Posts labeled Activism
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Lockdown America, by Christian Parenti (1999)
The “War on Drugs” inaugurated by President Richard Nixon—with its devastating consequences on American families for over four decades—is not only racist in its enforcement and effects. It was designed to be racist from the very beginning. It is racist on purpose, by intent.
This was the shocking revelation that erupted this week in journalist Dan Baum’s April cover story for Harper’s magazine. Baum describes a 1994 interview with Nixon advisor, John Ehrlichman, in which Ehrlichman makes the following admission:
“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Despite the casual brazenness of the confession, and the sociopathic depravity it displays, this did not come as a surprise to the communities most affected by the pervasive, systemic racism of the legal/judicial process and the mass incarceration state.
My first reaction upon reading of the new Ehrlichman quote was this: Disgusting. Immoral. Fascist. Heart-crushing. But why is this being treated as Breaking News when another Nixon aide, H. R. Haldeman, said the same thing years ago? I went to my copy of Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America (1999). Yep. There it was. Haldeman admitting the exact same thing as Ehrlichman:
“[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”
--H. R. Haldeman (quoted in Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America, p. 3. This quote is an epigraph to Chapter One, and does not have a footnote/source.)
Now, three former Nixon officials have jumped in to dispute the “new” quote from John Ehrlichman and to dismiss its premise. In a joint-statement, former Nixon officials Jeffrey Donfeld, Jerome H. Jaffe, and Robert DuPont contend that Ehrlichman was just joshing. (Because ruined lives and shattered families are a real knee-slapper, right?) Ehrlichman was “known for using biting sarcasm,” they state, and suggest, “it is possible the reporter misread his tone.” “Most importantly,” these officials claim, “the statements do not reflect the facts and history of President Nixon’s approach to the drug problems.”
These former Nixon officials want us to ignore the clear words in front of our face. They claim that the admission by Ehrlichman was misconstrued and is off base. But then why did H. R. Haldeman say the same thing?
So far, the corroborating quote from H. R. Haldeman has been missing from the reporting on the “new” Ehrlichman quote. The consistency between the statements from Ehrlichman and Haldeman is a crucial piece of evidence. It should underscore the newly revealed interview with Ehrlichman and cast doubt on those who dispute the accuracy or importance of what he confesses.
The mutually reinforcing quotes from Ehrlichman and Haldeman amplify a shattering truth that communities of color having been communicating for decades: the “War on Drugs”—and the hyper-incarceration of Black, brown, and Native youth—are contemporary expressions of the US‘s foundational white supremacy. The legal and judicial systems are institutionally racist. All people of conscience must join together in a unified movement to end systemic racism in policing and sentencing, before the next generation of broken lives and grieving families.
One of the major spiritual questions of our time for white people is not 'can we embody compassion and love while remaining in denial about racial oppression?' but rather, 'can we embody compassion and love while fully acknowledging, directly confronting, and engaging in the struggle against, racial oppression?'
A key part of "interconnectedness" is recognizing our connectedness to history, and the CONTINUING legacies of institutionalized injustice. This is one of the many reasons that racial justice, gender justice, economic justice, and peace-making have everything to do with interconnectedness.
To build a cosmology of connection we need the insights of scientists and ecologists AND the insights of youth who are rising up for racial, gender, and economic justice.
A large part of moving from our current cosmology (worldview) of separation and exploitation to a cosmology of connection involves de-centering white supremacy and patriarchy, and re-centering the voices, vision, and leadership of women, Indigenous people, queer folks, people with disabilities, poor folks, and people of color.
[Use with the hashtags #ReclaimMLK and #MLKalsoSaid.]
“All of us are on trial in this troubled hour.”
--MLK Jr. (1968)
King on police brutality:
“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” --MLK, Aug. 28, 1963
“The white man does not abide by the law... His police forces are the ultimate mockery of law.” --MLK (1968) #ReclaimMLK
“We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity.” --MLK, Aug. 28, 1963
“We have got to go all out to deal with the question of segregation justice. We still have a long, long, way to go.” --MLK (1965)
“How long will justice be crucified and truth buried, how long?” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1962)
“Wounded justice lying prostrate on the streets of our cities.” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1962)
“The beating and killing of our... young people will not divert us. The arrest and release of known murderers will not discourage us.” MLK
“When we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people ... we won’t kill anybody.” --MLK (1968)
“I believe that the dignity & the worth of human personality will be respected one day. I believe this and I live by it.” -MLK (1964)
King on confronting systemic racism:
“The first thing that must be on the agenda of our nation is to get rid of racism.” --MLK Jr. (1968)
“The thing wrong with America is white racism.” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1968) #ReclaimMLK
“Large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility & the status quo than about justice & humanity.” MLK
“However difficult it is to hear, however shocking it is to hear, we’ve got to face the fact that America is a racist country.” MLK (1968)
“Racism is a philosophy based on contempt for life.” -MLK Jr. (1967)
“We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country.” --MLK Jr.
“There must be something positive & massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism & the tragedies of racial injustice.” --MLK
“White America has allowed itself to be indifferent to race prejudice.” --MLK (1968)
“I am sorry to have to say that the vast majority of white Americans are racists, either consciously or unconsciously.” MLK (1967)
1/2: "The doctrine of white supremacy was imbedded in every textbook and preached in practically every pulpit..." MLK
2/2: "... It became a structural part of the culture." --Martin Luther King Jr. on white supremacy (1967)
“The great majority of Americans… are uneasy with injustice but unwilling yet to pay a significant price to eradicate it.”
“There aren't enough white persons in our country who are willing to cherish democratic principles over privilege.” --MLK Jr.
King on the importance of direct action and civil disobedience:
“The blanket of fear was lifted by Negro youth. When they took their struggle to the streets a new spirit of resistance was born.” -MLK
“When [Black youth] cheerfully became jailbirds & troublemakers... they challenged & inspired white youth to emulate them.” –MLK
“We have, through massive non-violent action, an opportunity to avoid a national disaster & create a new spirit of class & racial harmony.”
“I've just come to a conclusion that our country doesn't really move on these issues until a movement is mobilized.” #MLK (1968)
“I’m talking about poor people’s power. That is what is needed.” --MLK Jr. (1968)
“Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits [his or her] convictions, but we must all protest.” --#MLK
“There must be more than a statement to the larger society; there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point.” #MLK
“Non-violent protest must now mature to a new level... The higher level is mass civil disobedience.” --MLK (1967)
“Our power lies in our ability to say nonviolently that we aren't gonna take it any longer.” –MLK (1967) #ReclaimMLK
“I’m worried today when there are those who try to silence dissenters.” –MLK Jr.
“We aren’t going to let this attempt to crush dissent turn us around.” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
“Our experience is that marches must continue over 30-45 days to produce any meaningful results.” MLK
“I believe in dissent. We must never lose this.” --Martin Luther King Jr.
“The greatness of our nation--and I don’t want to see us lose it--is that... it does keep alive the opportunity to protest and dissent.” MLK
King on economic justice and ending poverty:
“The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty.” --Martin Luther King Jr.
1/2: “The nation doesn't move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people...”
2/2: “... until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.” --MLK Jr.
“Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation.” --Martin Luther King Jr.
“In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied together.” -MLK
“I choose to identify with the poor…. This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way.” #MLK (1966)
“I think it is absolutely necessary now to deal massively and militantly with the economic problem.” --MLK, 10 days before assassination
“I still have to ask, why do you have 40 million people in our society who are poor? I have to ask that question.” --#MLK (1966)
“Poverty, the gaps in our society, the gulfs between inordinate superfluous wealth & abject deadening poverty have brought about... despair”
“There’s going to have to be more sharing in this world.” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
King on the question of “riots”
“Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention. There is no other answer.” --#MLK (1967)
“Riots are not the causes of white resistance, they are consequences of it.” --#MLK (1967)
“There are many persons who wince at a distinction between property & persons—who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid.” --#MLK
“Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.” --MLK Jr.
