Proximity to Whiteness

The racism in my area is ramping up, and there are people in seats of power who, in my view, are leaning into their proximity to whiteness than protecting those who could use support. That’s all I can really say on that, though I could elaborate. I am actively choosing not to because I am a white woman. IYKYK

I frequent city council meetings on a semi-regular basis. If I’m not there in person or ‘live’, then I’m catching a recording. I can say with some confidence that people who don’t normally show up to city council meetings are showing up with some glee in how they can be outwardly racist under the guise of concerned citizen. A recall campaign has been launched against this young dark skin Black man who has decided to go against the status quo and do things his way. The ‘logo’ used on this campaign is a poor and purposeful knock-off of the Black Lives Matter logo. They spin hyperbole around the mistakes he’s made – as if they haven’t ever made their own mistakes – and repeat the same boring tirade every time they get up to speak. While he’s thriving, the white people are gnashing their teeth. The Elders of Yesteryear are clutching their pearls.

Don’t you know you’re supposed to act more white?

We tried to counsel you to be more white, yet you ignore us.

He does whatever it is he wants! What an ego! So immature! He doesn’t want to follow white people decorum where we get to tell him what to do and then he does it. You know, like the good old days.

*looks at camera*

To borrow from the youth…………….. Bruh.

He is taking everything in stride. The media wants to continue its attack to distract us from doing what we’ve been doing: calling out the cost of the jail. Not only has this attack on his character and worth distracted the focus of the people, but they are actively expanding police authority and criminalization so they’re able to fill that new jail.

It’s time to shift the focus. These boring losers will find any tiny thing to knit-pick about this person, but we got policy that needs changing, eliminating, or creating. I hope to see what kind of life-affirming changes we can make.

Let’s make a better way

“A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

I know a little about a lot. The internet has allowed me to dwell upon borders that I would never have access to otherwise. Twitter especially brought to my eyes immediate suffering happening worldwide. There was global solidarity — on one side and on the other — for atrocities that we could not look away from. It has allowed us to see the inner thoughts of people we normally wouldn’t interact with — for better or for worse. There have been so many rabbit holes I’ve gone down just to see people’s different perspectives, even those I don’t agree with.

This is how I’ve come to the conclusion about how culture carries a large role in how we interact in social settings. Macro- and micro-level culture interact with time and space to create the wide variety of ideologies each individual carries. What I mean by that is how we grew up, where we grew up, who our parents and caregivers are, how people treated us, what books we read, what movies we watched, our conscientious interactions with the world around us, plus more, all shape our internal values and sense of being. Visual queues and cultural interpretations of those visual queues (like skin color) guide what kind of human being we decide to be.

This isn’t exactly a new or profound thought. But because I’m able to better see the world as it is through the eyes and experiences of other people in real time, and because I now have the vocabulary to describe it, I am now able to have the most minute amount of patience with why people are the way they are. I give a lot more space than I would have prior to knowing all this shit.

It is so damn hard to be a decent human being. Our culture puts an extreme amount of pressure and expectation that you will treat other people like shit, and that’s just the way it is.

Our parents/siblings/extended family treat us like shit. That’s just the way it is.

Our friends will inevitably be shitty to us. Count yourself lucky if you get an apology. That’s just the way it is.

We have different values? Well that gives me the right to shit all over you. That’s just the way it is.

People are evil. There’s nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it is.


You threaten my FREEDOM. Over my dead body. Or rather, yours. That’s just the way it is.

Does it have to be that way though?

History has shown human progress. Slow, very slow human progress, but progress nonetheless. I refuse to sit with “That’s just the way it is” when I now know a way to make this life something better.

Being a decent human being is hard. Calling out bigotry in a way that makes you heard….hahahaha. I don’t know how to do that yet. We, as a society, are too busy thinking in absolutes that we leave no room for conversation about nuance.

I’m always open to the difficult conversations that a lot of people simply do not want to have. I might know a little about a lot — or perhaps there are some topics that I know a lot about — but I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll need to do more research.” One cool phrase I’ve learned is, “I don’t know enough about that topic to have an opinion.” I feel that a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot as I look learn the inner workings of government. What the fuck am I even looking at?

Anyway, I digress.

I feel like a storm is brewing, and I’m preparing myself for whatever is to come. I know a troll when I see one. I recognize a person who comes to converse in earnest. I’ll engage the latter and ignore the former. So say hi, and ask me anything.

Criticism vs Advice

There’s a phrase that’s been thrown around by people in positions of power that I find concerning. “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.”

