited the conversation, which is imperative if reducing inequalities is the goal. We've been too content the last 40 years, too comfortable with the injustices that wreak our communities. People in this country have always fought. The Natives fought. The slaves fought. The colonists fought. The abolitionists fought. The laborers fought. The women fought. The gays and lesbians fought. How dare you tell these young people of color not to fight?! 

I had no idea there were so many experts on evoking grand scale change. Who knew that so many people have been sitting on such vital information? Rioting is not the way! Oh? Tell me what is then. Nonviolent direct action? Peaceful protest? Oh, I see. The ways of Ghandi, but of more importance Rev. Dr. King, are more appealing to you. Is it because of the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement? We did get the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Well, the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, but we did get it. The Civil Rights Act has helped a few, but black people still face discrimination. Women still face discrimination. LGBT folk still face discrimination. Nonchristians...yep you guessed it...still face discrimination. So peaceful protests huh? Like the peaceful protests in the late 50s and 60s that got people mamed, injured, eaten by dogs, fire hosed, beaten with batons and pipes and farming tools and guns and sticks, shot, bombed, and killed? A decade of that after a hundred years of lynching, race riots, massive rape, police brutlaity, "legal" executions and its no wonder the Black Panther Party generated such interests and grew so quickly! Black people were tired of being a moment away from death. And not just any deaths, but deaths reserved specifically for them.  

Disdain for "violent" measures intrigue me because as a social activists, I'm constantly trying to recruit people to the movement, but most people tell me its pointless, or they're too busy, or they're too afraid of being arrested. Arrested. Now that response acknowledges that nonviolent activists get arrested - they get injured and found dead too - just like those rioters using violence. What makes Martin's death worst than Malcolm's? They were both shot dead. Ghandi was shot dead. Fred and Mark? They're all dead, and it wasn't because of their tactics, but because of their goals.
It doesn't matter if we take the legal route: Brown V. The Board of Education 1954 brought a reign of terror to the South and over half a million whites subsequently joined organized hate groups. The last school in the South wasn't integrated until 1971. Instead of integration, most white parents opted to move to even more secluded neighborhoods or opted to send their children to private schools. --- Slaves were legally freed and the KKK was born from the womb of that decision. --- When Johnson signed those 2 Acts we like to reference all the time, Southern Democratic Congressmen made their way to the Republican party (& Neoliberalism gained momentum). Basically, people who benefit from inequalities will find a way to continue to oppress and exploit people (Not to diminish your optimism!) 
It doesn't matter if we use extralegal means like direct nonviolent action:  One of my favorite quotes from David Roediger (2008:43): For white Americans, the logic of revolution was that true independence would never be granted but would have to be seized, while among slaves freedom could never be seized but only granted. I love this quote because it captures the sentiments of why it doesn't matter the avenue chosen, as long as the goal is equality, or even to reduce racial inequality,the response will be the same. 


There are too many posts expressing disdain of the rioters. Typists are writing of "better" ways to get the racial, gender, and economic justice these "rioters" seek. So many are so sure that rioting isn't the way, that violence isn't the answer, but all I keep wondering is "Why aren't you helping them then?" If you got it figured out, why aren't you helping us all? These critiques come from people who are well aware of what it takes to get racial equality. They know there will be blood. They just don't want it to be their blood, or their children's blood, but somebody's...somebody's. These people took the red pill but not by choice. If they had an option they would swallow that blue pill in a second. They would still be plugged into the Matrix where everything still tastes like chicken. Since they can't escape the real world, they try to maintain their existence between the Matrix and the real world, but there is no such place. Typing boldly about the legal and peaceful routes for blacks to seek justice requires these people to forget and remember simultaneously. They forget Rodney, Malcolm, the great Rev. Dr., John Crawford, Emmitt Till, Rekia, Mr. Gardner, Fred and now Freddie. They have gotten too good at seeing the dead as those we must forget to stay alive - because if we remember...when we remember...we remember the sadness, the anger, the disgust that creeps into our consciousness and overtakes our psyche as it reminds us that it could be any one of our names swapped out for theirs or added to the long list of names. When we remember the fears that we always carry for our sons are conjured up. For our daughters. We fear that the rioters will be killed. Those rioters are our sons. Our daughters. What happens when they die? When they become martyrs? The status quo will continue after their lives have been claimed. Lives who foolishly believed that raising hell would solidify their humanity. These people who write with disdain for the rioters fear that the life, the only life they've been allowed to live will be over - that they will have to face the truth despite their efforts to live between realities. The truth is that their attempt to choose life, by not rioting, doesn't really involve a choice, because the only choice is between subjugation and elimination. Both are chosen by our willingness to be oppressed and our willingness to die. In a scenario like this, silly fools are those who fight to be neither. Because when there are only 2 options, you're always fighting for one or the other even when you think you're not. --- Stay woke. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Pig Reviews the Year of the Horse