“It is clear that the riots were exacerbated by police action that was intended to injure or even to kill people.” --#MLK (1968)
“Our summers of riots are caused by winters of delay.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
King on interconnection and linking issues and movements:
"It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.” –MLK #ReclaimMLK
“The black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes...” (1/2) --MLK
(2/2) “... It is, rather, forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws: racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism.” --MLK (1968)
“Local problems are all interconnected with world problems.” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
“I’m still convinced that the struggle for peace and the struggle for justice... happen to be tied together.” --#MLK (1968)
“We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.” –MLK
Drew Dellinger © 2016
"This materialistic philosophy leads inevitably into a dead end street in an intellectually senseless world.... It is much more sensible to say with Sir James Jeans, the physicist, that 'the universe seems to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine,' or with Arthur Balfour, the philosopher, that, 'we now know too much about matter to be materialists.' Materialism is a weak flame that is blown out by mature thinking."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)
"I come to you saying that I still believe that America has the resources and even the will to respond to the challenges of this hour. I refuse to accept the idea that man is so caught up in this evil system of racial injustice that he can't rise to new and marvelous heights of brotherhood. I refuse to accept the idea that man is little more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons on a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. I refuse to accept the notion that man is nothing but a cosmic accident, a disease on this planet not soon to be cured. I refuse to accept the idea that we can't rise up and reach the glad day of peace of brotherhood. So tonight I stand before you with a belief. I believe that the day can come, right here in America, when all of God's children will live together as brothers. I believe that there will be a day when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.... I believe somehow that things can get better and dark yesterdays can be transformed into bright tomorrows. I believe that the dignity and the worth of human personality will be respected one day. I believe this and I live by it."
--Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in Harlem (1964)
"It seems that I can hear someone standing before the God of the universe saying, 'Master, I've done my job. I've gotten a lot of education. I've been to the great universities. Yes, Master, I've done well and I've been able to rise to the great heights of economic security.' It seems that I can hear the Master responding by saying, 'But I was hungry and ye fed me not. I was sick and ye visited me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not. I was in prison and you were not concerned about me. Therefore you are not fit to enter the kingdom of righteousness.'"
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1964)
It's 2015, people. Time to leave behind the ableist storytelling shortcut that injury / disability = 'evil' / 'wicked.' Examples of this include the character "Scar" in "The Lion King"; the bad guy in "The Sting," who walks with a limp; Dr. Strangelove; Captain Hook; the bad guy in "Casino Royale," with a glass eye, and on and on and on.
Filmmaker's and storytellers do this because it has traditionally been a powerful way to 'establish character' in milliseconds. It's now time to do better, and establish character through ACTIONS, not injury / disability.
On a related note, there's a lot of looks-ism (aka lookism) in how looks and attractiveness are used to signify good / bad character. Time to kick that shit to the curb as well.
Robert F. Kennedy eulogizing Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968
On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy received the news that Dr. King had been shot as Kennedy boarded a plane for a campaign rally in one of Indianapolis’ Black neighborhoods. When he landed in Indiana a reporter came onto the plane and told him King was dead. RFK, “seemed to shrink back, as though struck physically."
The mayor, the police chief, and some of his own aides advised RFK to cancel the event, arguing that it would be suicidal for him to appear in the 'ghetto.' The Indianapolis police refused to escort him. However, with cities across the US already erupting, one police inspector felt the event should go on, and told one of RFK’s aides, “I sure hope he goes. If he doesn’t, there’ll be hell to pay. He’s the only one who can do it.”
Most in the crowd had been waiting outside for several hours & many had not yet heard the news. It would fall to Kennedy to inform them. Light rain fell as he climbed onto a flatbed truck. A television reporter described him as “hunched in his black overcoat, his face gaunt and distressed and full of anguish.”
As Kennedy approached the microphone he asked one of the organizers, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”
“To some extent,” replied the man. “We have left that up to you, if you feel like you can handle it.”
For nearly seven minutes Kennedy delivered an extemporaneous eulogy. During the remarks he shocked his close associates by speaking publicly of something he usually never mentioned, even in private—his brother’s assassination.
Rep. John Lewis called RFK’s nod to his fallen brother “an incredibly powerful and connective and emotionally honest gesture.”
“What we need in the United States is not division,” said Kennedy. "What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country."
Kennedy's campaign had taken on heightened significance in the wake of King’s death. On the morning of June 6, at 1:44 am, something in the spirit and soul of America was broken. Coming in the wake of King’s assassination, the psychic impact of the double-blow was devastating.
Pat Watters wrote, "When they killed Robert Kennedy, when that obscene spirit killed him, if it said anything at all, it said: do not even allow yourself to hope, against all evidence, just to hope there might be a chance for something else, for the spirit embodied in the words, the efforts, the life of Dr. King."
It may well be that the country and the world have yet to fully recover from the intertwined losses of King and Bobby Kennedy, just two months and two days apart. “Bobby Kennedy struck a chord with people that was just incredible,” said his associate Frank Burns. “I never witnessed it in anything in politics that I’d seen before, or that I’ve seen since.”
"Something's wrong with 'development' if we have to keep it out of everything that's precious."
--Dr. Vandana Shiva, Claremont, CA, June 4, 2015
"This is the first truly global problem that we've ever faced.... The [fossil fuel corporations] are rogue companies. If they follow their business plan, the planet tanks.... This is the biggest battle we've ever faced as a civilization, and we have to tackle it *now.*.... There's no guarantee that we're going to win, but there is a guarantee that we're going to fight."
--Bill McKibben, Claremont, CA, June 4, 2015
"Religious studies are to a dangerous degree personal. They call for an attitude of fresh awareness, a new sensitivity to others, to nature and to oneself, and a series of conversions in one's way of life. For what is the point of merely studying about religion, without also changing one's life?"
--Michael Novak (1971)
"Most modern countries are in the hands of those who control organized wealth and... the just and wise distribution of income is hindered by this monopoly. This power is entrenched behind barriers of legal sanction, guarded by the best brains of the country trained as lawyers, appointed to the bench, and elected to the legislature. The retention of this power is influenced tremendously by the propaganda of newspapers and news-gathering agencies, by radio and by special organization. The hand of organized wealth guides the education of youth."
--W. E. B. Du Bois (1945)
"It is wrong to aid and abet a national crime simply because it is unpopular not to do so."
--W. E. B. Du Bois (1903)
Love, and the passion for justice that comes from love, have EVERYTHING to do with true, objective scholarship. We cannot see what we do not love.
As scholars, our task is neither to honor nor disparage, but to evaluate... with a clear-eyed, heart-filled commitment to truth and justice that can burn a hole through rock.
It's become fashionable to say that there is no place for "shaming." I think this is largely a matter of semantics. How about if, instead of "shaming," we used the words, "accountability" or "discussion of."
Our first concern must always be stopping oppression, injustice, and systemic violence. The feelings of those willfully or unconsciously perpetuating injustice can never take priority over the lives of the oppressed. To underestimate the tenacity with which some will cruelly cling to power is to be historically naive.
The Hebrew prophets used fiery, oftentimes harsh, oratory to nonviolently advocate for society's most abused, challenge the violence of state power, and call for reforms and transformation. Today some call this "shaming." (And believe me, I understand the concerns about the 'uselessness' of 'shame' and 'shaming,') but we need to think VERY clearly and VERY carefully before we dismiss or 'tone-police' prophetic voices of the politically marginalized. I seriously think some folks today would call out Dr. King for 'shaming' segregationists. I mean that. There is a difference between unhelpful shaming, and speaking truth and holding decision-makers accountable. We need to understand that difference.
From Claudette Colvin, who inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to Rachel Carson, who launched the environmental movement, the vision of women has the power to transform the world.
Visionary women leaders – from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells, to Ella Jo Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, to Wangari Maathai, Ang San Suu Kyi, and Malala – have shaped, and are shaping, the world of the future. These women are inventors of democratic possibilities, inventors of new forms of justice, of connection, of community.
In the spirit of these predecessors, let's continue their work for social transformation, and honor their commitment to future generations, by supporting the young women leaders of today.
[Tweet with the hashtags #ReclaimMLK and #MLKalsoSaid]
“All of us are on trial in this troubled hour.”