While this idea may be valuable in interpersonal relationships, this cannot be applied to people who sit in elected positions. Whether or not someone voted for whoever holds a seat of power doesn’t negate their ability to give constructive criticism. Although this is only the first time I’ve heard it come from a city council member’s mouth, and the first time I heard it from the mouth of an anti-racist trainer (speaking to the same city council members), I vehemently disagree with this phrase’s use in the political arena.

Aren’t elected officials suppose to listen to the voices of all people — even those who did not vote for them? By making such a claim, officials can selectively choose who they listen to and who to ignore. They’ve also signaled to everyone who shows up to make public comment that they find only certain voices valuable. The phrase also gives the feeling of “if you’re not with me, you’re against me.” Why run for a position of power where it is absolutely guaranteed that not everyone will agree with you?

There is a reason why I personally have no political aspirations: being subject to everyone’s opinions underneath a spotlight sounds like a terrible way to spend time to me. Though, I do know that eventually I will become ‘known’, the only people I will find myself accountable to are those who I am in community with – my family, my friends, my neighbors, people I help. Should I care what elected officials think of me? I’m not out to make enemies, but I’m also not going to let anyone — and I do mean anyone — avoid accountability. As a result, enemies will be made. I must again mention that accountability doesn’t have to mean punishment. I would much rather see everyone learn how to take ownership, make amends, and actively do better than to face negative consequences. I know that’s a weird concept for a lot of people.

Anyway, while criticism is like advice in that a person gets to choose which parts are valuable to take/act on and which are not, trying to put oneself above criticism isn’t going to do anyone any good, especially if that person has been democratically elected into a seat of power.

Serendipitous Validation

The knowledge that floats in my head is disjointed and piecemeal. I can point to several books I have read to gain some of this knowledge, but most of it I gleaned through twitter threads, news articles, magazine articles, or some other short-form media. Because I have a wide variety of surface-level (and perhaps some just below) awareness on a lot of topics, I’ve come to reach conclusions that I have not yet read. So I was elated when I went to research my current hypothesis only to find scholarly writings that speak on this very topic.

I spoke to husbae about this phenomenon: There’s something magical about this round about way of coming to a conclusion and finding out that others have too. He asked, what would you name that feeling? He came up with validation. I said serendipitous, without really knowing the definition. Except I did. How extraordinarily serendipitous. I wish I could remember how I finally came to learn that term.

The writing of this essay is going very slowly. I’m distracted by ten thousand different things, but finding a few articles that cite other sources and confirming my idea is helping me find focus. Focus is super hard right now: I feel like I’m being pulled in so many directions. I don’t know how normal people cope. I think I can cope, once I learn how, but I don’t know how yet. I like the challenge though. A lot of important things are happening all at once, and I feel like I’m finally contributing in a meaningful way.

Trial and error. How important it is for us to fail so we are forced to see what kind of person we are. I give husbae credit for these thoughts: the measure of self doesn’t occur when everything is going right — the true test comes when you’re at your worst; that’s when you’ll see what kind of human being you are.

Things move slowly, but they’re moving. Progress is glacial. Gotta find a way to train for the marathon, and stop sprinting all the time. It’s not really how my brain works, but I’ll figure it out. Hopefully. Maybe. I feel like I’ve taken steps in the right direction. Keep it moving, so says Mariame Kaba.

The Road to Liberation

Today I want to take the time to philosophize what I do, why I do it, and what I hope to achieve. Part of the reason why I’m writing this is to give myself a better roadmap from which to work, and the other part is because I know people out there will come with their own assumptions of my purpose, and I might as well spell it out so assumptions don’t need to be made.

The anti-racist road has many forks, and anyone with an interest in human wellness can start on any road. Mine was linguistics. Others may be music, sports, movies, general culture, healthcare, education, legislation, etc etc etc. Because racism and white supremacy is embedded in every system, all roads will lead to the same The Arc de Triomphe: the place where you see how everything is interconnected and cannot be untangled. When we fight our individual fights in our small realms, we fight for the greater good of the humanity of all. Not only do we need to take individual action, but we also must take collective action – for it is within collective action that we have the largest voice.

Those of us who engage in anti-racist work often call ourselves ‘amateur historians’, for it is through the lens of historical context that we must view our societies and its ailments. Most people know intuitively that history is written by the winners, and as a result, the truth of history tends to be warped to paint the winners as Triumphant Civilizers rather than Oppressive Destroyers. Those who resist the winners of history are described in ableist terms such as “crazy” (see John Brown) and are often dehumanized or subhumanized. While I don’t consider myself a well-read individual, what reading I have done of first-person accounts of slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow era, and present-day tribulations have been enough to open my eyes to see how intentionally cruel the Winners of History have been and continue to be.