Overview: I did a lot of travelling this year. Very surprising considering I made less money this year than I've made in 5 years. I went to Omaha, NE, Fayetteville, NC, Chicago, Champaign, IL, Gulf Shores, AL, Murfreesboro, TN, Kissimmee, FL, Dallas, TX, Washington D.C and of course STL and my home town. I was able to visit friends and family I haven't seen in years and years! This will definitely be remembered as a pivotal year in my life. I turned 31 and despite keeping it pretty low key, I received the most gifts and birthday shout outs ever. I've made more new friends this year than any other year in my life. I'm a networking beast now! I went indoor skydiving, roller skated for the 2nd time in my adult life, attended 2 of my family reunions, checked out Universal Studios, swam in the blessed gulf of Mexico, got to attend a women's equality conference, and somehow managed to keep my body from killing me. I lived life this year.

I also had to learn to let people I love dearly live their lives. It's not easy for me to cut ties with people I care about, but letting them live turned out to be allowing me to live too, which brings me to my next point. I learned so many life lessons. I am currently into yoga and massage therapy. Began reading about chakras, which I've always heard about but never really dove into, and can't stop telling everyone how much I've learned about women's health. I buy all organic, unprocessed foods. I rediscovered my passion for cooking. On top of all that, I'm working on accepting people for who they are and working with them. I'm not good at being fake, but there's nothing fake about treating people accordingly. This was an eventful year for me. I'm a broke college student trying to reconfigure how I understand and process info about the world and myself. One who knows anything knows that they know nothing at all. This year I learned to be okay with the fact that I am a work in progress. I will never have all the answers. 

Activist me: I have been blessed to work alongside some of the most incredible humans I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. We strategize and come up with tactics together. These people are my extended family. They have taught me so much about myself. When I dove in some 3 odd years ago, I knew I was making a life changing decision. I have gone back and forth with myself so many times in search of finding a balance between academia and activism. Finding that balance has been a very pressing struggle, however I realized that they inform each other. I need them both close to me at all times. They have been the water and sun to me the seed. I bud, and continue to bloom because of their mercy. I end this year knowing that I, and this world, will forever be changed because of events that have unfolded in this year. 

In 2011, I watched the rest of the world show up by the thousands to contest their frustrations with widening inequalities. I wondered when we too would join them. I wonder no more. I have never felt more alive, more capable, or more hopeful. Labor, faith-based, community, and student groups are joining forces; working together to show us what an all-inclusive movement looks like. When my children and my grandchildren ask where I was when the streets were filled with anger, frustration, tears, shouts, blood, courage, and bravery, I will be able to tell them that I was there. I was here. This was the year I realized that the personal is political and the political is personal. 

Friend Me: I am not your challenge. I am not interested in giving you a hard time so you can feel victorious on the rare occasion I tell you you're right. You may not speak with conviction about matters you have no expertise,educational background, and/or lived experience with. You are not an all-knowing creature in possession of objectivity. Every being high and low who meets me and thinks that they hold the key to unlock my mysterious centers can choke on some volcanic ash. I am not a thing that needs to be conquered or tamed. I really don't like people who swear they are more important than they are. All of us could die and the world would keep revolving and evolving (unless we died along with the Earth). 