--MLK Jr. (1968)
If we, as a country, truly understood the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., it would go without saying that celebrating King means supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the new post-Ferguson activism for racial justice in policing and society.
But our popular culture, with its allergy to history and deep political analysis, has left us with a superficial understanding of Dr. King. Too often we fail to appreciate the radical nature of King’s work and the depth of transformation to which he called us. We forget the way he linked issues, his interconnected worldview, his calls for direct action, and the culminating vision of his last years, which I call his Mountaintop Period.
This is especially unfortunate because we need the fullness of his vision now more than ever. King’s gift was to always find the right words for our historical moment. His greatness lies in the fact that 46 years after his assassination he continues to do so for our times.
These 30 quotes, taken from my Twitter streams, @EssentialKing and @EssentialMLK, can help us reconnect with King’s prophetic, timely voice, and--it is hoped--inspire us to take real action for social change.
In the past six months we have seen a resurgence of Black-led, youth-led activism for racial justice unparalleled since the height of the Civil Rights Movement. A new generation of Black leadership—including women, youth, and LGBT leadership—along with an array of allies, has stepped up to carry forward the project of justice.
The courage and commitment of these leaders should pose a challenge to all of us. Will we support them, and join them, or will we sit it out? (If you’ve ever wondered what you might have done in the Civil Rights Era, now is your chance to decide.) A new civil rights movement is emerging. Will we support it, its clear demands, and its larger goal of racial justice?
Dr. King said, “nonviolent direct action will continue to be a significant source of power until it is made irrelevant by the presence of justice.” What actions can we take, individually and collectively, to create a freer, more loving, and more just world for our children and future generations?
In solidarity with the calls from Ferguson, the Bay Area, and across the nation to Reclaim King’s Legacy with actions throughout this King Day weekend, culminating in mass marches on King Day, here are 30 tweetable quotes from the good doctor, short enough to fit on a protest sign and hit the streets with.
King on police brutality:
When we recall King’s statements on police brutality and racist violence there is no doubt that he would ask us to join the Black Lives Matter movement and support the emerging movements calling for transformation on these issues.
“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” --MLK, Aug. 28, 1963
“The white man does not abide by the law... His police forces are the ultimate mockery of law.” --MLK (1968)
“How long will justice be crucified and truth buried, how long?” --Martin Luther King Jr. (1962)
"One tenth of 1 percent of the population of this nation controls more than 50 percent of the wealth, and I will say... without any hesitation that there is something wrong with a system where some people can wallow in wealth and others do not have the basic necessities of life. I'll say that."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1962)
#ReclaimMLK #MLKalsosaid #saythat
"Those people who are working to bring into being the dream of democracy are not the agitators. They are not the dangerous people in America. They are not the un-American people. They are people who are doing more for America than anybody that we can point to."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1961)
Film critic Elvis Mitchell, actor David Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay, and producer Oprah Winfrey at a screening of "Selma" in San Francisco. (Photo: Drew Dellinger)
It started with the brazen murder of a Black man by police in broad daylight. While this could describe a number of recent cases, the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Selma, Alabama, on February 26, 1965, precipitated the climactic confrontation of the Civil Rights Movement, one that eventually ended a century of Black disenfranchisement in the South.
The events brought to life in Ava DuVernay’s stunning film, “Selma,” are essential to understanding our history, and the systemic racism that seems stuck on repeat, in what could be cut-and-paste headlines. “Selma” is an important, moving film that sets a new standard for dramas about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.
David Oyelowo’s Oscar-worthy performance does an exceptional job in a daunting assignment, capturing the soul of King. He does well enough with the sound and rhythms of King’s speech, especially in moments of conversation. He does less well in the great speeches, but who could fault any actor for failing to fully match one of the last century’s greatest orators?
"My idea of philosophy is that if it is not relevant to human problems, if it does not tell us how we can go about eradicating some of the misery in this world, then it is not worth the name of philosophy. I think Socrates made a very profound statement when he asserted that the raison d'etre of philosophy is to teach us proper living. In this day and age 'proper living' means liberation from the urgent problems of poverty, economic necessity and indoctrination, mental oppression."
--Angela Davis (1969)
I am thankful to Robin DiAngelo for coining this new and necessary scholarly term to describe this old phenomenon. Every Person of Color, I imagine, is intimately familiar with myriad manifestations of "White Fragility."
As an educator I have experienced this often. It makes the work--and even the accurate portrayal of history---much more difficult. It also makes the work that much more necessary.
From "White Fragility," by Robin DiAngelo:
"If and when an educational program does directly address racism and the privileging of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism). So-called progressive whites may not respond with anger, but may still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because they “already had a class on this” or “already know this.” These reactions are often seen in anti-racist education endeavors as forms of resistance to the challenge of internalized dominance (Whitehead & Wittig, 2005; Horton & Scott, 2004; McGowan, 2000, O’Donnell, 1998). These reactions do indeed function as resistance, but it may be useful to also conceptualize them as the result of the reduced psychosocial stamina that racial insulation inculcates. I call this lack of racial stamina “White Fragility.”
--Robin DiAngelo, "White Fragility" (2011)
Full article here.
"We've got to organize. We've got to organize so effectively and so well and engage in such powerful, creative protest that there will not be a power in the world that can stop us and that can afford to ignore us... Our power lies in our ability to unite around concrete programs. Our power lies in our ability to say nonviolently that we aren't gonna take it any longer. You see the chief problem with a riot is that it can always be halted by a superior force. But I know another weapon that the National Guard can't stop."
--Martin Luther King Jr., Cleveland, OH (April 26, 1967)
"They [Glenn Smiley and Rev. Moore] agreed that the meeting should be youth centered, and that the adults attending would serve in an advisory capacity, and should mutually agree to 'speak only when asked to do so.'"
--Ella J. Baker, memo to Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, March 23, 1960, in preparation for the Shaw conference that saw the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
"There’s a famine in your nation today. You can’t understand it. (Tell it like it is.) Every city you have in your country today is a little powder keg. Riots breaking out, day in and day out. And, America, you wonder what is wrong. You must be told, America, that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It’s failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened. It’s failed to hear that the promises of freedom and equality have not been met. (Yeah.) It fails to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. (Yes.) And this is it. A famine has broken out. And there isn’t any way to deal with this famine. It’s a misguided outbreak—as I have said—riots are socially destructive and self-defeating, and I will stand up and condemn them at every point, but at the same time I must condemn the conditions that make people feel so hopeless. (Yes.) Make them feel in such despair that they engage in this kind of misguided action. (Yes.) America needs to hear something, (All right). And that is that our summers of riots are caused by winters of delay. As long as the Negro doesn’t get his freedom, and as long as he doesn’t get it now (Yes.) there’s going to be tension (Um-hm.) all over this nation. There’s a famine in this country. (Yes.)
Martin Luther King and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter to The Nobel Institute, nominating Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967:
"As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam....
I know Thich Nhat Hanh and am privileged to call him my friend.... You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.
He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity... he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion....
His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.
Martin Luther King, Jr."
[Martin Luther King Jr., Letter to The Nobel Institute, January 25, 1967.]
Drew Dellinger speaking at the New Story Summit. Findhorn, Scotland.
[Transcript of Drew Dellinger's remarks on the opening day of the New Story Summit at Findhorn, Scotland. September 27, 2014.]
“everything is shining in glory
singing a story
if love is a language
then I am just
learning to spell
while there’s a story
that the stars
[Excerpt, "soulstice," by Drew Dellinger]
The first person to introduce me to the power of story was Thomas Berry, the American ecological and cosmological writer and thinker. In 1978 Thomas Berry wrote an essay called, “The New Story,” and it starts like this:
“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is no longer effective, yet we have not learned the new story.”
And so, Thomas Berry was very much talking about the function of stories and the power of stories—the meta-story about stories, as David Spangler just referred to. When I was first studying with Tom Berry in 1991 he said, “It seems that we basically communicate meaning by narrative, at least that’s my approach to things: that narrative is our basic mode of understanding. The difficulty that we’re into has come, to a large extent, from the limitations and inadequacies of our story. And what we need, I think, and what we really have, is a new story."