A few months ago I decided to make a mind-map of how white supremacy works. As it became more and more complicated, I suddenly became very self-aware of how much of a ‘conspiracy theory’ the map was turning into. As much as I want to publish what I started, I know how the multitude of connecting lines would cause people to give me the side-eye stink-eye. As an abolitionist, I’m very conscious of the skepticism and dismissiveness that people already have for me. Abolition of police and prisons is quite the radical idea, one that we have not yet tried or seen in the history of the world. A world without punishment seems like an idealist utopian fantasy, but why not shoot for the moon knowing that all progress moves at glacial speed? Studying history shows that this fight – the fight for abolition, the fight for humanity – is not a recent conception: many people have died for the cause, because if we don’t people will die anyway, and quite terribly too.

I do truly believe in a world without punishment and a world of abundance. The scourge of capitalism is using the cost-benefit analysis to fit all people and problems into one-size-fits-all boxes and solutions. Collective and individual needs will vary, and so too should the solutions. But it requires slowing down (but time is money!), being willing to see nuance (but we want quick solutions!), and having the money (but our profits!!) and resources (but our PROFITS!!) available to implement solutions that will actually address root causes. Sometimes, the only way to reset a broken foundation is to bulldozer everything away and start anew, so that the new foundation is level and sound and will last long-term.

Even in my efforts to hold elected officials and policing accountable, it is not punishment that I seek; it is humanization that I seek. American society’s use of white-washed history places blinders on many of us, especially white people. We move through life absorbing harmful ideologies that we don’t even realize we have until it’s pointed out to us. Because we are an individualistic society, people new to the anti-racism movement will inevitably become personally victimized when it is brough to our attention:

“You harbor white supremacist ideology.”
“It’s because society taught you it.”
“Well… I mean… we absorb racist thoughts and ideas without realizing it.”
“The only way to not be complicit in racism is to actively fight against it.”

This circular argument is neither unexpected nor surprising. We have to process our feelings, our station in society, and how we have moved through life holding onto harmful ideas that lay beneath our consciousness. It doesn’t make any person a bad person – unless, you know, they’re actively fighting to allow their bigotry to go unchecked (like the hard-right GOP and other people who love the idea of hierarchy). As a white woman who has ruminated long and hard about my own complicity, I am willing to give space for people who reflexively push back. I also give space for BIPOC to have no patience for that push back.

So, with all that in mind, here is what I’m trying to do:

Accountability in local, state, and federal government is not easy to do. It is hard, messy, complicated, time consuming, infuriating, crushing, and hopeful all at once. This is why investigative journalism exists. I do not have an interest in journalism, but I do have an interest in knowing how my governments are fucking people over. To do this, I make public records request. I’m still learning the nuance of making these requests, and I’m still learning what to do with the information that I receive.

Here’s why I’m doing it:

The place I live has had a very white population, but due to the housing crisis, more BIPOC peoples are moving to the area. The kind of investigative journalism that exists in other parts of the country don’t quite exist here. And the areas of concern that our white journalists have don’t align with BIPOC community needs.

Here’s what I’m hoping to achieve:

The local governments (city- and county-level) has a good-old-boys-club feel to it, and in order to break up the very obvious corruption (like real estate moguls sitting on city council making laws and contracts about land within city limits), someone(s) need to have the paper trail that shows nefarious deeds. The paper trail can also be used for community activists to create policy that aligns with the nuanced needs of their communities (see the Seattle Solidarity Budget). As far as I’m aware, no one (or at the very least very few people) is engaged in the records excavation necessary to move these two ideas forward.

The ultimate goal is to create a more humane society. It has to start local, because it is where I live and where my friends reside. The “shoot for the moon because progress is glacial” means that I am aware that not all my desires will be achieved or achieved quickly. All anti-racists have the same rallying call: housing for all, universal basic income, free healthcare and education, have basic needs met including accessible nutritious food and clean water, free healthcare and education, a robust transportation system, support services for our disabled friends and community members, gender equality, racial equity (reparations), culturally responsive activities and events, celebration of our differences! ET CETERA.

