Archive for Racism

The Killing Fields Of Home

It is a most difficult task to make sense of violence, particularly when it often seems unceasing.  There have been numerous horrific acts of murder recently, and in trying to write about them, it feels important to see these events not only as individual incidents but to also make the connections between them, both in why they happen and how we process them.  The following is a poem I wrote in response to the bloody and heartbreaking first week in July, 2016.

The Killing Fields Of Home

 

On July 4th,

 

when I was trying to make sense

of the bombings in Medina and Baghdad

on the very same day that the not so United States of America

was ritually celebrating what we call independence,

with colorful bombs bursting in air,

 

it seemed really important to remember that

the children who saw real bombs were shouting not with glee

but with fear before bleeding to death,

so I wrote haikus about that,

little poems like the children who died–

 

one for Medina,

 

Bombs bursting in air,

bodies explode, people die–

no celebration

 

and one for Baghdad,

 

Car bomb in Baghdad,

the twenty five kids who died

did not like fireworks

 

and I thought I had done my duty as a poet,

but then I read that dozens of people were shot

in Chicago over the holiday weekend

for who knows what reasons and they were bleeding too

and we haven’t even caught our breath since Orlando

and it occurred to me that maybe I needed to write a longer poem,

 

then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

were gunned down by the police

because the color of their skin was a crime

and Melissa Harris-Perry wrote about how that feels

as a suicide note that I can’t stop reading

 

on the heels of the Chilcot Inquiry that minces no words

blaming Tony Blair for lying to his country about the Iraq war

while in this country we turn endless battle into

an anthem and Bush and Cheney just smirk

 

as a veteran of war,  taught to kill in defense of our country,

shoots at the police in Dallas and more blood is spilt

and they send in a robot to take him out

which prompts Donald Trump to want a photo op with the NYPD

and I’m wondering if a sonnet is adequate

 

when my morning paper tells me that there have been

ten gang killings in ten months in the county where I live

and they have a column too about the child

of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend

 

and someone says we should all remember that

sometimes the police help and he tells a story

about a police officer who helped a lady repair her mailbox

and that was mighty nice of her, and I mean that sincerely,

but I’m thinking that sounds like a bandaid story

when we need a tourniquet because

 

a GOP Congressman says there are a lot more steps to be taken

before they will vote on gun control legislation

and I’m wondering how many steps there could really be

from his office to the floor to take a vote and when are we going to

quit playing six degrees of separation and take action

 

and in the time I have been writing this,

more people have been killed,

and I cannot type fast enough to keep up,

or even pause long enough

to  pretty up this poem that cannot find its end.

 

–Lucinda Marshall, © 2016

 

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The Media’s Failed Look At What Is Happening On The Streets And A Personal Reflection

Occupation for Dummies

There has been no shortage of media confusion in DC this week regarding the OccupyDC and October2011 Stop The Machine actions. I got into a conversation yesterday with a reporter from a local television station who was interviewing people at OccupyDC, she seemed to genuinely want to understand the difference. I pointed out that it seemed like very few members of the Mainstream Media had bothered to check the websites for the two groups which would clarify quite a lot.

Isn’t this sort of like the opposite of the Tea Party, she wondered. I pointed out that these movements represented people who were out of work, had lost their homes, had no health insurance, and wanted an end to  militarism without end and the number of people impacted by those issues is a lot larger than the number of people who identify with the Tea Party.

But the most idiotic media confusion in DC this week has been who was where. It wasn’t so complicated–OccupyDC at McPherson Square, Stop The Machine at Freedom Plaza. Yet in Sunday morning’s Washington Post, with OccupyDC at McPherson for over a week and Stop The Machine in place since Thursday, the caption writer for this photo still got it wrong.

The WaPo caption erroneously reads, "A crowd gathers Thursday at Freedom Plaza for the first day of the OccupyDC rally..."

And the headline–hello? It isn’t the same as the one used online, but, “The common man”? Really? Which century is this? They also apparently didn’t look at the photo which rather clearly shows the common woman.

With this kind of media, no wonder many people are confused about what is happening in the streets.

The best way to understand the movement that is taking root everywhere is to go find out for yourself.  Yes, there is an Occupy near you.

Several people have said to me, oh it is just a bunch of kids.  No, it is not.  And it’s not just a bunch of hippie peaceniks either.  It ranges from toddlers who are there with their parents (there was a little area with toys and crayons at OccupyDC yesterday) to elders with plenty of folks in between.  I talked for a bit with a young man in an army uniform. It was very courageous for him to be there. He had been to Iraq once and was due to ship out again soon, but he said he wasn’t planning to re-deploy, what he had experienced on his first tour had made him realize that militarism was deeply flawed.  He looked sad and wise beyond his years.

And do not underestimate the numbers, it isn’t just a hundred here and a thousand there, it is far, far larger than that.

A crowd shot at Occupy Wall Street--that is A LOT of people

This isn’t about one issue, it is about the American people connecting all the issues and finally saying enough.  There are those who have criticized what is going on for not having a clear statement of purpose or intent.  What they miss is that people everywhere have decided to take back the commons, and that is intention enough.

There is more to say, much more, the time I have spent on the street this last week has been transformative.  I have re-connected with old friends, made new ones and for the first time in a long time felt genuine hope.  Don’t be afraid, come out and join us.

Addenda:  The amount of inaccurate reporting involving Occupy DC and Stop the Machine is becoming epic.  Today the Washington Post reports that OccupyDC may stay in Freedom Plaza past the time time they have a permit.  Sorry, wrong group.  Yahoo News is now calling the pepper-spraying of protesters at the Air and Space Museum on Saturday a riot and ABCNews7 tweeted this morning that at least one person planned to stay past the permit time in Freedom Plaza although the article they linked to actually says a number of people plan to stay.  And that is just today.  The amount of media stupid when it comes to reporting what has transpired over the last week plus in DC is to the point where it is hard to see it as anything but deliberate.

 

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From June Jordan’s “The Revolution Now”

The following is an excerpt from “The Revolution Now:  Update On Beloved Community”, an essay by June Jordan written in 1997 and delivered at a celebration of Martin Luther King’s life.  Necessary strength and faith during these overwhelming times, and still so relevant:

June Jordan

June Jordan

And you cannot achieve a stabilized mutually respectful, conscientious, neither dominant nor submissive, love, without a revolution of the spirit that invented and imposed and enforced iniquities of inequality in the first place.

Is there reason for hope?…

,,,I know there is.

It may be small.  It may be dim.  But there is a fire transfiguring the muted, the daunted spirit of people everywhere.  Like the “still small voice” that came to the prophet Elijah, this is not a spectacular, televised conflagration.  But the burning away of passivity and misplaced anger and self-loathing among the poor and the invisible and the inaudible and the insecure and the economically dispensable and the socially ostracized–that burning away persists like the undeniable light from the farthest stars.

I know that it is happening.

–from Affirmative Acts, pg. 207

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Paranoia Strikes Very Deep

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. Listen to what they are saying and especially listen to their answers to the interviewer’s questions. None of this is about health care, as Jimmy Carter said at a townhall at the Carter Center in Atlanta, it is about racism.

“There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

“Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care,” he said. “It’s deeper than that.”

In an interview with NBC, Carter added,

“Racism … still exists and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

As the hatred ratchets up on the streets of the U.S., it is dangerously clear that this is a concerted effort to promote irrational, racist hatred to the point where one of these people will take it upon themselves to take a shot at the President. There is a large gaping wound still festering in this country and the peril of ignoring it is all too clear.

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