Now, there are several elements to the new story. All of you are bringing a different thread of the new story. But when Berry was talking about the new story, a lot of what he was talking about was our new understanding of the universe and the unfolding of the planet Earth, what you could call The Universe Story. And so, for Berry, this was an amazing opportunity for the Western tradition to reconnect to the sense of interdependence and interconnectedness that Indigenous peoples have always maintained, have always held in their wisdom traditions.
Youth in #Ferguson. The moral leaders of our nation.
Planetize the Movement stands with the community in Ferguson, Missouri, and the movements in Ferguson and beyond to end systemic racial oppression in policing and in society.
We are witnessing in Ferguson and across the country a watershed moment, one that calls each of us to respond to the pressing need to transform our culture toward racial and economic justice.
Now is the time to support this new tide of youth-led activism. Please stay attuned to the possibilities emerging, and ways to lend our individual and collective voices and actions to create justice for all.
Groups to know and support include:
the Dream Defenders (http://dreamdefenders.org/),
The Black Youth Project (http://www.blackyouthproject.com/),
The Organization for Black Struggle (http://obs-onthemove.org/),
Color of Change (http://colorofchange.org/),
and many more.
On Sunday, August 24th, I traveled to Ferguson on the invitation of my dear friend, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who has deep ties to the Ferguson and St. Louis communities, and had been organizing there for over a week in the midst of teargas and brutal militarized suppression of peaceful protest.
My first night in Missouri we attended the end of a vigil against racist violence. It was heartbreaking to meet Bobby Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man killed by BART police in Oakland, and Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, an unarmed Black man killed by a white man in Florida.
After the vigil we visited the memorial to Michael Brown at the site of his murder on Canfield Drive. The spirit of grief and tragedy was heavy.
On Monday we attended the home-going memorial service for Michael Brown which was utterly heartbreaking. In addition to the immense grief there was a powerful spirit of unity, community, resolve, and resistance.
That night I attend a panel discussion at which Rev. Sekou, Martin Luther King III, and many others spoke.
On Tuesday there was a youth-led rally at the St. Louis City Hall that then marched to the Federal Building. Local organizers sought to meet with officials inside the building, to present and discuss their list of local and national demands, but were stopped under threat of arrest by police.
Rev. Sekou and other clergy were asked to help lead the line as local activists risked arrest to walk past the police. They were stopped again at the front door, but eventually eight local leaders were able to enter and meet with federal officials.
At the Federal Building protest I spoke with Rev. William Barber, of the 73-week Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina. I asked Dr. Barber what he saw happening with the leadership of the youth in Ferguson.
“I came down to visit with some clergy and the NAACP, heard about these youth,” Dr. Barber said, “and I’m telling you, there’s a fire here, and what I see in the youth is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, if I may be biblical. There’s Black, there’s white, there’s Latino. It’s deepening. It’s young people understanding… and knowing what systems have to be changed. They’re a force to be reckoned with.”
“I looked at their eyes,” Rev. Barber told me, “and I went back and snapped a picture of the eyes of the young folk in the 60s, when they came to consciousness. That’s what I see here. That’s what I see happening in North Carolina. There’s something in the eyes. They are focused. This is life-transforming for them, and it’s going to be nation-transforming for America.”
Planetize the Movement is committed to supporting the leadership of youth and the leadership of communities of color as we all work to create a world beyond racism in policing and society.
Let us honor the memories of Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and so many others by demanding and taking action for racial justice.
--Drew Dellinger and the PTM Team
"We want everybody to work, as we work. There should no longer be either rich or poor. All should have bread for themselves and for their children. We should all be equal. I have five small children and only one little room, where we have to eat and sleep and do everything, while so many lords (signori) have ten or twelve rooms, entire palaces.... It will be enough to put all in common and to share with justice what is produced.
--Unnamed peasant woman from Piana dei Greci, province of Palermo, Sicily, speaking to a northern Italian journalist during an 1893 peasant uprising." (quoted in Crossan 1994)
We need racial and economic justice on Planet Earth.
I don't blog much about urine and feces, but I do blog about politics and activism. In this case, these topics overlap, so here we are.
Today in Ferguson a Missouri police officer was suspended indefinitely for pointing a rifle at protesters and journalists last night, and saying, "I will fucking kill you. Get back." When asked for his name, the officer replied, "Go fuck yourself." On the internet and twitter, some seemingly Right-leaning folks were justifying the aggressive police response in general, and the officer's actions in particular, by citing reports that police, and this officer specifically, were 'hit with urine.' Exactly what this might mean is unclear, which is to say, there's a difference between being splashed with urine, and being near a contained plastic bottle with a lid that has urine in it.
Today CNN is reporting that, "Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security, later told reporters someone threw urine on police." This report has been picked up by other news media, including the UK's Daily Mail, and gleefully turned into headlines by Right-wing bloggers.
It is unclear if this alleged bottle of urine is thought to be the same or different from the one 'thrown water bottle' being used to justify last night's police aggression. CBS 6, from Richmond, VA, writes on their website, "Later, the situation deteriorated when someone threw a water bottle at police." And indeed, this video from KMOV 4 news seems to show a bottle (presumably plastic?) coming in, though it also shows police macing demonstrators prior to that.
First off, I have no idea if someone threw urine on or at police last night or not. I don't know if that's been confirmed or not. But I do know that police often embellish the truth to justify repression. I think it's important to point out two things that are true regardless of what happened last night:
1. Police lie fairly often.
2. More than you might think, police lie specifically about protestors throwing urine and / or feces.
Again, I don't know, and can't find any conclusive documentation, about whether or not a bottle of urine was thrown last night. This transcript from Drew Pinsky's show on CNN seems to have a video clip in which an "unidentified male" says, "They began throwing at bottles. They threw urine at police."
The point I'm trying to make is larger than the veracity of any particular instance. The question is, why do police and media keep invoking this meme, and is there sufficient evidence to support these claims? If not, the media should be more circumspect before presenting them as fact.
Regardless of any specific example, as an observer of, and participant in, protests for a long time, I've followed police claims and media reports closely for years. And I have to tell you, I've been amazed at how often this pee-and-poop motif comes up. Honestly, I think it's mostly a trope with more basis in PR than in fact.
While this may seem gross and trivial, American history requires that we take seriously all official attempts to undermine activists and disrupt movements for justice with falsehoods.
Ever since I participated in my first mass direct-action protest 15 years ago, when we peacefully shut down the WTO meetings in Seattle in 1999, and many times since, I've been shocked and saddened to see the lengths to which police and media will go to distort, vilify, and misrepresent protesters on the political Left building movements for justice.
In case you haven't noticed, this does not happen with nearly the same frequency and intensity to protesters on the political Right. An oft-cited example is the relatively mild police and media reaction to the recent Cliven Bundy supporter who, for hours, in plain view, had an assault rifle trained on law enforcement officers. It is instructive to reflect on how mild the response would be to an "occupy," immigrants' rights, or racial justice activist taking up a similar position. Our peaceful protests are treated like armed insurrections. Their armed insurrections are treated like protests.
It doesn't take much study to recognize that the lazy myth of "The Liberal Media" (which as Bob Somerby notes, is the most successful Right-wing talking point of recent decades, skewing the entire discussion on a range of issues), is demonstrably false.
In fact, the media are more than willing to pass along almost any assertion from police as long as it makes progressive or radical Left protesters look like jerks and imbeciles.
And here's where pee and poop come in.
As I said above, one thing I've noticed with interest watching coverage of protests over the years, is how often, in the aftermath of a police riot, the claim will be made that "protesters threw bags of urine" or "protesters threw bags of feces" at officers. Seriously, it's like fucking clockwork.
Now, I'm not saying that this has never happened. To be clear, every decent-sized group of humans has a few knuckleheads. But I think it happens much, much less frequently than police and media claim. These reports, which go out to millions, and impact how protesters, their message, and movements are perceived and supported, are often unconfirmed, often without evidence beyond the police saying 'trust us.'