I have gone through so many different phases and my thoughts about where I want to be intimately placed with others has shifted to presently not consuming myself with anxieties about it. I've tried being perfect. I have since realized that no one loves me because I am perfect, and I do not love anyone because I think they are perfect. We love each other for our quirks, the things that set us apart, that makes us "us." When it is said that you have to first love yourself, its only somewhat true. First, you have to be loved or you will never know that you can be loved as you are. Also, in a world where we are bombarded with messages and images that tell us we should hate ourselves (and buy whatever is being advertised to improve), it is an ever increasing struggle to not look in the mirror and find things that you hate about yourself. Regardless of how many people tell you that you are ugly and worthless, there are people who will and do see the beauty in you. This is why when I get compliments I accept them like a boss! Thank you, but do note that your approval doesn't make or break me. No need to interrupt your day to let me know I look good. I wouldn't be out here if I didn't. --- Note that nowhere in this monologue did I use "imperfections" or "flaws" to describe myself Hate when those words are used as descriptions for people's looks or personalities. 

I can admit that every once in a while I crave attention in the worst ways, but it doesn't consume me because for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I've spent a great deal of my mind power pondering the complexities of my relationships with others, and one of the big conclusions I made this year that has helped me dearly is this: we're never taught how to be or that we could be "just" friends with those we are told we "should" desire. Well, its not only possible, but it can be really easy if both of you understand that being good friends does not mean you will make a "good couple" (whatever that means). I have 2 male best friends. We tell each other we love each other all the time. They know more of my business than any other people on this earth (minus my best girlfriend of course!). Contrary to some recent voiced concerns, I do not have my walls up. I just know better, so I do better. This year I lived like a human with feelings. I need people to love me and I need to love people.
2015 Me: I will take the lessons of 2014, one of the most challenging and exciting years of my life, and apply them in my life forever more. Life lessons if you will. My Chinese horoscope says next year will be a bit calmer, and I hope its right...it was this year - like freakishly right this year!! I will not shop 'til I drop. I will make it the year of financially responsible me. Its not like I'm completely irresponsible, but that is definitely an area of my life that can use improvement. Hell, this year I swore to stop shopping at Walmart and I did that! Giving up one-stop shopping was indeed a challenge of all challenges. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

no mic - free write: The Struggle is Real

One of my best friends saved my life when he told me that I was human. Such a simple thing to understand right? Its actually quite disturbing when I think about how much time I've spent dissociating myself from this very concept. Mostly, because I am a very passionate person. Things affect me on a level society tells me they are not supposed to. I suppose a society based on Neoliberalist Capitalism and White Supremacy will do that. Work, work, work. Everyone must be productive --- and productivity is reduced to producing goods that can sell. But in Capitalism, all things can sell. Key word is "can" b/some things those in power are not interested in providing a legally recognized market for. Everything in our lives is regulated. Every. Single. Thing. The key is keeping work separate from your personal life. As if everything on this planet isn't interrelated!!!

If I have a kid, there's a time limit on the length of maternity leave, IF I am even granted leave at all, on how long I can take off work, what position I can come back to work to, and the terms for leaving work if something comes up with my kid(s). Regulating love for your family.

If someone I love dies then the company I work for sets the parameters for the time I get to mourn. There are stipulations for what qualifies as appropriate mourning set by society as well. No break downs please! You can't be crying at work. For goodness sakes, put some concealer under those eyes! Regulating death.

And love. Love is marketed in a marriage scheme accompanied by tax breaks. This is a different sex organs - same everything else (race, religion, class, etc) only club because the "son of man" whose most popular name means "all hail to Zeus," said so. He did say that right? I couldn't find it but I'm sure its there. Nevermind our pituitary gland 's hormonal production having a say. Regulating "personal" relationships.


My emotions surge through my veins like fire looks when ignited down the path of a spill. My emotions tire me out. The brain power I have to use to keep things in a positive perspective is where all my calories meet their doom. Even still, pretending I don't feel is harder than allowing my feelings to flow freely. I guess I'd rather feel the destruction, the hurt, and the disbelief. I have to take the good with the bad right? These amplifications mobilize my thoughts and help me appreciate the other end of the spectrum that much more. When its good its really good! This might be a good time to confess that I am a really anxious person - in case you haven't figured that out by now. I have feelings. I am human. I might not be able to control how I feel as well as I'd like, but I can control how I respond to those feelings, for the most part anyway. The 1st step to coping is admitting you have a problem right? Well, I have an emotional problem. I feel everything. I carry my feelings with me like my lip balm. I like being around people who are okay with this. 