Can little ol’ me achieve all those things? No, of course not. That’s why community involvement is absolutely necessary to move the needle of progress forward. But for now, my nose is in local budgets and policies so we can have a solid foundation from which to build. The road I travel down is toward police and prison abolition. The road my husband travels down is educational freedom and building students to have critical thinking skills. My children will choose something that they’re interested in. My friends have their own roads to go down. But hopefully we’ll all meet up at the Arc de Triomphe with our little triumphs that we can throw into the soup of liberation. Sloppy metaphors are my specialty.

Existing with Shitty Brain Chemistry

Brain chemistry is a funky thing. As inflation continues to rise and all the other bullshit capitalistic crap that goes along with it, it’s hard not to feel depressed. But the depression that comes from external forces is often easier, for me, to deal with than when my brain chemistry gets fucked up. I’m in the midst of a depressive episode as I write this, and it has everything to do with drinking some pinot noir, a red wine.

I’ve noticed in the past about how depressed I would get after drinking wine. I don’t know if it’s the brand, the type (pinot noir vs merlot vs cab sav, etc.), the fact that it’s a red, or that it’s wine. I know I’m not affected this way with all alcohol, but how my brain responded with this particular wine has had a devastating effect on my ability to regulate my emotions and sense of self-worth. Today I’m having to fight a brain that wants me to shut down, to cry, to hide away, that tells me that life is too hard and wants to give up. “How are you?” People ask, and depending on my relationship to them they either get “I’m well” (lie) or “I’m existing” (the truth). Existing has to be good enough for today.

I missed work yesterday due to my inability to get out of bed. I ‘noped’ my way out of most of the morning, and if I hadn’t had my kiddos at home, I probably would have stayed in bed all day long. When I was merely existing before, I didn’t have the weight of capitalism on me – meaning, I didn’t have a job I had to go to. I am forced to rally, for the sake of living and making a living, and put on the pleasant face for the rest of the world. I’m learning that I have to once again compartmentalize my feelings and emotions. And while the joy I share is not fake, because I have been smiling and laughing today, deep down inside I just want to crawl into a hole and sleep forever. “Sleep” and “forever” is not necessarily a euphemism for death, because eventually I will be ready again to interact with the world at large. I would prefer to be lethargic and unresponsive while I’m in this mental state. But the world keeps on turning, and so too must I turn with it.

Continuing the Topic of Credibility

When I am in my worst state – the kind of depression that makes one isolate in a spiral of self-hatred – I often forget about the people I consider friends. “Relationships are a two way street” is a line I remember clearly from a Japanese movie I adore. The depression prevented me from wanting to reach out to people – to build those connections necessary to ‘receive’ the kind of love I needed in those moments. Self-hate causes one to believe that everyone else feels exactly the same way you do about yourself, which makes it very hard to reach out to people. Luckily I am not currently in that funk, and I reached out to a friend to ask his opinion on my previous post about credibility.

To graciously quote my friend, he said, “Myself, I don’t tend to seriously question someone’s credibility unless or until I’m given a reason to do so.” These words stood out to me because I was working from a perspective that trust/credibility is built first, rather than something that is assumed until given a reason not to. Of course he is talking from his own perspective, but I tend to follow the same approach, for the most part. It’s hard not to be disenchanted by people when there are daily headlines of reporter’s finding elected officials lying about their credentials. Finding a balance between trust and suspicion is hard in these days of misinformation, disinformation, and straight up lying.

Often I ponder the purpose of having a blog. Aside from the purpose of writing, I don’t really have a particular audience or topic in mind. I had thought about trying to read all the articles I have open on my phone browser tabs and write some sort of reaction to it. The biggest struggle is finding the time. I am aware that I have an unfinished thought from a previous entry, and it would be nice to somehow to back and finish whatever it was I was going to say. Another reason why I struggle to write is that I continue to devalue my own voice. This goes back to the credibility thing: I feel like because I have no real credentials, field of study (in an official capacity), nor the experience to Speak On Certain Topics, I mute myself completely from even trying.

Non-fiction dominates my reading pile these days, and a majority of what I read come from scholars who cite their sources. Ideally I would choose one topic a week and spend the week doing the research necessary to feel Confident that I Know What I’m Talking About. That would require a schedule…and consistency. Skills I do not possess. Alas alas, I suppose the only thing I can do is get over myself and write what I want, research when I can, and let the reader know that if you really want to know more about whatever it is I’m talking about, here’s a list of resources. Bam bam bam. Wipe my hands and be done.

I’ll figure my shit out eventually. Maybe. I guess I’ve been saying that for coming on nine years. Ha! Eventually will come eventually.

How is Credibility decided?