It is apparently the case that some doofus shit on a cop car during Occupy demonstrations in New York, and unfortunately I did see a picture of that. But that's really the exception that makes my point. There didn't seem to be any compunction about sharing that image far and wide, so where are the other photos of this apparent epidemic of scatological dissent?
A close read of history shows that we should be extremely skeptical of unsubstantiated police claims, especially when such claims consistently paint demonstrators in the most repulsive, juvenile, unattractive, and disrespectful light possible. Make no mistake; there's a reason cops go straight to tales of piss and shit. Who wouldn't side with police against such 'cretins'? Who would want to support or join a movement with folks like that?
Again, I'm sure this flinging of bodily fluids has happened at some point, and perhaps even last night, but I've never seen it, and I've been at a lot of protests (admittedly an unscientific measure).
I've never once been at an organizing meeting and heard someone say, "We have a great action planned. We have beautiful artwork. We have clear messaging, but I just can't shake the feeling that bringing a bag of poop would really help bring down the State and help build a mass movement." For all of the frequency with which police claim this happens, it seems surprising that I've never once heard that.
Regardless of whether or not there are confirmed examples, in general, I think we need to be much more skeptical than to simply accept these claims at face value every time they're invoked. If there's evidence or video, that's one thing, though we can never discount the real possibility of undercover police acting as agent provocateurs. It is well documented that police sometimes use undercover agents to instigate chaos and provoke a crackdown.
Whether it's urine, or just a small plastic water bottle, we cannot discount the possibility of a plainclothes officer amid a huge crowd, with a radio in his ear, receiving an order along the lines of, 'We're ready to move in. Throw the water bottle.'
But the archetypal power of invoking urine or feces resonates beyond simple expedience on the day of a protest. This is about winning the long-term cultural story. Like spitting on someone, throwing piss or shit at someone is an Ultimate Symbol of Disrespect. It's hard think of a much more potent meme for anyone with incentive to try to turn the hearts and minds of middle Americans against joining or supporting movements for justice.
Because of the symbolic and emotional power of this charge, and especially because police are notorious for just-making-stuff-up, the only reasonable standard at this point has to be 'Pics or it didn't happen.' Like the kid who cried 'wolf,' the cops have brought this upon themselves. Because of their chronic and well-documented mendacity, the burden of proof must be on them.
The democratic freedom to peaceably assemble and to build movements for justice and redress of grievances is too important and fundamental to let police and media spread untruths about activists and their tactics.
When your friend lies to you, it sucks. When the State lies to you, democracy dies.
And when police lie, systemic oppression, institutional racism, and the worst aspects of our history are made new and sustained in the present, like a malevolent sunrise.
When police lie, it is not only democracy that dies, but also our children, especially our youth of color. When police make up stories of "he went for my gun," the most basic rights, to life and liberty, evaporate.
Compared to that somber and intolerable fact, police stories of protesters throwing urine are trivial. But the lies of police about protesters disrupt democratic movements and crush momentum, stealing the hope of generations.
When can't let that happen. The future cannot be built on police corruption and sabotage. It has to be built on the truth.
"It is easy to point out and say, 'this person started a riot,' or, 'this person created the atmosphere for riots.' I think it is time to say now that it is the Congress of the United States that's causing riots in our country."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (Feb. 6, 1968)
Captain Ron Johnson and law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri, are constructing a false narrative to rationalize their unconstitutional and unconscionable attacks on peaceful protesters. After Sunday night's police violence, which some are calling the worst so far, police representatives are defending their deployment of tear gas on a peaceful march including children, elders, and youth.
At a press conference Monday morning, and later in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Capt. Johnson repeatedly claimed that tear gas attacks on marchers, several hours ahead of the curfew, were provoked by bottles and 'Molotov cocktails' thrown by protesters. Numerous eyewitness accounts contradict this. There is no video I am aware of that supports police contentions that objects were thrown before they unleashed tear gas on nonviolent marchers.
By obscuring the timeline, police are attempting to use bottle throwing that may have happened later in the evening to justify earlier attacks on a peaceful march. This is a well-worn charade; police in Seattle floated the same misinformation and inverted sequence during the WTO protests in 1999. In Seattle, the police's faulty narrative was naively transcribed and reported by national media, as documented by Seth Ackerman for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Despite using pepper spray and tear gas on nonviolent protesters in Seattle as early as 9 to 10am on November 30, 1999, police and media later spun such police aggression as a 'response' to window-breaking at NikeTown and other stores that did not occur until hours later, at approximately 1 to 2pm.
By portraying their illegal assault on civil disobedience as a justified 'response' to vandalism that had not yet occurred, the police are able to hide their violence, aided and abetted by lethargic corporate media.
Refusing to parse the sequence of events, Dan Rather and CNN happily passed along the Seattle police's story. "The meeting of the World Trade Organization was thrown in to turmoil by violent demonstrations," stated Rather on December 1. "That brought on today's crackdown." Likewise, a CNN report asserted, "as tens of thousands marched through downtown Seattle, a small group of self-described anarchists smashed windows and vandalized stores. Police responded with tear gas and pepper gas."
The media's acceptance of this looking-glass narrative had a permanent distorting effect on the public memory of events in Seattle.
But as Ackerman notes, this framing of 'protestor violence' and 'police response' is contrary to fact. "The sequence of events described in this report was wrong. As Detective Randy Huserik, a spokesperson for the Seattle police, confirmed, pepper spray had first been used against protestors engaged in peaceful civil disobedience."
Twenty-five years later, Ferguson police are making a similar attempt to shape the story into a cloak to hide their violence. By twisting the timeline, they render invisible their assaults on nonviolent demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights to 'peaceably assemble' and 'petition the government for a redress of grievances.'
Today, when Capt. Ron Johnson tried to 'pull a Seattle,' and convince the press that police had not in fact attacked a peaceful march the night before, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, one of the organizers on the ground in Ferguson, was able to go on air and quickly correct the record. (See video here: "Clergy contradict Ferguson police.")
REV. OSAGYEFO SEKOU: "I was actually on the frontline, leading and holding the line, as we were marching up the hill, and there were children, mostly twenty-somethings in the line. 'Hands up. Don't Shoot.' All of a sudden three urban tanks came, cut us off; cut the front of the line off; said 'disperse immediately'; began to shoot tear gas. They began to shoot tear gas; chaos ensued. There was a ledge not too far from where we were, so people kind of ran up the ledge to get away from it. They continued to shoot tear gas with children on that ledge, and kept continually moving forward to us."
CHRIS HAYES: "You're all saying you did not see bottles, Molotov cocktails."
REV. SEKOU: "Any violence that occurred, occurred after police attacked peaceful protests."
Kudos to Chris Hayes for consistently challenging unconfirmed police claims of 'Molotov cocktails,' and thanks to Rev. Sekou for demolishing them with his first-hand account.
While police mendacity about the timing of tear gas is only one small part of the complex situation unfolding in Ferguson, police lies, and the systemic racism they uphold, are central to the community's heartbreak and their struggle for justice.
In this precarious moment, arguably one of our nation's most significant in decades, all of us are called to stand for accountability, community, connection, transparency, and the healing that can come only from racial justice and social change.
Forty-six years ago, as US society faced a similar crisis, Martin Luther King Jr. sought to foster understanding of the historical dynamics at play and the structural changes needed. "Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention," King said in 1967. "There is no other answer." That same year King noted, "It is clear that the riots were exacerbated by police action that was intended to injure or even to kill people."
As despair and uprisings erupted in American cities following King's assassination on April 4, 1968, his prophetic voice continued to offer a vision of hope and transformation. In an article published in Look magazine 12 days after his death, King wrote, "We have, through massive non-violent action, an opportunity to avoid a national disaster and create a new spirit of class and racial harmony."
May the wisdom of King's words echo across the decades and into our hearts. May we respond to the pain of Fergurson's and the nation's families, and may we emulate the courage and leadership of Ferguson's youth, rising up together to build a world beyond systemic oppression, a world of connection, justice, and compassion.
