May 2015. Today is Mike Brown’s 19th birthday. This I learned from the political education and relationships that I have benefitted from through the It Starts Today campaign that ends today on Mike Brown’s birthday. April 2005. Ten years ago, I was invited by John, Courtney, and Jamie to apply to join the Advisory Board at Resource Generation. I did so. I entered my first board meeting at the Walker Center in suburban Boston in a cohort of rookie board members along with Andrew, Ajita, Penny, and Meg. We were some kind of board Fab 5 heading into headwinds of organizational turbulence, interpersonal challenges, and divine breakthroughs that I could hardly fathom when I first walked through that doorway as board member. It was revolutionary to attend meetings where the culture was to introduce yourself by saying four things: Your name. The place you live. Your class identity. Your “PGP” (preferred gender pronoun). I’ve been more schooled in and on gender and sexuality from the colleagues, friends, comrades, and confidantes of RG than any Women & Gender Studies classes could have instilled. At the first RG conference that I attended (circa 2006), multiple RGers did not only talk about their inherited wealth but told stories of how they could trace their white families’ wealth all the way back to slavery. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It rocked my world. And, I was hooked. RG gave me the tools, the political education, the camaraderie to be able to say that “my mom grew up in a working-class, white family” for the first time. I had never understood this, nor seen this facet of my family tree before being immersed in spaces that were explicit and unapologetic about class, classism, capitalism, and class dynamics. Not by being outwardly focused and waxing philosophical about class in society, but by being inwardly focused on families and the belief systems and biases that color my choices. I have been off of the board for just about four years and forever give thanks and have multiple, daily appreciations for the gifts that having been a board member at RG has bestowed upon me. Wisdom, love, patience, courage, trust in others (in their anxieties and their daring feats and so much more), impatience, humility, a yearning to tell stories and write blog posts among them. And ask others questions so they will write their blog posts and tell different versions of their stories. Today, I honor the life, the premature death, and the legacy of Mike Brown and all the people of Ferguson, Missouri. As one more name, place, and episode in the long legacy of lynching and the addiction to violence that discolor the US Constitution. I had not known the name of Ferguson before last summer. The people and popular outrage of Ferguson compelled me to figure out how I could act where I was and with those people that I already knew. To inquire who were the small group of people that I could band together with in such a nauseating, perplexing, horrifying time. If you’ve got some change in your pocket, some discretionary dollars in your bank account then go and invest in Black liberation, in Black leadership, and in Black dignity. By investing in Blacks in America, we are investing in all humankind. Thanks, yall. And, praise Jesus that I’ve learned to see that those who believe in freedom are of all races, of all classes, of all nationalities. And, I will continue to seek out those who believe in freedom and civil disobedience.
What I heard and remembered to take notes on in Week Two of Fast Flash Fiction at the Santa Fe Community College were. Much of last night’s class was about editing one another’s work and what else to remember as I re-read and revise my own stories. Number 3-6 are cited from a handout given (citation needed):
Anticipation | Hold someone on the edge of their seat until they are almost impatient.
Beautiful moments | “I take out beautiful moments in each piece.”
Personify objects/emotions | in ways that the reader won’t expect.
Unfamiliar similes | will jump out at readers in positive ways.
Conflicting images | take what readers expect in a character and turn it upside down by choosing conflicting images.
Metaphors | are often what can propel or kill a story.
Surreal | make it work.
Stick to your core | “[There are] parts of your piece that you are going to hold onto with dear life. You have to remember that your voice is your voice.”
There were also a few quotes that resonated:
You want every paragraph to matter.
I create stories from what I remember in childhood, and change the ending.
Three lessons and awakenings I’ve had by taking buses, relying on rides and walking more than is normal in Seattle:
1. there is a culture of fear and middle class stigma associated with bus routes and bus rides. The car is the vehicle of class access, and not considering having one is an anamoly in a town like this.
2. without a car, my exploits and busyness of the day is moderate. I’m not scrambling to errands, the grocery store and five additional things prior to doing something else. It has opened me up to a different pace of time, my own awareness of the abundance of time. Rather than scrambling to make up for lost time, or wondering where it went, i’m instead delighted with the tick-tock of subdued minutes.
3. it practically goes without saying but bus pass is a lot less costly than gas, oil changes, insurance, parking meters, the threat of parking tickets, of driving tickets and other fees for infractions. Instead, it is making an investment in the local bike shop. And, no absurd throwing money off to corner gas station, some abstract car insurance provider, and the oil change and car maintenance garages. Or to the private gym company, cuz riding these hills are my gym hours.
Lastly, Seward Park could make me become a runner. I like becoming new endeavors come treintauno.
Listening to some Carolina Chocolate Drops. Folding a Liberacion tee.
I am reading The Soul of Money after a colleague initiated a reading group. It names the tumult that arises with cash, class, and money. The blind propensity of chasing money for money’s sake, or the sake of the chase.
Growing up middle class in the ’80s and ’90s, I, too, was spoon-fed the dream, somebody’s dream (though I’m not quite sure who’s it is), of money money money. I remember being flown to NYC in college — all expenses paid, posh midtown hotel, dinner at some Afghan kebab house — by JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley or another of the robber baron institutions on the 1990s. I was the sole Economics major, cuz they were trying to recruit more people of color. The other students included an English major, a bio major, and some others. Few, or none, had done classes in economic theory, history. But, not one of us was offered an internship after our incessant questioning about the social good, the social impact, and the ends that that I-bank was amassing oodles of money. Though I was little versed in issues of workers, we still asked on who’s back was all that investment wealth being amassed.
So, we were quite relieved when we weren’t offered said internships. Instead, we had to find other options.
But I look within my family at who has money, how different people talk differently about their relationship to money.
And, it is a relief to NPR be making decisions for work, and career that aren’t driven by my own messy understanding of money’s dual roles: in my life, and in society.
Of all the books on my nightstand, there’s currently plenty o nonfiction:
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
I Will Teach You to be Rich, by Ranji Sethi
Post Traumatic Slave Disorder, by Joy DeGruy Leary
Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist
The Summer of Black Widows, by Sherman Alexie
Ambitious to read books simultaneously, but it works better for me. It’s kinda like when I have an abundance of groceries in my kitchen rather than not enough. When I haven’t been to the grocery store, I end up glossing over the hunger I do have. And I hastily buy food out, which is rarely as tasty and satisfying nevermind nutritious and filling as what can be prepped or cooked at home. Similarly, too many books keeps my mind/soul in a literary state. I read more pages per week, or month, than when I stick to reading a single book that can stumble along, bore and lead me to putting that book down for days. And I avoid other books because I inhibit myself from picking up a different genre or author.
Here’s to reading more and more. Both online, on my mobile tech, and on the written and typed page. Back to Joy DeGruy to help me rest my eyes…