Credibility occupies my mind these past few weeks. It started when someone I know posted a video where the speaker claimed to be an ‘expert’ and rattled off a fancy title to make him sound more credible. This “senior fellow” received his title at an “institute”, but when you look up the institute, you find out that the organization is a non-profit that specializes in research for policy change. In other words, they’re lobbyists. Due to this ‘expert’ making claims about the ‘fall of men’ that had everything to do with the attempts of women receiving equality, I found myself scoffing and readily dismissing this person’s expertise.

I love looking at definitions, so let’s look at the definition of credibility.

noun | cred·i·bil·i·ty ˌkre-də-ˈbi-lə-tē
1: the quality or power of inspiring belief
an account lacking in credibility
2: capacity for belief
Her account exceeds credibility.

Now let’s look at authority:

noun | au·thor·i·ty ə-ˈthȯr-ə-tē ȯ-, -ˈthär-
1 a: power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior
the president’s authority
b: freedom granted by one in authority : RIGHT
Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?
2 a: persons in command, specifically : GOVERNMENT
the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing public enterprise
the transit authority
the city’s housing authority
had excellent authority for believing the claim
b: convincing force
lent authority to the performance
4 a(1) : a citation (as from a book or file) used in defense or support
(2): the source from which the citation is drawn
He quoted extensively from the Bible, his sole authority.
b(1): a conclusive statement or set of statements (such as an official decision of a court)
(2): a decision taken as a precedent
C: an individual cited or appealed to as an expert
The prosecutor called the psychiatrist as an authority.

It’s important to point out that definitions are descriptive vs prescriptive; that is, dictionaries define words according to how the word is used or commonly understood (descriptive), rather than HOW IT MUST BE USED (prescriptive). Language changes all the time and so too will the definition of words. Having these definitions help me understand what it is that I’m trying to argue, or wrap my head around, etc.

My personal crusade involves an attempt to shift cultural attitudes towards police and prisons to eliminate the need for such institutions. I came upon this ideology through reading materials from a variety of what I consider to be credible sources – academics, scholars, journalists, historical figures. Through their analysis and citing of sources, and through my own understanding of what it means to be human, I concluded that the people I chose to listen to are not only credible but an authority on the subject. Most of the people I learned from have doctorates degrees or in the process of getting one.

And then there’s me: a self-described nobody. I have an undergraduate degree in Japanese language that is relatively useless. I hold no special titles. I’ve done little in the way of volunteer work. What little credibility I did have I squandered and am now trying to rebuild from the ground up. And yet I attend city council meetings and speak with an authority that I know I don’t truly have.

Why listen to me? Because I read non-fiction books? Because I engage with peer-reviewed academic literature? That perhaps one of these days I’ll go into even more debt to return to school to earn another degree that may lead to some sort of credibility and authority? I have said, and will continue to say, that I am not the one anyone should be listening to. I try my best – with fluctuating results – to amplify those who do have more credibility and authority than me. That is the best I can do at the moment. Yet I know I shouldn’t be so ready to dismiss myself just because I don’t have the white supremacist colonial ideal of holding a position of authority or earning a higher ed degree to have credibility. However, this is the reality and word I live in; this is how most people operate.

So what do I do? What should I do? I suppose we all got to start somewhere, and if right now I use my little space on the internet to analyze culture, books, scholarly work, etc., it may lead to something more grand.

My biggest question – being the little peon I feel that I am in this big huge world – is how and why do I try to gain credibility while at the same time feeling like I get to readily dismiss those who also do not have it. Mr. Senior Fellow at blahblah Institute claims to be credible expert, and yet I, a person who holds no titles, feel like I somehow have enough critical thinking skills to dismantle this person’s claims. I think about the people who hold opposing views, whose reality is different from mine, who use their power/authority/credibility to dehumanize entire groups of people who look/act differently from them. Am I “better” than them for having more compassion, more willingness to look past transgressions, in order to see people as full human beings? While I try to build a world that eliminates hierarchy, am I not engaging in the same type of building of hierarchy? “I am more credible than you! Therefore the words that come out of my mouth holds more weight than yours.” Sounds like hierarchy to me.

Is this all just another existential crisis? Of course it is. This is where I dwell. Until I somehow gain confidence and/or authority and/or credibility in this realm of building new worlds in order to destroy harmful institutions, I will continue to ponder my place in this grand ol’ universe.

Mind Dump: Too Many Books

Because I want to build my writing habit, and because I am a low energy person who lacks the ability to manage time, I will inevitably post stream-of-consciousness, mostly unedited posts. I have a weird habit of posting first, then rereading it and making revisions from the published page. It’s weird. I’m weird. It’s not the worse thing, but certainly not becoming of The Professional Writer.