"We feel that there must be some structural changes now, there must be a radical re-ordering of priorities... And I feel that this is only going to be done when enough people get together and express their determination through that togetherness and make it clear that we are not going to allow any military-industrial complex to control this country."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
"I can't see the answer in riots. On the other hand, I can't see the answer in tender supplications for justice. I see the answer in an alternative to both of these, and that is militant non-violence that is massive enough, that is attention-getting enough to dramatize the problems."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
"I am aware that there are many who wince at a distinction between property and persons--who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid. A life is sacred. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being.... The focus on property... is not accidental. It has a message; it is saying something.... Because property represents the white power structure, which they were attacking and trying to destroy.... Those people wanted the experience of taking, of redressing the power imbalance that property represents."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
"Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention. There is no other answer."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
"It is clear that the riots were exacerbated by police action that was intended to injure or even to kill people."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
"It is our experience that the nation doesn't move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action."
--Martin Luther King Jr.
"We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice."
--Martin Luther King Jr.
every being is a gift of the galaxy
Explaining to your great- great- grandhildren that we fracked the planet. #awkward
"The Supreme Court formally recognized the corportation as a person before the law in 1886 in the case between Santa Clara and the Southern Pacific. Since this time corporation law has been among the most significant issues in transforming the mood and meaning of American law."
--Thomas Berry, "The Corporation Story" (1999)
#HollyLobby #SCOTUS #MoveToAmend
Here's a new, short video clip from the good folks at the Science & Nonduality Conference:
Drew Dellinger on Martin Luther King Jr.'s ecological and cosmological worldview:
WATCH the VIDEO
AN EARTH DAY MEDITATION
This reflection on the planet was written for Earth Day in 1992 or '93, as a student at Prescott College. I had just organized a visit to Prescott College by Thomas Berry in February of '92, and the general spirit of this piece, and much of the language, are inspired by the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.
--Drew Dellinger, Earth Day 2014
Ecology is the study of interconnections. We cannot understand anything apart from the infinite relationships that comprise the total web of reality. We cannot fully know the spotted owl without knowledge of the redwoods it lives in, the mice it eats, and the enzymes in the mouse dung that promote the growth of massive redwoods. Swooping through the misty branches of the ancient forest, the owl is integral with the evolving dynamic of the ecosystem. Clenching a trembling mouse in its bloody claw, the forest is moving through the apparently separate forms of owl and mouse. All participants in the life system are members of a single, unified process unfolding over millions of years. As Thomas Berry has said, a species isolated from the context in which it functions is an abstraction -- it doesn't exist.
We cannot fully understand the earth without some sense of the context in which it functions: the universe. Nor can we know the human being apart from the community of the earth and cosmos. The universe gives birth to the earth; the earth gives rise to the human. All phenomena are aspects of a comprehensive ecosystem, intertwined through 14 billion years of continuing emergence. The archetypes of the human psyche, the migratory patterns of birds, the fury of an electrical storm, the violent brilliance of a supernova explosion -- all of these are universe dynamics. The cosmos is the solitary mover, acting through the pantheon of shapes.
the hour is so late...
Jacques Cousteau says that if we keep dumping toxic waste into the ocean at current rates, the ocean will be dead in fifty years. We all know what that means. This is an ocean planet. If the ocean dies, that's it -- it's over... and the 14 billion years that it took to evolve polar bears and ostriches, manatees, Michelangelo, and Granite Mountain will have been negated. If we kill this planet, human ignorance and arrogance will have undermined the 14 billion years the universe needed to birth this precious earth -- a magic sphere where the incredible complexity of life could unfold; a flowering of the cosmos's inner dimensions.
If we kill this planet, we humans will have snubbed our nose at the very universe dynamic that gave us our being. If we kill this planet, we will have committed a sacrilege against the beautiful and mysterious dance of the cosmos. What is happening over these billions of years? What is developing on this tiny planet? A planet that was once molten rock and now thrives with this miraculous canopy of living forms.
About four billion years ago the earth was a boiling orb of flowing lava. The rains came pouring down for eons, hissing steam upon the glowing molten surface, evaporating up into an endless hydro-cycle. Eventually the earth cooled and the ocean mother formed. The secret aspects of the earth's creativity began to emerge into existence. The planet began to express herself as life. First one-celled organisms, then algae. What's going on here? We don't know of life anywhere else in the universe and here it is -- fish and sharks and crocodiles. Green plants sprout up and cover the continents; lizards are scurrying about and birds are soaring through the air.
Then the last few million years, and the earth begins to articulate herself as the forms we see around us. As Brian Swimme notes, this planet that had once been molten rock now expresses itself as giraffes and clouds, pandas, symphonies, slugs, and canyons. What marvelous beauty is blossoming on this planet, and in what direction is this heading?
The cosmic process, the earth process, and the human process are one process. We are a dimension of the universe. The earth expresses herself through each of us. The earth writes poetry and tells stories. The universe builds temples and discusses philosophy. All forms and activities are the various media through which the one energy is manifest.
When we are moved by the colors of a sunset, the earth is reflecting beauty back on itself.
The radiance of the sun burns through the empty black of space, bounces off the moon, and shines on the smiling face of a human. The human is filled with reverence, and marvels at the beauty of earth's shadow on the lunar sphere. Every atom in this scene was formed in a supernova explosion. We are born from the death of a star. Stardust flows in rivers and writes haiku.
Ineffable Sacred Presence, moving as space-time; beautiful, mysterious.
--Drew Dellinger (circa 1992-3) Inspired by the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.
"We don't seem to get the idea of the planet in its functional aspects and its limitations, and [how to] begin to live equitably within those limitations... We are told there are no limits; we can do anything we want to if we have the genius; science will take care of it..."
--Thomas Berry, Lectures in Assisi (1991)
"I come from North Carolina... We have an extraordinarily fine state. We have the mountains, the Piedmont section, and a large section of coastal plain--and then we have the estuary section. We have, in each of these, an abundance, or rather there has been, and now the whole thing is being destroyed through industrial processes."
--Thomas Berry, Lectures in Assisi, 1991.
On King Day we honor not a man, but a movement.
This King Day let us remember the many women who led the Civil Rights Movement with their vision, courage, tenacity, strength, strategic thinking, and love.
These sheroes include Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, JoAnn Robinson, Septima Clark, Daisy Bates, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Marian Wright Edelman, Melba Patillo Beals, Autherine Lucy, Virginia Durr, Victoria Gray Adams, Dolores Huerta, Ruby Bridges, Anne Braden, Angela Davis, Anne Moody, Jean Wiley, Rita Schwerner, Ericka Huggins, and many, many, more.
Let us honor all the women and men who risked their lives and livelihoods to transform our nation by continuing their sacred work for justice.
"We must see that whatever diminishes the poor diminishes everybody else. And the salvation of the poor will mean the salvation of the whole nation. For we're all tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality. We are tied in a single garment of destiny."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
"The Negro recognizes more than ever now that he lives in a world community. There was a time when the intensity of our own problems excluded our awareness that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Colonialism and segregation are nearly synonymous; they are legitimate first cousins because their common end is economic exploitation, political domination and the debasing of human personality.
It is tragic that our foreign policy on Africa is so ambivalent; for example, on the one hand, we decry in some mild manner the apartheid policy of the Union of South Africa but economically we continue "business-as-usual" in spite of the stringent racist policies being enforced and intensified."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1962)
"With respect to South Africa, however, our protest is so muted and peripheral it merely mildly disturbs the sensibilities of the segregationists, while our trade and investments substantially stimulate their economy to greater heights.... The shame of our nation is that it is objectively an ally of this monstrous government in its grim war with its own black people."
--Martin Luther King Jr., "Address About South Africa" (1965)
“Therefore I suggest that the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence become immediately a subject for study and for serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, by no means excluding the relation between nations. It is, after all, nation-states which make war... We need to make a supreme effort to generate the readiness, indeed the eagerness, to enter into the new world which is now possible... So we need to see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war.”
--Martin Luther King Jr.
"To persuade black boys and girls, as we have for so many generations, that their lives are worth less than other lives, and that they can only live on terms dictated to them by other people, by people who despise them, is worse than a crime, it is a sin against the Holy Ghost."
