Anger Is A Gift: Part I
Anger is a gift, follow the trail of smoke to the fire. Harness that fire for the light and the clarity it brings, turn the heat of that passion into action.
Before you start swinging you´ve got to know where to punch. Clarity is needed.
We’ve got lots of ground to cover before we can dive into action so let’s get started.
The entire premise of our country is predicated on bodily control.
The US system of capitalism, an offshoot of settler colonialism exists to extract resources and turn those resources into profit. It does so by any means necessary.
Extraction is no accident but there is no master plan, just a clear goal to steal from all available sources — the earth and its inhabitants, which includes you, to the benefit of the few.
There was a time when black enslaved workers and white indentured servants were more or less the same. But these groups united in common cause against their colonial masters and burned the Jamestown capital to the ground. Alarmed, the English planter elite created laws that conferred “special” rights to European servants elevating the social status while restricting the rights of the enslaved Africans. The planter class also began to import more enslaved Africans. Then they extended the terms of their enslavement into perpetuity. European indentured servants began to identify with the whiteness, with the elites. Freedom is white. Enslavement is black.
The separation is codified into law, justified by the mythology of white superiority. A mythology to establish the dominance of white men. Men. Straight men. Patriarchy, the inherent superiority of men. White women were never part of the equation; they were the prize, the booty, the loot. The supremacy of the white male, their civilization, their culture, their knowledge the only knowledge. Educational institutions were created to uphold this ideology, disciplines developed to spread this propaganda. Repetition is power. Institutions codify ideas, handing them down, generation after generation.
We have nurtured ourselves in secret, telling our own stories, singing our own songs, weaving our own dreams. True courage, actual bravery is surviving a system that would rather you suffer in silence and die. My heroes not only survived but thrived with their dignity and humanity intact. They spread joy to all those lucky enough to know them. But over time their deaths began to haunt me. Time and time again I´ve seen people murdered only to be told it was their fault. Addiction is weakness; illness, poverty, joblessness, a choice.
What we have been taught and what is actually happening are two different things. Born into this world a Black girl the dissonance was clear to me from the beginning. The people who loved me tried to protect me from that truth, that I, that we were in danger for as long as they could. Because we had transcended the horror of literal enslavement they believed we would one day find a way to transcend legal and social enslavement. In our attempts to do so we legitimized a democracy that has yet to exist.
W.E.B DuBois defined double consciousness as the natural state of the descendents of the enslaved. The internal mechanisms of Black oppression masquerade as freedom. But that freedom has always been relative. There is an order, a gendered / race based caste system that prioritizes some lives over others. For Black bodies to exist in this society we have had to believe in the dream of democracy, equality and justice but we also have to see the violent oppression that limits our existence. My family and I have lived our lives in peril but we have also thrived. We are all successful, mostly happy. But that happiness has always been fragile, a fleeting experience extinguished by the most recent egregious act of state sponsored or socially mandated violence.
That I had grown used to.
The decision to overturn Roe v Wade is a particularly nasty reminder that women’s bodies, gender non-conforming bodies have never been free. What is now crystal clear is that we are all vulnerable to the whims of those who wield power. Their net grows wider and wider with each passing day. The habit of the system is extraction and enslavement until it is dismantled this will not change.
Growing up oppression came at me on all fronts. The man who masturbated in front of his window whenever I went past his house to visit a friend. The car that nearly snatched me up as I walked home from school one dark, winter afternoon.. The vulnerability of my white girlfriends, beginning in elementary school the subjects of sexual attention. They came to me and my family for help. We believed them because what was happening to them had happened before. My grandmother was raped, her sister, too. My grandmother, as a teenager, gave birth to twins that did not survive. The Native girls called all sorts of names, faced all sorts of calamities as a matter of course. Only to be met with silence. My best friend, Krista, whose mother dangled her in front of potential boyfriends she could not otherwise catch.
The thinkers I admire most like Fanon, Malcolm, Baldwin, Morrison, et al had this power of discernment. Their keen minds cut through the bullshit to the raw truth of the nastiness and destructive power of our nation.
I left the US years ago but it never leaves you. Family, friends,loved ones of all sorts are your home. Those places that nurtured and grew you are your home. The danger, such as it is, is not in the place; it exists in the deranged intentions of those drunk on power. The danger exists within us. There is no external force, only the blindness of greed and the delusion of greatness. I left because it became too much to bear. The weight of that reality, the rage at watching dear ones die. I left because I always knew I was leaving. From the moment I understood what was happening, that I was supposed to be silent and grateful in the face of my own destruction, I knew I had to go. In leaving I have gone nowhere. I am here. Ready. to. fight.
Take a deep breath. Look at your hand. Marvel at the miracle that is your hand. Can you see your Mothers hand in your hand? Your grandma’s hand in hers? Put that hand to your breast, just over your heart. Feel the soft warm flesh. Let your hand melt into your chest. Let your hand rise and fall with each breath. In the stillness perhaps you feel a faint pulsing. Enjoy the vibrating murmur of your heart. Let it´s rhythm give you strength. Marvel at the miracle that is your life. Thank all of the women who helped make it possible. Connect with other people who are hurt, upset. Comfort one another. Start unpacking all you don´t know together.
Inventing Black & White, from Facing History, Facing Ourselves
Supreme Court Decision Mississippi by Elie Mystal, The Nation
Women´s Reproductive Rights: A Brief History, Howard University Law School