I spent part of my commute listening to more Toni Morrison. Anyone who has engaged her work knows she is the master of the craft. Listening to her nonfiction essays is delicious food brain for me. I’m eager to put those words into my brain via my eyeballs so that what she says sticks. She inspires me to write more, to be reflective, to try to somehow muster a minuscule amount of eloquence that she harbors in her writing.

I’m interested in too many books right now, and I’m making zero progress on reading any of them. Aside from the audiobook, I can’t seem to choose a story to focus my energy on. So many half-read books. So many unread books. There are books I started years ago that I feel I will have to start from the beginning to reorient myself to the writer and their topic. Two new books arrived today, and of course I started to read one of them. Will I continue reading it? No idea. The current trend is that I’ll get about halfway through it before I start another book. Maybe my challenge for February is to finish 2 books. FINISH. Even if it is one of the books I have in a half-state of read, like The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Or maybe East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Maybe I’ll keep on my Toni Morrison kick and finish listening to SLASH reading The Source of Self Regard and then doing the same for Beloved. I have a Zora Neale Hurston book sitting on my desk at work.

The only thing I’m consistent about is inconsistency. I feel the need to remind myself that. I sagely nod at the wise reminder.

Maybe later (or tomorrow) when I get the energy, I’ll write about my new found love of capybaras. No matter what I write from here on out, somehow, someway, I will mention capybaras. And I will draw a capybara. And I will make it my site logo. Yes. This will be done.

But now I am exhausted and shall sleep. Good night.

Important Words from Important People

Right now I am listening to the audiobook of The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison and narrated by Bahni Turpin. Within the collection of essays and speeches is a piece she wrote when she won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1993. There is accompanying audio of her reading this speech on the night she accepted the award, but the version I heard was the one read by Turpin. I plan to listen to Morrison speak tomorrow for right now I want to write. The piece is an extended metaphor about the power of language and of humanizing language. In a way I feel like this piece came back to me at just the right time and the right place. I have listened to some of the audiobook a few years before, but I’m not quite sure if 1. I had heard this piece and, 2. Whether it would have resonated with me then as it does now.

Language is on my mind. It’s always on my mind. Part of the reason why I don’t write as much as I used to is because I care about the language I use. It takes a lot of time and effort to carefully write out my thoughts because a lot of my thoughts are a lot more complicated than they used to be. Because I use what I consider to be elevated language, a higher diction, and I’m now consciously aware of how my speech patterns differ from others. This is why I find it important to engage in political education — to create the shared vocabulary that is essential to understanding societal problems.

Within Morrison’s speech, she says, “The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation.” Nuanced. Complex. Delivering life, birth, happiness, love. Political education is giving name to the nuance of language that is so necessary for delivering life, birth, happiness, and love. It’s complex, so discussion and dialog is a must. Within the same paragraph, she says, “Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”

Encouraging the mutual exchange of ideas when framed with mid-wifery properties – i.e. political education – burgeons the desire to create life-giving institutions that abolitionists are striving for.


Trying to engage in dialog where there is a lack of understanding of the nuance of language drives home the need for slowing down a conversation long enough to explain words for common meaning. We must have a shared vocabulary. A lot of abolitionist and anti-racist education requires a lot of unlearning of concepts. These concepts are taught to us through culture (family, media, music, socializing), and you can’t know a thing unless it’s pointed out to you.

James Baldwin said, “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” Moving through the world with a love ethic means pointing out the dehumanization of another that we learn through the subtle nuance of language as taught via culture. The unlearning of harmful language is wrought with discomfort because we have to wrestle with our moral selves as we try to understand how we came to absorb such lessons. There has never not been a time when problematic language or imagery is being pointed out by someone — often and most likely by the people who are being hurt the most — but we are not conscious of what we cannot see.

Silencing the opposition is the only way to avoid accountability. James Baldwin said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” Accountability never feels good, because those of us with a good moral conscious feel guilt and shame. We have demonized guilt and shame so much that we avoid it at all costs. Or, that’s what the rich and powerful have done and have taught us.

But I digress…

Today I also took the time to listen to a podcast interview of Mariame Kaba. Both Morrison and Kaba galvanize me to take action. During the interview, Kaba shared the importance of accepting and taking lessons from failure. More words given at the right time at the right place.

My tiredness has set in, and so I will hopefully continue these thoughts tomorrow.