What's crazier than anything is that I feel bad for people who don't feel like I do. So I am an emotional mess, but I'm okay with that. Feeling everything is better than feeling nothing at all. This is so much better than being a sociopath...I think. Besides, I ain't no stinking robot. I was borned by a Western doc with his Western know-it-all expertise on birthing babies. He said, black mother you will need a c-section b/I don't have time for this baby to come naturally. I was yanked from my mother's belly into those welcoming hands. That just about explains how I feel on a daily. I don't control anything, so stop asking me what I intend to do in the future and expecting a detailed answer. I intend to cope with whatever shit storms I must. I read the memo on individualism but I burned it up with my candle flame. Watched it shrivel up and die. Now that me and empathy have become such good friends, I never want to leave her side. She needs me as much as I need her. Who knew? <end rant>

Friday, July 26, 2013


The most common knowledge is usually inaccurate information passing as knowledge. For instance, everyone knows that if you get burned, you should put butter on it. WRONG. Butter actually holds heat and will increase your pain 10 fold. Everyone knows that if you eat something too spicy, you should drink water. WRONG. Milk or sour cream fare much better on returning your orality to normal. Everyone knows that there is a debt crisis at the federal and state levels. WRONG. There is a revenue crisis because wealthy people and corporations are not paying taxes, and in some cases getting tax refunds in the millions.

As in all things that rely on what people think they know, the response to an action or inaction will follow suit with what one believes to be true. For instance, if I think butter is supposed to soothe the burn then I will put butter on my burn. I will soon realize that it is not helping, and that my burn is only getting worse. Will I, A. Seek out better information and try an alternative solution or B. Continue to melt butter on my burn? In this analogy, the butter exemplifies the austerity measures currently being employed throughout the world according to the common knowledge enforced by the IMF, World Bank, and US Treasury. Austerity measures have been pushed in numerous countries over the last 30 years and has not succeeded in any one of them, but nevermind that. "This time, this time it will work!" is still the philosophy, despite the ratio of attempts to successful implementations being "too many:zero."

Despite these policies not proving effective, there are still political and corporate leaders asserting that social welfare programs established during the Great Depression to protect people from the perils of Capitalism should be cut: Foodstamps! Medicare! Medicaid! Social Security! Who needs to pay taxes? Let's just privatize all these things and charge people what the market declares they should pay. Never mind that speaking about "the market" implies that its a "thing" completely detached from people. The "market" develops out of people passing policies that show obvious favoritism for certain products being bought and sold. Ever wonder why there's not more efforts going into renewable energy? I'm sure it has nothing to do with people who have gained their fortunes from fossil fuels donating to political campaigns and giving other kickbacks.

Since 'politician' has become a certified way to get wealthy then it follows that the phrases "its just politics" or "politics as usual" have come to mean that a particular politician's vote will likely side with the highest bidder. Let's not worry about the people who voted for them to represent their interests. Our bipartisan system is notorious for presenting issues in dichotomous - either/or - forms. Allow me to present a dichotomy: we either continue doing things the neoliberalist way or we get serious about some alternatives. The good in all this bad is that the people in this country tend to be in favor of not only keeping social programs, but expanding them, and are even willing to pay more taxes such that there is monetary coverage. This leaves me wondering why OUR politicians that we elect are not a reflection of the people they represent! The answer(s) probably has a lot to do with 'politician' being seen as a career choice instead of a goodwill carried out by a responsible and empathetic citizen.

When submerged in information such as this, one's outlook can become quite negative. Its common to think about the difficulty addressing this discrepancy when those with power have so much of it? Well, you see the thing about power is that one cannot have power unless it is given to them. Money doesn't make people powerful. Our treatment of people with money makes them powerful. --- I'm going to spare you of my rant about how people treat money and just forward you to Polanyi. You can also go back and read my previous post if you need to read about how the current practice of Capitalism, guided by Neoliberalism, distributes wealth to a few and leaves the majority of people in poverty. --- Its past time for us to take our power back and empower ourselves!!! I read posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds all day about how pissed everyone is, but posting on social media can't be where your frustration stops. Sure, posting about injustices on social media (this blog counts too) raises awareness but unless you're providing avenues for people to get involved in the change they want to see, you're falling short. Pay close attention to this next part --> If you've been looking for organizations that take on immigration reform, labor issues, saving and expanding social security, medicare, and medicaid, working toward racial, gender, economic, and political equality, and making corporations and the wealthy PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE then check out the organizations listed below and GET INVOLVED in the change you want to see!***