--James Baldwin (1968)
As one of the 107,000 people watching on the livestream from the Texas legislature as June 25 turned into June 26, it was one of the most galvanizing things I've seen in three decades of following politics.
If you haven't followed the story, I'll let Google catch you up rather than try to cover everything here, but there are a few things I wanted to mention in relation to astrology.
I don't know exactly when Mercury went retrograde on June 26, (not that it matters exactly) but there were many "Mercury" and "Mercury retrograde" aspects to the whole episode.
First, the emphasis on speech and communication inherent in Senator Davis's 11-hour filibuster, and the intricacies of the Rules of Order, as well as the more "retrograde" aspect of the disputes over "germaneness."
Then there was the dynamic of the GOP senators using the "germaneness" rules (absurdly) to cut off Davis's speech.
Next came the dramatic turning point when Lt. Governor Dewhurst (intentionally?) overlooked the motion from Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, and railroaded the process by instead recognizing the motion from his male GOP colleague to force the vote.
This led to the epochal words that sparked the waves of chanting and disruption from the gallery (the People's Filibuster).
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte: "Point of inquiry."
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst: "State your point of inquiry."
Van de Putte: "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?"
As many of you saw, these words, coupled with the blatant steamrolling of the process, unleashed the voices from the previously patient and quiet gallery, including chants of "Let her speak!" regarding Davis.
This vocal disruption (a grassroots defense of democracy) was, somewhat miraculously, able to disrupt and delay the (voice?) vote until just after the legislative session expired. The vote was not recorded until 12:03 am on June 26, making it invalid.
The most classic Mercury retrograde aspect of the whole affair was the fact that this was TOTALLY confused and undetermined for about three hours, with no one knowing whether the bill (SB5) had passed or not.
The GOP claimed that the bill was passed, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst fed this story to the Associated Press (which as you may know has suffered a right-wing takeover in recent years). The AP reported that the bill had passed, as did CNN, I think, while many protested on Twitter that that the vote was too late and that Senators on the floor themselves did not know if the bill had passed or not.
(This seems to me very similar to Richard Tarnas's description of the Mercury retrograde during the indeterminant phase of the 2000 Bush v. Gore election, when we did not know who the president-elect was through all of November and early December.)
The official Texas state legislature website posted the vote with a timestamp of 12:03 am, June 26, (therefore too late.) But nine minutes later, the website suddenly switched to show the vote squeaking in at 11:59 pm, June 25, and therefore, law.
This has yet to be explained. It's quite possible that this chicanery might have worked, if not for the fact that within seconds, folks on twitter were posting screenshots of the original posting, next to the altered one.
I think it's quite possible that the Texas GOP, or their staffers, saw this evidence on Twitter and thought, if we try to push this through, some of us might end up in jail.
At three am, Democratic and GOP senators came out of a private meeting and it was announced that the vote had been too late.
So... it seems to me that the dynamics of Mercury and Mercury retrograde were very strong through all of this. (And more could be mentioned, such as the importance of the Texas Tribune setting up a good livestream, the role of Twitter, the fact that Gov. Perry is forcing a re-do of the special legislative session, and thus the whole thing, perhaps... etc.)
It was a truly powerful moment, one related to the larger outer planetary transits that are bringing waves of awareness and transformation, as well as challenges and struggles, around women's rights, around GLBTQ dignity and equality, and more.
--Drew Dellinger, June 28, 2013.
"If we are to have peace on earth... we must develop a world perspective.... Yes, as nations and individuals, we are interdependent.... It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.... This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality."
--Martin Luther King Jr., "A Christmas Eve Sermon on Peace," Dec. 24, 1967.
Get tix here for April 6:https://ptm.ticketbud.com/mountaintop
"The value in pulling racism out of its obscurity and stripping it of its rationalizations lies in the confidence that it can be changed. To live with the pretense that racism is a doctrine of a very few is to disarm us in fighting it frontally as scientifically unsound, morally repulsive and socially destructive."
--Martin Luther King Jr. "The Dilemma of White America" (1967)
Photo: Drew Dellinger
Photo: Drew Dellinger
Photo: Drew Dellinger
Photo: Drew Dellinger
Photo: Drew Dellinger
Photo: Drew Dellinger
"When you develop a universal altruism your loyalties are far beyond your tribe, your race, your class, your nation even. When you fail to have a universal altruism you’ll say ‘my nation, right or wrong.’ Well, I’m not going to support my nation when it’s wrong, because my first loyalty is to humanity and to God. I don’t care who gets upset about it, I’m not going to support the United States of America in Vietnam, because I’m absolutely convinced that she’s wrong. Whenever your loyalties are narrow you can’t question your nation when it’s wrong."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
“Look at what men have done to other men. See how they have built systems of oppression. And trampled over God’s children as if they were things rather than persons. Look at what we do on the battlefields of the world. I read it every day… and admit, something within me boils over. We go into Vietnam and fight a war. And whenever the men of our army in the United States kill little Vietnamese children and Vietnamese people, that’s an act of heroism. The minute the Vietcong bombs a hotel or bombs a village where our soldiers are, it’s an act of terror. It’s just as evil to kill Vietnamese as it is to kill Americans, because they are all God’s children."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1966)
“I could mention just one more thing… I have talked about it a great deal in the last few days: the administration of justice. Something is wrong with a society where, in the last four years, since 1960, twenty-six Negro and white Civil Rights workers have been murdered. In most cases, nothing has been done about it. Only one person has been convicted of murder. The others were not even convicted for murder, but, as in Montgomery the other day, the conviction was for conspiring to violate civil rights. The accused murderers of Rev. Reeb were released. We have got to go all out to deal with the question of segregation justice. We still have a long, long, way to go.”
--Martin Luther King Jr. (December 15, 1965)
"We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles, we don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, 'God sent us by here to say that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.'"
--MLK Jr. (April 3, 1968)
"If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn't important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that's not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity."
--Martin Luther King Jr., "The Drum Major Instinct" (February 1968)
You're Invited to Drew Dellinger's Ph.D. Dissertation Defense!
Friday, April 27th, 2-4pm
CIIS -- California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission St., (between 10th & 11th) Room 306
San Francisco, CA
Open to the public! Come early; space is limited.
(This is the abstract for my doctoral dissertation. I am finishing a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religion, with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, at CIIS -- the California Institute of Integral Studies.)
The Mountaintop Vision:
Martin Luther King’s Cosmology of Connection
This dissertation asserts that Martin Luther King Jr.’s social justice vision was based on a worldview of interconnection. This work examines cosmological and ecological dimensions of King’s thought that have been largely overlooked in previous King scholarship.
King’s vision connected racism with war and poverty, stressed the unity of peoples and movements around the planet, and recognized the interwoven nature of the universe, which he described as, “the interrelated structure of all reality.” His holistic view of the cosmos and society is the hallmark of what I call his Mountaintop Vision.
In the last years of his life, which I call his Mountaintop Period (1966-68), King identified systemic links between social justice issues that were largely viewed as separate, fusing them into a unified critique that fundamentally challenged the modern system. This work articulates six aspects of King’s Mountaintop Vision: (1) connecting justice to the cosmos, (2) emphasizing economic justice, (3) confronting systemic racism, (4) challenging U. S. militarism, (5) exemplifying the prophetic path, and (6) building a global movement.
King’s worldview constituted a cosmology of justice in which interdependence and compassion are woven into the fabric of the cosmos itself. In King’s view, “the universe is on the side of justice.”
This dissertation examines King’s speeches, sermons, and writings to demonstrate his vision of radical connection. I argue that King’s view of existence as a “network of mutuality,” in which “all life is interrelated,” should be recognized as an early expression of systems thinking and ecological consciousness. King’s Mountaintop Vision linked social justice, cosmology, and ecology in a way that may yet provide guidance for our future.
"A realization of the inter-relationships within an ecosystem is essential for man's continued occupancy on earth. We cannot go on polluting our air or our rivers without affecting all life. We cannot, for example, continue with impunity to increase the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere at the rate it has been increased over the past fifty years. The consequences of such interference with the biosphere, the world ecosystem, would be disastrous climatic change."
