13 Feb

Cheerleaders are Never on the Field

interwoven strings

Photo credit Derek Σωκράτης Finch under Creative Commons

I am a provocateur.

I like art and ideas that stir the heart, mind, and soul. I like being moved.

When I watched Beyonce’s video, Formation, last weekend, I was stirred. It was, at once, a celebration and a call to action. It was loving, hopeful, defiant, and angry, and it said get your shit together. In short, it was art, and it was provocative.

The educator and artist in me loves that Beyonce has inspired and stirred so many. Engaging racism, sexism, classism, and systematized oppression is a complicated, messy endeavor. The activist in me loves that so many white people are unsettled and uncomfortable with the images and words in her video—we don’t change if we aren’t uncomfortable.

I am hopeful that this is another opportunity for us to have deeper, more engaged conversations on racism. But the collective response reminds me that we, in particular white people, haven’t accepted our painful, ugly historical legacies of systematic oppression. Sadly we aren’t yet ready for this kind of conversation, and we are struggling to collectively hold that pain, find healing, make meaning from it all, and make change.

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28 Aug

Working Across Difference

Photo by Adam

Photo by Adam

Ferguson is not a black and white thing. Ferguson happens all over the country, to black folks, brown folks, asian, native, trans* folk. It crosses racial lines. Ferguson (and all the other violence and killings that happen in our country) is also at the intersections of race, class, and gender…and so Ferguson happens to poor folks, to middle class folks, to women, to trans* and gender non-conforming folks—by men, and primarily white men. Our country’s history is centered at the intersection of whiteness, masculinity, and wealth, and our suppression tactics through violence, fear, and economic sanctions stem from that place as well.

As I have been processing all of what is happening and having conversations with friends and colleagues, it occurred to me that our “justice work” efforts have been largely single issue actions and responses. We do our work in the silos. Race is salient in this country in very particular and meaningful ways, and we work that. Class has a very real and tangible impact on families and communities, and we work that. Gender has a fluidity that resists being boxed and harassed into narrow imaginations, and we work that. But we end up segregating our efforts, never getting to the intersection that leads to the oppression in our country.

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16 Jun

Earth Work

Yesterday I worked the earth. this is not a normal thing for me. I have a job that utilizes my mind and my heart, but not my body. And I dont like to garden. Yard work has always been a chore for me, because, I believe, it does not move me in the way art, or music, or parenting the kids, or teaching all move me. I look at Nicole after spending the day in the yard with the plants and the vegetables, and bringing a sense of life, love and healing, and she comes in with a well-worn, but sparkly smile of joy from the day. With the exception of making a big batch of compost, I have no joy in working the yard.

That said there is something magical about driving your hands into the dirt, to hold it, and feel it, and become one with it. I love the worms and the roly-poly bugs (the snails and the earwigs, i can do without).

Photo Credit by kleuske

Photo Credit by kleuske

I love that way that it feels and how it makes me feel. I want to play in it.

But yesterday had a confluence of events that had me outside. The first event, one of the scouts in Jackson’s troop was finishing up the final service project that is required to become an Eagle Scout, and he needed help. the scout was improving the land at a community nursery and had built a large planter. We spend our time shoveling chicken manure into wheel barrels and putting them in the planter. once the manure was in the planter, it had to be spread around.

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