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Alliance for a Just Society
Center for Community Change (CCC)
Community Access National Network (CANN)
Jobs with Justice (JWJ) 
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National People's Action (NPA)
PICO National Network 
Planned Parenthood
Progress Now
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
State Voices
Women's Equality Center (WEC)

People Organized for Westside Renewal


Rights for All People / Derechos Para Todos
Colorado Progressive Coalition 


Teach Our Children
Organize Now


Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organization 


Illinois People's Action 
Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality 
Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation
Illinois Indiana Regional Organizing Network 
Jane Addams Senior Caucus 


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement 


Sunflower Community Action 


The Micah Project

Maine People's Alliance 


Alliance to Develop Power 


Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform 


TakeAction Minnesota


Communities Creating Opportunities
Grass Roots Organizing
Metropolitan Congregations United 
Missouri Faith Voices
Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity2 
Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
The Organization for Black Struggle

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada 

New York

Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition 
People United for Sustainable Housing 
Syracuse United Neighbors
Community Voices Heard
Good Old Lower East Side 


Working In Neighborhoods/Communities United for Action 
Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative 
Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope 
The AMOS Project


Healthy and Free Tennessee 

Virginia Organizing

***This list is not exhaustive and will be updated periodically***
***Don't ask me why they're different colors***

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reform or REVOLUTION???

A memo dated August 23, 1971 and authored by Lewis F. Powell, Jr was sent to the then chair of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr. Powell went on to become a Supreme Court judge and the world that was "changing" so far to the left reversed and did a 180 to the right. Of course, one has to always insert things like "One cannot be completely sure..." or "One cannot show a direct causal relationship...", but regardless of how much the elite are willing to admit the impact this memo had on what became the future, any analysis of this memo has to call it what it is: a plan for business elites to follow.

This memo dates back almost 43 years!!! The amount of time it took the left to come up with a corresponding agenda....*tic toc, tic toc*...The left tend to gear toward a democratic operation of sorts, in which consensus voting is highly regarded. However, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) illustrated how that model is an epic fail for orgs of a larger capacity.This democratic stance tends to prevent a maximized productivity (Did I just use business language?). A maximized productivity requires specifics, but one of the things criticized in the Neoliberal model used by conservatives is their insistence that every problem has a technological solution, which means a prescription by an objective and rational neoliberalist can solve any problem. Aw yes, when describing the other, you are describing yourself. Point: Neoliberalists have a solution for everything, and that solution is the same regardless of demographics and geography. However, those opposed to Neoliberalism --- Socialists, Commies, etc --- believe in local solutions. So leftists avoid agendas that incorporate specific solutions to overcoming Neoliberal ideologies. The majority of leftist agendas will not contain specific mechanisms meant for everyone to engage in.

I wish it were so easy as to go back to the 60s and do all the things that pissed off Powell and his buddies in the first place, but since the elite have used Neoliberalism to reconstitute their power, most of the  venues have been closed off, closely guarded, left political liberalists too afraid to fight back, or slowed innovation in social movement tactical innovation. In fact, Powell's memo could be summed up in 3 words: BUSINESS IS GOD.  Even still, I found myself pondering the change I would like to see and, well...I didn't consider how my training in "rationality" is why I was thinking in terms of "a" solution for the world.

The biggest problem I ran into in trying to develop feasible alternatives to Neoliberalism was acknowledging the difference between ideals and practice. For a world to exist without inequalities of any kind, all of the adults would need to be massively slaughtered, characteristics of greed and selfishness would have to be eliminated via self-destruction, and a new planet untouched by Capitalism/(Neo)Colonialism would be required. I started with the question: Most people are moderates and prefer a dialogue based on reform, but should we be talking revolution? By definition, Capitalism does not result in wealth or increased wealth for everybody. Polanyi already wrote a book about this and theorists have followed suit and compiled articles and books about how the State has to be involved with the "market" to protect against the pitfalls of Capitalism. But then economic liberalism injected heroin in its veins and transformed into Neoliberalism, and the rest is history. Laws have been changed to support Neoliberalism, governments have been cuffed to it, the IMF, World Bank, and WTO are its demon spawns and the bulk of the people of this world get the pitfalls of Capitalism in continuously interesting ways: GMOs, microfinancing, genocide, too big to fail transnational corporations, Monsanto being declared as above the law, and austerity measures that would shock the devil himself.