--Raymond F. Dasmann, A Different Kind of Country (1968)
"The unleashing of a voracious prison apparatus after the mid-1970s partakes of a broader restructuring of the state tending to criminalize poverty and its consequences so as to impress insecure, underpaid jobs as the modal employment situation of the unskilled segments of the postindustrial proletariat. The sudden hypertrophy of the penal state was thus matched and complemented by the planned atrophy of the social state."
--Loic Wacquant, "Class, Race & Hyperincarceration in Revanchist America" (2010)
"I am convinced that capitalism has seen its best days in American [sic], and not only in America, but in the entire world.... It has failed to meet the needs of the masses.... There is a definite move away from capitalism, ... capitalism finds herself like a losing football team in the last quarter trying all types of tactics to survive."
--Martin Luther King Jr., hand-written notes on capitalism (1951)
"One of the remarkable things about Occupy is how kind people are to each other. As I have at other protests here, I met many good and decent people with whom I had great conversations. Most of these people really care about the state of our world, and have embraced this movement with gratitude for having a place where they can figure out ways to take that caring and turn it into tangible action.
I point this out because no matter what the mainstream media says about Saturday’s action, there’s a big piece of the story that can only be absorbed by walking with these people and getting to know them. The heart of Occupy Oakland is so good. It’s been a bit broken by all the repressive police actions, ranging from waging war on the Occupiers the day of the first raid, to arresting people for things as petty as taking a blanket out of a garbage can. In spite of all the attempts to break the the movement’s heart and destroy it, it continues on, beating strongly and moving forward."
--Kevin Army, from his article in Salon.
"The day has passed for superficial patriotism."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (April 30, 1967)
"It would be well to remind white America of its debt to Dr. Du Bois. When they corrupted Negro history they distorted American history because Negroes are too big a part of the building of this nation to be written out of it without destroying scientific history. White America, drenched with lies about Negroes, has lived too long in a fog of ignorance. Dr. Du Bois gave them a gift of truth for which they should eternally be indebted to him."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (Feb. 23, 1968)
In honor of today's national holiday clebrating Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, here's a video of some recent remarks I made at Darrin Drda's book release party.
"I saw Martin do things that truly made my flesh shake on my bones… That’s how I really got with him. I began to feel like he was a man who really was living what he preached. I’ve seen Martin, knowing how bad the Klan wanted him, I’ve seen him do things no normal man could do."
(speaking about the campaign in St. Augustine, FL, 1964)
"Crompton argues that environmentalists need to do more to challenge the individualistic worldview in their campaign work.... The research coming out of Yale's Cultural Cognition Project...has found that a major determinant of whether a person rejects the scientific consensus on climate change is whether they have a strongly 'hierarchical' or 'individualistic' worldview...78 per cent of subjects who display an 'egalitarian' and 'communitarian' worldview believe that most scientists agree climate change is happening (which is true) - compared with only 19 per cent of those with a 'hierarchical' and 'individualist' worldview.
For me, it follows from this that part of being an effective environmentalist is trying to win more people over to a worldview in line with the laws of physics and chemistry, rather than offering shopping advice and touting 'market-based solutions."
--Naomi Klein (NY Times, December 7, 2011)
"All I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers then something good is happening. I know it is easy to be snarktastic, but why do it with the Occupy Movement? There are plenty of things to snark about that don't involve the oppression of the poor. Do yourself a favor. Be on the right side of history."
--W. Kamau Bell
Read the article here.
Matt Taibbi nails it.
"What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us."
Glen Greenwald hits the nail on the head. Here's an excerpt:
"The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest."
I just picked up a cool new book, Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman's Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence.
by Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt
Check it out.
"We are not going to allow any military industrial complex to control this country."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1968, ten days before his assassination)
Bill Twist, Pia Banerjee, Lynne Twist, John Perkins, Drew Dellinger, Jon Symes.
Here's a photo from the panel that followed the Awakening the Dreamer "Super Symposium." Yesterday's event was the unveiling of the newest version of the Symposium.
In 2003-2004, Drew was a key member of the team that developed and designed the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium. The Symposium has now been used in 60 countries, in 14 languages.
"The dispossessed of this nation--the poor, both white and Negro--live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty."
--Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
"Let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice.... Now we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that."
--Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968
I was honored to have Joel Olson as a guest speaker in a class I taught at Prescott College in the late '90s. Later I heard him speak in the bay area about his excellent book, "The Abolition of White Democracy."
I respect Joel and his scholoarship immensely. Check out his recent article, "Whiteness and the 99%."
Occupy Wall Street Drew Dellinger
We need global
citizens for some sit-ins
I say we all meet
on Wall Street
and lock down--
lock the whole block down!
[Drew Dellinger, 2001]
I take exception to the rule
of the greedy and the cruel.
This fall, school’s in session
and the lesson is Wall Street.
It’s time for action
and your name’s on the call sheet.
It’s time we all meet
and name what it is:
the game has been rigged
to enrich corporate
business interests that sent this economy spinning.
Charlie Sheen is not the only clueless dude that thinks he’s winning.
See, the one percent done spent all the rent.
And now the rent’s due, so we’re coming to a tent near you.
We’re the like-minded ninety-nine percent
standing up to corruption with loving dissent.
We stand for justice,
and the future,
and all of humanity.
Embracing all people.
Yes, even Sean Hannity.
The message is simple:
greed, injustice, and eco-destruction have to go.
Pay attention corporate media. We’ll try to say it slow.
It’s time to
rock the nation,
rock this occupation.
It’s time for the people to peacefully fight back.
Tell Congress and the media we’re taking the mic back.
Tell the jaded it’s that long-awaited revolution.
Put away the pepper spray and re-read the Constitution.
These cops are paid to go crazy, yo.
But we’re peaceful.
Don’t tase me, bro.
We came to incite insight,
unite and discuss this.
We came to hang, and to bang the drums of justice.
with our love and our light.
the earth and the sky,
and live with all beings
as a planet-wide tribe.
Occupy the divine mind residing inside.
See, I’m the type writer
that’s known to light fires
and prone to inspire
the moment’s own higher desire.
‘Cause history knows it’s the time
for resisting the team at the scene of the crime.
Tell your friends I’ll meet ‘em there at Freedom Square.
They can’t stop us, from Seattle to Chiapas.
It’s our mission to envision
what comes after the catastrophe.
How do we move past
the capitalist disaster?
Our communities need us.
We are all leaders.
How could we ask for anything less than the future?
(October 13, 2011) www.planetizethemovement.org #OWS copyright c 2011
"Calling someone a racist individualizes the behavior and veils the fact that racism can occur only where it is culturally, socially, and legally supported. It lays the blame on the individual rather than the systemic forces that have shaped that individual and his or her society. White people know they do not want to be labeled racist; they become concerned with how to avoid that label, rather than worrying about systemic racism and how to change it."
--Wildman and Davis, "Making Systems of Privilege Visible,"
in White Privilege, Rothenberg, ed.
A great spiritual leader has passed. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, known for his fearlessness, initiated the Birmingham Campaign that turned the tide of the nation and led directly to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the Civil Rights Act.
In 1956, after 16 sticks of dynamite blew off the corner of his house and literally blasted him out of bed, he was never again afraid. "It took the fear out of me and it made me know that god saved me to lead the fight so that I was never fearful after that."
“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.”
--Martin Luther King Jr.
from I Have a Dream: The Quotations of Martin Luther King Jr., Hoskins, ed. (1968)
"In this extraordinary endeavor to create the country called America, a great many crimes were committed. And I want to make it absolutely clear, or as clear as I can, that I understand perfectly well that crime is universal, and as old as mankind, and I trust, therefore, that no one will assume that I am indicting or accusing. I'm not any longer interested in the crime. Peope treat each other very badly and always have and very probably always will. I'm not talking about the crime; I'm talking about denying what one does. This is a much more sinister matter."
--James Baldwin, "The White Problem" (1964)
U.S. in a nutshell: People cheer when Carlos Santana speaks the truth through his guitar; people boo when he speaks the truth about racism.