When coming up with alternatives one has to also think about repression. For example, if a local community tries to survive outside of the economic and political structure they could easily be framed as a cult. Local solutions are difficult to generate when any conduct outside of the structure is considered a threat to the structure. Bauman has pointed out in nearly all of his writings that waste is inherent in design. There is no "perfect" solution to  Capitalism, Neoliberalism, Neocolonialism, and Globalization. By perfect, I mean that any "solution" will include a deficit of some kind or another. At least local solutions means that the people being affected can choose how they're affected.

Criticism of the left: Why are you playing defense instead of offense?

Reply to critics: If this analogy is to be used, then the critic using it should know that only one team can play offense at a time. And when the game has been bought out or rigged in the other teams favor, there are no (objective) referees to keep the playing field fair. All calls are made in favor of the offense. How does one win a game in which the adversary makes all of the rules?

Offense: Business elites
Defense: Political liberals
Referees: Government/The State

So back to that question about whether we should be talking revolution or reform... 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Narratives as an Impetus for Collective Violence

I just finished the last revisions of my "2yr paper." What's a 2yr paper you ask? Its a paper I have to complete on the way to the completion of a PhD that mocks the fact that I already have a Masters degree...carrying on...I hope to get at least two publications out of the lynching research I've conducted over the last *coughs* years. Check out my ABSTRACT and tell me this doesn't make you want to learn more:-) 

Previous research has concluded that there were inequalities present in decisions of whether lynching would be used as a punishment for racial transgressions. The present study takes these findings a step further by questioning how lynching persisted, despite it not being a tool of social control appropriated for use by lower class white people. The portrayal of lynching in the media is analyzed as a vital source for addressing how lynching was promoted as a just and necessary method of social control reserved for racial transgressions.

While performing an ethnographic content analysis (qualitative document analysis) with 458 newspaper articles describing specific lynchings in the state of Georgia during the peak of lynching in the United States (1882-1930), six recurring characteristics emerged as inclusions intended to encourage readers to approve of the particular lynching(s) discussed in each article. These characteristics were the esteem of the crime victim, the esteem of the lynched person, the emphasis on the brutality of the alleged crime, sin-license disclaimers, black support for the lynching, and the lynched person’s confession. The inclusion of these characteristics assisted in the portrayal of lynching as a just practice by appealing to cultural fundamentals of the time. This appeal included logical and emotional arguments expected to resonate with readers. The effectiveness of these portrayals is illustrated by the levels of direct participation, or lack of intervention, and also by the refusal of those in power to outlaw lynching.

See how awesome is this? This will be coming to a peer-reviewed journal near you real soon!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Genocide, as an act of collective violence, is driven by cultural myths, and perhaps even more so than lynching (see previous post), by technology. As acts of collective violence, the goal of genocide, which includes ethnic cleansing, is to eliminate a population. It appears that the terms differ on what the UN determines as intent: genocide being “annihilation,” and ethnic cleansing being “relocation” (Bergoffen 2006:22). However, genocide and ethnic cleansing should not be separated on such a claim. As it stands, the strategic implementation of rape as a major part of an agenda to eliminate a population is not suitable for intervention by the UN. This determination states that the murder of men is more detrimental than the massive rape of women. What the UN fails to realize is the reason why the massive rape of women is implemented: it accomplishes the same goal of elimination that violent mass murders do. “[I]nstead of gas chambers, women’s bodies [are] used as weapons of ethnic destruction” (quoted in Bergoffen 2006:2; Barstow 2000:9).

Ethnic cleansing should be recognized as a form of genocide - cultural genocide - because the objective of elimination remains intact (Stone 2004). In furthering this notion, even in conflicts registered as genocide by the UN, rape was strategically implemented as a means to accomplish the objective of elimination. For instance, strategic rape in the Rwandan genocide was so carefully planned that in 1997 “70 percent of Rwanda’s population [was] female, and of the adults and adolescents, observers agree that the vast majority [had] lived through rape” (Flanders 2000:97).

The Bosnian-Herzegovina conflict is what initially sparked the use of the term 'ethnic cleansing.' Since my research utilizes narratives from which to draw conclusions, it only makes sense that we allow the women involved to provide clarity in the genocide-ethnic cleansing debate. Just like with black women during the lynching era (see previous post), the women involved as rape victims in the Bosnian-Herzegovina conflict told their stories. These women lived in both Bosnia and Croatia, and were largely members of the Muslim communities. The perpetrators were primarily Serbian soldiers who did not discriminate on account of territorial borders. These women’s bodies were held captive as property of the State. It is evident through the stories that the women who lived through it describe it as strategic rape in which their bodies were used to accomplish the agenda of elimination.

Hatiza (Stiglmayer 1994:92): She was taken to a camp and told that she would soon have a kid in her belly. She was taken to the cellar of the school building and raped there. “They did it to humiliate us. They were showing their power. They stuck guns in our mouths. They tore our clothes. They showed the ‘Turkish women’ they were superior.”

Sadeta(Stiglmayer 1994:93-97): She was instructed to march out of her village, but along the way, she and a group of all women were told to wait in a courtyard for further instructions. One of the soldiers retrieved her and another woman. They were taken to an empty house. They were given orders about ‘what [they] had to do, how [they] had to act,’ to get what had become two men excited and then satisfy the men. They were told to get cleaned up and get dressed and then they were returned to the courtyard. About 15 minutes later, she was taken away and brought to another house in which the commander waited, because he had requested her. She was ordered inside of a bedroom and told to lie on the bed. The commander fondled and kissed her. She says that he saw that she wasn’t feeling anything, just lying there staring into space. She looked him in his eyes and asked if he had a wife, a sister. Then asked him how he would feel if someone did to his sister what he was doing to her. He jumped up and told her to get dressed and leave. Her and the other women, minus the woman she was raped alongside on the first occasion were allowed to leave. “Maybe that’s their way of hurting Muslim women and Croatian women, and the whole female race. Killing them isn’t interesting enough to them anymore. It’s a lot more fun to torture us, especially if they get a woman pregnant. They want to humiliate us…and they’ve done it too.”

Mirsada (Stiglmayer 1994:109): “They put their fingers into me all over, to see if I was hiding money anywhere. Then four of them raped me, one after the other. They told us we were going to give birth to Serbian children and they would do everything they could so we wouldn’t even dare think of coming back again. After the fourth guy, I fainted. If I hadn’t fainted, they’d have kept on going.” Her four year old daughter was in the next room and could see everything.

Ziba (Stiglmayer 1994:119-121): “My daughter was raped along with me. First he raped me, and then I had to watch while he raped my little girl.” Her daughter, 14 years old, suffered from bleeding and infections for months afterward. “I saw about seven or eight little girls who died after they were raped. I saw how they took them away to be raped and then brought them back unconscious. They threw them down in front of us, and we weren’t allowed to look at them; you had to keep looking at the floor the whole time…” “They wanted to kill us slowly, torture us to death, they wanted us to suffer, they wanted to show us in every way they could that they were stronger.”

Barstow, Anne Llewellyn. 2000. “Introduction” and “Part One: Sexual Slavery.” Pp. 1-12 in War’s Dirty Secret, edited by Anne Llewellyn Barstow. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press.

Bergoffen, Debra B. 2006. “From Genocide to Justice: Women’s Bodies as a Legal Writing Pad.” Feminist Studies. 32 (1):11-37.

Flanders, Laura. [1995, 1997] 2000. “J’Accuse!” Pp. 157-164 in War’s Dirty Secret, edited by Anne Llewellyn Barstow. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press.

Stiglmayer, Alexandra. 1994. “The Rapes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Pp 82-169 in Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, edited by Alexandra Stiglmayer. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, Nebraska.

Stone, Dan. 2004. “The Historiography of Genocide: Beyond ‘Uniqueness’ and Ethnic Competition.” Rethinking History, March, 8(1):127-142.